Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Things I would have gotten my father if he were still alive:

1. Bermuda shorts
2. New socks
3. Chocolate cake and icecream - both personal size just for him
4. A new mini boombox that plays audio tapes
5. A new pair of jeans (which he would never wear)
6. Pratical things like denture cleaner, baby oil, a packer of shavers and Lava soap
7. A new wallet with Velcro fastener
8. Gevalia coffee (which he would never drink)
9. A new mug or plastic cup with cheesy slogan or picture on it. (I would probably have gotten it on sale after Father's Day.)
10. Chocolate

Monday, July 7, 2008

Obamnivore

Today's Obamaism:

Obamnivore (oh-BAHM-nuh-vohr) n. A Democratic voter who may have originally supported Hillary Clinton but is capable of digesting the platforms of either primary campaign.

Example: Though he voted for Sen. Clinton in the primary, Andy's obamnivoric tendencies allowed him to transition his support to Obama for the general election.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sweet Irony

Came across this in the locker room of my gym.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Unity Interrupted

I'm not particularly excited or impressed about the upcoming rally featuring both Senators Obama and Clinton. What I do find interesting is the little town in New Hampshire where it's scheduled to take place. Unity, New Hampshire has a population of less than 2,000 people and the rally is expected to bring at least 2,500 visitors. It's one of those towns that amazingly still exists that has a general store and one post office.

The town's peaceful existence is going to be disrupted when a shitload of visitors descend upon the town for this rally. The interruption of mundane existence is off the scale and quite frankly, very unsettling.

Things I would be worried about if I lived in Unity, New Hampshire:

1. Where is everyone going to park? Will this affect my parking place/driveway?
2. Bathroom availability. Port-a-potties?
3. Trash? Will there be recycling of some sort? How will this influx of garbage affect our public sanitation system?
4. Can the local eateries handle the vegan/vegetarian requests of the almost certain neoliberal hippie visitors?
5. Will these people all speak English?
6. Should we make some sort of welcome banner?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Prophylactics Prohibition

Pharmacies. Back in the day, drug stores (as my mother likes to call them) served as watering holes for neighborhoods and communities. Think back like Andy Griffith: you could get a malt shake and aspirin in the same space (unless you were Black). They have obviously evolved as has the practice of pharmacology. Its ethics, rules and principles have been under growing scrutiny over the past five years (at least) because of pharmacist refusal conflicts. Policies regarding pharmacist refusal vary from state to state. When Plan B (name brand), or emergency contraception, became widely available over-the-counter, a gaggle of incidents arose nationwide where pro-life pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions for EC, birth control, or permit access to Plan B (which literally has to be handed over the counter). Further, independent stores refused to carry it altogether and some even refused to tell women where else they could go after refusing to hand it over in the first place. According to their sloppy science, contraceptives are a form of abortifacients, thus their moral and ethical compasses will not permit them to enable a woman to murder another human being.

(Yeah, I know.)

So anywho, while the crazy fem ladies battled it out in state after state to ensure that pharmacies were filling prescriptions regardless of how the dispenser felt, some pharmacists got the bright idea to open their own drug stores. Fire me for refusing to do my job? I'll show you CVS. I'll start my own damn pharmacy.

And these new pharmacies have everything you would expect, except any form of contraception including condoms. Viagra? Yes. Condoms and oral contraceptives, no. (Good luck rape victims, cuz they sure as hell don't carry Plan B.)

Some people could miss this blip in their regularly scheduled lives, but the reality is that huge forces are at play in dictating how you access medicine that has been safely prescribed to you by a medical professional. You think you live in a free society, where the world is your oyster? Think that the Middle East is the only place women are subjugated? Think again, because these pro-life pharmacies are coming to a town near you.

Wanna learn more or take action? Start here, here or here.

Can you still vote for someone even if you don't really like them?

Today's Obamaism:
Barocrates (buh-ROK-ruh-teez) n. An obscure Greek philosopher who pioneered a method of teaching in which sensitive topics are first posed as questions and then evaded.

Example: While Obama is well-trained in the Barocratic method, many less-capable politicians have had mixed success with the technique.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy(?) Juneteenth

Shame on me for operating as if it were any other day. Now all of my misguided hatred towards the white people in my life seems appropriate and relevant if only for today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Normal dating life now seems lush and exotic

Funny: I totally dated a guy who was part of a powerful family here. Wild.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Subject: Correction

To: [All staff]

I must not know how to spell today because my last two subject headings were spelled wrong…oops.

Subject: LEAF Items

Subject: Refrigerator

Sorry!

***** [deleted name]
Administrative Coordinator
My Job
Address 1
Address 2
Phone Number
www.website.com

The first time this whole thing has been amusing

From The Onion.com:

Grandmother Proud To Have Lived Long Enough To See First Viable Female Candidate Torn Apart
June 16, 2008 Issue 44•25

PEORIA, IL—Seventy-six-year-old grandmother Anita Graney told reporters Monday that she was "overwhelmed with pride" for having lived to see the first viable female presidential candidate in the nation's history so successfully run into the ground by vicious media attacks and hubristic, arrogant miscalculations. "Hillary [Clinton] showed America that a woman can be politically destroyed just as completely and heartbreakingly as any man," said Graney, a lifelong feminist. "What an amazing example for today's young women who aspire to fail spectacularly at the highest levels." Graney expressed hope that one of her granddaughters might someday be the first woman to get utterly eviscerated in a nationwide general election.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The only reason I'm against gay marriage is because it's like "regular" marriage: boring

Is this what we have to protect straight marriage from?

"Lyon, now 84, and Martin, now 87, Martin vividly recall the excitement of being secretly swept into the clerk's office, saying"I do" in front of a tiny group of city staff members and friends, and then being rushed out of the building. There were no corsages, no bottles of champagne. Afterward they went to lunch, just the two of them, at a restaurant run as a job training program for participants in a substance abuse program.

"Of course, nobody down there knew, so we were left to be by ourselves like we wanted to be," said Martin, the less gregarious of the two. "Then we came home."

"And watched TV," added Lyon."

I just don't get why anyone would want to prevent two people who love each other from spending the rest of their lives together, and having the state recognize their desire to do so. Gay marriage is not about politics or religion. Simply put, it's about two people who happen to be of the same gender who want the right to see each other day in and day out, eat the same meals together in the same dining room where they argued over the beige-ish sandy brown paint color in the middle of Loews, travel to the same boring beach resorts every five years and take a cruise on their 15 year anniversary, visit the same annoying in-laws, walk the same dog, feed the same cat, watch the same made-for-tv movies, argue over household bills and shared bank accounts, host the same 4th of July cookout, hate the same next door neighbor, complain about toothpaste tube squeezing/shower hair clogs/messy bathroom sink, worry about retirement, build a new patio, worry about their spouses overindulgence in salt, worry about their over-30 single friends, get annoyed when the one stays up late reading and the other can't go to sleep because of the light as heterosexual couples do. It's about the basic, human right to lead a bland life with the person you love. What's so criminal about that?

And to think I spent fifteen minutes this morning agonizing over a bra color

Talk about a break in monotony: the people of Iran were surprised with random police stops today. Just in time for the onset of warmer weather, Iranian police were conducting dress code violation crackdowns on women who showed too much hair or whose robes were too short, showing ankle. Men who dressed too Western, or had long hair were subject to police scrutiny. Hair salons and clothing stores that contributed to dress code violations were closed down. Some citizens were arrested and some just received tickets.

In similar news.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Days

Today, in honor of Father's Day, The MQR takes a look at a life lived habitually. No one celebrated mediocrity like my father. This is not to say that he didn't overcome great odds to enjoy his moderately paced life in Cleveland with my mother. My father relished in the predictable and stable and found solace in the expected.

Breakfast/Mornings
Dad was definitely a morning person. Sleeping in was for losers and anyone who slept past 6:00 am was a freak.

Dad liked to enjoy his warm breakfast cereals (cream of wheat or oatmeal) heavy on the milk (so it's less thick) and inside the pot in which it was prepared. If he ate cold cereal, it was Kellogg's Corn Flakes and it was consumed with 2% milk (skim was for crazies) and a banana (strawberries in cereal was for white people).

It was also customary to enjoy a quality hot beverage such as Sanka or Folgers with sharp block cheddar cheese at the bottom of the cup. It's not weird, it's cultural (and yummy!). Dad was not a big toast person unless prepared special by my mother. When my mother prepared his breakfast it contained more spice and variety with things like link sausage or sausage from the West Side Market and was never served in the tool that was used to cook it. My Dad prepared bacon on the less crispy side and was quite content, actually, with a simple fried egg served with white rice. Again, not weird, just cultural.

My Dad also abhorred bright kitchen lights, so you could find him in the kitchen early mornings with just one light on above the sink, making the kitchen appear rather blue. In the summer, my father enjoyed the simplicity of sunlight.

Sometimes, a pastry wiggled it's way into my father's menu and was enjoyed with gusto with above mentioned coffee and cheese. The pastry was usually some sort of Entenmann's coffee cake or danish. An occasional cake or glaze doughnut was welcomed at the table.

In addition to cheesed coffee, my father enjoyed orange juice (prepared from frozen concentrate - preferably Tropicana). So much so, that my diabetic mother often found herself without her quick remedy for her sudden insulin reactions. This usually resulted in household argument about taking the last of something and not at least making preparations for a replacement.

On special days, usually Sundays, my mother would prepare fried plantain chips called tostones, which she served with some sort of garlic butter sauce. My father enjoyed these with his breakfast and would come back throughout the morning for seconds, thirds and fourths.

My father expected to watch the morning news - in peace - so talking about the goings on in my cereal bowl was not appreciated, welcomed or allowed. (I suppose if my father could read, he would have liked to read the newspaper in silence.) My dad especially looked forward to the weather report, because he always knew more than the pouffy-haired American Meteorology Association certified weather guy and had no qualms saying so every morning to my mother. She always had to remind him that Midwest weather is not as predictable as Puerto Rico where cold is anything below 80 degrees and the seasons are divided up between hurricane and non-hurricane season. This usually led to some friendly disagreement about the merits of America and why Puerto Rico is the best place on Earth.

Lunchtime/Weekends
When lunch was not prepared by my mother, my father relied on cold cuts and deli wieners to make a wholesome lunch. This was usually served with italian bread slices. Other breads were weird.Sandwiches were made using one slice of bread and a couple of slices of meat and the bread was folded over in some perverted version of a taco. He liked pop with his midday meal. Because my mom could only drink diet pops, he grew accustomed to sugar-free beverages or occasionally enjoyed a glass of soda pop from such high quality national brands such as Faygo or Fanta.

