Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tripping About The Bathroom-Transman Division

Peep this video about two transmen who were handling their business in Seattle's Pacific Place Mall restroom when some cis man had a problem with it and called security.

Predictably the security guard tripped and the transmen are justifiably pissed (pardon the pun) about it.

Happy International Transgender Day Of Visibility

Today is the first celebration of what founder Rachel Crandall hopes will be an annual event, the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

One of the problems I've long complained about that has had serious repercussion with trans people's levels of acceptance in the African-American community and beyond is our lack of visibility.

Well, the International Day of Visibility wants to to change that.

Too many of us transition, then go into hiding because of the intolerance of society. We grapple with shame and guilt issues instead of being proud of who we are and having the courage to stand up and say 'I am a human being who happens to be transgender, and you will not disrespect me'

Maybe if for one day, we can get transpeople to stand up in large numbers where they don't feel alone, that will subsequently happen.

The International Transgender Day of Visibility seeks to make transpeople less of a mystery to cis folks, point out that transpeople are all around you in your daily lives and have played roles in shaping our culture and history.

This event is also an opportunity for the people who complain about the Transgender Day of Remembrance being 'too somber' to participate in an event that celebrates who we are. It's also another opportunity for our allies to stand in solidarity with us.

As the awareness of this March 31 day increases, it becomes better organized, gets more media attention and people have a year to plan events for TDOV 2011 there will probably be other things attached to the general framework of this day.

I can see future TDOV events with components such as panel discussions on our issues at various venues, trans specific coming out day ceremonies, trans themed pageants or teach ins about our history.

The possibilities and directions this day could take, especially when people put their unique cultural and international stamps on it are endless.

But I hope the overwhelming message that gets out on this day is that we exist, we're proud to be trans people, we are your sisters, brothers and family members.

I also pray that the other message resonating from this day is that as fellow human beings, we deserve to live our lives to the fullest and will not be deterred from doing so.

Dan Savage's Transphobic Azz Strikes Again

TransGriot Note: A wonderful post from my brilliant sis Renee at Womanist Musings. And no sis, you aren't alone in your observation that Savage is a (you name the phobic) jerk.

Well, Dan Savage is a winner isn’t he? Is there a group of people that he is unwilling to verbally assault and “other,” in order to assert his undeserved privilege? It seems that for Savage, the best way to attack someone, is to suggest that they are trans, even when the opposite is true.

To the right is a photo of Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna, who Savage declared was FTM

It's staggering that Rob McKenna, a female-to-male transsexual, is making it harder for other FTMs (and MTFs) to access the life saving sex-reassignment surgery that allowed Rob to become the man he is today. Rob had the resources to finance his own sex-reassignment surgery—presumably—but that doesn't excuse Rob's cruel disregard for his low-income transgendered brothers and sisters or his making common cause with anti-trans bigots in states like Virginia and Mississippi.

For shame, Rob.

Really Savage? You’re going to take something that is so incredibly serious and then make tongue in cheek statements. If he did not have a history of making transphobic commentary, perhaps I could believe that he simply failed to do the proper research, but his own history convicts him.

When dealing with a conservative, there are plenty of ways that you can be critical, only someone drunk on privilege decides that the best course of events is to attack a marginalized group. When we consider that the gay community has a history of throwing the trans community under the bus, his commentary is truly problematic. Dan Savage does not speak for all gay men; however, his extremely high profile suggests that many continue to consider his views to be of great importance, though he has a history of making racist, abelist and transphobic comments.

I really think that Dan Savage needs a huge cup of STFU. Until he begins to recognize his various privileges (and yes, gay men can still be privileged), he is doing far more harm to his community than good. When you throw your allies under the bus, and taunt them cruelly, it makes people that much more reluctant to stand up and fight when you are being abused, because we wonder if we are next in the line of fire.

I don’t care if Dan Savage is your gay super hero with a capitol G; if the man is being abelist, racist and transphobic, perhaps your definition of hero needs to be examined. How many times have marginalized groups suggested, that when you fail to take an intersectional approach to organizing, we all suffer? Only a man like Savage who is White, male, class privileged and cisgender could fail to see that his, I’m just like you approach to advocacy is damaging. No movement for civil rights has ever been successful without allies, and yet people like Savage continue to believe that they can just throw people under the bus, while minimizing their humanity and then demand that they come to bat for you as needed.

