Tag Archives: ageism

The Supreme Court Upholds Voter Suppression in Texas

20 Oct
Sad Legacy!

Sad Legacy!

Sadly, not many of us were surprised by the exceedingly conservative high court’s decision to uphold voter suppression laws in Texas.  The Roberts’ court continues to leave a legacy that works against civil rights, just in time to negatively impact the 2014 mid-term election. I would like to talk about how these voter ID laws negatively impact targeted/marginalized populations. Not that most of the high court is interested in how we continue to oppress targeted populations, but I hope we will at least start to have more conversations around what we all need to do to expand civil rights rather than curb them. Texas’ voter ID laws intentionally create barriers for the following communities to vote: people in poverty, people of color experiencing poverty, people with disabilities, senior citizens, transgender people, and all of the intersections of these populations. In addition to the horrible impact of this action, it flies in the face of judicial tradition. Typically, appeals courts — including the Supreme Court — act to do the least harm while the laws in question work their way through the system. Allowing the law to stand while it is under appeal aggressively disenfranchises Texas voters during the important November mid-terms. Even if the law is struck down in the long run, that damage will have been done, almost certainly to the benefit of Republican candidates. Suspending the suspect law until a final decision is made would be more typical, sensible, and just. Of course those words can rarely be applied to Scalia, Alito, Roberts, or Thomas. If only we could get more voices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s. Justice Ginsburg composed the dissent and eloquently highlighted the damage of this verdict:

…may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification…A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic. Racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact.

Both Justice Kagan and Justice Sotomayor joined Justice Ginsburg’s dissent. I want to believe there is hope that this court’s majority will soon gain a better understanding of their jobs and of civil rights.

Happy Birthday, Beatrice Arthur

13 May

BeaArthur2-smBea Arthur, born Bernice Frankel in New York City on this date in 1922, would become an American icon from the 1960’s through the 21st Century.  She would have been 91 today.

My first introduction to Arthur was in the early 1970’s when she was starring as Maude, the loud mouthed, opinionated, liberal taking on topics like race, gender, power, sexual orientation, and even abortion.  I loved this show.  Who knew I would grow up to become Maude.  Maude was a true pioneer in addressing equity and the disparities in how we treat other people.  I loved her voice of social justice, even when she would get it wrong.

When we first moved to Oregon, I was horribly depressed and hated living in Salem.  My first job here, I was accosted by a Mormon woman who came into my office and said with great sincerity: “Michael, I just want you to know I pray for your sin.”  I would like to say I handled this with grace and dignity, but I didn’t.  My reply was: “Tammy, I pray that you will stop wearing brown double knit polyester everyday.” Not a shining moment for as a social worker.

The only highlight in moving to Salem was that my husband bought us tickets to see Bea Arthur live at the Elsinore in Salem.  She made me forget my miseries, my woes, and my temporary misanthropy.  She was authentic, kind, generous, and had a mouth like a sailor — I know I had to clutch my pearls many a time during her show.

Arthur had the power to transform us all and make us laugh at our selves, laugh at the world, but yet charged us each with the obligation to make the world a better place for all marginalized and targeted people after we left the theatre. As a true feminist/social worker should, she acknowledged that everything is political: “”I’ve been a Democrat my whole life. That’s what makes Maude and Dorothy so believable, we have the same viewpoints on how our country should be handled.”  Seeing her live is one of my top 10 memories, for which I will be forever grateful.

She channelled her phenomenol energy into so many worthy causes. She was an animal rights activist and an active advocate for civil rights for the elderly and the LGBT community. Three days after her death, all the marquees on Broadway were dimmed at 8pm. What a fitting tribute to a woman whose passing left the world a little less bright.

Bigot of the Week Award: April 26, Steve Kush

26 Apr
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

I get many nominations for Bigot of the Week and have grown accustomed to the ugliness that is included in the stories I read. This week’s winner — courtesy of my friend Jennifer Carey — was so odious, however, that I had to stop reading until I could contain my rage.

Steve Kush executive director of the Bernalillo County Republican Party in New Mexico showed his true colors after a public hearing on raising the minimum wage in the county. When a 19-year-old woman representing Working America testified in favor of the higher wage, Kush tweeted

Nice hat Working America chick but damn you are a radical bitch.

