|July 31, 2009
Sam Cooke to be honored in Clarksdale next weekend
Rebecca Sive | 9:32 AM | Blog Post
"She did not get a beer with the boys."
Rebecca Sive | 8:18 AM | Blog Post
So, here's Roger Simon bright and early this morning on the guys having a beer at the White House last night:
_______________________________________________________"Three amigos get suds, she gets scorn"
"She did not get a beer with the boys. Lucia Whalen was not invited to the White House.
"The three amigos -- Henry Louis Gates Jr., James Crowley and Barack Obama -- threw down some cold ones on the South Lawn on Thursday as the whole world watched this 'teach-able moment' on race in America.
"And they deserved a drink. They had been through so much! How they had suffered!
"In reality, only Whalen, the woman
[italics and asterisk mine] who called 911 on July 16 to report a possible break-in at the Cambridge home of Gates, acted responsibly from beginning to end in this whole affair.
"And she didn't even get a free drink out of it...."
For the rest of the story, go to today's Chicago Sun-Times: http://www.chicagosuntimes/.com.
I saw the column in the Sports Final
, page 22.
Rebecca*Talk about a "teachable moment:" That all-American-boy image of quaffing a beer in the backyard on a summer afternoon just wouldn't have been the same, had a woman been in it.
Labels: Chicago Sun-Times, Lucia Whalen, Roger Simon
|July 30, 2009
Valerie Jarrett on (and in) the Promised Land
Rebecca Sive | 2:47 PM | Blog Post
In his 1991 blockbuster, The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How it Changed America,* Nicholas Lemann tells the story of how and why black Mississippi became black Chicago, the place those fleeing sharecroppers thought would be "the promised land."
In the book, Lemann features the story of Ruby Daniels Haynes, formerly of Clarksdale, Mississippi, who lived in the Robert Taylor Homes, the South-Side Chicago public housing project named for Valerie Jarrett's grandfather. In no way, did Chicago turn-out to be the promised land for Ms. Haynes and her family.
Instead, according to Valerie, black Chicago had to wait for the 1983 election of Harold Washington, the first African-American Mayor of Chicago, for the "transformation" it first sought so many years before, when so many took the train to South-Side Chicago from downtown Clarksdale and other Mississippi Delta towns.
Here's Valerie in last Sunday's New York Times: "Living through the transformation of the city (Chicago, when Harold Washington was Mayor)--maybe we gained our confidence having lived through those days."**
But black Chicago isn't transformed: it still suffers from profound racial segregation, soul-starving poverty, frightening school drop-out and unemployment rates, and the malefactors that it did when when Ruby Haynes moved here over 75 years ago; when Valerie's grandfather protested Chicago's racial segregation over 60 years ago; when the first Mayor Daley built the Robert Taylor Homes over 50 years ago; when Harold Washington was elected over 25 years ago; and when, over 15 years ago, our second Mayor Daley began the process of tearing-down "Robert Taylor."
Today, hundreds of thousands of Chicago's descendants of those Mississippi sharecroppers suffer from far too many of the same ills their great-great-grandparents suffered-from, back in the Delta: too little education, too few jobs, social isolation, and communities bereft of basic services.
Alas, the almost half-century-old lyrics, "A change is gonna come," of Clarksdale-born singer, Sam Cooke,*** still have currency.
And, as if we needed any further proof, right now we have yet another "teachable moment."****
Of course, Valerie is right in a very fundamental way: Harold Washington, Dr. King, (and many others of their generation of African-American leaders), moved mountains to create America's basic legal infrastructure for racial equality.
An important result is that Valerie, and many others of her African-American-generation, are great successes; they were able to obtain the education, the expertise, and the "confidence" they needed to succeed. But, a city transformed, a "promised land," if-you-will?
I think, only for some--for the most part, for those with the very greatest intellect, or born to privilege, or with an "Ivy League" education, or with the good fortune to have very good friends in very high places.
