Tuesday, July 07, 2015

It's Not About You, Amber Roof

So racist killer Dylan Roof's actions had collateral damage.  He ruined his sister's wedding.  So she created a gofundme account to raise money to have a new wedding date and honeymoon.  This is bad form all the way around and is totally disrespectful to the families left behind by Roof's victims.

This is what I'd like to say to her:  "Honey, it's not about you now. Sorry your asshole brother's actions brought your day to a screeching halt, but he ended the lives of nine people. You get to do a make up day, they don't. Wise up and act like something resembling a compassionate, humane woman."

Freakout Nation wasn't so nice:   http://freakoutnation.com/2015/07/dylann-roofs-sister-uses-charleston-massacre-on-gofundme-to-pay-for-wedding-honeymoon/

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Black Lives Matter


I have long had more than enough of the racism of my fellow white Americans.  I don't accept it.  I don't approve of it and I work on myself a lot to deconstruct what America tells me about race.  I've been doing it since I was 5 or 6 hearing one of Malcolm X's speeches on the Sunday news.  I've been doing it since getting slapped by a family friend for saying Leslie Uggams and Diahann Carol were beautiful (along with a number of other black male & female entertainers) and defiantly refusing to accept the "education" of why they were not to be considered beautiful or handsome.  I know my schools and teachers were ill prepared to teach about the accomplishments of black innovators, entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists and doctors.  Somehow they all got relegated to "helper" status or, more offensively, dismissed with the "give a couple million monkeys a typewriter and eventually you'll get a novel" wave of the hand.   But my fairly liberal school still managed to convey the messages and lessons of white supremacy because of the unwillingness to admit the achievements of so many black souls.  Over 55 years later, I'm still an imperfect ally because some of the covert messages still made their way in and found a place to take root.

But.  But.  But. 

For a while, during the 70s, 80s, 90s, and even early 00s, I had hoped we were doing better along the way.  I guess superficially, that's the way it seemed.  And along that way, I've denied and defended my own white privilege - growing up semi orphaned, poor with a working widowed mother, struggling with family dysfunction there is a lot of what we call "intersectionality" now.  Being Irish-American on my mom's side - oh, no! The Irish were indentured servants and that was horrible, wasn't it?  Being Hungarian-American and first generation American on my dad's side (and whose side of the family despised my mother for her Irish roots) who came over on the boat in 1900 though Ellis Island  - oh, no!  They didn't have anything to do with slavery or owning slaves.  They were involved in the immigrant struggles and labor struggles of their era.  And both are true.  And not.  I was young and ignorant.  I had no idea of the concept of white privilege and how it smoothed the way and got you the benefit of the doubt.  Oh! and then there are class issues -- socioeconomic issues, too!    But I've seen it in so many ways throughout the decades and I've worked hard to not perpetuate it or support it or encourage it because I'm an imperfect ally and I really do believe in social justice and yes I understand that there are assholes in all races.

And in that time I've seen black Americans of all classes demeaned and demonized.  In the last 10 years, I have come to see the official system as being at war with them entirely and that it is a continuation of sentiments from the southern states who still have too many who believe that slavery was right and just and their way of life was good.  Whether it's arresting and jailing a 10 year old for violating the school dress code because their sweater is the wrong color of blue or taking down an autistic seven year old and jailing them or shooting into a car of black teens because their music is too loud, the system is at war with them.  The deaths of dozens of black men and women at the hands of the police and so-called "scared" citizens is ample proof that there is a war on people of color.  We cut ourselves a lot of slack for our shortcomings of character, the myriad petty offenses that happen in daily life.  Black American's have no slack.  They never get the benefit of the doubt.   The spew of hate has been like a volcanic lava flow hardening around us over the land.  It's intolerable.  I hate the hate.

I'd hoped for better out of us, not for a retreat to the madnesses of the pre-Civil Rights, Jim Crow era.  I'm ashamed we haven't done better.

