Sunday, April 20, 2008

Under One (Coonish) Roof

On Wednesday, April 16 at 8pm, this already pitiful world took a nose-dive into the depths of hell. Does Sisterdoc sound melodramatic? Well, I have just two words for you—Flavor Flav. That’s right. MyNetworkTV and producer Darryl J. Quarles has given the king of coons his own sitcom, entitled “Under One Roof.”

This series is as tasteless as one of Flav’s purple pinstripe suits. Calvester (Flav) is described on the show as a “ghetto low-life heathen.” I don’t know about that, but he is a loud-mouth ex-con who shows up on the doorstep of his wealthy brother Winston’s (Kelly Perine) mansion. Winston, of course, is ultra-conservative and married to a White woman named Ashley. Winston and Ashley have two children. Their daughter Heather is a dim-wit tramp. Their son Junior is brainy, but of course knows absolutely nothing about Blackness. Also in the household is Su Ho, the maid who offers malapropism infused Asian proverbs while speaking in broken English. She also wears Cultural Revolution era Chinese robes.

In the series premiere, viewers get to meet a whole gaggle of Calvester’s ex-con friends. Apparently the jail where Cal did time catered almost exclusively to pimps and “junk in the trunk” strip-club dancers-turned- Cal’s “baby mamas.” The humor in this sitcom is supposed to come from watching Cal’s world clash with Winston’s—pimps in the living room and Calvester in bed with his exceptionally frisky and horny former cell-mate “Pumpkin” (played by Tiny Lister, if you can imagine). Cal’s tacky decorating taste next to Winston’s “Pottery Barn” aesthetic is also made obvious.

If you like a series that would present an entire episode based upon jokes about convicts raping each other in jail—tune in next Wednesday for more fun. If you don’t, go to and ask them to take this mess of the air immediately. In addition to being far more scandalous than the ‘90s sitcom “The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer,” which by the way was a “slave-era comedy,” you also can tell the network that at 50 years of age, Flav is too damn old to be playing a version of Will from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment #7-Hanes Exploits Hate Speech to Sell Drawers

What is a “Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment?” Three decades ago, the great entertainer Nipsey Russell was a guest judge on The Gong Show. On one episode, a White male ventriloquist appeared as a contestant. His dummy was white, but he (inexplicably) sloppily painted it brown, hence, it looked a bit like blackface. As the man told bad, though not racist jokes, Russell gonged him. Russell explained that he gonged the man because something just wasn’t right. Sometimes things just feel wrong. If you get that feeling, don’t doubt yourself. Just gong ‘em!

My good friend and Sistah’Ph.D. to the (farther and colder) north turned me on to Hanes’ latest ad campaign. Hanes is hawking its tagless underwear with the pitch: “the world gives you enough tags.” So what are the “tags” that Hanes says is burdening us, and that we should turn to their underwear to get a little reprieve from: faggot, nigger, and Paki! I kid you not. Sources tell Sisterdoc that the campaign is not running in the U.S., and that it was created abroad by an ad agency in Bombay, India.

A GONG to Hanes for exploiting the most dreadful of ‘isms and hate speech to sell some damn cotton drawers.

The Passing of Aime Cesaire

Aime Cesaire, one the founding fathers of the Negritude Movement, with Leopold Sedar Senghor, Leon Gontran Damas, Birago Diop, and Bernard Dadie, in the early 1930s, passed away Thursday in Fort-de-France (Martinique) at age 94.

According to the International Herald Tribune, "Aime Cesaire will be buried in his native Martinique on Sunday despite suggestions that the poet and politician belongs with other honored figures in the Pantheon of Paris. Some French officials, including Culture Minister Christine Albanel and former presidential candidate Segolene Royal, had asked that Cesaire be buried in the hallowed Pantheon.

A public memorial ceremony is to be attended by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, soccer great Lilian Thuram and Caribbean officials such as Cuba's culture minister, according to a government statement. Officials at the capital of the French overseas department are opening park-and-ride areas and will provide free bus service to residents. Only relatives and top government officials will be allowed at his burial following the ceremony.

Thousands of people clutching Cesaire's picture or wearing T-shirts in his memory crowded into a soccer stadium Friday to view his body and pay their respects. They sang and recited his poetry as they surrounded his coffin, placed in the middle of the stadium beside candles and flowers."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Remember MOVE?

