McConnell finds his voice

After weeks of political laryngitis on the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) found the will to say that fellow Republican Rep Steve King (R-Iowa) should “find another line of work.”

During a recent interview lasting almost an hour, King said he doesn’t understand how white nationalist, pro Western civilization, and white supremacist language are offensive. Trump says he “hasn’t been following” the fallout over King’s most recent statements. Perhaps Trump’s lack of interest, or outrage, reflect his own comfort with King’s views?

Steve King
(Congressional photo)

In the mean time, King has been stripped of committee appointments by his own party. Without  committee assignments to craft and vote on bills as they are developed, King’s ability to robustly represent Iowa’s only Republican district in Congress has shrunk to hoping he can find anyone in his party to lobby for his district as bills move towards the House floor. James Clyburn, (D-South Carolina) will introduce a call to censure King in the House.

King has announced 39 district town hall meetings this year. I’m not sure those meetings, due to certain protests and counter-protests, will even happen. The country, and the world, will be watching.

Two things about this election

There are two things I’ve thought before the election and remain committed to as we wait for more votes to be counted.

1. Georgia needs to change our Constitution to require a Secretary of State to resign if running for a different office. Changing the Constitution shouldn’t be the path to solving every problem, but it is the only way to address the less than above-board election this year, and protect future contests.

2. Yes, Nancy Pelosi has raised lots of money for Democrats, and yes, she corralled Democrats during difficult issues (Democrats say Pelosi has eyes in the back of her head, knows who is in the room, and how they will vote at any given moment). When do we make room for a new leader like this if not now? Could Pelosi be an interim Speaker with a transition plan to pass the gavel, as suggested by my friend and former Congressional candidate Carol Miller of New Mexico? With a wave of newly elected “firsts” across the country, it is time to pass the role of Speaker to someone with solid knowledge of the House and Congress. There is a role for Pelosi, but it shouldn’t be as Speaker of the House.

Van Jones put his finger on it last night

Last Thursday I drove to Hendersonville, North Carolina for an annual event called Life Is A Verb Camp. On the way home Sunday afternoon I opted for less interstate and more two lane roads.

In addition to the fall-colored leaves I saw lots of Trump/Pence signs, which really didn’t surprise me as a fellow Southern rural citizen. What had been floating around in the back of mind for a long time began to move more to the front of my thoughts; how are the polls capturing the rural voter? Are they getting to us at all? Am I underestimating the urban turnout?

Last week Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight polling and punditry kept setting aside the poll numbers at a certain point in his figuring, which dogged me about who people say they will vote for and what they will do in the privacy of the voting booth.

Last night Van Jones put his finger on what I was thinking: white-lash. It has been a large and unspoken element in the room on top of the anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Semitic, anti-woman, my version of Christianity is the only one, anti-choice, denying access to affordable health care, putting profits before our natural resources, loosening gun control laws, and the list goes on and on.

I live among the voters who showed up in force at the polls and elected Donald Trump and Mike Pence; white rural Americans.

It should not be a surprise to readers of Rural and Progressive that I write from a perspective that there are two Americas, an urban and a rural America. Many rural Americans harbor some level of racism. I’ve heard it and seen it. For some people that has been the unspoken driver behind opposition to all-things Obama. And it brought people out in force to elect a TV personality whose favorite line is, “You’re fired.”

Yesterday white rural America told Donald Trump and Mike Pence, “You’re hired.”

I may live in rural America, but the not so subtle racism and divisive values espoused by Trump and Pence are not my values. And they aren’t the values of every rural American.

I’m no less proud of being a Hillary supporter today than I was yesterday, because I believe in a country where diversity is valued and celebrated. That’s the country I will continue to help build.

