Monday, March 31, 2008
In honor of Pittsburgh first Blog for Equality Day.
I've been wracking my brains all weekend for an approach to this day. You've read all the facts about the legislation attempting to amend the PA constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. It has the potential to hurt a lot of people, gay and straight alike.
You've read all the arguments from those who want to impose their Christian-interpretation of marriage on the rest of us. And those who believe gay rights are not a civil rights issue (check out today's Post-Gazette for more on that). You've also heard from thoughtful Christian leaders who do affirm individuals who are LGBTQ. There was also civil rights luminary Coretta Scott King's affirmation. We can trump card each other until the end of the day.
What you may not know, particularly if you are heterosexual, is the impact that all of this has on day to day life. All of what? All of the constant negative discussion about the gay community -- of course, there is a connection between the rhetoric that people hear in the pulpit and the way they treat gay people, or teach their children to treat gay people. Love the sinner, hate the sin is not the American way. Treat people poorly who get between you and what you believe is yours is a bit more accurate, particularly when there is a relentless drum beat about their being "one" way and "one" truth in a land of religious freedom.
I live in Pittsburgh, a fairly gay-positive place considering how socially conservative most Catholics can be. Still, there are probably three public places in the entire region where I would be comfortable holding the hand of my partner, Ledcat. We spend entire weeks where we only touch each other inside our home or our vehicle. I'm talking the most simple gestures -- and believe me, I'm very aware of those right now. We lost our beloved pet this week and I've been inconsolable. You know that feeling of grief that sweeps over you unexpectedly ... imagine that the person you love is right next to you, but has to be careful about the things she says or the way she touches you when consoling you about a deep loss.
It is horrible. We have been fortunate to only have experienced a few frightening incidents -- mostly kids and mostly being stupid. But it is still frightening to have anyone try to menace you because they think you are gay. They get that message from their parents, their preachers and their peers -- gay people are fair game. So they use whatever power they have -- intimidation, verbal harassment, even constitutional amendments -- to keep you down. It happens at all levels -- I once had a supervisor send me an email with an embedded photoshopped image that degraded lesbians. He thought it was funny. It might have been funny coming from my friend Bob, but not someone with power and authority over my career.
We have to pick our battles. I fought back against the supervisor because I had protections in place. I walked away from the menacing kids and found a public space because I had no protection from their ignorance other than the brightness of public opinion. I'm fighting back against this amendment because I think we have to draw a line in the sand on this one. Let the bigots stew in their own hatred and fear if they so choose. That's why they have their own churches. But just as they are free to practice their religions, I am free *from* their religions.
Change is on the horizon. Children grow up surrounded by cultural gay images -- television, music, movies, video games, etc. They have gay friends in school and know gay neighbors. This chips away at the mantra of fear emanating from those who seem to have the most to lose if we are granted our due equal rights. OK, so I still don't understand who that is, but I'm trying to allow bigots their due.
I want to hold Ledcat's hand. Ultimately, I want to hold her hand in mine forever. But I'm content to start with holding it at Target.
Just this morning, I read my favorite comic strip, For Better or For Worse, and there is a reference to gay marriage (Michael's friend Lawrence is gay and has a partner, Nicholas). It is a casual reference, but I thought it an auspicious omen for this first ever Pgh Blogging for Equality Day.
Click here if you want to see the strip.
I found this monologue today- please be aware that the language is not safe for work:
In honor of the strong and fearless voice of Stacyann Chin, I'm going to extend my ability to take action past my keyboard. I'm going to step out into the world and speak, fearlessly, passionately, my opinions about this proposed amendment, the opinions that are too numerous to write in just one blog. I am going to sacrifice my anonymous comfort, look people in the eye, and speak. I'm going to take the chance that my voice will be heard, for I believe that there is power in each human voice that speaks up to say I too yearn for equality. Each voice that speaks feeds truth- a truth that I feel lives, a small seed, even in the most fearful, narrow, and closed-down American bellies: none are free until all are free.
I guess I do know what to say. I, too, yearn for equality.
Somewhere some Americans have forgotten about the United States Declaration of Independence and the famous phrase it included. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is still an inalienable right that all Americans should be entitled too. In 1967, Justice Warren wrote while addressing anti-miscegenation statute, "The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men." Have we not learned anything in the past 40 years?
