Saturday, March 29, 2008

Oops, She Did It Again!

So I called my BFF Hillary Clinton the other day to see how she was doing after all the negative commentary about her little verbal slip. "Girlfriend, what on earth were you thinking! Have you lost your mind up in here?"

Oh, wait a minute, I don't really know Hillary well enough to address her as girlfriend. We're not really BFFs either (that's shorthand for best friend forever).  Actually, Hillary and I have never met, but I've seen her on television. Oops, I think that I misspoke.

There has been a lot of misspeaking in the Clinton campaign. A few weeks ago, Senator Clinton released a television commercial asserting that based on her 35 years of experience, she was more qualified than Senator Obama to answer the phone at 3:00 a.m. and deal with some hypothetical foreign policy crisis. Unfortunately, at least for Sen. Clinton,  subsequent research revealed that her foreign policy experience was questionable at best, and possibly nonexistent. After a little personal research, I wrote a little blog entry about what appeared to be a general consensus--Sen. Clinton didn't play a significant role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland; nor did she broker the deal that resulted in Macedonia opening its borders to refugees from Kosovo (official records confirm that the Macedonia accord regarding the Kosovo refugees was signed the day before Hillary arrived in the country).

The media enjoyed the circus constructed around Sen. Clinton's exaggerated foreign policy experience claims and next became entranced with sermons from Sen. Obama's ex-minister. Just when I thought that perhaps the campaign was finally getting back on track, dealing with the issues--the recession, unemployment, access to health care, 47 million people without health insurance, the war in Iraq, global warming, etc., etc., Sen. Clinton dropped another example of her qualifications to be commander-in-chief, citing her March 1996 landing at Tuzla Air Base in Bosnia in the midst of sniper fire. Her words, spoken at George Washington University on March 17, 2008, have been published in newspapers around the world, and played repeatedly on radio and television news stations.

“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”--Senator Hillary Clinton


Based on the photo, before ducking and running for cover, Sen. Clinton and daughter Chelsea took time to accept greetings from the eight-year-old girl who was a part of the official  greeting committee in March 1996, a group that also included Bosnia's acting president. Not wanting to frighten the child, Hillary also decided that she and Chelsea should abandon the flak jackets that she asserts that they wore to protect them from sniper fire while they were running with their heads down. Suffering from some memory loss, no doubt due to post traumatic stress disorder after being subjected to sniper fire, comedian Sinbad, who was a part of the group visiting US troops in Bosnia with the then First Lady back in 1996, has responded that he does not recall there being any sniper fire when the travel group landed.


Normally, I would agree with Sen. Clinton's protestations that she made many speeches and many journeys while First Lady, and that it is only human to confuse the details from a trip that she made 12 years ago. However, generally, most of us confuse the details as to when something happened, but remain clear as to whether or not something happened. For example, I'm not certain when I first became obsessed with Denzel Washington, however, I'm certain that he has never promised to leave his wife and marry me.


Sen. Clinton, girlfriend, you have not been under sniper fire during any of your travels as First Lady. You made it up! You didn't misspeak; you lied.


You lied because you are desperately trying to distinguish yourself in the minds of the voters as having 35 years of critical experience, including foreign policy experience, that makes you a superior choice for the Democratic Party nomination. You have invented your own pet campaign issue that makes about as much sense as the pet rock phenomenon of the 1970s. What really frightens me is that some of the public, just like the folks that spent good money for a pet rock, are succumbing to the nonsense of this non-issue. Let's have a simplified civics lesson. 


Under the U.S. Constitution, both the Congress of the United States and the president have the responsibility for setting U.S. foreign policy. In general, the president shapes foreign policy with advice from the state department, the secretary of state, and a bunch of other national security officials in the executive branch.  Congress approves the funding needed to carry out the foreign policy. The United States Senate has to approve by a two-thirds vote, any treaties with foreign governments that are  negotiated by the president. Congress and the president don't always see eye to eye on foreign policy, but the president has the principal authority to create foreign policy. Both the Congress and the Courts defer to the president on matters of foreign policy, a position further solidified with the end of WWII in 1945.


If you stayed with me through Civics 101, then you are probably recognizing that unless Clinton, McCain, or Obama have previously served as president of the United States, none of them have any substantive foreign policy experience. Neither congressmen/women, nor the First Lady gets to make foreign policy decisions in our governmental structure. Condoleeza Rice has experience in the ins and outs of foreign policy, as do members of the Cabinet and the executive branch of government, but hey, Hillary, you don't. Drop the empty rhetoric about foreign policy experience and focus on the significant domestic and international issues that should be the focus of this campaign, not your imagined turn as Rambo.


The beauty of the structure of our government is that no one enters the office of president as a solo act. All those cabinet members, all those secretaries of this and that, are there for a purpose--to advise the president, to present him/her with the information to make reasoned, well-thought out foreign policy decisions, if he or she chooses. Or he can declare himself to be the Decider and make the dumbest decisions ever, but that's another post.


