Round 2: Success and a Mandate

With 55.9 percent of the vote, Jimmy Flannigan won District 6 with a mandate for placing results over ideology. Jimmy will be the first openly-gay man and the first person from Williamson County to serve on Austin City Council when he is inaugurated in January 2017. Read more below about 2016’s “epic rematch” via the Austin-American Statesman:

Jimmy Flannigan ousts City Council Member Don Zimmerman
by Elizabeth Findell

“Austin City Council hopeful Jimmy Flannigan declared victory before the counting was finished on Election Day votes. That came after District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman indicated to reporters he did not expect to overcome Flannigan’s strong lead in early voting results.

‘Don has pretty much said there’s no way to overcome the early voting,’ said Tim Kelly, Zimmerman’s campaign manager.

Photo by: Dustin Safranek | Jimmy Flannigan and campaign manager Allison Heinrich review ongoing poll results Tuesday, during a election night party at Serrano’s at Lakeline Mall.

RELATED: Clinton loss casts shadow on Flannigan’s council win

Flannigan, who built support as a softer alternative to Zimmerman’s often-fiery conservatism, ultimately won with 56 percent of the vote — a margin was bigger than he expected.

‘It’s definitely a mandate,’ he said. ‘They wanted to see leadership and they wanted to see someone work across the city.'”

Read the full Austin-American Statesman article here



On Wendy Davis and Political Purity

Wendy Davis has been in the news a fair few times in recent week reflecting on her campaign and Texas and otherwise — all of which is her prerogative. This evening I read an article on Politico where Wendy discusses the position she took on Open Carry, how it was a calculation she should not have made, and what it means in the context of mass shootings in America.

I’m not going to fully articulate this properly, but this is my blog, so that in turn is my prerogative. I can appreciate someone saying they were wrong and should have done better. I can appreciate them explaining what they were thinking and why as well as the present day implications of that mistake. Maybe it’s merely politically expedient to have changed one’s mind post fact, but maybe it’d be nice to be a little less cynical. There isn’t enough of that mea culpa in politics, or at least not in a more vulnerable and genuine way that allows folks to connect with the what and why versus the every word combed over boilerplate that doesn’t quite admit any more fault than required.

Yet, then again, often times when this change or evolution has happened seemingly the person who has changed their mind is criticized for not having been originally right etc. — be it a politician, a pundit, or the average person just trying to make it through the day. There is in my mind a dangerous vein of thinking that those who were originally right are inherently better people etc., and anyone who isn’t there yet or what have you is a fool, a bad person to be treated with scorn and derision (not to say at all that I have not fallen into this trap myself, and many times over at that).

In spending a minor amount of time the past few weeks reflecting on political rhetoric and the fact that there is seemingly an aversion to engagement that exceeds mere attribution to barriers to participation, gerrymandering, the media perpetuating a cycle of cynicism, etc., I can’t help but wonder if the toxicity of it all, the hyper polarization, or more importantly, the perception thereof of both, is playing an increasingly larger role. Perhaps what we are seeing is active and conscious disengagement due at least in part to a transition toward political purity. The question I find myself coming back to is does this purity allow for the types of values conversations and otherwise we spend hours on end talking about in messaging trainings? Does this emphasis on purity lead to a sort of dogmatism that is incompatible with with the honest and earnest engagement necessary to have a dialog with anyone who isn’t already on board with what you’re talking about — that is to meet them where they are? And does that not fly in the very face of the nature of human development?

I won’t pretend to have the answers to any of those questions today.

The more I reflect, the more this sort of circumstance bothers me as someone who has switched political parties and continues to develop positions on any of a myriad of issues I would not have considered taking in the past. My parents raised me to be thoughtful and compassionate, to treat those different from me with respect, to be generous with all I have, that there was nothing more important than my word, and many other such things. For my parents that stemmed from their worldview, from their faith tradition, from their desire to give back to their community through charity and volunteerism, and otherwise.

