Racism Didn’t Exist Before Obama: Exercises in Blaming the Victim

obama-quote

I have heard more than one person say recently that racism didn’t exist before Obama. Yes, you read that right.

At the risk of speaking in a space where there are PoC whose voices should be heard, I will listen to Awesomely Luvvie and do my part to bring equality, reconciliation, education, and justice where I can.

The way I see it is this …

This country was built in large part on the backs of slave labor.

When slaves spoke up/rose up slave owners said, things like this: “Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually. –John C. Calhoun” They denied there was a problem. They blamed the slaves for causing the problem. 

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Eventually, the abolitionists and slaves were able to win but only after 620,000 people were killed in the Civil War.

When the practice of slavery was finally abolished and slaves were given their freedom and subsequently black men were given the vote in 1872, white folks congratulated themselves on how far they had come and the sacrifices they had made. And when black folks complained about the laws and practices put in place to make it virtually impossible for them to exercise that vote — THEY were blamed for being the ones causing problems.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

After the Reconstruction, we entered the Jim Crow era. Black citizens had more freedom, more access to education and services, and more rights than ever before. But guess what? Still FAR from equal. Separate and NOT EVEN CLOSE to equal. And guess what? When people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the young men from the Woolworth counter, and countless others had the nerve to say “It isn’t enough, we are still not equal”, THEY BLAMED THEM for being the troublemakers.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Eventually, schools were integrated, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, Affirmative Action was put in place to help correct injustices in hiring and college admission, etc. But guess what? There are still racial inequalities and racial injustice. Is it better than it was? Of course. Are we done? Not even close. And when the oppressed stand up (or sit down, or take a knee) who gets blamed for the racism? THEM.

Racism didn’t exist before them.

Enter Barak Obama, our nation’s first black President. This advance of culture and equality as the many before it causes the latent racism present in our society to bubble to the surface. Because where there is racism, there is fear. Fear of the other and fear of losing privilege. As Reza Aslan said so eloquently when I heard him speak a few weeks ago, if all you know about black people is what you hear on Fox News, of course you’re scared. He also said “fear is impervious to data”, which explains why some people are so deep in their fear that they cannot see the forest for the trees. But go ahead, bring up biased policing or the school to prison pipeline, or the inequities in arrests and sentencing of minorities, or any other racial injustice and watch how quickly you are branded “troublemaker”, “part of the problem”, or “race baiter”. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

Racism didn’t exist before Obama.

Racism didn’t exist before YOU.

Lies. That is all lies. Racism has always existed and likely always will – at least in some dark corners. But what I see here is a pattern of HOPE if we don’t give up. IF we keep speaking, and sitting, and standing, and kneeling, and singing, and legislating, and educating, and marching, and LOVING — if we keep doing these things the world will continue to change for the better. More freedom will come. More equality will come. More love and acceptance and reconciliation will come. That is the legacy of all those who have gone before us. That is what we owe them. That is what we owe our children. That is THE Dream.

Racism existed BEFORE you but it doesn’t have to exist IN you.

 

 

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What are the Odds?

if-they-are-free

This was the comment I posted with an article from AwesomelyLuvvie on Facebook.  This morning in the stark light of day we find ourselves with not one, but two more dead black men who should still be alive. Rather than write my own post about it, I would like you to read Luvvie’s post.

White people. Yes, you. Even you nice ones. These things that are happening? These horrifying things that are happening to my people? They are because people who look like you, have set up a system of supremacy that flourishes. It is one that says people who look like me are violent, threats. It doesn’t matter if they’re holding books, wallets, bags of skittles. It is one that allows people to be killed by cops while sitting in their cars. It allows people to be killed while they lay on the ground with their hands showing. It allows people to be killed while walking away.

Is she mad? Does she use some strong language? You bet she does and she is. SOmetimes strong language is needed.

If you want to know what you can do, start here:
http://www.joincampaignzero.org/solutions/

If you want something else to read, start here:

White America, It’s Time to Take a Knee


Now for some talk about refugees and the odds you will be killed by one.

 

If you like Donald Trump Jr. are afraid of refugees and terrorists I would like you to consider this…

These are the odds these things will happen to you in your lifetime:

Killed by a terrorist:     1 in 20,000,000

Being shot to death:    1 in 300

Being raped:                   1 in 5 for women, 1 in 71 for men

It is funny how Republicans and specifically Trump want us to be much more scared of the terrorists (and our Muslim neighbors) than we are of the Brock Turners of this country (and the Judges who slap them on the wrist) and the NRA which are both MUCH more dangerous.


Finally to tie these two issues together and drive home the point…

In The United States of America, you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.