Footnote: What exactly is foreign policy? The generally accepted definition identifies foreign policy as a course of action or set of principles adopted by a nation's government to define its relationships with other countries or groups of countries.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Birthdays and Kissing Toads

When I posted my birthday thank you yesterday, I was in a hurry to get to an event in my county for the Obama for President campaign. I got there on time and was delighted that there was a really good turn out of over 300 people. Other meetings are scheduled across North Carolina as the date for our state primaries, May 6, rapidly approaches.

Due to my rushed state, I was unable to post the lovely birthday Hy-Art that Marc sent me which inspired me to hum Helen Reddy's  Angie Baby all day, and inspired me to post the weirdly erotic video in yesterday's post. Okay, so you didn't see it as erotic and you just think that I'm weird. I can live with that, especially as Beth left a lovely comment in Marc's journal avowing that I am just plain cool.

As those of you who have followed my blog know, on occasion I've written about my forays into the world of online dating. For the most part it has brought to mind the country hit, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. Nonetheless, I persevere, knowing that certainly I've kissed enough frogs and that odds are that I'll find a prince if I just keep working at it. Marc, always thoughtful, sent me an inspirational image for my birthday, to encourage me in my search for true love. I added the caption at the top.

As some of you know, I am a poet and I rummaged through my poetry to find a poem that I wrote some years ago. I was reminded of the poem below when I started thinking about kissing frogs.








A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time,

we played under hot yellow sun,

princess and lady-in-waiting,

searching far horizons for knights in armor,

knights with stalwart hearts and sturdy swords

to rescue princesses from vengeful dragons.


We moved on

from knights to princes

with surreal kisses to waken princesses from dreamless sleep

or with glass slippers to fit the feet,

and rescue princesses from dreaded drudgery.


And still we moved on,

to grown-up lovers

with warm, wet kisses amid tangled sheets,

whispered lies to soothe the heart and soul.


We moved on to where the magic goes

and a toad

no matter how sweetly kissed,

still remains a toad.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thank you for my happy birthday!

Today is my birthday and I've had a great day. Thank you to each and every one of you who sent me birthday wishes today. I also want to share with you the delightful surprise that my blogami Marc posted in his journal today. If you visited earlier, please return. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and the one that Marc published after his intital happy birthday pose is priceless. Got to run, more about this birthday tomorrow. Btw, I'm 53 and I don't care! I feel good. 

The video below is a clever visual interpretation of a song that I've been humming all day, Angie Baby by Helen Reddy. I don't have time to fully explain. Let's just say that it has to do with a picture that Marc sent me that involved me holding a weapon and a really hunky nearly nude guy. Listen to the lyrics and you may follow  the workings of my perverse little brain.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mama, Technology, and Me

Both of my parents are in their 70s and they still haven’t quite adjusted to the world of technology that we now inhabit. I thought of this yesterday while I was listening to a voice mail message from my mother.

“Hello,” pause, “you must not be home. You don’t have to call me back. This is your mother. I love you,” another pause, “bye-bye.”

I was thrilled that she left a message, as often she doesn’t. She is always somewhat surprised when I get home and call her back after her hang-ups.

Mama: “Hello sweetheart, I was thinking about you earlier today.”

Me: “Yeah, I noticed that you had called; I’ve been thinking about you too!”

Pause, “But I didn’t leave a message. I know that work keeps you so busy and I didn’t want you to worry about calling me back.”

I’ve tried to explain about caller ID but I don’t think that it fits the parameters of her world. I think that’s why she always feels its necessary to identify herself when she does leave a message, just in case I don’t recognize her voice after nearly 53 years.

It’s taken a bit of time, but I’ve finally learned that I cannot force my mother to embrace technology. My sister says that I’m just hardheaded; she gave up long before I did. The final clue for me was what I refer to as The Computer Affair.

For years my mother gazed longingly at the computer set-ups that my siblings and I have in our homes. She began sharing words of wisdom that her friend Felice would print out for their mall walking group, and wistfully sighing that she needed to get a computer. [Felice generally dispenses alarmist  medical advice that she has found on the Internet, like don’t drink cold water because it will chill the chambers of your heart and result in instant death. I happen to like ice-water, so for a time, whenever I loaded my glass with ice cubes before filling it with water, I received the benefit of Felice’s computer generated wisdom. Eventually Mama became resigned to my refusal to change my ice loving ways, and now only watches me surreptiously when I drink a glass of ice water, prepared to leap into action should my heart chambers freeze and I suddenly collapse.]

