Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dear Ms. Williamson.....

The following is a reprint of an article penned by Marianne Williamson for the Huffington Post. I tried to find a way to contact Ms. Williamson via her website but to no avail. So, I decided post my reply here. Hopefully, somehow, someway she will read it.

It's hard to own the disappointment I feel over our moderate corporate Democratic President. The whole Obama phenomenon brings up memories from my distant past: the good-looking guy who talks real good, whose line you don't buy immediately but whose charm is so dazzling that he gradually convinces you that this time it will be different.

Yeah. Right. Really different.

What the current administration is giving us is minimal change. And not because the President hasn't had the time to do better; if he had truly wanted to make fundamental change, he would have gone in there fast and done his own version of shock and awe in the first hundred days. And not because he didn't realize how mean all those Republicans can be, either; Obama knew what he was getting into, and if he didn't, then he was as unprepared for the job as his opponents said he was. I see so many people now -- many of them men, interestingly enough -- tangled up in an almost school-girlish, co-dependent, apologetic relationship with this President. As though "poor baby" should be tacked onto the end of every description of his failures.

I see all things political in light of the immense unnecessary suffering in the world. Republicans see it and say, "Wow, it's sad about all that suffering, but the government has no proper role in assuaging it. Hopefully the private sector will do something. That would be nice." The Democrats -- not all of them but enough of them, and definitely this President -- see all that suffering and say, "Wow, it's sad about all that pain people are going through. Let's try to assuage it."

And yet they're refusing to do anything to challenge the underlying forces that make all that suffering inevitable.

I remember Bobby and I remember Martin. I remember when there was a moral force
at the center of the Democratic Party. I see it sometimes still, in a Sherrod Brown, a Dennis Kucinich, an Anthony Weiner. But they're not reflective of the general tenor of the Democratic Party anymore, and I think we would all do well to wake up to that fact. We elected Obama and then he sort of became someone else. He's doing a lot of good things in various areas, but he's certainly not changing the new bottom line: that corporations get to run the world.

He bailed out the banks, but he didn't stipulate that they had to start lending again. He got us health care, but he wouldn't say a word about single payer and he wouldn't raise a finger for the public option. He won the Nobel Peace Prize, but accepted it with a speech that was an apologia for war.

Democrats seem to have no idea what dark wave is rushing towards them in the form of the 2010 mid-terms. They have no idea how many people will be too depressed to go vote, who'll be thinking, "We tried so hard last time, and what did it get us?" They have no idea how many people are thinking, as I am, that it's time to face the facts, no matter how painful they are. If Obama doesn't retrieve his spine and retrieve it soon, then his Presidency will go down in the history books as one of the biggest disappointments in American history.

In the meantime, we should be looking at our options. In "Healing the Soul of America", I wrote about Ghandi's notion of soul force in politics and why it matters to stand on your truth. Should we re-brand the Green Party perhaps, or draft another Democrat to challenge Obama in the primaries in 2012? I don't know what we should do, but I know one thing that we shouldn't do: pretend to ourselves that this man is delivering on what he promised when he first won our hearts.

Dear Ms. Williamson,

First let me start by saying what a profound impact you have had on my life. Actually, I can't really describe or quantify the impact that you have had on my life, only know that I, like millions of people in the world, have been forever changed by your words, thoughts and writings.

That said, I read your post on The Huffington Post with equal parts eagerness and trepidation. The title hinted at the content, but since it was written by you, I was compelled to read what you had to say on the subject of President Obama. I have purposely tried to avoid negative and non-constructive criticism of his presidency, mainly because I have no recollection of Mr. Bush's first year being so fraught with critiques and negativity, especially not by the people who elected him to office. I have been slightly dizzied by the turn that supporters of Mr. Obama have taken, so much so that I have stopped listening.

However, I read your post and some of the comments that followed. Ms. Williamson, I understand the deferment of the dream. The dream of Mr. Obama marching into office, bolstered and empowered by an historic win, and TRANSFORMING life as we know it. We would all wake up to a world that is on its way to true peace, an America that provides health care to its people, a comprehensive overhaul of the educational system, women's and gay rights safeguarded and Wall Street and corporate America having been firmly punished and set on their heels. I would be lying if I said I didn't wince when Mr. Obama was awarded the peace prize. I whole heartedly believe "that wars are poor tools for building peaceful tomorrows."

