Category Archives: People

The New South and the Confederacy

Buried in the turmoil and never-ending work associated with a move from one home to another I’ve kept up with the headlines, but little of real substance. Over a week ago I took a break and came across the transcript of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s speech on the removal of confederate monuments.Mitch_Landrieu_2007March01 The mayor represents the new South, the Southerners who acknowledge that they live in the 21st century and understand and accept that slavery and the Confederacy died more than 150 years ago. They belong to a progressive America that has been trying to overcome that old legacy since the 1960s, an America that continues to make progress in the civil rights of people of all colors, genders and ethnicities.

Landrieu was responding to his critics who hold that by removing the statues of Confederate leaders he is erasing history:

There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.

The truth is that New Orleans is a great city, a “city of many nations … a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.” It is also true that

New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

Was the Attorney General listening?

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Recognition of African-American Women in 1960s long overdue

civrtsmarch

Now, as Black History Month begins, is an ideal time to celebrate the heroism of the largely unsung African-American women who put their lives on the line, fighting next to their men.

Few of the women activists in Martin Luther King’s day—women whose zeal and courage matched his—earned lasting fame. In the 1960s, women’s voices didn’t carry very far, despite the fact that their activism was critical to the movement. The resounding chorus of men, few of whom realized or acknowledged the intelligence and dedication of the black and white women who worked and protested alongside them, all but drowned them out. Of those women, only Daisy Bates, who spearheaded the desegregation of the Little Rock Schools, spoke at the rally that concluded the famous 1963 March on Washington.

A half-century later, black and white women organized massively: On January 21, 2017, hundreds of thousands of women marched not only in Washington, but in cities and towns across the U.S. Their voices reverberated throughout the world.

Here are some of the African-American women of the 60s whose stories must be told again: Continue reading

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How low can he go?

Donald Trump never ceases to amaze.

Charlie Brotman

Charlie Brotman

Charlie Brotman has announced every inaugural parade since Eisenhower’s second in 1957 to Obama’s in 2013— 15 parades and 10 presidents. He’s been called the presidents’ eyes and ears, cuing them when to salute or stand or sit. He is 89 years old, and a few weeks ago he lost his wife after 65 years of marriage. He was already preparing for the next inaugural, writing his script. He has said that this singular job has kept him going, given him a way to deal with his grief. But a few days ago he received an email from the Trump transition team informing him that he will no longer continue to do the job he lovingly fulfilled for what would been 60 years. He was summarily fired with no reason given. A Trump donor will take Brotman’s place.

Once again, the president-elect demonstrated that he is incapable of empathy, that he lacks the most basic humanity, that his only concern is Donald Trump and what will gild his ego.

 

Photo by dbking from Washington, DC – _MG_9498Uploaded by traveler100, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24272770

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The morning after

I didn’t realize how deeply I felt about a victory for Hillary till I found myself crying when I finally accepted that Hillary wasn’t going to make it. Like so many others, I was stunned. Literally dumbfounded. 

This is a huge amount to process. Every woman I meet is walking around dazed, zombie-like. It doesn’t sink in. It will take time to accept the unthinkable. We are truly in uncharted waters.

There is no question in my mind that if Hillary, with all she’s accomplished, were a man, she would easily have won. Women know this. Sexism was blatant when she competed with Obama eight years ago and now it’s back with a vengeance. The double standard applied in the 2016 presidential campaign boggles the mind. In what universe would a man with Hillary’s experience and accomplishments run neck and neck, let alone lose, to a challenger like Trump? Why was his record of fraud (Trump University), racial redlining in his housing projects, indiscriminate lies, sexual predation, etc. so easily swallowed while she was vilified for crimes she didn’t commit?

What will a Trump victory mean for women? For access to safe abortion when necessary? For indigent women’s access to contraception? What will it mean for the immigrants, especially Muslim and Latino?

It’s over now. It’s over for Hillary and for many of her contemporaries who fought so hard for civil and women’s rights and were finally closing in on the unattainable prize. That cohort may not live to see a woman in the White House.

We will have to move on. Rather than expend energy on speculation, it behooves us to continue to fight the good fight. Each of us has to find her own way to continue and contribute to the struggle.

