THE ELECTION ISSUE
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In This Issue:

 

 

  • David’s Notes:
  • The Great Male Fear, the Golden Rule of Adultery, Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School Lesson, the Radical Right and Why the Election was Lost: An Editorial
  • Two Hard Hitting Commentaries on the Supreme Court Decision on NPR from Kevin Phillips and Daniel Schorr (links provided so you can listen to the commentaries via Real Audio)
  • Just Our Bill by Dennis Roddy, A Bit of the Rehnquist Past
  • A Zimbabwe Politician Breaks It Down
  • A Correction: Re: The Judevine Mountain Emailite #19:

 

 

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DAVID’S NOTES:

 

Now that everybody is “coming together” and getting all warm and gooey over “the workings of our democracy,” now that even Molly Ivins–author of Shrub –has come around to tells us in the December 25, 2000-January 1, 2001 issue of TIME (pgs. 82-83) that G.W. really isn’t, after all, all that bad, now that the collective consciousness–or is it unconsciousness?–of America seems to be wanting to forget that G.W. and his five pals in black robes may have stolen the election, we think it’s time to begin discussing what went wrong, and to put down here–if for no other reason than archival– some of the best of what came in here over the cybertransom during this protracted election season. Most of you probably saw some or most of these, but just in case you didn’t . . . .

First an essay from the Editor of THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE, then two commentaries from NPR–via Real Audio–then Dennis Roddy on Bill Rehnquist thirty years ago, then a piece purported to be by a Zimbabwe politician, and finally a correction to a mistaken bit of information offered in THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #19.

 

 

 

* * * * * 
 

 

The Great Male Fear, the Golden Rule of Adultery,
Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School Lesson, the Radical Right
and Why the Election was Lost:
An Editorial

Had Bill Clinton campaigned for the Gore-Lieberman ticket, the Democrats would have won. Why Clinton was summarily dismissed from the campaign remains for me the central question of this election. Why didn’t Al Gore and Joe Lieberman let the man who might be the most brilliant campaigner in U.S. history help them? As a possible answer: it was the Great Male Fear working with the Radical Right.

Since time began there has been among men a Good Old Boy Code of Silence regarding sexual promiscuity and marital infidelity. This Code of Silence–or what could also be called The Golden Rule of Adultery: I won’t rat on you if you don’t rat on me–is what has kept most people in the dark about the mistresses and sexual dalliances in The White Houses of F.D.R., Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, Richard Nixon and George Bush, to name just a few.

The truth is every man does, has done, or has wanted to do, the kind of thing Bill Clinton did. Thus the reason that the White Liberal Male abandoned Bill Clinton in his hour of need was because he was traumatized by the Great Male Fear of breaking The Golden Rule of Adultery. He needed to distance himself from the nightmare that what happened to Bill Clinton could, at any moment, happen to him.

I say White Liberal Male because Black men, and African Americans in general, had the good sense and sophistication not to abandon Bill Clinton in his hour of need. But for the White Liberal Male, The Great Male Fear was so overwhelming that he had to self-righteously condemn Bill Clinton for lying.

Ask yourself honestly if you can imagine any President–or any man for that matter–not lying if he were in Clinton’s shoes. There is only one President, and very few men, who I can imagine telling the truth about his sexual desires and that one is Jimmy Carter, which is what he did in an interview with PLAYBOY in November 1976. It’s illuminating, in the light of the last two years, to read what Jimmy Carter said way back there in 1976. What caused the greatest uproar was his admitting to the interviewers that he had “lusted in his heart” for women other than Rosalind. Carter told the truth. He broke the Good Old Boy Code of Silence and he was roundly condemned for it.

In the interview Carter went on to say:

Christ said, ‘I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery.’ I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do — and I have done it — and God forgives me for it. But that doesn’t mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, Don’t consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife.”

Carter, in his best Sunday School Teacher fashion, points out that Jesus says: every man is an adulterer–since every man at the very least lusts after other women in his heart–and therefore no man has the right to stand in judgment of men like Bill Clinton who are unfortunate enough to have their privacy invaded and their intimate lives exposed.

Yet Gore and Lieberman did stand in judgment of Bill Clinton. Everybody, Republican and Democrat, made as big a show of their condemnations and self-righteousness as they possibly could. Gore and Lieberman claimed the right to the White House because they were purer and holier than Bill Clinton. George Bush did too. Yet Jimmy Carter and Jesus both show us clearly that such is impossible.

But the Great Male Fear of breaking the Code of Silence is not the only factor in such self-righteous condemnations of Bill Clinton. The Radical Right forced this issue upon our political life. By creating a climate of sanctimonious self-righteousness to which all politicians seem to think they have to adhere, the Radical Right may have lost the battle to drive Bill Clinton from the White House but they have won the war.

It should be clear to everyone that the Radical Right now dictates the rules of the game. Gore and Lieberman willingly, because they thought their political lives depended on it, played by the Radical Right’s rules. And therefore they abjured and spurned Bill Clinton, the one person who could have won the election for them.

There is a great and delicious irony here. One reason Bill Clinton could have won the election for them is that America knows he can no longer be a hypocrite about his sexual affairs. They have been a topic of conversation for Americans for more than a year. Since Bill Clinton was the only man in Washington not required to play by the Radical Right’s rules–because he couldn’t, his sin was already known–he was free to be himself and to be believed by the American public. But Gore and Lieberman couldn’t see this because they were being controlled totally by the Radical Right’s rules for the game.

The Radical Right in its mad lust to destroy Bill Clinton used the gains of feminism–the sexual harassment laws–and their blind willingness to abandon the Good Old Boy Code of Silence and the Golden Rule of Adultery to destroy the Clinton Presidency. In doing so the Radical Right has set new standards of dishonesty for all politicians. What George Bush will bring to the White House is not a new morality but a new level of hypocrisy.

I fear, however, in this self-righteous and sanctimonious age, people will hardly notice.

 

 

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TWO HARD HITTING COMMENTARIES ON NPR ON THE SUPREME COURT DECISION FROM KEVIN PHILLIPS AND DANIEL SCHORR
 

 

On December 13th NPR aired two hard hitting commentaries by NPR regulars Kevin Phillips and Daniel Schorr, both of whom, it was obvious, could barely control their rage at what the Supreme Court had done.

 

First, on Morning Edition for December 13th, Kevin Phillips said the recent election “completes what has to be a sad parallel” with the election of 1876 in which the Republicans stole Florida in order to get Rutherford B. Hayes elected. Phillips also says, bluntly, that the U.S. Supreme Court “stopped the recount to avoid embarrassing Bush.” He concludes by saying, “Stealing Florida once left only a small ripple in the history books; stealing it twice could leave a deep and damning stain on the Republican party.”

 

To HEAR the entire Phillips commentary on MORNING EDITION for December 13, go to: http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/me/20001213.me.14.rmm.

 

Then scroll down to: Commentary (14.4 | 28.8) — Commentator Kevin Phillips looks to past presidential elections and says . . . (4:50).

 

Then click on 14.4 or 28.8 and, if you have Real Audio, you can listen to his commentary.

 

That evening on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, Daniel Schorr matched or exceeded Phillips. In Schorr’s commentary he refers to what the U.S. Supreme Court did for Bush as a “judicial coup.” Schorr refers to the five justices, all Reagan and Bush appointees, who blocked the recount as “the gang of five” and says, “the fix was in.” Schorr goes on to refer to the Supreme Court as a “junta” and concludes by saying that the day the Supreme Court blocked the recount was “the day they named the President.”

 

To HEAR the entire Schorr commentary on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED for December 13, go to: http://search.npr.org/cf/cmn/cmnpd01fm.cfm?PrgDate=12/13/2000&PrgID=2

 

Then scroll down to: Judicial Coup (14.4 | 28.8) — NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr reacts to last night’s Supreme Court ruling . . . (3:00).

 

Then click on 14.4 or 28.8 and, if you have Real Audio, you can listen to his commentary.

 

* * * * *
 

 

Just Our Bill

by Dennis Roddy,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
December 2, 2000
Lito Pena is sure of his memory. Thirty-six years ago he, then a Democratic Party poll watcher, got into a shoving match with a Republican who had spent the opening hours of the 1964 election doing his damnedest to keep people from voting in south Phoenix.

 

“He was holding up minority voters because he knew they were going to vote Democratic,” said Pena.

 

The guy called himself Bill. He knew the law and applied it with the precision of a swordsman. He sat at the table at the Bethune School, a polling place brimming with black citizens, and quizzed voters ad nauseam about where they were from, how long they’d lived there — every question in the book. A passage of the Constitution was read and people who spoke broken English were ordered to interpret it to prove they had the language skills to vote.

 

By the time Pena arrived at Bethune, he said, the line to vote was four abreast and a block long. People were giving up and going home. Pena told the guy to leave. They got into an argument. Shoving followed. Arizona politics can be raw. Finally, Pena said, the guy raised a fist as if he was fixing to throw a punch. “I said ‘If that’s what you want, I’ll get someone to take you out of here.”

 

Party leaders told him not to get physical, but this was the second straight election in which Republicans had sent out people to intellectually rough up the voters. The project even had a name: Operation Eagle Eye.

 

. . .

 

Others in Phoenix remember Operation Eagle Eye, too. Charlie Stevens, then the head of the local Young Republicans, said he got a phone call from the same lawyer Pena remembered throwing out of Bethune School. The guy wanted to know why Charlie hadn’t joined Operation Eagle Eye. “I think they called them flying squads,” Stevens said. “It was perfectly legal. The law at the time was that you had to be able to read English and interpret what you read.” But he didn’t like the idea and he told Bill this.

 

“My parents were immigrants,” Stevens said. They’d settled in Cleveland, Ohio, a pair of Greeks driven out of Turkey who arrived in the United States with broken English and a desire to be American. After their son went to law school and settled in Phoenix, he even Americanized the name. Charlie Tsoukalas became Charlie Stevens.

 

“I didn’t think it was proper to challenge my dad or my mother to interpret the Constitution,” Stevens said. “Even people who are born here have trouble interpreting the Constitution. Lawyers have trouble interpreting it.”

 

. . .

 

“It just violated my principles. I had a poor family. I grew up in the projects in Cleveland, Ohio.”

 

Operation Eagle Eye had a two-year run. Eventually, Arizona changed the laws that had allowed the kind of challenges that had devolved into bullying. Pena went on to serve 30 years in the Arizona State Legislature. Stevens became a prosperous and well-regarded lawyer in Phoenix and helped Sandra Day O’Connor get her start in law.

 

The guy Pena remembers tossing out of Bethune School prospered, too. Bill Rehnquist, now better known as William H. Rehnquist, chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, presided yesterday over a case that centers on whether every vote for president was properly recorded in the state of Florida.

 

In his confirmation hearings for the court in 1971, Rehnquist denied personally intimidating voters and gave the explanation that he might have been called to polling places on Election Day to arbitrate disputes over voter qualifications. Fifteen years later, three more witnesses, including a deputy U.S. attorney, told of being called to polling places and having angry voters point to Rehnquist as their tormentor. His defenders suggested it was a case of mistaken identity.

 

Now, with the presidency in the balance, Rehnquist has been asked to read passages of the Constitution and interpret them. Once again, a reading and interpretation will determine whose vote gets to count.

* * * * *
 

 

 

A  ZIMBABWE POLITICIAN BREAKS IT DOWN

 

 

A Zimbabwe politician was quoted as saying that children should study this American election closely, for it shows that election fraud is not only a third world phenomena.

 

1. Imagine that we read of an election occurring anywhere in the third world in which the self-declared winner is the son of the former prime minister and that former prime minister is himself the former head of that nation’s secret police (CIA).

 

2. Imagine that the self-declared winner lost the popular vote but won based on some old colonial holdover (electoral college) from the nation’s pre-democracy past.

 

3. Imagine that the self-declared winner’s ‘victory’ turned on disputed votes cast in a province governed by his brother.

 

4. Imagine that the poorly drafted ballots of one district, a district heavily favoring the self-declared winner’s opponent, led thousands of voters to vote for the wrong candidate.

 

5. Imagine that members of that nation’s most despised caste, fearing for their lives/livelihoods, turned out in record numbers to vote in near universal opposition to the self-declared winner’s candidacy.

 

6. Imagine that hundreds of members of that most-despised caste were intercepted on their way to the polls by state police operating under the authority of the self-declared winner’s brother.

 

7. Imagine that six million people voted in the disputed province and that the self-declared winner’s ‘lead’ was only 500 votes. Fewer, certainly, than the vote counting machines’ margin of error.

 

8. Imagine that the self-declared winner and his political party opposed a more careful by-hand inspection and re-counting of the ballots in the disputed province or in its most hotly disputed district.

 

9. Imagine that the self-declared winner, himself a governor of a major province, had the worst human rights record of any province in his nation and actually led the nation in executions.

 

10. Imagine that a major campaign promise of the self-declared winner was to appoint like-minded human rights violators to lifetime positions on the high court of that nation.

 

11. Imagine furthermore that the self-declared winner is . . . totally ignorant of the world he would lead.

 

None of us would deem such an election to be representative of anything other than the self-declared winner’s will-to-power. All of us, I imagine, would wearily turn the page thinking that it was another sad tale of a pitiful pre- or anti-democracy peoples in some strange elsewhere.