Really?! Where do I even start to unpack all the hate, misogyny (a very big word for our Steve), classism, and ageism? Simply stating her concern for those barely earning a living wage at a public hearing makes her a radical? Using the word “chick” (not to mention his other language)?  Are we back in the 1950s?  Clearly, Kush attended the Clarence Thomas School Charm School, or would that be Charm Free School? As of April 26, Kush has offered no apology and remains isolated in his white, heterosexist, male, privilege — further pulling the GOP down into an abysmal time machine of shame.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to the Boy Scouts of America for adding “clueless” to “homophobic” on their list of Demerit Badges.

no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.

This plan would retain the ban on gay adults serving in any capacity. That means gay youth are being told they’ll be tolerated as long as it’s just a phase. If they don’t grow out of it, out the door they go. The word “alone” at the end of this tepid mini-reversal is also troubling. It would clearly allow individual troops to punish out scouts for “being disruptive” simply for being who they are. In an attempt to look accepting (are they using the GOP’s rebranding experts?), the BSA has crafted a meaningless compromise that makes Don’t Ask Don’t Tell look like civil rights genius. I do wonder when all of these straight scouts, both adult and youth, made the decision to be straight?

Social Justice For All

7 Apr

SJALL BlogI started my blog, The Solipsistic Me, three years ago.  I must confess it started off as a lark and at that point, I did find the whole process of blogging a bit solipsistic.  However, three years later and my surprise at the success of the blog have made me reflect that blogging can be far more than just a lark.  I have found there is amazing power and impact through blogging.

The content of the blog is exactly the same, but now the name of the blog actually reflects the mission of the blog.  Social Justice for All will continue to address: misogyny, homophobia, racism, ageism, bigotry, discrimination, hypocrisy, power differentials while also celebrating the heroic acts of our fellow human beings who work to expand social justice and civil rights for everyone with a focus on the marginalized and underserved and those living poverty.  Of course, I hope most of the stories published here will also contain some humor, for if we can’t laugh at our selves and the world around us, we lose a great part of our humanity. Thus you can count on another interview with my friend the Dowager Countess Goosenberry, and we must keep vigilant, now more than ever, for that scary Gay Agenda! 

Welcome to Social Justice For All, same blog with a new name.  Let us hope that I and all of you readers learn how to create a space that provides a counter narrative to the dominant discourse and celebrates allies and those that stand in solidarity while spotlighting and embracing with joy those voices that are marginalized and oppressed.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and My Birthday…

10 Dec
Me Age 6

Me Age 6

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document, drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt.  Here is just a bit of it to treasure.

We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind. This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta for all men everywhere. We hope its proclamation by the General Assembly will be an event comparable to the proclamation in 1789 [the French Declaration of the Rights of Citizens], the adoption of the Bill of Rights by the people of the US, and the adoption of comparable declarations at different times in other countries.

I have felt very connected to both Eleanor Roosevelt and to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, maybe because it was on my birthday, or maybe just because I have spent most of my life working for basic human rights for all people.

Today, I am also sad at how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is just an abstract idea far removed from places like Uganda, where white, wealthy, heterosexual Americans fuel and finance hate. I find myself asking what can we do individually and collectively to make the world a better place.

My birthday wish is that all of humanity take some action, no matter how small a step, to STOP racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, ageism, classism, and all other forms of marginalization.  We must learn how to have courageous conversations and how to interrupt oppression.

Call For Nominations: Hero and Bigot of the Year.

23 Nov

Hero and Bigot of 2011

As we grow near to the end of the calendar year, TSM is getting ready to post the Hero of the Year Award and the Bigot of the Year Award.  As usual, we are calling for nominations.

Our Hero is a person that has fought for civil rights and social justice and has demonstrated a great amount of courage over the course of this past year, such as Elizabeth Warren who earned last year’s Hero of the Year Award. The person nominated for this honor should be someone who stands in solidarity with marginalized communities and stands up for the rights of the LGBT community, for women, and for people of color.

Our Bigot is the person who has consistently demonstrated behavior that works against civil rights and social justice. This person actively practices homophobia, misogyny, and classism.  John Boehner certainly earned this dishonorable award last year as he abused his power in the house and led the team of obstructionists.

Sadly, we have had a year chock full of bigots–an embarrassment of riches, so to speak.

TSM readers, chime in and let us know if you are willing to be thanked publicly for your nomination.

Warm regards and I stand in solidarity with marginalized populations,

Michael

Nepotist Newscaster Needlessly Nasty to Nancy

15 Nov

The face of experience and the face of, well, Luke Russert

Demonstrating unmitigated gall, NBC reporter Luke Russert managed to be both insulting and condescending at Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) press conference yesterday. After Pelosi indicated her intention to run for another two years as the House Minority Leader in the new Congress, Russert asked

Colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership and hurts the party in the long term. What’s your response?

