Wage Discrimination is an Economic, not just family, Issue

Rosie Riveter

Consider the following report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research:

“Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the equal, if not main, breadwinner in four out of ten families. They receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2015, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent. Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.”

DB’s ranted on about this before: (2013)

“Women are having a tough time in the present economy, and the situation isn’t made any better by the wage gap.  NPWF reports: ” In Nevada, on average, a woman who holds a full-time job is paid $35,484 per year while a man who holds a full-time job is paid $41,803 per year. ” (pdf)  This has some very real economic consequences for the state since 125,402 households in Nevada are headed by women. In 32,479 of those households the income is below the poverty line.  Thus 25.89% of those households are barely getting by.”

And on the GOP filibuster of the Paycheck Fairness Act (2014).  However, it really is necessary to broaden the discussion – equal pay for equal work is not just a “woman’s issue,” nor is it a “family issue.” It’s an economic issue.

Once more, let’s look at the reality of what happens when men and women aren’t paid equally for equal work.

In the state of Nevada right now, the average annual wage for a food service manager is $62,160. Pay ranges from $18.51 per hour to $46.97 per hour with a mean wage of $29.89/hr. [NDETR calc]  Let’s keep all the variables such as experience, tenure, and specialization, the same, and concentrate solely on what would happen if two people of the same level of experience, expertise, and skills were to be paid based on gender.  Let’s have our hypothetical male food service manager paid the annual average of $62,160 per year.  This means that our hypothetical female food service manager would receive 79% of that, or $49,106.

If both our male and female food service managers were being paid $62,160 per year, and if both were in the same household then the household income would be $124,320.  Now, here’s why this is an economic issue and not merely a “gender” one.

If our male and female food service managers are paid along the lines of the 79 cents for every dollar that holds nationally, then the total household income is reduced.  That $124,320 in total household income drops to $112,266, a reduction in income of $12,054.

That $12,054 is money NOT spent at the grocery store, or at the furniture store, or the clothing store, or at the restaurant, or the automobile dealership, or the carpet center, or the movie theater. It is NOT spent on educational expenses, books, and Internet service. It is NOT spent on sporting goods, family entertainment, or automobile parts and service.  It is NOT spent at the florists’ shop, or the cabinet-maker’s store, or the barber shop, or the beauty salon.  It can’t be spent because they don’t have it.

The only way to avoid talking about this simple arithmetic is to prattle on about “Job Creators” and the Trickle Down Economics Hoax. “Supply side economics” is a theory in search of statistics – it doesn’t work in the real world, and it never has.   If there is no demand for goods or for a service, there will be no jobs created.  And, there will be no demand IF people don’t have the money to spend for those goods and services.

Once more, here’s the First Law of Personnel Management:

First Law Personnel ManagementHow are businesses in this country supposed to SUSTAIN demand for goods and services if the female employees in the country, who are doing the same jobs as their male counterparts, aren’t able to contribute the same amount to the family’s disposable income?

So, tell me, how do we grow the economy of the United States of America, an economy based in no small part of consumer spending, if we artificially limit the amount of income contributed to family coffers by women?

There are 123 million women ages 16 and above in the United States, and 72 million (58.6%) are working or looking for work. Women are now 47% of the total U.S. labor force, and they are projected to account for 51% of the increase in the total labor force between 2008 and 2018.  73% of employed women are working full time, while 27% are employed on a part time basis. [DoL]

We are no longer talking about the “little woman” working outside the home for some ‘pocket money.”  We are talking about two-income families, both incomes being necessary to move toward the middle class life style or to maintain it.   If a family of four, with an annual income of $112,266 lives in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, their income is comparable to 56% of those adults in that area. That’s the middle. [Pew Calculator] Diminish the second income and we diminish the whole.

Diminish the whole and we diminish the potential for economic growth.  Equal pay for equal work is simply dollars toward a stronger economy and old fashioned common sense.

