If you've got drama, beef, complaints, whatever, this is the place to put it. Placing your drama bullshit here vastly increases the chance that I will not just delete your comments and mock you for being yet another internet histrionic. Hopefully, in reading this disclaimer, you will realise what a ridiculous individual you are for even considering such nonsense and will decide not to bother at all. Thank you.
There's nothing good about this whole situation--the murder of Angie Zapata, the systemic inequalities through which so many people--Andrade, other murderers, and everyone who is complicit in them--think that murder is an acceptable response to the existence of a trans woman of color, the grief of everyone who knew and loved Angie, the hateful "tranny panic" defense by Andrade's attorneys that's worked so many times before.
But the ruling against Andrade as having committed a hate crime against a trans person is a landmark. It sends the message that there is a problem with this, that it does not make it suddenly okay to bash someone's head in with a blunt, heavy object and say "i killed it" if you later claim that "finding out" (in spite of knowing two days ahead of time) that a woman was assigned male at birth drove you into a state of murderous rage.
This ruling may make the world a safer place. It may save lives.
someone should be beaten about the head and shoulders with their copy of Atlas Shrugged.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Obsession: The Politics of God Fearing Americans
If that image isn't inflammatory enough read what Huff Po has to say about this propaganda film, that was distributed by 70 newspapers in swing states. It was meant to construct Muslims as the enemy of every true God fearing American.
The politics of hate leads to acts of violence. According to the Dayton Daily news, on Friday September 26th someone sprayed a noxious irritant into a mosque. The room that was attacked was occupied by children, who were under care while their mothers participated in Ramadan prayers.
Really who are the "terrorists" here? How is it possible in a country that supposedly champions freedoms, Americans can be attacked at their place of worship? What have innocent children ever done to deserve this kind of treatment?
There is no doubt in my mind that Obsession incited this act of violence. This binary of Muslim vs Americans assumes that all people who practice Islam are anti-American, and further discounts the fact that there are Muslim Americans who have lived in the states for generations. Of course they want you to believe that all "Americans" are just good white people defending their home from the Allah worshipping invaders.
Movies like this are meant to prey upon the rampant Islamophobia that exists in the U.S, and promote a culture of racism and violence. Not only are these attacks terrible, it is further shameful that they were distributed by the press. The idea that media exists as as an unbiased source of information is a falsehood. Daily they pander to the worst elements in American society perpetuating social constructions that construct certain groups as 'other'.
I am simply at a loss for words to express my anger, that once again racism is being used as justification to attack segments of society. This attack is very reminiscent of the bombing that occurred during the civil rights movement that resulted in the death of 4 young girls. Ultimately if you believe in the concept of a free and open society such an attack should be considered unthinkable. So much for the concept of an enlightened West.
H/T eternal-llama and the Daily KOS
I didn't hear about it until yesterday, via an LJ friend. Why is this not news? Do you think that if anyone, not to mention some kind of Muslim fundamentalists, gassed a Baptist Church's nursery in the middle of prayers, it wouldn't be huge news?
I received a copy of Obsession (two, actually, one for me and one for Rob), but I haven't watched it. I'm sure I can imagine the content pretty well. This kind of hate mongering and violence comes out of fear. I can only speculate that, if Obama is elected, if we return to a working majority in congress, and the appearance of the government is more "liberal" (even if it's not) this will get worse and sadly, the last eightish years of propaganda and hate mongering and xenophobia and anti-islamic rhetoric will probably make the targets folks like these. They will do anything to bully us all into submission and scare people away from practicing their rights.
I just don't know how this country can survive, but I guess we will see.
