Traveling the wards on election day in Manchester gleaned some interesting snapshots, such as the one with Elizabeth Edwards at Ward 4; she was a great sport with the picture taking. But aside from the usual stock of candidate’s sign holders, Ward 6, at St. Pius Catholic Church on Candia Road, had an especially peculiar election day sign holder.
Right at the entrance to the walkway was poised a woman holding a gigantic, nearly 4′ x 5′ sign in front of her. The picture was so huge that it was visible all the way down the driveway across the large parking lot. A gigantic graphic photo of what appeared a D and C procedure blasted the viewing space of everyone heading into the polls.
Such images represent a sort of violent assault to one’s senses. If you notice in the picture, the woman is given wide berth by people doing their visibility obligations. Such a graphic image is deeply unsettling. Aside from the fact that a D&C is not a standard elective abortion procedure but used only in medical emergencies, thus such pictures are deceptive, should zealots be allowed to assault voters with such images? What if anti-war protesters decided to jump on the wagon too and carry graphic signage of children blasted apart by bombs? While all progressives and even libertarians hold strong anti-war positions, do they do this on a regular basis and if not why? Imagine such a scene if you will; the polling places would begin to look like a war zone and would possibly repel voters from even making the walk to the polling place entrance.
One of the two Democrats who stood holding signs said, “Yeah and whether you’re pro-life or not is such a sign necessary to prove your point; we’re all against child pornography but we don’t carry around images of the act to prove our point.” Exactly. The young man said that some of the people even on the Republican side occasionally walked over and tried to stand in front of the woman to at least hide her image from small children. But the woman would have none of it and would change position accordingly.
As it is, one has to wonder how parents with small children dealt with this imagery. Its a solid tradition in our country for parents to bring their children with them to the polling place, should voting be associated with graphic images of death, much less dead babies, which can be doubly upsetting to children? Is this the imprint of the voting experience that we want on children’s minds?
We called the Secretary of State’s office and spoke to the Deputy Secretary of State yesterday, she said that the moderator of the polling place has a lot of leeway in deciding what is disruptive in signage or other activities. We note that of all the polling places we visited in Manchester (barring Wards 11 and 12 which we weren’t able to get to), this was the only location that hosted this type of signage.
So the question must be asked, does this poster represent a disruption to voters that day? At what point does “free speech” intersect with the public’s interests for not being visually assaulted? Wouldn’t a poster or sign asking voters to vote pro-life been sufficient to satisfy free speech and get the message to voters?
Residents of New Hampshire have yet another chance to save the mountaintops of the western highlands region of the state from destruction. On Wednesday the full New Hampshire house will hold hearings and then vote on SB-99 in its amended form and a new amendment to HB-2.
SB-99, once the moratorium bill has emerged from the Senate Energy Committee transformed into an entirely different bill. In an apparent compromise, Senator Bradley’s proposal to exclude transmission lines in the moratorium did not survive. Although transmission lines (pertaining of course to the Northern Pass project) did get back into the moratorium bill, this only occurred with the exclusion of the moratorium demand entirely. In its place the Senate inserted language to create a committee be formed from members of the house and the senate.
Representative Neal Kurk, of Weare has proposed an amendment to HB-2 which will put in place a moratorium and will read: (this is the proposed draft):
““Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, there are here by established moratoriums on the constructions of wind turbine plants and electric transmission line projects in the state of New Hampshire until July 1, 2014. The site evaluation committee, established in RSA 162-H:3, shall issue no certificates for wind turbine plants or electric transmission line projects under RSA 162-H while such moratoriums are in effect.”
Everyone needs to call or email their representative TODAY or TONIGHT to let them know that wind turbines will have a serious, irreversible effect on our environment, our natural landscape and resultingly our economy statewide. This is not a regional issue but a serious statewide issue. A moratorium will temporarily halt approval of turbine development until further study and due process on research can commence without pressure or undo influence from the wind industry. Click on the link below for an easy to use search tool to find your representative and their contact information. The representatives have heard the opinion and propaganda of the paid lobbyists for the wind industry, have they heard from you?
