Camel and Scorpion's Playlist: Don't Leave Me This Way


The Camel and the Scorpion opens in Texas in 1977.

What music did protagonists, Caroline and Lydia, hear on the radio?

Disco was almost at its 1978 peak.

Thelma Houston's Don't Leave Me This Way is an iconic song from this time:




As Caroline drove about the city in Brunhilda, her 1968 red Buick Skylark, don't you think she was bouncing her shoulders to the infectious dance beat?

"Set me free, set me free!"


Quotes to En-Courage: You Need to Make it Uncomfortable For Them






“You have to find out who has the power to give you what you want, and then you have to go after them. And I don’t mean in a violent way because I’m a nonviolent person, but you need to be in their face. You need to make it uncomfortable for them...."




The Camel and the Scorpion is a book inspired by true events. It is the story of #StrongWomen - Caroline, Lydia, Anna - who spoke out for a good world despite the personal and professional risks to themselves in doing so.




Image credit: “WOMAN” by bixentro is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Camel and Scorpion's Playlist: Elvis Has Left the Building


The Camel and the Scorpion opens in Texas in 1977.

What music did protagonists, Caroline and Lydia, hear on the radio?

Well, in 1977, Elvis Presley died.


Elvis Presley, press photo for Jailhouse Rock. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia.


Although past his prime at the time of his death, at only 42, he was a national icon.

Below is one of his songs, Don't Be Cruel:



Strong Women #10: Lois Gibbs


The Camel and the Scorpion is a book inspired by true events. It is the story of #StrongWomen - Caroline, Lydia, Anna - who spoke out for a good world despite the personal and professional risks to themselves in doing so.

This post is the 10th in my Strong Women Series. The series honors women and girls of courage.


Lois Gibbs. Source: Lois Gibbs


Lois Marie Gibbs is my 10th #StrongWoman.


Courage is doing something even when we are afraid, yes? This anecdote from Ms. Gibbs' 1978 beginnings as an environmental activist awes me:
"The woman who helped free an entire community from a toxic dump, literally rewriting environmental laws in the process, was so shy at the start of the struggle she tried to hide behind a tree when neighbors called on her."

Ms. Gibbs was "just a housewife." Even after blooming into a nationally-known community activist, this dismissive label stuck at times, including from her own mother, noted in this story:
"In 1981, now a single parent, with two children and $10,000, Lois left Niagara Falls for the Washington, DC area to establish a national organization to help families living near other Love Canal-like sites.  Many doubted her ambitious goal to guild a movement – even her mother told her as she drove away 'you’re forgetting you’re just a house wife with a high school education'." 

So what did Lois Gibbs do?

In short, Ms. Gibbs brought the world's attention to a giant toxic dump, otherwise known as a "model planned community" called Love Canal, in which families were born, slept, ate, played, went to school, made love, and got sick and died.

To do this, Ms. Gibbs had to power through her shyness and self-doubts; overcome the disdain of local, regional, state, and national experts, officials, and business folk; learn by trial and error about community organizing; make mistakes; and take risks. From The Center for Public Integrity

"... one day in 1978, the Niagara Falls Gazette published a story about toxic dump sites cluttering the region. Love Canal was one, and the news screamed from the page: 21,000 tons of toxic waste had been buried next to the school property, underneath the playground. The now-defunct Hooker Chemical Co. had sold the site to the school board 25 years earlier, for $1. 'Oh, my God!' Gibbs thought, reading the Gazette. 'Every single day I took my children to the playground to play.'
"Pressing to move her son to another school, Gibbs won an audience with the school board superintendent. The school chief settled into an over-sized leather chair behind a broad, shiny wood desk. He seated Gibbs in a school desk normally used by kids. Sunken in her seat, she slid two doctors’ notes across the desk saying her son’s sickness could be tied to the dump, she said.
"The superintendent glanced at the notes, then slid them back. ‘We’re not going to do that because of one hysterical housewife with a sick kid,’  he said, as Gibbs recalled it. ‘Well, if your kid is so sick, why don’t you go home and take care of him? Why are you running around to City Hall and the school board?’ 
"Tears streamed down Gibbs’ face. 'All of a sudden, I became the bad guy.'”


In the beginning of the Love Canal odyssey, Ms. Gibbs thought a leader would emerge - someone she could support and follow to protect her children. She came to realize it was she who would have to step up.


Women of courage like Lois Gibbs? They are who kept me writing The Camel and the Scorpion for 20 years, so I could share the stories of women like The Camel and the Scorpion protagonists, Caroline, Lydia, and Anna.

Honorable, imperfect, brave, vulnerable champions, all of them. Risking their personal and professional lives to stand up for their ideals.


Quotes to En-Courage: When I Dare to Be Powerful


“Desert Senna, Cassia armata” by Margaret Neilson Armstrong via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed underCC0 1.0


When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.



The Cancer Journals, Special Edition, Aunt Lute Books, San Francisco, CA, 1997, p. 13.




The Camel and the Scorpion is a book inspired by true events. It is the story of #StrongWomen - Caroline, Lydia, Anna - who spoke out for a good world despite the personal and professional risks to themselves in doing so.


Strong Woman #9: Ilhan Omar

The Camel and the Scorpion is a book inspired by true events. It is the story of #StrongWomen - Caroline, Lydia, Anna - who spoke out for a good world despite the personal and professional risks to themselves in doing so.

