Feminists or not, the dilemma


Feminists or not,  the dilemma is long standing full of contradictions, mystery and history.  This is a response toLauren Enriquez who wrote and article  in NY Times 2/27/17 Pro-Life, But Left Out in her experience of the Woman’s March 2017.  I offer my experience to you Lauren and to  other women who don’t identify or feel the feminist or not feminist dilemma.   A long standing dilemma for women since the first feminists came along.

My experience was not of a divided group of women, some “feminists” – some not. In fact, the divisions of race and age, and status and income of all the women who assembled was without boundaries as we mixed and engaged to fill the streets with our support of women’s rights and human rights. First, I need to ask? Is Women’s Rights really all about abortion, and why does abortion create an insurmountable chasm in your experience, Lauren?

Consider this: Roe v Wade made evident and overt the terminating of a pregnancy, explicitly defining for medical professionals their liability not being in assistance to women. in the early years of the 20th Century, women had their babies at home with a midwife and family. The same women who helped women with their labor and delivery, helped them with abortifacients to terminate a pregnancy. Doctors did not participate in births unless there was a dire need for their intervention. In the 1920’s and 30’s, hospitals began marketing to women to come to the hospitals to have their babies according to historian Shannon Withycombe who specializes in the history of women’s health at the University of New Mexico. She says that given hospitals were no more sanitary than at home, and since antibiotics had not entered use in the hospitals, hospitals and at room births combined to make for a high mortality in delivery. 70 women in every 1000 died in labor and delivery, but rarely did the women  see any physician or midwife prior to delivery. What really changed the tide that brought women into hospitals for delivery in the 19th and early 20th century was their marketing the promise of pain-free labor with “twilight sleep.” Until the 1960’s, this combination of morphine and amnesiac was predominantly used in hospitals by doctors. In the 1960’s, the quality of birth for the mother and the child was reconsidered. Natural childbirth-drug free with breathing training then became the potential for childbirth in and out of the hospital.

Abortion has a similar history:  prior to Roe v Wade, women were treated by the midwives for delivery, but also to end early pregnancies in such common practice that it wasn’t directly spoken of.  When Roe v Wade came into law of the land, it was the physicians who  gained legal protection in intervening in a pregnancy, as well as the women.  Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Pregnancy center in upstate New York,  kind and compassionate doctors and nurses  were what was available  to women before Roe v Wade in 1973.  But what drove the need for that was the fact that  in 1964,  Civil Rights and birth control pills gave women more power in their lives.  By 1966,  66% of women used birth control.  A huge change was underway in the marriage and family patterns over the next two decades.  Of note is the fact that when Roe v Wade became law of the land, there were already seventeen states that allowed the practice of assisting the termination of unwanted early pregnancies.  Further, as historian Linda Gordon points out”the growing acceptability of sex without marriage made the ban on abortions unacceptable.”  Women achieved “greater safety, lower costs, and greater opportunity in education and employment,”  and as well, they achieved the legal status of purchasing a home and credit as they took on jobs.   Abortion rate from 1972-76 showed that deaths from abortion went from thirty-nine per million to two per million.  Feminism was attributed to Roe v Wade, but its source was actually the legal and medical establishments giving form and legal stand to those who assisted women in their choice of abortion.

Women’s integrity to choose what is right for them does not require group membership, or exclude any woman,  Having your choice and allowing other women to have their choice does not need to come with discrediting, diminishing or holding in contempt those who make different choices.  The Women’s March for me was all about that!   Our concerns, what we marched for was Women’s Rights, Civil Rights and Human Rights and standing together, marching together as women; -some who call themselves feminists, some who don’t.

We are here for each other, for our mothers, for our sisters, for our daughters.  In response to the New Administrations intimidation and threats hurled toward limiting or reducing any aspect of those rights that support the benefit of full inclusion and social equality achieved since the 1960’s, we resist.  We will continue to show up to stand with those in need of support.  That is feminism to most, and you are not excluded.  We are here, Lauren, together we and those who march together will stand with the most vulnerable, and bring ourselves forward together to achieve that.

Peggy Reskin, author of Barefoot Frontrunners: sex, women and power


The Woman’s March 2017: “Check Your Privilege”


The New York Time’s article today on the Women’s March Opens A Raw Dialogue emphasized women coming together to voice and represent nationwide, young and old, a range of interpretations of why women are showing up and marching. There are those who want to represent feminism, women’s rights and civil rights, with a full throated response to the Inaguration of a new President. With him, a new administration that has at the least shown ambiquity and a shift away from the trajectory of civil rights attained by women, the LGBTQ community, children of illegal immigrants, and those who represent the Middle East community within our country. Everyone is invited to this inclusive event. The Woman’s March in cities all around the country, initiated in DC, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Atlanta and many, many cities of the nation is happening on Saturday January 21st, 2017.

The Rise of the Woman – The Rise of the Nation is the context provided by the DC Women’s March. There are meetings and more meetings to make banners that say “He is not My President” and angry disappointed voices that want to initiate and stand against all that the new President-elect has represented over the past election. There is a call for the return to feminism of the 1970’s and engage newly toward the equality that has never been fully represented in our country. There is the “Check Your Privilege” conversation between women of color to the white women as they engage together for the Women’s March in DC. Even as the unmet goals of equality, such as the ERA and the reality of what has not been gained over the years since the social revolution of the 1970’s emerge, there is anxiety about what has been achieved and may be lost in the experience of most of those who are planning to participate in a Women’s March on January 21st across the country. There is the swell of a huge potentially destructive wave collecting anger and confusion as well as mystery in the mix as the Presidential power ends with President Barack Obama, and begins with Donald Trump, and the GOP agenda.

