October 31, 2015

U.S. presidential elections … oh dear …

U.S. presidential politics – actually, U.S. politics in general – creep me out. (Is that a current colloquialism? Or is that from my own youth? Hmmm… No matter… Just know that I find U.S. politics to be pretty awful far too often.)

FIRST, check this out: $$$$$$$$$$$$ and politics. 158 families are currently funding the U.S. presidential campaign. Yes. Right now. Just 158 families. These 158 families have a bigger voice than all of the rest of us put together. I’m not particularly surprised. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Citizens United Decision. In the good old USA, a corporation is now considered an individual.

NEXT, check this out: A colleague shared this…I laughed. I cried. And I worry.

New Zealander's View on Trump

Filed under: Social Commentary

August 19, 2015

Some pretty cool articles

Check out these interesting articles. I find lots of this kind of stuff at TRANSFORMATION…where love meets social justice. Part of the website called openDemocracy. (What’s openDemocracy? A digital commons magazine. Champions human rights…)

So check out these articles I found by subscribing to TRANSFORMATION.

Racism is not a mental illness

Will the left ever get religion?

Welcome to the empathy wars

Dylann Roof is not an extremist

Are you cultivating knowledge or just consuming information?

And here’s another interesting article… From BUSTLE: How this landmark birth control case led to the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling

Filed under: Social Commentary

June 29, 2015

Building the people’s movement

As a subscriber to The Nation magazine, I just received this email. I’ve heard The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, President of the North Carolina NAACP. He gave a marvelous and inspiring speech to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. I couldn’t resist sharing his email here.

“How do we build a people’s movement?

“We start with vision. Prophetic moral vision seeks to penetrate despair, so that we can believe in and embrace new futures.

“In North Carolina, we had a movement that had already reformed the voting laws before Obama was on the ballot—an interracial, intergenerational, anti-poverty, pro-labor fusion movement that was challenging even Democrats to be more committed to a moral vision.

“Since the social, political, and economic system of slavery was defeated by progressive Northern white families aligning with hundreds of thousands of African slaves and freed people in the South in 1865, The Nation has fought to repair the deep breaches this system created in the human family of the nation. Today, when Southern legislatures have fallen to Tea Party zealots, the need for a Southern-oriented anti-racism mass movement is greater than ever. The Nation will continue to play an important role in building this movement in the South, and explaining it to the rest of the nation.

“We need a transformative movement—state-based, deeply moral, deeply constitutional, pro-justice. We need to build for the long term, not around one issue or campaign.

       “We need the kind of language that’s not left or right or conservative or liberal, but moral, fusion language that says:

  • It is extreme and immoral to suppress the right to vote.
  • It is extreme and immoral to deny Medicaid to millions of poor people, especially when denied by people who have been elected to office and receive their own insurance through that office.
  • It is extreme and immoral to raise taxes on the working poor and cut earned-income tax credits, especially in order to slash taxes for the wealthy.
  • It is extreme and immoral to shut off people’s water in Detroit.
  • It is extreme and immoral to end unemployment compensation for those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own.
  • It is extreme and immoral to desegregate and underfund our public schools.
  • It is mean, it is immoral, it is extreme to kick hardworking people when they are done.
  • That’s not just bad policy. It’s a violation of the common good and a disregard for human rights. In face, this kind of philosophy is rooted in the policies of immoral deconstruction. If you look at these policies carefully, they are historically inaccurate, they are constitutional inconsistent, they are morally indefensible, and they are economically insane.

“That’s not just bad policy. It’s a violation of the common good and a disregard for human rights. In fact, this kind of philosophy is rooted in the policies of immoral deconstruction. If you look at these policies carefully, they are historically inaccurate, they are constitutionally inconsistent, they are morally indefensible, and they are economically insane.

       “The day is over for quick political platitudes. The day is over for little campaign slogans. We’ve got to build a movement.

“We’ve got to think more deeply. It’s going to take more than a few texts, and a few e-mails. We must engage in action that shifts the center of political gravity in this nation. And we’ve got to do it state by state. And we’ve got to say—no matter who’s in Congress, or who’s in the general assemblies of our state, or who’s in the governor’s mansion, or who’s in the White House—we are demanding higher ground.