Blowing one's nose was customary after completing the meal. Midday meals were enjoyed while watching CBS soap operas.

Weekends meant things that needed to be done around the house. But not like what you see on Home Depot commercials. This meant the complete opposite of Bob Vila projects. And usually resulted in my mother begging to call a professional and my father storming out the house to return something to Sears. Occasionally, I was invited to come along; not so much for the chance to spend quality time with his youngest offspring, but more so for my exceptional literacy and English-translation skills. This was sometimes rewarded with a trip to McDonald's or Burger King.

Evenings
See "Breakfast/Mornings" for television preferences. Dinner was almost always prepared by mother and my father got served first and with the most food. Rice was consumed with a banana. Not weird, customary. You would be grossed out amazed by what sort of Caribbean/American Soul Food combinations my father created. Things such as beef neck bones with habichuela was a common favorite.

My father's analysis of the day's news and events, including things that happened at the job site, generally centered around other people's sheer stupidity and his uncanny ability to always be right. There was usually some speech to me about my under/over eating habits and why I should appreciate growing up here versus when and where he grew up. When he didn't eat at the dinner table, he ate in the living room alone. Usually because he was pissed and after awhile he hated eating in the kitchen with me and my mom because we talked too much during the news.

Dessert varied, but his favorite was chocolate pudding served with Cool Whip. It was common practice for him to eat the largest serving, while I laid claim to the mixing bowl. My mother usually opted out.

Dishes were washed in this order:

1. Dad finishes meal first. Blows nose.
2. Rinses dish. Begins to exit kitchen.
3. Mom grows annoyed.
4. Dad comes back to begin washing dishes.
5. Stove cleared.
6. Mom in charge of leftover distribution to pets and storage.
7. Dad washes dishes.
8. Stove is cleaned last.
9. Dishes are put away.
10. Sink emptied of water.
11. I'm put in charge of silverware drying and storage.
12. Dad exits kitchen.
13. Mom looks over dishes that Dad cleans.
14. Complains.
15. Mom re-washes unacceptable dishes.
16. Dad returns for dessert.

My parents married in the month of May. I was born in the month of January. My father died in the month of November. The initials of our first names spell JAM in order for father, mother, daughter.

Just so you know.

Every Father's Day, my mother and I would agonize over a gift which my Dad usually could care less about as long as he got more or as much fanfare as Mom did on Mother's Day. He would sometimes cook BBQ in honor of himself. There was usually some sort of greeting card involved, which I had to read to him. My mother would insist that he keep the card and store it where he kept all the other cards he couldn't read. He would thank me for the card and dismiss me out of the room. I would sometimes catch him holding the card and looking at it as if he could read it all by himself when he thought no one was looking. One time I could swear he was crying.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

People I am in awe of aka Characteristics of My Soul Mate

1. people who can type and look at you at the same time
2. people who can swim, skate and run fast
3. people who drive manual cars
4. people who crave healthy foods
5. people who enjoy roller coasters
6. people who like to read biographies
7. people who like math
8. people who can play an instrument and sing at the same time
9. people who can draw
10. people who can do this

Piece of Flesh = Golden Ticket to Successful Marriage (i.e. You won't get beaten or killed on your wedding night)

For those ignorant to the Patriarchy, you may wonder what is significant about a piece of flesh and bloody sheets. If that piece of flesh is your hymen and you have bloody sheets on your wedding night, then it means a lot. Apparently it means so much to Muslim women that they are paying thousands of dollars to restore their hymens to make them qualified for marriage.

Now you may ask yourself: Gee, what do men have to do to restore their hymens? Well, first off: men don't have them. Beside, we're not talking about the purity of men, we're talking about the purity of women, silly! In my constant effort to understand the Muslim religion and the cultures in which it permeates, I keep running into brick walls when trying to understand how it is not oppressive to women. (Let me just qualify that Christianity has the same unfair and impossible expectations surrounding female virginity.)

Hymen Restoration sounds painful and completely unnecessary. (duh) The fact that women have to obtain a "certificate" of virginity in order to be deemed suitable for marriage is asinine and shocking in these so-called progressive times. How can one find painful intercourse and bloody sheets romantic or a turn-on? (some do.) How many annoying things must a woman do to prove her ability to be a loving wife? (a shitload) Not only does she have to lose her identity and take her husband's name to prove her undying love and commitment, she also has to make sure that a piece of flesh is still in tact, protecting entrance into her birthing canal and sex hole. Geez.

All this to spend day after day after day of your life with the same person doing to same shit.

Ode to Regular Life

The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a must read for those of us unsure about the validity of our inconsequential existence. It's thoughtful, insightful and funny. A quick summertime, anytime read.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Her name is Raven

14 yr. old Raven Lumpkin has been missing since 8:30 Sunday night. Activists are gathering in her neighborhood for a rally and to distribute fliers.

Update 6/11/08: Raven has returned home. Normal life can resume.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Perrier and judgemental cash registers

So I was at CVS getting random need-to-gets and I was in the food and beverage section trying to make a selection on a commercially-produced summertime libation of the non-alcoholic variety. To my snobbery's dismay, there was no Evian in the large bottles chilled. I also wanted some iced tea and I must admit to enjoying sweet tea though I have no innate leanings toward southern cuisine. I was perusing my chilled options growing increasingly concerned that I may have to settle for a room temperature can when this man breezes between myself and the cooler and lands at the bottled water section where he grabs a Perrier. And then smugly without saying excuse me (at least loud enough for me to hear), breezes back past me still staring blankly into the cooler.

Dammit, I thought. He looked at me like I was one of the regular buffoonish people who regularly enjoys large cans of manufactured iced tea. I don't! I like it fresh brewed with an infusion of fruit. I swear. I mean, he got Perrier, but I consume Evian like most people consume tap water. Hey, Mr. Perrier with your dangling iPod ear buds, I could drink fizzy water if I wanted to, but I like my water fresh as the mountain spring from which it sprang (sprung?).

Come back here. I don't even know if I'm buying this can of iced tea, I may just forget the whole thing and go home and brew some Tazo teas and chill them in an artisan pitcher I bought at a vintage store. You don't know me, so stop judging me.

Then I saw that the cans of the sweet tea were two fer 99¢, so I bought them. I get my receipt which contained valuable, money-saving coupons on Glucerna products, which are for diabetics. Thanks, register computer for judging me....as if the cooler aisle wasn't enough.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fancy Pants and Suite Irks

I work in a sprawling office building that is composed of many office suites. Sometimes it feels like an apartment building filled with supers and neighbors you dislike. In general, I don't like my neighbors. There is a law office on my floor, which from the looks of their clientele specialize in defending DUI offenders and small time drug traffickers. The lawyers themselves are like the used car salesmen of law, all they are missing are plaid or tweed blazers with dark green polyester pants. Then there is the competing nonprofit who also works with kids just down the hall from us. Always awkward when they ask you "how is the fundraising?" because you always want to say as cheerfully back: "Hopefully better than yours!"

There is some random company that occupies the north suite. It has one of those names that doesn't give you any clue as to what it does exactly. I just see boring white people go in and out all day. Then there is the office suite with these women who do a lot of paperwork and data entry. I think I despise them the most. I know I shouldn't, but I do. They are all sort of trashy and wear platform high heals with peddle pushers and sleeveless shirts. They all wear their lanyards conspicuously around their necks further exacerbating their godawful fashion. And they reek of cigarette smoke.

Then there are the creepy maintenance people. And the one leering Black security guard with a penchant for white women. To express my discontent with his leering and his racial bias I insisted on ignoring him every morning that I walked into the building. Then I felt guilty because he is older and maybe he just doesn't know any better. I'm speaking to him again.

There are shared bathrooms on the floor. I like to do my business alone. It makes me very uneasy when I have to use the bathroom with other people in the room. And I have the unfortunate luck of working with people who think going to the bathroom together is both a morale booster and efficient. Plus you are subjected to some sort of forced nicety or exchange when keying in or exiting the bathroom. I always feel weird applying make-up or fixing my hair while someone else is at the sink. I also have this weird habit of seeing if the other person washes their hands thoroughly or if they just run them under the water. I also hate when people who don't know better go into the stall right next to you. That helps contribute to my overall uneasiness about the whole thing. I don't like hearing other people pee and I certainly don't want them listening to me pee. I know it's a natural process, but a very personal one for me. I mean, dying is a natural process that everyone will experience at some point in their lives, but that doesn't mean I want to do it with three other strangers around me.

I also hate when I have to wait for the elevators with someone else. Again, you have to deal with some sort of stupid exchange about the weather or the length of waiting time for said elevator. However, I also get annoyed when one doesn't speak to me or answers my forced hello with a grumble, mumble or worse: nothing. I hate riding in elevators with other people; I like riding them alone. It seems like every time I'm in an elevator with someone, that's when I have to fart. It stresses me out. I hate when people press the button that is already lit like their press will make all the difference. When I see people like that I automatically think they are self-centered assholes. "Oh, you pressed the button already? Well, let me press it since the elevator can't possibly do anything unless I press it." These are usually the same people who run for elevators. Like, trust me dude, another one is coming. Promise.

There is the cleaning lady that I see most nights that I stay late. She's cool. I forgot her name and now it is too late to ask her without coming off like a total asshole. She knows my name, but I forgot hers. I know she has a son and a boyfriend and she hates the rising cost of food staples. I think her name is Rosa. I need to figure that out at some point. I also don't know where she is from, but I know it's not: a) here; b) Latin America; c) Australia or the UK or Ireland; or d) Africa. (oh, and not Asia) I think she's some sort of Eastern European. I want to ask, but then I would come off like some asshole American. I feel guilty when I try avoid her because sometimes she just complains about how she is short on time and staff, but she has so much building to cover. We'll usually talk about this for a good 15 mins each night. I also feel bad when I use the bathrooms after she has cleaned them. (Using the bathrooms after normal hours is perfect even if being the only person on the floor is creepy. Not to mention I can do a #2 in peace. The only thing I hate is when the motion-activated lights go out while I'm on the stall and when the automatic fragrance sprayer goes off scaring the shit out of me.)

I often change clothes in my office before I head off to the gym. I don't like to change there. I just want to get in and get things rolling. I'm facing mostly a parking garage, but I get this dirty/sexy/shameful feeling when changing because I wonder what poor sap getting in his/her car is looking over into my office while I squeeze into my sports bra. Whoever you are, sorry about that. I like to use my view of the garage as a gage on the pulse of the city. When there are no cars left at like 5:15, I know I should be leaving, too. Fun is to be had elsewhere, or bad weather is acomin'. If there are still a healthy amount of cars at 5:30, then I know I should keep on working. I always appreciate seeing the last car leave because I think: "That guy/gal is dedicated. Drive home safely and hopefully you have a nice meal waiting for you when you get home." When there are no cars left at 4:00, I always wonder what sort of slackers work around here that can bolt out of here like their work doesn't matter. I smugly continue working until at least 6:00.

