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In This Time... Don't Get Distracted by the Noise

Posted on September 27, 2017 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

In This Time... Don't Get Distracted by the Noise


In This Time…we have been watching a struggle unfold that has mixed politics with football. In all the noise, we have lost focus on the issue of the original protest..a protesters’ nightmare! Colin Kaepernick originally started this protest to put a spotlight on police brutality against black and brown people. He chose not to stand during the national anthem. One of the freedoms our military fights for is the freedom of expression. There have been many reactions to Kaepernick’s original protest and this year the protest has morphed into something different. Mainly because of 45, and his proclivity for getting involved in issues he does not understand. 45 challenged the NFL to fire anyone who took a knee during the anthem calling it disrespectful the flag and our military with no mention of the freedoms the flag is supposed to represent and which our military fights for every day. We have let the noise distract us from the primary issue that instigated the protests.



In This Time…there have been all kinds of reactions to the decision to protest by taking a knee. One such reaction came from a military man who had a strong reaction to Kaepernick’s protest and was a catalyst to influencing how Kaepernick continued his protest. Nate Boyer, a Green Beret and former football player wrote a letter to Colin Kaepernick in August 2016. In his letter, he states:


“…Unfortunately, I also know that racism still exists in our country, as it does in every country on this planet, and I hate that I know that. I hate, the third verse of the national anthem but thankfully we don’t sing that verse anymore…

Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you're doing it…There are already plenty of people fighting fire with fire, and its just not helping anyone or anything. So, I’m just going to keep listening with an open mind.

I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I’ll be standing right there next to you. Keep on trying…De Oppresso Liber.”


The motto of U.S. Army Special Forces is “De oppresso liber,” which means to free the oppressed.


According to news reports, this led to the two guys meeting sharing what the protest meant to Kaepernick and what the flag represented to Boyer. They arrived at a compromise of sorts. Boyers shared that soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave to show respect and when they are on patrol when they go into a security halt. So rather than sitting during the anthem, which was how Kaepernick’s protest began, he took a knee.



In This Time… there are so many lessons in this exchange yet we allow ourselves to get caught up in the noise. Kaepernick chose to peacefully protest police brutality. Though angry, Boyers chose to use his freedom of expression to peacefully protest Kaepernick’s actions, leading to a meeting, discussion, and a tactic that was both respectful and impactful without compromising the goal. How many of our issues could we make progress on using this strategy?



In This Time…our major networks have chosen to highlight this situation as a conflict as being between patriotism, and racial justice and police brutality. There are news reports from August 2016, when Kaepernick began his protests sharing this story, completely debunking his protest as anti-military and how taking a knee is respectful of military tradition. Wouldn’t this have been the time to consistently and vociferously share the facts of taking a knee rather than highlighting the perceived conflict? We’ve got to hold our media to a higher standard.



In This Time…45 chose to use sports figures' actions as a strategy to distract us from some key issues in which our nation should be grappling. Racial justice and police brutality, natural disasters and their impact on our citizen brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida and the other regions impacted by hurricanes, preventing a war with North Korea, solid health care policy, pending tax reform legislation, among other priorities are the issues that a president should be spending time and energy. Maybe if we took a page from Boyers and Kaepernick and got together, discussed our issues, shared our common goals and came to reasonable strategies that respect all, we would make real political and social justice progress.




“In all things that are purely social, we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”


Booker T. Washington


In This Time... Are They Listening?

Posted on September 20, 2017 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

In This Time… Are They Listening?


In This Time… Our Congress has forgotten their primary responsibility. Our representatives were elected to take what they here in their communities, take it back to Congress and craft laws that will improve conditions for our citizenry. Our representatives were elected to be a check and balance to the executive branch. Our representatives were elected to protect our rights.


In This Time… There are so many distractions. Politicians are jockeying for position trying to keep their jobs that they are neglecting to do their jobs. Now is prime time, during all of this noise, for our representatives to listen. I hope that they are listening. I hope that they are reaching out to the people that they represent and asking them what they believe are the solutions to this cultural and political crisis in which we find ourselves. I hope they are taking what they are hearing and doing the work for which they were elected to do.

 

In this Time… We need to remember that our representatives work for us. Our job is to hold our representatives accountable and force them to do their jobs. But, what kind of bosses are we? Are we taking every opportunity to speak up? If we are demanding that they listen to us, what are we saying? What are we calling for? How are we telling them to represent us?


In this time… There are many issues on which we should be voicing our opinions. My priority issues are health care, safety net programs, a fair budget, income equality and protection of our rights. I, for one, would like to see universal health care for all, as I consider health care as a human right. I would like to see full funding for the safety net programs – Medicaid, housing, food, employment services. I would like to see a tax code that was fair across income levels. The top one percent should be paying their fair share as the rest of us. I would like to see laws that protect those who have been discriminated against be it race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion and/or class.


In this time… What are your priorities? What are you communicating to your representatives…your employees? We may ask our reps if they are listening, but first, we must ask ourselves, what are we telling them to listen to?


 

“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”

Shirley Chisholm


“If they don’t give you a seat at the table bring a folding chair.”

Shirley Chisholm


In This Time... I Prayed That We Would Be Wrong

Posted on August 26, 2017 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

In This Time... I prayed that we would be wrong. On November 9, 2016, we were coming to see our new reality. Pundits predicted that 45 would pivot and become presidential. He would understand the enormity of the responsibility of his office. He would realize that he was the president for everyone.



