25 Years…A March to Sanity Begins

August 25, 2012 Leave a comment
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My father, Steven Jones, shortly before his death.

25 years ago…I think it was yesterday or today, my father lost his battle with cancer. I never remember the date of his death. I remember the date we buried him on Hilton Head Island, August 27th.

I didn’t know it then, but my passion for wellness was born on the day my father died. He was 53 years young when he died. I get my salty mouth, love of jokes and politics, and big, audacious, opinionated nature from him. I miss him every day.

25 years…

His death used to make me sad. Now it makes me angry. I am angry because I view his passing as preventable.

You see, I fully believe that if my father had made different choices, he would still be here. But he didn’t, so he is not. He does not get a second chance, and each day that I wake up, I have the opportunity to live out my life’s purpose. Each day that I write about wellness, I have a chance to encourage someone to choose differently.

I cajole, push, pull, encourage…take a deep breath and do it all over again for the people in my wellness group, March to Sanity™, because I remember.

I remember how my mother struggled with and against my father’s sickness. The creeping sadness that slid into our family as hope was pushed out. The battle my mother waged within herself…faith versus reality. She did it all while being the anchor that kept us all grounded, yet the angel who gave us all wings. I don’t want to know that I could have helped the spouse of anyone avoid what my mother went through, and I didn’t do my very best to prevent it.

I remember how I felt standing over my father’s coffin. The man who was so full of life, even as he knew cancer was eating his life away…who taught me about politics, mental toughness, friendship, baseball…and who loved my mother so sweetly…he was lifeless, still, and grey – dead in that damn box. He would never fuss with me about the phone bill or tell me to listen to my mother or anything ever again because he was gone.

As I stood over him in that damn box, I was mad at him for every cigarette he smoked. I was mad for every day he didn’t exercise and eat properly…for every day that he allowed the stress of his life to eat away at him. Eventually, all of it turned into cancer, and the cancer killed him. So he was in that damn box, not talking to me about the Mets or politics or Bid Whist. I don’t want any child to feel the agony of grief mixed with rage I felt about my dad’s poor choices. Because trust me, if they are old enough, they will feel it.

Here I am 25 years later, and I choose to use the feelings and memories as a catalyst for something productive. The March to Sanity™, a wellness initiative, was born out my desire to make sure that no one would ever have to feel alone in their journey toward a better, healthier life. As we strive to eat better, move more, enrich our emotional and spiritual lives, and build more empowered and informed relationships and interactions with medical professionals, we also have to remember why we are doing this. The March to Sanity™ is about wellness, yes. But the goal of wellness is not just to be healthy so you can admire yourself in the mirror. Wellness is so that you can enjoy your life and the people in it more fully and for a longer period of time.

25 years is a profoundly long period of time. It is a lifetime. My father didn’t live to see me graduate from college, law school or graduate school, get admitted to the NY and CA bars, get engaged twice or get to threaten the two ex-fiancés who broke my heart, see me start a successful legal practice, see me win awards as a businesswoman or writer. He is missing the chance to write comments to each one of my blog posts, which he would have done in a heartbeat.

He is in Heaven kicking himself because he is missing all the good stuff. Don’t miss all the good stuff in the lives of your loved ones.

Choose wellness.

Choose life.

Onward always. Keep going.

Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

All Rights Reserved

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Golden Gabby: Dream Realized, New Dreams Born

August 3, 2012 8 comments

Gabrielle “Golden Gabby” Douglas stands on the podium after receiving historic gold medal

In 2012, it is a complicated time for Blacks in America. Hate speech spills out over the Internet like acid, working to burn and destroy everything in its path. A young Black man was gunned down in April for “walking while Black.” The first African-American President of the United States is disrespected by political rivals who would question his patriotism rather than challenge his policy. There are still so many of society’s peaks, political, economic and social for the Black community to reach, even for one of us, despite the fact that so many are so familiar with life’s valleys. Yes, it is a complicated time to be Black in America.