I like working downtown, though. It has that big city Mary Tyler Moore thing going. Makes me feel all fancy pants important sometimes. Like look at me I work in a fancy pants office building doing fancy pants work that requires me to wear pantyhose when necessary and wrinkle free cotton pants when I don't have any meetings. I get a coffee beverage practically everyday because that is what fancy pants downtown employees do.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lezzie Lip Locks and Gay-free AIDS Conference

What a week for The Gays.

First off: lesbian couple in Seattle (fuck the Mariners!) were asked to leave a Mariner's game after they were told their kissing in public was inappropriate. Parents apparently complained because they would have been forced to have "one of those talks" with their kids about special feelings that they may have for someone who has the same junk in their underpants as they do. No parent has time for that, they just want to watch a baseball game. (Red Sox won that game, in case you were curious. I guess it sucked for those lezzie Mariners fans all the way around.)

Here's the thing: they claim that a straight couple rows ahead were making out and groping each other, whereas they were just eating garlic fries and exchanging random kisses (gross - garlic fries and kissing?). I hate PDA. Hate, Hate, HATE it. Even kisses exchanged at the alter after it is announced that the bride may indeed be kissed (irregardless of the fact that she probably just gave dude a blowjob two nights before), grosses me out. And I will admit to my own internalized homophobia that makes me cringe anytime some woman I am dating wants to hold hands or smooch in public. Gross. Gross. Gross. I hate when I watch something on television or a movie and two people kiss and it makes that moist noise. Ew.

PDA is sooooo annoying either way you slice it in my book. So I can understand the extent in which fellow spectators were annoyed with these women making out. The obvious problem arises when they didn't seem to have a problem with the other couple playing tonsil toss a few rows ahead. After all, wouldn't that saliva exchange raise similar questions about no-no parts and where babies come from?

More importantly, who the fuck makes out baseball games or any sporting event for that matter? Pathetic. I also hate when people do proposals at sporting events. Nothing says "I love you; let's spend the rest of our lives together" like a jumbo-tron and a kamillion screaming strangers drinking piss beer and plastic nachos.

Moving on to Uganda, Africa, gay protesters were arrested after crashing a conference on AIDS. Um...an AIDS conference with no Gays? Say whaaat? That's wild. There's homophobia in the African AIDS community. Wild.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Countdown to the Olympics aka Yet Another Reason I Won't Be Watching

From the BBC On This Day

1989: Massacre in Tiananmen Square

The demonstrations in Tiananmen Square have been described as the greatest challenge to the communist state in China since the 1949 revolution. Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of people were killed in the massacre, although it is unlikely a precise number will ever be known.

Several hundred civilians have been shot dead by the Chinese army during a bloody military operation to crush a democratic protest in Peking's (Beijing) Tiananmen Square.

Tanks rumbled through the capital's streets late on 3 June as the army moved into the square from several directions, randomly firing on unarmed protesters.

The injured were rushed to hospital on bicycle rickshaws by frantic residents shocked by the army's sudden and extreme response to the peaceful mass protest.

Demonstrators, mainly students, had occupied the square for seven weeks, refusing to move until their demands for democratic reform were met.

The protests began with a march by students in memory of former party leader Hu Yaobang, who had died a week before.

But as the days passed, millions of people from all walks of life joined in, angered by widespread corruption and calling for democracy.

Tonight's military offensive came after several failed attempts to persuade the protesters to leave.

Throughout the day the government warned it would do whatever it saw necessary to clamp down on what it described as "social chaos".

But even though violence was expected, the ferocity of the attack took many by surprise, bringing condemnation from around the world.

US President George Bush said he deeply deplored the use of force, and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said she was "shocked and appalled by the shootings".

Amid the panic and confusion students could be heard shouting "fascists stop killing," and "down with the government".

At a nearby children's hospital operating theatres were filled with casualties with gunshot wounds, many of them local residents who were not taking part in the protests.

Early this morning at least 30 more were killed in two volleys of gunfire, which came without warning. Terrified crowds fled, leaving bodies in the road.

Meanwhile reports have emerged of troops searching the main Peking university campus for ringleaders, beating and killing those they suspect of co-ordinating the protests.

Peking has since become more widely known as Beijing.

I guess I should post about this, right?

I think this guy's column really sums it up for me. I'm so over this election it's not even funny. I don't even have it in me to write a check, pick up the phone and knock on a door. Seriously. (There should be some organizing around helping the Bush Family pack. I would do that.) I should be moved to tears that the first (half) Black person (man) is the (presumptive) Democratic nominee for the POTUS. Alas, I was. Now, I'm just over it. People were reacting last night as if he won the general election, not just the election that allows him to run in the general election.

This election, instead of being monumental, has grown vicious, tired, stale and monotonous.
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous
vicious, tired, stale and monotonous

And I blame a lot of it on the media. I'm more into politics than the average American, but my fervor for American politics (what was left of it at least) is completely depleted. This election (with its coverage as predictable as my morning bus route) has confirmed my belief in the fact that our entire electoral process is really no better than those in countries where you can get shot at the polls. Exaggeration, I know, but who can you trust? If selecting a leader is up to a handful of (super)delegates in smoky backrooms and a bunch of random people in the Electoral College, then what the hell do you need me for?

Now what do I say to every person that has told me: "Politics just isn't my thing....my vote doesn't really count....it's boring, etc."? The change we can believe in can only go so far and people are tired of the nasty ads, the predictable soundbites and the exhaustive pundit-ing on every channel (but not of Michelle's fabulous clothes and hair, and those adorable daughters). Hell, I'm more excited to see who wins between Boston and L.A. than I am to see who wins in November. Now that the proverbial dust has settled, what the hell do we do now and how to do mobilize the numb masses? More rhetoric and rallies? I hope not.

I'm still waiting for this moment to sink in, but I think it sunk in a long time ago and now it is just sitting heavy like a bad meal waiting to be excreted.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hopefully my last post on "Sex" today

Stumbled upon this article on WSJ about Sex and its role in shaping how women dress in the workplace. First off: the columnist is ass ugly. Let's just get that out of the way, because I think it needs to be said.

Now: about her column. She makes some very valid points about women's current place in the workplace in regards to pay, ceilings and perception. I find her column problematic is where she insists that while Sex was empowering to broadening the average woman's fashion outlook, it created a problem in workplace dress code. Cleavage here, short skirts there. "If Samantha can do it, so can I", says the Average Woman. (Let me just say, that this trend didn't start with Sex you can thank Ally McBeal for that.)

After mentioning one of her readers who has a problem with his psychologist's cleavage being visible during his sessions, she then quotes this guy:

Richard Billion, legal director for credit-score developer Fair Isaac Corp., wrote that distracting clothes reduce a saleswoman's credibility. "I become very suspicious of the product or service being sold if a woman representing the seller in any capacity is not conservatively dressed," Mr. Billion wrote.

Um. Thank you for my rage, Mr. Billion.

Why is the onus on women to dress in a way that doesn't warrant patriarchal oppression? If all it took for women to advance in the workplace and gain true equality was to wear a slip and thick pantyhose, bitches would be running the godddamn country by now. Seriously. cut the shit. ONCE AGAIN women are blamed for their oppression.

Hey, Lily Ledbetter, the reason you received discriminatory pay wasn't because of asshole bosses at Goodyear, it must be because you dressed like a whore at work.

And why are people afraid of cleavage anyway? Fact: humans have breasts. Female humans have ones that produce milk and that come in different shapes and sizes. Christ almighty, why are we afraid of milk glands? Oh I know: because we sexualized them to the point that any revelation or acknowledgement of them reminds us that women are sperm depositories and that makes us feel all icky.

It's almost like using that rationale that blames rape victims by asking them what they were wearing when they were attacked. Women have been subjugated in the workplace loooooooooong before Sex was on TV, hell, way before SJP was even born. Trying to explain it away by blaming too high of a heel and too low of a neckline is just sucking the giant balls of Patriarchy. And to read comments from women who think they have it all figured out with their work wardrobe just goes to prove how ignorant and complacent they are to the Patriarchy. Some of these women are in positions of authority in their workplace, yet refuse to hire young applicants who have the audacity to not care what people think of their appearance.

This isn't about respectability, this is about viewing women as sex objects. It is not my problem if a man can't keep his pervy eyes off my tits long enough to hear what I have to say. Shouldn't the fact that women even have to deal with this while men don't be enough of a sign that something is incredibly wrong here???

Sushi bars? Pools? I'll be a international nonprofit worker, too!

The WaPo has an interesting take on NGO workers in Liberia. Liberia is cool because it was founded by ex-American slaves back in 1822 and has a lady president. It's not cool because it has endured a horrific civil war for over two decades. The piece talks about the harsh living discrepenicies between the mostly white Western NGO workers and European U.N. workers and the African locals.

When you read about the sushi bars, luxury vehicles and four-star hotels, one is slightly PO'ed because when the word NGO worker comes to mind, you think about shacks, knapsacks and hippies looking to make a difference. You also have to wonder where your private donations and taxpayer dollars are going. Hell, if I realized international work could be so damn comfortable, I would have peaced out to worn-torn African countries years ago.

Of course, you can take this reporting with a grain of salt, but the bigger dynamic at play sounds all too familiar. The stratification of class and race is inescapable. I think the bigger question is how can an infrastructure exist to support the dominant class of white foreigners (and small native elite), yet the average Liberian doesn't have running water, a living wage or even food? The even bigger question is how can a country with such a rich and strong history rehabilitate itself after decades of civil war? What does the presence of these workers mean to the people of Liberia? How does living so comfortably affect local perception of foreign aid workers? Where is the oversight?

If he weren't a Republican and white, I'd want him to be my Paw Paw

I can't believe I'm finding myself agreeing with the actions of a modern-day Republican. Senator Charles Grassley from Iowa (check out this pic of him and his wife: awwwww!), who is the senior elephant on the Senate Finance Committee has declared jihad on elitist, Ivy-League institutions and their endowments. Charles is all about putting hoes like Harvard and Yale on blast for keeping their tax-free, multi-kajillion dollar endowments to themselves, while costs for higher ed continue to skyrocket, rendering average American families practically helpless in educating their kids.