So, I am just going to say it: The man is not amusing or enlightening; he is cruel. As long as he continues to sit in judgment of others and to perpetuate a harmful hierarchy of bodies, he has no business sitting in judgment of anyone. Glass houses Savage, perhaps it’s time you discover that you live in one.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lt. Choi, Join The Club

DADT repeal activist and founder of the West Point GLBT group Knights Out Lt. Dan Choi was recently quoted in a Newsweek interview as saying he felt "so betrayed" by HRC.

I have great respect for her (Kathy Griffin) as an advocate. But if [the Human Rights Campaign] thinks that having a rally at Freedom Plaza with a comedienne is the right approach, I have to wonder. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not a joking matter to me. To be at Freedom Plaza and not at the White House or Congress? Who are they trying to influence? I felt like they were just trying to speak to themselves. If that's the best the lobbying groups and HRC can do, then I don't know how these powerful groups are supposed to represent our community. Kathy Griffin and [HRC president] Joe Solmonese said they would march with me to the White House but didn't. I feel so betrayed by them.

Join the club, Lt. Choi.

I experienced the same disappointment and moment of epiphany about HRC in 1999. It led me to join other transpeople who had the same moment of clarity to found NTAC over a decade ago.

It also led me to the conclusion that African American transpeople need to do more for ourselves in terms of fighting for our rights since white run and led organizations could not be trusted to effectively advocate for us and our issues.

You have not only discovered how your trans brothers and sisters feel about the Human Rights Campaign, you've echoed some of the same concerns, complaints and comments LGBT people of color have articulated about HRC for over two decades.

And by failing to support you at your White House protest, HRC once again has reinforced the perception that people of color are only welcome in the GLBT movement to provide melanin for photo ops, not determine policy or set the agenda for the movement.

One thing we people of color know all too well as Frederick Douglass reminds us, power concedes nothing without a demand. If the people leading your movement are too busy sucking up to the same powers instead of confronting them on behalf of the powerless people you purport to represent, it leads to an ineffective movement.

It also manifests itself in leaders that are resistant to doing anything that may put their own comfortable position at risk or engage in "tough minded" confrontational strategies that anger the defenders of the status quo they so desperately want to be a part of.

Lt. Choi, thank you for speaking your mind. You have now joined the expanding ranks of people across this nation who are seriously questioning the fitness of HRC to lead the GLBT community toward achieving the goals of full societal equality and fairness for our people.

Crossposted from The Bilerico Project

Lady Bears Going To San Antonio!

Brittney Griner hit the go ahead jumper with 45 seconds remaining to propel Baylor to a 51-48 win over Number 2 seeded Duke and a trip to San Antonio for the 2010 Women's Final Four.

The Lady Bears are headed to only their second Final Four in school history. The last time Baylor went they claimed the 2005 Championship.

But can they knock off mighty UConnn?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Transkid Jazz Singing

Remember Jazz, the young transkid from Barbara Walters 20/20 report on transgender children? Well, here's another example of a kid, once their trans issue is dealt with developing to be a happy and well adjusted human being.

Peep this video of Jazz singing.

We Don't Need No Scam Artists

As Bernie Madoff and other scam artists have repeatedly shown, never underestimate a human being's capacity to unscrupulously fleece his fellow humans for their own personal financial gain.

I'm bringing this issue up because the African American trans community is at a point in which I and other transpeople of color are making serious headway in educating people about how our trans issues are different from our white counterparts. That is also beginning to become evident in our own African descended community as well.

There is a hunger for knowledge on those issues, and people who have the long term interests of the African descended trans community in mind are diligently working to present our case in as professional, informative and morally upright a manner as possible.

But unfortunately there are transpeople who only care about themselves. Combine that selfishness with the fact that many of the procedures we need to transform our bodies require a steady cash flow. Transmen needing top surgeries and transwomen needing electrolysis, laser or SRS may become desperate enough to try to scam or steal their way into getting the money they need for their transformations.

Some of them won't care about the collateral damage they leave behind in their wake as they strive to 'look out for number one'.

It doesn't happen often, but this has already occurred within a few organizations in the white trans community. A person entrusted with handling the money skimmed off some for personal use without legal retribution, only opening the door to more thefts because they didn't send the message the first time it happened it wasn't going to be tolerated.

