Trayvon and Me

There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.

President Dwight Eisenhower

 

I have struggled with how to write this for weeks now. The escalation of emotions across the nation at the senseless and violent death of a boy on the brink of manhood is something none of us can quite fathom, quite accept and so we seek reasons for why it happened. What is it in our national psyche that causes us to seek justifications for what is inexplicable?

Each time I have approached writing this epistle my heart cracks. I am reminded of the feelings my family felt; the hurts and anger they experienced when they thought they might have lost me to random violence. When I have tried to write, I am brought to my knees, my mind explodes with questions but the most important is why.

Trayvon and Me

26-Feb-2012: Trayvon Martin a Black youth is found shot dead in Stanford, Florida. Trayvon is 17 years old, just a child, his entire life ahead of him.

7-Feb-1992: Valentine Logar a White woman is found shot three times in Fort Worth, Texas. Valentine is 34 years old, a mother of two young sons (read story here The Complete Story).

What do the two crimes; twenty years apart have in common you ask, certainly on the surface they don’t seem to be linked in any way. There is no direct relationship between Trayvon and me, the relationship is one created by my broken heart over the lives lost in our nation, not just Trayvon’ s, but those of the three young boys, not yet men who lost their lives the night they tried to take mine.

My purpose is to draw some parallels, in part because on 13-March-2012 the first of the three who shot me that fateful night was released from prison after serving his entire twenty-year sentence. He was born on 14-December-1975, he was just 17 years old when he was sentenced; he will be 37 years old this year. He has spent more time in prison than free.

Courtesty of News National Post.com

Trayvon died in his confrontation with George Zimmerman. There is a great deal of speculation that race played a part in Trayvon’s death, George Zimmerman determined Trayvon was a ‘suspicious’ character who did not belong and escalated a confrontation which ended in the death of Trayvon. Speculation aside, we know George Zimmerman stole this child’s life, we know this because George Zimmerman confessed to killing Trayvon. We currently have George Zimmerman’s side of the story; we have 911 calls and we have what many believe are questionable police procedures. We know one other thing right now, George Zimmerman is not sitting in jail, he is not out on bond either; George Zimmerman is a free man who after taking the life of a child is walking free in the community.

Why do I draw parallels, why am I so bothered by this story?

I keep wondering what would have happened if the roles would have been reversed, if the color of my skin had been Black and the color of my attackers had been White. Would the outcome been different?

I have read the confessions of my attackers. I wasn’t the only victim; I was the lucky one though. One thing it is important to know bigotry and racial hate runs deep and runs all ways. It isn’t just White on Black, it can be Black on White or any other combination; the difference is we just don’t hear about it as often. In their confessions, one of the key statements was their desire to “Kill White People”; this was their sole purpose.

Three young boys, not even out of their teens lost their lives the night they tried to take mine. Recent history says if our racial make-up had been reversed, the outcome would have very likely been different. I am appalled by this, heartsick in fact.

I do not have survivor’s guilt. My position hasn’t changed on forgiveness, remorse and reconciliation. Nor has my position changed on Justice, we all deserve it.

This means Trayvon deserves Justice.

Courtesy Washington Post

The Martins deserve justice for Trayvon.

This nation deserves justice for Trayvon but more than this, our children deserve better from us.

For our children who are losing their lives and futures before they have the opportunity to reach for it, we have to stand up and demand better. Our young boys and girls who are languishing in failing schools and communities without work for their fathers and mothers, they deserve more from us than our inattention or failure to engage. Our children deserve more than to be cannon fodder for the political warfare we are waging. Our children deserve more than another generation of sharing the yard, we already have three generations behind bars; are we willing to make it four?

My heart is broken, not just for Trayvon and his family but surprisingly for the three young men who tried to take my life. I don’t forgive them their actions, but today I think I hurt for them.

Crime, Punishment and Victims

Duplicity with a Dash-Healthcare and the GOP

Hypocrisy with your morning Coffee?

Duplicity with your afternoon Tea?

Cognitive dissonance with your evening cocktail?

______________________________________________________________________

I have the answer for you, step right up, grab some popcorn, take a walk through the history of GOP turn tail, flip flop and back-peddle.

Before we go further, I need to define the words I use. I don’t want there to be any confusion as to my ‘name calling’.

