Where Are All the Black Non-Liberals?

It appears, they’re all somewhere on YouTube. If you’re a click hole fiend like me, your recommendations list has been populated with some interesting suggestions. Aba & Preach? Yes! Classically Abby? Not so much…

The times we’re living in has me consuming more socially and politically charged content, diverse opinions all along the spectrum, but my discoveries made one thing very apparent: if you are looking for conservative or moderate black representation on network TV, it’s slim pickings. Yes, there’s Juan Williams and Harris Faulkner, but that’s cable and even then, there’s only two. There’s something conspiratorial about the lack of right-leaning (or even middle of the road) black voices on major networks.

We know they exist, and perhaps, their presence would be especially helpful in debunking the myth that Black people are largely Democrats and liberal. It would be interesting to hear conversation about issues affecting minority communities from a minority who isn’t bleeding blue. The topics worthy of discussion are complicated and multi-faceted and would only benefit from varied perspectives.

But maybe there’s a reason why that’s not desirable on network TV…

The Perils of Retro-activism

We’ve seen it more and more. Past behaviors revived and skeletons being dragged out of the closet. At one point, we used to only see this around election time. Every few years, politicians would have to explain and apologize for any action, that was regarded as unseemly for political office: affairs, drug use, etc. ‘Crimes’ fell into the moral category, peccadilloes that brought into question an individual’s character and judgement, two traits that are apparently key in attaining public office.

In recent years, Jimmy Fallon, Jason Aldean, Jimmy Kimmel and Jenna Marbles, among others, have all had to come to terms with past behavior that no longer agrees with modern taste. Retro-activism is the new force fighting to bring past crimes to present-day justice all in the name of holding people accountable…and it fails miserably. Why?

  1. Most have long since stopped doing whatever they’re being called out for. Which means their sense has adapted to the times. So the ‘lesson’ has already been learned, making the fault finding needless.
  2. Shame is not an effective tool for change. What retro-activists are trying to recreate is a sense of guilt. They want people to feel bad for what they have done and then connect that to a meaningful act of contrition, but it never works. To genuinely feel guilt, you have to believe that what you did what was wrong, which is hard when at the time that you did it, it wasn’t. That’s why so many of the apologies that come after these ‘finds’ end up being as criticized as the action itself. What is really happening is the targets feel shame. Much of the complaints go after a person’s character rather than the behavior. They feel bad because they are being accused of being a bad person. That’s why so many seek out absolution from groups/individuals who can give them a stamp of approval (i.e, talks with a respected individual(s) from offended group), so others will know that they are good people.
  3. Digging into a person’s past is an unsustainable activity because no one will past the test. We are asking people to behave in a way that ensures that future generations will not find their behavior offensive or problematic. How hard is this task? Well, few of us are visionary and even less are perfect.
  4. It takes a certain amount of arrogance to assume that the standards of 2020 are appropriate to judge people by. Retro-activism is a power trip. Like it’s sister, micro-activism, it is the wolf of oppressive judgement wrapped up in the lamb’s wool of accountability. It creates cowards and coverts: people who will be too afraid to say or do anything meaningful at all and others, who will just do it in the dark.

#WildWestWendy and the Insidiousness of the Machine

Today we celebrate our nation’s birthday and usually on birthdays, it’s a time for contemplation and celebration. I am thankful for the miraculous experiment that is the United States of America. And as we look on 244 years of history as a country, I wonder about the danger of the new faceless oppressor that has led and controlled our language on some of the most pressing issues of our time; the one that encourages us to vilify and destroy one another in the the name of justice.

The machine has taught us to look at this video and see a hero and a villain.

It has taught us that, in situations like these, a gun is both the problem and the solution.

It has taught us that making a definitive assumption about someone is both racism and justice.

The miracle of America, is that our heterogeneity, in all it’s ugly glory, made us who we are and has not killed us….yet. But the machine’s power is using strength and turning it into weakness.  A place where once,  opposites could co-exist, now a place where you can either stand as black or white or a muddled gray. What makes America great is how well we’ve evolved towards ‘e pluribus unum’ without collapsing on ourselves. But the machine learned that money mattered most and that perhaps our motto was the only thing standing in it’s way.