A version of this is at Women’s Voices for Change:

Post-Election Opinion: ‘We Can’t Allow Ourselves to Be Daunted’

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Republican hypocrisy

Donald_Trump_(2016)A live mic betrayed Donald Trump in an unguarded moment by recording his lewd remarks and confirming that he is a sexual predator. That mic, not unlike the “defective” mic he blamed for losing the first debate, confirmed the ample evidence we have of his unsavory character. Governors, senators, former cabinet members, congressmen and other prominent Republicans are running from Trump like rats abandoning a sinking ship.

Really? Really! Where were they when he mocked the disability of a New York Times reporter? Where were they when Trump impugned John McCain’s war record  war record because he was captured in Vietnam? Where were they when he insulted the parents of an American soldier who gave his life to protect his comrades, disparaging their Muslim religion (and retaliating for Mr. Khan’s scathing denunciation at the nationally televised Democratic convention)? Where were they when he called women fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals and worse? Where were they when he sent our allies reeling by saying he would not honor our 67-year commitment to NATO?

Now the Republicans attack their presidential nominee? He is sinking in the polls and they don’t want to go down with him. If Trump had been leading in the polls, we wouldn’t hear a peep from the Party.

What particularly galls me is the condemnation by Trump’s former boosters. What Trump said to Billy Bush is no worse than what many men say to each other about women. I’m not a gambler, but I would bet the farm that most of Trump’s critics have used the same language and that some of them are gropers too.

Why is that video the straw that broke the camels back? It is not unusual for men in power to sexually assault, verbally and physically, their female subordinates. (Remember Roger Ailes?) I have written about women who successfully sued their bosses for such conduct in a review of “Because of Sex” by Gillian Thomas. Trump’s lewd comments and sexual assaults are nothing new. He insulted, as he did all his rivals for the nomination, Carly Fiorina as a woman. He was just unlucky that the incident was recorded.

I am disgusted by the tape, but before it surfaced I was appalled by his racism, ignorance, corruption and boldfaced lies throughout the campaign. The millions who voted for him excuse and condone his lies and failings as a human being, let alone as a candidate for the presidency. How different are they from him?

All the Republicans who perpetuate an inferior status for women by infantilizing them and assuming the right to control their bodies are guilty of a kind of sexual assault. Is legalizing sexual assault with a mandatory vaginal probe less violent than “grab[bing] them by the pussy”?

Please! Donald Trump is who he is. Republicans chose him to occupy the Oval Office. Now they are stuck with him.

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PM Theresa May: Cool, tough and commanding in leopard-skin heels

Theresa_May_-_Home_Secretary_and_minister_for_women_and_equalityThe first female prime minister of Great Britain was called ”The Iron Lady.” What will we be calling Theresa May, who is following Margaret Thatcher as the second woman ever to be PM? May has been likened to Thatcher, but Germany’s Angela Merkel may be a more apt comparison. Both are strong women, competent, stubborn, no–nonsense heads of state.

Not surprisingly, men have called May “A bloody difficult woman” and “Ice Maiden” with “no small talk whatsoever—none.” Yet the former prime minister, David Cameron, grudgingly admitted, “She is instinctively secretive and very rigid, but you can be tough with her and she’ll go away and think it all through again.”

May was the only major candidate in the contest for Conservative leadership who did not support Brexit, the populist push for Britain to exit the European Union. But her advocacy for remaining in the EU was very low key. That was an astute political strategy on May’s part, because though it put her on the losing side when the Stay camp lost, she was able to quietly cross over to the winners. “Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it,” she famously said as the newly minted PM.

Read more . . . Portrait of Theresa May, Britain’s Second Female PM

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Dropped from Fox News, Roger Ailes makes news

ex-CEO Fox News Roger Ailes

ex-CEO Fox News
Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes plummeted from the heights of political and media power in only 15 days, brought down by a star he had created and tried to destroy. CEO of Fox News since its inception in 1996, Ailes built the news organization into a right-wing juggernaut whose influence and profitability is the envy of every other network. Ailes’s fall is mythical: he fell precipitously, brought down by one of the many women he allegedly exploited and intimidated during his entire tenure at Fox News.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson fit into Ailes’s—and consequently, Fox’s—desired mold: she is blonde and beautiful, a former Miss America. But she is no bimbo, despite her on-air persona. She is a classical violinist and an honors graduate of Stanford University who studied at Oxford University as well. Carlson showed her mettle when—tiring of what she alleges were Ailes’s continuing demands for sexual favors and his retaliation when she refused to accede—she worked with a lawyer to prepare a lawsuit against the Fox CEO, charging sexual harassment and retaliation. Ailes has denied the charges.

Read more …

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