If this amendment continues on it will be a sign of how Americans today care less about equal civil rights for all, and more about separation and discrimination. It continues today with gay marriage, but maybe race, religion, or gender is next. No American should have to be forced to ride in the back of the bus, drink from a separate water fountain, nor be denied marriage.
Witten in response to:
"The study by the University of Pittsburgh's University Center for Social and Urban Research found that local women in commercial management earned just 58.3 percent of what local men in private-sector management positions earned and only 89.5 percent of the national median earnings for women in management.
The study used 2000 census data, the most recent available. Nationally, women in commercial management earned 60 percent of what men earned, and women in management earned 90 percent of the national median earnings of men.
"The implications affect everyone in that attracting and retaining the best workers is important for regional growth," Sabina Deitrick, co-director of the University Center for Social and Urban Research, said in a statement. "Promoting fair pay isn't just an equity issue anymore, it influences the bottom line for local businesses and the economy."
Rest of article here.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I was sitting at the computer, listening to this podcast, so I decided to look up her blog. It is aptly titled, "McCainBloggette.com".
Then I came across an article in Salon.com about her blog.
When I began to read her blog, I had to wonder:
a.) Is this a campaign gimmick?
b.) Is she for real?
The thing was, I kept reading her blog. Then, I came across the Salon.com article...and it was surprisingly interesting. From what she says in the article, she seems pretty easy to read along with and like. Her willingness to talk and blog are a stark contrast to Chelsea's silence.
"Cindy McCain said she wanted to make sure that Meghan was ready for the flak that might come. "The only thing that was ever discussed with Meghan," she says, "was making sure that she understood by upping her public profile she was upping herself as a target."
After reading the article, it's clear that she hasn't been spared the political spotlight.
"In 2000, when her father ran an insurgent Republican primary campaign, the prospect of her having a hypothetical abortion became the subject of national political chatter. "It's the really sick part of politics," Meghan explains. "Everybody Googles everybody when they go on a date with them. I got set up with a guy a few years ago. He was like, 'Is it really true that people asked about your hypothetical abortion?' I was like, this is a fun date."
I couldn't help but laugh at that last line.
Although Bush and John Kerry had daughters, they didn't seem to be a very ah, helpful aspect of the campaign.
However, Chelsea and Meghan seem to be a positive add-on to their parents' campaigns. And lest we forget, Obama has two little girls. When I saw Michelle Obama speak, she apologized for her daughters, saying that they just wanted to be left alone so that they could read their Harry Potter books. The crowd loved this, too.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I hope the whole Society will participate. Pass it on.
An interesting tidbit:
"For whatever reason, Scaife decided last summer to extend the hand of friendship to Bill Clinton, whose post-presidency he professes to admire. Perhaps Scaife was looking to burnish his image with the judge then presiding over his extremely nasty divorce. Maybe he wanted to get even with the former Mrs. Scaife, who apparently prefers Obama. (She gave Obama's campaign $2,300 in February.) Bill Clinton overcame whatever scruples he might harbor to raise money for his foundation. Hillary Clinton is now doing the same in the interest of her candidacy. She is free, of course, to associate with whomever she pleases. But she is not free, while paddling the sewers with Scaife, to judge Obama publicly for belonging to Wright's church. Compared with Scaife, Wright is St. Francis of Assisi. The only possible reason why any Pennsylvanian might judge Wright more harshly than Scaife is that Scaife is white and Wright is black. That must be obvious even to Hillary as she cozies up to this repulsive billionaire."
I also enjoyed the interview with Mr. Scaife in 1981's Columbia Journalism Review where he responded to his female interviewer's question on his donations to the New Right, "You fucking Communist cunt, get out of here." This is the Clintons' newest choice for an ally?
Hillary's response to why she was at the Tribune Review offices?
"I said in the beginning when I arrived [at the Tribune-Review] that it was obviously somewhat counterintuitive for me to be there," she said.
Monday, March 24, 2008
I'm originally from Chicago, but have been living in Pittsburgh for a little over two years. I'm a politically liberal pagan chick who is in the process of figuring out life and navigating the chaotic waters of grad school. Yes, sometimes I am sane.
I'm in the process of moving from LiveJournal to Wordpress, and I think I still have a few formatting kinks to work out; I mainly blog about religion, politics and pop culture, but I occasionally throw in the personal post. You can visit my blog here.
Thanks for having me!