To this point, and in this week when Judge Sonia Sotomayor is well-on-her-way to being confirmed as the next Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, take note of these comments by Roger Simon, Chief Political Columnist of Politico, and another native Chicago South-Sider:*****
"No diversity at all with Sotomayor"
"Aside from intelligence and experience, we are told that one of the best things Sonia Sotomayor will bring to the Supreme Court is diversity.
"To which I say: baloney. She brings no diversity at all.
"I offer the following as proof. Here are the justices of the Supreme Court and the law schools they went to: John Roberts, Harvard; John Paul Stevens, Northwestern; Antonin Scalia, Harvard; Anthony Kennedy, Harvard; Clarence Thomas, Yale; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Columbia; Stephen Breyer, Harvard; Samuel Alito, Yale; David Souter, who just retired, Harvard; [and] Sonia Sotomayor...Yale.
"True, there is one justice not from an Ivy League school. But Northwestern is the only private school in the Big Ten.
"This is not change we can believe in."******
In 1983, when Harold Washington gave his first mayoral inaugural address, I sat nearby and heard him say:
"Business as usual will not be accepted by the people of this city; business as usual will not be accepted by this chief executive of this great city."*******
But, tragically, 26 years later that's just what we still have
: business as usual, a city and a country in which far too few reach the promised land, and in which most of the rest don't even have a shot. Exhibit A: when Skip-Gates-Harvard-Professor
is arrested, he goes to the White House for a beer with the President.What about the millions of other African-American men who have been arrested for disorderly conduct in ambiguous circumstances, or who may been the victims of racial profiling? Where are they having a beer tonight?
, deserve to reach the promised land; they, too,
deserve to have a great education and the confidence Valerie spoke-of; they, too,
deserve the opportunity to have as friends those who can help them achieve great things; indeed, they, too
, deserve to have a beer with the President.
When asked about Skip Gates' White House visit tonight, Robert Gibbs said: "There's no formal agenda other than cold beer." ********
In my view, that's not good enough for tonight, tomorrow night, or any other night after that. There is just so much to talk about and even more to do.
Lemann, Nicholas, The Promised Land
, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1991.**The New York Times
, Sunday, July 26, 2009, http://www.newyorktimes.com/***
Cooke, Sam, "A Change is Gonna Come," from the album, "Ain't that Good News
," RCA Victor, 1964
Labels: Barack Obama, Henry Louis Gates, Nicolas Lemann, Roger Simon, The Promised Land, Valerie Jarrett
|July 21, 2009
White Men Cant' Jump: Part Two: The Revolution Has Been Televised.
Rebecca Sive | 8:55 AM | Blog Post
So, imagine my amazement, and great
satisfaction, when I read this column in Sunday's edition of the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, Michigan Herald-Palladium
I never thought I'd say it, but Kathleen Parker nails-it:
"Senators also hammered Sotomayor about her ethnic identification and whether she could rule fairly without undue influence from her gender or political preferences. Wait, let me guess, you're white guys!
[sic] Are we to infer that men of European descent are never unduly influenced by their own ethnicity, gender or political preferences: Can anyone affirm this assertion with a straight face?"
Then, returning back to Chicago to my Sunday New York Times
, I read this powerful Frank Rich column: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/opinion/19rich.html?_r=1&ref=opinion
With apologies to Gibbon, here's Frank Rich on Parker's point about the decline and fall of an empire--in this case, the every-day-white-guy American one--as crystallized in the very bad behavior last week in that empire's most exclusive bastion, the U.S. Senate:
"Yet the Sotomayor show was still rich in historical significance. Someday we may regard it as we do those final, frozen tableaus of Pompeii. It offered a vivid snapshot of what Washington looked like when clueless ancien-regime conservatives [read: "every-day white guys"] were feebly clinging to their last levers of power, blissfully oblivious to the new America that was crashing down on their heads and reducing their antics to a sideshow as ridiculous as it was obsolescent."
