Monday Reads: Of Droogs, Unwinable Wars, and Civil Rights Protests

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Fifty years ago, Elton John released Tiny Dancer, and Clockwork Orange was playing in theatres. We were fighting what seemed like an endless war run by a lawless President.  It was the year of the Easter Offensive when North Vietnamese forces overran South Vietnamese forces. It was probably the first true evidence of a war the US would not win.

Shirley Chisholm became the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed Congress and got 35 of the 38 votes to become a Constitutional Amendment.  In 1972, Native Americans occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  The protest came from tribal frustration with the government’s ‘Trail of Broken Treaties.’  It lasted six days.

After the Senate voted passage of a constitutional amendment giving women equal rights, Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., left, met with two supporters and one opponent, Wednesday, March 23, 1972 in the Capitol in Washington. Sen. Sam Ervin, D-N.C., second from right, one of eight senators who voted against the amendment. Others are Rep. Martha Griffiths, D-Mich., and Sen. Marlow Cook, R-Ky.

Furman v. Georgia was decided in 1972.  The United States Supreme Court invalidated all death penalty schemes in the United States in a 5–4 decision.  Each member of the majority wrote a separate opinion. The Civil Rights act of 1972 passed which led to Title IX.

A recipient institution that receives Department funds must operate its education program or activity in a nondiscriminatory manner free of discrimination based on sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Some key issue areas in which recipients have Title IX obligations are: recruitment, admissions, and counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment, which encompasses sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; treatment of LGBTQI+ students; discipline; single-sex education; and employment. Also, no recipient or other person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX or its implementing regulations, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in a proceeding under Title IX.

1972 was also the year of the Gary Declaration coming from a National Black Political Convention. Reverend Jesse Jackson was just one of many to attend the convention.

What Time Is It?

We come to Gary in an hour of great crisis and tremendous promise for Black America. While the white nation hovers on the brink of chaos, while its politicians offer no hope of real change, we stand on the edge of history and are faced with an amazing and frightening choice: We may choose in 1972 to slip back into the decadent white politics of American life, or we may press forward, moving relentlessly from Gary to the creation of our own Black life. The choice is large, but the time is very short.

Let there be no mistake. We come to Gary in a time of unrelieved crisis for our people. From every rural community in Alabama to the high-rise compounds of Chicago, we bring to this Convention the agonies of the masses of our people. From the sprawling Black cities of Watts and Nairobi in the West to the decay of Harlem and Roxbury in the East, the testimony we bear is the same. We are the witnesses to social disaster.

Our cities are crime-haunted dying grounds. Huge sectors of our youth — and countless others — face permanent unemployment. Those of us who work find our paychecks able to purchase less and less. Neither the courts nor the prisons contribute to anything resembling justice or reformation. The schools are unable — or unwilling — to educate our children for the real world of our struggles. Meanwhile, the officially approved epidemic of drugs threatens to wipe out the minds and strength of our best young warriors.

Economic, cultural, and spiritual depression stalk Black America, and the price for survival often appears to be more than we are able to pay. On every side, in every area of our lives, the American institutions in which we have placed our trust are unable to cope with the crises they have created by their single-minded dedication to profits for some and white supremacy above all.

Me in 1973 with friends.

I was in high school feeling like we might actually get through this all and get to the dream of a more perfect Union. It was definitely a year of ups and downs. Fifty years ago seems like another lifetime. You’d think we’d see more progress on all of this.

We do have a Black Woman Vice President but no ERA and we had our first Black Man elected President who served two terms.. The Department of Interior is led by an Indigenous woman who has planned reforms that might bring more civil rights to our native peoples.  Women’s sports are taken a lot more seriously but not one woman player earns what her male peers make.

Black Americans face a new wave of voter suppression and a Supreme Court ready to tear through laws meant to improve access to American Universities not unlike what the 1972 Civil Rights law sought to do on the basis of gender.  We just got rid of a second long, unwinnable war but will we have another?