Her friend, Mary, another member of the mall walking group, is also an avid computer user. She prints out jokes that generally don’t look favorably upon the intelligence of men and generate much laughter among the all-female group. My personal favorite involves a woman whose wealthy husband extracts a death bed promise that she will bury all of his money with him. At the funeral, one of the widow’s friends inquires if she kept her promise and honored his request. The widow replies that indeed she has. The friend gasps in wonder at the widow’s presumed folly until the widow announces with a beatific smile, “I wrote him a check.”

Each year, my mother’s fixation on having a computer grew. I offered to take her shopping to purchase a computer and she professed to be interested in doing so, but the timing was never quite right. Less you think that the issue was the cost of a computer, my parents are quite comfortable financially and money had nothing to do with it.

I suggested to my sister that maybe we should consider purchasing Mama a computer as a gift and my sister replied, “She doesn’t want a computer.” My brother said that if I thought that it was a good idea, that he would contribute to the computer gift fund.

My sister is the middle child, and she is the practical one. Her assertion that our mother didn’t really want a computer nagged at me and I put the gift idea on the back burner; however, Mama kept sighing about wanting a computer.

Finally, I became frustrated with the lack  of memory on my home computer. I had recently become addicted to an online game called WORD WHOMP and every time I played, I had to shut down all other programs. So, I purchased a new computer with two gigabytes of memory. (What? I like word games!) I got a better deal if I also purchased a printer, and I needed a new power bar, and a computer Scrabble game, any way, when I was done, I decided to give my mother my old computer, printer, and power strip.

She was thrilled and watched giddily as I set it up for her. For her first lesson, I attempted to teach her how to turn on the monitor, the computer, and the printer. It didn’t go very well, so I labeled all of the on/off buttons. Then I introduced her to the mouse. They did not become good friends. I instructed her to practice moving around the screen with the mouse and suggested that she play Solitaire to facilitate getting accustomed to using the mouse.

“I don’t know how to play Solitaire. Do they have Pinochle on here?”

I went home a few weeks later and asked Mama how her use of the computer was coming along. She explained that she thought that she might have broken it.

“Did you drop it, throw it, or spill liquid on it?”

“No, but the screen looks all funny.”

Reassured that it wasn’t broken, I sat down in front of the computer and I agreed that the screen looked all funny. Forty-five minutes later, after I had restored all the default settings, I summoned my mother for her second, and final computer lesson. I had given up on the mouse and altered the settings so that she could move about the screen using the arrow keys, but the thrill was gone and she was no longer interested.

She patted my cheek, and brightly volunteered, “What I need is to take a computer class. I’m going to sign up for one at  the Tech.”

It’s been nearly four years and so far she hasn’t signed up for that class. (If you are a computer instructor at the Wilson County Technical College, you can relax; she’s never coming.) However, she is able to happily tell her friends that she has a computer. She dusts it off weekly.

P.S. Isn’t she just the cutest little thing! My mother is all of 5′1″ and has more energy than people half her age. The photo is one that I took of her last July 4th while she was preparing dinner.

P.P.S. I just have to give a shout out to Beth of Nutwood Junction. She posted an entry this week, Testing one, two, three..., on using Google Docs to compose her journal entry (look for the picture of Bryan Setzer). As Beth points out, it's free and pretty easy to use, and it's simple to wrap text around pictures. You can orient the picture to the left or the right and wrap the text around it. Once upon a time, AOL made this simple to do but I can't figure out how to do it any more. Any way, after reading Beth's post, I tried out Google Docs today. I really like it and agree with Beth that it's simple to use, and look, the text wraps nicely around Mama's picture!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sister Girl Is In The House

I have a friend and his name is Marc. He has a knack for posing probative questions that challenge me to do some healthy self-introspection. Recently, his question was, if I could choose to change either my race or gender, which would it be? I couldn't make a choice.

Yesterday, he posted a comment to my entry on Senator Obama's speech on race in America:

Eventually, Obama is going to show some flaws, and I want to make sure we don't put him too high on a pedestal ,that we punish him for revealing himself to be human. Right now, I'm just incredibly grateful that it looks like we might have a President who's smarter than a 5th grader's teacher's teacher, as opposed to the 4th grader we have now.
I sent him an email response to his comment and he sent me a response to my email, actually, he sent two responses, but I'll share the short version first because it made me laugh (Marc is really good at making me laugh):
Now, how about blogging in this voice, sister-girl, un-hunh, hunh!

His second email was a tad more serious reiteration of the first.

I had to dash off that last email before running out the door, but what I meant was there is a personal voice here that is very compelling. Your assessment of the political scene is always unassailable, but often written almost in third person, somewhat at a remove, like a very sharp op-ed article. I love "I like being a black woman," your very personal reporting about what it's like to navigate two worlds simultaneously.

Just as he intended, it got me thinking about who I am and who I choose to be. I admit that my first thought when I read Marc's emails was that I don't choose to write in a removed voice, it's just who I am, but then I really thought about it and realized that I do present a certain voice as my public self, almost without thinking about it. (In other words, Marc hit the nail on the head!)