Comments Off on Wage Discrimination is an Economic, not just family, Issue

Filed under Economy, labor, Nevada economy, Politics, sexism, women, Women's Issues

After the Balloons

DNC 2016 balloonsThe balloons dropped, the convention crews are clearing venue, and the real work begins.  On the positive side of the ledger, the Democrats reclaimed God, the Flag, and the ‘sunny patriotism’ of the Reagan afterglow. [JPP] Now the 100 days tick down to the final result on November 8, 2016.  There’s plenty of work for everyone, and pitfalls aplenty.

Pitfall warning sign small

The Republicans have been working diligently to suppress the votes of precisely those citizens who are likely to cast ballots for Democratic candidates.  We need to pay close attention to what the Brennan Center is saying about voting rights in America:

“The 2016 election season is already in full swing. As voters in a number of states face new restrictions for the first time in a presidential election, we’ve already seen problems in primaries across the country.  A new photo ID requirement led to long lines in Wisconsin. A reduction in polling places forced some to wait five hours to vote in Arizona. New rules created confusion in North Carolina. This could be an early glimpse of problems in November — as voters face the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, which was designed to prevent discrimination in voting.”

Let’s not kid ourselves about what will be going on in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona, and other states in which Republicans have implemented creative ways to suppress the votes of the elderly, the young, the members of ethnic minorities, and women.   Repeating for emphasis: “…voters face the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, which was designed to prevent discrimination in voting.”

“Aside from new restrictions considered in 2016, there are 17 states with voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election this year. The new measures range from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions.

Those 17 states (with new laws) are: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.” [Brennan]

What this means is voting registration drive efforts must be supported and enhanced in every way the laws allow. That voters must be attentive to efforts to suppress the vote by closing polling places in minority neighborhoods.  That voters must demand sufficient hours for voting, sufficient polling stations for elections, sufficient staffing for elections.  If you don’t know what these are –ask! Ask, and share the information any way you can, to any one you can.  Voter registration information for Nevada is located here.  Eligible voters in Nevada can update their information online.  The list of voting registrars and county clerks and their contact information is located here.

Register, check the status of your registration, (any name change? change of address?) help someone else register to vote.  Given the efforts at voter suppression in this election cycle it may not be enough to simply show up to vote, especially in those 17 states listed above, it may require a little extra effort, more volunteers, and more resources.  Support the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, Voto Latino, and other groups in the community who work to expand the electorate. 

Take hope – the North Carolina voting discrimination law has been declared discriminatory by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a major win for voting rights.  The anti-voting law in Texas was struck down by the usually very conservative 5th Circuit Court.  There’s hope, but it’s still going to take some extra effort.

Pitfall warning sign small

Don’t expect the top of the ticket to be the end and be all. As Democrats learned to their sorrow in the last mid-term elections (and in too many mid-term elections previously) that state and local elections matter.  Nevada has an excellent candidate for the U.S. Senate: Catherine Cortez Masto, who wants to overturn Citizens United, protect Medicare and Social Security, Raise the minimum wage, and enact comprehensive immigration policy reform.

There’s a credible candidate in Nevada’s heavily Republican Congressional District 2, Chip Evans.  Evans’ tells us: “Growth comes from reinvesting in our middle class. We must modernize our infrastructure to remain competitive, repeal laws providing tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas, and leverage public/private partnerships to train workers while rebuilding our manufacturing base.”

There’s a really stark contrast in Nevada’s Congressional District 4: Ruben Kihuen versus the ever-inarticulate, gaffe-o-matic, Bundy sympathizer, Cresent Hardy.  In case anyone’s unsure about Hardy’s ethno-nationalist perspective, remember he’s the one who won’t debate Kihuen on a local Spanish language broadcast. No, Cresent, no one is asking you to speak Spanish – bless his heart he has enough trouble with English.

There are State Senate and State Assembly seats up for election, there are county commissioners, and school board, and other local elections in this election.  And, please remember that for many candidates the local elections are often the incubators for future candidates for statewide and national elections.  No national leader, executive or legislative, can do it alone. There must be a support system at the state and local level.

