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    • I’ve Never Known How to Say This
      I’ve been writing online for 17 year or so, if you don’t include forums, in which case it’s 25 or so. And I’ve never known how to say this. We’re really fucked up. Really. We’re cruel to each other in ways that just aren’t needed. We have more houses than homeless; enough food to feed […]
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I Am Not A Feminist

deeandlouI am not a feminist.  For one thing, I’ve never really known exactly what the term means.   Thankfully, Murphy at PUMA Pac provided me with a clue by posting this quote:

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
– Rebecca West

While that’s nice to know, I’ve been more inclined to accept the “me, a name I call myself” type labels ever since I first learned the song that line comes from.  Which brings me to another point, if feminist means celebrating the “feminine” that lets me out right there.  I’ve never been, nor wanted to be, “feminine.”  While I’m perfectly comfortable embracing the “female,” “feminine” has always seemed to me to be the definition of  female as “less than,” and I can’t go for that.   The “just a girl” attitude I’ve always perceived to be associated with the word “feminine” has always pissed me off.

Some might say that’s because I was born gay, but I’m not buying that either.  While I was born gay, I didn’t really recognize that about myself until my mid-twenties, believe it or not, and didn’t really accept it until even later than that.  “Gay” was just not talked about in my house, or anywhere else I was exposed to growing up in the late fifties, early sixties; there were girls, boys and tomboys.  I was a tomboy.  But even once I embraced my lesbianism, actvism was never an option I considered; nobody I cared about, gay or straight,  discriminated against me, and that was all that ever mattered to me.

I feel the same way about my blackness; I’m not militant about it; like being a gay woman, it is simply who I am, who I was born to be.  I’ve always known I was black, everybody in my house was too, even though none of us really have the same hue.   The first time I was aware of it was probably about the same time I realized girls were just as good as boys, about the same time I first heard “doe, a deer…”  Seeing people on TV who were just like everybody else I knew, only a different color, made me ask my mother what was up with that one day around the time I started school.  The nature of society as it was reflected on the news probably had something to do with my racial awakening, but even with all the unrest roiling around the country, to me my blackness was no big deal.  Some people didn’t like girls and tomboys either, but that was their problem.  Politicizing my “me-ness” has always seemed to me to be accepting of other people’s definition of who they think I should be, in fact, in my mind, to be radical about one’s inherent physical qualities requires that one define oneself on others’ terms.

I am a black gay woman.

Deal with it.

But, first and foremost, I am a human being.  On that level, I’ve always been pissed off that some people think they’re better than other people, no matter what the reason.  So what if you’re rich, or white, or smart, or tall, or go to a different church, or pee standing up?  That’s who you are, we either like each other or we don’t; life goes on.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to abide anybody abusing anybody else.  Who do you think you are?  What gives you the right to try to impose your will on somebody else?  What makes you think you can hit, or hurt, or be mean to another person just because you’re mad about who they are?  Because that’s what just about all conflict comes down to.  We get mad at our lovers, spouses, friends, children, enemies because they’re not who we want them to be at that moment.  The same is true for religion; you don’t worship the way I think you should so I hate you, you’re not the right kind of believer.   You don’t drive the way I think people should drive so screw you, you’re not the driver I want you to be.  You’re gay, you’re white, you’re stupid, you’re wrong.  For some reason, too many of us think some aspect, any aspect, of other people’s reality is subject to our approval.

So people around the world blow other people up because they exist in places they don’t want them to be, people dedicate their lives to trying to force other people to behave according to the standards of their “one God who loves everybody the way they are,” people shoot other people because they own things they want and don’t want other people to have, people invent ways to hurt other people for being who they are.  And nobody ever stops to consider how silly it all is.

A man wants a woman to behave the way he wants her to; he wants what he wants, when she won’t allow it, he shoots her in the face with a shotgun.  That is the way he is.  He has done things like that before, if not stopped, he will do it again.  But, how do you stop him without becoming like him?  If you do, when will the cycle stop?  Because he hurts the woman, the people who love her will want him to be hurt the same way, that’s human nature.  But, no matter how unreasonable he is and always has been, somebody loves him, too.  And, even if they don’t love him, if he is hurt in return, some who identify with him will take up his cause and hurt people on his behalf.  Which will of course require further retaliation; and so on, and so on…Ongoing wars that began millenia ago have been started in much the same way, many feuds, fights, turf wars, etc., have been started for less.