In truth, my ethics and my worldview did not really evolve for me to reconsider my political allegiances, nor do I believe would any external badgering or criticism or lecturing would have led 17-year-old me to do so. For the most part those axioms have not changed other than to develop more nuance and real-world application. Indeed, the defining moment of my political awakening was the Affordable Care Act and the blowback and the racism directed at the President — and it sort of evolved from there. That being said it was not a sudden change. I was not immediately drawn into partisan politics, and instead found myself getting involved with non-partisan, issue advocacy. I was not ready to make the leap into the partisan fire, and I don’t think I actually felt fully comfortable in those spaces — let alone considered myself a Democrat — until a few years into college.

In admitting that I think back to what a good friend of mine wrote RE Kim Davis and frustration she felt as a progressive from small town Texas:

“Our world is changing (and I welcome these changes!) but it’s changing too fast for some people, especially considering their environment and lack of access to experiences that could potentially broaden their worldview. It isn’t quite fair- it’s borderline classist, I think- to ignore people from less-advantaged backgrounds, and then to mock them when they’re bewildered by a progressive bandwagon.

Growing up, my parents taught me that being progressive meant trying to create a better world for everyone. This includes Kim Davis. And, rather than building one-liners around a woman from one of the poorest regions of the country, I think our time would be better spent if we could figure out how to explain the importance of progressive social change in language that speaks to Kim Davis’s background and experiences. I think it would make society a little more harmonious for everyone.”

I come back to her words often, and not just the excerpt above. They linger in my mind as I write all of this and as I have attempted and perhaps failed to discuss this privately with others in previous days. In truth, I think they are some of the most important reminders I’ve ever read.


Let’s talk about those anti-HERO ads shall we

**NOTE: This post, as well as some of the pages it links to or refers to, mentions sexual assault, rape, and physical abuse in the context of domestic violence and intimate partner violence. 

A few months ago the Texas Supreme Court ordered the City of Houston to place it’s Equal Rights Ordinance on the ballot. Plain and simple the ordinance known as HERO prohibits and provides a penalty for discriminating in city contracts, employment, housing, and other public accommodations, on the basis of numerous classes, including some that are protected by federal law. Indeed, some of these classes are also protected by state law in terms of housing and employment discrimination.
Houston Prop 1 Sample BallotNow, you may read those last two sentences and wonder if national law and state law offer protections already, why in the world do we need to have a city ordinance that does so as well?

Frankly folks, we need a city ordinance because this is about access to justice, and without access to justice your rights may as well be null and void.

HERO ensures every Houstonian is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, and that when they are not they have an expedient and affordable option to seek a remedy. Sure you can sue in a federal court but that costs $10,000s if not $100,000s and often takes years. While suing in a state court may be slightly more feasible, you cannot do so in all instances if you are LGBT, a veteran, or pregnant.

Truth be told, however, the reasons and arguments to vote for HERO are not weighing on my mind right now. What concerns me instead is the rhetoric being used by those in opposition.

The anti-HERO folks have put out quite a few ads that reduce the entirety of HERO into one aspect — that trans folk, especially trans women, would be allowed to use the bathroom of their gender identity. This is a problem, they say, because men will dress up as women and go into women’s restrooms to assault or rape women. To be clear, there is nothing to stop that from happening without HERO, nor is there any credible reason to believe that HERO would encourage, allow, or otherwise lead to an increase in such crimes taking place. Nonetheless, this has not stopped anti-HERO folks from relaying this message in radio ads: one featuring a woman wondering about her safety and the safety of her one-day-daughters, and another featuring Lance Berkman, a former Astros star, who expresses concern for his four daughters. Meanwhile, recent television ad buys include a spot depicting a man following a girl into a bathroom stall, warning viewers that “any man at any time” can do so by “claiming to be a woman that day.”

Here’s the thing: I too have concerns — both for my safety and the safety of my one-day-daughters. One huge difference: my concerns are grounded in the facts — and given October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month — the rhetoric of these ads in light of the facts make me pretty damn angry.