I think that a lot of black folks slip personas on and off like most people change clothes. I think it stems from a need to prove that we are worthy. Most of my professional life is spent in predominantly white circles; often all white except for me. I never feel that I'm just Sheria, there is always a sense that I represent my people.

I don't think that it's black paranoia. Whenever a white person does something illegal, stupid, or cruel, it is that person who is judged. When a black person behaves badly, it is the race that is judged.

The list of white men who have stolen from their own companies and destroyed the lives of countless people have not led to any conclusion that you can't trust white men to invest your money, but the list of black men who have stolen some woman's purse on the street has led to a conclusion that all black men are violent and if you see one coming, clutch your purse tightly.

Perhaps the best example of this dual system of judging the actions of an individual as representative of the group occurred with Timothy McVeigh. He was a home grown terrorist, part of a gun-hoarding, Midwestern, all white, self-proclaimed militia, out to overthrow the government. Yet when he was caught and tried, there was no profiling of white men in their early twenties as suspected domestic terrorists. Then there was 9/11 and any person who looked remotely as if they could be Middle Eastern was a terrorist suspect. Black people have put up with this type of profiling for generations.

Today, my friend's email made me realize that I don't generally share my sister-girl personality in my professional life or on this blog. I slip into my alter ego, Sheria the lawyer, also known as former high school English teacher, who speaks and writes standard English and thinks analytically at all times. Don't get me wrong, that is a part of who I am, but there is also the woman who loves her black culture, who can't sit still when I hear Aretha sing anything, who appreciates the richness of our slang and the rhythm of our speech.

So I'm sharing some of the thoughts in the email that I sent to my friend, the one where I get personal about who I am.

I share Marc's worries about placing Obama on a pedestal. Idols always fall and then we hate them for their human fraility. I also worry that Obama will be held to a higher standard than he would be if he were racially identified based on his white heritage.

I don't think that Obama is perfect, nor do I want him to be. I think that it is his ability to be fully human, flaws and all, that attracts me to him.

I love the historic significance of Senator Obama's speech. When has any candidate for any political office ever dared actually talk about race, truthfully, especially the part about black anger and white resentment? I feel as if I've been waiting my entire life for this level of engagement about the racial divide.

I've spent a great part of my life moving back and forth between a black world and a white one, between my family life and my professional life. I suppose that it is no surprise that eventually my social and personal life merged the two worlds, but always at a cost. In my black world, there were questions about my blackness; in the white world, there were those who made it clear that they did not welcome my blackness. Many black people have the same experience, so I don't think of it as poor pitiful me.

I like being a black woman; I draw my strength from all the black women who have come before me and who surround me. Yet I also draw strength from friendships and relationships that I've had across color lines. I feel that I've learned a lot from multiple perspectives and that I'm better for it.

I think that I had so much trouble simply answering Marc's recent hypothetical about choosing to change race or gender because I honestly can't imagine myself as anyone other than a black female. After all, no other group has mastered the art of indignant head wagging to better effect.

The video has nothing to do with this post; I just love Jackie Wilson. Before Michael Jackson ever moonwalked, there was Jackie Wilson. He was a phenomenal performer.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In Order to Form a More Perfect Union

Today I felt pride and hope in the possibilities of these United States of America. The elephant that has not only been in the room, but sitting on top of us, has finally been revealed and we are stronger for it. Without guile, Senator Barack Obama talked openly about the progeny of a nation conceived in liberty and yet mired in the most heinous of institutions--slavery. Sen. Obama identified that progeny--racism, Jim Crow laws, discrimination, black anger, and white anger, and the world did not come to an end.

Finally, someone has just flat out said, "Let's talk about race." If we listen, and I mean really listen to what Sen. Obama has to say, we can move towards an understanding of America's race problem that is an essential step in healing the racial divide that weakens and undermines our nation.

I became a lawyer because I believed in the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution. When I re-read those documents, which I frequently do, I am still moved at the ideology expressed therein.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I am not naive, and I do not believe that we, as a nation, have always lived up to these ideals, but what gives me sustenance is the ideals themselves, something worth striving for, worth working to achieve. In the words of Robert Browning, "Ah, if a man's reach does not exceed his grasp,then what's a heaven for?"

Obama's speech today joins my list of inspirational documents. I hope that it is the catalyst to begin conversations at the dinner table, around the water cooler, and in our places of worship about the the ways in which we relate to one another. I hope that we engage in dialogues in which we acknowledge our biases but also recognize ourcommonalities; I hope that we work together to discover a healing place, grounded in respect and love for all of humankind.

To read the full text of Sen. Obama's speech, please click here. If you would like to watch and listen to him deliver the speech, please see the video below.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

They Say the Darndest Things!