All those families and those touched by this horrible event are in my thoughts and I can only hope for some kind of justice.
unfortunately you're just suspending the parts that you know you're bad at, like debates. everyone sees you. just like we saw you with that sarah palin shit. and the cutting bush out of the convention shit. and the first round of debate shit, in which you tried to shape the entire process to your will.
it's like someone just said in an e-mail to jack cafferty, "now we can see who really needs the washington comfort zone." oh snap.
you thought you'd be clever, putting obama in a no win position. instead, people saw you, and are now in the process of pointing and laughing.
does w. know you borrowed his wardrobe of emperor's non-clothes? I mean, not that he'd be able to see that they were gone. lol
you people are killing me with this shit. increasingly, it seems like you're killing the whole country with it. even the media is a bit baffled by the transparent ineptitude going on here. the crack in our country between those that can your drawers and those who refuse to admit they can see your drawers even though there's no way they can't deepens.
and you've got a whole month left to go. *cues calliope music*
I just want you all to know that, in spite of my full tilt socialist policies (though the game totally stifled me in terms of education policy), I was better at reducing debt AND better at staving off the imminent collapse of this bullshit system than the average, as well as than people in my various demographics and most of the time my govt was only a half percent bigger than average. therefore, you should elect me president. also, Obama is not quite as awesome as me, but I will endorse him anyway. he tries.
The War Prayer
by Mark Twain
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation
*God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!*
Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --
An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"
The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:
"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.
"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
(*After a pause.*) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"
It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.
(hattip to ramaba, even though I watched the speech and got the e-mail, her post inspired me to post as well and hattip to unusualmusic for the awesome macro to ice the cake)
from an Obama campaign response to GOP convention speeches by 9iu11ani and Palin:
"Both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin specifically mocked Barack's experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago more than two decades ago, where he worked with people who had lost jobs and been left behind when the local steel plants closed.
Let's clarify something for them right now.
Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies.
And it's no surprise that, after eight years of George Bush, millions of people have found that by coming together in their local communities they can change the course of history. That promise is what our campaign has been about from the beginning.
Throughout our history, ordinary people have made good on America's promise by organizing for change from the bottom up. Community organizing is the foundation of the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, labor rights, and the 40-hour workweek. And it's happening today in church basements and community centers and living rooms across America.
Meanwhile, we still haven't gotten a single idea during the entire Republican convention about the economy and how to lift a middle class so harmed by the Bush-McCain policies."
my thoughts, as spewed all over ramaba's journal because she was the first unfortunate soul on my f-list to blog about it and, clearly, I was still pissed from last night:
funny how republicans are all too happy to rely on community organizers to do all the work that they think is not the government's job, and then mock them for doing said work as though it doesn't matter.
newsflash, you rich, smug, heartless assholes, if you don't have tax funded programs and you don't have community organizations, what you do have is poor people dying in the streets, children going without their most basic needs and a delightfully Dickensian hell to live in.
and I don't know a single community organizer that doesn't work at least 60 hours a week, at all times of day and week, for a hell of a lot less pay than they'd be making exploiting their degrees in the private sector. community organizers are what politicians are supposed to be: public servants with a strong sense of sacrifice for the greater good.
I wish I could kick Sarah Palin in her shins. Obama's community organization experience is one of the strongest things in his favor, as far as I'm concerned. it shows a dedication, a restrained ambition, a focus, that you don't typically see in the trust funded, over groomed, running since birth assholes that we typically get to choose from.
I just really don't think it's cute or funny to openly mock the people who fill the gaps that these assholes create. what I do think is that it, again, at a time when I'm guessing the demand for community organizations will be growing significantly, highlights how completely out of touch, pampered and generally apathetic to the needs of us plebes, this party is. they think it's funny that we organize. they think it's a game. they think there are no responsibilities that community organizers are held to, nevermind that an overwhelming sense of responsibility, to humanity, is, in my experience, what makes a community organizer to begin with. it is organizers that hold a community together when the government and the corporations have thrown up their hands and moved on to greener pastures. it is organizers who actually do the work, while politicians simply point to the failings and roll on to the next campaign talking point.
I cannot say how mad it makes me to hear these assholes, these "we should be able to depend on private charity and religious charity (as long as it's not being run by some commie priest) to support the needy among us" assholes, impugn the people who keep the country from falling apart completely. they should feel lucky; I can't imagine what this country would be like if people didn't have healthy community outlets into which they can channel their dissatisfaction, need, and frustration.