This post is the ninth in my Strong Women Series. The series honors women and girls of courage.


Ilhan Omar. Credit: Ms. Omar's twitter account.



Ilhan Omar is my ninth #StrongWoman. 

Ms. Omar is the first Somali-American to be elected to political office in the United States. She is also Muslim, a woman, and a first-generation refugee to the United States from Somalia by way of Kenya. 

"When we came to the United States, we had this extensive orientation. I remember it was this picturesque environment—people were happy, everybody had what they needed, shiny houses. And when we arrived, we were driving through Manhattan, and I remember seeing panhandlers and homeless people sleeping on the street and graffiti and trash everywhere. I remember turning to my father and saying, 'This isn't the America you promised.' And my father said, 'Well, you just wait. We haven't gotten to our America yet.'
"At the time, I was in middle school, and it was really rough for me. I didn't speak English. I was dealing with being an extreme "other" for the first time. I'm Muslim and black and was coming from a Muslim-majority country where everyone was black. I had never had a conversation with my family about my identity. I remember the only words I knew were "hello" and "shut up." But when I'd come home and complain to my father that this wasn't what he promised me, he would tell me I had an opportunity to change my reality, that I needed to work harder to learn English, that I had to work harder to build relationships so that students could see me beyond my otherness. I needed to be better so that my environment would be better.
"...  ]My father] and my grandfather both believed that this country has gotten better because people have believed they had a stake in it. They taught me that I had an obligation to act and to be part of that progress."
Source: Interview, Elle Magazine


Ms. Omar came to the United States as a refugee. She was a child. She practices Islam. She was born in Somalia - one of the countries that President Trump singled out in his visa ban.

This woman has courage. In a societal climate in which there are so many vicious verbal, political, and physical assaults against Americans who are Muslims, Ms. Omar speaks out:

"I think when you ... demonise and dehumanise, it is easy for people to commit acts of violence against those individuals because they no longer see them as a person, as someone who has feelings, who's worthy of respect." Source: AlJazeera News.


In this video, Ms. Omar talks about how racism threatens the United States and her hope for the country:




".. what I represent is an America that still allows people to fulfill that American dream that you can come here at the age of twelve only knowing two phrases in English, have the opportunity to put yourself through school, and ultimately defeat a forty-four year incumbent to win a seat at the table."


More from Ms. Omar, from an interview with the Minnesota Monthly:

"One thing I’m proud of is using the attention around my election to reshape our ideas of patriotism and democracy: who should be at the table, who these tables are designed for, and how we change that. I’m making sure everybody who shares any of the six marginalized identities that I carry can now see themselves and say, 'Yes, young people can serve. Yes, somebody who has multiple children, young children, can serve. Someone who is an immigrant, someone who doesn’t have a majority religious background can serve.' All of these things now allow people to see that, yes, if I am a reflection of my community, then I can serve."


"... it's at times really hard, when you are personally affected by policies, to sort of step out of that and to think about how everyone else is also affected, and to be there for them, and to continue to fight and shift the narrative and get people involved when you know you yourself just kind of want to hide under the pillow, and just really not engage. It's sort of like motherhood. No matter how sick or sad you are, if you know you need to be strong for your children, you need to show up."


Women of courage like Ilhan Omar? They are who kept me writing The Camel and the Scorpion for 20 years, so I could share the stories of women like The Camel and the Scorpion protagonists, Caroline, Lydia, and Anna.

Honorable, imperfect, brave, vulnerable champions, all of them. Risking their personal and professional lives to stand up for their ideals.

Strong Women #8: Audre Lord

The Camel and the Scorpion is a book inspired by true events. It is the story of #StrongWomen - Caroline, Lydia, Anna - who spoke out for a good world despite the personal and professional risks to themselves in doing so.

This post is the eighth in my Strong Women Series. The series honors women and girls of courage.

Audre Lord. Credit: Mildred Thompson.


There's not much I can add about Audre Lorde than what she herself said, as depicted in Mildred Thompson's portrait of Ms. Lorde.

Black 
Lesbian 
Mother 
Warrior 
Poet. 
She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.


Ms. Lorde renamed herself twice. As a child, she dropped the 'y' from her birth name, Audrey, and went with Audre, which aligned more pleasingly with her surname Lorde. Later in life, Ms. Lorde chose another new name for herself, Gamba Adisa, which Ms. Lorde translated as "warrior: she who makes her meaning known."

"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive." The Cancer Journals.

“I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and to share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigating pain.” Black Women Writers, per Poetry Foundation.


As a woman born to immigrants, a woman of color, a lesbian, womanist, poet, activist, a human with cancer - coming up in the 1940s and 1950s - she needed to be strong to live her fullest life.


Your silence will not protect you.” From Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

A ten-minute video below on Ms. Lorde's personal, creative, and activist life - which may be the same thing?




“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

Ms. Lorde died young - only 58 - in 1992.

Women of courage like Audre Lord? They are who kept me writing The Camel and the Scorpion for 20 years, so I could share the stories of women like The Camel and the Scorpion protagonists, Caroline, Lydia, and Anna.

Honorable, imperfect, brave, vulnerable champions, all of them. Risking their personal and professional lives to stand up for their ideals.