Wednesday, December 24, 2008

christmas errands yet to be done:

1. check in for flight to LA tomorrow.
2. make list of clothes to pack.
3. mail holiday cards.
4. comb/curl my hair.
5. shopped for gifts for anyone other than my dad.
6. laundry.
7. wrap up last minute work stuff.
8. recover from this horrible winter cold.
9. pack.
10. wish y'all a merry christmas, happy hanukah, merry festivus, happy kwanzaa and a happy new year!

safe travels, everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

it matters: the rick warren decision

Obama’s Selection of Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren for Inauguration Sparks Gay Outrage - US News and World Report

i have to admit, i'm puzzled over this one.
(who would i have picked? Peter Gomes. he's black AND gay!)

rick warren's disgust with the 'gay lifestyle' (like it's picking a tea cozy or deciding where to vacation) is just code for 'i am a raging homophobe.' and that's why it matters.

having someone like rick warren is exactly like inviting a friendly, raging racist to stand up there and give the prayer.

when are we going to see that civil rights are civil rights, no matter who's asking for them?

if the larger society is to accept the basic humanity of gays and lesbians then certain lines need to be drawn in the sand. one of those lines is recognizing that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice but a life, like yours and mine and, therefore, it should be recognized as such and reap the same benefits of lives like yours and mine.

in the same way you cannot choose your skin color or your gender, you cannot choose your sexual orientation.

(a lesson that Ted Haggard is still learning, clearly.)

this is not a point to debate or cavil over but the basic, fundamental dividing line between those supporting gay civil rights and those who are against it. there is no point in conversing, negotiating or symbolically linking these two camps when the two camps are so fundamentally opposed.

i can understand only some of the thinking behind this pick. rick warren symbolizes a so-called 'post-denominational' church (an idea which would make my dad spit.) but i think we can probably think of pastors on the religious left who better symbolize this spirit of moving away from tired fundamentalism and its culture wars: brian mclaren? peter gomes? my pastor? jim wallis? father michael pfleger? an ordained woman from any of the mainline churches, perhaps?

a friend made me realize that Power is Power, no matter who wears it, even the affable tall skinny black guy we're going to call President. and Power, no matter who wears it, never willingly cedes ground.

and so, those of us who are demanding something from Power, neither can we.

Friday, December 12, 2008

you had me at 'tent peg': jael

Most Blessed of Women? Jael » Shawna R. B. Atteberry

via my Twitter (PrincessDing is my 'public' Twitter; if you'd like my personal, less bitchy Twitter, just email me) i came across this post, an interesting reading of Jael.

Just as my current feminism was informed partly by my dislike of cooking vast amounts of food on Thanksgiving, it was also created in part by the stories I read of interesting women in the Bible who either reminded me of something in myself or made me want to be something more. Leah, who was plain; Esther, who was beautiful and canny; and Jael, who drove a tent peg through Sisera's temple (who i've written about before.)

I didn't like this story because I, too, wanted to drive a spike through a man's head (though, in college, it resounded in a rather militant virgin feminist way with me) but because I liked the contrasts within it. There's Deborah, riding into battle with Barak and there's Jael, the woman alone in her tent. There's the fierce action of the battle scenes against the quiet domestic sphere of a woman's darkened tent. There's the sweaty man in his battle gear, asking for sanctuary; and there's the woman, giving him aid and some milk.

These contrasts mostly balance one another, making easily recognized binaries: battle/peace; action/inaction; man/woman; politics/domesticity. But when Jael takes the tent peg and nails Sisera to the ground, that's a pretty big disruption of balance. (Not to mention the disruption of a female envoy of God, Deborah.)

I'd sit in church and hold my mother's white leather bible on my lap and flip through until I came to this story and I'd read it again and again, and look at the illustrated plate showing Jael in her robes standing over a sleeping Sisera in his armor, with a spike in her hand. Thrilling. That female figure was to me strength, action and duty.

And, I have to admit, it also made me giggle.
The idea of a dude being nailed to the ground while he slept struck me as hilarious and I'd show it to my sister and we'd laugh and laugh until our mother pinched us to be quiet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blagonian Venality

there is a pile of work on my desk and a list of to-dos at least 10 items deep but i'm still repelled/fascinated by the scandal whirling around our governor.

everyone was talking about it yesterday. my two cabbies, my LTF (Long Term Frolic), my Roomie, my friends (even those from out of state), everyone on cable tv (including jon stewart who also had a righteous conversation with mike huckabee about gay rights and marriage) and, this morning, it's still everywhere.

i was trying to figure out why this scandal disgusts me so. after all, we're all old hands at political scandals. spitzer, stevenson, mcgreevey, senator 'wide stance', clinton, old man daley, etc. the mental image i had of our governor, who's supposed to enforce the state constitution (an article of which is the elimination of poverty for those who live in this state) putting price tags on every aspect of his office made me angry. i actually felt like spitting in this man's face.

there is about this scandal a tackiness, a grasping, idiotic greediness that disgusts me. but i realized it's not just the greed, it's the venality.

it is 'the prostitution of talents or principles for mercenary considerations.' (thank you, OED.)

i'm trying to remember my dante and figure out where our governor would be: in the eighth circle of hell with the corrupt politicians? or with the hypocrites? the thieves? or in purgatory, trying to work off his sins of pride, wrath or avarice?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

holy crap: IL gov arrested!

so...Gov. Rod has been arrested. i'm listening to the press conference now. (and, can i say that patrick fitzgerald is awesome?)

i was in an early morning meeting, standing in line for coffee when the guy next to me looked down at his blackberry and said, 'huh. the governor was just taken into custody by the feds.'

a white-haired woman said, 'get out.'
i said, 'you're kidding.'

he said, 'no lie. the trib just sent an alert.'

all of us whipped out our blackberries and checked. we gasped and hurried to sit down and read the news. the trib updated about every 20 minutes or so and when 2 state senators referenced it from our panel later in the meeting, the majority of the audience gasped.

dude. this is huge.
this dumb, awful, incompetent man was trying to sell Obama's old senate seat, among other things.

you have to read the trib story. appalling.

the thing is, until he's convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime, he's still governor! technically, he could still appoint obama's successor!

consider this your place to mull all things corrupt and shameful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And thus a feminist was born of Thanksgiving

When I was growing up, I lived with my family in a smallish apartment on Santa Rosalia in Los Angeles. Bouganvilla climbed the white stucco walls of the apartment building, there were hardwood floors in most rooms and linoleum in the tiny white kitchen, and when the windows were open we could either hear the constant zhoosh of Los Angeles traffic or the drunk single mother across the courtyard yelling at her sons.

Mrs. C-, a tiny, shrunken apple of a woman, lived across the hall from us. She was proudly southern, kept an apartment that was full of old lady smells and hard candy and looked harder at the tiny Oriental woman living with the Negro man across the hall from her. Family lore has it that one day she knocked on our apartment door and told my mother that my father was leaving the house every morning looking too thin and if she wanted to keep her black husband happy, she'd better learn how to cook soul food.

So Mrs. C- would put on her apron, come on over and watch soap operas with my mother while teaching her how to cook greens, black eyed peas, corn bread, southern fried chicken, and whatever else you'd find on a Baptist church dinner buffet. (The only thing my mother refused to cook was chit'lins. She knew we could barely stand her balut. There was no way in hell we'd eat chit'lins.) Mrs. C- (and her extended family) became a fast friend of our family and when she passed my mother cried the hardest, mourning her like a daughter.

All of this is to say that most of my holiday memories are of my 4'11" mother waking up at the ass crack of dawn to soak greens and prepare for a dinner Mrs. C- would have been proud of. Like her mother and stepmother before her, and maybe like all the Filipina village-raised mothers ever, she'd quietly begin the labor intensive process of feeding her family and their friends. (At the ass crack of dawn.) And like other Filipina mothers, she'd wake her oldest daughter to help her. (At the ass crack of dawn!)

I hated it. I hated the Sisyphean task of cleaning greens. I hated pulling the bag of giblets out of a thawed, cold white turkey corpse. I hated having to stand on a chair to lift a turkey that was half my size to put it into the sink and clean it. I hated deciphering pie recipes (my mother assigned me baking) and measuring and flouring and rolling out dough and I especially hated that my little sister was still in bed and I was getting turkey junk all over my pajamas and I smelled like raw turkey innards.