Simultaneously hiding behind anonymous “colleagues” and displaying shocking ageism, Russert prompted a quick reply from the insightful former Speaker.

You’ve always asked that question, but not to Mitch McConnell.

It’s a fair point. The Senate minority leader is 70, barely two years younger than Pelosi. Harry Reid is 72; John Boehner is hardly a spring chicken at 62. Pelosi is not only the first woman to serve as U.S. House Speaker — one of the most important and powerful positions in the Federal government — she is routinely considered by scholars as one of the finest Speakers in history. If house Democrats need to groom new leaders, giving up that experience and authority in a still acrimoniously divided chamber hardly seems sensible. Perhaps her #2, Steny Hoyer should consider stepping aside; his Blue Dog leanings are hardly appropriate for an increasingly diverse and progressive caucus. (He’s also one year Pelosi’s senior, but Russert doesn’t seem to care about that…)

Unlike all those men in positions of power, Nancy Pelosi actually took the time to consider her options and discuss them with the press. That shows real class — and leadership. Those are qualities we really need. Perhaps the reporter who got a big break right out of college because of who his father was should consider his words more carefully.

Happy Birthday, Cloris Leachman!

30 Apr

86 and still going strong!

Today an award-winning actress and activist turns 86 years young. Still going strong and looking great, let’s celebrate Cloris Leachman. Born in Des Moines, IA, she majored in drama at Illinois State University and Northwestern (where she was classmates with Paul Lynde). She launched into early success in pageants, winning Miss Chicago and competing in Miss America 1946. From there she moved into her acting career.

Leachman attended Elia Kazan’s Actors Studio, where she met life-long friend Marlon Brando. She began a Broadway career, including being asked by Katharine Hepburn to co-star in As You Like It. She also started what would become a highly celebrated television career at this time with many cameos and guest appearances on 1950s series. Her film career began with a bit part, but she soon took on starring roles, working opposite Paul Newman in her third movie, Kiss Me Deadly. In 1971 she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her stunning performance in The Last Picture Show. A very different role than the comedic performances for which she is best known, it is one of the finest supporting actress performances of all time and shows the true depth of her talent and quite honestly her performance left me in awe. Just to prove her versatility, perhaps her other best-known movie role is as the scene-stealing Frau Blücher in Mel Brooks’ finest comedy, Young Frankenstein. (“He vas my…BOYFRIEND!”)

Cloris Leachman became best known for her role in the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the early 70s. Appearing in several episodes in the first five seasons as Phyllis Lindstrom, Mary’s nosy and opinionated neighbor and landlady, she was nominated three times for best supporting actress (winning once) and rewarded with her own spin-off series, Phyllis. My very favorite episode features the introduction of Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens, who has an affair with Phyllis’ invisible husband, Lars. (Enjoy this clip of the Lars Affair, featuring my favorite Phyllis speech about The Life of the Bee at 4:15.) In the forty years since, Leachman has had numerous guest and starring roles on TV, including a fantastic run as Ellen’s mother on the short-lived but delightful The Ellen Show. She has amassed a record-setting eight prime-time Emmy awards and one daytime Emmy.

Not content to have a successful career, she is also an outspoken activist. She is best known for her work for animal rights, working closely with PETA and mounting campaigns to retire elderly animals from their public careers (in circuses and the like). She is an outspoken vegetarian, appearing in this all-lettuce dress. An honest woman who is proud of her body and her age, she also advocates for respect for the elderly and fights ageism by proving you can look great and be happy and still look your age. She interviewed with InTouch magazine in 2009 about living healthy and naturally, including admitting to one brief, unhappy flirtation with Botox. Asked if she’d ever do it again, she replied

No! It was ridiculous. You can’t just have part of your face not moving and the rest moving everywhere. That doesn’t work.

Leachman’s honesty, energy, and wit make her an effective champion for many causes. She advocates for women’s rights and LGBT equality as well, including serving as Grand Marshall of the 2010 San Diego Pride Parade. Here’s to Cloris Leachman! Who can guess what the next decade will bring?

Ageism…

3 Apr

Another great article by TSM contributor, James Queale.