But today was simple. Today is about a young woman, named Gabrielle Douglas, who picked up the team, formerly known as the “Fab Five,” but rechristened by their hero and leader, Gabby, as the “Fierce Five,” and carried them to the peak of Olympic glory – team gold in women’s gymnastics. For the American women to win the team gold was historic, in and of itself, as it had only been done ONCE before in 1996. But for Gabby Douglas to win the team gold and the individual all-around gold…she made history twice. Not only is Gabby the first US gymnast to win the all-around gold and team gold in the same Olympics, she is the first Black woman to win all-around gold IN OLYMPIC HISTORY. Oh yes, she joins a very small sorority that consists of only four women, including Gabby, US women who have won the Olympic gold medal in the all-around competition in gymnastics.

Golden Gabby takes flight en route to her historic gold medal

Gabby competed for her gold medal in fine style, as she has through this entire competition – with fearless elegance. She took first place after the first rotation, and never looked back. She had nerves of steel, and composure of that never indicated any sense of stress or strain. She kept her cool and rose to meet her destiny and place in history, as others were faltering. She vaulted, flew, jumped, stuck those landings and gave us a smile that had enough wattage to assure us of her star power. When it was over, the Russians didn’t have enough to catch her.  Gabby was where she had been all day…ahead, but now with the gold medal around her neck.

The end of this story should be a wonderful picture of this smiling, excellent 16-year old who sacrificed her childhood in pursuit of her dream. She can leave London with more hardware since she qualified to compete for medals on the uneven bars and the balance beam.

But there are two other stories to be told with the Gabby Douglas story. I hate to bring it up on a day that should be about this wonderful girl’s achievement.  Both of these other issues tell us something about us, about America – media and hair.

First, I was intrigued by how the media virtually ignored Gabby after the team won the gold. Any other storyline of the Fierce Five was more compelling to the media than Gabby. The New York Times barely mentioned Gabby in their write up of the historic gold medal win, instead choosing to focus on a young woman who didn’t make the cut. Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As a Black person, your excellence must be that much more outstanding than your white peer’s, otherwise, it will not be deemed noteworthy. Here is a case in point: A young Black woman has just proven her excellence to the world on the Olympic stage, and the camera couldn’t find her, reporters’ words barely mentioned her.  This fact says nothing about whether or not Gabby is excellent, because she clearly is, but it reminds us that we have work to do with media’s coverage of positive stories of the Black community.

Gabby’s hair… Now this is one that made my blood boil. This elegant, poised, talented, excellent young woman achieved more in the past few days than most folks will in their entire lives, and folks are zeroing in on her hair? The arrow to my heart was that this stupid, useless critique was coming from the Black community. At a time when we should be looking at this young woman with pride for her achievement, some sad, small-minded folks on Facebook and Twitter can only focus on her hair. This is a mirror moment. The way that individuals in the Black community perceive Gabby Douglas says a lot about that person. This young woman has MADE HISTORY, but folks are talking about her hair. If you are focused on her hair and feeling shame, it is a reflection of your own self-loathing. If you see her achievement, hard work and poise, then I would argue that you have a better sense of pride in yourself and sense of hope for the Black community as a people. Once again, it has nothing to do with this young woman who appears to have such a very grown up sense of self, sacrifice, faith, commitment…and now joy and achievement.

Golden Gabby with her Individual All-Around Olympic Gold Medal in Women’s Gymnastics

The Flying Squirrel has transformed. She went into the Olympic crucible and came out…Golden Gabby. She peaked and flourished at the perfect time. Her reward is a place in history. Unfortunately, she also picked up some misguided haters for her troubles as well. In the world of affirmations, there is one that says, “Make your haters your motivators.”

So Golden Gabby, don’t change a thing! Just know that tonight, there are countless little black girls AROUND THE WORLD who watched you and now believe that they can become an gold medal winning Olympic gymnast. You gave these girls an incredible gift.

Golden Gabby, from the realization of your dream, new dreams are born.

Copyright 2012
Kimberly S. Jones

London Olympics 2012: Romney Takes the Gold in Gaffes

Mitt Romney has had a very rough July. There are lingering questions about when he left Bain Capital, the private equity financial services firm he founded in 1984. There are mounting calls from Republicans AND Democrats for him to release his tax returns. He generously, please read the dripping sarcasm, released the 2010 tax return and an estimate for the 2011 tax return. Mitt Romney was anxious to reset the conversation. What better way to do that, while “appearing presidential” and reminding America of Romney’s greatest national success, the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, than a European tour?