But as I grew older and realized that my mother was the only one cooking in the house during these holidays, I swallowed my anti-domestic hatred and helped her. (I still hated the fact that she'd wake me first and let my sister sleep an extra 2 hours.) Eventually, I grew to enjoy this part of the holidays - spending time with my mother in the dark morning hours, listening to her chide me over my inattention to the size of my chopping, how I forgot to put the fatback in the greens or left some grit on a leaf or 'forgot' to boil and cube the giblets. (I really think giblets are disgusting though they made all the difference in my mother's dressing.) She'd tell me stories of how good I had it; if I lived in the Philippines, I'd have to cook like this every day. I'd have to raise and kill my own chickens and pigs - and I'd have had to learn this at the age of seven.

I'd say to her, "And that's why I live in an American city, mom. So I will never have to learn that." And she'd slap my arm and we'd keep cooking.

But then her mood would change, especially as the morning stretched into afternoon and we were still in the kitchen (all three of us by now, my sister having joined us) smelling like butter or whatever we were cooking at the time - pies, rolls, green beans with bacon, black eyed peas (which takes frakking forever), corn casserole, ham, yams and sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, or the base for the punch later on.

And her mood would worsen as the sounds of dad and his friends watching football would increase.

By the time dinner was ready and the dining table was set with the good china and crystal, my mother was a tiny red ball of Asian fury and her target was often the men in the house who did nothing very labor intensive at all that day. My sister and I would instantly go into 'buffer' mode: running interference between mom and dad and hoping that post-turkey food coma would come so rapidly, the anger of laboring alone would be forgotten.

Sure enough, later in the evening my dad would put on his headset and sing loudly to contemporary Christian pop (don't ask) and wash all the dishes that had piled in the sink while my mother would finally rest, her earlier anger perhaps not forgotten but certainly repressed and swallowed. And I would go to my bedroom, write all of it down and vow NEVER to spend my holidays sweating over two ovens and a stove while my husband sits on his butt watching football.

These days, my sister has assumed the mantle of the Domestic Angry Goddess, though her husband is a little bit more tuned in than my father ever was (bless his clueless heart.) My brother-in-law wrangles the kids, clears the kitchen and preps the dining room, cleans the house and runs errands for my sister while she and I stand in her very small retro kitchen that reminds me of the apartment on Santa Rosalia and fight over counter space. And, true to form, my father saunters in 45 minutes before dinner is served and wonders when it'll be time to eat.

My sister's dinners are reminiscent of our mother's but with more Mexican dishes added to them and I wonder 'How the hell does Leslie do this without going frakking insane?' and I send up a little prayer of thanks that my kitchen back home in Chicago remains virginal and pristine.

My non-guilt at not cooking prompts me sometimes to tell my sister that the next day, on the biggest shopping day of the year, she can leave the kids with her husband while we make a day of manicures and pedicures at some spa, a movie and maybe some cocktails in the middle of the bright afternoon in a hotel. This is my Single Anti-Domestic Sister gift to her and I only wish that our mom was still here to join us. If anyone needed a day of complete self-indulgence and alcohol, it was my little mother.

So to all you Domestic Divas/Gentlemen out there, trapped in the Whole Foods or Vons or Dominick's or Byerly's of the nation, gritting your teeth over your turkey or your tofurkey or gnashing your teeth over head count and wondering why it's your turn to host again this year, have a wonderful holiday.

And book your spa appointment now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vote for the YWCA!

Click here and vote for the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago; the organization with the most votes wins $15,000. We help women, girls, children and rape victims, for jeebus' sake! We help eliminate racism!

What to do:
1- Pick Chicago, IL
2- Click on YWCA Metropolitan Chicago
And that's it but you can only vote 1/day - so vote every day until December 10!

Frakking kids. We were kicking their butts until yesterday!

(yeah, conflict of interest. whatever. it's my blog and i can do what i want.)
(link now fixed.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prop 8: the legal challenge begins

And so it begins, the legal arguments and decisions that will impact the everyday lives of gay and lesbian Californians.

A brief digression: in my day job, I'm the government relations officer for a non profit and I basically see that role as one that explains to interested (or apathetic) parties why my organization matters and why the work we do is meaningful and how others can contribute to that meaning.

The other day I was reading a messaging document about the way to frame a particularly complicated campaign we're about to launch in coalition with other orgs in the state and it presented a novel (to me) idea - that when advocating for a social cause, it might be better to promote materialist thinking, rather than mentalist thinking.

Using a materialist approach in social justice communications concentrates on the concrete advantages of better policy decisions rather than factors that are outside the public sphere of interest, like character, choices or individual motivation.

It's kind of confusing but it works like this: you have to give folks a reason to discard their binary thinking, largely based in fear or ignorance. "Gay marriage will mean the end of heterosexual marriage" or "Gay marriage is unnatural" (because being gay is unnatural.)

A mentalist approach (something I do all the time because I get so easily pissed off) says that 'Gay marriage is good because gays are people too and it's just fair to legally recognize their relationships, too! You're such a bigoted asshole!'

This is one effective way of communicating the issue.

Might there be a more effective way to communicate the issue?

Perhaps. (And I'm working this out as I'm writing here, so bear with me.)

A materialist approach might say this (and the RHR piece references messaging like this):
"The right to form a family without the interference of state or federal government is a core American value, along with fairness, equality and freedom. To deny gay marriage, or other legal arrangements that replicate (though aren't the same as) marriage rights, is to deny them a basic human need and separates them from a national identity that is rightfully theirs."

Or something like that.

The advantage of this kind of framing:
It neutralizes the kerfuffle about 'protecting' families and maintains the importance of families to an intact social fabric. You are correct, sir. Families are the foundation of society and gays and lesbians would like to have families of our own.

It allows a conversation about how gay families support society. Gay families provide parenting, support children and each other, are invested in and contribute to the various structures/institutions that are involved in raising a family.

It connects the narrative of gay and lesbian equality to a national narrative of liberation. It's not just about one community, it's about the connection to a big ol' community. The struggle of other people and other communities to live lives of independence and freedom, away from social and religious oppression, is no different from this struggle.

It erases the binary Us/Them. Family is family, no matter who's in it.

And it doesn't waste time pleading for reluctant hetero acceptance of a gay 'lifestyle,' whatever that is. Homophobia will probably never go away; but with family, there's strength.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts off the top of my head, if anyone was wondering how to communicate this kind of stuff.

Ok, I really should get on the phone now and do some work.

CA Court Case Challenges Prop 8, Anti-Gay Rights Measure |

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the view from the other side: why civil unions aren't enough

From an Andrew Sullivan post:

We are so often told by opponents of marriage equality that they do not oppose our right to have basic legal protections. What they do not understand, because they have never had to understand, is that without legal marriage, gay couples are always subject to the veto of family members who have more say over our spouses under the law than we do.

and this:

Until you have been treated as sub-human, it's hard to appreciate how it feels. We will not give up. And we will win in part for the sake of those who never made it to see this day.

This is what my faith teaches me, whatever the Vatican insists. Our love really is stronger than their fear.

so to those who offer the mealy-mouthed 'i'm ok with their civil unions but, euww, i don't want them to be married because marriage is for straight people' i say that this is a civil rights issue and one's homophobia is irrelevant.

you're either for equal rights because you believe in liberty for ALL and that all men were created equal - and thus how the world works for one set of the citizenry is how it should work for ALL - or you're against equal rights and think that our Constitution is only for straight people.

pick one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

it's about love

Thursday, November 06, 2008

party over: a primer on equality and Prop 8

We'll take a brief break from the longest post-election party ever to turn a quiet, sober eye to California, my home state. There, among the raisins, peaches and lettuce, the people of California voted overwhelmingly to deny their fellow Californians basic equal rights while, at the same time, making it possible for Barack Obama to become President. Ironic, isn't it?

Basically, Prop 8 tells every gay person in California to suck it up and accept it: you will never have the same right or access to the same things to which I, my straight sister and straight brother in law have rights and access.

There. That's the Proposition in a nutshell.
(Come at me with your counter arguments trying to explain to the 'danger' of gay rights and not only will I call bullshit on all of that, I will ask you what made you hate gay people.)

Now there's been some talk about who's to blame for this vote. Was it black people? Was it Latinos? Was it black and/or Latino church folk? (We'll come back to that.)

Let's cut to the chase: it was straight people who tanked equal rights for gays in California. (Let that sink in a bit. We'll come back to that, too.)

Here's the thing about equal rights - they actually supercede religion and race and they do so because the idea behind equality and civil rights is quite simple:


I will repeat this often and loudly at whoever is puffing themselves into a self-righteous ball about why they voted for Prop 8:

Religion: you voted for Prop 8 because the Bible said so. Well, so what? We don't live in a theocracy and it's wrong for a portion of the population to be subjected to your narrow interpretation of the bible which should actually have no bearing on civic life. God will not send you to hell because you voted for something that gives Tony and Miguel the right to spousal healthcare benefits or visit one another in the hospital should Tony get hit by the RTD.

