Gulf War, NOT Gulf Coast Recovery: Because of Race?

Let's be honest.  The entire history of the United States is built on racial hierarchy and discrimination.  In fact, as Michael Guerrero, the House of Representatives just decided on an exhibition to honor the African American slaves who built the Capitol building, brick by brick.  Racism is our national legacy -- and increasingly our main export.

Witness the War in Iraq.

In this great post on the Movement Vision Lab, Scott Douglas -- a veteran community organizer and leader from Birmingham, Alabama -- writes:

... our government would rather dominate and destroy people of color in Iraq than help people of color here at home.  

Douglas continues:

It is amazing to me that while 72% of people oppose the war in Iraq, the war continues. It's a war that is only hurting people, not helping, whose only point was control of oil.  Presiding over the escalating violence there is costing the United States $3 billion per day!  And yet Democrats and a few Republicans in Congress are only just now beginning to question the war's continuance, let alone it's original rationale.

Compare this to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma and the abysmal response of government.  After two years, there remains the stagnation of commitment led, first and foremost, by the federal government.  In Louisiana, issues revolve around building level five levees (levees that can take the shock of a Hurricane Katrina) and life-sustaining infrastructure such as water, power, gas and sewer services.  We must also restore the wetlands that offers nature's protection against storm surges.

But the unpopular AND expensive war is still prioritized over the needs of Black communities in our own Gulf region:

Across entire Gulf Coast, stretching from Texas to Alabama, affordable housing and living wage job opportunities are scarce. Thousands of families are still housed in FEMA trailers that contain deadly levels of formaldehyde.

Yet the federal government manages to scrounge up $3 billion per day to "rescue" Iraq.  Those of us in the Gulf Coast need to be rescued, too!

The fact of the matter is we're all in it together.  Iraqi lives are as important as the lives of the displaced residents along Katrina's path.  So why are we spending so much money destroying communities in Iraq while failing to re-build communities in America?  

Perhaps more pointedly, why do those of us who agree with the above prognosis fail to see this pattern as a symptom of broader, systemic racism?  

Why don't we see that the reason we could get away with attacking Iraq was race -- most notably, the stereotypes spread by government and media that continues to cast a pale of suspicion over all Muslim and Arab people in the US and abroad?  And why don't we see that the reason we have failed to help New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast is because of racism, plain and simple.  Do you really think our government would have let thounsands of wealthy white folks drown?

We need to talk about race, instead of ignoring.  We need to appreciate difference, instead of demanding assimilation.  We need to address racism, rather than denying it.

Sally Kohn is the Director of the Movement Vision Lab.

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Voting Chief Says Voter ID Laws Disenfranchise Whites

While the question of whether or not voter ID laws disenfranchise minority, elderly and poor voters is being reviewed by the Supreme Court, John Tanner, chief of the Justice Department's Voting Section, says they do not. In fact, in a jaw-dropping twist of analysis, he told the National Latino Congreso that voter ID laws have "the opposite impact"

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Should pregnant women ...?

Should Pregnant Women Eat More Seafood?

So asks a headline in the New York Times, but some similar question is always a perennial favorite. Should pregnant women eat more, eat less, eat something else, have maybe a drink a day as the British do or none as American society would have it, do some kind of exercise or another, lift anything, do too many stairs, or yadda, yadda, yadda.

A woman gets pregnant and she stops being an individual adult in many people's eyes.

Strangers pester her with advice out of the blue. People may feel free to reach out and touch her stomach like it's become public property. If she's doing something that doesn't meet with the standards of whomever happens to be watching, she's may be publicly reprimanded in ways that other adults would never be. Experiments have demonstrated that pregnant women are perceived almost universally to be less competent at whatever they're doing, perhaps the root cause of all this 'benevolent' micromanagement and invasion of personal space.

So society is always there with the helpful admonishment, because she's become accountable to everyone. Somehow.

Then she'll have her baby, and the questions change, with criticisms and suggestions becoming less paternalistic and more withering. For example, the baby had better not inconvenience anyone by crying, or she's clearly a bad mom. Adults out in public oughtn't to have to put up with crying babies. Ever. That's for their mom to put up with by herself. At home. Because chicks really dig having the company of no one besides an infant whose vocabulary consists of burps and earsplitting wails. If dad puts up with it though, he's a hero.

The baby had better not inconvenience anyone else by being hungry, either. Because if mom breastfeeds, well, that's just disgusting. And no one should have to see it. Ewww. Even if it prevents the infant making very loud noises that no one really wants to listen to. She should only do that at home. By herself. Or maybe with other mothers, who are also at home. Why can't she bottlefeed, already? Or pump? Or, if she does bottlefeed, why doesn't she care about her baby enough to breastfeed?

The public asks a lot of very sharp questions of women who take on the responsibility of having a child, and also makes sure to ask them not to bother anyone else while they're doing it. But maybe society should be asking other questions about pregnant women and new mothers. Like, maybe, these: Should pregnant women be at greater risk for being murdered? Should pregnant women, or mothers and young children, get better access to healthcare and nutritious food? Should pregnant women and female-headed households be disproportionately likely to live in poverty? Should society penalize moms in the workplace? Should society re-evaluate a control fetish over women's bodies that often forces them to choose between normal human desires and realizing their independent potential?

Motherhood isn't a hobby. It isn't a luxury. It isn't abnormal, freakish, or unsightly. It isn't easy. None of that's news, or it shouldn't be. But it's treated at various times as though it's all those things. Treated that way, talked about that way, with lectures and patronizing finger wags. If it's talked about at all.

Want more women to vote? It could help if these issues weren't swept away as unsightly.

For L and D, two mothers that are among the most competent people I know.

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Maryland Court Upholds Discrimination

From Schmitz Blitz

This morning, the Maryland Supreme Court upheld the state statute which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman in a 4-3 decision.

The court found that 1) the statue does not discriminate on the basis of gender 2) that sexual orientation is neither a suspect or quasi-suspect class, whereby discriminatory laws require a higher scrutiny 3) that there is no fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex and 4) that the statute in question is related to a legitimate state objective, that is, upholding traditional marriage.

I'm not familiar with the intricacies of the Maryland constitution, but I'm going to offer some thoughts on point 3 it relates to the United States constitution (and maybe some of the others in future posts, time permitting).

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Supreme Court Overturns Roe v Wade

    No they haven't yet, but it won't be long. This Court has shown with its recent decisions that it is not the Court it claimed to be. These same men who when testifying before the Senate, claimed to respect precedence and stated that the Court had become too activist, are now disrespecting precedence and being activist. This Court is merely waiting for the right case to hang their hats on to overturn Wade.

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