Posted by The NON-Conformist
Posted by The NON-Conformist
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Sitting in a classroom above a gun range, a woman hesitantly says she isn’t sure she could ever shoot and kill someone, even to protect herself. Couldn’t she just aim for their leg and try to maim them?
Her instructor says self-defense is not about killing someone but is instead about eliminating a threat.
If the gun gets taken away by a bad guy, the instructor says, “I promise you, they’re not going to be having any sympathy or going through the thought process you are.”
Gently, she adds that if the student isn’t comfortable with the lethal potential of the gun, buying one might not be for her.
Marchelle Tigner, known to her students and others as “Tig,” is on a mission: to train at least 1 million women how to shoot a firearm. She had spent no time around guns before joining the National Guard. Now, as a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, she wants to give other nonwhite women the training she hadn’t had.
“It’s important, especially for Black women, to learn how to shoot,” Tigner said, noting that Black women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence. “We need to learn how to defend ourselves.”
It’s hard to find definitive statistics on gun ownership, but a study by the Pew Research Center released this month indicated that just 16 percent of “non-white women” identified themselves as gun owners, compared with about 25 percent of white women. Other Pew surveys in recent years have shown a growing acceptance of firearms among African-Americans: In 2012, one found that less than a third of Black households viewed gun ownership as positive; three years later, that number had jumped. By then, 59 percent of Black families saw owning guns as a necessity.
Few states track gun permits by race or gender. But a recent study by gun-rights advocate and researcher John Lott showed that Black women outpaced other races and genders in securing concealed carry permits between 2000 and 2016 in Texas, one of the few states that keep detailed demographic information.
Philip Smith founded the National African American Gun Association in 2012 during Black History Month to spread the word that gun ownership was not something reserved for whites. He figured it would ultimately attract about 300 members, a number achieved in its first month. It now boasts 20,000 members in 30 chapters across the country.
“I thought it would be the brothers joining,” Smith said. But instead, he found something surprising — more Black women joining, most of them expressing concerns about living either alone or as single parents and wanting to protect themselves and their homes.
In recent months, he said politics also have emerged as a reason why he finds more Blacks interested in becoming gun owners.
“Regardless of what side you’re on, in the fabric of society right now, there’s an undertone, a tension that you see that groups you saw on the fringes 20 years ago are now in the open,” he said. “It seems to me it’s very cool to be a racist right now. It’s in fashion, it’s a trend.”
On top of that, the shootings of Black men and boys around the country have left Smith and others concerned that racism can make a Black person a perceived threat, even when carrying a firearm legally. He and his organization take pains to coach members on what to do when stopped by police, but not everyone is comforted.
“It’s disheartening to think that you have everything in order: Your license to carry. You comply. You’re not breaking the law. You’re not doing anything wrong. And there’s a possibility you could be shot and killed,” said Laura Manning, a 50-year-old payroll specialist for ADP from Atlanta. “I’m not going to lie. I’m just afraid of being stopped whether I have my gun or not.”
At the training session in Lawrenceville, a town just outside Atlanta, about 20 students gathered on a recent Saturday morning to go over basic safety lessons and instructions. They started with orange plastic replica guns as Tigner demonstrated proper stance and grip. They are taught not to put a finger on the trigger until it’s time to shoot and to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Tigner plays to their protective instincts by telling them always to know what is beyond their target so they don’t accidentally shoot a young child or another innocent bystander.
After about an hour in the classroom, the women walked downstairs and into the Bull’s Eye Indoor Gun Range. Some flinched as the crack of gunfire blasted from a series of bays. They were each shown how to load a magazine and given the chance to do it themselves — several of them struggling to get the bullets into the spring-loaded magazine with their long fingernails. Then, they took turns firing a Glock 19 semi-automatic 9mm at targets about 5 yards down range.
“The bad guy’s dead. He’s not getting back up,” Tigner tells one student who beams with pride as they look over a target riddled with bullet holes.
Jonava Johnson, another student, says it took her a long time to decide to get a gun. For years, she was afraid of them after an ex-boyfriend from high school threatened her and shot and killed her new boyfriend in front of her. She was just 17.
Flash forward about 30 years and her daughter was sexually assaulted in their home. At the time, she thought about getting a gun for protection but decided to get a guard dog instead. But she has since changed her mind.
“I think that’s the way it’s always been in the Black community: It was never OK for us” to own a gun, said Johnson, 50. But now? “I hope I never have to kill anybody, but if it comes down to me or my children, they’re out.”