I'm not saying that organizers are saints, or that there aren't issues that need to be addressed, but outright mockery of the only thing that I can see keeping this country from collapsing altogether is completely and totally out of line and just demostrates, once again, how completely out of touch with this country the GOP really is.
many of them are particularly uncanny in matching the quote with the panel, but this one struck me as just perfect for livejournal. check it out.
(Guest blogged by Nonny Mouse)
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that scientists in Silicon Valley have bred genetically modified bacteria that consumes agricultural waste and secrete crude petroleum oil.
That’s the good news. The bad news is…
I’m not quite sure. What about this pulling research and development away from cleaner renewable energy sources just to make more of the old stuff? Well, except… instead of pumping out more carbon into the atmosphere, this “Oil 2.0” is not only renewable but also carbon negative – it emits less carbon than is sucked from the atmosphere by the raw materials from which it is made. Oh, and the raw materials? Not going to be corn (so no more tortilla riots in Mexico City) nor palm oil (no more deforestation in the Amazon) – it eats wheat straw from California and woodchips from the timber industry in the South.
Well, how about everyone’s car having to be modified to burn the new stuff? Y’know, like hybrid and electric cars? Gee, um, nope. It’s completely interchangeable with fossil fuel oils we now suck out of the ground and refine. You wouldn’t even notice a change-over at the pumps… except for maybe the price once decoupled from OPEC.
How about cost? Hmm.
“Five to seven years ago, that process would have taken months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Greg Pal, senior director of LS9, the company making this stuff, says. “Now it can take weeks and cost maybe $20,000.”
What about… what about…? Genetic modification? Right, let’s not forget, GM is BAAAAD. Isn’t it? Hell, there’s gotta be something Big Oil can use to scare us into rejecting Oil 2.0…
We have the technology. We have the opportunities. We have the skills and the inventiveness. All we need is the will. And the politicians to listen to us instead of entrenched corporate interests…
1. The pigs who murdered Sean Bell in cold blood for absolutely no reason were aquitted. so it's clear to you all, at this point, that pigs could walk into a random house and murder a person of color in their bed and not face charges, right? I mean, clearly, there are no limits to what is allowed. it is beyond upsetting to me. it's beyond disgusting. there's a chance that some semblance of justice will be restored at the federal level, but it doesn't change what is clear here. it is reasonable and legal in this country for a pig to look on a person of color and assume, without any other reasoning, that that person is a dangerous criminal. an abortion of justice, indeed.
2. the Seal Press/Amanda Marcotte "racism in my feminism? it's more likely than you think." debacle continues, to further disgust and embarrassment.
karnythiaaddresses this better than I ever could
a highlight: "And yes, I know many of the people reading this are truly allies and I'm not saying this to hurt you. But we're going to need you to commence cleaning up your house before you can help us clean up the world."
and sadie_sabotfollows up with a call from a whitey to the whiteys to get our shit together and take responsibility.
a highlight: "again, fighting the racism within the feminist movement is not about saving feminism. it is about opposing racism."
so we trudge on, trying to make feminism something safer and more representative and more honestly progressive and trying to fight racism EVERYWHERE, in our movement and in ourselves.
3. The Clintons continue to be assholes who think that it's cool to talk about playing the race card and making appeals based on renting space in Harlem (and thereby aiding in gentrification) and gaining Harlem's votes (over a Republican? you don't say!). clearly, working in neighborhoods where Black folk traditionally live is prophylactic against racism.
jesus Bill, I used to respect you.
also, I can't help but wonder if Hillary's run is part of the reason that Clinton chose that office location in the first place. I wouldn't put ANYTHING past them at this point. NOTHING. not even the "2012 run" conspiracy theory. nothing.