Call, register, volunteer, or as Secretary Clinton reminded us, be a good ‘Methodist,’

Wesley Quote

Comments Off on After the Balloons

Filed under Nevada Democrats, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics, Republicans, Vote Suppression, Voting

We talk about talking about race, but won’t talk about race

I made the mistake of watching some cable news coverage of the DNC this morning.  Several of the reporters were concerned – how I truly am beginning to loathe that word! – that Secretary Clinton’s polling numbers among white males weren’t as high as those of Donald Trump.  A couple of the presenters got close to the mark and then appeared to divert the channel into safer, softer, soil – they, meaning white males, are “angered,” or “feel outside the system..” or whatever.  No one mentioned R-A-C-E. Now, please consider the following three items:

“There’s a good deal of evidence that white resentment of minorities is linked to support for Republican candidates, their policies and conservative ideology in America,” said Robb Willer, a political psychologist at Stanford University. [WaPo]

“As the country has become more diverse, the Democratic Party has, too. But the demographics of the Republican Party have not changed much in recent years, according to Gallup. As of 2012, 89 percent of Republicans were non-Hispanic whites, compared to 60 percent of Democrats.” [WaPo]

“Across time points, racial prejudice was indirectly associated with movement identification through Whites’ assertions of national decline. Although initial levels of White identity did not predict change in Tea Party identification, initial levels of Tea Party identification predicted increases in White identity over the study period. Across the three assessments, support for the Tea Party fell among libertarians, but rose among social conservatives.” [PLOS journals]

The shorter version is the common summary: Republicans are not necessarily racist, but more racists tend to identify with Republicans; and, Tea Party identification was closely associated with “white identity.” Which goes a long way toward explaining this sighting at the recent RNC:

Trump Supporter Check List

No, Secretary Clinton is not likely to poll well with people who tend to focus on their white identity, white grievances, and white dissatisfaction.

If the cable broadcasters would like to fill up some vacant air time, there are deeper, more systemic questions that should be discussed.

Why are disaffected white males supporting a candidate who is not essentially Republican and not primarily a true conservative in the Everett Dirksen, Barry Goldwater, Sandra Day O’Connor, or William F. Buckley mold?

Perhaps interviewing Ezra Klein or Jonathan Chait might offer some insight:

“[Trump] … has exposed a Republican Party many in the GOP will wish had stayed hidden. The core truth he has laid bare is that Republican voters are powered by a resentful nationalism more than a principled conservatism. “Republican politics boils down to ethno-nationalistic passions ungoverned by reason,” writes Jonathan Chait. “Once a figure has been accepted as a friendly member of their tribe, there is no level of absurdity to which he can stoop that would discredit him.” [Vox]

Chait continued:

“…since reason cannot penetrate the crude tribalism that animates Republicans, it follows that nothing President Obama could have proposed on economic stimulus, health care, or deficits could have avoided the paroxysms of rage that faced him.” [NYMag]

If 89% of a political party in America is non-Hispanic white, and if women lean toward the Democratic Party by a split of 52% to 36%, then how do we describe the Republican Party other than a political party of white men? Or, as the Pew Research study found in 2014, a party of older white men:

Age GOP/lean Dem / lean
18-33 35% 51%
34-49 38% 49%
50-68 41% 43%
69-85 47% 43%

A better cable roundtable discussion might focus not on how Secretary Clinton is not capturing the votes of white males, but on why the Republican Party can’t seem to attract more women, minority group members, and younger people?

Pundits tell us solemnly that we “need” a national discussion about race relations in this country, however that is very difficult to do when broadcasters themselves shy away from the topic.  Simply having a few “specials” with “both sides” isn’t the solution.

Whether the corporate media likes it or not, race and ethnic divisions have significance when we converse about any major social, economic, and political questions.  It’s part of the mix, and can’t be separated out like an egg yolk from national conversations.

Someone, somewhere must have perceived the ludicrousness of the proposition that merely talking about racial relations is “racism.”  What this too often boils down to is the assertion that anything which makes white people uncomfortable is “racist.”  Witness Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly’s recent over the top whine about those who criticized his attempt to “soften” the plight of slaves in 19th century America.