By Associated Press
Posted by The NON-Conformist
A new Bloomberg National Poll shows that Hillary Clinton is viewed favorably by just 39 percent of Americans. Bloomberg adds that her support has also dropped among those who voted for her in the 2016 presidential election and includes statements from numerous Clinton voters who express their dissatisfaction with the former secretary of state.
“[T]heir comments often reflected the ongoing angst among Democrats about how best to position themselves against Trump and Republicans in 2018 and beyond,” Bloomberg says. “Many said they wished Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had won the Democratic nomination, or that they never liked Clinton and only voted for her because she was the lesser of two bad choices.”
More than a fifth of Clinton voters say they have an unfavorable view of her. By comparison, just 8 percent of likely Clinton voters felt that way in the final Bloomberg poll before the election, and just 6 percent of Trump’s voters now say they view him unfavorably. …
As was the case throughout the campaign, Clinton suffers from gender and racial gaps. Just 35 percent of men hold a favorable view of her, compared to 43 percent of women. And just 32 percent of whites like her, while 51 percent of non-whites do. …
The telephone poll of 1,001 American adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, higher among subgroups. It was conducted July 8-12 by Iowa-based Selzer & Co.
Clinton’s polling numbers are slightly worse than those of President Trump—according to another recent Bloomberg poll, Trump’s approval is at “a new low” of 40 percent. Other recent polls, however, find his support to be as low as or even lower than Clinton’s.
The poll about Clinton quotes a number of her voters:
“I felt like there was a smugness and that she was just a politician who was called a Democrat, but could have been a Republican,” said poll participant Robert Taylor, 46, a second-grade teacher from suburban Chicago who voted for Clinton, but would have preferred Sanders as the Democratic nominee.
Even before the election, Taylor said he felt negatively about Clinton, but he doesn’t blame her for Trump being president.
“I could vote for a competent leader or I could vote for a jackass,” he said of his choices. “I think my negativity about her would be there whether Trump was elected or not.”
Ray Cowart, 75, the retired owner of a small software company from Elk Park, North Carolina, said he voted for Clinton even though he didn’t like her because “she was the better of two bad options.”
Asked who he would rather have a beer with if neither one of them was president, Cowart said he’d rather stay home. “I wouldn’t go, even if I was thirsty,” he said.
Pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey, doesn’t think Clinton’s low popularity reflects discontent with the party as a whole. “There’s growing discontent with Hillary Clinton even as she has largely stayed out of the spotlight,” Selzer told Bloomberg. “It’s not a pox on the Democratic house because numbers for other Democrats are good.”
Read more here.
—Posted by Emma Niles
Posted by the NON-Conformist
The lack of diversity in upper levels of corporate America in 2017 is shocking.
Every year, Fortune magazine releases its Fortune 500 list, a ranking of the top 500 most profitable corporations in the U.S. In the 63 years Fortune has published the Fortune 500, the CEOs at the head of the 500 listed companies have traditionally skewed male. This year’s list is no exception, even if it contains a slight improvement in its gender balance: The 2017 rankings include the most number of female CEOs ever in the list’s history—a total of 32 women. This marks a 50 percent increase from last year’s list, in which there were only 21 female CEOs.
But while this year’s Fortune 500 makes history in gender diversity, it is in no way representative of a country where women make up about 47 percent of the workforce, according to the Department of Labor. More glaring still is its miniscule number of women of color—Geisha Williams from PG&E, the first Latina ever featured on the Fortune 500, and Indra Nooyi from PepsiCo are the only two on this year’s list. In addition, there are no black women among this year’s Fortune 500 CEOs.
The lack of gender and racial diversity on the Fortune 500 reflects larger systemic trends about the makeup of corporate America. For instance, while women of color make up one-third of the workforce, they comprise only 16.5 percent of employees for S&P 500 companies, according to the research organization Catalyst. There are even fewer women of color in senior positions: less than 10 percent of managers, 3.9 percent of executives and a scant 0.4 percent of CEOs. In looking at the overall makeup of women in S&P 500 companies, white women surpass women of color in every major employee category. The corporate boards in Fortune 500 companies are no more diverse, where the latter hold only 3.1 percent of seats.
The obstacles facing women of color in the workforce, particularly in corporations, are born of both gender and racial biases. Catalyst labels these roadblocks a “concrete ceiling,” a telling contrast to the “glass ceiling” typically encountered by white women.
