Sunday, November 09, 2014

Falling in Love with Twitter

For the longest time I would not have a Facebook account. Not 'didn't have," I mean 'wouldn't have." I had heard a lot about it and it just seemed stupid. But in true DebLite fashion, I always make the opposite argument with myself: Why should I have a Facebook account?

I did a Google search for that very thing and came across an article where a  young woman made what I felt was a very compelling argument that reached me. That people who failed to embrace Facebook were much like people who once scoffed at the notion of having a telephone, radio or later television. At each stage of our technological development there are those who deliberately leave themselves out based on reasons from superior morality to simply seeing "no need" for such an item.

The idea of myself as a moribund scoffer of progress just sounded too Republican for me. So I joined Facebook that very day. You could say that maybe I was just looking for any reason to join Facebook, but I think the closer truth is that I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to learn how to use it, so I just took the fake moral high ground of not needing it or seeing a use for it.

And so it was with Twitter. Well not quite. I understood what Facebook what was for. Twitter, I simply did not get. What was the point of Tweeting what you're doing? All day, every day? I could barely keep up with what I was doing all day. Now I was supposed to write about it? All the time? While it was happening? Absurd.

Twitter was the one thing I didn't understand but always wanted to get. So I joined and sent out  a few tentative tweets. I had a few followers, mostly friends I'd asked to join me on Twitter. Things stayed that way for pretty much a year.

I knew there was something more to Twitter when more and more news broke on Twitter than on any news station, any other social media. Twitter is the now of the planet. If it's happening right now, it's on Twitter. Twitter is immediate and I had to get more involved but I had no idea how. And moreover, it seemed I had no time.

My life slowed down a bit when a friend of mine went to jail and rehab and I agreed to take care of her baby when she got out. Suddenly I went from roaming the world at my sweet will to being in the house with a 7 month old baby. My own daughter nearly a college graduate it had been a long time since I'd taken care of any child who could not already read. This was back to square one with a vengeance.

While the kid napped, I explored more and more of Twitter. And slowly I became more and more engaged, read up on how to properly use a hashtag, retweet, message, communicate with others, it became a lot more fun.

Discovering Black Twitter was a mind-blowing revelation. The depth, breadth, wit, candor and sheer beauty of Black Twitter has expanded my mind and my heart in ways I can't begin to describe.

However I tend to pay less attention to what's trending on Twitter than what's trending for me. Mainly because  I'm still playing catchup but also because it's impossible to be aware of every trend, every news item at once. What's new for me may be a year old. That's ok. I'm learning.

But I've learned one thing - if it exists, there's a hashtag for it. If there's not a hashtag for it, create one.

I have serious things I do on twitter, usually a continuation of the political things I write about here and on Facebook.. And there are fun things I do on Twitter. I stumbled on Tweeting While Watching TV by accident, but it's an awesomely fun thing to do. I made a decision to focus more on my own writing and less on watching TV. To that end, there are only about three prime time TV shows that I watch anymore. Watching them is way more fun when I'm watching them with a few hundred thousand of my closest friends on Twitter.

So I think I'm going to do a thing here at DebLite called "Trending." On what issues or topics have caught my attention on Twitter. In the meantime, of course, follow me on Twitter: DebLite (@ThatDeborahGirl).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ohio November 2014 Ballot Information - Candidates and Local Issues

Check out the League of Women Voters site for your state to get local candidate & issues information! 


It's mid-October and it's long past time I educated myself on all the candidates who are running
this November, not just the Governor's race and a few other familiar candidates for office.

The sad part is that it took a very bad a campaign commercial to make me realize that I'm behind on researching candidates. It seems David Pepper is doing the usual failing upwards bit and challenging Mike DeWine for Attorney General of Ohio. Good Lord - are these really my choices? With options like these we need a "No Confidence" option.

In every election year since pretty much the Internet, I've been using the League of Women Voter's website to educate myself on candidates and issues.

I couldn't find the information for the Ohio 2014 November Election on the old Smart Voter website. Now I see that LWV Ohio has a new fancy setup, but  to me it's a bit creepy because they require your exact address to get voting info where before they used to only ask for your zip code. And they do not explain at all what they do with this info or make their privacy policy plain. I called them and the lady who answered the phone put me on hold briefly and then she said she asked their Executive Director, who assured her that the info is used only to personalize ballot info and that's it. I really hope so, but it would be nice to have that in writing on the site.

At any rate, I decided I better get busy researching the rest of the candidates, and not feeling comfortable with the LWVO, I did a Google search for Ohio Ballot Information and turned up the Ohio Secretary of State John Husted's "Whats On the Ballot" website with information on General Election Candidates and Local Issues.

If I didn't know any better, I'd say they really don't much care about people having this information. The downloads they have with lists of who's running are only available as badly formatted Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. I wouldn't use them for my college homework let alone for an official website that's supposed to inform voters about their candidates. It's really pathetic. I'm appreciating LWVO a lot more about right now.