Speaking about the unequal and deleterious incarceration rate of young African American men isn’t racist, it’s an acknowledgement of a problem, and therefore an opening to use the discourse as a way to solve or at least mitigate the issue.

Speaking about income inequality isn’t racist. It’s an acknowledgement that working people in this county, especially people of color, aren’t able to scale the social and economic ladder as easily as in times past.  We could help with this but we have to talk about it.

Speaking about police reform isn’t racist. It’s an acknowledgement that too often for our liking there are law enforcement personnel who are not helping resolve issues between the police and the communities in which they are assigned. There are some police forces which have made great strides, Pittsburgh and Dallas for example, and those can be models. But, we have to talk about it.

Speaking about climate change isn’t racist, but we have to acknowledge that people of color are more likely to be residents of communities and neighborhoods which are the most afflicted with pollution, water problems, and devastation from climate events which become more serious each decade, if not each year.  Again, all the stakeholders need to be at the table for this national discussion.  It’s not enough to worry about the beach front property in Miami, we also need to be aware of the 9th Ward in New Orleans.

Race certainly isn’t the only issue facing this country, but it does tend to permeate most of the major challenges we face.  NOT talking about it is actually hurtful – it allows the tribalism to grow and fester, it allows the problems to remain unresolved, and it feeds the polarization which leads to political gridlock. 

However, the most egregious part of the Great Silence is that it allows us to cling to our tribe, ever more unwilling or unable to discuss, converse, or debate our issues or to practice the great art of any democracy – compromise.

Comments Off on We talk about talking about race, but won’t talk about race

Filed under media, Politics, racism, Republicans

Trump Invites Cyber Attack

Cyber Attack Combo If you have a computer and use the Internet read the following statement from candidate Donald Trump very carefully:

“When asked about documents stolen in a cyber attack on the Democratic National Committee’s servers, (1) Trump suggested hackers had also breached Clinton’s personal email server.

“By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. (2)  I hope they do,” the GOP nominee told reporters, referring to Russia, who security experts suspect was behind the hack. “They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted.”

He also addressed the country directly: (3) “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find the 33,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” [TPM] [numbering added]

Let’s begin with Number One. The e-mails are a piece of the interminable GOP Benghazi nothing-burger which to date has yielded the participation of no less than 10 Congressional investigations; 252 witnesses called to testify, 62 hours of publicly available hearings, and 13 published reports – none of which indicate that Secretary Clinton did anything wrong.  But, there is always hope in GOP hearts. A hope expressed by Trump, who offered ZERO evidence that the hack included Clinton’s personal server.  He has no evidence her server was hacked – he just hopes so.  Let that sink in a second.

Number Two: He hopes they hacked her server.  Who hopes for someone else to be the victim of a cyber-attack?  Does anyone really wish for the Russians or any other source to cyber-attack anyone in the United States of America?  Is he really saying that he hopes a foreign power hacked one of our government officials?   After 10 Congressional investigations, an FBI report, and every single published report exonerating the former Secretary of State of any illegal activity – Trump is still wishing for something, anything, to come to light which would assist his political campaign.  This is Richard Nixon on steroids.  This isn’t keeping an “enemies list,” or “taping Oval Office conversations.” This is actively seeking assistance from a foreign power (probably the Russians) to get results of cyber-attacks on the United States of America.

Number Three: Now witness the stretch in the Trump Tweet.

Trump Cyber Attack Tweet If the Russians, or some other power, has found deleted e-mails then Trump wants them “handed over.”   On Twitter, Trump wants the e-mails handed over to authorities, but during the press conference he suggests that the media will jump all over the opportunity to publish them for click bait.  And, all this without offering a single attributable FACT that the deletions are “illegal,” or that they would contain any information relevant to the  investigations.

Worse still for Mr. Trump, there has been an FBI investigation and the security logs show NO evidence of any foreign hacks on the server in question. [NYT] [WaPo]  Therefore, all we can say is that Mr. Trump is trying to perpetuate the Fox News mythology of “missing e-mails” and not-very-smoking guns.  And yet more bad news for the mythologizers, the hacker who made claims about getting into Secretary Clinton’s e-mail server flat out lied. [PCWorld]

Let’s Get Serious

Mr. Trump’s anodyne platitudes and sweeping generalizations notwithstanding – there are a couple of things that he obviously doesn’t understand.

