Kindness to Strangers

The Rabbi who spoke at the White House told the audience that his father came to the United States on the St. Louis, its last journey to the United States before making its famous “Voyage of the Damned.” As Obama said Wednesday night, now, it is other boats being turned away from potential asylum. Thus, as Jews, as people who have ourselves been turned away when seeking refuge, or have been accepted, begrudgingly and with a high tax for being who we are, we must open our doors to refugees, open our doors to the stranger as we are commanded to do each year on Passover.

By S.T.

 

Wednesday night – which happened to be both the 150th anniversary of the passing of the 13th Amendment and the fourth night of Chanukah – I stood in the White House, listening to President Barack Obama and a Rabbi (whose parents were both Holocaust survivors) talk about the origins of the holiday. Relative to Christmas, Chanukah is minor, but the story fits in with several other Jewish holidays – “they tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat.” But I was pleased by the serious tone both the President and the Rabbi took; they both talked about the refugee and immigrant experiences of Jews, and how now, it is a different group that is in trouble, a different group to whom we must extend a helping hand. Both leaders drew a connection I often feel, between Judaism and compassion to those in need, and to hear a similar message from my president was deeply moving.

Continue reading “Kindness to Strangers”

Advertisement

Bonus Weekly Dance Break: Back to Back (Barack Obama!!!)

Ok, it’s not really Barack Obama. But in keeping with our Drake theme today, I just had to share this video because if you haven’t seen it, you are not living your best life. It’s “Barack Obama” rapping Back to Back as a Trump diss track. I’m serious. This dude’s Obama voice is great and so are his political jokes, all wrapped in a beautiful Drake beat.

Just….please. If you value our friendship, you will do yourself this favor. Watch this and cackle along with glee. Continue reading “Bonus Weekly Dance Break: Back to Back (Barack Obama!!!)”

The Good, The Bad, And the Absolutely Terrifying (in Abortion Legislation) Part II: Everything’s a Giant Shitshow

The Good:

Right now, the “good” is less about “awesome things happening” and more about “some of the terrible things that could have happened didn’t happen!”

The Senate did not pass the House’s bill to defund Planned Parenthood. So, that’s good, considering one in five women have used Planned Parenthood’s services, and 2.7 million women and men visit Planned Parenthood centers annually.

The Government has not shut down. That’s good. Two years ago, the Republicans successfully threw a massive temper tantrum, and effectively screwed over roughly 2 million people for two weeks; 800,000 did not work at all, and another 1.3 million were required to go to work without knowing when – or if – they would be paid.

Planned Parenthood has also raised a fair amount of money amidst all the crazy; donations have spiked recently, and my favorite trend is donating to PP in the name of virulently pro-life politicians.

The Bad:

Speaking of donations, however, despite reports to the contrary Mark Zuckerberg did NOT donate just shy of one million dollars to Planned Parenthood. Several years ago, he donated 18 million Facebook shares to a charitable umbrella organization; Planned Parenthood is one of the many organizations it supports. This is hardly catastrophic news, but since most of the “good” news I have to report is about bad things that didn’t happen, here’s a piece of “bad” news about a good thing that didn’t actually happen.

While Planned Parenthood has not been defunded at the national level (yet), there are people out there doing everything they can to make sure individual clinics can’t run. Recently, a Planned Parenthood clinic outside LA was a victim of arson.

The Absolutely Terrifying:

While it’s good the government is still up and running at the moment, that could very well end soon. I’m not sure which is scarier: what would happen with a government shutdown, what would happen if Planned Parenthood does get defunded, or the fact that the Republican Party (who could hold the Presidency in just over a year) is willing to hold the country hostage to its demands (not to mention the fact that my two-year-old niece’s temper tantrums don’t come close to rivaling those of the GOP).