“Not only is the ‘concrete ceiling’ reported to be more difficult to penetrate, women of color say they cannot see through it to glimpse the corner office,” Catalyst President Sheila Wellington said to Forbes in 2015.
For women of color, the “concrete ceiling” places the prospect of moving up the corporate ladder even further out of reach. A survey conducted by the Center for Women Policy Studies showed that 21 percent of women of color said they did not feel free to “be themselves at work.” In addition, one third of women of color thought they must “play down” their race to succeed.”
One of the facets contributing to this “concrete ceiling” is the fact that women of color are perceived and treated differently because of their race and gender, especially by their male counterparts. Past studies have shown that women of color who try using the same tactics as men to get ahead in the workplace often see diminished results in the form of less advancement and slower pay growth.
Not only do women of color face obstacles seeking promotions in the workplace, but they are consistently paid less than other white women and far less than white men. The oft-repeated line is that women, in general, make 78 cents for every dollar that a man makes. According to a 2014 report from the American Association of University Women that compared the earnings of women to men, black women made 64 cents, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women made 65 cents, indigenous women made 59 cents, and Hispanic women made 54 cents for every dollar white men earned in 2013. The only minority group to earn more than white women was Asian-American women, who still earned just 90 cents on white men’s dollar.
by Celisa Calacal/AlterNet
Posted by The NON-Conformist
The fight over natural hair is a fight over the right of a people to define their beauty on their own terms.
In Malden, Mass., the long-simmering argument of how appropriate it is for African-American women to style their hair as they choose hit a new crescendo. In an attempt to, as the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School interim director said, “… promotes equity by focusing on what unites and by reducing visible gaps between those of different means,” the school placed a restriction on hair thickness and extensions that seemed to directly contradict U.S. Department of Justice guidelines on race-based policies.
This policy and its uneven enforcement — the school rarely, for example, punishes students for hair color, another dress-code violation — led to the repeat suspensions of African-American female students. Singled out were Mya and Deanna Cook, who have received more than 16 hours’ detention, were removed from their team sports and banned from their proms — all for having braided hair. This has, since the breaking of this story, led to a letter of condemnation from the state’s Attorney General Office, a lawsuit from the ACLU and the school district suspending the controversial policy.
“The policy specifically prohibits ‘shaved lines or shaved sides’ as examples of drastic or unnatural hairstyles, and ‘hair more than 2 inches in thickness or ‘height’’ as an example of hair that is distracting and thus not allowed,” Genevieve Nadeau, the chief of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Division of Civil Rights, wrote.
“These prohibitions appear to specifically reference hairstyles such as ‘fades’ that are commonly worn by Black male students, and ‘afros’ that are most likely to be worn by Black students (both male and female). These styles are not simply fashion choices or trends, but, in addition to occurring naturally in many cases, can be important expressions of racial culture, heritage, and identity.”
Cases such as the one in Mystic Valley seem to go beyond cultural insensitivity and constitute an implicit attack on African-American females’ right to be who they are. A 16-year-old Black student in Montverde, Fla., who happens to have naturally curly hair, was told recently that her hair was a violation of the school’s “no dreadlock” dress-code policy. In 2013, a 12-year-old in Orlando, Fla., was told to either straighten or cut her puffy hair or face expulsion. The student, at the time, was being subjected to bullying by her classmates for her hair.
As profiled by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, African-American students are more likely to be removed from instruction than their white counterparts for minor infractions such as dress code violations due to implicit bias. In one cited example, Black students in North Carolina public schools were six times more likely to be suspended than white students for dress-code violations. These offenses are, in less-served schools, typically handed over to the police to handle.
This prosecution of Black hair amounts to the criminalization of being African-American. Attacking one class for what would be acceptable with another constitutes not just a mentality that seems to persist and proliferate through miseducation and lack of positive exposure but also an open-ended attack on what it means to be oneself.
“These attacks leave a very dangerous and destructive message,” Carlota Zimmerman, a career and lifestyle coach, said. “To be told by your teachers, adults, by your society that your hair, as it is naturally, is ‘wrong,’ or ‘inappropriate’ for school, that you should change yourself to be deemed worthy to get an education, to get opportunities? We’re sending a terrible message to our Black youths that as they are is wrong. As they are is not fit to be educated, to be valued, to contribute. This message destroys lives since our lives are based on our self-confidence, on our sense of self, our sense of value.”