First, there’s cyber-war.  He called American efforts “obsolete.” I suppose we might thank him for suggesting that our enemies could safely underestimate our capacity. However, all sides understand  this is not the case.  For a more in-depth report on Mr. Trump’s inadequacies in regard to the nature and effectiveness of the U.S. cyber arsenal please read this piece in the Atlantic.

Secondly, there’s the insidiousness of suggesting that any foreign power should be applauded for gaining access to U.S. information via cyber-attacks.

In August 2015, Russian hackers carried out a cyber-attack on the Pentagon.  The attack shut down the unclassified e-mail system for the Joint Staff for about two weeks.  No classified information was accessed, nothing was stolen, and only unclassified accounts were involved in the cyber-attack – thank goodness. [USNWR]  However, we have to believe that there will be other, more sophisticated, and more egregious attacks to come.  Is Mr. Trump suggesting that if the Russians found out something useful for his campaign they should turn it over to the FBI and the Press? – From the Pentagon?

In June 2015, we learned the Chinese had hacked the computers of the Office of Personnel Management. The agency estimated about 4.2 million federal employees were affected, including 1.5 million who are members of the U.S. military. [WSJ]  Is Mr. Trump suggesting the hackers hand over any information which might be of any use to his campaign to the FBI and the Press?

Cyber-attacks aren’t playground dodge ball. Those who unsure of this proposition should read the articles in Wired, Business Insider, and Ars Technica on Stuxnet and Nitro Zeus.  For a truly nightmare scenario, imagine an attack on the U.S. electrical grid. [The Hill] Just such an attack happened in Ukraine last December. [Wired]  Is Mr. Trump suggesting that the Press might find it amusing to have the power go out in a major U.S. city during a campaign event for his opponent, Secretary Clinton?

The bottom line is that NO ONE, should be rooting for a cyber-attack, for any reason under any circumstances. NO ONE should be rooting for a foreign power to find a way into our secure information, our military operations, our personnel files, our electrical grid, our defense contractors, our banking institutions, our hospitals, our schools, or our retailing systems.


Comments Off on Trump Invites Cyber Attack

Filed under Politics, privacy, Republicans

Potty Problems Solved for Conservatives

Gender Neutral Restroom Dear Conservative Friends and Neighbors:  I understand you are “baffled,” or “confused,” or something about gender neutral restrooms. [TP]  Perhaps I can assist you.  A gender neutral restroom is what you have in your house. You may have more than one, but I seriously doubt that you label each bathroom with gender specific signage.

Further, restrooms have stalls. Most people close the doors, just as you would at home, and just as at home when people head for the restroom/bathroom they usually do so with some urgency.  People do not generally ask which toilet to use in your home – they ask where it’s located.

As with the gender neutral toilet facilities you have in your home, we can assume that there will be some male of the species who will leave the toilet seat up.  The great Italian poet Dante did not provide for a tenth circle of Hell occupied by those who leave toilet seats up, especially in the late evening hours.  He should have.

Anyone who has shared a household toilet with male family members will know that all men’s aim is not created equally.  Nor do all follow the instructions: “Water sprayed on water makes a noise for all to hear, but water sprayed on porcelain is gentle to the ear.”  It’s like home, only with a public restroom you don’t have to put up with the excuses — “I did not!” Or, “I had to hurry because Janie was banging on the door.”

I’m not sure I can help those who found sharing a gender neutral restroom a “bizarre,” or “disgusting” experience.  I’m sure they have toilets in their own homes which are in regular use – by members of all genders.  But, but, but, they may sputter, these are “public” restrooms, and I’ll be in there with perfect strangers. Yes.  Consider the positive side of the experience.