Where will you be January 21st is the question being asked of women friends across the country. My sisters and sisters-in-laws and friends in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and DC , and those friends and colleagues around me in the Bay Area are together, even as they are of different mindsets about the election and its results. All have consideration for the fact that a new day is coming, and it is not clear what will be asked of us, but we we must all meet the future with resourcefulness, clear eyes and even open heart. In the voices of all, there is the willingness to stand for what is important to us, as the women of this country. That is what the Woman’s March is about for many of us. Even as it is about Women’s Rights, the fifty-three years process where women filled out the potential of responsibility and choice in how they live their lives, what lies ahead is unclear. A Multigenerational Woman’s Gathering in Marin County was initiated almost immediately after the surprise victory of Trump over Hillary, their agendas could not be further apart on women’s rights and civil rights, and the young women reported panic attacks and huge grief at the news of Trump’s election. The coming together of young professional women who have only known what it is to have those rights, and their voice, juxtaposed to the women who participated in the process of gaining and living out women’s rights from Civil Rights, Birth Control and Roe vs Wade. Each woman, a rich source of attitudes and viewpoints about the challenges ahead, presented perspective onto our role as women given the platform presented by the President Elect over the two years of his campaign.

What we came to was to was the value and responsibility we felt to present our bodies and ourselves in our stand for Women’s Rights are Human Rights. The history of how women came through to their power reveals the fact that through that process, the lesbian and gay community gained access to express and represent, and direct their power. The struggles in race and in sex over the decades have a correlation and powerful mutuality, evidenced in the thread of equality constrained or given access to liberty through the Civil Rights Bill. We can have this Woman’s March represent a new threshold, a new potential. I will be joining my sisters and colleagues and friends in the Woman’s March to represent what we bring to ourselves, each other and the county. What it means to me is that we are united in our stand to move forward, include more diversity and differences to achieve the whole of who we are as a country. What this means to me is we renew our investment and enthusiasm for human rights, measure our stands to correlate with our immense capacity for bringing life and hope to ourselves and the world.

Check our Privilege, not because we are white, but because the real privilege is our ability to speak and bring the best of who we are as a country to the world to meet this new transition. Efforts and gains have been made and we do not want to see them reduced due to political change of who is in office as President: educating law enforcement officers, reducing the prison population, improving the means for better education and opportunity to our children in all zip codes, feeding and caring for the large number of children and seniors: these are the priorities we do not want to see lost or reduced. This is who and what the Women’s March will represent to many of us. This is where we can achieve our greatest victory.



Traumatic Brain Injury: Teri’s story


Traumatic brain injury:  Teri’s story began as it happens to many, from every day events at unexpected times in their lives and leave them floating in a sea of confusion and isolation.    Teri  recalls   the panic and disorientation that fourteen years ago came with her undiagnosed traumatic brain injury. Without the symbolic representation and acquired language that describes our experience, and connects us to others and the world around us, we are lost from our lives, and such is the case with TBI for many. But Teri’s story is very different, and for anyone suffering the effects of a traumatic brain injury, or living with loved ones with that condition, Teri’s story has much to contribute in how she made a recovery that was achieved by her decisions in response to her condition.

Knowing Teri as I have for the past thirteen years, I am only slightly aware of the traumatic experiences that defined her life and limited her participation for many years. We were in a warm and receptive course of study in Marin County together, the Wisdom Connection. And she and the women there were in an open space of trust and inquiry. I certainly experienced the degree of compassion Teri exuded, and the transition she communicated around her life’s events. That she had recovered from being outside what her life had been was not apparent to me. Traumatic Brain Injury now has volumes of discussion on the internet and in the media, of the recognition, treatment and recovery protocol to be followed. But symptoms of Teri’s injury were not fully realized for weeks. It was her chiropractor who saw the relationship between her symptoms and the car accident. The brain swelling itself came up three days after the accident, but it would be weeks before it was recognized.

That day had started as many had. Her public relations business doing so well that she kept her staff busy all the time.   She was recognized as a super competent, professional businesswoman. She was on her way to a business meeting when she was rear ended at a stop light in Marin County, California.

“I was in the middle of one of my busiest days in my own Interior Design business. I had figured out that if people wanted to change their lives, changing their environment could potentially help them establish and create who they were, and how they were perceived in their community.” That is what Teri did for huge companies, and her private clients who relied on her specifically for her particular approach to the field.

Divorced from her second husband, Teri established herself in her own right, demonstrating exceptional artistic skills in design, marketing, and public relations that ultimately led her to having her own successful firm. She had the life of her choosing, very good compensation, a staff, and had settled into an elegant Marin lifestyle.

That would all end in the blink of an eye one day when she was driving to Fairfax, saw the car in front of her coming to a stop, put on her blinker and slowed to a stop. Then an incredible force shook her as the car behind her was forced into her car, from a third car. Her car and the car behind her were totaled. Still, she walked away, calling her office to have her staff take on the appointment she was missing due to the accident. She intended to get a rental car and go on with her business day, but instead was picked up by a friend who insisted on taking her home as a precaution. The days that followed would accelerate a loss of herself that she couldn’t quite communicate when she visited the doctor.

Teri reported the headaches, and by the next day, her symptoms were worse with loud ear ringing, nausea, and dizziness. She tried to keep up her work from home, but found that if she was on the phone for three minutes working, she had to lay down for three hours. She went to doctors and chiropractors, and with the help of her staff, kept her business going. But her emotions were erratic, and she felt totally exhausted, anxious and angry as time went by. There seemed to be no answer to what was wrong with her.

Friends and Community

Friends wanted to help, but weren’t sure what to offer. In frustration and a growing sense of depression around her condition, she shut down her business.  She could feed and dress her self, but her cognitive skills went downhill. “It was a time when I couldn’t put my thoughts into words,” Teri says. All around her, she had good friends who were interested in, and supportive of her healing, but she was not getting ahead. She seemed to be getting worse. These years were full of a series of disappointments, and some of her friends drifted away from what they could not understand or help.

