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Openness is our greatest human resource.

Blog Entries tagged 'change'

One Big Happy Family, Starred Kirkus Review!

So happy to share this starred review of the new book in today's KIRKUS:

A moving, wildly diverse collection showing how radically different familial configurations can work.

Prompted by her experiences growing up in a family "fragmented and haunted by unfulfilled longings," Walker (Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, 2007, etc.) looks beyond her well-publicized estrangement from her mother, novelist Alice Walker, to the lives of other writers "searching for authenticity through experimentation" in their domestic situations. The essays she assembles smash class, race and gender stereotypes to collectively demonstrate the fluidity of the contemporary family unit. Resisting the traditional boundaries of coupledom, Jenny Block, on the one hand, celebrates the openness of what she calls a "polyamorous marriage" with her husband and her girlfriend. On the other hand, Judith Levine and her boyfriend, together for 17 years, never married for a number of practical and philosophic reasons. Writes Levine: "A marriage may or may not be a union of love. It is always a union of property...I'd like the state to get out of the sexual-licensing business altogether, actually, for couples gay, straight, bi, or none of the above." Essays by Dan Savage and Dawn Friedman lay bare the highs and lows of open adoption. Savage details the difficulty he and his partner have in deciding what to say to their adoptive son when his homeless, substance-abusing biological mother drops out of touch for more than a year: "Which two-by-four to hit him with? That his mother was in all likelihood dead? Or that she was out there somewhere but didn't care enough to come by or call?" Friedman, while admitting to occasional twinges of jealousy and guilt evoked by having her daughter's birth mother integrated into their lives, trumpets openness for her daughter's sake: "She will never have to wonder why her first mother chose adoption; she can ask her." Rebecca Barry closes the anthology with a frank, humorous exploration of how she and her sister ended up in couples therapy.

Eye-opening and sometimes shocking, as it brilliantly explodes traditional notions about the nuclear family.

(A  star is assigned to books of unusual merit, determined by the editors of Kirkus Reviews.)

Pre-order and help put our book on the list its first week out!

December 18th, 2008

Mothers Do Envy Their Daughters

This is from a piece on a Psychology Today blog, that references Baby Loveand mothers who envy their daughters. It's good to see professionals who understand the subtext of complex relationships.   

"Half a century after Deutsche, Susie Orbach, Kim Chernin and others argued that young women's expanding career opportunities can (albeit not always) arouse a mother's envy. A daughter may hold herself back, terrified that, if she does surpass her mother, she will be forced to eat of those proverbial poisoned apples - in the form of maternal disapproval, disdain, guilt. Or, she may hope to win approval by her success, only to find that success does not give her mother pleasure; instead, her mother responds with envy, which a daughter experiences as disapproval."

This is a hotly debated subject, amd many experts deny and reframe what looks like maternal envy as maternal concern. And yet I hear from so many women who have felt undermined by their mothers. And mothers who have struggled with their jealousy of their daughters.

My feeling is not enough light has been shed on the subject, and, like mental illness, the kind of wounding that occurs in many mother daughter relationships is even more devastating because daughters are considered ungrateful for voicing their feelings, and punished accordingly. Especially in the black community, when so many mothers have had to work so hard for so long. The idea of expressing any kind of upset is  unthinkable. And yet, as Audre Lorde wrote, "Our silence will not protect us."

What about you? Have you experienced any of these kinds of maternal conflicts? Either as a mother yourself or as a daughter?

Time to talk, to open the doors. We all have something to gain.

 

December 16th, 2008

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: War is Out of Date

December 4th, 2008

The Power of Power

To continue our discussion of different kinds of power, I am thrilled Obama has brought Samantha Power, who was forced to resign from Team Obama during the campaign for calling Hillary Clinton "a monster," back on board as part of the transition team--for the office of the Secretary of State. 

If you don't know about Samantha Power, here is an excerpt from Esquire:

Power, a journalist and now a professor at Harvard, who won a Pulitzer prize for her 2003 book on America's response to genocide, A Problem from Hell, and who helped kick-start the Save Darfur movement, has a vision that will help shape 21st-century American foreign policy. What Norman Podhoretz is to the neocon movement Power is to this as-yet-unnamed force. (Neo-internationalism? Moral interventionism? Machiavellian idealism?) She espouses talks--firm talks--with rogue states, a respect for international law, and a moral and pragmatic duty to intervene--with troops if necessary--in cases of genocide.

I'm happy she's back for a number of reasons: she's passionate about human dignity and has a complex and pragmatic view of how to secure it. In other words, she's tough and smart. Heart and head. Has a plan. A view. And her Pulitzer Prize winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, is endlessly relevant, and gives her unique insight into seemingly intractable hostilities, like the one between Israel and Palestine.