If your elimination causes wrinkled noses, like what happens to the next person to use your home toilet after Uncle Festus does his morning constitutional post three cups of coffee, you’ll not have to face that person again.  Probably ever.  You will certainly not hear a family member bellow some appeal to The Deity followed by “What have you been eating? Roadkill?”

The nice feature of gender neutral toilets is that they honor the ancient precept – When you gotta go, you gotta go.  Aging conservatives will no doubt appreciate this more than the younger models.  There is a point in one’s life when a new Rule  is relevant: If you are 70 years of age or older never pass up an opportunity to go to a restroom.  Any restroom anywhere.

Frankly speaking, I’m a bit baffled myself about the conservative obsession with toilets.  Stuff seems to happen, or potentially happen, or could possibly happen, or might someday happen in their toilets that doesn’t appear to match the reality of common human experience. 

If a person were to feel this vulnerable with the drawers down, then how does that person undress for bed in a hotel room?  It’s public, it has a door, the door can be locked…

Should this not assuage the fears and phobias of conservatives, then I’m not sure what else to say except that they should definitely avoid camping, and perhaps any other activity outside the home that might interfere with their elimination and bowel transit schedule.   Beyond that I have no idea how to assist them.

Comments Off on Potty Problems Solved for Conservatives

Filed under conservatism, Politics

One Great Speech and Two White Whines

Michelle Obama 2016 Atlantic magazine called Michelle Obama’s speech last night one for the ages. It was.  Even Vogue got into the act.

“The story that has brought me to this stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”

It doesn’t take any imagination to figure out that the Trumpers are going to take exception to this, because they have already:

“All I hear is bitch bitch bitch yes there where slaves in the usa but how many white people died to free the slaves? I get really sick of black people bitching about someone way back when in their family might have been a slave (not likely less than 10% can really trace their family to slaves) and now they want money for something that has nothing to do with them. Till you can get over the fact that long long ago there where slaves in the usa remember the only about 5% of the slave trade came to the usa the rest went to south america.” [IndJourn]

And, this morning on the Thom Hartman show some ignorant fool from Nevada called in to whine, “Why did she (Mrs. Obama) have to bring that up, it’s just divisive.” Or something to that effect. I can’t match the inarticulate nature of his complaint. Beginning with “I’m a 64 year old white man…”

So, here comes the rant

Get some history.  The first enslaved people were hauled to Virginia in 1619; there were about 20 Africans sold into slavery before the Pilgrims even landed on the coast of Massachusetts.  In 1636 the first American slave transport ship, ironically named the Desire, set out from the Massachusetts docks.  It’s not until 1865 that slavery is officially abolished in this country in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  That’s 246 years of slavery.

That would be 246 years of putting up with the likes of one slave owner who wrote in his diary for September 3, 1709: “My wife was indisposed again but not to much purpose. In the afternoon I beat Jenny [a house slave] for throwing water on the couch.” [EyewitnessTH]

Yes, the majority of enslaved people were transported to the Caribbean and South American regions. Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. puts the number of slaves brought directly to the US at about 450,000.  So, irrationally, our first commentator leaps to the conclusion that only about 10% of the current African American population can trace their ancestry to a slave. Nice try, but not even close.  In order to make this leap of faith (and not fact) we’d have to assume that the children and grandchildren of those imported to this county against their will weren’t enslaved? Nope Dope, the children, the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren, likely multiple generations of progeny were enslaved like their forefathers and mothers.

And, why isn’t it easy for an African American person to trace the family tree? Because slave owners wrote things like “Henry, age 17, 5’4” in their records. [USArchives]  It doesn’t matter if 450,000 or 4 million people were initially brought to this country enslaved – slavery was wrong in the first place; and, there’s absolutely no way to assert that their children, their children’s children, and their children’s children’s children … were bought, sold, humiliated, beaten and badgered for 246 miserable years.

What matters is the fact that the great-great-great granddaughter of Melvinia Shields, a slave in northern Georgia, was standing on the podium of the Democratic National Convention last night talking about how she was living in the White House and her daughters (the great-great-great-great granddaughters of Melvinia Shields) were playing with their dogs on the south lawn.