At her lowest point, Teri took back herself. She withdrew from the world around her, realizing she had to figure out what was next. There were still questions as to what caused the array of symptoms that seemed unrelated to the accident. She took a second look at the possibility of undiagnosed brain damage from the accident; though that consideration had been rejected years ago after the accident. That seemed to have been her first step toward recovery. Teri took on her life again.

After much searching, at a time when the internet was not the quick search tool it is today, Teri found the Brain Tumor Foundation. She called them, described what was going on in her life, and asked for help. “They denied help because I didn’t have a brain tumor. This was a time when there was very little advocacy for brain injuries.” She got reality that her symptoms could indeed be caused by the accident, but that alone did not help her or provide what she needed.

What she truly needed, was provided by her good friend Larry, a massage therapist. Larry had been a witness to what had been happening to her. He brought Teri into his community house to live, instead of her living alone as she had the past two years. Teri credits this step of joining a community for seven years of caring, engaged men and women, as the reason she continued to find her way toward a return to her life. She did this bit by bit, piece by piece, over the next nine years.

A Powerful Truth

Still her anger and sense of betrayal would sometimes dominate her experience; as when she returned to work for an old client, The World Affairs Council. She was forced to face her new limitations. Previously, she had been the person who not only met, but excelled at the challenges of her profession. Now she couldn’t count on herself.  The confusing thing for her and her friends, was that there were times when she could rise to the occasion. Other times her emotions and anger would limit her thinking, and cloud her judgment. This was all the more painful because the medical help she sought did not direct her to the help she needed. There was no medical protocol for dealing with unrecognized traumatic brain injury. This was compounded by the fact that everybody’s brain injury is different. Weeks, months, and years went by.

Teri’s doctors would not give her an MRI. Her doctors and even friends with the best of intentions, were beginning to feel that Teri’s complaints might be psychosomatic. And so it went, until Teri made another direct change in direction. Teri took stock and came up with the recognition of a powerful truth. A truth she attributes, to this day, to her finding the path to full recovery.

Teri had participated very seriously in the EST training in the 1980’s. The level of personal responsibility emphasized there, was her orientation. She began to ask herself the question, “What is the gift in what I am experiencing?”

She began to observe that her response, if directed toward what she could do, rather than what she could not do, not only had her mood improve, but also she could do more, and do it to her satisfaction. When she became annoyed, irritated, angry, it slowed her down and reduced her energy. She began to specifically experience gratitude for everything that was working in her life. The days began to be knitted together; the pieces coming together. Each week that followed was better than the last. Even with the exhaustion of her bank account, the selling of her stock portfolio, and in heavy credit card debt, she kept moving forward.

The Gift

Teri’s eyes are bright as she recounts a big decision she made that brought her life to full value for her. She considered: “I could check out and end it.” For about a week, she considered that her life was too hard, it was never going to get all the way better. “But-” Teri says, “it was then I decided to live.”

Over the nine years, Teri found many healing modalities that added to her progress to what she considers to be a full recovery.  The real gift, Teri says, was the recognition of the self-wisdom and trust she developed, that led her to find the means to rebuild neural passages in her brain, and reconnect with her life fully. Teri offers her story to the many people who are on the confusing and chaotic path to recovery from TMI, searching for a way back from their old lives to their new life that works.

Teri married her husband Robert four years ago. They have an excellent community house, recently traveled to Cuba, Bhutan and have family in Italy where they travel. The foundation of their relationship is an inspiration to friends and their many communities. In their sixties, Teri and Robert live with the sense of wonder at finding each other late in life, and in awe of the experiences that led to their meeting. This includes the years in which Teri rediscovered herself. The wisdom that led Teri to clear herself of the symptoms of TMI is what she offers to people to work with in that circumstance. All brains are unique, and their responses may be different. Each person is on his or her own time line. Through her story, Teri hopes to pass on to others what she has learned. Namely, the nurturing and healing available in an environment of support, as well as the importance of choosing to engage in self discovery and experimentation looking for the increments of progress and healing.

The connection between the brain and mind is of constant focus now in medical and neuroscience. The mysteries of the brain, the mysteries of the patterns of healing that come through how we think and what we feel, is the next paradigm, and ground to be gained for all those, who like Teri, find their way through the integrity of recovery.








Trump’s Election into Office


Trump’s election into Office:  Who are We?  It would be days before I could have an opinion about the results of the election that I witnessed with a group of friends of Donald Trump to be President. Not only that but the Republicans taking the majority in the Senate as well as the House of Representatives was not foreseen. Just like that, all the noise and conflict and screetch that had been in place of discourse for most of the election cycle of what seemed like years and years ended in what didn’t seem possible. How could it be that someone who openly bullied everyone with texts, insulted and spoke with contempt about Republicans as well as Democrats be elected to represent our country. The candidate who, demonstrated religious intolerance, and a 1950’s style bearing dismissed without apology his own sexual assaults that came to light in the campaign, had a strange relationship with Putin and hacking emails, all of this without going down. The mystery of how somehow he kept Democrats on the defense hurling unfounded assertions and threats about with relish did not seem possible.


This particular community of friends, who came together on election eve, had kept their distance from the election process. Only in recent weeks, a few one by one sent out emails and texts asking if the potential of Trump winning the election could really happen. We kept current with Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donald, Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and New York Times editorials, so they looked up from their lives and asked out of surprise to the serious threat that seemed to be coming as the election came closer. Daily Kos Polls gave Clinton a 85% chance to win, that only declined to 70% when the FBI once again spread doubt about Clinton and the emails just days before the election. Only the Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com poll reported the chance that Trump could win. Each of the people in this room were active in climate change advocates, social justice workers who took their role as citizens seriously, more on the local California level than the national. It was as if this election jerked them into the reality that California is attached to the rest of the country, and ultimately would be impacted by the consequence of this election, but no one was prepared for what felt like the tragic defeat of Democrats washing over us like a storm as we sat huddled in the room together. The full table of food and drinks left untouched as the results came in. One by one people left unable or not wanting to even say goodbye as they slipped away.


