Modern Race Relations 101: A Primer for White People

August 28, 2013 § 6 Comments

courtesy of samurai racer

courtesy of samurairacer.blogspot.com

Well before the Trayvon Martin verdict, I had seen, heard and read about white people dismissing the racial context of the case.  Some do this artfully and skillfully; others, not so much.  I’ve been wanting to explore some of these maneuvers more closely for a while now. « Read the rest of this entry »

Balls of Steel (Trigger warning – Abortion)

August 2, 2013 § 11 Comments

A week or so ago, I saw this on the “Being Liberal” Facebook page, and loved it.

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Today, I was driving down the main street of my hometown and got stuck in traffic for no apparent reason.  Then, I drove by the reason.  (TRIGGER WARNING – Disturbing abortion photos.  I am inserting many empty lines so that in order to see them, you must scroll down.  If you wish to leave this post, now is the time.)

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This is what made me late to my son’s orthodontist appointment.  Why traffic was so slow.  Inspired by the “Being Liberal” picture at the beginning of my post, in the waiting room I borrowed a sharpie and a blank piece of paper.

After the appointment, I parked in the next parking lot over from this truck and told my son to stay in the car.  Then I approached the truck and began taking pictures of it.  My legs were shaking for some reason, but I couldn’t figure out why.  Maybe it was from anger, maybe it was from fear (anyone who drives this around and parks it on a main street can NOT be right in the head.)  No one was in the truck, to my great relief.

I planned to leave my sign on the windshield, but I noticed the window was open a smidge.  (It’s August.  Can’t let the “spread-the-vicious-hate-mobile” get too warm on the inside.)  Even better.  I slipped my sign through the window, and it landed between the two front seats.  I wish I had taken a picture of it before I sent it through the window, but here it is.

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“Someone who LOVES gay people AND sodomy touched your car.”

I know, I know, I could have also mentioned being an abortion-rights supporter.  I figure that can be assumed.  And that this particular message would gross them out even more.  So, there it is.

I have, on occasion, been accused of having balls of steel.  Today, I agree.

So, Then I Covered the President…

May 20, 2013 § 3 Comments

Yeah, so I’ve been fortunate enough to have some of my writing published on The Broad Side lately, and the fabulous Joanne Bamberger (publisher and editor) added me to the Facebook group of contributors where she and others leave fodder for potential pieces for the site.

Last Wednesday, she posted a press release about President Obama visiting a manufacturing plant in Baltimore, and asked if anyone would like to cover it.  And I’m all, “Hey!  I live in Baltimore!” and “Hey!  I’d like to cover it” which I conveyed to her, and “Hey!  What the hell do I know about covering an event of any kind, let alone a Presidential visit???” which I did NOT convey to her.  Not until after she agreed to let me cover it, anyhow.

Sooooooo, once I was approved as media for the event, I waited in line here:

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Got one of these:

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Sat at a table like this:

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Then realized it was going to be a long wait, so I visited one of these:

 

 

 

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And then I’m all waiting around and trying to look busy like the other reporters around me, and I didn’t think it would look right to play Words With Friends, so I looked up stuff about the facility where we were (Ellicott Dredges – they built the equipment that dug the Panama Canal, dontchyaknow!) and ate my lunch.

So, then someone introduces the guy who’s gonna introduce the President, and it’s Duncan McTaggart!

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I’m all, “I know that guy!!!”  I know him from Catonsville – he’s heavy into coaching rec and park sports here, and my kids played sports!  Our kids have also gone to school together!  My friend, Tina told me Duncan worked there, but I had no idea he was doing the big, el presidente introduction!  So, then I’m all SCOOP!  SCOOP!  INSIDE TRACK!  And I’m wearing one of those hats with a press ticket stuck in the rim and I’m chomping a cigar and talking like Jimmy Cagney for some reason…

But I get a hold of myself and make a mental note to find Duncan’s e-mail address when I get home.

Then President Obama comes out and does just a STELLAR job with his speech, I have to say.  The guy is a born orator.

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When he’s finished, he does a little bit of this:

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And after the crowd thins out, I visit here again:

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And I go home totally excited.  I spoke to Duncan the next morning, and felt like I was talking to a great new friend, and decided that if any of his kids wanted to marry any of my kids that would be fine with me, because there wouldn’t be any arguments about politics at the dinner table.