I took the liberty of cleaning up the spreadsheets a bit and making them into PDF's that can be viewed  and also downloaded at the following links.

Ohio November 2014 Candidates
PDF View or Download (13 Pages Letter Size)

Ohio November 2014 Local Ballot Issues
PDF View or Download (50 Pages Legal Size)

Seriously, if I can do it, you'd think the Secretary of State could hire someone who could do that as well. At any rate, here's the basic info about who's running in Ohio and local issues. I guess we'll have to do the rest of the research on each candidate ourselves. Or you can go to the League of Women Voter's website for your state and trust that they only have good intentions with your address.

Either way, get informed and get out and vote.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Making the Case for Reparations - Blackness as a Financial Liability

I've never really given much thought to black people being given reparations for slavery, or the Jim Crow despite having family members who lived during both eras.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has taken a lot of heat for his article that does make the case for reparations to black people, not only for slavery but for the discrimination we endure to this day. He does so in a matter of fact manner that does not even question whether such discrimination is in evidence which, to my mind, is half the battle.

But lately, there's an interesting case that hit the news that seems to make the case for reparations as well Ta-Nehisi Coates. (I had no idea how to pronounce his name, having only ever seen it in print and never heard it pronounced. Well you can check out his episode on "The Colbert Report" and hear him talk about reparations and learn to say his name correctly.)

I'm referring to the case of the white lesbian parents who were mistakenly given the sperm of a black donor, resulting in the birth of a child who is "bi-racial."

One of the mom's is suing saying that the birth of this bi-racial child is causing them economic hardship. The very fact of this child being black is determining where they will live due to discrimination in their own community. This has the potential to change where they will work, what family members they can associate with. Even such a small thing as getting this child's hair done is causing them additional expense for travel to further neighborhoods and additional cost and learning - and therefore they expect to be compensated for the economic loss as well as the emotional issues they did not expect for merely being associated with blackness.

As I read the "complaint" from the mom in the lawsuit it dawned on me that what she's referring to is what we call "The Black Tax." Despite consistently being paid less than our white peers, life is more expensive when you're black.

But the mother in the lawsuit is claiming that blackness is putting her at a disadvantage in a society that is mostly white. If merely being associated with blackness is putting her at a disadvantage, how much more is actually being black in a majority white society a disadvantage?

If this woman is compensated for merely being associated with blackness, shouldn't black people be compensated for actually being black?

It seems to me like she's coming in on the tail end of centuries of oppression and demanding compensation for something that she never even experienced. But being a lesbian woman, she knew about oppression and bigotry but she chose to live in a community where those "values" were reinforced. Having a black child makes that impossible and she expects money to make up for it.

I wonder if this woman realizes that she's telling millions of black people that what we're experiencing and saying is not only real, but deserves financial compensation.

I hope she wins her lawsuit - if so, she has kicked a door wide open for every black person to be compensated for the discrimination we have suffered through and been oppressed by.

It's not 40 acres and a mule, but it would be a good start.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Racism is the new Four Letter Word

I shocked a black woman yesterday by telling her that occasionally I blog about racism.

She visibly startled, as if I had said "boo". But  as I spoke, she quickly recovered and shook her head in agreement that yes, racism is an issue that still needs to be addressed.

But I realized, I had struck a nerve.

I spend a lot of time on the internet so I'm used to the denial and outright anger when the word "racism" comes up. White people immediately internalize that word and they do not hear "something someone said or did was racist." What they hear is, "I am white. Are you calling me a racist? How dare you? I'm not a racist. If I were we wouldn't be having this conversation." And on and on until they are sufficiently certain that they are not personally being called out on racist behavior or actions.

To talk about racism to a white person who is inexperienced at addressing matters of race is an exercise in tedium. Because first they have to exonerate themselves. They must make sure that they are not included, they have to make sure that the rules against generalizing about white people are being followed - that is, if there is one white person who is the exception to the rule against millions who fall under the umbrella of what's being discussed then the caveat must be given - "You can't say all white people, because that's just raci...I mean wrong."

It's also helpful if to white people to discuss racial issues without using the words "race" or "racism". To discuss anything to do with *whispering* black people. Political correctness and the corporate boardroom have given us words to use to discuss race without ever saying the words Black or Asian or Latino. All you have to do is talk about "diversity."

"Our organization is diverse." "We embrace diversity." Which can mean anything from we have a rainbow coalition to we don't push women down the stairs. At best it means, "We find that having different people from different backgrounds gives our company an edge." At worst it means, "We realize that hiring only white people makes us look bad."

What I hadn't realized is that using the word "racism" has become taboo among black people as well. We have learned to use all the euphemisms. We have learned to describe racism in individual acts of hatred rather than an overall and collective system of oppression.

We have learned that "racism" has been reduced to something akin to "bullying." And as we are constantly told, bulling is an increasing problem but it's up to the "victims" to fight back. As long as they do so in ways that are constructive.

There's always a caveat, isn't there? There's always a "way" to discuss these issues so as not to make anyone feel bad.

Except for the person who already does.