Monthly Archives: July 2017

Pigs on The New York Trains (part 2)

As promised, my response to Liz Thompson’s post in “Pantsuit Nation”

Whew! What a terrifying experience! And one that, I fear, is becoming more frequent every day our current administration does its best to bring us all down into the pigsty with them. My heart hurts for you, and I, too apologize for what happened to you. Not for the as—-e spewing such hatred into your ear, because I would NEVER excuse or associate myself with such hideous behavior. My apology is for those of us who are witnesses to such provocation and are frozen and unable to act. No, I live in safe, quiet Akron Ohio, and was not on the subway with you that day. I have been practicing–and would hope that I could muster up the courage to speak up and stand up to such bullying, but, who knows–I’m a 60 year old white woman with 7 pieces of metal in my neck holding my head on and a voice that comes out sounding like Minnie Mouse when I’m nervous, so, I’m not always the most intimidating or convincing advocate. I do it–but I’m ever quite sure it helps! 

What I’ve discovered over my many years as an advocate, however, is a very startling & frustrating truth about situations like those you found yourself drawn into and a million others that are the product of bigotry & hate, is that those of us who do not wear brown or black skin have abdicated our responsibility to protect & support our diverse brothers & sisters across the board. I admit, because I was alive & active as a young girl in the civil rights era, and had and have cultivated relationships with (women, mostly) of color, I fell into that hazy, naive mindset that “things” had actually changed–that racism in all of its ugly permutations had been, if not eliminated, at least “shrunken so small it could be drowned in a bathtub”. (THIS is what needs drowning, Mr. Norquist)

My god, what an eye-opening I’ve had since my first days working to get that young senator from Illinois the Democratic nomination for President, and straight on until now, when I read more & more stories like yours! What I’ve come to realize about our racist culture is that even those of us who embrace our friends of color or orientation or ability is that those of us with “privilege”, those never in danger of having our sons arrested or shot for standing with poor posture or who will never be subjected to the terrorism you experienced that day, we cannot continue to operate on the notion that acts of such violence or hate are NOT aberrations, that racism is a “black persons’ problem”, or that things have actually CHANGED for the better. Because, while there have been some advancements in race relations over the decades, at the most fundamental level, not much has changed; mostly, it just got buried. Fortunately, perhaps, it wasn’t so apparent because there still was an ever-fraying thread of decency that made an embarrassment of those harboring racist attitudes,(or who lied, or who admitted that they were out to make as much money as they could, or who got humiliated when they were caught doing something heinous). Obviously, that thread has broken, and decency is a word now used as a club by privileged folks to create fear of those who are not white, wealthy, “religious”, straight, or male and to keep those folks in line. 

As Caucasian women, it is now more important than ever to support our friends and neighbors of color. Putting an end to bullying in schools has become an important part of the curriculum in schools these days, but our resolve to stop bullying of ANY kind does not end at graduation. And now more than ever since the 1960’s, it is incumbent upon white, straight, middle class women to become a part of a global support system every bit as energized or prioritized as that of the elementary or middle-school PTA bully programs in our communities. Because, as shocking as it is for some folks to hear, RACISM IS NOT A BLACK PEOPLE PROBLEM. It’s a problem for ALL people. And if we want to make it out of this administration alive, we need to realize that and speak up about it at every turn. 
(Sorry, Liz Thompson, I got a little soap boxy for such a late hour, but I wanted to respond to your eloquent and disturbing post. This is an issue that has driven me for 50 years or so, and your story reminded me once again of how important it is to recognize the problem, OWN the problem, and work to ease/help/resolve the problem) I hope you never experience such a horror again, but since that may be a silly pipe dream, I hope that if it ever should happen again, you will be surrounded by people of every color, gender, size, age, etc. supporting you and shutting down the vile creature who dares speak to any human being like that! 
Keep talking, keep writing. Your words are powerful and important. And thanks.

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Pigs on The New York Trains (part 1)

This is a post I read recently in “Pantsuit Nation”. It was written by a black woman living in NYC, describing an experience she had on the subway one fateful day. 