Sounds like a smart plan, doesn’t it? It would be if you were dealing with a smart politician. But we are talking about Mitt Romney. His own senior advisor unintentionally gave us the metaphor of an Etch-A-Sketch to describe his boss. In private, Mitt Romney might be a delightful and charming person, but as a public person, he has all the personality of Pinocchio, before he became a puppet… The many faces of Romney show that he is about as truthful as Pinocchio, and has about as solid a core. But I digress.

Although it is still very early in Mitt’s trip and the Olympic torch has barely been lit, Mitt Romney is already dominating in Olympic gaffes and insults. He took the gold in every gaffe event yesterday…he had no competitors.

In one day, Romney managed to amass an impressive heap of insults that drew the ire of the British Prime Minister and the Mayor of London, as well as the British press and most British citizens. Mitt took the gold for the Bad Manners gaffe. Let’s not forget that he had the amazing lapse in judgment of wanting to let the world know that he was cool enough to meet with the head of MI-6. Mitt also took the gold for the Indiscretion gaffe.

Here’s the thing, MI-6 is a covert intelligence agency was not formerly recognized until 1994. They don’t want some American doofus bragging about a meeting. So Mitt Romney can keep HIS TAX RETURNS a secret, but it doesn’t occur to him to keep a meeting with a covert intelligence agency quiet? Doesn’t sound very presidential to me, sounds more like a teenager bragging to his friends that he scored.

The other thing that Mitt managed to keep quiet was his fundraiser held by executives of the scandal-plagued Barclays Bank. If it fell off of your news radar, the Barclays LIBOR situation is an inside baseball scandal that has a financial impact on the average American. We all need to learn more about it. The folks at Barclays are doing what every other corporate interest does; they are trying to buy potential access to the White House. We should have heightened concerns because for all of the demonization of all things “foreign,” foreign political campaign contributions flow unchecked into the system. Barclays Bank is just one source. For the Barclays fundraiser, Mitt wins the gold for the Hypocrisy gaffe, again!

After he was savaged in the British and American press, and elected officials in the UK and the United States, Mitt did started a floor exercise routine that a world class gymnast would envy. There were runs, jumps, tumbling, Etch-A-Sketch shakes – all done in reverse because by the time he was finished, Mitt was praising the city that he was doubting several HOURS earlier. For his efforts, Mitt earns a gold medal for position reversal, also known as Etch-A-Sketching.

Yes, Mitt has already cleaned up in the gaffe events at the London Olympics, before the commentators have a chance to say unfortunate things, and after athletes have already begun tweeting stupid things they wish they could take back. But none of them are pursuing the presidency of the United States. Not one of those individuals would be responsible for the safety of the Free World.

We have to wonder: if Mitt Romney can’t handle this low stakes assignment, what will he do when the stakes are higher? When you don’t believe in anything other than your ambition, then when times get tough, how tough can you get?

And we all thought Rafalca, the fancy dancing dressage horse, would be the only Romney medal winner in the 2012 London Olympics. We underestimated how gaffe-prone this guy is, even in the most friendly environment.

Yes, the man who wants to be President is giving a clinic on how NOT to appear Presidential. For this, he takes home yet another gold medal. If American voters aren’t paying attention to this pattern of gaffes and deception, which isn’t acceptable no matter how great the ginned-up disappointment in President Obama, then those folks will deserve a medal on November 7th if Mitt Romney becomes president – Gold medal in Civic Malpractice or Political Negligence.

And Mittens, we’ll be asking for those tax returns again when you get home. Safe travels!

Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

All Rights Reserved

Penn State: Shame and Anger in Happy Valley

I went to college at the University of Pennsylvania. I bought a t-shirt that actually said “Not Penn State.” After the events of the past several months, I think folks who attend Penn State wish they could say “Not Penn State” when asked about the turmoil swirling around the football team. The fans of the football team are reeling today after a series of blows delivered by the University, the Big Ten, and the NCAA.

The child sex abuse scandal of convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky continues to cast a long, dark, soul-sucking shadow over State College, Pennsylvania, which, in a sad bit of irony, is nicknamed “Happy Valley.” The actions of a few men continue to have far-reaching, significant consequences for thousands of Penn State students, alumni, fans, and the surrounding community.