This committee already has come together and recommended right out the gate that the Site Evaluation Committee adopt the Proposed Wind Siting Guidelines (.pdf) that a consortium of industry and state agency persons created in 2007. Of course, demonstrating its hesitance to take an objective stand on wind energy, the SEC decided immediately to not adopt the siting guidelines. This despite a March 3, 2013 petition directly from the house Science, Energy and Technology Committee, requesting that the SEC adopt the 2007 proposed guidelines.
Currently there exists no guidelines for siting wind turbines, no consideration for environmental impacts and a very poor, non-democratic methodology for public input and even announcement and planning of public hearings. As per testimony from March 29, 2013 of Lisa Linowes, intervener on many turbine hearings:
“No definitions are provided in either the Statute or the Committee’s rules which explain specific studies to be conducted by the Applicant in order to demonstrate, for example, the impact of the proposed facility on the environment. And no requirements address standards for conducting appropriate post-construction surveys. Since siting of wind power facilities presents challenges that are different from those faced by other types of energy facilities, there are well established protocols for conducting studies that aim to predict and address the impacts. Siting guidelines would help the SEC, State Agencies, and Applicants in deciding what studies should be conducted and the protocols to be followed PRIOR to an application being submitted. In some cases the SEC has required that additional studies be conducted after a project is permitted. This process is inherently unfair to the public and unduly discriminates against the public’s involvement.”
Currently the SEC has complete control over who testifies and acts as an “intervener” on behalf of the public by function of their intervener approval process. In addition, public hearing notices receive publication in the rarely read legal notices section of newspapers in the hosting area region. In Berlin for example, it appears through reading the notes of the one hearing, that the presence of the Berlin city planner was considered sufficient public presence. Thus the committee was able to rationalize the public’s approval and move forward with industry testimony and nothing from concerned citizens.
The most unfortunate development so far has been the refusal of Democrats, usually the defenders of environmental justice, to consider the ill effects of the wind turbines. Representing predominantly urban areas not directly affected by the wind turbines, these representatives and senators have the temerity to call those against wind energy as NIMBY’s. Interestingly, not one of these individuals who represent Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, Dover and surrounding areas will have to suffer from the ill effects of wind turbines. In fact, it might be safe to make the conjecture that as long as the turbines remain on the mountains, then at least the seacoast won’t have to worry about the potential of wind turbines placed on their treasured seacoast.
The same holds true for those in the White Mountain region who will suffer from the effects of the 400′ towers proposed as part of the Northern Pass project. Northern Pass, a project that Hydro-Quebec and PSNH will make millions on, will as proposed, carry electric power generated by hydro dams in southern Quebec. Already the Innuit people have seen portions of the native lands flooded by the country of Quebec with no consideration of their needs. In addition, it has been estimated that a lake the size of New Hampshire itself would be required to fulfill the demand from southern New England that these power lines will deliver.
These New Hampshire legislators have not only a duty to the residents in their districts, but also a duty of concern for the health of the entire state. The wind industry, acting much like most all large industries, wishes to keep their projects as locally confined as possible, thus keeping the outrage over their risks and hazards confined as well. The democratic process of review cannot function when the people in the entire state do not have the information needed to make proper critical analysis. Legislators represent; they do not dictate, nor do bureaucrats or others of select group.
Both Northern Pass and the development of wind turbine “farms” (a misnomer as nothing is farmed) substantially threaten New Hampshire in many ways. Its indeed ironic that traditional progressives have such a hard time swallowing the cruel fact that green technology is neither simple, nor easily applied to existing paradigms of energy production carved out over a century ago. We must take the time to properly analyze, evaluate and understand our need for clean energy, our consumption habits, our production capabilities and most importantly, the long range effect all will have on our communities and environments.
