We still have a strong woman to support

Posted in Opinion by yliza on June 4, 2008

Now that Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee, Clinton supporters are understandably disappointed, but the complaints of some are just annoying.

I agree that Hillary was the victim of many undeserved sexist attacks. I would much prefer focusing on the issues rather than stupid crap like pantsuits and cleavage. I’m sure that there are some people who didn’t vote for her simply because of her gender, just as some didn’t vote for Obama because of his race. I don’t think that’s why she lost, but it IS an undeniable fact, and a serious problem with our national political discourse.

Now that Hillary is (presumably) out of the race, though, where do you think that misogyny will be focused next?

Yes, that’s right. Michelle Obama.

We will, hopefully, have another strong, intelligent, independent woman in the White House come January. Michelle Obama is as much a role model for young American women as any other successful female public figure, including Hillary Clinton. She is successful in her own right, having come from Chicago’s South Side and going on to attend Princeton and Harvard Law School. From BarackObama.com:

For three years after law school, Michelle worked as an associate in the area of marketing and intellectual property at Chicago law firm Sidley and Austin, where she met Barack Obama. She left the corporate law world in 1991 to pursue a career in public service, serving as an assistant to the mayor and then as the assistant commissioner of planning and development for the City of Chicago.

In 1993, she became the founding executive director of Public Allies – Chicago, a leadership training program that received AmeriCorps National Service funding and helped young adults develop skills for future careers in the public sector.

Michelle began her involvement with the University of Chicago in 1996. As associate dean of student services, she developed the University’s first community service program. Michelle also served as executive director of community and external affairs until 2005, when she was appointed vice president of community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center. She also managed the business diversity program.

Michelle has fostered the University of Chicago’s relationship with the surrounding community and developed the diversity program, making them both integral parts of the Medical Center’s mission.

What an impressive list of accomplishments. If it’s really about empowering women, then Hillary’s feminist supporters should get behind Michelle, right? Right?

Where the Black bloggers at

Posted in dem primary, oh FFS, Opinion by yliza on May 21, 2008

The DNC has chosen 55 bloggers for its State Bloggers Corps (a list of the chosen bloggers can be found at the bottom of this post on African American Political Pundit). Going through the list, one discovers that the majority of the bloggers are White.

African Americans vote Democratic more reliably than any other group in this country. We vote Democratic at rates of 90%, election after election. Common wisdom states that a Democrat can’t win a national election without the Black vote. Yet there’s no room for us as bloggers within the state delegations, even in states where a large percentage of Democrats are African Americans.

Why am I not surprised?

Anybody remember the Yearly Kos last year? They were so utterly surprised that the convention was mostly attended by middle-aged White men. People contorted themselves into knots making excuses for why it would be so, saying stupid shit like “Black people are too poor to have computers”. Of course they missed the point. DKos has never been amenable to voices that might criticize them for racist or sexist stereotyping, and in fact people have been banned for trying. They act as gatekeepers, reject us if we dare criticize them for exhibiting White privilege, and then wonder why we don’t participate in their convention.

Nobody wants to hear us, not if we insist on speaking as Black people from a Black perspective. They don’t link to us, they pretend we don’t exist (“They” being the Big Dogs, ie DKos, MyDD, Firedoglake, etc. and no they get no link love from me). They insist that on the Internet no one can tell your race, but that’s just bullshit. Anyone who bothers to read THIS blog will know very quickly that I identify as a Black woman. They don’t listen to us or link our blogs because they don’t want to. They don’t want to have real discussions about race, they only mention it when it’s a convenient talking point for their own agendas. Otherwise, we might as well be invisible.

We’re out here, though, and we’re not going away. We are not invisible, we have voices, and we will be heard.

NOTE: Before anyone starts with me, no I didn’t apply to blog at the convention. I do consider myself part of the Afrosphere so I use the term “we”, but that doesn’t mean I think I should be blogging at the convention personally. Miss Thing wouldn’t let me go, anyway.

Stereotypes hurt Everyone

Posted in Opinion by yliza on May 1, 2008

People of Color have to deal every day with negative stereotypes and those who seek to use them to define us. Popular culture is awash with them, like Latino men as macho gang members and African Americans as drug-dealing criminals.

But it’s goes much deeper. American pop culture loves its stereotypes, and no one is safe.

Consider common depictions in the media of rural White folks. If I were to use Hollywood as a guide, I’d believe that all rural White people marry their cousins at an early age, have visible gaps in their teeth by the time they’re 30, can barely read and don’t care, and drink moonshine out of clay jugs marked XXX. While some people might actually fit this description, it’s not representative of most rural White people.

Consider also the way “nerds” are depicted. Just thinking about it evokes images of Red Bull, Mom’s basement, and Hot Pockets. They’re usually male and White, and they have trouble meeting/talking to people of the opposite sex. I haven’t just met nerds, I AM one, always have been. And I married one, too. We only occasionally drink Red Bull, and we think Hot Pockets are crap. Oh, yeah, and I’m not a White male (although I suspect you knew that).

