GOP, Rape and the New Rage

This is the world of the future for women if the GOP takes the White House. The following may be sound ideological, even strident, I won’t apologize for this now or at any time in the future. I apologize for my offending your delicate sensibilities on this subject, stop reading now if you are of the opinion a woman should not be the ultimate Sovereign of their procreative health and choice. Please stop reading now if you are of the opinion old men, government or religious institutions should have greater authority over a woman’s body integrity than the individual woman.

This is the platform of the GOP.

“Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the nonconsensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Please note in the above the absence of any exceptions, none. Not to save the life of the already born woman, not for rape, not for incest.

Since Ronald Reagan invited the Religious Right into the GOP, there has been a slow march toward every greater misogyny, punishing women for our sexuality and choosing to express it. Essentially, punishing us for having a vagina and using it was intended, something more than spitting out baby after baby.

The following are some of my favorite quotes from elected GOP members across the US:

“I’m very proud of my pro-life record,” Ryan told WJHL-TV in Virginia in an interview aired Thursday. “I’ve always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”

Paul Ryan, VP Candidate WJHL.com Interview

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare,” Akin told KTVI television in an interview widely distributed by Democrats. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Representative Todd Akin ( R ), Fox News interview

“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” he said. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Representative Richard Mourdock, Indiana Senate Debate

“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.” Duckworth accused Walsh of allowing a woman to die rather than get an abortion, and Walsh said that was unfair. After the debate, he explained further to the press, NPR reports. He told CNN: “This is an issue that opponents of life throw out there to make us look unreasonable. There’s no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has been, has become a tool for abortions any time under any reason.” He told WGN: “With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance … there is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing.

Representative Joe Walsh, ( R ), Illinois ongoing Debate and interviews

I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose the way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.

Scolforo: Similar how?

Smith: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.

Scolforo: That’s similar to rape?

Smith: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.

Tom Smith ( R ), Reporters Interview
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Mitt Romney started his political life ambivalent toward the issue of women’s right to choose. His mother was firmly Pro-Choice during her Senate race. According to Mr. Romney he has always been personally Pro-Life and politically willing to keep a foot in both camps until he started this run for the Presidency. Now he is firmly and without exception in debt to the Religious Ideologues who hold the GOP in their hot hands, ready to turn the clock back and push women into the kitchen and the closet. Early in this run Mitt stated he was Pro-Life without exception, gaining the support of the crazies. Since that time he has moderated his stance, now he will make exceptions for Rape, Incest and the life of the already born and enfranchised woman, to save her life.

Keep in mind though, Mitt has said without equivocation it is his goal to overturn Roe v. Wade. It is his plan to defund Planned Parenthood. He fully supports disallowing the tax exemption for any health insurance policy that includes Abortion as a covered service. His Vice Presidential pick has co-sponsored five (5) anti-abortion bills all of which were dubious in their language, infantilize women and further strip them of their legal rights,  personal authority and body integrity.

My personal favorite is the Sanctity of Life Act, this little gem of a bill would have stripped SCOTUS and all other courts of their authority to hear challenges and rule, while at the same time making abortion mostly illegal for any and all reasons, no exceptions. Paul Ryan and Todd Akin were co-sponsors on this treat, not once but they introduced this in multiple sessions of congress.

Before I end my tirade I want to remind women and men, these ‘Sanctity’ of the sperm, because this is what they are, bills are nothing more than attempts to diminish women. Attempts to define the ‘life’ of a zygote as having greater value than an already born women; they are rubbish. When Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan call the social issues, particularly women’s issues such as our right to determine our health and future nothing more than a distraction from the ‘real’ issues of the day they show their true colors. The men I quoted are not on the right side of history and those who pick up the banner and run with it are running backwards and make me afraid.

These Bills not only want to strip women of their right to access safe and legal abortion, they will take many safe forms of contraceptives off the market. They will make IVF illegal. They will make most forms of stem cell research illegal. Some of the Bills introduced, including Paul Ryans would give a Rapist the right to sue his victim to prevent her from crossing state lines to obtain an abortion if the worst were to happen.

I fully support your right to be Pro-Life, whether for religious reasons or because you truly believe life begins at conception. This is your right.

Stay out of my business. Make your decisions based on your personal beliefs and choices. Do not interfere with my right to make my decisions based on my personal beliefs, my doctor’s medically sound advice and what science tells me. I love science and believe in it.