And, that is not the way we should be.  But, what to do?  No one should bear the pain of losing a family member, let alone two, to someone else’s ego-driven rage of insecurity.  We can never, ever expect anyone to accept that kind of injustice.  Their anguished howls of outrage and pain are outrageous and painful to all who hear them, and if they are unbearable for those of us not directly affected, and they are, we can only imagine the depths of the despair they feel, which anguishes us even more.  Never would I suggest that anyone in that situation simply “take it” in the name of “getting along,” or “stopping the cycle.”   But my outrage, pain and anguish is not because I empathize with another woman, but because she’s a human being.

As am I.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, as long as we, as a global society, a human family, approach our attempts at conflict resolution as feminists, blacks, gays, Christians, Jews, Muslims, whites, Democrats, Republicans, or any other kind of “-ists” “-isms” “-ians,” or “-ites,” we’re doomed to perpetual warfare, personally, nationally, politically, and ethnically.  Until we see ourselves and others as what we are, human beings, there’s no hope for any of us.

My thoughts and prayers go out to fellow PUMA Betty Jean Kling and her daughters, Denise Richardson and Louisa Richardson-Rodas.  May God bless them and show them mercy.  I support her in all her endeavors to seek justice for her family and all who have ever, or might ever, find themselves in a similar situation, which is, unfortunately, all of us.

This angry, black, lesbian, Baptist human being reaches out with open arms to another human being suffering a fate no one should ever have to even contemplate, and offers her and her family love.

What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.

Though we have never met, Betty Jean, this post goes from my heart to yours.

If I have trivialized, misrepresented, sensationalized, or offended you in any way, please accept my humble apologies.

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Wednesday: People Like Us

There are three must read posts from two of our friends and one satellite sister today.  I’m calling these posts “What they did to us”, “Why they’re doing it” and “How to start fighting back”.

The first, What they did to us, is at PUMAPac and is an update and second teaser for the film, The Audacity of Democracy, The Hillary Flashpoint and Battle for the Soul of the Democratic Party.

Darragh is still raising funds to finish the film, scheduled for around inauguration in 2009, though if it’s finished earlier, doesn’t it get counted in the Academy Awards category of documentary?  I dunno.  Anyway, if you contribute now and pre-order your copy of the film now, you will get a DVD of clips from various PUMA events in Denver, including the one where Sheri Tag and MarylandPUMA tag teamed the reprehensible Tommy Christopher, “journalist”.  Not to be missed!

The second post that I call, “Why they’re doing it”, is from our satellite sister, who isn’t a PUMA, Anglachel.  Her post, Where the Shadows Lie, will put a chill up your spine and not merely because the title refers to Tolkien’s Mordor.  It’s because you come away feeling like a Clinton Democrat is one of the most reviled creatures on earth to the Unity Democrats.  We’ve all experienced this irrational hatred towards us.  For example, I can now spot an Obama troll from a mile away by noting the condescension dripping off the page.  They assume that we are just barely literate even though many of us have advanced degrees or no degree but are self-taught BS detectors.  If we’re so stupid, how is it we can trace their IP addresses back to the Humanities departments of so many (formerly) prestigious universities, like Boston University and Columbia?  But I digress.  Here is the money quote from the scary smart Angachel, Clintonista Divine:

To cut to the chase, the push in 2004 for a “Unity Party” has been realized with Howard Dean delivering the Democratic Party into the hands of the High Broderists who value unity for unity’s sake more than any other political cause or virtue. They don’t even want to claim to be part of their party, hoping people will forget and just vote for those nice clean, articulate fellas. This is part of internalizing the Reagan assault on the legitimacy of the Democratic Party as such. Psychologically, to them, the Democratic Party is the remnants of the uneducated, racist, white South and rust-belt north, who vote for Bubbas like Clinton and reject above-partisanship technocrats and idealists like Bill Bradley, John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas and Howard Dean himself. The nerve of them people! And thus, this year, we have the Unity Democrats, non-partisan to the end.

The dark underbelly of this move is the presumption that the people who have been told their interests must wait will always be there for the Democrats because we have nowhere else to go. Specifically, this means African Americans, women voters and GLBT voters.