I agree with the Senator. Harvard and Yale are bastions of wealth and privilege. They perpetuate this - among other things - by keeping their endowments sheltered and protected. When a student of color, or hell, just a poor student with A++ smarts can't get in because of money, they are forced to attend more affordable schools that may not necessarily carry Ivy-grade clout. These schools produce graduates who may not go on to move in bigger circles and their alum gifts are smaller and less lucrative for the alma mater's endowment coffers. Meanwhile in Harvard-land, those grads go on to bigger and better things with bigger and better pay, making bigger and better gifts to the school. The school then hoards it. Now to their credit, Harv and Yale have taken some strides to aleve the pain of sending a child to their school, but their endowments are still humungous and exempt from the reach of the IRS. It's only fair that these institutions share in the responsibility of educating the country's best and brightest regardless of their pedigree or income. By failing to do so, they are perpetuating the cycle of elitism that prevents true class mobility and well-deserving students from reaching the highest possible levels of achievement.

'Sex' Token

Aw hell. I knew I wasn't excited about the new Sex movie, but now I remember exactly why I wasn't in love with the show in the first place. Now, don't get me wrong: I love, love, love, love, love the clothes. That, to me, is the best part of the show.

And really the only part. The angry radfem in me sees this as yet another show with women over thirty trying to do the proverbial "having it all" in the cliche NYC. Their ultimate goals in life being finding a man and having babies. Over it. The second part of me was annoyed (like I was with the show Friends) that in a place like NYC, the show's writers and creators couldn't manage to find successful people of color to be included in the show. What few specks of color Sex had were few and far between. Disappointing. So I had to settle on the cheap knock-off Girlfriends and ended up falling in love with it.

Here's the thing: I understand that people do tend to spend time, date and marry, etc. people of their own race, socio-economic class, belief systems, but this is TV/Hollywood where anything is possible. God knows nothing else was realistic on Sex, Friends, or Girlfriends so why not throw in some diversity to inspire us regular folk?

But I watched Sex anyway for the clothes and found myself wishing to be Carrie Bradshaw, and wanting a man like Mr. Big. The show ended (Can I tell you how much I love the song that played over the ending credits of the last episode?). People were sad. They moved on to other shows. I grew sick of Cosmos. Gay men friends were still all the rage. And now here we are with Sex the movie.

I came across this article, which reminded me that Oscar-winning, former American Idol contestant, Jennifer Hudson is on this movie. I totally forgot about that buzz. Ms. Jennifer fucking Hudson is in this movie and she's playing a sidekick. To Carrie. And this is when I am reminded why I didn't like Sex in the first place. I know you can't just introduce a sixth character (NYC being the fifth lady) just like that, but this is all you can do? I guess I should be grateful that she isn't playing Charlotte's maid or Miranda's nanny. But for all the press and hype, no one has mentioned Jen. I've seen all the leads ad naseum, but where is OSCAR-WINNER Jennifer Hudson? She's practically an afterthought.

Personally, I think Jennifer deserves better, but I know that roles for Black women are few and far between, especially in big movies like this one. This is an opportunity, but one that I hope doesn't lead to more buddy/supporting/sidekick roles for an actor of Jennifer's caliber.

Plan? No. Pluck and aplomb? Yes.

Last night riding home on the bus after mediocre workout at the gym (mediocre them, but feeling it today)

Guy: (Columbine-style creepiness approaches and sits sideways in seat in front of me) Hi. I'm circulating a petition to get RTA to install recycling bins at all their rapid station stops. Would you like to sign my petition?

MarilynJean: Sure...but who is going to pick up the recycling?

Guy: Well, this would create hundreds of jobs because RTA would have to hire people to pick it up.

MJ: OK...so, then RTA has agreed to do it?

Guy: Well, no...not exactly. (with certainty) I'm going to deliver the petitions to them and then I'll work with them to implement the plan.

MJ: (shrugging) Yeah, I'll sign it.

Guy: Cool, thanks. It's good that you're asking questions; this helps me flesh out the idea.

MJ: Good luck.

(Guy moves towards back end of the bus and approaches a group of young men from an indeterminable African country)

Guy: Hi. Would you like to sign my petition? I'm petitioning RTA to put recycling bins at all the rapid stops.

African: What?

Guy: (louder) Hi. Would you like to sign my petition? I'm petitioning RTA to put recycling bins at all the rapid stops.

African: Is it a pay-ten-shun? OK. I will sign it.

Guy: (loud) Thank you.


MarilynJean: (thinking) It's a crapshoot, but at least he's doing something.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You've got to be fucking kidding me: Dunkin Donuts edition

After complaints for neocon assholes including the highly annoying Michelle "I need my vag card taken away" Malkin, Dunkin Donuts has pulled online ads featuring the sweet-faced Rachel Ray because of a fucking scarf. Critics say that the scarf she is wearing resembles a kaffiyeh, which is a traditional Muslim headdress and has been associated with Muslim extremists (Muslim extremists are not to be confused with these sorts of extremists).

So the company pulled the ads. My SWL to Dunkin Donuts below:

Andrew Mastrangelo - Manager, Public Relations
781-737-5200
andrew.mastrangelo@dunkinbrands.com

Dear Mr. Mastrangelo,

I'm sure you're not the best person to send this correspondence to, but I found your contact info and your title has the words "public" and "relations" in it, so I figured I can at least vent to you since I am part of the public and this has to do with relations.

I'm not a frequent consumer of of Dunkin' Donuts, but when I have a craving for donuts you're the guys I go to. I love your iced coffee. Let me repeat: LOVE the iced coffee. When I ate meat, I was a fan of your breakfast sandwiches, paired with that coffee of yours, it made my mornings. Seriously. And of course, your donuts. I remember one time I had was experiencing major PMS. (Each month I have strong cravings for something sweet. Last month it was a brownie, but I can guarantee you that several months out of the year, I crave donuts.) I was craving donut holes in particular. Not just a whole donut, but the holes. I was dating this woman at the time (yes, queers love donuts, too) and she drove past not one, but three donuts shops just to get to a Dunkin' Donuts. She and I both knew that you guys would have the best donut holes. She got me two bags of donuts holes and I went through them in about a week.

There is this guy I have a crush on and he loves donuts. In my quest to win him over we make mundane small talk about things that interest him and we've talked about the freshness of Dunkin' Donuts products. Gosh, Mr. Matrangelo, I can tell you about several romantic relationships (real or desired) that have included your products. I can tell you about the time I woke up after a rather fun "sleep over" to the smell of a Dunkin' Donut breakfast bagel sandwich and the BIGGEST cup of coffee I've ever seen with the right amount of cream - no prep needed on my part.

The point is: I like your company and I feel compelled to tell you that I'm a smidge disappointed in this headline. I'm not the biggest fan of Rachel Ray, but she works well as a spokesperson for your company. But she's apparently not the problem, her scarf is. And after some neocon jerks complained about it's "symbolism" your marketing gurus decided to pull the ad. Now, I don't know Ms. Ray personally, but I'm pretty sure she's not a Muslim extremist. And while I don't know everything about your company's investments, I'm pretty sure you don't fund terrorist organizations.

So why did you pull the ads? Why didn't you assert yourself as the nation's - dare I say the world's - purveyor of donuts, and stand behind your ad, your product, your spokesperson and your integrity? Can't any rational, intelligent human being see that the scarf (in this context) has nothing to do with Muslims or extremist philosophies???? Of course we can, but Michelle Malkin is not a rational human being. And I can't believe that a company that has existed for over fifty years gave in to irrational, close-minded people who probably don't even consume your products.

I'm not going to say that I will never consume your products again, but I will say that I am mad at you guys and I wish you would reconsider your actions.

Sincerely,
MarilynJean

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Barf Wentz

It's not enough that Ashlee Simpson is a waste of space, she had to go and marry some guy who also a waste of space. Now that she is Pete Wentz's wife (yes, her creepy dad officiated the ceremony), she will take his name in private and use a hypenated version in public. Her reasoning:

"I think that that's something that a woman should do when they're marrying a man," the pop star lil' sis of Jessica Simpson told the magazine. "It's a tradition that I think is a great tradition."

I think it's a stupid tradition that places the woman in subjugation, eradicating her familial name and cultural identity, thus rendering her an accessory and an invisible one at that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy World Vegetarian Week!

So far sorta good with my foray into vegetarianism (pesco-vegetarianism at this point - I can't let go of shrimp). When will the craving for dead animal flesh stop???? How painful was Memorial Day Weekend with its tantalizing smells of grilled pig flesh? I survived. I must keep remembering the following ten things to help me continue on my quest to full throttle vegetarianism.

Top Ten Reasons To Go Vegetarian
By Bruce Friedrich, AlterNet. Posted May 19, 2008.

Gone are the days when vegetarians were served up a plate of iceberg lettuce and a dull-as-dishwater baked potato. With the growing variety of vegetarian faux-meats like bacon and sausages and an ever-expanding variety of vegetarian cookbooks and restaurants, vegetarianism has taken the world by storm.

With World Vegetarian Week here, without further ado, are the Top 10 reasons to give vegetarian eating a try, starting now!

1. Helping Animals Also Helps the Global Poor
While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, but it's about one-eighth the issue that meat-eating is. Care about global poverty? Try vegetarianism.

2. Eating Meat Supports Cruelty to Animals
The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past are now distant memories. On today's factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems. These animals will never raise families, root in the soil, build nests, or do anything else that is natural and important to them. They won't even get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter.

3. Eating Meat Is Bad for the Environment
A recent United Nations report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow concludes that eating meat is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." In just one example, eating meat causes almost 40 percent more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, and planes in the world combined. The report concludes that the meat industry "should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."

4. Avoid Bird Flu
The World Health Organization says that if the avian flu virus mutates, it could be caught simply by eating undercooked chicken flesh or eggs, eating food prepared on the same cutting board as infected meat or eggs, or even touching eggshells contaminated with the disease. Other problems with factory farming -- from foot-and-mouth to SARS -- can be avoided with a general shift to a vegetarian diet.

5. If You Wouldn't Eat a Dog, You Shouldn't Eat a Chicken
Several recent studies have shown that chickens are bright animals who are able to solve complex problems, demonstrate self-control, and worry about the future. Chickens are smarter than cats and dogs and even do some things that have not yet been seen in mammals other than primates. Dr. Chris Evans, who studies animal behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, "As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens and people think I'm talking about monkeys."

6. Heart Disease: Our Number One Killer
Healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases, including the United States' three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer, and strokes. Drs. Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn -- two doctors with 100 percent success in preventing and reversing heart disease -- have used a vegan diet to accomplish it, as chronicled most recently in Dr. Esselstyn's Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, which documents his 100 percent success rate for unclogging people's arteries and reversing heart disease.

