August 30, 2008

A Republican Woman VP

I am finding the Republican pick of a VP to be very interesting for several reasons. First let me say that I do believe in woman working toward not just breaking the glass ceiling, but removing it all together. For my own personal reasons and as well as for general liberation theology concerns, I have views that not only define my understanding of gender, but also my understanding of social and family structure. I cant hardly see these as separate because I was raised Pentecostal Holiness, and that does affect my frame of reference.

I want to see women represented well when they do excel. I want women to move forward because they are qualified and capable, not because they fit into the picture for the agenda. It makes me proud when women accomplish great things. It makes me proud when women receive acknowledgement for their abilities and accomplishments. But I am offended when people like Rush speak of ‘the babe on the ticket’. Was she chosen for her capability or her looks and gender? Is Palin more than political arm candy?

I don’t want to get into to too many various issues, so I will stick to what is the topic at hand. I am very interested in the pick of a woman for VP by McCain, simply because it is a visual, photo opportunity pick much more than it is of any sound political issues. It is a great counter move to deflect the attention from how wonderfully the DNC went off without any major glitches. Even Hillary and Bill Clinton to the high road to stand loyal to their party and the agenda of making sure that the party gives full support to its candidate.

So McCain had to do something to trump all the attention that was given to not only the political, but the historical context of the DNC. Out of no where comes this woman that not many have ever heard of before the announcement of her as McCain’s choice as a running mate. But she is a woman. That is a direct jab at the fact that Obama didn’t pick Hillary Clinton as his VP. It wasn’t a slightly obscure act, this was obviously what it was, an attempt to rally feminist and woman’s lib votes. And it just might work.

What I am interested to see in this turn of events is how shallow women really are as voters. What I want to know is if women really have lived up to having the right to vote? Will their vote be used wisely or will they vote blindly becoming pawns in the political game? I know this sounds harsh, but I want to argue that the agenda of the RNC is not progressive or gender neutral. This was a move to rally women voters, not based on any concern for women’s issues or the voice of women voters, but simply for political gain of getting a Republican in the White House.

I don’t claim allegiance to either party, but vote according to what I can connect to my own belief system in that of a political candidate. But what I am offended by in this pick of a woman for VP is the sheer arm candy approach of it all. Are women this shallow that they will vote simply because she is a woman, or will they really consider what this woman stands for and what kind of leader she will be in the event that something causes her to have to take on the task of Commander in Chief?

I personally don’t want a post partum Commander in Chief. Nor do I want someone with PMS answering the Red Phone. At least Hillary was beyond all of that stuff that distorts perspective. Misguided agendas is what has our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan now- and that was a man’s doing. And I cant remember why we are there, the reason has changed several times, and I know it is not about weapons of mass destruction cause they never found them. I think the last thing that I heard, is that we are there to manage the social unrest. And why is this our concern? Don’t we have other things that our military need to help manage? Have we done all we cant to maintain the social environment in this country? If we are so concerned about keeping people safe then why aren’t our troops being used to secure our borders, or what about the violence in Cleveland, Detroit, and Patterson--- I think there are plenty of things to do on our home soil, if we just
need to have troops active. I am guessing that the police officers in these cities would appreciate having some assistance in alleviating some of the violence and crime. Oh, but we all know why there is little concern for establishing and maintaining lower crime statistics…….

Ok so before I get off onto another issue, let me stick with this concept of a woman as a VP. I never thought I would say this, but I would have rather seen Hillary chosen as a VP than this Palin. I don’t know much about her, but what I already know is bringing a lot of questions to mind for me.

One thing that I might be able to say about her is that she should be able to juggle several responsibilities since she has a family of 5 children, but is she ready to take over if something sadly happens to McCain as president? McCain is old, and that means that the VP may very well end up running this country.

Part of the reason Palin was chosen has to do with her stance on Right to life. I personally believe in right to life, but that is not just about carrying the child and giving birth to him/her. This is also about being committed to the care and rearing of the child. And here is where I personally have an issue with the choice of Palin as VP on the Republican ticket. She has an infant with special medical needs and in the midst of that along with the other four children --- she is off on the campaign trail. So this child will be left in the care of others or traveled all around the country while they campaign for the White House, or a combination of both. It would seem that political endeavors are trumping maternal care for a child with special needs. So is her belief in right to life just about being alive and breathing or about being loved and nurtured also? What is the follow through for her on this concept of right to life? I think we need to
know because this may just carry over into how she functions as Commander in Chief. Priorities is a big factor in how I vote. Priorities is what gives us some indication of how a person will lead this country. What will she do when our country is in crisis? Will the country be turned over to a political nanny?

