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Est. April 5, 2002
September 06, 2018 - Issue 754

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Woke and Unwoke Women
and the
2018 Midterms

"Presently, we have a whole new cadre of
‘Woke’ Democratic females who are turning
social and political inequality on its head."

Trump Updates to the Midterms:

  • Donald Trump, Jr. and conservative Republicans attempted to use the murder of Mollie Tibbetts, an Iowa college student, by an undocumented Mexican immigrant to ramp up anti-immigrant fervor. But her father shot it down in an Op-Ed in the Des Moines Register stating “… do not appropriate Mollie's soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist." (This episode was reminiscent of Republican political strategist Lee Atwater’s successful use of the infamous Willie Horton ad during the 1988 George H.W. Bush (R) and Michael Dukakis (D) presidential campaign depicting Horton, a black convict imprisoned for rape who was given a weekend pass when he committed another rape, to charge Dukakis with being soft on crime and to rev up the white vote for Bush.)

  • Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear” may be a key factor in driving President Trump from office as his series of articles on the Watergate investigation (with Carl Bernstein) were for the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974. It may also stimulate a consideration of the 25th Amendment by Trump’s cabinet, which allows a President to be removed from office for mental and/or physical incapacity as Woodward provides numerous examples, confirmed by White House staff, of his mental failings.

The lengthy funeral service of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in addition to the numerous and excellent musical tributes revealed that she was ‘Woke’ many decades before the term was added to the political lexicon. She made significant financial contributions to the civil rights campaigns of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (along with Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, and other black entertainers) and to those who had fallen on hard times. But one of her most courageous examples was her offer to pay the Bail for Angela Davis who was jailed for an alleged murder which was proven to be a lie and who was widely reviled in the national media and by the national white community for being a communist and an anti-American radical who was against American ideals.

Most prominent black and white Americans in politics, sports, entertainment, the academy, etc. shied away from Ms. Davis as they were fearful of the risk to their earnings and careers. Yet the Queen of Soul stepped forward despite the threat to her bookings and record sales. She was always ‘Woke.’ The Queen of Soul had a personal commitment to social justice and was always willing to have skin in the game irrespective of the possible perils that could befall her. She always stood for what’s right and kept her own counsel.

The Queen of Soul was a member of the ‘Woke’ generation of feminist leaders Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan; Congresswomen Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke; and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who dared to confront the conventional male status quo and advocate for equal treatment.

Presently, we have a whole new cadre of ‘Woke’ Democratic females who are turning social and political inequality on its head: Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina, who ran an insurgent campaign in upsetting 20-year incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th District primary, 58% to 42%. Crowley was fourth in line to succeed Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader. And Ayanna Pressley (African American) vanquished 20-year incumbent Michael Capuano 59% to 41% in Massachusetts’ 7th District after trailing in the polls by ten points on the day of the election. Both have, in effect, been elected to Congress as they face no Republican opponent in the November general election.

Several other majority and minority Democratic women have won primaries and will be on the ballot and at the point of the spear in November if there is a Democratic blue wave which enables them to retake the House. They have been aided by progressive female TV political pundits: Joy Reed, Symone Sanders, Joan Walsh, Nia Malika Henderson, Angela Rye, Helena Cooper, and a married couple Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills who have been particularly supportive of ‘Woke’ female candidates across the country. Danielle has been especially prescient and creative in urging voters in the upcoming election who oppose the Trump agenda to “grab Trump by the ballot” in order to bring about change.

But there are also apparently ‘Unwoke’ African American females who have been deployed to serve as ornaments to affirm sensitivity to diversity by recent Trump Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ultra conservative nominees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Mary Elizabeth Taylor, a low-level staffer in the Trump administration, was placed directly behind Gorsuch, closer than his wife, where the camera focused on her continuously during his testimony at his judicial hearing, sending a false message to white America that he had African American support.

In Kavanaugh’s current h appearance before the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, former George W. Bush National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is placed in the same strategic position to give Kavanaugh a diversity cover. His campaign team is also running ads featuring Kathryn Cherry, his African American former law clerk, for the past two months, which complements Secretary Rice’s current cameo.

What is most disturbing is that these three African American females - Mary Elizabeth Taylor, Condoleezza Rice, and Kathryn Cherry - have backed SCOTUS nominees who are committed to overturning Roe V. Wade, a signature SCOTUS decision which gave women the right to choose in their reproductive decisions, to have an abortion, which has been the law since 1973. Of these two right-wing jurists, Kavanaugh has been the most diabolical and vile in challenging a woman’s right to an abortion. In a 2017 abortion case before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on which he served, Kavanaugh used legal sleight of hand to delay an abortion decision for a 17-year old Hispanic immigrant. His attempt was so transparent that the full court overruled his action. After he was overruled by his peers, he wrote a scathing dissent upholding his position.

The reality that these three women have endorsed and/or are supporting anti - Roe v. Wade jurists when three-quarters of women and two-thirds of the nation are in favor of Roe v. Wade is disconcerting. These ‘Unwoke’ sisters need to rethink their positions.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 

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Executive Editor:
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