I’ve titled this as part one to share her experience with you, because it’s a horrendous story written in a powerful voice, and well worth reading. The “part 2” will be my letter to her after I read her post, in case you’d like to know. (Yes, you already know, just read it for kicks, yeah?)

During the election campaign when the county court clerk, or county clerk employee, called FLOTUS Michelle Obama “an ape in high heels,” I was deeply hurt and offended and I supported those signing a petition to have her removed from her government post. Little could I have known that it would only be 2 months before I was on the receiving end of similar comments. 
At the time of the incident with the county court clerk, it was my view that the issue was not one of free speech, but about a person paid with taxpayers’ funds abusing and discriminating against a person of color. It shook me that someone who held public office, now believed that courtesy was unnecessarily, politically correct and that hate-filled rants and quips were acceptable. If this behavior was allowed, how long would it take before people who held such racists views, refused to provide services for Brown or Black people? I recognized that a tide in public conduct and discourse was turning, from a culture of tolerance to one of open intolerance.

I felt then that the creep of hatred, #racism and social alienation can be insidious and unless stopped, there is a danger that it can become institutionalized, accepted, acceptable and mainstreamed and harm the fabric of a country. It is therefore necessary to put our foot down every time behavior like that displayed by the clerk, raises its head.

For a week now I have been mulling over two incidents that happened to me in New York, in this the time of this new president. Barbadians say, “when you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.” The problem with that is, you cannot control the whirlwind, where it goes, who and what it sweeps us and destroys. 

I watched during the campaign as very dangerous rhetoric of race, xenophobic sentiments and attitudes were unleashed and whipped up. I had no doubt that there were people who, if Trump won, would feel that it was open season on Brown and Black people. I have watched since elections and listened to the increase in racist incidents as we go about our daily life. Now it has actually touched me.

Two Thursdays ago, I was standing in #Penn Station next to a column. I was pretty much tucked out of the way as I was making a phone call and I wanted to complete it before I went deeper into the subway and lost connection.

I saw a man walking in my direction with “spinners” suitcases. I was not in his way so I went on with my call and he fell off my radar, until I felt the most intense pain on the toes of my right foot. I cannot say the man ran the suitcase over my foot deliberately. What I can say is that I was not in his path and to reach my foot, he and his suitcases had to veer off their walking line and come to the right, avoid the column that was next to me, which he would have reached first, and still manage to run over my foot. That took a lot of “steering.” 

So let me say, recalling my days as a lawyer drafting and defending legal pleadings, “that the walker with the spinners suitcases, so failed to manage, direct, control, or maneuver, the suitcases that they ran over my right foot resulting in injury to me and damage to my shoe.” The walker did not pause, stop or say sorry, but walked rapidly on, leaving me in shock. The speed with which he walked away suggests that the walker’s actions were not accidental, but maybe that is not an entirely accurate or fair conclusion. He may have been in a hurry and maybe did not feel my toes. 

I finished my business and got the subway to my meeting. There were empty seats on both sides of the train. I chose a block of 3, sitting on the extreme right of the block, leaving 2 empty seats on my left. After about 2 stops, a man got on the train. He chose not only to sit in the same block of seats I had chosen, but of the 2 empty seats next to me, he chose the one on my immediate left rather than the one on the extreme left. 

Those of you who know the NY subway culture would know that if there are 3 empty seats and someone comes on, they generally sit in the one furthest away from a seated passenger and not next to them. You only sit next to people when the train is full and you do not have options. 

Before we could get to the next train stop, the man who is now seated on my left, turned to me and starts to talk loudly. I ignored him. He is asking offensive questions. Then he tells me “Look at you. #Jesus Christ was a White man, but you are a monkey.” I said nothing. He repeated it, laughing and becoming more crude, vile and abusive. I do not turn. I do not look at him. My toes are still hurting from the suitcase being dragged over them. I sit with my eyes ahead. I say nothing. I never turn my body or glance in his direction.

