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Archive for March, 2010

President Obama is the Comeback Kid

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

President Bill Clinton first coined the term for himself “the comeback kid” during his very first primary days. This week President Barack Obama personified the term the “comeback kid” by signing health care legislation. After seeing the loss of Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D. MA) seat in January, 2010, it looked as if President Obama was one and done.  He had spent one year on health care reform only to be denied the 60th vote in the Senate.  Scott Brown’s election and win in January all but sealed the deal for the loss of health care reform.  But going against all odds, President Obama came from near defeat to gain the win for health care and all Americans.  President Obama will have changed America forever.  Yes, it’s for the good of America.

Act Like A Woman, Think Like A Man

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House ran with the big dogs and won.  She acted with grace under fire and pressure.  She accomplished what no  men before her could do.  She got the votes for health care. But, did she really win for women?

Nancy Pelosi is extraordinary in her political prowess. The Washington Post attributes her as being one of history’s most skilled vote getters.  Speaker Pelosi comes from a long line of political vote getters. She is a native of  Baltimore and daughter of former Baltimore mayor Thomas D’Alessandro, Jr.   Her father knew a thing or two about getting votes.  I grew up in Baltimore hearing stories about her father, mayor Tommy D’Alessandro, Jr.  She is cut of the same cloth as her political family, father and brother, Thomas D’Alessandro, III, also a former mayor of Baltimore.  As an African American native of Baltimore, I revel in the pride that it took a native Baltimore woman and an African American president to pass the health care bill.

In the words of comedian Steve Harvey’s book, Speaker Pelosi did “act like a woman and think like a man”. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi thought she had to think like a man to get the votes.  That meant she favored the anti-abortion law makers to seek final votes.  She bent to the pro-life forces and accepted tight abortion limits in the bill. In the words of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D. NY), she threw women under the bus to get the votes.  Now that’s thinking like a man.  Her actions speak volumes to women and advocates for women’s rights.

There’s good, bad and ugly in the health care bill. Almost 32 million uninsured Americans will now be covered. Insurance companies can no longer cancel a policy because someone files a claim.  Insurers cannot deny us for pre-existing conditions which disproportionately affect women and African Americans. Women are denied for pregnancy, prior caesarean and many other forms of female related conditions. African Americans are denied for pre-existing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart condition. Unfortunately all of these conditions seem to affect  blacks to a greater degree. The bill increased Medicaid coverage amounts which will help African Americans and persons of color who are more economically disadvantaged. The bad is the limits placed on a woman’s right to abortion. The real ugly is the loss of the public option.

Yet, in the final analysis, we’ve only just begun. We must continue to fight for a public option and for continued protection of women’s rights.  Despite its flaws, I still applaud Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her efforts. She fought a good fight. But, next time, let’s get the job done without sacrificing women.

The Census Form and Post Racial Category

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

The 2010 census forms are out to complete.  I read a recent Washington Post letter to the editor that questioned why there are so many terms on it for various race categories.  The writer wanted to know the necessity if we are post racial.  And that’s my point. We are not post racial.  I am so sick and tired of hearing we are in a post racial era.   When I hear post racial, I hear many people saying let’s forget there are persons of color and racial differences among us.  That’s what Chris Matthews said after President Obama’s state of the union address.  Matthews referring to President Obama said he “forgot he was black”.  Matthews said ” he is post racial”.  Matthews and all others who think so are wrong. As an African American female, I am proud of my race and ethnicity.  I do not want to become post racial invisible.

This country once thrived on the concept of the melting pot theory. Migrating from white European countries, white immigrants melted or blended in with white Americans. When ice melts, it becomes water. It is still H2o.    Now, that most immigrants are primarily of color, the melting pot concept doesn’t work. The melting pot is a fiction for persons of color. There’s no way an African American, Latino, Asian, Native American or any other person of color can melt, blend, assimilate and become white. They will always be a person of color. That’s a very good thing.  It’s called diversity. But now we’re entering, according to pundits, what is being called post racial society.

Diversity means we acknowledge our differences and accept them. We try to understand our racial and ethnic differences. We do not try to blend or assimilate our differences. I grew up in Baltimore where we always had ethnic festivals during the summer.  Each ethnic group, whether Polish, Italian, African American, Greek or Hispanic show cased their customs and traditions.

The grim statistics and recent studies show that African Americans and Latinos were disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis and economic melt down. African Americans have been disproportionately affected by loss of wealth in this country for a long while. If we were truly post racial, this disparity would not exist. We would be on a level and equal playing field. Now whites are at the top of the ladder, while many blacks and persons of color are still at the bottom looking up. Again, we are not post racial.

But perhaps, we will become post racial by 2042.  It’s projected by studies and census reports that whites will be the minority by 2042. I wonder in 2042 if whites will want to become post racial as that term is used today. I wonder if whites will want to become invisible in 2042. I doubt it.

A post racial society to me means there is no disparity between wealth, income, jobs, schools, housing and all opportunities are equal. Then we might have arrived at Post Racial Road. Now, we are still looking for our destination. We are not there yet.

Women’s Her Story Month

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Iraqi women went to the polls and were on the ballot on March 7, 2010.  American women were granted the right to vote in 1920.  March is women’s history month.  I call it her story month. We celebrate our history, our successes and look forward to our future. While much has been gained, there’s still so much more to do.  President Obama in noting March as women’s history month stated we “must correct persisting inequities” facing women in every sphere.

Since receiving the vote in 1920, we’ve seen the first woman run for democratic nomination as president of the US.  No, it was not Hillary Clinton. It was Shirley Chisholm  (D. NY).  Congresswoman Chisholm (D. NY)  was the first woman  to run for the democratic nomination  as President of the US.   She was also the first African American woman elected to Congress.  In 1972, she became the first African American candidate for president.  In doing so, she blazed the trail for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  Shirley Chisholm ran on the platform of “unbought and unbossed.”  We’ve seen three female US Secretaries of State since 1920.   Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 1997 paved the way for  Secretaries Condoleeza Rice and now Hillary Clinton.  Notably, today,  Congresswoman and Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the first  woman to lead a major party in Congress. While these are notable gains in our history, woman still make up only 17% of Congress. African American women and minorities fare even worse.  African American women still make up only 4% when combined with Hispanic and Asian women.

The empowerment of women is as lawmakers. This is where we change the fabric of our society.   Yet, many women do not seek elective office. We need more organizations and PAC’s like Emily’s List to make it easier for women to seek and win elective office. Emily’s List helped to elect Senator Barbara Mikulski, the first democratic woman elected to the  US Senate. We need more Barbara Mikulski’s.  Without more elected women legislators, local and national, we serve to lose some of the gains already won.

The right to abortion is being practically written out of the proposed health care bill. It’s hanging in there by a thin thread.  As women gained ground in college acceptance, men are now taking away some of those gains. After decades of making gains towards sexual equities in education, a recent investigation reveals that colleges may be favoring men by admitting them at higher rates to preserve a male female ratio.  A civil rights investigation has been convened to see if discrimination against women in higher education is creeping up in colleges across America. Economically, women are still disadvantaged by earning only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. In the area of health care, more women are disadvantaged without health care. Yet, we cannot pass a health care bill.

The evolution of women’s rights is an ongoing process.   We must not be satisfied with our success.  We must press for higher heights in all areas. We must not lose the ground already won.  We must set the example for women worldwide.

Women, what is your story?