Last night’s greatest hits

As a historian, I am a believer in hearing things for yourself and reading primary documents. Ezra Klein has excerpts from last night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Ford Motor Company had to fact check Trump on September 15th (below),
followed by some of the greatest hits from the debate:

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-51-12-am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-9-15-29-am

 

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-29-17-am

 

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-44-28-am

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-30-00-am

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-44-01-am

 

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-9-25-04-am

And perhaps my favorite

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-9-03-58-am

 

 

 

 

Baton Rouge is a microcosm of our country

The Friday Photo
July 15, 2016

I don’t have a photo this week, instead I am sharing a video circulating on the web that I made myself watch last night.

When police wearing militarized gear charge peaceful protestors on private property, I see a community consumed with racist fueled hate. Baton Rouge is a microcosm of our country.

White people like me, privileged simply by the color of our skin, cannot look away, or excuse away, what is happening. If you say nothing when someone defends militarized police actions like this, you are part of the problem too.

A few words borrowed from Rob

This is reposted from a new blog, by Ellen Oltman Kellner, Ellen is Okay.

In follow-up to yesterday’s post:

My son’s experience yesterday in Baton Rouge, and thoughts following. The militarization of our local police departments terrifies me. -Ellen Oltman Kellner

A few words borrowed from Rob
July 11, 2016

Rob Kellner
Rob Kellner

I don’t tend to post long statuses, but I find it hard to stay silent after what I saw in Baton Rouge. This post is intended to urge white people (myself included) to participate more fully in the movement against racism on all levels. I do hope you take the time to read this.

Yesterday, I saw dozens of police officers clad in riot gear and armed with assault rifles violently suppress a nonviolent protest calling for police accountability, peace, and justice in Baton Rouge. Despite the fact that the protestors were acting within their constitutional rights to assemble peacefully, the police arbitrarily determined that it was no longer a peaceful protest and forcibly removed people from the sidewalks and even from the home of someone kind enough to open her space to the demonstration. The police treated the protestors like they were violent criminals ready to riot when in actuality, the only thing that threatened violence was the militarized and aggressive police force.

It is this kind of confrontation, out in the open, that makes it so clear to me that the police (and I don’t necessarily mean individual officers, but rather the overall nature, culture, and function of modern American police) really does not protect and serve the American people so much as the status quo – which means, of course, that it protects and serves white people’s interests over the interests of black people. This is such an obvious and visceral fact to any person of color, but as a white person, it’s easy to avoid. I never even faced the threat of police brutality until I participated in this protest, and even then, I was significantly less a target than any black person was and I would have been subject to significantly less violence. Moreover, as a white person, this conflict could have been entirely out of sight and mind had I just stayed home and chosen not to think about it. For black America, there is no such choice.

I have also been reflecting on the nature of organized oppression and racism in America today and how it is not confined to police brutality, let alone such obvious confrontations with the police. Racism is supported by our criminal justice system, our educational systems, our health care systems, local housing policies, corporate hiring procedures, macroeconomic policies, and individual consumer decisions, to name just a few. In general, there are endless opportunities to confront racism in American society. And for white America, it is just as easy to avoid these confrontations in everyday life as it is to stay at home from a protest.

So white people, let’s not “stay home” – let’s confront the ways that racism impacts our interpersonal relationships, our workplaces, and our communities. Let’s support local leadership and vote to bring about change. Let’s focus on transforming the systems of oppression in a constructive and lasting way. Perhaps most importantly, let’s address and correct the ways in which our actions (or inaction) serve to uphold systems of racism. If we struggle to find any such opportunities, we aren’t looking hard enough.

I also write this in the hopes that you all will hold me accountable to do the same.

I leave you with this: as many leaders have said before, we cannot fully be free until we liberate ourselves from the role of the oppressor and inextricably tie our freedom to that of the oppressed.

Thanks for reading.

Henchmen in the Trump campaign

It isn’t hard to deconstruct the rantings of someone who uses the vocabulary of a third grade bully. Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump has surrounded himself by people of the same mindset. A Tweet by King Robbo,  @realkingrobbo, who identifies himself as a lobbyist and “Donald’s General of Memetic Warfare” calls for bringing back one of the very worst elements of Jim Crow days, “disappearing” of black people.

