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Has someone started fuckyeahelenaandsonia.tumblr.com yet?

browngurlwfro:

“For a quarter-century, Antonin Scalia has been the reigning bully of the Supreme Court, but finally a couple of justices are willing to face him down. As it happens, the two manning up to take on Nino the Terrible are women: the court’s newest members, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The acerbic Scalia, the court’s longest-serving justice, got his latest comeuppance Wednesday morning, as he tried to make the absurd argument that Congress’s renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 by votes of 98 to 0 in the Senate and 390 to 33 in the House did not mean that Congress actually supported the act. Scalia, assuming powers of clairvoyance, argued that the lawmakers were secretly afraid to vote against this “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
Kagan wasn’t about to let him get away with that. In a breach of decorum, she interrupted his questioning of counsel to argue with him directly. “Well, that sounds like a good argument to me, Justice Scalia,” she said. “It was clear to 98 senators, including every senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation.” …
Sotomayor allowed the lawyer for the Alabama county seeking to overturn the law to get just four sentences into his argument before interrupting him. “Assuming I accept your premise — and there’s some question about that — that some portions of the South have changed, your county pretty much hasn’t,” she charged. “Why would we vote in favor of a county whose record is the epitome of what caused the passage of this law to start with?” Moments later, Kagan pointed out that “Alabama has no black statewide elected officials” and has one of the worst records of voting rights violations. Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito tried to assist the Alabama county’s lawyer by offering some friendly hypotheticals, but Sotomayor wasn’t interested in hearing that. “The problem with those hypotheticals is obvious,” she said, because “it’s a real record as to what Alabama has done to earn its place on the list.” Sotomayor continued questioning as if she were the only jurist in the room. “Discrimination is discrimination,” she informed him, “and what Congress said is it continues.””

DANA MILBANK, writing in The Washington Post, “Sotomayor, Kagan Ready for Battles.”

Has someone started fuckyeahelenaandsonia.tumblr.com yet?

(via inothernews)

For future reference: Next time anyone tries to tell you that Presidential elections don’t matter/candidates are all the same.

Barack Obama put both these women on the SCOTUS, and I can barely begin to start thanking him enough for that. They aren’t as progressive as I may wish on some things, but hot damn—someone’s finally sticking it to Scalia in session.

(via aka14kgold)

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? 

Barack Obama’s Education Grade

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


While the nation was gearing up for the Olympics, President Barack Obama was quietly extending his legacy. On July 26, he signed an executive order establishing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The initiative, which will be administered by the Department of Education, aims to “strengthen the nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages, and help ensure that African Americans receive a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college, a satisfying career, and productive citizenship.”

It’s not a surprising action when you consider the president’s stump speeches and his own story. At the National Action Network’s Keepers of the Dream Awards Gala last year, hecalled education “the civil rights issue of our time,” and said that “giving every one of our children the best possible education…is the single most important factor in determining whether they succeed.”

It’s a philosophy that Melody Barnes, the president’s former domestic policy advisor, says is ingrained in who he is as a person and a leader.

“For all of us who understand Civil Rights history, ultimately, the fight for the laws and the changes to the Constitution were a matter of creating greater opportunity for African Americans and others who had been treated unfairly. We’ve seen a lot accomplished because of those laws, but at the same time, we know there are still so many barriers,” she explains. “Having worked with the president and understanding his background and his work in communities where there are a number of people of color, and where there are also people who have been in tough economic straits for some time, I believe that education can be the key to moving forward generation by generation. The president and first lady not only talk about that publicly, but they talk about it personally. The president understands that in a very intuitive way, but also in a practical and economic way as well.”

In our Education Special earlier this fall, we reported that from early education through college, African Americans are typically behind the curve. Here, we examine how the education policies of the president’s first term have addressed the causes of this opportunity gap.

Read more here

Pro vs Con: Should We Immunize Our Children?

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

It’s a decision that many new parents struggle with: To vaccinate or not? Everyone has an opinion on the subject, from pediatricians who refuse to see children who aren’t fully vaccinated, to parents who swear by the Dr. Sears Alternative Schedule, to those who won’t let a needle touch their little ones on religious grounds. But which is the right path for your family?

We asked folks on both sides of the debate to make their case. Dr. John Snyder, associate director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Baystate Children’s Hospital is on the pro side; that is, he thinks children should be vaccinated according to the schedule recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On the other side is Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a nonprofit she co-founded in 1982 to “prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education.” We asked both the exact same questions; their answers have been edited only for clarity and space. Give it a read, then head to the comments to tell us where you fall in this debate. Let the discussion begin:

Read more here.

1000 Words

Photo Credit: Frank Kozik

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

1000 Words

Courtesy of African Americans for Obama

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)

Parlour on B+GM: In Defense of the Straight-Haired Natural Girl



We feature the best of Parlour Magazine's need to read info in this space twice a month. Enjoy!