Yesterday, the life-sized statue of the late Joe Paterno was removed from its place in front of Beaver Stadium. Woosh! A solid blow to the solar plexus of Penn State fans who worshiped Paterno, or JoePa as he was known to the Penn State faithful. But today, the NCAA delivered a flurry of combination punches that sent the Penn State football fans crashing to the canvas. JoePa’s 111 wins from 1998 to 2011 would be vacated, and with it, his place is the record books. Rather than impose the “death penalty,” which is removing a team from the regular season and any bowl eligibility, the NCAA decided to starve the beast.

The NCAA’s sanctions on Penn State will surely cripple this team going forward and make it very difficult for football to become the life’s blood at that institution again. After the personal assault on Joe Paterno’s legacy, they went after the program itself. First, the NCAA hit Penn State with $60 million in fines, which is about what the school made on football in a season. So don’t be too upset about that. Then the NCAA banned Penn State from the postseason for four years, which hits a football program in the pride and the pocketbook – completely appropriate and a small price to pay. The NCAA will cap scholarships at 20 below the normal limit for four years. I find this sanction unfortunate because Penn State had an impressive graduation rate, so the folks hurt by this are the student-athletes, and at Penn State, that term wasn’t an ironic joke as it as at most other Division I-A football programs. The school also will be on probation for five years. The Big Ten Conference will withhold Penn State’s share of bowl revenues, approxiately $13 million over four years. The funds will be donated to children’s charities.  The Big Ten, the conference in which Penn State plays football, like the NCAA, arrived  at the outrage party LATE, but better late than never, I suppose…

In short, the school is out from under the discipline of the NCAA in five years. It may take longer to rebuild, but so what? There are young men out there whose lives are irreparably damaged because the religion of football at Penn State became more important that the welfare of the most helpless among us – children. So if a large, prosperous university has to take a hit, do I feel badly about that? Not so much. I am concerned about the businesses that depend on Penn State football. In the same way that the NCAA wasn’t asking the right questions when this was happening, they aren’t asking the right questions about the community surrounding Penn State University.

There was an effort to bow before the god of football at Penn State. Men who had power and had the ability to intervene, did nothing. Edmund Burke was so right…The only thing necessary for the triumph to evil is for good men to do nothing. What happened at Penn State was so much worse. These men, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and yes, Joe Paterno all allegedly worked in concert to conceal, and thereby encourage, the acts of a voracious, now convicted, pedophile. The Freeh Report commissioned by Penn State is damning and presents some inescapable conclusions about fanatical worship of the god of football, above all else, including education and safety, at Penn State.

The statue of JoePa is gone, as are his record, his wins, and much of his reputation. To the Paterno family, I say, as awful it must be to hear the reputation of your loved one savaged and attacked, rest easy with the knowledge that no one ever raped or sodomized him. There are countless boys who can’t say that, and Joe Paterno’s silence played a part in allowing that to continue. His good deeds are still there. But this stain is now there as well. Have some compassion for the survivors as you fight to protect the legacy of Joe Paterno. He should have fought as hard to protect those boys.

The football program at Penn State, deprived of water, food and sunlight for 5 years… most things would die. Let’s see if this football program has the will to live and be a remarkable come-back story.

The weasels who allegedly engaged in a cover-up of Jerry Sandusky’s criminal behavior on Penn State property, let’s see how they fare in criminal and civil court.

The fans, the Penn State faithful who paint their faces and cheer their voices away every Saturday during the football season, for you, I have a special message. I understand your disappointment about the team. Some of you believe you are being punished for something that had nothing to do with you. Maybe. But the system is broken. The only way to fix it is to intervene now. Think about the young men who were hurt. What if that was you, your brother, son, boyfriend, husband? Wouldn’t you want some form of justice, even if was justice delayed? Justice delayed is better than justice denied. Cheer for justice. Justice can be as kick-ass as football, better if you ask me. Cheer for the survivors, because what they lived through is worse than anything we can imagine. Don’t be angry about the loss of anything to do with football in the face of shame and confusion the survivors have to contend with.

Jerry Sandusky is in jail, Satan preserve Sandusky’s soul for his pleasure and entertainment. There are more survivors of Sandusky out there. I hope that the young men who were abused by this very sick man will all get the help and support they need. I hope the fact that Penn State has been dealt with harshly will bring some peace to these men who have been living with the shame and anger of what happened to them in Happy Valley.