Thank goodness for screen shots that capture the incredible amount of hate being spewed by Trump and his band of thugs. @realkingrobbo Tweeted this, but later deleted it:

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 10.33.42 AM

#BlackLivesMatter leader DeRay McKesson was arrested in Baton Rouge, LA Saturday night during a peaceful protest. The march was held in response to Alton Sterling’s death Tuesday night when Baton Rouge police officers shot him multiple times, after tackling him to the ground.

How does “Donald’s General of Memetic Warfare” respond to McKesson’s arrest? He calls for Baton Rouge police to, “Come on boys, be HEROES!” by hoping @deray gets “disappeared.”

If you’re wondering what kind of police state Donald Trump and his henchmen would try to impose on the United States, or at least on people of color and any other groups Trump hates, this is a stunning example.

This is not an election where Trump supporters each of us may know can be excused away for supporting this vile person. When it comes to hate and discrimination, there really isn’t any room for dividing up the pluses and minuses of a candidate. Votes cast for Trump are votes cast for “disappearing” black men under police custody.

 

Changing the legacy of white violence

The Friday Photo
July 8, 2016

photo from Form Follows Function
photo from Form Follows Function

Deafening Silence: White Silence and Alton Sterling
Ryan Williams Virden, Form Follows Function

I want to start by being very specific about who I am talking to; this post is meant for people who look like me, those of us with white skin.

Many of you woke up this morning and heard the news about Alton Sterling, the 37 year old man who was shot and killed by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The sickening feeling in your stomach probably hit you hard as you watched the cell phone footage of a police officer charging and tackling Sterling to the ground. You knew what was coming next. And, within seconds you saw it: the police officer mounts Sterling like a UFC fighter. There is no confrontation. No struggle. Sterling is subdued and then another officer yells “Gun. Gun.” The officer on top of Sterling pulls his gun and within seconds fires multiple rounds killing Alton Sterling.

This morning my Facebook feed is full of yet another hashtag, #AltonSterling. So many of the Black and Brown people I’m connected to have no need to see the video. They say as much. They already know what happened, and, sadly, how this will play out. There is outrage; there is disgust; there will be calls for patience and to let the system work; what there won’t be is justice. And this is where I find myself this morning. Pondering my role in justice. What I’ve come to is overwhelming in its simplicity and crushing in it’s complexity. We are responsible for justice.

I don’t mean we in the vague and generalized sense that it is often used. I mean we, me and you, people with white skin. The reason this genocide against people of color continues is because far too many of us remain complicit in our silence. I thought about not writing this this morning. I thought about just retreating in my feelings of disgust, outrage, and grief. But that is not my job. Every time I, or anyone of you, retreats into silence we breath life into the killing machine. downloadEvery time we urge restraint or make apologies, or rationalize this brutality we are degrading our own spirit. And make no mistake this is a spiritual endeavor. Our souls are being crushed under the weight of whiteness. How much longer can we take it? How much longer can we acknowledge how broken our world is and ignore the weapon used to break it?

I also don’t mean justice as in jail time for the police. Though that would be something, I think. I mean justice as in creating a world that truly values the lives of Black, Brown, Asian, and Native people. I mean a justice that leaves no need for an Ethnic studies curriculum because truth-telling is already the curriculum. I mean a world where #BlackLivesMatter and Native Lives and Latinx Lives and Asian Lives. I mean a world where Donald Trump would be embarrassed to show his face, and my students wouldn’t chuckle at the idea of not having to struggle. I mean that kind of justice. We are responsible for ushering that world into existence.