Even if the GOP doesn’t manage to shut down the government, they still might have other ways of defunding Planned Parenthood. Representative Reid Ribble, of the somewhat ironically-named “House Freedom Council” (‘freedom’ is just a thing for straight white men, right?) is determined to strike a bargain with the democrats over Planned Parenthood funding. While this seems somewhat unlikely, in 2011, President Obama did capitulate to GOP demands re: abortion restrictions in our nation’s capital (they can’t vote, so who cares?) in order to avoid…you guessed it…a government shutdown.[*]

[*] Note: The author is from DC, and has very strong feelings about DC’s congressional impotence. She is aware, however, that the rest of the nation does not feel as strongly.

Weekly Link Roundup

Internet gleanings.

Only the most desperate white racists openly identify as racists. Invariably, these white people come from a social stratum deprived of all that whiteness tries to connote: wealth, beauty, power, cleanliness, grace. But because it is uncomfortable for white people to define such things too clearly, the phrase “white trash” had to be invented to cover them. The phrase, developed to describe all Southern whites outside the aristocracy, has shifted in tandem with economic and social changes so that it now applies to a demographic sliver. Yet this reduction in range has not corresponded to a reduction in the disgust it evokes in whites of putatively higher status.

“Housing discrimination is the unfinished business of civil rights,” says Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. “It goes right to the heart of our divide from one another. It goes right to the heart of whether you believe that African American people’s lives matter, that you respect them, that you believe they can be your neighbors, that you want them to play with your children.”

Big Sound Saturdays: Ladies First, Sister Soul vol. 2, Oh Mama (Afro-Caribbean Beats)

Not sure if y’all missed this, but on April 9th, Obama paid the first presidential visit in 32 years to Jamaica, immediately visited the Bob Marley Museum, and opened his speech to a crowd of students at the University of the West Indies with a cloying patois, “Wah Gwan Jamaica?”. Leaving aside the politics of Obama’s attempt to divert trade from Venezuela, his role in the distribution of liquid natural gas, and, less seriously, his statement upon first setting foot at the museum— “Yes. This is it! Bob Marley”—Obama’s role-play might actually bring us into a deeper history of exchange between American music—particularly blues, gospel, and soul—and Caribbean, particularly Jamaican, sound.

Not sure if y’all missed this, but on April 9th, Obama paid the first presidential visit in 32 years to Jamaica, immediately visited the Bob Marley Museum, and opened his speech to a crowd of students at the University of the West Indies with a cloying patois, “Wah Gwan Jamaica?. Leaving aside the politics of Obama’s attempt to divert trade from Venezuela, his role in the distribution of liquid natural gas, and, less seriously, his statement upon first setting foot at the museum— “Yes. This is it! Bob Marley”—Obama’s role-play might actually bring us into a deeper history of exchange between American music—particularly blues, gospel, and soul—and Caribbean, particularly Jamaican, sound.

For this second installment of Sister Soul, M.H. and I collaborated on an Afro-Caribbean “Ladies First,” mixing her choices, contemporary Soca and heavy Trinidadian dance beats, with the tunes I’ve pulled from across Africa (bless you, Awesome Tapes From Africa) and high-life Jamaica. It took a long-time ex-boyfriend’s reggae obsession to make me realize how innovative and heart-shaking ‘60’s and ‘70’s reggae stars were in their recreation of American soul and gospel music—see Phyllis Dillon’s “Picture on the Wall,” à la Patsy Cline’s She’s Got You—and lots of these songs seem like they come straight from the Jamaican ether. Cum Nora Dean: “He’s got barbwire in his underpants.”

M.H. and I wanted this mix to be big and new, so it’s full of stuff that people still dance to: Destra Garcia’s 2013 hit, “Call My Name,” for one, or Patrice Roberts’ banger, “Do Wuh Yuh Want.” We’ve also got classics, Sister Nancy’s “Transfer Connection” and Patra’s “Queen of the Pack,” with the biting, lolling invective, “look how me cute and sexy like that,” that reminds me of The Breeders’ furious plea, “do you love me now?” This mix is full of African rhythms pulled by Awesome Tapes’ cassette collection, the comically bored “Jam It” and Congolese rhumba singer Mbilia Bel’s heavy-hitting 90’s R&B inflected Manzil Manzil, and rounds out Accran musician Jojo Abot’s “To Li” bass/falsetto dreamscape. Sister Soul lives!

%d bloggers like this: