Mourning in America

Making sense of the election.

I had a dream.

On election night, a bright blue map would emanate from my flat screen TV.  We’d be elated by news of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.  From sea to shining sea, the results would repudiate Trump, his hate-filled campaign, and drive a stake in the heart of the Southern strategy of using race to leverage working class white votes.

We know how that turned out.  On Wednesday, I could barely bring myself to work.  Heart heavy, I felt as if I’d experienced a death.

What’s bugging me now is the attempt to negate the implications of Trump’s bigotry for the outcome.   For example, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof says we shouldn’t label Trump supporters as racists:  “many are good people who had voted for Obama in the past.”     Maybe they’re not, but they supported a racist, sexist xenophobe. Continue reading “Mourning in America”

Election(s) Matter(s)

Hey, Verona.”  

 In 1990 I was an attorney for the Voting Rights Section of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Much to my mother’s dismay,  I got sent to Mississippi to investigate the political and social environment in Noxubee County. The question was  whether minority voters’ rights were in such jeopardy that federal observers were necessary. Among the folks I met was a tiny white woman with cotton-candy hair and matching glasses who couldn’t get my name right and asked me the same question.

Yew behavin’ yur-self?”

My role in this woman’s play was merely to smile and nod.  After all, as a government outsider talking to Black voters about their concerns pre-election day, I clearly was not being  good girl.  Memories of that time, place, and irksome woman came to mind when I learned that federal observers wouldn’t be out in full force this presidential election.  Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which also hobbled the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce the law. Continue reading “Election(s) Matter(s)”

Bathrooms, not Broom Closets: Title IX, Gavin Grimm, and Trans Students’ Rights

Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination is broad enough to cover transgender students.

Gavin Grimm’s senior year in high school will be more memorable than most—how many young people are at the heart of Supreme Court litigation regarding the rights of transgender students?

Last year, when he and his mom told Gloucester High School officials about his transition, they agreed to treat him like the boy Gavin always knew he was.  But upon getting wind of the situation, the School Board objected.  At meetings on the issue, some folks referred to Gavin as a girl or “young lady.”  Others went further, for example, calling him a freak. Another likened the young man to a person who believes he’s a dog “and wants to urinate on fire hydrants.”  Ultimately, the board voted to prohibit Gavin from using the boys’ room and required the school to provide unisex bathrooms for him, which Metro Weekly reported were repurposed broom closets.    Continue reading “Bathrooms, not Broom Closets: Title IX, Gavin Grimm, and Trans Students’ Rights”

Shoulders back, hood up.

lukecagepromo.jpgThe ensemble of Marvel’s Luke Cage is an array of blackness, of brownness, a portrayal that is absent of whiteness. One man holds vigil for the white community and [SPOILER ALERT] he’s a bad guy. I’ve never watched a TV show that didn’t provide a multitude of supporting characters who looked like me. Usually, I can put myself into the shoes of a character because they look like me; they sound like me; they face the same hardships I face. This experience was, for me, otherworldly. In my world, superheroes are white. Even female superheroes are white: Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Black Widow, Rogue, Elektra, Jessica Jones, Catwoman (with the exception of the portrayal by Halle Berry), even the Powerpuff Girls are pale with colorful eyes. Storm is the only recognizable black female superhero, but I don’t see her getting her own stand-alone anytime soon.

Continue reading “Shoulders back, hood up.”

“Free White Persons”: Constructing US Citizenship

Over ninety years ago this month, the Supreme Court upheld a law banning Japanese people from becoming US citizens in Ozawa v. US. The case is especially relevant now, as debates about building walls and securing borders dominate the presidential campaign.

After over twenty years of living in the U.S., Takao Ozawa wanted to become a citizen.  He was a family man, well-educated, a churchgoer. There was just one strike against him:  he was Japanese.

In October of 1922, when the Supreme Court heard his case, Ozawa v. U.S., our immigration and naturalization laws limited eligibility for citizenship to “free white persons . . . aliens of African nativity, and . . . persons of African descent.” African Americans had only been added fifty-two years earlier in the wake of Reconstruction, when Congress amended the Constitution to make clear that persons born in the U.S. were citizens.