The 'Ick' Factor: you voted for Prop 8 because the idea of two women loving one another and exchanging vows in front of a judge skeeves you out. Again, so the frak what? Your personal, outdated and irrelevant homophobia just legally stripped an entire community of their basic civil rights which they should have because they're, you know - basic frakking human beings living in America.

The Race Thing: you're quite willing to vote for Obama but, lawd, that gay thing is what white folks do. Are you kidding me?? You are surrounded by gay people.

You sit in church, look up into the choir and know that Donny the pianist has been 'that way' for years. (Quiet as kept, you know big ol' flashy, stentorian Bishop So-And-So has been having liaisons with black men for years.)
You have a cousin who always brings her slightly butchy 'roommate' to every family reunion and you know they're not just sharing an apartment to save on rent.
You have heard stories of folks in your family who've never married or, after a spouse has died, have never remarried but suddenly get quite comfortable moving in with their life-long same sex best friend - and you KNOW it's not just about companionship.
You go to the fests in Leimert Park and you see the all the gay men with their babies and their 'girlfriends' and you STILL think those men are straight.

And you know what? Luther - gay! Langston - gay! Snoop (on The Wire) - gaaay! My aunt Diane - totally gay!

What the hell, my people?!
Y'all had best get off your high horses about civil rights and demanding to hear bullshit arguments to 'convince' you that gay people need the same rights as you. Who do we think we are? We do not own the patent on civil rights. Ol' Miss Sally mighta marched with Dr. King but Ol' Miss Sally has NO right to use Dr. King's fight to emancipate black folk to justify keeping gay people in a cage built by her misunderstanding of what 'the gays' do, are like or really want.

You know what gay people want? What you and I have. Freedom. Autonomy. Dignity. The privilege to introduce the person they love to a room full of people as their spouse. They want to fulfill a human desire to create a family and have that family be protected just as your family is protected. They want what we have and we should give it to them.

Why? Because we took it away from them!

This brings me back to STRAIGHT PEOPLE tanking this thing for the gays. White, black, latino or asian - a majority of the heteros in California voted for this shit. Why? Because we are drowning in our straight privilege and are, deep down, unrepentant homophobes. We don't like gay people. Apparently, we hate them, despite working with gay people, socializing with gay people and having gay people in our family. We might as well have just pinned a great big pink triangle on them.

And until we share some of this burden and hold our fellow straight breeders accountable for their homophobia, gay people will never get what they deserve - what we have.

(Why I'm using 'we:' we, even as self-identified friends to the gays, are implicated in this travesty. Clearly, if we straight people who support gay rights because we know and love gay friends and family or because we know it's the right thing to do or because we are (gag) 'tolerant' - clearly we didn't do enough. Our gay-hating friends, neighbors and family voted for this shit because we didn't call them out on this crap long before this stupid Proposition even got on the ballot.

The burden to change the paradigm of hatred and bigotry shouldn't fall entirely on the community that's oppressed by it; it should be shared equally by the privileged who must sacrifice something in order to see the Promised Land of equal rights for all.)

So go on. Celebrate voting for Obama and 'change.'
Deep down we straight folks are oozing with the same old bullshit tar of hypocrisy.

[A Private Note to Richard:
Yes, I do think anal sex is healthy, especially when done with respect, with someone you trust and/or love, plenty of lube, and a condom. In fact, Lawrence v. Texas pretty much guarantees that any and all enjoyment of butt sex is private and outside of the reach of the law. In fact, beyond butt sex, Lawrence v. Texas also upholds that the liberty given to us in the Constitution pretty much covers gay folks' freedom to enter into relationships without fear of reprisal or criminal prosecution, whether or not such a relationship has legal recognition. Thanks for asking.]

Work to do - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I cannot say this with enough emphasis: Get in gear and go vote.

Stand in line for a long time; take a little stool and wear comfortable shoes; pee in a can or wear Depends, I don't care.

Double check your polling location.

Bring two forms of ID (one with a photo and one that verifies your current mailing address, just in case there's an issue)

Bring along the contact info for ACLU voter protection:
phone 1-877-523-2792/email at

Read directions carefully and take your time with the new electronic system.

[And now, a special messge to members of the youth vote:

I've already had to tell someone's undergraduate sister living in Mississippi, but wanting to vote absentee in Texas, that she can't vote today because she waited too long and missed her deadline for sending in her application as well as her ballot. Are you freaking kidding me??

If the undergraduate population's inability to plan ahead blows this for us I will be seriously pissed.

This goes for all the little old people down in Florida, too.]

Saturday, November 01, 2008

yesterday, i went to my pastor's funeral.

the church was coldly austere and beautiful; the service emotional and wrenching. somberly dressed, clearly fighting tears, members of the church streamed in from all over the city, forming a line that rivaled one on Easter Sunday. a letter from the Mayor's office was read.

i held it together through Barber's 'Adagio', through the opening prayers but then came Psalm 121, which has always been a favorite of mine.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

it made me think of her evident dedication to her calling, the joy and discipline she showed but also the strength she showed during her illness. it was almost too much to think of.

but there were moments of joy, too. laughter through the eulogy, the comfort of seeing all of us rise as one to sing the doxology, to recite the Apostles Creed, all of us praying together and reciting the 23rd Psalm (another of my favorites.)

and then, after the wrenching recessional as her casket was slowly wheeled down the long, straight center aisle led by a bagpiper and followed by the pastoral staff and her surviving family, the Tower Brass doing a boozy, ragtime arrangement of 'Just A Closer Walk With Thee' that made us all erupt in bursts of giggles and clapping.

the lesson here? in the shadow of death and sadness there is joy and grace. this is the gift that Christ has given us and for which, despite my personal failings and struggles, i am eternally grateful.

Monday, October 27, 2008


i just got word that a pastor from my church died this morning. i'm in a mild state of shock.

it's so sad. she was a tough, spiritual, smart woman. her husband had a position with another presbytery in the area and they had two children. she had been gravely ill a number of years ago, fought it, came back to ministry stronger than ever and then, about a month ago, an infection set in. doctors were baffled, thought they had isolated it, did a couple of surgeries but, in the end, she lost her battle early this morning.

it's a serious blow to my church's staff. she was so strong, so smart. a good woman with vision, style, humor, and a steel magnolia quality that made you gird your loins during staff meetings. our senior pastor relied on her a lot and it's going to be difficult watching him, as well as the other members of the pastoral staff, grieve.

sudden death like this never gets easy to process.

Friday, October 24, 2008

privacy and punishment: how much time should i do?

A hypothetical scenario:
Let's say I'm with my partner and, despite our best efforts, one of his swimmers gets through; let's also say that my right to control my fertility (either through consistent and regular access to birth control and/or abortion services) has been rendered illegal. The right to medical privacy, as well as the right to a safe and legal abortion, has been taken away from me and millions of other women in my state.

How much time should I do for getting an abortion?

Watch the video, read about the campaign here and share your thoughts.

Friday, October 17, 2008

the right to privacy

My head nearly exploded on debate night when the conversation turned to the Supreme Court. I was watching with a couple of friends, including my Roomie, and the comment was made that she was glad that Roberts was, at least, 'more judicious' than Justices Alito or Scalia. To my Roomie, that meant that she was glad that he seemed to be a justice who would hesitate to overturn previous Supreme Court rulings or previously standing statute.

I totally disagreed. (And this is also when I thought that folks need to pay a little bit more attention to what's happening in the Court before they say something.) I thought that a Roberts court probably has a much narrower view of 'rights' - either states' rights or the rights of an individual - than ever and that whatever moderate seeming qualities Chief Justice Roberts might have, his opinions have contained ideas that should make all of us look aslant at the impact his court will have on our society.

In other words, who frakking cares about the intent of his character when the impact of his court's rulings will be to limit/eradicate your most basic civil liberties?

Feministe, for some reason, is acting up so I'm going to put Jill's whole post on what a McCain presidency would mean for privacy rights and for the SCOTUS. The fight for the Supreme Court is about more than preserving Roe v. Wade. It's about privacy.

And if you don't think that's important I suggest you look up what 'social authoritarianism' means:

Thanks to Matt for the link.

Here’s what Obama and McCain had to say about abortion rights and Roe v. Wade at last night’s debate:

In other words, neither of them would have “litmus tests,” except that they would.
I know the threat of overturning Roe gets tossed out every election as a way to scare pro-choice voters into supporting Democrats. There’s a market Roe fatigue, I think — and it seems like it’s coming up far less this election than it did in the last one. But the next president will likely be appointing three Supreme Court justices. Our last Republican president appointed two. The entire future of the court rests with this presidency, and that’s not small beans — not just for Roe, but for the face of American law and policy for generations.