By Shannon Washington

Caesar? Three times. Locs? Six years. Lion-like curly fro? I’m a pro. Cornrowed bouffant? I swear I was the first in Brooklyn. When it comes to natural hair- I’ve pretty much done it all since I decided to stop relaxing my hair during my senior year of high school, close to 14 years ago. It was 1997 and after growing out my Halle Berry-esque cut out into a shoulder length bob – I started going longer and longer between touch-ups. Aside from being busy with graduation and a near-expulsion experience (suburban thuggin!) I became pretty lazy with my upkeep and got a kick out of the volume that my hair had when new growth mixed with the relaxed part. My hair was thick, shiny and wavy. It felt alive and I liked it.

After figuring out a transitional technique that worked for me (did you know that I INVENTED the ‘twist out’?) I stopped relaxing all together. By the time I graduated high school and enter Howard University I had a lion’s mane of thick, curly, shiny hair. It was on that campus that I started what has/will be a lifelong evolution on my political, personal and beauty preferences and naturally my outward appearance followed suit. When I accepted my degree, I threw up a peace sign in Cramton Auditorium with a shoulder-length bundle of dreadlocks that I carried on into my early twenties. After cutting my locs off in a heatwave-induced rage, I’ve continued to rock a plethora of natural styles that compliment my mood of the moment. I’ve never saw a ‘loctician’ or visited a natural hair salon—aside from cornrowed-styles, I twisted my own locs and have always maintained my curly hair myself. If it’s natural, I just let it do it’s natural thing, with as little guidance as possible. And don’t ask me what “type” of natural hair I have (B2, Prop 8, ??) or when I made the “big chop” because I honestly have no true idea of what you are speaking of. I’d consider myself to be a casual natural woman, meaning…it’s just my hair. No huge event, grandstanding,  personal politics, message boards, technique devotion involved.

Which brings me to this. About a year or so ago, I started to get regular blow-outs. After going to my local salon to get a trim I noticed that my ends had fell victim to endless twisting, brushing…just being messed with in the name of natural “styles.” So about three weeks later—I went back…and it’s become a regular thing for me to have long straight hair for long periods of time. Frankly, my hair grows faster, and it’s extremely easier to maintain for my lifestyle. I keep it conditioned, and after leaving the salon, I don’t put any heat in it. I don’t even use oil-sheen (except when its a #struggle day) and rotate between a variety easy/maleable styles and ponytails. And yes, I work out, I sweat and let it be great. The less I do to it, the better it looks and there is nothing like having variety on a hot day that involves a body of water. I will gladly jump in the pool and emerge with a ‘fro full of curls.

But somehow during this time, I think I lost my ‘natural’ card to some. After trading hair horror stories with an old colleague last month, I described myself as “natural” while standing there with chest-length straight hair. The look on her face said everything. She jokingly referred to me as ‘faux natural.’ [Sidenote: I hate the term ‘natural’ when describing a group of women, ie “What’s up with the naturals?” Are we one big singing group?] And while I understand where she was coming from, I replied by affirming that if having natural hair means hair that is free of processing/chemicals, etc—then I rightfully fit in the category. The important thing is that it grows amazingly fast, it moves, it shines and it is strong. So what if it is straight? Am I any less “down” than I was with locs? Can the straight-haired natural girls get some love too? Is it even that serious to you?

Before writing this, I mentioned the idea to a few girlfriends who are curly and straight hair wearers and they all lamented at the growing number of what Solange rightfully labeled the “Natural Hair Police.” Basically, the women who live by a totalarian code of what natural hair is. Sounds to me like the same folks who administered the ‘brown paper-bag’ test to sistas back in the day and enforced the light-skinned, long hair code of beauty that still haunts many Black women today. If this entire movement to embrace our natural textures is to be honest and true, we also need to embrace the variety that it holds—to include the option of straightening it with heat and actually liking it. Besides, why would I want to use a “natural” product to give me a different, “desired” curl pattern other than my own? Basically, if I my hair texture is that of say…Viola Davis, then why are you cramming products in my face so that my hair can look like Cree Summer?  That doesn’t sound natural to me. Or over twisting/brushing/fiddling/braiding your hair until it breaks off and it looks dry and horrible? But anyway, that’s another post.

My straight hair isn’t about me attempting to look at all European or ‘acceptable” to some. I’ve maintained a pretty amazing career with curly and straight hair. It’s me maximizing the versatility and options that I have with it. With all that said, there a plenty of women like myself with a ponytail swinging that are just as natural with their hair as the next chick with a twist-out. Who still walks slow in the rain and don’t mind being sweat-drenched after a night of dancing. If natural hair is to be truly accepted as a norm with Black women, then we need to accept the natural desire to experiment and change.

Where here, we’re queer straight, and it’s great!
In addition to this snazzy website, Shannon is also the founding director of another image-challenging online movement, Feminist Enough


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