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Showing posts from July, 2009

A Budget Is A Moral Document

I don't know who said this, but it's true: A budget is a moral document. It says what we as a society prioritize as important. Or not important.

Clearly, health care for poor children is not important in California, or not as important as it used to be. Governor Schwarzenegger slashed the Healthy Families insurance program that provides low-cost medical insurance for children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medi-Cal and can't afford private medical insurance for their children.

Sure, I complain about furloughs, but I wouldn't want to wish on any parent the absence of medical insurance for a sick child. Especially if those same parents are donning the blue smiley-faced vest, the red bullseye, or the paper hat in efforts to make ends meet and keep a roof over their children's heads and food in their mouths.

But still no severance tax for big oil, when we're the only state in the union that doesn't have such a tax? You gotta wonder.

I'm not one of t…

The Golden Butt Kick

It ain’t over for me
No it ain’t over for me
I’ma step up my game and get what’s comin’ to me . . .

“It Ain’t Over,” from the movie “Hustle and Flow"

Any moment now, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will sign yet another stop-gap state budget that now incorporates three furlough days per month for most state civil service employees. The possibility of four of five furlough days per month in the next budget cycle looms.

As one of my college friends used to say, “Whoopdee shit.”

If I thought for a moment that every single state employee, whether they work for an agency or the Legislature OR AS A LEGISLATOR, was going to be furloughed three days a month or face equivalent salary cuts, the furloughs might be palatable. If I thought for a moment that the furloughs were a temporary stop-gap measure intended only to close the budget gap, maybe I could get with them.

But I have it on good authority that the furloughs aren’t intended just to deal with short-term budget shortfalls. Au c…

Someday We'll All Be Free

I admire that President Obama has taken the high road and is trying to make peace between Officer Crowley and Professor Gates. What concerns me is whether he felt forced to do so by the firestorm of media coverage and the outrage of whites who felt that Professor Gates was playing the race card. To the extent that Professor Gates was playing any such card, in my opinion, he was probably playing the class card, refusing to be discriminated against based on race because he had the class clout to trump the officer's power. That Professor Gates has the ear of the President and is part of a vast network of African American elites that many whites don't know of might have been disconcerting to some.

But to watch the Leader of the Freakin' Free World "walking back" his "stupidly" comment when many like me in the African American community agreed with it? That was disconcerting to me, not because I think I'm right, but because I think the President has th…

What Professor Gates Was Really Guilty Of

My friend Trevor in Oakland always tells me, "Tell the truth and shame the devil." So I'm going to tell the truth, as I see it, about Professor Gates' arrest for disorderly conduct: He was arrested because he lacked humility. He was guilty of being uppity.

Now the media wants to make more of this by questioning President Obama's choice of adverb to describe how the police in the situation acted: Stupidly. Quite frankly, this is about as far as I've seen President Obama step into a American racial issue.

And he's right.

Once the police were satisfied that Professor Gates actually lived in the home, there was no cause to arrest him unless he posed a threat to the police or some other person. From press accounts, which are not necessarily reliable, Professor Gates had the temerity to birddog his inquisitor and ask for his name and badge number. Now, if the reports are true that this officer followed Professor Gates through his house to his kitchen to wait for h…

Shine A Light

I could write about Skip Gates' arrest for disorderly conduct in his own home. Lord knows it's got BMNB hoppin' mad, since he,too, was asked for ID at our front door. By a repo man with piercings and tats who came to take the car of the prior owner of our house, no less. ("Why do I need to show someone ID at my house? It's MY house!). I don't know whether it's a black man thing, a southern thing, or both, but you just don't mess with a black man in his own home. But enough about that.

I could write about the late Walter Cronkite and my immense respect for him as a journalist and as the catalyst who ended the Vietnam war, IMHO. But that will have to wait.