I was actually praying, “Lord this man is talking with his mouth which he is entitled to do, but please do not let this man touch me. This will not end well if he does.” 

The abuse does not stop. At every station people get on and off. The #train is filling up, but no one comes near us. And no one says a word to him. Not “stop it.” Not “leave the woman alone.” Not “behave yourself, this woman has not troubled you.” Not “this is unacceptable.” Not a single word was uttered. No one comes to my defense. 

Passengers look on with sympathy, contempt, amusement, disgust, with apparent support for the man, or support for me, but to the person, they are silent. And my abuser does not stop his tirade. He was clearly trying to goad and provoke me and the fact that I would not even glance in his direction really seemed to annoy him. I thought of telling this man something really scathing, but 16 years ago, when someone tried to harm my father and I had lost my temper, sworn and behaved badly, my Dad said to me, “Liz, always remember who you are.” 

I sit on that train, silent. I remember that I was raised to respect myself and others. I remember what my parents and my country expect of me. I remember that I am a professional, that I have 4 degrees and am a high earning individual. I think, “Liz, you haven’t done badly for a monkey.” 

I remember the stories of racist abuse I have been hearing since elections, directed at good, decent, hard working, law abiding people, who just happen to be Brown or Black. I remember First Lady Obama after all the abuse to which she, the President, and their children were subjected, saying, “when they go low, we go high.” 

 I hear this man’s abuse. He has come so close to me that I can smell his breath, and feel its moisture on my left cheek. Several cutting comments and put downs come to my mind, but I do not let my mouth utter them. 

I remember a quotation from George Bernard Shaw, which I use in my book, “Make Yourself Happy.” It is a wonderful line, “never wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty and the pig likes it.” I determine that the “man-pig” next to me, will not pull me down into the dirt and nastiness on the sty floor where he is clearly comfortable. 

I see the face of my dead father in front of me. I hear my Dad in my ear now. He is speaking quietly, gently, urging me to act with restraint. I hear Dad’s voice and I block out the idiot on my left who is loudly calling me a monkey and being as nasty as he possibly can. I know if this man tries to harm me, no one will intervene. I pray it does not come to that.

I sit erect, legs crossed at the ankles, my hand-bag on my lap. In my head, I count down the stops to my destination. Finally, we are at my stop. I remain seated until the last minute. Then, without giving him a lot of time to follow, I head quickly for the door and I am on the platform, away from my tormentor who is still on the train. 

As I leave, I am watched by every eye in that car of the train. I still had not uttered a word to this man or looked at him. To this day, I cannot identify the face of this persecutor, nor the abuser with the #weaponized suitcases.
A young White woman who also got off the train, stops on the platform and comes across to speak to me. “I am so sorry.” She goes on to apologize for this man’s behavior. She says it was unacceptable. She is distressed at what I had to endure. She says she cannot imagine anyone treating her like that. She compliments me on my dignity and restraint. I thank her for her kind words, knowing that she will never be called a monkey or an ape. 
She is truly upset. She makes a critical point, which is that she understands this is not an isolated incident and that she cannot imagine having to face that kind of racism daily. I smile. I know that no-one will ever see her dressed in a business suit in the first class lounge of an airline, assume she was a member of the wait staff and ask her to serve them their meal, as has happened to me. 
I do not waste time asking her why she never said a word to the man while we were on the train. Her heart is in the right place. Hopefully she will encourage friends, relatives, partners, colleagues and her children, to take the high road of justice and equality of all members of the human family. I thank her again and bid her good evening. 
She turns right. I go left. Black and White, each clothed in the skin given by God, skin that some individuals and societies will use to define how Black and Brown people are treated in life and to some extent, their socioeconomic opportunity. 
My foot and my heart hurt. I take a deep breath and head for my meeting. On the way, I walk and wonder what other indignities are in store as the bigots become more comfortable in taking off their masks, believing they have an ally on Pennsylvania Avenue. 
I pray for grace, fortitude and protection in this new climate. I know things are going to get worse. The question is, how much worse and what will have to happen to pull the country back to reasonableness of thought, attitude, action, and conduct? What will the new America be like? Dad said, “remember who you are.” Perhaps America needs to remember that the words of it’s national anthem proclaim that the country stands for “just cause” and the “home of the free.”