I've decided that I am no fun any more and that I need to take a respite and leave the world to resolve its own problems. So for today, there will be no writing about politics, famines, genocide, bigotry, and the dozens of other horrors that fill the headlines. Instead, I will write about a topic that I haven't addressed in quite some time--family.

My day began with a wake up call from my mother. No, I didn't leave a request that she wake me, she just took it upon herself to do so.

Me: "Hello," (sort of mumbled).

Mama, brightly, "Were you asleep? Did I wake you?"

Before responding, I try to focus my eyes on the bedside clock to determine what time it is. Oops, it's 11:00 AM. "No, I'm not asleep, I've been up for hours."

"Well you sound as if you're just waking up."

"Must be my sinuses," I say and follow up with a couple of delicate coughs.

As I work on fully rousing myself from slumberland, my mother continues to cheerfully chat about what a beautiful day it is but I don't really follow what she is saying because I've awakened with a full bladder. I have a cordless phone, but it's in the kitchen and I'm in the bedroom, tethered to my landline phone. I debate whether she will suspect that I really wasn't awake when she called if I announce that I have to put down the phone for an immediate trip to the bathroom. See, if I had really been awake, would I have been sitting around filled to the brim to the extent that within five minutes of answering the phone I had to go relieve myself? So I squeeze my knees together and try to concentrate on the conversation.

"I just wanted to tell you that Michael N. died this week."

Michael who? The name is vaguely familiar but I'm not certain why I have a particular reason to care that he's dead. I mean I hold to John Donne's "the death of any man diminishes me" philosophy, but I don't remember this man! Me:"How did he die?"

"I don't know. His funeral was yesterday."

Okay, he's dead, she's told me, now what?

"I talked to your Aunt Nellie Ruth for more than an hour this morning and she said to tell you hello."

Morning! It's still morning, what time do you get up to be having hour long conversations before eleven?

My mother and her sister are both in their seventies. They are entertaining individually but together, they are ready for Saturday Night Live or Def Comedy Jam. My sister often questions my sanity because whenever I visit my parents, I allow my mother to talk me into visiting Aunt Nellie Ruth. I don't think my sister has forgiven our aunt for having designs on her husband.

A few years ago, we were having Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' home, when my aunt announced that she had dreamed that her deceased husband, Turner, was standing in her bedroom. My father, who should have known better, inquired, "So Nellie, what do you think Turner wanted?"

"He looked like he wanted to," pause for effect, "have sex." Without missing a beat my mother responded, "With whom?"

My aunt then proceeded to explain that she was still a fine looking woman and that she could have any man that she wanted. She then gave my brother-in-law the eye, turned to my sister and announced, "I could have your man if I wanted him." I don't know what was said after that as I had to leave the dining table to get a cloth to clean up the iced tea that I sputtered all over my plate. Never laugh when you have a beverage in your mouth.

Aunt Nellie Ruth is actually a very proper lady; she never shows her bosom. She always tucks a scarf into the neckline of any dress that she fears may reveal her bosom. Actually, she refers to it in the plural, as in, "my bosoms." She has a yellow chiffon yard sale find that she wears a t-shirt under so as not to drive men wild with a glimpse of her bosoms.

I witnessed my favorite exchange between my mother and her older sister a couple of summers ago. I accompanied my mother to my aunt's home where she was sitting on the front porch. It was August; it was hot; and my aunt was sitting on her front porch with a paper fan and a fly swatter. Aunt Nellie Ruth isn't fond of air conditioning; she says it makes her joints hurt. Mama and I joined her on the porch and we were all making small talk, when a huge old beige Cadillac with shiny tail fins pulled up and parked in front of the apartment next door. The elderly driver took ten minutes to extricate himself from behind the wheel, nodded good day at us, and slowly shuffled into his home.

As soon as he closed the door, my aunt spoke up,"He ought to be shamed of himself, carrying on like that at his age."

My mother swatted at a fly with a rolled up magazine and gave her sister a puzzled look, "Ruth," my mother calls her by one name, either Nellie or Ruth, when she feels that it may be necessary to chastise my aunt in some way, "what are you  talking about?"

"He's been 'round to his girlfriend's house, laying up in there with her all weekend. It's just acting common; they don't even try to hide it."

I paused in my fanning and perked up at this allusion to sex among the elderly. My mother sniffed dismissively, "Ruth that man is over 80 years old and he can't even stand up straight, let alone have sex with anyone."

"He could be having oral sex."

With another emphatic sniff, my mother opined, "He doesn't have enough breath to have oral sex."

The water that I was drinking went down the wrong way and I was racked with coughing spasms that were so distracting that my aunt neglected to make a follow up response. I vowed to stop drinking any liquids when I was in her presence.