Anywho, here’s the piece I wrote on The Broad Side, which by the way, is a great politics website.  I’m extremely proud of it, and grateful to Joanne for the opportunity to cover this.  I learned a lot and had so much fun!

p.s.  That was the cleanest port-a-potty I’ve ever used.

 

If Not Now, When?

December 14, 2012 § 12 Comments

Dear America,

We need to talk.

I love you very much.  You are a magnificent place to live, grow up, and enjoy freedoms the strongest democracy on earth can provide.  Like any human body with an illness, though, as much as you’d like to look away, you shouldn’t.  You have complex and deep sicknesses afflicting your vital organs, and they need to be addressed.  These vital organs should not be removed – they should be healed.  The medicine is difficult to swallow, but if you are to continue to thrive, swallow it you must.

To ALL your citizens – Please do everything you can to drop the stigma associated with mental illness and mental disabilities.  Remove the shame associated with having to see a counselor, psychiatrist, whatever.  Banish all derision and fear you might feel in your hearts for people who seek help.  If someone you love needs help, stand by them proudly for seeking it.  Smile at someone who seems alone.  Befriend them, even.  Be the person who stands up for someone being taunted.  Here’s something you can say to a bully, for example – “Seriously?  You have nothing better to do?” and give the victim a smile and a wink.  Do it.  Be the person who raises their hand in class and says, “Actually, I’m in therapy, too, and it’s really helping.  You got a problem with that?”  Yes, these matters are private, and I’m not suggesting people bare all.  I do think, however, that a little more openness about the need for help for those suffering would go a long way.

To the 2nd Amendment protectors:  I’m one, too.  I have no desire to repeal the 2nd Amendment. I do think it’s funny to watch strict Constitutionalists go insane when some people dare to suggest that literal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment might mean that owning guns should be allowed only if you are part of a well-regulated militia.  “Interpret the Constitution literally EXCEPT for the Second Amendment, okay???”  No, no, I get it.  Guns are legal, and I stipulate that part of the argument.  However, anyone who DARES to suggest there aren’t HUGE problems with the oversights and implementation of gun laws is living on another planet.  Gun owners – step. up.  Do something.  PLEASE support the strong enforcement of existing laws, and perhaps even be open to stricter controls where possible.  Weapons dealers – step.up.  Are you such sociopaths that your desire to make money trumps your willingness to make sure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands?  I hope to God not.  I hope to God not.

To the Entertainment business: I beg you to resist all urges to make any money from telling this story.  While I fear you are already casting the movie, I hope you will stop feeding the sickness that makes your audiences crave more made-for-TV specials.  If you must tell these stories, tell the stories of the victims pro bono.  Have anyone working on the movie/book/magazine article who makes more than a school principal’s salary donate their time, and have any profits from the venture donated to the care and nurturing of the victim whose story is being told.  Perhaps this would help break the cycle of incessant coverage, needless barrages of interviews, and gross exploitation of tragedy.

Finally, to the Media:  Please, please, please, for the love of all that is holy, STOP interviewing the children.  The ONLY ones who should be surrounding these kids are their immediate families and those entrusted with their medical and emotional care.  Do you really need that story badly enough to shove a camera in a child trauma victim’s face?  Is a moving image and haunting words coming from a child whose wounds have yet to be seen and dealt with worth the views?  Will you contribute EVERY. SINGLE. PENNY. of profit your news outlet makes because of your reporting of this story to the healing and welfare of these families so traumatized?  Why?  Why must you show these children to us?  The photo of the children in a line, some hysterically crying outside their school – why?  Do you have the right to wrest control of these children’s images, caught in perpetuity by your camera lens, from them and their shellshocked parents?   I would argue not.  No, goddamn it, you do not.

I dispute anyone who says, “It’s not the time to talk gun control, healthcare, the economy.”  Oh, it’s time to talk about it.  It is time right this very minute.  It’s time to talk about ways to eradicate the shame this multi-faceted cultural disgrace evokes.  The indescribable, the unimaginable, the evil, and the mourning.  The heroism, too – there will be stories of heroism and self-sacrifice.  But right now, dear America, please take your medicine like a grown up. If not now, when?

All my love forever,

Aliza

Four More Years…Please?

October 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

I want Barack Obama to continue as our president for the next four years.  “Oh, my goodness, I am SO SHOCKED to hear this!” said no one who has met me ever.

Reasons range from shallow to profound, and from micro-specific to enormously broad.  Let’s start with the obvious.

1.  Obama is a friend of groups who have historically been ignored, dismissed, abused and refused basic rights of equality.

