Thursday, August 28, 2008

Poetry in Progress

I can't believe it is Thursday and the Democrat convention is coming to close. Instead of doing a post about issues, this one will simply be the start of a poem. I wrote this at lunch today and plan to revise and add to it eventually.

The end of the Democratic National Convention is
only the beginning

Election season is in bloom
Work has to be done
The seeds have been planted
Don't be afraid to get your feet muddy
Stand up to the mic
Be a powerful force, use your voice to
express the necessity of now.

Shout "We Must Vote" to
breath a sigh of relief as
we hear the vines of ignorance break
Show the world how a real patriot acts by
raising the bar on American politics and
live the dream of a king.

Obama 08

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Vice for Women

Senator Joe Biden will be speaking tonight as the Vice Presidential nominee. This follows Women's Equality Day that concluded with a great speech by Hillary Clinton. I must acknowledge that her speech was right on the mark.

In the spirit of feminism, here are some highlights from Biden's history on Women's Rights:
He has spoken out for the ratification of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty that establishes equal right for women. While 90% of UN member states have ratified it, the United States lags behind.

Senator Biden was a chief sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act (1994). He has also worked to ensure its reauthorization in 2000 and 2006. In addition, he has worked to maintain and increase funding for the bill despite efforts by the Bush administration to cut funding. The bill supports women's shelters and prevention programs among other vital projects working to end violence.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has stood up for women and other groups. He voted against the nominations of Justices Roberts and Alito, even going so far as to support a filibuster of Alito's appointment. Besides these well-known cases, Biden has repeatedly voted "no" to the appointment of judges with questionable records, such as Judge Thomas Griffith an opponent to Title IX.

In addition the senator has been outspoken on several important issues. He is an ally for reproductive rights, pay equity and the empowerment of Afghan women. These examples show how he is a good pick for women. That is yet another reason why I am proudly supporting the Democratic ticket this November.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Divided and Conquered? Why?

News reports gladly remind us that Democrats seems to work harder to maintain solidarity. They show images of Clinton protesters at the convention and give McCain free ad time by repeatedly showing a commercial with a Hillary supporter voting for him. I realize this is mostly media's subjective view of what is going on in the election, but this is not acceptable.

Any democrat/liberal that walks away because their primary candidate didn't achieve the nomination is shameful. Any feminist that turns to the republicans simply because a woman isn't on the ticket is doing a grave disserve to all feminists. Critics can point to this and say feminists don't really want positive change they just want women in powerful positions no matter the cost.

I am so angry that people are resistant to the better candidate this November! Here is just a few of the comparisons that can be made between the two nominees:

Obama is pro-choice and advocates better birth control policies.
McCain is committed to overturning Roe v. Wade and doesn't mention anything about preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Obama's education policies include reforming No Child Left Behind by funding it, fostering innovative teaching, shared learning and raising achievement in a variety of ways. He also includes early childhood and affordable college education as priorities.
McCain's education ideas revolve almost exclusively around choice. What about rural areas where there aren't really any schools to choose from within miles? What about transportation if students have to travel farther to get to a choice school? How will 'good' schools manage an influx of students?

On energy Obama's plan focuses more on green technologies and renewable resources.
McCain touches on these issues, but features domestic oil production ahead of creating ways to lower our energy consumption.

Don't forget about the Supreme Court. Rudy Giuliani boasted about McCain's support of Justices Scalia, Alito and Roberts on ABC's This Week.
Obama voted against the appointment of Alito and Roberts.

For more comparisons you can go to each candidates website: Obama or McCain?

It is fine to criticize our leaders, even the ones that get our vote. This is NOT the time to do so. Now is when we choose a smarter path. Now is when we fight against disaster. Now is when we must put aside our unrealistic expectations for perfection. Now is when we stand behind the best chance we have for a better world. Now is when we must support Obama for ourselves and the greater good.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michelle Monday

The democratic convention opens today and I am weeping because I don't have cable to watch every bit of the prime time rallies. Tonight features Michelle Obama and possibly Ted Kennedy. It is a great prospect to have him speaking tonight and hopefully the public display of encouragement he is sure to receive will do his health well.

I have heard some critique the choice of Ms. Obama speaking tonight. However, it is only appropriate for her to get a share of the spotlight. She is a hard working woman that doesn't get any breaks in the media and isn't understood by most Americans. She has to deal with both racism AND sexism! One example is the New Yorker cover that missed the satire mark by about a mile. Another issues is the idea of the "Angry Black Woman." This is two fold because African Americans are often painted as disgruntled and so are feminists. So if you are a strong black female then you must be unruly, right? People have a right and even a responsibility to be angry about injustice.

Each time I had the opportunity to meet her she was always friendly and genuine. I suggest getting to know Michelle Obama for who she actually is as opposed to her portrayal on the media. Some highlights include growing up in the southside of Chicago to Harvard Law School. Then back to Chicago where she practiced corporate law until she left to give back to her community. This included working for Public Allies, an Americorp program helping promote community leadership.

Now she is supporting her husband in an intense election. She will face pundit smears and I'm confident her and her husband will both make it through just fine.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Elephant in the Room

I had planned a different post, which I temporarily put aside after hearing news of Howard Dean's recent comment about the Republican Party. For those who may have missed it he said "If you look at folks of color, even women, they’re more successful in the Democratic Party than they are in the white, uh, excuse me, in the Republican Party,” on NPR last week.