However, the White Whiners aren’t finished. Notice the second part of the comment, the one with the “long long ago” phrase – there are a couple of blood boiling feathers attached to this chicken statement.  The assumption here is that the whole “slavery” issue is long ago and far away, and therefore not part of our collective existence.  This is an easy assumption to make IF and only IF we ignore the fact that on March 21, 1981,  Michael Donald, an African American resident of Mobile, AL was the victim of the last recorded lynching in America.  The record before then was even worse.

“Researchers said they determined that 3,959 black people were killed in “racial terror lynchings” in a dozen Southern states between 1877 and 1950. The new number includes 700 people who were not named in previous works seeking to comprehensively document the toll, the authors wrote. Some of those previous studies were conducted at a time when lynching was still an ongoing phenomenon.” [WaPo]

So, only 28 years after the last recorded lynching of an African American man in the United States, an African American mother is watching her girls leave in Secret Service vehicles from the White House to go to school.

Our 64 year old White Whiner was born in 1952, he was 29 years old when the last lynching took place in this country, and he doesn’t want to talk about slavery, race, or all that divisive stuff.  He’s white, and he’s uncomfortable when people talk about things white people did, and he certainly doesn’t want to be reminded that he’s obviously uncomfortable with African Americans.

As far as he seems to be concerned it’s up to African Americans to make him feel comfortable.  Let’s guess he’s upset that the African American President understood how the parents of Trayvon Martin felt, and how the Talk hadn’t been enough to save their son from a gun happy bigot.  Thin (white) skin and contemporary issues aren’t a good mix.  He’s upset that the African American President might understand how a small suburban police force could be so insensitive to the people they were supposed to serve?  How a toxic combination of revenue collection and racism could exacerbate an already tense situation?

Our 64 year old white whiner was 15 in 1967 and 21 in 1973, just in time to watch the Watts Riots (1965), the Detroit Riots (1966), and the Newark Riot (1967).   Far from understanding what precipitated these events, he appears to have decided that “hard-working Americans” means “white.”  “Those” other people (black) riot.  He was 28 years old in 1980, in time perhaps to vote for Ronald Reagan, and the “morning in America,” which dawned at the Neshoba County Fair, Mississippi.

Perhaps our 64 year old white whiner just doesn’t feel safe anymore?  The Hispanic population of his home town, Las Vegas, is now about 1/3rd of the total. 11% or so of the population is African American, and another 6% are of Asian descent.  Clark County isn’t the home to the 277,230 people in Las Vegas as it was in 1970; it’s now home to a very diverse 603,488.  Nor is it a place where racist, sexist, or ethnic “humor” is tolerated as it was 50 years ago.  He can’t say the N-word outside of a tight circle of like-minded companions. He can’t crack jokes about ethnic groups outside the confines of that same tribal group. He can’t complain about women in the work-force without risking censure.  He can’t feel comfortable with all that “political correctness” (read civility) requiring him to tolerate people he finds intolerable.  He can’t comprehend that arguing against the toleration of others is simply another manifestation of white privilege, white tribalism, white supremacy.

And, he can’t understand how the African American mother, the great-great-great granddaughter of an enslaved woman in northern Georgia, could be speaking of the promise of America, and the progress of this nation, when she mentioned the very thing that makes him uncomfortable – the fact of slavery, segregation, and discrimination in the United States of America.

“So look. So, don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great—that somehow we need to make it great again—because this right now is the greatest country on earth. And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth.” [Atlantic]

Comments Off on One Great Speech and Two White Whines

Filed under Democratic Party, Obama, Politics

The Dangerous Voices of America, Amplified and Televised

A couple of days ago Clay Shirky posted Tweets which should explain why and how Donald Trump has any support among the American electorate.  It’s an article that should be read, reviewed, and taken to heart.  Here’s a bit of the piece:

“I want to say something to my liberal white friends: Trump talked a lot of shit last night, but not one word of “I am your voice!” was a lie”

— Clay (((Shirky))) (@cshirky) July 22, 2016

Trump IS the voice of angry whites. He wasn’t on stage because he has unusual views. He was on stage because he has the usual ones, loudly.