Last night I received word that a old friend of mine from "back in the day," when I was a young, single, professional woman in Oakland, has passed away. I left the Bay Area in '98, and she followed shortly, taking a better position doing what she loved in the arts. It hurt my heart to know …

'Splainin', Home Trainin', and Showing One's Behind

As you know, I enforced my own personal news blackout regarding the Judge Sotomayor confirmation hearings. Couldn't bear to watch or listen, which made my morning drive to work a bit more difficult since I listen to NPR when I drive in. NPR provided gavel-to-gavel coverage. I listened to a lot of Sirius XM instead.

Wouldn't you know it that the Judge Sotomayor confirmation hearings were the spark that got my husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB), paying attention to the news such that he put aside his usual ESPN radio, classic soul hits station V101.1 and whatnot to actually follow coverage of this event?

"You know, there was some Senator from Oklahoma yesterday who told Judge Sotomayor that she "had some 'splainin' to do.'"

Why is he telling me this?, I thought. The one person I could count on to be uninformed just turned into Edward R. Murrow.

I took the bait. "Do you mean 'splainin' as in the southern sense of the word, like 'let me …

Hope in an Envelope

Three furlough days per month with the possibility of four or a 5% pay cut, and the possibility of layoffs to boot – it’s enough to make you say “enough.”

And so I have.

I didn’t think I’d be in the job market this soon, especially in a recession. But I have to assess my options. I have to see if what I’m working with in terms of experience and qualifications will command a better wage and a better position.

It was different when I was single and young and apartment-dwelling with time on my hands for my 401(k) to rebound. But now I’m married and middle-aged with a mortgage and a 401(k) that’s down 29%, up from being down 65% earlier this year, mind you. I have responsibilities not only to my husband, but to creditors and to my older self when I’m no longer able or willing to work.

I have to assess my options.

BMNB thinks I’m crazy to continue to subsidize the State of California through my lower state worker wages. He thinks I need to chuck it and work, as he does, for “a government t…

Happy Birthday, Black Man!

I forgot -- one of my favorite black men is having a birthday today. He knows who he is. We've been friends for twenty years this summer, through bad relationships (he kept me from commiting a crime against an ex after a particularly bad breakup), bad bar exam results, fallouts with law firms and friends, career adjustments, loss of parents, marriage, and, for him, children. And despite the passage of time, we can pick up wherever we left off just by starting a conversation, which we don't do as much as we should. He is the personification of honor, chivalry, hard work, values, and kindness, traits we don't give black men enough credit for having these days. Plus, to be able to speak to a trusted friend over the years and not have to apologize for or change who you are when you speak to him because he knows your history? Priceless. Mastercard can't touch that.

Happy Birthday, Black Man. Here's to another twenty years of friendship!

Who's Afraid of a Wise Latina?

I cannot be the only one cringing at the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor. I cringe because I hear her backpedaling, or as they say in pundit-speak, "walking back," from her comment about a wise Latina. I cringe because although we all know the votes are all there for her confirmation, she has to go through this process where she has to become raceless, genderless, and unthreatening to the overwhelmingly white and male Senators who hold her fate, and to the voters who elected those overwhelmingly white and male Senators, to make it through. Just like many whites who cannot have a conversation about race without attaching outrage or moral blame to it, she has to act like the consideration of race or one's racialized experiences do not belong in the justice system because they subvert or taint the justice system. That justice is color-blind when in fact justice has, for most of our history, been lacking in any color but white.

O…

Today, A Mother Is Burying Her Child

Today, a mother is burying her child.

This is taking place around the world, for countless mothers of children, some famous, some not. Whether or not that child was largely unknown to the world or the King of Pop, the pain is not any less than that of any other mother who has to bury a child.

"It's not the natural order of things for a parent to have to bury a child." My father often says this. Burying a child was, and probably remains, one of his greatest nightmares. When he faced down that possibility many years ago, my father, as devout a Christian as I imagine Mrs. Katherine Jackson to be, walked the floor all night, praying and speaking in tongues, flagellating himself with belts to show the Almighty that he was indeed His humble servant and to plead with Him not to take his child, or to take him in his child's stead. God showed him mercy.

And this from someone who never carried a child.

I can't imagine the pain that Mrs. Jackson is feeling today, and tha…