Hypocrisy –
1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness. 2. An act or instance of such falseness[i]

Duplicity –
a. 
Deliberate deceptiveness in behavior or speech. b. An instance of deliberate deceptiveness; double-dealing. 2. The quality or state of being twofold or double.[ii]

Cognitive Dissonance –
A condition of conflict or anxiety resulting from inconsistency between one’s beliefs and one’s actions, such as opposing the slaughter of animals and eating meat.[iii]

The three key characteristics are now defined these are what I consider vital to our walk through the past twenty years of GOP (Grand Old Party, Gods Only Party, Ghastly Outdated Party, Greedy Obstructionist Prats). In the past I have tried hard to not lift my skirts and step on my soapbox, I find today I am unable to do so, in fact I am stacking my soapbox several high and grabbing my megaphone, I can only say there is a great need for a wake-up call for many in this nation, time get out of your cave and get real boys and girls.

Healthcare and the GOP

Mr. NICKLES (R), Mr. HATCH (R), Mr. MACK (R), Mr. BENNETT (R), Mr. BROWN (R), Mr. BURNS (R), Mr. COATS (R), Mr. COCHRAN (R), Mr. COVERDELL (R), Mr. CRAIG (R), Mr. DOLE (R), Mr. FAIRCLOTH (R), Mr. GREGG, Mr. HELMS (R), Mrs. HUTCHISON (R), Mr. KEMPTHORNE (R), Mr. LOTT (R), Mr. LUGAR (R), Mr. MURKOWSKI (R), Mr. SIMPSON (R), Mr. SMITH (R), Mr. STEVENS (R), Mr. THURMOND (R), Mr. WALLOP (R), and Mr. GRASSLEY (R)

Do you who they are? Those are the twenty-five (25) Republican Senators who co-sponsored the Consumer Choice Health Security Act (SB 1743) which included our first look, as a nation, at the Individual Mandate.  Can you guess when this was introduced? Well, let me take the mystery out of this, SB 1743 was introduced by the Republicans in the 103rd Congress on 20-November-1993.

Read those names again if you are wondering what that ‘R’ is it is the indication of their party affiliation. Several of these same Republicans are still in the Senate, still active in creating legislating. The question we have to ask ourselves is when the current administration proposed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare did these co-sponsors of the previously failed shelved Republican Bill including the Individual Mandate jump on the opportunity to work in a bipartisan fashion with the new administration? What is your guess? Well let’s look at their record shall we?

 

SB 1743

ObamaCare

Votes with Party

Approval Rating

COATS, Dan

YEA

*

93%

36%

COCHRAN, Thad

YEA

Nay

83%

16%

GRASSLEY, Chuck

YEA

Nay

89%

34%

HATCH, Orin

YEA

Nay

90%

33%

HUTCHISON, Kay Baily

YEA

Nay

88%

38%

LUGAR, Richard

YEA

Nay

92%

37%

* Daniel Coats was not in office during the fight for Obamacare, he has since though been vocal in his opposition of the Affordable Care Act both on the floor of the Senate and in his home state of Indiana.

Mitt Romney, Presidential Candidate 2012
Courtesy 2012 Talking Points Memo

Are you scratching your head and saying to yourself, that can’t be right, the Individual Mandate is a Socialist / Liberal policy introduced by those horrible Democrats in the Obama administration in an attempt to create BIG Government and take away your personal RIGHTS and LIBERTIES.

This is an amazing turn of events, isn’t it? Support of the Individual Mandate, not just support but introduction of this Un-American, Un-Constitutional, Socialist takeover of our lives by those freedom loving, free-market adoring Republicans. Wow, I mean just Wow. Even more fascinating is the lecture series by none other than the Heritage Foundation, the bastion of Conservative ideals it is here we find the framework of the Individual Mandate, it is here we see the origination for RomneyCare.

Not to be outdone though, we just have to wait a few years, thirteen to be exact. In 2007, during the zealous and patriotic administration of George Bush II we once again see our brave Senators come forward with a proposal for American health care, this time named Healthy Americans Act (SB 334), lo and behold, it is a bipartisan submission that includes, can you guess? That is right the Individual Mandate. This lovely piece of was Sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D), the far more interesting list though are the Republican co-sponsors, shall we take a look?

