The Second Line Blog

Bill Cosby is Going to Jail. Will the Others Go, Too?

And just like that, America’s dad is going away to jail at 81 years old.  On Tuesday, September 25th, Bill Cosby was accused and sentenced to three to 10 years for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand 14 years ago at his home.  What Cosby did was undoubtedly wrong, and I sympathize for every woman who was affected by his actions. However, I didn’t cheer when he was sentenced.  The crooked justice system doesn’t allow me the opportunity to do so. While those women may be satisfied with the court’s decision and proud of the legal system America has in place, I can’t help but ask myself the usual question when it comes to justice and African Americans in this country.  Would the sentence have been the same if Bill Cosby was an 81-year-old white man?

This Bill Cosby fiasco brings about some mixed feelings among the “stay woke” crew.  Yes, he was wrong. There’s no denying that. But so was Trump when he sexually assaulted most of the women in his reach, proudly claiming that he “grabs them by the p*%%^”.  But instead of being accused and sentenced to jail, he became the President of the United States. Where they do that at, you ask? I’ll gladly answer….in America.  

America is the place where jails are crowded with notable black men who made mistakes and political offices are crowded with not-so-notable white males who made those same mistakes.  America is the place where an 81-year-old black man, who lost two children and is on the brink of death, gets sentenced to jail for sexually assaulting women, but a white 66-year-old man, named Harvey Weinstein, who was accused by more than 80 women of sexual assault, is free.  The “stay woke” crew isn’t bashing the justice system for jailing those who commit crimes. We are bashing the system because it only works (or not works) when it comes to African Americans. If Bill Cosby has to go to jail for sexually assaulting women, then so should Roman Polaski, Charlie Rose, Woody Allen, James Levine, Bill O’Reilly, Ben Kavanaugh, etc.  They were all accused of committing the same crime. The only difference between their crime and Bill’s is skin color.

As I said, my heart goes out to every woman that has ever been affected by sexual assault.  My heart doesn’t go out to a one-sided system that believes justice is only served when it comes to black people.

Patiently waiting for the others to be jailed

 

  

 

Why Don’t We Create Spaces That Make Women Feel Safe?

Anne Meltzer is a psychologist and offered the following information in an article in the Washington Post:

The vast majority of sexual abuse victims delay disclosing what happened.

“It’s one of the most common features of child sex abuse,” Meltzer said. Most victims of child sexual abuse fear retaliation, that they won’t be believed or that their family may be angry. There are often very intense feelings of shame, guilt and humiliation.

Statistically, teenagers are less likely than younger children to tell authorities about an assault, she said. Particularly concerned with how others view them, teenagers often feel like “damaged goods.”

“Another reason children don’t disclose is because they are sometimes threatened or pressured to keep it a secret,” said Meltzer, adding that although it may not apply to Kavanaugh and Ford, it is nonetheless a common reason.

As the father I cringe as I read statements in articles like these and I can only think of the lack of safe, comfortable and nurturing spaces that we provide to our young girls and women. I am reminded of the talk that families have to still have with their daughters. Along with raising our young women with the most basic of life’s lessons we have to go beyond with our lesson plan. Instilling into them confidence, worth and empowerment in a world that still sees them as not equal or someone’s pleasure.

I honestly haven’t been concerning myself about the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Besides the few dramatic exchanges between Kavanaugh, Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Cory Booker I just didn’t see the point. Because I truly think it is theatrics and that most confirmations are a forgone conclusion and a waste of Americans money and time. But when a woman comes forward with an allegation I have no choice but to be interested and concerned.

What happened years ago between Kavanaugh and Ford isn’t going on trial due to statute of limitations which in my opinion is erroneous and suspect but it will be questioned by those still considering his nomination. Some question why come forth now years later and when he is up for confirmation?  