After 30 Years, the MOVE 9 Must be Paroled
Color of Law
By David A. Love, JD Editorial Board

Seven years before the 1985 bombing of the radical Black collective MOVE - in which the Philadelphia police firebombed a block of Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia, killing five children and six adults, and destroying 61 homes - there was the first MOVE siege.

On August 8, 1978, officers of the Philadelphia Police Department were involved in a confrontation with MOVE members at their Powelton Village headquarters in West Philadelphia. Officer James Ramp was shot and killed. Nine MOVE members were convicted of third degree murder, conspiracy and other lesser offenses, and sentenced to 30-100 years.

Now the eight remaining members are up for parole. They have been exemplary prisoners, and should be released. But many would argue that they should not have been imprisoned in the first place.

The judge said that he had “absolutely no idea” who killed Officer Ramp. Moreover, he reasoned that since the MOVE defendants called themselves a family, he decided to sentence them as a family.

Some observers have concluded that the officer was a victim of police gunfire. While the ballistic report claims that the officer was shot from a downward trajectory, the MOVE members were in their basement at the time of the incident. “But let’s think about this for a minute. You don’t have to be a ballistician to figure this one out. It’s just common sense,” said Linn Washington, Jr., veteran journalist with the Philadelphia Tribune and professor at Temple University.

In an interview with journalist Hans Bennett, Washington - who was on the ground reporting on the 1978 siege - noted that according to police sources, Ramp was killed by police. “You’ve got four male MOVE members in the basement allegedly armed, according to police testimony. A basement by its very nature means it’s below ground level.… So, anything they’re shooting out of the windows has to be at an upward trajectory. They would have to shoot up to get out the window. Ramp was directly across the street at ground level. So how could something hit him, in what was said to be a downward type angle, when MOVE members were firing upward from that basement?”

There were other problems with the case, including the destruction of evidence by police. The police destroyed the MOVE house after the siege, despite a court order barring them from doing just that. Unfortunately, although this act of official misconduct is reprehensible, it is not surprising. After all, this was the Philadelphia of the 1960s and 1970s, under the racist regime of police chief-turned mayor Frank Rizzo. And Philly’s Finest were the perfect picture of corruption, brutality, obstruction and frame-ups, particularly regarding their treatment of the city’s residents of color, and political activist organizations such as the Black Panthers.

Throughout the nation during this period, in Philadelphia and elsewhere, political prisoners such as the MOVE 9 were created.

To the untutored, the term political prisoner conjures up images of the old Soviet Union, of Communist China or some far-flung dictatorial regime. But the concept of the American political prisoner is very real, one which makes a mockery of the spoon-fed narrative of a fair, blind and equitable justice system. Under that narrative, those who swear to uphold the law always do so with vigor, while all of those who are behind bars are dangerous individuals who certainly did something wrong to get there, but nevertheless received due process.

In reality, prisons are America’s foremost method of social control, providing cover to a regime of failing schools, systemic economic inequality and joblessness among poor communities and communities of color. Secret offshore prisons provide the backdrop for the bogus U.S. war on terror. And on the domestic front, imprisonment serves as a potent tool to quell political dissent and neutralize burgeoning social movements. Moreover, prison stocks are traded on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, no efforts imaginable would allow the MOVE 9 to regain the 30 years they have lost languishing behind bars. However, parole would be a step in the right direction. Their supporters are signing an online petition, and contacting the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to make their voices heard. Editorial Board member David A. Love, JD is a lawyer and journalist based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to the Progressive Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, In These Times and Philadelphia Independent Media Center. He contributed to the book, States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons (St. Martin's Press, 2000). Love is a former Amnesty International UK spokesperson, organized the first national police brutality conference as a staff member with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and served as a law clerk to two Black federal judges. His blog is

Image: Police dropped a bomb in this West Philadelphia neighborhood. This is the aftermath of this shocking use of police force/brutality.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Pow Wow: Dance for Mother Earth

This weekend (April 5), Sisterdoc and Brotherdoc attended the 36th Annual “Dance for Mother Earth” Ann Arbor Pow Wow. It was our first Pow Wow. We had an enjoyable, educational time.

And, it was not without its controversy.

First, the fun and educational: There was well over 1000 Native Americans participating in this Pow Wow. The People of the Three Fires—the Ojibwa, Odawa, and Bodewadimi—were particularly well represented. According to our program, “the modern day Pow Wow evolved from the Grass Dance Societies that formed during the early 1800s. The dances were an opportunity for the warriors to reenact their brave deeds for all the members of the tribe to witness.”