I'm fucking tired of these assholes. tired. it's like white liberalism personified. I get flack for saying I won't vote for her. "Anyone's better than McCain!" but the reality in my mind is that we are on a fucking precipice. we are looking at the light at the end of the US of A tunnel. we will either change for the better or we will eat ourselves alive. and Hillary Clinton is no better than McCain, as far as I can see, when those are our options. business as usual is business as usual. Barack Obama isn't the second-coming, but at least he's a step toward change and has real honest things to say about what's going on in this country. I can only hope that his policy regarding West and South Asia is less scary in practice than it has the potential to be on paper.
which brings me to...
4. the US navy is firing warning shots at what may be (though according to Iran are not) Iranian speed boats in the Persian Gulf. watching this on Fox News, it's hard not to laugh when, for some reason, they refer to it as the Central Arabian Gulf, as the US Navy has come to insisting upon. TAKE THAT IRAN! wanna mess with us? we'll take your gulf! (cause, let's be clear, this isn't about Pan-Arabian empowerment when it's coming out of the mouths of Fox News or the US military)
why not just be realistic about it and rename it the Gulf of Tonkin? that's where all this posturing is going, all this seeing how close we can get to them, all this branding every boat on the water, every voice from the shore as an enemy. could it be anymore clear that we WANT an incident? that we would sacrifice lives for a clear shot to invade or take strikes on Iran? at this point, I can't help but wonder when bombing raids of the Ho Chi Mihn trail will "accidentally" lead us into Iran. I mean, that's where this leads, isn't it? you don't need a degree in history to see we've been HERE before. it's our war on terror and we'll do what we want!
5. all this stupid over media generated food shortage hysteria in the US while people are literally starving to death and taking to the streets to fight for their right to live in places like Haiti, East Africa and Indonesia (not to mention the legitimately poor people in the US who are facing elevating food and commodity prices and inflation -- who I think it's reasonable to assume are not running on Costcos to buy 80lbs of rice). capitalism is starving people to death while USAmericans panic that they can't buy their Basmati rice 80lbs at a time.
I've been so intellectually overwhelmed lately. I don't know what it is, but my brain has just felt taxed to the point that it's difficult for me to react and respond to things to my satisfaction. the election, this bullshit with the war, this bullshit with Iran, white feminism continuing to be embarrassing and bigoted and generally disappointing. my brain is exhausted. my heart is exhausted.
is fucking truth.
So, it depends on where you are, but I think it’s fair to say that the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre…I think they’re misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to ‘white working-class don’t wanna work — don’t wanna vote for the black guy.’ That’s…there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today - kind of implies that it’s sort of a race thing.
Here’s how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government, and when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn’t buy it. And when it’s delivered by — it’s true that when it’s delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter).
But — so the questions you’re most likely to get about me, ‘Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What’s the concrete thing?’ What they wanna hear is — so, we’ll give you talking points about what we’re proposing — close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama’s gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we’re gonna provide health care for every American. So we’ll go down a series of talking points.
But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you’ll find is, is that people of every background — there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you’ll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I’d be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you’re doing what you’re doing.
I'm sorry if Hillary Clinton and Fox News thinks that working class people are so stupid, so out of step, so fucking dense that they don't even see themselves, but I can assure you, as a working class person, from a family of working class people, with plenty of working class friends who live in absurdly economically depressed places where, as Obama said in his response to the uproar, the jobs have been gone for 25 years, that this is fucking truth.
we are bitter. we are left behind. we are frustrated. we are afraid and out of hope.
and sometimes that bitterness and fear does translate into issues voting that doesn't always make sense in the larger sociological picture.
and why do Clinton and Fox and the GOP want to make this observation seem like blasphemy?
because they capitalize on that fear, that bitterness, that frustration. they harness it and exploit us for their own gain.
AND NOTHING FUCKING CHANGES HERE.
so if it comes down to one man saying what it really is and maybe offending some people who weren't gonna vote for him anyway, and the chance of SOME ACTUAL REAL CHANGE, or some condescending bullshit from Hillary Clinton or John McCain about how it's Obama who is the elitist, it is he who is out of touch, you know what I'm gonna go with.
we're not fucking stupid, you politics-as-usual assholes.
and if Obama wins, it will not be because he played it as you play it, as it has always been played.
it will be because he moved people who hadn't been moved in their entire franchised lives. who haven't felt hope surrounding an election in as long as they remembered.
