Gwen Ifill for President
Cross-posted at Everyday Mom
So glad I squeezed in a moment to scan the NY Times Op-Ed page this morning, in between puring cereal, warming up soup for Samira's lunchbox and handing the baby a sippy-cup of milk (and let me tell you, if the NYT were based on mothers' reading it over busy morning routines, they would not publish on those huge oversized pages).
Lucky me, because I got to start my day by reading Gwen Ifill's response to Don Imus's racist and sexist remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team (which for anyone who doesn't follow the NCAA, rose from near obscurity and a roster of younger players to play the championship game and claim the #2 spot).
Here's the link, for as long it holds.
I'm posting it here because I believe in the need for vision, big vision, humane vision. We're doing political work as mothers. We're seeking policy change to help those who care for women, men, families, workplaces, and children, and from that, we end up reaching though the breadth of social and human issues. Part of what happens when you take parenting, caretaking, and mothering seriously is that literally, you start to care. The 'care' in caretaking jumps out at you, whether you are male or female. You start to care about how you fit into our society, how society fits together, how society cares (or doesn't care) for all it's members.
And that's where Ifill's article comes in. She's offered up the most breathtakingly, humanely sublime example of caring I've read in a quite a while.
After discussing just what's wrong with Don Imus' shock radio pronouncement (and I will not repeat it here), she talks about the way he referred to her as "the cleaning lady." Yes, as in "the cleaning lady who gets to tell the news." It's beyond horrid. By mid-article, though, she tells us this is not just about her. She beautifully and poignantly mentions the shell, the carapace, that women develop so that all the barbs don't get under our skin, don't debilitate us, and notes that black women in particular develop this shell.
The Rutgers women though: they are kids. They deserve better. Ifill writes about all the young girls she meets, the ones who look up to her, the ones without a voice.
Then she calls bullying for what it is, and perhaps this, too, is what I'm responding to, having been following all the bullying of women that is the new normal, whether they are politicians like Pelosi and Clinton, normal everyday mothers, or young women playing their hearts out on the basketball court. She calls it bullying. She names it, and then replaces it with vision, love, critique of injustice, and yes, care:
"So here’s what this voice has to say for people who cannot grasp the notion of picking on people their own size: This country will only flourish once we consistently learn to applaud and encourage the young people who have to work harder just to achieve balance on the unequal playing field.
Let’s see if we can manage to build them up and reward them, rather than opting for the cheapest, easiest, most despicable shots."
Gwen Ifill: Thank you.