Archive for January, 2007

Tancredo’s platform: too many Mexicans, and Blacks who identify as Blacks

On Monday morning, I was listening to the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC while getting ready for work. Lehrer was interviewing Tom Tancredo, a Republican representative in the House from Colorado who is planning on running for the presidency. Now, this guy is a real gem; his recent antics include singing Dixie at a Confederate-flag-displaying barbecue organized by the South Carolina League of the South, which is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. The barbecue was a fundraiser for Tancredo’s non-profit coalition, “Americans Have Had Enough!” (Enough immigrants, Mexicans, or brown people, I’m guessing.)

So, his newest crusade is unsurprising: he’s calling for the abolition of the congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses. From the interview (which you can listen to in its entirety :

TANCREDO: I do not believe that there should be a Black caucus, I do not believe that there should be a caucus based on race. The Black caucus, Hispanic caucus – these are not things that the Congress of the United States ought to provide finances for, ought to have as a formal part of the House of Representatives, which these are; and, which send a horrible message I think again about how we are split up on racial lines and that’s exactly where we should not be going. What would happen, I wonder, if anyone was to suggest the creation of a white caucus. I mean, certainly they would be roundly criticized and rightly so, for being racist.

LEHRER: Well, do you think that those are moral equivalents, a white caucus and a Black caucus, given American history?

TANCREDO: I absolutely believe they are, when you have, uh… The issue is surrounding the concept of a race-based, formally organized and formally approved part of the congress of the United States. That is, I think, sending a horrible message.

Right. Because Black folks and other people of color don’t need to gather and work together as a result of racism. It’s actually the other way around: things are all messed up because they’re sending the wrong message. If they’d just stop sending the wrong message, then poof, racism and racial divides in this country would disappear! White people, of course, have nothing to do with it. Didn’t you know?

The interview continues, and at some point Lehrer asks:

LEHRER: So the two issues you’ve picked your most public fights on as a presidential candidate so far are too many Mexicans, if we can call the immigration, the illegal immigration question that –

TANCREDO: You can’t.

LEHRER: – I’ll let you respond to that; and Blacks who identify as Blacks. So should I conclude that too much Black and Latino power at the expense of whites are your two major concerns?

Bullseye, Brian. Tancredo predictably chuckles this off and delivers some manure-laden line about how of course this is not the case. But Lehrer, about whom I generally have mixed feelings, had me saying, “You go, white boy!” with that zinger.

ACTION ALERT: Support Florida rape survivor and condemn police actions

Planned Parenthood has launched a campaign around the Florida rape survivor who was arrested and subsequently denied emergency contraception after going to the police. Take a moment to go to the PP page and voice your outrage to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. (Thanks to Jessica at Feministing for the heads up.)

Neruda meme!

Begun by Sylvia, then continued here and here and here and here. And now here, and next with you if you choose to post a poem by Pablo Neruda, with English translation, on your blog.

It was hard to choose just one, but I chose this one because, despite my love of poetry, it’s one of the few poems I’ve memorized in my life, and the only one I’ve memorized in Spanish. (Sonnet XI, “I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair” was a close second.)


No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio,
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo por que no sé amar de otra manera,

sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.


I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexity or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

(translation by Stephen Tapscott)

linkage 1/30/07

  • Via UBUNTU! by way of brownfemipower – “Duke-ing It Out in the Court of Public Opinion,” an op-ed on the Duke rape case from Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor and law professor at the New England School of Law.
  • Piny from Feministe critiques the woman-disregarding concept of “fetal abuse.”
  • Via Poplicks’ Question of the Week: the Cartoon Network has decided to stop airing Speedy Gonzales cartoons because of their racist depictions of Mexicans. The question: do you agree?
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is preparing to release a report on the state of our environment, which will include predictably grim news on the centuries of global warming ahead of us. One of the many disasters we may bring about: the loss of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Prometheus 6 calls out John Ridley for his nonsensical criticism of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for not rallying around a Black-on-white “hate crime: “So what about it, pal? How long have you been writing about Black folks? What was the last one that didn’t slam the majority of those Black folks it mentions? Aren’t you just the latest in a long line of negros hired to whisper dark nothings in white folks’ ears and throw sand in Black folks’ eyes?”

Report a rape – get arrested?