CCAC Women’s Center to host postal stamp unveiling
Tuesday, March 25
The Community College of Allegheny County Women’s Center on Allegheny Campus invites the public to an unveiling of the recently-issued postal stamp in honor of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
Pittsburgh Postmaster James Johnston II will comment on the author’s life (1896-1953) and the new 41-cent commemorative stamp at noon, Tuesday, March 25 in the Foerster Student Services Center auditorium lobby, 808 Ridge Ave., North Shore. Light refreshments will be served.
The stamp was first issued Feb. 21 in Cross Creek, Fla., where Rawlings formerly lived. Best known for her novel “The Yearling” and her memoir “Cross Creek,” Rawlings is the 24th person to be honored in the Postal Service’s Literary Arts series of stamps.
As part of the Women’s History Month event, the U.S. Postal Service will also staff tables from noon to 2 p.m. that day to provide details about employment opportunities and services such as passport applications, business development strategies and consumer protection guidelines.
“The F-Word: Feminism in the age of MySpace, Paris Hilton, Hillary and Facebook.”
Wednesday, March 26
In honor of Women's History Month, Community College of Allegheny County-Allegheny Campus will welcome Heather Arnet, executive director of the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF), to campus from 11 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, March 26. The free event is sponsored by the CCAC Women’s Center and will be held in the Foerster Student Services Center Auditorium, 808 Ridge Avenue, North Shore.
Arnet will speak about “The F-Word: Feminism in the age of MySpace, Paris Hilton, Hillary and Facebook.” From encouraging women to run for elected office to helping teenage girls “Girlcott” Abercrombie & Fitch, Arnet and WGF are at the forefront of a movement to engage a new generation?of women and men?to work for social equality and justice.
WGF’s mission is to achieve equity for women and girls in Southwestern Pennsylvania. In this role, Arnet has spearheaded the foundation’s efforts to pursue legislation at the city, county and state levels for fair representation for women and people of color on Pennsylvania’s appointed boards, authorities and commissions.Arnet received a bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University. She is a board member of Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania and an advisory board member of The Forbes Funds.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Oh, how I admire Heather Arnet. She was prepared and she kept using the language of reconciliation to connect herself with Ricky Burgess. She was issue oriented and had her facts. Reverend Burgess seemed more focused on a higher level of debate and made not a single statement expressing reconciliation with HRC.
We needed an hour for this discussion. I wanted to hear Reverend Burgess talk in more detail about issues. I wanted them both to follow up on Roddy's comment about the economy. Ah well ...
Before debate resumes, a bit of Jon Delano's interview with Hillary. I think I saw this on the news. She defines Pittsburgh as resiliant, as evolving, as worthy of admiration. Is Pennsylvania friendly to female candidates? She deftly avoids criticizing us on this issue. Democrats can't win the White House without Pennsylvania. JD -- Obama claims he had more foreign policy experience than Bill when he assumed office. HRC - I wonder what evidence supports that audacious claim. I'm proud of my record. HRC - Endorsements are votes of confidence. Reminds us that her work on CHIP (sChip) covers 140,00 PA children. Sidesteps issue of race and Rendell's campaign.
Back to the chat,
KR; The mathematics favor Obama. Impossible for Clinton to win conventionally.
HA: Come June, we'll see that Clinton has won every essential state so as a party that's something to consider. This will matter in the General Election. (This was taped on Friday).
RB: Everbody has a right to run for elected office. Obama will have the most pledge delegates and probably the largest popular voice. It is important for us to do what is fair and right. Obama has won this campaign. For specialized delegates or states to determine the nominee would be unfortunate. Because he earned it and because it will send a global signal.
HA: I agree, disenfranchising millions of voters is not just.
DR: This isn't a popular election. Are superdelegates supposed to mirror the popular voters or represent the party's interest.
RB: We have a history where the elite make decisions for everyone. This has to be a transparent obvious decision. They have to follow the will of the people. Anything that would turn this election to a few elite people to make a choice based on self-interest and ignore the masses Obama who has brought in for the first time, will take us back to racial divide and gender exclusion. It is dark and sinister.
HA: Superdelegates are complicated. They are often elected officials. In Burgess' scenario, Senator Kennedy should support Hillary because his state voted for her. Senator Kennedy is supporting Obama. There are many superdelegates on both sides who aren't following the will of the people who voted for them. Superdelegates are supposed to help determine how the party will fare in the general election.