Mrs. Ford wrote a letter detailing her plight because she felt it was her civic duty and that her disclosure had bearing on Mr. Kavanaugh’s character. Mrs. Ford also disclose these allegations to her husband and therapist in 2012 – well before his nomination to the high court. She wrote a letter to Senator Diane Feinstein detailing the accounts.  She thought the letter would be held in confidence. It wasn’t. So here we are.

It’s because of this letter that Mrs. Ford was made to go public with her story. And I’m glad she was. I believe her letting us know what happened is what’s truly needed to fight back at predatory injustice.

I believe that this action is inline with bold moves recently and that will be needed in the future to protect our women from casual and familiar predators. I do know that a patriarchal sense of entitlement seems to run rampant in our lives these days. I believe that entitlement is where statutes of limitations come from, victim shaming and the lack of safe and comfortable spaces to disclose a story of abuse by a woman comes from. Earlier this year I wrote an article about a Lulabel Seitz, the young woman who was valedictorian of her school this year. Her mic was cut off during her speech because she was attempting to speak out against her alleged sexual assault case. An incident that was covered up by school officials themselves.

I ask when do women, young women and our girls get the protection that they need, want and deserve? When do the places that they should be safe in be safe? When do we go out of our way to purposely make safe and comfortable spaces for them. So in this particular instance between Kavanaugh and Mrs. Ford I say speak Mrs. Ford and speak out loud and vibrant. To any woman or young girl who has a story of sexual abuse to tell speak out with a loud illuminating voice to bring closure to you and a inspiring story to others.

As a man, a father and simply a human being with humility and character, I will continue to fight to obtain these safer and more comfortable spaces for our wives,  our mothers, our daughters, our colleagues and our friends. Will you join me?

 

Inequities in Education and meeting the needs of Children of Color

By Danielle Wright

The Well Being is a weekly radio show in New Orleans hosted by 4 women of color. Each week the co-hosts explore the impact of inequitable systems on various dimensions of wellness. This episode discusses the history of inequities in New Orleans public education, the current landscape of public education and how systemic changes can be made to meet the needs of children of color in schools. We explore these topics with two iconic women of color in education Dr. Vera Triplett and Krystal Allen.

Listen to this powerful interview here

How do we build quality schools and communities?

The State of New Orleans Charter Schools: How do we build quality schools and communities?

Join community and education leaders for informative panel discussions on the current charter school landscape in New Orleans on October 3, 2018! This event is free and open to the public.

Hosted by: Chris Stewart, Citizen Education & Wayfinder Foundation
School Panel:
Melanie Askew
Founder and Head of School
Élan Academy Charter School

Jawan Brown-Alexander
Chief of Schools
New Schools for New Orleans

Stephen Goodly
Louisiana State Teacher of the Year
Warren Easton Charter High School

Jonathan Johnson
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Rooted School

Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise
Executive Director
KIPP New Orleans

Kate Mehok
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Crescent City Schools

Dr. Wylene Sorapuru
Chief Academic Officer
InspireNOLA Charter Schools

Community Panel:

Ashana Bigard
Community Activist

Representative Gary Carter, Jr.
House of Representatives
District 102, State of Louisiana

Latoya Douglas
Co-Founder
Parent Advocators

Alexina Medley
Former CEO
Warren Easton Charter High School

Erika McConduit
Louisiana Director
The Education Trust

Mary Moran
Executive Director
Our Voice Nuestra Voz

Jonathan Wilson
President
100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans

What Alice Walker Can Teach Us about Hispanic Heritage Month

In the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to connect with one’s roots and heritage as a means of resistance.  I reflect on Alice Walker’s famous quote that “resistance is the secret of joy,” and in the context of heritage and culture the meaning of her words is clearer to me. To be more fully who I am and to be less of what society expects me to be is joyful.  To go deeper into the music, dance, and expression of my identity as a Latinx woman is a form of resisting dominant social norms.