In order to understand this controversy, a few points must be made clear. To start, most women have a natural hair state. Unless descended from specific Native American, Asiatic and Western European ethnicities, most women’s hair — when left to its own volition — will take on a curly, fizzy, wavy or otherwise voluminous state. The 2012 Disney movie “Brave,” for example, took a good deal of flak on social media for showing a Scottish “Disney Princess” with a full mane of frizzy red hair.
Women’s hair care is a multi-billion-dollar global industry. The daily maintenance and personal expense needed to keep hair at a publicly acceptable level are one of the greatest headaches women deal with as part of their daily routine.
“There’s no such thing as ‘wake up and go,’” an uncredited Black woman is reported saying, per Kovie Biakolo. “Whether I wear my hair naturally, curly or straightened via flatiron, making it presentable is a process. When it’s curly, it gets dry very quickly and goes flat after a day or two. I have to re-wet, moisturize, comb and brush almost every day to keep the curls looking healthy and full. When it’s straight, I have to touch up my hair with a flatiron even to wear it in a ponytail. That’s not to mention the process of straightening it in the first place, which is nearly two hours of washing, blow drying and straightening.
“This upkeep doesn’t sound like much, but all this work brings my hair nothing close to white standards of beauty,” she continued. “I fight with and destroy my hair to get it to look as close as possible to a standard I know it will never achieve because it’s just not in its nature. But what’s the alternative?”
While hair struggles are a natural part of being a woman, rarely does this warrant more than odd looks outside the Black experience. While non-conforming hairstyles might be brushed aside as a fashion faux pas or a non-event if done by a non-Black woman, when Black women wear hairstyles that don’t conform to “white standards,” it can lead to job terminations, school suspensions and even arrests.
Take, for example, 2014. On March 31 of that year, the Army announced that it has updated its appearance and grooming policy. The policy, known as AR 670-1, banned cornrows, braids, twists and dreadlocks, arguing that these hairstyles interfere with the fitting of essential equipment, such as combat helmets. This turned out to be ironic, as most of the women affected by this policy chose these hairstyles to reduce the maintenance time needed and to be more “combat-ready.” The policy was overturned shortly thereafter.
Since the inception of the country, Black hair has been linked to negative stereotypes about being African-American. “Hair type rapidly became the real symbolic badge of slavery, although, like many powerful symbols, it was disguised, in this case by the linguistic device of using the term ‘Black,’ which nominally threw the emphasis to color,” Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson wrote in his book “Slavery and Social Death.” “No one who has grown up in a multiracial society, however, is unaware of the fact that hair difference is what carries the real symbolic potency.”
“These attacks on Afrocentric styles and fashions are unfortunately definitely not new. I was speaking to a Black female friend who, in the 1960s, did some modeling with the likes of Richard Roundtree of ‘Shaft’ fame, and she was telling me stories that were interchangeable from today,” Zimmerman added. “Racism has all the time in the world. I think the difference is nowadays with social media, these attacks are getting far more attention, and also due to social media, more people of color are finding comfort and strength in accepting themselves as they are. So, there’s less tolerance and much more public anger.
In 2016, the Perception Institute conducted an online study into how perceptions of African-American women are influenced by explicit and implicit biases toward their hair. The study was inspired in part by SheaMoisture’s 2016 “Break the Walls” campaign, which challenged retailers’ traditional position of separating hair products by race, with nonwhite products being delegated to the “ethnic” section. By segregating products meant for women of color, there may be a subliminal message that ethnic hair is somehow different from “normal hair.”
To test this, the Perception Institute tested users for implicit and explicit biases by showing photos of a single model wearing both straight and “natural” wigs and asking what words and phrases come to mind when they see the photos.
“It is curious that the study found millennials to be the most accommodating to textured hair,” Alexis McGill Johnson, the executive director of the Perception Institute, said. “This is significant because even if most of us would say that an afro is beautiful to a survey, we’ve taken in so many social cues about hair that it is hard to escape media about it. These millennials have been involved in online communities, replacing the cultural knowledge we have lost in the decades we have been straightening our hair and creating reaffirming images that helped replace the negative schemas.”
The bottom line with hair bias is that, for many, it is veiled racism. Textured hair reminds the prejudiced viewer of Black culture and draws an unthinking reaction. There may be no convenient solution to implicit racism except to expose it at every opportunity.
