Friday, September 05, 2008

Lady Like…Like Hell

Irony of ironies. The media was eating Hillary Clinton alive, and it clearly got indigestion of misogyny, because now nobody dares say anything about our Lady of the Snows, Mrs. Palin.

So, the nastiness with which Hillary was treated ended up serving John McCain even more than Obama, because now everyone feels nervous about being too harsh on oh-so-likeable-and-lady-like Mrs. Palin. But she, as she herself puts it, is a pit-bull with lipstick that holds no punches. And good for her, she doesn't have to hold any punches, this is a fight for the future of our country and it wouldn't hurt if Democrats bring out their fire… She must have good aim since she is a hunter.

If Hillary had dared show up at a rally with that hair-do from the 50s, the fashion critics – where are they when men go on the screen with black shoes and brown suits??? – would have been beating a path to the Washington Post's lifestyle pages to criticize her.

But, no. Biden, the one who never holds back and was selected for his incredible foreign policy experience, is talking about having to prepare himself very well for the hard debate he will have with a lady who got her first passport picture last year – but according to Mrs. McCain knows about the politics of Russia very well, because Alaska has borders with Russia. At least she didn't say that she could look into Putin's eyes from that distance.

I really don't want her to be humiliated at any debate, but feel extremely abused as a woman for the way they are using her – although she seems to have signed a consent form – to kill two birds with one stone: bring the winds of history to a sleepy campaign by throwing a bone to women; and awakening the ultraconservative base that couldn't swallow McCain precisely for the things that make him, supposedly, an agent of change, that is, for being on speaking terms with a few Democrats, and dare to suggest that immigrants may be human.

Back to the issue of womanhood, how stupid do they think we are? Yeah, they better don't answer that. We are not supposed to vote for Obama because of his race, but voting for a woman because of her womanity should be just all right. And we, Hillary supporters, won't notice the difference, either. Palin is just Hillary before the Vatican II.

Conservatives now are dancing on the tight rope and coming up with all kind of weird explanations to show the vast experience of the Lady of the Snows. Mrs. McCain does have a knack to hit it out of the park. According to her, Palin has been at the helms of the PTA – which should automatically qualify me for the Presidency, because I have been PTA president for two years in a row – selected by acclamation, as it normally happens with PTA posts, the idiot who does not leave the room soon enough gets selected –, and even managed to balance the budget.

According to Mrs. McCain, she asked Palin if she felt she could carry on with the VP responsibilities on top of all her household's demands – which, we now know, are more than expected – and her response was a classic: 'I'm a mom. I can do it.' Look, I know you need to pander and everything, but, please, give women some credit. We all know we can do everything as good as and better than any man, but it is not our motherhood what qualifies us for that. Does motherhood add to our experience and to our baggage as humans in ways men cannot know? Without a doubt. But go to any job interview at a Fortune 500 and tell them that you can get the COO position because you are a mother and let me know how that went for you.

Ironically, Palin can show up with her motherhood experience in the resume to get a job from the man who says women get pay less than men for equal work not because of inequality, but because of differential in education. I guess being a mom can only take you so far.

The other thing that is just killing me is the family mess. I absolutely agree. Her daughter's pregnancy is none of our business. Neither is her son's future departure to Iraq. But, on the other hand, she has shown no remorse in using both facts to improve her standing on the campaign.

"The daughter could have had an abortion, but her mother's commitment to pro-life issues is so great that she decided that was not an option." Except that it just as well may have been that the daughter was in such panic to even admit the pregnancy that by the time she did, abortion was not an option. But, that's really an extremely sad situation that should indeed be dealt with inside the family. Normally, conservatives are the ones who believe – and try to impose on the rest of humanity – that those family matters should be for the state to decide by making abortion illegal, by limiting the access to contraception, by limiting sex education not just for their own children but for everyone.

The national policies that Palin espouses, such as abstinence only, harm children by limiting their access to contraceptives and to education and awareness of their own sexuality. Sadly, Palin's daughter example shows that sons and daughters of conservatives seem to have the same hormonal urges than the heathen liberals. So, a bit more of education along with the virginity pledge won't hurt them one bit.

