What Gwendolyn Reece Said

Words for Wednesday

Red-Volunteer08-v4-red-daylily

More than Enough

~ Marge Piercy

The first lily of June opens its red mouth.
All over the sand road where we walk
multiflora rose climbs trees cascading
white or pink blossoms, simple, intense
the scene drifting like colored mist.
The arrowhead is spreading its creamy
clumps of flower and the blackberries
are blooming in the thickets. Season of
joy for the bee. The green will never
again be so green, so purely and lushly
new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads
into the wind. Rich fresh wine
of June, we stagger into you smeared
with pollen, overcome as the turtle
laying her eggs in roadside sand.

 

Picture found here.

Happy Bloomsday

All acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess.

Monday at the Movies

It’s Not Over Until the Quarantine Queen Sings

104065868_3430779286951869_189702542949293730_n

I pinch myself from time to time and do that check many of us know too well:  “Am I crazy?”  Because I still think we need to be self-quarantining and everyone I know seems to be going shopping, getting their nails done, having their grandkids come to visit, eating out on the lodge patio.

Some people have no choice.  Their job requires them to go in to work.  The only way they can get food into the house for their children is to go to the grocery store.  They have to go to the dentist for a sore tooth or they have to have a plumber come in to fix a leak.  (But an awful lot of what I see is people who’ve just gotten sick and tired of staying home.)

And, even beyond that, I get it.  I miss my family so badly it hurts and I’d love to spend an afternoon with my friends.  Several times a day, I try to imagine how we could get together and stay safe, how wonderful it would be to see them, how happy I’d be to cook, and chat, and have drinks on the porch.  I’m pretty tired of staying home alone, even with all the amenities — the internet, walks outdoors, all kinds of social media, Zoom, Britbox, audiobooks, and virtual tours  of the world’s great museums.

And, yet, I understand that this disease can kill  you and in a rather unpleasant  manner.

How are you coping with the practicalities of quarantine?

In early March, I did a big grocery shopping and lived off that for quite some time.  Gradually, the eggs were gone and there were no more fresh vegetables, but I had canned beans, tuna fish, packaged soups, dried vegetables, powdered milk, etc.  I was a long way from starving, but it wasn’t too exciting.

Eventually, I started using Blue Apron as a way to get fresh meat, seafood, and vegetables into the house for a few meals a week.  The refrigerated box got delivered and I sprayed it with Lysol, moved it into the garage, and waited a day.  (It was a lot cooler then.)  Then, I’d glove up, open the box, spray everything with Lysol, and move the perishables into the fridge for a day or two before beginning to prepare the meals.  Followed, of course, by soap-and-water hand washings.  The meals were a bit more starch-based than I like and, to be honest, they’re a bit “fussier” than the way I usually cook (mix half of the soy glaze with the mayo but save the other half to finish the dish and cook the shrimp in the skillet, move the shrimp into a bowl, cook the veg in the same skillet, then add the shrimp back in . . . .)  On the other hand, it’s not as if I’m too busy these days to cook and clean up.

Gradually, Instacart became a lot more reliable up here and, to be honest, grocery shopping has never been my favorite chore so I’ll probably keep using it even once we’re out of quarantine.

So, I’ve cut back on Blue Apron, but I’m still using them a few times a week.  This week, one meal kit included breaded chicken breast and a stir fry with shrimp, udon noodles, bok choy, and snow peas.  That’s about 4 meals for me.  Today, I made the stir fry, including the fussy mayo with soy glaze.  Here’s half of it.

103903532_3430585900304541_7924585105108270011_n

I also was lucky enough to get one of the limited community garden plots that are available in my development.  I planted radishes, lettuce, peppers, peas, squash, spinach, and onions.  (Another “Am I crazy?” moment:  Everyone else went to garden centers and bought seedlings.  I ordered seeds online, let them sit for at least 48 hours, then planted them.  So I’m a bit behind everyone else, but not behind where I think I should be, up here in a cool environment.)  I’ve been pulling micro greens out of the radish and lettuce rows for a few weeks now.  Today (probably a day or two too late), I pulled the radishes and then sowed a new row.  I gave a few of the prettier ones to my neighbor and still had plenty left over.

