Websites You Need to be Following

I always struggle to be politically informed and I don’t have an excuse. I have access to print and online sources. I have no excuse not to be informed. However, I am always concerned about where I read my news and what sources I can trust to give me a full picture of current events. Here are a list of websites I’ve compiled for anyone suffering under the same dilemma I face. These websites are not just news sites, but also websites with links to important petitions and social action campaigns.

1. http://www.truthdig.com

Truth Dig (founded 2005) is an online news website dedicated to digging up the truths more mainstream media would not cover. Some of their most famous publications include “The Last Letter” (written by a paralyzed American veteran who served in Iraq and writes to former President Bush and Dick Cheney calling them war criminals) and Sam Harris’ “The Atheist Manifesto.” The website has won 5 Webby awards for best political website.

2. http://www.democracynow.org

It’s an independent news site. That in and of itself immediately makes it more trustworthy  because I know they are not bought and sold by corporations. The hosts, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, contribute to the news both through broadcasts and online journalism. If you do not want to read their stories online, check them out on NPR.

3. http://www.justforeignpolicy.org

As Just Foreign Policy explains on their homepage, they are about changing American foreign policy to be more just and reflect the views of average Americans not corporations. Like Democracy Now, Just Foreign Policy is also an independent news site. Their current campaigns range from releasing the US’s torture report to the public, to ending Drone Strikes in Pakistan. What I like best about this source is that it does not just encourage you to donate, but offers alternative means of action. Most times you are asked not only to sign a petition but also to make a phone call or send an email to your local representatives or even President Obama.

I am open to further suggestions of your best news site and I plan to add to this as I become more educated.

 

 

 

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Why I do not want a woman president

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I am ready for Hillary but America is not. And this is the issue. Hillary Clinton (or any woman running for office) should not be defined by her gender. The fact that it is groundbreaking for a woman to have a fair shot for the American presidency, puts unnecessary emphasis on the fact that she is not a man. It should not matter whether she is a man or a woman so long as she fulfills the role of President and makes smart decisions for the country.

It is a similar situation when President Obama was running for his first term in 2008 and it was groundbreaking that a black man could not only run for president but be elected. And the logical leap commences that because a black man is president of the United States therefore racism is a thing of the past. If a black man can “make something of himself” every black person (or person of color) is obviously just not trying hard enough to make a decent life for themselves. If they are poor, if they are in jail, if they are illiterate it is now undeniably their fault. We live in post-racial world, after all. The logic of these statements do not hold up.

Just because one person of a specific race achieves something deemed “out of the ordinary” by the dominating white culture, means nothing in regard to the others of that race suffering under systematic oppression. The fact that a successful person of color is deemed “out of the ordinary” at all holds its own immense problems.

I fear that if Hillary Clinton is elected, it will give the world another excuse to claim feminism is a defunct principle that belongs in a history book and not in contemporary issues of debate. If a woman can become president, then sexism cannot exist, right?

In addition, anything that goes wrong during her presidency would be blamed on her gender. Most arguments I hear about why we need a woman president is based on biological essentialism: women are naturally more inclined toward peace and therefore a woman president would prevent wars. Women are not naturally inclined toward anything and neither are men, but this argument consistently arises. Even people who support female leadership do so by putting emphasis on her gender. This is not the way to bring about equality but to further the gender divide and place it as a normal concept in the public sphere.

Whoever becomes the first woman president would be an experiment, but even worse, an experiment pre-determined to fail. No matter what she might do in office her policies will be treated harsher and she will be more criticized than her male predecessors. Women in any sphere fight a two fronted war. They need to first fight to enter the conversation and then fight again to get an idea implemented. Imagine fighting this war when you are chief executive of a nation trapped in a political system that is already stagnant. It’s not that she would fail because she is a woman, but that is exactly the message the American people would receive. Everything would be a failure for not being the perfect president women have claimed a female president would automatically be. Putting someone on a pedestal is just another form of oppression: it gives you a reason to hate this person when they do not live up to your expectations.

