Monday, February 21, 2011

Watchful Ugliness

A few months before President Obama was elected, I told a group of white friends that things in this country are going to get bad, really bad, especially if Barack Obama was elected.  I admonished my Bridges Group to be watchful and to speak out, given that part of our monthly discussions were in attempts to see each other as human beings and understand our journey in this country, how the isms have affected our worldview.

The events that took place in Egypt reignited something in parts of our country, the silent people who didn't want to speak against the Tea Party and what they were up to with everything from assaulting President Obama's birth to condemning First Lady Michelle Obama for trying to combat childhood obesity, finally decided to speak out when it hit home. Wisconsin is the birthplace of unions and while black men were excluded from this fraternity of manufacturing working class several decades, the very presence of unions meant a chance for fair wages, collective bargaining, manageable workweeks, establishment of child labor laws, watchdog on manufacturing practices, and someone other than big business and the bottom line fighting for the common man.

There have been events that have taken place in this country since 1980 that have been meant to strip away the rights of everyone except white, male, protestant, and wealthy individuals in this country.  The GOP has done everything from redefining rape to saying contraception is abortion to a Georgia legislator proposing that women who endure a miscarriage be investigated for "murder" in case they brought this dastardly act upon themselves. The all-out assault against women and their rights to their body is also an all out assault against people of color.

Women in poor and urban communities are already faced with harsh realities to only have the choice of bearing children taken away from them by the GOPs assault on Planned Parenthood and the health care measures that would have provided affordable care.  The party that proclaims religious superiority and moral absolutes is also very hypocritical in that the only god they worship is greed, power, and money.

The one thing Mitch McConnell said was that it was his mission to make sure President Obama was a one-term president and he has done everything he can, behind the scenes of John Boehner's public crying, to try to make this happen.  I do not think he counted on white, middle class and working class public servants in Wisconsin finally waking up and realizing who is the real enemy.  Maybe they have discovered that it is not and never has been the "unqualified" black or brown man taking their jobs, but the kind like the Kentucky-raised McConnell who only worship wealth and power at any cost.  They want a feudal system again with just the wealthy class and the rest to serve them, much like a white woman recorded in Isabel Wilkerson's book, The Warmth of Other Suns, who said in response to educating black people, if we educate them, then who will clean our houses?  It is a very similar thing with the assault against unions.

If the unions are destroyed, then the wages will be driven down even further.  Unions are one of the last safety nets left to ensure public employees have a chance at a fair life.  The corporations already succeeded in destroying manufacturing and thereby destroying those unions that were the backbone of areas like Flint, Michigan, Detroit, Michigan and in our backyard of Fenton, Missouri.  This has been a methodical and concerted effort on the part of the oligarchy to bring down any chance of regular people to have decency.  Perhaps they want the times of Dickenson again or their real dream, to bring back chattel labor and slavery.  KMOV reported the other day that the KKK is standing on the corner in Missouri recruiting, what is it about scared white men who have to hide under sheets and try to manipulate through fear and violence, and they have been spewing the propaganda that black men are the ones to fear.

I mentioned these things years ago and kept talking to my friends to pay attention to what was going on.  These are times when we do need a revolution and I'm thankful that Egypt gave Wisconsin courage to keep protesting.  I'm looking for the rest of the countrymen to join together, black and white, brown and black, working class, middle class, and thoughtful wealthy to stand against this ugliness.  It is time to take our country back from these fanatics.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Today, the people of Egypt found that their perseverance, peaceful protest, and the voice of power reached to the airwaves and enacted a change the will be felt for generations.  The Pharoah, Mubarik has stepped down as President, and the "arc of History" has bent to the people of this country, this ancient land, this place of history, and I am happy.

The other day, I was in the audience at the St. Louis Public Library, Schlafly Branch, and heard Isabel Wilkerson give a talk on her recent book, "The Warmth of Other Suns" and spoke to the immigrant heart that resided in my dad, in many relatives of black people who south a better life, much like the Egyptians today.

Earlier this week, my son brought tears to my eyes and rendered me speechless when he did a breathtaking performance as Walter Lee Younger in the KH Players performance of "A Raisin In The Sun".  He brought a rawness to the role from deep down and I felt a power resonate inside him.  There is some hope.

I then sat in my classroom and looked at a sea of faces, young college students in a quest for a degree.  Some came from monied backgrounds and brought with them the air of always having things happen the way they expect.

