It is Time to Vote!

bwb65Early voting starts in seven days on October 17.

It is time to vote.

In the debate, last night Donald Trump said his lewd and sexually aggressive taped comments weren’t as bad as ISIS. Is that the best he can do?  Oh and if that isn’t bad enough Trump said he isn’t as bad as Bill Clinton. Really?

It is time to vote.

Hillary Clinton has years of public policy and legislative experience, she’s poised and she struggles to understand complex issues and address the issues in her answers.

As Georgian, as a woman, as a grandmother and mother, as a former mayor, as an African American, I will vote my conscience on November 8. I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton for President and Jim Barksdale, the Democratic candidate for U. S.  Senate.

Barksdale is seeking elected office for the first time. He was born in Macon and has made his home in Atlanta for 61 years where he has built a successful business. He brings a deep love for his home state and a desire to support programs and policies to improve the lives of everyday folks.

It is time to vote.

There are also constitutional amendments on the ballot. The amendments include the Opportunity School District referendum, state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, a fireworks sales tax and one that supports human trafficking victims. You should make your choice known on these amendments.

I will vote YES on Amendment #2 which will generate revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund and Amendment #4 which addresses the allocation of revenue from the sale of fireworks. Both Amendments have bipartisan support from legislators from across the state and broad-based community support.

Early voting begins October 17.  Please vote and take your neighbors and friends to the polls.

It is time to vote.

 

Women’s Equality Day-Friday, August 26th 2016

WDWhen passing a Resolution establishing Women’s Equality Day in 1970, the House of Representatives of the United States Congress acknowledged the fact that women, “have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens” over more than four decades women have made enormous strides and yet significant challenges remain.  Today Georgia ranks number one in the nation for the fastest growth in the number of women-owned firms contributing to a growing economy. Turning to the political front, the fact that there are no women holding statewide constitutional offices  suggests that there is more work needed to fully flatten the playing field.

Women are the majority of registered voters in Georgia but women have never experienced the full collective power of the women’s vote.  The standard assertion that gender should not matter seems to function as an invisible barrier for women preventing a much broader coalition that could result in leadership that prioritizes issues and solutions of concern to women and their families.  As women work to establish businesses access to capital and contracts remains limited.  As women run for office at the local level statewide offices remain out of reach.  Electing a woman president of the United States can break through the glass ceiling and usher in an era of equity for all women regardless of race, religion, orientation or even political affiliation.  As women pause to commemorate the signing of the 19th Amendment some 96 years ago let us come together realizing that we are not as different as we are disconnected.  Georgia women are stronger together.

Rita Samuels    

Women Flying High, LLC       

Women Flying High will join Georgia Democratic women lawmakers to host a Women’s Equality Day roundtable conversation at the Georgia Capitol on Friday, August 26, 2016. The event will commemorate the signing of the 19th amendment to the U. S. Constitution giving women the right to vote in 1920.

 

A Few Words on the Election by Pearl Cleage

pcleagePearl Cleage, playwright/novelist/poet/citizen

I want to offer a few words about our upcoming presidential election to be held on November 8, 2016. The reason I only need a few words – 5 to be exact – to say my say is that I am not interested in arguing a position, promoting a specific candidate or platform or discussing the record of our current president, the ever amazing Barack Obama. I have only one mission between now and Election Day and that is to make sure everybody I know is ready to vote. That means, you have registered, checked the location of your current polling place and secured the necessary ID to vote in your state/territory/district. It also means ordering an absentee ballot now if there is even the remotest chance you might not make it to the polls on Election Day and returning that ballot the day after it arrives so you won’t forget to do it. Early voting is always a good option for busy people. You should also make childcare arrangements in case there are long lines at the polls. Here too, advance preparation is key. Take water and a protein bar for sustenance. Wear comfortable shoes. Congratulate yourself on being a good citizen at a time when your country truly needs you.

If you can check off everything on this list, you are registered and ready to vote. 5 words – registered and ready to vote – will make all the difference on Election Day. 5 words – easy to adapt as a personal affirmation: I am registered and ready to vote. Easy to utilize as a friendly inquiry: Are you registered and ready to vote? Easy to offer as an invitation to action: Let’s get registered and ready to vote.

You will find the more you use those 5 little words, the easier it is to say them. To your family. To your friends. To your mail carrier. To the woman behind you in line at the Post Office or the man sitting beside you at church. After a few days, you will share my enthusiasm for these 5 little words and realize that in the midst of all the fussing and fighting and name calling and bigotry and womanhating and lying through the teeth, the only way this election will come out wrong is if sane, right thinking people aren’t registered and ready to vote when November 8 rolls around. And if that happens, all the angry tweets and indignant Facebook rants you can post aren’t going to make a damn bit of difference. ‘Nuff said.