We also have Elton John on tour and Droogs. The Droogs are the white male Maga Men and hide under names like Oathkeepers, Proud Boys, and Patriot Front.

Some things don’t change and in this country, we know why. They don’t share power. They don’t want to. They’ll do anything to keep as much of it as possible.  We have a White Male problem and it’s mostly got the face of an extreme patriarchal take of Christianity.

So that’s the perspective. This is the reality in 2022.  This is from MS Magazine whose first stand-alone magazine was published in 1972. Excerpts from Elizabeth Hira’s “Americans Are Entitled to Government That Truly Reflects Them. Let’s Start With the Supreme Court” are going to show you exactly how far the rest of us still have to go.  It’s in response to the audacity the Republican Party has to hold up Joe Biden’s promise to appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court as some kind of affirmative action for a less-qualified person which is total Bull Shit.

This is the premise she completely proves. “Our current system has created conditions where, statistically, mostly white men win. That is its own kind of special privilege. Something must change.”

This is her conclusion. “American government in no way reflects America—perpetuating a system where male, white power makes decisions for the rest of us.”

These are her descriptive statistics.

Data shows these claims are not hyperbolic. A Supreme Court vacancy started this inquiry: There have been 115 Supreme Court justices. 108 have been white men. One is a woman of color, appointed in 2009. (Americans have had iPhones for longer than they’ve had a woman-of-color justice.)

One might be tempted to dismiss old history, except that the Supreme Court specifically cannot be looked at as a “snapshot in time” because the Court is built on precedent stretching back to the nation’s founding. Practically speaking, that means every decision prior to 1967 (when Justice Thurgood Marshall joined the Court) reflected what a group of exclusively white men decided for everyone else in America—often to the detriment of the unrepresented.

In a nation that is 51 percent female and 40 percent people of color, are white men simply more qualified to represent the rest of us than we are of representing ourselves? That sounds ridiculous because it is. And yet that is the implication when naysayers tell us that race and gender do not matter—that the “most qualified” people can “make the best choices” for all of us, and they all just happen to be white men.

What’s worse, those white men aren’t just making broad, general decisions—each and every branch of government acts in ways that directly impact people because of their race and gender, among other identities.

  • When the Supreme Court considers affirmative action, it will be considering whether race matters for students who are already experiencing an increase in school segregation—what Jonathan Kozol once dubbed “Educational Apartheid.”
  • When Congress is inevitably asked to pass a bill to protect abortion should the Court strike down Roe v. Wade, 73 percent of the Congress making that decision will be men—not people who could even potentially experience pregnancy.
  • When recent voting rights bills failed, it was because two white Democrats and 48 Republicans (45 white and three non-white) collectively decided not to protect all American voters of color against targeted attacks on their access to the ballot.
  • When Senator Kyrsten Sinema spoke to the Senate floor about why she could not take necessary steps to protect Americans of color, she did not have to look a single sitting Black woman senator in the eye. Because there are none.

The Supreme Court is not alone in underrepresenting women, people of color, and women of color. Of 50 states, 47 governors are white, 41 are men. Nearly 70 percent of state legislators are male.

The pattern holds federally, too: Today’s Congress is the most diverse ever—a laudable achievement. Except that today’s Congress is 77 percent white, and 73 percent male. (As an example of how clear it is that Congress was simply not designed for women, Congresswomen only got their own restroomin the U.S. House in 2011.)

In the executive branch, 97.8 percent of American presidents have been white men. There has never been a woman president.

BIA Spokesperson at Trail of Broken Treaties Protest: 1972
John Crow of the Bureau of Indian Affairs answers questions from Native Americans on November 2, 1972 at 1951 Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, D.C on the first day of the Trail of Broken Treaties demonstrations.

The numbers don’t lie.  I don’t even want to go into the number of American presidents that have been worse than mediocre including the previous guy.  This is the kind of systemic discrimination perpetuated in this country’s primary decision-makers. It is no wonder 50 years later we are even losing the table scraps they’re stealing now.

I’m going to leave you with this one last analysis before telling you to go read the entire essay.