Clinton may have her base. McCain may have his base.
what Obama has is the actual possibility of new voters, the possibility of moving people. the possibility, for once in my life time, even if only for this race, changing the way the game is played.
and if he doesn't win, I think we're out of hope. I think that this is our last best chance to save the U.S. by doing the right thing.
and the right thing starts with honesty.
so stop trying to convince me that it's him, and not you who thinks I'm so fucking simple and full of fear and inferiority and anger that I can be played like a fucking fiddle.
Hillary Clinton, daughter of wealthy parents, Ivy league scholar, former Young Republican, successful lawyer, former first lady, Senator, could not look at me, my education, my current state, my ability to think critically and speak eloquently, and see a working class woman with working class values.
she couldn't even identify working class values.
but she's lived in Arkansas, so I should trust her, right?
I think I'll stick with the guy who can see the nuance, who can speak the truth, who can break it down, and who could look at me and know that a sharp tongue and a quick wit are not mutually exclusive to the working class, and respect me enough to not sugar coat, not talk down to me, not blow smoke up my ass and not pretend like I need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
and I can only hope that Pennsylvania, a state very much like my own, can see clearly, past the fear mongers and the puppet masters and the manipulation and appeals to the most base elements of their being, and will vote for the man who had the sense and the integrity to finally stand up and say what everyone can see.
I hope Clinton gets fucking trounced in PA. I hope she finds out the hard way that we're not a bunch of rubes to be manipulated by her Dixiecrat bullshit. I hope that all of this hits home with her and that she is thoroughly humiliated by her own inability to manipulate the situation to her liking, for once.
and that, in and of itself, is a fucking gift. thanks Obama. thanks for making me want a candidate, even a candidate I don't always agree with, instead of leaving me to settle, as I have in every vote I've cast since I turned 18 in 2000.
I HAVE COME home from a long stay in Mexico to find – because of the presidential campaign, and especially because of the Obama/Clinton race for the Democratic nomination - a new country existing alongside the old. On any given day we, collectively, become the Goddess of the Three Directions and can look back into the past, look at ourselves just where we are, and take a glance, as well, into the future. It is a space with which I am familiar.
When I was born in 1944 my parents lived on a middle Georgia plantation that was owned by a white distant relative, Miss May Montgomery. (During my childhood it was necessary to address all white girls as "Miss" when they reached the age of twelve.) She would never admit to this relationship, of course, except to mock it. Told by my parents that several of their children would not eat chicken skin she responded that of course they would not. No Montgomerys would.
My parents and older siblings did everything imaginable for Miss May. They planted and raised her cotton and corn, fed and killed and processed her cattle and hogs, painted her house, patched her roof, ran her dairy, and, among countless other duties and responsibilities my father was her chauffeur, taking her anywhere she wanted to go at any hour of the day or night. She lived in a large white house with green shutters and a green, luxuriant lawn: not quite as large as Tara of Gone With the Wind fame, but in the same style.
We lived in a shack without electricity or running water, under a rusty tin roof that let in wind and rain. Miss May went to school as a girl. The school my parents and their neighbors built for us was burned to the ground by local racists who wanted to keep ignorant their competitors in tenant farming. During the Depression, desperate to feed his hardworking family, my father asked for a raise from ten dollars a month to twelve. Miss May responded that she would not pay that amount to a white man and she certainly wouldn't pay it to a nigger. That before she'd pay a nigger that much money she'd milk the dairy cows herself.
When I look back, this is part of what I see. I see the school bus carrying white children, boys and girls, right past me, and my brothers, as we trudge on foot five miles to school. Later, I see my parents struggling to build a school out of discarded army barracks while white students, girls and boys, enjoy a building made of brick. We had no books; we inherited the cast off books that "Jane" and "Dick" had previously used in the all-white school that we were not, as black children, permitted to enter.
