Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Words matter

Regarding Don Imus' racist and sexist remarks about the talented women of the Rutgers basketball team:
Running commentary from Media Matters
Google News
Jesse Jackson on Keith Olbermann tonight...
"When you call women ho's ... that is the first step towards domestic violence"
"It's about mass misogynism"
"It's about race"
Spare me the comments on "he's not a racist but he said something that was racist." Ugly, dehumanizing, bigoted remarks have been Imus' stock in trade. This is not new. Do not minimize. It is a pattern of behavior that has needed to stop for a long time.
Nonetheless, we are quick to let ourselves off the hook. It is not just Imus. And demonizing him will not solve the problem. Will his dismissal be sufficient? No. Necessary, but not sufficient. The conversation needs to continue. Such behavior, while inexcusable, is not inexplicable (this one is a must read). We have given permission - implicitly or explicitly - for this type of language in our common life. Do not the the central issue fade from conversation just because the precipitating story has run through its news cycle - keep confronting it!
Let us not ignore or obscure the voices of the team members. We have given the voices of hate a significant pulpit, repeating those hateful words over and over again. With the endless repetitions of these comments, we keep revictimizing 10 human beings who have names and stories.
Speaking of absent voices - As Carol Jenkins points out, most of this news was broken by men or commentated on by men. Please take the time to read or listen to the comments of those against whom these comments were a direct insult. Please take the time to find comments by women journalists in both the mainstream and digital media, to supplement what has been in the forefront of public coverage.

You don't get too many opportunities to finally stand up for what you know is right. -
Essence Carlson

Racism and sexism have no place in our society. We cannot stand silent.
C. Vivian Stringer

More resources....
  • YWCA offers tools to communicate with Imus' producers. Don't forget, even though MSNBC has dropped their simulcast, as of right now, he is only on 2 weeks' suspension with CBS radio. Please get your voice out there and make it known that this cannot stand.
  • Also from the YWCA, 10 simple ideas to eliminate racism and 10 simple ideas to empower women
  •, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, offers free anti-bias resources. Including suggestions on responding to everyday bigotry - how to speak up during those uncomfortable encounters where someone makes an offensive statement.
  • The Birmingham Pledge, recognizing the dignity and worth of every individual. I challenge you to sign it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter 2007

My favorite Easter poem.   Credit poet ee cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

So I did a little bit of searching to find a bit of creative imagery to link to for Good Friday. One website I viewed had over 100 links to various Pietas - images of Mary holding the body of her son. It is a good reminder, this Good Friday, to recall that the Italian word pieta translates as "Compassion". There is no difference, in that language, between the singular and plural form of the word (as far as my limited knowledge of Italian goes). More than 100 pieces of art, all about one particular instance of compassion. In the busy-ness of a Friday, take some time today to meditate on compassion in your life, and in our common life...

A Good Friday meditation, How many Pietas, from Fr. Jim Hasse, SJ (follow the link for an image.):

How Many Pietas?

How many Pietas hang in my studio?
How many are lost, painted over, given away?
How many sold?
One, now in Jamaca

Why do I keep painting them?
I have to
My heart keeps suffering
Mothers keep embracing their dead children
Violence, war, executions, drugs, AIDs
Mothers die twice at least, sometimes more
I can only be present, weep, and paint.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Bilingual education

Newt Gingrich gave a speech on Saturday in which he equated American English with prosperity and other languages with the ghetto. This bias against bilingual education is not a new development in Newt-land, but there are so many layers of insult in this speech that I scarcely know where to begin. A few points to consider:
  • Since when is English-language literacy the golden ticket? I know plenty of native English speakers, and speakers of English as a second language, who have found it anything but easy to maintain a decent standard of living.
  • In most of the world, knowledge of multiple languages is an asset. This nation needs to do more to foster multilingualism, not less!
  • non-native English speakers now outnumber native English speakers, 3 to 1.
  • Check out your local literacy council, where long waiting lists often frustrate the desire of immigrants to learn English. Want immigrants to learn English? Sign up to be a tutor.
  • And, by the way, be patient. Give it a generation or two...
  • And take the time to educate yourself. It is arrogant to assume that bilingual education is a one-way transaction. Or that your own native culture is the only one that has something to offer.
"The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you: they are unique manifestations of the human spirit."
- Wally Lamb