What about the Conservative Right in the midst of this VP pick? Is the voice of the Republican party changing? Surely not, because ‘Change’ is the other campaign’s slogan. Are Evangelicals and Fundamentalist going to vote for a woman?. If they don’t want a woman in the pulpit, then will they really accept her as leader of the free world? Once a woman becomes VP, there will be a full rally for a shift across the board for women in Liturgical Leadership. The separation of Church and State sounds good, but what happens to women in the conservative denominations once they can point out another place where a woman has risen to a higher level in a position of leadership? What about “a woman should not usurp authority over a man”? And what will they really think of a woman who abandons her call to the needs of her family to go out on the campaign trail, or if they win to work on the needs of this country.

Here is the break down---

Most of Hillary’s base are Pro Choice – Palin is Right to Life.
Most of Hillary’s base are alternative lifestyle supporters – Palin is one man, one woman supporter.
A large percentage of Hillary’s base are Vegans and Vegetarians- Palin eats Moose burgers ( I will pass on that).
A large percentage of Hillary’s base are not NRA supporters – Palin enjoys shooting.

Hillary was a Rhode’s Scholar, where did Palin go to school? What was her degree in?

So will the Hillary supporters vote Republican so they can see a woman as a VP, regardless of her stance on the agendas. Is voting for a woman going to outweigh a solid stance on the issues? Will social, economic and policy issues all become side bar issues for the cause of gender?

I have voted Republican more often than not, but I am personally offended by the thought that I am so shallow as a voter that would vote just because there is a woman on the ticket and not give any consideration to the issues at hand. I was excited to see whom McCain would chose for a running mate, and I am disappointed. I want see a woman in the White House, but not because she is the ‘babe on the ticket’ because she is qualified to lead this country to the next level of greatness.

August 19, 2008

Humble Pie is for Losers

I am watching the Olympics and I am frustrated that there is this criticism of the runner from Jamaica who is outrunning the competition with – well to say ease is an understatement. But the critique is not of his athletic ability, because there is nothing they can say other than he won, but the problem that the commentators have with this runner is his display of confidence and yes arrogance. Doesn’t the winner have a right to that?

According to these experts that commentate the events, the runner should wait till he has made it across the finish line before he starts his display because acting like a winner before the race is completed is disrespectful to the other athletes. Really?

Since when does the winner have to act humble to keep from upsetting the losers? What happened to losing being your motivation to work harder and accomplish more? So now the person who has worked to accomplish their ‘Gold’ goal has to not celebrate so much or so soon cause the losers might feel bad. Are we coddling athletes now too?

We have taken this- ‘everyone is special’ thing a bit too far. Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning abuse in any way, shape, form, or fashion. I do think something needs to be said for this celebration of those lost in the middle and the back of the pack.

It makes about as much sense to me as the gifts given to the kids that come to the birthday party so they wont be sad that it is not their birthday and that they didn’t get any presents. Really? How about – ‘It aint your birthday and when your birthday comes you get presents’. Maybe that is where this whole thing started, with the expectation that you should get something for no special reason---- oh but wait. I forgot. You are getting something because you are special, don’t worry about standing on your accomplishments cause your special even if you aren’t the winner.

I enjoy watching Usain Bolt run. He doesn’t have all of the technique down pat just yet, he is young and fresh to the sport and is doing well for a beginner. I think his natural ability and dedication to his training have given him the right to display his self appreciation. I think self confidence and self esteem are great tools, not only in sports but in life.

I wont even go into my thought on a journalist who is not and was not ever a professional athlete critiquing the action of an Olympic athlete, cause he is doing his job. I am just thinking that a man who is running the current fastest times in the world has every right to feel good about himself and to display his positive self image.

August 10, 2008

I love Black Men

This weekend has brought two shocking bits of bad news. First it was a rumor, that within two days was actually true.

I got a text message on Thursday night that Bernie Mac had passed. It was only after I had forwarded this message to the majority of my contacts that I started getting calls from friends telling me that this was an error - only a rumor. But Saturday morning, as I went to work at the hair salon, the sisters were all buzzing about how he was really gone. I think the false alarm of Thursday took some of the edge off finding out on Saturday that Bernie Mac had really passed on.

So in the midst of just letting that lingering in my processes, on Sunday afternoon, my daughter tells me that Isaac Hayes had died. I didnt want to believe it. I made her verify this information with several websites before I was willing to believe it.