 

 

 

* * * * *
 

 

A CORRECTION:

 

In The Judevine Mountain Emailite #19 we reported that the U.S. Postal Service Black Heritage Stamp series was threatened with discontinuance. This is not the case. What we reported is false. For more information regarding this untrue rumor go to: http://new.usps.com/cgi-bin/uspsbv/scripts/content.jsp?D=23434

 

* * * * *
 

COMING SOON:
THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #22

 

Back to issues of race: an editorial on white privilege, links to the African-American perspective on the election, Askia Muhammed found and more.

Read More...

CIVIL UNIONS LAW ISSUE
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In This Issue:

 

  • The New Civil Unions Law in Vermont: A Need for Letters of Support 
  • Partnership Laws in Europe
  •  

    Postscript

     

  • A Few Statistics about The Governor of Texas
  •  

    *****
     

    DAVID’S NOTES:

     

    The New Civil Unions Law in Vermont:
    A Need for Letters of Support
     

    As practically everybody knows by now, Vermont passed a Civil Unions Law this spring which extends to gay and lesbian couples almost all of the rights and privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. As you may also know, during the winter while the legislature debated the issue, Dr. Laura Schlessinger campaigned actively on her nationwide radio show against the bill.

     

    Now that the bill has passed and, as of July 1st, is in effect, Dr. Laura is up to her old tricks and the Vermont State Governor’s office, at Dr. Laura’s urging, has been bombarded with calls against the recent decision to extend civil unions benefits to same sex couples.

     

    Those legislators who voted in favor of the Civil Unions bill are also now being threatened by right wing organizations–from both inside and outside Vermont–with campaigns to oust them from office during this fall’s elections. Signs have appeared all over the state saying TAKE BACK VERMONT and REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER. Where exactly the opponents of the Civil Unions law want to take Vermont back to is the question.

     

    Jessamyn West, an enterprising young woman who favors the Civil Unions law, pulled off the cyber-scoop of the year by establishing a website: http://www.takebackvermont.com, (this link no longer works) where you can read articles in favor of the Civil Unions law and get information and articles about what the opponents of the law are up to.

     

    As Jessamyn says in her Manifesto, “Face it, folks… No matter what happens, there will always be people who have different lifestyles than you do, and there will always be people who do things you’d rather not have them do. The only question is, do you tolerate them as they tolerate you, or do you persecute them?”

     

     

    Meanwhile, there have been relatively few positive comments coming into the Statehouse or to the legislators who voted for the bill since the bill was passed into law.

     

    For those Emailites who live outside Vermont–and there are many of you–we hope you will take the time to email: Lieutenant Governor Douglas A. Racine–ltgov@leg.state.vt.us–saying that you support Vermont’s Civil Unions law and the people who voted for it. The people in Vermont state government need to hear from those of you out there who support them even though you are not citizens of Vermont.

     

    We also urge The Emailites who live in Vermont to take a minute and drop an email or a snailmail to your representatives and your senators expressing your support for the Civil Unions law.

     

    To find the addresses for your Senators go to: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/sens-d.cfm?Session=2000.

     

    For the addresses of your Representatives go to: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/reps-d.cfm?Session=2000.

     

    If you want more information about the Civil Unions law go to: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/baker/baker.cfm

     

    Here, as a template, is a suggestion for your letter. Please rewrite it and personalize it in any way you can.

     

    Dear —-, 

    I support you and the Vermont legislators who have passed the Civil Unions Law in order to give equal rights to same-sex partners. 

    You and your colleagues have taken a historic step towards mending the many fractures that divide our society. 

    Thank you for your forward-thinking politics and your support for the rights of a minority. 

    Sincerely, 

     

     

    THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE, will report from time to time as the fall progresses on the battle that is sure to come. As the weather up here in the north-country gets colder and colder the political climate is going to get hotter and hotter.

     

    * * * * *

     

     

     

    Partnership Laws Abroad
    by
    Lois Eby
     

    (The following essay originally aired as a commentary on Vermont Public Radio on 15 June 2000.)

     

    Vermont is the first state in the United States to pass a Civil Unions Law, but many Vermonters may be surprised to learn that we are not the first government among Western countries to do so. We are instead simply one more government to join a widespread change in social attitudes and laws.

     

    Norway for example has had a Partnership Law since 1993. I learned about Norway’s Law because I was visiting a friend in Norway when the Vermont House cast the final vote in favor of the Civil Unions Bill. During that visit I also learned that Denmark was the first Scandinavian country to pass a Partnership Law, in 1989, followed by Norway, and then Sweden and Iceland. Last year France joined several other European countries when it adopted its own partnership law, and the European Parliament has recommended that the 15 member countries of the European Unions extend the rights of heterosexual couples to homosexual couples.

     

    The law differs in some respects from country to country. For example, Iceland includes adoption rights in their law and Norway does not. France gives heterosexual couples the right to be joined in a civil unions while other countries do not. But all countries create a civil partnership which provides homosexual couples with economic and legal rights and responsibilities similar to marriage.

     

    Sitting around a table with a group of Norwegians, at a window which overlooked the harbor in Bergen, I had the opportunity to learn what a few Norwegians think of their law after living with it for seven years. My friend’s husband, a man in his seventies who grew up in Bergen, said he thought it was working very well, and that he also thought most Norwegians would agree. A group of women in their thirties, forties, and fifties, all in heterosexual marriages, said the same thing. One woman said that she thinks it doesn’t affect heterosexual families at all, but the law is important for homosexuals. It gives them many needed rights and enables them to feel like worthy members of society.

     

    All agreed that while the majority of Norwegians support the law, it continues to be an issue for the Church, meaning primarily the State Lutheran Church. Church leadership is divided on this issue; some church leaders oppose the law while others support it. A woman minister in the State Lutheran Church, for example, recently acknowledged publicly that she was a member of a lesbian partnership. Despite great demand among conservative church leaders for her resignation, the Bishop in her area, also a woman, decided to let her continue in her official church position.

     

    This conflict within the churches occurs in other countries as it has in Norway and Vermont. But for civil society, the law appears to work. In France, many heterosexual couples have taken the opportunity to form partnerships rather than marry and they seem enthusiastic about the new law. While there are still unresolved issues in all these countries, the people I met in Norway seemed to accept their current Partnership Law and were eager to discuss other issues. They were much more anxious to discuss gun violence in the United States, to ask about our gun laws, and to express concern that gun violence is growing in Norway.

     

    I came away from Norway proud that Vermont has passed its own civil unions law and aware that changes in the direction of equal rights for gay and lesbian citizens are much more widespread than I had realized. While such change is accompanied everywhere by argument and differing levels of rights, many countries have taken definite steps to end discrimination against gays and lesbians. Vermont citizens now have the opportunity to support our law and become part of an international and growing effort to grant partnership rights to a productive group of citizens who have endured prejudice and persecution for too many centuries.