103329801_3429776513718813_480667030335399410_nI love radishes raw, in salads, or sliced on bread with good butter and a bit of salt and I saved some for just that.

But I also made radish pickles.  These are super easy.  Thinly slice the radishes, add spices you like (I used red pepper flakes, peppercorns, and dried mustard but you can use star anise, cloves, fennel seeds, curry, pickling spices . . . .).  You could add a few garlic cloves or slices of red onion.  Make a quick brine of equal amounts of water and apple cider vinegar along with some maple syrup (or honey, or sugar, or agave) and a pinch of salt.  Boil and pour over the radishes.  Pop in the fridge.  Use on tacos.  Or in a G&T, a martini, a bloody mary.  Or put some in a salad, or apply as garnish on a sandwich, or . . . .  They can last 4 or 5 weeks in the fridge, but you’ll eat them faster than that.

103794860_3430414853654979_8151887658994946761_nAnd speaking of radishes, don’t throw away the radish greens.  They’re full of   nutrition  and they taste delicious, kind of like mustard greens or collards.  The leaves feel a bit prickly, but that cooks away.  I made a rough, quarantine version of an Indian  dish.  Pour some olive oil into a skillet.  Add chopped jalapeño, red pepper flakes, and graham marsala.  Let steep to flavor the oil.  Slice a shallot (or onion).  Pull the radish leaves off the midrib (as you would with kale, for example).  Saute.  Sprinkle with turmeric.  (It’s traditional to top with sliced almonds, but I didn’t have any.)

104218875_3430411986988599_787504396340135083_n  What are you cooking these days?  What’s growing in your garden?  What new thing have you tried that you maybe wouldn’t have tried, absent this plague?  How can you prepare now in case of a massive second wave, disruptions to the supply chain, the need to shelter in place?

Photo by the blogger.  If you copy, please link back.

Defund The Police

DefundThePolice

“What do you mean ‘Defund The Police’ Mrs Whatsit? Are you crazy? You’re just going to let criminals run wild? It’ll be like ‘The Purge’ – or, worse, the early 1990s – out here!”

Most of the folks – not all – using this slogan do not literally mean “zero police and zero dollars for police.” Some do, but not most.

And one could debate the wisdom of framing the issue this way if “Literally zero police and zero dollars for police” is not what you actually mean.

Counterpoint: Hecate’s favorite Overton Window. Republicans have been yanking it to the right with all their might for decades, while Democrats negotiate against ourselves, fearing to propose anything “too radical” in case we scare off the elusive centrist independent voter (who basically doesn’t exist). Which is how we end up with the wildly asymmetric polarization we have now. So maybe choosing something truly radical as a slogan is a smart strategy, so that when Dems propose reforms – even really significant, substantial reforms – to policing, they sound totally reasonable to the majority of people by contrast. Just a thought.

Anyway, as I see it – and remember, this is just one person’s perspective – there are three major policy positions common across the Defund movement:

Police Are Tasked With Doing Too Much

Even cops freely admit this.

Police should be focused on crime, criminals, and solving crimes. That’s what they’re trained and equipped for, and that’s ostensibly the extent of their responsibilities.

In practice, that’s only a tiny sliver of what we’re asking them to do and be responsible for.

Republicans – sometimes with the acquiescence of Democrats – have been defunding all kinds of social safety net programs for at least the past 40 years: school nurses and psychologists, welfare and food assistance, social workers, community mental health services, housing programs, drug treatment – you name it.

Meanwhile, there was a large surge in violent crime in many cities in the late 1980s and 1990s that scared the pants off everyone, including many folks in the Black community. The infamous 1994 crime bill was actually supported – grudgingly, but supported – by many members of the Congressional Black Caucus. I’m just pointing this out for those who didn’t live through it: the situation was a little more complex that it now appears in hindsight.

One of the results of that bill was that police forces got a LOT more funding.

The thing is, *since* the early 1990s, violent crime has decreased DRAMATICALLY, which you might not be aware of, particularly if you’re a devotee of the “if it bleeds, it leads” local television news. Depending on whose numbers you use, violent crime is down 51% or 71% between 1993 and 2018.