7. Cancer: Our Number Two Killer
Dr. T. Colin Campbell is one of the world's foremost epidemiological scientists and the director of what The New York Times called "the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease." Dr. Campbell's best-selling book, The China Study, is a must-read for anyone who is concerned about cancer. To summarize it, Dr. Campbell states, "No chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein."

8. Fitting Into That Itty-Bitty Bikini
Vegetarianism is also the ultimate weight-loss diet, since vegetarians are one-third as likely to be obese as meat-eaters are, and vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese. Of course, there are overweight vegans, just as there are skinny meat-eaters. But on average, vegans are 10 to 20 percent lighter than meat-eaters. A vegetarian diet is the only diet that has passed peer review and taken weight off and kept it off.

9. Global Peace
Leo Tolstoy claimed that "vegetarianism is the taproot of humanitarianism." His point? For people who wish to sow the seeds of peace, we should be eating as peaceful a diet as possible. Eating meat supports killing animals, for no reason other than humans' acquired taste for animals' flesh. Great humanitarians from Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi to Thich Nhat Hanh have argued that a vegetarian diet is the only diet for people who want to make the world a kinder place.

10. The Joy of Veggies
As the growing range of vegetarian cookbooks and restaurants shows, vegetarian foods rock. People report that when they adopt a vegetarian diet, their range of foods explodes from a center-of-the-plate meat item to a range of grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables that they didn't even know existed.

Sir Paul McCartney sums it all up, "If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That's the single most important thing you could do. It's staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty."
So are you ready to give it a try?

Check out VegCooking.com for recipes and meal plans and to take the World Vegetarian Week 7-Day Pledge.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Just Discovered: New Voices Pittsburgh

Reproductive Justice for and by women of color. Hot, hot, hot.

I guess I should elaborate....

I went to a panel last night held here. It featured a patient advocate, the Exec Dir of NARAL Ohio, this guy and La'Tasha Mayes, the founder and director at New Voices. The whole program was meaty and worthwhile, but it was great hearing from La'Tasha because she really spoke to the differences between reproductive health, reproductive rights and reproductive justice. She eloquently stated what I have been saying for years: choice is different for marginalized women and white, middle class feminists just don't fucking get it.

Reproductive Justice is a framework and all encompassing. Reproductive Justice is about movement building and is not single-issued focused like reproductive health and reproductive rights. It addresses intersections. It is a critique. It is a goal. Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice describes it as this:

"[R]eproductive justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives."

Juicy shit.

Tool of the Week: President of "The" Gambia

The fact that he looks like Jub Jub is enough for me to not like this man. However, the president of "The" Gambia, host country to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, recently announced that all gays have 24 hours to leave the country and those who don't will have their heads cut off.

Makes the backlash in California not seem so bad now.

You've got to be fucking kidding me: U.S. English edition

So the Ohio house passed that stupid bill yesterday. It was sponsored by some Repub with the last name Mecklenborg. Last time I checked, Mecklenborg was a German name and last time I checked Germans weren't Americans, nor was English their first language. So it is nice to know that someone who is the descendant of non-English speakers is such a proponent of the English language.

What is even funnier is that this organization that was founded by Japanese-Canadian immigrant to the U.S. and is run by a man from Chile is a leading advocate of making English the official language. Tools of the patriarchy? Yes, indeed.

Here is a statement from the chairman:

The lack of an assimilation policy for immigrants to the United States is rapidly changing the successful integration ways of the past. Gone are the days of the American Dream and the upwardly mobile society for immigrants. In its place are low expectations and government policies that encourage Americans to learn the language of the immigrants, instead of the other way around.


HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. He is the whitest mutherfuckin Latino I've seen in a long time. Of course, he can talk about assimilation. He is already part of the patriarchy. duh. Furthermore, what is with the self-loathing? And why do they care so fucking much? I like how he tries to make his self-loathing, xenophobia look like paternal caring for the welfare of immigrants.

Nice one. Way to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

LA LA LA LA LA ALALAL: Karen Bass edition



Tip of the hat to WAOD.

Just Watched: Lars and the Real Girl

After a broken date with a ladyfriend, I stayed home and watched Lars. It was good and touching even though I kept waiting for him to either attempt sex with the doll, or for someone in the town to just not play along with his delusions. I particularly liked the one random Black couple in the entire town.

Up the ass, in the hole or down the throat, kids need sex education

So my niggas at the Guttmacher Institute came out with yet another boo yaa! study about teens and sex. So maybe that whole blow jobs and teens mania got a little out of hand. (I'm assuming they looked at heterosexual intercourse, and I want to assume that it's really fellatio we're talking about when we say oral sex. How many high school boys did you know who could eat mad pussy and eat it well?)

Apparently, teens are mostly like having vaginal sex and engaging in oral sex. Though we can't really tell which comes first, results point toward a trend of it you do one, you do the other - teens are becoming active in multiple ways around the same time.

The point being that teens are screwing in every hole no matter how you slice it, so we need to be talking to kids about all the ways they need to protect themselves. And yet somehow the abstinence morons are trying to make this study support their idea of teaching kids to keep it in their pants. Uh....nice try, but try again. Teens are fucking whether you like it or not. Now we can keep seeing kids having kids and catching some nasty discharge OR we can educate them on prevention, safe sex, empowerment and making healthy, safe and informed decisions.

So I guess this means you can shut the fuck up now

So there isn't a boys crisis after all. A recent study by the American Association of University Women (I love dem bitches) shows that girl achievement has little or no impact on boy achievement. I knew I was right to be pissed about this whole what about our boys? bullshit that educators and academics tried to shove down our throats.

In fact, the study says, you should more concerned about the money in their parents' pockets instead of whether they pee standing or sitting. There is no gap between Black girls and boys. Of course white boys did better than their counterparts. Latino boys and girls had a slight gap, but again, this can be attributed to several factors besides gender.

Other findings:

- A literacy gap in favor of girls is not new, nor is it increasing. Over the past three decades, the reading gap favoring girls on NAEP has narrowed or stayed the same. Nine-year-old boys scored higher than ever on the reading assessment in 2004; scores for 13- and 17-year-old boys were higher or not much different from scores in the 1970s.

- A gender gap still exists favoring boys in math, especially among 17-year-olds on the NAEP.

- The percentages of students scoring at higher levels of proficiency on the NAEP are rising for both boys and girls.

- Students from lower-income families -- families with incomes of $37,000 or less -- are less likely to be proficient in math and reading. Gender differences vary significantly by race and ethnicity.

- There is virtually no gap between boys and girls entering college immediately after high school.

Not to mention that MEN STILL EARN MORE THAN WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. SO I DON'T CARE HOW WELL SUZY DOES IN HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH, SHE WILL STILL EARN 77¢ ON YOUR FUCKING DOLLAR.

So BASICALLY you can shut the fuck up now.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Don't let the door hit ya on the way out

Check into Cash is leaving Ohio. Thanks to some recent state legislation that put a cap on APRs that payday lending businesses can place on customers, Check into Cash is "forced" to leave. Boo fucking hoo on this one. I understand this strikes a blow to the 200-some employees that CiC employed, but hopefully they won't find themselves in the same dilemmas as uninformed consumers who were duped by CiC. Good riddance. (Now bring on the consumer financial education!)

Future Tool of America: John Tyler Hammons

Meet John Tyler Hammons, the newly-elected mayor of Muskogee, OK. Not that much of value ever comes out of that state, but John is news because he's 19. He's making records because of his young age and newly acquired position. I smelled Republican and of course, he is. In fact, he is the youngest at-large delegate for the Republican convention. He aspires to be governor of Okiehoma one day. And of course he wants to be President once he's governor.

Douche Quote: "Right now I'm between girlfriends," he said, "so I'm looking to fill that position."

Proof that there is little difference between a donkey and an elephant: "The senior class president at Muskogee High School in 2007, he served as president of both the Young Republicans and the Young Democrats clubs. "I threw my name in both rings ... and lo and behold, both groups elected me," he said."

WTF, NOW?

I mean...I get it, but I don't get it. I was trying to psych myself up for the NOW National Conference in July so I was reading about their highlighted speakers. All of the women are notables, some familiar to me in the work they have done to advance women's rights. However, among Patricia Ireland and Lily Ledbetter, there was a glossy glamour shot that caught my eye: Nancy Redd's.




Nancy Redd is the 26-year-old author of Body Drama, a New York Times Best-Seller and a 2008 NAACP Image Award nominee. On a mission to tackle the issues least discussed but most significant in young women's lives, Redd's book dares to empower a new generation-with facts instead of fantasies, and the priceless gift of self-knowledge. Body Drama celebrates the many versions of "normal," replacing seriously erroneous information with the honest, medically proven truth in a language all girls can understand.

Two weeks after graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Women's Studies and as one of Harvard Magazine's Top Six Seniors, Redd won the title of Miss Virginia, going on to make the Top 10 and winning the swimsuit competition at Miss America 2004. She once won $250,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire (donating 10 percent to 4-H), and was named by Glamour magazine as one of the United States' top-ten college women "most likely to succeed-at anything."

Redd is a contributing editor and Body & Soul expert at CosmoGIRL! Magazine. She has been featured on E! True Hollywood Stories, PEOPLE magazine, NPR, PBS, CBS's The Early Show, Eyewitness Kids News, Discovery Channel, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, ABC's Good Morning America, J-14 and more.


OK. So I get that she's all about positive body image, but let me point out that despite graduating with honors from fucking Harvard, she was in a beauty pageant. Miss Fucking America for crying out loud. She was a Women's Studies student and yet, she participated in a beauty pageant, and God Bless Her, she won the fucking swimsuit contest. DOES ANYONE ELSE SEE THE IRONY IN HER MISSION?

Not only that, but she decides to donate 10% of her winnings from a gameshow to 4-H. Not CARE International, not NOW, not Planned Parenthood, not here, nor here, or here. 4-H.

I won't begin to talk about her work with fucking CosmoGirl! A subsidiary of Cosmopolitan magazine whose sole mission in life is to make women give better blowjobs, maintain unrealistic beauty standards and have pornstar quality hair at affordable prices. And yet, somehow she has been invited by NOW to talk about her "courageous" work with body image and telling girls it's OK to not be thin and light-skinneded like her.