I'm ashamed of the cops and others who murder black Americans young and old.  I'm ashamed of the store clerks who racially profile well-to-do black women while ignoring the white teenage shoplifters.  I'm ashamed of the teachers who call the cops on black kindergarteners and elementary school kids who have emotional meltdowns for whatever reason, because where it's a matter of course when the kid is black, it's as rare as hen's teeth when the kid is white.  I'm ashamed of white acquaintances who are unwilling to see what's under their noses and who try to minimize the impact of these black deaths falling back on the line that all lives matters, who cite "black on black crime" while taking hits off their pot pipes, or use the police killings of mentally ill homeless whites to try and say the problem isn't that big.  I'm ashamed of white people at pools who call the cops on black kids who're just out trying to have fun - the kind of fun their own kids get to enjoy every day.   Yes, the problem IS that big.   I'm ashamed that our elementary, middle and high schools can't be bothered to face much less teach the history of black America (and Hispanic and Asian Americans) because they're afraid it'll make white European descended Americans look bad.  Well, we did a lot of bad and fucked up things in settling this country and it's long past time we got honest about it.

I don't know what the answer is, but I am committed to keep deconstructing my own biases, to be an honest witness and to be the best ally I can be.  That's my duty.   Because I know that so many of the things that have benefited my life - my quality of life - have come about because of the foundational work done by black Americans all along the way.   Their lives matter, their work matters, their inventions matter, their arts matter and without them, we'd be much worse off.   

I've had enough of racist whites and their selfishness; they do not speak for me.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An open letter to the people who hate Obama more than they love America

Today's reading:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/01/09/1053088/-An-open-letter-to-the-people-who-hate-Obama-more-than-they-love-America?detail=emailclassic   Attributed to DailyKos member "Ministry of Truth".

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You Don't Get To Complain When You Do Things Like This

In the news, Michelle Manhart was arrested for interfering with a protest during which a protestor walked on an American flag that was dropped on the ground.

But there is more to the story in that we have a backstory that shows Ms. Manhart is a bona fide, genuine, card-carrying Republican hypocrite:  http://reverbpress.com/news/michelle-manhart-posed-nude-with-flag/ and http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2015/04/20/air-force-vet-scuffles-with-police-over-american-flag/26065769/

She's not up on her flag protocol either and frankly, if she can pose naked with the flag draped and falling on the floor for Playboy and PETA - for commercial gain and to advance her modeling career or whatever that was - then she forever gave up the right to bitch about people exercising their First Amendment rights, even when it includes protestors walking on our dropped flag.

Manhart fails to understand that both actions are covered under the first Amendment.  Her assaulting the protestors made her a hypocrite of the first water for her double-standard.  One, that because of her misconduct, by the way, got her thrown out of the Air Force.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ferguson's Orwellian Horror Show Of Injustice And Criminalization

Ex-Police Chief Jackson resigned March 11, 2015. 

The horror of Ferguson continues to unwind with the news that the majority of it's population was deliberately criminalized by the leadership of the town as a money making operation by the white leadership.  In his blawg article, "Ferguson:  Where Everyone's A Criminal", Scott Greenfield discussed the case far better than I'm capable of.

My own response to this news is more emotional and not one schooled in law.  I'm angry that this happened.  I'm angry that this kind of thing, this collusion to oppress African Americans happens, not just in Ferguson, but other parts of the country as well.  Look at Greenfield's article and you see that the oppression in rooted in criminalizing every thing people do or fail to do.  Imagine being criminalized for civic or "quality of life" infractions like not suppressing weeds or mowing the grass or keeping a picture perfect yard.  Ticket, fine and jail.  Rinse and repeat.  Vehicles?  Too loud a muffler?  Driving while black in the white neighborhood?   Going 24 or 26 in a 25 zone? Ticket, fine, and jail.  Rinse and repeat.   Social activities - walking with friends down the street, having a party, visiting with friends on the porch - any of them cause for a citation or two or three.  Ticket, fine, jail.  Rinse and repeat.  On it goes.