Though she's been lambasted by Zionist groups who say she wants to do everything from fund islamic terrorists to invade Israel, apparently her official position is the US should engage in an immediate and intensified involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In her view, the situation "has to be resolved first of all for the benefit of the parties involved, but also to prevent "cynical Arab leaders" from exploiting the conflict as a tool for justifying their policies."

I'm no expert, but this sounds like a rational approach to me. 

But mostly I feel good about Power's return because Obama's ability to bring her back in a leadership role in HRC's realm says he feels free as POTUS to make controversial decisions and continue to mix up ideological perspectives in the hopes of reaching different conclusions. He's apparently using the power vested in him to follow his agenda of change, rather than kowtow to personal gripes, party lines, or general consensus.

Power should be an excellent and necessary counterpoint to Hillary. Obama appears to believe the two women, though different in approach, are stronger together than apart.

What do you think?

December 1st, 2008

Shift Happens: Preparing our children for the 21st century

Deep.

November 30th, 2008

What Michelle Obama is Giving Up: A Question of Power

Hey all,

I have an essay in The Root today about Michelle Obama and feminism.

Yesterday afternoon, in tandem with the essay on Michelle Obama, I joined a group of exceptional women including Anna Perez, the former Press Secretary for Barbara Bush, Leslie Morgan Steiner, the editor of the best-selling anthology Mommy Wars, and Jolene Ivey, co-founder of Mocha Moms, on Michel Martin's NPR show Tell Me More to talk about:

What Michelle Obama is Giving Up.

It was a fascinating conversation, but five intense women talking about Michelle Obama for thirty-five minutes? We could have been there for hours. I left the studio thinking about all the things I wished there had been more time to say.

I wish the show had been called "What Michelle Obama is Gaining."

There was certainly more to say about the question of "power" vs "influence." It's my view that Michelle has the opportunity to have a tremendous amount of power--political, personal, ideological, symbolic, financial, social, maternal, emotional, psychological-- but Anna Perez opined Michelle will have influence, but because she can't write legislation and doesn't have a vote on key issues, she won't have power. 

But there are different kinds of power. Laws change administration to administration, but transforming the consciousness of a generation is forever. Did Martin Luther King, Jr. have power or influence? Did Jackie Kennedy want more power and less influence? How about Eleanor Roosevelt? And what about our former First Lady, Hillary Clinton? She almost because POTUS in large part as a result of her "influence." What about the Nobel committee? Do they have power or influence? Freud and Jung? Moses?

I was taken aback by Anna Perez's view, her privileging one realm, the political, over what could be called the personal or communal, a view that has disempowered women for centuries. And I was struck by how difficult it seemed for many of the women in the conversation to see Michelle as anything but a victim. Incredibly, they seemed to think she was more powerful as a hospital administrator than First Lady.

We denigrate Michelle by denigrating her choices. Projecting an idea of her as a deer in the headlights rather than a lioness on the plain reflects a crisis of the imagination, and speaks volumes about what we think is possible for a woman, or any human being, to negotiate.

People working to create a better world dismiss their accomplishment at their own peril. They resign themselves to a lifetime of disappointment.

What do you think? Do you have power or influence, power and influence, or no power and no influence?

How do you define power? 

November 28th, 2008

The First Review

There are few things more unnerving than writing a book and introducing it to others. When it finally goes out, some writers sit back and second guess the whole shebang. It's genius, we think one minute. It's awful, we think the next. And then the first review comes in and if it's good we let out a HUGE sigh of relief. Or at least I do. And guess what my friends? That review has come in and it's, well, fantastic!

Needless to say, I'm thrilled. 

Pre-order and then send stories about your unique families for posting.

November 22nd, 2008

Obama's One Thousand Pieces, The Guardian UK

November 7th, 2008

By Rebecca Walker

I can finally stop for a second. And breathe. The election wasn’t stolen.Our candidate is alive. We showed up, changed the world, and plan to get up tomorrow and do it again. We know this because Obama won and there is a whole lot of world left to change. We also know this because President-elect Obama has already sent his supporters an email requesting our suggestions on public policy. True to form, he expects our input to begin right now.

November 7th, 2008

Newseek: What Michelle Obama Can Teach Us

Interesting Newsweek piece today, with nice reference to yours truly, referring to my post on theroot.com about the CNN black in America series.

November 2nd, 2008

If the world could vote

The Economist endorsed Barack today. Love this amazing graphic of how the world would vote.
October 31st, 2008