There is another component to hair bias, however, which could be combatted. To illustrate this, let us take, for example, the former first lady Michelle Obama. When she entered the White House, she had heavily processed “smooth” hair. To the casual viewer, she met the visual expectation of a successful, professional Black woman — well coifed, well dressed and well spoken. When, while on vacation, she allowed her hair to go natural, the criticism she received, despite changing nothing else of her public persona, was severe.
This is even more shocking in retrospect considering she has been seen wearing her hair naturally more often, to the Internet’s acclaim, since leaving the White House.
Since the time of slavery, natural, “nappy” hair was seen as being more undesirable than hair that mirrors Eurocentric styles. Unprocessed, non-straight hair suggested the person was uncivilized, uneducated or somehow dangerous. To be accepted, African-American women (and men) not only subjected themselves to hot combs, lye-based hair treatments and a host of other hazardous treatments, but they also taught their daughters to do the same. This is reflected in the oft-repeated unwritten rule, “Straighten your hair for the interview, wear it natural once you are through the door.”
This notion that success and beauty are connected to straight hair still proliferates in the media. Many of the role models for African-American women have chemically processed straight hair because it is what they were told was needed to be taken seriously. Entire generation – both white and Black – have seen the allegedly most successful and socially acceptable among Black women wear their hair straight and formed an association between straight hair and Black success and Black beauty. This is how implicit bias is born.
As pointed out in the article Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, various African tribes adapted elaborate hair braiding patterns as a messaging and identification schema as early as the 15th century. One of the ways slavers would break newly captured enslaved women of their identities was to shave their heads.
By Frederick Reese/AtlantaBlackStar
posted by The NON-Conformist
In recent years “intersectionality” has been the biggest buzz word in progressive circles, liberally sprinkled in activist conferences and social media. Yet few movements have been as long on intersectional talk, and little on action, as the LGBTQ movement.
Few events point up this fail more clearly than the impending release from prison this Wednesday of Transgender heroine Chelsea Manning. She is by far the single most important, impactful anti-war activist and whistle-blower that the LGBTQ movement has ever produced.
She exposed war crimes by the U.S. and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, including murder and torture, such as the infamous “Collateral Murder” video of two Reuters journalists and ten other civilians. She gave the most expansive documentary evidence ever provided of U.S. support for a host of corrupt and vicious dictators across the Middle East. This information helped fuel the wave of Arab Spring revolts, the largest democracy movement ever seen in the region, knocking out a number of these dictators.
Yet from 2010 arrest through her subsequent arduous trial and most of her incarceration – the longest imprisonment of a whistleblower in U.S. history – none of the big LGBTQ non-profits defended her.
You might think that her 2010 incarceration would have produced a “perfect storm” of intersectional and identity politics support. Here you had a working class person who identified as gay, and later came out as a Trans woman, who exposed some of the most scandalous secrets of the U.S. military and State Department in what was to that date by far the largest document dump in U.S. history.
You would think, for example, that in the heart of the most powerful military empire that the world has ever seen, that an activist who opposed the savaging of other countries by the U.S. military would receive intersectional support from a broad section of the U.S. left. And particularly since this activist identified as LGBTQ, the LGBTQ left would particularly be in her corner.
But no. Years earlier a top official in what is now known as the National LGBTQ Task Force told me that “we will never” again come out against a U.S. war, following the Task Force’s public opposition to President George H. W. Bush’s first war against Iraq. He said that the Task Force’s coming out against that war had “nearly destroyed” the organization, as wealthy donors pulled their donations and threatened to never support it again. And this was with the Task Force, the group that likes to posture itself as the “hippest” of the big LGBTQ non-profits.
But it was not the first, nor certainly the last time that LGBTQ non-profits – rightly derided as “Gay Inc.” – prioritized donors’ dollars to fund their salaries and offices, over alleged adherence to intersectional principles.
For all their talk of “grassroots organizing” – another phrase that’s become hackneyed thru repeated misuse – Gay Inc. organizations are staff-driven at best, and at worst, controlled by self-selected boards chosen for their ability to tap contributions from wealthy donors. In this way the wealthiest LGBTQs control the political agenda of what passes for our movement, a pink version of the class stratification talked about in straight society, but rarely mentioned in the movement.
Some say that the reason for this conservatism is Gay, Inc.’s affection for “heteronormativity” – the aping straight people. This is said to explain their recent emphasis on winning equal marriage rights, for example. But this interpretation doesn’t adequately explain where “heteronormativity” itself comes from, and it also radically mis-reads the chronology of how the marriage issue became center-space in our movement.