The year I turned fifty, one of my relatives told me she had started reading my books for children in the library in my home town. I had had no idea – so kept from black people it had been – that such a place existed. To this day knowing my presence was not wanted in the public library when I was a child I am highly uncomfortable in libraries and will rarely, unless I am there to help build, repair, refurbish or raise money to keep them open, enter their doors.
When I joined the freedom movement in Mississippi in my early twenties it was to come to the aid of sharecroppers, like my parents, who had been thrown off the land they'd always known, the plantations, because they attempted to exercise their "democratic" right to vote. I wish I could say white women treated me and other black people a lot better than the men did, but I cannot. It seemed to me then and it seems to me now that white women have copied, all too often, the behavior of their fathers and their brothers, and in the South, especially in Mississippi, and before that, when I worked to register voters in Georgia, the broken bottles thrown at my head were gender free.
I made my first white women friends in college; they were women who loved me and were loyal to our friendship, but I understood, as they did, that they were white women and that whiteness mattered. That, for instance, at Sarah Lawrence, where I was speedily inducted into the Board of Trustees practically as soon as I graduated, I made my way to the campus for meetings by train, subway and foot, while the other trustees, women and men, all white, made their way by limo. Because, in our country, with its painful history of unspeakable inequality, this is part of what whiteness means. I loved my school for trying to make me feel I mattered to it, but because of my relative poverty I knew I could not.
I am a supporter of Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the country at this time. He offers a rare opportunity for the country and the world to start over, and to do better. It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him. Cannot see what he carries in his being. Cannot hear the fresh choices toward Movement he offers. That they can believe that millions of Americans –black, white, yellow, red and brown - choose Obama over Clinton only because he is a man, and black, feels tragic to me.
When I have supported white people, men and women, it was because I thought them the best possible people to do whatever the job required. Nothing else would have occurred to me. If Obama were in any sense mediocre, he would be forgotten by now. He is, in fact, a remarkable human being, not perfect but humanly stunning, like King was and like Mandela is. We look at him, as we looked at them, and are glad to be of our species. He is the change America has been trying desperately and for centuries to hide, ignore, kill. The change America must have if we are to convince the rest of the world that we care about people other than our (white) selves.
True to my inner Goddess of the Three Directions however, this does not mean I agree with everything Obama stands for. We differ on important points probably because I am older than he is, I am a woman and person of three colors, (African, Native American, European), I was born and raised in the American South, and when I look at the earth's people, after sixty-four years of life, there is not one person I wish to see suffer, no matter what they have done to me or to anyone else; though I understand quite well the place of suffering, often, in human growth.
I want a grown-up attitude toward Cuba, for instance, a country and a people I love; I want an end to the embargo that has harmed my friends and their children, children who, when I visit Cuba, trustingly turn their faces up for me to kiss. I agree with a teacher of mine, Howard Zinn, that war is as objectionable as cannibalism and slavery; it is beyond obsolete as a means of improving life. I want an end to the on-going war immediately and I want the soldiers to be encouraged to destroy their weapons and to drive themselves out of Iraq.
I want the Israeli government to be made accountable for its behavior towards the Palestinians, and I want the people of the United States to cease acting like they don't understand what is going on. All colonization, all occupation, all repression basically looks the same, whoever is doing it. Here our heads cannot remain stuck in the sand; our future depends of our ability to study, to learn, to understand what is in the records and what is before our eyes. But most of all I want someone with the self-confidence to talk to anyone, "enemy" or "friend," and this Obama has shown he can do. It is difficult to understand how one could vote for a person who is afraid to sit and talk to another human being. When you vote you are making someone a proxy for yourself; they are to speak when, and in places, you cannot. But if they find talking to someone else, who looks just like them, human, impossible, then what good is your vote?
It is hard to relate what it feels like to see Mrs. Clinton (I wish she felt self-assured enough to use her own name) referred to as "a woman" while Barack Obama is always referred to as "a black man." One would think she is just any woman, colorless, race-less, past-less, but she is not. She carries all the history of white womanhood in America in her person; it would be a miracle if we, and the world, did not react to this fact. How dishonest it is, to attempt to make her innocent of her racial inheritance.
