Monday, September 24, 2012

Mitt Romney does not understand the difference between "We" and "I"

Mitt Romney must be shaking in his boots at the thought of having to debate Barack Obama. I would be and I'm a pretty smart cookie. I took on Cornell West and Tavis Smiley on CSPAN the other day and left both of them in silence with their jaws dropped open. I still don't know if I'd like to take on Barack Obama, even though I would love to give him a piece of my mind as well.

Poor Willard Romney. I suppose he really though he had the upper hand for a change. He jumped all over Barack Obama's comments about where change really has to come from.

Barack Obama:
I think that I’ve learned some lessons over the last four years, and the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside. That’s how I got elected. And that’s how the big accomplishments like health care got done.

And Mitt's response to this:
"His slogan was 'Yes We Can,'" said Romney. "His slogan now is 'No I Can't.' He went from the president of change to the president who can't get change.

Barack Obama never said, "Yes I Can". As we all know, the slogan is, "Yes We Can".

Republicans have made no effort to be a part of that "We". If the Republicans cared about America as much as they hate President Obama, then "Yes We Can" would be a reality, not an unrealized dream caused by conservative obstruction.

Neither Candidate Obama nor President Obama ever claimed he could do it alone. Unlike Mitt Romney who really believes that he can be elected President by sharing as little of his agenda as possible unless it's an agenda of oppression.  To Mitt Romney, women, minorities, school teachers and anyone else who dares to be in a union - these people are the enemy.

But these people are the "We". The only thing Mitt Romney understands is "I".

This goes beyond mere semantics. As we learned from Romney's 47% statements, Romney not only doesn't care about the poor, he doesn't care about people who have to work for a living. He doesn't not understand that part of the "We," he only understands "I" and people who are exactly like him. Rich and believing that more money makes them somehow better and more knowledgeable about how to run this country.

All it really does it make them richer. Not better, not smarter and certainly not more capable.

Or caring.

This country should not take a chance that Mitt Romney can learn the difference between "We" and "I" between now and November. If he hasn't learned how to care for others more than himself by now, then he never will and anyone who can't care for all of us does not deserve to be our President.


Related Articles: Why NONE of the Republican Candidates Should Be President

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Arsenic Levels in Rice Cause Alarm

I saw this interview today on CBS "This Morning" and the doctor being interviewed made an impression on me I won't soon forget. Mainly because I dont't think he was being hyperbolic or trying to scare people. His seriousness and concern were penetrating enough that I won't be buying rice for a while unless I can verify where it came from.

I'm posting this because a lot of my friends and readers have babies. The doctor being interviewed doubles down on immediately stopping giving rice cereal to babies until a complete study can be done on the arsenic levels in rice and the effect on children.

 Please read. Stay healthy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

One Story of Many Teachers to Whom I Owe So Much

By my senior year, much to my unexpressed chagrin, English was the only advanced class I had left on my schedule and I was on the verge of not graduating at all.

I'd given up advanced mathematics after barely scraping a C in sophomore year Geometry and also in junior year Algebra II. In senior year, I took a general education mathematics class that met my math requirement for the year and left it at that. I had passed but hated Biology so much that I switched to Botany and just barely escaped flunking that class miserably, not being able to so much as identify a tree or single leaf to this day. I gave up on science altogether and thankfully I didn't need anymore credits in that subject. My junior year American history grade was so abysmal and threatened my graduation status so badly that the senior counselor got involved and I was reduced to taking it in night school in order to graduate on time. My mother was one determined soul and I would get my diploma or she would die trying and she enlisted every family member she could to give me a ride to the evening History class when she couldn't and she made sure I did the work.

Our AP English class was divided into three parts: literature, vocabulary and grammar. Because my mother was an English teacher, who not only insisted that I speak properly but also understand the technical differences between what was correct and what was not, I had a college level grasp of grammar before I left junior high and I was able to coast through the grammar portions with ease.