I am not saying this because I believe all police officers to be worse than terrorists (on the contrary, I believe most officers to be people who really just want to protect, serve, and go home to their families). I am simply saying it is much more logical for one to be scared of being shot by a police officer, a toddler, or a licensed gun owner than by a terrorist.


[A parting gift: Last week I went to a lecture by Reza Aslan where he talked about bigotry. He made an excellent point that bigotry is not actually rooted in ignorance (we all know some really intelligent bigots) but rather rooted in FEAR. Fear of the other. Fear of progress. Fear of losing privilege. Fear of _______. Then he dropped this truth bomb, “Fear is impervious to data”. All our talking and posting is good, but what really changes things is the hard work of relationship. Opening oneself up to loving people different from ourselves. To see that we are all connected. That what affects our neighbor whether black, brown, white, Asian, hispanic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, gay, straight, trans, bi or any other distiction effects us ALL. We are all in this together. We should be about the business of “walking each other home”.]

It has all just been too much.

I have not posted for awhile. Here is why.

It has all just been too much.

Brock Turner

The Pulse Nightclub Mass Shooting

Alton Sterling

Philando Castile

The 5 Police Officers gunned down in Dallas

The Killing of a US Citizen by Robot Bomb

The Nice, France Bastille Day Massacre

The hatred in my newsfeed – for blacks, for cops, for Muslims

The craziness of the Presidential Election. Seriously, we are going from President Obama to Trump Inc. or Hillary?!? What the hell?

Y’all…the developing Republican Platform.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.

It is exhausting. And heartbreaking. And even though there is no time in history when it was better to be alive – There is still…

SO. MUCH. PAIN.

There is too much hate and not enough love.

There is too much division and not enough community.

There is too much suspicion and not enough trust.

There is too much blame and not enough understanding.

Here is where I stand. 

Black Lives Matter.

I support law abiding Police Officers and thank them for their service.

Rape is wrong.

Killing unarmed people is wrong.

I am pro common sense gun control laws.

As a white ally, I must stand up and confront racism whenever and wherever I encounter it. I also must examine my own motives and assumptions every day.

As a white feminist, I must listen to my sisters of color and their experience and recognize that even as women, we are frequently not treated equally.

Truly loving our neighbors (all our neighbors – including people of color AND good cops), which means sacrificing for their wellbeing, standing up for them when they are being mistreated, and providing and protecting their children is the only remedy.

We must look for the image of God in one another. For we are all Imago Dei and none of us is better or more human than another.

I will leave you with this prayer.

IMG_2517

 

 

Women’s Equality Day: Texas Voting Edition

Tswift feministThat’s right T-Swift, being a feminist isn’t about hating men at all. Being a feminist is about days like today where we stand up and say that the voice of a woman and the vote of a woman are equal. Today is a very important day. Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States which commemorates the day that the 19th Amendment was certified as law, giving women the vote. Shockingly (or not so shockingly) women (and their male allies) fought for the right to vote in the US for 70+ years before it became a reality in 1920. 70+ years.

In light of this fight, and the ongoing fight to secure the full equality of women in the United States and around the world I call on the women of Texas and the men who support our right to full equality to vote in the upcoming election this November. Yesterday someone sent me an article about the 2014 Best And Worst States for Women’s Equality conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub. Any guesses where Texas ranks on the list? 47th. The researchers looked at the following factors in determining ranking:

image

  • Workplace Environment

    • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings)
    • Number of Executives
    • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers)
    • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers
    • Unemployment Rate

    Education and Health

    • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    • Life Expectancy at Age 65

    Political Empowerment

    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate
    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives
    • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature

47th? Really people of Texas, we can do better. After reading the study and the articles about it I was left to wonder, “Why in the world would any woman would vote for Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the upcoming election?” Why would we as citizens of the great state of Texas settle for anything less than the equal treatment of all our citizens; Not just male and female but gay or straight or black or white or latino or asian or christian or muslim or jew or rich or poor or any other distinction you want to make?

For me, a vote for Abbott and Patrick is a vote for the status quo in Texas. And not only the status quo but a move even further into Ted Cruz Tea Party territory. When I looked on the Wendy Davis Campaign’s web site to learn her stance on women’s issues this is what I found:

Working for Women

  • Fighting Against Closure of Women’s Health Centers

Wendy Davis stood for nearly 13 hours to fight against Austin insiders trying to close 60 health centers across Texas that once provided hundreds of thousands of women with care they can’t get elsewhere.

  • Empowering Rape Survivors, Cracking Down on Rapists

Wendy Davis authored the second law in U.S. history to focus on eradicating the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits to ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.

  • Ending Sexual Violence

Wendy Davis has also passed laws to make certain that survivors of sexual assault can be treated and have their evidence collected at almost any hospital with an ER and be kept up to date on the status of their case.