If there is shame to be had, it is not by the Sandusky survivors – it is those who left a predator roam the athletic facilities at Penn State who should feel shame. But there is plenty of anger to go around. Now that justice is being served, hot and fresh, State College has a chance of reviving joy for everyone in Happy Valley.

Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

An Open Letter to Speaker Boehner: Big Gavel, But Impotent

July 13, 2012

Dear Speaker Boehner,

You will be in session for 25 more working days before Election Day. Then hopefully, you will officially become lame as  the OUTGOING Speaker in the Lame Duck Session. For those paying attention, you have been lame all along.

When you became Speaker of House, you made great show of taking possession of the gigantic gavel. You know what they say about men who have big tools and don’t know how to use them. What a waste! Yes, Mr. Speaker. Your time as Speaker of the House has been a great big, orange, weepy, ineffective waste. The tragedy of it is two-fold: you follow one of the most effective Speakers in the history of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and your ineptitude comes at a time when the Congress and the country needed a statesperson with political acumen to hold the Speaker’s gavel.

The 112th Congress could be called the Looney Tunes Congress. There are some folks in the House of Representatives who are so comical that they are better placed in a cartoon than in Congress. Joe Walsh, Allen West, and Michelle Bachmann, to name a few, all deserve their own special clown car. Allen West makes ridiculous statements that are throw-backs to a drunken, discredited, red-baiting Congressman who brought a shameful time to America. Yet there are some who take this person seriously. Allen West is one of the best “race hustlers” around, invoking provocative images of slavery to suit his own political agenda. He needs to get off the “plantation” of crazy where he is currently enslaved, and find the freedom of sanity and reality.

Joe Walsh is a dead-beat dad who thinks nothing of denigrating and disrespecting a decorated war hero, who also happens to be a double amputee, to suit his own craven political agenda. By the way, what are Joe Walsh’s legislative achievements while in Congress? What has he done for the people of his district? I doubt it’s very much.

Michelle Bachmann… Where to start or end with her? Her biggest legislative achievement was to guarantee your unthreatened ability to buy incandescent light bulbs. I know that the most important item on your political agenda over the economy, education, the environment and other trivial things is light bulbs. But the rest of America was worrying about other things. You are blessed if the future of light bulbs was keeping you up at night. Her latest stunt was to call the Affordable Care Act the “largest Middle Class tax increase in American History.” Wow, lie much?

Yes, Mr. Speaker, you with your big gavel couldn’t herd these crazy cats into acting in the best interests of America. We have seen it time after time.

But you, Mr. Speaker, have been like Wile E. Coyote to President Obama’s Road Runner. You have allowed the TEA Party extremists to fill your head with legislatively wasteful and politically destructive plots ordered straight from ACME political tricks and schemes. Rather than helping you catch the President, all you have gained for your troubles is the political equivalent of an anvil falling on your head – dismally low approval ratings for Congress, 17.8% according to Real Clear Politics Average of Congressional Job Approval polls through June 18, 2012.

As the TEA Party dropped an anvil on your head, Wile E., I mean, Mr. Speaker, it was also dropping boulders and anvils on groups who expected their elected representatives to look out for their interests. We expected you to bang your gavel to lead, not bang the gavel on our heads. It was the American people who suffered most. As you collected your annual salary of $223, 500, with benefits and pension, American citizens waited for the jobs that would give us salaries, benefits and pensions. Instead, you postured and played politics with our lives. As you took your salary and did nothing for the American people, the gavel laid impotently in your hand.

Instead of efficiently reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), and expanding the Act so it reaches all victims of violence, the VAWA sits in limbo, a victim of the violence of the political act forced on it, in the same way that all women and members of the LGBT community who have violence forced upon them will be left without adequate recourse if this act isn’t reauthorized. But at the same time, this same Congress was all too happy to push this government to the brink of a government shutdown over an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

It bears repeating that it is a sad fact that Planned Parenthood is the bogeywoman for abortion, but abortion represents 3% of the services of the services they provide. The rest of the services they provide are for the HEALTH of a woman, e.g., routine screenings such as pap smears and mammograms. By the way, Mr. Speaker, abortions in the first trimester are a legal medical procedure and a matter of CHOICE for the mother and her family. None of that mattered. You were willing to allow your big gavel to lay impotently in your hand as the country careened toward a shut-down. Women suffered during your term as Speaker. We will remember. We will deal with you harshly on Election Day.