       “We’ve got to say you don’t have enough political power to vote us away, you don’t have enough insults to talk us away, and to the Koch brothers, you don’t have enough money to buy us away.”

And The Reverend Dr. Barber ends his letter with, “In solidarity….

Yes, this letter is a solicitation letter to those of us who subscribe to The Nation magazine. And yes, I sent in a donation in response to this powerful letter.

But for this blog, I’m not asking you to give. I’m asking you to read. To absorb. To vote. To fight. In solidarity with others demanding justice.





Filed under: Social Commentary

June 5, 2015

The 50-year anniversary…justice…

Sunday, June 7 is a critically important day for those who believe in social justice. We will celebrate an important historical milestone in the reproductive rights movement…the 50th anniversary of Griswold vs. Connecticut.

On June 7, 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that married couples had the right to privacy in making medical decisions about the use of contraceptives. This landmark decision legalized birth control on a national level, and opened a pivotal door for the expansion of vital reproductive health services for women and their families across the nation.

I’m proud to be a board member of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (Rhode Island and Connecticut.) It’s my honor to serve as Board Chair, 2014 – 2016. And I give to PPFA, too.

Here’s part of what our CEO, Judy Tabar, shared with the PPSNE Board of Directors:

“It was the arrest in 1961 of one of my predecessors, Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut executive director Estelle Griswold along with Dr. Lee Buxton for counseling and providing patients with birth control that set this historic case in motion.

“While we have made phenomenal progress in the past 50 years, we still have a long way to go before all women can fully realize the rights that were won with the Griswold case. Troubling health disparities persist across race and class lines in our society. The United States still has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world. Yet just as all those involved in the Griswold case knew they could make a difference, I know that we too can – and are! – creating positive change.

“Let’s imagine 50 years from now when we celebrate Griswold’s 100th anniversary. By then we can erase the health disparities that currently exist among young women, low-income women and women of color. Together, let’s continue building a future where everyone can access the information and services they need. Let’s build a future where all women, men, and teens can fully pursue their dreams, wherever they may lead.”

Thank you, Judy, for these important words.

I see Estelle’s photo in the lobby of PPSNE corporate headquarters whenever I’m there. I smile and thank her. And I thank all the donors and volunteers and staff who fight for reproductive rights and justice everywhere. All this is part of social justice.


Filed under: Social Commentary

April 27, 2015

Sarcasm and subtlety

“Sarcasm and subtlety are wasted on the easily confused.”

That statement resonated with me.

I was talking with a high school teacher, a debate coach.

I don’t remember what we were talking about. But the context was likely social justice. Things like racism and sexism and socioeconomic rights and … Well, you get the gist.

  • Subtlety….The quality of being subtle. That’s what the dictionary says. I get so annoyed with definitions that use a form of the word for defining. But the definition goes on to mention synonyms like: delicacy, understatedness, nuance…
  • Sarcasm….The use of irony to mock or convey contempt. Synonyms include cynicism, scoffing…
  • Confused…Unable to think clearly. Bewildered. Befuddled. Puzzled. Perplexed.

Of course, you’re wondering where I’m going with this. And I’m not really sure. I just really like the statement.

But, maybe I could apply this sometimes…. Like with a group (e.g., board or committee meeting, trying to make a point with a client, trying to agitate in a presentation…in an article…as a headline for a blog or something….???!!!)

So here are some examples that I worked on to utilize the tool of “sarcasm and subtlety are wasted on the easily confused.” Of course, the challenge of this is, as Dr. Albert Mehrabian tells us, communications is only 30% of what you say. The other 70% is voice, tone, face, gestures, huge tacky rings, etc.