When someone says to me these things don’t matter they make me cringe. When they say these are distractions I realize they believe that 51% of the population of this nation, women; their mothers, daughters, wives don’t matter. But I am not a special interest group any longer, I am part of a majority. I am a bread winner, in fact the primary bread winner. I am not a distraction, but if the GOP wins my daughters and granddaughters might just once again become distractions, less than or not enough.

I fear for our daughters in the world the GOP wants to create. I fear for our daughters in a world where Rape is no longer a violent assault but something equivalent to having a child out of wedlock, or maybe ‘Gods will’, another form of conception. I fear for our daughters who might not have access to safe, affordable and certain contraceptives and will be subject to the same condemnation I was as an eleven-year-old Rape Victim with nowhere to turn and no one to protect me.

Is this the world we want for our daughters? Is this the world we fought for?

Race 2012, Rewrite

I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifice of themselves, by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be that I live not to weep over it. If they would but dispassionately weigh the blessings they will throw away, against an abstract principle more likely to be effected by union than by scission, they would pause before they would perpetrate this act of suicide on themselves and of treason against the hopes of the world. To yourself, as the faithful advocate of the Union, I tender the offering of my high esteem and respect.

The Fire Bell in the Night, Monticello April 20, 1820

Thomas Jefferson to John Holmes

Thomas Jefferson, in his letter was talking about the Missouri Compromise that allowed entry of a new state into the Union as a Slave State, something Jefferson was vehemently opposed to. In fact as early as 1787 the issue of Slavery was discussed by the nation’s founders as one that would ultimately destroy the new Republic. Though many of the founding fathers were slaveholders, there was a firm belief the nation could not for long support the buying and selling of human chattel and remain on the right side of history.

During the convention, on June 6 James Madison first raised the issue of Slavery, despite being a slave owner himself like many others he abhorred the practice of the slave trade and wanted to see it ended. His first comment during the convention were;

“that we have seen the mere distinction of colour made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.”

His feelings were echoed by others, in the end the compromised language of Section 9 is what was agreed to. The fear expressed by many of the signers of the Constitution is Twenty years was a long time for mischief to be gotten up to, they were right of course, slavery spread instead of ending and before those twenty years were up, though importation became illegal in 1808 by then America could well supply its own. What we ended up with was a compromise in Section 9 Article 1 of the Constitution:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

Our history of xenophobia; our fear of other has remained a cornerstone of legislative actions though we try to whitewash this.

Dredd Scott
Wikipedia

Slavery is a terrible stain, eventually leading to the Dredd Scott decision, ultimately giving heft to Reconstruction,
Jim Crow and legal Segregation; decades of Separate and Unequal. The framework of Dredd Scott set the standard for other equally
terrible actions by our government and jingoistic acts of our people.

Let us look for a minute at some of the other terrible stains and what they meant;

Ongoing – Decimation of the Native Tribes through broken treaties, acts of aggression, intentional infection, starvation and ongoing poverty.

1882 – Chinese immigration explodes spurred by the California Gold Rush and results in the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Exclusion Act restricts further immigration and prevents those individuals already in the US from becoming Citizens, ever. The Chinese immigrant was so hated this Act remained in place until 1943.

Mochida family awaiting evacuation all tagged to keep them together
Wikipedia

1942 – Japanese Internment of approximately 110,000 United States citizens of Japanese descent. Racial prejudice was the primary fuel of the Japanese Internment, not any real acts of treason, General DeWitt who was in charge of Internment repeatedly told newspapers “A Jap is a Jap”.

1876 – 1965 Jim Crow, is there anything that speaks the heart of this nations underlying racial conscious more than nearly one hundred years of laws designed to strip equality

White Trade Only, Lancaster, Ohio
Wikipedia

from an entire group of citizens? We think of Jim Crow as something that was a southern problem and indeed the south was open in their racial segregation, but nowhere in this nation were we truly free of Jim Crow thinking only the outward symbolism might not have been so blatant.

2001 – Islamic Backlash; the attack of 9/11 has created wave after wave of legislation at state levels banning Sharia Law from our justice system, which has never been a threat. While the attack by a group of Islamic Fundamentalist on 9/11 was both terrible and heartbreaking, like Pearl Harbor it was not conducted by US Citizens. We have chosen, even those elected officials who should be more restrained in their language, instead  to fan the flames of religious and racial hate. Rather than condemning religious and racial intolerance we fall in line behind the Christian minister, burning the Quran on the front lawn of his church and the Congresswoman calling for an investigation of an aide to the Secretary of State because she is a practicing Muslim.