These stereotypes may not be as harmful, but they’re just as wrong.

Years ago, I dated a Japanese man. We were both in grad school at the time, and one day he complained to me about how difficult it was to deal with the Asian stereotype of over-achievement. I’m ashamed to admit that I was mean to him at first, as I was dealing with the stereotypes of dishonesty, laziness and promiscuity, and I WISHED the expectation for me was over-achieving. That was wrong of me, because even that more positive stereotype was harmful. It put immense pressure on my boyfriend and almost drove him out of school.

Much of Hollywood is lazy. They knock out movies and TV shows that aspire to diversity but make little or no effort to actually research what they’re trying to depict. To them, diversity means White-centric, with a couple people of color here and there. Yes, there are exceptions, but those exceptions prove the rule.

I suppose we can’t expect much improvement until our media isn’t corporate, and what gets shown on TV and in movie theatres isn’t decided by rich White men.

How far we haven’t come

Posted in Opinion by yliza on April 30, 2008

I found this video clip on Too Sense.

This clip broke my heart. It was supposed to be better for these young people, but here they are, having the same issues of self-identity and self-love that existed when I was a child, back in the ’60s.

The doll experiment is a clear indication of our failure as a society to adequately deal with issues of race. 50 years after Brown vs Board of Education, and the results are still the same. When will it ever change?

Some Wishful Thinking

Posted in Opinion by yliza on April 28, 2008

I wish that we could have a real discussion of race in America.

I wish I could easily buy jeans and know that they weren’t made with sweatshop labor.

I wish Africans could benefit economically from the natural resources in their countries.

I wish the Rule of Law applied to all individuals in all countries, in spite of race, gender, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), or personal wealth.

I wish polar bear cubs weren’t drowning.

I wish my niece and nephew had the same opportunities I had.

This is just a short list, but this is where my head has been for the past week or so. I have visions of a better world, and I wish I knew how to make those visions come true.

Calling Bill Clinton on the Cluephone

Posted in dem primary, oh FFS, Opinion by yliza on April 22, 2008

via The Huffington Post:

The following audio clip is from an interview of Bill Clinton by Susan Phillips of WHYY.org. She brings up his comments equating Obama’s South Carolina primary win to Jesse Jackson’s in 1988. Bill then gets all huffy and claims the race card was played against him. The last thing he says, when he apparently believes the mike is off, is “I don’t think I should take any shit from anybody on that, do you?”

So let me get this straight. Bill Clinton invokes Jesse Jackson when his wife loses South Carolina, and the race card is being played on him? Bill, Bill, Bill, get a clue.

I was living in California in 1988, when Jesse Jackson ran for president. I remember the birth of The Rainbow Coalition very well, it was a concept that appealed to me on many levels. But at that time I was in graduate school, trying to maintain my identity in an environment that included no other Black people. And to those folks, Jesse Jackson was not a serious candidate. He may have won South Carolina, but he was getting zero traction in Southern California. I would liked to have voted for him, but I didn’t, because I knew he was going nowhere.

Please don’t tell me you didn’t know that too, Bill. You’re a savvy politician, I doubt you would’ve been president otherwise, and no matter how much respect and love you have for Jesse Jackson you can’t seriously expect me to believe you thought he had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the nomination.

Reverse racism? Spare me. I hear that every time a White person utters a (possibly subliminal) racist comment and is called out on it. It is a refusal to recognize how insidious and pervasive this issue is in our culture. And it is an indication of how much I respect your intelligence that I believe you know this very well. (more…)

You Reap What You Sow

Posted in dem primary by yliza on January 31, 2008

I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, and I was happy to have a choice that wasn’t a perpetuation of the prior 12 years of greed-is-good Republican rule.

I was on their side when the right-wing smear machine went after the Clintons. I was very upset with the way Hillary was demonized, before she even got into the White House. The feminist in me liked seeing a strong woman as First Lady. I supported her efforts on issues such as health care. She wasn’t my first choice, but I was more than willing to vote for her if she got the democratic nomination. (NOTE: yes, I know that Clinton policies were not as favorable to minorities as they like to say, but some things were better and it was a vast improvement over Reagan and Pappy Bush.)

So you can imagine my surprise and sense of betrayal over the primary in my current home state of SC.

Please don’t try to tell me that I’m imagining things. I’m 50 years old and have lived most of my life in the integrated North and in California. I know what the code words are, I’ve heard them all, as well as every lame excuse possible why I shouldn’t be upset or offended by them.

Would the term “shuck and jive” have been used with regard to Edwards? Would he have been compared to Jesse Jackson? I seriously doubt it. The mere idea seems ridiculous.