So, I get it and I understand. However, two things occur to me that I feel absolutely compelled to mention.

First, we elected Mr. Obama to be the President of the United States. Not just the president of liberals and progressives. The United States. In his inaugural address, he made it a point to speak directly to those who didn't vote for him (something like 43% of voters). I was there and I remember thinking that he really meant that. He is, and has always been, a man of moderation and unity. That is who we elected to do the job. Ms. Williamson, not everyone in America shares our vision. Not every woman believes that women should be able to decide when and where to have a baby. Not every American believes that healthcare should be a right. President Obama is our president as much as he is the president of all those who marched under the Tea Party banner. And here is the kicker, he is actually taking that very seriously. We the people have the health care plan we want. We the people have the health care process we deserve. And that, unfortunately, has nothing to do with Mr. Obama's spine. Would you really want George Bush? Just a George Bush who does what WE want? Because we are right? Because we are more moral? I don't want that, Ms. Williamson, and neither do you. Yes, it would be great for a minute, but the reality is, that would make "us" no better than "them". I never felt that George Bush was my president, and he wasn't. He didn't care about what I thought and he glibly and callously proved that with every choice and decision he made. It occurs to me that the real change is that our President actually believes and trusts in the ideals of democracy and sees himself as a servant. Perhaps that is why he looks as though he has no spine. Because he is a servant, to all of us. But, that is the job description. Public servant.

Second, miracles occur everyday. All the time. And Ms. Williamson, it is always darkest before the dawn. Mr. Obama is right, it does take audacity and boldness to hope, to believe. Especially in the face of what looks like defeat. We are not defeated. We can still believe that a better day is around the corner. We can still organize for health care, education, abortion rights and gay rights. It is not over. But the miracles have to occur over here where we are, on the ground. Just like the miracle of emancipation and the right to vote. It happens when WE continue to believe. And then march. And then continue to believe. And VOTE. And continue to believe. And right letters. And continue to believe. We cannot let our disappointment define us in this, the most important moment in what can still be a significant movement in American history.

I have nothing but the upmost of respect for you Ms. Williamson. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your contribution to the world and to my life. You are truly a gift. I also want to thank you for reading this email. It is means the world to me to be able to correspond with one of my sheroes!

May this year bring us all the peace we desire. Many blessings to you in 2010, Ms. Williamson.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I don't know nothing about no Afghanistan!

Hey everyone...actually, let me start over, because since I haven't been around for a few months, "everyone" might be a stretch.

So, I am not a professional blogger, just a girl with some free time and thoughts and my free time (thank you Lord!) has all but disappeared in the past few months. In other words, I got a job!

Before I start in on Afghanistan, I just have to say that I don't give a farthing, a fig newton, a rat's patootie nor a good gosh darn about Tiger Woods, Elin Woods or his mistress. Who the hell cares? Certainly not this Black American, non-White, non-Cabalinasian, non-Swedish nanny, non-Blond woman. Nope, not me! Whew, okay I feel better!

I also want to admit that I didn't watch Obama's speech last night. I was on the plane and I decided to watch Terminator Salvation instead. I think subconsciously, I wanted to see a movie about armageddon instead of watch a speech about it.

Listen, I don't know nothing about nobody's Afghanistan. I promise. And it is not for lack of trying. I have been reading about the war, Iran, Iraq, the middle east and Afghanistan for the past few years, and admittedly, I have been reading newspapers (all of them), the Huffington Post and TIME. So no, I have not been reading books and studying as though I were about to present a dissertation on the subject. What I realize is that the situation is so very complicated, so very rife with opinions presented as fact, and with a long and twisted history, that I feel it is almost impossible to have anything other than a cursory understanding of the subject.

So, I don't know what to say about the subject except to say that I think that President Obama is making a grave error. And I don't know what the answer is. It has been said so many times that if we leave it will only strengthen our enemies, that even I believe it. Apparently, so does President Obama. However, the logic remains that we are in someone else's country, and it stands to reason that the longer we are there, the longer the fighting to GET US OUT will continue.