I can easily imagine Obama sitting down and talking, person to person, with any leader, woman, man, child or common person, in the world, with no baggage of past servitude or race supremacy to mar their talks. I cannot see the same scenario with Mrs. Clinton who would drag into Twenty-First Century American leadership the same image of white privilege and distance from the reality of others' lives that has so marred our country's contacts with the rest of the world.
And yes, I would adore having a woman president of the United States. My choice would be Representative Barbara Lee, who alone voted in Congress five years ago not to make war on Iraq. That to me is leadership, morality, and courage; if she had been white I would have cheered just as hard. But she is not running for the highest office in the land, Mrs. Clinton is. And because Mrs. Clinton is a woman and because she may be very good at what she does, many people, including some younger women in my own family, originally favored her over Obama. I understand this, almost. It is because, in my own nieces' case, there is little memory, apparently, of the foundational inequities that still plague people of color and poor whites in this country. Why, even though our family has been here longer than most North American families – and only partly due to the fact that we have Native American genes – we very recently, in my lifetime, secured the right to vote, and only after numbers of people suffered and died for it.
When I offered the word "Womanism" many years ago, it was to give us a tool to use, as feminist women of color, in times like these. These are the moments we can see clearly, and must honor devotedly, our singular path as women of color in the United States. We are not white women and this truth has been ground into us for centuries, often in brutal ways. But neither are we inclined to follow a black person, man or woman, unless they demonstrate considerable courage, intelligence, compassion and substance. I am delighted that so many women of color support Barack Obama -and genuinely proud of the many young and old white women and men who do.
Imagine, if he wins the presidency we will have not one but three black women in the White House; one tall, two somewhat shorter; none of them carrying the washing in and out of the back door. The bottom line for most of us is: With whom do we have a better chance of surviving the madness and fear we are presently enduring, and with whom do we wish to set off on a journey of new possibility? In other words, as the Hopi elders would say: Who do we want in the boat with us as we head for the rapids? Who is likely to know how best to share the meager garden produce and water? We are advised by the Hopi elders to celebrate this time, whatever its adversities.
We have come a long way, Sisters, and we are up to the challenges of our time. One of which is to build alliances based not on race, ethnicity, color, nationality, sexual preference or gender, but on Truth. Celebrate our journey. Enjoy the miracle we are witnessing. Do not stress over its outcome. Even if Obama becomes president, our country is in such ruin it may well be beyond his power to lead us toward rehabilitation. If he is elected however, we must, individually and collectively, as citizens of the planet, insist on helping him do the best job that can be done; more, we must insist that he demand this of us. It is a blessing that our mothers taught us not to fear hard work. Know, as the Hopi elders declare: The river has its destination. And remember, as poet June Jordan and Sweet Honey in the Rock never tired of telling us: We are the ones we have been waiting for.
And with all my love,
First Day of Spring
March 21, 2008
over the last year, I've become all too familiar with how appalling and terrifying the treatment of gay youth is in the public school system, so her attack on GSAs is particularly enraging to me. Kern's tirade left me with a heart pounding with outrage at her ignorance and her total disconnection from reality.
copy/pasted with thanks to angryasiangrrl:
you may have seen this or at least heard about it. below is a response from a high school student whose mother was killed in the oklahoma bombing.
A letter to Sally Kern from a senior in high school in Oklahoma
Today my nephew attempted to deliver a letter to Sally Kern but was stopped
by a highway patrol man. With his permission I am distributing the letter to
all news stations and thought I would include it here.
Maybe we can all stand to learn a listen from this smart, loving, young man.
He more than most has reason to hate. He lost his mother, my sister, in the
Murrah Building bombing.
On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed
my mother and 167 others. 19 children died that day. Had I not had the
chicken pox that day, the body count would've likely have included one more.
Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still
suffer through their permanent wounds.
That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was
an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his
beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.