But now, I am simply thinking about two men, Black men, whose friends and families will miss them. I, as well as, plenty of other fans who admired the talents of these individuals, are in our own phase of mourning.

As quite of a secret as it is kept, Black men are loved. Not only for their professional abilities, but simply for their presence in their family and community. We recognize that some dont make the positive contribution to the world that they are capable of, but we recognize their potential. We hope for them to realize their own potential, and even follow through with reaching the top of their own capability.

There is something beautiful in the Black Man. Something that cant totally be explained, that words really may not be sufficient to express, but it is the recognition that allows us to appreciate the ability to survive. Black men survive. In the midst of stress, and social misconceptions, economic hardships, racial profiling, and against all odds statistics- Black men survive.

The resilience that come from adversity, builds character in a way that a silver spoon lifestyle could never produce. This political election brings about a continually unspoken question from the mainstream - 'where did Obama come from'. Really what they want to know, is how did he complish so much, so fast, and how did he receive so much attention for doing right and positive. It is quite funny, because the story is being told over and over about his being raised in Hawaii and so forth, but that is not really what they want to know.

Somewhere along the way, there has been this idea that only a few will survive, but what they didnt realize is that since the first Africans were brought to this country, they were looking at survivors. The ones who made it to the auction block had already survived the elements and situations of the journey to the Americas in the belly of a ship. Every African that stepped off those ships was already a survivor, just for living through the journey, the mistreatment, and the emotion of fear brought on from facing the unknown outcome.

So when there are those who 'make it' and come up from the 'hood', and into mainstream fame, we respect them for their ability to function in the world, as well as for their ability to use the gifts given by God.

I cant help but to believe that with continued love and support, more Black Men will find their way to reaching their own dreams, and flourishing in every aspect of life.

Two men who are respected for their individual contributions to the Arts will be missed. I cant even imagine how my own appreciation of music would have developed without the influence of 'Black Moses'. And I wonder if I would have ever really paid attention to other comedians without having noticed the 'real' stage presence of the 'tell it like it is' style of stage presentation of the man who I will always remember as 'Jangle Leg'.

I am thankful to all the Black Men who are making positive strides in the journey of life. I respect the strength and courage it takes to be a Black Man in this world. As far as I am concerned, the Black Man is God's greatest creation.

Bernie Mac
Isaac Hayes

August 6, 2008

I and Thou

Today I was browsing the used book store, not really with any specific book in mind but just wanting to see if anything caught my eye that was priced in the range of what I was willing to spend.

I started out looking in the music, and not finding anything that I really wanted, I moved on to the books, first in the Christian and Theology section, then to the Judaism section. There I found a copy of I and Thou by Martin Buber. I picked it up and the price was right so I decided to purchase the book.

Strangely enough I have read it, or shall I say skimmed enough to participated in a class discussion and write a review back in undergrad. I wasn’t very interested in a German Theologian at that time in my life, and I am not sure that I am much more interested now, accept for the fact that it does tie into the larger frame of my ethnic and theological understanding of self at this phase in my own journey.

Relatedness and relationship with God are always within the frame of self perception, so as I process reading this book now, will be totally with a different world view than the one I had at 21 years of age. Therefore I do think the work is worth revisiting, and actually being read thoroughly.

After all, developing a theological understanding is framed in how one perceives their connectedness or lack of connectedness to God. The stories in history are different, but at times have common threads of how a people viewed themselves as greater than another people. I would are that there is not as large of a disconnect with the events of the Ancient Hebrews, with Modern Jews, and with African’s brought to America.

If you look the traditional cultures of each and the distain for the peoples by another specific group, the treatment, and the struggles – can you really not see a few commonalities? I wont argue this point, because if you don’t see it you just don’t- or are not willing to. Which ever the case may be I will just give you a few buzz words to ignite your thought process on the matter: Genocide, Concentration Camps, Middle Passage, Slavery.

Each were hated simply because of their identity- ethnicity and/or belief.

So now, over a decade + later than my first introduction to the work of Martin Buber, I cant help but wonder what I will take away from my sitting with his writing. Now everything is sifted through my affinity for myself and my ethnic identity. They are not separable from my perception of my own identity. Therefore these elements are key to my understanding of my own relationship with God. I bask in knowing that I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.

There is no need to envy the way that someone else was formed, because I am exactly how God meant for me to be created. That is my personal belief- my personal theology- but also the way that I view the world also. I am able to respect other peoples and cultures as being evidence of God’s love of variety. We are not all clones of one model. Each of us are a combination of the DNA of procreation that can not be replicated with total exactness.