For many years almost all of the large organizations of LGBTQs opposed pushing for equal marriage rights (the one exception being the Metropolitan Community Church). As late as at its 2005 “Creating Change” conference, for example, the Task Force had only anti-equal marriage speakers at one of the conference’s two plenaries – with no opportunity for proponents to rebut.
More recently, of course, Gay Inc. mercilessly mined the marriage issue for donations, not unlike how they have done with Transgender issues for the last couple of years. The cynicism in both instances is quite breath-taking, especially when you consider, for example, the Human Rights Campaign’s well-documented betrayal  of Transgender employment rights under the tutelage of gay Congressman Barney Frank.
The root of Gay Inc.’s betrayal of Chelsea Manning, and their flip-flops on marriage rights and Trans rights, lie directly in their being joined at the hip with the Democratic Party. The incestuous revolving door between military contractors and ex-military officers is only exceeded by Gay Inc’s revolving door with the Democratic Party.
The pollsters and media “professionals” who gave us the disastrous failed campaign against Proposition 8, for example, were drawn directly from the Party. The current president of Gay Inc’s biggest and wealthiest group, the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, “got his start in politics volunteering for the Bill Clinton presidential campaign, which led to a position in the White House Press Office at the age of 19. Following his stint in the White House and his graduation from Georgetown University, he led a number of political campaigns advocating for or against various California ballot initiatives, as well as a number of fundraising efforts for political candidates, such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.”
A big reason why Gay Inc. was initially so loath to take on the equal marriage issue was because their main guy, President Bill Clinton, was directly implicated in the worst measure enacted against it – the Defense of Marriage Act – and the series of failed Democratic presidential candidates who followed him also opposed equal marriage rights. As I’ve written elsewhere,
“After Bill Clinton appeased the right by passing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (and NAFTA, and Anti-Terrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act, etc, etc), he took out ads on Christian Right radio stations bragging about it, as part of his re-election bid.”
Similarly with Chelsea Manning. Besides exposing George W. Bush’s dirty laundry, she also exposed the Obama White House’s illegal support for the military coup which overthrew the elected government in Honduras, with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton providing crucial support for the murderous regime that took over.
Only when an issue is considered acceptable to leading Democrats – or forced onto their agenda by incessant campaigning by truly grassroots activists – has Gay Inc. switched up its issues list. So only after years of polling numbers showed that marriage was a top issue for LGBTQs – reacting to the religious right beating us up on the issue – did Gay Inc. change its tune and decide the issue was “realistic.”
Left to their own devices, Gay Inc. groveled to the Party’s needs. This is why after the 1998 lynching of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard and the protests in hundreds of cities that followed it, Gay Inc. quickly moved to divert the movement into meaningless, if not positively reactionary, calls for “hate crimes” legislation, feeding the racist mass incarceration boom then underway.
Gay Inc. was loath to embarrass then-President Clinton for his support for the Defense of Marriage Act two years earlier, or the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military employment ban three years before that, in enabling the anti-gay hate that killed Shepard.
All of the pro-LGBTQ reforms of the past two decades that were eventually supported by the Democrats have one thing in common: They cost virtually no money. From hate crimes legislation to marriage rights to Trans people’s access to public restrooms, all cost the profit system little, if any, serious money.
In the meantime, class issues have crept up on the LGBTQ community as they have all other working class people in the United States. Twenty-somethings today, if they are lucky enough to be employed, make on average 20% less than baby boomers did when they were that age. Whereas young adults of the baby boomer generation typically moved away from home upon reaching age 18 or shortly thereafter, nearly half of 25-year-olds and one-third of 18 to 34-year-olds were living at home in 2015. A quarter of those living at home don’t even have the temporary escape from nosy relatives of work or school.
This has had a direct impact on what traditionally is the most dynamic section of any political movement – its youth. By dint of their lack of economic and residential independence, LGBTQ youth are much more vulnerable to abusive relatives, even though anti-LGBTQ attitudes are at historic lows among all generations (at least for the time being).
“About 40% of homeless youth are LGBT…[and nearly] seven in 10 (68%) respondents indicated that family rejection was a major factor contributing to LGBT youth homelessness, making it the most cited factor. More than half (54%) of respondents indicated that abuse in their family was another important factor contributing to LGBT homelessness.”