Contrary to what most folks are told my radical feminist friends at Rad-Fem Central, do not huddle together in dark, moist, odoriferous corners of humanity, training the next generation of Femi-Nazis to cut men in sixteen pieces just for fun. Real feminists are engaged in the maddeningly repetitious activity of pushing the revolutionary idea that women are human. These feminists have no problem pointing out the oddly primitive way in which women here in the United States are still held captive by their bodies by a small minority of males and their female helpers who apparently cannot get their head around the idea that women’s bodies are not property, are not vehicles for made for male entertainment or vessels for production of male heirs and possibly units of future production, but just parts of a larger person called a human known as woman.
Thank you Seven Bowie for your thoughts which are welcome at Rad-Fem Central and where we also have this silly idea that even men can be feminists because seeing women as human and deserving of total “liberty” (ask Ron Paul what he thinks about women and their rights to that precious “liberty” he and his libertarian followers like to bleat about so much) just doesn’t seem like that difficult a job to us, even for men.
Yes you read the title correctly. For the past couple of years, women have been subjected to legislative rape, both on the federal and state level as historically high numbers of laws have been passed that thwart their rights to decisions about their reproductive lives and thus to their own self-determination – their rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Scratch just below the surface of all that, and you have what is known as reproductive slavery.
WHAT’S NEXT? BURKAS?
On the federal level we have Republicans refusing to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) because they don’t believe LGBT, students, Native American or Latino women deserve protection from abuse and domestic violence. And in 2012 we had a chamber full of men debating on whether women had any right to birth control whilst they refused to allow any women on their panel or allow any women to even speak during hearings on the subject.
Amidst all these efforts to keep women from having any say about their rights to make decisions about their own bodies are Taliban-like assertions that these same women, while not capable of having any jurisdiction over their own bodies, are somehow responsible for those of men.
There is a branch of anti-choice activists that will use pretty much anything as a medium for their message: newspaper ads, graphic signs displayed in front of schools, bus stop benches. You would think they would know well enough to leave one place untouched, though. Wire coat hangers.
What’s worse is that this seems to be an ongoing effort. Reports of the “choose life” coat hangers already were on the internet back in March of 2011, when Joe.My.God posted a picture of the hanger then. And before that on Regretsy in 2010. So despite over two years of attention, the business continues to think this is an excellent cross-advertising campaign. In fact, the practice was losing them customers as far back as August of 2010, but still the dry-cleaner continues to use hangers as a place to offer inappropriate propaganda.
In an unbelievable story ran across from Yahoo.com news that was apparently culled from a local Los Angeles local news affiliate, a thirteen year old girl that was — wait for this — dragged by her hair and then having her clothes removed by the assailant has apparently been abandoned to fate.
Here’s the story as reported by an international online news source that uses ‘dragged by her hair’ so many times it makes one wonder if this phrase serves some kind of purpose for titillation all by itself. Of course, aren’t all rape stories and any stories about women’s subjugation at the hands of men just so much fap fodder?
Its really hard to know what is more cringe worthy in this story; the fact that witnesses watched the event unfold and did absolutely nothing to stop it, or that the police chief makes the unbelievably lame comment that he hopes the two will have reconciled their differences and moved on. Because of course, all young girls should expect to be physically punished when they engage in an argument with a man, amirite ladies? Apparently the folks that stood by and watched thought nothing enough out of the ordinary was occurring before their eyes to take action to stop it. Just another day in the life of a woman in America. If she lives to tell the tale of what happened to her, she can be sure she’ll have an entire audience ready to qualify whether she deserved the beating, rape or whatever general wrath and abuse may have come her way. The offender can of course, after some head-shaking and the acceptance of the Eternal Truth of the Patriarchy– that man is helpless to his animal nature that woman brings out in him and sometimes, well some boys just go too far.
Which will of course bring out the conversation as to whether this young girl was sexually active, because as all women know; little hussy temptresses will get what they get coming to them. No need to suddenly forget the history of wingnut woman-hating now that some of the worst were booted out the last term; they represented a constituency of mouth-breathers who love to see woman as nothing more than vessels of their power. Those women who have the temerity to live outside the proscribed lines must be put down immediately; whether children or not — that’s not important. (as many girls find out, you were born with certain equipment that is useful, whether you know what it is about or that you are connected to it is of little import to the patriarchy).