People didn’t talk to each other the next day out in the world.   Facebook was all quiet. The New York Times editorials were mild in their response, though just as surprised it seemed as the general public at the outcome. At our house, the cable news went off and it hasn’t been put on again. Like Lemmings we were led down a path and over a cliff. The well dressed and bright new stars who had the microphone and gave out their pronouncements as if they bore some basic truth now were exposed. They were making stories that sold ads on cable. The New York Times and other papers are now willing to say that it was like a hall of mirrors: opinions and attitudes shared within a context where everyone agreed on the same reality had led them down this path, and they had taken the public with them.


OK, so there were more popular votes for Clinton, but the election had been set up on the electoral vote system, and just because we lost didn’t mean we could change the game now in the face of this loss. Were the shoe on the other foot and Clinton having won the electoral, and Trump the popular, the very same people wanting to disqualify the electoral college outcome would have been on the streets in outrage if the situation were reversed.


Rather than having an emotion other than sad dread, I withheld any real response and looked for information around me before having an opinion or taking any action. Once I saw that Trump was elected into office by 53% women voters, and that an estimated 49% of the country didn’t vote, then I had a response. Those were the people who didn’t feel included: as the media and the candidates made assaults and noise, these people didn’t feel that Hillary Clinton offered them what they needed. They were the silent and invisible majority who expressed their no vote to Democrats and Hillary Clinton. For that reason, the anger that began to surface by steadfast and heartbroken Hillary workers though understandable, seemed misplaced. Who are you angry at? The women who did not identify with Hillary Clinton? Or perhaps, the people who turned their backs on the election many of whom had taken the position of the Bernie Sanders supporters, that the flaws of the candidates and the election itself made voting irrelevant, and what was needed was a social revolution.


But if not anger, what was the response to have? My neice from New Jersey, a fierce and courageous young woman wrote that she was afraid the morning after Trump claimed himself the winner of the election. My nephew a brilliant former Eagle Scout, high achieving, successful producer on a news channel in Philadelphia also wrote me saying he was considering cutting off relations with anyone in the family who voted for Trump. Fact is. we have family members who voted for Trump. In recent visits, no one has spoken for or against any candidate but just respected the differences in positions and candidates. But what now?


We had already made Air B&B and airline reservations to DC to see the first woman elected President to take her oath months before, and had been cautious in letting family members know about that. In our minds, we didn’t want to confront them with our glee in the event of her Inaguration. Now we will see our family, and we will deal with whatever comes up to be there. Somehow it seems even more important to be there on January 20th now. My response to my neice and nephew was that this is a time for tribes and families to get together. Compassion will be the order of the day. I hope to see them both when we are there for the Woman’s March in DC on January 21st.


Still being considered is which direction to take. Van Jones started a response to Trump voters and supporters called the Messy Truth. We progressives have all been talking to each other, watching the same cable news, reading the same columns in our newspapers and journals. The way forward may be to go beyond our comfort zone, beyond our understandings and assumptions, and get to know who these people are who voted in Trump.


Arlie Hochschild, retired Professor of Sociology from University of California Berkeley did a study on the Trump supporters in the South in her book “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.” She begins describing the interviews she did in the South scaling what she calls her Empathy Wall,. She suggests that an inquiry must begin with genuine curiosity to understand not only how people think but how they feel toward our country, toward the government, their support of Trump, and about their lives. In a session at the Hillside Club that evening with Joan Blades, Co founder of Momsrising and Founder of MoveON, Hocschild indicated we were going to need to be curious, respectful and look for the common ground getting outside our liberal “bubble.” While Joan supported the idea that through Living Room Conversations, the great divide could be healed in true listening to those holding a different perspective, Arlie held another position.


Arlie drew the audience into an understanding of what she called the “Deep Story.”Dr. Hochschild described how it was for those Trump supporters who were in their own depths of need, shorted in jobs and income to see those who got to be at the head of the line of opportunities and benefits.   Minorities and women who had advantage over hard working blue collar folks represent the class warfare rarely acknowledged. That kind of understanding described by Arlie Hochschild illuminates the basis of the great divide.


Her book about her interviews and study of the Trump Supporters is in her book: “Strangers in Their Own Land:Anger and Mourning on the American Right.” She sees the value of understanding and empathy and common ground as the need going forward, but very vigorously, emphasized the need for the action and stands presented in the social revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s being called on now to keep the social values and human rights gained. Sit Ins, Demonstrations, protests she suggested may be how in fact we go forward with the Republicans in majority in the House and the Senate, with potential of other Conservatives appointed to the Supreme Court justice in the Trump era, as well as the Right wing conservative Cabinet coming into play.


It may very well be we will encounter all manor of needs as described to meet new challenges that lie ahead, indeed a new social revolution may soon be our new world. It may call from all concerned to expand and extend the sense of self in the world, and take on including those who oppose all we have gained in the past decades in social justice and social equality.









The Women’s Caucus-2016: California Democratic Convention


At the Women’s Caucus 2016 of the California Democratic Convention, across the front row facing the podium Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Water, Barbara Lee, Barbara Boxer and Kamala Harris met with delegates in a standing room only gathering of several hundred women with a few men.   These congressional and state public servants have better than stood for the issues of our times, but remarkably in the process they have only gotten softer in the places where humanity needs them to be, and stronger-like steel-in their resolve to see the human beings who are effected by how congress functions.