I am concerned for our service men and women. I am concerned for their families. And I am very concerned about the future of Barack Obama's presidency. If we are still at war in three years, then Barack Obama will not win a second term. But, I will sit tight. I will do what I can to support my troops and support my president for however long he holds office. I just wish I could shake the feeling that the dream is over. That it only took less than a year for the dream of a new future, of true change in Washington, to crumble at the feet of an impossible war.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Love's Labours Lost. What Women Don't Know about Love.

Happy Labor Day everyone. I hope that the grilled meats and cold drinks are feeling real good to you right about now.

I got love on my mind today, but in keeping with the theme of no labor, I thought I would keep it short and sweet. Just like the summer that we say goodbye to this time every year.

What Women Don't Know About Love (From the Visible Perspective)


1. It ALWAYS requires settling

2. He won't be rich, handsome, smart and have a big dick. If you get 3 out of 4, you are doing great!

3. Love won't look ANYTHING like you expect.

4. Great sex, no matter how great, great chemistry, no matter how great, IS NOT LOVE!

5. It is something that you have to create newly everyday, no matter who are with.

6. It really does happen when you least expect it.

7. It follows a certain set of rules.

8. LOVE makes the rules, all you have to do is be up for the game!

9. Love will stay with you forever, long after the man is gone.

10. Loving someone, even if it doesn't work out, is a good sign that your heart is big enough to love again.

11. It always comes back to you.

12. It DOES NOT CONQUER ALL. It does give you a headstart, though.

13. You can force it away from you.

14. Never use your love as an excuse to cause anyone else pain. Ever.

15. In the place of the love of your life, buy shoes. It will make you feel better.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Good Negress

I have been thinking about Michelle Obama lately, a lot. A whole lot actually.

Clearly, I am a fan as she is the face of my blog. She represents a world of what's possible for women, for women of color, for Black women and what's possible for me.

In the words of my president, Barack Obama, let me be clear; Michelle Obama wins with me. She wins all the time. I am biased, squarely in her corner and will come out swinging if I think that my beloved Michelle Obama is being maligned in anyway.

And yet it occurs to me that my beloved Michelle Obama is doing something EXTREMELY radical. Beyond radical. Inexplicably shocking, actually. Michelle Obama is not acting like the first Black First Lady of the United States of America.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. The wearing of the shorts should have been my first clue. But I was so busy defending her from the blogosphere haterade that I was temporarily blinded. I was tipped off when she wore shorts and a tank and a helmet to go biking with her children around Martha's Vineyard. But it came crashing home when I saw her at the late Senator Ted Kennedy's funeral. She wore a skirt, some heels, an organza blouse and a bolero jacket. In a sea of dark suits, she wore a big black bow.

When I was a child, my mother...hell, all my damn life, the women in my family, my mother, grandmother and aunt have hollered from the rooftops to the floor about how a woman should look when leaving the house. I am a source of shame for them. I am not always dressed in a power suit and sometimes I wear jeans on the airplane! One time in church, my mother looked at me and said "I am ashamed to be seen sitting next to you. You look like you fell out of a Goodwill bin!" Ah, the Goodwill bin, a favorite insult of my mother's. Her other favorite insult? "You dress like a White girl". You see, being well dressed was not just a hobby. Oh no. It was the first line of defense against racism and discrimination. Being accused of dressing like a White girl was an insult because White women could (and would) be seen looking any old which way, but we as Black women didn't have that luxury. White women could wear leggings and slouchy tops, but in mother's house there were never any slouchy clothes. We had to be twice as good, and apparently, twice as well dressed, to get half as far as a White woman. So, dressing well for my mother and for my family was not just about what looked nice, it was also about the fact that as Black women, we didn't have the luxury to be anything other than beyond reproach when it came to our clothes. I imagine that I am not the only Black woman who has been raised with some version of this story.

Michelle Obama has tossed that logic out on its ear. And I don't know how I feel about it. I keep thinking about Coretta Scott King. She always looked like a doll. There are pictures of her marching for freedom with her face beat, in her suit and pumps, gloves and pearls. Didn't they march all the way to Washington? She was NEVER seen without makeup, much less galavanting with her children. In fact, we never saw the children galavant either. And yet, Mrs. Obama runs around in shorts, sneakers, tank tops, helmets, rides bikes, goes hiking! What's next? Flying a kite?

