All posts by Peggy Reskin

Black Dads: the best dads in the lives of Children

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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  Always good to have  news that takes away stereotypes that no longer represents reality,, and that’s just what  Charles M. Blow  in his OP-ED in the New York Times today did.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.

 

 

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Ireland MARRIAGE EQUALITY Vote

Interior 4PART TWO: SEXUAL EQUALITY IN IRELAND

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 .

 

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Five feminists lead Baltimore

Five feminists lead Baltimore and Baltimore is leading the country in turning the institution of racism and classism on low income and minority youth into the light of day making evident how change must happen.  Black Lives Matter founders, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cultors and Opal Tometi make clear the intersection of conditions that support racial disparity and assault and killing of young black men.   Created in 2012, Black Lives Matter was a response to  Trayvon Martin‘s verdict.  Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Freddie Gray in Baltimore.    Black Lives Matter has created the ability for  an immediate response to racial inequity by outright denigration, assault and killing of young black men.

When the community of Baltimore came together on the streets after the killing Freddie Gray, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, held  her ground  and was rewarded by the community turning from the anger and frustration of the thousands of youth protesting.  AFter Monday night’s violence (4/28/15) she worked as did the pastors and the leaders of the community   to steer the protests away from destructive acts to keeping the focus on justice for Freddie Gray.  The community responded Wednesday coming together and changing the tone and the direction of the protest.  Friday 5/1/15)  Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn J Mosby brought charges against six officers  responsible for the death of Freddie Gray.  By this action, notice nationwide is given that police can and will be held accountable for false arrest, harassment and injury or death to citizens.

These five women, feminists seeking equality and social justice  before the law have turned the community around to work positively toward bettering Baltimore.  In that respect, Baltimore leads the nation in changing the course of history from racial and class disparity to the potential for a fair and just treatment by police, and an address to the condition of poverty and lack of opportunity that has been the great divider and taken the hope of communities of color left behind.

By their actions, these five women have elevated the consciousness of our country and give us the doorway to holding accountable police and institutions that have looked the other way in the face of the death of young black men.  By the response from the communities of Baltimore,  who identified and acted on improving the conditions that have led the impoverishment of a generation of segments of society.   Education and jobs are the means by which young black men can gain jobs, and jobs need to be there for the youth coming up in their communities.  This truly is a gift to mothers who live every day with the concern for their sons,  with the fear that they will be killed on the streets.  It truly represents a new day for mothers across the country,  a new day for black youth, and a great starting point for moving forward with the unfinished work of civil rights .

POSTED:  April 29, 2015  Daily Kos, Examiner.com Peggy Reskin

“We love Baltimore,” Community Takes HoldIMG_4759

The true Baltimore story was an all day event yesterday. Because I was wedded to my sofa, and unable to work due to an injury so couldn’t even be at the computer, I watched all day as Baltimore took hold of its community. Early the parents and children came out and there was the sense of tragedy and disappointment, as they began to clean the litter and markings of the last night of riot in the streets. The leaders of the community were the pastors as they brought together the people of Baltimore into the churches to hear their pain at the loss of the CVS they worked hard to get in their neighborhood, and the pointless destruction the frustrated youth had administered ultimately hurting themselves and not gaining justice for Freddie Gray. The pastors and the leaders were not tolerant of the destruction but pointed out the poverty in the area had young people coming up with nowhere to go, no hope for any future and the pain of the disregard and destruction of young men “once cuffed” by the police for crimes that were never clearly represented. Freddie Gray, after all, a healthy 25 year old encountered six policeman on his bike and was thrown into the police van because he couldn’t walk because his spine had been broken at his neck. He died a week later, but never regained consciousness after being thrown in the van minus a seat belt or any medical aid. Another time, another son, another mother grief stricken and a community reminded of its powerless position in holding police accountable. In fact, as of today, no report or accounting has been made. But this day in Baltimore, the pastors and fathers and leaders of the communities, as well as gang leaders, collaborated with the intention of Baltimore-the city, the community, the people coming through this demonstration and getting to hold the authorities accountable for the life of Freddie Gray.

The churches and restaurants open fed the children who were in the area because the schools had been cancelled. The crowd grew and many were interviewed by the cable news. Cable news, at least MS-NBC most frequently did not add fuel to the flame but asked questions that were in accordance with the messages given over and over again. We are here because Baltimore is in trouble; we need jobs; we need better places for our children to be with youth centers long gone. We need people to care that we’re here. We love Baltimore was often said by many, many who spoke to the cable news.

The parents were torn, they wanted their children safe-they wanted the young men to to be another young black men left in the streets. Very pointedly, the cameras picked up on the mother who saw her son throwing a rock and she went after him as only a mother would, grabbing at his coat, screaming at him “Don’t you understand you could be killed by the police by throwing an object at them?” The cable news people thought that was the sign of a good mother. I thought it was the sign of just how terrified mothers must be to have their sons out at night ever. She explained herself, and it was like she was saying-the reality is my son could get killed and I want him away from this world.”

The afternoon came and in one corner of the screen, young girls and boys in jeans with pom poms began to do their cheering performance. Big kettle drums appears near there and the whole mood shifted from dire and gloom to a reminder of the degrees between the stand these young people took for bringing their spirit of hope to the streets as the number of police lining up increased. There was a picture circulating on the internet from that time period. A solid line of police with their plastic barriers up, their helmets down as far as you could see across the street and a young girl or boy, couldn’t tell which, about four feet 10 inches tall- with 4/5 bottles of spring water, holding one up to one of the officers. That was the spirit in the afternoon. A group of young men, maybe 50-60, came through proudly raising their arms not so much in anger or defiance, but proud to be where they were saying to the world – no more.