Each of these office holders is known for  never forgetting that by their unrelenting work for human rights, women’s rights, immigration and education,   communities and families  function are served or not served by  how they perform roles in public office.  They represent the best interest of not only the powerful, but those struggling with racial injustice and mass incarceration.  Women from all over California with standing room only are enthusiastic as these public servants do not keep their distance or strike a pose in their official capacity, but warmly receive the exchanges within the room.   In fact, there is  the impression in the presence of  these House of Representative, Senate and State representatives in that front row,  that the seven and half years of the Obama Presidency has had them taking positions that put them  directly in the firing line of a contempt oriented congress and political atmosphere. But these congressional members have used  all that to get stronger and represent harder the purpose of their  participation in governing.  The appreciation they held for each other in this morning session and for  the half a dozen other representatives from all over the state, who keep going no matter whatever the obstacles to standing for the principles of the democratic party: each person counts, and all persons count.  Democrats, as Vice President Biden stated as he addressed the over 3000 attendees to the Cal Dem Convention later in the day, democrats are for bringing about the possibilities for the value of each person, that no one is left out, while Republicans are trying to limit human rights, women’s rights and voting rights.

California has been ahead of the nation in their response to the needs of people and the ladies in that front row of women who have carried their roles and functions as senators and congressional members had everything to do with that.  One Trailblazer Award was given by the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus for her dedication to HIV/AIDS legislation, her stand for LBQBT, her work to bring about the relationship with Cuba now opening up and her ongoing work for families and children in her support for social justice for all communities.  Congresswoman Barbara Lee in turn acknowledged Nancy Pelosi for her power to listen and hear above the noise of the senate what is really important to the American people and her ability to inspire collaboration and productive benefit to the people of the country.  She congratulated NARAL for their focus and attention that brought about the repeal of the Hyde Act so that each woman can make a decision for herself about her reproductive rights decisions.

Senator Barbara Boxer, leaving her seat in congress soon, stressed she wasn’t disappearing.  “This is our time,” she said and it is time for a real change and women can make that difference in every field of study and practice. That this is a time when women need to bring other women along with them, and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton best represents the opportunity for women to fulfill their wisdom and contributions.  “The more doors opened for other women, the stronger we become as a country,” Senator Boxer stated.

“This is our time and we have the right to fight,” Maxine Waters stated and from the response in the room, indicating their choice was to move the progressive  message for the California Democratic Convention that will thread through the next months to the California Primary in June.

California Democratic Convention 2016 delegate votes



2016: This is your new year! Make it happen…


2016: This is your new year!  Make it happen.   As always as the holiday approaches and the crescendo of Christmas is met, there is the lost week between Christmas and the New Year’s that provides a lull, that springs into the New Year’s promise. We each carry a list of potentials we hope for in our work, in our families and within ourselves to bring our lives to the best place possible.  It is possible to use the new year to launch our dreams, renew our promises, confront our limitations, and expand what we think is possible.  That’s what the New Years’ resolutions are all about.  But better than that, is the taking a bigger bite of life, assuming more value for your life and wanting more for the world.

What would that look like in your life?

Here’s my list, I urge you to make your own:

  1. Find a way to respond to the world conditions so  that has you feel more like a participant than an observer, or worse a resigned and annoyed complainer.  There’s plenty to care about:

World hunger; ecological measures that slow global warming; children growing up without invested adults who want to steer them toward a good future; the needs of the Syrian families struggling to survive; those attempting to restart their lives from leaving prison; those alone and at home without community or family support facing serious illness; students allowed to drift and fail in school due to lack of interest and attention, mentoring and tutoring and care.

To each of these, take the resignation that protects you from despair, and find a way to engage.  Thanks to Google, you can find in your community the sources that allow us all to participate and add to what can make a difference in the lives of people.  Finding such an outlet for your energy, that energy that groans when you read the paper or see the sound bite on cable news.  That energy that  is quickly covered with the sense of hopelessness that leads you to resignation can be directed to action and engagement.  This is the promise of the New Year: that we can shift gears, open our eyes and hearts and engage in the world around us; vast and cold as it seems sometimes.

  1. This is a tough one:   Find a way to take this political year with the clamoring, and hyperbole, shouting and impossible assertions, attacks and insults of the candidates that challenges our ability to weed through the noise to find the melody of what democracy is all about. Democracy is noisy, it’s messy and history tells us it’s always been like this.  It just seems a little worse with political grandstands that do not challenge our country’s direction and potential when clearly that is needed.  The issues the world faces with wars raging and countries suffering huge losses of human life and human potential, our sister city Paris recovering from the impossible attack on all we hold dear and essential to our lives, that is where we are.  What we need to hear about is what we as a country are going to do in response to these worldwide conditions, not whose fault it was that they occurred. Which former or current President is responsible for ISIS is a red herring.

What we stand for as a nation is up for debate particularly in the refugee migration.  As we watch Germany and Canada welcome the children and families with warm embrace, where is our voice?  We individually have a responsibility to research, engage and represent in our community our best idea of who we are as a country, and challenge the people we elect locally as well as nationally to represent our country, the one we’re behind.