     

    * * * * *
     

     

     

    Postscript:
    A Few Statistics about The Governor of Texas
     

     

    The State of Texas, under the leadership of Governor George W. Bush, is ranked:

     

     

     

    50th in spending for teachers’ salaries

     

    49th in spending on the environment

     

    48th in per-capita funding for public health

     

    47th in delivery of social services

     

    42nd in child-support collections

     

    41st in per-capita spending on public education

     

    and …

     

     

    5th in percentage of population living in poverty

     

    1st in air and water pollution

     

    1st in percentage of poor working parents without insurance

     

    1stin percentage of children without health insurance

     

    1st in executions (average 1 every 2 weeks for Bush’s 5 years)

     

    Just think of what he could do for the country if he were president.

     

    Read More...

    This Issue is Dedicated to:
    Amadou Diallo’s Mother and Father
    and to the memory of:
    Amadou Diallo
    *****

    DAVID’S NOTES:

     

    Amadou: An Editorial
     

    We are spending a lot of time brooding over the Amadou Diallo verdict.

     

    I know, absolutely know, that if I were in Amadou Diallo’s situation, as the white man I am, I could have reached for my wallet and those four policemen would have waited for me to produce it.

     

    * * *
     

    A young friend of ours who lives in Brooklyn has introduced us to a friend of her’s, a young man named, Abas. Abas has recently come to this country from his native Gambia. Abas lives in the Bronx. Abas sells CDs, silver jewelry and Rastafarian patches on Canal Street at one of those folding aluminum tables set up beside the curb.

     

    Abas is, as Amadou was, just another American immigrant, in that centuries-long line of entrepreneurial immigrants, in that centuries-long tradition of All-American Free Enterprise. Abas is, as Amadou was, looking forward to, as Willi Coleman says in her essay/poem in this issue, “to what his small share of tomorrow might bring.”

     

    What must Abas’s parents be thinking now back there in Gambia?

     

    * * *
     

    I have a middle aged Black friend who said the other day, “I want to hit somebody. I want to hurt somebody.” This friend also said, “Among my Black friends . . . we don’t talk about Amadou. We can’t. The rage is too close to the surface.”

     

    What can we middle-aged, white people do to get that feeling of what it must be like to be the parents of a young Black man in America today?

     

    What can we white people do to feel in our stomachs, in our eyes, the rage–the burning, overwhelming, blinding rage and fear–all Black Americans must feel over what happened to Amadou?

     

    * * *
     

    We’ve also been thinking about one of those four policemen, the one who, again as Willi Coleman says in her essay/poem, “tearfully confesses to a fear so profound that a wallet becomes a weapon.”

     

    My heart breaks for him also, because that man stood there in that lobby of that apartment building for me, he stood there as my stand in, as my representative in our racist society. He was there, in some real way, instead of me, to do my bidding, my dirty work. And he was there for you also. He was our fall guy, our surrogate, our pig, our goat.

     

    And now he will carry in his soul for the rest of his life his guilt and shame, and all of us well-intentioned, white-liberal, middle-class white folks are glad about that, because he can carry all that guilt and shame for us so that we won’t have to be bothered with it, so that we can go back to our well intentioned, comfortable, privileged lives, so that we can remain unsullied and self-righteous in our outrage at what those racist cops did, those racist cops who acted on our behalf.

     

    Those four cops were out there protecting our white privilege just as surely as Bull Connor was on the streets of Birmingham almost 40 years ago. The police and the law have not changed that much. How conveniently we white folks have arranged this society.

     

    The jury said the four policemen were not guilty. Who, then, are the guilty ones? Who?

     

    Stay away from the mirror.

     


     

      

     

    A Good Semester To Be Away From My Usual Job Of Teaching
    by
    Willi Coleman
     

    It is a good semester to be away from my usual job of teaching.

     

    “Professing” in front of a room full of students of college age is at its best a labor of true love. The only moments that have given me consistent doubt have always been deeply rooted in some issue of race . . . and sometimes clothed also in the garb of gender.

     

    But this semester is a good time to be away from my usual job of teaching.

     

    The work that I love is the teaching of America’s histories. For me that means placing the social constructs of race and gender at the center of discourse. Perhaps I’ve always found it such exciting, mind altering and hard work because I come to it from a privileged and advantaged position. Being neither white nor male has meant that I could not choose to see either race or gender as insignificant markers in the world. Teaching presents instead for me a mostly wonderful, intellectually stimulating and sometimes troubling way to make my way towards other humans on the planet.

     

    But this is a good semester to be away from my usual job of teaching.

     

    I’ve felt it before; my own sadness matched only by a puzzled, hesitant and sometimes angry look in my students’ eyes. As we get into the work that we’re all assembled to do–trying to understand a past which gives today some meaning–I can hear it. They, mostly white, have more than a gnawing suspicion that something is not right when it comes to matters of race in our country. They are no longer the children for whom a tough world can be simplified, codified, made palpable without some questions. They are no longer the children who know their country’s past as so many pilgrims ‘discovering’ so many Indians followed by bonding over turkey dinner.

     

    They are mostly folks who have inhabited this planet for two decades or less in relative and unquestioned comfort. With a few of the usual detours, most are trying hard to find out what kind of person they may eventually become. I work hard at not sounding too smug about knowing who will survive this class, move on to other classes and eventually into what, I pray, is a meaningful life in the ‘real’ world. I am shamelessly pleased when more than a few make their way back into my life. As sure as clock work, they are changed by time, status and new responsibilities.

     

    In spite of that this is a good semester to be away from my usual place in the classroom.

     

    What am I to do in a classroom when a young man as innocent as any of my students can be torn to bits with bullets?

     

    What am I to do when the law says there is no one to shame or blame?

     

    What am I to say in a classroom when a police officer tearfully confesses to a fear so profound that a wallet becomes a weapon?

     

    How do I not wail with rage in my classroom when a man doing his job takes the life of an innocent?

     

    Amadou Diallo was so like my students. He was too young to be tired in the dark of night. So he lost his life while standing in his doorway in the most bountiful nation on the planet.

     

    Amadou Diallo was so like my students: looking forward to what his small share of tomorrow might bring.

     

    This is a good semester to be away from my usual place in the classroom.

     

    * * *
     

    [Willi Coleman is a tenured professor of History and ALNA studies at The University of Vermont.]

     


     

      

     

    Black Heritage Postage Stamps Threatened
     

    The US post office is considering discontinuing Black Heritage stamps because they are not selling. Instead of taking the path of least resistance and accepting the love, flag, rose, or teddy bear stamps that they offer you automatically, request African-American stamps each time you mail something.

     

    If we don’t buy them, nobody will.