Because Roe isn’t just about Roe; it’s about a greater judicial philosophy that influences and extends into our most fundamental rights and liberties.
It’s already been a scary eight years of Supreme Court decisions. Power is increasingly centered in the executive with little oversight, and the valued balance between the legislative, judicial and executive branches has been thrown thoroughly off-kilter. Even the good decisions — like Kennedy v. Louisiana, where the court ruled that you can’t use the death penalty as punishment for child rape, and Roper v. Simmons, which held that it is unconstitutional to execute children, among others — are marked by narrow splits: Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts (where Alito and Roberts were on the court) consistently side together, and consistently produce dissents that promulgate some very scary views.

Throw on even one more conservative justice to replace one of the liberals and we’re in for an incredibly regressive next few decaes. Replace three justices — which is what the next president very well may do — with people in the vein of Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, and I quite honestly would not raise my kids in the country we’ll likely have.

It’s about much more than Roe. But it’s about Roe, too, and what Roe stands for.
Roe v. Wadeis based on a right to privacy that more conservative justices and students of the law will tell you is made up. And it’s true that nowhere in the Constitution does it say that you have a right to privacy. But part of the reason that we have a Supreme Court is because the Constitution is a fairly short document, and it can’t possibly cover the full range of issues that are going to come up — it demands interpretation. Many of the most important decisions in our nation’s history were premised on rights that aren’t explicitly stated in the Constitution, or that can be evaluated differently under changed social circumstances (Brown v. Board of Ed, Skinner v. Oklahoma and Lawrence v. Texas are two illustrative cases). And, in my view, Constitutional interpretation should err on the side of giving citizens more rights, not fewer. The Framers didn’t detail every minute right for a reason: The idea of America is premised on a broad set of rights and liberties, and the purpose of the Bill of Rights is to restrict the federal government, not to restrict the rights of the people. If we evaluate the language of the constitution based on what it meant precisely at the time of its writing, we’re going to end up with some mighty problematic decisions. If I ever got to sit down with Scalia, I would like to ask him how he would have decided Brown — after all, Plessy was decided not long after the 14th Amendment was ratified. Certainly the justices on the court then were closer to knowing the intent and purpose of the 14th Amendment, and they held that “separate but equal” treatment of blacks didn’t violate the law. That’s Constitutional literalism for you. And Scalia’s former colleague and fellow Constitutional literalist, William Rehnquist, apparently agreed when as a law clerk during the Brown proceedings he wrote:

“I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by ‘liberal’ colleagues but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed.” He continued, “To the argument… that a majority may not deprive a minority of its constitutional right, the answer must be made that while this is sound in theory, in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are.”

That is not a responsible view for Supreme Court justices to take, particularly given the fact that we have a court specifically to make sure that minority groups aren’t railroaded by the majority. “Constitutional literalism,” it seems, is less about reading the actual words and spirit of the Constitution, and more about trying to cram the document into a narrow, conservative ideological box.

As Obama pointed out last night, this isn’t a question about “state’s rights,” it’s a question about fundamental freedoms and our rights as human beings and as citizens. And questions as fundamental as that of privacy and bodily integrity should not be turned to the states to regulate and restrict as they see fit.
What many also fail to appreciate is that overturning Roe wouldn’t just be about Roe or abortion. Unless the Court overturned Roe solely on the grounds that the fetus is a person — which they won’t — they’ll do away with abortion rights by doing away with those much-maligned privacy rights generally. And if there’s no right to privacy that can be inferred from the Constitution, then a whole series of other important decisions are up for grabs. Griswold v. Connecticut, the case securing contraception access for married couples (which was followed by cases securing such access for unmarried people) is premised on the right to privacy. So is Lawrence v. Texas, the case that overturned Texas sodomy laws. Overturn Roe on privacy grounds and there is no longer strong legal precedent to keep the government out of your bedroom and out of your reproductive decisions.

Some argue that overturning Roe wouldn’t be a big deal, because abortion would remain legal in several states. Even pro-choicers and feminists make the argument that Roe is already effectively overturned, because abortion is inaccessible for many women, so we shouldn’t put too much focus on it and just let the Court go.
Well, that’s crap. Abortion is inaccessible or incresingly difficult to access for too many women, and that is a huge problem that requires more of our attention. But 1.3 million women still have abortions every year. A lot of those women go through significant hardship to do so. I’ve met a few of those women, and I’ve walked them out of the clinic. Believe me, Roe still matters. There are levels of inaccessability, and there are a lot of women who live on the fringes. There are a lot of women who live in red states surrounded by other red states, where the only abortion clinic is a five-hour drive and requires a two-day waiting period between visits — but some of them can get there. They can’t get to New York or California. Overturn Roe and those women are thrown under the bus.

And it’s not just a state-by-state issue. There’s a whole lot of talk about “state’s rights” when it comes to abortion, but that talk mysteriously disappears in the Republican Party Platform:
We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.

Overturning Roe is just the beginning. The ultimate goal is to make abortion illegal, for everyone, in every state. That’s why the people who argue that we should just drop the “divisive” abortion question, let Roe go and call the matter settled are delusional. For the GOP, overturning Roe is a first step, not a conclusive victory. And if anti-choice groups continue to exercise strong influence over the Republican party, you can bet that outlawing abortion won’t even be the end — contraception is on the list, too.

This is bigger than one election, or one justice, or one issue. It’s about the most fundamental underpinnings of our democracy, and what our country is going to look like for decades. Supreme Court decisions aren’t easily overturnable, and the calls that get made now are going to be with us for the duration of our lifetimes. Many of them will be around for all of our children’s lifetimes, too.

That’s something I hope everyone thinks about when they’re pulling that lever on election day: Who do you trust to appoint the justices that are going to shape the legal landscape of our country for generations?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

this debate

is giving me a headache.

so far, apparently, economic issues trump every other domestic policy that matters to a significant portion of this population? 45 minutes of taxes, negative campaigning nonsense (where McCain thinks criticism of policy = personal attacks), vice presidential suitability and nothing about reproductive justice, women's particular vulnerability in this economic time, equal pay or the right to privacy; also nothing (so far) on their differing views on the SCOTUS and what their legacy would be.

how's the debate treating you?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Saturday morning, during the WLF breakfast, I said that I never thought I'd see the day a black man would be president. The woman next to me scrunched her nose and said, 'Really?'

Uh, yeah, lady. Really. Are you kidding? With this country's history?

I'm reading a book called The Color of Wealth which covers the racial disparities in wealth acquisition in this country. In detail, it shows how our country's history of systematic racial oppression is sprinkled with documented government supported acts of land theft, displacement and economic cock-blocking (for lack of a better word.)

I've just finished the chapter on Native Americans and it was depressing as hell - and infuriating.

It was depressing to think of this people systematically deprived of the assets that rightfully belong to them (it goes SO much farther than just land theft - it's about billions and billions of dollars cheated from tribes because private enterprise and our US govt colluded to strip them of rights to natural resources and revenue, as well as mismanaged the funds that were supposed to be held in 'trust' for them.) These are dollars that could, right now, make a material impact on generations of Native Americans who currently hit the lowest indicators for economic sustainability, employment, education, and health.

Our country basically committed genocide against a whole population and built a nation on top of their bodies and land. Sickening.

But it was also depressing to think about how racism has crippled us, as a whole. We are diminished, when we don't know our whole history. When they teach us about the Homestead Act but don't mention the little details that expose it for a racist (only white men got land that was stolen or misappropriated from Native populations)government policy, then how can we truly know who we really are and what it means to benefit from that kind of legacy?

Why do we really rely so much on our myths? Are we really that childlike and feeble?

I wrote an earlier post about chickens coming home to roost for the GOP but I think that I could say the same thing about our country as a whole. There is karmic payback for the blood and death we've caused. I don't care if folks think what I'm saying is unpatriotic - it's true. You can't pick and choose which parts of our history are worthy of mythmaking and then hope no one remembers or knows about the other; it's all part of the same.

When someone wins a battle, someone else dies; when you build a city, you've destroyed someone's home; when you're on top, there's somone suffocating on the bottom. We've been winning for a few centuries now and I'm guessing that the pendulum is about to swing the other way.

That's the way the world works; it's the balance of the universe. One could even call it justice.

(Ding's process: This was supposed to be a funny post about apple picking in Wisconsin this weekend, but it became something a little bit more sobering. Sometimes I write with a plan and sometimes the writing abruptly veers off my self-imposed topic. Apple picking reminded me of 'cherry picking' which made me think of selectively reading history, this weekend's conference, the Obama candidacy as a way for history to come full circle but also how it prompts the idea of payback and triggers the fears of those racists at recent McCain/Palin rallies who are expressing, IMO, fear of karmic payback. Funny how writing works.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

hey, i'm blogging about the friday session of the WLIF over at Bitch, PhD. Come on by!