I did the vocabulary lessons because they gave us the great majority of easy homework points and I also enjoyed learning new words, although, due to my avid reading since the time I was in elementary school it wasn't until senior year that I truly encountered words I didn't already know and actually had to look up and study.

Despite my love of reading, I didn't enjoy the literature portions of class. I despised being commanded what to read and I felt that I was never expected to form my own opinions about anything. I was to give the "correct" answer and regurgitate whatever the teacher felt was most important about whatever we happened to be reading.

I felt, mistakenly, that I had moved beyond high school reading because I was reading and enjoying what I thought were much better books. Readers Digest Condensed novels as well as the actual magazine and anything else I could get my hands on in the school library. With the brashness of youth, I figured that because no one else my age was reading these august publications, I must be a step above my peers. These consisted of the majority of my reading education from 7-12th grade and, combined with what I managed to imbibe from high school, actually wasn't a bad education overall. I was also taking Spanish and had made it to Senior Year Spanish when many had not. We had a class of five students that final year, culled from the dozens who had started out with us in junior high and increasingly gave up through higher levels, as I had done in Math and Science.

I coasted through much of my last two years of high school and although my English teacher probably could have booted me off the advanced track as quickly as my other teachers had done, miraculously she didn't. Though we weren't close and I didn't speak to her much, I think she knew, in the way of teachers, that it would have irreparably wounded my pride and completely eliminated what meager sense of scholarship I still possessed to have been ousted from the class altogether.

So with what I am sure is the grudging gratitude that only teenagers can muster, I accepted my place in her senior year class. At the beginning of the year, she gave a pointed speech explaining that our class participation would be counted for more of our grade than in previous years.

I responded to this, not as you would expect by being grateful for being kept in the class, as well the chance to express myself. No, with typical teenage stubbornness, I responded with an uncharacteristic quietness that bordered on silence and would, ungrateful scholar, barely speak and only give the shortest of answers, if and only if she called upon me; I never volunteered a single comment.

I also eschewed most of the classwork and I marked her class period by writing in my class and personal journal, doing the vocabulary homework she assigned and reading my beloved Reader's Digest condensed books behind my reader or under my desk if we were supposed to be reading anything she assigned.

I justified this aggravating behavior by telling myself that at least I wasn't causing trouble in her class; as if by behaving better than I had any other year and barely doing anything she asked, I were granting a favor of the highest order.

Sue Sines, I'm sure, was a master chess player. When she, in her turn, deigned to notice me at all it was with a polite and biting sarcasm that perfectly mirrored my aggravating behavior. I look back on those days and wonder that she didn't strangle me in an age when teachers could actually discipline students without repercussion.

Every now and again, she would reiterate her speech that without class participation marks, no one could be expected to pass her class. No one, she repeated, looking pointedly at me with the rest of the class softly tittering and looking just as pointedly away from me.

I didn't show by one whit that I cared, but she knew I did. I don't know how but she knew that I did not want to fail her class. The thought of failing that one class consumed more of my waking hours than I cared to admit. I felt she was a witch, a mind-reader. I know now that she was merely an experienced teacher determined to do her best by every student who came her way.

There came a day, towards the end of the school-year, when we were to read aloud in class from our reading books, something we rarely did anymore as seniors in high school. I had my book because she had long ago shrewdly decided to deduct points for anyone not bringing their book to class and since I barely did anything, I couldn't afford to lose a single point. On that day, Ms. Sines gave me the briefest of looks as she turned to the blackboard that I interpreted correctly. I could read something else that day if I dared, but I would pay dearly. So I deliberately shoved the Reader's Digest Condensed I was hiding behind the reader into my bag and turned to that day's literature selection.

The first part was nearly all in Spanish. I was the only one in class who had finished Spanish after sophomore year.

She stayed at the blackboard and sat at her desk longer than usual, giving me time to think. Finally, she asked who would like to read first.