(There are lots of theories as to why. The most plausible, to me, is that it’s a combination of two things: getting lead – early exposure to which permanently reduces intelligence and impulse control – out of paint and gasoline, and legal abortion, where women are no longer forced to bear children they can’t or don’t want to care for and raise.)

But, rather than redirecting those funds from police forces back into a strong safety net, local, state, and national officials continue to shovel money towards policing, because it’s rare to lose an election running on “I’m tough on crime.”

The thing is, once you’ve spent money on one thing, you can’t spend that same money on something else.

What that means, in reality, is that there are still kids with health and emotional problems. There are still people who are homeless. There are still adults in mental health crisis, with substance abuse problems, or, sometimes, a combination of both.

And the only public servants left to deal with them are the cops, who are neither trained nor equipped to do so.

Per an article in today’s Washington Post, less than 5% of arrests are for violent crimes.

The rest are for things that would definitely be better handled in some other way, only there are no resources available to do that.

Kids who are acting up in school don’t need to arrested – they need a caring, trained adult who can help them understand their emotions and develop skills to express them in more constructive and appropriate ways.

People who are experiencing homelessness don’t need to be arrested – they need housing first policies, to get them a safe and stable place to leave, after which they also need wrap around care support to help them work through the life issues that caused them to become homeless in the first place.

People who are addicted don’t need to be arrested – they need treatment and wrap around care support to help them work through the life issues that caused them to become addicted in the first place.

As Dr. King was fond of noting, budgets are moral documents. Taking *some* (not all) money away from the cops means communities can invest those resources in interventions that are more in line with their values and more effective.

Demilitarize the Police

I want you to close your eyes and picture a police officer.

What do you see?

Is it a guy – or a woman! – walking the beat in a Barney Fife uniform, or maybe something a little more up-to-date fashion-wise, even if “walking” the beat means the officer is on a bike or a Segway, or even in a squad car?

It’s probably NOT the disturbing images of police we’ve seen at protests against racial injustice going back to at least 2013 and Trayvon Martin, where they’re outfitted and equipped like soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, with frightening weaponry and large, military vehicles.

What is going on here?

In short, we throw so much money at the military – budgets are moral documents – that they have all kinds of surplus gear, because that’s how government budgets work. If you get to the end of the government fiscal year with money left over, you go on a spending spree, because it’s “use it or lose it.”

Now, the Pentagon used to sell all that extra equipment to other countries, but in 1997, President Clinton’s (him again) National Defense Authorization Act request included the 1033 Program, which allowed the military to transfer surplus equipment to police departments ostensibly for use in the (notice the framing) War on Drugs.

And if you could buy a cool-looking tank for pennies on the dollar, why *wouldn’t* you want that, right?

Thing is, you know how when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail?

Well, when all you have is a grenade launcher, machine guns, and a tank, every protestor looks like an insurgent who’s out to kill you.

Quoting that same Post article from this morning:

“The increased use of military equipment has coincided with an increased use of military tactics, such as SWAT teams and no-knock raids, by law enforcement agencies…One study found that use of paramilitary-style teams by law enforcement increased by more than 1,400 percent since 1980.”

No-knock raids? You mean like the thing that led to the Louisville police murdering Breonna Taylor in her own bed?

There are two main mental models of policing: Guardian and Warrior. Which one do you think is most beneficial to the communities the police forces are supposed to be serving? Which one do you think is dangerous to those communities? Which one do you think is encouraged by military gear and military-style training?

Police Unions Are Too Powerful

Here’s the thing: If you call yourself liberal/progressive/leftist/a Democrat, you CANNOT advocate for busting police unions, full stop.

That said, police unions are FAR too powerful.

Every time an officer is recorded engaging in what, to all appearances, is excessive force, there are immediate cries to fire the cop, arrest him (or, occasionally her), throw the book at them, etc. Today. RIGHT NOW.

But those are unionized jobs. Which means the chief, in many cases, is prohibited from firing those officers without going through a formal review process as dictated by the union contract. While that review process is going on, that officer is often placed on administrative leave with full pay, again, as dictated by the union contract. Even if the officer is fired for cause, he often retains his pensions and other benefits, as dictated by the union contract.

