Black Woman Blogging

One black woman's views on race, gender, politics, family, life and the world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The GOP Pussy Riot: Shit Just Got Real

Soooo . . . . the GOP, from ol' Mittens down to Karl Rove, are running for the hills and taking their money with them, trying to distance themselves from the ignorance that is Missouri GOP senate candidate Todd Akin.  Akin got on a local TV show and revealed his complete and utter ignorance about female physiology, telling us that. with a "legitimate rape," the female body can somehow shut down conception.  After getting woodshedded by his party superiors, he walked back his statement, apologizing for using the term "legitimate rape." The entire GOP is telling Akin to drop out no later than today so they can put another candidate in his place.


What we have going on here is a GOP pussy riot.  It's not that they're ashamed of Akin's uninformed and antiquated views.  Heck, Paul Ryan and many GOPers have sponsored bills with Akin to eliminate abortion rights except for "legitimate rape," whatever that is. And there are many ignorant GOP members who share Akin's ignorant view on conception, as if an ovum can outrun sperm that comes from "legitimate rape."  Oh no, it's just that President Obama has a commanding lead among women and the GOP can't afford to fall further behind.  So they're using their former ally Akin as a whipping boy.  If they can literally get him off the stage, they can continue to distract us from what they would do with women's reproductive rights if they had all the power to do so and hide their ignorant views on rape.

I, for one, want Akin to stay in the race.  Let's go ahead and have that debate about abortion rights and what the GOP would really do if they were in control.  Mind you, I'm not all that hyped about abortion.  I don't support it as a choice in my life, although I'm way past the age of having to make that decision.   I'm for all the contraception a woman can get so she never has to make the choice to abort a child.  But I have a major problem with men deciding this issue for women.  Let's have a pussy riot for real.

Let's talk about rape and the fact that there is no such thing as "legitimate" rape.  "No" means "no," and rape is rape.

Let's talk about the inconsistency of opposing contraception that would make abortion not even be an option and opposing abortion, too.  About making women have children against their will, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Let's talk about basic conception -- that an ovum can't tell whether sperm comes from rape.

In fact, let's just go all out and talk about all the ways the GOP has put the rights of women in their cross hairs.

The GOP started this pussy riot; let's finish it.  Shit just got real.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

GOP "Gaslighting" the American Electorate

To hear ol' Mittens Romney and Paul Ryan tell it, President Obama has plunged the American economy over the cliff, and only they -- the GOP -- are in a position to rescue America.  Even Mrs. Romney has bought into and perpetuated the narrative of Mittens as "Superman" saving America.


This is what could best be described as the GOP "gaslighting" the American public.

The term "gaslighting" comes from the movie "Gas Light," in which a husband tries to make his wife think she is crazy so that others will, too.  According to Wikipedia:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

So when I hear Paul Ryan say that President Obama made our economy worse, I know for damn sure I'm being gaslighted.  What President Obama did, consistent with what President George Bush did before him, was to keep the American economy from going off the cliff by keeping the banks AND the Detroit auto industry in business.  And I really feel like I'm being gaslighted when the press reports that Paul Ryan voted for TARP.

Like my doctor says, just as no one ever gives a doctor credit for the heart attack her patient didn't have, no one ever gives a politician credit for the crisis he averted.

What's even more "gaslighty" about this is that they want to revert to the policies that almost pushed the country off the economic cliff and roll back the limited protections put in place by President Obama under their rubric that less regulation is good for all of America, not just their corporate cronies.  NOT.

Let's face it -- if a white man of EITHER political party had kept the banks afloat, kept Detroit in business, passed a stimulus package that not only augmented the budgets of several states in recessionary times but also kept many teachers and public safety officers on the job, ended a war, created a consumer protection agency focused on reigning in financial institutions' wretched excess, passed health care reform that allowed people to get coverage DESPITE pre-existing conditions and put their 23 year-old kids back on their health care insurance, ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," signed the Lily Ledbetter law, AND  freakin' killed Osama bin Laden,  we wouldn't even be talking about a re-election.  We'd be talking about a coronation.

What the GOP won't cop to is that they've been trying to derail this president from day one.

Well I, for one, refuse to be gaslighted.  And I think the American public will refuse to be, too, in November.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

It's Not Just a Table; It's a Tradition

When you look at this table, it looks like an old, beat up, unloved piece of furniture.  A hot ghetto mess if you will.

There's so much more to this table than meets the eye.  It's not just a table; it's a tradition.

This table is a solid maple Colonial-style dining table that my parents bought sometime during the  1960's.  It is the only dinner table I ever knew in our household growing up.  With its three leaves, it can seat up to ten people.  Sometimes during the holidays, our eight-member family needed the extra space for guests.  They don't make tables like this anymore.  When I say it's solid maple, I mean just that -- no veneers, no composite wood.  Solid maple.  It takes at least two people to lift it. At least.