  1. Another tough one:  across the country very similar to our recent past in the 70’s, a movement in this country is underway in response to the killing of youths of color.  We’re suddenly aware of the mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands, a private prison system supported by us as taxpayers, has been exposed.  Sitting on the sofa watching cable news and having an opinion is better than not taking the trouble to identify this national problem.   Even if we feel the injustice just by looking at the numbers and the causes:  poverty, poor school systems, police in schools and not extra guidance and counseling for students in trouble, etc.-and are looking for answers, we need to look at the faces of those who are affected; the women and children, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers.   We need to see their faces and recognize this is a human being problem generated systematically over decades and centuries.  From that perspective, we can find a way to meaningfully engage.
  2.  Take a deeper look at what you think you know about the recalcitrant and stubborn positions you yourself hold on the topic of what is happening to people of color in our country.  How many people of color do you get to know personally and intimately enough to know how they feel when they open the newspaper and find our Tamir Rice’s police have been released from the consequences of their actions that killed a young teen with a plastic gun.  You can be an observer or a participant in the ongoing struggle that is underway to unearth assumptions that have never been cleared about the value of all human life to the recognition that we have not functioned as a country as if that were so.  That is why the women who founded Black Lives Matter shook the ground.   It’s a familiar theme when Black Lives Matter women take over a public meeting and the microphone that although their mission is good, how they are doing it is just not right.  Take another look at what is happening there.  Hear the truth of need for the barrier to be broken as well meaning politicians claim they understand the problem;  polite rhetoric and a nod of recognition of racism thrives in denial and ignorance, and pick your place from which to respond to our national tragedy.
  3.  A bigger bite for 2016 could also be taking on your life more fully; better food in your diet, exercise, more intimate relationships with people in your life, taking in the vast and amazing glory of life’s every day potential on. It’s all there to be had.  Maybe from inside out. As we were reminded on our recent trip to the East Coast with family, a bigger bite in life begins with having the courage to open your heart more, leaving the history behind and reaching out investing more of yourself.  That’s living.  That’s the life of challenge and promise.

Happy New Year One and All.


Black Lives Matter: The Social Revolution of our times


Black Lives Matter:  The new social revolution is showing up-led by three feminists- and it is where we need to  see it.  In the gaps, empty promises and pain and injuries and undeniable realities exposed in Ferguson, and across the country in recent months.   Feminists have often led the charge for equity and justice in social reform from the 1920’s onward.  The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 was designed to have race and sex and country of origin not be a limitation to full equality and access to engagement and production in society.  What we see now is  the systematic politically and economically driven obstructions have denied the full application of civil rights through mass incarceration, poor schools, poor healthcare, no early education, racial profiling and a police and criminal justice system that is now being confronted.

Senator Bernie Sanders now running for President has many decades of work for civil rights and human rights.  He says what is wrong with the country can not be changed, it must be transformed.  And that comes from social revolution. A break from the systemic conditions that fill prisons, result in early death and broken hearts is what is required, and that requires not just change but revision coming not from the decay of the missed efforts to civil rights, but a renewal of intention to end the conditions in place and build new opportunity and new hope.  Recently Bernie Sanders had a confrontation with the three feminists who formed Black Lives Matter at a Netroots Nation symposium.  Netroots Nation is highly progressive in their politics and have done a great deal for dismissing the media’s monopoly on how information is giving to the public.  The population has a mixed demography, but is predominantly white, male, college degreed and independent in their political views.  This particular event with Senator Sanders came about because he wanted to talk about the changes he wanted to see in the economic structure that rewards 1% of the population.  Black Lives Matter wanted to talk about life and death, and the death of Sandra Bland which had happened just days before.  Following Freddie Gray, following Michael Brown, and now Sandra Bland there was no room for politics, and Black Lives Matter made that point by interrupting some considered rudely the presentation by Bernie Sanders.  Since revolution is by definition unpredictable, designed to cause the effect that Black Lives Matter created on that stage with Bernie Sanders.  Since Black Lives Matter has indicated that they will not be in the pocket of either Republican or Democrat Presidential candidates.  Now is the time for the killing and imprisonment of young men and women of color to stop, they say.  Now is the time for the empty shell of civil rights to be recognized as having not attained its goal: the incorporation and inclusion of all people, regardless of color, sex or country of origin. Enough, they say.  Enough.

Just as in the 1960’s when revolution made uncomfortable a public that could not turn away from the disparity between what they believed about our country and what they saw in Viet Nam, in the streets of Selma, on the college campuses, there is a demand, an unflinching demand by Black Lives Matter in a confrontation that has just begun.

Gloria Steinem both speak of the necessity of revolution. Karl Marx pointed to the need of “feminine upheaval” as the means to “great social change” and that progress could be measure by where the “ social position of the fair sex.”   Gloria Steinem in the 1970’s argued that reform did not achieve what true revolution does.  She pointed to the visibility of sex and race are “a primary way in which human beings organize around superior and inferior groups.” Humanism she pointed out is really the goal and the means by which feminism brings those changes that add to a better world. For men, for women, for all races. And here we are-about to engage in taking further and going deeper into the hypocrisy and outrage that is just below the surface in every major city of the country.

Revolutions are rude, disruptive and have the intention to interrupt, not change, but transform the conditions limiting human potential.  Co Founders of Black Lives Matter Patrice Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi,  began what became a movement after the verdict of the Trayvon Martin, then emerged again as well at the killing of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray-and Sandra Bland-all black killed by white men.   The District Attorney and Mayor of Baltimore and Black Lives Matter caused the disruption of elected local and state government, by holding them accountable for police agencies assaults and killings of black men ad women.  They stir and demand public awareness and accountability and have through protests gathered a momentum that is now called a movement.

Black Lives Matter is showing up with the message that they want to see black youth presented with opportunities to educate themselves, be trained in job skills and awarded for their youthful enthusiasm and energy rather than left behind and incarcerated . They want to see addiction treated medically rather than the cycle of prison being the only response to those suffering from addiction. While the middle and upper class options of rehab and medical intervention with peer support are available for those with the funds, addiction treated as a criminal offense has only made the offenders, their families and their community loose the value of that person. They want to see the promise of human potential being evenly awarded to this and future generations, they want to see life, liberty and justice awarded to all people.  There is every indication, that Black Lives Matter and those criminal justice advocates who have come together will get this result.  The Presidential Primary and election will be the background and at the forefront of this revolution that is already underway.