  • Fighting for Equal Pay

Wendy Davis passed a bipartisan equal pay for equal work bill in 2013, which would have conformed Texas law with federal law and allowed victims of wage discrimination to pursue their case in state court. Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Texas is one of only four states that does not have equal pay for equal work protections.

In Texas, the median pay for a woman working full time, year-round is $33,689 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,044. When broken down, full-time, year-round Texas women are paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,859 between men and women.

When I went to Greg Abbott’s website, I could find nothing on any of these issues. NOTHING.

In Texas the Lieutenant Governor is in some ways a more powerful position than Governor. This is because in the Lt. Governor is not only part of the executive branch but also part of the legislative branch as he or she:

…controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

Under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is President of the Texas Senate. By the rules of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor establishes all special and standing committees, appoints all chairpersons and members, and assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice. The Lieutenant Governor decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate. He or she also has broad discretion in following Senate procedural rules.

The Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio member of several statutory bodies. These include the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (together with the Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner), which is charged with adopting a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial census if the Legislature fails to do so.

This November you have a choice between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. If you go to Dan Patrick’s site, again you will find NOTHING on these issues. The statement on the Van de Putte site says:

WOMEN: TRUSTING WOMEN

As a proud Latina, Leticia believes Texans trust women to make their own health care choices. She knows respecting women means passing equal pay for equal work and that trusting women means letting them make their own family decisions.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will listen to women and make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Listen up Texas, we actually have a real choice to make about the direction our state will take this November. Please, on this day set aside to celebrate the day women were given a say in their own governance, let us pledge to educate ourselves on the issues, register and vote. Too many women and men sacrificed for too long to give us this privilege for us to squander it on the altar of apathy or inconvenience.

Side note: There are so many more issues on the line in this year’s gubernatorial election. I hope you will take the time to read about what the candidates and the party platforms actually say about the issues and then vote your conscience. 

More Resources:

Pathways to Equality 

Texas League of Women Voters

North Texas Tea Party Voter Guide

Vote Texas

Texas GOP Platform

Texas Democrat Platform

Aside

Birth Control, the Supremes and You.

birth control

SCOTUS has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. I have seen primarily two types of reactions. On the one hand are my friends who see this as good news, a sort of mandate that will open the door to challenging all sorts of parts of the ACA. On the other hand are my friends who are disappointed with the Court’s decision this morning.

To all my friends, no matter your take on today’s ruling, I offer the following thoughts:

  1. This is a very narrow decision applying only to closely held corporations. A closely held corporation is a corporation where less than 5 individuals hold more than half of the shares. They are private companies and are not publicly held.
  1. This decision leaves the door open for the government to pick up the slack and pay for contraceptives themselves using tax dollars, including the tax dollars of the owners of Hobby Lobby.  Congress could also choose to impose a small tax on large corporations to make up for the coverage. Alito also noted in the majority opinion that employees of these companies could still obtain birth control through an accommodation introduced by President Obama for employees of religiously affiliated nonprofits. This program allows for the insurance companies to provide the coverage while not involving the employer.
  1. Even though Hobby Lobby has won this battle, it may lead to them losing the broader war. Don’t get me wrong; I think it is only a small step in that direction. In other words, someday when we look back at this decision, we may see that it directly contributed to America eventually adopting a single payer system.

BONUS: I do find it interesting that the court was quick to point out that this decision only applies to the birth control mandate and does not apply to other treatments that raise life and death questions, such as vaccinations and blood transfusions. They also made it clear that the ruling was not a free pass for companies to opt out of any law they consider incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Where do I stand personally on the decision of the court today? I will leave you with the words of a woman far more eloquent and learned than I, The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg who said in her blistering dissent,

“In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent. “

 

Additional Reading:

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eggh45efjj/top-20-largest-private-companies-in-america-2/

https://wordofawoman.com/2012/11/14/why-christian-companies-corporate-conscience-should-be-clear/

https://wordofawoman.com/2014/01/24/mike-huckabee-a-lesson-in-missing-the-point/

How Many? Updated

Yesterday I posted a shocking statistic as my Facebook status. Since the Sandy Hook shooting there have been 74 87 school shootings. 74 87. Seventy-four.  Eighty-seven. That averages out to about one a week. And those are just the school shootings. We are currently on target for gun deaths to overtake automobile accidents as the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-24 in 2015. WTF people? Seriously? How are we not outraged as a society? Why do we continue to elect people who show no signs of doing anything about it As President Obama said yesterday, “We’re the only developed country on earth where this happens. And it happens now once a week. And it—it’s a one-day story. There’s no place else like this,” and, “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on earth that would put up with this.”

SO WHY DO WE?