The DOJ findings were that the white town fathers benefited from this.  Look at their salaries and bonuses among other things.  And the townspeople of Ferguson pay through the nose, deal with the build up of misdemeanor after misdemeanor on their records.  Fines, jail, fines, jail.  Rinse and repeat. The kicker is that these petty misdemeanors keep the population in place - they lose the opportunity to move into better paying work.  They have a record.  Employers don't want people with records working for them.  And so the people of Ferguson not only get trapped in a cycle of poverty, they get trapped in all the things that show a breakdown of civic life as well.  They're fined so heavily that affording the upkeep of their homes, yards and vehicles is priced out of existence for them!  They don't get to have a quality of life like the white section of Ferguson gets to enjoy as a matter of course.

But I'm emotional, not a lawyer and here I get to ask "What the fuck?"   What is going to be done to remove these misdemeanor convictions?  What about the folks who got so many misdemeanors that became felonies because of too many misdemeanors?  What is going to be done to restore these people's good name?  What is going to be done to compensate them for the financial damages done to them by those avaricious racist bastards?  What army of lawyers and judges are going to work to reverse and expunge the convictions of these hapless people? 

What of people who use the people of Ferguson's "criminal records" to justify and rationalize the structural and systemic racism and to continue demonizing African Americans?   My skin crawls at the very thought of these modern day slavers.  And I call them that because they put the people of Ferguson into economic bondage against their wills. 

Michael Brown's death uncovered a snake pit of corruption.  By now many of the white officials involved have resigned their jobs.  But it is not good enough that they've resigned.  Not by half. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Who Loves America?

Today, one item in the news that caught my attention was former NYC mayor, Rudi Guiliani saying that President Obama didn't love America.  That,  "You know, President Obama didn’t live through September 11, I did. President Obama didn’t almost have a building fall on him, myself and my police commissioner and my fire commissioner did."   My dear husband reminds me that none of America's other political leaders were at Ground Zero either.   True enough.  He reminds me right. And not all of them poured into the city in the days and weeks following, either.  What you got pouring in were firemen and medics and nurses and general laborers from around the country instead.

Now it is true that Obama in 2001 was not in NYC, but that does not mean he didn't live through 9/11.  I wasn't there either.  I was taking calls in a call center in Albuquerque with people from NYC trying to get through to family and friends, from people all around the US trying to call to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to ensure the safety of their loved ones.   So you don't get to take it too personally.  We here in America who were present on US soil that day, citizen or not, ALL lived through 9/11.  We all lived that day.  Indelibly.  Irremediably.   Just cos' you were the Mayor, doesn't mean your day was any more meaningful and fraught than ours. 

What kind of man are you that you'd dare suggest Pres. Obama was not a part of that American body that day?  That you'd imply he didn't care?  Imply that he was unmoved?  What exactly is wrong with you that you think so small?


Friday, February 06, 2015

Burning Prisoners of War and Other Unmerciful Things

Lots to touch on:

ISIL proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that their ideology is bankrupt.  They burned their Jordanian Air Force pilot captive POW to death.  Americans are howling with outrage.  Not so ironically, the loudest howls are coming from the right wing with their roots still set in America's racist history.  You know.  The past - where lynchings were family affairs and people picnicked while watching men and women hung, mutilated and burned to death.  They're still bankrupt too. 

I follow a couple of law 'blawgs' with the hope that as an ordinary citizen, I can understand different areas our nation's system of law better and hopefully be a more conscious participant in our society.  Today, at Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield's blog wrote "At The End, There's A Cop"  , and I discovered the term "carceral justice".  It said, in part, "Carceral feminism is the relatively small but incredibly vocal voice within millennial feminism that says due process can be sacrificed if it means catching a few more rapists, hate speech should come with a jail sentence, and images promoting “unrealistic” female body standards should be banned by the government, among other things. * * *"

