Author Archives: mrswhatsit9

Are You Racist Because Your Local Economy Sucks…

Chart of Poverty Statistics, US South

Or does your local economy suck because you’re racist?

About two months ago, Larry Summers wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post bemoaning that the US is moving in opposite directions economically, and he considers that the cause of the rise of nativist, racist beliefs in depressed areas: “The areas where distress is greatest and opportunity is least provide disproportionate support for candidates advocating populist nationalist policies that seek to close off the rest of the world, to demonize immigrants and to resist the inclusion of minority groups.”

In other words, when the local economy is bad, people to become racist, so it’s not their fault. Fix the economy, and you’ll fix the racism.

(His remedy? Get the federal government to invest more in education in economically depressed areas. Which would be an excellent suggestion if not for the fact that K-12 education is locally funded in the US, conservatives have for the past many years invested heavily in demonizing higher education and the people who acquire it, and Summers himself acknowledges, “Outmigration from troubled areas tends to disproportionately remove those area’s most able and catalytic residents.” In other words, even he admits that people who get educated leave.)

“Hm,” I thought after reading his article, “what if he has the causation backwards?”

Flash forward to yesterday, when I was reading the latest issue of The Atlantic, focused on the divides in US society, which includes an interview with Tara Westover, the writer of Educated, which details her childhood being raised by survivalists completely off the grid (no birth certificate, being home “schooled”) in Idaho.

In the article, she says: “When Trump first won the nomination, it was generally thought that his populism was fueled by economic disparities, but for some reason, after he was elected, that view went out of fashion. I don’t know why, because it is quite obviously the case…”

Yeah, except what if it’s not?

Again quoting Westover, “My own view is that economic distress activates prejudice.”

Why did “economic anxiety” fall “out of fashion” as an explanation for TrumPutin and his supporters?

That nice story that we TRIED to tell ourselves during the cataclysm that was the 2016 election and its aftermath worked great…until folks actually started looking at the data.

Because the data doesn’t support it.

Validated, post-election data clearly demonstrates that people who were “economically anxious” voted for Hillary Clinton. In fact, there’s clear evidence that the greatest predictor of support for TrumPutin wasn’t “economic anxiety” or income or education level – it was racism and racial resentment of black and brown people.

Which brought me back to my earlier question: What if a bad local economy doesn’t drive racism? What if it’s racism that drives a bad local economy?

In fact, Hillary won about 500 counties (and 3 million more votes) to TrumPutin’s over 2600 counties (and 3 million FEWER votes – land and cows don’t vote, y’all). But those counties, comprising roughly 15% of the area in the US, account for nearly 2/3 of US economic output.

What is going on?

Well, let’s consider two factors, one historical and one current.

Historically, it’s virtually impossible to build a middle class, have reasonable wages and benefits for working people, or generate a strong social safety net when the vast majority of local labor is stolen from enslaved people, one of the points Nancy Isenberg makes repeatedly in her book White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.

You might think: “Mrs Whatsit! Slavery ended 150 years ago! Come on now – it’s not still having an effect on the economy of the former slave states!”

Yes it is.

The states of the former Confederacy created a culture of a small number of aristocrats ruling over a large population of under- and un-paid workers, few social services and support, lack of public access to education, the entire system built on racial resentment and hatred (no, I am not saying racial resentment and hatred don’t exist elsewhere in the US – in fact, I wrote a lengthy post about the history of racism in the North for this very blog – but I think we can all agree that things were qualitatively different in the Confederate states).

That racism continues to show up in 2019 in the former Confederacy in the form of “right to work” (anti-union) laws, the lowest state minimum wages in the country (most at or barely above the federal $7.25 requirement), refusal of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion, and lack of investment in public education.

Meanwhile, what creates a vibrant local economy?

  • An educated populace, and investments in primary, secondary, and higher education.
  • Immigrants starting small businesses (which they do at higher rates and more successfully than native-born US citizens).
  • Women of color starting small businesses (which they do at higher rates than white women).
  • Artists and support for the arts, including government support.
  • Tech companies, which while they’re still lagging in hiring women and black folks, do hire a lot of non-white men.
  • Investments in public space and public transportation.
  • Diversity – of race/ethnicity, gender, religion, country of origin, age, sexual orientation, and thought.