The first step to creating this justice is to understand how it was sidelined in the first place. We must understand the way that whiteness — fitting into the Anglo-Saxon archetype –has been valued historically via formal avenues such as legislation and school curriculum as well as informal ones such as social customs,traditions and practices. Because much of this is passed down through generations, or happens away from public scrutiny, or is largely implicit it is necessary to learn and then unlearn this sordid history and way of being. Once we can come to grips with the ways whiteness keeps us from our own humanity and strangles our souls there is no other choice then to struggle for this justice. We won’t struggle because we are trying to help anyone else, or feel bad for them; we will struggle because our own freedom, our own humanity, is tied up with everyone else’s. As we continue to bear witness to whiteness destroying communities of color while cannibalistically devouring those of us with white skin this unlearning is the only choice we have if we ever hope for peace.

This last week a petition went around calling for the firing of Jesse Williams because his speech at the BET Awards was “racist.” When Shonda Rhimes heard about it she shut it down quickly, this is positional power, and it’s a real thing. Well, white folks have positional power in society. Once we have unlearned whiteness (and even before that) we need to be using this power not to simply name our privilege and then cower behind guilt, that is about as weak as weak gets; we need to use it to stand up and demand fundamental, radical, structural changes. To fail to do this is to betray humanity, it is to betray ourselves. There must be no compromise here. There is no compromise with the humanity of our brethren. This is especially true on days like today, days when whiteness has taken another life. Left another family fatherless. Left another community in mourning trying to survive loss. These are the days when our voices need to be the loudest, they must be clarion voices calling for the dismantling of whiteness.

The silence is deafening and it must be broken. Lives, ours included, depend on it.

Don’t sit out on the work that needs to be done

James Taylor’s song Shed a Little Light, is not new, nor is my posting it here on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Performance of the song in the video below is unique.

When Taylor’s summer tour last year took him to Columbia, South Carolina, he was joined by the Lowcountry Voices, a group based in Charleston.

The night following the Columbia concert, I was lucky enough to see James Taylor in North Carolina. As soon as Taylor and his band began singing Shed a Little Light, the audience came to its feet, but not for a standing ovation.

We stood as a sign of respect for the people of Charleston, still reeling from the massacre at the historic Mother Emanuel Church. We also stood because the song, as beautiful and subtle as it is when sung, is also, in many ways, a protest song.

Dr King’s work is unfinished. Don’t sit out on opportunities for greater equality.

Shed A Little Light
James Taylor

 

Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

(chorus)
Shed a little light, oh Lord
So that we can see
Just a little light, oh Lord
Wanna stand it on up
Stand it on up, oh Lord
Wanna walk it on down
Shed a little light, oh Lord

Can’t get no light from the dollar bill
Don’t give me no light from a tv screen
When I open my eyes
I wanna drink my fill
From the well on the hill

(do you know what I mean? )
– chorus –

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh, let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood


Oh let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women, living on the earth
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
With a desire to see the world become
A place in which our children can grow free and strong
We are bound together by the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead, we are bound then we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of the fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
Though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

(Shed a little light ohh lord) Shed a little light oh lord
(So that we can see) Ohh now
(Just a little light ohh lord) Just a little light oh lord
(Gonna stand it on up) Stand it on up
(Stand it up ohh Lord) Get down
(Gonna walk it on down) Gonna shed a little
(Shed a little light ohh lord)

(Can’t get no light from a dollar bill)
(Don’t give no light from the TV screen) No No No No
(When I open my eyes, I want to drink my fill)
(From the well on the hill)
Then you know where I’ll be

(Shed a little light ohh lord) Shed a little light oh lord
(So that we can see) Ahh yes
(Just a little light ohh lord) Just a little light oh lord
(We’re gonna stand it on up) Stand it on up
(Stand it up ohh Lord, Stand it up ohh lord)
(Gonna walk it on down) Gonna shed a little
(Shed a little light ohh lord)

There is a feeling like the clenching of the fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
Though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women, living on the earth
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
With a desire to see the world become
A place in which our children can grow free and strong
We are bound together by the task that ties before us
And the road that lies ahead, we are bound and we are bound