It made me think of a friendship ending letter I got back in the early 90s when people were all up in arms accusations of childhood sexual abuse and 'repressed memory syndrome'.  It hadn't been that long since the McMartin Pre-School saga.  She felt that it was tolerable that a wrongly accused father should go to prison on the basis of his then adult daughter's therapy induced "recovered memory" and based on the notion that children never lie about abuse.   I was so flabbergasted that she would think it noble to incarcerate an innocent person for the sake of delivering a message that I was dumbstruck.  I never replied back to her.   I was outraged at her willingness to dispense with several constitutional protections.  I didn't realize it then, but today I realized that was my first experience with the idea of carceral justice and what it implied.  It stunk then when the idea lacked the words and it still stinks.  I didn't reply on Greenfield's blog because my story is anecdotal, doesn't address specific points of law and I didn't want to look foolish or emotional.  I still want to believe in truth and justice and mercy, however difficult a task it is.

And speaking of mercy and the lack thereof, yet another republican rep speaks up as pro-rape saying, "Obviously rape is awful," West Virginia Del. Brian Kurcaba (R) said during a committee hearing on a new abortion restriction, according to David Gutman, a Charleston Gazette reporter. "What is beautiful is the child that could come from this." 

Bullshit.  There is nothing beautiful in the conception of a child through rape.  Even women who've carried and kept their children via rape would not say their conception was beautiful.   I'd like to hear Kurcaba try telling that to the Yazidi women raped and forced into conversion by threat of death by ISIL forces or to the Nigerian school girls raped by Boko Haram fighters and sold into sex slavery or marriage (or both).  Try telling that to the 350,000 to 500,000 Rwandan women raped during the genocide there and the event which finally led to rape being defined as a war crime.  Try telling it to the Bosnian women who were raped during the Bosnian war as a genocidal tactic meant to wipe out Bosnia's Muslim population by the Bosnian Serbs under the leadership of Milosevic.  Try telling that to the Chinese women who endured rape by the Japanese during the Rape of Nanking.  They were all raped in a program meant to erase their identities, both ethnic and personal.  There is nothing beautiful about that. 

There is nothing beautiful about the conception of a child through rape.  

What may possibly be beautiful is that such a mother could come to love such a child.  But don't bank on it. 

What is not beautiful is that most such women and children will never enjoy the support of their state, their communities or their families.  Here in the US, that is quite apparent with the gutting of our social safety net. And here in the US we still have 31 states that entitle rapists to parental rights over the children that result from their crimes of rape.  That's not beautiful.  That doesn't respect women.  That doesn't speak to women's dignity or integrity.   


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Prosecutor Regrets Arrest Warrant For Nine Year Old" Yah. Really.

First there was this:   http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/13/justice/boy-arrested-gum-theft/

then this:  http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/idaho-prosecutor-arrest-warrant-year-mistake-28195388

This is my comment to McHugh:

"Dear Mr. McHugh,

I read about the arrest of the 9 year old Kootenai county boy over his theft of a pack of gum and failure to appear in court.

I also read your apology about it and that it was a "mistake."  I don't believe it was mistake.  Not really.  Of course, the genie is out of the bottle and this child is and will remain in the school to prison pipeline from now on.  Even upon him reaching the age of 18 and having his "records sealed" in the event that there are no further offenses will not protect him from having his childhood record exposed by anyone who chooses to do it -- not  in this era of cradle to grave surveillance and data mining and the increasing loss of our privacy rights via legislation and court judgements working hand in glove groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council. 

The combined law enforcement actions against this child also lend great support the narrative in this nation that the poorest among us will always be made examples of in the eyes the general public. The long arm of the law falls heaviest upon them no matter what. Your collective actions work to fulfills the social narrative of the moneyed classes that the poor don't deserve any thought, that there may be circumstances beyond their control, that their poverty IS a moral and character failing.  You, the judge who signed the warrant and the police all played your roles in backing up that narrative. 

You hewed to the letter of the law every step of the way. I'm sure you did. There are people who will applaud you for it. But others, like me, are also aware that not one of you showed any shred of genuine interest in the boy or his long term welfare.  You showed that service to justice was untempered by mercy or compassion.  Your public apology which has gone nationwide cannot undo the damage that has been set in motion and which will be played out over that boy's lifespan on levels you cannot begin to calculate. 