Why is it that the message of self-acceptance and body awareness has to come from a thin, long-haired, glossy tooth, fair skinned, heterosexual woman? Why? OF COURSE it's OK to feel good in her skin because she looks like the fucking ideal. I don't want to insult Ms. Redd, after all she is a Harvard grad, (even though her ubiquitous use of the word "ya'll" undermines her ivy-league education) but gosh ya'll I feel like the femininized, "pink" version of female empowerment is just a tad too mainstream for me.

So now the only thing I'm psyched up to do is send NOW a SWL asking them WTF with the 4-H lady.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I think there is a problem with this

OK, so you spit in a police officer's face. That isn't cool, but what's even less cool is the fact that you've been sentenced to 35 years in jail for it. Because you're HIV+. If the jury that convicted you would check its facts, it would know that HIV is not spread through saliva. It is spread like this.

So....why then would a jury be allowed to convict someone under the guise that their saliva was used as a deadly weapon? Oh wait...this happened in Texas. Nevermind.

So you called her "sweetie", the bigger question is:

How are you going to help American auto workers? That is the question. Nobody cares about the sweetie part. We know you participate fully in The Patriarchy since you have failed miserably at addressing the issue of gender during this entire campaign, so dismissively referring to an adult woman whom you don't even know as "sweetie" doesn't suprise nor concern me.

Even the sweetie in question, a reporter in Michigan, says she doesn't care about the gaffe. What she does care about is the fact that she still doesn't have an answer to her question.

Ms Agar said the apology surprised her but she was more concerned he had not answered her question. "People in Michigan have to make a decision about who they're going to vote for... [Mr Obama] could take a second to say what he's going to do for them."


Dreams. Stardust and Rainbows Change we can believe in.

Here's the thing with Marc

I'm glad he resigned and I liked the motherfucker. He kept it trealz on several occasions and I respect him for that. When he failed to keep it real, he lost me. Over the weekend, I attended the Ohio Democratic Women's Luncheon and they announced that they were removing their endorsement from Marc Dann. Amid waves of sucked air and head nodding, the woman who made the announcement simply said this: We're no longer endorsing him because he failed to create an environment that was safe for women to work without harassment.

That's it. I don't care about his affair because that is no concern of mine. What I do care about is the fact that he failed to pursue appropriate actions after being made privy to several incidents of sexual harassment within his office. You failed at your job, you failed your employees, you failed Democrats and you failed the women of Ohio who fiercely campaigned for you and carried you on our backs to Columbus.

Done. Peace Out. Goodbye.

Amen, sister.

Misogyny I Won't Miss
By Marie CoccoThursday, May 15, 2008; Page A15

As the Democratic nomination contest slouches toward a close, it's time to take stock of what I will not miss.

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan "Bros before Hos." The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary Clinton (the Ho) and are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her legs to reveal stainless-steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won't miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty item.

I won't miss episodes like the one in which liberal radio personality Randi Rhodes called Clinton a "big [expletive] whore" and said the same about former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Rhodes was appearing at an event sponsored by a San Francisco radio station, before an audience of appreciative Obama supporters -- one of whom had promoted the evening on the presumptive Democratic nominee's official campaign Web site.

I won't miss Citizens United Not Timid (no acronym, please), an anti-Clinton group founded by Republican guru Roger Stone.

Political discourse will at last be free of jokes like this one, told last week by magician Penn Jillette on MSNBC: "Obama did great in February, and that's because that was Black History Month. And now Hillary's doing much better 'cause it's White Bitch Month, right?" Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rebuked Jillette.

I won't miss political commentators (including National Public Radio political editor Ken Rudin and Andrew Sullivan, the columnist and blogger) who compare Clinton to the Glenn Close character in the movie "Fatal Attraction." In the iconic 1987 film, Close played an independent New York woman who has an affair with a married man played by Michael Douglas. When the liaison ends, the jilted woman becomes a deranged, knife-wielding stalker who terrorizes the man's blissful suburban family. Message: Psychopathic home-wrecker, begone.

The airwaves will at last be free of comments that liken Clinton to a "she-devil" (Chris Matthews on MSNBC, who helpfully supplied an on-screen mock-up of Clinton sprouting horns). Or those who offer that she's "looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court" (Mike Barnicle, also on MSNBC).

But perhaps it is not wives who are so very problematic. Maybe it's mothers. Because, after all, Clinton is more like "a scolding mother, talking down to a child" (Jack Cafferty on CNN).
When all other images fail, there is one other I will not miss. That is, the down-to-the-basics, simplest one: "White women are a problem, that's -- you know, we all live with that" (William Kristol of Fox News).

I won't miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign. To hint that sexism might possibly have had a minimal role is to play that risible "gender card."

Most of all, I will not miss the silence.

I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven't publicly uttered a word of outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York. Among those holding their tongues are hundreds of Democrats for whom Clinton has campaigned and raised millions of dollars. Don Imus endured more public ire from the political class when he insulted the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Would the silence prevail if Obama's likeness were put on a tap-dancing doll that was sold at airports? Would the media figures who dole out precious face time to these politicians be such pals if they'd compared Obama with a character in a blaxploitation film? And how would crude references to Obama's sex organs play?

There are many reasons Clinton is losing the nomination contest, some having to do with her strategic mistakes, others with the groundswell for "change." But for all Clinton's political blemishes, the darker stain that has been exposed is the hatred of women that is accepted as a part of our culture.

Marie Cocco is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Her e-mail address is mariecocco@washpost.com.

I mean with people like her, I should be a Republican

Dana Perino. Man, you gotta love her. There are several Bush cult followers staff members that I have always admired because of their ability to keep it real. Their politics suck, but they tell like it is. This list would include Dick Cheney and my man, Donald Rumsfield. The truth hurts sometimes and people like Dick and Don just rip the band-aid right off.

Which brings me to my girl, Dana. In a story that would not usually grab my attention is this golden nugget:

Responding with a statement, the Obama campaign seized on Bush's remarks even as it was unclear to whom Bush was referring.

"It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 6Oth anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack," Obama said in the statement. "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."

The White House said Bush's comment wasn't a reference to Obama.

"It is not," press secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Israel. "I would think that all of you who cover these issues and have for a long time (a) have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to. I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case." (b)

HAAAAAA! Let's look at Exhibit A. First, she BASICALLY calls out every reporter who even bothered to bring this topic up. Translation: Ya'll hoes should know better than to even step to me with dis bullshit.

Exhibit B: That was just flat out hilarious. Tony Snow aint never been that bold in my recollection. But she BASICALLY just called Obama and his campaign out and raised him two or three on his attempt at a call out. Translation: None needed on this one cuz she basically laid it out there for alls ya'lls to see.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A little bit of sunshine in Somalia

This feel-good piece of news took me by surprise. Ethiopian soldiers collected donations from their own money and bought food for about 500 people in Mogadishu. It's so nice, it's almost hard to believe. That's how jaded I've become.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ohio HB 477

The ACLU of Ohio, SEIU and the Ohio Latino Commission are opposing HB 477 (sponsored by a Republican), which would require public agencies to conduct business and keep records in English. This of course, would prevent thousands of non-English speakers from effectively receiving services. The bill would make it illegal to conduct official business such as meetings in any language other than English. If there are official printed materials that said public agency creates, there must be a separate line item in its budget for printing in other languages.

I'm trying to make heads or tails of this, but this just seems like a waste of legislation because it's not as if public agencies are running around holding meetings in Tagalog. It is stealth legislation designed to create a hostile environment for non-English speakers aka immigrants in the state of Ohio. The ACLU of Ohio encourages people to contact their reps about HB 477 and encourage them (obviously) to not vote for it.

Just a little FYI.

Why haven't I heard of Gus Puryear? aka Her name was Estelle Richardson

Well, one is because the Bush Regime is ever secretive and if it can manage to appoint an asshole judge to the federal bench without anyone knowing, it will do it. Secondly, the problem with Puryear stems from the death of a Black woman and as well know, no one gives a shit about that. In fact, he enjoys bipartisan support. I'm not sure what makes him qualified outside of the fact that he is a loyal Republican (donor), but what I am sure of is this: the death of Estelle Richardson was murder and Gus Puryear did everything in his power to deny her and her family justice.

Estelle was killed while in custody of a private prison in Tennesee. She found herself in prison after losing jobs and relocating to another state to find a better life for her and her family. She made some wrong turns and ended up involved in drugs. Her life went downhill from there and she landed in prison. She was misdiagnosed and overdrugged on anti-depressants. She was isolated from the other inmates, refused medical treatment for injuries inflicted by prison guards and one day she was found dead. When her family tried to bring civil suit against the four guards held in her murder, they were blocked at every step by Gus.

And now Bush wants to make him a federally appointed judge. Nice. Read here for more reasons why he is an asshole and not fit for the bench.

Different ships, same boat

This article discusses the growing trend of de-facto and legal segregation and discrimination that Latinos in the South are experiencing. So embedded is this discrimination, there is even a new term for it: Juan Crow, which is a Spanish spin on Jim Crow.

This article is lengthy and worth reading as it details the challenging that Latinos (mostly Mexican) are facing. There is much to be said about the immigration struggle in America and the growing problem of globalization. More and more, workers are losing out as companies expand across borders. In this article, Georgia politicos welcome overseas companies into its state, while undermining the rights of the very people whose blood, sweat and tears contribute to the profits.

However, what I drew from it the most is the Latino/Black American divide that exists in this whole immigration debate. One student describes the racism he experiences from not only white students, but Black students as well. An Afro-Latina speaks about the ordeals of being misunderstood by Blacks and discriminated against by whites and white Latinos.

A striking quote:

"But when I was in seventh grade, I went to Richards Middle School, where it wasn't the white people saying things, it was black people. They didn't like Mexican kids. They would call us 'Mexican border hoppers,' 'wetbacks' and all these things. Every time they'd see me, they yelled at me, threatened to beat me up after school for no reason at all." Asked how it felt, he said, "It's like, now since they have rights, they can discriminate [against] others."

He bluntly states part of this divide. Rev. Joseph Lowery, an activist quoted in the article says this:

"There are many differences between our experience and that of immigrant Latinos--but there is a family resemblance between Jim Crow and what is being experienced by immigrants. Both met economic oppression. Both met racial and ethnic hostility."But the most important thing to remember," said Lowery, as if casting out the demons of Juan and Jim Crow, "is that, though we may have come over on different ships, we're all in the same damn boat now."

The Black Struggle in America is truly unique. And while there are commonalities in racial oppressions, Latinos are experiencing a different racial oppression unique to their culture, history and origins. While it is important to understand these truths, oppressed groups can learn much from the Black Civil rights movement. Don't appropriate it, but try to understand it and take from it a blueprint for organizing. Learn from its mistakes and glean from it some inspiration. (I understand that part of this inability to unite with Blacks is racism on the part of Latinos.)