I raised my hand with all the others.

She ignored all the other raised hands and called on me to read.

And I did.

She complimented me on my pronunciation of the Spanish phrases.

That was the extent of my class participation that year. I stopped reading other books during her class time.

She gave me a D which allowed me to graduate.

I owe her so much and I never once said thank you. It brings me to tears to think of her and that crazy, stubbornly silent rebellion all these years later.

I would hate to think of anyone saying that she didn't do her job because I didn't do mine. I earned the grade she gave me. Ms. Sines and so many other teachers taught me so much more than a letter on a transcript will ever show.

I hope the teachers in Chicago continue to fight the good fight.

Friday, September 14, 2012

If I Ruled the World - Building a Platform

If I ruled the world or ran for office, these are the things I believe in. It's mainly about restoring rights to the people that should never have been taken away.

This list may be updated as I think of more things for my platform. If you have any suggestions, post a reply or send me a message via the DebLite Contact Thingy in the sidebar.

Equal Rights for All
End corporate person-hood (corporations are not people)
End unlimited corporate contributions to campaigns
End "at-will" employment
End pre-employment drug testing
End pre-employment credit checks
Make union busting illegal

Justice System
  • Stop the system of pay to play
  • End the system where citizens are threatened and punished for requesting a trial
  • End prisoners having to pay for their jail stays
  • End cruel and unusual punishment (particularly Joe Arpaio's tent jail)
  • End the death penalty
  • All accused/imprisoned have a right to
    • representation
    • counseling
    • education
    • rehabilitation
    • re-enter society without stigma or additional punishment
      • employment/ housing discrimination
      • disenfrachisement
  • Community policing as national policy
  • End stop and frisk policies
  • End racial profiling
  • Give poor communities the same protection as rich communities if not more

  • Legalize marijuana and possibly other drugs
  • Punishment should be for crimes committed due to drug use not drugs themselves
  • Mandatory counseling and treatment for those who commit crimes due to drug use
  • End drug testing in schools

Friday, September 07, 2012

How and When Did You First Learn the Difference Between Black and White?

I was every day of six years old before I knew the difference between black and white. Before that my world was divided into men and women, children and adults, family and everybody else. People at church and people at school. People I knew and people I didn't. People I loved, because on some deep intrinsic level we were of the Race that Knows Joseph and people I liked but weren't apart of that circle. People I knew but didn't quite know their names, but who knew mine - these were mostly always adults and these people drove me crazy and I think I always slightly distrusted them because they always expected me to know them and I didn't. I'd just have to pretend. But merely because of their strange familiarity, they were loved and liked in their turn.

There were people I liked and didn't like. People who liked and didn't like me. But all the same, they were a part of my world, never separated by skin color.

But when my Uncle Joseph came to visit that changed all due to a chance, slightly embarrassed comment from my mother.

My Uncle Joseph was coming to visit! Boy was I excited! I'd gone to stay with Grandmama and Grandaddy in Memphis, Tennessee and I was familiar with their idiosyncrasies that left my mother shaking her head and years later saying, "I know, I was crazy to send you to them but they loved having you there and I couldn't explain it to you. You just had to live there." And she was right. It made all the difference. Only by living with them could I possibly know how she could simultaneously love them to pieces and still want to move all the way to Ohio just to get away from them.

I'd also met Uncle Solomon there, who had been married a couple of times and, one summer, brought yet another wife home who had two daughters and was carrying a third child. Solomon would be my savior while I was in Memphis- a flighty, undependable, handsome, crazy, savior- rescuing me from Grandmama's attempts to take child rearing back to the 1800's - summers she filled with sewing, piano lessons and failed attempts to teach me to do dishes and dust he turned into movies spotted with his visits from his girlfriends children, rides in his car and once to an amusement park. He always brought fun and laughter in the house as well as his trademark phrase: "Mama, you got a dollar?" His timing was uncanny. He never failed to ask that question  jsut when she was teaching me to count change from coins she had saved in a jar. The amount was rarely under a dollar-five and even if he hadn't been in the house for days, the sound of the change jar called him home without fail, ending my lesson. He rescued me from the boredom in between Grandmama's failed attempts at teaching basic housekeeping, womanly graces and counting change; of watching TV all day, grazing from enormous, delicious bowls of grapes and eating pickle loaf sandwiches loaded with cheese and sandwich spread that I only ever at in Memphis and came to believe, with a gullibility specific to childhood, were delicacies specific to that location.