The Pow Wow ritual had specific parts to it. There was the “Grand Entry,” which marks the beginning of the Pow Wow. Here, every participant dancer, in full regalia, lines up and proceeds forward. A Head Dancer leads the multitude of tribes, all with their unique dance styles, through the entry. Other parts were the Drum Roll Call, Tiny Tot Exhibition, and Exhibition Dancing.

Sisterdoc also enjoyed the “Intertribals.” These dance sessions permitted people of different Native nations to share the dance floor—I can’t describe how beautiful this was, both visually and spiritually (such unity!). There was also “Contest Dancing” in which the dancers were divided into categories by age and style. For example, there was “Women’s Jingle Dress,” “Men’s Fancy” (a crowd favorite), “Men’s Traditional,” “Women’s Fancy Shawl,” and so on.

Now, for the controversy: This Pow Wow was held indoors at the University of Michigan’s Crisler Arena (where the basketball games are held). This made for a slightly tense Pow Wow this year because 1,390 tribal ancestral remains are being held by the University of Michigan in “boxes, drawers, and filing cabinets.” Obviously, the various Nations want the remains back. A peaceful awareness raising protest was part of this year’s Pow Wow. The remains were uncovered from various burial sites (construction dig sites to U of M). U of M says they get to keep the remains because they are “culturally unaffiliated” under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Sisterdoc noted that U of M President Coleman did not address/clarify the remains issue, but she did pay a very nice tribute to Irving “Hap” McCue (1933-2008). Hap taught UM students the Ojibwe language for over 35 years.

This annual event is beautiful, humbling, and enlightening.

Image: Geezhig Bressette, age 11, of the Ojibwe tribe in Sarnia Ontarioat performs a ceremonial dance at the Ann Arbor Pow Wow in Crisler Arena on Saturday. (PETER SCHOTTENFELS/DAILY)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Senator Barack Obama Commemorates Martin Luther King Jr.

April 4, 2008
FORT WAYNE, Ind. --As Mike said, today represents a tragic anniversary for our country. Through his faith, courage, and wisdom, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. moved an entire nation. He preached the gospel of brotherhood; of equality and justice. That's the cause for which he lived --and for which he died forty years ago today. And so before we begin, I ask you to join me in a moment of silence in memory of this extraordinary American.

There's been a lot of discussion this week about how Dr. King's life and legacy speak to us today. It's taking place in our schools and churches, on television and around the dinner table. And I suspect that much of what folks are talking about centers on issues of racial justice --on the Montgomery bus boycott and the March on Washington, on the freedom rides and the stand at Selma.

And that's as it should be --because those were times when ordinary men and women, straight-backed and clear-eyed, challenged what they knew was wrong and helped perfect our union. And they did so in large part because Dr. King pointed the way.
But I also think it's worth reflecting on what Dr. King was doing in Memphis, when he stepped onto that motel balcony on his way out for dinner.

And what he was doing was standing up for struggling sanitation workers. For years, these workers had served their city without complaint, picking up other people's trash for little pay and even less respect. Passers-by would call them "walking buzzards," and in the segregated South, most were forced to use separate drinking fountains and bathrooms.

But in 1968, these workers decided they'd had enough, and over 1,000 went on strike. Their demands were modest --better wages, better benefits, and recognition of their union. But the opposition was fierce. Their vigils were met with handcuffs. Their protests turned back with mace. And at the end of one march, a 16-year old boy lay dead.

This is the struggle that brought Dr. King to Memphis. It was a struggle for economic justice, for the opportunity that should be available to people of all races and all walks of life. Because Dr. King understood that the struggle for economic justice and the struggle for racial justice were really one --that each was part of a larger struggle "for freedom, for dignity, and for humanity." So long as Americans were trapped in poverty, so long as they were being denied the wages, benefits, and fair treatment they deserved --so long as opportunity was being opened to some but not all --the dream that he spoke of would remain out of reach.

And on the eve of his death, Dr. King gave a sermon in Memphis about what the movement there meant to him and to America. And in tones that would prove eerily prophetic, Dr. King said that despite the threats he'd received, he didn't fear any man, because he had been there when Birmingham aroused the conscience of this nation. And he'd been there to see the students stand up for freedom by sitting in at lunch counters. And he'd been there in Memphis when it was dark enough to see the stars, to see the community coming together around a common purpose. So Dr. King had been to the mountaintop. He had seen the Promised Land. And while he knew somewhere deep in his bones that he would not get there with us, he knew that we would get there.