Note: Thanks to Yasmin for selecting me as one of her guest editor picks.  Check out Yasmin's journal, Isn't She Great!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Can't Simply Let It Pass

"mikeova 02:37:38 PM Mar 13 2008 And you left wing jerks wonder why there is hatred for these B sons of a Bitches. There will be a revoution one day!"

Dear Bigot:

I guess that I'm what you would consider a left wing jerk; however, I don't wonder why there is anger and hatred towards these men. People who murder people generally do not inspire love; hate is a pretty normal reaction to the perpetrators of these vicious crimes. What I wonder is what the actions of these individuals have to do with their skin color?

So much of the commentary on the AOL News stories, regardless of the subject matter of the story, always includes multiple comments about how stupid, evil, vicious, worthless, etc. black people are. I wonder what level of insecurity and anger exists in the hearts of so many people that they are quick to assert that an entire race of people are responsible for the crimes of individuals who happen to belong to that group. I wonder is this belief coming from a soul filled with hate or just plain ignorance. I wonder if you really believe that all white people are intelligent, kind, loving, and only do good things.

Maybe I'm just a left wing jerk, but it never crossed my mind to conclude that all white men are incapable of being faithful to their wives because Spitzer, Clinton, Gingrich, Larry Craig, and others were unable to keep their pants zipped. I've never concluded that all white people are power hungry conquerors based on the tendency of the European explorers to subdue and often eradicate the native cultures in the lands that they "discovered" in the Americas. Although I do confess to being puzzled as to how you discover a land that is already inhabited. It's as if someone came into the neighborhood where I live and pronounced that it had been discovered because he was new to the area.

I know that the people who celebrate their marriage of ignorance and bigotry, won't get my point at all. They will continue to find any excuse to shout about the awful things that black people do and how Sharpton and Jackson fan the fires of so-called black racism. They will continue to insist that the liberal left aids and abets blacks in walking all over the rights of white people.

I have a suggestion for you. Due to generations of miscegenation, many people who identify themselves as black appear to be white based on external physical characteristics. If you are really convinced that black people get over in America, that there are unfair advantages to being black, that black racism is a powerful force that threatens the white race, why don't you get your slice of the pie and start telling everyone that you are black?


Left Wing Jerk Liberal Feminist Black Woman

When Silence Isn't Golden

I read most of my news on the Internet. It saves my house from being cluttered with newspapers. I am not very domestic and I try to avoid housekeeping to the extent possible.

I've been following a tragic story regarding the shooting death of a young college student, Eve Carson. She was student body president and in her senior year at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. By all accounts, Ms. Carson was a highly intelligent, caring young woman with a promising future. The police have been very efficient and have arrested her killers. The motive appears to have been robbery. One of the alleged killers is also a suspect in the shooting death of a young graduate student, Abhijit Mahato, back in January of this year.

As I typically do, after reading the news story online, I read the comments left by AOL members in response to the article. Why do I read the comments? Because I'm Ethel of Lucy and Ethel; I know better but I am so gosh darn nosey that I can't help myself.

As usual, there were the sane comments about the tragic loss of lives and vitriol as to the punishment that should be exacted on the alleged perpetrators, but what caught my eye was the litany of bigoted, hateful, observations based on the race of the suspects.

Eve Carson was white; the suspects are black. Mr. Mahato was originally from India, but no one in the comments section seemed particularly concerned about his death or ethnicity. I've been down this road before, so why am I going there again?

Partly because it kicks me in the gut every time I come into contact with blatant prejudice. I try to dismiss it as the rantings of ignorant people, but it still stings. Partly because I don't think that I should have to avoid a common activity such as reading comments in order to avoid being belittled and insulted by strangers based on my skin color. I know that they aren't speaking to me individually, but that doesn't take the sting out of it. So I keep writing about this because I think that such people will not cease and desist until enough decent people make it clear that their bigotry and hate is not wanted.

You see, what disturbs me the most, is that it is rare that anyone challenges the bigots. I know the argument that people trot out; we have freedom of speech and people have a right to say what they think. For the most part that is true, but not an absolute. (Try plotting a littletreason and sedition and see how far that freedom of speech argument gets you.) However, freedom of speech works both ways. You have a right to express your thoughts and beliefs, and I have a right to respond. Freedom of speech doesn't mean that we have to let hate speech pass with no comment. If you don't agree, say so. Don't let bigotry go unchallenged; to do so is to offer tacit approval by virtue of your silence.

I have my own dream, that if decent, thoughtful people speak out, that eventually their voices united will drown the hateful words, shut them out, force them to go back into the dark where they belong. So I left my own comment in response to some of the more bigoted remarks. As this post is getting way too long, I'll include my comment in a follow-up to this post.