 

Blogging While Blue: In November 2001 I won the election for mayor of Atlanta  as a first-time candidate. Miraculously the election was decided without a runoff between the top two candidates. Less than 200 voters decided the outcome of that election. Polls and those running for office tout the importance of every election. That is always true…once again we are faced with clear choices for President and U. S. Senate. The candidates hold different opinions on the issues and have totally different records, experiences, and skills they bring to bear as leaders. My 2001 election taught me how important every vote is…..since I believe  I would have lost the run-off election… There is no run off in the Presidential election.

In Georgia, you can register to vote in the Presidential election until October 11. Yours could be the deciding vote. 

HBO’s Confirmation Is a Painful Flashback

Beverly Isom

“If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Poet/philosopher)

ahillThis Saturday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m. EST on HBO, “Confirmation”, the story of the 1991 public hearings on the Senate vote for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with witness Anita Hill will debut on cable television. As a raging progressive and lukewarm loyal Democrat, I admit to watching the hearings hoping that in this real-life saga, the woman would win. And in some small way, I hoped all women would win. But for three days during those crisp Washington, DC October days, I saw an America where men judged women about an issue they had little knowledge of and even less patience for understanding. Four votes could have made the difference in who is sitting on the high court now but maybe “passion and party” blinded their eyes. However, the final floor vote was not strictly along party lines: 41 Republicans and 11 Democrats (Dixon (D-IL), Exon (D-NE), DeConcini (D-AZ), Robb (D-VA), Hollings (D-SC), Fowler (D-GA), Nunn (D-GA), Breaux (D-LA), Johnston (D-LA), Boren (D-OK), and Shelby (D-AL) now (R-AL)) voted to confirm Justice Thomas while 46 Democrats and 2 Republicans (Jeffords (R-VT) and Packwood (R-OR)) voted to reject the nomination.

Television has afforded us the ability to have a piercing and lasting image of how we remember history. Even though Vice President Joe Biden, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Clarence Thomas and authored the Violence Against Women Act, I can’t forget the memory of him presiding and looking down at Hill during those hearings. Though the hearings were conducted to confirm Thomas they were really much more about sexual harassment in the workplace. Hill had the courage to withstand the public aggressive intimidation by a dozen men who were not her peers. Biden among them. He did very little to change the “optics” on what we saw on television. He did not stop the vicious and searing attacks from Senators Orrin Hatch, Alan Simpson, and the late Arlen Spector. Anita Hill’s public humiliation was felt by many women who knew her story firsthand from assembly lines to corporate board rooms. There is no question that while Thomas won the confirmation, nameless women in the workplace have benefited from Hill’s heroic stand.
The Anita Hill story has been written about and a documentary was also done, but this weekend Kerry Washington transforms into Anita Hill to tell the story once again. “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us!”

“If I Were Mayor”— A Young Student Explains the Job

Fifteen years ago in January 2001 a few friends, colleagues and I gathered in my living room to discuss whether my candidacy for mayor could be successful. We talked about the likely candidates, their years of public service and accomplishments; we had an honest discussion about whether I, as a first time candidate even with promised endorsements, could win a race against a seasoned politician and former City Council member. We talked very little about what I would or should do as mayor beyond continuing the legacy programs of previous mayors going back to William Hartsfield.ifIweremayor

Mine was a long shot candidacy and the voters proved the prediction true when the winning percentage of votes in the election barely tipped over the required 50 percentile.  At some level I longed to be in the public discussion about issues held dear to my heart as much as winning the race. Such is the value of democracy. Each of us can be in the public debate about issues we hold dear. Voting is only part of the equation.

During the campaign I found people had opinions about the city, what the mayor should or should not do. Time after time I was struck by the opinions of children.

Here is an essay  written by a Fernbank Elementary School student in August 2002 two months before the November election.

If I Were Mayor

If I were mayor, I would make bigger candy stores, more ice cream trucks, and better playgrounds. But wait a minute. What exactly is a mayor supposed to do? It sounds like a big job-so many things to be done, so many things to be fixed, so many expectations and responsibilities! Decisions, decisions, hmmm…what would I do?

I once heard a poem that said to put your big rocks in the jar first. Then you add the gravel, sand, and water. The big rocks symbolize one’s main priorities, and the gravel and sand symbolize other small projects. One big rock in Atlanta that needs to be put in first, is the task of decreasing air pollution and traffic. If I were mayor, I would change the minimum number of people in an H.O.V. lane to three instead of two; increasing carpool rates and reducing pollution. Then I would encourage the expanding of MARTA. Hopefully, this would reduce traffic. Finally, I’d develop highway clean up teams to keep our roads clean and safe.

Another big rock is the task of helping and caring for the homeless or needy. I, as mayor, would start a sort of “homeless hospital” which would provide good, reliable and cheap medical dental care for the needy. Also at the “hospital”, homeless could sign-up for job skills courses, where trainers would come in and teach certain skills they could use to get a job.