 

Sponsored

SB 334 /SB 391

ObamaCare

Status Now

Alexander, Lamar [R]

Y / Y

Nay

Bennett, Robert F. [R]

Y / Y

Nay

Lost 2011

Coleman, Norm [R]

Y / N

NA

Lost 2009

Corker, Bob [R]

Y / N

Nay

Crapo, Mike [R]

Y / N

Nay

Grassley, Chuck [R]

Y / N

Nay

Gregg, Judd [R]

Y / Y

Nay

Lost 2010

Lott, Trent [R]

Y / na

NA

Left 2007

Smith, Gordon H. [R]

Y

Nay

This is just the quick leap from 1993 and the 103rd Congress to 2010 and 23-March-2010 and 111thCongress. There were in fact several other bills introduced in between these dates, all variations on a theme, all with

Newt Gingrich Speaker of the House, 104 Congress; Republican Presidential Candidate 2012
abcnewsgo.com

bipartisan support until President Barack Obama came into office and had the nerve to adopt that wonderful Republican idea for himself, what’s that you ask? You know INDIVIDUAL MANDATES that would be the one. During reconciliation, the Individual Mandate was included in what is now known as Obamacare.

Of course, not a single Republican voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), no not a single one. Those lovely Republicans who were all for it when they were in the Senate in 1993, including those who supported various Bills which included the Individual Mandates now include in the re-election campaigns the promise to overturn ObamaCare. Those who seek the office of President, including Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney were vocal supports of the Individual Mandate prior to the passage of ObamaCare and their need to distance themselves from that SOCIALIST Black President in the White House.

All I can say to this nation is WAKE-UP. Learn your recent history and ask yourself a simple question, if these pillars of moral decay certitude, these attackers defenders of liberty are on your side; why do they so often change sides?

Home Again Holiday Endings

My rolling storm front

The last day of any vacation, especially those vacations when I am leaving the Bahamas are supposed to end with rain. It is a tradition in my mind. I am not at all certain this is how every trip to the Bahamas, or for that matter any Caribbean island vacation ends, but in my mind it is how they should end. Rain and clouds, gray skies and chill winds should see me off the island and in this way I am not so reluctant to return to the mundane of real life.

I am packing bags now, looking out my picture window to the turquoise waters past the break and wondering where that rain cloud is. This is my last day and though the wind blowing across the sands below, the palms fronds are clapping and bending to the west, as yet there is no sign of my desired rain to see me off the islands. Dammit, how can I leave happily without the rain to send me off?

www.bahamasforvistors.com

Courtesy of Bahamas for Visitors

Last night we enjoyed another of our traditions, dinner at the Poop Deck a ‘famous’ Nassau restaurant with spectacular views of the Nassau Marina where everything from small fishing boats to grand yachts dock. The Poop Deck has been in the same location since 1972 serving local cuisine including Bahamian Spiny Lobster, Grouper, different types of Snapper and of course Conch. The Poop Deck is never a disappointment; we never miss our traditional dinner during a trip to Nassau. I will admit there are times I would wish it wasn’t quite so loud, quite so crowded but no matter the day or time we pick to enjoy our meal, well it is always the same. Tables are jammed closely together and you can’t help but hear what the table behind you is discussing. Of course with the Marina directly outside, if there are children nearby they will be undoubtedly bounce on their plastic chairs, point and screech (oh my bleeding ears). I love the Poop Deck, but admittedly it is difficult to have a real conversation beyond, “what do you want to drink?”

Today we return to our real lives. This isn’t an entirely bad thing in all honesty, after some time on holiday I tend to grow bored. Inactivity, lack of access to friends, even the limit of access to news sources, all lend themselves to my readiness to return to real life after a time. I think I   am not really great at enforced idleness, even when I volunteer for it by planning a holiday. While I might be somewhat sedentary due to physical limitations, I am not intellectually indolent needing constant stimulation for my happiness.

Real life, what does that mean? Is it just infrastructure and access or something more? Here are some things I must identify as part of my internal angst and why after seven days I am grow ready to return home, despite my love of The Bahamas.

www.thebahamian.com

One Way, I might be successful at this

  • They drive on the wrong side of the road and I have yet to learn how to shift to the Left, this creates a dependency I am unused to and distinctly dislike.
  • Only one real source of news, I am a news and political junkie so the lack affects me after a time. In fact the lack causes me withdrawal symptoms similar to those of a Heroin addict. It is beyond the official news outlets though to simply having some of my friends and family members to talk to about observations.
  • Food, as much as I love the food of the Bahamas there is so much of it that is fried and I find I am not tolerant of this as a steady diet any longer.
  • Finally, I find the changes currently underway in my favorite place in the world to be disconcerting. I don’t know what to make of what is taking place across New Providence today. In many ways I find the current Bahamian government has taken a page out of the GOP page book, sold the people and nation to the highest bidder (China) where only those in power are thus far benefiting.
www.travellanguist.com

Who wouldn't love pink?

