Thoughts On the Call Jane Trailer

Martin Luther King Jr. once said the following about our laws:

One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. Any law that uplifts human personality is just.

The trailer for the new movie, Call Jane, is the story of Joy (Elizabeth Banks), a woman who just found out that she is pregnant in the days before Roe v. Wade. Told by her doctor that the pregnancy is a danger to her life, she first goes through the “proper” channels to receive medical care. Unable to get the abortion, she discovers an underground network. Known as “Jane” Joy gets help from a number of women. Among them is Virginia (Sigourney Weaver).

I have seen the trailer twice and I am so ready to see the full movie. It is extremely timely and a reminder of how important it is for women to have full control of their own bodies and futures. What I am liking about the film (based on the trailer) is that it points out that some things remain the same, even after fifty-plus years.

Call Jane will be in theaters in the US on October 28. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Halloween than a scary story of my rights being taken away.

Billy Porter on Progress and Those Who Hold us Back

Martin Luther King Jr., was above all things, a wise man. He once spoke of justice and truth in a manner that is timeless and universal.

 “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” 

Last week, actor/director Billy Porter was on The View, promoting his new film, Anything’s Possible. Towards the end of the interview, Ana Navarro asked Porter about his opinion of what is happening in Florida.

Starts at 6:22

Progress happens whether we like it or not. What the haters don’t like is that they no longer have all the power. Those of us who have been denied our rights are no longer silent. The only thing we want is a seat at the table. If it means marching, protesting, and passing laws to protect what should have been ours in the first place, so be it.

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Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook Book Review

It’s not hard to become pessimistic when it comes to politics and world events these days. With everything that has happened over the last few years, cynicism is not an unexpected response. But if we want a better world, we cannot be pessimistic or cynical. We have to believe that change is possible.

Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook, by Christopher Noxon, was published in 2019. Using the Civil Rights era as a playbook, Noxon explores how today’s generation can build on what our elders fought for. Using beautiful watercolor illustrations and referencing important leaders such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., Noxon inspires readers to get off their proverbial behinds and step up to the plate.

I loved this book. It is the inspiration that is badly needed now. It is written in such a way that it would encourage anyone that they can make a difference. I also very much appreciated that he highlighted the fact that women were as much were not given the spotlight or the respect they deserved.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook is available wherever books are sold.

Two Giant Steps Forward and One Step Back: Ketanji Brown Jackson and the Ten Year Anniversary of the Homicide of Trayvon Martin

One of the most potent and universal quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. is as follows:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Last Saturday, February 26th, was the ten-year anniversary of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Had his killer (who shall not be named on the blog) not decided to take the law into his own hands, young Mr. Martin would be 27. He might have graduated from high school and college, started a successful career, and perhaps said “I do” by now. But he will forever remain 17, a promising life full of possibilities that we can speak of in a hypothetical manner.

Though we cannot bring Travyon back to life or undo the acquittal of the man who was responsible for his killing, we can see look to our present and see where progress has been made. The men responsible for the executions of both George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty of their respective crimes.

During the 2022 Presidential election, President Biden promised to nominate an African-American woman to the Supreme Court. On February 25th, he kept his promise. After Justice Stephen Breyer announced his upcoming retirement, Ketanji Brown Jackson was introduced to the country as his replacement.

This is one GIANT step forward. As both a woman and a person of color, Brown Jackson, represents the true nature and the potential of this nation. With March being Women’s History Month and this coming Tuesday being International Women’s Day, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our wins and identify where there is more work to be done.

Of course, not everyone welcomed her with open arms. Her legal abilities and history were questioned by some Republicans (no surprise there). The obvious inquiry is if Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh had to face the same criticism. Probably not. My hope and prayer is that not only will she sit on the highest court of the land, but also that she will help to create the America that we know is possible.

May the memory of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, etc, be a blessing and a reminder of how far we need to go.

Banning Books is a Bad Sign of Things to Come

We all know that books open the door to the world. They take us on a journey to places we have never been to and introduce us to people who we might not otherwise meet.

Last week, several school districts around the country banned books that some consider to be “controversial”. Among these is the award-winning graphic novel, Maus. Maus is the story of the Holocaust using the allegory of mice as Jews and cats as Nazis.

It’s one thing if a parent, school, and/or schoolboard tailors the children’s reading to their age, maturity, and interests. It is another thing entirely to ban books that share ideas that don’t fit into your worldview.