I would like to think these are not pernicious attacks made out of ignorance, I know better. These like every other example are simply more of the same, more vitriol made by ignorant and fearful people trying to keep their piece of the rock safe from ‘other’.

My personal opinion is a nation that can justify the enslavement of a people based entirely on the color of their skin is able to justify any other evil. A nation that sits in church and listens to their minister rail against ‘other’, as this nation continues to do, is capable of any evil. We embrace hate though we don’t recognize it in ourselves. We wrap ourselves in the mantle of self-righteousness and flag pins, point our fingers at the other side and call names, ‘Progressive Scum’, ‘Socialist’ and ‘Feminist’ are my personal favorites.

We allow Ministers of the Word of Christ to fill our airwaves with Hate and Lies, we nod our heads and say ‘Amen Brother’, when they tell us Homosexuals, Muslims and sometimes women are not of the same quality of human being as ‘the rest of us’ and are sometimes even deserving of death. We vote to strip entire groups of our fellow citizens of their civil rights and we smile as we leave the voting booth, convinced we have done the right thing, we are on the side of God, Mom and Apple Pie.

We now have the book ends, over one hundred fifty years apart of Dredd Scott and Citizen United, one confirmed human beings as property with no rights the other confirmed corporations as people with greater rights than some of our own citizens.

Bookends of the Argument over 150 years apart.

Post Racial America? Please spare me the rhetoric, we aren’t even close. We haven’t embraced the truth of our past as we attempt to rewrite it in more pleasant terms.

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:45

Red: A Match

My heart sister Red at M3 read me this poem today. I considered my feelings, my thoughts and my reactions and then asked if she would let me publish as part of my on-going discussions of politics, both big and small. What she says in A Match is haunting and unsparing.

I hope you will consider her words carefully, I have.

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A Match

If all the world were on the head of a match,

How long before we struck it?
Abrasive to the surface inhabitants
And daily committing rape,
We are busy justifying our actions
And homed in on our profit.



We rip holes in the sky and bore out the ground
With time-stricken vanity,
A blatant disregard of future costs and
Heartlessness to our victims.
Blame falls to schedules filled with self-importance
And lacking identity.



Loud and proud we shout, “I am!” until one points
To the wake of destruction.
We fly around the world in search of “I am”
And find our inner child,
Whose whims and wants are fulfilled with adult funds,
But no adult compunction.



The sand the ostrich seeks to bury its head
Is now shards of broken glass.
The cleansing waters stand stagnant and smell foul,
Thick with noxious pollutants.
The world sits on the head of a striking match.
Ignition will be a gas.



211020120042

Race 2012, Consequential Outcomes

“Smaller Government”

“Less Taxes”

“Government does not create jobs”

“Entitlements”

We hear the above a great deal, from the opposition on the Right. In truth, it is a mantra for their race toward the White House. What does any of the above mean, really?

While the Right is beating the drums of revolution, I sit back and consider what all this means to me as an American and a woman. As I watch the polls slide up and down, back and forth I truly do wonder. We talk a good game on the Left but whether gender, race or otherwise challenged we have failed to band together to form a single coalition against the status quo, instead being satisfied with our individual small wins rather than banding together to win the war.

There is not a single person in the nation today who does not receive benefits from the government. I wonder what are we willing to give up, what services or conveniences would we be willing to do away with for the benefit of less taxes. Today though I am going to ignore this one, except to say there aren’t many, some but not many.

As to whether government creates jobs, of course they do, you are delusional if you believe otherwise. Whether you work directly for a government agency or for a company that sells to the government, the government, federal, state and local is the single largest consumer of goods and services. I am not going to spend time on this one, but consider all the myriad ways in which government monies flow through communities.

There are plenty of ways to shrink the size of government. Let’s start with something simple, grant all members of society equality without equivocation. It is simple; if you are citizen of the United States of America, you are equal to every other citizen. We should not be voting on whether our neighbor is equal to us, whether they have rights equal to our own. This is not an issue that should ever be put forward on a ballot.

The following should be part of a civil and sane society without question or thought. Marriage, call it something else if this makes you happy but call it something else for everyone. Military service, combat duty and access to Officer Training School, let’s make the military reflect our nation at every level not just the enlisted corps. This includes equality of opportunity and pay starting with our schools. Fund them equally in every neighborhood no matter the tax base or average household income. Equality in our choices, healthcare and privacy up to and including access to contraceptives, health screening and yes dammit Abortion.

Remember these words?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

They spoke to the heart of Revolutionaries who would found a nation. It is once again time for us to embrace the spirit of these words.

