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February 19, 2008

Connected Diss: Clinton v. Obama — it’s the wrong question

I am still in recovery from the e-mail avalanche that ushered in Super Tuesday. Before it was over, my inbox looked like it had been used for a bad re-enactment of the Hatfields and McCoys. Passionate missives after angst-filled explanations from friends, relatives and people I’ve never heard of explaining why it is SO important to vote for A) Clinton or B) Obama. The only one that caught on to the fact that we might possibly be answering the wrong multiple choice question was Jennifer L. Pozner of Women in Media and News, who pointed out how seriously discombobulated the media must be to anoint a woman and a black man as the front runners when, in the normal course of events, women and black men are only grudgingly recognized as leaders by the media. She writes:“(C)onsider that John Edwards looks in every way like (what) the politico media have always anointed as Their Guy: a charismatic and wealthy white man with politician hair, a smile made for kissing babies, Baptist beliefs and even a family story rife with overcoming-tragedy pathos built for headline-making drama. Meanwhile, just as head-scratchingly, the same media that typically treat female politicians like little girls playing dress-up and subject politicians of color to racist screeds and reflexive dismissal were getting all hot and bothered imagining a Clinton-Obama race for the Oval Office … and telling America that this wasn’t only possible, it was the most probable outcome.”And, of course, it wasn’t just Edwards. After Kucinich dropped out, a friend told me he’d had his chance to prove himself. Well, not really when the media ignored him and wouldn’t allow him to participate in debates. But they wrote off Dodd and Biden, too — the latter of whom would have been perfect for a Hail Mary any-white-guy-will-do maneuver. After all, they jumped on the Kerry star faster than you can pull a rabbit out of a hat after Dean made them squirm.So all of this raises the question, why are we being asked by our suddenly open-minded media to choose between our inner racism and our inner sexism? The bad news is the likely answer to that question is C) John McCain, a white guy with a vengeance if ever there was one, and the candidate least likely to rock the military/corporate status quo.Disheartening as that is, it doesn’t have to be that way, something that was proven a few weeks ago when the Louisville community welcomed Dr. Kaila Story, the new University of Louisville professor in the Audre Lorde Chair in Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality. Yes, race, gender, sexuality and class being addressed as issues that bring us together, not tools to divide. Now, that is a paradigm for meaningful change. Longtime community activist Carla Wallace, whose vision and financial backing helped to make this professorship possible, explains: “The very reason that we conceived of a Chair that saw those interconnections between the issues is because none of us can figure out the problems that we face in this nation or the world without looking at the ways our identities intersect.” Creating this Chair truly gives both town and gown a chance to grow from the strength of that intersection. Now, if only we could frame our electoral politics in that language …Buried under everything else in my inbox, I did find this piece of wisdom from my Norwegian friend Berit: “Only dead fish swim with the current.” As she says, “Short, but speaks volumes really.” On that note …Put this on your calendar: March 8 is International Women’s Day, which is celebrated throughout the world as a day to honor women’s lives. The theme for this year’s event is “Creating Common Ground.” There will be a community-wide celebration at the Americana Center, 4801 Southside Drive, from 1-5 p.m. The program will include entertainment by the River City Drum Corps, Caminos Cultural Arts and Harlina Churn, a community art project led by Skylar Smith, plus Conversation Cafes and more. The celebration, co-sponsored by numerous community organizations, is free and open to all. Free parking is available next door at St. John Vianney. Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org. Contact her at lucindamarshall@feministpeacenetwork.org