Now, you may read those last two sentences and wonder what in the world do domestic violence and the anti-HERO ads have to do with each other? Well, what the data from organizations such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Center for Disease Control, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the World Health Organization, and UN Women tells us is that as a woman you are more likely to face violence of a physical and sexual nature from a friend, family member, or intimate partner than you are a stranger:

  1. “1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States has been raped in their lifetime. Almost half of female (46.7%) and male (44.9%) victims of rape in the United States were raped by an acquaintance. Of these, 45.4% of female rape victims and 29% of male rape victims were raped by an intimate partner.” – NCADV
  2. “One in 4 women (22.3%) have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men (14.0%) have experienced the same.” – CDC
  3. “It is estimated that of all women killed in 2012, almost half were killed by intimate partners or family members.” – UN Women

Let me be clear: By perpetuating the myth that acts of violence against women are most often perpetrated by a “stranger lurking in the shadows” these ads completely detract from the reality of such crimes. Indeed, these ads contribute to a culture that is less likely to believe survivors when they come forward. Subsequently, it’s not HERO that is “filthy, disgusting, or unsafe” as one ad claims, but the content of the ads themselves, which endanger women by promoting a fictitious narrative. Similarly, the “troubled men” Houston women ought to be concerned with are not strangers lurking in the dark, but the men producing these ads and paying for them to be on the air. Their callous disregard for the truth in favor of cheap political points aids and abets each and every act of violence against women, be it sexual assault, rape, stalking, harassment, physical abuse, murder, or otherwise.

As Sonya Renee says: I am outraged that they want us to believe that they believe that women deserve better.

To Bernie Sanders supporters: on being an ally

For the record I do not know who I will vote for in the primary — it will certainly be Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. To see the reason this letter is addressed as such look up @AngryBlackLady, @brownblaze, @Deray, or others on Twitter to get a sense of what motivated me to write it.

It is Sunday, Aug. 9th and once again Twitter, Facebook, and the Blogosphere are chock full of multiple iterations of arguments between #BlackLivesMatter activists and organizers (and their supporters) and Bernie Sanders supporters over the efficacy of protesting at Sanders’ political events and rallies. What happened most noticeably at Netroots hasn’t stopped — nor for that matter has the killing of unarmed black folks by police — and progressives who support Bernie Sanders are furious, so it seems… at the audacity of their candidate being challenged.

Why can’t you people just let him talk or answer your critiques? Why don’t you protest at GOP events? Why don’t you take on Hillary Clinton? Are you just a shill for Hillary? Don’t you know Bernie Sanders agrees with you — he marched with MLK after all. He’s the only candidate who cares about you and you are going to alienate him and his supporters. 

To which my only reply is: have you people lost your damn minds?!

How dare you in one breath claim to be an ally and in the next threaten to pack up your toys and go home if activists and movements you claim to be an ally toward do not engage in politicking exactly the way you’d like. Why are you more concerned with Bernie Sanders looking good or respectability politics than you are with black people being murdered in the streets by those who swore to protect and serve? If you say “well of course I’m not,” then perhaps reconsider how you are perceived — seriously take the time to do the soul-searching work that is an imperative part of this work (ps if it doesn’t hurt a little or make you uncomfortable at times you’re not doing it).

If nothing else how Bernie, his advisors and surrogates, and his supporters react to being challenged tells us far more about his candidacy than any white paper, policy platform, or stump speech.

Furthermore, let’s talk about presidential protests. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of a protest taking place in the White House briefing room. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard about a protest taking place in front of the White House (see 24/7/365). Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of a protest taking place at an event President Obama or another high-ranking official is speaking at or attending. Raise your hand if you haven’t raised your hand yet, and then go do some googling.

That all being said, what does it actually mean to be an ally?

Before I answer that question, let me back up a bit: I am a white woman from Texas who identifies as straight and as a progressive from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. My upbringing, my background, and my continued work on electoral campaigns or for non-profits and as part of grassroots movements constitute my lived experiences. It is very important that I first acknowledge who I am, the privilege I have, the power I have, and the oppression I am exempted from. None of this recitation of facts discounts the oppression I face; it just acknowledges that were I undocumented, not able-bodied, not white (and white passing), not cis and straight, not college educated, and didn’t come from a supportive and relatively well-off family my life would be even harder — and increasingly so with each layer of Otherness.