Last commercial break ...
KR: Switch the positions and candidates, will you support them? Is this about identity politics.
HA: This challenges us to separate individuals out from their experiences, which is difficult to do. The question is a little unfair because their expeirences make them who they are.
RB: Obama has been steadfastly against the war. Obama's identity is powerful and is part of the reason he can unite the country. His campaign focuses on the promise of the future. Draws comparisons between his own campaign and Obama's. National political scene is polarization and we need a fresh figure.
DR: A story beats a resume. They are fighting more about their similarities. Do we measure them solely by narrative.
HA: I disagree. National healthcare is a critical issue that has mainstream support, including businesses. This is an issue she's been championing for decades. Voters are interested in the policy differences, which are not subtle. Both want better healthcare, but national healthcare for everyone is the only way to address it. That is a significant difference based on issues.
DR: The issue seems largely the same.
HA: It is significant, because the non optional part will hurt the most vulnerable.
RB: Healthcare is not he most important part of the debate. Nation is fractured. We need a figure of reconciliation. Importance of symbolism of the American Dream (I hate that analogy). We can't focus on individualistic issues or we'll miss a chance to elect a great leader. (huh?)
Talks about economic differences in a way that's unifying, not dividing (Isn't that what providing healthcare for everyone, regardless of income, is?)
A nail varnish that "vanishes" has been developed by a group of school pupils - offering girls the chance to beat bans on makeup.
The nail colour is a vivid red outdoors - but inside it transforms to a much paler shade which can hardly be seen.
The dramatic change is caused by a chemical reaction between the varnish and the ultraviolet light in natural sunlight.
The polish was devised by pupils from Albion High School, Salford, who thought the "vanishing" colour may help them beat the school's ban on nail polish.
Click to read the rest here.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
To clarify the comments made earlier regarding the conduct of our players, in no
way do we condone domestic violence of any kind," the statement read. "Each
incident must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
"In the situation with James Harrison, he contacted us immediately after his incident and has taken responsibility for his actions.
"In today's decision with Cedrick Wilson, we determined the situation was severe enough to warrant the player being released immediately.
"We trust that today's roster move will indicate our intentions
and send a message that we will not tolerate this type of conduct."
OK, so I don't really give a damn about who plays where for the Steelers, but apparently James Harrison is a more valuable player. So they keep him. Just like they kept Santonio Holmes who also beat up his girlfriend. Except Santonio didn't take responsibility for his actions -- instead, he got his court case postponed until after he earned some $$ for the Rooneys and then convinced his victim not to testify. Way to set the example, Santonio.
What is the lesson learned by thousands of little Steeler fans? Important men can beat up women and keep their jobs. Especially if they do it in the name of Jesus.
Why do we expect more from these men? I'm talking about Steeler mogul Dan Rooney, not cannon fodder Harrison or Wilson. Why do we expect more? The Dan Rooneys of the world who condone violence against women- if it supports their bottom line - are a much greater threat to us than any single thuggish player.
A much greater threat.
1. Daily Bedpost
2. Girl Talk
4. Fair Game: Bite the Ballot
5. Rocketboom seemed okay and I am planning on giving it more time tomorrow.
Any other opinions out there?
Here is what I found.
A basic summary of the argument from Discover Magazine:
"Psychiatrist Michael Hunter and fellow researchers at the University of Sheffield in England monitored the brain activity of 12 men as they listened to voice recordings and found they process male voices differently from those of females. Women's voices stimulate an area of the brain used for processing complex sounds, like music. Male voices activate the "mind's eye," a region of the brain used for conjuring imagery.
One reason, Hunter suggests, is that women generally have shorter vocal cords and a smaller larynx, giving them higher-pitched voices. Women's voices may also have more "natural melody," he adds. Qualities like pitch and volume vary more during speech. "There's more prosody in female speech."Unfortunately, not only has there been a lot of spin on this, the experiment was very poorly executed. According to this blog post, which I think is a very rational one.
Between these two posts, I haven't found much else. However, I did consult some guy friends-- a couple less than 12-- perhaps I could count this as a formal research study, too? They did say that tone makes a huge difference to them and that they wouldn't be surprised if the research was true.
