Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

27 February 2011

Anyone still here?

So when we last met, I was furiously debating the pros and cons of who should become Chicago's next mayor. Seems like I was in a wee minority of Chicagoans who were passionate about the election as we barely got over the 40% turnout rate. And now we have Rahm.

I watched the results trickle in on my smart phone as I stood in my cousin's kitchen in Bremerton, Washington. I had jetted off to the Seattle area on election day to join my cousin and the rest of her immediate family in mourning the loss of her dad - my uncle and godfather. My godfather was a simple guy. He joined the Navy during the Korean War and was an electrician on aircraft carriers and after retiring from active duty found work in Bremerton dismantling decommissioned ships. He was electrocuted once and contracted Hepatitis C while in Korea - this is what eventually killed him. As my cousin Viki wrote in a statement she asked me to read from at the memorial, he loved and was loved.

Despite being a Navy guy, Latino and old school in many ways, he was one of the most publicly loving men I've ever met. He never hesitated to say, "I love you," as you parted from him, even to walk to the kitchen to grab him dinner. He shared that love to loving with his two daughters and one son, so much so that you can hear his son, my cousin, shamelessly pronounce his love for his own son and family members. No cold machismo in this family.

My cousins did ask me to say a little something at the memorial since they were too overwhelmed to say anything themselves. I ended up mostly speaking from the heart and thanking my aunt (my mother's sister) for falling in love with him and bringing him into my life.

While in the great Northwest, I was able to chill out with familia, catch up a little on homework and kinda unplug from the chaos that is my usual life. I'll have plenty of time to comment on what the mayor's race means to Chicago's progressive community and all the other things I'd usually rant on about. But for now I'm just trying to get back into the swing of things and prepare for my trip to Butler University on Tuesday. My daughter's learning fractions and this is testing my awesome tutoring skills. My husband did an outstanding job in holding down the fort while I was gone. For the record, I'm not surprised at all. If there's one thing in our marriage, it's that we do such an awesome job at being partners in life, that we survive pretty darn well when the other leaves.

So now back to my homework and outlining my talk. I hope if you are in the Indianapolis area that I'll see you on Tuesday night.

Peace.

16 February 2011

Searching for a new Mayor: Part 3 - Endorsements

In the end, we, the people of Illinois, will get the political reform we deserve. If we sit back and fail to speak out, we'll get more of the same -- peanuts. And we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.

That quote is from an excellent editorial from the Chicago Sun-Times in 2009. A mere two years ago. One that if you read it you think that the Sun-Times is trying to champion citizens. Those of us who watch the political circuses that have made us in Chicago and Illinois a punchline. Those of us who watch politicians collect pensions like Beanie Babies while those of us way lower the ladder get legislated against.

So when I read the Sun-Times endorsement of Rahm Emanuel, I kinda threw up in my mouth. Did they really try to sell us on him based on the fact that his career hasn't been in the city?
He has built his career in places far removed from the city streets — in corporate boardrooms, the halls of Congress and the Oval Office. This is where he has learned about public life. This is where he continues to look for insight and campaign cash.
Oh, they sure did. Not Chico or Del Valle who have served this city with all their might, right here? No Emanuel who did serve his district which I once lived in, but did it from afar.But they said that too!
Our most serious reservation with respect to Emanuel, though we believe he has the makings of an excellent mayor, is that he may lack a feel for the real beating heart of the city. 
But we're supposed to trust him to continue to starve our public schools by using TIF funds for police officers and cater to charter schools where some  accounting books would reveal more people getting rich than children learning.

Ultimately I believe that the Sun-Times chose Emanuel because of this:
Emanuel stands apart from Chico, however, in his relative independence from city contractors and unions. Because Emanuel largely made his career in Washington, he simply owes fewer people here. 
Union-busting. City worker benefits. Teacher contracts. Privatizing as much as possible. That's what the Sun-Times and Tribune endorsements are all about. Daley let the city fall so far people want to give up on themselves.

I highly doubt Emanuel owes less people than Chico. OK, maybe they don't all live here, but are all our city contracts only with companies in Chicago? Not so much. And let's not forget all the tax breaks the city gives Hollywood for blowing up things on our streets. I'm not against that last one, just pointing out that Emanuel's buddies in Hollywood CAN come a calling about what he owes them. He is owed a lot of favors too for his outstanding fundraising abilities. Perhaps that's why he has some personal endorsements too. For me, those are totally earned too. If I raise you a ton of money, you better pay me back when I need it. See, I'm not a total idealist when it comes to politics.

Other than Chico being wishy-washy on some issues, the Sun-Times fails to show why Emanuel is truly a better candidate. Can he bring the power of DC here? Sure. Can he fund raise the hell out of his competition? Oh hell yeah. Does that mean he deserves to be the next Mayor? For me, no.

And while I wasn't planning on voting for Emanuel anyway, the fact that he admitted that it was his idea to throw women under the bus for health care reform sealed the deal for me. I don't care if he had permission from Our Bodies Ourselves, Gloria Steinem and the ghost of Margaret Sanger! He crafted a strategy that pushed feminist and women's health care organizations into a corner. He was also the person who crafted the strategy to seek out conservative Democrats who started the ignition on the bus. You would think he could use that muscle of his to keep them in line on abortion rights. The muscle that I keep hearing people say that the next mayor should have. He may have endorsements from pro-choice organizations in Chicago, but the fact is that Planned Parenthood Illinois and Personal PAC also endorsed Chico, Braun and del Valle. So since they all have the pro-choice seal of approval, I think it's a moot point to make one's decision on based solely on endorsements.

In the end, on Tuesday night I'll be watching the returns and praying for the 49% line to hold. The 50% line would be too much for me!

Citation: Since the Sun-Times has a poor archive system, I used LexisNexis. If you want to read the full editorial, here is the citation: April 29, 2009. "Time to stand up to end corruption" SECTION: EDITORIALS; Pg. 26

07 February 2011

VLF is finally in 2008!

The one nifty tool that I never added to Viva la Feminista was the subscribe by email option. Honestly, I didn't think people wanted it. That is until someone asked me why it wasn't offered a few months ago. So ta-da! It's now available. Just go over to the sidebar and look for "Connect with Viva la Feminista" and click on the email link. I'll be tweaking with how the email will look, so forgive any ugliness that occurs at first.

And back to your regularly scheduled program...

05 February 2011

Women's History Month Event: “I'm a Professional Feminist, Ask Me How!”

The Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies at Butler has invited me to Butler University for a lecture/talk/hopefully conversation on titled,“I'm a Professional Feminist, Ask Me How!” It will be on March 1st at 6 PM in PB156. I have no idea what that means, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. :)

Here is part of the description of my talk:
In this talk Arreola tackles the question: “What is a professional feminist, and how does one become one?” She argues that a professional feminist isn't “just a Gloria Steinem or Jessica Valenti,” but rather includes those of us working in a feminist manner in our studies and at our jobs.
This is a talk I've been working on for a few years. It's been mostly conversations with students, friends and other interested parties who wonder why I call myself a professional feminist, what one is and how someone becomes one. It will also stem from fears I had as a young feminist about "How the hell am I supposed to get to Gloria Steinem status in order to change the world?" And today's college feminists may be thinking the same thing about trying to be as awesome as Jessica Valenti.

Without giving away too much of my talk, let me say that we need Glorias and Jessicas. We need that public intellectual who is ready to go to bat on CNN at a moment's notice. But we don't need to be a Gloria or a Jessica to kick ass. And harkening back to Gloria's book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, we need to find ways for those everyday rebellions, be a professional feminist in our own ways. We don't need to be the next anyone, just ourselves.