Thursday, June 26, 2014

"2012-2014-2016 -- What about the Moms?"

An interview from the 2012 Democratic National Convention. It was for CNN and Headline News. This was a HARD interview for me and my hat goes off to those who do this on a regular basis. I had to be careful with what I said and how I said it because I represented not only my area and California delegates, but also African-Americans and last but not least -- suburban moms. These issues will continue to be important in the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The O.J. Case: "Wink, Wink"

(reprint from the Huffington Post -- 6/18/2014)

I had seen him working the grounds of the Orlando resort property where I was staying with my mom and my then year-old son. He never acknowledged us. He didn't even look our way although I was sure he saw us on numerous occasions.

I thought this was odd because there were very few African-Americans at the resort and there is an unspoken rule in the black community that in these situations we acknowledge each other... even a nod would do.
I recently thought of that long-ago time at the resort in Orlando because it was there that I heard the verdict in the O.J. Simpson case. We are at the 20-year anniversary of what has been called the "crime of the century" and there is much in the media these days on the murders, the trial, and that infamous car chase. For those too young to remember, they are getting an introduction to the circumstances surrounding the case, albeit with hindsight.
For me, another memory from that resort is of a newspaper headline. One morning, as we waited at the shuttle stop for a ride to the theme park, I glanced at the nearby newsstand. When you spend a few days in the parks with a 4-year-old you can lose track of the outside world, so I was glad to see a newspaper. That is until I took a good look at the cover.
On the cover of the newspaper, there was a large photo of one of the cutest black kids ever, maybe around 5 or 6 and sporting a wide grin. The headline in large letters said something to the effect that this was a portrait of a KILLER! Apparently, he was an adult charged with murder and the paper had used his childhood photo.
The message wasn't even subliminal -- it was like being hit with a freight train. It brought me back to reality quickly, even on the pristine grounds of the resort. I wondered what the black groundskeeper, the man who ignored us, thought about the paper. I'm sure it was not an opinion he could openly express, especially there.
I also understood the reason the groundskeeper didn't feel the need to acknowledge us. He just kept his head down and did his work. He couldn't relate to me, or any of the guests at the resort. It was not a racial slight, it was economic.

Today, 20 years later, most of the articles and stories on the O.J. case still focus on reactions according to race. A few dig deeper to describe the role money, fame, and privilege played in the case and the outcome. However, the common refrain remains: "Your reaction to the verdict depends on your race." Not entirely true, but not entirely false either. As so many recent analyses have told us (as if we don't know this) there has historically been a lack of trust in the black community concerning law enforcement and this affected viewpoints on the case.
We waited in our hotel room at the resort to hear the verdict. Yes, I will admit I was shocked. As we walked through the lobby and toward the shuttle stop there seemed to be a lot of shocked people. I may be wrong, but their glances toward us seemed to be a little unfriendlier.
Once we were outdoors, walking through the lavish greenery, I saw the black groundskeeper. He was not looking down or ignoring us this time. As a matter of fact, he was looking right at us. Still, he did not speak as I approached him and we were face-to-face. Instead, he winked.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Summertime and Condoleezza for President?"

Presidential?  Former Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice

After a relatively quiet Spring, things are heating up in Washington even though it's not officially summer yet. As we move toward the 2014 mid-term elections in November, and Republicans aim to take control of the Senate, we can be assured there will be no shortage of accusations, investigations, resignations, and recriminations. And of course, the GOP-controlled House will vote to repeal Obamacare a few more times. Also in their sights: inflicting political damage on presumed Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

In the meantime, our conservative-leaning ACTIVIST Supreme Court will be issuing some major rulings by the end of this month. Think Progress summarizes here with a list of the expected rulings and their repercussions in the article:
Seven Big Cases The Supreme Court Will Decide In June That Could Change America

One of the major civil rights issues we are facing -- Voter I.D. laws, are not going away, especially in swing and southern states with large numbers of minority and young voters. Voting rights will remain an issue as America's demographics shift toward youth and people of color. Maybe the GOP will come up with a successful outreach effort to reach these groups, but it doesn't appear to be the case now. Where are we with Immigration Reform?

There is a high likelihood that there will be a Hispanic on the ticket for the 2016 Presidential race.  (Don't you wish Justice Sotomayor could run??) Probably Julian Castro will get the call from Clinton (or whoever is the Democratic front-runner for President). Castro, the Mayor of San Antonio has recently been nominated to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  This will give him more national experience and visibility. He had a high profile at the last Democratic National Convention in 2012 -- becoming the first Hispanic to give the keynote address to the body. Here is his inspirational 'the American dream lives' speech. (As I recall, at the end his young daughter stole the show.)

An interesting prospect is -- Will the GOP put Condoleezza Rice on the ticket? She is a darling on the right and might even get Southern Conservatives on board (because they will be in an "anybody but Clinton" mode).

African-American women are a key and consistent voting-bloc within the Democratic Party, and at the heart of many campaign volunteer efforts across the country. (However, I would wager that few of the campaign expenditure funds -- and we're talking multi-millions here that are spent on workers, consultants, lawyers, media, etc., make their way to black women or black men!).

But back to Condeleezza Rice on the GOP 2016 Presidential ticket -- her policies are not in step with the majority of black women, although she would most certainly move to the center after the primaries. Nevertheless, I expect if Clinton runs she will get the African-American vote. Her spouse will make sure of that. Remember his DNC 2012 speech in support of candidate Obama - masterful - here it is again:

I can still remember sitting on the Convention floor amazed and getting a text from my son, who I didn't expect to be watching at his college, saying, "Mom...he is killing it." And, he did. Bill Clinton, more so than any other speaker summed up the reasons to vote for Obama. And then he got out on the campaign trail and campaigned for the President. His appeal remains massive in minority communities.

Still, it is intriguing to ponder -- inside the voting booth, when faced with an African-American woman choice for President, or Vice-President, will black women (some of whom might be considered conservative to moderate) vote for Condoleezza Rice? If so....would the numbers be enough to push the GOP over the top and back into the White House?

Oh..the machinations of summer!