Friday, October 10, 2008

if i meet him, i can't pass out!

Sometimes, unexpected opportunities just fall into your lap.

It's been a stressful week at Large Metropolitan Non Profit, as well as with my other non profit board obligation, but all of that will have been worth it because of what's going to happen in a few hours. My CEO (a very generous woman) is giving me her credentials for the National Women's Leadership Issues conference, being held in Chicago today and tomorrow.

Barack & Michelle Obama, high-level policy makers, and campaign advisors will all be there and I, little ol' me, will be soaking it all in. To hear about issues directly from policy wonks I've only read about - for two days! This kind of access is unbelievable. I'm giddy! Thank goodness I brought a cute suit and shoes to work and have an eyebrow appt at lunch. Yes, I am a sucker for political celebrity.

(I'd Twitter it for y'all but, alas, my Twitter is under my real name and I'm not for blowing my cover right now. I'll do my best to post something about it, though!)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

good lord, that was a boring debate.
and tom didn't pick any questions about women's issues?

what are we, chopped ovaries?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

hello, chickens. like your roost?

Speak correctly, or build a big bunker --

Poor conservative Kathleen Parker. She's shocked - absolutely shocked - that today's political discourse has devolved so much. Oh, the invective hurled at her for suggesting Palin isn't fit for the Republican ticket. Goodness! The insults. The ire! The death threats!

Such extreme partisanship has a crippling effect on government, which may be desirable at times, but not now. More important in the long term is the less-tangible effect of stifling free speech. My mail paints an ugly picture and a bleak future if we do not soon correct ourselves.

The picture is this: Anyone who dares express an opinion that runs counter to the party line will be silenced. That doesn't sound American to me, but Stalin would approve. Readers have every right to reject my opinion. But when we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different than one's own, then we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk. (I hear you, Dixie Chicks.)

I'm sorry folks said her parents should have aborted her, but the disingenuity here is a little hard to swallow.

Where has Ms. Parker been for the past 8 years? Where was she last month, during the GOP convention, and Amy Goodman was pitched in jail for covering it? Where was she to decry the national trashing of our political discourse when non-Republicans were called appeasers, traitors, terrorist collaborators and folks on the Hill were forced to eat those silly Freedom Fries; where was she when folks who objected to the unconstitutional reach of the Patriot Act, who correctly thought the run up to the Iraq war was full of bullshit, who said Guantanamo was a blight to our democratic legacy were called un-American; where has she been as American Muslims continute to suffer racial profiling, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and have had their loyalties called into question because of their religion or heritage; where was she for the last two elections when two pretty smart presidential candidates lost their races because her party accused them of being soft on defense while backing a mediocre guy whose sole act of mental agility was cooking up ways to get out of military service; and where has she been for the last 18 months as her party, and its lapdog punditocracy, made a point of racially Othering the Obamas and saying some pretty racist shit in the process?

And, yes, where has Kathleen Parker been for the last 20 years as her party got all comfy in its bed next to the Christian Right, who have no problem wearing the robes of a Pharisee?

Spare me the concern, Ms. Parker. Spare me your disappointment at how the nation's political discourse has become vile, limited, intellectually bankrupt and savage. Your party built this roost and I'd say it's about time you saw exactly what your chickens look like.

[cross-posted at Screed]

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I, myself, am a half-breed silk jacquard but who am I to judge?

What We’re Up Against | RaceWire

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

our fiscal mess explained

Bitch Ph.D. has a good post up from her BritFriend, explaining our current fiscal crisis. I'd write about this more but, lately, my reaction has been to confusedly pray I don't lose my non profit job, begin brainstorming a move back to corporate for a bigger paycheck and more stability (yeah, right), begin looking for a sweet but not too bright Sugar Person.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Update: Bailout a No Go!

...And, stocks plunge.


[House Rejects Bailout -]

shorter bailout blame: The Brown People Did It! and what i'm reading this morning

It is a truth universally acknowledged (among Republicans) that when the economic shit hits the fan the one holding the shovel is most likely a low-income person of color.

So it is with this bailout mess. Now that the package has been approved, all eyes are looking for a scapegoat. Surprise, surprise, the luminaries on the Right have lit upon their various whipping persons: people of color, poor people, affirmative action, immigrants and even the nice fuzziness of multiculturalism.

You can catch reaction to this line of spin at Feministe and Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose thread includes a very good parsing of CRA lending policy.

(No, I'm not going to link to Malkin, Coulter or Sailer. You can Google them yourself and gag in the privacy of your own desk.)

Of note is Tim Wise's essay that not only takes this line of thinking to task, it also pokes some holes in the 'personal responsibility' canard the Right is so fond of trotting out:

So there you have it: white conservatives who simply cannot bring themselves to blame rich white people for anything, and who consistently fall back into old patterns, blaming the poor for poverty, black and brown folks for racism, anybody but themselves and those like them. That anyone takes them seriously anymore when they prattle on about "personal responsibility" is a stunning testament to how racism and classism continue to pay dividends in a nation whose soil has been fertilized with these twin poisons for generations. Unless the rest of us insist that the truth be told--and unless we tell it ourselves, by bombarding the folks who send us their hateful e-mails with our own correctives, thereby putting them on notice that we won't be silent (and that they cannot rely on our complicity any longer)--it is doubtful that much will change.

When conservatives say things like 'Oh, if only those darkies hadn't whined about equal access and equal opportunity, we wouldn't be in this mess!' I realize that there is a huge gulf between us that will never be bridged.

Conservative anger always seems to float downward, blaming people who always get the shorter end of the privilege stick; my anger floats up. I'm not going to blame the folks who use pay day loans to make their tiny paychecks last a little longer; I'm gonna look fish eye at the greedy white-collared sonofabitch who calculated that he could fleece more sheep by putting a pay day loan office on every corner in the south side.

I know, very noblesse oblige of me. But it's not, really. It's called freaking compassion!


I'm working on a complicated piece I've been wanting to write about intentional motherhood so I've been snapping up essays on motherhood, birthing and contraception. This is one linking increase demand for food and family planning.

This is also one about black midwives fighting the AMA for the opportunity to provide black maternal care.

And, of course, the asshat from Louisiana who thought it was a good idea in a brainstorming session to throw out 'sterilize black women' as a way to combat poverty. Uh-huh. No, that's not racist or problematic as shit at all.

Oh, and then there's this - it only took one month for the bloom to be permanently rubbed off the rose. (Yeah, there are huge problems if Parker thinks Palin is a picture of modern feminism but to get a huge, horking female conservative to admit Palin was a bad pick? I'll gloat.)

And here - a third party (who??) solution to the economic crisis at hand from Cynthia McKinney (via Alas, a Blog.)

Get to reading!

shorter bailout blame: The Brown People Did It! and what i'm reading this morning

It is a truth universally acknowledged (among Republicans) that when the economic shit hits the fan the one holding the shovel is most likely a low-income person of color.

So it is with this bailout mess. Now that the package has been approved, all eyes are looking for a scapegoat. Surprise, surprise, the luminaries on the Right have lit upon their various whipping persons: people of color, poor people, affirmative action, immigrants and even the nice fuzziness of multiculturalism.

You can catch reaction to this line of spin at Feministe and Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose thread includes a very good parsing of CRA lending policy.

(No, I'm not going to link to Malkin, Coulter or Sailer. You can Google them yourself and gag in the privacy of your own desk.)

Of note is Tim Wise's essay that not only takes this line of thinking to task, it also pokes some holes in the 'personal responsibility' canard the Right is so fond of trotting out:

So there you have it: white conservatives who simply cannot bring themselves to blame rich white people for anything, and who consistently fall back into old patterns, blaming the poor for poverty, black and brown folks for racism, anybody but themselves and those like them. That anyone takes them seriously anymore when they prattle on about "personal responsibility" is a stunning testament to how racism and classism continue to pay dividends in a nation whose soil has been fertilized with these twin poisons for generations. Unless the rest of us insist that the truth be told--and unless we tell it ourselves, by bombarding the folks who send us their hateful e-mails with our own correctives, thereby putting them on notice that we won't be silent (and that they cannot rely on our complicity any longer)--it is doubtful that much will change.

When conservatives say things like 'Oh, if only those darkies hadn't whined about equal access and equal opportunity, we wouldn't be in this mess!' I realize that there is a huge gulf between us that will never be bridged.