     

    For more information contact:

     

    Michael S. Chambers Director,
    Multicultural Affairs
    Florida Atlantic University
    777 Glades Road
    PO Box 3091
    Boca Raton, FL 33431

     

    Tel# 1-561-297-3959
    Fax# 1-561-297-2740

     

    Email:
    Chambers@fau.edu

     

    Website:
    http://www.fau.edu/student/people/chambers.htm

     


     

      
     

    The National Civil Rights Museum
    by
    Lois Eby

     

    In the summer of 1998 my family and I happened to be in Memphis, TN, for a family wedding. One day we took off from the festivities and went to the National Civil Rights Museum, a museum that has been built around the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated almost 32 years ago.

     

    Does one have to have lived through that terrible day in April 1968 to feel as I did when I saw the balcony where Rev. King was shot? With his assassination, I lost the naive hopes of my youth. I realized that the struggle between good and evil is an ongoing struggle. It will never be won. It requires courage and sacrifice on the part of committed people, year after year, century after century. I entered the Lorraine Motel, now a National Civil Rights Museum, with awe. Here was a tribute not only to Martin Luther King, Jr. but to the many other people who waged the long, hard fight for civil rights.

     

    I first became involved in the civil rights movement as a college student. My deepening commitment to the movement was not entirely altruistic. This was in the early sixties. At the university in the south where I went to school, I discovered that it was against school policy for me to bring a nonwhite friend to eat with me in the cafeteria. MY civil rights were being violated. Such infringement on my personal liberty was against everything I had learned about American freedoms when I was growing up in Oklahoma. That’s when I understood that civil rights is an issue not only for African Americans but for all of us.

     

    It was a powerful experience to work our way slowly through the civil rights museum, looking at the photographs and reading the history of events. The museum focuses on the fifties and sixties, but reaches much further back in time as well. My daughter searched for and found photographs of a few white women who played courageous roles in the civil rights movement. As we moved along, however, we were aware that there were few other white people in this museum. Busloads of African American children from Memphis schools, African American couples, families, and individuals . . . many people were there, in hushed and reverent awe as we were, but very few white people. Do white people take their civil rights for granted? Is it location? While the Lorraine Motel is a fitting place for a tribute to Martin Luther King and to the struggle for civil rights, it also seemed to us that this museum, so well conceived and executed, should be invited and helped to open another branch of the National Civil Rights Museum right on the mall in Washington, DC

     

    This museum should be at the center of our national life. Civil rights is a national issue. From the moment the founders of our country fought for freedom from England while they encouraged and profited from slavery, our country has been both a symbol of political rights for the individual and a contradictory battleground. The rights of the individual and the greed and prejudice of the majority have been at war. The history of abuse of the civil rights of African Americans and their fight to obtain their rights is a part of the American story. We should all know and honor this story. It’s about us and who we are as a country. When we hear of horrific abuses of minorities in other countries, we need to know that our country has been and is guilty of such abuse as well. But we also need to be proud that we have a long history of struggle, struggle by heroic African Americans and visionary white men and women, to extend the rights of our constitution to all our citizens.

     

    So I’d like to see a branch of the National Civil Rights Museum in our nation’s capitol. The history of slavery and the struggle for civil rights are at the heart of who we are as a country. We must never forget to honor those in our history who fought to make our country live up to its Bill of Rights, for we need such courageous and committed leadership in every generation.

     

    * * *
     

    [Lois Eby is an artist and a writer. This essay first aired as a commentary on Vermont Public Radio on 16 February 2000]

     


      

     

    In Their February Ghetto
    or
    What’s Wrong With Black History Month
     

    Even though having a Black History Month is a whole lot better than having none at all. And even though Black History Month is over. And also because– as one of our friends points out, “You might know February would be Black History Month: it’s the shortest month of the year!” We wanted to issue this edition of The Judevine Mountain Emailite, dedicated to issues of race, after Black History Month was over, because we’ve got a problem with the idea of Black History Month.

     

    A little while ago I heard on a Public Radio Station which serves this area that they would play, on one of the classical music programs, William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony. My question is:

     

    Is it only in February that this Public Radio station plays the music of William Grant Still? And if so, why?

     

    In other words, the trouble with Black History Month is: too many of us white folks can just go visit our Black brothers and sisters in their February ghetto and then forget about them and ourselves in relation to them and the fundamental issues of race in America the rest of the year.

     

    If Black History Month ghettoizes both the contributions of Black Americans and the history of Africans in America, then Black History Month does a great disservice to us all.

     

    Black folks are not going to forget about their contributions or their history the other eleven months of the year. It is up to us white folks to avoid ghettoizing Black history, people and contributions the other eleven months as well.

     

    [NOTE: The Judevine Mountain Emailite publishes articles on race year ’round. For more essays on race in America see back issues of The Judevine Mountain Emailite, numbers 18171363 and2]

     


     

      

     

    and finally . . .

     

    The Millennium’s Most Noteworthy In Another Color 
    or
    It All Depends on Where You’re Coming From
     

    Now that the Millennium has come and gone, we can put aside, for a time at least, the top 100 thises and thats.

     

    At the top of the lists most white people saw last year were folks like Elvis Presley, Hitler and The Pope. But before we depart the subject entirely it seems well to remember that IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHERE YOU’RE COMING FROM.

     

    To wit: this news item from Caribbean Life (the Queens/Long Island Edition) for Dec. 28, 1999:

     

    “Marcus Mosiah Garvey has emerged as the most noteworthy individual of the century. Readers of a Caribbean publication called EVERYBODY’S magazine voted the nationalist the ‘Person of the Century.’ “No one can argue” the article states “with the singular strides that Marcus Garvey made in publicizing the plight of Black people.”

     

    Dr Julius Garvey, the son of Marcus M. Garvey said, “My father attempted to reverse racism. Marcus had an independent mind, an African mind.”

     

    Other people on the most noteworthy list were: Dr. Eric Williams (Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago); Bob Marley (singer/songwriter); Michael Manley (Prime Minister of Jamaica); Sir Garfield Sobers (cricketer); Derek Walcott (Nobel recipient) and Dr. Slinger Francisco (calypsonian, a.k.a. the Mighty Sparrow).

     


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    DAVID’S NOTES:

     

    It was a year ago today I sent out THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #1. By the way, this little cyberzine is named after and in honor of Harry Golden’s CAROLINA ISRAELITE.

    Forty years ago this year I helped create and became a co-editor of a little, rebellious, anti-establishment, underground magazine at my college in Ohio. We called it THE ANGRY I. The title stood for The Angry Intellectual. The title was also a pun on and an allusion to that San Francisco night spot called The Hungry Eye where, at that time, satirists hung out. Our logo was a bloodshot eye.

    I’ve had my hand in politics and journalism in a small way, off and on, ever since. So it seemed natural and logical last year–in the middle of the campaign to stop the conviction of the impeached President–to create another little magazine.


