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This Is Why I Vote


Apparently, voting is exhausting.

This isn’t my first rodeo.

I cast my very first ballot for Michael Dukakis. I was seven years old, and my second grade class held a mock election. My candidate won the suburban Cleveland, Ohio, contest in a landslide. But it didn’t matter much to me—I was excited just to participate. My Black Nationalist father had already instilled in me the importance of the very act, told me about the lives that had been sacrificed so that I, a little brown girl, could drop my folded piece of scrap paper in a cardboard box and know that my choice would be counted along with everyone else’s. 

My first real election was in 2000, when I voted absentee (I was at Howard University in Washington, D.C. by then, and my vote was crucial in the battleground state I called home) and worked hard to help other students do the same. But the sense of satisfaction wasn’t the same, as I watched Bush II steal the whole shebang.

 

I didn’t get to experience that initial thrill again until 2008, when I cast my vote in a crowded school gym in Harlem, New York, surrounded by my neighbors, some of whom had never felt compelled to vote, all thrown together out of an intense need to make history and revise our future. I couldn’t sleep the night before, and the two-hour, 13-minute wait was a breeze; who was I to complain that I had to—horror of horrors—wait in a line to vote?

But I didn’t really expect to feel anything new this time around. I mean, it’s the same candidate (whom I still support), and I’m still just as thankful to those who came before as I was four years ago. But as I joined the line today with Babygirl in my arms, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the occasion. And it was an occasion. It was her very first time being a part of the process, and though I know she won’t remember it (she is after all only 16 months old), it means everything. Her little face, resolute and playful at the same damn time, nearly broke me down. So much of being a parent is about responsibility, not just to show your kids the “right” path, but to give them the foundation and discernment to decide for themselves what right is, and act accordingly. Every day, we have opportunities big and small to help them get there, and today felt like one of the big moments. When, an hour later, she sat on my lap so we could cast our eleven-page electronic ballot, all I could think was, “This is why I vote.”

I vote so that she can make her own decisions about her health. I vote so that she can graduate from the college of her dreams without crippling debt. I vote so that she can live in a world where petroleum is obsolete. I vote so that she can start her own business. I vote so she can live in a country where we take care of each other. I vote so that she can make her ancestors smile. I vote so that she can vote.

Why do YOU vote? 

Why Does Paul Ryan Hate Women?


I wrote this for Loop21, where I am a political contributor.

I’ve never really believed in the notion of “bad” words. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve long believed that some words are inappropriate in some situations — for example, an emphatic f-bomb in the middle of a sermon, or a muttered “
merde” in the presence of elders. But both my parents have been known to use a well-timed curse and I learned early that words only carry the power you grant them. But there are some words that I don’t use, not because some moral authority says they are dirty, but because they come with bloody, painful yesterdays, and not-yet-scabbed over todays.

The n-word is one. The f-word is another (no, the other f-word). Two weeks ago, the Republican Party added a phrase to the short list: “legitimate rape.” It made its debut in a television appearance by Missouri congressman Todd Akin during an explanation of his stance on abortion (he’s against it, even in cases of rape), and I felt sick to my stomach when I heard it. It’s bad enough that someone who represents the good folks of many St. Louis suburbs has a view of rape that is not based on any type of reality and is especially offensive to millions of women who have suffered the pain and humiliation of rape. But when it was quickly revealed that the Republican Party’s pick to run for Vice President of this country has worked closed with Akin to limit the rights of women, this election took on a renewed sense of urgency. In the time since Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate, much has come to light about his record and his views. During his announcement speech, Romney said of Ryan: “He’s a person of great steadiness, whose integrity is unquestioned.”

But I beg to differ. This man, husband to Janna, father to Liza, son to Betty, seems to have a deep, abiding disregard for women. How else can you explain his positions on the issues that matter most to the fairer sex?

Read more here

abbyjean:

When it comes to keeping people out of poverty, the 2009 Recovery Act was probably the most effective piece of legislation since the 1935 Social Security Act. As we first described in a paper last November, six temporary stimulus initiatives that President Obama and Congress enacted in 2009 and 2010 kept 6.9 million Americans out of poverty in 2010. The six provisions — three new or expanded tax credits, two unemployment insurance enhancements, and a SNAP (food stamp) benefit expansion — were originally in the Recovery Act, though President Obama and Congress later extended or expanded some of them. The government’s official poverty measure counts only cash income. So, to see how these measures affected poverty, we used an alternative poverty measure that also considers the effect of government benefit programs like SNAP and tax credits. (Off the Charts Blog)

abbyjean:

When it comes to keeping people out of poverty, the 2009 Recovery Act was probably the most effective piece of legislation since the 1935 Social Security Act. As we first described in a paper last November, six temporary stimulus initiatives that President Obama and Congress enacted in 2009 and 2010 kept 6.9 million Americans out of poverty in 2010. The six provisions — three new or expanded tax credits, two unemployment insurance enhancements, and a SNAP (food stamp) benefit expansion — were originally in the Recovery Act, though President Obama and Congress later extended or expanded some of them. The government’s official poverty measure counts only cash income. So, to see how these measures affected poverty, we used an alternative poverty measure that also considers the effect of government benefit programs like SNAP and tax credits. (Off the Charts Blog)


I’m Kenrya Rankin Naasel, a lifestyle expert who—after much prodding from her friends—decided to share her hippie-dippie Black chick mama life.