Ah well, there are likely other things I am no longer as tolerant of that once upon a time did not faze me. The truth is I love the downtime, perhaps just not seven days of downtime. Perhaps as my dearly beloved says to me, learn to drive! Perhaps on the next trip, but then not learning to drive keeps everyone else safe. There are so many things I love about Nassau, what is not to love about a country that paints their government buildings Pink.

The clouds are rolling in now, perhaps it will start to rain soon and my departure from one of my favorite places in the world will be as it should be, cloudy and slightly cool. I will not be near so unhappy at leaving the island paradise that is Nassau, Spring Breakers notwithstanding.

Senseless Death

I find myself once again dumbfounded, furious and dismayed; a bundle of independent emotions yet completely related to each other. Once again we have a child dead in the street, shot for no apparent reason other than he was young, Black and didn’t appear to belong.

www.bet.com

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin, 17 was nothing more than young and black, that was his ‘crime’. According to the 911 tape, on which his assailant George Zimmerman says ‘These assholes always get away’. Trayvon’s crime? Walking while black in a neighborhood that George Zimmerman had decided he did not belong.  Trayvon apparently carried the cultural weight of suspicion on his young and narrow shoulders.

We will never know what really happened the night of 26-Feb-2012, when George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin had their fatal encounter. We will never know because only one of them remains breathing and in this world to tell us, George Zimmerman and he isn’t telling anything that doesn’t serve his own interest. All we are left with is the context of a senseless killing of a young man and a ‘defense’ based on laws that create vigilante ‘justice’ by self-designated citizen police. What we know or can at least extract from pictures and listening to 911 calls is this:

  • George was following Trayvon in his car. George made a 911 call describing Trayvon as suspicious in part because he was young and black.
  • George got out of his car, though he was told not to follow or confront Trayvon.
  • Trayvon ran and George chased him, despite being told not to by the 911 operator.
  • There was a confrontation between the man and the boy. The man shot the boy, killing him. The man has claimed self-defense and is using the “Stand Your Ground” law as the basis of his defense.

What is the likelihood the last statement makes any real sense? That a 17 year-old would confront a man, ten years older and nearly 100 lbs. heavier? Even the bravest, the boldest of young men might be cowed by this skirmish. We hear on the last 911 recordings the calls for help, these calls don’t sound as if they come from a grown man, do they? So what are we left with, what do we have?

www.thedailybeast.com

The Parents of Trayvon Martin

We have a family devastated by the death of their son and without answers to their basic question, “Why?” All we have is a local police that seem to have not done their job, are afraid even to have done the basic job we would expect in investigating the death of a young man, a 17 year old child doing nothing more than walking on the sidewalk in a neighborhood he in fact belonged in. All we have is a state Justice Department, refusing to do their job and turning over their responsibility to the Federal Department of Justice, is this fear or simple incompetence?

What we really have is another senseless death and another family shattered. Another mother laying her child in the cold ground, another father burying his son, another brother growing up without his big brother to guide and mentor him. What do we have? Trayvon Martin walked to the store to buy candy and a drink, upon his return he was met by suspicion and ultimately by lethal force for no reason other than he appeared to not belong. Why? Because he was young and black and George Zimmerman in his self-assigned role of neighborhood watch and apparently enforcement of standards believed he didn’t belong, for this and no other reason Trayvon Martin is dead.

Trayvon Martin is dead before he could vote. Trayvon Martin is dead before his high school graduation. Trayvon Martin is dead before he could make the choices in life most of us take for granted; what we will be when we achieve adulthood, according to his father he wanted to be an airplane engine mechanic. Trayvon Martin is dead before he could marry and have children. Trayvon Martin is dead at 17. What can we do?

www.cbsnews.com

Trayvon Martin
Is this what George Zimmerman saw?

We can demand justice for Trayvon and his family. We can demand the police; the Justice Department at all levels do their job to uncover the entire truth. We can demand those who failed to do their jobs pay the consequence of their inaction. We can refuse a platform to the family of George Zimmerman, the police or the Media that begins to shift the perception of who the victim of this encounter is. George Zimmerman is not the victim, whether he is a cold blooded murder is yet to be determined, nevertheless he is not the victim.