Mr. Ozawa argued, in part, that he was white for purposes of the law, citing legal and ethnographic authorities to support that notion.  And, then there was his appearance.  As a light-skinned man, Mr. Ozawa suggested his skin color demonstrated that that he was white. But Justice Sutherland, writing for the Court, rejected that notion, saying a test based solely on skin color was “impracticable.”  Continue reading ““Free White Persons”: Constructing US Citizenship”

“Trapped”: When Politics Trump Medicine

Cincinnati Law screens award-winning film 10/27 and welcomes filmmaker Dawn Porter.

“I feel like I can break at any moment.”

The woman quoted above is the mother of two boys, who are 13 months apart.  One is in third grade; the younger is autistic.  She is pregnant and feels “emotionally unfit” to take on the responsibility of another child.“Trapped,” a documentary by Dawn Porter, gives voice to this woman and others for whom the law has made a difficult choice more challenging.  Cincinnati Law screens this film Wednesday, October 27 in Room 118.  Continue reading ““Trapped”: When Politics Trump Medicine”

Second Look – A month in review.

Why are 63 million girls missing out on education? – Lucy Lamble for Global Education podcast explores the numerous barriers preventing girls in conflict zones and rural, impoverished communities from obtaining education.

LGBTQ and Other “Diverse” Books Lead Banned Books List – September 26 through September 30 was Banned Book Week, but it’s not too late to pick up a literary outlaw. Sarah Seltzer for Flavorwire examines the American Library Association’s challenged book list and the inclusion of LGBTQ themed literature.

This DJ mixes the world’s local music to create a global sound – Jace Clayton is a DJ who mixes musical styles from across the globe to tell a universal story about the unexpected moments of music creation.

Student at Liberal Afghanistan College Shares Horror of Attack – Alia, a 16-year-old student at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), recounts the horror of feigning death during the Taliban takeover of AUAF. Alia shares her story as a writer for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.

This Chinese-American cartoonist forces us to face racist stereotypes – Cartoonist Gene Luen Yang was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant this year. In an interview with PBS, he discusses his use of comics to tell a story which creates a more emotional impact on the reader than through mere text.

Amicus: 2016 Term Preview – Slate’s Amicus podcast previews the 2016 Supreme Court term. Host Dahlia Lithwick explores the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk tactics with former federal judge Shira Scheindlin. Also, SCOTUSblog founder and publisher Tom Goldstein provides discourse on the cases the Court will hear this term.

East New York painter confronts the ‘brutal’ forces of gentrification– Gentrification is explored through the eyes of artist Patrick Eugéne. Paint is used as a medium to immortalize the disruption of every day, close-knit communities for the profit of house flipping developers.

Opinionated: How Voter Registration Laws Impact Latinxs– Roger Quesada’s Opinionated delves into the obstacles Latinx voters face at the polls.

More Asian-Americans Are Identifying as Democrats, Survey Finds – A study finds that Asian-American support for Democratic presidential candidates has increased faster than support among any other racial group.

Is the US failing its inmates? – Al Jazeera takes an in-depth look at the poor conditions of US prisons and the prisoners striking to make a change. Prisoners across the country went on strike on September 9th to mark the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison riot.

The Asian American Experience In America – Congresswoman Grace Meng discusses the results of the 2016 National Asian American Survey. Representative Meng challenges Americans to ‘do better’ and fight against racist, lazy stereotypes dominating both Hollywood and the mainstream media.

Jesse Williams and Amir Whitaker: Brown v. Board of Education Is a Broken Promise – America Divided documentary “The Class Divide” is profiled by Time. The documentary highlights the inequity of the U.S. educational system 60 years post Brown.

A Photographer Gives Cameras To Child Brides. Their Images Are Amazing – Photographer Stephanie Sinclair has taken photos of child bride across the globe for 15 years. As a form of art therapy, Sinclair provided some young women with the chance to tell their own story through digital photography.

Mexican man accused of raping eight-year-old ordered to buy her father beer – In rural Mexico, the customs and traditions rule the people. While humanitarian efforts are succeeding in improving the lives of women and girls, gender equality in indigenous communities is struggling.

Sex Trafficking Survivor Says It’s Time to Stop Glamorizing Prostitution – A victim of sex trafficking, Rebecca Bender, discusses her experience as a prostitute. Bender discusses her reasons behind rejecting the Hollywood legitimization of prostitution and pimp culture.

 


Second Look is a monthly content round-up of articles, videos, podcasts, and blog posts highlighting all things race, gender, and/or social justice. Feel free to discuss your thoughts or opinions in the comments below.