The first female major-party presidential nominee was dogged by questions of her “electability,” and recent data shows large donors gave Black women congressional candidates barely one-third of what they gave their other female counterparts. Some people don’t support women and candidates of color because they worry these candidates simply can’t win in a white male system of power—which perpetuates a white male system of power. To create equitable opportunities to run, we must change campaign finance structures. It’s a necessary precursor to getting a government that looks like everyone.

I’m trying to send money to Val Demings in her effort to take down Mark Rubio.  Mark Rubio will never consider the interests of all of his constituency because he’s funded by white males with a vested interest in their monopolies on politics and the economy.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Now Tom said, “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beating a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me, Mom, I’ll be there

Wherever somebody’s fighting for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helping hand
Wherever somebody’s struggling to be free
Look in their eyes, Ma, and you’ll see me”
Yeah!

Like Tom Joad, I was born an Okie. I was born on the Cherokee strip one of those places on the Trail of Broken Treaties at the end of the Trail of Tears.  “The Grapes of Wrath” was on many a book banning and burning list back in the day. Look for it again on a list near you.


22 Comments on “Monday Reads: Of Droogs, Unwinable Wars, and Civil Rights Protests”

  1. dakinikat says:

    But her emails …

    • dakinikat says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      But Hilary deleted her personal emails! The media harped on those emails for two years. The coverage of these Trump ourages is negligible in comparison!

    • NW Luna says:

      Correspondence with North Korea and Trump stole that out of the White House. Ripping up Presidential papers which by law must be kept intact.

      All that outweighed by a few personal emails about desserts and 2 emails classified some time after Hillary got them.

      • djmm says:

        Exactly. And the personal server she used was more secure than the personal servers used by other recent Secretaries of State.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Great post!

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. RonStill4Hills says:

    Makes me sad to see pictures of Jesse before money and position got to him.

    Shirley Chisolm was a BOSS was she not!

    “The Big Chill” is supposed to be a phenomenon of my mother’s generation more than mine, but I feel like I get it second hand plus, if I am not really of the civil rights black liberation generation I am definite part of the first wave of the hip hop generation.

    WHAT THE FUCK HAS GONE WRONG!

    Weren’t we getting our shit together at one point?

    The Sandra Bland Post almost bring me to tears.

    I feel like the BLM generation will be asking this same question in twenty years. Between police killings and school shootings, that is.

    SMH.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think that traditional white male interests have managed to keep us divided by playing to one of our identities when we all together have more in common with each other than them. United we stand against them. Divided we still live under the feet and thumbs.

    • quixote says:

      Backlash went wrong. History isn’t linear. It felt like a marvelous swoop upward to a better place, and then all the people who were / are too dumb to see they’ve got nothing to lose but their chains started pulling us back. They’ve been at it ever since.

      Although, if the nonlinearity holds, I wonder what comes next. In the 60s and 70s they just thought we were ridiculous. Now they hate us enough to arm themselves. First they laugh at you, then they fight you, then ….

      We can hope.

  5. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Some people are soooo inconvenienced by intelligence. They find stupidity much more freeing.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Jim Crow’s back on …

  7. NW Luna says:

    Shirley Chisholm. She was a Representative for 7 terms. 7! That’s a reason to not have term limits. She got good programs passed to help low-income people get food and better nutrition. I was very young when she ran for president — she was so damn courageous and inspiring! I remember she said she faced more discrimination for being a woman than she did for being Black. Woah! But I figured she knew what she was talking about.
    She later had multiple sclerosis, IIRC. What a crying shame, and this was decades before we had meds to slow down and nearly stop disability.

  8. Mary Brown says:

    Let me sing the praises of Title IX in collegiate sports. Both my younger sister and daughter received full university scholarships for participating in NCAA Division 1 womens athletic teams at schools with giant men’s programs. Grudgingly put together and not nearly the same as the men’s of course, but it’s been a real boon. Thank goddess Betsy DeVos is gone. She whittled away at Title IX.