  • “I’m so tired of whiny people.  (I’m being really sarcastic!) People should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and earn their way in life.” (Sarcasm again. I’m so pissed at this sentiment. Just read the book The Self-Made Myth: And the Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed by Brian Miller and Mike Lapham.) Actually, a fair amount of people believe that those other people should just “pull themselves up.” Easier said than done, I say. 
  • “I’m not so sure there’s a glass ceiling anymore. Black people and women are CEOs of big companies now.” (Indeed, there are CEOs of big companies who are black and female. But not very many. And, according to research, women continue to bump into the glass ceiling. And women are still paid less than men for the same work. And and and …) I’m thinking this statement is pretty subtle. And I sure am being sarcastic.
  • “I often wonder about men who choose to stay home and care for children. I wonder if they just couldn’t get a good job. I suspect that the wife earns more money than the husband made.” (What?! Maybe the guy is married to a guy. And one husband wanted to stay home with the kids. And the other husband wanted to work outside the home. Or both wanted to stay home but they needed an income so they drew straws or talked and voted or or … Or maybe the guy is the nanny…Or maybe there’s no marriage involved…Or…)

I use quite a bit of sarcasm myself…in life and in work. Mostly, I don’t think I’m too subtle. But maybe sometimes I am. I think I’m rather subtle (maybe not the right word) when I keep using “life partner” instead of “husband.” I watch the faces. And people do tell me that they wondered if I was married, living with a man but unmarried, or a lesbian… And that’s exactly what I want them to wonder!!! For all kinds of reason, which, if you read any of my blogs or articles or books or hear me present… You know that I do this on purpose to make a statement about social justice.

Okay. Off to work. But first, thanks Aaron. You made me think. And I really do like that statement, “Sarcasm and subtlety are wasted on the easily confused.”

April 14, 2015

Do you know what today is?

Here I am, another blog today. But how could I resist?

Today, April 14, is Equal Pay Day… “the day selected each year by the National Committee on Pay Equity…to draw attention to how much longer women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.”

  • John Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963…Back then, women earned 59 cents on the dollar paid to a man in the same kind of job. By 2013 (most recent data), women were paid 78 cents on the dollar.
  • Progress? Actually, according to the article, “stalled” is the appropriate term.
  • But really? This is called gender bias. There isn’t any other reason. Even when we’re trying to be aware and conscious, we’ve been socialized to be anything but.

Another April 14 reminder. The year was 1865. Abraham Lincoln was shot. He died April 15. That would be the Civil War. The fight against slavery.

  • Progress? Sure. No more slavery, so to speak. The Civil Rights Movement.
  • But racism still exists…for people of all colors but white here in the U.S. of A.

Justice? Not really. Racism. Sexism. Homophobia. Socioeconomic injustice.

We don’t have equality. We don’t have equity. The two are different and we have neither.

Let’s keep fighting.


Filed under: Social Commentary

March 30, 2015

Two interesting statements

“Justice is merely incidental to law and order.”

Thank you J. Edgar Hoover. I find that statement ugly and horrifying… And I’ll fight you and your kind forever.


“The audacity to fight for justice. The perseverance to win.” 

From NCLR, the National Center for Lesbian Rights. I find that beautiful and wonderful and inspiring. I joined that fight a long time ago. And we’re winning.

November 21, 2014

Sometimes I’m so very angry

Sometimes I just want to watch junk TV and read romance novels and avoid all the societal issues that make me so frustrated and angry and deeply deeply sad.

Sometimes I just want to rant and rave and march and scream and …

Why? Because the American Dream doesn’t really exist. And we keep lying to ourselves. Because the U.S. is behind (and often far behind) the rest of the world in any kind of life dream. And we keep denying that fact.

The reality in the U.S.? Racism still thrives. (And having a black President doesn’t change our racist history and contemporary racist behavior.) Sexism still thrives. (We’re something like 82nd in the world in the number of women in our federal legislature.) Reproductive justice (Pretty much a joke). Basic human rights like universal healthcare and universal childcare and damn good accessible education — not really. Certainly nowhere as good as most other western nations.

The U.S. being so wonderful and so exceptional…doesn’t much exist. But we keep pretending.

Have you read Nicholas Kristof’s op ed series “When Whites Just Don’t Get It”? Everyone should read this series. Every single teacher in no matter which subject could make students read this series and talk about it.

Read “Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse” (Steven Rattner, New York Times, November 16, 2014) Now read Joseph Stiglitz’s “How Inequality Is Killing the American Dream…And What We Can Do About It.” Stiglitz isn’t just ranting. He’s an economist!