— Clay (((Shirky))) (@cshirky) July 22, 2016

He is the voice of whites who want their neighbors deported if they speak Spanish. He is the voice of whites terrorized by seeing a hijab.

— Clay (((Shirky))) (@cshirky) July 22, 2016

He is the voice of people who think legal & cultural privileges for white conservative Protestants are God’s plan, not a bias to be overcome

— Clay (((Shirky))) (@cshirky) July 22, 2016

He is the voice of people who hear ‘hard-working’ as a synonym for ‘white.’ He is the voice of people who think black lives matter less.

— Clay (((Shirky))) (@cshirky) July 22, 2016

He speaks for millions.”

There are some other facets to cope with as well, Trump speaks for those who believe that if people in a room are speaking [Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, or German…] it must be because they are saying something they don’t want the “Americans” to understand.

His is the voice of people who don’t mind seeing Hispanic maids cleaning their hotel rooms, but don’t want them speaking up about making a living wage.  Or asking for better working conditions on farms, or asking for much of anything for that matter.  “They” are taking “American jobs,” according to the voice of Trumpism.  However, that doesn’t stop the Trumpers from demanding they do the work.  His is the voice of those who decry immigration from Central and South America, but “like the immigrants;” they just wish there weren’t so many of them.

His is the voice of all those neighbors we’ve heard who are outraged by the offer from the answering services that if we like to have the customer assistance in Spanish, please press “2.”

His is the voice of those who conveniently forget that Great-grandfather  came here and didn’t speak English, but now three generations later none of the descendants can do much more than order food in the original language.

His is the voice of those who denounce racism while adamantly opining that if “they” would just act more “white” there would be fewer problems.

His is the voice of the woman horrified that the lady sitting next to her wearing the hijab might be a “terrorist,” while nodding respectfully at a nun in her habit.  His is the voice of the man who can’t tell the difference between a Muslim and a Sikh, and doesn’t really care if there is one.

His is the voice of the person who believes that having to live in a country in which members of the LGBT community are open and honest about their relationships is “oppressing,” i.e. because the individual is uncomfortable with gay and lesbian people therefore he is “oppressed” if he is required to be tolerant towards them.

His is the voice of those who believe that if some one unlike himself is granted the full advantages of citizenship and freedom then it must be at his expense, without realizing he is arguing for white supremacy and institutional racism.

His is the voice of those who believe that there’s nothing wrong with flying the Stars and Bars – it’s just heritage.  That it is a heritage of hate isn’t to be acknowledged.  In short, Trump is the voice of Tribalism.

His is the voice of the person who thinks it’s President Obama’s duty to make him feel comfortable; and should the President offer an African-American perspective on an issue, then he is the one being “divisive.”

Unless someone has invented a magic solution to erase racism, misogyny, bigotry, and irrationality in the last month or so, these people will be going to the polls in droves to express their fears, their anxieties, and in some unfortunate instances their hatred.

They don’t care if Trump lies – he’s their voice, amplified and televised. They don’t care if he’s a hypocrite whose products are manufactured in the countries he attacks – he’s their voice, amplified and televised.  They don’t care if he’s got the foreign policy experience of a hamster – he’s their voice, amplified and televised.

Shirky’s advice is important, we have to campaign as if we are the minority, always remembering that there are now insidious Voter ID laws in 33 states, and gerrymandering in so many others.

Challenge the Trumper in the family – Are you really going to vote for a man who would deny healthcare for your wife and daughter? Are you really going to vote for a man who thinks African Americans are inherently violent/lazy? Are you really going to vote for a man who believes that NATO is something to be toyed with?   Are you going to vote for a man who has the support of white nationalists?  The usual response comes back, “I like him because he says what he thinks.”  If so, is he saying what YOU think?

Challenge the system – donate, donate, donate, when and as much as you can.  Help where you can and how you can. And every moment from now until election day remember that 40% of Americans believe Trump is speaking in their Voice.

Comments Off on The Dangerous Voices of America, Amplified and Televised

Filed under Politics, racism