Tag Archives: civil rights

The Fight for Civil Rights: Gay Marriage

I’m immensely saddened by today’s ruling.  I’m also incredibly proud of the citizens who peacefully exercised their right to protest, and who invoked the spirit of dissent–that truly American spirit–through civil disobedience.  May we all follow in these brave souls’ footsteps, and may all of us have the right to marry.

paul sakuma

sakuma

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White House Council on Women and Girls

President Obama’s creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls is an extraordinary and symbolic move.

Similar to many other civil rights causes, our populace seems to think the Women’s Movement was a static period in history that came, saw, conquered and left to safely reside in history books.  People often cite the number of women who graduate from college to support their claims that nothing more needs to be done to address the issue of women’s rights.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Without economic equality and independence, suffrage and the right to go braless means little.  As even opponents of women’s rights will concede, women simply make less money.  But why?

An anecdote:

revroad

In a conversation with a friend last weekend about “Revolutionary Road,” the issue of the “Lady Macbeth effect” came up, and we agreed that the Shakespearean stereotype still haunts many a loving marriage (ironically Michelle Obama has been compared to Lady Macbeth recently too, both by her supporters and detractors).  Our conversation turned to the state of our respective marriages (from my perspective as a wife, and his as a husband) and those of our same-age friends.  The issues of economic inequality, or lack thereof, were impossible to ignore.  We could not pinpoint males and females who worked the same job and earned different pay, but we did notice many male and female peers in the same industry, in similar “level” positions, and wondered whether their pay was actually equal, or at least equitable, regardless of their gender.  Through a Google search, I found this interesting aggregation of various statistics and data, that might present a somewhat balanced view of the matter.  It also defines the different  and useful ways salary inequalities can be analyzed. 

Salary isn’t the only issue.  And with tabloid news swirling around Rihanna and Chris Brown, it is time more now than ever to ensure that our children are explicitly taught the importance of gender equality.  Might is not right. 

An executive order is not enough.  I like Sarah Granger’s perspective at the Huffington Post.  A council is a good start, but to make change we need an action plan.  What issues will the Council take on, and how will it take action on these issues? 

Here’s to a good start.

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Agenda for Today

Today I’m attending a conference about Special Education.  I’ll be presenting on a disability the law (IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) as Emotional Disturbance.  

Many terms are used to describe emotional, behavioral or mental disorders. Currently, students with such disorders are categorized as having a serious emotional disturbance, which is defined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as follows:

“…a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance –

  1. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
  2. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
  3. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;
  4. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
  5. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.” [Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Section 300.7(b)(9)] 

While not as common as high profile disabilities such as Autism and ADHD, disabilities that fall under the umbrella of “serious emotional disturbance” are becoming more common.  While only 473,663 students ages 6-21 received services related to Emotional Disturbance in the 2000-2001 school year, experts consider Emotional Disturbance to be the most under-identified of all IDEA disability categories.  As is the case with some other common disabilities, statistics show that boys are more likely to experience serious emotional and behavioral disorders than girls by a 3 to 1 ratio.

We need a national commitment to educating all students.  Commitment in this sense is linked to dollars–dollars to employ specialists, to train general education teachers, and to provide necessary resources for students with disabilities and their families.  

The Senate will be reviewing the President Obama’s stimulus bill in detail in the coming days.  Please write, call, and email your representatives and tell them that you demand funding for the free, appropriate and equitable education of all students.  

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Thoughts On Civil Rights

As you’ve noticed, MLK Day and President Obama’s inauguration have given me pause to reflect on the state of civil rights in our country.  Today I heard an interesting perspective and some disturbing facts regarding the subprime mortgage market crash and the affects it has had on black homeowners.  The report comes from commentator Amelia Tyagi on American Public Media’s Marketplace:

 

Amid hope, black homeowners struggle

As African Americans celebrate President Obama’s inauguration, a disproportionate number of them are struggling to avoid foreclosures on their homes. Commentator Amelia Tyagi says we should examine the practices that led many of them into this situation.

 

Listen to the January 20, 2009 Marketplace here or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.  Tyagi’s piece appears at approximately the 14:42 mark.  

African Americans are two and a half times more likely to be in foreclosure than their white counterparts.  

Early in the 2008 race for the presidency, prior to Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s speeches on race, I was very concerned that we would have a popular black leader who only wanted everyone to forget that he is black.  My fears were in error.  Yet I don’t expect President Obama to be a civil rights leader.  I expect him to support a fight for expanded civil rights, I expect him to facilitate the movement, but not to lead it.  President Obama, a popularly elected executive of a democratic republic must unite.  Like he has said, his task is diplomacy, and appropriately so.

Now, as the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King urged us in “A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations,” we must celebrate our progress, but we must also never be satisfied with less than the total equality that we all share in God’s eyes.  

We need leaders to lead this fight; a fight that must take place in order for true equality to be achieved.  To fuel our mission we need writers to write these stories.  We need people to talk about the fight for civil rights that is happening now.  We need take the issue of civil rights out of history books (as if it were some static era that sprang up and then disappeared)  and put it back where it belongs–in 2009.

President Obama, will you help us?  

Let’s take the responsibility, let’s do our part.  We have a president who’ll support us if we make this our issue.  Let’s take this opportunity.

“…nobody thinks of [the foreclosures on black homeowners] as a civil rights issue, but maybe they should.”

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I Never Thought I Could Love an Economist

Talk about love at first sight.  

Listen to Mr. Fryer’s words.  

The achievement gap is the number one civil rights issue in this country.  

AND the man is funny–he schools Colbert!  Beautiful.  Please watch this.  

Roland Fryer on The Colbert Report

I’m in love.

fryer

More links to learn more about Fryer and his project to address the achievement gap through paying Black students for high grades:

Click here for his contact information at Harvard.

Click here to view the project website: Edlabs.

Click here to read a Wall Street Journal article.

Click here to read an article in the London Times. 

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We Still Have a Lot of Work to Do

Last night 2000 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in San Francisco to mourn the passing of Proposition 8.  Yesterday was a bittersweet day for many.  

I was heartened by the perspective of Kate Kendall the executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.  She reminds us all of the progress we have made in the fight for equal civil rights for gays.  She reminds us of Proposition 22 in 2000 that prevented the state from recognizing same sex marriages, which passed with 61.4% approval.  There are many gains to be recognized when looking at the slim margin that Proposition 8 won by this week.

Let’s not forget the cornerstone of President-elect Obama’s campaign: Hope.  There is a lot of sadness, and that is important and true, but we won’t be able to continue our fight for equal human and civil rights for all without maintaining our faith and our hope.  Let’s keep fighting.

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