Oh let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women, living on the earth
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
With a desire to see the world become
A place in which our children can grow free and strong
We are bound together by the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead, we are bound then we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of the fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
Though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

(Shed a little light ohh lord) Shed a little light oh lord
(So that we can see) Ohh now
(Just a little light ohh lord) Just a little light oh lord
(Gonna stand it on up) Stand it on up
(Stand it up ohh Lord) Get down
(Gonna walk it on down) Gonna shed a little
(Shed a little light ohh lord)

(Can’t get no light from a dollar bill)
(Don’t give no light from the TV screen) No No No No
(When I open my eyes, I want to drink my fill)
(From the well on the hill)
Then you know where I’ll be

(Shed a little light ohh lord) Shed a little light oh lord
(So that we can see) Ahh yes
(Just a little light ohh lord) Just a little light oh lord
(We’re gonna stand it on up) Stand it on up
(Stand it up ohh Lord, Stand it up ohh lord)
(Gonna walk it on down) Gonna shed a little
(Shed a little light ohh lord)

There is a feeling like the clenching of the fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
Though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women, living on the earth
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
With a desire to see the world become
A place in which our children can grow free and strong
We are bound together by the task that ties before us
And the road that lies ahead, we are bound and we are bound

Update on today’s “Anonymous” list

The content below  the photo was posted on Rural and Progressive just before noon today (EST). Several news outlets had the same link and list attributed to the activitist/hacktivist group Anonymous, which claims to identify elected officials who are members of the KKK.(I have removed the links and video so they no longer work).

Senator Johnny Isakson and his wife were included in a list purported to out elected officials who are members of the KKK. I called Senator Isaskson’s office to get an official statement from them, which was a s firm “No,” neither of the Iskasons are affiliated with the KKK.

Late this afternoon Anonymous announced that in fact the list is not theirs. It is widely anticipated that the list they have drawn up will be posted this Thursday, November 5th.

Major news outlets such as Huffington Post have not updated their site about the denials from @OperationKKK,  the project name for the list of names expected to be revealed on Thursday. During the 6:30-7:00 state news update from Georgia Public Broadcasting, GPB also reported the same answer from Isakson that I got from my call earlier today.

I don’t know who will be on the Anonymous list on Thursday if it comes out that day. What I do know is that if I am especially interested in someone who is on that list, I will certainly give that person an opportunity to address their inclusion on it,  just as I did today.

I stand behind my last two sentences from earlier today: “The issue of racism, and who is hiding under white hoods, is very real in our country. This issue isn’t going away.”

nonanymous KKK
Anonymous has begun releasing names of elected officials who are members of the KKK, according to their research. Anonymous, an international group of activisits/hacktivists, includes Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, and his wife, Dianne Davison, on today’s list (internet reports have put the total number to be released at upwards of 1,000 names).

A video released this morning states that the Isaksons are affiliated with the Original Knight Riders Chapter of the KKK.

Betsy Dietz, an Isakson staffer in his Washington, DC office, denied the Iskason’s memberships when I called. I’d like to believe her, but exposure by Anonymous isn’t something to take lightly.

The issue of racism, and who is hiding under white hoods, is very real in our country. This issue isn’t going away.

 

Update on the Anonymous list

The content below  the photo was posted on Rural and Progressive just before noon today (EST). Several news outlets had the same link and list attributed to the activitist/hacktivist group Anonymous, which claims to identify elected officials who are members of the KKK.(I have removed the links and video so they no longer work).

Senator Johnny Isakson and his wife were included in a list purported to out elected officials who are members of the KKK. I called Senator Isaskson’s office to get an official statement from them, which was a s firm “No,” neither of the Iskasons are affiliated with the KKK.

Late this afternoon Anonymous announced that in fact the list is not theirs. It is widely anticipated that the list they have drawn up will be posted this Thursday, November 5th.