The focus of the Unity Democrats is on the winners of the economic realignment, those who managed to win a place in the white collar upper-middle class. People like my family and my husband’s, who leveraged the affluence of the post-war era to vault from being immigrants and farmers to being professionals in various government bureaucracies, law, finance, and new, white collar industries like high tech and bio-tech. The other part is to minimize the damage the losers of that realignment can inflict, which mostly means refusing to commit to policies and plans that will defend their interests. Or even their lives. Obama’s campaign is not about social goods and resources, but about cultural markers of class inclusion, such as your level of education, where you shop, whether you live in urban or rural environments, etc. He has difficulty addressing the failures of an economic system contiguous with his own class and which is deeply invested in his candidacy, and I don’t just mean the campaign contributions. He is the exemplar of a mode of life that, while not as unreachable as that of Bush’s base, is still out of reach of those who do not have the education, acculturation and business contacts to climb up that economic ladder.

The ultimate shadow of Reagan is that you don’t win by defending losers, only by securing the interests of the winners. That is the dark heart beating in the chest of the Unity Democrats. They are done with the losers.

Yep, we are the LOOOOSSSERRRSSS according to the Chris Bowers types even if we are for the most part indistinguishable from them.  The resentment comes down to people who still require something from government, like equal rights for women, African-Americans, the GLBT community, the elderly.  If you need something from the Unity Democrats, forget it.  You are now being set adrift on your own little ice-floe.  Of course, they still need you to win, as evidenced by the 63 branch offices that the Obama campaign has set up in PA.  But here’s the message that must be delivered to those Pennsylvanians like my mom, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins: The Obama Democrats do not care about you any more than the Bush Republicans did.  Just vote for every woman on the ballot and hope that someday we’ll get to a 30% Solution.

The last post is from our friend, Heidi Li Feldman.  Her post is Want to fix the Democratic Party?  Steps you can take now is full of short term, practical actions that will yield long term results.  Heidi is a cockeyed optimist too.  Never say die.  There are still things you can do to make sure you the party has a core that will survive the massive meltdown it is headed for in November by stupidly putting Obama at the helm.  For example:

  • You can donate to the Denver Group and Democrats for Principle before party.  The funds will be used to buy ads in Capital Hill newspapers to let Congress know we’re still out here and there is strength and numbers in the Clinton wing of the party.
  • You can contribute to a slate of Democrats who are in unexpectedly tight races this year and whose presence in Congress will shore up that wing of the party.  We recommend Linda Stender, Kay Hagen, Kirsten Gillibrand, Al Franken, for example.  See out ActBlue page for other suggestions.
  • You can call your Senator and urge him/her to elect Clinton as Senate Majority Leader.  Heidi tells us that now is the time that the political jockeying for positions is done.  In a week or so, they will be ordering their inaugural ball gowns and putting aside business for the year.  Strike while the Iron is Hot.

Now, a lot of the actions require you to make a donation.  Please take the money you might have sent to the DNC this year and donate to the downticket Dems of your choice, then to the causes that will help you re-establish your party. The Denver Group has a plan, PUMAPac has activities and a movie.  It’s an investment in your future and the future of the country.

And remember, “We are the ones no one expected.”

Monday: The Audacity

Jessie partying with Hillary

Jessie partying with Hillary

Last night, we had the premier party for the Audacity of Democracy and the media came.  The Boston Globe, CNN, NPR and Japanese TV among others came to the Fuel Cafe on the outskirts of Denver for screening a 40 minute cut of the movie.  Brad and Lorenda aren’t finished with the final product and won’t be until after the election.

Brad added a new section in the beginning of the movie about Barack Obama’s impact on his home town.  What did he do for Chicago when he was a community organizer and a state senator?  Turns out: Not Much.  Brad also catches an Obama supporter and quizzes her about Obama.  She can’t name a single accomplishment but she’s going to vote for him because he has “charisma”.  I know, I know, you just lost your breakfast.  But it’s very powerful to contrast her beliefs with the reality of the rest of the film.  You come to realize just how out of touch Obama people here.

Talking with the press has been a little like talking to Obamaphiles resigned to their fate.  There isn’t any real enthusiasm for Obama.  It has now become just another election and they have become assimilated.  The pattern is no different than any other year when the predetermined outcome prevailed- at least that’s how they sound.  They acknowledge that Hillary got a bum rap.  They admit that there’s something weird about how Obama got to where he is.  But that’s so five minutes ago.  Hardly worth pursuing.  Why do we have to go over the numbers again?  What can Obama do to get us onboard?