This was a pretty amusing take on the male and female brain. I'm not so sure how I feel about his comment about emotions, but still. I found it worth a laugh.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
A couple of days ago, I was reading a Johnstown forum board where a group of people were discussing the idea of organizing against an incoming Wal-Mart. That reminded me that this was an issue that used to make me very angry. Which candidate had spoken up about Wal-Mart?
Suddenly, I had a category for a metric. It is also a sub-category under the umbrella of the economy. When I hear the term, "Economy", in political discussions, I usually zone out pretty quickly. It seems really complicated and less than fascinating. However, after thinking about Wal-Mart and its negative impact on the US economy, I suddenly realized how important the economy topic is on my list of presidential criteria.
Then, I read the following on the Geek Interview list serve. I thought it summed up the idea perfectly.
"SQA Project Metrics
The application is only as good as its numbers. It is a harsh reality but everything has to come down to the numbers. Although we can enumerate tens or hundreds of features in a single application, it will all be for nothing if the metrics do not live up according to expectation. The SQA team should ensure that the expected metrics will be posted. At the same time, the SQA team should also select the right tool to gauge the application.
Planning is one of the most important aspects of Software Quality Assurance. The entire operation of the SQA team depends on how well their planning is done. In smaller businesses, planning might not really dictate the flow of SQA but in larger businesses, SQA Planning takes on center stage. Without it, each component or department that works on the application will be affected and will never function."
I am going to approach my search for a presidential candidate as if they are a software product. I will continue this idea in a couple of following posts. The first one will definitely be the economy. The second one will probably be the environment and technology. The third one will probably be healthcare.
so, here it is. it's long and it's well
worth the time it might take to read it.
"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."
"Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.
This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one.
Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.
This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way
But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:
"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters....And in that single note - hope! - I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories - of survival, and freedom, and hope - became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about...memories that all people might study and cherish - and with which we could start to rebuild."
That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.
Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments - meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods - parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement - all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.
But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.
This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today - a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.
There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.
Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."
"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins. "
me, i think it's so wonderful that i might print it up and keep it!
but even if you plan on voting for someone else, these words are very good words.
these thoughts, very good thoughts.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Before I share my favorite excerpt from Doug's letter, I want to just say that the national gay blogosphere has eaten this up. The response that I've personally had has been great -- people are so pleased that an elected official had the courage to call Kerns on the carpet for her ugly words and the impact of hate speech on the whole community. Here's a few links:
Pam's House Blend
Page One Q
So here's an excerpt ...
As the President of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh, I require an
apology from you for your senseless, mean spirited attack on one my
colleagues and the Council as a whole. I would think, should you
take the time to reflect upon your hateful, bigoted words. An apology
is also in order to the GLBT community, their families and their
friends. Short of a a miracle, I do not expect that you will. I
find persons of your ilk completely blind to your
Here's what I'm wondering ... why are the vast majority of the elected champions of the LGBT community men? Think about this for a moment. There's Shields and Peduto. Rich Fitzgerald on the County level. Ed Rendell has been an ally. And, of course, our Lancelot -- Dan Frankel.
For a brief few moments, we had Brenda Frazier. And now she's gone anyway.
But who else? I mean some of our elected women are decent. Tonya Payne and Darlene Harris both co-sponsored a resolution supporting the expansion of the human relations act on the state level. Chelsa Wagner is co-sponsoring the actual legislation and (hopefully) opposing attemps to amend the constitution by anti-gay bigots. Heather Arnet is a staunch ally on the school board and I do feel good about the welfare of LGBT children with her voice in their corner.
So is there any reason that men are leading these efforts and women are taking a slightly back seat? Any thoughts on why female elected officials aren't more assertive on LGBT issues? Is that reflective of the LGBT community here in Pgh where men continue to dominate positions of leadership and power? Is it a Pittsburgh thing more than a gay thing?
We'll see what happens when Ellen DeGeneres invites Doug to her show. Maybe he'll take me along! :-)
In all seriousness, I appreciate the significance of our heterosexual allies standing up to bigotry.
Although I'm looking for a cape or a cloak...a military uniform would never hurt... (Insert Agent Ska's cheesy smiling face over this girl's face).
Dear men of Pittsburgh:
Are you under the age of 50?
Does your job include wearing a military cloak?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
3:30 call time
5:45 program begins
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall
4141 Fifth Avenue
Oakland section of Pittsburgh, PA
UPDATE: If you want to volunteer for this event, please contact:
Stephanie Rex at 937.520.4178 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CNN's article here.