What can we do? We can remember Trayvon Martin, dead at 17, an incomprehensible tragedy.

Love the Bahamas

Junkanoo Dancers

Day four of eight days of sun, beach and yes family. Actually it is six days of island sun and two days of ridiculous travel. By this count it is still the beginning of day four and it is a beautiful day, the clouds are lovely, white and fluffy; the sky is blue above them and the water is that perfect Azure Blue out to the reef break. What more could I ask for?

Let me say what I love about The Bahamas, about Nassau its capital. I have been coming here since my twenties; my first trip with a group of girlfriends for a long weekend of sun, fruity rum drinks with paper umbrellas we rarely left the resort and had a wonderful time. My next trip was a day trip was part of a cruise taken with a group of friends from the neighborhood; Nassau was one of the stops. I think this is when I really begin my love affair with the island. From this time on I begin to take somewhat regular trips, sometimes with friends other times alone simply to take a rest. Always I saw a little more and always I fell a little more in love. So what do I love? I love the people. They are smart, funny, engaging and engaged. In many cases the people I have met both casually and those I have come to know in a more intimate sense have the same issues and concerns we have in the US, they seek the same opportunities we seek. Because their nation is so much smaller the outcomes of decisions are felt more immediately and thus they can’t hide from the actions of their government. Of course their relationship with the US is interesting, better than 60% of their economy is tied to Tourism and thus to our economy. They watch us, our systems and actions in dismay I think as we struggle through some of or political idiocy.

Anglican Church Drummers
Marching Band

I have a love/hate relationship with some cultural aspects of the Bahamas. There is a strong underlying moral nature to the Bahamian people, with 95% of Bahamians identifying themselves as practicing Christians predominately Protestant; the highest membership being Baptist, but with large populations in some of the Pentecostal and  Charismatic churches. This of course creates some underlying issues for those of us with a more liberal bent; there are several issues including civil rights for the LBGT community, Choice for Women and overall Poverty that continues to be a plague most across the island nation.

Junkanoo Brass

I love the music, different from that of Jamaica the Bahamian music is somehow more joyful and more accessible. I hear Bahamian Calypso, Soca and the Rake n’ Scrape of Junkanoo and immediately my body moves to the sounds, my heart soars a bit and I always smile. There is something absolutely infectious, difficult to ignore when you hear the sounds of Bahamian music your hips move to the sinuous sounds and rhythms, winding through your soul. Walking down Bay Street, the main downtown street for shopping music subtly streams from every store you can’t avoid the sounds. From the restaurants and bars above Bay Street Soca and Calypso blasts, your feet move in rhythm without your conscious effort.

Finally and not to be ignored is the food. I love Bahamian food, first how can you ignore the fact this island nation has access to fresh seafood, Grouper, Conch, Snapper and Spiny Lobster cooked a variety of ways and served from breakfast to late night dinners. Stew Fish, Fried Conch or Conch Salad all choices not to be missed, all served with a bit of Bahamian Bird Pepper and a squeeze of Lime. Then there is my absolute favorite breakfast, one I send my husband out for every single morning possible, Chicken Souse a protein rich broth made up of Lime juice, Allspice, celery, carrots and the all-important Bird Pepper (my husband likes Sheep’s Tongue Souse). Not to be missed are the native deserts, Guava Duff is just one of these. Finally, of course if you are interested in the alcohol drinks available these are all the normal drinks available fruity concoctions made with rum, there is one though native to the Bahamas most tourists miss, that is Sky Juice a drink in my opinion every person should try at least once.

Courtesy Uncommon Caribbean

SKY JUICE: Heavy on the Gin, Sweetened Milk, Coconut Water. Mixed in large batches for the day and served primarily down at Arawak Cay. This treat should not be missed! Never mind the froufrou drinks served in all the traps, the Bahamas’ Mama’s and Daiquiri’s these you can get anywhere even in the US, take a trip to Arawak Cay for fresh made Conch Salad and a cup of Sky Juice.

I love the Bahamas; I love the color of the island. The colors of the homes painted all hues from the artists’ palette from pastels to bright’ taken from nature. I love the sea the perfect blends of turquoises to azures and even the pale greens. I love the sounds of the ocean, the music drifting up from the pool somehow blending perfectly with the waves. New Providence, the main island where Nassau is located is undergoing major changes right now. I was stunned by the changes having not been back for nearly two years. This small island nation is undergoing major changes right now, trying to upgrade infrastructure and partnering with other nations to fund those upgrades. I wonder will the Bahamas lose what makes it truly unique and wonderful, will Nassau lose the history, culture and beauty that makes it spectacular and gives it a flavor all its own? I for one hope not.