LadyboomerNYC is pretty in purple

LadyboomerNYC is pretty in purple

It really is astonishing to me that the media is missing one of the biggest stories of the whole election- the gaming of the convention itself.  This is going to be one giant caucus fraud and it’s going to be shown before a huge, televised, national audience and yet, the DNC and the Obama campaign are trying to force delegates into a final official vote before the actual roll call vote.  Do they think no one will notice?

One reporter got a clue last night (though we’ll see if she actually follows up on it).  She said something like, “Aren’t they supposed to do that on the convention floor?  If the vote is official before they vote, isn’t that breaking the rules?”  Ding! Ding! Ding!  Now, as a journalist, it would be super keen and nifty if she would use her credentials and find out if the scenario I am painting for her is true.  In normal conventions, is is the practice to take an informal vote before going to the floor, I guess to make sure there are no surprises, like Louisiana suddenly displaying a fondness for some obscure blue dog.  But if it is true that *this* year, the pre-roll call vote that happens in the hotels is the vote that will be considered official and final, then it seems to me that we have taken the scripting of the convention too far.  Other rumors are that some of the states are going to be skipped over until the end when they will be “adjusted” to make sure Obama is over the top ala the Indiana primary.

Patrick and Brad critique the hummus

Patrick and Brad critique the hummus

We hope to be hearing the delegates again before Wednesday so we can firm up some of what is actually going on.  But I challenge the press to investigate this more thoroughly.  The convention is just a giant caucus and it is very easy to pressure the delegates, mislead them and game the system.  Why would Obama have to do this if he were winning so handily?

We hope to see Gary and Mawm today in the PUMA Mobile.  (We need a Chitty-Chitty-Bang- Bang song to go with it) Today is The Beautiful Protest and Rise in Cheeseman Park from 2-10pm MT to honor Hillary Clinton.  We finish tonight in candlelight as we light our own little flames for Democracy.

More Tea Leaves: Heidi Li is following the conclusion of the FL and MI conundrum.  I believe the credentials committee restored them to 100% voting strength.  That means the final numbers to be the presumptive nominee have changed and presumably Obama is simply presumptuous.  The DNC is desperately trying to manage perception again with false reports of Clinton releasing her delegates but it turns out that some of those pesky delegates still want to honor their voters.  The reporter I spoke to last night was a pretty smart cookie, actually.  She started to make connections and I saw her brain clicking to life right before my eyes.  She fought through the confusion about the ROOLZ and the RBC meeting and credentials committee and I think she might finally see that the whole thing was Kabuki theater.  FL and MI were ALWAYS going to have to count 100%.  Withholding them was only a strategy designed to make sure that Hillary lacked the critical mass to put her ahead after superTuesday.  The states were “adjusted” to make sure that Obama had just enough delegates to make him look inevitable and resign the public to their fate.

But *WE* can always go our own way:

Sunday: Exercise

Ok, I loved the teaser that Lori sent last night. It’s going to be even better than I anticipated. They’re on to something and I hope they don’t tell us what it is until they’re done. But I am shocked by my appearance. I have spent way too much time parked on that couch. So, this morning I am walking to Starbucks for my light peppermint mocha frappachino. My goal is to lose 10 pounds by Denver so I can see my cheekbones again.

Don’t forget to contribute to the making of the movie. You can do it here.

BTW, For those of you curious about the Obama cheerleader/rapper in the clip below, that segment was shot at the Yamasaki fountain, also known as The Fountain of Freedom, on the Princeton campus. It is adjacent to the Woodrow Wilson School of Government. It’s a beautiful fountain with one of the largest pieces of cast bronze in the country. Children love the fountain and use it as a wading pool. It’s about 2 feet deep at the deepest section and a perfect place to dip little toes in the summer.

This is an open thread.

Update: The BFF and I are headed to Central Park this afternoon (Although we don’t live in Manhattan Chuck Todd 😛 ) for any of you PUMAs in the city who care to join us. It’s a great place to exercise. Meanwhile, here’s the video I played for SuperTuesday to get us stirring out of our winter hibernation to get out and vote. You can’t find this version on iTunes but any flavor of Iko Iko should have the same result. Get up and Dance!