I'd never met him, but I knew vaguely about Uncle Joseph. I'd seen his room, still lovingly kept pretty much as he'd left it, as all three children's rooms were at 1040 South Wellington. I'd talked to him on the phone but he'd never come to Cincinnati and he'd never been to Memphis when I was there although he was a school teacher and could have come summers. I'd seen his pictures and so I knew he was brown skinned where the rest of us were light skinned, making him a favorite of our Harvey kin who were deep brown. Even knowing this did not make me more aware of color the way I came to understand it later. I could, understand the appeal, of loving people who looked exactly like you because, even at five, I knew that my mother loved me because I looked so much like her but yet, I also looked like my Dad whom she loved dearly.

I sat waiting on the balcony of our apartment. Uncle Joseph was due to arrive that day and I could see every single car that pulled up and every single person who walked across the bridge from the parking lot to the building. She had explained to me that he was her brother, which somehow, made him my Uncle, and so I knew I was looking for a man because brothers were boys and he was all grown up.

So every man that walked in and out of the building generated the same question from me.

"Mama, is that Uncle Joseph?"

And each man smiled and shook his head and mama patiently said, "No, Deborah, that's not Uncle Joseph."

One man, with very light skin and brown hair and a beard walked into the building and I inevitably asked again, "Mama, is that Uncle Joseph?

And she looked up, and looked at the man, who only smiled a little tight smile and walked on, and she said, "No Deborah." And only after the briefest of pauses, but while the bearded man was still in earshot, she said with a measure of wry amusement and patient instruction - a tone that said she didn't want to tell me but she felt that maybe I should know by now - that maybe she shouldn't have to tell me - was I so clueless that I hadn't figured it out already? How had I gotten to the ripe old age of seven and not been told? Not been called nigger? Not been shown that it was not them, but me who was different?

But the world is what is and I should know- had she really not told me this already? Maybe she shouldn't say it, but then again, life's lessons come as they do and today was as good a day as any for this one lesson to be learned. Besides, Uncle Joseph was coming and it really wouldn't do to have a seven year old child not know - after all they'd grown up in a house only a few blocks from the Lorraine hotel and had bullet holes in the house that Grandaddy wouldn't have patched so they would never forget, as if they ever would, those horrible nights of lying on the floor during the riots so as not to be shot through the walls of their own home.

Maybe that's what Dr. King meant. That someday children wouldn't even know there was a difference.  But that day wasn't today.

 "Your Uncle's not a white man."

And then I knew that some people were White and some people were Black. And that no matter how light skinned we were, we were Black. Somehow I'd always known I was Black. I just hadn't known that they were White.

And somewhere it made a difference important enough that my mother had to make sure I knew enough not to confuse a white man as my Uncle.

So I sat and waited for Uncle Joseph in silence, waiting for a brown-skinned man who looked like the little boy I'd seen in the picture at Grandmama's but all grown up to arrive. And I realized that on some level I'd known those other men weren't Uncle Joseph, even the bearded white man.

When he finally came, I knew when it was Uncle Joseph without asking. I felt that familiar pull in my spirit that said he was home. He was family.

I hadn't seen Uncle Joseph for years. He came to visit this summer and I walked right past him in the bus station, but then I felt that pull again and turned around and there he was - with my Grandmother's fierce expression a mask on his own face and again, felt that same familiar pull - the love of ties that bind.