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Openness is our greatest human resource.

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Miriam Makeba - Oxgam {Studio Version}

 

It is so important for us to be ourselves, to shine. Especially in the difficult moments, when we are called upon to navigate complex socio-cultural realities and feel weak, this is when we must remember our strength.

Remembering who we are, letting ourselves be big, moving forward with surety: this is the way human beings express our essential beauty. With intention and self-respect we create our own inimitable style. In the face of tremendous obstacles, we move with our own, unshakable grace.

If we feel fear, we do not let it win.

March 16th, 2008

Olbermann Slams Clinton in Special Comment

Olbermann Slams Clinton in Special Comment: "You Are Campaigning As If Barack Obama Were The Democrat And You Were The Republican" - Media on The Huffington Post

I found out today while doing an NPR interview and listening to Mary Frances Berry on air that Ferrarro said the same thing about Jesse Jackson when he ran for President.

It would behoove us to remember Rove-ian tactics and not have our heads in the sand re: the dems. Make no mistake: Hillary wants to be president and she will play the political game like the master players she and her team are. The issue of race is one play in a thick play book.

The question is whether Obama can recognize the level of the game afoot and win at it, while staying true to his aspiration for new politics (and not becoming completely demoralized). The people he's running against are doing old politics, and the world is watching to see how he manages it. He's going to have to beat politicos in his own backyard, or else how will he outplay them on a global stage?

A tough but exciting place to be.

The key is strategy, strategy, strategy. Obama needs his A Team.

P.S. Just turned on the television: Now it's the pastor. What next?
March 13th, 2008

1443 Rockdale Dr. Jackson, Mississippi

1. Great talk tonight at MTSU. Warm campus, smart students, beautiful faculty. Had a great time, especially seeing my old friends Denise and Kimberly, who drove from Pensacola to see me. How lucky am I? We talked about Third Wave Feminism(s), creativity, spirituality, Empire, and new masculinity, among other topics.

2. So amazing to see Obama winning in Mississippi. He campaigned in Jackson, MS, where my parents married against anti-miscegenation laws. My father stayed up at night on our porch with a shotgun because the Klan threatened our little mixed race, segregation-challenging family.

It is incredible to see, in one generation, a mixed race person running for President and taking the state in the primary. I can't be prouder of all my parents did to help birth this moment. I'm also proud of the evolution of a mixed race view of the world that began way back with Frederick Douglass, and runs through Bob Marley--both of whom were mixed race.

3. I can't believe Geraldine Ferraro had the temerity, or unmitigated gaul, to suggest Barack is where he is because of his race. Didn't I already address this in my response to Gloria Steinem's Op-Ed? Didn't I address this in my critique of white, status quo Second Wave Feminist leadership? Sigh.

4. Come check out my new blog on theroot.com. It's called SEEDS, and I'll be posting on parenting twice a week.

5. Peace and love forever and ever.

Rebecca
March 12th, 2008

For Hillary's Campaign, It's Been a Class Struggle - washingtonpost.com

For Hillary's Campaign, It's Been a Class Struggle - washingtonpost.com

Very important article about the role of class in this election. Important to consider, though I think there are many reasons women of all backgrounds might vote for Obama.

For starters, black women of every class may feel there is a better chance Obama will challenge the prison industrial complex currently criminalizing and incarcerating so many African-American men. Rich white women may be voting Obama because they don't want to see their sons shipped off to war, a modality Hillary has supported and Obama has not.

Really, there are so many other factors here than whether or not Maria Shriver has nice hair or the Obamas live in a nice house.

This article was sent by "Cardozo" who commented on the Feminist Infighting post about the rampant misogyny Hillary's been hit with during the campaign, and how Obama seems a distraction from real issues facing women.

My response:

I agree with much of what you've said here Cardozo--I was stunned last month in Pensacola when I shared the elevator with a man whose t-shirt had a picture of Hillary on a bucket of chicken. The caption? "Two small breasts, two left wings, and a pair of fat thighs." I was so shocked by the vulgarity, I couldn't respond in the moment.

The issue raised in my post is that Feminism has failed to countermand this misogyny by building a devoted, diverse, mainstream base through its us vs. them, often short-sighted and divisive dynamic.

The issue of whether Obama can address the specific concerns of women, or even make good on half of his promises, is an important one. And yet, we cannot deny the potency of his open approach to the issues, the incredible team of advisors he has put together, and his ability to relate to many around the world for whom whiteness in either gender still stands for colonialism and exploitation.

One thing is for sure, and I know this from personally traveling from Kenya to Thailand and all points including Iceland in between, the US is in desperate need of a makeover, substantively and superficially.

In a truly global world, the people of every country have a stake in this election, and from what I hear, Obama's their candidate.

It's an interesting place to be.

March 4th, 2008

The Rag & Bone Blog

The Rag & Bone Blog

Here's a post in which we've got both ART and POLITICS. Thanks to the fabulous Flygirl, I found these amazing Obama posters.

I hightailed it to CRO and bought "Tell Your Mama, I'm For Obama," which the Print and Photo Department of the Library of Congress has added to the national collection.

Brad Kayal generously offers his to download, print and staple to your nearest spot for free.