Each of you adults in your official capacities had opportunities to do better.  I'm sorry you didn't.  Even though I'm an ordinary person of ordinary means, I am a citizen of this nation and I can't be silent about this.  Sometimes a person has to speak up about the little things that, however well intentioned on the surface, work to undermine people's faith in honest, just government.  

As a courtesy, I should let you know that I am putting up the text of this comment to you on my blog at:   http://morgansher.blogspot.com/  

Morgan Sheridan"

Update:  I did receive a boilerplate reply from Mr. McHugh.   It a reiteration of the press release apology sent out to the media.  In other words, he had nothing to say.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Turkey Green Chile Stew

For roasting:
1 14 lb turkey
1 apple cut in half
1 medium onion cut in half
2 carrots cut in quarters
2 stalks celery cut in quarters
1/4 C olive oil
2 Tbsp melted butter
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 sprig thyme

For the stock:
2 bay leaves
1 Tsp dried minced garlic
1 Tsp peppercorns
2 large carrots cut into 2 inch lengths
2 stalks of celery cut into 2 inch lengths
1 medium onion quartered

For the stew:
6-8 whole fresh Hatch green chiles prepped & chopped up - medium to hot heat OR 1 C Bueno frozen prepared Hatch Green Chile.  Fresh or frozen. NO canned stuff.
8 medium red potatoes rinsed and quartered
Pinch of cumin
2 Tsp Kosher salt

Roasting the turkey:

  • Remove giblets and neck.  Set aside or discard as you please.
  • Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels.  
  • Put 1/2 apple in the cavity near where the neck was.
  • In the larger cavity put in the other half of the apple, the quartered carrots and celery and onion.
  • Season with black pepper and thyme. 
  • Mix the olive oil and butter and spread over the skin of the turkey.
  • Cover with foil and put into a pre-heated oven set at 325F.  (Gas Mark 3 for those in Europe)
  • Roast at 325F for 3 hours.
  • Remove foil and baste using the pan drippings.
  • Continue cooking for another 45-60 minutes until a meat thermometer says the internal temp is 165F when placed in the breast and 175F when placed in the meaty part of the thigh.

Remove from pan to a large platter and cover.  Let cool 45-60 minutes, cover tightly with foil and put overnight in the fridge.

Use the pan drippings to make your favorite turkey gravy & store.  --- After all, not ALL of the turkey is going to be used in this stew! 

After refrigerating your turkey overnight, you will be breaking it down:

  • Carve off  the right half the breast, wing, both drumsticks and left thigh from the bird and set aside for other meals. 
  • Remove the left breast half and divide that in half and add that to the set aside as well.   (Try to carve the breast meat as close to the breast bone as you can when you're doing this.)

You should be left with about a generous cup or so of white meat, the meat of 1 thigh, 1 wing,  the whole carcass as well as whatever meat is left on the carcass. 

Fill the stockpot 3/4 full with filtered water and add the stock ingredients:

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tsp dried minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp peppercorns
  • 2 large carrots cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 2 stalks of celery cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 1 medium onion quartered

Pick off all the remaining skin and any visible fat from the carcass, thigh and wing. 
Dispose the skin and fat or add to a bowl for feeding pet dogs or cats later.

Break the carcass in half and add it the stock pot.  Add the thigh and wing bones as well.

Cook covered on a medium heat for about a 2 hours.  It should look like it's gently bubbling but the liquid should not be splashing out of the pot.  

Using tongs remove the carcass and all bones from the stock pot. 

Pick off any remaining meat from the bones and return the meat to the pot.  Dispose of the bones.

You should now have a good rich turkey broth with lots of tender meat in it.  Next add in the green chile, a pinch of cumin, the salt and the potatoes.  Cook on a medium heat for about 30-35 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.

Serve.  Enjoy..