Now comes the gravel and sand. I would paint over graffiti, restore old buildings, improve schools, clean parks, and find good homes for the orphaned children. These and other small things help fill the jar.

Finally, another very important thing that every mayor should do is keep his or her promises. Citizens want an honest and trustworthy mayor who will make fair decisions and listen to the problems of the city. Our city deserves a good mayor. And who knows, one day, it could be me!

” Citizens want an honest and trustworthy mayor who will make fair decisions and listens to the problems of the city. Our city deserves a good mayor.” This young woman captures the expectations of nearly all the voters I’ve ever met.

 

 

Ted Cruz Has Gone Too Far

Contributor, Cecelia Corbin Hunter

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

Just when I thought the national discourse had deteriorated as far as it would go in this election cycle, Ted Cruz says Hillary Clinton should be spanked and not in a playful lets get sexy way. The new Republican leaders seem to believe that (1) they can say any ugly constitution denying rhetoric that they can dream and (2) women are irrelevant and insignificant. It’s the second observation that gives me great pause. It’s become standard fare for the grand old party to discuss and legislate female innards, but a “spanking?” Oh no!!!! Ted has gone too far. Should the flogging be done clothed or should Hillary and all her “girl” supporters strip or just bare their bottoms. Should we gather in a stadium at high noon or be gathered up by Knights in white at midnight.

The days of white men spanking, flogging or beating women for having the audacity of exercising their right to be more correct, to think and unflinchingly to express their thoughts are gone. Ted can get on board or get out of the way. Hillary and the women of 2016 reject his supposition and thinking. We are here and a spanking from you is not on the agenda. Mr Cruz, spanking may be the norm in your house, but not for the woman who is White House bound.

 

We Will Not Be Fine – Stop the Devaluation of Black Womanhood

sandrabland

Sandra Bland

By Christina Perry

On July 9th, Sandra Bland left her home in Naperville, IL en route to Prairie View, Texas. Sandra, 28, had recently accepted a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M.

On July 10th, just miles away from campus, she was stopped by a police officer for allegedly failing to use her turning signal when changing lanes.

The seemingly routine traffic stop escalated as video of the incident shows two police offers forcibly restraining Bland on the ground near her vehicle. She was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.

On July 13th, she was found dead in her jail cell.

We can honor her life — and the lives of countless other Black women killed during police encounters — by disrupting the narrative around police violence in this country and demanding equal protection of Black womanhood and Black women’s bodies from state violence.

We know that Black women are being victimized as the result of state-sanctioned violence. We know that this often gender-specific violence takes many forms and extends beyond the use of excessive and lethal force.

We know that Black women and girls are consistently rendered invisible in the discussion surrounding police brutality. Black women are hyper-visible; however, in the movement to address and reform the systems of oppression reinforcing state violence against communities of color.

However, Americans continue to dissect police brutality and state-sanctioned violence almost exclusively through the frame of Black maleness and the use of lethal force.

Enough is enough. We must be emboldened to disrupt the narrative. Yes, we must protect Black men and boys. We must encourage each other to be our “Brother’s Keeper”. But, Black womanhood must be valued and protected with the same vigor.

The devaluation of Black womanhood and Black women’s bodies through state-sanctioned violence and sexual assault is not a modern phenomenon. Black womanhood in this country has been irrevocably shaped by the collusion of two distinct forces: sexist oppression and the realities of racism. In order for Black women to be fully protected by any policy reform, this intersectionality — and how it informs police interactions with women of color — must be recognized and affirmed in the public conversation surrounding police brutality.

If the impetus for policy changes is defined by a male-specific frame, Black women will remain vulnerable to continued violence.

 

Misty Opens Doors and Hearts

As we contemplate how much progress we as Americans have made in human relations we are reminded of those who have come before us, who mistyhave sacrificed and struggled to achieve their dreams and make others possible.

As a young ballet student, I attended one of only two Philadelphia dance academies open to African American children, the Marion Cuyjet School of Dance. I dreamed of a career as a principal dancer with one of New York’s most famous companies. On television I watched with awe as a woman of color, Maria Tallchief, captivated the television audience. Tallchief was tall, beautiful, graceful and elegant. In my eyes, she was the luckiest woman in the world, she was following her heart and achieving not just her dream but also mine. It seemed so far fetched that I would ever be that accomplished and fortunate, but her appearance on television gave me hope. Years later one of my ballet school classmates, Judith Jamison, would wow the world as the principal dancer of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. She was no doubt inspired by the numerous African American dancers who visited the Cuyjet School and by the gifted Marion Cuyjet who led the school. Now the world knows another phenomenal dancer, Misty Copeland, the principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater.