I hope that this young woman comes out of this alive and fully intact, since like everywhere else in the patriarchy, she obviously cannot count on law enforcement, family, friends or even passive strangers witnessing her being brutally abused, to give enough of a damn to even lift a finger to help her.
If you haven’t seen or heard of the Australian Prime Minister’s smack-down of her opposition in Parliament, then sit back and watch and listen (video is below). Its good. Its good because women in leadership positions in patriarchy most often turn a blind eye to the garbage that’s thrown at them. Women in leadership positions are forced to play along with the patriarchy and pretend that either they deserved the attacks, commentary or unfounded critiques, or that they just don’t exist.
Remember the unfounded and often cloaked attacks on then Senator Hillary Clinton when she ran for President? She didn’t dress right, she was too emotional, she was a cold ball buster, she wore pants suits (OMG), she wore too long skirts, too short skirts, too low-collar shirts, too high collar shirts, it just never stopped and it all served to trivialize her and dismiss her as incapable of competing with the boyz.
But Hillary had to hold her head up and charge on, ignoring the charges lest she be punished as being too ‘radical’ a ‘feminazi’ or just plain unhinged if she called the shit for what it was; shit. Oh and to instruct the young ones here, us older folks will never forget the Vice President Bush Senior’s remarks following his debate with Senator Geraldine Ferraro.
There’s a note-worthy write-up of the Geraldine Ferraro/Bush debate by told from the vioew of someone who worked closely with her, Ben Heineman, from his story from which we excerpt here:
The most famous line of the debate, of course, was Geraldine Ferraro’s. The vice president began an answer by saying: “Let me help you with the difference, Ms. Ferraro, between Iran and the embassy in Lebanon.” To which the first woman national candidate in American history replied: “Let me first of all say that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.” This was the debate clip shown the day after — and to this day. In the years after, I would see Gerry Ferraro at this occasion or that. [snip]
After the debate was over, Vice President Bush remarked into a still open mic that he had “kicked a little ass.” Given the expectations before the debate, I felt, along with so many others, that it was actually the other way round.
Despite Mr. Heineman’s honest account of the debates, he fails to mention that the press ran with the “kicked a little ass” story over and over again until one began to believe that indeed Bush did kick some ass. As Heineman tells us, Bush didn’t and at first polls showed no one a direct winner. But our public was not ready to see a woman get out in charge and assert herself in front of male power.
Denying that misogyny exists, just like denying that rape doesn’t exist or racism doesn’t exist empowers the power structure and allows the press to not bother to vet knee-jerk sexism or other forms of conformity with social injustice in their reporting or writing. Denial allows the system to perpetuate the injustice and those who benefit from it to go freely along without responsibility.
So, its good when the rare instance comes along for a woman leader to call shit for what it is; mysogynist shit meant to keep women down and punish those who dare to raise their heads up and demand to be counted. Here Julia Gillard let’s it rip right into her opposition who had staged numerous mysognist attacks on her that you will see her refer to.
But, after you watch the video, you must come back down to earth and realize that women still have a long ways to go. We still aren’t on an equal footing, even if we can have the freedom to speak out more and call a spade a spade. We still have to bargain with the devil all too often in order to get that power that still lies in the iron grip of our oppressors. Many of us feminists expect not only entertaining verbiage, but some back-up in the form of follow-through by supporting policies that lift women out of their subservient economic and social status.
On the other hand, we’ll take juicy bits like this when we can as it feeds us. You know sugar can be intoxicating in large doses, but it does provide energy when you need it.
Australia’s prime minister Julia Gillard is one badass motherfucker. In an impassioned 15-minute smackdown in front of the house of Representatives, the country’s first female leader gave a scathing speech calling out opposition leader Tony Abbott’s extremely misogynistic comments, actions, views on abortion and single women, all while pointing in his face. She basically ripped him a new asshole.