And finally, she actually takes fashion risks! Dresses and cardigans. Full skirts and bows. She has to know that as a Black woman she can't make those kinds of choices. If a White first lady had shown up at a funeral in Moschino I dare say it would have either A. not been news worthy or B. been ALL the rage. Mrs. Obama has to know this, and yet, instead of having a closet full of navy, black and red suits, she has CARDIGANS!

There are times, even now, when I am going somewhere really fancy with a bunch of White people and I still hear my grandmother say, "You can't wear that around all those White people!" I still cave from time to time, because I don't want to give anyone a reason to talk about me or look down on me. And yet, here Michelle Obama is, seemingly free from that particular Black girl neurosis. And she is paying for it. There are those out there who talk as though she were an embarrassment to the White House and to America. There are those that claim that she should hire someone to help her with the protocol of what it is to be the First Lady. There are even those that claim that she shouldn't be allowed to ride in Air Force One. There are so many claims of unworthy and unfit that I am starting to lose track of all the insinuations.

There is a part of me that doesn't really know what to do with this fresh new Black American woman, who dresses herself without thinking about "What will all the White people say?". This is all very new to me. A Black woman who embraces her humanity instead of constantly defending and guarding it. Someone who is malleable and flexible and real, instead of fixed, rigid, perfect and beyond reproach. As much as I love Michelle, this is taking some adjustment. There is a small part of me that wants her to retreat into the land of Oscar De La Renta suits and pumps, never leaving the house unless she has on lipstick and a strand of pearls. Because anything less leaves her open and vulnerable to attack. But perhaps that is the whole point. Perhaps there is a unspeakable bravery in laying it all bare, her arms, her legs, her face. This is unchartered territory for the Black woman. And Michelle Obama is laying a new course for us all. I am following, but right now, I am shaking in my Christian Louboutin boots.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I imagine that the same thing is happening all over the country. Urban (read Black) radio stations are playing Michael Joseph Jackson all day long. Today is his birthday.

Even now, as I write this, tears threaten to spill over, tears that I have not shed since I found out about his passing. I still don't believe it. Perhaps it is easier because I never knew the man. His physical presence wasn't a part of my life. But, still I feel the loss and I struggle because a part of me can't really imagine a world without Michael.

I was disappointed in him at times. Debbie Rowe, really? The children who look like the post surgery Michael, but bear little to no resemblance to the boy Michael, the Thriller Michael, The Wiz Michael, our beloved Michael. The fact that he made poor choices about the people he surrounded himself with and the inappropriate activities with young children left me sorely disappointed as well. Let me say for the record that I do not believe that he ever molested any child. I do think that a grown man sleeping in the bed with a child who is not even related to him is highly inappropriate, but certainly not a crime.

When I was a child, I had the opportunity to meet Michael. I remember his bright, bright socks. Shiny and sparkly. And this very tall man folded himself down to look right in my face and shake my hand. I promise you, in that moment, with all the flashing lights, I felt like I was the only person in the room. I felt like he had eyes only for me. I felt like what I had to say was important to him. I believe in my heart that my child senses would have picked up on something not right about him if it was there, however, I recognize that that is also what I want to believe.

When he first passed, I couldn't even really be with the whole thing. I didn't watch the funeral, I didn't watch CNN, I just avoided it. But now, I am starting to allow myself to feel the loss of Michael Jackson. He was beloved. He will be missed.

Happy Birthday Michael. Happy, happy birthday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dear Readers.....

I started this blog in an effort to be a part of the blogosphere, a place where ordinary citizens can have a voice. Where we can have a hand in shaping rhetoric, or at the very least, contributing to our national discourse.

Now, I need you guys. Some of you, hell most of you, are people that I know and love, and some of you are strangers. I need all of you to send a quick comment about one or some of the posts. Just a quick comment about any of the things that I have said. It helps me to hear from people. It gives me a boost of energy and focus to keep on blogging!

Thanks! I appreciate you!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Race, Politics and Health Care, Part II

So how about those town hall meetings?

I happened to catch the town hall meeting in Pennsylvania. It was a very angry crowd that showed up. Angry and very patriotic. It wasn't just about health care for these Americans, it was about America itself. The very fabric of our culture, the fibers that make us who we are. The founding fathers were invoked, as well as a reminder about the nobility of the constitution. And we were warned in the town hall meeting, warned that if America continues on this eight month trajectory of socialism, that we will become just like Russia.