What I will include here are some of the comments that I read following the news story, exactly as written, with the identifying screen name.


snakeisback04 04:03:00 PM Mar 13 2008 TYPICAL BLACK FOR YA.

jimitty 02:16:19 PM Mar 13 2008 Dont you think cornrows and dreadlocks just make a man? Soooo jungle ghetto chic.Low-life coward scumbags.


oct2nov1971 01:48:22 PM Mar 13 20 Obama's first job should be to put his animals in check.

oct2nov1971 01:40:30 PM Mar 13 2008 Obama supporters will kill ya for less than buck. They will kill ya for CHANGE. University of North Carolina student Eve Carson it is said, was an Obama supporter. An Obama supporter murdered by Obama supporter thugs. ANOTHER REASON WHY I WONT VOTE FOR OBAMA.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hillary, I Hardly Know You

I was a real fan of Hillary Clinton when she was First Lady. I thought it was wonderful that her interests expanded beyond selecting a new china pattern for the White House. That's why it really pains me to have to ask, Hillary, have you lost your mind up in here?

Throughout her campaign, Hillary has been dropping little comments about Obama's lack of experience and therefore qualifications as commander-in-chief, and touting her own experience as preparing her for the job. The pointed focus of her 3:00 A.M. phone call commercial is her vast experience versus Obama's lack of experience. However, she has outdone herself with her assertions at a recent press conference on March 6, aligning her own experience with Republican nominee John McCain and dismissing Obama as not being in their league.

“I think that since we now know Sen. (John) McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold,” the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant’s bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.

 “I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,” she said.

Calling McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee a good friend and a “distinguished man with a great history of service to our country,” Clinton said, “Both of us will be on that stage having crossed that threshold. That is a critical criterion for the next Democratic nominee to deal with.”

I first read the text of this press conference in my friend Bruce's blog, Self-Sufficient Steward, and was in total accord with his astute assessment that Hillary is trying to scare the American public into voting for her with a message of "nominate me or suffer the dire consequences!"

Hillary's ongoing litany about her vast experience has puzzled me from the start. Thinking that perhaps I had missed some significant part of her career, I did a little research. (I love the Internet!)

Yep, Hillary has an impressive pedigree as a lawyer; she was the first woman to make partner at the Rose Law Firm where she worked from 1977-1993, with a few breaks to birth Chelsea and aid Bill with his political campaigns. I've never made partner anywhere but I am a lawyer; maybe I have the experience to answer that call at three AM. Dang, but I've never been First Lady.

Hillary has been First Lady twice, but I don't think that First Lady is an elected position, it's just a title bestowed on you because you're a woman married to the president. Maybe Nancy Reagan should be president, after all someone had to be running the country towards the end of her husband's presidency, given his unfortunate affliction with Alzheimers.

So what exactly has Hillary Clinton done to demonstrate that she is qualified to cross the commander-in-chief threshold?

She alleges that she was active in foreign policy decisions during her tenure as First Lady, but there seems to be a lack of evidence to back up her claims. She visited Northern Ireland and says that she was essential in helping peace to that region; unfortunately, no one else recalls it that way. She also claims credit for brokering the deal that resulted in Macedonia opening its borders to refugees from Kosovo. However, official records confirm that the Macedonia accord regarding the Kosovo refugees was signed the day before Hillary arrived in the country. Hillary also cites her one day visit to Bosnia, accompanied by comedian Sinbad, musician Sheryl Crow, and daughter Chelsea (her foreign policy advisors?) as evidence of her foreign policy experience.

Granted, Hillary presumably had the president's ear during her time in the White House, and no doubt provided him with her insight on issues of domestic and foreign policy, but the one issue that she and Bill have avowed that she advised him to act on was to take US military action to stop the genocide in Rwanda. Evidently, Bill didn't listen. The official buzz is that there was never any consideration of US military intervention in Rwanda during the Clinton administration, and in memoirs by each of the Clinton's and Madeline ALbright, no mention is made of Hillary's advice regarding Rwanda. Her advice has only been announced during her presidential campaign.

Hillary's own political experience consists of her terms from 2001 to the present as the junior senator from New York. That is the sum total of her experience. Not that such experience shouldbe dismissed lightly, but I'm hard pressed to understand how it makes her any more qualified to cross the three AM phone call threshold than Barack Obama, who served as an Illinois state senator from 1997-2004, and is currently the junior senator from Illinois in the US Senate (elected in November 2004).

I'm angry with and embarrassed for Hillary Clinton. This fabrication of a non-issue is beneath her. It is rare that any first time presidential candidate has any noteworthy foreign policy experience. Our constitution places limits on who gets to negotiate foreign policy (I know that you might not believe this if you've seen Tom Hanks' movie, Charlie Wilson's War.) Even John McCain has not had substantive foreign policy experience (being a POW doesn't count).

Hillary has not only opened her own record up to attack, but she has also dealt a negative blow to her own party. If the measure for choosing a president were strictly based on foreign policy experience, John McCain appears to have a slight edge over either Clinton or Obama, but no election should be based on a single issue or factor. Presidential Campaigns have to be about the multiple issues that affect the citizens who live in this country.