Here’s some history: Abbott demanded that Peter Slipper, the Speaker of the House, step down for allegedly sexually harassing an openly gay male staff member in a series of text messages, one of which apparently compared female genitalia to mussels. I know. Juicy already. Abbott then implied that if Gillard defended Slipper, she would be just as sexist as a gay man who talks shit on vaginas. Abbott said, “And every day the prime minister stands in this parliament to defend this Speaker will be another day of shame for this parliament, another day of shame for a government which should already have died of shame.”
So Gillard let him have it. Here are some choice quotes:
I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, I will not. Not now, not ever. What i won’t stand for, what I will never stand for is the leader of the opposition peddling a double standard, a standard he has not set for members of his own front bench.
If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia he doesn’t need a motion in the house of Representatives, he needs a mirror.
I was very offended personally the Leader of the Opposition said abortion is the easy way out.
I was offended by the sexism, by the misogyny of the Leader of the Opposition cat calling across this table at me as I sit here as prime minister [saying], ‘If the prime minister wants to make an honest woman of herself…’ something that would never have been said to any man sitting in this chair.
I was offended when he stood next to a sign that described me as a ‘man’s bitch.’
He has said, ‘If it’s true that men have more power, generally speaking, than women, is that a bad thing?’ [and] ‘What if men, by physiology or temperament, are more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?’
He can apologise for standing next to signs [about me] saying, ‘Ditch the Witch.’
Now he is looking at his watch [which Abbott was] because apparently a woman’s spoken too long.
But, bear in mind as well, that some victories only come in pieces and that the back-story or deeper picture may not follow the trajectory that you or I as supporters of the oppressed might wish. When we look closer, as another blogger did, what we’ll find all too often is a compromise on the deeper issues of social justice hidden underneath the heated rhetoric and the amazing speeches.
An excellent analysis by Stephanie Convery for Overland
By now, you’ve probably seen the video of Prime Minister Julia Gillard spending the better part of 15 minutes calling the Leader of the Opposition a misogynist in parliament yesterday. But as satisfying as it was to see Tony Abbott get the verbal smackdown long due him (and I don’t deny there’s a lot of satisfaction to be had) it should be put in context.
Abbott’s ‘problem with women’ has been in the headlines for a while now, and it’s hardly out of character for him to attempt to turn a personal attack onto the PM herself. His fall guy was Peter Slipper, whose vile sexist text messages have been put on the public record, and whose career as Speaker was quite obviously on a time limit. Gillard’s speech was a response to that challenge. It is in no way irrelevant that despite it being a smart – and unprecedented – move to speak to the currently running narrative about sexism so bluntly, and to attack Abbott so openly on his quite obvious misogyny, she was doing so in defence of Slipper.
If winning or losing in politics was merely a matter of who had the best one-liners to throw along with their stones, then Gillard won yesterday hands down. But politics is notsimply about whip-smart wisecracks and cutting speeches. It’s about policies and practices, legislation and social organisation.
Yesterday, the Gillard government also passed welfare reforms through the Senate that will cut single parent payments between $56 and $140 a week. This is a measure that will disproportionately affect women, and particularly those in the sectors of society that the Labor Party is traditionally supposed to represent. And yet, when the heavily debated reforms finally came to a vote in the Senate, only the Greens and Independents Madigan and Xenophon voted against it.
It’s been said before but it bears repeating: standing up for women’s rights is not just about calling sexism for what it is. It’s about agitating for specific change. It’s about making concrete demands of society and of the government. So if this is feminism that Gillard is representing in parliament, then I want to know, whose feminism is it? I don’t care how many sharp speeches she makes: her government is making life for some of the most vulnerable women in Australia even harder than it already is, and I want no part in it.
So here’s a call to arms. If we want to stand up for women, let’s start by standing up for these women. Let’s stand in the street and tell the federal government that this is not okay. That we want them to reverse the welfare cuts. That we want them to raise single parent pensions by $140 a week. That single parents undertaking study should be given more support, not less. Because this would make a qualitative difference to the lives of many women in Australia. This would be a win.