Conservative anger always seems to float downward, blaming people who always get the shorter end of the privilege stick; my anger floats up. I'm not going to blame the folks who use pay day loans to make their tiny paychecks last a little longer; I'm gonna look fish eye at the greedy white-collared sonofabitch who calculated that he could fleece more sheep by putting a pay day loan office on every corner in the south side.

I know, very noblesse oblige of me. But it's not, really. It's called freaking compassion!


I'm working on a complicated piece I've been wanting to write about intentional motherhood so I've been snapping up essays on motherhood, birthing and contraception. This is one linking increase demand for food and family planning.

This is also one about black midwives fighting the AMA for the opportunity to provide black maternal care.

And, of course, the asshat from Louisiana who thought it was a good idea in a brainstorming session to throw out 'sterilize black women' as a way to combat poverty. Uh-huh. No, that's not racist or problematic as shit at all.

Oh, and then there's this - it only took one month for the bloom to be permanently rubbed off the rose. (Yeah, there are huge problems if Parker thinks Palin is a picture of modern feminism but to get a huge, horking female conservative to admit Palin was a bad pick? I'll gloat.)

And here - a third party (who??) solution to the economic crisis at hand from Cynthia McKinney (via Alas, a Blog.)

Get to reading!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Debates!: Get it On!

I'm sitting here, with my girls and amid a fab spread of cheeses, pate and chips/dips (as well as a hell of a lot of beer), watching the debate. And we're taking a drink everytime we hear the words: war, POW, Main Street, and hope. We won't get as plowed as watching the Orientalizing opening cermonies of the Olympics, but maybe we'll get a nice buzz on.

Consider this your space to share your thoughts, reactions, funny asides and observations during this debate.

Carry on!

[I've also opened a thread at Bitch, PhD if you wanna take part over there.]

Thursday, September 25, 2008

happy (39th) birthday to me.

Birthday resolutions:

Birthday resolutions:
Stop smoking. I had no idea the cigarette I had when I got home on Tuesday night, exhausted, would be my last. Now I know.
Exercise more. Yes, I've internalized our culture's messages about age and beauty and I refuse to be the dumpy, cute, near-40 year old.
Stop procrastinating. Feh, maybe tomorrow.
Be mindful.
Go to church more. (see Procrastinating)
Get more sleep.
Eat more salads - or at least alternate them with the bags of Doritos I love.
Find a tailor. (see Salads and Doritos)
Be open.
Make an effort.
Call the family more often, for god's sake!
Get regular Paps. And get on the mammogram tip, too.
Finish Worst Romance Novel Draft #1 by New Year's. Then sell it and begin to stalk Eloisa James because she is my hero.
Write more. Write better.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

student voting: a handy legal guide

[crossposted at Bitch, Ph.D.]

So I'm at work, trying to put together communications for GOTV and I am realizing that there is a huge gap in my knowledge re: the voting process for students. I know the rules for early voting, absentee voting and registering and what to do if you're challenged at the polls here in Illinois, but what about for students?

Everyone I've spoken to has drawn a blank when I try to develop a guidesheet for students voting in this election. The best I can come up with is, 'Uh, be familiar with the laws of the state you're going to school in or, uh, vote absentee.'

Not good enough. I had no idea there were so many barriers to student voting - and it's no wonder that previous elections have seen younger voter turnout remain so flat. We make it virtually impossible for them to vote!

Some states have flat out refused to recognize students' residency as valid (hello, Texas, Virginia and New York); some states don't recognize student IDs as valid identification, making it impossible for students to comply with HAVA (Help America Vote Act) guidelines; some states require drivers licence addresses to match voter registration card addresses, which unfairly burden students from another state; and then there are those state officials who claim that students voting where they go to school could endanger financial aid or scholarship awards.

So what are the rules? Where can student voters go for clean information?

Thank goodness I didn't have to do much legwork.

The Brennan Center has developed a web tool that provides a handy legal guide for students during this election year. They code states according to how student-voting friendly they are - green is friendly, red is not. (Just guess which states aren't friendly.) They give you what the regulations are and what maze of red tape you'll have to navigate to come out the other side. They also dispel all the myths WRT losing financial aid, imperiling parents' taxes and endangering tuition.

The guide does not say that students merely have to show up to vote, but helps prepare students for whatever bullshit their state throws in their way. Forewarned in forearmed.

So, professors and grad student instructors, or anyone who knows a college student voter who's fired up - do your students a solid and tell them about this guide so they can prepare themselves for what they need to do to vote without too much issue. They don't have a lot of time.

Updated: to add that Jack (from Jack & Jill Politics) has created a Voter Suppression Wiki. They have an action page that is pulling information together from voter suppression watchgroups, contact information to report irregularities, different campaigns and legal actions already in progress to halt voter suppression.

Friday, September 19, 2008

being busy - and being invisible at church

good gracious!
this week has been a little bit full.

had a date on monday (went well), worked furiously to get ready to leave town for a conference meeting on tuesday, was in indianapolis on wednesday for my meeting, flew back, worked furiously on thursday to catch up and now - hey! more working furiously while also getting ready for a church retreat over the weekend, a birthday party and maybe a tennis date.

speaking of church, here's a little story i haven't had a chance to share. it reminded me that, as progressive as my congregation is, it has a LOOONG way to go to recognize something that Macon D over at Stuff White People Do has written about here and here. (And has posted a fine analysis of non-white reaction to what white people do here.)

i was with some church folks at a farewell reception for a church colleague. most of the people there were from Session, some i recognized from my years as Deacon, and some from my position as board member on the non profit organization housed at the church. in other words, these were not complete strangers to me.

but as the cocktail party wore on, it became clear that people did not recognize me to the same extent that i recognized them.

little old white ladies rushed up to me and cooed, 'oh, stacy! it's so good to see you here!' repeatedly, they did this - even after someone else had introduced me as 'Ding,' member of the Such&Such Board. oh, the stiff smile i'd wear as their eyes would blink and flutter and i could see their confusion, which probably sounded a little like this:

'what? but - but - stacy is The Black Girl! this is a Black Girl, so...this must be stacy! but she says she's not stacy! but she must be! why isn't she stacy?!'


when i put in my requisite 90 minutes of cocktailing, i sat in the lounge area to check my messages on my cell phone. a man from the reception came up to me, hugged me and said, 'oh, stacy! it was really good to see you tonight!'

i had been standing next to this man when the departing executive director of our organization publicly thanked me for my service on the board - and said my name.

flatly, i said, 'i'm not stacy.'
he said, 'oh.' silence. uncomfortable silence as i stared at him, with my cell phone in my hand. i was not smiling.

he said, 'well, it was good to see you.' and rushed away while i really tried not think bad thoughts about white people - and failed.

who is stacy? stacy is the african american woman who runs the very successful tutoring and mentoring program at our church. stacy and i look nothing alike.

and, clearly, the white people i serve with at church think she and i are exactly the same person. this is not the first time this has happened to me. at our mission benefit, at a board dinner, and during coffee hour while i stand at our organization's table during a fundraising campaign - i am every other black woman in church except who i really am.

do white people really not see the differences between us? do we really blur and blend into indistinguishable shapes? are we just all brown and black and yellow blobs that float indistinctly in and out of white vision?

this is the kicker: not one person apologized for mistaking me for stacy. not a single word of apology passed their thin, christian lips.

Monday, September 15, 2008

ugh. this week is going to blow.

With my luck, all sorts of fascinating things will happen this week in the world of politics. Perhaps, if the universe has any sense of justice, the Palin non-interview with Charles Gibson will alert the electorate to how ignorant she is and unqualified for any higher office governing a populace larger than 900.

But, alas, I'll be traveling for work this week and today is all about getting the hell out of town while also going on a date, doing a couple of work meetings and scheduling interviews for my potential replacement at the office.

Geez. I don't think there's enough caffeine for this week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


so you think Obama will raise your taxes under his plan?
well, i don't want to call you misinformed but you might want to go here:

it's sort of neat.

down the rabbit hole


McCain/Palin announce truthiness squad to 'set the record straight' on 'attacks' on Palin.

Uh, whatever, gramps.
I'll believe your 'truth' as soon as y'all clear up that whole bridge thing and put her in front of some real journalists to answer questions.

you know what the Republican campaign reminds me of?
it's like when you played baseball in grade school and the person at bat wasn't really a good runner so they'd hit the ball and then someone else would run the bases because they ran faster and they'd get the run!

what's that called?

no...that's not it.

bait and switch?
no, that's not it, either.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

rendering unto caesar - or not

Remember this story from back in May?

Well, the Washington Post has another story as follow up:

Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.
More about that later.