The gavel was placed in your hands because the GOP promised to be the party of jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Yes, we got a job alright, a con job. Do a Google search for “GOP jobs bill in 112th Congress.” I did. The results are extremely spare, especially for the party that claimed that they were going to be job creators. What happened? You lied to us. This GOP ascension had nothing to do with jobs, and everything to do with power for the sake of power. You wouldn’t even vote on the Jobs plan that the President sent to Congress, not once. No, the goal was never jobs, it was always power.  All I can say is “well played.”  Because that is what you did, you played the American people. Crafty…

But the gavel still lays impotently in your hand. A gavel that you should wield with power, authority and finesse; instead, you are run around by the freshman members of your caucus. How embarrassing. That was especially apparent when you allowed the little boys and girls in the TEA Party Caucus to publicly throw their un-statesmanlike tantrums as the country had an unnecessarily prolonged negotiation about the debt ceiling last summer. The debt ceiling had been raised almost 80 times since 1960, mostly under Republican presidents, as you well know. Yet, you procrastinated like a teenager with a term paper on the debt ceiling issue, which meant that you manufactured a crisis that resulted in the first downgrade of the US credit rating in America history. Not an effective use of your power, if you ask me. Impotence that doesn’t just reflect on you, it affects the rest of us.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, there are 25 days when Congress will be in session before Election Day. You just wasted one of those days on another useless vote to repeal some or all of the Affordable Care Act. And yet again, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner stuck his tongue out at you, said, “Beep, Beep!” and sped away…for the 33rd time.

But the big gavel lies impotently in your hand. And America watches and waits because there are problems that still should be solved in the 25 working days, the time before your impotence becomes lame impotence in the Lame Duck Session. The debt ceiling looms on the horizon – AGAIN. In your limited wisdom, the fix put on unemployment and the payroll tax holiday was temporary, so they are expiring. Happily, the Bush Tax Cuts are expiring, but the President and most of America wants you to extend them for those with annual incomes under $250,000. And yes, VAWA is still sitting out there waiting for reconciliation in conference. Adopt the Senate version, and let’s get on with it.

In New York, we say someone is all sizzle and no steak. In Texas, they say someone is all hat and no cattle. You, Mr. Speaker, were all gavel and no power, statesmanship, or gravitas. Impotent. It’s sad, because America deserved better. We needed better. And I think you may have wanted to be bigger than the gavel. It’s sad that the gavel ended up being bigger than you.

Sincerely yours,

Pundit On Point

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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

VAGINA CORP: A Rise to Power

Women! We have been going about this all wrong! We have been asking lawmakers to respect our privacy and our right to choose our reproductive fate. We have made it clear that our reproductive health, in the form of annual screenings like mammograms and pelvic exams with pap smears, are extremely important to us. In case there was any doubt about what we meant about “reproductive health,” we told them we were talking about our vaginas. You would think we were talking about Voldermort, because evidently, the vagina is the body part that must not be named.

But the men in state legislatures who were bold enough to create legislation that was obsessed with vaginas were never mature enough or man enough to say the word without devolving to locker room humor and innuendo. But when cloaked in euphemism, like “lady parts,” law makers in Virginia are willing to insert themselves into women’s vaginas by way of an unnecessary medical procedure, which is now required before the legal termination of a pregnancy.

Michigan is even more squeamishly hypocritical. During a recent floor debate on proposed legislation where Michigan legislators where trying to force their way into the vaginas of Michigan women by banning abortion after 20 weeks unless a woman’s life is in danger, State Rep. Lisa Brown bucked the polite, yet stupid, political lexicon

State Rep. Brown’s reward for stating the obvious and speaking the outrage that millions of women have been feeling since these laws began springing up across the country… State Representative Lisa Brown of Michigan, a duly elected public official, was “gaveled down” as out of order for failing to recognize the “decorum” of the House of Representatives of Michigan. Her punishment? The men of the House of Representatives of Michigan silenced her, censored her for the debate of a bill on school employees’ retirement, which is a hot button issue in every state.

