Celebrate Women’s Day

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So world wide women, as a group, we get a day. As social media types are fond of tweeting, let that sink in. There is so much to say about this global subject that I won’t get started if I try to speak too broadly. But as it’s said in the women’s movement, the personal is political so here goes-

Let me share a sliver of my life. I am a 70-year-old woman. I am officially old, but not elderly since we know that 70 is the new 50! When I look at pictures of my mom at 70, while she was still incredibly vibrant, she definitely appeared older than I do now. A lot of that is due to improved healthcare, more and fresher food choices unless we live in food desserts [I remember my mom’s salads, ice berg lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise] and regular exercise, plus we just dress younger.

When my mom came home from work, she had to take off her girdle and stockings before she could do anything else, which should explain why women did not exercise as much as we do now, it was uncomfortable even to walk to the car.

By the time you have lived to 70, you have experienced a few lifetimes, lifetimes that often seem to be separate worlds, different movies, if such they were. For many of us Baby Boomers, our stories wouldn’t work as a series but as wholly separate genres of film.The main character sometimes even changes her name.

There’s the early boring story of the dutiful daughter, the nerdy student who slowly morphs into the teacher-correcting-smart-ass-to-be, your friend, then the prankster, whose goals in life were wildly disparate and equally unattainable. This skinny, dark-eyed, buck-toothed (yes, I got all the Bugs Bunny jokes) girl who wanted to be either a ballerina or a Quaker preacher, Crusader Rabbit, was what my father called me.

And in every woman’s life, there’s the dark side, not only of expectations to be perfect, kind and obedient but also the butt of jokes, put downs, even abuse about our bodies and its shape. Most of us don’t talk or write much about that but no girl goes unscathed into adolescence. We learn, regardless of culture, that whatever happens to us, whatever nasty words or physical assaults we experience it is our shame and ours alone to bear.

Last fall the revelations about our current despicable president brought it all back to most of us, if truth be told. But it won’t be told –and now he is considered leader of the free world, but whose world, whose freedom? At such times the poet Muriel Rukeyser’s words come back to me unbidden,

” What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”

So let me drop a few choice anecdotes … my father along with the boys in my 7/8th grade classes made fun of me for being skinny and flat chested. My father made it clear that I wasn’t an acceptable copy (maybe that was lucky) of my voluptuous mom.

I spent my entire adolescence so convinced of my unattractiveness that as a result I broke numerous hearts in my years of galavanting about San Francisco State in micro mini skirts, wondering why men were following me down the street and why male “friends” reacted badly when I blithely ignored their pleadings.

Then later after my revolutionary period and as an activist member of first, the anti-war movement and then the women’s consciousness-raising movement, and finally as a single mom, I found myself myself at the ripe age of 37, hiding in the women’s bathroom because I didn’t know how to discourage an obnoxious suitor on the dance floor.

I told a friend about my epiphany – it occurred to me I was too old to still be hiding in the bathroom from unwanted attention. She made the astounding suggestion that I simply say, “no thank you,” when someone approached me who I didn’t wish to spend time with. Now, I know that doesn’t work in a dark alley much less on the job-how well I know that one [a story for another time!] But it was a revelation to me, me-a single mother of two-that I didn’t have to make myself available because someone demanded it of me, that I could say NO.

I wish I could say that things have changed so much from those days, but when my daughter was just at the beginning of her music exec career, she would call me from the grocery store or the street and ask me why men seemed to feel they could comment on her smile or lack of one as she passed them by.

I remember noticing that by early adolescence my daughter had developed a way of carrying herself, that was a bit haughty, almost princess-like. I commented to a friend once that she seemed to be aloof to the point of arrogance.

My friend, who had known her as a small child in our parent coop nursery school pointed out that as a tiny girl, more petite than most, quite pretty and also, one of the few Black girls in the school, other kids often attempted to take advantage of her but she had learned how to hold her ground. My friend thought, sensibly, that she had learned to carry herself in a way that said, “don’t even think about it.”

But another  International Women’s Day and the stats are still appalling. More women are in poverty than we can even imagine and that means their children experience two things 1) continued generational poverty, 2) that the women who raise them and are their role models are are not valued as human beings no matter how hard they work.

Here in the “free world” our so-called leader, rather than electing the woman who asserted that women’s rights are human rights, we got the guy who said, “you can do anything, grab them by the pussy….and they let you get away with it.”