Vacation, Why

Holiday, many of us take one a year and spend a not insignificant amount of our hard earned cash to enjoy some time away from our everyday lives. I am no different, though my husband and I tend to have a couple of favorites and we stick to them. We both like Caribbean Islands, the ocean, the sun and breezes from the sea.

Vacation…time away from the mundane, the daily drag of life, you can’t wait for the first day despite knowing you still have to get through airport security and porn x-ray machines. Crowded airplanes full of families with children struggling with far too many over-packed carry-on bags. If you travel out of country you will need to traverse Immigration, with Passport in hand queuing up to await you turn up to 30 minutes, if your luck though it will be far less.

Astonishingly, it seems no matter how long you might have waited at Immigration when you arrive at Luggage Claim, your bags will not have started on the round yet. What you find instead is courtesy of Bleacher Reportnotification your luggage will be arriving at Claim number X, all your plane mates will have their children lined up at the front of the claim like the Defensive Line of the New York Jets; keeping this blocking line does not a bit of good, bags come down when they come down, if your bags come first you must either knock them down to reach your bags or wait for them to leave. Your choice, I choose to politely ask once for them to MOVE and then mow them down.

Before you can finally exit the airport and begin your well-earned holiday the last obstacle is Customs, if you are lucky you look innocuous and touristy enough for you and your bags to pass through without much more more than a cursory question and answer regarding the contents of your bags and your purpose, with the right answer and a lack of shiftiness on your part they will pass you through to your well-earned and much anticipated holiday. Well, this might not be entirely true if you rented a car you might still have a wait. Not necessarily a wait in line, just a wait while your car is located and you are then transported to wherever your rental car might be off or on airport grounds.

Finally though the true holiday begins, bags are flung into the rental car and you are on your way. So why then are we usually somewhat disappointed by what we find upon arrival?

Lumpy beds, too soft or too hard pillows, bathtub / shower combinations with plastic shower curtains that chase you around the shower sticking to your wet  body, towels that feel as if they are made of Luffa and sheets that feel as if they are in fact fine grained sandpaper. Those are just the beginning of the disappointments. Disappointments you always forget when the holiday is over. Unless the hotel is truly ghastly you forget the truth of the room and amenities that did not live up to the trailer provided by the hotel that convinced you to pre-pay for that miniscule discount you received for doing so.

Did I forget to mention if you travel to resort areas this time of year you will also face the dread Spring Breakers? Oh yeah, this is my favorite. Barely out of diapers and out of their parents supervision, wandering the hallways and beaches drinks in hand and generally bad behavior close to the surface, Spring Breakers. Wandering out of elevators where they have lit up their first cigar, thanks. Spring Breakers, who failed to understand yet the idea clothing, even bathing suits are intended to cover our most private parts from public consumption, public exposure while certainly good for tan line control leaves you open; yes really open. By the way did I mention most of you young women have put on that Freshmen 15 and should likely considered something a bit less revealing or at least a trip to WalMart for a larger size before Spring Break.

These were just my general observations. First day observations at that. Yes, we are on vacation, some place I love in fact, Bahamas, yes that is where we are this week. For seven hopefully sun soaked days we will sit on the beach, visit with family, eat wonderful foods straight from the sea and possibly do a bit of shopping.

We are at the same hotel we stay at most times we travel here; the same hotel we met at nearly 15 years ago. We know what we get here; there are rarely surprises for us. I think though we forget the things we don’t like in favor of the reasons we stay, the tradeoff’s.  We like this part of the island, we like the convenience and the beach. I like having a deck where I can enjoy the view of the ocean, my morning coffee and a cigarette without disturbing my non-smoking husband. Works well for us and I enjoy sitting outside listening to the waves, watching people on the beach and huge ocean liners coming in to dock for the day.

Before the week is out I will share some of the reasons I love it here, probably some other caustic observations.

Social Defiance

It has been only 48 years since women were granted the right to determine for themselves when they would start families, freeing them to pursue their own interests including education and careers. Suddenly, the subject of our independence and choice has reached epic proportions; we are in the eye of the storm, fodder for every politician and evangelical minister with a pulpit from which to scream their wrath at our defiance.