That’s precisely what happened to a young woman in Tampa, Florida. After reporting her rape to the Tampa police, she was arrested and kept in jail for two nights after the police ran a background check and found a four year old warrant on her record. This article from the Tampa Tribune describes how this incident brought together so many deeply disturbing things: a callous and sexist disregard for the needs and rights of a rape victim; an inherently flawed criminal justice system; and, on top of it all, how the so-called “right” of medical practitioners to impose their religious beliefs on their patients has seriously jeopardized this woman’s physical, emotional and mental well-being.

The woman’s mother sums it up well:

“You’ve got to make sure you throw somebody in jail on a four-year-old felony warrant after they’ve been brutally raped?” the mother said. “It was a failure to take the actual dynamics into play.”

And as if the arrest alone wasn’t infuriating enough:

Adding to the mother’s ire is her claim that a jail nurse prevented her daughter from taking a second dose of emergency contraception prescribed by a nurse at a clinic as part of a rape examination. The jail nurse, said the mother and the victim’s attorney, denied the medication for religious reasons.

The article describes a police department policy that advises against arresting victims of violent crimes on outstanding warrants, stating that “the severity of the injury suffered by the victim compared to the seriousness of the crime specified in the warrant.” However, this policy only explicitly names misdemeanor warrants, not felonies.

“It’s rare in police work that someone isn’t arrested on a felony warrant, but you always want to have compassion for a victim,” police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said Monday. “This may be a case where we need to revise our policy.”

No, really? Brilliant that this conclusion is reached after this woman is jailed, denied emergency contraception, and basically put through hell – all as a result of reporting the violence committed against her. As the article points out, this sort of thing only adds to obstacles that frequently prevent women from reporting when they’ve been raped.

Bonnie Bucqueroux, a victims’ advocate and coordinator of the Victims and the Media Program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism, said the handling of the situation could have “a chilling effect” on this case and others.

“This is one of those cases where they made the wrong call,” she said. “Spending two days in jail … certainly adds to the trauma she endured. … Why would victims who had any concerns about any dealings in their past come forward?”

Why, indeed.

Edited to add: In her post on this incident, Jill from Feministe cites this statistic: forty percent of rape survivors in Connecticut, for example, aren’t offered EC in emergency rooms – in both secular and religiously affiliated hospitals. Unbelievable.

On railguns and rayguns

Note: I started writing this a few days ago and then never got to finish it, so it’s a little old… better late than never though, right?

Lately, it seems like the military is taking its weapons development cues from a bunch of sci-fi buffs and gamers. First, the Navy comes out with a rail gun, a truly frightening weapon a la Quake II. And earlier this week, the media reported on a new piece of weaponry being developed by the u.s. military – a ray gun (!!!) that makes its targets feel like they’re about to burst into flames, though it supposedly does no actual harm to them. From the AP article:

During the first media demonstration of the weapon Wednesday, airmen fired beams from a large dish antenna mounted atop a Humvee at people pretending to be rioters and acting out other scenarios that U.S. troops might encounter in war zones.

War zones, huh? When I read this, my immediate thought was, “I guess we know what we’ll be seeing – and feeling – soon at rallies and demonstrations.” I’d put money on it – in the not-so-distant future, police forces in the U.S. will be using this at peaceful demonstrations to “disperse crowds.” I’m glad that the NYPD didn’t have one of these at the RNC in 2004, though what we got wasn’t really much better than this. (I was one of the thousands of people rounded up and kept in jail for days for protesting, like The Unapologetic Mexican, whose blog I recently discovered.)

Apart from the frightening thought of these things being used on protesters here in the states, my reaction is mixed. On the one hand, if this is truly a non-lethal, non-wounding weapon with no long-term effects, then it seems good; anything that might save human lives and avoid unnecessary death and injury is good, right? Unfortunately, though, since the u.s. has a nasty habit of involving itself in unwarranted, unjust wars these days, it’s kind of a moot point, isn’t it? If the whole premise under which something like this could be used is wrong, then it only amounts to reaching unjust ends in a slightly more humane way, doesn’t it? (And that, of course, isn’t taking into account what happens to “enemy combatants” after they’ve been humanely disarmed and captured.)

Required Viewing: “A Girl Like Me”

A Girl Like Me

I think I’m a few months behind in blogging about this, but I hadn’t seen this film until a friend emailed me a news clip about it today. “A Girl Like Me,” by teen filmmaker Kiri Davis, explores how race and racism affect the self-esteem and self-image of young Black women and even younger Black children. (The link brings you to the film’s page on the Media That Matters Film Festival site, where you can watch the film in its entirety.) The young women who are interviewed are insightful and articulate about their experiences around what is perceived as beautiful; many talk about straight or relaxed hair, lighter skin, and body types that are more typically white than Black.