President Barack Obama: the Iran Deal & the Coalition of Nations who formed it


RE: Iran nuclear deal and stakes involved

IN 2008, 2012, the President came from these basic principles and promises:

1) Important to end the War: But also to end the mindset that got us into war

2) Never have fear be the director of diplomatic policies

3) Stated then and states now that the US and President Obama come from Unequivical support for security for the state of Israel

4) That Top foreign policy would refocus on the tension around nuclear weapons


The President in last 7 years has focused on these issues, but specific impact has been evident in the systematic mobilization to make sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon with major world powers.

Why this is important/why he is convinced that this is not just the best of bad alternatives but a very good deal that we should be proud of –as should the state of Israel.


Cuts off 4 main pathways for Iran to get a nuclear weapon

For the first ten years, it restricts Iran’s nuclear program so that we know exactly what they’re doing at all times.

Shuts down, reverts production of materials for nuclear power.

Requires REDUCTION by 98% stockpiles of enriched uranium

PROVIDES 24/7 coverage of all their declared centers

For an additional 5 years

Greatly restricts  what can be done around nuclear power

Subjects IRAN TO   never getting a nuclear weapon

Inspections long after this Presidency, the next and the Presidency that follows


1) “IRAN GETS DOLLARS THAT HAVE BEEN FROZEN OVERSEAS AND THAT WON’T BE GOOD-they will have economic power and abuse that.”

.Economy has been suffering a depression (It will be 2022 before Iran can get back to pre sanctions economy.)

2) WHY those who claim the Iran Deal is a bad deal- are the same people who were opposed to any deal with Iran.  

******Tv Ads, same columnists, former administration officials responsible for us getting into the war, who were making exactly the same claims that got us into the Iraqi war.

3)” IRAN IS GOING TO CHEAT”: possible, but deal based on  verification not trust.; Iran is an anti theocracy and anti American, anti Israel; they may try to cheat-But Because of the deal we are more effective in catching them than no deal where they are doing whatever they are doing with no accountability or verification possible.  

If they are caught cheating, we can unilaterally bring back sanctions in total and full response.

4) THE INSPECTORS MIGHT NOT GET IN THERE FAST ENOUGH. But the way this is set up we can put sanctions back in place unilaterally at will..During the duration of this agreement, hard for them to cheat, we will catch them quickly and we can impose sanctions swiftly.

5) They will Kick out all the inspectors in 15 years-and have greater    enrichment capacity


6) Iran gets money-will spend on military; IRAN has military budge of $15 Bill-ours  is $500 Billion.  We are going to be able to deter Iran from attacking anyone else.

But there is a danger in no deal.

7) The deal will Legitamize Iran-limit our responses:







8) BETTER DEAL? What do they mean? Iran would not do that –if we were prepared to go to war.

9)THE  False choice: we could just continue till they ask for relief from sanctions.

Reason WE HAVE THE DEAL AND IT IS effective is we have the entire world behind us-the President told them we were sincere about a diplomatic solution. Because of their belief in our sincerity even at the cost of Iranian oil by some of the nations, they made the deal with the  understanding that we would be negotiating in good faith.  It isn’t our deal with Iran, it is with many powerful nations that JOINED IN THIS NEGOTIATION OF THE IRAN DEAL. World has concluded we have done the deal. The British, French, Germans, Japanese, Australians and also EVEN OUR adversaries China and Russia consider the deal done.

As a consequence, if congress attempts to deny Iran Deal and we now  reject it, with 90% nuclear scientists and former ambassadors support-who know what is at stake, as well as the secretary of energy, there will be significant loss for the US in the world court of public opinion. How we will be viewed as  a nation will be impacted.

If in the fact of that consensus we have a congress who for political reasons rejects that deal we could find ourselves in 3 months, 6 months or a year,  facing force with Iran and having lost face and credibility to the worldwide community.

Stakes could not be higher. We have to get more active and loud and involved and informed and start making our voices heard with respect to congress. The lobbying against the Iran Deal that is taking place on the other side is relentless, well financed and committed to destroying the Iran Deal.  In the absence of our voices, we’re going to see the same array of forces and mind set that got us into this war take us back on the path to military conflict.

The President feels the facts are on our side, and  has never been more certain about the validity of the Iran Deal; that is perspective of  world leaders as well.  But the politics  in congress are going to be tough unless we get vocal and active.

The Iraq war had everybody got real active when those of us who were against the war engaged.   Now we have a president that is on our side and makes sure we are promoting non proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as support for Israel.

This opportunity could slip away. Right now the opponents of this deal have been flooding congressional offices. “The truth will out as long we guys will carry it,” was  the belief from the President that ended the phone call.

MY TAKE AWAY************************************************:

This is the time to step in and contact congress and rattle the cages of those claiming inaccurate statements, making claims designed to arouse fear and suspicion. Get to the facts, get to the realities: Put them out as you understand them.  Allow for dialogue.

There is no way that no deal with Iran is better than a deal that is based on verification and inspections; this is not ours deal alone, but from many nations.

Correcting misinformation, putting  out the accurate statements you can find in the press, in the media and support not just the President, Secretary of State John Kerry but the world wide platform that brought the possibility of this deal to reality. We cannot afford politics in our congress at this crucial time. We the citizens who call our representatives in congress can make a difference, and we must.



Black Dads: the best dads in the lives of Children


Black dads are doing better than other dads with their children under 5 years of age.  Always good to have  news that takes away stereotypes that no longer represents reality,, and that’s just what  Charles M. Blow  in his OP-ED in the New York Times today did.  Blow begins with the data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 reporting that nearly 72 percent of births to non-Hispanic black  mothers were unmarried.  The automatic response to this fact would be to view the black fathers as absent from the family, and add to the dysfunctional father mythology.  Turns out not to be true.    But just in case you don’t get to the Blow article in the New York Times, he brings information that shows just how far from the truth the stereotypes are about black fathers.  In fact,  the study on Father’s Involvement with activities of their children under 5, that compared white, hispanic and black fathers, reported that  black Dads Living and Not Living with their children exceed both hispanic and white fathers relative to  the participation, daily care and involvement with their children.