All of this was met with rousing applause from the good, decent solid Americans who believe that the state of health care in America is JUST FINE. There is nothing wrong with health care, just leave us alone, they shouted. According to one man, the biggest problem with our health care system is the illegals (his word, not mine) that come here who don't belong and we end up paying for them. The second biggest problem, according to him, is people who just won't pay for their own health care and we have to pay for their stupidity. He highlighted this little nugget by saying "In the words of the great George Bush, 'we help those who help themselves.' " This was also met with cheers and cheers from those decent Americans.

I point to my earlier post where I presented my case;

White Americans don't want Black and Brown people to get shit for free.

So now, here we are, and we get to hear it straight from the horse's mouth (or ass), as it were. There are people in these town hall meetings, predominately White and predominately conservative, who are screaming at their elected politicians and are ready to come to blows. And what are they screaming? That we need to get rid of the illegals, that people who don't want health care shouldn't bring the rest of us down (which sounds a lot like the "homeless people are homeless cause they want to be" argument) and that we are going to become socialist over night because of crooked politicians. Did I mention that they claim that there is nothing wrong with our health care system?

Okay, let's back up. Some conservatives say that the reason they don't want this bill is mainly because it will increase our national deficit. I agree with that line of thinking. Yes, I do. I think that the problem with our health care system is not that we don't have enough money, rather that we don't spend what we have wisely. However, that last part, the part about spending what we have wisely, is no where to be found in the republican talking points, at least not the ones that I have read. Rather, they argue about the deficit, when the only reason we have a deficit is because of the previous administration. A conservative, Republican administration. Nobody said anything about the funding for No Child Left Behind, which, "since [it's] enactment, Congress [has] increased federal funding of education, from $42.2 billion in 2001 to $54.4 billion in 2007. No Child Left Behind received a 40.4% increase from $17.4 billion in 2001 to $24.4 billion. The funding for reading quadrupled from $286 million in 2001 to $1.2 billion." Those same Republicans did not say a thing about the funding for the war in Iraq, which we are still funding, by the way. So, I seriously question the motives of these fiscally conservative Republicans who claim to be thinking about the debt we are passing on to our grandchildren. Funny, no one had a problem with debt when it was George Bush pushing through costly legislation. However NOW everyone is worried about their grandkids' pocket books.

Hmmm, I could make the argument that "Russia" was a paragon of standards based education and that the entire country had one standardized system of education, which, I could argue, didn't take into account the individual student and their talents and weaknesses. I could then stretch No Child Left Behind into a "scary and evil" piece of legislation aimed at taking away freedoms from Americans, starting with the most precious and vulnerable among us, our children. We as Americans should only support education that allows the teacher, the principal, the student and the parents to dictate what the student learns and what the student needs, not some evil "death panel" of politicians and bureaucrats who will stand in judgement of my child and deem him unworthy.

Actually no one made that argument. No Child Left Behind got passed merrily on, because imbedded within the legislation was the assurance that schools that didn't pass the tests would not get money. I promise you that White Americans heard that and felt good knowing that stupid, lazy, criminal minded inner city youth would finally be punished for not studying. And good old boy Bush would never sell his people up the river. So even if the legislation sought to fix public schools, nobody would get anything unless they earned it. More money for Johnny, less money for JohnTayQuanay.

And here is the bottom line, in my opinion. President Barack Obama received 52% of the vote. 52%. John McCain and Sarah Palin received 45% of the vote. That means that 45% of the people in our country thought that Sarah Palin would be fit for the vice-presidency of our country. That doesn't take into account the people who were on the fence until the last minute. So how many people really thought that Sarah Palin would make a good VP? My point is that we should never underestimate the conservative nature of the American people. We should never underestimate our core values. We have some ugly beliefs in this country. We are not a nation that believes in helping our fellow man, especially if our fellow man is Black or Brown and they don't work anyway. They are just looking for a hand out.

So, if you want ANY KIND of health care reform, call your senators, call your representatives. Write a letter, send an email. Get involved in as small or as large of a way as you possibly can. Do not think that somehow the President will just manage to pull a rabbit out of a hat. The only reason he won in the first place was because of the organized work and support of people who believed that he could make a difference. Unfortunately, the work is not over.