Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

Me, Too: Women and their Power Emerge


Me, too: Women and their Power emerge provoking a dynamic that is just now underway.  Fifty-three years ago, women gained the right to engage, speak, represent themselves and their sisters for living life on their terms; In 1964, the Civil Rights Act gave the basis for Women’s Rights, and in 1964, Reproductive Rights were gained by women. The shift in consciousness that made for the sexual liberation to unfold has now hit a place of power as women speak.  Sometimes decades ago, sometimes months ago, the abuse and insult of sexual exploitation is being revealed.  We are watching the pillars fall from a building that remained impervious to change until these women spoke up.  The transformation of men and women to achieve dignity and integrity around their sexuality has been a struggle hard won but has hit a wall that needed hitting, hurled a hall of mirrors to hypocrisy on a level that is not even come to its crest.  It’s just the beginning of the tolerance and denial that held sexism, just as it has held racism, in place.  Why now?  We all sat through the assertions by women about Trump, we all watched Matt Lauer directly disrespect Hillary Clinton, we’ve tolerated as if it were someone else’s job to deal with it, the unfinished, rather repulsive tail of sexual behavior far from the goal of sexual liberation and sexual equality.  This  disruption of  the status quo in many quarters previously denied is now full on.  Me, too took us all from resignation to stirring what we always knew but never spoke of.  The Power of women, to speak, to stand, to represent and to shoulder the burden women have endured is here.

Mary Beard, author of Women & Power: A Manifesto asks that we interrogate our notions of power, and look into why  and how women are excluded, minimized.  That power has been defined by how it is expressed by men is not how women can direct their power is suggested by her views given in NY Times Book Review by Parul Sehgal 12/6/27.

” By looking at the conceptions of how we hold authority, mastery and even knowledge is inflected by gender.  You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure,” Beard writes.  She points to the three women who founded Black Lives Matter:  Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi for their promoting “decentralized leadership” emphasizing the movement over personalities.  “These three women are decoupling power from public prestige, transforming it from a possession one can seize to an attribute to be shared. ”

Women giving authority and trust to other women is one aspect of the transition that is being called for, and clearly Mary Beard has a contribution to make to women in recognizing what it is that gives a basis for power, and its expression in the world.


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.


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.