He knew it because he had seen that Americans have "the capacity," as he said that night, "to project the 'I' into the 'thou.'" To recognize that no matter what the color of our skin, no matter what faith we practice, no matter how much money we have --no matter whether we are sanitation workers or United States Senators --we all have a stake in one another, we are our brother's keeper, we are our sister's keeper, and "either we go up together, or we go down together."

And when he was killed the following day, it left a wound on the soul of our nation that has yet to fully heal. And in few places was the pain more pronounced than in Indianapolis, where Robert Kennedy happened to be campaigning. And it fell to him to inform a crowded park that Dr. King had been killed. And as the shock turned toward anger, Kennedy reminded them of Dr. King's compassion, and his love. And on a night when cities across the nation were alight with violence, all was quiet in Indianapolis.

In the dark days after Dr. King's death, Coretta Scott King pointed out the stars. She took up her husband's cause and led a march in Memphis. But while those sanitation workers eventually got their union contract, the struggle for economic justice remains an unfinished part of the King legacy. Because the dream is still out of reach for too many Americans. Just this morning, it was announced that more Americans are unemployed now than at any time in years. And all across this country, families are facing rising costs, stagnant wages, and the terrible burden of losing a home.

Part of the problem is that for a long time, we've had a politics that's been too small for the scale of the challenges we face. This is something I spoke about a few weeks ago in a speech I gave in Philadelphia. And what I said was that instead of having a politics that lives up to Dr. King's call for unity, we've had a politics that's used race to drive us apart, when all this does is feed the forces of division and distraction, and stop us from solving our problems.

That is why the great need of this hour is much the same as it was when Dr. King delivered his sermon in Memphis. We have to recognize that while we each have a different past, we all share the same hopes for the future --that we'll be able to find a job that pays a decent wage, that there will be affordable health care when we get sick, that we'll be able to send our kids to college, and that after a lifetime of hard work, we'll be able to retire with security. They're common hopes, modest dreams. And they're at the heart of the struggle for freedom, dignity, and humanity that Dr. King began, and that it is our task to complete.

You know, Dr. King once said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but that it bends toward justice. But what he also knew was that it doesn't bend on its own. It bends because each of us puts our hands on that arc and bends it in the direction of justice.
So on this day --of all days --let's each do our part to bend that arc.
Let's bend that arc toward justice.
Let's bend that arc toward opportunity.
Let's bend that arc toward prosperity for all.

And if we can do that and march together --as one nation, and one people --then we won't just be keeping faith with what Dr. King lived and died for, we'll be making real the words of Amos that he invoked so often, and "let justice roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Healing and Hope with Obama

Healing and Hope with Obama:
Negotiating Race, Racism and Reconciliation
Dr. Maulana Karenga