Ageism: prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Does age define you or is age just a number? This question came to my mind recently because of the artist Madonna. She has been advertising her new album for some time and it was released the other day. What does this have to do with ageism? A lot! I’ve noticed there has been a good amount of criticism of her lately, not because she has done something controversial or because people are not into her music. The big issue people seem to have is that she is fifty-three and still performing. I’ve seen many comments for example like, “I don’t want to see GRANDMA dancing around!” or “Why doesn’t she just stop, she’s so old? That is not sexy.”
Madonna is not the only person of course that has faced ageism. Ever since I was a child there has been a stigma that if you are thirty or older, that’s it, you’re done, you can never be successful or find a career after that point. Really?
How many times has someone older been let go from a job because the company would prefer a “younger perspective”? Even though the older person may have vast amounts of knowledge compared to the new guy.
Sometimes ageism can be gender specific. For example, a man can date a younger woman, but an older woman dating a younger man is looked at as a taboo. These woman are even given a predatory name known as “cougar.”
Where age can get muddled is in politics. There are numerous times that I think we need a new and fresh perspective and society tells us that that means someone younger. But, I’ve seen younger politicians have outdated views just like some older government members.
One industry that continually sees growth is plastic surgery. As a person gets older wrinkles appear. One solution to that is getting botox injections. Some take it to the extreme and their face can end up more distorted then if they had of kept their wrinkles.
This topic hits a nerve because my partner is older than I by a good amount of years and I don’t see him as useless or unable to be sexy. I see him as being just as vibrant as us young folk. What I want to convey today is that we need to change our perspective on what age means. Because of modern medicine and so on, people live longer and they should be able to enjoy their older age and not feel like another outcast of society.

Starting Fresh in 2012: Emerging from the Winter of Our Discontent

1 Jan

A bumpy night? How about a year?!

I began this very personal post yesterday as I reflected on the very bumpy road that was 2011 for my family; in many unfortunate ways our lives reflected the woes of too many Americans who now find themselves without income and in despair.  Despair is an all too easy place for me to go, for I suffer from depression. After taking the time to exorcise some of what had happened, I decided to recast things as a wish for our new year–I hope my story will inspire others that suffer from depression and are currently unemployed due to no fault of their own to focus on the resources and love we have and to work hard to make 2012 a far better year than 2011.

The first week of December, shortly before my birthday, I was having coffee with some very dear friends of mine here in Portland,  Mary and Tamara. They asked if I still wanted to return to Atlanta; my transition here to the Northwest has been fraught with many obstacles and culture shock. As progressive as Portland can be, it is not particularly diverse, and subtle forms of racism and homophobia lurk behind many corners as even well-meaning people overlook their privilege in this bubble of liberalism.

To my great relief and surprise, however, I was able to answer my friends with a resounding NO. I love living here in Portland.  Our lives finally make sense here.  I love social work school and my husband loves his job. We also have legal protections here in Oregon that we will never have in Georgia.

This was eleven months into a tumultuous year. I went through the major process of applying to graduate school and began the adjustment of returning to the other side of the classroom. This came on the heels of months of being rejected for jobs because of my age and experience– painfully ironic.  My husband had a crazy year with major career ups and downs.

Sadly, right after my revelation, things turned upside down. We are now a fully unemployed household in a still perilous economy–a very frightening place to be indeed!  All the uncertainty and trauma I’ve faced in the past two years resurfaced as my husband now begins his job search. I worry about the challenges he will face and how we can be supportive of each other as we emerge from one of the most challenging years of our life together.

I am exceedingly ready for 2011 to come to an end!  As awful as things are right now, I know we are still fortunate!  We have food, we have people who love us, and my husband and I have each other.  We have survived being robbed repeatedly, a transcontinental move, my falling off our roof, and abominable discrimination–we will survive this setback as well.  My New Year’s wish for all those that don’t have equal access to resources, for all those that are oppressed due to race, gender, sexual orientation, and age is that 2012 will bring good energy and change for the better.  I still believe we can make the world better, but we must change the system of a white heterosexual power structure.  My family knows all too well how easy it is to lose your job because of sexual orientation.

My husband and I are dedicated to a happy, successful 2012, we are fortunate enough to have the support of friends and we have an education; with that love, support, and education we hope to overcome the barriers of white heterosexual abuse of power and emerge stronger and better equipped to help others that are disenfranchised. Let’s all look forward to a year of progress and success.  As someone who has battled depression for a lifetime, I hope is that anyone struggling with depression will seek help, be it medical, family, friends–get the support you need.

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