Charles Blow refers to Josh Lev’s Book “All In” with a chapter giving facts and figures to back up the claim called “How Black Dads are Doing Best of All (But There’s Still a Crisis.”) Lev states that most black fathers in America Live with their children unmarried to their mothers.  Of the 2.5 million black fathers,  1.7 million do not live with their children.

The choice of cohabitation over marriage is represented by the results of the  report by the National Center for Health Statistics, reported in 2013 for the first time the preference of cohabitation.  The study Charles Blow addresses shows the results for both the fathers who live his children, and fathers who do not live with their children.  That’s where the statistics indicate that Black father’s have a higher rate (78.2 as opposed to White 73.9 and Hispanic 63.9) of direct hands on care of their children.  Feeding, bathing, playing with the children daily, reading  to the children daily by black Fathers Living With Children held the highest rate of participation.  For Fathers Not Living with Children, again black fathers held the higher rate of participation with their children than white or Hispanic fathers.

How and why Black fathers  lived with some of their children, but participated even without living with the children was the question raised by this study.    To that question, Charles Blow brings up the Forbes report on Ferguson, MO and the “missing men” in the community.  It seems highly symbolic of other communities dealing with racial issues that are coming to light across the country.  The US Census Bureau reported that there were 1,182 AFrican American women between the ages of 25-34 living in Ferguson, but only 577 men in this age group due to incarceration and death of the black males 25-34.  Further, Charles Blow quotes the April New York Times that stated   “Incarceration and early deaths are the overwhelming drivers of this condition.”  He reports that higher imprisonment rates account for 600,000 nationally and that one  in twelve black men at the 25-34 prime age are behind bars, compared with one in sixty nonblack men.

The Unmarried black women birth rate has declined significantly, but the birth rate for married black women has declined even further according to the CDC report.   The Atlantic’s Ta Nehisi Coates article is referenced by Charles Blow to describe the demographics further.  The Atlantic article by Coates offers the fact that  at one time, married black women had more children than married white women, but that is no longer statistically accurate.

Blow ends this report with the fact that the CDC report of December 2013 measured and reported that in fact fathers have children in different families-given the limitation on the number of men compared to women for child bearing.  But most importantly their study reported that black fathers were the most involved compared to hispanic and white fathers on specific measures of care with children they live with and as well, the children they do not live with.

Great to hear that black fathers are invested in their children and in their families.  Sad to recognize the cost of mass incarceration to the formation of family.    Dispelling the myth of the missing father actually highlights the reality of the missing men from their families and their communities.   We are left with the urgent  need for social justice for young black men in Ferguson and other urban communities around the country.  Black Lives Matter and social justice advocates Ella Baker, Books Not BArs  are all working to address this loss of human life and human potential, the measure of which are beginning to emerge in all aspects of our lives.






Ireland votes on Marriage Equality May 22nd, 2015.  That  vote on same-sex marriage will result in adding one line to the Irish Constitution: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex,”  Fintan O’Toole reports.  And he reports in the New York Times OP-ED that  there is every reason to believe this will pass in spite of the opposition of the Catholic Church and Presbyterian churches.  A public opinion survey indicated 70% in favor of marriage equality law passing on Friday.

While the article speaks of the history of attributing “gross indecency” in a 1922 statute, as the prior standing of homosexuals in Ireland, this change to legal sanction of gay marriage is new ground.  Granted, Ireland changed their policies around putting homosexuals in jail with the European Court of Human Rights in 1993.   But essentially Ireland, the author states, is the last Western democracy to “decriminalize consensual sexual activity between gay men,” but may break ground with the election on May 22nd to sexual equality for Ireland.   Contraceptives were legalized in 1985, and divorce in 1995 but Ireland has rigidly maintained restrictive abortion laws with no exceptions. By voting this Friday for same sex marriage, “Ireland may be the first country to grant same sex couples full legal equality by direct popular vote,” O’Toole states the irony pointedly.


O’Toole describes a couple of significant reasons why Ireland is making the changes it has: the first being that the catholic church being exposed for the decades of child abuse has lost “its moral authority.”   Then even with the views of the church toward gay men and gay women,  because of the Pope’s views that expressed “conciliatory tone toward homosexuality, ” the hold on the public view by the church has lost ground.   However most essentially-O’Toole states-  that once people came out, they were not “them” but “us.” They were our sons, our daughters, our nieces, our nephews, our next door neighbors-people we know and care about.  We choose to love and respect those people and that directly  challenges our understanding of the world and changes over time our judgments.

If Ireland by voting YES to same- sex marriage on May 22nd wins the vote, Ireland will be the first country to give legal status to marriage equality even as it maintains restrictions on women’s rights.  Women are a large part of how it is that the same sex marriage vote is happening O’Toole states, because  it is the  “Mothers who count in this debate.”   Mothers, like Mary McAleese-the former President of Ireland and practicing Roman Catholiic who joined her gay son Justin to campaign for the “YES” vote. McAleese refers to the 1916 proclamation of the Irish Republic that stated her desire: “that the children of the nation be cherished equally.”  Equality in who they love and how they choose to express that love is perhaps the feeling and expression of many mothers who support their gay children-certainly in many of our own families, we know that love.

All eyes on Ireland leading with the potential of being establishing the  first  country wide law providing marriage equality.  Last to come to the table of women’s equality, but first in marriage equality- leading with the heart and the soul of its people .