Some of us are sufficiently satisfied just to share space and special
moments with them, to have them turn and tell us something nice, to
smile at us without racial arrogance, paternalism, maternalism or
studied meanness, and to have them concede our humanity and spend an
afternoon with us doing tennis, herbal tea and small talk. And then
there are those among us who want and demand only respect in personal
encounters, justice in social exchange and an equitable sharing of
societal wealth and power. We do not seek public office or White praise
and, like Malcolm, we make a clear distinction between being responsible
to our people and responsible to those in power. We know that often to
be responsible to our people requires us to be outrageously
irresponsible in the eyes of our oppressor. As we say in Us, it is a
good thing to be criticized and condemned by the oppressor. For it
raises and reinforces the ethical distinction and division between us
and them.
It has been part of the burden and heaviness of our history, then, that
we as an oppressed people have had to produce and at least partially
support people among us who would see some measure of humanity in our
oppressor and try to bring out that humanity and save them and us from
the savagery masquerading for centuries as civilization. They have
counseled them like King, empathized with them like Oprah, racially
identified with them like Obama and reminded them like Langston Hughes
and most of us that we, too, sing and celebrate America. And this, too,
has been our burden and obligation: that some of us must be ever on the
battleground for something better, fighting fiercely to hold onto
hard-won gains and advance ever forward in the ongoing struggle for an
expanded realm of human freedom and human flourishing in society and the
Everyone must concede Barack Obama’s Philadelphia speech was historic in
content and consequence if rightly read and approached. But it was not
without its flaws and problematic character. He did what he could,
working with what he had, in the context of the media-driven right-wing
thrust to undercut his campaign for the presidency and in the process
call into question the legitimacy, not just of Black liberation
theology, but also of the Black church itself, as a historically
community-and-culturally-based institution. The beneficial consequences
of his speech depend on a real, long and hard look at the realities of
White racial dominance and the rejection of any attempt to equate our
oppression with the unease of those who carry it out, or support or
benefit from it.
Furthermore, it’s untrue and an uncalled-for concession to Whites who
might need it, to reductively portray Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his
generation as trapped in the past with “memories of humiliation, doubt,
fear, anger and bitterness.” This is obviously bad and bogus history.
For this is a generation which refused to be humbled, who did not doubt
the rightness of their cause nor the victory of their struggle, whose
rightful concern about White violence was counterbalanced by courage,
whose anger was righteous, and whose moral and spiritual groundedness
was a shield and shelter against the racist bitterness and bloody
resistance to our struggle for freedom and justice from the other side.
It is this generation that expanded the realm of human freedom and
provided a moral vision, vocabulary and model of struggle that resounded
and still resonates around the world. The memories of this generation
are of Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Rosa Parks, Joseph
Lowery, and Martin and Coretta Scott King, and of the reaffirmation of
our social justice tradition and our Africanness and the commitment to
struggle this represented.
Another problem here is that Obama talks about America, i.e., the U.S.,
as if it is a living self-existing being, granting blessings because of
its loving and nurturing nature. But the U.S. did not give freely; our
people fought to open up this space and to expand the realm of freedom
and possibility in this country. And they did it, not because they
engaged in self-blessing and self-congratulatory conversation about this
country, but because they took it to task, courageously confronted it
and dared to change it.
Also, Obama represents a tendency of those who believe a declaration of
“newly” discovered disorders and damaged psyches among Black people is
liberating or at least required to put Whites at ease. Thus, he says
that the Black “church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the
fierce intelligence and shocking ignorance, the struggles and success,
the love and yes the bitterness and bias that make up the Black
experience in America.” This is at best awkward and uncalled for and
would most likely not be a way his advisors would counsel him to speak
of a Jewish synagogue or even a Catholic church. Mom Mabley’s “We do
crimes too” is not appropriate here. And it certainly does not explain
his relationship, as he claims with Rev. Wright, unless there’s some
mystery in it we’ve missed.
Symptomatic of almost every liberal’s audacity to hope is an
accompanying problem of denial of the continuing realities not simply of
race, but more fundamentally of racism. Thus, Obama denies that racism
is endemic to U.S. society, i.e., native and constantly present, and
conflates race with racism. But contrary to popular belief and
persistent hope, racism is here in raw and redressed form, brutally
evident in the attenuated life chances and life conditions of peoples of
color. And this rough racist reality in no way resembles the racial
discomfort, insecurity and unease that Obama asks empathy for. Human
empathy is one thing, claiming moral equivalence of oppression and
unease and failing to deal with the difference is a whole ‘nother thing.
We clearly need a new vision of justice and democracy, one in which we
are not what Malcolm calls “victims of democracy”, a racial arrangement
in which “we, the people” are defined as White; justice is determined by
wealth and power; and the future of our people depends on the patronage
and petitioned kindness of White folks. No, this is not what Harriet
Tubman lifted us out of enslavement for, what Frederick Douglass and
Fannie Lou Hamer sacrificed so much for; nor for what Malcolm, Martin
and millions more were martyred. Ours is a more expansive view of human
freedom and human flourishing, and we cannot and must not accept
anything less than that which our history and humanity demand of us.

Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor of Black Studies, California State
University-Long Beach, Chair of The Organization Us, Creator of Kwanzaa,
and author of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture,
[ and].

Black Women Are Not Feeling the Feminists' Pain

Black Women Are Not Feeling the Feminists' Pain
By Marjorie Valbrun |

Is the sisterhood in peril?

March 17, 2008 -- Note to Geraldine Ferraro, Gloria Steinem, and complainer in chief, Hillary Clinton: Get over yourselves.

Your cries of reverse racism, your complaints about overt sexism in the campaign, your vocal protests about media favoritism being shown BarackObama, ring hollow.
We are not feeling your pain. None of you are symbolic of female oppression. You are all well-educated and well-connected. You are influential and have ready access to the media. You have had more opportunities than most black women could ever dream of and we doubt you could ever relate to the level of sexism and racism we regularly face.. We know you couldn't even begin to understand what it's like for black men.