As such, it is not my place to tell LGBT activists that their lived experiences are wrong or that their tactics are divisive or ineffective. It is not my place to tell Dreamers that their lived experiences are wrong or that their tactics are divisive or ineffective. It is not my place to tell black folks that their lived experiences are wrong or that their tactics are divisive or ineffective. If I have not been clear it is not my place to tell members of marginalized communities that their lived experiences are wrong or that their tactics are divisive or ineffective.

Furthermore, it is not my job as an ally to become confrontational or offended or push back when power, privilege, and oppression are discussed. It is not my job as an ally to drown out the voices that are intentionally silenced by society. It is not my job as an ally to tell movements what to do, how to do it, and why that’s the only way to accomplish their goals.

Instead, my job as an ally is to listen and learn, to try to understand things I as a straight white woman born and raised in Texas will never otherwise understand. My job as an ally is to amplify the voices of marginalized communities. My job as an ally is to talk with other white people from Texas, especially fellow progressives, when they have fallen short or they are engaging in problematic behavior.

Most importantly, my job as an ally is to remember this is not about me. People’s lives are being lost, people’s lives are at stake. My comfort be damned. I am not outraged by interrupted rallies, I am outraged by broken necks.

More on Women in Philosophy

Feminist Philosophers

Kate Manne and Amia Srinivasan have written excellent letters in response to David Papineau’s article, which we discussed last week.  They’ve been published in the TLS (behind a paywall) and in the Daily Nous here.  Here’s a small taste of what Manne has to say:

Papineau opines that in philosophy, as in snooker, men will tend to “relish the competitive challenge and enjoy the game for its own sake”, whereas women will be drawn to pursuits with more instrumental value. False modesty about the worth of our discipline aside, Papineau ignores the fact that many women clearly want to play the game – or would do, were we not subject to hostile and punitive reactions in doing so. As a result, being a woman in philosophy is often stressful and unpleasant – as the experiences shared on the well-known blog “What is it like to be a woman in…

View original post 286 more words

The most relevant letter ever written

April 1963: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sits in a jail cell in the town of Birmingham, Alabama. Setting pen first to the margins of a newspaper where white clergymen had taken to criticizing his organization and actions, then to scraps of paper, and finally to a notepad, King would come to write a most eloquent defense of non-violent direct action and a thunderous repudiation of white apathy. In light of the murders of Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Larry Jackson, Jr., Jessie Hernandez, Renisha McBride, the Rev. Hon. Clementa Pinckney and parishioners, and Sandra Bland, as well as far too many other people of color, I cannot fail but to feel the veracity of Dr. King’s words ringing true.

As telling as it is that these acts of violence against people of color happen over and over and over again, from red states to blue states, from big cities to rural counties, and by police or private citizen, what I have found more revealing is the reaction from white America — be it politicians, the media, or members of the public. The most common theme whenever there is a direct action or protest, which is often escalated by law enforcement reaction, is why riot? Why do those people destroy their own businesses and neighborhoods? Why are they looting?

It’s as if white America has forgotten that in 1776, when our grievances were not addressed, we not only started a riot in Boston Harbor, we fought a war for independence: 

“You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.”

Freddie GrayIn the paragraph above replace Birmingham with Baltimore. Read it again. Some 50 years later, what has changed? The more I listened to white America — to strangers, to my Facebook friends, to my peers, the more I found myself ashamed. How in the face of overwhelming evidence of not just the appearance of impropriety, or possible negligence, but of outright and undeniable abuse of power that resulted in a man’s death could the narrative be reduced to well why do those uppity black people have to make such a fuss? Is it white apathy or ignorance — does it matter which?

That Saturday morning I as I pulled up my Facebook page I quickly discovered that something had happened at Netroots. I cycled through the list of folks I knew where there, and finding only allusions to what may have transpired, switched to twitter. #BlackLivesMatter organizers had protested during Town Halls by Democratic presidential would-be nominees Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders. O’Malley flubbed with some line about how all lives matter… while Sanders cycled through almost answering and then threatening to leave and reminding people he used march with Dr. King.