During another time of American revolution, Gil Scott Heron said: "The revolution will not be televised*
," meaning that those who sought change would have to get-up, get-out, and fight for it. But, last week, it was.
Heron's poem also included this line: "The revolution will put you in the driver's seat*
The driver's seat, indeed. Last week, Sonia Sotomayor, a Nuyorican girl from the Bronx, was in the driver's seat, leaving the "every-day white guys" in the dust, running scared. Running-scared because they are now a
minority in America; in fact, men
are in the minority.** A scary proposition, indeed
In addition to everything else Judge Sotomayor stands for: the benefits of hard work; the value of studying and getting a good education, no matter the barriers; the incalculable value of a visionary-mother; and the power of a relentless commitment to excellence, Judge Sotomayor symbolizes the next phase of our American Revolution: the phase when women will be in drivers' seats, all-over-the-place.
In her brilliant column, Kathleen Parker points-out that last-week's Senators, bewilderingly, still think they
are in the driver's seat. Why? Because they still think, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they are not "different" from anyone--others are different from them--so their
decisions are not influenced by their sex or background, making them, in their view, most fit to be our drivers. Methinks they will rue the day they didn't get it.
And last-week's, if possible, even more explosive
subtext was seeing--so baldly--these "every-day white guys," who have held back minority women--just because they have had the power to do so
--fearing minority women will return the favor. They desperately wanted assurances this won't happen, so they imputed to Sonia Sotomayor, of all people, their own bad behavior.
Here's an idea for a new organization: the 51%** Club, a club that any woman could join, pro-choice or not, pro-ERA or not, pro-Title IX or not. For, when all is said and done, we women, (51% of the population in 2000
**), are more alike than we are different. As Kathleen Parker's column makes clear, we are of common-mind about what we saw on last week's television; we share the same fundamental concerns about this (unequal) world of ours.
If we organized across the conventional political lines that too-frequently separate us, there wouldn't be, say, a court in which woman wouldn't be the majority, an election we couldn't win, a corporation we couldn't convince to promote women to positions of real power, or, indeed, a world, this world
, that we wouldn't have changed for the (way) better.
*"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," a poem and song by Gil Scott Heron, first recorded in 1970 on his album: Small Talk at 125th and Lenox
Labels: Frank Rich, Gil Scott Heron, Herald-Palladium, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Kathleen Parker, New York Times, Pompeii
|July 16, 2009
White Men Can't Jump
Rebecca Sive | 12:59 PM | Blog Post
I've been thinking about a new blog, to be called: "White Men Can't Jump," in order to address the foolishness, ignorance and sexism sometimes so
evident and so
destructive to the commonweal. Then, this column by Jill Filipovic crossed-my-desk: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/07/15/facing-down-condescension-and-
"Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he remained concerned about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's 2001 remark that a "wise Latina" might make a better judge than a white male, even after meeting her for more than 30 minutes this afternoon.
'My criticism about her comment and the speech that she gave wasn't that I think this lady is a racist,' Graham said, later continuing: 'There is no evidence of that, but this statement is troubling and I did tell her this, If I said it, it would be over for me. No matter how well-intentioned I was and no matter how much I tried to put it in context, that would be it. And you all know that.'
'He added, 'being an average, every-day white guy ... that does not exactly make me feel good hearing a sitting judge say that.'"
Sen. Lindsey Graham, June 3, 2009
The Washington Post
Labels: Chief Justice Roberts, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Anton Scalia, Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Tom Coburn
|July 2, 2009
"The mere presence of a woman or a black on the Supreme Court changed the way colleagues saw some issues."*
Rebecca Sive | 12:00 PM | Blog Post
This Independence Day edition of SiveSiftings
is dedicated to my parents, who met at Columbia Law School over 60 years ago, and, ever since,have shared a dedication to social justice and democratic values. Notably, my immigrant mother cherishes the Fourth of July in a way that, perhaps, only an immigrant can.