Now we finally get to the Hot Button, Entitlements! The monster that will reach out and grab you when you set your feet down on the floor without turning on the light first. What are Entitlements? I have heard all different sorts of answers to this question from the Right and the Left.

Social Security and Medicare – entitlement or claim? I would say Social Security and Medicare are Claims, debts owed by the government to us. Are we entitled to collect? Yes, we paid they are in fact our money we are collecting and though we didn’t agree, we loaned it to the government interest free for a very long time.

Medicaid, Welfare, Unemployment – are these Entitlements? They are part of our social safety net. They are what we long ago agreed would be in place so our citizens would never again face abject poverty without food, shelter or support. Do our citizens, especially our children and our aged deserve our compassion? I would say they do, but then I believe strongly how a nation treats its weakest citizens is a reflection of that nation as a whole.

When the Right Wing talks about ‘reform’ of our Entitlements what are they really saying? What I hear all too often is this:

“They don’t want to work so they are sucking the teat of the public.”

When this is said what do they mean by ‘they’? It is those nefarious ‘others’, those people not like them. The bogeyman or woman that looks different. Those irresponsible ‘other’ people. It is those single parents, usually women who have children with different men (you know who I am talking about). Those un-Christian, immoral, violent ‘other’ people. Let’s just say it shall we, it is those Black and Brown people, those not like White People.

This is the picture of ‘other’ painted by politicians and their support system to divide the heart of this nation. Do they depict the reality? No, no they don’t. What they create is a vision for those that fear they will lose what little traction they have left to latch on to, something  or someone to point at and blame for their failure. This picture of wretchedness, is something ‘other’ those with nothing left but their ‘rightness’ can stand above and feel superior to.

Here is the problem with the above:

Welfare Demographics
Percent of recipients who are white 38.8 %
Percent of recipients who are black 39.8 %
Percent of recipients who are Hispanic 15.7 %
Percent of recipients who are Asian 2.4 %
Percent of recipients who are Other 3.3 %

http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/

When you consider the unemployment numbers within each of these communities :

What does this leave us with? Inequality? I would say so especially when you consider this final number, the population distribution as of the 2010 Census.

What does it all really mean? It means we remain a nation without conscious and without compassion. We have moved further into the mindset of “I got mine, out of my way ya bums get your own.” Rather than holding the door open for those that follow behind us, rather than reaching our hand down to lift the next generation up, we have slammed the door shut and closed our fists. We are standing in the corner, taking a fighters stance ready to defend our small piece of the rock against all comers, against ‘other’.

We are demonizing our neighbors, our friends, our brothers and sisters. We are failing our children.

If we don’t turn our back on the bigotry, greed and avarice soon, we will fall as a nation it is the inevitable outcome of our ignorance. It is the inescapable consequence of our failure to come together for common cause.

On My Knees

I haven’t forgiven this doesn’t mean I want them dead it just means I don’t forgive their violence. It also means I think sometimes, those days when crawling out of bed are so hard, I want them to hurt like I hurt. Some days, those days when I think I will breakdown and call the doctor begging for something stronger than Ibuprofen 800 for pain management I think Damn them to hell forever, I don’t want to live my life this way and my fury rises up and I weep. I cannot help the way I feel I am not a saint, my halo has not been granted.

For about eight years, I have been an activist in the criminal justice system. I speak in a program called Victim Impact inside of the Prison system of Texas. I speak to offenders in Federal, State and Juvenile lock-up and to the Parole groups ordered into the program. I do not speak out of hate or revenge; I don’t speak to hammer a captive audience with anger. I speak because I hope each time to touch one heart; just one would be enough for me. One heart that will leave the room with a different perspective on the relationship between themselves and their acts, their victims that includes their own families, their children and of course, the person they directly harmed.

I have spent eight years telling my story. There are some days when I walk into the rooms and look out at the faces I am decimated by their youth. I ask how many have children, they all raise their hands and I consider the lives of my three offenders, just children themselves twenty years ago at the time our lives intersected, each with at least one parent behind bars at the time they kidnapped and shot me three times. Their histories are the genesis of my activism, the framework of my thinking about how we each create the ever-expanding ripples through our judgment, acts, remorse and yes-even forgiveness.

Over the years, I have evolved, I thought. I believe each of us has the ability to reform our life, that with few exceptions each of us has the capacity to change our lives. If I didn’t believe this, I could not walk through the gates of prisons, stand before violent offenders, and say I believe they have the capability to make positive change. If I didn’t believe compassion and empathy existed, even in the most hardened of humans, I could not stand before them and say to them…

“You have the ability to change the life of your children. You have the ability to change your own life by tapping into your empathy.”