For the rest of us suckers out here operating under “at will” employment, not being able to be fired without cause and without due process sounds pretty sweet, if we’re honest with ourselves. And, even with video evidence, we do still have a presumption of innocence in the US. And police officers are the ONLY people who are given firearms and the power to use them and other types of force against American citizens as a specific responsibility and requirement of their jobs, so shit can get complicated.

BUT.

Unions usually control the entire disciplinary processes, often without the input of anyone “outside,” including members of the community they’re supposed to be serving.

“We police our own” sounds real nice, until you realize that it often doesn’t work that way in practice, and in fact, cops who attempt to “police their own” are often ostracized, punished, even fired.

Chiefs’ hands are often tied, and they’re forced by the unions to rehire cops everyone knows ARE the “bad apples,” because those cops have managed to wriggle out of accountability, in part because juries are loathe to convict officers accused of misconduct, even when the evidence is clear.

There are larger internal police cultural issues at work here, but one of the ways departments can start getting at the culture change many claim to want is by reducing the power of their unions – which is probably going to require municipal legislators to step in; it’s unlikely the unions will voluntarily give up power – and increasing their accountability to elected officials and the communities they serve.

There are many, many other issues at play here, things like: ending qualified immunity, changing the rules around use of body cameras and release of the footage, following known best practices around things like chokeholds (don’t use them – ever), and chemical agents and rubber projectiles with people exercising their First Amendment rights (also, don’t use them – ever), citizen review and advisory boards (the best of which set aside seat/s for people who’ve been victims of inappropriate police use of force), preventing bad cops from going one town over and getting another job, and even completely reconstituting the entire police force from the ground up (as Camden did successfully, and the Minneapolis city council just this week voted to do).

But if we can maintain the focus and momentum of this moment in time and convert it into the political will to make some of the structural reforms I’ve summarized above, perhaps all these Black folks whose names we’ve been saying for years will not have died for nothing.

And there won’t be any more names to say.

SayTheirNames

Header image from the Boston Globe.

Names image from babynames.com.

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

 

 

How to Change National Policy

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

 

Run for Something  always says that the way to win national elections is to win local elections.  A good example is Virginia where, over a number of years and several election cycles, we were able to get a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both houses of our state legislature. As soon as that happened, Democrats passed a number of measures that will make it easier for everyone to vote. And because Republicans now depend on voter suppression to win, laws making it easier for everyone to vote make it more likely that Democrats will win national elections.

I think it’s also the case that the way to make national changes is to win local elections.  Consider recent calls to reform police departments, to move funds out of policing and into other services, to get rid of practices that allow bad cops to get re-hired in other locations.  Town council members, local district attorneys, county sheriff departments, mayors, etc. are where those reforms often start.  And once enough localities make those changes, it’s easier to get them enacted on a state and national level.  “Well, the Town of Townsville tried it and here’s three years’ worth of data on how well it worked, so . . . .”

One step that is crucial to such police reforms is eliminating our misguided “War on Drugs.”  That can start locally if we elect good local officials.  Again, in Virginia, when we managed to elect Democratic majorities, we were able to decriminalize marijuana (https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/22/politics/virginia-decriminalizes-marijuana/index.html) and next year’s legislature will consider laws to completely legalize it.  Several counties in Virginia recently elected Commonwealth Attorneys who ran on a refusal to prosecute pot.  For decades, the police have used drug laws to justify searches and no-knock warrants that too often lead to injury and death and that are applied in a racially discriminatory manner.  Elect local officials who don’t want to spend local funds on the “War on Drugs” and it’s suddenly a whole lot easier to cut funds to police departments (and jails.)

Run for the Board of Education and you can not only influence current sex education curriculum, you can ensure that students learn actual civics, how to recognize propaganda, and America’s history of sexism, racism, and genocide against Native Americans — along with all of the more glorious aspects of our democracy. That will make it easier to win national elections for years to come.  Run for the local Soil and Conservation Board, or Zoning Authority, or Electrical Co-Op Board and influence energy and environmental policies that may very well save an endangered species, protect wetland, and preserve life on this planet (Wait!  Who said the electrical co-op board wasn’t sexy??)  by buying clean energy instead of coal.  And, again, once sun and wind energy, for example, becomes the norm in a number of states, it’s more likely to become national policy.