I believe in gender equality, but I do not believe in a female president. The only change in American politics would be the gender of the commander-in-chief. Instead of instituting gender equality from the top-down we would be replacing a male led power structure with a female led power structure. Politics would remain stagnant. Policies combating racism, sexism and classism would remain on paper (at best). And when her term (or terms) were over she would be relegated to a footnote in history.

Gender equality will not come about through top down reforms anymore than racial equality came about with Obama’s presidency. Real change needs to be a bottom-up overhaul of the oppressive systems that make a black president or a female president an anomaly even in the 21st century.

Dear America…

I was fortunate enough to spend the other day with my room mate reading me poetry by Allen Ginsberg. His poetry is phenomenal and writing as a queer communist in America during the 1950s you can only imagine how banned his books were and how influential.

If you haven’t heard of his poem “America”, you can read the full poem here.

It is so amazing that he addresses America as if the country is a person who is accountable for his or her actions. This is a radical concept and one I’m amazed more people haven’t adopted. One of my best friends has questioned me about my loyalty to America and what I think America means: do I support the idea of America? the literal place?

What am I attached to?

Reading Ginsberg prompted me to write a freewrite of uncensored thoughts of what I would say to America if the country were a person and not an abstract idea. Especially in light of the NSA spying, Americans need to find their voices even more.

Please join me sharing your uncensored thoughts by writing a freewrite titled “Dear America”. A freewrite is where you write constantly for a set period of time-say five minutes-without stopping to think or censor your thoughts but see where they take you.

Here is my freewrite letter to America, exactly how I hand wrote it:

Dear America

Why do you oppress us? Why do you oppress those who stand for freedom and democracy and believe they are worth more than order?

How can you bury us under packages of meat, packages of disease marked as food, labeled as toys or beauty products? The elusive health care.

You bury us under packages and then package us into boxes. The blacks. The whites. The gays. The lesbians. When you can, spare the postage stamp to send us on our way as poster children.

The children of America. The brainwashed, the ignorant.

Able and disabled. You love hierarchies masqueraded under change. Your puppet president Obama has turned “yes we can” into a war cry of inaction.

And that is what you want, America. You want us to suffocate in our packaging and be reborn as true American citizens: the ones who matter.

Straight. White. Cisgender. Rich. Men.

And then in a feast of gluttony you feast on those who did not make the cut.

For shame, America. For shame. But what can I do? I wag my finger, I scream on the page, and you, my country are strong.

You swell with pride when I say those words: my country.

But here’s the thing, America, I own you. We own you. And you, my dear, are in our hands.

Rip open the packaging and see the hand that feeds you. Because it might not be white, straight, cisgender or male. Rip open the packaging and see.

Boston Bombing and American Rights

Recently I’ve been expanding my views beyond feminism. For all the academic talk about intersecting identities, I know that I am both a feminist and an American citizen who cares about my rights in both categories. I cannot ignore areas where either piece of my life is ignored. I cannot ignore the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

While it is frightening enough that this happened earlier this week, I am more concerned about the government’s reaction. According to truthdig.com–an independent news site–Obama has ordered heightened security across the nation. It is not clear what measures will be taken to ensure our safety, but I do not believe our safety is the government’s top concern. No matter the cause of the attack, the mainstream media is using the bombing as propaganda to divide America.

While Obama has not directly called the attack “an act of terror” mainstream news has latched onto the word “terrorism.” Terrorism is technically a word designated to refer to violence done for political purposes, the word has been hijacked. It is now synonymous with foreign threats and 9/11. And because this attack is considered a threat to national security (until it is known whether it is foreign or domestic) the US government wants to err on the side of safety and place catching the perpetrators as their top priority. Except, I have a hard time believing this.

The day after the attack was supposed to be a National Call Day to get the American public’s opinion on gun control. Because of the bombing, that has been put on hold. Why is a talk meant to deal with violence suspended due to violence? Just because an act of terror was committed does not mean the previous acts of violence are suddenly ancient history.

While I would want to believe our government is trying to protect us by placing our security first, security encompasses more than these bombings. If the highest concern of the US government was to keep us safe, the talks on gun control would be expanded to include all violence and terror, not postponed.