As I deepen into this lesson, Hispanic Heritage month has also been more joyful.  As an activist, in the past, I often wondered if it was as a waste of time. I equated it with some of the policy work I did where my colleagues and I would use the month to try to educate others about Latinx people and culture.  We’d often start the education process with clarifying that the dedicated month starts on September 15th because this is when many Latin American countries, including Mexico, gained independence. We’d try to dispel false beliefs that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day.

I’d also create newsletters and write articles explaining that many of us prefer the term ‘Latinx’ to ‘Hispanic’ because ‘Hispanic’ was a term given to us because of the census; whereas ‘Latinx’ is a chosen term. More recently I find myself also describing the gender dynamics of the language and why we are substituting ‘x’ to make ‘Latino’ or ‘Latina’ gender neutral. During the month, I’d also focus on reminding people that Puerto Ricans are U.S. Citizens, which is a surprisingly little known fact that seems all the more important due to what happened in the midst of last year’s celebration, when Hurricane Maria pummeled the island.  Basically, for a long time I thought Hispanic Heritage month was a time to try even harder to increase awareness, which often only increased my frustration and burnout and left little joy for me to celebrate.

But a couple of years ago, the need for self-care became more apparent as the external stressors for social justice and education workers grew exponentially with the change of government administration.  I knew I had to find something to keep me sane as I listened to the threatening rhetoric about building a border wall. With some of my loved ones who are undocumented in danger, I knew that I would need to find the strength for activism somewhere other than in my anger. I saw that the anger would destroy my joy, so I sought out joy more than ever before. And one of the places I found it had been there all along, in the richness of my own culture. Since then, I’ve been better at releasing the sense of responsibility to educate others and focusing on my own joy and healing.

Recently, I went home to visit my mother. She was excited because she had just discovered a new recipe for corn tamales that she’d tried. My sister had made them with her, and when I arrived, I felt the love they had put into each tamale as I unwrapped the cornhusks and ate them. We also watched the Disney movie “Coco” together and delighted in how the creators had so perfectly captured some of the aspects of Latinx culture, like when Miguel’s grandmother subtly coerces him into accepting more food on his plate. A couple of days later, I helped my niece with her Spanish and we listened to some of the latest Latin hits on a car ride.

During this Hispanic Heritage month, I will still probably post a few articles on my Facebook page about Latinx culture. I can’t help it. The inclination to want to be seen for who I am—who we are as Latinxs—seems pretty natural to me. Living in New Orleans, I feel the social justice narratives, in particular in education, sometimes overlooks the shades of Brown in between the White and Black. This month is a good opportunity to gently highlight some of the challenges and joys unique to Latinx people and students while also grounding our work in our common struggles and anti-Blackness. One way to do this is to try to foster Black-Brown relations among young people by discussing those common struggles as well as unique challenges. Another way is to recognize how anti-Blackness shows up in our Latinx culture. But for me, Alice Walker’s quote also serves as a reminder that it’s not always my job to teach everyone. It’s my job to be the best expression that I can be of the joys and culture of my ancestors.  This is resistance and this is joy. With this in mind, Hispanic Heritage month can be a time where I can be an activist simply by being me.

 

And They Wonder Why Feminism Exists

Throughout my years of watching sports, I’ve witnessed men fight on the field, harass referees/umpires, slur officials, and even throw balls across the court when they disagree with a call, but when a woman, who is just as passionate about her athletic craft as a man, merely says to an umpire “You stole a point from me, and you are a thief,” she is penalized and as a result, loses a game.

On this past Saturday, Serena Williams competed against Naomi Osaka in New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium for the Grand Slam title.  Umpire Carlos Ramos accused Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, of giving her hand signals during the match which is deemed illegal coaching.  Williams was offended by the accusation and immediately checked Ramos by saying, “I don’t cheat. I’d rather lose!” Serena was livid, and rightfully so.  But even during her rage, she never once used profanity (in earshot at least), she didn’t throw her racket across the court at anyone, nor did she call the umpire names or attempt to fight him.  But because she is a WOMAN who had the audacity to voice her opinion in an assertive manner, she was robbed of a point which caused her to lose the match, costing her the Grand Slam title, and she was fined $17,000 by the US Open.  