Shame on you, Hillary, shame.

PS In the interest of full disclosure, I support Barack Obama for president; however, until now, I still had respect for Hillary Clinton.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Please Stop

The following picture is courtesy of the creative efforts of Marc Olmsted, a very talented man. It features Star Jones, Michelle Obama, and yours truly. Hopefully, you will understand the inspiration for the picture and its caption by the end of this post. Thanks, Marc, I've always wanted to be a Supreme.

The Supremes

I've been anxious to get back to my blog and comment on the many things going on in the world but I have been delayed because Paris Hilton stole my life, forcing me to have to work for a living. As always, there is much in the world that grabs my attention; well, okay, maybe not the entire world, mostly my own little world. One thing that caught my eye this week is that Bill O'Reilly has been helping black people again.

You may recall that I asked him not to help us anymore in a post, It's Always Something, that I wrote about his charitable impulses a few months back. On that occasion, Mr. O'Reilly helped us by declaring, after a visit to Sylvia's, a well known Harlem soul food restaurant, that black people were just like any other group of people. He expressed his amazement that the patrons were well-behaved and asserted that not once did he hear anyone screaming, " Mother****er, I want more iced tea,."

I was bowled over by Mr. O'Reilly's words of praise for my race; I made a vow right then and there, that should I ever meet Mr. O'Reilly, I was going to return the favor and compliment Bill on his ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. Believing that too much praise isn't good for any group of people, I had hoped that Bill was done with praising black people. However, he's come to our defense again. This time, he spoke up on behalf of Michelle Obama, potential First Lady of the United States.

Mrs. Obama has been taking a lot of flack for her statement  that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country." Her words didn't make me blink or pause. If you don't understand why a black person may not have warm and fuzzy feelings of pride in this country, maybe you could do with a little study of history. No, I'm not talking about slavery, it was immoral and degrading, but humankind has enslaved each other since the beginning of our time on this planet. It's the subsequent era of Jim Crow, intentional racial segregation and degradation that lasted well into the 20th century that is the shame of this country. No, I don't want to leave; it's my country built on the sweat of my ancestors, and I'm not going anywhere. No, I don't want your pity or sympathy; it's not needed, but I totally get what Michelle Obama meant by her comment.

However, a lot of people have been a bit peeved with her, accusing her and by association, her husband, Barack Obama, of being less than patriotic. One of those angry people called Fox News Channel's 'The O'Reilly Factor,' and shared his ire with host, Bill O'Reilly. Bill, having forgotten all the attention that he received the last time he complimented black peolpe, valiantly came to Michelle Obama's defense.

"I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels - that is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever - then that's legit. We'll track it down."

It would take me far too long to go into the whole history of lynching and lynching parties in this country. By the way, lynching was a post slavery practice that achieved popularity during Reconstruction and peaked again in the 20th century. Records indicate that there were more than 4,500 lynchings in the US between 1882 and 1968, although many historians think that there were significantly more lynchings that went unrecorded. There were no official records kept and most accounts came from local newspapers in stories written after the fact. A lynching party was a community event, entire families attended, including the children. We know this because some enterprising souls took pictures, even made  them into postcards and sold them at the General Store.

When I read this story earlier this week; I planned to write a thoughtful discussion on lynching and the inappropriateness of O'Reilly's helpful commentary, but Star Jones beat me too it, posing a series of questions that precisely echoed my sentiments, "What the hell? If it's 'legit,' you're going to 'track it down?' And then what do you plan to do?" In an open letter to helpful Bill, she writes,

Bill, I'm not sure of where you come from, but let me tell you what the phrase 'lynching party' conjures up to me, a black woman born in North Carolina . Those words depict the image of a group of white men who are angry with the state of the own lives getting together, drinking more than they need to drink, lamenting how some black person has moved forward (usually ahead of them in stature or dignity), and had the audacity to think that they are equal. These same men for years, instead of looking at what changes, should and could make in their own lives that might remove that bitterness born of perceived privilege, these white men take all of that resentment and anger and decide to get together and drag the closest black person near them to their death by hanging them from a tree -- usually after violent beating, torturing and violating their human dignity. Check your history books, because you don't need a masters or a law degree from Harvard to know that is what constitutes a 'lynching party.'

Ms. Jones is a fellow North Carolinian and in southern parlance, she gets him told good. Her entire letter is availabe online, click here if you would like to read it. I really do hope that Bill O'Reilly gets his altruism under control and stops trying to offer helpful comments and observations on the behalf of black people. I don't know which is worse, his helpful comments or his lame apologies. Anyway, just so that Mr. O'Reilly knows that I'm not mad at him, I've posted a musical plea asking him to cease and desist.