    GAY RIGHTS IN VERMONT

    As all of you probably know by now, the Supreme Court of Vermont recently ruled that committed homosexual relationships should have the same rights and privileges afforded to straight married couples. There are over 1,000 rights that come with marriage which are currently denied to gay couples– including hospital visitation/medical decisions, rights of survivorship, power of attorney, filing joint tax returns, and so forth.

    Very shortly after the Supreme Court announced their decision, Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s Office was bombarded with phone calls from anti-gay individuals opposing the decision. It seems various right-wing radio program hosts are primarily responsible for this phone campaign.

    Word from the Governor’s Office is that they got about 900 calls the week before Christmas; most were from out-of-state and most were vehemently opposed to the Supreme Court decision. These calls were the first time many of the front line staff had had to deal with this type of hate and the calls did not leave the staff in much of a holiday mood.

    In the weeks since, supporters of the decision have also gotten on the phone with many calls to the Governor’s office in favor of the decision.

    The Vermont Legislature convened this week and one of the items on the agenda for this session is a bill to extend to gay and lesbian couples the civil rights and protections afforded heterosexual married couples.

    This will surely be a contentious session in the Legislature, and we urge all Emailites to contact Governor Howard Dean or Lt. Governor Doug Racine, and register your support for this bill.

    However, please, when you call, call with compassion in your heart for the people who are stuck answering all these phone calls. Dealing with this rush of phone messages is just one of the many other things they have to do. Be kind, and thank them for their time.

    Contact: Governor Howard Dean’s office:
    phone: (802) 828-3333 8AM-4PM
    Fax: (802) 828-3339
    or email: Lieutenant Governor – Douglas A. Racine at ltgov@leg.state.vt.us with a brief note to register your support.


    RACHAEL’S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY

    From Emailite Andy Doe comes the recommendation to get on line and contact RACHEL’S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY. E-mail: erf@rachel.org

    Issue #679, December 9, ’99, for example, has a very interesting article, “MAKING SENSE OUT OF THE WTO,” which breaks down the meaning and significance of The Battle in Seattle and the purposes of the WTO.

    Or contact:
    Environmental Research Foundation
    P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403
    Fax (410) 263-8944

    Back issues are available from http://www.rachel.org.


    [Editor’s Note: In the December 15-22 issue of SEVEN DAYS, a weekly newspaper that comes out of Burlington, VT, I published the following essay on race in the Green Mountains.]

    HIDIN’ OUT IN HONKY HEAVEN
    by David Budbill

    I came to Vermont in 1969 for a lot of reasons. I’d saved some money and I wanted to take a year off to write. As a city boy, I had that eternal dream of going to the country, to the wilderness. I came here also because I believed in Black Power.

    During the school years 1967 through 1969 I taught at an all Black college in Pennsylvania. It was the late 1960s: assassinations, revolutions in Africa, riots in the streets of America, ghettos on fire. One Christmas vacation, one of our students was shot to death by the police in Trenton, New Jersey, for nothing more than standing on the street. Another student, an African, spent that same Christmas vacation in Sweden buying ambulances and sub-machine guns for the revolution back home in what was then called Southwest Africa.

    Here in America, Black Power was at its peak. As the Self-Appointed Chairman, at the college, of the White Folks Auxiliary of the Black Power Movement, I sincerely believed that the time of “Black and White Together” was over; each race had to go take care of its own. My job was to deal with my own racism and the racism of my people.

    I also felt it was my duty to get my white face out of that Black school. I believed that sincerely, but my exit from that world was not, rest assured, pure altruism. I took seriously–I approved of!–the militants who shouted, “Move on over, Mutha’, or we gonna move on over you!” Such slogans seemed to me to be the only appropriate response to ubiquitous white power and calcified white privilege. Thus my move to Vermont occurred in a public as well as a personal context.

    But how, I ask myself now with hindsight, could moving to the whitest state in America be a way to deal with racism?

    When I first came here a T-shirt popular at that time said: VERMONT: THE WAY AMERICA USED TO BE. In other words: clean, wholesome, community oriented, small, rural and . . . white.

    I also ask myself, again with hindsight, how many of us white people, people like me–recently or not so recently immigrated–came here because it was easier NOT to confront the racial conflicts inherent in American life? Here in this land of whiteness we could relax, live with less stress, not have to confront daily the tensions inherent in a more ethnically and racially diverse place. How many of us escaped here to live simpler, cleaner, whiter lives?

    By running to this bastion of whiteness 30 years ago, I had become, willy-nilly and only half-consciously, a part of the opening salvo in what became known as White Flight.

    All these years later, I am still asking myself how we can, here in Vermont, deal with the issues of race and ethnicity when we live in what, compared to the rest of America, is essentially a segregated society.

    The answer is coming to live with us.

    In less than 20 years the majority of United States citizens will be non-white. Already more than half the population of California is non-white. Yet we white Americans still go about our business acting as if we don’t know these simple and inevitable demographic facts. We white people have always been a tiny minority of the world’s population, but our imperialism and ethnocentricity let us forget that.

    Now however America increasingly looks the way the world really looks. White America knows this, if only half-consciously, and that knowledge propels rampant fear, more and more white flight from our cities and many other forms of ethnic and racial tension and reaction all across the country. We all know our white world is changing color.

    Vermont is changing too. Between 1980 and 1990 the absurdly small non-white population of Vermont doubled; it went from .5% to 1%. My guess is, between 1990 and 2000 the non-white population here will have at least doubled again.

    At the same time that non-whites arrive here in increasing numbers, Vermont also becomes more and more a place for rich white people, and with that increase comes a gentrified and self-satisfied smugness that settles down over this place, a smugness that can come only from gobs of white privilege, the Hidin’ Out In Honky Heaven mentality, so to speak.

    It is easy to be white, liberal-minded and politically correct, in this bucolic and essentially segregated place. However, as Vermont begins to REALLY look like the rest of America and the rest of the world, how will Vermonters react?

    I fear there may be serious trouble ahead when white privilege collides with a growing non-white population. The liberality of Vermonters is yet to be tested, but that test, it seems to me, is just around the corner.

    Crisis, however, is also opportunity. As Vermont becomes more and more non-white we will have the chance to admit that the way we have lived here in the past is not only odd, but seriously at odds with the rest of the world.

    The new millennium will offer us the chance to open ourselves to a bigger, more diverse and colorful life.

    We will have the chance to admit that the segregated life we have lived here in the past has limited us severely. It has hurt us and made us small.

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    THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE: A Cyberzine An On-line and On-going Journal of Politics and Opinion #17 20 December 1999

    DAVID’S NOTES:

    IN OVER THE CYBERTRANSOM

    >>>I know I said in JME #16 that the next one would be after the first of the year, but a lot has come in over the cybertransom recently so I thought a few samples the incoming would be of interest; therefore this one last Emailite before the end of the millennium.