But first, this: I happened upon this via The Revealer, a handy compendium of news about religion and media coverage of religion. They don't see what the big deal is:

So news of a bid to stop a bid to overturn the ban requires the journalistic equivalent of explaining why a joke is funny. It's hard to get outraged over defiance of a law you didn't know existed. Maybe I'm wrong.
Yeah, dude. You're wrong. This is a very big deal. Where the hell have you been? Anyone who goes to church (or works for a church board or school or any non profit organization) knows exactly what this law is and what the ramifications are if 501c3 organizations are allowed to participate in electioneering.

Back to my original outrage:
For churches to bleat that their rights are being infringed upon by an oppressive government because they can't say 'Sarah Palin is teh bomb!' from the pulpit during an election year - I call shenanigans on that. Anyone who works for a non profit (like I do) knows there are ways around this code and ways to bend the code. Under the tax code, non profits are allowed a lot of leeway. We can talk about policies; we can offer opinions on legislation; we can even participate in direct lobbying and the limits are even broader if we participate in grassroots lobbying. During an election year, we just can't stand on our pulpits (bully or otherwise) and say 'Sarah Palin is teh shit!' because it's sort of like exercising undue influence on folks when voting is supposed to be a private civil matter.

Beyond the the self-serving, disingenuous goal-post-moving (which seems to be a contemporary hallmark of the radical Christian Right), I think it's interesting how the orthodox self-image of the Church has changed.

(Putting on Sunday School hat)

If the Church was meant to be called out from the world (to be separate from it, if you will), and if we accept the idea that national electoral politics are, well, secular , then why are certain church people agitating for an increased ability to be more...worldly?

Do you understand what I'm saying?

Because progressive churches don't seem to have a problem with the current tax code as it's written. My denomination, for example, is perfectly ok with keeping the wall between Church and State in place. For some reason we don't think it's necessary for our pastor to tell folks how to vote or who to vote for - we just let our actions speak louder than our words.

We don't even associate our missions or activities to politics (though we will participate in the lobbying process when it comes to negotiating real estate in Chicago) because we see our missions as a direct outgrowth from our Christian mission - to help the less fortunate, to be graceful in our life toward one another - basically, to live the frakking beatitudes like they mean something.

Do more socially conservative congregations *not* live their mission? I won't say that. (And some congregations are very active in publicly maintaining their particular community standards when it comes to issues like homosexuality, reproductive freedom and the like.) But I'll say that it's interesting that simply living their mission and vision isn't enough for these churches and the ADF; jumping into the political muck and dictating national policy that impacts everyone, regardless of individual religious affiliation, seems too attractive an opportunity to pass up.

Monday, September 08, 2008

do *you* have friends of another color?

I'm glad Glamour had this panel (h/t Racialicious.)

Not to sound congratulatory, I've always had friends, close friends, of other ethnic backgrounds and I sincerely believe that most of this stuff about race and difference, white privilege and supremacy, would be addressed in a more thoughtful way if folks actually knew people of another ethnicity.

(Like, KNEW them. Not knew OF them. You know?)

Slightly related, but sort of different, over at Stuff White People Do, Macon D. had a really thought provoking post about all-white spaces and the cultural, historical, social blindnesses that kind of monochromaticity can create.

(Hm. 'Monochromaticity.' Perhaps not a real word. But, like, Lollapalooza. Did anyone else notice how White Lolla was and how nearly all the social pairings/groupings seen were monochromatic?)

In a similar way, I think having friends all of one color is...limiting. It speaks to an insularity that I think is really puzzling.

Anyway, Glamour wants to know and I do, too: Do you have intimate friends (not mere acquaintances) from another ethnic group? If so, what's your story?

(I'll show you mine if you show me yours.)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

RNC 08! Didn't I say?? Didn't I?

It's about McCain!!
Dude. I totally need to have my own national column.

At last, the Judgment and Leadership questions are being asked!!

Who Will Be the Boss? | The American Prospect

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

RNC 08!: it's about McCain

Disclosures on Palin Raise Questions on Vetting Process - (h/t Americablog)

There are so many things wrong with this, where to begin?

Well, let's begin with how this story is a perfect example of how Republicans say one thing and reality dictates something else, entirely.

They say: McCain's campaign thoroughly checked Palin out
Reality: "A Republican with ties to the campaign said the team assigned to vet Ms. Palin in Alaska had not arrived there until Thursday, a day before Mr. McCain stunned the political world with his vice-presidential choice. The campaign was still calling Republican operatives as late as Sunday night asking them to go to Alaska to deal with the unexpected candidacy of Ms. Palin."

They say: McCain's campaign knew Palin inside and out
Reality: "top aides were vague on Monday about how and when he had learned of [Bristol Palin's] pregnancy, and from whom."

They say: McCain's campaign went through the vetting process painstakingly
Reality: "[McCain] had his first face-to-face interview with her on Thursday and offered her the job moments later. Advisers to Mr. Pawlenty and another of the finalists on Mr. McCain’s list described an intensive vetting process for those candidates that lasted one to two months."

They say: McCain's campaign had the FBI check her out
Reality: "an F.B.I. official said Monday the bureau did not vet potential candidates and had not known of her selection until it was made public."

They say: McCain's campaign did a good job gathering all background information
Reality: "officials in Alaska said Monday they thought it was peculiar that no one in the state had the slightest hint that Ms. Palin might be under consideration" - including the state's GOP chair, state legislative leaders, business leaders, community leaders - leaders of any kind.

They say: McCain's campaign wanted the selection to be a surprise.
Reality: They didn't do their homework.

But the biggest gap in what McCain's camp says and what the reality is becomes clearer once we discover who the main driver was behind the Palin pick.

They say: McCain is a maverick, a reformer beholden to no one.
Reality: "As word leaked out that Mr. McCain was seriously considering [Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge], the campaign was bombarded by outrage from influential conservatives who predicted an explosive floor fight at the convention and vowed rejection of Mr. Ridge or Mr. Lieberman by the delegates."

And who were these influential conservatives? The Christian Right.

Wow, McCain. Way to stand tall.

Monday, September 01, 2008

RNC 08!: leaving no civil right unviolated

La Chola has updates on her space on the arrests at the RNC convention.

Oh, haven't heard about the arrests? Haven't heard about journalists, independent media and people being arrested, harassed, detained and whole neighborhoods being raided?

Don't worry. That's exactly how the Republicans like it. Burn that platform they distributed. They crap on the idea of democracy in the name of national security.

Nihilix has posts up at Bitch, PhD about the St. Paul arrests here and here.

Bitch also has good links for coverage here.

Also check out The Campaign Silo and Fire Dog Lake for updates.

Number of arrests: 187 and counting.

Thank you, Republicans. Thanks for the peek into your worldview: you, all safe and pink inside your bunker of freedom while rubber bullets and tear gas flies outside.

[However, if you want to giggle a little, just go here and click on the video of reporter Campbell Brown finally holding a McCain spokesman's feet to the fire about Palin.]

shame? what shame?!

My friends say I don't have enough empathy; they say that because I live a certain way (a way that makes logical sense to me) that I am confounded and impatient when others apparently don't.

They have a point.

I was reading this piece about a young woman's quest to buy Plan B contraception and I found myself becoming frustrated. In her piece, she's given the runaround by clueless pharmacists, nurses and doctors - people who should know better, who should know what Plan B is, that it's available over the counter and does NOT require a prescription unless you're under 18. And in the comments, other women tell of the same runaround as well as the shame they felt in having to explain that they had sex, their regular contraception failed and they needed Plan B immediately.

My frustration has two objects:

Object 1: the medical profession who clearly didn't get the effing memo that Plan B went OTC one year ago. How the frak do you call yourself a professional when you don't know this? And how do you feel about giving women the wrong information, delaying their ability to use Plan B effectively? Really. I want to know. If there are nurses or pharmacists out there who have told women they need a prescription for Plan B, please tell me why you don't know how to do your job.

(Yes, I'm angry. Professional sloppiness makes me angry. It's a pet peeve of mine and it's not reserved for folks who don't know that Plan B is available to women over the age of 18 over the frakking counter!!)

Object 2: women who had no clue about Plan B (that it existed, where to get it and thought the whole thing was befuddling - where have you been for the past year? Why haven't you been paying attention to issues that affect your body's liberty??) and those who felt shame even if they did nothing to deserve the shaming. You are a GROWN WOMAN. You have a basic frakking human right to have sex, have accidents happen and you have no business feeling ashamed for needing, asking for, Plan B.

(Why do I call it a right? Because it's the frakking basic human condition - we humans have sex, have accidents and shit happens.)

Don't get me wrong. I know the feeling. When I first got my period and I had to go into a grocery store and ask for tampons and sanitary napkins, the grocery dude smirked and I wanted to die.

But I was 11 years old.