I also dedicate this posting to my Aunt Flora, the daughter of immigrant Jewish parents, in whose predominantly Nuyorican neighborhood I learned to appreciate the Nuyorican culture, so much more widely known since the President’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Indeed, this nomination of a New York daughter of an immigrant mother—to the highest court in the land, no less—feels particularly wonderful to this daughter of another.
Our upcoming Independence Day prompts me to share my thoughts on this historic event.For what is Independence Day, if not a day when every American woman and girl, wherever she was born, and in whatever American neighborhood she grew up, should be able to celebrate the Founders’ claim to equal access to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." In my view, this guarantee of equality requires a Supreme Court with several woman members.
David Souter, the Justice Judge Sotomayor would replace, has spoken about the value of diverse perspectives to courts: "Anyone who has ever sat on a bench with other judges knows that judges are supposed to influence each other, and they do....One may see something the others did not see, and then they all take another look." (“The Waves Minority Justices Always Make,"The New York Times
, May 31,2009.)
I imagine that Justice Souter also knows that women judges
see things male judges don't see, just as minority judges see things white judges don't see, according to his colleague, Justice Scalia.
Here's Justice Scalia: "[Supreme Court Justice Thurgood] Marshall could be a persuasive force just by sitting there....He wouldn't have to open his mouth to affect the nature of the conference [of Justices] and how seriously the conference would take matters of race." (“The Waves Minority Justices Always Make,” The New York Times
, May 31, 2009.)
In the back and forth regarding the President's prospective selection of the next Supreme Court Justice, Stanford's Deborah Rohde was quoted as saying: "People who care about women’s issues realize that not just any woman will do," because "legal ideology is a stronger predictor than gender of judges’ decisions.” (“Court Opening Prompts Question About Whether Gender Matters,” The Wall Street Journal
, May 14, 2009.)
But an important lesson of American history is that laws benefiting women and girls have only come in significant, if still not sufficient
, numbers when the number of female public officials is significant.In fact, and as a matter-of-course, women political leaders act-on women’s needs, in ways that male leaders don’t, whether these women leaders hold executive, legislative, or judicial positions.
In the judicial context,Women's eNe
ws recently reported on a study that found: "....[F]emale [federal appeals court] judges were 10 percent more likely to rule in favor of the party bringing the discrimination claim....[The study found] that the presence of female judges can appreciably affect sex discrimination cases. [And] when men serve with women they are 15 percent more likely to rule in favor of a party alleging discrimination than when they sit with male judges only." (Women's eNews
, June 25, 2009.)
In the federal legislative context, the concern of women legislators for women’s equality fostered the creation of the bi-partisan Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues and fosters its continuing success in advocating for policies that make life better for America's women and girls.
Regularly, and across party lines, women Representatives advocate for laws that benefit women and girls. Federal laws preventing domestic violence and rape, ensuring equal pay and equal access to education, and providing safe and quality childcare are just some examples.
It may come-to-pass that soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor will write decisions with which some women will disagree, just as this President, who most Americans support, has made some unpopular decisions recently. However, the polls tell us, repeatedly, that most Americans embrace the needed
effect on race relations—the
"American dilemma" since that very first Independence Day—the election of our first African-American President has had.
Similarly, I’m betting that most Americans will take comfort in the confirmation of our nation's next female, and first Nuyorican, Supreme Court Justice, knowing that she will bring a(nother) needed woman’s perspective
to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Our American Revolution continues. I thank the President for taking this step to make all our American neighborhoods better--for all our Independence Days to come.
Happy Fourth of July.
http://kalman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/may-it-please-the-court/: Click on this link for some inspiration about the Supreme Court, women leaders, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, another daughter of immigrant America.
*The New York Times
, “The Waves Minority Judges Always Make, “May 31, 2009
Labels: Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Justic Anton Scalia, Justice David Souter