Should we have seen this coming?

I wonder what brought us to this cultural impasse. How have we reached a place where social values, mores and even women’s standing in the community seem to be the battleground of the day and not just of the political Suffragette Float, New York 1913 Courtesy Wikipediaseason? The battle lines were drawn years ago; they have just not been the deeply divisive trenches they are today.

Our history as a nation saw women working toward suffrage for nearly a century before we gained any true recognition that we might own our humanity, our intellect and even our bodies. Since women won the right to vote and then our right to determine our reproductive health 45 years later it has been uphill, now it seems we are careening downhill on a cultural collision course.

Date

What Happened

11/5/1872 Susan B. Anthony, women’s suffragette, illegally casts a ballot at Rochester, New York in the presidential election to publicize the cause of a woman’s right to vote.
11/7/1893 Women in Colorado are granted the right to vote
8/2/1924 Women are given the right to vote when the 19th Amendment to the United States constitution grants universal women’s suffrage.
6/7/1965 Griswold-v-Conneticut decided the fate of married couples and their right to determine when they would add children, meaning their right to privacy and access to hormonal birth control
3/22/1972 Eisenstadt-v-Baird, extended the right to access of hormonal birth control to unmarried women. Broadening the right of privacy and obviously the right to bodily control.
1/22/1973 Roe-v-Wade, finally the critical decision extending the rights of women to determine their needs, responsibilities and establishes privacy across even abortion.
2/2/2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed

We have fought each step of the way, not just to prove our worth and value but to retain those rights and privileges our mothers and grandmothers won for us. A fight to prove our value as independent voices in our Sandra Fluke Testifies Courtesy Wnd.com communities, our workplaces and sometimes even our own families has demoralized many of us already. For every step forward it seems there are those who would rather throw us down in humiliation, Slut Walk the brightest of us and define us all as ‘less than’.

The demagogues of radio and television are feeding our young women to the populace in a frenzy of public shaming for no cause other than they dare to stand up and disagree. Elected officials stand before their peers and compare women to barnyard animals as they fight to reduce access to safe abortion in their states (Georgia Legislature Rep. Terry England). The archaic views of presidential nominees on sex and birth control are in the forefront of the national debate, these are now considered vital to our economic and national security, I can only wonder how or why. The religious values and in some cases hypocritical standards of paternalistic agitators  fly in the face of our Constitution (1st Amendment & Article VI), their statements against women and their right to be fully enfranchised members of society with equal opportunity for education and work, even to plan for our future diminish our human value and our past and future contributions.

I have struggled in writing this, fought for words and to keep my emotions in check. I have walked away more than once as I found my normal pragmatism lost, my ability to step back had vanished entirely. My normal ability to see issues from both sides and walk the middle line had flown the coop along with my calm certainty that we, that is women were 100% a part of the American culturalThe future of our daughters - Courtesy of MakingSenseofThings.com and social experiment, that we had gained our right to participate and could not be, would not be consigned to the backroom or required to don the veil. I was wrong, clearly I was wrong.

What does this mean for our daughters?

If we don’t fight back, it means our daughters will have less opportunity than we had. It means everything our foremothers fought for and we took for granted will be lost. What does it mean? It means we will revert to a society where women are simply a commodity, a convenience and nothing more. Our voices will be silenced as we struggle to avoid too many pregnancies, for lack of access to safe birth control. The redefinition from victim to accuser in the case of rape will lower our standing in the courts and in the eyes of society. Should we wonder what is next? Marital abuse cases will change, no longer will be able to seek intervention from the courts as no longer will we have standing.

Is the above simply the worst-case scenario? Perhaps it is, however I lived in the time when the police were called to stop my husband from beating me (1973). They took me to the hospital, they did not arrest him. I have lived through having to hide from a husband who said he was going to kill me if I left; the police did nothing because I was married to him. I have seen that version of the world. I have seen the world that says rape isn’t rape (1968), it is just young boys having fun; even my mother thought it was my fault. I lived with the aftermath of those actions taken against my eleven-year-old body and soul for most of my life, I paid the price.

I have seen the world that says women and young girls have no value, that we are nothing more than –

SLUTSPROSTITUTESBITCHES

Where is the outrage?

Walking Dead

Dead this week, the headlines have been filled with tragedy.

Andrew Breitbart, the infamous conservative loudmouth who had been embroiled in more than one scandal in his pursuit to bring down those on the other side of the aisle.