What if you’re not in a position to run for office, that’s not your thing, or you’ve got mad skills, but just not in that area?  Find someone who is running for a local office and do what you can to support them. Build their website, write postcards for them, put their sign in your yard, boost them on your social media platforms . . . you get the idea.

We Second Wave feminists have always said that the personal is the political (and vice versa). Activists have long said we need to think globally and act locally.  And the way to change national policy is to run for local elections

Picture found here.

Words for Wednesday, or, An Ode to the Radish

Frederic-Leighton-Flaming-June-ca-1895-Museo-de-Arte-de-Ponce1

It’s been an interesting experience for a woman who loves food and loves eating out to eat my own cooking every day, three meals a day, for over three months.  What I’ve mostly learned is that while I like to cook, and while I especially like to cook with a drink near to hand on the counter, I really, really, really am not enamored of cleaning up.  Over and over.  Day after day.

Sometimes, I amuse myself imagining what I’ll eat the first time that I can go out again.  Icy cold oysters with caviar like we had in Richmond.  (And, OK, caviar blinis like I had when the firm opened the LA office and G. and I stationed ourselves next to the caviar server and we both, for the one time in our lives, ate too much caviar.)  The made-at-the-table caesar salad at Harry Browne’s in Annapolis.  The thinnest thin-crust pizza with the tomato sauce they make at Otello’s.  My friend J’s salade nicoise, which basically means “summer” to me, but only if I can eat it on Mrs. Whatsit’s patio.  The bananas foster I had at Paul Prudhomme’s in New Orleans.  A corpse reviver from 2941 in Falls Church or a stoli martini (with ice flakes floating on the top) at the Dupont Palm.

Meanwhile, for lunch today, I had bread (not flaky French bread, but good white bread), with butter (not Fields of Athenry butter, but good salted butter), and cracked kosher salt (not Himalayan pink salt, but I prefer this) and radishes pulled minutes before from my community garden.  (Where does the radish get that bite from?  Not the sun; the same sun shines on my sweet lettuce.  Not the dirt; my tender onions grow in the same dirt.  Not the water; I water the mild squash with that same hard water.  And, so, like  Mary Oliver, I fail as a witness, seeing nothing.  But, like Mary, I know that in the early summer, the radish bite will be there, “happening beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.”)

That was good.  That was a very good lunch for an old woman, locked down in quarantine.

May it be so for you.

On June Blossoming in June

Karen An-hwei Lee

This summer, we drank cardamom iced tea sweetened with agave—
savoring an idea of sweetness lingering, not as if we actually ate honey
from the lovely overflow of  liquid summer heat and soft beeswax
tongued with a wedge of spanakopita and a platter of shaved lamb
            strewn on pita bread with yogurt cucumber dip—
glistening slices of salmon topped by edamame, wakame seaweed,
crushed macadamia nuts mingled with black sesame on beds of rice,
and steaming cups of chai with black tea and milk, loose-leaf sencha,
and chunks of sea bass with a tossed mesclun of tender greens
                                      garnished by crisp curls of chicharrónes
and chopped beet salad with tart beets—the mellow gold ones
soaked in wine vinegar, dressed with tendrils of microgreens—
corollas of night-blooming honeysuckle and star jasmine flaming
with small cups of  heady fumes wafting on trellises across the lot
                        with a walk-in hair salon and laundromat—
then avocados with eggs-over-easy in hollandaise sauce over muffins
alongside triangles of toast dipped in yolks beaten with cinnamon,
            and flavorful black coffee with a drop of fresh cream,
quiche with crimini mushrooms, feta, swiss cheese, not leeks or truffles,
shot through with julienned sundried tomatoes the color of stop signs,
and mocha spiced with chili, black pepper, chocolate, cardamom again
by a plate of smoked salmon and capers, ricotta, buttery arugula,
and baby spinach drizzled with olive oil on thin sourdough toast
                        in glowing strokes of  late June light
fringed by the noise of peninsula traffic on the harbor
            laced by grease and silt from the machinery of  life—
the sea isn’t far away though only gulls could spy it from here—
so why don’t we walk all the way to the inlet of the marina, a landing
where children play in the fading light blanched on grassy edges
                        as if already a memory of summer within summer—
and you say, with the air of a prophet who ate locusts and honey,
join me in the place where lives are bound together
by a cord of three strands.
  • Picture (Flaming June) found here.
  • More by Dr Lee here..

 

Magical Battles

Today, I’m reading and thinking about this.  And this.  And, of course, this.

I wonder if Dion Fortune had any idea that her efforts would still be bearing fruit long past the end of WWII.

Are You Outraged?

Washington DC Flag Statehood For The People Of DC

Good – you should be.

Of the many, many things that have happened this week that should be making you royally pissed and ready to take action for change, one of the most egregious took place Monday night in Washington, DC, when TrumPutin and his lackey Bill Barr ordered federal law enforcement officers to attack peaceful protestors, who were in front of the White House exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly, all because he wanted to intentionally cause chaos so he could get the background images he wanted for his bizarre and creepy photo op outside St. John’s Episcopal Church and provide the flimsiest of excuses to behave like the tin-pot dictator he wants to be, calling out the National Guard and the US military on the streets of an American city, taking up arms against American citizens.

Hillary Clinton called it, back in 2016: DEPLORABLE.

Why did he do this?

These actions went directly against the expressed wishes of local elected officials and the good practices that are known by the local police force. The Washington, DC, metropolitan police are far from perfect – their responses have sometimes been flawed even in the midst of the current uprisings – but if there is one thing DC’s police force knows how to do, it’s how to manage protests so that protestors can exercise their constitutional rights while also keeping the protestors, the community, and the police force safe. Hundreds of thousands of Americans go to DC every year to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, and those cops know how to manage them, just like the New Orleans police force knows how to manage large crowds of drunk partiers.

Again, DC’s police force is far from perfect – they were under a DoJ Consent Decree from 2002-2008 for excessive use of force against black residents – but they have the experience and protocols to handle large scale, tense protests. Those were developed over years when the force was led by Charles Ramsey, a black man, and Cathy Lanier, a white woman. And yes, now that the current police chief is a white man, locals I know report backsliding. (For what it’s worth, if you want a police force that prioritizes community relations and operates under a Protector ethos rather than a Warrior ethos, the data is clear: hire a black man or a woman of any color as your chief and a significant percentage of your overall force.)

What does successfully managing a protest look like? Focusing on de-escalation tactics and the absolute priority of people over property.

De-escalation tactics include things like: officers in their usual uniforms, with their agency, name, and badge number clearly displayed, and their firearms stowed. Riot gear on-site but not on the officers. Setting up and maintaining clear and direct lines of communication with protest organizers. Staying calm and not responding, even when the protesters shout rude things at you. Always remembering that people’s lives are more important than some broken windows.

(Oh: and from people I know on the ground? That “American carnage” TrumPutin is always slavering over? Not, for the most part, actually happening. Yes, some windows were broken and some shops were looted the first two nights. And while I don’t think anyone is going to shed tears over broken windows at a Starbucks (or maybe they will – the first Deaf-primary Starbucks in the world was hit Sunday night, much to the consternation of the shop’s neighbors), local and/or black-owned businesses have been hit, too, with black and white community members showing up almost immediately to help clean up, board up broken windows, and get the stores ready to re-open. It’s important to note that eyewitness reports – with video to back it up – are pointing out that much of the vandalism and looting is young white men nowhere near any ongoing protest activity taking advantage of the situation to go wild. In fact, peaceful protesters in DC have actually helped the local police stop and detain vandals who are using this as an excuse to start shit. According to my local contacts, this is nowhere near 1968.)

Instead, we have awful images of military vehicles on the streets of DC, a heavy National Guard presence at the Lincoln Memorial, non-local law enforcement personnel with their agencies and even their names and badge numbers obscured on the streets, and TrumPutin finally getting his wall, only it’s around The People’s House, where he cowers in the basement bunker like the coward he is.

How could TrumPutin get away with this?

After all, he couldn’t force the New York National Guard to do jackshit in response to widespread looting in NYC. (The looting in DC was always sporadic and appears to have been over for several days.)

He couldn’t deploy the military to the streets of Omaha, even though a peaceful protestor was killed by police there. (No protestors have been killed in DC.)