Many of us believed that 45 had shown his true colors. This 70 year-old man who rose to power using divisive strategies and little understanding of how the country worked was not going to change. Many of us believed that 45 had narcissistic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and xenophobic tendencies that were working for him so that there was no reason for him to change. We believed that 45 didn't have the desire to learn what he did not know or to obtain more than a superficial knowledge of issues important to progress in the United States or the world. I prayed that we would be wrong.



In This Time... we immediately organized to protect the rights we had fought for decades to achieve. We marched. We called our representatives. We wrote opinion pieces. We held town hall meetings. Our mantra was Resist! We channeled our fear and anger into action. We supported one another. We did what we could to ensure that our democratic structures held. And they did. But we now know that this is a long-term struggle we, the people, are going to have to lead.



In This Time... we fast forward to today and find that we have everything we feared we would have in 45. I prayed that we would be wrong. We find ourselves with a president who stands up for white supremacists rather than those opposing racism; who denigrates women leaders and wives of leaders in allied nations rather than treating women with respect; who works to take away the rights of dedicated military folks because they are transgender rather than protecting their rights; who values trying to get a legislative win regardless of the legislation rather than promoting sound public policy; who uses unconventional means, bypassing the Justice Department, to pardon a man who was convicted of illegally detaining Latinos; who attempts to tear down the structures that make us a democracy. There are so many issues with 45 coming at us so fast that we stay in a defensive posture. Is there anything we are for?


In This time... we are unclear what either the Democratic or Republican parties stand for. The Democrats have come up with a new slogan, "A Better Deal" designed to state what they stand for. Not exactly the rallying cry for a nation. Those of us who have read what it means know that there are some real progressive principles behind it, but it sounds like a slogan that has gone through the marketing grinder so many times that it's as inspiring as paint drying. On the other side of the aisle, the silence, in word and action, from the Republican Party on the hateful behavior of 45 is deafening. A few courageous Republicans did denounce some of 45's stuff, but as the party in power, they have the ability to take decisive action. They have chosen not to, for what I can only assume is for what they perceive as a stronger political position.


 

In This Time... we must ask ourselves what do we stand for? Do we have clarity on what we are fighting for? Are we just anti-45? Do we support the Democratic or Republican party simply because we define ourselves as Democratic or Republican?



In this time... we must stand for social justice. Social justice is the way in which human rights are manifested in the lives of everyday people at every level of society.  The UN Declaration on Human Rights (it's worth a read) lists life, liberty, security, freedom from oppression and discrimination, health care, food and nutrition, and housing as some of the human rights we all possess. When we talk about social justice and human rights, we must be clear as to what we are referencing. Having clarity on what we stand for serves as a foundation on which we build the world we so desperately desire and deserve. Clarity on what we stand for guides our interactions with our policy makers, communities, neighbors, friends, and family.


 

In this time... I prayed that we would be wrong. I wanted a president that I could respect. I would have loved nothing more than to be able to boldly say that I was wrong. That 45 is a president with good judgment, strong moral character, intelligence, and equanimity. In the absence of such a president, I will stand for social justice. I will fight to protect the human rights of all of us. The first step in being able to take a stand is to be real clear on what you are standing for.


 

"I'm for truth no matter who tells it. I'm for justice no matter who it's for or against. I am a human being first and foremost, and as such, I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." Malcolm X



In This Time...

Posted on August 22, 2017 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

In This Time... is a space to share thoughts and opinions on our role in changing the conversation around social justice.  Who would have thought that we would be discussing the place of white supremacy in the US government, our communities and our daily lives? How did we get to this place? The anger, frustration, hurt and pain are palpable.  We have gone to a place where we look at those we thought to be neighbors and friends with caution if we know that they voted for 45. How could someone who calls me friend, believe that the actions of 45 are not dangerous both domestically and internationally? How can someone who calls me friend say that they voted for change and that this change is acceptable? How can someone who calls me friend believe that 45's actions will improve their station in life (it won't!) while endangering mine simply because I am a black woman in America?

I am in a constant state of incredulity because of the daily news reports of how 45 has alienated another part of the US citizenry or allies yet the Republican Congressional leadership does not have the strength or courage to openly denounce his words and actions.  They somehow believe that 45 will support their agenda when all evidence points to him not.  Can we say Health Care? 

In This Time... we have a choice.  We can rant and rave in our living rooms or we can take action.  Action can take many forms.  We can join the reisistance.  There are groups in every community.  We can call our congress representatives and have our voices heard. (Though in DC we have little recourse as we have only one congressional representative with no real power).  We can run for office. We can support those candidates with social justice values by working on their campaigns. We can also have an impact in our communities.

In This Time... we can look at where we work and see where we can effect change.  We can look to our neighborhoods and see where we can effect change.  We can look to our circles of influence and see where we can effect change. We can look to our families and see where we can effect change. And we can look within ourselves and see where we can effect change.

In This Time... is a space where we can take our power back!  Here, we'll share opportunities where everyday people have made a change and talk about how we can take these ideas and translate them to our lives.  As June Jordan first said, "we are the ones we have been waiting for."


...And who will join this standing up

and the ones who stood without sweet company

will sing and sing

back into the mountains and

if necessary

even under the sea

we are the ones we have been waiting for

from June Jordan 's  Poem for South African Women