As I raised this question yesterday, people asked what I propose we do about all the mass shootings. Here is my list:

We are the only country in the developed world where this is tolerated or accepted. In fact the U.S. leads the developed world in gun ownership, 88 guns for every 100 people (yes you read that right) as well as 10 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. Just to compare, Switzerland was second to us with 45.7 guns per 100 people and 3.84 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. Japan was lowest with .6 guns per 100 people and .06 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. To be quite blunt, we can do better.

My question is when will we demand our legislators do something? How many people are too many? How many kids? As Bob Dylan said, “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

For those who think that perhaps the answer is the blurring of the lines between church and state as some of my friends have suggested. I humbly submit a post I wrote a while back called, The Bible Trumps the Law of The United States? I originally wrote this piece as it related to marriage equality, however I think it applies here as well.

Related articles:

Behind the Bloodshed

Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings

A Guide to Mass Shootings in America

Editorial: Australia’s sensible gun control rules were worth the fight

When We Worship The God of Fear (the idolatry of gun culture)

Colorado GOP “Reaches Out” to Women Who Subsequently Overreact Which is Why They Make Less Money Even with Better GPAs (or something like that)

Yesterday the all male GOP candidates for Governor of Colorado decided to have a debate geared toward addressing women’s issues. What could possibly go wrong? Here’s a hint: If you want women to think you see them as equals, you might want to avoid patronizing them by calling them “ornamental” and setting up your Q & A panel in the format of The Dating Game, complete with theme song. Clearly these men are in touch with what women want.  In addition, you may want to actually talk about the issues where the GOP has alienated women.  But as Rebecca Leber pointed out in her article on ThinkProgress.org,

…little of the gubernatorial debate’s substance had anything to do with issues where Republicans have alienated women. Republicans typically find themselves on thin ice when discussing things like birth control, abortion bans, sexual assault prevention, equal pay, and maternity leave. Instead, there were questions about which women they admire (excluding their wives and mothers), creating jobs, and even about oil drilling. 

John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent said in his assessment of the debate that:

…the three candidates — former Congressman Bob Beauprez, former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp and Secretary of State Scott Gessler — had no specific policy proposals regarding women’s issues and barely mentioned women…

In ColPols.com’s live blogging of the event:

This was billed as a debate centered around “Women and Colorado’s Future,” and it was about as insulting to women as you could get. It would have been difficult to make this look less genuine, though it would have helped — a lot — to not play the theme song of “The Dating Game” after every break. It’s hard to explain how uncomfortable it was in the room every time that song came up and the candidates tried to chuckle about it. What a disaster.

They also included some of the questions and answers:

Next question: How would you deal with Democrats accusing Republicans of waging a “war on women?”

Beauprez: Says 1/3rd of our kids can’t read at a third-grade level. Don’t know what that has to do with this question.

Gessler: “I think we have to take that head-on.” Says Barack Obama and Mark Udall clearly discriminate against women. Says the New York Times just fired a woman as editor in chief. Why those two items are connected is not clear.

Kopp: Brings up Ronald Reagan for the 10th time. If you wonder why Republicans have trouble attracting young voters, it doesn’t help that candidates like Kopp keep bringing up a President who left office in 1988 and has been dead for 10 years.

Or how about this doozie?

“Name a woman you admire, not including your wife or mother.” The fact that the questioner thought this qualifier was needed tells you everything you need to know about this “Women and Colorado’s Future” shtick.

Beauprez: A woman who worked in his bank.

Kopp: There is a woman in this audience (whose name he butchers). Kopp says she is an immigrant from Colombia. Says he calls her “The Colombian Hurricane.”

Gessler: “Helen Keller and Susan B. Anthony.” This could not get any more ridiculous. Asked to name a woman he admires, Gessler can’t even come up with someone who is actually alive today.

Enter this meme posted by a friend today on Facebook:

 

newton

Do you see how maddening this is? If you are a woman and do not laugh these things off, or if you respond to it in a negative way at all, you will be labeled as an “overreacting female” and they will say, “See? This meme is truth.” Arrrrg. No, this meme is misogynistic hogwash. This time the meme in question was posted by a male friend of mine. However, I have seen very similar ones posted by WOMEN in my feed. DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED. These women are akin to the women who agreed to take part in a panel that treated them like they couldn’t relate to a panel discussion unless it was set up as A DATING SHOW. But wait, maybe I am just OVERREACTING to the clear efforts of these fine gentlemen to make politics more fun and understandable for us lady folks    .

Perhaps all this overreacting explains the article I read yesterday. Clearly this is the reason women who earn 4.0 GPAs in high school earn roughly the same amount of money as men who earned 2.25 GPAs in high school.

GPA-Earnings-Chart-600x310

 

Please tell me again how there is no pay gap or war on women and how exactly I am overreacting?