While witnessing the blatant biases that Ramos displayed against Serena, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking, “I bet this would not have happened if she had a different set of genitals.”   And from doing a little social media digging, apparently, my thoughts were being shared and validated. Since this incident, two male tennis pros have confirmed the sexism which resulted in Serena losing the match.

James Blake

@JRBlake

I will admit I have said worse and not gotten penalized. And I’ve also been given a “soft warning” by the ump where they tell you knock it off or I will have to give you a violation. He should have at least given her that courtesy. Sad to mar a well played final that way.

 

andyroddick

@andyroddick

I’ve regrettably said worse and I’ve never gotten a game penalty

And some people wonder why feminism exists.  Before I go off on a brief tangent about that, let’s examine another case in the same realm of bigotry.  Just last week, tennis player Alize Cornet was handed a code violation for taking off her shirt to switch it around because she had it on backwards.  Underneath her shirt, she wore a sports bra. In case you’re in the dark about sports bras, it’s one of the least provocative bras a woman can wear. The purpose for it is not to expose anything, but to keep everything intact while one takes on vigorous activities.  But because she was a woman who, according to society’s rules, should have been taught at youth to cover up and keep quiet, she was fined.

If time permitted and space was unlimited, I could name countless of other incidents that show why feminism exists.  However, these two recent events clearly depict the prejudices that we women face in this world. It’s inhumane to treat anyone less than or to put someone in a box because of how they were born.  If a woman can hit a ball, fix a car, drive a bus, preach a sermon, or run a political office as good as or better than her male counterparts, then she should be treated with the same respect as they are treated.  Women are not asking for favors, or to rule, or to be singled out, we are asking for a fair chance. We are asking to be seen as humans first and women second. We are asking to be able to dictate our own existence, govern our own bodies, not be treated as objects, and to be heard and not considered a b$%^& when we speak up for ourselves with confidence.  We are asking to be recognized as the powerful human beings we are, and not be stripped of a point or title when we have the courage to defend our honor. Equality is what we seek, but partiality is what we get…and that’s why feminism exists.

P.S. – In the midst of the Serena debacle, shout out to LeBron James and Essence Magazine for teaming up and publicly recognizing and celebrating women of color from a place of positivity.  The Strongest, the name of the powerful social media campaign birthed by James and Essence, highlights 16 black women who exemplify strength to the NBA star.  This campaign follows LeBron’s reveal of his exclusive Nike signature shoe collaboration designed by three African American women. See a few pictures of LeBron’s honorees below which includes our girl Serena.  Thank you LeBron and keep shining ladies!

CELEBRATING THE AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN

By Felicia Simpson

This article was first posted on www.feliciatsimpson.com

Since the beginning of time, black women have helped to contribute to the growth and evolution of the world. Often minimized, our influence can’t be denied. From Dahomey warrior women who fought to defend their villages to abolitionists like Sojourner Truth who fought to defend their freedom; black women have demonstrated their ability to rise in the face of adversity.

Our talents are  vast and can be seen in the literary works of Maya Angelou and her predecessors Phillis Wheatley and Lucy Terry, two women who were sold into slavery, acquired freedom and became notable writers. Our artistic abilities are apparent as evidenced by the masterpieces of our foremothers, Edmonia Lewis and Elizabeth Catlett, who were both accomplished sculptors.

In the fields of social and political activism, we proudly claim Angela Davis and Shirley Chisholm. Even though we are a force to be reckoned with, we stand not only as fighters but as healers. Marie Laveau and Queen Nanny, African Spiritual leaders, sought to enlighten their people as did Henriette Delille, a Catholic who opened her heart to anyone who needed a helping hand. We can’t minimize the strides we’ve made in the world of science with Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, or Katherine Johnson, physicist, and mathematician. Nor can we ignore the pioneering performing artists such as Dorothy Dandridge, first black woman nominated for an academy award for best actress, and Nina Simone, an illustrious singer, composer, and trailblazer.