The tone began to shift and there were more people talking about honoring themselves- the very people who lived on those streets in those blocks by not participating in violence. The men who spoke spoke of how important it would be to instead show these youths how to bring about change. Some of these men had been in the demonstration in Baltimore in 1968 when Martin Luther King was killed and the streets were full of rage. The lessons of Ferguson were certainly brought up: get your vote counted, get people into office who represent the community’s needs. Follow the direction Ferguson has taken. Even so, the pressure was building and the numbers of protesters, demonstrators and families, people was filling up the screen. As well, the number of police in their armor, as well as cable news showing the national guard in their military uniforms on the ready further back from view. A report of several thousand extra police from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and national guard soldiers were ready if as the governor had said earlier in the day, there was a repeat of the violence of the night before.

Most everyone spoke of the fact that those who had been responsible for the violence the night before did not represent the community, the people of Baltimore but were lost, capable of criminal activity and it was the crowd itself that monitored the acts of the protesters and demonstrators. There was the report that a water bottle was thrown at the police, and one of the men standing in union with others facing the crowd directly in front of the police, picked up the bottle and took the offender off to address this misdeed. These men were the buffers to the police and there to protect the community from a few people in the crowd who had a different agenda.

Then it was 20 minutes till curfew, then 10, then 4 and what was remarkable was how agitated and anxious the cable news journalist were. Who could blame them, it was very uncertain what was going to happen. The long line of police moved forward just inches as the announcements came from the bull horns: Curfew is in effect and 4 minutes. Everyone needs to clear the street.

I didn’t hear but it was reported that the Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s voice was heard over the speaker saying she was proud of Baltimore and that she trusted that the people would do the right thing. That Freddie Gray was not forgotten, and justice for him was the agenda, not violence to the community.” Throughout the day, she had stood firm with resolve and intention for the people to succeed.

A scuffle happened when a canister of tear gas caught a small fire by a doorway. Then there was something that was pepper gas in the mix, and the cable people closed down their positions and left their spots. The next thing to see was that all the people had gone except for it was reported 10, who ultimately also left the street.

Everybody won. The people who left the streets have the promise from the pastors and their mayor that Freddie Gray’s death will be accounted for, that what is needed for the people is an entry into an economy that supports their lives. The veil that has been lifted showing us the places and the people left behind by the concept we hear of income inequality is real. The people who live in these places are represented by a significant margin in African American and Latino neighborhoods. The fathers and mothers who are trying to survive need help in having the young people having reason to believe their lives can be better, they can find jobs, they can have a life.

Baltimore won, and so did the country in this day. The people, the pastors, the community leaders, the gang leaders, the mayor and the police and those who made the decisions to let the people succeed in the curfew made a remarkable passage available to all of the people of Baltimore.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/29/us/baltimore-riots.html?_r=0

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Here before with Gabby Gifford

Here before with Gabby Gifford and liar’s poker in those we elected to represent our interests.  Once again we watch the GOP hassle and test, extort and punish with Homeland Security and  immigration reform at risk in the mix.  We’re used to this from congress, but maybe we shouldn’t be.   I want to remind us of when we first directly encountered the feuding between the parties in 2011.

Gabby Giffords on floor of congress
Gabby Giffords on floor of congress

I want to remind us of Gabby Giffords who reminded us of who we are.  This is from August 1st , 2011.

AUGUST 1, 2011

We all watched the stunning debt crisis drama unfold on August 2, 2011, with a President and a Congress moving inexorably toward the congressional vote and its outcome. It was impossible not to see or hear the hourly threats of potential disaster for our nation, and the world, as the date approached. The media, cell phones, the radio, cable news, the internet: all forms of communication were 24/7. Our response was to distance ourselves from the emotional content. We watched as expert after expert, and politician after politician warned the other party of the dire consequences of their failure to fix the situation. Our future hung, swinging wildly between these feuding of this debt crisis.

The repetition and emotional content escalated to the point where some became completely disengaged. Of course, a nonresponse becomes a response: we were in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, spectators at a political brawl. It was like watching a hair pulling bar fight from people you’re relying on to keep sane: like seeing two dignified people in suits and ties lose themselves to the furor of the moment. Days dragged on. Dire and hostile comments continued. We witnessed the President getting more gray hair before our very eyes.

CSPAN showed us the congressmen milling around in the Congressional chamber. Suddenly, in the midst of the gloom and doom, there was an opening. A few people turned to see the Congresswoman from Arizona enter, smiling: her first public appearance since being shot in a shopping center by a constituent carrying a gun.

Astronaut Mark Kelly, her husband, was at her side. More people became aware that she was there. Even from the grainy CSPAN picture, you could see the people’s spirits soar. Senator Giffords was there because she had insisted on having her vote – as the Congresswoman of her district, as a representative of her people, count. Only Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman, also of Arizona, and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, were informed that she would be on the Congressional floor the hour of voting.

Congresswoman Giffords raised her hand at the stirring of her colleagues, who turned to meet her. The murmur of her presence became a roar. Republicans and Democrats, who seconds before had engaged in polarizing threats and defensive positions, now moved toward her small elegant frame, tears streaming down their faces. Gabby was a reflection of all that is alive and cannot be extinguished, regardless of strife, acrimony, pain, or a gun.

Her soft strength impacted one and all: many of us at home who happened to be watching TV, found ourselves weeping. Weeping for the celebration of her return to the floor of Congress after her life-threatening assault. Weeping at the miracle of seeing how each Congressperson around her was no longer their identity or their party position, but a human being. Rejoicing in the face of the courage and real strength of this delicate and insurmountably present Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

Gabby reminded the nation of who we are and what we value by her mere presence and her tremendous fight to return to herself, to her job, and to the people of this country. This was a moment, a time to see what we truly value and what really sustains our lives in this moment of truth on the congressional floor. She brought the Congress and the nation to a level of humanity, a return to who we are.

Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly continue their work on gun control legislation, working with the families of Newtown, Sandy Hook. Congresswoman Giffords stood with the President on the gun control bill that failed. Even in her disappointment in the failed attempt at passing a bill that would make guns less accessible to those who would and do harm, her strength prevails. She and Mark Kelly continue with their unrelenting pursuit of responsible gun registration through their grassroots organization: Americans for Responsible Solutions. A frontrunner always, her presence a gift and a reminder always – of the strength of character for what is possible and worthy of our passion.

http://americansforresponsiblesolutions.org

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Black Lives Matter: Berkeley awake

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Berkeley woke up to the demand for the Mayor and the City Council to represent the people of Berkeley, and not shrink in fear and place the police on the streets of legitimate protests.  The people reminded these elected officials that Berkeley is the home of free speech.  The spirit of free speech movement and revolution in the 1960’s on the streets of Berkeley are awake again.  Still as we all sat in our homes hearing the two helicopters that were following the protests and demonstrations drone on till late into the night, or  we took a stand and marched with them down Shattuck Avenue or Telegraph Avenue: neighbors stood and watched on the streets. The community itself was very quiet  observing from a distance, but compelled by the insistent urgency and alarm an overhead helicopter conveys. Truly it did feel like a war zone for four or five nights in a row. Not from the demonstrators, but from the imposing helicopters that seemed to be wanting to intimidate the marchers and maybe keep the people in their homes. Still there has not been a city wide response.

However, activists, university students, and many of the people of Berkeley  marched in one of the six nights of the Michael Brown protests.  A significant group of more than 200 people confronted the Berkeley City Council and the police in a heated meeting on February 10th. Thirty plus individuals expressed the insult of the City of Berkeley not having the interest of the people in their response to the protests, particularly December 6th.  They wanted to remind the council and the mayor that the  voters elected them to consider the needs and dignity of their citizenry, and  lead- not follow- the police whose hostile and military stance was far from that.  Many of the police were called in from other towns, the Sherif’s office and presented unprovoked aggression toward the marchers

That meeting at Ed Roberts on February 10th produced some policy decisions and the Black Lives Forum of February 21st was to take the decisions to action in the community.

If Not Berkeley, Where? describes the meeting of February 10th. The right to protest, the protection of the right to protest and the critical issue of race based inequities resulted in the City Council of Berkeley and the Police Review Commission producing the structure of the changes in response to that meeting. The Black Lives Matter Forum on February 21st in Berkeley took a deeper look to implementing and taking action in the conditions of injustice and inequity in housing, education, medical care that shows up in the police shootings of young black men. The Berkeley mayor, the Berkeley City Council and police were confronted with the fact that young black men specifically are at risk in FErguson, Jacksonville, Oakland and yes, even in Berkeley. The irony that the Free Speech movement in Berkeley in the 1960’s led the country, but the response to the marches after Michael Brown resulted in the aggressive unprovoked attacks on peaceful demonstrators was not to be dismissed. December 6th, 2014 University students, townspeople and activists marched for Michael Brown, in what could easily be seen as a science fiction movie. Helicopters for hours and hours zoning in and around the streets, police in masks with armor and guns standing, and then attacking students. No more tolerance for this contradiction, the voters of Berkeley demanded and got the Mayor and City Council to form and act on those new proposals.

But the Black Lives Matter Forum was to go deeper into  the root cause of the conditions that allow the killing of young black men and other men of color.  We were there to  cement and implement the agreements produced from the February 10th Meeting. Neither the Mayor Tom Bates, the Berkeley City Counsel nor police were represented in this meeting. But a panel was made up of representatives for the Berkeley Citizens Action Committee, the Berkeley Citizens Action, the Berkeley NAACP and the Berkeley Peace and Justice Committee, and Black Lives Matter  together with Max Anderson as moderator brought the issues of Ferguson and our country to task.. The conditions to inequity in education, housing, mental health, crib to prison stacked deck that generate racial response was the depth of  response this meeting met solid ground in this gathering.

Demilitarization of local law enforcement, repurposing of enforcement funds to support community based alternative to incarceration, discipline and community based review of police activities with information accessible to the public, ending racial profiling by the passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, with a request to have the Obama Administration develop a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice. As well, an independent Investigation of police responses to the December 6th Protests with the Police Review Commission (citizens of Berkeley) given access and jurisdiction and the power to recommend address to incidents. No tear gas, no over the shoulder baton strikes at crowds, no projectiles directed toward crowds; and a six month plan to implement cameras worn on police and their vehicles when on duty.

The issues of the need for reform addressed by the February 24th Black Lives Matter Forum going to the cause and conditions that limit social justice and equity to black and latino population were drawn out at the meeting.    In Berkeley as in San Francisco and Oakland, real estate costs and therefore rental costs are rising at such a rate due to the Tech Industry Boom that there is a closing down of housing options for many black and latino families. There has been a significant drop in the number of black and latino students in high school. The disparity in educational resources is considered by many to be the condition that recycles the conditions of poverty. By the third grade, the line is drawn: students are left behind and do not get the recognition and help they need to catch up.  It was reported at this meeting that 40% of children born in poverty remain in poverty. High school and two years of community college has a significant increase in income, but getting to and thru high school is the main threshold.  Better teachers, better schools and specific training of teachers to be aware of the cost of expelling students can not be overstated. One survey said in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2014 stated that as little as two suspensions has the consequence of students dropping out before completion of high school. Training teachers to discern inappropriate behavior and authentic responses of defiance and anger for young black men in particular are what is required. The pipeline to prison begins often when children are not diagnosed or misdiagnosed dealing with traumatic experiences and mental illness in the family, generation after generation.

It was noted that the BErkeley School district has one of the largest achievement gaps between Black and Brown students compared to white students in the state. Berkeley’s African American/Black population has declined from 30% of the city’s population to less than 8%, as the real estate boom and high cost of housing in Berkeley are closing down options for owning or renting in Berkeley. The need for an increase in Mental Health Services to be given the priority that would take the services to the people of low income in South and West Berkeley cannot be overstated. Also the Berkeley NAACP recommends creating City Council Oversight Body to monitor unfair hiring, promotional practices, cronyism and unfair treatment of city employees.