One would think that youth homelessness and joblessness, simultaneously affecting the most vulnerable and potentially most dynamic sectors of the LGBTQ movement, would be top priorities of the movement. Reflecting their structural “last hired, first fired” role in the U.S. economy, one would think that youth of color’s predicament in this generational economic disaster would merit special intersectional and identity politics concern.
But we live in a neoliberal age where the only reforms acceptable to the Democrats are those that don’t cost the system any money. We have a party whose leaders and enablers think that the main reasons why they lost the last election was not their presiding over the last eight years of a decades’-long economic slide in working class incomes, but rather, Russian meddling and the vicissitudes of former FBI Director James Comey’s public pronouncements.
Taking its lead from the Democrats, Gay Inc. gives lip service, if that, to the class issues directly bearing on the overwhelming majority of those whom they purport to represent. Democratic mayors ruling most large U.S. cities, while catering to the upper middle class gayborhoods that house just a small part of their cities’ LGBTQs, offer at best token solutions to these expensive problems.
The massive public housing and jobs programs that were forced out of Roosevelt-era Democrats during the Great Depression are the furthest thing from the minds of their neo-liberal descendants.
Hopes that a Sanders-type movement, working with Gay Inc. and other non-profits might take over the Democratic Party and turn it into an instrument of the 99% to take over the government, ignore the true history of how the New Deal programs came about. And Sanders’ notion that massive New Deal-like programs are possible while maintaining a military that consumes almost as much resources as the militaries of all the other governments of the world, is not only economic nonsense, it violates the very intersectionality, or solidarity, with “Third World” struggles that most U.S. leftists claim they support.
Back in the day, it wasn’t elite non-profits working hand-in-hand with the Democrats that won the gains of the New Deal. Quite the opposite. It was bottom-up solidarity between different groups of workers, across different industries, employed and unemployed, and crucially, working independently of the Democrats – that allowed strikes against individual employers to blossom into the three citywide general strikes of the era, and win massive, costly concessions from the 1%, despite far more desperate economic times.
Rather than courting the Democrats, an LGBTQ movement worthy of the name will see them and their Gay Inc. enablers as impediments to the kind of movement we need in this era of austerity and increasing class polarization.
by ANDY THAYER/CounterPunch
Posted by The NON-Conformist
On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Aileen Rizo, a female employee who sued the county public schools in Fresno after discovering she was being paid less than her male co-workers for doing the same job.
Rizo sued the school in 2014, arguing that although she was being paid a higher salary than her previous employer, her male counterparts had salaries more than $10,000 higher than hers.
According to the lawsuit, the school “conceded that it paid the female plaintiff less than comparable male employees for the same work.” Rizo complained to the County about the disparity, but they informed her that her salary was determined by a salary schedule known as “Standard Operation Procedure 1440.”
When Rizo was hired as a math consultant in 2009, the school determined her starting salary by using a policy where they add 5 percent to the previous salary of any new employee.
The county argued that the pay bump incentivizes potential employees to leave their previous jobs since they are guaranteed to receive a raise. They also said the policy is objective, prevents favoritism and encourages consistency.
A three-judge panel overturned a lower court ruling from February, citing a 1982 ruling by the court that employers could use previous salary information as long as they applied it reasonably and had a business policy that justified it.
In the opinion written by US District Court Judge Lynn Adelman, he said that “prior salary alone can be a ‘factor other than sex’ if the defendant shows that its use of prior salary was reasonable and effectuated a business policy.”
“This decision is a step in the wrong direction if we’re trying to really ensure that women have work opportunities of equal pay,” Deborah Rhode, who teaches gender equity law at Stanford Law School, said, according to the Associated Press. “You can’t allow prior discriminatory salary setting to justify future ones or you perpetuate the discrimination.”
The Fresno County Office of Education has since revised their policies after the California Equal Pay Act went into effect on January 1, 2016. Under the new law, employers in the state are prohibited from paying different wages to men and women with the same qualifications.
However, the lawsuit did not mention the state’s Equal Pay Act, since it went into effect after Rizo filed the lawsuit, and the courts have not ruled if the law would apply retroactively.
Rizo’s lawyer, Dan Siegel, told the Associated Press that they have not decided if they are going to take the case to the US Supreme Court.
“The logic of the decision is hard to accept,” Siegel said, according to AP. “You’re OK’ing a system that perpetuates the inequity in compensation for women.”
Posted by The NON-Conformist