In addition to the strides we’ve made in the areas mentioned above, we are nurturers, protectors, wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends. Black women continue to make an impact not only within the black community but in the world at large.

-Kenetha Lanee

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Welcome to the month of September!!!!  This year is moving by so fast.  As we enter into the final month of the third quarter, I really want to focus on women so I reached out to my friend and this posts, Guest Contributor, Kenetha Lanee to provide us with that well written prelude above about African American women in particular, to kick off this month’s blog post.

I love being an inspiration to women of color and I am always inspired by the success stories of other women.  Please take the time to read the histories of the women mentioned in the prelude, if you don’t already know HERstory.  I am on a journey to becoming a better woman and creating safe spaces, for sisterhood in our society on my all of my platforms.

African American women have struggled and triumphed since forever, and there is no one better on this planet, than a strong African American woman!  The African American woman is tenacious, fearless, beautiful, compassionate, purposed-driven, stable, confident, nurturer and this list could go on.  From the pioneering women who created our history for us to the modern day trailblazers that we see today, African American women, are to be celebrated year-round.  So many of us are creating our own paths, demanding equality from social and political injustices and stepping out from the shadows of other cultures and becoming the queens that we were born to be.

As a middle aged African American woman who is still growing and developing, I encourage each of you to carry on the legacies of the women in the prelude and the ones who you interact with every day in your life.  Let’s continue to lift each other up and share more success stories about how we have overcome whatever obstacles, and survived whatever struggles to become the positive images that we see all around us today.

A Picturesque Exaltation

Climbing what used to be the confederate monument at the entrance of City Park in New Orleans, LA was more than just for a photo opportunity.  It was a silent monologue that portrayed a snippet of the black woman’s struggle, the adversity we often face, and then….the exaltation we most definitely deserve.  This picture goes beyond a black girl wearing all white while perched on a monument in the middle of a busy intersection. To me, it is a portraiture that depicts the plight of sistas.   

When I was asked by Deorin Payne (the mastermind and photographer behind this shoot and the Enthroned project) to take this picture, I immediately accepted the challenge.  I didn’t know which monument we would be shooting at, but I was open to whatever his creative brain had in store.  When we got to the location, I got nervous.  The stone is as tall as it looks in the pictures. Metaphorically, it represented the struggle we black women often face.  Just like the tall stone, life can sometimes seem insurmountable to us. Not only do we have to deal with being a woman in America, we have to deal with being a black woman in America and all the push backs that come with that beautiful reality.  However, despite the odds that black women often face, we always find ways to persevere. And with that in mind, I set out to climb that tall stone. In an ankle length skirt, I proceeded to mount a ladder and ascend all the way to the top. On my way up, I thought about Harriet Tubman’s fierce journey, Sojourner Truth’s fight, Assata Shakur’s braveness, Angela Davis’ audaciousness, Fannie Lou Hamer’s assuredness, and all my other dynamic foremothers who paved the way for women like me; I instantly got an extra boost of confidence.      

When I finally got to the top, I figured the rest would be a breeze.  I was wrong. Adversity reared its ugly head as it always does. People began honking, some recorded me on their cell phones, and some people were frowning while possibly yelling expletive language.  But here I was, nestled on top of the tall stone, drowning out the noise and posing every time the camera flashed…..another example of how black women push through despite hardships.      

Photo by Deorin Payne

While up there sweating with my legs shaking, I thought to myself….”this can very well represent the experiences of being black women,” – uncomfortable, unsure at times, constant noise, discrimination, voyeurism, shady judgment, and pressure.  But despite the rubbish, we endure and rise.  And when we look back, we are glad we stayed the course and grateful that we left no stone unturned.

To all my sistas, gracefully tackle any challenge that comes your way because you are built for it.  Rise to the occasion, sit firmly in your position, handle your business, drown out the noise and wait for the beautiful picture to unfold – it will be all worth it.