In a political climate where a member of the US Congress yells “You Lie” at the President of the United States during the State of the Union address, or 14 members of the GOP allegedly plot the downfall of the 44th president as he dances at his Inaugural Ball, or a minority of the majority party are willing to hold the entire government and economy hostage… I have a hard time with anyone trying to offer lectures about decorum for the use of the anatomically correct term for the body part in question.

Women, here is how we change the game. We incorporate our vaginas! As “lady-parts,” they are powerless. As Vagina Corp., they can rule the world. America is less of a republic or democracy, and more of a corporatocracy. We can thank Mittens Romney for the idea. After all, it was Mittens who told us, “Corporations are people, my friend.” As corporations, Vaginas would be able to enter into contracts, own property, incorporate other corporations and limited liability companies, sue, be sued… Vaginas could be like Mitt Romney but with more compassion and empathy.

Vaginas are already the birthplace of all human power in a purely factual sense. What I am proposing is a way to ensure that vaginas keep a measure of power and control, and not become victims of men who forget where they literally came from.

I am still trying to figure out if Vagina Corp. should be seemingly innocent corporate citizen, or if it would be an activist corporation like those who were members of ALEC or the Financial Services Roundtable. If Vagina Corp. is going to rise to power, it would have to interact with power, just like the Bank of America, WalMart or Halliburton does.

Vagina Corp. would have First Amendment rights. So there wouldn’t be any whispers about vagina anymore, because Vagina Corp. would be a force to be reckoned with. The key First Amendment right to be exercised would be the right to political speech, of course. One of the first items of the Vagina Corp. agenda would be the formation of a Super PAC. All of the politicians who rushed to defile “lady-parts” with legislation requiring intrusive and medically unnecessary procedures would suddenly stop and have much more respect and consideration for Vagina Corp.

Vagina Corp. would be an economic force. Let’s be clear; control over reproduction is an economic issue. Vagina Corp., by harnessing that power, would then become a force in the economy. The Vagina Corp. Super PAC would be able to pressure legislators to create bills that would do simple things like guarantee equal pay for equal work. Vagina Corp. would be able either to provide access to capital, like a venture capitalist, or pressure the financial services industry to remember that they are supposed to circulate money, not just hold it on their “fortress” balance sheets. With more woman-controlled dollars in the economy, woman-owned businesses would flourish more than they already do.  According to the US Census Bureau, women-owned firms accounted for 28.7% of all nonfarm businesses in the United States in 2007.

For anyone who thinks this is a ridiculous idea, I say “not so fast.” After all, America is the country of legal innovation and flexibility when it comes to financial matters. America came up with the junk bond, the sub-prime mortgage-backed security, and collateralized debt obligations… If we can make people believe those legal and economic fictions are profitable, despite their extremely dangerous and risky realities, then incorporating vaginas is child’s play.

The only reason not to incorporate vaginas would be the same reason that women’s reproductive health is in danger in the first place…there is an innate recognition of the power of a woman’s vagina. These legislators must believe that the vagina, like Voldermort, possesses a powerful dark magic that must be contained at all costs. And it begins with saying its name…Vagina!

Let’s go to Delaware and make their worst nightmares come true. Let’s create the first Vagina Corp. and begin our rise to power. First order of business… Destroy the little blue pills.

 

 

 

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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

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Marriage Equality Hypocrisy: The New Black, Part II – Activism?

 

PART II:  ACTIVISM

The Black church was a mainstay and source of inspiration during the darkest days of oppression for Blacks in America. As important, the Black church was seen as a source of community organizing that was translated into political activism and community advocacy.

Yet, the Black community has developed a certain measure of hubris and complacency about civil rights since the 1960’s, when the legal landscape for Blacks changed because of new laws and Supreme Court decisions. Because activism in the Black community has become fat, lazy and content, it becomes easier to believe that in 2012, the Black Church is being used as a wedge and source of intolerance. The target for this discrimination is against another group that is being marginalized and deprived of equal protection under the law – the LGTBQ community.

It is never appropriate for this country to pursue laws and policies that discriminate. Discrimination runs counter to the vision of America that is expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the policies and procedures of the country set forth in the US Constitution, as it has been amended.