Are any of those kinds of people going to be willing to move to or live in a place largely populated by bigots?

Probably not.

We hear a lot of prescriptions for change in the US that start with: “Dems have to stop concentrating yourselves in the cities and along the coasts. Go buy a place in Alabama – or Wyoming – and create change on the local level town-by-town, county-by-county, and state-by-state.”

On the face of it, that seems reasonable. Plenty of us work in jobs that can be done anywhere – certainly the spouse and I do. And the money we bring in would not change if we moved to Missouri or West Virginia – I’d still charge my clients the same, his company would still pay him the same salary. We live financially comfortably in our pricey, deep-blue city. We could live like royalty in Kansas.

But why would we want to do that? Do those places have any of the above factors?

Of course not – their racism (and sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia) prevents immigrants and people of color and artists and educated people and techies and diverse thinkers (not, of course, that those groups are mutually exclusive) from wanting to live there, from being safe living there.

And so their local economies suffer. And until they fix those underlying bigoted attitudes, I’m afraid all the local tax incentives and abatements in the world aren’t going to help.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Your Moment of (Kitten) Zen

As Hecate noted, I was on vacation last week – and it was glorious, and I was COMPLETELY off line the entire time – and I came back to, as one does, a pile of work and a week of increasingly bat shit impeachment testimony, news, and revelations.

Hence, I choose to use the internet as the Goddess intended for this week’s post: CUTE KITTEN VIDEOS.

I’ll get back to railing against the patriarchy and white supremacy next week….

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Take a Victory Lap

Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 12.08.17 PM

And then get right back in the fight, if I may mix my metaphors for a moment.

Democrats won big on Tuesday.

Dems won control of BOTH houses of the Virginia state legislature for the first time in more than 20 years. Given the Democratic governor, this is going to mean big things in Virginia in the next few years (sensible gun safety protections and protection of women’s reproductive rights, and yes, the dude who proposed ankle monitors to prevent pregnant women from getting abortions LOST) and nation-wide (Virginia will almost certainly become the critical 38th state to pass the ERA and Democrats will control the redistricting process after the 2020 census).

You did that.

Democrat Andy Beshear defeated reviled Republican governor Matt Bevin in Kentucky of all places. KENTUCKY. No, this is not some harbinger that Kentucky is about to turn blue, or even become a purple state – Republicans won all the other state-level races there on Tuesday. But it does mean that Kentuckians, when faced with a wildly destructive asshole, sometimes, temporarily come to their senses. You know who else is a wildly destructive asshole from Kentucky? #MoscowMitch. If you have a spare $5, you might want to kick it to his likely 2020 Democratic opponent, Amy McGrath, because #MoscowMitch might be a dreadful excuse for a human being, but he also has a HUGE war chest and plenty of rich, shady backers.

You did that.

72 Run for Something candidates won Tuesday night, all of them young progressives, many of them men of color, women of all colors, religious minorities, LGBTQ, or some combination of the above. For example:

You did that.

Democrats won control of the city council in Mike Pence’s hometown for the first time in almost 40 years. I really hope the first thing they do is a pass a sexual orientation non-discrimination ordinance.

You did that.

Democrats won control of the Delaware County (PA) Council for the first time…ever? As we look to 2020, winning in Pennsylvania seems important.

You did that.

And you should pop the champagne (we did on Tuesday night), toss the confetti, have some cake, and congratulate yourself and all your fellow grass-roots volunteers on a job well done.

Then take a nap.

Then get right back to it. 2020 is coming.

The entire House of Representatives is up for election, and we have lots of first-term incumbents to defend (plus it would be great to pick up EVEN MORE seats).

35 seats in the Senate are up for election, and the Republicans have to defend 23 of them to the Dems’ 12. We need to pick up FOUR additional seats to take control. If we don’t, President Harris (or Warren, either is good by me) is going to have a very hard time achieving her agenda.

The 2020 election is in 361 days. The Iowa primary is in 87 days. On November 4, 2020, what do you want to proudly be able to say you did to help elect Democrats up and down the ballot?

Start laying your plans now. It’s that time of year.