Ways to Hurt the Cause, #1

Truth by Omission

Felicity Huffman’s 14-day sentence for mail fraud and honest services mail fraud resurfaced the story of Tanya McDowell. (Honest services mail fraud, as laid out in the United States v. Gray, states that an employee has an obligation to their employer to provide honest services, and actions which impede upon this, like a bribe, is a type of fraud, thanks Wikipedia!) 

Back in 2011, McDowell was charged with first degree larceny for enrolling her son in a school in an area she did not live. She was sentenced to five years in prison and five years probation and, if the memes are to be believed, this is unfair in light of Huffman’s seemingly lenient sentence for bribing an exam proctor.

Inequity in education is an important issue that needs to be addressed, but what hurts this cause is the exclusion of the fact that McDowell was also charged with selling narcotics to undercover officers and that both the drug case and the larceny case sentences were combined per the plea bargain. Her attorney even stated that he attempted to split the cases up but, ‘…prosecutors and the judge would not split the cases up. He said she was facing much more than 15 years in jail if he took all the cases to trial.‘ So the five year sentence was not strictly for the school case. Based on the article, it’s easy enough to decipher, but even the usually reliable Snopes got it wrong, changing the rating on it’s own article about McDowell’s sentence from ‘mixture of truth’ to ‘true’.

In Huffman’s case, to level the scales, her daughter should be removed from the school, but in McDowell’s case, what’s the solution? The answer is worthy of discussion and shouldn’t be muddied with false martyrs and misappropriated news stories.

 

 

Not F. Scott Fitzgerald…

For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

– Eric Roth (screenwriter, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

I’d Prefer Unisex Bathrooms…but

it’s got to make sense

The rights of transgender individuals to use the bathroom which aligns with their gender identity has become a major hot button issue in the past few years. I didn’t have much cause to think about it until recently, when I saw a sign posted at a local YMCA that states that individuals are allowed to use the bathroom which correlates with their gender identity. Again, I never thought about it until I was on line with my daughter for the bathroom at another (different) location and an individual dressed in women’s clothes and wearing a wig, was on line ahead of us. No one said anything. No raised eyebrows or exchanged glances, or at least none that I noticed. The individual went in, went out and that was it.

Maybe because I live in a very liberal city, maybe because I’m woman and the bathrooms are typically multi-stalled or maybe because it’s not that big a deal, but I think unisex bathrooms are a reasonable way to be inclusive and respectful towards everyone. Who knew that ‘Ally McBeal’ would be way ahead of its time? I thought about this and wondered, what about locker rooms? The reality is, not everyone is a decent human being. If the YMCA’s policy allows access strictly based on self identity, then you make the grave assumption that everyone is going to be forthright and honor the spirit in which the provision was made, but we know that’s not the case.

My issue is that in an effort to be on the right side of history, politicians are putting the cart before the horse, causing anxiety and resistance to what is an important cause. Unless re-design happens within the necessary areas to make it more amenable for everyone to use, everyone shouldn’t use them.

Today in the Constitution: Younger than AOC

I have not read the Constitution. When I was a kid, we were responsible for memorizing the Preamble, which I did (minutes before I had to recite it), but I must say, they are some powerful words. It’s incredible that so much could be covered in 52 words:

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.

So other than a really empowering opening, what else we got going on in there? Let’s start with my favorite parts from Article I:

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years – this age minimum, set for members of the House, means there’s a chance that AOC will not remain the youngest person ever to serve in Congress.

The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative – we have approximately 325 million people in the United States and 435 representatives in the House; that’s a ratio of 1:747,126 which means it’s time for an upgrade. Fun fact: before the first census in 1790, the states were apportioned representatives and Virginia had the largest representation with ten.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, – in the beginning, ‘We, the People’ didn’t choose ‘Them, the Senators.’ I never knew that citizen voting wasn’t a thing in the 18th century.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, – there was a time in our nation’s history when a single meeting of the House and Senate was considered sufficient to do business. <mind blown>

They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same;am I understanding this correctly? That Senators and Representatives have a type of immunity? So misdemeanors, ok, but high crimes? That’s a no.

Still on the books (unamended): the President doesn’t have to sign bill in order for it to become law. If the bill is sent to the Commander in Chief and ten days pass without return or comment, it becomes law.

Funding to ‘provide for the common defense,’ i.e, the military, was not supposed to surpass two years. Although maintenance of a Navy was permissible.

Still shocking (amended): at the time of its ratification, the Constitution included a provision preventing the abolishment of slavery prior to 1808.