As I did in 2010, I won’t discuss the religious arguments that have been raised against Marriage Equality. Why? Because the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment creates a separation of church and state, this takes religion out of this situation for me and many others. If a church wants to refuse to recognize same sex marriages, I would go to the mat to protect their religious liberty, which is also constitutionally protected. But we aren’t talking about religious ceremonies and beliefs. When it comes to Marriage Equality, the conversation is about equal protection under the law.

I am struck by how many people don’t recognize that marriage is also a civil, legal contract between two parties. In the same way that buying a house is done according to the law and in a way that bars discrimination, the civil contract of marriage should be viewed through the same prism. The law cannot, and must not, be selectively applied.  Equal protection under the law is guaranteed to every American by the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment doesn’t say “equal protection, provided that certain religious factions are okay with it.”

There are some who ask why must same sex couples have marriage equality? Why isn’t a “civil union” sufficient for “them?” When Black folks ask this question, I find it especially painful. It is within the lifetime of many Black folks uttering this despicable question that we were told to be content with “separate but equal” education, public facilities, and limitations on our ability to marry who we loved. Segregation of Blacks was rationalized with Bible verses in the beliefs strongly held by God-fearing, hate mongering Christians. Bible verses were cited as the moral rationalization for depriving American citizens of their liberty, and from their equal measure of citizenship.

No citizen should be required to accept a second-class status flowing from any legal transaction or status. This disgusting approach is not only illegal; it is also immoral in the country that is the leader of the free world. In the way that only equality was, and is, sufficient for the Black community and women, the LGBTQ community has every right to demand and expect nothing less as well. It would be hypocritical for anyone engaged in the fight for social justice to accept anything less. As Black folks and women continue to struggle for the full realization of equality, the LGBT community must realize that the struggle will be long and difficult.

Because the vote is such a uniquely essential tool in the political process, I have a heightened measure of disgust for the members of the Black clergy who have stated that they will tell their congregations to stay at home and not vote for Barack Obama in November. What? We are in a time when states like Florida are purging thousands from their voter rolls, and 34 states have voter ID laws in an effort to disenfranchise the Black and Latino community, the elderly and the young. The American Legislative Executive Council (“ALEC”), didn’t have to lift a finger apparently. Some remarkably ignorant and short-sighted members of the Black clergy have been more than happy to do ALEC’s dirty work. The Black clergy has a legacy of empowering its community and preaching about liberation and justice that is inextricably intertwined with the history of Blacks in America. These members of the clergy advocating for the same type of fear and discrimination that attempted to subjugate and humiliate Blacks for centuries. The most damaging to the psyche and reality of Black folks is the fact that some members of the Black clergy are encouraging voters to stay away from the polls during an election that will prove crucial to the fate of under-represented minorities.  What is the justification for this civic malpractice? A stance on a single social issue, grounded in bigotry. I find this position unbelievably dangerously reckless and irresponsible.

What everyone must bear in mind is the fact that the expansion of justice and liberty in America serves to enhance the entire country, not diminish any of it. The elimination of the last vestiges of unequal protection under the law doesn’t infringe upon other Americans’ liberty, especially the Black community.

In the wake of President Obama’s statement about his evolved position on Marriage Equality, Black celebrities, such as Chris Rock, Jay Z, and most interestingly, the man who is the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Secretary of State, Colin Powell have all stepped forward to express their support for same sex marriage. President Obama and these celebrities aren’t the only ones in the Black Community to evolve in their position about Marriage Equality, but the changing attitudes reflect a community in the process of changing its mind. Hopefully the shift in attitude in the Black community, known to be socially conservative, bodes well for the rest of the country. Opposition to same sex marriage in the Black Community has decreased after the President’s interview, but that isn’t necessarily translating into increased support for gay marriage. It is a work in progress.

It isn’t enough to say that you no longer support discrimination. Those no longer in opposition to Marriage Equality must remember the quote attributed to Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  America, home of the American Dream, must no longer give the full measure of liberty to some, while actively seeking to discriminate against others. “Equal Justice Under Law.” It is what is inscribed on the building that houses the US Supreme Court. These words cannot merely be decorative. They have to have practical application…for every American.  Any other approach is legally wrong and morally offensive.

I guess the level of hypocrisy about Marriage Equality is en vogue in the Black community. But I don’t understand it. There must be a NEW Black Community embracing this moral and legal hypocrisy. I guess hypocrisy is the NEW BLACK.

 

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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones