Tag Archives: African Americans

MLK Holiday 2013: A Conversation Around Race

21 Jan

martinlutherI’m glad that we have a National holiday honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  What troubles me is how far we have yet to go in the civil rights movement.  I hear people talking now about the March on the Mall in Washington, yet they don’t know the March was organized by the openly gay Bayard Rustin.  Hearing so many people purporting to have been present during King’s I Have a Dream speech, also leaves me a bit bothered. We like to pretend that we are not a nation continuing to struggle with racism; I have even heard people use the phrase “post-racist” society as though that was something real and already achieved.  Yet we have no further to look than the numbers.

Let us start with the Senate.  Of the 100 Senators currently serving, only one of them is African-American (and he was appointed to his current office).  Moving on to the House of Representatives (note the word Representatives), of the 435 civil servants (albeit 433 right now due to current vacancies), only 41 are African-American.  Of the 50 Governors only one is African-American. Of the nearly 8300 U.S. mayors, only about 650 are African American. This disproportionality in representation and leadership clearly speaks to how far we have yet to go.

As one can see the power structure is still fundamentally white, male, Christian, and heterosexual.  Whether we want to admit it or not, most people still benefit from institutionalized racism.  I am not saying most people are racist, in fact, I would assert that most people are not racist (save for the Tea Party), yet we have a mass of people who are the beneficiaries of racism.

I am grateful for the significant strides being made for civil rights and social justice, but let us acknowledge there is still much work to be done around people that are marginalized and how we treat people that are not part of the institutional power structure.  Dr. King’s voice of advocacy for civil rights has room for many others to join the choir and push back against how we “other” people and strip populations of their dignity–now is not the time to be satisfied:

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity…–I Have a Dream, Dr. King

TSM also wants to wish a heart felt congratulations to President Obama on his second inauguration! I hope everyone gets to see the amazing Myrlie Evers deliver the Invocation.  I also want to note that the openly gay  Latino Richard Blanco is the inaugural poet–nice choice.

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Oh, Mitt! You Wacky Racist, Misogynist, Elitist…

19 Sep
Courtesy of About.com

Looks like November will bring the tears of this clown.

Poor old, dear old, sad old Mitt. After a dismal party convention, the selection of a venal mini-Me as a running mate, a vicious and fact-free attack on the President’s response to a crisis, and a bumbling and alienating visit to our nation’s closest allies, it seemed like his campaign had sunk as far as it could. Surprise! Mitt had some more awful up his sleeves. Big thanks to my friends James Queale and Jennifer Carey and a host of other readers who are paying attention for helping me wade through the muck to compose this post.

Mother Jones magazine just released a full-length video of a speech that Romney gave at a private fundraiser. Cutting loose in a more off-the-cuff style while surrounded by wealthy Republicans — a safe audience for Mitt — the candidate accidentally gave the best GOP standup performance since Clint Eastwood lost an argument to a chair.

The Internet has mostly been abuzz over Romney’s simultaneous insult and dismissal of the mythical 47%:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Two big problems, there, Mitt. (Okay, more, but let’s focus on two.) First, most of the supposed non-taxpayers DO pay into Social Security and Medicare — I guess that would end if you were President, so let’s give you a pass there — or are retirees who paid their fair share for DECADES. The “non-payer” myth is a dogwhistle to your cronies and more than ironic for a candidate who won’t bother to tell us what HE has paid. Second, your assertion that you “don’t need” that 47% because they’ll never support you is more than a little ironic. The top states for “non-payer” rates as defined by Romney include bright-red MS, AL, GA, ID, TX, AK, SC… The states with the lowest “freeloader”  rate include bright blue MA, CT, MD, WA… Irony much, Mitt?

Sadly, that damning assertion is really only the tip of the crapberg floating in Mitt’s sea of bile. Managing to go racist, birther, and uber-patriot all in one blow, he bemoans his performance with the Latino population, saying of his father, “Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.” You’d have a better shot of winning if you weren’t a self-important ass with complete disdain for most of America, Mitt. He doubles down on this language later with the even more charm-free statement, “If the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting bloc has in the past, than we’re in trouble as a party, and I think, as a nation.”

Here are a few other choice moments for those of you who don’t have the stomach for the whole performance:

  • On foreign labor, Bain-style capitalism, and China policy: “When I was back in my private equity days, we went to China to buy a factory there. It employed about 20,000 people. And they were almost all young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23. […] and around this factory was a fence, a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers. And, and, we said gosh! I can’t believe that you, you know, keep these girls in! They said, no, no, no. This is to keep other people from coming in.”
  • Regarding his expert on ladyparts and women’s issues, his wife Ann: “”We’re using Ann sparingly right now because we don’t want people to get sick of her.” (NOTE TO MITT: You might try that strategy with yourself…)
  • On his ability to deal with Mideast politics, he asserts that the Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish,” and then asserts that his strategy as President would be to “kick the ball down the field.”
  • On President Obama’s success with the international community: “The president’s foreign policy, in my opinion, is formed in part by a perception he has that his magnetism, and his charm, and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like Putin and Chavez and Ahmadinejad and that they’ll find that we’re such wonderful people that they’ll go on with us, and they’ll stop doing bad things.” (Clearly being charming and persuasive is pretty alien to Mitt.)

The content is shocking enough on its own. What is particularly disturbing is the context. All the rest of lies, gaffes, stumbles, slights, slurs, and idiocies we’ve heard from Romney have been public, planned events. This event was a $50,000 per plate fundraiser of like-minded folks. Romney is revealing a clear, candid (for him) portrait of how he really thinks — and what he thinks of America.  Wow!  This is a portrait of a true Racist!

Real Leadership Pays Real Dividends

30 May

It has been nearly a month since President Obama announced his support for marriage equality but the ripples are still being felt. Opposition to civil equality for LGBT Americans has hit an all-time low, with 53% supporting marriage and only 39% opposing it. Even with the extraordinary exposure that this supposedly controversial topic has received, people are moving in the direction of fairness.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the African American community, as shown in recent polls. Nationally, their support of equality jumped from 41% to 59%. In Maryland, where voters will be asked to weigh in on a marriage referendum in November, numbers look good. This is largely because of a complete swing in African American support, going from 36% to 55% in the past month. Even in North Carolina, where marriage equality was just defeated, black opposition dropped eleven points since the President’s announcement.

The recent burst of support from African American leaders and celebrities on the heels of the President clearly has had an beneficial impact. The NAACP, Julian Bond, Colin Powell, Jay-Z, and Chris Rock all announced their support. This visible shift in the black community has made it easier for voters to be comfortable with expressing support. Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College in California, says blacks are more likely to confront the issue simply because of the esteem they hold for Obama.

It says, “If Obama can be for gay marriage, I can be for it too.” It’s now a safer position to vocalize. We would hypothesize that it would increase support because now the environment has changed.

That’s what leadership can do. As this article points out, Obama has in fact been more supportive of the LGBT community than any prior President. As frustrating as his occasional reticence can be, his actions speak loudly. When his words join those actions, the nation follows.

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