Major news outlets such as Huffington Post have not updated their site about the denials from @OperationKKK,  the project name for the list of names expected to be revealed on Thursday. During the 6:30-7:00 state news update from Georgia Public Broadcasting, GPB also reported the same answer from Isakson that I got from my call earlier today.

I don’t know who will be on the Anonymous list on Thursday if it comes out that day. What I do know is that if I am especially interested in someone who is on that list, I will certainly give that person an opportunity to address their inclusion on it,  just as I did today.

I stand behind my last two sentences from earlier today: “The issue of racism, and who is hiding under white hoods, is very real in our country. This issue isn’t going away.”

nonanymous KKK
Anonymous has begun releasing names of elected officials who are members of the KKK, according to their research. Anonymous, an international group of activisits/hacktivists, includes Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, and his wife, Dianne Davison, on today’s list (internet reports have put the total number to be released at upwards of 1,000 names).

A video released this morning states that the Isaksons are affiliated with the Original Knight Riders Chapter of the KKK.

Betsy Dietz, an Isakson staffer in his Washington, DC office, denied the Iskason’s memberships when I called. I’d like to believe her, but exposure by Anonymous isn’t something to take lightly.

The issue of racism, and who is hiding under white hoods, is very real in our country. This issue isn’t going away.

 

Nikki Haley has no time for poetry

Newly inaugurated South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley didn’t have time for two minutes of poetry written for her second swearing-in yesterday. Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina’s poetry laureate, has written poems for the last three gubernatorial inaugurations. This year Haley decided that two minutes couldn’t be spared for an original poem written by Wentworth.

Marjory Wentworth
Marjory Wentworth

In the past, according to NPR, Wentworth chose themes of nature and animals for previous ceremonies. For Haley’s second ceremony Ms Wentworth penned a poem focused on elements of South Carolina’s history, including its ports where slaves were shipped in for sale. And where the Confederate flag still flies next to the state’s flag at the state capital.

Wentworth is invited to read her poem at a ceremony organized by the state’s NAACP chapter on Martin Luther King, Jr Day next Monday, which she will do. In the meantime, U. S. Rep James Clyburn, who represents South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, read the poem yesterday from the floor of the House of Representatives. Wentworth’s poem is included in NPR’s coverage.

Why Ferguson is burning

IMG_1473.JPG

Racism and hate are too deeply embedded in our country today. They are ignored and denied, like other difficult problems, that will, if acknowledged and fully addressed, change the way our country’s people, businesses, and institutions work.

This opinion piece in the Washington Post by Emory Professor Carol Anderson explains a critical part of the foundation of racism in our country today, and why we are certain to repeat Ferguson if we continue on the current path.

Fox News “A-Team” doc says Michelle Obama “needs to drop a few”

Shepard Smith isn’t the only one making completely inappropriate comments at Fox News this week. Yesterday psychiatrist Dr Keith Ablow,  a member of the cable channel’s “Medical A- Team” said First Lady Michelle Obama isn’t qualified to advocate for improved children’s nutrition because she needs to “drop a few” pounds.

This is wrong on so many levels, but I’m short on time.

Ablow is another man criticizing a woman and her intellect by saying her weight makes her unfit (no pun intended) to advocate for better nutrition. (I guess a Harvard law school degree and being a concerned parent aren’t enough to understand the basics of nutrition and exercise.)

Albow’s larger mistake, literally, is to criticize an obviously fit women while his own gut strains against his shirt buttons and spills over his belt.

The women surrounding him aren’t any better about Ms Obama’s nutrition advocacy. One complains that the First Lady sounds like a duchess (is that code for she speaks like Kate Middleton?) while another envies Ms Obama’s “booty.”

But like I said, I’m short on time.

If you had three daughters

Today’s post was contributed by Rob Teilhet, an Atlanta attorney and former state legislator.

