Monday, June 9, 2008

Who Came Before

Now that it appears that Barack Obama will be the Democratic Presidential nominee with Hillary Clinton backing out, at least the question was answered, "Which Democrat will represent the party for the run for the White House? A woman, or an African-American?" For some time now, such novelty ensued...the thought that either could come within a heartbeat away of representing a major political party, even possibly becoming the next President of the United States. Who could imagine it?

Shirley Chisholm did, in 1972. An African American woman. The first African-American woman to be elected to Congress in 1968. The first woman to have her name placed for nomination for a major political party, and the first African American to have her name on the Presidential ballot.

In a speech she gave on June 4th, 1972, Chisholm spoke of the reality of her situation:
"I am a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. I make that statement proudly, in the full knowledge that, as a black person and as a female person, I do not have a chance of actually gaining that office in this election year. I make that statement seriously, knowing that my candidacy itself can change the face and future of American politics - that it will be important to the needs and hopes of every one of you - even though, in the conventional sense, I will not win."

In all the commentary and opining and chattering of many a talking head, I never heard Ms. Chisholm's name mentioned. All I heard was people talking about the novelty of having a African-American and a Woman running for the Democratic ticket, as if they were the first people on the Moon. In fact, I don't recall either Clinton or Obama themselves speaking of the woman, who admittedly knew she would never make it to the White House, but ran anyway, hoping that her attempt would pave the way for others such as herself to take the same path.

Shirley Chisholm was years ahead of her time...thirty-five years, to be exact.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fledgling's Flight

A long time ago I learned that with having children, one must choose one's battles, or go BSC (bat-shit crazy).

One of those battles were bedrooms. After beating myself about the head for years over the constant state of mess that were my girls' bedrooms, I gave up. I finally settled on, "as long as your rooms don't puke up their contents into the rest of the house, how you choose your bedrooms to look like is none of my business."

Okay, so I won't win any "Homemaker Of The Year" contests. And chances are, neither will my girls when they go off on their own. Luckily, I didn't name my girls, "Suzie" and "Betty".

Right now, my eldest daughter's room is finally puking up it's contents into my living room, but it's all contained in moving boxes and plastic totes. By this time next month, she and her groom will be putting down roots in another state, and I will be upstairs, running a vacuum cleaner in the empty space that used to be her room, thinking about that other vacuum nature abhors.

I remember my second Mother's Day as a Mom. A mother robin had built a nest in a basket of fuchsias that were hanging from my patio canopy. My daughter and I (my daughter's name is shared with said bird ) were leaning over the back of the couch, watching the robin tending to her young. The fledgling robins were just on the verge of making their first test flights, like little feathered Wright Brothers. There were two fledglings, and I even named them "Wilbur and Orville". I thought to myself that one day in the future, my little robin would be balancing on the edge of the nest, flapping her wings, gaining the courage. Taking flight.

And I swear, that happened last week, not nineteen years ago.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Flunking Art? WTF?

According to my daughter's year-end report card, she received an "F" in Art. Shocked and dismayed, I went to the school's on-line site and determined that she had turned in every assignment, so it wasn't a matter of blowing off the class.

Mind you, this is an art class, not an "Art History 101" class. Art. Plain and simple. You do the assignment to the best of your ability, you pass. You hand in a blank sheet of paper, you don't pass. Or at least that is how I think it should be. I've seen my daughter's work. It's good. And that is an understatement because I don't want to come off as the gushing mommy who says everything their children do is just sooooooooooooo perfect. Okay, sometimes her art is a bit angsty, but, hey, she's a goth. Without all the make-up though, because she hates make-up. When the assignment was "depict yourself in the future", she drew a picture of herself as a homeless person, sleeping on the street. She was using a dog as a pillow, and was draped in a newspaper that bared the headline "China Declares War On US".

Okay, the idea that my daughter sees herself living on the streets in the future disturbs me as a mom...but I'll get to that later.

Another assignment was to make a observational drawing. She drew a page from a graphic novel as she would see it when reading it. She even took in account the distortion caused from the curve of the page as if it was just turned. She also drew the glare from a reading lamp, reflecting off the glossy paper. My daughter even made an effort not to draw in the anime style she is so used to, because, after all, her Art teacher from last year deplored, "That is NOT where the eyes are located in conjunction to the nose, and the ears are always about the same level as the eyes..." To which my daughter replied, "Um, Picasso?"

Yeah, we all know that he was a failure because he drew humans that looked like halibuts. Good thing he didn't take Art in high school.

I had this wonderful art teacher in high school. His idea of assignments was, "Find something of interest in this room, and draw it." He had one section in his classroom where he took old barnboard and created a vignette made to look like the interior of an old cabin. That was where many of the students drew inspiration from. That was when he wasn't taking us outside and instructing us to really look at the large oak tree that dominated the schoolground. I think the only time he ever really graded anything was when we would have to "Guess The Artist".

So, now my daughter probably thinks she is incapable of drawing. Well, in that horrible atmosphere called High School, that seems to be the opinion.

No wonder she depicts herself as someday being homeless, living on the streets. Fifteen is a difficult enough age without someone in authority, a teacher, more or less telling you that you suck at the one thing you love doing the most.

Oh, where have you gone, Mr Martin? My daughter would have loved having you as an Art teacher.

This from the girl who can't draw.

The Bully Pulpit

**disclaimer: I'm not very well versed in the area of political opinion, but I am opinionated, nonetheless**

According to news, Barack Obama has resigned from his home branch of the Trinity United Church (oh, I am sure the bulk emails will be flying with claims of "see, he really is a Muslim, he denounced the Christan faith!!!). He saw that every time divisive comments were made by his pastor, Rev. Wright, and just recently by Rev. Pfleger, who depicted and mocked Clinton as a crybaby, whining about how Obama, a black man, "stole her show", those comments reflected badly not only on him and his campaign, but on his church as a whole.

This whole issue made me ask myself, "should the church pulpit be used for political opinion?". In the case of abortion, which churches see as a moral, ethical and religious issue, I know there is a fine line there. I believe though, that the line gets crossed when the pulpit is used to sway the congregation as to who to vote for in an upcoming election as some churches are known to do (you could vote for so-in-so, but just don't be standing in the wafer isle). My personal opinion on that is, God will be the one dealing with me when the time comes, until then, I'm sitting in yr pewz, singing yr hymz.

Well, hypothetically speaking, because with the exception of my sister's wedding last year, my feet haven't stepped on Holy Ground for quite some time now. But, digressing as usual...

In the cases of Rev Wright and Rev. Pfleger, the rhetoric was far from doctrinal issues, and very much personal political opinion. Comments were said purposely to entice, inflame, and hopefully gainer 15 minutes of fame.

On the other hand, and you know there always is one, politicians make it a habit to visit churches, be guest speakers during election time. They reach out to widen their popularity base. Press the Flesh en masse, no pun intended. They turn the religious pulpit into a political one. The are not told, "Okay, you got five minutes up there, but no discussing Iraq, or taxes, or the price of gas."

So, it stands to reason that the religious head of these pulpits would do the same during their hypothetical five minutes ('hypothetical',because if a reverend were to only speak for five minutes during a sermon, that's a church I'd want to go to).

But the thing is, should they? Should the clergy spout personal political opinion? Does one go to church to listen to the Word of God, or to listen to a political pundit? Or a political rally?