The room of activists, mostly white and many seniors have long standing commitment to the values of civil rights as evidenced by the many white haired seniors that came early, stayed late and will not be letting Berkeley forget the commitments of the 1970’s that are a presence in the room. Remember Ferguson! Remember democracy is a messy business-complex, and disturbing. These are the leaders of the citizenry who refuse to tolerate the conditions that limit social justice and equity. They are used to the hard work of taking unpopular stands, showing up for protests and having the results from public outcry and demand for  change in policy and practices. If not in Berkeley-?Well, it will be Berkeley that light is shed on  all the places where race excludes. Demands will not be forgotten.  New practices will be required and follow through will be essential.  Berkeley leads.  Always been that way. Always will be. STay tuned…

http://www.mercurynews.com/my-town/ci_27341877/berkeley-black-lives-matter-protest-police-response-debated

http://www.examiner.com/article/if-not-berkeley-where-city-council-meets-public-outrage

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Kamala Harris: Violence against Women stops here

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How effective is The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 is the question of 2014? As the layers of sexism become exposed, there are valid questions and more exposure to the fact that the 1994 law was only the beginning of a shift in how women are perceived in sexual assault and what that means.   Statistics show that there has been a decrease is sexual abuse since the law was instated.   But it seems than likely as in the sports world, in the military and in the university reports of assault and rape become known, that it is the reports of sexual assault that have decreased relative to their incidence, and not the number of incidences of assault.

 

The cost of a woman confronting the incidence of her assault is costly, personal and denigrating in many cases if they are even given credence at all once  reported. In the NY magazine Winter 2014, there is a story on student who carries her mattress around campus because her report of being assaulted on campus by a student did not result even in his being expelled from the University.  Only if there are headlines and large figures in the world of professional athletes, the best universities, or the top brass of the military do we find the public awareness pressing in on what might be the current evidence that violence against women has not been fully addressed even with the 1994 law.

 

In recent months NFL football players Ray Rice of Baltimore and Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers assaulted their mates within weeks of each other, and now the world is watching.  There is a demand to change the policies within the sports world to condemn the behavior of these sports athletes, and any others that might follow. There is talk of dire consequences and dismissal from their multi million dollar careers should these athletes fail to meet those standards of not hitting women.  Trained most of the time since high school, these athletes of age early twenties to late twenties are trained to hurl their bodies without mercy onto the fields and the players with different jerseys.   Brutality is an asset; quick moves automatic without consideration for bodily harm-theirs or the player across from them is the game.  A football is the focus, reaching and grasping stretching and extending the body and mind to whatever it takes to get to cross the line to the goal.  Like the ancient gladiators, their spent bodies are of no concern to the sports fans, the producers of the league or the team owners.  Head trauma, broken knees, arms, hips and pelvises that result for these young bodies and minds are being given some attention these days.  Concussions are now being recognized not only for the immediate destructive consequence, but the long range potential consequences of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s as well as the documented link to the conditions of alcohol and prescription drug abuse.  There is the dawning recognition of the cost to young athletes who pay for a lifetime of injury to their physical and psychological damages for the violent use of their bodies in football, and other sports.

For the young athletes who suddenly have huge sums of money offered to them, and fame-they are the winners in the lottery of life. They have little training in how to manage their extraordinary lives.  They are perceived as heroes, and are paid extremely well once professional football players or baseball or basketball.

For the general public the headlines report their car accidents, their fights with other players and their mates, just like other celebrities in the entertainment business.   Just like other celebrities they are public property from which the excitement about them, their lifestyles and their traumatic losses sell newspapers, keep the sports radio shows going, and add to the drama and ticket sales on the football field or sports arena.  For those on the sideline, the justification of the use and exploitation of these young men is that they are paid six figure salaries or more, they drive great cars, and the plays they make on the field are the thrill of their performances.

 

And it is the video of Ray Rice that even brings the conversation to the level of public awareness, and uproar. Men hitting women and the demand for a consequence began with the suffragettes who closed the bars because of wife beating in what they called “bloody Saturday nights.”  In the 1920’s, men lost a good part of their paychecks and then many came home and beat their wives.  The response by the Temperance Union to close the bars was motivated by the safety of women from the drunken assaults. (Suffragettes History)

Since the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, there is the report of a 64% reduction in violence against women.  However, that reduction cannot include what wasn’t reported; women getting hit and not reporting it.  Nor does it include the casual and frequent response of police when called with their position of blaming both parties in an assault by a man situation.  The woman’s state of being, sober or having ingested alcohol, what she was wearing, her history are all weighed, and she is often considered to have conspired with the outcome of assault or even the cause. That was what happened with the police in the case of Ray Rice and his wife.  This video stirred up the recognition that more needs to be done to train those in power to respond with absolute unequivocal effective action.  For the coaches, for the police, for the public the no tolerance for assault to a woman is being called for.  In the realm of testosterone laden football athletes, the demand for managing themselves is being revealed as not an option but a demand that needs to be met by the players, by the coaches and by the commissioners and their responses to assaults by players. In the heat of the video and the embarrassment of Commissioner Roger Goodell, there was that talk. There was also talk of starting to train young men about themselves and their aggression on and off the field in high school – which made the most sense of everything discussed. Will the attention and intention to encourage the punishment of sexual assault be the answer?

President Obama asked Kamala Harris, Attorney General in California to present to congress that 1 in 5 undergraduates are sexually assaulted, and women who do not attend college have even a higher rate of assault in the age group of 18-24. Sexual assault she mentions is an emotional trauma that maybe a lifelong difficulty and men as well as women are sexually assaulted. To address the underreporting by assault victims, Harris identifies that even with the glare of public light brought on by the Ray Rice Case, in the Universities and military, there are the limiting conditions that reside in the issue of sexual assault. (SF Chronicle 1/26/14) Of concern to Harris are the myths that continue to serve as limitations to women coming forward when sexually assaulted.

“It should go without saying that victims are not, and should not be, on trial, that they bear no burden to prove their own innocence and that our criminal justice system was not created only to serve and protect the metaphorical Snow White.” Women on trial for their sexuality shows up in many forms, and Kamala Harris is directly addressing the residual sexism in qualifying the victim’s complaint of sexual assault by addressing her personal history, her use of alcohol, and burden to prove her innocence. “There does not have to be a perfect victim for a crime to have been committed,” Attorney General Harris commented. The pervasive attitudes of women being sexual beings and attacks on their sexuality persist in the form of questioning her virtue and history. Harris comments on the fact that trauma has the effect of having memory distortions, but women are considered unreliable witnesses often to their own assault because of inconsistencies that are a part of the impact of trauma.