Rob TeilhetIn the span of about 72 hours since Donald Sterling was revealed as a racist on audiotape, the NBA moved decisively by banning him for life and setting in motion a process that will force him to sell his team. There is no place in the NBA for a racist. It has been awesome to see an organization not only get it, but act on it without hesitation.

There is another issue that I wish we would move on with the same urgency: violence against women.

Just as I heard Donald Sterling on tape describing his abhorrent views regarding race, I also saw on videotape Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his girlfriend’s limp body through a casino lobby. Her body was limp because he had beaten her unconscious in front of several witnesses minute before. He is still in the NFL and is still a Raven.

The Tallahassee Police Department declined to investigate an alleged sexual assault of a female student by a football player at the local university, an activity that had been videotaped. Had the tape been obtained and witnesses interviewed at the time of the report, we would probably know whether the assault that was alleged took place. Now, we’ll never know. Everyone involved with the exception of the alleged victim continues in the same capacity they were in before, and no one has been sanctioned or faced discipline in any way for any of it.

In Ann Arbor, the placekicker and star left tackle were alleged to have been involved in a sexual assault and subsequent harassment of the victim. For four years no action was taken. The placekicker was eventually expelled from school–after his eligibility had expired. In the FSU and Michigan cases, the federal government will require some answers for why these public universities chose to do so little. The investigations into the institution’s inaction will last months, probably even years. Would we have accepted that timeline for Mr. Sterling?

And just this morning, I read that we still do not know the answer to what seems to be a relatively simple question: Did Vanderbilt’s then-football coach contact a woman in the days after she made a sexual assault report against four of the team’s players and if he did, what was the nature and purpose of that contact? That is an easy question to find out the answer to, yet it has not been done. It hasn’t been done either because no one in authority cares whether it happened or they don’t want to know the answer. Both are unacceptable.

The saddest part is that I could keep going all morning. When women are the victims, there is so very little action, and it is so very, very late. And people seem to be largely o.k. with that.

Maybe if you had three daughters, you’d feel differently.

How to tell time like a man

The flack over L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments is well-deserved. While the players, fans, media, and public chew the NBA team owner up, Sterling is guilty of much more than being an anti-Semitic racist.

Sterling is also a bastion of sexism. He tells his girlfriend ((he’s had several according to news reports)  that he can, “find a girl who will do what I want” if she won’t. Add the condescending tone he uses in the recording making the rounds, and it is clear that women are disposable goods to him.

Sterling is making headline news with his hate-filled views, but sexism is still all too prevalent in our world, in both blatant and subtle ways. This ad appears in the May issue of the Georgia EMC magazine:

men's watchWritten in the first person, the ad copy includes,”This watch doesn’t do dainty. And neither do I. Call me old-fashioned, but I want my boots to be leather, my tires to be tread monsters, and my steak thick and rare. Inspiration for a man’s watch should come from things like fast cars, firefighters, and power tools.”

I checked the Stauer site and fortunately they have watches designed for women complete with flowers on the watch face. None of the watches include digital choices. Is this code for “digital isn’t for women, just manly men?”

 

The flowery women’s watches didn’t include a description of what a woman who owns one of their fine timepieces might eat or drive. I’m guessing Stauer’s target market is women who drive hybrid cars to luncheons, where they fuss over tiny tea sandwiches and petit fours. Then they check their watches so they can get home and have dinner ready for Ward, Wally, and the Beav.

 

 

 

 

No Dodging women

The Super Bowl commercials seem to have generated more discussion about sexism, violence, and race than creative”wow” factor (GoDaddy’s Kissfest spot wasn’t just lacking in creativity, Democratic campaign strategist and Sunday morning political pundit Donna Brazil thought viewers may have lost their dinner over it).