Davy Jones, the front man for The Monkees a TV Pop band of the mid-sixties, many referred to this band as Beatles-lite. Davy Jones never did anything spectacular, never did anything mean spirited either. He was simply a part of many of our lives when we were young.

Two unnamed US Soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan; this brings the total to six since the burning of the Qur’an in the trash pits. Despite our Presidents apology for this unintentional act of blasphemy we have once again created put our soldiers at even greater risk.

Courtesy of Washingtonpost.com

Daniel Parmetor, 17 : Russell King Jr., 17 : Demetrius Hewlin, 17; three teenagers dead at the hand of their classmate for no reason other than they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Their deaths damned near ignored by all but their families, their friends and those whose lives they touched during the short time they had on this earth.

Why do I bring up these deaths? Because of the seven, the most reported in mainstream and social media was Andrew Breitbart, the mean spirited, loudmouthed, bombastic and all too frequent liar. Suddenly, in his death he reached sainthood; even his antagonists are mourning his demise. Perhaps it is that he will no longer be a foil for them, or that they will no longer have a ready target; nonetheless while his death at the age of 43 is certainly sad for his family and friends it should not, in my opinion overshadow others of far more social significance, should it?

Poor Davy Jones, his death became the focus of my ire early in the week when the number of Facebook posts of his passing at 66, far exceeded the number of posts about the five teenagers who were gunned down in Ohio at random, there had been hardly a bleep on the radar of mainstream or social media about that story. This is not to say I was angry at his death, certainly I was not, like many people my age I fondly remember the ridiculousness of The Monkees, their silly and sweet music and Davy Jones himself. My indignation was instead focused on how shallow we seem to be as humans that this death was more important; the death of a long out of the spotlight celebrity was more vital to our national conversation than the death of three teenagers or the soldiers being randomly targeted in Afghanistan.

Courtesy of TheCount.com

Worse still than the what seemed to be the complete disregard of the tragedy in Ohio, was the importance of other stories in the spotlight of mainstream and social media; what story took even more space, more breathless awe from those who would turn our heads and values? Are you afraid to ask? I will tell you because it made me want to run screaming from the room and turn off my connections to the world forever, Angelina Jolie and her new leg pose was far more important than the School Shooting in Chardon, Ohio on Monday 27-Feb-2012, just one day prior.

My problem of course had been building for days, I had been watching for anyone to start discussing the issue of children with guns, school shootings and escalating violence in our schools. Nothing! Nothing at all throughout the day or across the various social media sites I haunt. I was disheartened, to say the very least.

I had to ask the question – “What is wrong with this world, with this nation? Not a word anywhere when 5 children are shot, one already dead.”

These are the answers to my simple question:

Sadly Val, I think it’s because the story just wasn’t shocking/exciting enough. Only 1 dead ? with one handgun ?….Some people want to see multiple bloodied bodies taken on shaky camera-phones. They want to hear phrases like ‘semi-automatic’ and ‘uzi’ and if possible have their TVs vomit the stench of cordite…Sad but true.I don’t know, unless they are afraid that this type of story tends to get sensationalized and may actually serve to promote more of this kind of tragedy by providing attention to it

This actually was covered on ABC World News yesterday but It does seem that celeb silliness is more newsworthy than significant and meaningful news impacting whole communities. It’s an absolute travesty that our news outlets so often reduce themselves to the lowest common denominator.

Lack of God. The more people take God and Jesus out of everything in order that they may do as they please.. the worse our world gets. Simple.

Just as a update: 3 children are now dead… 2nd victim is brain dead, 3rd passed away about 3 hours ago.

I think the answers are both terrible and terrifying. They speak to what is in part wrong with us as a people that we have allowed our attention to be diverted by what is trivial rather than focus on what is most important, most vital to our continuation as a society. The observations by two of the commenters are very specific in they identify the social and media misdirection.

My third commenter provided an observation that is personal and pointed, an opinion as to why this is happening today, it led to a longer discussion that I intend to convert into another post shortly.

At the end of the day though, my problem is this; I have over 4,000 contacts on Facebook. Of those, four of commented on this story and during this week of tragedy I can count on one hand how many of them commented elsewhere. I would however require my calculator to track the number of posts about the deaths of Andrew Breitbart, Davy Jones or God Help Me how Angelina Jolie exposed her leg at the Oscars.

What is wrong with this world?

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