“You may well ask: ‘Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?’ You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”

Yet, it was not the candidates’ reactions that were most problematic. It was the dialogue and the arguments playing out — fittingly for Netroots, one of the largest progressive conferences in the country that focuses heavily on organizing using the Internet — on Facebook, on Twitter, and in the Blogosphere. White progressives’ reactions ranged from furious defense of their candidate of choice, to condemnation of the direct action, to condescension toward #BlackLivesMatter organizer’s tactics and what’s appropriate and why. Just shut-up and let the candidates speak. We don’t care about your problems we want to listen to a stump speech we can find countless versions of on YouTube anyway, geez. Is that too much to ask? Again, I found myself ashamed. This wasn’t Jack and Jill Doe of white America, this is supposed to be a gathering of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. How far it looked from it that day.

How in the world a gathering of progressives had the audacity to decry and shame direct action was beyond me — yet even as I write this, I think of times I have fallen short, when I have been Dr. King’s white moderate.

In truth, I was not raised to be confrontational. I was not raised to take a stand. I wasn’t even raised to be very political. But I have found myself more and more often speaking out and pushing back on dialogues that shame and condescend to activists who lest we forget are merely asking to not be killed by those who swore to protect and serve. I am not proud of the fact that I have at times merely ignored those around me, or unfriended someone I wasn’t really friends with anymore anyways, or merely unfollowed someone on Twitter. I am not proud that often instead of approaching the person who is the object of my frustration in dialogue I’ve tended to merely vent with my likeminded peers. There I have failed. There I have been the white moderate.

That is not to say that disengaging is always bad. There are times when self-care might make it necessary, and I would argue that is different than white apathy. And as someone who is horrible at self-care, I feel I should try and make a distinction there. Yet, with privilege comes the duty to use it to empower and amplify those around you. It is important for me to note that no matter how overwhelmed I feel, no matter how drained or exhausted by the structural inequality of our country, I will never feel its full weight. My privilege as a white woman — and while some would say especially in the South I would argue that narrative allows others to ignore problems of racial and other discrimination in their own communities — shields me from that burden of Otherness.

In sum, I meditate on the below. I remind myself of the necessity of being uncomfortable at times, of having those hard dialogues more often and moreover with whom they need to be had directly, and recognizing when I fall prey to being the white moderate:

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

CenTex Round-Up: Money Game for 2016 Primaries

Note: 450th District Court finance reports are not yet available so look for that update Thur/Fri, as well as an update on neighboring Williamson County, where an open seat on a scandal-prone Commissioner’s Court could be a race to watch.

Summer time… the sun shines across a bright blue Texas sky, children relish their time off from school, and primary season is in full swing. Entering stage right, numerous would-be nominees for anything from District Attorney and Sheriff to County Commissioner and Court at law Judge. Speeches and scheming are under way and the first test has just drawn to a close — perhaps the candidates may reward themselves with a night off.

On Wednesday candidates, or their staff/consultants/treasurer etc., filed a campaign finance report covering monies raised and expenditures for the first half of 2015. Given we won’t see another one of these until next year, success in this test is an apt way to make a good first impression. Now, the question is if candidates are unopposed have they raised enough to ward off a challenger, and if they are not so fortunate to have a clear path to election, have they out-raised their fellow candidates?

The highest echelon of county government is decided for now, after a contentious (let’s stick with polite descriptors shall we) primary for County Judge in 2014. That being said we may yet see a Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Gerald Daugherty, who represents Pct. 3, as David Holmes has thrown himself into the race. Daugherty is the lone Republican on the four-person Commissioner’s Court, which is overseen by Judge Sarah Eckhardt. Meanwhile, retiring Pct. 1 Commissioner Ron Davis will likely be replaced by James Nortey, lest something major change between now and next March.

