Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Gumbo: Amazing-ness

Home: I arrived into the Bay area on Sunday afternoon. It was cold, grey and pouring rain. I hopped into a cab at the San Francisco airport. I just couldn't bare to take Bart all the way across the bay. And I thought I might as well have stayed in Amsterdam with this shitty weather.

$70 and 25 minutes later, I made it home. Sat on my couch, chatted with my roommate, took a much (much!) needed shower, and fell asleep by 6pm. I woke around 2am for a brief moment, then when 5am came around I ran around with my head cut off trying to get online to catch my European colleagues before they went home for the day. Mostly because there was much unfinished work for a report that was released today. No wireless. My roommates had switched internet companies while I was away and things had gone wrong. A little odd that the decision was made completely without me, but hey I just live here.

Breaking Bread: I made bread today! a flaky white loaf and an olive, rosemary and onion loaf. I can't believe it. It was so easy. I'm totally making bread instead of buying it from now on. Yay, me!

The Tea Party: I woke up this morning to a whirlwind of news articles about the Rand Paul debate last night. It seems that a friend of mine, a 23 year old woman, was thrown to the ground and step on by a number of grown men including Rand Paul's Bourbon County, Kentuky campaign coordinator because she was protesting against Rand Paul. So . .. let me get this right. . . Men in their 50's (I'm assuming from their photos) decided that the correct response to a 23 year old woman (she's tall, but its pretty obvious she's really young) protesting in a funny way (blonde wig and ironic yard sign) was such a threat to Rand Paul's safety that the only thing they could think of doing was throwing her violently to the ground and then stepping on her head. So violently that she received a concussion in fact. Watch the video. It's upsetting even if you don't know Lauren.

Lauren is an incredible activist. I've known her for many years. We've worked together in a number of different capacities. But its a conversation we had about four years ago over a couple beers after a 16 hour work day that best describes how gentle and young this woman is. A group of us were talking about how long term change happens. How do people stop deforestation of the rainforest for instance? I talked about campaign strategy and tactics that have been working. And she seemed confused that organizations had discussions on long term strategies of how to end deforestation. So I asked how she thought it happened. She said with a great smile and meek voice, "organically?" It was adorable. No, Lauren long term change to end deforestation doesn't happen organically. Here is the latest article on Lauren.

But all this makes me think once again. What is it that the Tea Party wants? Because it's hard to remember with all this violence and hate. Was Tim Profitt (the grown man who stepped on top of a 23 year old woman who was being held down against her will by two other grown men) trying to take his country back? Was he trying to put an outspoken woman in her place? Was he trying to discuss his perspective of the issues? Whatever it was, it was violent and those men were so riled up by hate and anger that they couldn't see what they were doing. What they were doing to a 23 year old woman who disagreed with them. I wonder if any of those men have daughters or nieces or sisters. I wonder what they would do if that had happened to one of the women in their families.

Juan Williams:
This is an amazing story that is digging deep into our national conversation on racism. The Atlantic has had some really good coverage of it. Is Juan Williams a bigot? Does it make a difference that he said his comments on Fox news given that he works for NPR? Does his comment belittle the work he has done on civil rights?

I don't believe that Juan Williams is a bigot. I think his comments were stupid, but I don't think he was expressing an uncertain and deeply held racism that needs to be punished by his employer. Unlike Rachel Maddow, I don't believe this was just one more comment that is inciting people like the Rand Paul thugs to be violent and racist. I can't believe I'm disagreeing with Rachel Maddow right now. For ten years we have been told that we need, for the sake of our lives and our country, to be scared when we get on a plane. That racial profiling is an appropriate way to deal with extremists. Our brothers and cousins and fathers are being sent to war to kill muslims or islamic extremists, depending on the news source. These are the images that we see and hear everyday. Mix this in with the rest of our historic and deeply held racism in our country and out comes irrational fear of normal everyday people who are brown and who might or might not be muslim. He expressed something sincere, but not something that should vilify him as a racist.

Racism is involved in every part of our social structure. It comes out in places and moments we don't expect and in places and moment we knew it would. That doesn't make each of us so racist that we should be fired if we speak these thoughts aloud. If we don't speak and think about the parts of our culture that are full of racism, how are we going to eradicate our society of them? NPR fucked up.

I'm going to eat the rest of my bread now. It's sooo good. You should come over and have some too.

Renee Claire

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