When Shirley Chisholm broke both racial and gender barriers to become the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and later the first Black woman to run for U. S. president, she leapfrogged over more barriers to power than any woman considering a run today can even imagine. Was she conflicted in her relationship…Read More
I remember the first time I read Maya Angelou’s book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was the most searing yet beautiful prose I had ever encountered. And later, the phenomenon of her poem “Phenomenal Woman” invaded my consciousness and became a kind of anthem for women everywhere. Nothing will ever dim the words of this phenomenal woman. Thank you, Maya Angelou. May you rest in the peace of one whose words and deeds have made the world phenomenally better.Read More
It was all over the news for days. Every pundit, every political talk show, every newspaper running big retrospective spreads. Op eds galore, and reminiscences of what it was like to march together toward equality.
Today, August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, the day that commemorates passage of the 19th amendment to the US constitution, giving women the right to vote after a struggle that lasted over 70 years. A big deal, right?
Right. But that’s not what all the news was about. In fact, though President Obama issued a proclamation and a few columnists like the New York Times’ Gail Collins gave it a nod, hardly anyone is talking about Women’s Equality Day. At least not in consciousness-saturating ways that garner major media’s attention, as Saturday’s March on Washington commemorating the 50th anniversary of a similar Civil Rights march.
Yet the two anniversaries are rooted in common values about equality and justice for all. They share common adversaries and aspirations. Racism and sexism are joined at the head.Read More
This is a powerful personal essay guest post on American culture and politics from my colleague, Tamara Fagin. Her title was “Random Musings From the Frontline” but I don’t think it’s random at all. I believe most Americans feel like outsiders at some time in their lives, and who have had the experience of being bullied or feeling like we have been treated unfairly because of our birth origins.
We are a nation of diverse heritages, a salad bowl of tossed differences rather than a melting pot where we all blend in together.
How does Fagin tie her personal experience as a one-woman salad bowl of cultures who always felt “different” with how she came to choose a candidate for president? Read on…and tell us your experiences.
All or for much of my life I have felt like an outsider. Bullied in a sense for giving a damn. I have early memories of eye-rolling, smirks or quiet taunts. This was not the punching, hair-pulling, tripping garden variety of physical bullying and worse, rather the insidious kind that eats at one’s insides and makes one eat lunch in the high school bathroom (it was clean and a friend joined me).
It was the one-off comment from the popular, All-American high school cheerleader that goes unanswered by one’s peers and one’s teacher. When I answered a question in A.P. U.S. History class, our teacher asked the class, “Why can’t you guys answer that question? Tamara just moved here from Japan.“ The cute blonde cheerleader girl shouted, “She’s an import!” I can’t remember what happened after that.…
I just remember that I wished that we were back in Japan. And, I wished that she knew the deal. But, c’est la vie or shikataganai, as the Japanese say.
Note to Mr. M.: you should have called her on that. You should have never made that comment to the class about me being able to answer the question. I was new to the school. I was miserable. I missed my old school, my old friends, my old beaches, my old Japanese nightclubs, my old routine and I missed Okinawa, Japan.
Note to educators everywhere: you make the bullying problem worse when you do this kind of comparison thing. It doesn’t work for parents when they say to their kids, “Why can’t you be more like your big brother, Johnny?” Why the hell do you think it is going to make your domestic darlings try harder? It just doesn’t. It breeds resentment. It pits us against them. U.S. blonde, blue-eyed and beautiful against different. But, to borrow a phrase from my LGBT brothers and sisters, IT GETS BETTER.Read More
I recall Juneteenth being widely observed by the local African American community when I was a little girl in Texas. There were barbecues, church services, and speeches, along with a general air of celebration. Today is the 145th anniversary of Juneteenth–June 19, 1865–the date when the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the end of slavery, finally reached Texas 2 1/2 years late:
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in September, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. There are several versions of why the news traveled so slowly to Texas, a Confederate state, none of them particularly pretty, most having to do with foot dragging shenanigans and entrenched resistance to ending slavery, at least until another cotton picking season had finished.Read More