Now I have to ask myself is all I do and all I say simply a panacea for my ego or perhaps simply a pragmatic intellectual exercise that I haven’t truly absorbed into my heart and spirit. Perhaps, it is something else altogether. Perhaps what I say only applies to everyone else, offenders and victims together but not to me and not to my offenders. I have run into a brick wall, the wall of my intellect fighting my heart. My heart is winning today. My heart won last Wednesday and has won every day since Wednesday since I opened the letter from the Texas State Board of Pardons and Paroles.

“This is to inform you Your Offender has been granted Parole”

Charge: 2 Counts Attempted Capital Murder w/Deadly

Sentence: 35 years, 20 years

Sentence Date: April 13, 1993

Release Date: March 9, 2027

Parole Granted: October 4, 2012

When I opened that letter I was sitting at my desk, on the phone with my heart sister Red I think I went silent, the tears started, my heart stopped. I am not a Saint. I am barely human. My heart sister didn’t know, I slipped from my chair to my knees and had I not been on the phone with her my primal scream would have shook the walls. Instead all I could do is ask her to stop, stop talking please give me a minute, please let me read to her what I had just silently read to myself. The tears continued as I sobbed, I had already memorized the words though I didn’t have to read them. My life, dammit My Life.

My letters to the Parole Board obviously did not matter. My discussion with the head of the Parole board at Powledge Unit, none of that mattered. Clearly, I could have simply ignored all of that and the outcome would have been the same. My life, all the days I can’t move without wanting to fall to the floor that is worth twenty years. There is something far worse though, something that is causing me to want to crawl into my closet and stay there, re-examine myself closely.

I am not a saint, not that I have ever proposed I was. But I thought I was better than this. Better than demanding my pound of flesh. Better than demanding revenge. I did not realize I had not reconciled my pragmatic intellectual self, the part that believes remorse, rehabilitation and re-entry is not only possible but the hoped for outcome. I did not know this about myself, did not understand I had not brought my heart and mind together that I meant it, but not about MY OFFENDERS. I did not know this would cause me such fury.

I didn’t know I lacked compassion I think this devastates me more than I can even begin to measure.

I didn’t know I was false a sham. This also devastates me.

Race 2012, What is Race

I received a request to answer the question of “what is race”, directly from Monica who is our fearless leader and coordinator for Race 2012. Then today Totsymae also asked the question along with, “what does it mean to you?” These are difficult subjects especially during these days; we have tried hard in this nation to pretend we don’t have a race problem. Perhaps a better way of saying this, as a nation we have tried to pretend with the election of Barack Obama we no longer have a race problem, obviously we elected a “Black Man as President”.

What is race? Do we have the language, polite or otherwise to answer that question adequately?

I am adopted. I look different from my family; in fact, I was told not infrequently I looked ‘exotic’. Being visually different was my first taste of what it meant to be different, my father said it didn’t matter. It did though. Not because children are discerning or born biased, they aren’t but they are born with an eye for what is dissimilar and an ear to learn what those differences mean, or to fear those differences. Fear translates into hate, humans hate what they fear; humans hate what poses a threat to their survival. Eventually those reactions become visceral if not addressed, thus a new racist is born.

What is race?

It is what defines our differences; these are purely physical characteristics. Without the physical characteristics, the markers of ‘race’ we would be unable to visually identify a person as belonging to specific racial groups unless they self-identified. The truth is race is a social construct that allows us to demonize or aggrandize a group of people based on nothing more or less than their physical characteristics. Humans have used differences, be they cultural, religious or the obvious physical to commit atrocities against each other since the dawn of humankind. We haven’t changed since we first learned to walk upright; we have only gotten more creative in our genocidal tendencies.

What is race?

When we look at our President, we don’t say we elected our first bi-racial President. We don’t acknowledge his Anglo Saxon heritage, indeed, we also forget his Indonesian stepfather; we only see his Blackness and for many White Americans that Blackness infuriates. That fury has broken the barriers of polite discussion of race; it has pulled out all the stops of racial etiquette and public avoidance of accusations of racism. Truthfully, there are

Ann Dunham and a young Barack Obama

those who take great pride in their blatant racism, forgetting our President had a very ‘White’ mother and was raised by very ‘White’ grandparents. Instead, they demand his Birth Certificate, certain this very Black man could not be born in the United States of America. Never has a seated President been treated with such disrespect, during his term in office. But then, never has a President of the United States appeared to be a Black Man.