As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained
why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst
than terrorism. I can most certainly tell you through my own experience that
is not true. I am sure there are many people in your voting district that
laid a loved one to death after the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City. I
kind of doubt you'll find one of them that will agree with you.
I was five years old when my mother died. I remember what a beautiful, wise,
and remarkable woman she was. I miss her. Your harsh words and misguided
beliefs brought me to tears, because you told me that my mother's killer was
a better person than a group of people that are seeking safety and tolerance
As someone left motherless and victimized by terrorists, I say to you very
clearly you are absolutely wrong.
You represent a district in Oklahoma City and you very coldly express a lack
of love, sympathy or understanding for what they've been through. Can I ask
if you might have chosen wiser words were you a real Oklahoman that was here
to share the suffering with Oklahoma City? Might your heart be a bit less
cold had you been around to see the small bodies of children being pulled
out of rubble and carried away by weeping firemen?
I've spent 12 years in Oklahoma public schools and never once have I had
anyone try to force a gay agenda on me. I have seen, however, many gay
students beat up and there's never a day in school that has went by when I
haven't heard the word **** slung at someone. I've been called gay slurs
many times and they hurt and I am not even gay so I can just imagine how a
real gay person feels. You were a school teacher and you have seen those
things too. How could you care so little about the suffering of some of your
Let me tell you the result of your words in my school. Every openly gay and
suspected gay in the school were having to walk together Monday for
protection. They looked scared. They've already experienced enough hate and
now your words gave other students even more motivation to sneer at them and
call them names. Afterall, you are a teacher and a lawmaker, many young
people have taken your words to heart. That happens when you assume a role
of responsibility in your community. I seriously think before this week ends
that some kids here will be going home bruised and bloody because of what
I wish you could've met my mom. Maybe she could've guided you in how a real
Christian should be acting and speaking.
I have not had a mother for nearly 13 years now and wonder if there were
fewer people like you around, people with more love and tolerance in their
hearts instead of strife, if my mom would be here to watch me graduate from
high school this spring. Now she won't be there. So I'll be packing my
things and leaving Oklahoma to go to college elsewhere and one day be a
writer and I have no intentions to ever return here. I have no doubt that
people like you will incite crazy people to build more bombs and kill more
people again. I don't want to be here for that. I just can't go through that
You may just see me as a kid, but let me try to teach you something. The old
saying is sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt
you. Well, your words hurt me. Your words disrespected the memory of my mom.
Your words can cause others to pick up sticks and stones and hurt others.
-pretending to be multiracial
-pretending to be native american
-pretending to be an abuse survivor
-pretending to be a foster child
-pretending to be transracially adopted into a black family
-pretending to grow up in South Central LA
-pretending to be a Blood
-pretending to be a former drug runner and cooker of crack rock for the Bloods
-pretending to own a gun at 13
-pretending to know a gangster whose street name is actually "OG Homie" and generally abusing AAVE cause you're apparently even too ignorant to do some fucking research or so much as scope out an episode of the Wire before you make shit up
-pretending to have magical cornbread and blackeye pea cooking abilities because you're so fucking down
-pretending to have a totally ghetto tattoo of a crying pitbull on your back in memory of your homie on death row because you're so fucking down
-pretending that you are so fucking down, in fact, that your white baby was the result of your first encounter with a white man and that giving birth was the first time you ever actually saw a white baby
-pretending that you triumphed over all of this and completed college to successfully breed pitbulls for gangsters like yourself and then writing a memoir of your triumph
-implicating your child, family, and most perplexingly, your actual, real life friends of color, in this hot mess
-pretending that there's somehow an excuse that would make this okay and claiming that the stories are merely the stories of friends whose voices are ignored because they're not so precious and white and female, like yourself, but only after your sister does the sane thing and ratted your dumb ass out
and all of this without the trauma of WWII and Nazi invasion to spark your creative furvor.
way to take it to the limit, super dumbass. Margaret Seltzer (nee Jones), you are a real American hero of entitlement and ignorance. I hope you get hit by a truck full of your own recalled books.