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Category Archives: Civil Rights

Women’s Equality Day

Supposedly, that’s today… Is it really or just a hashtag?

Yesterday, I bumped into an acquaintance that I hadn’t seen in a while; she is blessedly pregnant. She is going on 40 and never thought she would have children because that’s what she’d always been told. 

As I shared a bit about pregnancy and motherhood, I asked her how she was doing.

It’s been interesting.

She said that about three or four times, but with a smile so I wasn’t worried. What she said next changed that… her employer does not have maternity leave. 

[A quick aside: I worked for an employer with no maternity leave, however this was a small non-profit and there was short-term disability after seven days.] But we are talking about a large, stable organization. 

Not only is there no maternity:

  • There is no STD until 90 days;
  • Can’t use the sick leave bank (even as a participant) unless you have a cesarean; and
  • You can’t have leave donated to you.

Her plan: bank as much leave as possible until December, tap her savings and get back to work as soon as she can.

But they have FMLA so at least she’ll have a job to come back to…

It’s 2016 y’all! Happy #WomensEqualityDay!!!!

 

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A Simple Question

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power_to_the_peopleN_Mount_Street

 
 

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Black Lives Matter

It is amazing to me that so many can be offended and feel the need to misconstrue such a basic statement. A statement that is so basic and human that it begs the question: why would anyone feel like they need to make the statement at all?

But then again, I belong to the group that must make such a statement…

Last week was an extremely long and emotional one. On Wednesday morning, I was late for work trying to say the right words to my beautiful daughter to melt the mask of rage on her face. The slaying of a black driver in front of his fiancée and child was too much. And what do I say to make sense of the nonsensical? Especially following the videotaped murder by police in Baton Rouge? And how can I convince her of anything when my heart is so burdened?

That evening, she attended two rallys: one in our neighborhood then another at the White House. She was feeling better but I was not.

The next morning at work, I was asked to proof a statement that would be sent to our employees; a statement in response to the killing and wounding of officers in Dallas at a Black Lives Matter rally. It needed a black girl set of eyes…Why was there no statement the day before or the day before that? Hell, where was the statement two weeks ago following the Orlando shooting at Pulse? Where was the statement when churchgoers were murdered in their place of worship in South Carolina? I gave my feedback and suggested that it not be sent as is. The content was thankfully changed to address the unrest in the country rather than to only express sorrow about the police officers.

This morning, I bit off my man’s head because he was sharing some ridiculous “points” that Guliani made on In the Nation. “If I were a Black father, I would tell my son…” Well sir, you are not so you don’t need to fibish that sentence. You have no idea what it’s like to have to have conversations with your children that are literally life and death. It is unfair, it is heartbreaking and it is necessary.

#blacklivesmatter

 

 

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What is the Definition of Freedom?

I missed Jesse Williams’ powerful and honest speech a few nights ago (not a supporter of BET). I am hopeful that Debra Lee (and the audience) was paying attention…

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Jesse Williams accepting the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award

 

Peace peace. Thank you, Debra. Thank you, BET. Thank you Nate Parker, Harry and Debbie Allen for participating in that.

Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight. I just want to thank them for being here, for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, and that they make sure I learn what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also thank my amazing wife for changing my life.

Now, this award – this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country – the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.

It’s kind of basic mathematics – the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.

Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.

Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.

Now… I got more y’all – yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday so I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on 12 year old playing alone in the park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better than it is to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Dorian Hunt.

Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money – that alone isn’t gonna stop this. Alright, now dedicating our lives, dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.

There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us – and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us. But she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.

Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.

And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.

Thank you.

Now do SOMETHING!

 

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PRIDE

As I continue to see news surrounding the horrific attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, I urge all of us not to lose focus. This was an act of hatred which targeted the LGBTQ community. Yes, it was a terrorist act, but I don’t want to get sidetracked by the ethnicity of the shooter. Let’s embrace tolerance.

From Cincinnati to Nashville, from Guadalajara to Poland to Australia, love is pouring in.

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#OrlandoUnited

 
 

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His and Hers Ride Hailing Services?

As a mother of an out-of-town, non-driving female college student, I am a HUGE Uber supporter. Just the other day, I was remarking about how the creators Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had truly earned their billions. I love, love, love that I can see a picture of the driver, license plate and make/model of the car picking up my daughter who is 250 miles away. I know when she’s going and where! She doesn’t ever need cash or have to wait for long periods alone.

