A Teachable Racial Moment

Filed Under All Posts, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Politics | 20 Comments

We’re very excited to welcome guest blogger Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Honorée is an award-winning poet and fiction writer who’s been blogging on culture since 2009. Her most recent book of poetry is Red Clay Suite.

Usually, my blog posts deal with African American community or political issues, and I talk as one cultural insider to another cultural insider.

However, I’ve realized that sometimes, well-meaning, really nice White people (of which there are many, by the way) want Black folks to talk to them in non-angry, non-confrontational, and patient ways about Black cultural issues they don’t understand.

So I wondered if it might be useful for me to write blog posts that break racial things down for good White folks who mean no harm—and who either have Black friends or are in the midst of acquiring friendships with Black people—and are just trying to navigate these racial waters that ironically (and to me, bewilderingly) have become far more treacherous since the election of our first Black president.

Sidebar: I use “race” as a shorthand because that word usually means “Black” or “People of Color” to White people. But really, “race” is not a real, like, biological thing. It does not exist except in people’s minds. What I actually mean when I say “race” is “culture.”

I hadn’t even planned to post again this week, but I’ve noticed the online furor on Black social media concerning Governor Jan Brewer’s pointing her finger very close to President Barack Obama’s face. The response from White folks? Some are upset, but I get the impression they don’t really understand why we African Americans are so troubled. Some of us are even enraged.

So I thought that it might be time to write a Teachable Racial Moment post. Read more

Obama Thus Far

Filed Under All Posts, Carine Fabius, Politics | 12 Comments

With more than two years to go, Carine Fabius takes a compassionate look at the president today

I’d rather be in Stalinist Russia, drinking human blood at Satan’s ball than be in Obama’s shoes. It’s been a year and a half since he inherited an America that is only turned on by extremes, sensationalism and exaggeration, along with a people crippled by fear and impatience. Even I, one of his most ardent fans, found myself screaming at the radio during his Oval Office address on the oil spill.

“Say it!” I shouted, “Say it!” I wanted a bold retraction of his previously announced (and obviously dunderheaded) plan to open some offshore waters to oil drilling. I was so disappointed. And then the next day, I heard someone on NPR saying that Obama’s six-month moratorium on deep water drilling was affecting some 50,000 people’s jobs in the already devastated Gulf. Pass the blood, please. Read more

5 Reasons to Love White House-dot-Gov

Filed Under All Posts, Cathy Fischer, Politics, Technology | 7 Comments


My day job as a web content producer makes it natural, almost compulsory, for me to critique the new White House website.  While the site is not perfect, it’s a major improvement from its earlier incarnation which screamed bad design, stodginess and a “we could care less” attitude.

President Obama has been experiencing some rough speed bumps lately and pundits are saying the honeymoon is over, but not for me. Here are five reasons why I’m feelin’ the luv at White House-dot-Gov.

1)  Not just pixels, but people

The www.whitehouse.gov site launched on inauguration day; how did they pull it together so quickly? The stark contrast of “before and after” reminds me of the difference between McCain not using email and Obama holding on to his Blackberry for dear life.

The voice and intention behind the website is clear. A letter from the Director of New Media, Macon Phillips, lays it all out, “The White House’s new website…will serve as a place for the President and his administration to connect with the rest of the nation and the world.” Read more


Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Group Posts, Politics | 10 Comments


The day after the election I left my house in an elated state; filled with hope and joy and possibility.  Visiting business after business passing out fliers and gathering support for our local domestic violence agency, Mountain Crisis Services, I was feeling empowered and basking in that “Yes, We Can” glow, when I saw a bumper sticker that read, “I’ll keep my guns, bible, and my money—You can keep the ‘change.’”  Why, thank you knuckledragger, I think I will.

Already our new, young, biracial, intellectual, forward-thinking, forward-looking president has closed that bastion of shame, the Guantanamo detention center; has banned secret CIA prisons overseas and pledged to fight terrorism “in a manner that is consistent with our values and out ideals;” banned TORTURE and is moving to restore our precious, unique country to its promise.  Remember, America promised the world that no matter what your background, no matter how humble or disorganized, that if you worked hard and participated in this system, that you, your children and your grandchildren, could live a better life, and you could rise as high as your dreams could lift you.  My heart tells me that we are again, back on the path to showing the world that we keep our promises. Read more

Gratitude for the Least Among Us

Filed Under All Posts, Carine Fabius, Group Posts, Politics | 2 Comments

First of all, I’m really grateful that this election is over.

Second thing is, after commiserating with a disheartened friend whose husband voted for McCain, let me say I’m really, really grateful that mine voted for Obama.  Perish the thought of having to fight about that seriously pesky issue in between wiseass comments about stray socks and dirty coffee cups in the kitchen sink.

Thirdly, and I swear this is the last thing I’ll say about this election, I’m extra grateful for no longer having to send diplomatic emails to undecided friends and relatives about why Obama was the better, more reasonable choice.  Diplomacy didn’t work; I still got called a “hater” for calling Sarah Palin dumb. Read more

Notes From the Road: Singing Out the Vote in Ohio

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Politics | 11 Comments

Three-year-old Dakota in Marietta, Ohio. Photo by M.A. Howden

Three-year-old Dakota in Marietta, Ohio. Photo by M.A. Howden

Yes We Can, Yes We Can, Yes We Can…
I love this country
I love these people
Little red brick houses
Little white church steeple

I love my papa
I love my mama
That’s why I’m voting Barack Obama

—Laura Love

As this posts I am just finishing (as tour manager) a nine-city, 11-day tour of Ohio to get out the vote—a traveling, singing, organizing road show with 20 different musicians, all on our own dime, for Sing Out the Vote Ohio: A Suite for Change, created by my longtime friend and social change visionary, Holly Near.

From Toledo to Cleveland to Akron and Kent, Columbus, Athens, Marietta, Cincinnati and Dayton, the good people of Ohio are showing up. They are exhausted yet ceaseless in their efforts to change the face of this election with the eyes of the world upon them. Read more

The State of PanicManic

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Politics | 8 Comments

I am in a STATE!

I intended to write about praise houses because they are about transcendence—something I am in dire need of, and I may still—but for the moment I am completely worked up, alternating between immobilizing anxiety and manic activity. I call it PanicManic. The onset of PanicManic started with the polls stating Obama and McCain were neck and neck.  It was then I began gasping for breath.

Despite all evidence to the contrary I am still stunned by the fact that I live in a country that actually believes someone such as Sarah Palin is worthy of consideration to perhaps run this country. And I have been overwhelmed with email from great thinkers and people of note—people for whom I have great respect, focusing on the Sarah Palin issue: “What do we do about Sarah Palin?” Read more

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