The business of professional sports, the halls of great Universities like Berkeley, the top brass in the military have all been headlined as wanting in terms of addressing the claims of assault with the appropriate gravity that it is due in reference to sexual violence. Women, and men coming forward and reporting sexual violence as the crime that it is will more likely report if they are not attacked, and become the victim of sexual bias.

 

“We must do better” Kamala Harris states, and yes we must. It is decades past women being the choosers in their sexual activity with the ability to assume responsibility for their sexuality. Aggressive campus sexual assault laws are a good start as Attorney General Harris states, but we have a distance to go in making it safe enough for women and men to expose themselves knowing they will be heard and not attacked, second guessed or have their attack minimalized in this, “the most underreported crime of all.”

 

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“Selma is now:” Paris- Ferguson: human rights

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“Selma is now” expressed by common on the award as he and John Legend shared for  “Glory”award winning song by both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.  In fact,many feel that the presentation of “Glory” at the Academy Awards was THE MOMENT of the Academy Awards-taking the glitter and gold to the heart and soul of “Selma.”

From Paris to Ferguson, the issues of Selma are a presence in our lives.  Around the world the conflict and dissension around integration and inclusion of those excluded from power, from choice, from having the privilege of self determination in a context of equality is very much the issue of today. 1964 and the Civil Rights Act and the addition of women’s rights to the long struggle minority rights has been considered “accidental,” a political ploy, an attempt to  derail the passage of the Civil Rights Act.    Ruth Rosen and other historians attribute the passage of the Civil Rights Act as a consequence of House Speaker Howard K. Smith in a last minute effort to sabotage the passage with the addition of sex to race and country of origin in the Civil Rights Act. In fact,the passage of the bill  was only the beginning of decades of struggle, and a severe backlash that have limited the purpose of the bill to bring voter’s rights and engagement by those disenfranchised to the realm of access, opportunity, human dignity and equality for minorities and women realized in fact and in deed.

 

Today, January 12, 2015 the New York Times has on the front page: ” Solidarity in Paris against Terrorism” and describes the millions who march in response to  the killing of journalists, artists, cartoonist, social commentary writers and people who were caught in the crossfire of Islamic terrorism with the killing of 17 people. Over a million people from all over the world gathered to march and honor the dead and affirm their united commitment to deal with this tragedy, many voicing  grave concern for the future of freedom of speech. “Je suis Charlie” has been taken up by all those who have chosen to step up and into a resounding response to the tragedy and its meaning, and the future they determine will not be impacted, limited or intimidated by acts of terrorism.

 

In the same New York Times edition, there are the references to the Golden Globe Awards and the many expressions from those in the film and television industry to uphold freedom of the press, freedom of the arts to express their freedom of speech – in Paris and in Ferguson. In the background also was the North Korea debacle of high jacking Sony’s files in an effort to intimidate Sony to not release a film of questionable taste that made light of terminating their leader. The tie, the connection is even more profound given the awards and recognition of the film “Selma,” at the Golden Globes award show.  Martin Luther King and the people of Alabama who fought with their lives for the privilege of gaining access to voting is very alive in our world today.   “Selma is Now” was the message by John Legend as he accepted his award for the music of the film “Glory” which called for the recognition of the connection between Selma and Ferguson to all those viewing the show, as well as the artists attending.  History is happening.

 

History is not always perceived as happening in the moment in which events conspire to change the course of humanity. Certainly the day my husband and I were driving in Montgomery the summer of 1964, and witnessed the group of African American men and women of all ages walking together in the heat of the middle of the day caught our attention.  We had no knowledge of what we were seeing. Some things about racial issues came through on the 6 o’clock news about SNCC, NAACP with images of Dr. Martin Luther King, but all that seemed remote to us in Madison, Wisconsin.  My husband was in the midst of a course given in Montgomery for military officers, only there for 8 weeks.  WE lived where other officers and wives lived and ventured out for shopping generally.  So what we saw on that day had no context in which to hold what we were seeing, or what it meant. The newspapers and the radio never referred to that event that day though we looked for some understanding of what we  saw. Just as in the film “Selma”, the faces of the people with eyes straight ahead, their clothes even for the hot and muggy  mid day looking fresh, and undampened by the 90 degree heat. Going to school with many mixture of irish, italian, lithuanian and black students in Norwood, Massachusetts and later the same in high school in Philadelphia, what was unusual in seeing the people pass our car as we waited was their silence. The silence that conveyed the gravity of their intention, and  “Selma” conveys without mercy the consequences they faced barehanded. I did know I was in the South and that silence was known to me. It carried a weight of the unspoken power bracing and unrelenting that would not be stopped in meeting a destiny that in many ways is still unmet.  But the lengths to which that African American people who had the courage to march endured was not visible,not reported and lived in the silence.

 

The film “Selma” has so much to contribute to an understanding of what was witnessed  on that summer afternoon in 1964 which at the time had no context or meaning that could convey the movement it became. Particularly valuable in the film is the life size Martin Luther King. Throughout the years of Dr. King’s work, his image and the speeches  conveyed the immense and essential meaning of what was at stake for “black children and their families.” As remote as it seemed to my life, still those images on TV had him appear larger than life. In many ways, Dr. King certainly was larger than the world around him, in his scope of view and passion to see through a struggle that would have a broken lesser man. But in the film, and perhaps on that summer day in 1964, he is among others and has no particular position and is marching with the people, among the people, bringing along people.  In the film and on the tv news, Dr. King made clear that all who stand by – by their lack of action. are part of the problem.  In the film, Dr. King brings along President Johnson who finally steps up and brings about the passage of the Civil Rights Act by his considerable clout with congress, ultimately only because he doesn’t want to be :”on the wrong side of history.” The message of “Selma” to me is that any of us who stand by and allow the killing in Ferguson, and Michael Brown, New York and Eric Garner and Jacksonville Trayvon Martin to pass are on the “wrong side of history.”