I'm 39 now. Someone tries to make me ashamed of my sexuality, or my body's requirements, and I will verbally punch them in the scrotal sac. We are Western women living in the most privileged country on earth. And we still feel shame for asking about birth control?? We feel shame in the face of someone's unprofessional ignorance?? Lord on a stick!

Sometimes I think our foremothers look at us and roll their eyes in disgust.

I know there are real issues about access and pharmacist's refusals to dispense. I know that. But this isn't about that - I'm talking about middle class women who should know better! My frustration is about a certain kind of woman who feels shame first, rather than anger that she's getting pushed around by an ignorant nurse!

I know. Pillory me. My attitude is intolerant, arrogant and maybe bordering on sexist.

But FRAK if I don't feel that women should get angry first and feel shame later. When it comes to sex or our bodies why is our default emotion shame? What patriarchal bullshit is that? Aargh!

(taking calming breath)

Now. Where to get emergency contraception/Plan B (Plan B is the brand sold in the US) if you aren't blessed with a Walgreens or CVS in your neighborhood, or if you suspect your local pharmacist might be a Bible banger who thinks contraception kills babies:

You can start here. It has a helpful zip code finder for emergency contraception providers as well as tip sheets for how to explain what you need, how to answer the questions they may ask and what usual costs are. (I paid $50 at CVS.)

Rant over. Carry on!

omg: fire in the neighborhood!

It pays to be the crazy lady who stays up waay past her bedtime to read.

Around 2 am, I was getting ready for bed and saw orange flames coming from the alley across the way. I thought I was maybe seeing flames from a deck party so I ran to the windows in the living room.

Shit! The trash behind one of the buildings was burning and the fire was slowly climbing higher. The houses are so close here, it would be no problem for it to spread.

I grabbed my phone, gabbled my information to 911 and pulled on jeans and a shirt over my nightie. I ran down the hall, the stairs, my flip flops really loud on the concrete. The sirens could be heard just about a street away. When the first engine arrived, I stood in the middle of the street pointing in the direction of the fire down the alley.

Standing in the alley behind my building I watched as the flames grew brighter, taller and reached the electrical and phone lines. Then I began counting how far in the fire was - about 5 houses, in the middle of the block.

My friend, G-, lived in the middle of the block! Running down the street, around the corner, to the front of the building on fire. I pounded on G-'s door, yelling her name. I called her cell phone - it said it was out of service. The condos behind and beside the building on fire began to evacuate. People carried their kids and their pets.

I called T-, another neighborhood friend, to see if she could track G- down then remembered that she mentioned going to DC to visit her brother. Her cat - ? No clue. T- left her a message to check in, if she was ok in DC. The fire was soon out in about 10 minutes.

The three engines are leaving now. The street next to the loft is a lake, practically.

SO glad I didn't fall asleep on the couch watching Law & Order reruns.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain/Palin: Not Mavericks!

Sometimes, I think people don't understand what 'maverick' means. It's to be a dissenter among ones associates, to be the one who breaks away from the pack.

The narrative beginning to be spun about the McCain/Palin ticket as one of reform is laughable and inaccurate.

Here is the GOP's draft of their 2008 platform. It's a marvel of cognitive dissonance and plain old spin. I'm sorry, NO mention of Iraq at all??

It used to be, you could rely on McCain to be at least less hardcore about a couple of things: immigration (he was one of the drafters of the Dream Act, after all) and stem cell research. Oh, and this war being a total mess. Back then, that was enough to mark him with his 'maverick' status.

(Apparently, GOP standards for dissent are low.)

But can McCain, and presumably Palin, be counted on to be real dissenters? I don't think so. He's backed off his support for his own legislation, he's reified his support of the war and he wasn't really that much of a dissenter if he voted with the President 90% of the time, anyway.

Over on Screed, I take a look at Palin's very slim record and compare it to the GOP's platform and their favorite sacred cows. There's not much difference between her and them.

So what's she dissenting? She looks like just another Republican to me.

[ok, I have to get some food. I'll write about the GOP platform more later today. Yay for three day weekends!)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Doh! McCain picks a running mate!

It's a girl!

ooh, way to trump the Friday news cycle, gramps (thus endangering any post convention bounce Obama's camp might receive)!

Sarah Palin...what do we know about her?

Background Information
Gender: Female
Family: Husband, Todd
5 Children: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig.
Birth Date: 02/11/1964
Birthplace: Sandpoint, ID
Home City: Wasilla, AK

(huh? no religion?? why - that's unAmerican!!)

BA, Communications/Journalism, University of Idaho, 1987.

Professional Experience:

Political Experience:
Governor, Alaska, 2006-present
Former President, Alaska Conference of Mayors
Former Mayor/Manager, Wasilla City
Former Council Member, Wasilla City Council.

Member, Alaska Miners Association
Member, Alaska Outdoor Council
Member, Alaska Resource Development Council
Member, Chambers of Commerce (Various)
Member, Iditarod Parent-Teacher Association
Member, National Rifle Association
Member, Valley Hospital Association Board
Coach/Hockey Team Manager, Valley Youth Sports
Member, Youth Court Steering Committee
Former Member, American Management Association
Former Member, Salvation Army Board.

Caucuses/Non-Legislative Committees:
Chairman, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2003-2004
Former Member, Alaska Municipal League Board
Chair, Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission
Vice Chair, National Governors Association Natural Resources Committee.

Her record? Check out what Project Vote Smart has collected here.

Compare this 'bright shining star in the Republican firmament' to McCain on women's issues, the environment, the war, economic empowerment issues and, other progressive issues (gay rights? racial justice?) and compare her to Bush on these things, too.

Will the fact John 'I fell and I can't get up' McCain picked a woman draw disaffected HRC supporters to his side? If it does, will those women sleep easier knowing they played the gender card and doomed this country to regressive social policy for a very long time?

(Hello-oo! Supreme Court nominees!! This is what it's all about, people!!)

LeBlanc has this to say over at Bitch, Ph.D:
I want you to hammer Sarah Palin on this stuff. If I were you, or if I were a reporter, or anyone who had a loud voice, today I would ask Sarah Palin the question:

If you were elected vice-president, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act came before the Senate once again, and the vote was tied, and you were called upon in your constitutionally-mandated role as tie-breaker, how would you vote? Would you, like me, vote that when women are denied equal pay for equal work, they should get restitution, or would you, like John McCain, vote that a Supreme Court decision making it nearly impossible for them to receive that restitution, should stand?

Don't let her get away with the "I'm a woman, of course I care about women" bullshit. Make her answer for the hypocrisy of her party.

Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC 08!: live blogging after dinner

hey, folks. i'm live blogging the convention over at Screed. come on over for conversation and observations if you like!

DNC '08! Who's covering what?

Hey, things are underway in Denver. My co-bloggers over at Bitch PhD are already there and so is, it seems, the rest of the blogosphere.

(Sigh. Damn my having to choose between holidy travel to family and the DNC convention!!)

If there are ChurchGal readers in Denver and you were at this panel, lemme know. I'd really love to know what this conversation was all about.

For folks interested in brown politics (who isn't, really?) you can check out Jack & Jill Politics - they have a really well-thought out coverage page with Twitter feeds, updates, video and links to other brown political bloggers. Excellent stuff.

I wonder if there are any religious bloggers at the convention?

Here's to an exciting kick off!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

obama-biden: it's balanced, alright.

Whaddya know. Obama picked Biden.

I am not bothered by this.
I think it's brilliant, funny and totally expected. In fact, earlier this week, I had called it while emailing with some friends. Friends called it for Bayh, Schweitzer and Webb but I went for Biden.

My reasoning:
As evidenced by an ample Google record, Biden has a long history of saying problematic shit re: people of color. I will not offer an opinion re: Biden's racism - I'm just saying he says problematic shit.

The things he says are not that substantially different from what 98% of the general white population, conservative or self-identifying liberal, say/think about people of color in general, black people in particular. So, in effect, Biden is familiar to most of the population. He's easily recognizable; he is our American mirror.

By choosing Biden, the Obama campaign is saying to America, 'See? We get you. We know you're scared, but it's ok. Joe is just like you, and we like him! Obama's not mad.' By signaling to the electorate that they're overlooking Biden's 'off the reservation' problematic racial shit, they are asking that we also overlook some things - primarily, the color of Obama's skin and all the weight it carries.

Yeah, yeah. Biden brings some bizarro 'connection' to 'everyday' people (pundits need to STFU) and foreign policy experience which is a good thing, but his biggest contribution to the Obama campaign is his whiteness. His benign, problematic, clueless Whiteness. It's a gift and I hope Obama uses it well.

[an extra piece of goodness: today's This American Life about snap judgments that had me shaking my head.]