The fact is that we, as adults, cannot keep our young ones in neat little bubbles for their entire lives. Even if their media diet is severely limited now, they will one day grow up and leave the nest. Part of that experience is meeting new people and being exposed to ideas that conflict with our own.

Holocaust Remembrance Day was last week. We celebrated MLK‘s birthday a couple of weeks ago. The events surrounding both are not ancient history. If we are to give our kids a complete education, that includes telling them the truth about both events, even when we don’t like the facts. If we don’t we are shortchanging them and our future.

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The Only Way to Honor MLK is to Continue on the Path He Started

These days, it’s easy to reference Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His “I Have a Dream” speech is iconic and universal.

The problem, as I see it, is that there are too many today who give lip service to his legacy. Specifically to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On paper, some (ahem, Republicans) will state emphatically that they are for voting rights and protecting the right to vote. In reality, they are constricting the access to the polls for certain populations, knowing that these groups have by a wide margin, have supported their opponents.

When the Supreme Court agreed via Shelby County v. Holder that two sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were unconstitutional, it opened the door to the dangerous situation that our nation is presently in. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 would not only strengthen its predecessor but would also hopefully prevent another Shelby County vs. Holder. The issue is that this nation and this Congress is too fractured to protect the ideals that we claim to hold near and dear.

The only way to honor Dr. King’s legacy and memory is to continue where he left off. Though the ground that has been gained is tremendous, the reality is that there are many battles ahead of us.

P.S. Dr. King was also outspoken about antisemitism, a fact that I wish that was not lost to history.

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

Justice Served: Ahmaud Arbery’s Killers Found Guilty

Martin Luther King Jr. once said the following about justice:

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”

Yesterday, America made a giant step forward in reaching the ideals set up by her founders. The men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like I can breathe again. If the jury had gone in the other direction, I can only imagine what the response would have been like.

While we cannot undo what has happened, we can do the right thing going forward. The message is clear: acts of hate will not be tolerated. Those who perpetrate such actions will be caught and have their day in court.

Rest in power, Ahmaud. You will never be forgotten.

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Juneteenth is the Newest Federal American Holiday

The late Martin Luther King Jr. once said the following:

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

This week, the arc of justice finally reached it’s mark this week. President Biden officially designated Juneteenth as a federal holiday. As others have pointed out (which I agree with), as important this proclamation is, it must be backed up by laws up holding equality and shutting down of institutional racism in every fact of our society.

The fact is that African-Americans have built this country. Instead of thanking them and giving greater opportunities, we have degraded them, dehumanized them, and denied the most basic of rights that we claim is due to every American.

In a move that surprised no one, several members of Congress, who are all male, Caucasian, and Republican, voted no. Thankfully, a majority knew and understood how vitally important it is to at least try to reach the ideals written in our founding documents.

This is just a step in the road to real equality, but it is huge and if nothing else, a day to be proud of.

Justice Served: Derek Chauvin Found Guilty

Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most recognizable faces of the Civil Rights movement, said the following:

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Justice was served in the United States. Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.

If am to be completely honest, I was holding my breath as I watched the news coverage. G-d only knows what would have happened had Chauvin been acquitted.

I can only hope that this case represents a change not just for the various law enforcement departments across this country, but for the country as a whole. If we are to reach the imagery and idealism that is the backbone of this nation, this verdict is an important step. The police can no longer target men and women of color without impunity.

Though this case cannot remove the stain of the past, it is a what we need to move forward. Perhaps the future is bright in this country after all.

Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2021

Change is never easy. Especially when the change is overcoming and dealing with cultural, racial, and religious stereotypes.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dr. King was one of many who fought for equality. Though his ultimate goal was equality for African-Americans, it spread to the rest of the country. Women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and other Americans of color who have been disenfranchised heard his message and understood exactly what he was saying.

Though we can proudly say that we have made progress in the multiple decades since he was taken from us, it is more than clear that true equality is still too far off for many. I remember a cartoon in a book when I was in school. The image was of a tree had been cut at its base, but the roots were untouched. The analogy about racism and prejudice was obvious.

The fact is that we have a long way to do. Between the riot in DC almost two weeks ago and the murders of multiple African Americans last year, the dark side of the United States revealed itself in a way that was opening.

What Dr. King started almost a century ago, we have to finish. It is the only way to make his dream a reality.

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