Note to HRC campaign: it is now and always about the artists.
March 3rd, 2008

Feminist In-fighting 101

There is a lot of discussion about "feminist in-fighting" of late, spurred by the election. Jessica Valenti of Feministing.com is doing a piece on the subject for The Nation. Here is my response to her query:

1. The fact is there have always been many "feminisms," but one dominant, more visible Feminism, which is essentially comprised of the needs, views, and philosophies of straight white women with a certain degree of privilege. Now we can add "and of a certain age" to that list. Women of different backgrounds have been speaking to this issue of exclusivity for decades, and their critiques have been voluminous. The lack of resolution of these critiques is currently manifesting in an exacerbated form, and labeled "infighting." There are no new issues on the table. For example, my mother, Alice Walker, did not create the term "womanist" in the late seventies because she was feeling creative. I did not offer the concept of Third Wave in the nineties because I wanted to inject a catchy phrase into the Feminist discourse. And, many "mainstream" women did not reject the Feminist label in the sixties to present because they don't know what Feminism really is.

The complaints brought against Feminism include racism, classism, ageism, out of touchism, and a certain tendency toward First World arrogance. There has been an enduring wariness in communities of color specifically, about Feminism's mantra of independence rather than interdependence with male family members and the world at large. This would include Feminism's ambivalence about motherhood, marriage, and domestic life in general. This would include Feminism's divisive and ultimately unhelpful commentary that women need men like fish need bicycles (women need their grandfathers, fathers, sons, brothers, etc for a host of reasons too lengthy and obvious to list here). This would include Feminism's dismissal of religion itself based on its patriarchal leadership. This would include Feminism's characterization of young women who don't fall in line with the Feminist status quo as naive and ungrateful. This would include Feminism's short-sidedness that will ultimately undo the work of their anointed protegees.

Simply put, if Feminism was Wal-Mart, and had as many decades-old unresolved grievances against it, it would have long ago been bankrupt.

2. What we see in this election is the zenith of the decades-old struggle between women of different sensibilities seeking empowerment, enfranchisement, and their rightful share of the resources available. The issue at hand has to do with Feminism's (not feminism's) inability to respond adequately to the claims brought against it. If, for instance, the leadership had taken the aforementioned critiques, including those in my 1995 book To Be Real, seriously, many younger women might not feel so alienated from a movement that achieved so much for them. Women of color at large might not still be skeptical of what they perceive to be Feminism's true agenda--to empower the few and not the many. Men, many of whom would be allies to feminism's cause, would not feel attacked, rejected and alienated from a movement that held great potential benefit for them as well.

The rise of Women for Obama then, to some extent has to do with Feminism's creation of a vacuum. This is why, for instance, a Wal-Mart would "go green" at the insistence of its customers. If Wal-Mart did not respond to the messages of its base, its base would go elsewhere. To a consumer environment that better suits their sensibilities an aspirations, perhaps. The same could be said about Feminism.

3. Overall, the response of Second Wave Feminist leadership has been a stubborn insistence that it has already accommodated the aforementioned views and critiques, and that if people would just understand the "real" history, this would all be cleared up. There does not seem to be an understanding that this very response is problematic, insulting and trivializing to those who have brought forward these concerns. It is not that this diverse community of challengers is ignorant, it is that they have surmised the landscape to find many of their concerns and reservations confirmed. It is no secret that, just as middle class blacks have benefited the most from the civil rights movement and the rest are either impoverished or in jail, so have a certain group of women been the primary beneficiaries of Feminism.

To continue the analogy, if Wal-Mart claimed it had made the switch to green, but the products on its shelves were, in fact, not reflective of that claim, Wal-Mart would lose the faith of its customers and again, over time, be forced into bankruptcy.

4. Based on the above, I am not entirely certain that the calls decrying Feminism's death are incorrect or even undesirable. Perhaps a Feminism that has not responded to the needs of its constituents needs to die. Perhaps Obama is unintentionally killing Feminism and facilitating the rise of "feminisms." We shall see. He has clearly addressed the issue of ageism. Young people are not marginalized in his campaign or team of advisors. In fact, young people of all backgrounds have come out in support of his message by the hundreds of thousands. This generation has yet to do the same for Feminism.

March 1st, 2008

AlterNet: Reproductive Justice and Gender: The Medical Right Falls Hard for Ultrasounds -- At the Expense of Women's Health

AlterNet: Reproductive Justice and Gender: The Medical Right Falls Hard for Ultrasounds -- At the Expense of Women's Health

Okay, this really is the last one today. I had to include for all you pregnant moms out there. I wrote about my skepticism of the medicalization of my pregnancy in Baby Love. This is a good contribution to the discussion.

February 29th, 2008

Committed: Why a black Ohio congresswoman is sticking with Hillary Clinton. | Views | TheRoot.com

Committed: Why a black Ohio congresswoman is sticking with Hillary Clinton. | Views | TheRoot.com

One more and then I'm done for the day. I like these pieces about women sticking with Hillary. This one is especially powerful.
February 29th, 2008

Why the Farrakhan litmus test must go

Why the Farrakhan litmus test must go. | Views | TheRoot.com

Great piece and conversation on a controversial point that shouldn't be so controversial. When was the last time George Bush was taken to the mat over David Duke or any other hugely problematic white leader?

February 29th, 2008

Nextbook: Up Against the Man

Nextbook: Up Against the Man

Hey all—sitting at LAX waiting to go home when this article came up on the transom. I like the points Lynn Harris makes: the divisive aspect of characterizing Obama-ites as young and future thinking and Clintonians as the old, the stodgy, the uncool. In a campaign about uniting, there seems to be a lot of dividing afoot.

For mixed families, cultural, racial and political, this could be the most challenging election ever. At the moment, it's hard to know what the fall-out from this will be. Someone is going to lose. How do you think that will play out in the country, and at home?

February 28th, 2008