I'm pretty sure I learned to walk leaning on the legs of this table.  My late mother, SWIE (She Who Is Exalted), took great care of this table.  Despite the fact that she had six children and she never allowed us to eat in any part of the house but at this table, she kept a foam protective cover on the table and a fresh, ironed tablecloth on top of the cover every single day, even into her illness with Alzheimer's and cancer before she died.   Every week or two, but never more than three, she would remove the soiled tablecloth, pull back the protective cover, polish the table and chairs, replace the protective cover, and iron a clean tablecloth and put it on top of the protective cover. When she died, my oldest sister, who would later inherit my parents' house, took over caring for the table.   In my lifetime, I have never dined or eaten at this table without its foam protective cover and a tablecloth on it, despite the fact that every home meal I had growing up, every Christmas Dinner I ate before my mother died (except for one, when I was studying abroad), every Thanksgiving Dinner I ate before my mother died, was eaten at this table.

I used to sit and do my homework at this table while my mom cooked dinner.  it was years before my feet reached the floor.

My sisters and I used to comb my grandmother's hair when she sat at this table.  We were mesmerized by her hair's soft, straight texture, which was nothing like any of ours.

We debated politics  and current affairs with my dad at this table, who insisted that everyone have an opinion no matter what their age.  We debated everything from the Equal Rights Amendment, to comparable worth (remember that?), to re-electing Nixon (Dad voted for Nixon, despite my strenous objections, even at age 9), to Watergate, to O.J. Simpson's guilt (my dad and my brothers admitted they thought O.J. did it, but said they'd never tell white people that).

I was sitting at this table doing Calculus problems when they announced on the radio that John Lennon had been shot and killed.

I sat at this table and announced to my family, with great shame, that I had failed the California State Bar Exam, to which my mother replied, "Everybody falls down.  I'll let you lay down there for a little while and feel sorry for yourself.  But then you have to get back up."  I did, and I later passed.

We had our first Christmas dinner that my mother did not cook at this table, because my mother no longer remembered her Christmas recipes due to Alzheimer's disease.

So I guess by now you're wondering how it got to look like a hot ghetto mess?

Because we made the mistake of passing it down to the generation behind us, AKA, "The Generation That Values Nothing" or TGTVN.

You see, we thought the table and its chairs, despite their unfortunate Colonial style, would mean something to TGTVN because it had been passed down from my parents to us to them.  We siblings thought that TGTVN would care for the table and enjoy family and holiday dinners with their children at the table as we had.

And I'm sure they did, and then some.  But not with any care for the table. 

No foam protective covering, no tablecloth, nothing.  They let their kids color and glue and eat and spill and mark on top of this solid maple table without a care.  To them, it was just an old relic.  Maybe they didn't remember watching my mother iron a tablecloth each weekend or so to replace the soiled one, or maybe they didn't remember her getting out the Pledge and polishing a table top that no one would ever see because it was too beautiful not to be covered.

I wish it were so.  But the truth is, they didn't value it because they didn't have to work for it, like many things they've received from our generation that they didn't have to work for.  We made the mistake of trying to help them so they wouldn't have to struggle as much, so that every generation would do better than the next.

That was our mistake.  We assumed too much.  And, as my oldest brother said, we deprived them of the lessons that come from struggle, the lessons that come from having to work for something you want or need.  We also did not share with them the love that my mother had for and put into that table.

Well, TGTVN left the table behind in the garage at my parents' old house, which they had rented from its current owner, my brother, who had bought the house from my sister.  I had seen the table before in TGTVN's possession its current state and offered to buy it back.  I was told that I could buy it once they got a new table.  They never did.

So when I saw the table in my brother's garage, left upside-down on concrete, no less, I made arrangements to bring it to my house.   The picture of it above was taken in my garage.   Yes, I stole the table, with my brother's blessing.  The chairs?  I never liked them, but I wouldn't have done to a cockroach what they did to those chairs.  We found parts of the chairs in the front yard.  Yes, parts. Of solid maple chairs.  Just a hot ghetto mess.

So now I have my mother's table, plus the three leaves that go with it.  I will have it professionally refinished.  I will then put a protective cover on it, followed by a tablecloth.  I will buy new upholstered chairs to go with it to kind of hide the Colonial stylings under the table that I never really liked.

And then my husband, my children to come (very soon, sometime before the end of the year if all goes well), and I will dine at this table.  We will have our Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners on this table, this time with formal china.  And I will tell them the history of this table, tell them of its solid construction, tell them the care that the grandmother they will never know put into this table.  I will impart its history upon them.