 

 

 

Today in “The Man”

The scarcity of televised non white achievement

Can you imagine a year where they didn’t televise the Oscars?  Probably not. Whether you watch the show or not, it’s a staple of the awards season, synonymous with artistic excellence. Well, if you’re a person of color, these representations of achievement might not align with your ideals of creativity or entertainment; a silent, black and white film can win Best Picture…in 2011, but Spike Lee doesn’t get a statuette until 2018…m’kay. The debate about what is and is not worthy to be called high art can rage forever, but one thing I know: I am very well versed on what white culture values in their art, but have white people had the opportunity to be exposed to minority excellence in the same way? The NAACP Image Awards aired on and off broadcast television since 1995, finally finding a home on TV One. The ALMA awards now air on Fuse TV after a years long hiatus. Contrast that with the CMAs which have aired consistently on network television for 50 years. Broadcasting excellence, specifically on network television, is a great way to expose mass audiences to quality (not just what’s popular) and variety in American art. It honors the idea that what is good, looks different to different people and that having one doesn’t invalidate the other.

It removes the pedestal and replaces it with a platform.

Morals to Monetization: ‘Denise’ edition

Hopefully, you glanced at Twitter to see the short life of the ‘You were at my wedding Denise’ meme, which started as Meghan McCain’s short, dry reply to an acquaintance’s criticism of The View and, at the time, seemingly McCain as well. The turnaround was quick:

Uh-oh, I didn't think she'd see this...
McAllister clarified, saying that the show was stupid and her co-workers were the idiots, not McCain.

 

And the reversal even quicker:

Wait a minute! I’m actually the one who’s been victimized here!

For those checking the time, the apology was yesterday and by the end of the business day today, shirts were ready for shipment. I’m not mad at the hustle, virality goes as quick as it arrives. What I’m mad at is the manner in which she decides that getting called out for social hypocrisy (you could have not gone to her wedding, Denise) is actually a form of emotional manipulation. She’s the person who comes to your dinner party, cleans her plate, asks for seconds and then you find out she was making fun of your cooking abilities.

‘You were at my wedding Denise’ – what to say to the other face your ‘friend’ is talking out of.

A Bittersweet Moment in #WomensHistoryMonth

Angel Rios made history when she, and another wrestler (Jaslynn Gallegos), became the first girls to place at Colorado’s state wrestling tournament, in fourth and fifth place, respectively. In the handful of articles that I read about the event, that should have been the short summary of a pretty amazing moment, but no, I was treated to this and this instead. A couple of issues I had with both articles:

Her victory is about him.

Both articles suggested quite flagrantly that Rios wouldn’t be up there if Johnston had not have withdrawn. They also make a point of mentioning that he forfeited to her four times in the past, leading readers to wonder, how many of her wins did she earn? No mention is made of her skills, her prowess. It’s not even considered that perhaps she would have beaten him based on her previous performances and past opponents. No, as stated in the Denver Post headline, ‘wrestler made history when he knocked himself out of the state tournament.’

His unwillingness to compete is heroic

Read through the comments in both articles and Johnston is lauded as having a ‘good head on his shoulders,’ and being a ‘gentleman’. I would expect that if someone flat out refused to face a difficult situation head on that would make him cowardly, but because his decision is morally/faith based, we call it something else: honorable. I understand his point about not wanting to ‘treat a girl that way,’ and I also respect his decision to walk away. It’s his choice, but for the sake of this article, I’m going to add a little context: she’s there because she’s good enough, not because someone wanted to make a statement about gender equality. Next, wrestling is not assault. This is a controlled form of combat. There’s a ref, officials, protective gear. This isn’t a bar brawl that spilled into the streets. And finally, a missed opportunity to understand nuance: how would a person fight someone that they wanted to beat, but not harm? Is there a way to learn how to wrestle that he can maintain his dignity and hers? He’ll never learn (and we’ll never know) because he walked away.

No better place to compete

One thing both articles neglected to mention was that the CHSAA (the Colorado High School Activities Association), the governing body which oversees the state’s schools sports, doesn’t offer girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport. Meaning that though it is recognized (as it is offered as a pilot program), without sanctioning, there’s no postseason and tournament wins don’t count toward an official record. So at this stage, it’s not more than a glorified hobby. For Rios to wrestle at a level worthy of her skill, she needed to compete with the boys and not only did she compete, SHE WON!