I think that the U.S. is broken…very very broken. And there are far too many people who don’t recognize the breaks. There are too many people who think this broken-ness is all about individual responsibility: “Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps, buddy!”

Apparently the conservative industry (and yes, I believe it’s an industry) doesn’t care about achieving anything. The conservative industry wants to break this country even more. I’m tired of a dysfunction government. Shouldn’t that be illegal? Read Charles M. Blow’s “Partisanship Breaks the Government.” 

When will voters realize that “just kicking the current bums out and electing different ones” isn’t actually a meaningful strategy? When will people realize that there is a range of awfulness within the bum continuum. I want the less awful bums when I vote.

When will Americans acknowledge the truth about the failings in this country? When will Americans look to other countries and note some of their greatness — and demand…YES DEMAND…that the U.S. change?

I’m very sad today. Maybe I’ll go read a romance novel.

Oh… I can’t. I have client work to do. Maybe these wonderful philanthropic organizations will make me feel better. They usually do.

Filed under: Social Commentary

November 5, 2014

Spying, the economy, and other bad things

While on vacation, I read a series of interesting tidbits about the U.S. and spying…the economic theory that claims that markets are pretty much always good…and other things that I dislike.

So here are the original articles:

1.  Twitter is suing the U.S. government. Very interesting. And even more interesting because it is published in the Nonprofit Quarterly. I love NPQ’s tagline: “Promoting and active and engaged democracy.” That is, after all, a primary purpose of the nonprofit sector worldwide. It seems that Twitter is really annoyed that the Department of Justice and the FBI don’t want Twitter to inform all of us about how much Twitter is required to turn over, etc. Remember that free speech thing?

2. Here’s another startling article: “The Trillion Dollar Fundraising Time Bomb,” from The Agitator. Roger Agitator comments on a Forbes article about student debt… And just imagine the impact on the economy and giving and fundraising and…

3. And this next article makes me very very very very happy: See the New York Times article (October 13, 2014; author, Binyamin Appelbaum) about the French economist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics…for his work on regulation. YES! Jean Tirole’s work actually questions the “widely held view in academia long associated with the University of Chicago economics department.” Tirole actually thinks that markets fail!!!!! And he has clarified “what sort of regulations…we want to put in place so large and mighty firms will act in society’s interest…”

By the way, apparently it is the “second consecutive year that the [Nobel] committee has honored an economist whose work essentially assumes that markets are often inefficient.” I’m so glad that some people are actually questioning the markets. I only wish that the U.S. Department of Justice had actually jailed some of the 2008 Wall Street people. Fines aren’t good enough for their ilk.

4. And how about a big dose of sexism…violence against women? I shouldn’t be amazed. But I’m continually angered. I wonder when it will stop – if it will ever stop. And what jerks those gaming corporations are.

Filed under: Social Commentary

October 30, 2014

Social media and social justice… connected or not?

Do you believe in social justice? Are you trying to make social change – as a donor, volunteer, staff person?

Are you a fundraiser or other staff person focused on social media – and hoping it’s the answer? You know, forwarding stories and signing petitions, and…

Read this great article NOW! “Why social media won’t transform our politics” by Stephen Hopgood, September 2014.

What is social media good for? Information sharing and coordination. But, Hopgood notes, “there are important caveats” to social media. For example, demonstrating impact is hard.

And so, Hopgood asks: “Do information sharing and coordination actually create real leverage in the form of irresistible pressure for change?”

“[H]ow effective can [these activists be] if all they do is sign an online petition while sitting at their desks?” (Check out Malcolm Gladwell’s article “Small Change: Why the Revolution Won’t be Tweeted,” October 24, 2010.)

Hopgood ends his article with this statement: “However fast social media move, the reality of people living in real places, controlling real material resources, and meeting face-to-face in rooms and coordinators and across the barricades, will always be where the real action is. Clicking the mouse button is only the beginning.”

Hopgood’s article appears in the online e-news called “Transformation: Where love meets social justice.” Do visit www.opendemocracy.net. A great place for all of us to spend some time.

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