 

“Selma” deals with the restrictions to voting that kept the black community powerless, very much like Ferguson with white men in power and white men killing black men. There is a stepping up in Ferguson to get voters registered and voting.  The connection between voting and gaining access to leaders who represent the community’s needs has been made, and with that the recognition that poverty and no future hopes are the disease in any community and voting as citizens is a right and responsibility.   Future hope in terms of exercising your vote and having the agenda and needs of all of the people recognized is the tomorrow and the potential that the people of Ferguson have woken up to. But  just as in 1964, voter restrictions is a reality in many states of this country with Republican driven agendas.

 

Voter restrictions is very similar to the increase in restrictions within states that are attempting to reduce women’s rights, a reality of our lives today. Women’s rights, women’s equality likewise is under attack from the Republican states banning insurance coverage, in some of the same states.

In Alabama, Indiana,North Carolina, Texas, Ohio and Wisconsin, there is an attempt ban Roe VS Wade. In other states – Arkansas, North Carolina, Pennsyvlania and Virginia, the Republicans are attempting to ban insurance coverage for women. Thus the attempt 42 times to bring the end of Affordable Health Care ACT has had the serious agenda of limiting women’s rights to choose and access to birth control. Just as the Republican state legislation is  driven to attempting  to restrict voter’s rights, there is the attempt to reduce women’s rights.   The suppression of women and minorities is clearly a response to the fact that the 2008 election of Barack Obama was produced by the huge impact of African American, Hispanic and women with the greatest turnout that the country had seen in 40 years. (Mother Jones: Stephanie Mencimer October 2014)

 

Women’s rights, the rights of African American, Hispanic to full participation is under attack, there is no question. Perhaps it never was really accidental but providential that minorities and women were granted the Civil Rights Act as a beginning to full entry, equal entry into a society that once again is attempting to contain, restrain and maintain the white male privilege which is in fact being diluted and diminished by the consequence of the blend of races and culture that cannot be stopped.  A consequence of demographic shifts and changes that will happen anyway,  but can be interrupted, can be slowed down by aggravating the progress that has been made, inflaming fear and ethnocentric views in an attempt to limit the progress underway. The attempt to push back and restrict the power of people – women, African American and Hispanic in particular- who are in the process of determining their choices to manifest their lives, that represents their needs and fulfills their potential power politically and economically.

 

The conflict and struggles globally reflect the struggles in every area of the world of the struggles to maintain the status quo by those who are primarily benefiting from the conditions that are changing and are unstoppable. As the New York Times today described, in the Paris crowd of millions as they shared their grief at the loss of their countrymen, they emboldened  their stand to meet terrorism and vanquish those responsible for the horror of their loss.

 

(Liz Alderman, January 12, 2015: In Honor of Dead, World Leaders Link Arms) In the crowd, Liz Aldermann reported that Lillith Guillot. a woman of 23 who had marched with her friends all day expressed her shock that the people who came to this march  who “descended on Paris appeared to believe that the response to  terrorism or homegrown extremists was to spend more on security or escalate the potential to war. “ Guillot said that the people who had carried out the killings in France, and those who had committed similar acts in other European countries had all come from deprived backgrounds. Those from France’s suburbs, she said, appeared to have gravitated to extreme Islam partly because they could never get out of the ghetto.” Ms Guillot went on to say “What those men did was inexcusable, but all these leaders need to look at the root of the problem: (hat is needed is ) integration and inclusion. Until then, nothing will change.”

 

Integration and inclusion,  so  it is with Ferguson, and so it was with Selma then.  “Selma is now” was shouted out at the Golden Globe awards. And at the theater where “Selma” was presented Saturday night at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, as the credits began-a chant began: “Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter…”

Our lesson, our only hope is a world where all lives matter and are of equal value and the struggle, the actual work in maintaining women’s rights and bringing up and supporting the minorities who have been excluded and criminalized is the work ahead. As Dr. King said-we are all responsible for all the victims and all those who limit human potential and human life. That is the future of feminism, that is the future of democracy, that is the only future sustainable.

 

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Thanksgiving: the year of gratitude 2014

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Thank you all -you who have subscribed-  for bringing to the site your experience, your value to the conversation of who women and the men who live with them  are and the passage of women through these years of change.  This site and the book in process are all about my gratitude to the women and men who brought to the world the value of the freedom and  dignity of all people.  If you view this site and come to a better understanding and appreciation of the women in your life, then you contribute by your presence to this conversation.

It goes without saying and yet it must be said that women and men have come along together in the past fifty years, transforming how we live and what is important given our freedom to choose our identities, our function and our impact on the world.  There is more to go, for sure.  Miles and miles.  While the groundwork has changed dynamically altering the course of our mother’s and grandmother’s history, even so each generation takes the understanding further and deeper into the psyche of how we understand ourselves and each other.  We bring a context of feminism-seeking equality into the courts of law and congress -even as women’s rights continue to be attacked.

We – us human beings- men or women have the challenge of passing forward the advances we have been handed by the generation who sought and found a way to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through personal and social liberation honoring and trusting ourselves and each other.

For all this, and for your company on the road, I thank you and the opportunity every day presents to fulfill our hopes and dreams for ourselves,  for our families, our communities and for those who struggle with oppression and constraints to their every day liberties to expressing their lives as they desire.

Sore is the condition of our hearts as we watch Ferguson unfold.  Brings back the confusion and chaos of the civil rights movement of Watts and the streets of New York where the sense of the loss with just the barest potential of redemption is painful.  But we moved on, it got better for African Americans and for all of us really these forty years.  We are pressed again to look where we don’t want to look and feel what has us recoil with the knowledge of the miscarriage of justice and the sinister mechanism holding it all in place.  We will continue.  We will find our way through.  But just like the 60’s, we can’t see how or when. Looping back to pick up the policies and people left behind is where we must look for the tomorrow that surely will come.   It is we who see the group excluded from a place at the table who must demand the changes necessary so that young men of color, and the women whose hearts have been broken over and over again know we are here.  WE are here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The new world: “let’s schedule a call”

1L3A4220-39   Let’s schedule a call.