He couldn’t threaten to instigate federalizing the police force in Louisville, despite the fact that the police there shot a local black business owner and community activist who was well known for FEEDING COPS FOR FREE. (No business owners have been killed in DC.)

He can do this because 706,000 of our fellow Americans who live in Washington, DC, are second-class citizens who lack equal representation.

US citizens who are residents of the District of Columbia pay taxes and yet have no Senators or Representatives in Congress, and in fact, have limited control even over local affairs.

I seem to recall that a bunch of Bostonians dumped a bunch of tea into the harbor nearly 250 years ago and started a revolution over precisely this issue.

A few facts about DC (many courtesy of Neighbors United for DC Statehood, a local DC Statehood advocacy group):

  • It currently has a larger population than Wyoming or Vermont and is closing in on Alaska and North Dakota, all of which have representation in Congress.
  • DC residents pay in more in total dollars in federal taxes than 22 other states and territories, and they pay the most in per-capita federal taxes in the US (and not by a little).
  • More than 192,000 DC citizens have served our country in branches of the armed forces.
  • Although DC won limited local control through the Home Rule Act of 1973, Congress and the President retain the right to prevent city officials from spending local tax dollars as the residents who elected them want those dollars spent.

Does that all seem unfair – even un-American – to you? DC residents are the only US citizens who bear the full responsibilities of citizenship, including taxation and Selective Service registration, without sharing in the full rights and privileges of citizenship.

You can help right this wrong.

In 2016, 86% of DC residents responded in favor of a statehood ballot initiative. That, in turn, led to the creation of HR 51, the Washington, DC Admission Act, legislation that was introduced at the beginning of the current (116th) Congress.

The Act would shrink the federal enclave down to the Capitol building, the White House, and the monumental core, and convert the rest of what is currently DC – where all the people live – into Douglass Commonwealth (named for favorite son Frederick Douglass, of course) with one Representative and two Senators to speak for the interests of those 706,000 Americans in our federal legislature, just like every other citizen has a right to. See what that would look like here.

What can you do?

Well, right now, virtually the entire House caucus is on not just in favor of HR 51, but as co-sponsors. And with a Democratic majority in the House, that’s the good news.

The bad news is:, Democratic Senators in the following states are NOT supporters of the companion Senate bill (S 631):

  • Arizona
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

Do you live there, or have friends or family who do? Call, text, email, or write your Senator(s) and ask her/him to support equal representation for the citizens of Washington, DC. Neighbors United has all their deets and a sample script you can use.

For more information and resources on #DCStatehood and what needs to be done to secure equal representation and equal rights for the more than 700,000 of our fellow citizens to whom they are currently denied, see:

All of them have facts and resources about the DC Statehood movement, and specific calls to action you can take TODAY in support of equal rights, long denied, for your fellow citizens.

Where are the Republicans?

Funny you should ask.

There was a hearing on HR51 in the House last fall and a markup of the bill earlier this spring, before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

House Republicans raised objections ranging from “intent of the founders” to “but where will my staff park?” (Yes, really. Kentucky is not sending us their best.)

Thing is, TrumPutin recently said the quiet part out loud, as he tends to do:

“D.C. will never be a state,” Trump told the New York Post this week. “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No, thank you. That’ll never happen.”

OK, so first of all, numbnuts, DC would get ONE Representative. That’s determined by population size, not that I would expect you to know that.

Secondly, it’s been a few years, but I don’t recall anything in The Federalist Papers about representation only accruing to those who agree to vote the “right” way.

Fun fact: when DC was first designated as the new capital city in 1800, residents had representation. If you’re wondering if it was stripped because of DC’s large free black population (while slavery was still legal) and never restored specifically for reasons of systemic white supremacy and ongoing institutionalized racial discrimination (DC was majority black for a long time – P-Funk’s funktacular tune Chocolate City is about DC – and is still plurality black): YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.

The full story is too long to go into here, but if you want to learn it, check out Derek Musgrove and Chris Asch’s outstanding Chocolate City: A History of Race & Democracy in Our Nation’s Capital. (Buy it online from local DC bookseller Politics & Prose here.)

Image from Neighbors United for DC Statehood.

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