I recognize it wasn't the smartest political quip I've heard. But let's take a quick look at the Republican Party. It is safe to say it doesn't attract many minorities. Although I would be wary of implying no minorities because that would be discrediting the personal decision of some folks of color and women who choose the conservative side of politics even if it is counterintuitive. In congress there are actually 7 Latino, Asian and American Indian Republicans, but that pales in contrast to the 71 Democrat minorities. According to an article on, African Americans are likely to vote Democrat over Republican by a margin of 9 to 1. This shouldn't be too surprising; most of the Republican presidential candidates couldn't even show up for a debate hosted by African American Tavis Smiley.

The reaction to Dean's comment has been everything from cheering to accusations of race baiting. Race baiting is not favorable, but what about an honest discussion about race. This seems to be harder to come by and maybe we can use situations like this to do just that. For instance, is a slip of the tongue about a 'white' party racist? I will leave you to decide, but the often unacknowledged truth is that Anglo America is the dominant race. White culture sets most of the norms in Western society.

White privilege is like the air around us. We don't often realize its there until we choose or are forced to think about it. In order to ensure equal rights we have to admit it exist and then work for a more just world for everyone. Any white person who doesn't think this privilege is real should ask yourself:
*Do people noticeably grab their bags tighter as you pass by?
*Are you ever asked to speak for your whole race?
*When you get a job, does anyone question your merit and/or assume you were employed to fill a race quota?
*If more people of your race move into a neighborhood does rent in that area go up or down?
These are just some way it plays a role in our lives, for more that may apply to your life check out this article by Peggy McIntosh.

Of course, there isn't just white privilege. Class and heterosexual privilege are two of the many examples that operates in the world. It can be scary for a privileged group to recognize and challenge it. They think it means they will lose something, but in reality giving privilege to more people brings up the value and quality of society for everyone.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Myth of Inclusion

Why are people concerned about the myth about Obama being a Muslim? The well-disputed rumor is a problem for more than the democratic candidate's campaign. It shows the cracks in our democracy and the weakness of our all too often uninformed electorate. First, it should not matter if he is Muslim. The current interpretation of the constitution allows the freedom of choice in our religious views and personal spiritual practices. This right is afforded to government officials as well as the average citizen. So we should not all our elections to be consumed by a singular dominate belief.

Beyond the simple constitutionality of the issue, this type of attack is too easy to make. By misleading people about Senator Obama's association with Islam, it allows his adversaries to avoid the race card. However, it has the same effect. Hiding behind the Muslim label, critics don't have to present rational arguments against him.

Being nervous about an Arabic-looking person on public transportation is not met with a significant about of disapproval. On the contrary, fear of black men is largely unacknowledged, but still felt by too many. This covert prejudice shows part of the huge challenge we have in progressing race relations. By masking racism in religious intolerance it compounds the problem. Race is ignored and another prejudice is let to slide. Racism and religious intolerance are palpable in America, yet we rarely acknowledge that we are included in the problem. Through our silence or as perpetrators. Without looking at our own prejudices we will never learn to work through them.

New York City has been seeing blatant examples of these prejudices. Next month, the subways will begin to display ads about Islam. They are meant to direct riders to a website where they can learn about the religion. Some are outraged and claim it is disrespectful for them run on the anniversary of September 11th.
What is negative about learning about a difficult culture or belief than your own?
What is so bad about a group of people educating others? Especially, when they have been overshadowed by the representation of only a small percentage of their group.

Another incident is the "Obama is my slave" T-shirt. This statement spits in the face of history and takes ignorance to a new level. If you think it can't get worse, the maker of the T-shirt doesn't support the senator because he buys into the Muslim myth. A lawsuit has been filed against him, but isn't for the words on his shirts. A woman was assaulted for wearing the shirt.
To read more about these stories go to the following links: Subway Ads and Obama Shirt .

The diversity of the U.S. makes living here interesting and exciting. Sometimes we forget that this diversity requires work, but it's worth it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

And Introducing...

One of my goals this summer was to start a here it goes!

My first post is to introduce myself and my vision, if you will, for this blog. Ultimately, I would like to get rich and famous as a witty writer activist! However, my realistic idea for this blog is to provide myself a platform to become a part of the conversations society is or should be having.

First, let me say hello and provide a window into the author's character. I'm a goddess with a diva closet and mindset. Just kidding, I'm actually a big nerd poet that enjoys travel, protests, and snowboarding. My lifestyle tends to tranverse between traditional and counterculture. It depends whose looking. My background has been diverse from video production to tolerance education coordinator and many things inbetween. Politics played a large role in my upbringing and I'm glad it did. I vote with my brain and my heart, which does not make me ignorant or foolish.

Progressive Plaid will be a blog to celebrate and question the intersections within us as individuals and the connections between people. Topics will range, but generally focus on the social, political, cultural and other ubiquitous issues in the world.

The name is actually fairly easy to breakdown. Progressive because the views expressed here will usually be considered as such. Now, Plaid is used for a couple of reasons. One is that I do enjoy sporting plaid from time to time, but it certainly is not an exclusive pattern in my closet. (oops! I don't have a closet in my glorified studio apartment) Thinking more theoretically, the reason for plaid is for the way it incorporates lines, squares, and colors that intersect, merge and diversify to make something unique and often beautiful. Kind of like humanity.

Please feel free to leave any respectful comment you'd like because I enjoy dialogue and learning from others.

Thank you for visiting my site and I hope you'll come again!