  • He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.  This broadened the ability of those (mostly women) suffering from pay discrimination to take action against their employers.
  • He endorses marriage equality.  He’s strong enough to stand up for and take ownership in protecting rights of the LGBT community.
  • He renewed the Combating Autism Act, landmark reform “assuring continued federal support for critical autism research, services and treatment.”
  • He supports and defends a woman’s right to determine her own healthcare and family planning choices.  He *gasp* TRUSTS them!  He *gasp* RESPECTS their right to determine their future and what goes on in their uteruses!

2.  Obama has stopped the economic bleeding for many (not all) segments of the population.  

  • He revived the auto industry with strong support from the Federal government.  After facing disaster, all three American auto makers are “increased sales of vehicles and have posted a profit.”  (see link.)
  • He’s enacted truly historic healthcare reform.  Pre-existing conditions are now covered, and so is birth control.  I’m not saying this won’t cost certain segments of the population or provide hardship for some – I know some small business owners struggling with these requirements.  It isn’t perfect.  It does, however, take a large burden off so many who had to choose between treating their cancer and feeding their families.  It’s a step in the right direction.
  • The economy has improved for many, many people.  Private sector jobs have increased for the last 31 months straight.  I agree with the author of this GQ article that it’s risky to tie Obama’s performance so tightly to a chart (requiring upward arrows always to convince), I still think it demonstrates how low we had sunk with the previous administration and how far we have come with the current one.

3.  Obama has a calm, assured and proven foreign policy.

  • He’s improved our image which was so devastated by eight years of George W. Bush.  There’s no question that Obama’s global popularity has taken a hit as a result of his policy on drone strikes, and the perception that the U.S. still does whatever the hell it wants to.  Yet, even though he’s less popular than he was four years ago, the Pew Research Trust survey shows the strong majority of the 20 countries polled want Obama elected over Romney.
  • The capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden was more than symbolic – it was reflective of the job the Obama administration has done in weakening and dismantling much of Al-Quaida.
  • He is withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan – just like he said he would.  He’s closing that horrible chapter.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I don’t delude myself into thinking he is the messiah or hasn’t made colossal blunders.  Operation Fast and Furious was awful in that it put weapons in the hands of arms traffickers – some of which have been used against Americans.  I’m not ready to say his handling of the Benghazi attack was a blunder or involved a cover-up, but I recognize the possibility that with time evidence might support that analysis (I really think it’s too soon to tell.)  Let’s not talk about his performance in the first debate.  I realize many of the jobs created are part-time jobs with few or no benefits.  I know under his administration the number of people on food stamps has risen instead of dropped.  I get it.

When I compare his record, however, to Romney’s history and his proposals for our future, I have no question that he is the right choice for the job.

1.  Romney said, and I really think he believes, that people who pay no income tax are parasites and victims.  Never mind his protests to the contrary after the infamous 47% video was revealed.  That he said it AT ALL is profoundly troubling, and I feel it reflects a disdain for half the population that is not only unfair and unfounded, but borders on perverse.

2.  The New York Times wrote a fascinating article about Romney’s management style.  I thought there were many things in the article that humanized him – even managed to muster up a sense of empathy in me for him.  He’s described as conflict-avoidant (many of us are), socratic (wades into details, loves to debate), and fiercely loyal, as represented in a quote I love:  “As head of the private equity firm Bain Capital, he was so uncomfortable cutting loose struggling employees that a legend grew: executives sent in to his office to be fired emerged thinking they had been promoted.”  (Of course, he had no problem firing people he’d never met or had any relationship with…) Yet the very things that humanize him in this article also make me think he’d not be an effective president.  Loyalty is great, but an inability to fire people who aren’t getting the job done could weaken his administration.  Avoiding conflict is understandable, but the Oval Office isn’t exactly a conflict-free zone.  And these two qualities have played themselves out in his campaign with his refusal to reveal details about his tax policies, his inability to separate himself from the crazies in his party, and his saying whatever his audience needs to hear, regardless if it contradicts previous stances of his.  Doesn’t bode well, in my opinion.

3.  Romney has a need to privatize things that borders on pathological.  Consider his stance on FEMA – many agree it’s an agency greatly in need of overhaul.  Some (including me) even see the potential virtue in having responses to disaster be controlled by the individual states.  Romney?  He wants it to be privatized.  Does he think there is ANYTHING the government does that should not be morphed into a for-profit venture???