I honestly feel sorry and sad for Palin's daughter, her mistake – and I do not refer to having sex with the boy she loves – is now front page of every newspaper and she is forced to be on the stage of the national convention and pretend she is happy, while her life is about to change more than she can even conceive. I feel sorry for the boy who also is being forced to carry on with a life neither of them chose. I can only hope they really want to get marry, and are not being forced into that to pile one mistake on top of another. On the other hand, if they are really making that decision, I'm glad, because as I always tell my daughters: one should have sex when one is able to carry on with the consequences.



Monday, January 21, 2008

Latinos and Blacks…This is the Time to Talk

I despise myself deeply when I catch myself rejoicing in the worst possible circumstances that end up favoring my candidate. I'm a black Cuban. I know firsthand the racism that plagues the Latino community at large and the Cuban community in particular – of course, among the Cuban Americans' fairy tales is the one that says: racism is a Castro's invention – so I was anything but surprised by the Latinos running in droves towards Hillary Clinton in Nevada. But I was happy…because I'm a Clinton supporter. However, as I said to my 11 y.o. daughter who is a strong Obama fan, if Obama is the nominee you'll hear me say there has been no one better since the French Revolution.

But I don't want Hillary or anyone to win for the wrong reasons. In particular, for racist reasons which are, at the end of the day, the main cause of the mess and the inequality that permeates not only the American society, but also the Latin American societies. I'm a racial activist, and I guess I'm as conflicting as many in the Democratic Party wondering why on earth did we get this much choice this time. Of course, it pains me to go against a very viable Black candidate; it will also break my heart to crush a very first viable woman who has been against the male dominated world for a very long stretch.

I swear I feel like a kid. I would like to hear Obama say he feels bad to take votes from a woman like Clinton; and I would love to hear Hillary say her heart is broken for being in the way of something she has fought for all her life: the possibility of a Black president. Of course, we know just a Black or a woman president won't cut it. We have seen Blacks and women in very high offices and their work has done more to the detriment of Blacks, women and human rights than to favor them. Then, I settle for a shared ticket, which becomes increasingly more difficult with the bitterness that's increasing.

I wanted Hillary to win in Nevada – and in every primary – but I literally cried, and not of joy, when I realized everyone has realized what I knew going in: it's the stupid division and the hidden and not so hidden racism of my community that gave her a win. The irony of this is that the only choice Hispanics and Blacks have to actually exert any power in this country is to unite. There is nothing better than to keep us apart and divided.

While Latinos will be wise to remember that those rights we now enjoy are the fruit of the many strange fruits that hung in the fields of the South; Blacks will be wise to realize that there is no reason they should be fighting for the lowing paying jobs Latinos – and immigrants in general – do. In any country, foreigners perform the lower paying jobs because they don't know the language, they lack the connections or the legal paperwork, and/or they need to move up the ladder. But Black Americans are in their country. Actually, in the country they built but did not inherit. English is Black Americans' language. Black Americans shouldn't be elbowing immigrants for minimum wage jobs.

It's quite a sight to see the staunch Republicans, and even the racist, all of the sudden concerned with the plight of Black America: "immigrants take their jobs," "immigrants take resources from their schools," "immigrants take their place in society." Oh, yeah. I guess they just discovered the ghettos and the inner cities and the rural communities in which, just to mention one statistics, the infant mortality rate for Blacks is up to four times that of whites. But all of the sudden, immigrants are the problem.

This political campaign in which we Democrats initially thought we had an embarrassment of riches has become extremely sad for all of us. We are all fearful of tearing down the bridges between the white and Black communities that cost so much blood to build. But as the poet Octavio Paz said, bridges, precisely for being such, don't eliminate the distance between places…or communities.

I will not rejoice again – even in the shower – when my candidate edge ahead for any of the wrong reasons…Or will keep despising myself for it. But I'd like to call on all of us to renounce any use of race even in strategic ways…There is no way back from this. If the Clinton's campaign uses race in a detrimental way, we – the country – will be doomed even if she wins in November. Let alone if she doesn't.

Latinos and Blacks will be wise to reconcile their differences and talk frankly. There is a long road ahead. Dear Martin, we could use some good dreams right about now.