What is Race? It is part of what we hold up as who we are. It shouldn’t be relevant, but it is. I am first Human, then a woman, then American, then part of an amazing and somewhat dysfunctional family that happens to share the DNA of many different cultures and going back generations.

What is race?

It is nothing more than a way to group and identify those unlike ourselves based on differences that have no real relevance other than our personal notion of beauty. In this nation, what is race? It has become something more, hasn’t it? Race has become an insidious and ugly framework for Class, which is really just another way to say ‘poverty’ and ‘wealth’. Race is a social construct, made up and sustained by those who would hold on to power. It is that, nothing more and nothing less.

Race is a grouping and a tick mark on the Census, the employment application, the TSA checkpoint or the show me your papers police check. It is that, nothing more or less. Race is what we agreed would define us as groups of people so we could pick and choose who would win or lose in society. Race divides our cities creating pockets of destitution, hopelessness and lost opportunity for our children, our future.

We have developed an entire polite language, a racial etiquette for our public discourse. One day soon, we will have to say enough, we will have to begin to hold each other and ourselves accountable and allow ourselves to say

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

what needs to be said without being offended by whose lips say it. We will have to allow talk across the lines of the construct of race, reach through the smog of polite speech and recognize each other for our good intent get our azzes off our shoulders and begin to speak plainly about the problems of Race within the country. We will have to speak across Color, Culture, Religion and Polite Society and across the Racial Etiquette, we have developed if we are to ever fix what is broken and truly achieve the dream that was spoken on the 28-Aug-1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Finally, what does it mean to me?

Mildred and Richard Loving, 1967

It means beyond Loving vs. St. of Virginia my husband and I can go out to dinner anywhere and anytime without some ijit with an attitude giving us the stink eye, failing to provide us with service, or worse offering their opinion of our pairing.

Other times it means I have to revisit the scene of the crime, the day three young Black men kidnapped and shot me simply because they wanted to kill a ‘White Person”, each time they come up for parole I am reminded hate and prejudice runs both ways. Still other days I have to defend my personal position on Racism and Prejudice, why I don’t hate an entire ‘race’ for the act of three individuals. Yes, I am asked this often by both sides and my answer is always the same; I don’t even hate them why would I hate perfect strangers? Or even better, all three of them were teenagers should I hate teenagers? It makes as much sense. Yet even when I explain, most people think I am lying.

What does it mean to me? It means someday, maybe not in my lifetime or even in the lifetime of my children, we will finally destroy the construct of ‘Race’, when enough of us finally stop relying upon it to divide us or define us.

My humanity, gender and experiences define me. My appearance and gender define me only if it limits me by the decisions or perceptions of others. The perception of others as to my race it is just that perception and assumption, I never self-identify.

Our Body Our Self id

I have been thinking lately about how I see myself and it causes me some angst, this has been on my mind a weight on my heart even. I know, it shouldn’t I am a tough old broad, generally not given to inner flights of fancy or brooding about what cannot be changed. My fifty-fifth birthday has come and gone now, I am past middle age and heading towards, well something else entirely.

Why am I noodling this? What am I really talking about; I am talking about Me, Myself, I, Id, Ego; all the things that make me ME. More importantly, I am talking about what I see in the mirror of my mind versus how others judge me when they see me on the street or meet me for the first time. Perhaps even more hurtful it is how those close to me offer up their helpful suggestions and thoughts on my ‘health’ and appearance.

I wonder does it never cross their minds to ask, “How do you feel today?”

Can it be that even those closest to me have decided I made a personal choice and it was to be fat? Do the people who claim they love me honestly think (this is a stretch, the thinking part) this is the look I chose? That I enjoy being laughed at on the street, dismissed as lazy and worse stupid. Do those who profess their care for me truly believe I don’t see myself, know my ass enters the room approximately thirty-two seconds after my boobs? Do they think this doesn’t bother me?

Of course it does you bunch of insensitive social incompetents!

There was a time in my life I wanted to be a Ballerina, I wanted to float across the floor in beautiful flowing costumes en pointe’ making art with my body. Then my body betrayed me, my ballet teacher smacked my breasts emerging like angry beehives from my chest and explained in her thick Russian accent, “No prima ballerina has breasts like a peasant!”