It’s going around you know. Scheduling a call to schedule a call. Framing the interaction with a friend or associate, assigning a distinction to the call, giving it gravitas. This is what I noticed in the midst of a discussion this morning with my husband. We get to the details of our lives, and determine the direction we’re headed and basically check in, share our calanders. Suddenly I looked at my weekly schedule and saw something new: pages filled with scheduled calls.

Let’s schedule a call are the words that come up pretty often lately.  And I’ve caught the bug.  Let’s talk, but not now, let’s schedule a call is the new thing. It’s how I negotiate my relationships and my time. But wait,… really? How did this happen? What is the need to create this distance in time and space?  Do I want to formalize my interactions with people by scheduling a call, my questions?   And my response was: No, this is getting out of hand, and not what I want to do. But can you turn the tide, unring the bell of the common core of relating these days?

I declared a New rule today:  no scheduling a call unless someone is out of my time zone. There truly is a very good reason to text and schedule a call if there is difference of time zones. My family and some very good friends live on the East Coast and the three hour difference is an issue. Carol is in the middle of her day when I get out of bed and I am moving toward the gym when she is having her lunch break. When my brother calls me, it’s a little late, 9 or 10 pm EST, but and only 6 or 7 pm PST for me, finding a good time to visit. Big difference in our energy levels and interest in a what we’re up to conversation wise.  Because of those differences,  we schedule our calls.

But why all of a sudden that’s how I’m relating to everyone?  Kind of an automatic response. I really want to talk to Lonnie about her research, but if I set up a call we can determine the limits and content of the call before we speak. Not hanging out, which is how I used to do my phoning just two years ago. First my friends went to email, and I adjusted. Actually I thought it was better because I could be sure that when they got my email, they had the time and focus on my email; there was the certainty that I wasn’t calling at a bad time and not having their full attention. But then these same folks started texting. No more, Hi-how are you, which would inevitably maybe because of my tone or theirs, turn into a real conversation and an exploration of how thing were really going for them, and for me.

Somewhere after we established a connection in those phone calls, there would be a sharing of the upset with someone in their universe that had not been communicated, or my revealing hurt feelings that someone in my life was responsible for; it always seemed like once shared in the intimacy of a phone call, there would be a relief, a lightening up and letting go. Sometimes I would end up talking about my worries and concerns that I had no idea I would bring up when I dialed their number. That’s right, “dialed their number.” Oh my goodness, that’s what it is; that’s what happened. Now I remember, when we started pushing the buttons(when the black phones with the dial were replaced by the beige push button phones, it was a shortly thereafter that we began to to move to push text buttons. That’s how all this had happened. The slippery slope from the black home phones to texting.

Texting never really felt that great to me. For about a year, even with my best friends, I responded very coolly if at all to text. You can’t even ask how I am, you just want to text: “Thursday 10 am OK with you.” How important can I be if that is the investment by you in our communication I thought. Texts that were less than a full sentence most often.

But then I was getting used to texting. I got it, It is kinda nice to just put out your purpose, and get your response comes back with a ding usually within minutes. No email to wait for; no problem with a missed call; you can text on your iphone and roll. Anywhere you go you can call anywhere and no one knows where you are. Not like the old days when you called someone’s home and they had a cute message with a sexy greeting. Changing plans via text is a nightmare, it was true but I was adapting. But now, now it’s all about scheduling a call.

 What that means to me is a delay, and putting a distance between me and that other and being wedded to my calendar. 2 pm Thursday looks like a good idea when you write it down, but then stuff happens and since at the very least you’ve exchanged 3-5 texts establishing a mutual time and then confirming the time you agree on, to cancel seems just wrong. So there you sit at the coffee shop at the grocery or at the side of the road having your scheduled call. But what I noticed for myself was it’s a way to resist and distance myself, gives me time to get my act together, be deliberate and monitor my state of being around the “call.” It’s significant, it’s important-not just a casual check in-a call.

Not that scheduling a call isn’t a good thing, not that it doesn’t have value, it does.   Partnering while on a project is a good use of the scheduled call. It sets up you up to prepare for the call and survey your intentions and your actions to see that they correspond when you have taken on a task or tasks. Sets a deadline for results that take you down the line to accomplishing what you set out to do. Gives you the accountability that a partner provides as witness to what you said you would do and what you did, and where the problems emerged if they did. Breaks the membrane as a friend of mine used to say, brings you into the present the scheduled call with an agenda to be fulfilled by the call.

Another use of the scheduled call is that you make a person or the commitment you share a priority, it underlines the value the scheduling implies. This is a visit, but this is a productive call the scheduled call implies.

But for me, just me, I want to reduce the distance and loop back to some of the intimate and spontaneous contact with friends and spare myself nothing in being present to them and to the energy we create together, and “schedule my calls” but not as a steady means to communicate. How about you? How do you feel about “scheduling your calls?”

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Marco Cochrane- safe for women

Gloria Steinem: October 2014 Associated Press

When the women’s movement started, there was not even a term called domestic violence. It was just called life. When  we think of violence against women, for instance, we understandably think mainly of other countries, where the degree of violence is much higher. But what is also true is that if you added up all the women who have been murdered by their husbands or boyfriends since 9/11, and then you add up all the Americans who were killed by 9/11 or in Afghanistan and Iraq, more women were killed by their husbands and boyfriends.”

Marco Cochrane is a sculpture of a series called Truth in BEauty presented at Burning Man for a  years who asks “how can we have women feel safe?”  It’s a profound and astounding question when you consider the landscape of where we are with violence against women.   Speaking not just on women who are violated, but as well when they don’t feel safe to express themselves:  their happiness, their joys, their pain and their perspective.  The tech world is making moves to have the tech environment which is majority men welcome women in such a way that they feel seen, heard and full participants in the work place.  They want the contribution and creative input from women, and they want them to feel safe in working with their companies.