Moving along: so far would-be DA Gary Cobb hasn’t garnered serious opposition to replace outgoing DA Rosemary Lehmberg, and the money he raised may spare him such a challenge. It also probably helps that and his supporter list is a who’s who of local activists, donors, and shot-callers that any candidate would be engaging in braggadocio to take lightly. A 24-year veteran of the District Attorney’s Office, Cobb has previously run for DA.

Down the ballot this cycle we will see a hot race for Sheriff in Travis County, with many hopefuls already promising to do what their retiring predecessor would not — end voluntary cooperation with ICE over the deportation of non-violent offenders, etc., who are say stopped for speeding and soon booted out of the country. Though ICE/SCOM, mental health treatment, and other more humanitarian efforts to reduce recidivism should prove common themes, words are words until deeds prove them true.

With Constable Pct. 4 Maria Canchola having recently announced her retirement, a south-eastern seat is wide open. So far Manuel Jimenez and George Morales have thrown their hats into the ring. Similarly, we may see a race for Constable Pct. 3 if Sally Hernandez does in fact join the race for Sheriff (there is an on-going effort to draft her into the race).

Last, but not least, the judges. If you’re not familiar with the lovely nuances of Texas politics it is my privilege to inform you that we elect our judges. Whether anyone actually knows who they are voting for when it comes to judgeships (other than the party declaration next to their name), well, as of yet we haven’t actually had the heart to do any polling. Attorneys Brad Urrutia and Chantal Eldridge are running for the newly-created 450th District Court seat. While I do not follow judge races as closely as others, I was informed that Assistant County Attorney Kim Williams is running (and her finance report would necessitate a quite ably) for County Court at Law #9. Perhaps I’ll do a wrap-up of the judiciary later this week. Time will tell.

Without further ado, the results. Visit the Travis County Clerk’s website for more:

District Attorney
Gary Cobb — $84,906 raised, no loans, and $18,233.33 spent || $66,682.67 on hand

Commissioner’s Court
James Nortey, Pct. 1 — $29,899.65 raised, $5,050 in loans, and $7,060.18 spent
$27,738.54 on hand || Nortey is running replace retiring Commissioner Ron Davis

Gerald Daugherty — $1,500 raised, no loans, and $5,079.49 spent || $12,490.16 on hand
David Holmes — $9,057.00 raised, no loans, and $1,052.31 spent || $7,907.53 on hand
If Holmes (D) wins in March, he would challenge Daugherty (R; Incb) in November 2016

Don Rios — $61,290.00 raised**, no loans, and $4,493.06 spent || $56,797.94 on hand
John Sisson — $4,005 raised, $35,000 in loans, and $3,867.67 spent || $34,813.77 on hand
Todd Radford — $10,200 raised**, no loans, and no expenditures || $10,200 on hand
Jim Sylvester — $1,540 raised, no loans, and no expenditures || $1540 on hand
Rios received $45,000.00 from the Travis County Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Association PAC, of which he is immediate past chair. It is the largest PAC contribution of the finance reports I reviewed. Radford meanwhile received $10,000.00 from the Travis County Sheriff’s Officers Association PAC.

Sally Hernandez — $34,172 raised, no loans, and $9,287.90 spent || $31,712.68 on hand
As the incumbent Pct. 3 Constable Hernandez has in no way declared for Sheriff, however, there is an effort to draft her into that race. Organizers are associated with the Making Government Work PAC.

George Morales — $20,697 raised, no loans, and $1721 spent || $18,976 on hand
Manuel Jimenez — $450 raised, $8,200 in loans, and $4,158.88 spent || $5,763.63 on hand
Morales and Jimenez are running to replace retiring Constable Maria Canchola

There are 22 women Heads of State… so they included none of them

What started out as a fun survey to kill time has devolved into my severe annoyance that there are no women on this political ideology grid. I mean really… is it too much to ask? Be relevant and throw in Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren (US), Angela Merkel (Germany), or Michelle Bachelet (Chile). As Merkel approaches a decade in office, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia is right on her heels to reach that milestone. More into history than current events? Maybe Margaret Thatcher might prove appropriate. Perhaps Isabel Peron (Argentina) or Golda Meir (Israel) are more to your fancy?