Ten years of grinding practice only to be told my peasant breasts were not the stuff of ballerinas. Nevertheless, I continued to dance, because I loved it. I also took gymnastics, rode horses, skied, ran, played soccer and did many other things all because I loved them. After all, with prima ballerina off the table everything else was on! There were times I brutalized my body, it didn’t matter I just kept going. I tore my knees up; I would walk again long before they healed properly.

I learned many forms of dance from ballet to belly; dance was my favorite form of expression and art. Dance was my heart.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

100 pounds.

That is how much I gained in the first two years after I was shot. Sometimes I lose some of it. Then I have another setback, another surgery or another round of partial paralysis. The reality is I don’t think I will ever lose it, not ever. Before I was shot I had already gained weight, I was in a miserable marriage and I was unhappy, I wasn’t fat but I was no longer thin and perfect either.

I wonder I look at those words and I wonder no longer thin and perfect. What does that mean, perfect in what respect and perfect according to what measurement. Who or what am I measuring myself against?

Now at fifty-five I use wonderful words to describe myself, words like Zaftig, which is one of my favorites. I laugh along with others at the shallowness of a society that would dare to judge me on my dress size without taking the time to value my intellect, my capabilities or my accomplishments. The reality is their judgment hurts. My own judgment hurts truthfully I am diminished by both.

Don’t you want to lose weight?

I am asked this question quite frequently. The answer is always the same, of course I do you nitwits. I also want to live without pain, wake up every morning leap out of bed without any numb spots anywhere on my body. Given a choice, I will take pain free over thin any day of the week. I won’t achieve that one in my lifetime either.

Would I like to lose weight?

Certainly, I would love to lose weight. I would love to shop in stores that didn’t specialize for ‘fat girls’. I would love to go to the gym and not feel ashamed; in fact, I would love to not be afraid to go to the gym.

I would like to go to the gym and take a yoga class where not everyone looked like they just stepped off the pages of Cosmopolitan. Why isn’t there ever a beginner’s class for fat people?

I would like to go to the gym and not feel like an alien, not be stared at as if I belonged somewhere else, anywhere else but there.

I would like for people to see me and not judge me. I would like to look in the mirror and not judge myself.

Why in the hell do gyms have so many damned mirrors anyway?

Kirstie Alley before and after at least she still looks like a woman

I would like to not be asked by those who profess to love me why I don’t lose weight. I would love, just once for someone, anyone who loves me to ask me how I feel today.

I have read so many great blogs recently on the subject of our bodies and social judgment; one stands out in part because as a woman it hit home I hope you will go read Sweet Mother http://sweetmotherlover.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/dear-fat-dudes/

I previously wrote this, a lighter look at the subject. https://valentinelogar.com/category/personal-notes/

The truth  is, this might just be my reality. I can eat the best I can. I can walk on the days I am not hurting so badly it is all I can do to crawl out of bed. I can try to overcome my fear of the gym, but I suspect that one is harder than anyone can imagine. My truth is, I live within the body I have and it doesn’t love me. I don’t fit the world and I don’t have the fight left to force the issue. We are so shallow we are willing to diminish anyone that doesn’t fit our narrow vision of beauty forgetting there is a whole person inside the body we judge not good enough. So today I will cheer for those women like Jennifer Livingston who was brave enough to address the man who berated her for her ‘choice’ to be obese. I wish more of us were willing to stand up to those who are so socially inept, cruel and frankly stupid.

Race 2012, Platforms & Ideology

This nation has taken on the inequity of education at every level from K through university as part of the on-going debate. The question we have to ask ourselves is it only poverty that drives the inequity or is there something else at work is there a racial undercurrent, still. It is hard to ask the question, hard to look at the year and think back to the days of Civil Rights marches, sit-ins, busing and finally forced school integration and have to ask; have we really not come any further than this?

There are some things we can see in black and white, there is no question there is a lack of parity. What is not so easy to determine is why. It is easy to say this is pure institutional racism, brush our hands together and move on to the next subject. Is that enough, have we solved the riddle? I don’t think we have, the inequity built into our education system has been with us for a very long time, it is the outcome of how we fund and administer our local schools. It is only natural, eventually, as poverty forces people together into communities, schools along with other services would suffer the consequence of economic decline.

It isn’t just poverty that divides us. Unless we cannot absolutely avoid it, we will always seek out communities where we are comfortable. We will always seek out a place to settle where the people look like us and sound like us.

Ruby Bridges, New Orleans 1960

It is natural, we might not even realize we are doing it; it is our own deep-seated fears and underlying prejudice driving us on, informing our choices. We might not be Racist, we might not be a raging flaming outright Bigot but these are very different animals from carrying that seed of fear and that ember of racial bias. We are by nature Xenophobic; we fear what is different from us.