    >>>Here then, five little packages to put under the Christmas tree, beside the Hanukkah bush, on the Kwanzaa mkeka (mat) beside the kikombe cha umoja (the unity cup) or wherever-else you’d like to put ‘em.

    >>>First, a United Nations operated website to visit where you can donate food to the hungry without forking over any cash.

    >>>Second, some notes from the WTO Battle-in-Seattle from Starhawk, self-described pagan and witch, who was arrested and jailed in that gentle city.

    >>>Third, White Youths Fire on Black School: The News That’s Not in the News.

    >>>Fourth, a Holiday Greeting and look at contemporary life from Slam-Poet and Wandering American Shannon Williams.

    >>>And finally, a few cranky, millennium-departing words from The Editor.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    THE HUNGER SITE

    In the spirit of the holiday season, here is an easy gift to make. And this one is free.

    Go to The Hunger Site at the UN. Click the button and somewhere in the world some hungry person gets a meal to eat, at no cost to you. The food is paid for by corporate sponsors (who gain advertising in the process because you see their logo).

    All you do is go to the site and click on the attached link. You’re only allowed one click per day. So spread the word to others. Visit the site, add it to your bookmarks and pass the word.

    The web site is: http://www.thehungersite.com

    * * * * * * * * * *

    STARHAWK REPORTS FROM SEATTLE

    Dear friends,

    I want to thank you all for all the energy, healing, and concern I’ve felt from you over the past week. I’m out of jail now, and recovering rapidly from bronchitis.

    I’ve been through one of the most intense and powerful experiences of my life–and I’ve had a few! Physically, it was often very hard. But over and over again I would look around at the other women I was locked up with, and realize that there was no place else in the world I would rather be at that moment.

    So many people were sending me protection that I had some very surreal experiences. Just one example: When we got arrested, clubs were smashing down on people to the left and right of me. Cops were throwing protesters to the ground, smashing their faces in the concrete, splitting a head or two. Yet I was arrested by a reluctant young man who I could tell picked me especially so he could be sure I wouldn’t be brutalized and asked me politely after I was handcuffed if I would like to sit on the curb.

    I saw incredible acts of courage around me. On Tuesday, our group held a blockade line in the only section that remained peaceful and festive all day. We received whiffs of tear gas blowing in from afar, but were never attacked by the police. Around the corner, however, was a war zone, where groups of blockades held their lines against horses while being beaten, tear gassed and pepper sprayed.

    I myself was not hurt or beaten or roughed up. But I was locked up, for five days, in a high-security real live jail, complete with concrete cells and iron bars and lights that never turn off, even when you’re sleeping.

    Along with over five hundred other people, I was handcuffed, shackled, stripped of all my personal possessions, and subjected to the force and control of other human beings who let’s just say did not have my personal welfare in their hearts.

    What criminal act did I commit to warrant this treatment? I walked in a peaceful procession to exercise my constitutional right to freedom of speech, and refused to relinquish that right. When ordered to leave, I sat down.

    The media is working hard to portray the protests as a violent riot. Do not believe them. In reality, there were thousand and thousands of peaceful protesters in Seattle and a tiny handful of people who broke windows. The police did not pursue the windowbreakers–in fact, when one of them was surrounded and subdued by a group of nonviolent protesters the police refused to arrest him.

    While the police complain that they “were not prepared for the violence”, in reality they condoned and possibly instigated the vandalism that did occur, and that violence is dwarfed by the immense violence of the police, who used tear gas on peaceful protesters, pepper-sprayed handcuffed women in their cells, shot nuns with rubber bullets, beat seated blockaders with billy clubs, and ran amuck and terrorized whole neighborhoods.

    What the police were truly unprepared for was the power of nonviolence–not to mention magic! None of the media seem to have a clue as to how the blockade was actually organized. The Direct Action Network, the group I worked with, had been preparing and training people for months. Thousands of people went through nonviolence trainings, to learn how to respond peacefully and courageously in the face of brutality. I helped to give some of the trainings and have the deepest respect for the organizers. We practiced ways to protect each other in dangerous situations and prepared for jail solidarity to prevent individuals from being singled out.

    Those who took part in the blockade on Tuesday and the civil disobedience on Wednesday were organized around small groups, affinity groups–kind of like covens for the action. Each group made its own strategic decisions by consensus, and included both people willing to risk arrest and those who wanted to offer support. Groups sent representatives to spokes-councils where the actions were co-ordinated and overall decisions were made.

    There was no top down leadership telling people what to do–and in emergency, high stress situations, small groups could quickly make their own decisions and take action. The power of this model, I’ve come to believe, is that the police simply cannot see this kind of organization.

    Our plans were made in public meetings, there was no way to keep our strategy secret–yet after months of preparation we were able to completely surround and blockade the Convention Center and hold it closed for the first day of meetings.

    The women I was with in jail were mostly young, but amazingly strong, caring, thoughtful, intelligent and politically aware. There were also a sprinkling of older women whose courage and humor were an inspiration to us. I was hungry, sick, exhausted and in pain a lot of the time–but I was never for a moment unhappy to be where I was. Instead, I experienced a depth of almost radiant happiness like a pure current in a roiling river that I could tap into whenever my spirit started to flag.

    Why did we do it? I did it because I am a Pagan and a Witch. I know that in the vast, broad Pagan world out there, we don’t all share the same politics–but I think there are some core things that we do share and the WTO touches all of them. We worship nature. The WTO is part of a global attempt to elevate profit as a value that supersedes nature or any other value. It overrides the laws we have made through out own democratic governments, and in fact becomes a metapower that makes elected governments ineffectual. And the level of police violence and repression that was called out to attempt to protect this ministerial is an example of the kind of force we can expect to face in a corporate controlled world.

    We won. The WTO will never, now, be able to quietly assume power and consolidate its rule outside of public awareness. Whatever happens with it, and whatever new strategy they devise to meet the same ends, the issue has been brought to the public table.

    And a new generation of young activists have been through a life-changing experience. A few uncomfortable days in the company of heroic and beautiful women seems a very small price to pay.

    Love and bright Solstice to you all, Blessed be, Starhawk

    * * * * * * * * * *

    WHITE YOUTHS FIRE ON BLACK SCHOOL: THE NEWS THAT’S NOT IN THE NEWS

    On October 28, 1999, three white youths, ages 15, 16, and 17, fired into a classroom, occupied by second and third graders, at the Moravia Miracle Christian School, an all black school, in Baltimore City, Maryland.

    The Reverend Frank Murphy, pastor of the church that operates the school said, the white youths were arrested and charged with reckless behavior. They were released 3 hours later into the custody of their parents.

    Except for one brief mention on one local station the news media did not report this story.

    Imagine what the media would have done had three black teenagers fired into a classroom of white 2nd and 3rd graders. Imagine also, what the “justice” system would have done with those three black teenagers.