Last time we checked, none of you were struggling with the challenges that average working women – both black and white – deal with everyday: making ends meet, finding safe and affordable childcare, paying the rent or mortgage, getting jobs that pay a living wage and offer opportunities for advancement. Amid all of this, regular working women are trying to find personal fulfillment and build a sense of self.

You privileged ladies already have a huge sense of self, and an even bigger sense of entitlement. Your words have only served to widen the divide between us and you, and your faulty and misguided perspective that Obama, a black man, is the enemy only serves to underline the divide.

Obama is not getting a free pass because he's black; he's getting more scrutiny because of it. He did not get where he is simply because he's a black man; he got where he is in spite of it. Your piling on Obama is one very warped expression of 'girl power.'

Somehow we don't believe this was what Betty Friedan was thinking when she wrote The Feminine Mystique in 1963 and launched the modern women's movement.. The movement was built on the premise that women were smarter than men believed, wanted more than men felt they deserved, were more ambitious than men were comfortable with, and had dreams bigger than the boundaries men set for them. It was about being politically affirming, not politically divisive.

The movement was not about being nasty, and calculating, and intellectually dishonest. And it was definitely not about playing dirty politics – like men. You make us wonder if you ever were really one of us now that we clearly see you have become one of 'them.'

Hillary Clinton, earlier in the campaign you complained that your Democratic opponents were 'piling on' and 'taking a page from the Republican playbook.' The truth is you've taken a page directly from Karl Rove's playbook and appropriated his defining doctrine of win at any cost, take no prisoners, and when everything else fails, resort to shameless race baiting. How unoriginal.

The sisterhood, at least your version of it, has been unmasked. You have proven you will do and say whatever it takes to win, even if that means doing irreparable harm to your political party and the good relationship you once had with black women. Honest and fair political discourse is being hijacked by your hypocrisy and that is certain to hurt the genuine efforts of white and black women working hard to form alliances on common and larger feminist causes.

Geraldine Ferraro, you said that Obama was 'lucky' to be where he is and should 'thank' you.
'In all honesty, do you think that if he were a white male, there would be a reason for the black community to get excited for a historic first?' You asked. 'Am I pointing out something that doesn't exist?'

What you fail to point out is that black people overwhelmingly voted for Bill Clinton for president not once, but twice. And we did the same for John Kerry, Al Gore, and other white candidates that came before them. Over the years, black voters have also supported plenty of white female candidates for Congress – including Hillary Clinton – and in statewide races.
When many Americans turned their backs on BillClinton after Monica Lewinsky and impeachment, black people stood by him as steadfastly as they would any member of their family. That's because we believe deeply in the power of forgiveness and redemption, but if you and other Clinton cohorts keep this up, we won't be so forgiving at the polls, even if Clinton is the nominee.

We remember, Geraldine, that you also derided Jesse Jackson when he ran for president in 1988. 'If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race,' you said then. Your comments then, and now, seem to consistently imply that no black male candidate can legitimately run for office or engage voters with his ideas, policies proposals or vision for a better America . We can probably guess what you think of black women candidates.
And by the way, what's wrong with the black community getting excited about a historic first? Aren't you in fact excited as well about the possibility of a historic first female president? Or did this point elude you even though you once tried to become that historic first?

Gloria Steinem, you wrote in the New York Times that Obama would not have succeeded if he were a woman because gender is 'the most restricting force in American life.' Yeah, right. Tell that to the thousands of unemployed black men in America who would gladly trade places with you and women like you whose lives bear few examples of social and economic deprivation.

Black men don't control a whole lot in this country; not the media, not Wall Street, not Capitol Hill. So when did they start holding you back or becoming your oppressors? White women have benefited from generations of white privilege and now that one black man has managed to play, and win, by the rules, you cry sexism?

We understand your frustration with the campaign and the failings of the packrat media coverage, we have our frustrations too. Nonetheless, it's entirely too convenient to try and turn Obama into a symbol of sexism, or reverse racism, or the manifestation of biased gender politics. The media is fascinated and obsessed with 'firsts' and the possibility of the first black or woman president will undoubtedly continue to drive much of the focus and narrative of the campaign coverage.

So how about taking a deep breath and a couple of steps back to get some perspective.
Obama is appealing to voters of both genders and all racial stripes precisely because he's not playing the racial victim. Perhaps if Clinton stopped playing the female victim, other voters would flock to her too.

Marjorie Valbrun is a journalist based in Washington, D.C.