As seems par for the course, the Massachusetts Senate race between Tea Party supported Republican incumbent Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, comes down to race. As always, when one takes the time to turn their jaundiced eye in the direction of the racist whoops and hollers, what is found is a vacuous, empty shell of a candidate. Considering the fact that Elizabeth Warren scares the absolute bejeezus out of Wall Street, you’d think that Brown’s campaign might reflect the great minds that money supposedly can hire to dream up some nefarious defense of run away capitalism. But, as usual, the corporate capitalists prove that its really hard to find a way to defend a system that will screw over the very people whose support you need.
And we hate to say as usual, but yes, as usual, lacking the ability or the will (may alienate their base?) to come out with anything close to intelligent argument, the campaign resorts to race jealousy, old affirmative action scripts and of course, just plain ignorance, as mhasegawa on the blog FortLeft shows here:
Who knew that the Massachusetts race for the United States Senate – and maybe for Democratic control of the entire Senate – would come down to race? When I wrote about this last May I thought this was a one-off remark and since it didn’t move the polls, I figured the whole thing would die. A lot of people who are part Cherokee didn’t register for many reasons including fear of being targeted if they were open about Native American ancestry.
But now Scott Brown has made Elizabeth Warren’s race the centerpiece of his campaign. He has decided that the path to re-election is to question Warren’s family heritage. He has not produced any proof that her having “checked the box” made any difference in her tenure at Harvard Law School. On the other hand, Warren has produced people, including Republican Charles Fried, to say either they didn’t know or if they did it made no difference. Where’s the beef, Senator Brown?
“Oh wouldn’t you like to come Back underneath my thumb In a Patriarchy’s Garden In serfdom?
You would know your place, Below the human race In a Patriarchy’s Garden Without mace.”
That and more at Sadly No! where writer Cerberus cuts into David Brooks and commits beautiful slaughter. Slaughter on Brooks’ pulling out every tired stereotype of women to make a siren call to the men that the wymenz are taking over and they’d better, um, do something. Like maybe wake up to the fact that the OMG! the roles of women they are a changing and this is nowhere better reflected than in the poor economy. Well ok, he didn’t say all women are ruining the economy, just the loose ones that go college; the ones who put getting a degree and an education as a top priority. Brooks laments the good old days where women knew their place and went to college to find a doctor to marry. Oh the bloody horror! Now with contraception and all, they are having wanton sex, learning things and get this! Getting jobs! Not good paying jobs, that’s not important and not all women, that’s not important either.
When you need to force attitudes that force ridiculous, prejudicial policies that protect a narrow group from another larger group, best to make that group really, really big and scary. Women shouldn’t have reproductive freedom, look, they are all turning into educated sluts! And then taking our jobs! Wasn’t that the frat boy’s job? The privileged snot getting in on daddy’s dime with his white-boy, super polished shine, who studied and had wild sextapades with willing coed sluts? Brings to mind a little diddy someone told me long ago, that’s one of those custom made stories that dad’s tell their young stud sons about to embark into the world of teh wymenz:
A little dog sat next to the railroad tracks all forlorn, contemplating his future. He let his tail fall over the rail. A train came by and as he felt the pinch on his tail he turned his head and whack!
So unfortunately, the puppy’s gone but hopefully you’ll remember to not lose your head over a little tail.
Those femi-nazi mothers must be telling their daughters that story, which of course is bringing in the collapse of all civilization partriarchy.
But I need add no more, let Cerberus take it away!
Possibly on the part of Digby this was an oversight, I’m imagining that the teevee automatically flipped to Fox News and there was our poor writer — paralyzed by the STUPID and the words just seeped in. Then suddenly, without us knowing it, the re-framing begins.
That and other words such as entitlement — once meant any benefit guaranteed to a citizen based on certain criteria. Now, its an insult, sneered by politicians, rolling off their tongues with all the shame and hatred buried in our culture that we deny exists. Entitlement, as if old age, disability or poverty were some kind of cheat on the American “system”. The system that the elite have tried to re-frame and re-adjust for the last thirty years.