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Who really loses? 

This is a post responding to more questions about why Hilary Clinton lost the election. There are plenty of theories and fingers pointing, but IMHO, it all comes down to the Democratic Party themselves. 

Here is a excerpt from a very long thread:

Terry O’Sullivan:   NO EVIDENCE [of Russian hacking causing HRC’s defeat]Denise. Circumstantial, and inconclusive at best that they hacked/leaked those emails, and the intelligence agencies THEMSELVES reluctantly agree. So what evidence do you have, other than corporate media blather from people like Rachel Maddow to “prove” your point. The Democratic party did far more to underhandedly influence that election than anyone, including any hypothetical Russians. You’re being led astray and propagandized by the MSM fake news, my friend.
Terry, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I still maintain that this was a primary election that was decided in 2008, when Barack Obama shocked the shit out of everyone by being more popular than the Dems ever imagined. I’m pretty sure that primary race was set up for Hilary, but Obama’s popularity made the Dem establishment have to rethink their strategy. When it got really contentious, they had to make a decision about who to support. I think they realized that having a black President was at least, or more, important than having a woman, and negotiated a deal with Hilary to bow out, support Obama, and they would make her the one and only Democratic candidate in the next election, as well as Secretary of State. I think they were upended again when Obama was still so popular in 2012–they had been fairly sure he would not be viable as a candidate for a second term–so they pushed Hilary back another 4 years. And then another unthinkable happened—a SOCIALIST Democrat got more popular than anyone expected, but this time, they would not be denied. They did everything they could to discredit Bernie Sanders, which was not only shameful but stupid besides. And then the emails were released, revealing just how low the Dems were willing to go, and those who had written Bernie off as some cranky old socialistic fringe scrambled to find an explanation. Were those emails responsible for her loss? Probably. Was it because of the Russians who were responsible for their release? Who knows? But it wasn’t their release that cost her the election, it was the CONTENT of the emails that killed her run. For those of us who were already convinced that the Democratic hierarchy was trying to be as corrupt as the Republicans, it made the case for not voting at all or voting 3D party. For those undecided or uneducated, it was the perfect excuse not to vote for her, or to confirm for themselves what a lousy human being she is.  

As for Dumpy’s involvement, who knows? We will find that out, I’m pretty certain. But that kind of thing is really a slight-of-hand to draw our attention away from the very real, very dangerous (and also stupid) crimes that the Trump family has been engaged in for 20+ years with the Russians. That will have far more damaging and humiliating (for the country, not so much for them!) consequences than inviting the Russians to hack Hilary’s emails. Do we think they did that? My response is really–of course they did! Putin is former KGB, and has no problem murdering those who would expose him–what’s a “little” thing like cyber warfare to him? But the real naive thinking is that we aren’t doing–or attempting to do–the very same shit. Our country, and our military especially, has been guilty of overturning (or trying to) democratically held elections in countries all over the world–Iran, Iraq, El Salvador, Argentina, Haiti, just to name a few. Russian interference in OUR election is shocking just for the balls it takes to try to take on a government or country this size. Probably why Dumpy likes Putin so much–it’s like they are planning some sort of corporate merger or corporate takeover, something Dumpy would like to brag that he’s good at. It’s appalling to imagine that this asshat got to be President because of corporate (and selfish) greed all around– and that what it will all boil down to is a crappy mob-inspired money laundering scheme, upon which Dumpy has relied for nearly his entire fortune. As Americans, we’ve become so inured to this kind of shitty corporate behavior that people are rooting for a scab like Dumpy to beat the “guv’ment corporation” because they see HIM as the underdog! Can we get any more screwed up? Sadly, we’re about to find out… 

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