I am not a Racist!

Except where racism is overt, where the neo-Nazis, KKK and others of their ilk march down city streets decked out in well-pressed sheets or Para-military gear, racism hides behind polite social forms. Since the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 there have been changes in what is accepted in our public discourse regarding race we have even found a racial etiquette, at least until recently. This etiquette though, this burying of the Jim Crow era overtness has given way to new resentments and new racial dog-whistles.

  • Government Intervention
  • Welfare
  • Affirmative Action
  • Title I
  • Drug War

What does all this mean when it comes to education? It is an unfortunate truth, the very communities that have been ripped apart by our failed policies and barely concealed bias, have failing schools. We covertly accept some children, within some communities will not thrive and thus set up the circumstances for them to fail while paying lip service to hoped for success.

I am not going to try to hide my disdain today; the following quotes are taken directly from the GOP Platform, you can read all about their thoughts starting on page 35 [2]:

The Republican Party is the party of fresh and innovative ideas in education.

periodic rigorous assessments on the fundamentals, especially math, science, reading, history, and geography; renewed focus on the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers, and an accurate account of American history that celebrates the birth of this great nation;

We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually. It is effective, science-based, and empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes and avoid risks of sexual activity.

We support keeping federal funds from being used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs.

Republican Governors have led in the effort to reform our country’s under performing education system, and we applaud these advancements.

Now let me just quickly give some examples of what one Republican Governor has done as part of the reform of his under performing system.

  • Removed Thomas Jefferson from history books as part of the Enlightenment. Why you ask? Well because he was a known Deist who coined the phrase “separation of Church and state”; can’t have that coming out of the mouths of one of our Founding Fathers. He is still in the History Books, obviously can’t remove him completely but he isn’t mentioned as one of the key figures of the Enlightenment.[1]
  • Added a section called the unintended consequences of Affirmative Action. In the meantime, there is a section about the positive aspects of slavery in America and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is now referred to simply as ‘Atlantic Triangular Trade’. [1]

Can you begin to guess who this genius of Educational reform is? This stellar representative of a GOP Right Wing-nut might be? This would be President? Oh, I won’t hold you in suspense; it is my very own Governor Rick Perry. Only in Texas would they think to screw the pooch of Education this deep, keeping in mind a very large portion of our students are poor, Hispanic or Black.

The GOP promotes school choice, so do I so should we all. The GOP also promotes vouchers and privatization of our education system, here is where the GOP and I part ways. Families with no means to send their children outside of their communities, no transportation, no extra funds for school uniforms will not be in a position to ‘choose’ schools outside of their immediate communities. School choice is only for those with true choices, true means beyond the single ‘voucher’ for tuition and possibly books. The meme of borrowing money from your parents doesn’t begin to touch on what poverty means to those whose entire communities have been decimated by it.

Private industry will not build schools or invest in communities that represent no return on that investment, no profit. What does this mean? It means public funds will be all that remains and will be even more limited so long as we continue to limit public funding to property tax collection. It means after the Unions have been busted, public school teacher ranks have been further demonized and decimated and school text have been bastardized by boards with agendas, our children our future will be left in failing systems with no hope and no future.

Is this Race Based? It is poverty based and has the unintentional effect of further kicking the can down the road, closing the door on dreams and opportunity for those who would like to live the once real American Dream.

Is this Race Based? Perhaps a more important question is this truly unintentional or is it simply the new more polite Jim Crow.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_sdi.asp

http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012006.pdf

http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acsbr10-05.pdf

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html?_r=0

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/education/22texas.html?fta=y

[2] http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/

http://www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform#moving-america

From my thoughtful friend at aFrankAngle the most perfect approach to the coming Presidential debates. If only!

A Frank Angle

The first of the presidential debates starts this week. Well, there are not debates, but actually glorified new conferences with the parties setting the rules that give the candidates plenty of opportunities to continue there taglines.

Odds are very good that the candidates will provide an answer without answering the question. After all, Mr. Romney has previously stated to a moderator, “You have the right to ask the questions you want to, and I have the right to answer them in a way I want to.”

What if I was running the event? If so, here are the six rules in the A Frank Angle interview format.

  1. The moderator (me) is in charge; thus asks the questions, exercises any rule at any time, and can re-ask questions until answered.
  2. If the candidate does not answer the question, immediately turn off their microphone and surround them with the cone of silence.

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https://valentinelogar.com/2012/10/02/2085/

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