Audi seems to land at the top of every critic’s list for the Prom Night spot it ran early in the evening. Forbes columnist Jennifer Rooney summed up the ad’s offenses: sexual assault, violence, and sports car driven machismo (no pun intended). Add Doritos for stereotyping and mimicking little girl’s play, Mars candy making M&Ms unpalatable, and a Calvin Klein ad that left a lot of men thinking they need to put the wings and beer down and clear off the Nordic Track, and the season for Super Bowl ads was pretty disappointing.

And then Dodge Ram Trucks told “The Rest of the Story” complete with a Paul Harvey
voice-over.

The beautifully produced spot giving American farmers much-needed recognition in front of a huge global audience made critics and viewers swoon.  However, Dodge’s commercial was so busy marginalizing women and minorities who farm, that I had no idea whose trucks had just been advertised.

Based on the Dodge commercial one might think that “farmin’ is man’s work” and really, white men’s work.

I counted 12 white men, 2 white boys, 1 white women, 1 black male, 1 Hispanic male, 1 Hispanic woman, 1 white girl, 2 pair of white hands (I don’t know what the gender is of the person holding the baby chick, could be a young boy or young woman), and one white family (with two adult men at the table). I couldn’t determine the race of two men.

The United States Census of Agriculture used to think only men farm too. Up until 2002 it only collected data on one operator per farm, which meant the “womin folk” weren’t counted if there were men folk on the farm.

Between 2002 and 2007 the number of women led farms grew by 19 percent to over 1M women strong. The 2007 US Census of Agriculture reports that 30 percent of our nation’s farmers are women, and we run 14 percent of the farms as the principal operator.

Some of the staunchest allies I have met fighting proposed coal plants in Georgia are women farmers. They understand what will happen when a coal plant begins sucking 16M gallons of water a day from the groundwater that waters their livestock and crops. One woman asked if she could even call her produce organic if it is exposed to such high levels of coal plant toxins. And what will their land be worth if coal emission stacks cast a shadow over their fields?

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Laura Norris working in Ben Hill County

My friend Laura Norris grew up, and farms, in Ben Hill County. There are stretches of time when she works her family’s farm alone and puts in long days in steamy south Georgia. Laura told me, “I come from a long line of hard-working farm women. My grandfather was a farmer and his wife and three daughters worked in the fields right beside him. When my 98 year old Great Aunt was in her last year of life, we asked her if there was anything she’d like to do again if given the chance. She smiled and said, “I’d like to crop tobacco one more time…”

Long before there were trucks to drive, women farmed, raised barns, herded cattle, cooked what they harvested, and women made the money stretch a little further.

Farming will make you humble. It will make you stay up at night worrying that there isn’t enough rain, or too much. Will the price I can get support my family? Will we have enough hay this winter?

We need to make a special effort to support the farmers who show up at local farmer’s markets with vegetables still wet with last night’s dew. They are our friends and neighbors, sharing their love of the land in our communities and what it can give to us in return for good stewardship. And millions of them are women.

Hey lady, your racism is still showing (a follow up to The Friday Photo, August 31, 2012)

At the end of August I posted a Friday Photo and report by Ari Shapiro on NPR’s Morning Edition which included comments about the Obamas made by Bobbie Lucier, a veteran’s wife. Her comments came across as poorly veiled racism directed primarily at Michelle Obama (although she couldn’t manage one kind word for the President either). The report sparked a slew of comments via social media and NPR’s Ombudsman addressed the report and listener comments too.

As chance would have it Shapiro ran into the Luciers and got to ask some follow up questions. Mrs. Lucier’s answers did nothing more than convince me more firmly that in fact the reason she dislikes the Obamas so vehemently is due to her own racist views.

Lucier said Jacqueline Kennedy and Laura Bush knew how to dress like First Ladies, specifically saying that wearing sleeveless dresses and shorts, or emphasizing strong muscles  are not what a First Lady should do. Really Mrs Lucier?

 

While Mrs. Lucier was busy digging her racist hole even deeper, she had to make excuses for the way she had dressed to attend Romney’s event.

Go figure.