Davis goes on to replicate the doll experiments conducted by Drs. Mamie and Kenneth Clark in the 1940s, which were presented as part of the Brown vs. Board of Ed Supreme Court decision. In the experiment, Black children were asked to choose which of two nearly identical dolls, one Black and one white, they preferred. The majority of the Black children in those experiments chose the white doll.

Davis reproduced the experiment with young Black children living in NYC; after six decades, the results are much the same. At one point, Davis asks a young girl which doll is the good doll, and the girl holds up the white doll. She asks which one is the bad doll, and the girl indicates the Black doll. Then, Davis asks the girl which doll looks like her. The girl looks to the white doll first, but then turns back to the Black one and slowly pushes it forward.

So admittedly I’m an easy crier. But yes, this made me cry. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s infuriating, that young Black (and Brown, I’m sure) children continue to grow up in a world that makes them think that people who look like them are bad and people who look like their oppressors are good. Not that I didn’t know this is what our society is still about, but this film brings it home in a skilled and poignant way.

Kudos to Kiri Davis for making a powerful, brilliant film. In her bio, Kiri says that she wants to continue to be a filmmaker; I certainly hope she does so, because I can’t wait to see what more she accomplishes.

Blog for Choice Day

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

Geez. This is what happens when I sleep on checking in on the blogosphere for a while – I nearly miss big important events like Blog for Choice Day. I’m not going to get a chance to blog extensively on the matter today, but I’ll just say that I’m very pro-choice, and I don’t see how you can be pro-woman (and pro-people-of-other-genders-who-can-bear-children) and not be.

I’ll also cheat and say lookie here for some good links from Jessica at Feministing.

A nice little bit of football history in the making

First off: GO COLTS! What a game. That last interception by Marlin Jackson – just beautiful.

With the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears winning today, that’ll put two Black head coaches – Indianapolis’ Tony Dungy and Chicago’s Lovie Smith – in the Super Bowl. This will be the first time ever that a Black head coach goes to the Super Bowl – and there’ll be two! Yeah, not exactly a monumental anti-racist victory or anything, but still, pretty sweet.

Barack Obama: SECRET MUSLIM (gasp!)

Like me, many of you probably expected that CNN’s little Where’s Obama “accident” was only a hint of things to come. Well, far be it from Fox to disappoint on this count. From ThinkProgress: Fox & Friends aired a segment on Senator Barack Obama, focusing on his supposedly hidden Muslim background. Ignoring the fact that writing about said background in both of his books is basically the opposite of hiding, the anchors and their callers proceed to question whether this past is “ancient history,” or if it matters – apparently, in a way that would make him unsuitable for the presidency.

From the segment transcript:

DOOCY: Why didn’t anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised — spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father — as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?


DOOCY: We should also point out that Barack Obama’s father is the one who gave him the middle name of Hussein. And the thing about the madrassa, and you know, let’s just be honest about this, in the last number of years, madrassas have been, we’ve learned a lot about them, financed by Saudis, they teach this Wahhabism which pretty much hates us. The big question is was that on the curriculum back then? Probably not, but it was a madrassa and the big question is whether or not any of these revelations about the fact that he was a Muslim — right now I understand he does go to the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, although not a regular parishioner — but raised as a Muslim, went to a madrassa.

And some brilliant insights from callers:

CALLER: I think that ultimately this will probably be one of the main reasons is he not elected.

DOOCY: Just the fact that his father was a Muslim, he was raised as a Muslim for awhile, and went to a madrassa school in Jakarta?

CALLER: Right. I mean, you think that would possibly give him better insight on the enemy, maybe he doesn’t consider terrorists the enemy.


CALLER: I think a Muslim would be fine in the presidency, better than Hillary. At least you know what the Muslims are up to. [Laughter]

But wait – Gretchen Carlson wants to reassure us that this isn’t about being anti-Muslim; no, not at all:

CARLSON: We want to be clear, too, that this isn’t all Muslims, of course, we would only be concerned about the kind that want to blow us up.

Oh, all right. Only those kinds of Muslims. Thanks for clarifying, Gretchen, I feel a lot better now.