In today’s New York Times we get new insight into the challenges African American women and girls have faced in pursuit of their dreams of dancing on the world’s stage. The NYT piece is written by former dancer and college instructor Laurie Copeland, who superbly captures the glory and tragedy of African American ballet dancers and Misty’s story

Perhaps Misty’s assent will not only open doors for dancers, but open hearts and minds to the potential of all young people who have aspirations…..to dance, to sing, to invent and to lead. Our grandchildren are counting on it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/15/opinion/black-dancers-white-ballets.html?_r=0

Loretta Lynch and the Political Power of African American Women

Sometimes the improbable happens.Lynch

In the case of the Presidential nomination and U.S. Senate confirmation of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch it shouldn’t have been improbable given her impressive educational preparation and her extensive legal experience.

The Senate finally voted to confirm Loretta Lynch after five months. The 56-43 vote makes her the first African-American female attorney general in the United States.

Lynch comes from a long line of super accomplished women who have served honorably and with distinction in top federal government positions and even more who should have based on their credentials. It just so happens that Lynch is the first African American woman to serve in this position and only the second woman. Somehow women like Janet Reno and Loretta Lynch were passed over for decades.

When Attorney General Lynch’s appointment seemed to languish in the U.S. Senate, women and some men all over the country started asking questions. Some went into action starting with the sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. that was joined by other Greek organizations.

Atlantic magazine’s Theodore Johnson wrote in his recent article, The Political Power of the Black Sorority, “….unlike most other sororities, membership in a black sorority is not simply a college phase, but a lifelong commitment. Alumnae comprise 75 percent of the active membership of these groups. Black sororities do not confine their concerns to college campuses. And their fight for Lynch’s confirmation only represents the surface of over a century’s worth of work.”

Black sororities and fraternities have been active advocates for over a century and with Lynch’s confirmation in limbo they activated their vast network to push for her confirmation. There was no loyal to letters instead it was collective political activism joining together to do the right thing.

Last week all the “action” finally paid off and America can proudly celebrate the crushing of yet another glass box that separates qualified candidates from public service. Unfortunately Georgia Senators voted against Lynch’s confirmation putting them on the wrong side of American history. African Americans represent a large voter constituency in Georgia and 70% of eligible African American women voted in 2012, which represents approximately 10.4 million voters. Their numbers are not likely to be ignored. When African American women put their issue-based advocacy into action they can influence elections in political races, especially when the numbers are small.

Discrimination anywhere is….,,,,”

 

This week’s AIDS data is more alarming than the headlines

Beverly L. IsomSisterLove

The headlines this week about the HIV stats in Atlanta were alarming because the data is alarming. “Atlanta is ranked No. 5* among U.S. cities when it comes to the rate of new diagnoses of HIV”; “Atlanta is No. 1 US city with new HIV cases” and “Half of Atlanta’s newly diagnosed HIV patients have AIDS.”

As a Board Member of SisterLove in Atlanta, I am proud of the work that the organization has been doing for decades and the advocacy and leadership of its president Dazon Dixon Diallo but I am also troubled that there still so much more work that has to be done.

A recent study highlights the issue at Grady Health System where they started routine HIV testing in 2013 and has seen an average of two or three patients with HIV every day. Grady Hospital started free HIV testing in its emergency room for every patient no matter why they were there. Unfortunately based on the study, by the time some patients saw the doctor, nearly 3 of 10 already have the virus.

There are a myriad of reasons that people don’t get tested early enough. There is stigma, fear, poverty and misinformation about how the disease is contracted. And a key reason is that not every health care facility offers the convenience of free HIV testing on site. However, community-based organizations like SisterLove have been advocating and offering free testing in a caring and non -judgmental environment for years. Community-based organizations have been leading the charge on educating and empowering communities at risk but the news this week was frustrating even for some of them.

Dazon Dixon Diallo said, “It’s not acceptable to have a zero line item for HIV prevention … It’s unacceptable to not have expanded Medicaid to include HIV testing. It’s not acceptable to have any health department in the state of Georgia that’s currently not trained, equipped and implementing rapid testing … You want me to go on? It’s just a lot,” she said.

SisterLove offers FREE HIV TESTING, Monday through Thursday at 1237 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., SW Atlanta, Georgia 30310-0558 in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood. While there is still work that needs to be done, maybe the latest news will help our education efforts and decrease the number of new HIV cases. Get tested at SisterLove on Mon. Tues. & Thurs 11- 5 pm By Appointment- Please Call (404) 254-4734…OR TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WALK IN WEDNESDAYS between 11:00 am -6:00 pm, without an appointment.

SisterLove, Inc. has been at the forefront of community-based advocacy for women of color living with HIV/AIDS, for women of color at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, and for all individuals in marginalized communities who are severely and disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, especially in the Deep South and Global South.