Conversely, what have Blacks not learned from our own struggles that we are comfortable enough to reject others using the same philosophies that validated our own oppression? This sort of hypocrisy saddens me, then alarms me, then angers me. Like Lowery said, "we're in the same damn boat now" and our inability to recognize that we share a common enemy in powerful members of the dominant culture makes it no surprise that we are where we are these days. Once again, Blacks have co-opted white patriarchy and used what privilege we do have to exclude others. How can we not see that an unified racial front is needed to truly make gains? How can we not see that by advocating for and securing the rights of all workers, we are making a grand impact on a poor economic state of affairs?

While we work with nativist groups and hateful white politicians to deny fundamental rights to Latinos, we will continue to contribute to our own oppression. And while Latinos continue to resist their own African roots and adopt white racist ideologies about Blacks, they will miss opportunities to gain allies in their quest for basic freedoms in America.

Uh-Obama: Racism, White Voters and the Myth of Color-Blindness

I'm so overcome with tides of pleasure. I was reading this article about Rev. Wright, in which Bill Moyers points out the racial discrepancies in the public's outcry against his pulpit tirades when I came across this essay by Tim Wise. Tim is one of few white people that I can actually stand to listen to when talking about race. In this essay, Tim is able to articulate so well and so honestly the one thing that has bothered me about Obama and race. Here it is in full text with [my comments].

March 6, 2008

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write, at least not as soon as I am now compelled to write it: It may well be the case that the United States is on its way to electing a person of color as President. Make no mistake, I realize the way that any number of factors, racism prominently among them, could derail such a thing from coming to fruition. Indeed, results from the Ohio Democratic primary suggest that an awful lot of white folks, especially rural and working-class whites, are still mightily uncomfortable with voting for such a candidate, at least partly because of race: One-fifth of voters in the state said race was important to their decision, and roughly six in ten of these voted for Hillary Clinton, which totals would then represent her approximate margin of victory over Barack Obama.

But having said all that--and I think anyone who is being honest would have to acknowledge this as factual--we are far closer to the election of a person of color in a Presidential race than probably any of us expected. Obama's meteoric rise, from community organizer, to law professor, to Illinois state senator, to the U.S. Senate, and now, possibly, the highest office in the land, is something that could have been foreseen by few if any just a few years ago. Obama's undeniable charisma, savvy political instincts, passion for his work, and ability to connect with young voters (and not a few older ones as well) is the kind of thing you just don't see all that often. The fact that as a black man (or, as some may prefer, a man of biracial background) [One drop rule anyone?] he has been able to catapult to the position in which he now finds himself makes the accomplishment even more significant. It does indeed mean something.

But this is where things become considerably more complicated; the point at which one is forced to determine what, exactly, his success means (and doesn't mean) when it comes to the state of race, race relations, and racism in the United States. And it is at this point that so-called mainstream commentary has, once again, dropped the ball. [Pick it up, Tim. Pick. It. Up.]

On the one hand, many a voice has suggested that Obama's success signifies something akin to the end of racism in the U.S., if not entirely, then surely as a potent political or social force. After all, if a black man actually stands a better-than-decent shot at becoming President, then how much of a barrier could racism really be? But of course, the success of individual persons of color, while it certainly suggests that overt bigotry has diminished substantially, hardly speaks to the larger social reality faced by millions of others: a subject to which we will return. Just as sexism no doubt remained an issue in Pakistan, even after Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister in the 1980s and again in the 90s (or in India or Israel after both nations had female Premiers, or in Great Britain after the election of Margaret Thatcher), so too can racism exist in abundance, in spite of the electoral success of one person of color, even one who could be elevated to the highest office in the world's most powerful nation. [Boo ya. How is it that people keep holding this unrealistic expectation that all racial discrimination and oppression will end when a man of African heritage assumes the role of President? And what would his political success mean to other ethnic groups and persons of color? The Black struggle DOES NOT represent/is not synonymous with the struggles of other minority groups and to think so is well...biased.]

More importantly, to the extent Obama's success has been largely contingent on his studious avoidance of the issue of race--such that he rarely ever mentions discrimination and certainly not in front of white audiences [One could find it interesting to notice how Barack behaves in front of white audiences and predominantly Black audiences. Whites who claim to not notice the difference just further proves my point of white people's blindness to Black experiences in America. Further, his difference in behavior is a prime example of how many Blacks must shift roles, behaviors and personas on a daily basis to survive in a white dominated society.]--one has to wonder just how seriously we should take the notion that racism is a thing of the past, at least as supposedly evidenced by his ability to attract white votes? [Here we go again. I have been saying this for quite some time. Obama is not transcending race. He is just avoiding it, which to me is criminal given the history of Blacks in America.] To the extent those whites are rewarding him in large measure for not talking about race, and to the extent they would abandon him in droves were he to begin talking much about racism--for he would be seen at that point as playing the race card, or appealing to "special interests" and suffer the consequences [sounds familiar, since anytime Hillary references the fact that she is a woman is criticized]--we should view Obama's success, given what has been required to make it possible, as confirmation of the ongoing salience of race in American life. Were race really something we had moved beyond, whites would be open to hearing a candidate share factual information about housing discrimination, racial profiling, or race-based inequities in health care. But we don't want to be reminded of those things. We prefer to ignore them, and many are glad that Obama has downplayed them too, whether by choice, or necessity. [Exactly. Transcendence doesn't mean avoidance, which what we're doing. Discussing the systemic racial bias against Black Americans would be seen as too radical and too polarizing for white conservatives AND white liberals to hear. Keep it coming, Tim. And if his avoidance is part of some complex, subversive plan to fool every white person in America, then I am impressed. However, if it is not, then his choice to avoid racial realities is borderline traitorous.]

Erasing Race and Making White Folks Happy
The extent to which Obama's white support has been directly related to his downplaying of race issues simply cannot be overstated, as evidenced by the kinds of things many of these supporters openly admit, possessing no sense of apparent irony or misgiving. So, consider the chant offered by his supporters at a recent rally--and frankly, a chant in which whites appeared to be joining with far greater enthusiasm than folks of color [When Tim says "folks of color", I actually like it as opposed to tree-hugging, lesbian social workers]--to the effect that "Race Doesn't Matter, Race Doesn't Matter," a concept so utterly absurd, given the way in which race most certainly still matters to the opportunity structure in this country, that one has to almost wretch at the repeated offering of it. Or consider the statements of support put forth by Obama supporters in a November 2007 Wall Street Journal article, to the effect that Obama makes whites "feel good" about ourselves (presumably by not bothering us with all that race talk), and that Obama, by virtue of his race-averse approach has "emancipated" whites to finally vote for a black candidate (because goodness knows we were previously chained and enslaved to a position of rejectionism). [Here it is again. White guilt. Just the idea that voting for Barack Obama somehow absolves the entire history of white transgressions in America (let alone other countries) is a slap in my Black face to say the least.] Worst of all, consider the words of one white Obama supporter, an ardent political blogger in Nashville, to the effect that what he likes about the Illinois Senator is that he "doesn't come with the baggage of the civil rights movement." Let it suffice to say that when the civil rights movement--one of the greatest struggles for human liberation in the history of our collective species--can be unashamedly equated with Samsonite, with luggage, with something one should avoid as though it were radioactive (and this coming from a self-described liberal), we are at a very dangerous place as a nation, all celebrations of Obama's cross-racial appeal notwithstanding. [Yes, when Blacks actually remind whites of the history of Blacks in America, we are told to "let it go" and "look towards the future, rather than the past". I wonder how whites would feel if Obama started asking for reparations. (He would only be eligible for 20 acres instead of 40.) We like to think that the Civil Rights Movement, which only ended less than 40 years ago is the crowning achievement in the Black American struggle. Much like earning the right to vote for women, some people think we're done and that it is time to move on and live in a post-racial society. Not so fast. While the achievements of my mother's era were a step in the right direction, it's a step on a long ass road to true social justice.]

What does it say about the nation's political culture--and what does it suggest about the extent to which we have moved "beyond race"--that candidate Obama, though he surely knows it, has been unable to mention the fact that 2006 saw the largest number of race-based housing discrimination complaints on record, and according to government and private studies, there are between two and three million cases of housing discrimination each year against people of color?

What does it say that he has failed to note with any regularity that according to over a hundred studies, health disparities between whites and blacks are due not merely to health care costs and economic differences between the two groups (a subject he does address) but also due to the provision of discriminatory care by providers, even to blacks with upper incomes, and black experiences with racism itself, which are directly related to hypertension and other maladies?

What does it say that Obama apparently can't bring himself to mention, for fear of likely white backlash, that whites are over seventy percent of drug users, but only about ten percent of persons incarcerated for a drug possession offense, while blacks and Latinos combined are about twenty-five percent of users, but comprise roughly ninety percent of persons locked up for a possession offense? [Yes, while Obama is good at calling out people from time to time, he has failed to clearly and loudly talk about the systemic biases in this country. We may be from different sides and all want the same thing as he likes to say, but the harsh truth is that not all of us have the same means to see the same big picture and achieve the American Dream. And by means, I mean skin color. You have to be real and honest enough to say that, which Obama has yet to do.]

Why no mention of the massive national study by legal scholars Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen, which found that at least a third of all businesses in the nation engage in substantial discrimination against people of color--hiring such folks at rates that are well below their availability in the local and qualified labor pool, and well below the rates at which they are to be found in non-discriminating companies in the same locales and industries? Indeed, according to the Blumrosen study, at least 1.3 million qualified people of color will face job discrimination in a given year. [Tell me about it. I can tell you story after story of being rejected from jobs because of my race. I can also tell you stories of being the only Black professional in my office and the condescending nature in which I am told that I was hired on my merits only and that my employment is not some pathetic attempt at diversification.] Or what of the study of temporary agencies in California, which found that white women who are less qualified than their black counterparts, are still three times more likely to be favored in a job search? And what are the odds that he'll be likely to mention, to any significant degree, the recent EEOC report, which notes that in 2007 there was a twelve percent jump in race-based discrimination complaints in the workplace relative to the previous year (almost all of which were filed by persons of color): bringing the number of such complaints to their highest level since 1994?