So the question Marco raises can be looked at in various ways.  One way is to look at the history of women and violence, or more to the point to look at what has been ignored, denied and patronized when women call out abuse by a man in the workplace or in the home.  The very sense that that has been the norm may have a lot to do with women withholding themselves and their experience of the world-part of which tells them women are not safe.

The scandals exposed recently in the abuse by NFL husbands and boyfriends on the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 brought the world’s attention to a condition that has been tolerated, ignored or justified by the business of sports and their performers. University of California Berkeley, among other esteemed universities and colleges who have been called to the task of taking seriously the safety of their students with responses that are more of consequence to the offenders of the acts of rape and assault. In the military, the officers who have generally been the responsible agents for addressing violence against women are facing having those incidents out of their hands and into the non military legal professionals.   The United States as Gloria Steinem states is just now becoming aware of the reality that has been under the radar of bureaucratic systems that minimalized the consequences to the abuser. Violence has an impact not only on the victim, but is integrated into how women feels about themselves and their safety. Marco Cochrane in a recent interview offered a window into how women feel and what the effect is of living in the world where they may be unseen, unheard and may have to deal with the potential of  physical attack or assault.

INTERVEIW WITH MARCO  JULY 2014

Marco Cochrane with his wife Julia Whitelaw Cochrane, a collaborative attorney in Marin and partner to Marco served as the interviewer at the Innovate Berkeley event July 2014, and brought a new consciousness with a simple but profound questions.

“What would it be like in the world if women felt safe and what would it take to have women feel safe?” Internationally known for his exceptional series Truth is Beauty in The Bliss Project of Burning Man. Marco’s ‘Woman’ made from mesh wire a 55 foot essence and form of a woman reaching with every inch of herself toward the sky. She is felt as well as seen, and celebrated at Burning Man’s annual celebration in the desserts of Nevada.

Marco is speaking at the Innovate Berkeley event at the Impact Hub Berkeley as creative artists, writers, welders, designers and mostly people excited about life and its possibilities gather for his presentation. Marco describes himself as the child of hippie parents raised in Berkeley in his early years. He was introduced to antiwar and feminism viewpoints and by age 7 was aware and sensitive to the possibility of the need for radical change from that young age. He was aware of the insanity of war and saw how people treated each other and wondered why and what that was about from early age. The inequity of how some were treated well, and others not was an early observation that didn’t make sense to him, and gave ground to his challenging rather than accepting these disparities. The radical question of what it would take to have women feel safe comes from that realm of consciousness and also in his attention and focus not just on the inches and hills and valleys of a woman’s body in the process of sculpturing the Truth is Beauty series.   But over time with the subjects he noticed their silence, the holding back, the absence of exposure behind the unspoken speaking by women around him.

Marco’s question “What would it take to have women feel safe” brings to mind that because of their silence, the withdrawal of their presence, humanity has less to work with. Marco expresses the value that women feeling safe and free to express would make their feminine energy to the world. He has observed his response, his speaking is available to him, and that is not the case with women. He observes that men don’t need to have permission to speak, that men fear other men, knowing they themselves carry so much aggression at all time, perhaps from fear of survival, but they sense it in other men. The violence against women, rape and abuse by men he sees as a coping mechanism to keep women silent. The effect is to shut down women.

“We need the direction from women that would make the world a different place.” He does not mention specifically what we all know if we read the newspapers. We have a world where rape and assault, not just in far off worlds, but in our military, in our universities, in our churches, in our schools are constantly being revealed. The revelations generally come through exposure by a woman who at significant cost to herself and often under duress speaks out. She may not be believed, her character and behavior may be attacked; her life can be at risk.

The emphasis of Marco’s message is that the different energy that women contribute and its potential to the world is where the world will find its answers, and that will come through women feeling safe.

If women felt safe, their silence would end and the feminine energy of connectedness, transparency, creative possibilities would be available to the world, and is needed to handle the problems we have in creating a sustainable world, the world we have to deal with now, Marco points out. Women feeling safe did not come through the feminist movements or the hippie movements of the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s, he observes. He says that at every gathering ike the one we’re attending tonight, someone brings up at this point the work of One Billion Rising and Eve Ensler to defend the value of the work of feminists which he values, but it doesn’t change his experience of how women feel and how that affects what they say and what they do and what they keep to themselves that is lost to the world.

Marcos is intent on the challenge of having women feel safe being taken up by all. The implication is that everyone who wants to see the end of violence against women and in the world needs to be up for the job. He suggests “Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Do it because it’s fun, not generosity,” emphasizing the difference and making clear there is no exchange or obligation to be expected by making the effort to do the right thing.

“Its going to take all of us to do it,” Marco says in closing. In saying all of us, I am reminded that everyone means women as well as men making it safe for women. Women making it safe for women to speak out is the basis for women’s groups or the sanctity of the chosen friends with whom we share ourselves without editing. Sometimes our sisters, sometimes our daughters and mothers, but it doesn’t come with the role or relationship status. The sense of safety that we have as women with other women is born of trust coming from consistent experience of having our thoughts, expressions and emotion-ourselves valued.

But out here in life, in the office, meeting or social event-family reunion or class- it is not assumed those conditions will be there for us. Our job as women coming from the perspective presented by Marco is it’s our job to make it safe for women. Just as well as the men-maybe even moreso, we must honor the women around us –their perspective, their vulnerable moves out to express what lives in their hearts and minds, their value, their gifts.

Marco has traveled around countries far and wide to speak to people about Truth is Beauty, his magnificent sculptures celebrating the beauty and spirit of women, but it seems that his quest is in making it safe for women, and what that can contribute to humanity is also his gift. Who women are and what they have to contribute is a work of art he presents to the world. That opening is an opening is as high and solid as the 55 foot sculpture Woman – and then some.  Truth as Beauty provides that reach for us all.

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