We will start our new traditions at this table.  Hopefully, they will value it more than the others in their generation.   Because, as my sister The Writing Diva said, "It's not just a table; it's a tradition."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Gabby Douglas Is Not Her Hair

Sometimes, we black women don't know how to act.

We have the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in the all-around women's gymnastic competition in the Olympics, and sisters are criticizing her hair?  Are you kidding me?

I've warned white folks to stay out the hair conversation when it comes to Malia's and Sasha Obama's hair.  Now, to my black sisters:  Grow up and stop projecting your own hair issues onto Gabby.

I am often among the hair challenged.  Some days my hair is bouncin' and behavin', some days, not so much.  But I'm too focused on handling my business to care if I've hit the hair mark each and every freakin' day.  I've got far more important things to do than to worry about whether other people approve of my hair.

And, apparently, so does Gabby Douglas.  Like coppin' two gold medals.

But I've seen this kind of criticism before.  I recently spent time with a friend who just couldn't let go of the fact that a black woman newscaster we were watching failed to wear false eyelashes during a broadcast.  She went on and on about how, with high definition television, the beauty bar had been raised for sisters on the air, and this sister, in her mind, had an epic beauty fail.

Not a mention was made about whether the sister newscaster was good at her job.  She wasn't wearing false eyelashes.


This black women's hair thing and our appearance in general isn't about that newscaster or Gabby Douglas.  It's about how we as black women feel about our own appearances and hair and how we're projecting our own insecurities onto unsuspecting ACHIEVING black women in the public eye.

I, for one, hope Gabby Douglas isn't paying attention to any of this mess.  She's got far too much to do that's more important than her hair.  To her sister hair haters, I say, she's got two gold medals -- what you got?  Yeah.  That's what I thought.

For goodness' sake, don't ruin this young sister's triumph with your own issues about your hair and/or your appearance.  Go handle your hair issues and let Gabby do her thing, which, by the way, she's doing quite well, thank you, ma'am.

In the words of India.Arie, Gabby Douglas is not her hair; she is not her skin, she is the soul that lives within.

Congrats, Gabby.  And in the words of the late Billy Preston (way before your time), you are so beautiful to me.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Big Mama's Dead, So Get Your Shit Together

Most of us black folks who came of age in the '60's and '70's grew up with at least one matriarchal figure in the family who held things together and held up the triflin' folks in the family.  This matriarch was usually older, someone who always kept a roof over her head, paid her bills, and always had a meal available for anyone who crossed her threshold.  She always seemed to be able to dig down in her bra and find a twenty for someone to "hold," knowing full well she'd probably never get it back.  She'd co-sign for some young'un in the family trying to get a car or some furniture and wouldn't think twice about mortgaging her house to get her child or grandchild out on bail. She was the kind of woman who maybe worked a menial job, cooked up a storm on Saturday night for family card games, and pulled herself together for Sunday school and making a huge Sunday dinner.  She was Big Mama.  And if there were an Olympic sport for putting everyone else first and ignoring your own health, the Big Mamas would have medaled for sure.  They were overweight, ate a fat-laden diet, were often hypertensive or diabetic, and oftentimes smoked like chimneys.

Well, I've got news for the generations of black folks behind me.  Big Mama's dead, so get your shit together.

Anyone in the generations behind me looking for that same kind of black matriarch to fill the shoes of the Big Mamas before her is destined to be disappointed.  No one wants the role.  I know I don't.

Times have changed, and nobody, least of all elderly black women, can afford to carry any other grown-ass adults who make unwise decisions and end up in need because of them.  The financial setbacks that can come for co-signing for folks or mortgaging your house to help someone are far harder to overcome now than since the Great Depression.  As my late mother, SWIE (She Who Is Exalted) used to say, "Money's as tight as Dick's hat band."  As a child, I never knew who Dick was, but he and his hat band were always invoked when my mother didn't have it to give.

The Big Mamas of my childhood WERE the social safety net that government wasn't, or wasn't on time enough to be.  They were the ones who would take folks in when they lost their jobs, who'd keep a drug-addicted niece or nephew from losing their kids to the foster care system, who not only raised their kids and their grandkids, but their great-grands as well.

Black mothers today do well just to raise the children they have.  Elderly black women do well to keep a roof over their heads.  Taking on the created problems of grown-ass people who don't have their shit together is more than most black women of any age can handle.  And given how the Big Mamas of the past ignored their health tending to everyone else, well, that's not a model my generation wants to emulate.

So, if you don't have your shit together -- a steady job, a roof over your head, a way to take care of your own kids and stand on your own two feet, well, don't go looking for Big Mama.  Big Mama's dead, and nobody's going to to replace her.  Nobody wants to.

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