As Obama talks about change and making the "American Dream" real for all, why is he unable to mention the fact--let alone propose specific remedies for it [Dreams and Stardust]--that thanks to a history of unequal access to property and the inability to accumulate assets on par with whites, young black couples with college degrees and good incomes still start out at a significant disadvantage (around $20,000) relative to their white counterparts? In fact, the wealth gap between whites and blacks--with the average white family now having about eleven times the net worth of the average black family--continues to grow, even as income gaps for similarly educated families with similar background characteristics have shrunk. [I recently read a book about this very issue. You can pull on those proverbial bootstraps all you want, but when one generation is poor, it is very hard to break that cycle. We can talk about racial harmony all we want, but as much I care for my white brothers as sisters, they still possess more wealth (assets, not just money) than me despite my gains in educational and social mobility and that advantages is largely due to opportunities afforded to them because of their race.]

And why such muted discussion about the way that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, government at all levels and across party lines has engaged in ethnic cleansing in New Orleans, failing to provide rental assistance to the mostly black tenant base for over a year, plotting to tear down 5000 perfectly usable units of public housing, failing to restart the city's public health care infrastructure, and even ordering the Red Cross not to provide relief in the first few days after the city flooded in September 2005, so as to force evacuation and empty out the city? While Obama has spoken much about the failures of the Bush Administration during Katrina, openly discussing the deliberate acts of cruelty that go well beyond incompetence, and which amount to the forced depopulation of New Orleans-area blacks, has been something about which he cannot speak for fear of prompting a backlash from whites, most of whom, according to polls, don't think the events of Katrina have any lessons at all to teach us about race in America. [Hell, Brad Pitt has had more to say and has done more about the this situation than Obama.]

Surely, that Obama is constrained in his ability to focus any real attention on these matters, suggests that whatever his success may say about America and race, one thing it utterly fails to say is that we have conquered the racial demons that have so long bedeviled us. And to the extent he must remain relatively silent about these issues, lest he find his political ascent headed in a decidedly different direction, it is true, however ironic, that his success actually confirms the salience of white power. If, in order to be elected, a man of color has to pander to white folks, in ways that no white politician would ever have to do to people who were black or brown, then white privilege and white power remain operative realities. Obama's ascent to the Presidency, if it happens, will happen only because he managed to convince enough whites that he was different, and not really black, in the way too many whites continue to think of black people, which according to every opinion survey, is not too positively. [Bam! Barack Obama is a good, non-threatening Negro that makes whites of all political shades feel good about themselves. That is why when the not-so-good Negro, Jeremiah Wright said what he said, whites started to worry about Barack associating with such colored folk. Perhaps Barack was a radical colored all long! No, just in time, Obama cut his ties to assure whites that he wasn't angry like that other colored Jeremiah Wright. And Tim makes another great point: while Hillary is attacked from all sides for trying to be both masculine and feminine, she still doesn't have to be not-too-white, or too white to appeal to Blacks or any other group.]

Transcending Blackness, Reinforcing White Racism: The Trouble With Exceptions
Obama's rise has owed almost everything to his ability--and this, again, coming from people who support him and are willing to speak candidly--to "transcend" race, which is really a way of saying, his ability to carve out an exception for himself in the minds of whites. But this notion of Obama "transcending race" (by which we really mean transcending his blackness) [BAM! Race is just another word for Black in this country. Again, Tim is making the excellent point that all Barack has managed to do is make white people feel comfortable again.] is a patently offensive and even racist notion in that it serves to reinforce generally negative feelings about blacks as a whole; feelings that the presence of exceptions cannot cancel out, and which they can even serve to reinforce. [He's articulate and well dressed says Biden. He went to white institutions and earned a degree in field where whites are usually on one side and Blacks on the other. He's just not what whites expect from a Black man. His success, which is commonplace for white men is some sort of novel exception because of his skin color.] To the extent Obama has become the Cliff Huxtable of politics--a black man with whom millions of whites can identity and to whom they can relate--he has leapt one hurdle, only to watch his white co-countrymen and women erect a still higher one in the path of the black masses. [Why can't you all be like him?] If whites view Obama as having transcended his blackness, and if this is why we like him so much, we are saying, in effect, that the millions of blacks who haven't transcended theirs will remain a problem. To praise the transcending of blackness, after all, is to imply that blackness is something negative, something from which one who might otherwise qualify for membership ought to seek escape, and quickly. [Bam again. Because white is regarded as the norm, then anything not white is not normal, or other, thus something to be avoided or rejected. Exactly. If we can all just be color-blind, we can ignore the travesties of racial bias, oppression and discriminaton. Black is negative almost everywhere you go in the world, so the less you can remind whites of your Blackness, the better.]

Note, never has a white politician been confronted with questions about his or her ability to transcend race, or specifically, their whiteness. [This can't be said enough.] And this is true, even as many white politicians continue to pull almost all of their support from whites, and have almost no luck at convincing people of color to vote for them. In the Democratic primaries this year, Obama has regularly received about half the white vote, while Hillary Clinton has managed to pull down only about one-quarter of the black vote, yet the question has always been whether he could transcend race. The only rational conclusion to which this points is, again, that it is not race per se that needs to be overcome, but blackness. [Yes. If Barack were say, Mexican, or more generally a white Latino, this whole discussion of race wouldn't exist beyond a whisper.] Whiteness is not seen as negative, as something to be conquered or transcended. [It is seen as something to aspire to. Just ask any Black kid who has been picked on for speaking English properly, or reading books. They are labeled as sell outs or trying to act white. Notice all the Black comedians who parody whites: they usually capitalize on stereotypes like whites are punctual, overly polite and pay their bills on time. Whereas Black stereotypes have us labeled as lazy, unambitious and stupid. Why would anyone want to be that?] Indeed, whereas blacks are being asked to rise above their racial identity, for whites, the burden is exactly the opposite: the worst thing for a white person is to fail to live up to the ostensibly high standards set by whiteness; it is to be considered white trash, which is to say, to be viewed as someone who has let down whiteness and fallen short of its pinnacle. For blacks, the worst thing it seems (at least in the minds of whites) is to be seen as black, which is no doubt why so many whites think it's a compliment to say things to black folks like, "I don't even think of you as black," not realizing that the subtext of such a comment is that it's a damned good thing they don't, for if they did, the person so thought of would be up the proverbial creek for sure. [Bringing it home. Color-blindness places the burden on Blacks (and to an lesser extent other minorities) to assimilate and to shed any references to Blackness, thus assauging white guilt. It is still our job and responsibility to move forward and leave history as history. Somehow, the onus is on us to accept what paltry justices we have achieved as victory and true equality. "These darn Blacks just can't shut up about race!" In fact, whites think we have achieved such equality that "reverse racism" now exists and they are in fact the true victims now. Finally, there is a candidate that doesn't remind this country of our failures to be inclusive, just and fair. And he's Black! See, why can't you all be like Obama?]

In what must prove among the greatest ironies of all time, for Barack Obama to become President, which he well may accomplish, he will have to succeed in convincing a lot of racist white people to vote for him. Without the support of racists he simply can't win. While this may seem counterintuitive--that is, after all, what makes it ironic--it is really inarguable. After all, according to many an opinion survey in the past decade, large numbers of whites (often as high as one-half to three-quarters) harbor at least one negative and racist stereotype about African Americans, whether regarding their intelligence, law-abidingness, work ethic, or value systems. Without the votes of at least some of those whites (and keep in mind, that's how many whites are willing to admit to racist beliefs, which is likely far fewer than actually hold them), Obama's candidacy would be sunk. So long as whites can vote for a black man only to the extent that he doesn't remind them of other black people, it is fair to say that white people remain mired in a racism quite profound. To the extent we view the larger black community in terms far more hostile than those reserved for Obama, Oprah, Tiger, Colin, Condoleezza, Denzel and Bill (meaning Cosby, not Clinton, whose blackness is believed to be authentic only by himself nowadays), whites have proven how creative we can be, and how resourceful, when it comes to the maintenance of racial inequality. [Indeed. And the Blacks listed here are all Blacks that white America loves simply for the fact that they aren't like "regular" Blacks. They are also ridiculously wealthy and rarely make references to their race, some even going as far as to reject their achievements as milestones in Black American history (Tiger and Denzel)].

By granting exemptions from blackness, even to those black folks who did not ask for such exemptions (and nothing I have said here should be taken as a critique of Obama himself by the way, for whom I did indeed vote last month [So just in case you thought this was some sort of Pro-Hillary essay, it's not.]), we have taken racism to an entirely new and disturbing level, one that bypasses the old and all-encompassing hostilities of the past, and replaces them with a new, seemingly ecumenical acceptance in the present. But make no mistake, it is an ecumenism that depends upon our being made to feel good, and on our ability to glom onto folks of color who won't challenge our denial let alone our privileges, even if they might like to. [Well put. Obama makes whites feel good and that is disturbing. He fails to question their privilege and to some extent, one could argue he simply vying to gain that same privilege instead of challenging the system that currently exists. Racial equality is not Blacks becoming the same as whites, it's about the entire patriarchal system being eradicated, which Obama doesn't seem intent on doing.]

In short, the success of Barack Obama has proven, perhaps more so than any other single thing could, just how powerful race remains in America. His success, far from disproving white power and privilege, confirms it with a vengeance. [My God. This has to be the best essay written to date about this topic. The white support of Obama is nothing more than condescending rhetoric spewed by liberls in denial, conservatives that hate Hillary, and Blacks who are too blinded by the prospect of a Black president to actually question his ability to fill the position. I firmly believe that Barack will secure the Democratic nomination one way or the other, but I will always have problems with his candidacy and those who support him because of this very thing that Tim Wise so eloquently discusses. His success, means little or nothing to me for a variety of reasons. In his ascent, he has failed to use his opportunity to bring the Black American experience to light in America. He keeps trying to appeal to all sides and in this effort has failed miserably to confront the very racism that pervades his existence. I know that being President means you represent all people and I would not expect him to make sweeping changes that would result in some dramatic shift in Black social status. One, because it's impossible, and two: because that isn't his job. However, he is well positioned to have the ears of not only America, but the entire free world and he is too busy allaying white fear in order to seize this moment. Should he win in November, I will be proud and happy for his accomplishment, but as a woman of color in this country, the question will still remain: what exactly will you do as President to help protect my reproductive rights, fight gender discrimination and erode centuries of racial bias? (If we are arguing that his candidacy alone is a success for Blacks in America, then Black oppression should have ended with Alan Keyes, Condolezza Rice, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, etc.? I mean I know I hate them for very political reasons, but even I can't deny the power of their achievements. Plus, tt's OK for white liberals to hate them.) Part of me believes his candidacy comes at a time of mere opportunity. Had this country not suffered for eight years, he would be dismissed for his empty rhetoric and smooth talk. After all, where was the Black male and white liberal support for her? Why is her run for office a mere footnote in history?]