Then it hit me this morning as I was walk-running my mile on the treadmill this morning, I had a week of intersecting events that have left a mark in history, whether I realized it or not.  I felt it this week, something in the universe shifted and we will never be the same, there was a lifting of a heaviness, almost like shedding a fat suit, and finally being able to inhale deeply.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Moment In The Storm

I'm not sure what it is about an epic winter storm, a storm of historic proportions, a snowmaggedon, or whatever descriptor has been used to describe what descended on the middle of the US in the last day and a half, and still coming in some parts, that gives us pause to think about what is really important.

Honestly, I didn't know a storm was coming, had I not been in Target doing my usual household shopping (not food even) on Saturday night and heard a casual reference to mid-week weather, had I not been in the ER with my daughter early Sunday morning and heard the nurse talking about bringing an overnight bag for Wednesday or heard someone casually mention the storm on Sunday afternoon or received an email from the other mom coordinating tech week food on Sunday morning, I never would have known.  My kids would have been up a creek without a paddle full of cereal, snacks, fruit, and chips to keep a seven, nine, and sixteen year old happy for two days.

I spent Monday doing my usual monthly grocery shopping with a few extra boxes of snacks and non-perishable foods thrown in.  I was at Trader Joe's and noticed other people doing the same.  I had sent my husband out on Sunday night to Schnuck's and he said there were a lot of people there.  The news agencies were showing rows and rows of empty grocery shelves by the evening news on Monday.  We wanted to be ready, references were made to St. Louis in 1982, I wasn't living here so never experienced it.  I had lived in Michigan, Iowa, and Chicago so we never stopped moving because of snow.  This was different, ice storm first then buckets of snow.

As predicted, the ice blanketed the state, our Governor issued a  State of Emergency as did our neighbor to the east, Illinois.  The University of Iowa cancelled classes yesterday and that NEVER happened when I was a student there.  Washington University closed early on Monday and cancelled classes on Tuesday, last time that happened was 1982.  My husband's university, Harris-Stowe State University, did the same thing, he and the kids have been stuck in the house the last day or so.  In mid-Missouri, Mizzou, Columbia College, Stephens, and Lincoln University all closed down.  Friends in Jeff City report 16 inches of snow.  What was fun for one's son building an igloo yesterday will be a nightmare for parents who may be in for two snow days in a row or two days of missed work.  The Governor of Illinois called for all state workers to remain home, my university, Lindenwood University-Belleville, has cancelled classes for the second day in a row.  It is serious out there.

So in the middle of all this weather, I stopped for a moment and thought about how we could all just breathe and enjoy the experience.  Rarely, if ever, does my husband have a snow day and is able to cuddle up on the sofa with the girls and watch Titanic.  He never gets to just relax in on a weekday morning and while still working, is able to have more hours of little girl banter.  My work is always with me since I'm primarily at home so I did the obligatory cooking, laundry, and dishes.  I made a couple hot meals in case the power goes out, at least they will be fed before or if we have to deal with fruit and granola bars.

The girls played Mancala, read books, and stayed in their pajamas.  The teenager stayed in his bedroom cocoon playing video games and eating boxes and boxes of cereal.  He said he was hungry and downed half the grilled veggie pizza I made for dinner last evening.  His opening night has been moved back from Thursday to Saturday and he is pent up with energy, maybe he should go shovel snow, but we live in a townhouse where the maintenance crew takes care of our roads.

I've touched base with friends who are reporting family meals, cuddles by the fireplace, watching their kids play games, and enjoying the weekday gift of nowhere to go.

See, too often, we are rushing around to and fro, getting thing done, spending money, rushing, and often don't have time to just sit and not have anywhere to go, even all the major malls in St. Louis are closed so even that diversion isn't available like usual snow days.

We are blessed that science and technology has produced meteorologists smart enough to study the weather patterns and alert people from Chicago to Texas of what is coming.  We were prepared and ready.  The crews were ready, Governor's had a chance to call in the National Guard and be on high alert.  Lives were saved.  People realized it was more important to be smart and stay off the icy roads than to go to work if they weren't emergency personnel, one day pay is worth having a life to live when spring comes.  I hear the groundhog is declaring an early spring, something to give us warmth on a cold day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday Open Thread

Kudos to my fellow brown bloggers over at Jack and Jill Politics.

Today is the beginning of Black History Month and while some may feel we are so far removed from the incidents of events in this country and are so multi-racial, why single out one month? Some may say they are tired of hearing about the Civil Rights Movement and feel that affirmative action left out other people, why single out one month for all things black? Simple, because if hundreds of thousands of millions of native Africans had not been forcibly removed from their native land, their names, religions, family, tribe, language, customs, and dignity destroyed, the ones who do not want to hear about it, would never have what they enjoy today.

Like my Jewish brethren, we remember so we will not repeat.

Tuesday Open Thread