Image from the Washington Post.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

#FlipVABlue

Virginia is for voters blue wave postcard from Postcards For Virginia

Did you know…?

…That Virginia has elections EVERY year?

…That “off-year,” odd-year elections, when there are only state-level races on the ballot, historically draw much lower voter turnout?

…That despite that, in 2017, after 20+ years of Republican dominance in the state House of Delegates and state Senate, which means highly gerrymandered districts, the Dems ALMOST flipped both houses?

…That one of those races came down to a TIE, which means they drew the winner’s name out of a hat (yes really, and it was the Republican)?

…That the Republican gerrymandering was SO BAD it went to a panel of federal judges to fix it?

…That the new districts are – unsurprisingly – much more favorable to Democrats?

…That 2019 is an off-off year election – that is, no gubernatorial race on the ballot, which means voter turnout tends to be EVEN LOWER?

…That high turnout historically favors Democrats, and low turnout historically favors Republicans?

…That the blue wave in Virginia in 2017 set the stage for the bigger blue wave nationally in 2018 that gave control of the House of Representatives back to the Democrats, who’ve used that to start holding TrumPutin and his toadies accountable for their many crimes?

…That ALL 140 seats in the Virginia state legislature are on the ballot THIS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5?

I hope by now you’re revved up and thinking: “What can I do to help?”

Lots!

It’s too late to write postcards – those are already in voters’ hands. But it’s not too late to phone bank, text bank, donate, or, for those of you who are in driving distance to Virginia, canvass.

And EVERYONE is looking for volunteers.

And, of course, if you live in Virginia – VOTE!

Look, we’re all busy and involved in our own lives, and our kids’ activities, and our local communities. But ask yourself: Can I spare one hour, two hours, sometime in the next five days to make sure control of key, increasingly-blue state doesn’t come down to a goddamn coin flip?

I think you can. Let’s do this!

Image found at Postcards for VA.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Nancy Pelosi Is Not Your Mommy

NancyPelosi

And neither am I.

By now, we’ve probably all seen the above iconic photo of a powerful woman reading the riot act to an orange shitgibbon who really can’t handle powerful women.

And MANY people have noted that’s a lot of white dudes up there.

This morning, my local paper printed a letter to the editor observing, hey, that’s a lot of white dudes up there. The writer proceeded to completely let Republicans off the hook, to note that the Democratic party calls itself the “big tent” party, to let all the Dem dudes in the room off the hook, and to blame the lack of racial diversity SOLELY ON NANCY PELOSI. Did he give a damn that Nancy’s the only woman at that table, and that she’s courageously speaking truth to power? No, he did not (of course).

AND I HAVE HAD IT.

Why is it that men get a pass on everything they get wrong and get a pony for the one thing they manage to get right, and women get 99 things out of 100 right and the only thing we pay attention to is the ONE thing they got wrong? And then we proceed to rip women to shreds over that one thing?

(I feel like black women are going to be all: “You JUST figured this out?” And no, not really, but I get your point.)

We’re not your mommy.

We’re not here to make sure everyone gets exactly the same size piece of cake with the exact same amount of frosting and the exact same number of sprinkles every single time.

We’re not here to ignore our own arterial wounds and kiss your every little boo-boo until we bleed out.

We’re not here to give your a trophy for managing, for once, to think, momentarily, beyond the end of your own goddamn nose.

Men, how about you start doing some of your own goddamn work?

People everywhere, how about we start holding the 49% of the human race at least as accountable as we do the 51%?

How about we stop giving conservatives, and men, and white people, and particularly white men (of all political persuasions) a lifetime pass on ever having to do anything right, and start demanding that they, you know, recognize the humanity and rights of the rest of us?

I am SO DONE with this bullshit I do not even have the words to express it.

(And, FWIW, Hillary was right about Tulsi. Hillary is always right.)

Image found, well, everywhere, but this particular instance of it here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Doing Boycotts Right

Boycott

Got boycott fatigue? I know I do.

Look: boycotts work. At least some of the time. Bill O’Reilly is still off the air (mostly). And witness the success of Sleeping Giants.

The thing is, it can be really hard to keep up with everyone we’re supposed to be boycotting (check out the list at #GrabYourWallet and Grab-Your-Wallet if you don’t believe me). And the proliferation of boycotts has made them less effective, since we can’t all remember everyone we’re supposed to be boycotting, or why.

Meanwhile, it’s impossible to boycott everything that might have any connection to anyone or anything that’s objectionable, because no one’s hands are completely clean.

“These goods are sustainably produced, but has the company achieved pay equity?”

“This firm has done a great job of promoting diverse leadership, but they also do business with Israel.”

“I heard I should boycott products with palm oil, because the farming practices are bad for orangutans, but it’s IN EVERYTHING.”

“Georgia’s trying to legislate a draconian abortion ban, and we were all down with boycotting North Carolina over its anti-trans bathroom bill, but Stacey Abrams says not to, so I don’t know what to do.”

Boycotts: whatever you’re doing, you’re probably doing it wrong.

My spouse has come up with a pretty solid framework: focus on institutions more than individuals, and on objectionable behavior that’s made part of company policy, not just that someone involved with the company happens to believe.

It’s Chick-fil-A versus Home Depot.

Chick-fil-A is run by a homophobe. Home Depot’s retired co-founder supports TrumPutin. Both are bad.

But Chick-fil-A gives money at the corporate foundation level to funding anti-LGBT work. Bernie Marcus is no longer at Home Depot and has given money personally to TrumPutin-supporting PACs.

Spouse’s position? No Chick-fil-A sandwiches, but yes to getting tools at Home Depot. Which makes sense to me.

(Relatedly, I remember when we were SUPPOSED to go to Home Depot rather than Lowe’s because Lowe’s personnel policies were anti-LGBT, while Home Depot’s were LGBT-friendly. Or you can skip them both in favor of your locally-owned neighborhood hardware store. But I digress.)

(Oh, and for what it’s worth, the Chick-fil-A boycott seems to have backfired.)

Image found here (and it’s worth clicking the link, because the writer raises some additional good points on the efficacy, or lack thereof, of boycotts).

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Do Something Just For You

SelfCareIsntSelfish

This is your periodic self-care reminder.

Every time the news cycle clicks into a higher gear, I think: “This is it. It can’t get crazier than this.” And yet, invariably, a few days or a week later, it does.

The impeachment inquiry is moving along and TrumPutin can’t seem to help telling on himself. I don’t know about you, but I have that anxious feeling that if I turn away from the news for a hot second, he’ll declare war on France or some shit.

State elections are fast approaching in Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi, and many of us have been PUTTING IN THE WORK to #FlipVABlue and, well, do the best we can in those deep South states.

We’ve just gotten through the hottest September on record in many places in the US, passing the previous record which was set at least here in the Mid-Atlantic, a mere three years ago.

Plus back to school.

Plus the approaching pagan High Holidays.

Plus plus plus.

(In my case, a raft of deliverables hitting for two big clients, upcoming travel, trying to keep boxing without re-injuring my still healing elbow, dealing with an invasion of ants, all my major volunteer commitments ramping up – it’s that time of year – and four webinars to deliver in less than a month. Oh, and I’m behind schedule on my next whitepaper. And I need to get the Samhain decorations out. Thank the Goddess the weather broke.)

Stop.

Breathe.

Put down Twitter.

Turn off MSNBC.

What are you going to do this weekend just for yourself?

Sure, you’re still going to write your daily five postcards to voters, and go to the kids’ soccer game, and bake cupcakes for the Parent-Teacher-Student Association fundraiser, and do the laundry, and plan meals for the week and go to the grocery store, and call your brother.

But what are you going to do just for you?

Women are taught to put everyone else’s needs first, to take responsibility for everything, to manage everyone, and to put ourselves last. We’re socialized that attending to our own needs is selfish. We do too much, we give too much, and we’re punished for even trying to keep a little bit back for ourselves.

Well, fuck that.

In between my coffee meeting with a colleague who has questions about how to run a Mastermind group and hosting my circle for another night of political magic and the monthly local Democratic party officers meeting and boxing classes and the grocery store and battling the ants, I plan to have a late lunch with some dear friends, finish reading The Girl With All The Gifts, and (hopefully) watch my team win Sunday afternoon.

Tell me what you’re planning to do just for you this weekend in the comments.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.