Hello, dear friends I imagine may be out in the world! Though I have been MIA on this blog, I haven’t forgotten my annual civil rights evaluation, due this weekend. I think I wrote one last year, maybe just on paper. Or maybe I missed it, as I missed a lot of the things I usually do while I had a borrowed teenage daughter through an exchange program. Amazing what a shift in family dynamics having two kids at home is, instead of one.
On to the nitty-gritty. We do have some good (?) news from the past couple of years in review to report! We have a female mayor in St. Louis City for the first time ever! I was less excited initially, as it was not the woman I voted for and hoped would win who was elected, yet I am beyond relieved that this long awaited milestone has finally been reached. I remember writing in many past year reviews about the wait.
Another good, though tempered, report is that a Chicago Police Officer is going to do time for an extrajudicial killing. Tempered because of the short sentence, the mishandling of the case initially, the lack of coverage and ‘take note, other PDs of the nation!’ message visible to me this week. Tempered by the vast inequality of the elimination of a citizen with a short prison sentence for the eliminator. Tempered by the incredible rarity of this outcome. A start, or an anomaly? I’m reminded of how I felt during the Obama presidency, ‘Is this the pendulum swinging back from an extreme or just a swing away from our disturbing normal?’.
Also we have, I’m told, a lot more women in positions of power politically than ever before. Again, a measured progress, particularly with the continued overt demonization of women in politics (most violently seen in the conservative vitriol for Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, but almost a given for any woman who announces a presidential run) and the horrible misogyny rampant in our top leadership.
On to the negative? I suppose. The Cavanaugh hearings were a new low, to me. Or more accurately, an old low I thought we could pass pretty easily. I can’t believe that had no bearing on a lifetime appointment.
Children’s rights have been top of my mind, particularly as my son is moving out into the world more at seven. As I’ve mentioned in the past, both my husband and I dealt with sexual abuse in our youth and the Catholic abuse admission has been nauseating for us. My son is now preparing for his first communion (a big deal in Catholic childhood, kind of the first steps to being a full member of the church and a major childhood rite of passage) which seemed like a given for me but became a pretty hard sell to my non-catholic husband, and somewhat to myself. I’ve never given a ton of money to the church, but the idea of my little contributions which I imagined contributing to community among neighbors and outreach to the needy going to feed, pay and reward pedophiles and shut up their victims really makes me feel physically ill. The idea of a church being a triggering place for those kids and the adults they became/will become instead of the relaxing place it is to me makes me cry every time. But beyond the awful issue of children’s abuse, I’ve been thinking of how much freedom (more accurately, how little freedom) our kids have here. My son plays outside alone or with friends, is aloud to walk alone to my sister’s to see his cousins (two blocks away) and sometimes walks alone ahead of me to or from a park, if I’m following in a car. I’ve been amazed and horrified at the number of times this has caused concern to other adults. And it really makes me wonder why? My son doesn’t look young for his age, and I wonder about my 13 year old niece who looks really young for hers. Is she too young to be out alone? What age is currently deemed safe to walk around your own area and play? Let me say that we have always walked around the city as one of our primary modes of transportation, and he’s been crossing streets without any concerning behavior for his whole life, apart from a few incidents which were much emphasized as unacceptable and a dealbreaker for future independence. He knows what he’s doing as well as anyone else crossing the street, and knows as well that drivers are nervous around kids in the street and may not be able to see him as well as adults. He is cautious.
Where is our wave of new female police leadership? Where is the outreach to nonviolent and anti-macho recruits to change the existing atmosphere? Am I just dreaming?
Sports continue to horrify me with blatant, pervasive sexism at every level of segregation. Another issue to grapple with as my son ages out of the few co-ed teams I’ve been able to find, as apparently it’s still unacceptable for kids to play competitively together after the age of 8 or so. I’ve recently found out that even high school sports are regularly covered on local news shows now, and guess what kind of equal time girls teams are given to boys? Yeah, go with your first guess. Girls’ physical achievements have no societal values, loud and clear. Girls should never beat boys, or even be at the same physical level, got it. Sometimes I forget how all-important those lessons are.
Well, before I get too bleak… maybe too late? I’m getting out of the house for a minute! Shorter than some, but that will have to do it for this year. Always hoping for more good news next year! Happy MLK day to all, let’s get out there and improve it for all this year.