4.  He is incapable or unwilling of separating himself from the nut jobs.  He continues to support Richard Mourdock for office.  (To paraphrase Jon Stewart, “Yeah, we disagree on rape and incest, but…meh?  Not a deal breaker!”)  He chose a running mate whose stances on reproductive rights are so extreme, women are essentially reduced to incubators, and microscopic clumps of cells have more freedom than do their mothers.  His stance on gay marriage is medieval and absurd.  While he used to be considered a moderate, and is contorting his candidacy now to appear like one again, he is catering and pandering to the parts of his party who are driving out any moderate Republican voices.  And they DO exist – moderate Republicans.  There are thinking, compassionate, strong Republicans who no longer feel they have a place in their party.  Think Olympia Snowe.  Think Richard Lugar – the candidate for Congress who LOST to Mourdock in the primaries.  Very, very bad to lose these voices, people.

There are so many more reasons I support Obama and reject Romney.  I’m sure many of you can come up with as many reasons why you feel the opposite way.  Here’s what I ask myself, though, when I step back and take the larger view into account.  Between the two candidates, who is more likely to want to compromise?  Who is more likely to WANT to work in a bipartisan way?  Because that’s how things get done.  The Republican leadership’s stated refusal to allow Obama to accomplish anything at all is embarrassing.  Yet Obama manages to walk the line of true governing by standing firmly in the center, angering people on both sides – conservatives AND liberals.  Extreme conservatives think he’s doing too much, extreme liberals think he’s not doing enough.  Oddly enough, that tells me he is doing something right.

Hey, Ann Coulter –

October 23, 2012 § 12 Comments

Dear Ann Coulter,

I will keep this short, and use small words so that you have a chance of understanding getting what I’m saying.

As the author of the following tweet from last night’s debates, you should be ashamed.

For your edification improvement er, info, the word “retard” is defined by Merriam-Webster here.  It has many legitimate acceptable um, okay uses – all having to do with the slowing of growth or slowing down (as in the musical term, “ritard”, which means to play more slowly) of some kind or another.  It’s only recently (in the course of the word’s life-span) that people like you have turned it into an insult, used to taunt and bully people who aren’t neuro-typical.  (Sorry – had to use a 5-syllable hyphenated (word with a dash in it) word there, Ann.  DM me if you need help with its meaning)  Well-done.

A friend (that’s only one syllable, but I can still help you if you don’t know what it means) of mine posted this response.  She joined a link-up in which people can post pictures of their autistic, handicapped, and/or special-needs kids, with the greeting, “Dear Ann Coulter.  This is who you insult with your words.”

Here’s the thing.  I am joining this link-up, too.  My kids ARE neuro-typical, but your words insult them, too.  Actually, they insult me.  They insult anyone who might have the misfortune bad luck of reading them by implying they’d find this funny, smart, or anything other than the hate-spewing filth that it is.

On the positive plus side, I’ve been trying to come up with a word that describes the trend of devolving (not even slowing of growth, but actually moving backwards) humanity and level of political discourse that makes any thinking person throw up in their mouth a little when they hear or see it.  I have a word for it now.  It can be used as a noun or a verb.  (DM me if you need help with the parts of speech.)  Scum-sucking, bottom-feeding evil, inhuman piece of shit, thy name is “Coulter.”

Sincerely,

Aliza Worthington

Fun With Words Friday!

October 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

My 6-year-old nephew knows who all of them are! 🙂

My friend, Estelle, of Musings on Motherhood and Midlife, is starting a weekly feature on her blog called “Fun With Words Friday.”  She gives us a topic (this week, it’s women and politics, in honor of the debates) and challenges us to write a short poem or limerick on that topic.  You know me.  I can’t say no to a challenge!  So, here are my entries – enjoy!

A Limerick:

There once was a rich man from Bain
Who felt he had no need to ‘splain
Why his payroll wasn’t swimmin’
With binders of women –
He should end up just like McCain.

A Poem:

Politics has proven ways of turning men to boys:
Shows of might and playground fights and who’s got better toys.
I sometimes wish that all their moms could put them in time-out,
That logic ruled and they were schooled in how to speak, not shout.

A moderator in debates can serve this purpose solely.
This week we saw one in the form of smarty Candy Crowely.
She fact-checked Mitt, told both to sit, and showed her muscle flexes.
She made me proud to say out loud, “My chromosomes are X-es!

Have a lovely weekend, y’all!!!  😀

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