Scientifically, they claim to be able to clone animals, but I not totally knowledgeable on this science but it would seem illogical that the clone is exactly like the original. My thought is based on what I know about twins. Twins may be identical, but they still have very much so their own personality and individualized characteristics of being. As someone told me once, the only reason people cant tell twins apart is because they don’t take the time to get to know them as individuals. I believe this to be true, because I had aunts who were identical and to me it was ludicrous that people actually got confused about which was which.

I will stand on my personal theory concerning cloning until they can prove that not only genetically, but characteristically they can document that they are exactly the same. I am just skeptical on this matter. And I am definitely leery of eating cloned animal meat. Altered cells, to me, seem abnormal from the beginning- so how can you eat cloned meat and the way your body processes the proteins in the meat not lead to a higher risk of your body forming abnormal cells = cancer.????

Wow – I have walked a long way from my topic- let me get back on track. The relationship between the Creator and the creation is much broader and widespread than an hour or two on Sunday (or Saturday- cant leave out SDA). Ok so there might be someone arguing that I am still leaving others out, but that is not my intention, I am just speaking from within my own frame of reference and not necessarily from a completely ecumenical ideology.

To make it clear, I am quite aware of the reasons that I am a Christian. Not just based on my personal theology and my personal understanding of predestination, but from a historical stance also. What I mean, is IF my ancestors had not been yanked for the continent of Africa the probability of my being a Christian changes drastically – depending on what country or geographic area my ancestors where originally from on the continent.

So with geographic location, ethnic orientation, skin color and personal theology all affecting my world view, I now revisit - “I and Thou” by Martin Buber.

August 2, 2008

Speak their language???

As I sat last night in Red Lobster with my mother and my son, we were almost finished when the host showed a group of 6 to the booth behind us. The host stood there with this plastered on smile as they chitter-chattered about who should sit where. The couple at the table directly to my right was almost staring, the man more so than his companion- since her back was to the scene.

After the group got situated at the table, the waiter came to the table for drink orders, and the man to my right was beginning to curl his lip. I was watching and listening to this whole scene with more entertainment than I should have been experiencing on a Friday evening.

I began to watch the body language of the man to my right. And even at one point, our eyes met and at this point his expression seemed to be much more friendly and I felt his search for empathy. What he didn’t know was that internally I was enjoying myself at his expense. I thought to myself, how ironic.

Here in the Red Lobster, this 50-ish year old Caucasian man was seeking an un-spoken camaraderie from me- a late 30’s African American woman. I let this atmosphere continue, on its own, for about 5 more minutes. Lingering conversation in the air, as the people at the booth behind me chatted away, amongst themselves, as they discussed what they would order and other topics of small talk. The man to my right is almost rudely staring at the group in the booth by this time.

Still I sat entertaining myself with watching and listening to the body language of the man to my right. Again, he looked at me as if we were unspoken team mates. By this time, the host came back through to seat another couple, I began to laugh as he seated the couple and ask the gentleman, ‘ is this table ok, Mate?’. The gentleman said that the table was fine, and asked where the host was from. After a simple answer of ‘Australia’ – he walked off to continue his work.

The man to my right was not looking happy at all. I couldn’t help myself. The potential to irritate him more than he already was, became more than I could bear. I could no longer contain myself. I was not going to be able to sit watching this scene simply as a bystander any longer. I could have been good. I could have simply left it all alone, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Playing the situation, I look around at the group behind me with a long obvious turn around to the booth behind me. Then I caught eye of the man to my right, who game me this sheepish smile. I sat for a few more minutes, letting it all linger. I knew what I was going to do. And I knew that it would shift everything in this unspoken tone in this area of the restaurant. I knew that I would be having my own comedic moment. I was, after all, entertaining myself.

When I couldn’t wait anymore, as if seeking out the punch line to a great joke—I finally turned completely around to the booth behind me and said, ‘perdona me, de que pais’? A lady in the group replied ‘Honduras’. I nodded and turned back around with a Cheshire cat smile on my face. As I looked to the man at the table on my right, he was now a nice warm shade of beet red and was intently looking straight ahead, no longer fixed on the people in the booth.

After watching the man sit red faced and not eating his food, my mother and son were finally ready to go. So as we got up, and I walked past the booth, I said, ‘buenos noches’, which was met by several ‘adios’.

I never looked back, but I knew in my heart that this man who was already fuming was probably sick to his stomach not only with distain.

I walked out of the restaurant feeling very Ice Cube – ‘Today was a good day’.