The female-only ride hailing apps are an interesting, but not surprising development. Given the unfortunate Uber-related assault cases and personal feelings of female acquaintances, safety is a real issue especially at night. However, from a legal standpoint I understand how such services present the proverbial “slippery slope.” I hadn’t even thought about opening the door to discrimination or exclusivity regarding other groups. It is unfortunate that in our “civilized” society, women have a need to feel safer.

 

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Glimmer of Hope in Dark Times

shoepaintingI’ve been having a hard time staying positive and seeing the light in this world of ours. Everywhere you look there is violence, despair and hate. But lately – no doubt due to the holiday season – I’ve learned of a few people who refuse to give up or give in.

Maurice Kie, Life Pieces to Masterpieces in DC: A young man and after-school program uses art to help young children cope with living in neighborhoods stricken with gun violence.


Tiffany Anderson, Jennings School District in Jennings, Mo.: A school superintendent who actually cares about the students and implements innovation RESULTS to real problems.

Amy Peake, entrepreneur in England: Empowering women in other countries with employment by making a necessity – sanitary pads.

Journalists out there: we need these stories YEAR-ROUND! Apologies that we make Amy Peakeyou think we only want “reality”,
depravity, terror and salaciousness.

To anyone reading this post, you’re welcome. 🙂

 

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One Person, One Vote?

People…pay attention! There is a Texas case being decided today by the United States Supreme Court that could change the way that legislative districts are formed.

Basically states currently draw lines for their legislative districts based on equality of total population (one person, one vote), not eligible or registered voters. A Texas lawsuit says that this is unconstitutional and the metric used to draw district lines should be eligible voters. In this political climate where voter suppression has re-emerged in recent years, with states employing creative illegal tricks, everyone should be paying attention to the outcome of this case.

How do you know who is an eligible voter? By counting those who are registered? What about 18th birthdays, deaths, children, immigrants?

An interesting perspective.

What would redefining the one person, one vote standard mean for our democratic principles? Would it mean that representatives need not respond to or seek out the opinion of those who are not counted in the drawing of their districts?

If those who can’t vote don’t count, then perhaps some elected officials might also think they don’t need to represent those who are eligible but choose not to vote or maybe those who don’t vote for them? This could be a slippery slope.

I’m asking these questions as a resident of a “U.S. territory” that already gets a raw deal with regard to true representation… let’s pay attention.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2015 in Civil Rights, History, Politics, Race, Youth

 

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Crime and Punishment, Part II

Didn’t mean to leave you hanging!!

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The judge found my daughter not guilty of APO.

I was not permitted to remain in the courtroom until closing arguments. I was also able to hear the judge’s ruling and his reasoning for it.

Crime and punishment was at the core of what the judge said that he was looking to hear.
1. Did the alleged bite that my daughter gave the transit officer occur AFTER and as a result of her being hurt by the officer?
2. Was the force used against her excessive for the “offense.”

He stated that he now knew the answer to both of his questions. He chastised the officer for not being truthful and cooperative in his testimony.

I’ve never heard the phrase escort someone to the ground. I don’t even know what that means. Be truthful, you threw her to the ground then put your knees in her back.

The judge then stated that after obliging the prosecution and giving consideration to granting more weight to the cop’s testimony, he did not appreciate the number of times his answer was “I do not recall.”

You do in fact recall, but wouldn’t answer the questions. You heard this young lady telling you that you were hurting her.

I was only on the stand briefly and kept my cool. I wanted to grab the prosecutor by the neck, but luckily she did not approach. She tried to minimize the photos of bruises on my daughter’s arms, leg and wrists that I took which were entered into evidence. Obviously did not work. FAIL Ms. Prosecutor!

I am so truly happy with the outcome because although truth was on our side, the law was not. Her attorney argued using exceptions to DC law on assaulting a police officer. They include when someone can not breathe, they believe their life is at risk (and I forgot the third). It is now wonder that Mr. King reportedly began his opening with three phrases:

Help. You’re hurting me. I can’t breathe.

I have so much more to say on this issue, but for now I am grateful.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Civil Rights, Family, Girls, Politics, Race, Real Talk, violence, women, Youth

 

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Radio Silence

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I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without posting.

Sometimes the world becomes overwhelming and I become withdrawn. Like I need to recharge or reboot to successfully interact. I usually write poetry to get back to an even keel, but the words did not come…

I’m searching for higher ground.

 
 
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