On the opposite side of the fence: Bill Maher makes the case that we should stop overanalyzing this and that Eliot just wasn't getting enough action in the bedroom. Erm. Uh, his post here.
I wasn't quite clear whether Bill Maher was standing up for Eliot in this article or not...but it definitely wasn't an article I wanted to finish.
I'm attempting to show other points-of-view...
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Any woman with a telephone who works in technology at a non-profit, a political campaign or is interested in technology is invited to participate in this free, live event on March 31, 2008 from 11AM to 6:15 PM EST.
I've signed up! I hope you do, too!
Maybe I'll ...hear you there!
"The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among
girls and young women has found that one in four are infected with at least one
of the diseases, U.S. health officials reported Tuesday."
Why do high profile women who’ve been cheated on, lied to & treated VERY badly by their husbands, step up on stages next to these useless men & listen grimly, determined to hold every emotion back, as their spouses confess to the world? Is this bugging you as much as it's bugging me?
I can’t name a prominent female politician, athlete or preacher caught in a sex scandal, (but I could name a few school teachers). Do they not get caught?
Let's take a trip down
Silda Wall Spitzer (Guv. Eliot)
Carlita Kilpatrick (Detroit Mayor Kwame)
Suzanne Craig (Idaho Sen. Larry)
Dina McGreevey (NJ Guv. Jim)
Gayle Alcorn (Pastor Ted Haggard)
Wendy Vitter (LA Sen. David)
Cynthia Ore (PA Cong. Don Sherwood)
Vanessa Bryant (
Did the $4 million ring he bought her aid in her ability to see past his transgressions?
Carolyn Condit (CA Cong. Gary)*
Admitted having an affair with murder victim Chandra Levy
Hillary Clinton (Pres. Bill)
Bea Romer (CO Guv.
Bonnie Livingston (Cong. Bob)*
Of course this was during
Lee Hart (Colorado Sen. Gary Hart)
It seems there should be a term for this, along the lines of perp walk.
I’ve read variants of Stand By Your Man, but they seem rather clumsy & long.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Who is Amanda Green?
Allegheny County Council's Democratic caucus has selected Amanda Green to replace Brenda Frazier, who resigned from council last month to pursue a seat in the state Legislature.
Ms. Green will be nominated to fill the District 13 seat at council's meeting March 18, said Councilman John DeFazio, chairman of the Democratic caucus.
She is a 1993 graduate of Duke University and received her law degree from Northeastern University's School of Law in 2001.
She will serve until the next municipal election in 2009.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
"International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies."
Click to Be Awesome and See the IWD Website.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Jim was bustling out of the Brentwood Giant Eagle after completing a shoot on Route 51 when I was bustling in, so I had to let him know that I totally saw him check me out. (To be fair, he also checked out the 83-year-old lady with the cane to make sure he didn't run her down since he was in hurry. Plus, she did kinda look hot in those double-knit, polyester Habands. Gotta get me some of those.)
Anyway, I was delighted to know that he enjoyed the little project I did with Tony over at Tunesmith & Anthony and he said he even watched it again the other night. Kiss 96.1 linked to it to and called it "genius" but I'll let Anthony take the credit for that. All I did was write the song in the shower. It even made WTAE's Links 'N @ (if you didn't know). I can't wait to see what Anthony has up his sleeve next.
Meantime, the excitable John McIntire is all well, excited, because he thinks the new content advisory on my blog means photos of mammaries. Then he launches into "Thanks for the Mammaries" on me. (The original song, John, is actually, "Thanks for the Memory." So you're really only entitled to ONE boob.)
Anyway, go see him and Gab on March 19.
Even the Mayo man wanted to know what was up with my adult content warning. So did Maria. You can go to my blog to read my response. I should specify: this blog.
So, to answer them here again and the others who asked: NO, I am not going "all live X-cam" or anything. Please. I do have some respect for myself. Except when it comes to traffic and transportation reporters, maybe.
This concludes my Saturday morning bedroom dispatch. And when in a construction zone, please remember to merge at the merge point and take turns instead of getting over five miles ahead and backing up traffic to Kingdom Come. Right Jim?
Friday, March 7, 2008
Our blog! http://equalityadvocates.wordpress.com
Equality Advocates Pennsylvania's mission is to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Pennsylvania through direct legal services, education and policy reform.