Then there’s “Pro-Choice” which, coined in the 80’s to defend a woman’s right to choose, but turned on its head by anti-choice zealots into “Pro-Life”. The fact of choice no longer plays into the frame. The intellectually lazy media covering protests against choice, thoughtlessly, maybe happily (who knows, no one ever asked them) allow the protester’s language in. They used it in reference to any reporting on a challenge of a women’s right to choose. Possibly the media feels more comfortable considering a zygote more important than a woman’s choice? After all, is it too much to expect that a woman anchor, who can thank her ability to have that job, at least notice that her defense to be treated human stands with the history of the struggle? Is it too much to expect that woman to take pause, think and rephrase that title?
Which gets us back to our first gripe, “abortion on demand”. What visions does this phrase bring? Does it conjure the image of the woman struggling with an unwanted pregnancy, considering the consequences of such? Or does it conjure up a vision of a bunch of women hippies banging on the front of a clinic door, demanding that they be let in and given abortions after a long hard weekend of frolics at an Occupy site?
Or how about the Femi-Nazi theme; mad women forcing their poor husbands or boyfriends with their Rugars to take them to the embryo extermination camp post haste? Wherein we assume, these wild, hippies and Femi-Nazis will make other demands, like child support payments, equal pay for equal work and freedom from sexual assault? Will they demand entitlements too, like public healthcare, nutrition subsidies for children, daycare assistance, paid maternity leave, access to male dominated work?
Messaging, words, propaganda, rhetoric, lies, innuendos; we know them all. But we need not justify them by using them in our speech, lest we succumb to and accept the largest artillery the right has thrown so far.
Told about this poem by Matthew Richards, a local poet who saw her perform it in person.
In Our Pupils
My heart has started to stamp like the herds.
I breathe this air,
But my eyes open like passports.
The cover says America,
but has Africa stamped on every page.
My mother escaped South African Apartheid
before I was even an idea,
so in elementary school when pictures of Africa didn’t look like me,
I couldn’t understand
why African American and black had to mean the same thing.
So last year I moved back to my mother’s continent
and now my DNA is woven
in strings of African beads.
But I can’t escape the first-look-only comparisons
from kids and the adults who act like them
that I don’t look African.
And I have to ask what they mean by African.
If they mean my skin won’t burn,
then I’m wearing sunscreen, not African.
If they want to see a Masai warrior,
a child soldier,
then I expect all Americans
should look like Rosie O’Donnell.
But if they mean black, they’re right.
Africa isn’t a skin color—it’s black.
Africa is our pupils,
the way they will always open to the world,
no matter how much dust the wind blows at them.
Being African is like sweat on a glass of water;
it doesn’t depend on the color of the cup
but on the temperature of what’s inside.
Too often newspapers spell the word Africa
and assume one culture, one language, one problem.
The biggest problem facing Africa
is people thinking it really is like our pupils,
just empty space.
I am Africa. You can see me.
And sometimes I will sound like drums,
and sometimes like Sebeqabele gpi thapha nguqo ngqothwane
but sometimes you can barely hear me over the rain,
and we both fear that I may be washed away.
I mold my hands
into the shape of my continent
not to keep you from my borders,
but to show you how much like clay we all are.
Don’t worry about the Africans,
love the humans.
When the first human was born,
it didn’t know enough to call itself African,
but it hasn’t stopped crying ever since.
And you can blame it on famine, or war, or the fallout of capitalism
but Africa isn’t suffering,
it’s reminding you what your birth sounded like.
– Antonia Lassar
Antonia Lassar hails from Boston, MA and South Africa, and has toured both the US and South Africa with her poetry. She is proud to be a recent graduate of the Boston University School of Theatre. This summer, Antonia traveled to North Carolina as a first time member of the Cantab Lounge National Poetry Slam Team. She is currently touring her one-woman show The God Box around the Northeast.