But seriously, out of 22 current women Heads of State they couldn’t include a single one?

Political Coordinates Test

If you want to take the quiz, you may do so here: Political Coordinates Test

A Marriage Equality must-read

I was in Belize for the most important week of SCOTUS goings-on in adult life thus far… but thankfully I have amazing friends to keep me up to date and provide some insightful commentary. I am grateful to UT for that, at least. With permission, I’ve posted some of Andrew’s thoughts below.

1) We’ll start with this, on Trans folks being trailblazers:

On Trans folks leading the movement

2) Or this, on how LGBT people of color must be included and amplified:

On making space for LGBT POC

3) And this one, on ICE detainers of LGBT people and the violence Trans folks face:

On ICE detention of LGBT folks

I guess I’m just another “Social Justice Bully”

This morning I read a piece entitled “Social Justice Bullies: The Authoritarianism of Millennial Social Justice” because a friend of mine shared it on Facebook. Given I believe it is very likely I may fall under that bully category–not that I agree with the characterization–I re-read the article’s main points this evening and began writing a comment. Well that comment went all TL;DR pretty quick, so I figured I may as well repost it here (with a few minor edits). Ps. For the sake of my sanity I decided to ignore the author’s commentary on rape culture:

While I would agree with the author that there is certainly a problem when the left becomes overly authoritarian (or really when anyone does; albeit this is a discussion for later), this author seems to then wholesale dismiss ideas about creating safe spaces, acknowledging privilege and its effect on worldview, etc., without defining what he thinks these ideas are or considering why they may be pushed for by so-called bullies. In doing so the author is not exactly engaging in the “productive, open, mutually critical dialogue” yearned. I would posit that it is not outrageous to ask to be able to go into a classroom or workplace or conference where misogyny or homophobia or racism, etc. and et al, are not allowed to run rampant. Intentionally creating a safe space is about creating a welcoming environment where marginalized folks, especially, feel valued, welcomed, and encouraged to participate in a way society does not otherwise do. Why is that so bad–serious answers are respectfully requested.

Furthermore, understanding how privilege affects worldview and whatnot is crucial, I would argue, for honest and open dialogue. My worldview is shaped by the fact that I am white, well-educated, come from a relatively well off family, cis-gendered, and heterosexual etc., but also by the fact that I am a woman, especially one who lives in an area hostile to the values and rights I hold dear. Acknowledging privilege is not to disparage others… though when a tone deaf article is written or speech given, etc.,–see recent sexist BS about the WWC for timely examples–more likely than not it will get called out as misogynistic, or otherwise, as applicable. What the author seems to imply always happens to is when something tone-deaf or intentionally offensive is used to tar an entire community, which is by no means certain, and often lamentable.

Still I do not agree with this author that this calling out is inherently bad. Indeed, I would say the author fails to note that the calling out, for lack of better phrasing, often serves as a launch pad for conversation… for that dialogue so yearned (though again it unfortunately does not always and instead devolves into sometimes deplorable conduct). Furthermore, the author fails to note that when the calling out turns into petty, name-calling foolishness, it is in turn often called out or put in check (though again not always). Examples would be devolving to call Sarah Palin, et al., c*** or bimbo barbie bitch, etc. Though unfortunately liberals can be just as bad as conservatives in terms of the demeaning language they use instead of debate, etc., I would not agree that this is unique to the alleged social justice bullies. And frankly, I would call that being human. We are not devoid of emotion or passions, and sometimes we fall prey to them as they overtake reason.

Lastly, in checking my privilege, in admitting i am not omniscient when it comes to others’ experiences, and in allowing others a space to talk about what they experience–be it as a black person, a trans person, an undocumented person, a religious minority, etc., or as someone who’s identity intersects these demographics–without debating them, without trying to explain to them why they are wrong, or immediately going on the defensive when the wrongs my community has done theirs are brought up, etc., even if not in my lifetime or never by me, I would argue I am partaking in a critical discussion. It may not be the conventional debates we claim are the hallmark of civilized society, but there is a shitload I can learn just by helping create a safe space and listening–AND only listening.