MLK 2019

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.

MLK 2017

Do I have to this year?

I guess I’ll jump right in then.  You know all of that crazy optimism I tend to show on this holiday? (or used to, before the last few years were all regressive when it came to civil rights…) Well, it seems that was carted off by old man 2016 and this baby 2017 hasn’t grown any yet.  I’m depressed about the state of equality in our country.  I feel like this year is the icing on the cake that proves we’ve been outpaced by many countries in the world when it comes to valuing potential in everyone – not all developed countries either, I may add.  I keep asking myself if this election was the backlash to progress made over the last 8 years, or if the 8 years were the backlash from the hell we were in the 8 years before that.  (And I realize it’s popular these days to say that W./Cheney weren’t so bad in light of Trump -garbage!  I remember only too well the erosion of rights, individual and human, and increase in surveillance coupled with reckless foreign policy and inept economic policy that made up all of his troubling time in office.  Trump may be worse, but we’ve yet to find out)

So, instead of being vindicated that at last, of course, we had elected a female president, and one who would be really really great at her job – here we are, waiting to see how bad things will get for rights in our country under Trump.

Optimism, right.  There will be Harriet Tubman on the 20 dollar bill!  The mint is issuing a coin with lady liberties of different ethnicities, beginning with African-American.  Apparently money is the only thing getting more diverse in the federal government this year.

My joy in telling my son about Dr. King was really the best part of the holiday for me today.  I wish someone had emphasized to me as a young person how young Dr. King was when everyone started paying attention to him, and how young he still was at his death.  I find it increasingly amazing that he was able to be taken seriously by so many when he was in his 20s and 30s.  Look how Obama was dismissed by so many as being ‘too inexperienced’ at 47 – Dr. King was dead at 39.  Everything we know about him and everything he organized was accomplished before 40, which blows me away as a soon-to-be 37 year old.  He waited for no one to get out there and get it done.  In that context, it reframes for me the portrayal of the divide between him and the SNCC leadership (i.e. Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Toure) as a generational issue – it was, but barely; they were 11 years apart in age.

Come on, what else?  Two women have entered the race for mayor here in St. Louis this year.  There is a packed field of candidates though, and I’m not going to be to hopeful again about men voting en masse for female leadership anytime soon.

Nothing else comes to mind.  Voting rights, bathroom laws, continuing extrajudicial killings by police, and Trump Trump Trump and his terrible cabinet in the news 24/7 are what come to mind, and I’m trying not to be that negative.  I’ve planned to be more of the change I’d like to see in the near future, maybe I’ll have some good reports this time next year?  Good luck to us all, and thanks again to Dr. King for your inspiration and your message.  I continue to try to grow nonviolence in my life daily, and hope that it will come more easily for my son that it does for me.