    * * * * * * * * * *

     

    TEXAS COWGIRL AND SLAM-POET GOES TO SAN FRANCISCO, HOME TO DALLAS AND THEN FINDS HERSELF IN THE NATION’S CAPITOL

    Dear Friends,

    If I characterize DC as tight, establishmentarian, & clique-y with a straight-jacket aesthetic you get as a signing bonus when you buy season tickets to Corcoran special exhibits, then I wouldn’t be telling you anything you haven’t heard before.

    Same goes if I exotify & bombard you with images of 2000-bed shelters, District AIDS statistics, and comparing the poverty-pay for which teachers in DC public schools have to endanger themselves daily, versus the entry-level golden salary of a Montgomery County teacher just over the Maryland line.

    My DC is more mundane than all that right now. Fine with me. I’ll at least tell you what I’ve noticed has changed since I left nine years ago.

    Complaining about the traffic is as popular a local pastime as whining about the Redskins’ season. In any outlying DC suburb, to commute responsibly by metro, you have to get to a station by 8:00 am on weekdays or else every single parking garage within a 2-mile radius, even the ones that charge an hourly rate on which you could feed a small family in Zimbabwe for a week, are closed off with signs that say “Lot Full.”

    At local Safeways, in a special case all by their lonesome (mustn’t. . . taint. . . the pure stuff. . .) you can buy organic milk, cheese, and other dairy goodies from the California company that just bought out Vermont’s own Organic Cow, and almost every suburban neighborhood surrounding DC has its own Fresh Fields, subsidiary of Whole Foods, sister to Bread and Circus.

    And DotComs have popped up all over the skin of this metroplex like some kind of weird consumer measles. They ooze out of my Morning Edition on NPR. They bleed from the billboards, spring from my mailbox, and infect my fingers as I page through 20,000 classified ads praying silently for that one deep pocket who’s gonna pay me to write poetry.

    Moving to this area right before the holidays is one of the strangest twilight-zone experiences a girl could have. My mother backed me up on a recent mall procurement mission: Shannon’s First-Ever Interview Suit. We groaned along with the bitter but impressively tenacious body of shoppers moving through that overlit first-world bazaar like the slow rumble at the beginning of an avalanche. I felt something akin to what poor Tarzan must have experienced when “his people” dragged him out of the green jungle & back to jolly ol’ England. Revulsion, of course, terror & awe, but somewhere under it. . . not sure quite how to say it. . . but have you SEEN the slick jackets they have at Banana Republic? I mean, that’s some HOT leather!

    Back up a little: my last night in San Francisco on my poetry-kinda-tour, November 19, was a soul revolution. Living Word Project put on a huge show called Generations. It was a collaboration of visual artists, dancers, poets, musicians, DJ’s, activists, and healers giving testament to ancestry & progeny. Elders and young people wove together on stage & in the audience, building a rich sense of history and a brilliant vision for our next steps.

    I tried to carry this with me when I migrated on to The Big D, but I spent too long in Dallas. That bastard wore me down. Stripped me clean of the last of my integrity. At 4:30 am on one of my last nights in town, I dragged my sorry butt back to Gramma’s House after extricating myself from another less-than-brilliant social conundrum in a van with a freshly-shattered window, spent & burnt at the core. Like someone had spiked my Dr. Pepper with high-octane then offered me a Marlboro Red. My soul was in ashes somewhere out on Central Expressway & the woman left in my body was a chick I decided, pretty damn quick, I don’t wanna be stuck co-habitating with till the lease runs out.

    So I came back here to DC wrecked & ready to resurrect. Which I’m slowly doing.

    But building a window into yrself back up from a pile of grit takes a while. Piece-by-superglued-piece. Dance jams. . . obsessively cleaning house. . . taking care of that InsuranceTicketsBankAccountsDriver’sLicense type stuff I’ve always wished I could hire a secretary to do. . . NOT saying yes to the nineteen-year-old possibility across the street . . . sending mountains of resumes for jobs I don’t want but THANK YOU for your consideration I have a diverse skill-base and would like to highlight for you the experience I’ve had morphing into a thoroughly spineless peon chameleon responding to the pathetic needs of countless incompetent supervisors I would love the opportunity to add my skills and enthusiasm to your team SINCERELY

    Shannon E. Williams

    I just ain’t sure how to go about reinventing myself. I wanna be happy giggling uproariously at Ally McBeal on Monday nights while my suit hangs obediently in the closet for my 6:30 am jolt into dailiness. But that damned slam-poetry stage is like a good old lover with a mean streak. I can’t even stay away for two weeks before I stride right back in for a whippin. I guess it’s in the blood. Some kind of hyper-immune response to the commercial virus hiding in the water here. Maybe the soul keeps fighting even when the mind seems to give up. I guess that’s something to hold onto thru the holidays.

    Love & Kisses & Warm Holiday Wishes (early for x-mas, late for Hanukkah, just about right for today, I hope),

    shannon (razerblade99@hotmail.com)

    * * * * * * * * * *

    ONE LAST, CRANKY, MILLENNIUM-DEPARTING WORD FROM THE EDITOR

    A few months ago I saw a program called GREED on one of the TV networks. It was an open and unabashed defense, and promotion, of pure and simple greed. Ted Turner–not exactly Mother Teresa himself–was on the show as a kind of straw man, a fall guy, to be ridiculed for giving away a few million of his dollars, by other corporate CEO’s who argued that the best thing for everyone in America is for people like themselves to make as much money as possible and keep it all or use it to generate greater profits for their businesses.

    The program posited the idea that since profits in the private sector are what make our country prosperous and strong, any notion of anything even remotely approaching the idea of “the public good” is not only laughable but, in fact, actually bad for the economy.

    Here at the end of the millennium as the Stock Market soars off into the stratosphere, and the New Rich drive off into A Bright New Day in their Sports Utility Vehicles decked out in their Designer Clothes sipping a double-half-caf-decaf-organic-low-fat-latte, it truly is what Ronald Reagan said it was: It’s Morning in America, and, because it finally truly is Morning in America, finally Free Market Capitalism and “the private sector” can stand up and shout to the whole world what they’ve meant to say all along:

    Anything public is not only bad for the economy, it is, in fact, evil and must be eliminated as soon as possible: public transportation, public parks, public agricultural and medical research, public libraries, public health care, public education, public care of the poor and the mentally ill–they all must go.

    In other words, when self-aggrandizing greed and personal gratification are all that matter, when Money and Me and an open hatred of “the public good” stand at the center of our society’s philosophy of life–what can we expect from the future?

    Not much to pop a millennial cork over, I’d say.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    Best Wishes for The Holidays from all of us here at JME Headquarters and from our world wide network of correspondents also.

    * * * * * * * * * *

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