Now I know there were lots of other reasons that Hillary didn’t win,. but there really is no excuse for any of it. We all hold some of the blame.

One of my friends who marched in Washington in her pussy hat, asked me the other day if I was a little embarrassed by the whole pussy hat phenomenon. We were raised in a time when that word was not used by women. Since then it’s usage has exploded but it is used as a term of disparagement-of weakness, the lack of manly strength to stand up for what you believe in, an inability to fight back. So maybe it’s a good thing that we have taken it back as a symbol of strength, persistence and even resistance.

What real, principled strength is, a toughness that doesn’t lash out at the vulnerable, these are qualities that are difficult to put into logos. They are complex and thoughtful but I have seen them codified more often lately as in the principles of Bay Resistance:

Lead with Love, Power Across Difference, Transformative Justice and Collective Action….

As part of of our spirit of resistance in this transformative time, let me hold up some of the young women leaders among us. These women are able to bridge some of the many divides we women have found ourselves in– Alicia Garza, Zahra Billoo, Jennifer Tran and so many more.

By our one day of recognition next year, there will be more, some of them will be running for office, some organizing campaigns and still others leading a movement that will exist outside of electoral politics. I can’t wait, really, we can’t.

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Focus on Resistance

Waking up to my twitter feed in the morning, it seems we’ve all gone Russian crazy. Now.. if you can rid us of 45 by finding connections to bad Russian dudes, by all means, do it. Then I’ll stop trying to scratch the inside of my brain wondering why the old Cold War has been revived and seems to have flipped the bad guys and confounded the good guys-it’s just too confusing. Besides I don’t trust the nice folks at the FBI, CIA, etc, to tell me who my president should be.

How about that Voter Suppression?

Anyway, I’m truly sorry that we are not focusing on the more obvious villain of this shocking electoral turn-around, no skullduggery necessary-voter suppression, aided and abetted by a right leaning Supreme Court which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act-and left us open to every kind of racist, nefarious Republican plot in which no Russian had a hand.

We’d already witnessed the first selection of George Bush after the Florida voter rolls were purged of hundreds of Black sounding names, which even then required the high court to hand him the presidency.

So, we should’ve been prepared to see a wholesale slashing of voters from the rolls, the reduction of voting hours, the removal of available polling booths, etc, to give the Republicans the edge that outright precinct gerrymandering had not been able to provide. It’s about to get much worse with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions running the DOJ like the Confederacy of old.

Instead we focus on the diabolic doings of Vladimir Putin, and I’m sure he’s worthy of the bulls eye on his pale naked back, but really, does that make it ok that many Republican governors see voting as something that the “wrong” people should be prevented from doing? Too many of us have spent hours begging people just to consider voting to believe it should be made more difficult.

Spend as much time as you can registering voters and talking to them about how they will vote.

So Much for the Environment…                    

While we are focused on the cheesy melodrama that elected Mr. Drumpf, the rest of the entire Republican controlled Congress is busy gutting the 21st century and lots of the 20th century’s advances. To (nit)wit- All kinds of protections for our waterways are being dirtied https://futurism.com/trump-aims-to-eliminate-clean-water-rule/, regulations on methane gas, 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide to hold in heat, are being eliminated.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetwburns/2017/03/03/epa-drops-request-for-data-on-methane-emissions-that-could-cost-us-trillions/#7673485d617d

Trumpcare, too Toxic for Congress…

The “replacement” for the ACA, much like the replacements in the iconic film, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, mv5bnti4nzg5mtm4nf5bml5banbnxkftztcwotewmjg4mw-_v1_  is so dangerous to our continued health that it has to be quarantined lest even Republicans become exposed to its sickly aura. [Doesn’t it seem like many of them have already turned into robots and mannequins? Hmm, maybe we should find those pods.]

In California a single payer bill is back and it would cover all Californians including immigrants while being simpler and cheaper to administer that\an the ACA. It is SB 562.

http://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-california-single-payer-healthcare-20170303-story.html

Homeland Security Police State Build Up…

And now, the ultimate in police state style governing-ICE vans parked outside courthouses, ICE police roaming the streets and hallways in unmarked jackets-why don’t they just go with long black leather coats, steel-tipped boots and hats covering their dead-Stephen-Miller eyes since they prefer the geheime staastspolizei style? Look it up. images-5                      ap_091209048890-b499337a2d9e0b713a557a3936d469d80d5cb054-s700-c85

This creepy, constitution-shredding activity is spreading. Passengers on a domestic flight to New York were asked to show ID in order to get off, not on, but off the plane, and they complied-why folks-don’t do that!

Supporting Sanctuary State Legislation

We’re in California where the California Values Act, SB 54, is on its way to passage in an “urgency” vote. We hope that then we’ll be able to curb some incursions of the secret police  by attempting to prevent our local police forces, including sheriffs and high way patrol, CHP, from helping ICE to terrorize our hard working immigrants.

But we need to do more, much more. In addition to finding ways to keep the feds polluted mitts off our tax dollars-we’re a donor state, giving more than we receive-we’ve got to find ways to make “sanctuary” mean something. Right now our resolutions and laws have too many loopholes. Rather than large sweeps we can organize against, they are stealthily picking off individuals and families wherever they can trick them into answering  any questions about their status or of using the services for which they, immigrants, also pay.

What to do-a 5 Point Plan                                                20170121_122129-1       

1st– We need to make sure that our police departments are trained in how to recognize ICE, report on raids, no matter how small, and assist immigrants who may need to report crimes but are afraid of the consequences to their families.

2nd– We have to demand that sheriffs departments, notoriously filled with elected Republicans, are given clear instructions on when they can and when they cannot assist ICE in reporting who is in their jails.

Beyond that, we have to search for new candidates to run for these offices-candidates who care more about their constituents than their Trumpian ideology. This will become more obvious as the return of banking deregulation results in another crash and another massive wave of foreclosures and sheriffs are called on to assist the banks to throw people out of homes.

3rd-We have to sit down with our district attorneys and talk to them about the odious practice of plea bargaining which was almost always a bad deal for low level offenders, innocents among them, who were talked into declaring themselves guilty to avoid threatened longer sentences if they opted for a trial by their peers. The state has cut court costs so the increase in this type of “justice” is one result. But besides consigning many to jail terms with little proof of guilt, it may also consign defendants to deportation as criminals.

4th-We now have a bill which could repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, one piece of legislation which prevents municipalities from passing renter protections on buildings erected after 1995 and other restrictions on tenant protections. Wikipedia says, “The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (“Costa-Hawkins”) is the California state law that prohibits municipal rent increase limitations on certain kinds of exempted dwelling units, allows rent increases on subtenants following departure by tenants of rent-controlled tenancies, and prohibits “vacancy control” — the regulation of rental rates on units that have been voluntarily vacated by the previous renters at an amount other (presumably lower) than what the open market would bear.”  920x1240

Simply put, we can’t call ourselves sanctuary cities if many of our residents are living in tents, subject to immediate removal and loss of their belongings at any time. Our Assembly Member Rob Bonta is one of the co-authors of this bill and we need to mobilize if we hope to defeat the well-heeled real estate industry  which is already gunning for it.

Mr Bonta is also with us on SB54, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon’s bill to protect immigrants and refugees from allowing our police to help detain them for ICE [except in the case of dangerous criminals.] Bonta also sponsored AB 3, the Stronger Public Defenders Act, and supports AB 291, the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, SB 29, Dignity Not Detention, SB 30 requiring voter approval of the border wall, and of course, SB 54. Get behind these important sanctuary bills.

5th-It’s much harder to find support to make police agencies more transparent but we must insist on policies which clearly state that police are not above the law. Drumpf’s new AG Sessions has declared open season on police killings of Black and Brown people. I never knew the season had closed but it will be even more dangerous to walk, shop, or drive while Black during this regime.

IMG_20150612_212616That means ending the practice of allowing sheriffs and police departments of buying military equipment and curbing the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights which so far trumps our own. Oh yeah, pun definitely intended. California under the Copley Decision is currently one of the least transparent states concerning police misconduct.   http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/1293/copley_v._account-ability/

We have lots of work to do, the resistance must continue to build. But keep your eyes on the prize-a better state, a better world-don’t give in to the melodrama, as alluring as it is. I’ve outlined some actions we can take and reported on ones we are taking now-even more serious resistance is being considered in the halls of Sacramento. We are the 6th largest economy, remember? Ok then…

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