I know of one organization that went the other way and prosecuted the person that embezzled funds from their treasury the first time it happened. Needless to say it hasn't happened again.

We don't need that kind of drama when we as African descended trans people are already fighting to overcome negative race based perceptions about us. When we interact with the cis and trans world, we need to bear that in mind.

Any activities or business transactions we engage in should be conducted with scrupulous honesty and as professionally competent as possible. Nothing leaves a negative impression or a bitter taste in someone's mouth longer than losing their hard earned money through scam or theft If we discover such people in our midst, they need to be prosecuted

We need to bear in mind you may be the first trans person of African descent many people have had a chance to interact with.

Your actions, for good or ill will have an effect on us either way and form the basis of their attitudes and impressions about the rest of us.

And we don't need any scam artists messing that up.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Alexandra!

Today is the birthday of one of our iconic trans women, Alexandra Billings.

She's a multi talented singer, actress, teacher and fellow blogger. You can check out her site at Alexandra or her blog Stillettos and Sneakers to learn more about this talented lady.

I'm also looking forward to seeing her in the movie Stealth.

Happy birthday, Alexandra. You're looking good and expanding the minds and horizons of others. May you have many more.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Got Census Form? Fill It Out And Send It Back!

A dew days ago I received my 2010 Census form in the mail. Being that I spent a summer working as an enumerator for the 1980 Census this decennial population count has some sentimental value to me.

But I'm also aware that one of the major reasons why we do it in addition to wanting to know exactly how many peeps we have living in the states is wrapped in politics.

Congressional districts are determined by population. The more peeps you count, the more congressional seats your state gets.

That's also true about federal funding as well. The more people in your area that turn in the forms, the more of your federal tax dollars you mget back for local projects.

There's also one other benefit of it as well that you won't see for 72 years, but your ancestors will.

When I was researching my family history back in 1998, the 1920 Census data had just been released for public perusing. I was at the Clayton Genealogical Library poring through Fort Bend County data looking for my great great grandmother's name.

I then realized after two hours I needed to look in the 1910 census data for Fort Bend County, and began sifting through it.

I found what I was looking for 30 minutes later, and I began to cry when I did so.

I'd found my paternal great grandmother and great-great grandparents. In the process I discovered that my great great great grandmother was born in Kentucky.

It was another piece in my family history puzzle, and it came thanks to perusing census data.

So fill it out the census form and send it back. Not only will your community and state thank you for it, your ancestors will 72 years from now.

Alright Brittney!

Brittney Griner scored 27 points, grabbed sever rebounds and blocked ten shots to help the Baylor Lady Bears beat Number one seeded Tennessee 77-62 and advance to the Elite 8 round of the Womens NCAA tournament for only the second time in school history.

Griner has blocked 26 shots so far in the Lady Bear tournament run and is only five blocks away from breaking the NCAA record.

The Lady Bears will face Duke with a trip to the Women's Final Four in San Antonio on the line.

Sic 'em Lady Bears!

Laverne Cox VH1 Interview

TransGriot Note: Here's an interview featuring my sis Laverne Cox talking about her new reality show 'Transform Me' and other subjects.

Friday, March 26, 2010

IFGE 2010 Capital Conference Rapidly Approaching

The 24th annual International Foundation for Gender Education conference is rapidly approaching.

It will take place from April 22 – 25 and is returning to the Alexandria Hilton at k Mark Center in Alexandria, VA

The winners of the 2010 IFGE Trinity Awards will be revealed, which is always of interest to me since I'm one of only three African-Americans who has won it.

The conference is open to the public and will be packed with informative seminars and presenters in addition to the Trinity Awards luncheon.

Here the link to the conference website for additional information about it, and we'll see if the TransGriot can add it to her events schedule.

Sorry ATL

We'll as you probably know by now, I didn't get the opportunity to talk at the Herstory Conference in Atlanta today.

I'm disappointed that it didn't happen because I really wanted to speak to my people about trans issues from an African flavored perspective.

But as friends who consoled me about what didn't happen today reminded me, sometimes that happens, and there will be other opportunities that present themselves for me to do so.

Teabaggers Losing Their Damned Minds

Not that many of them had much of one to lose to begin with, but the teabaggers are now resorting to the T word to express their racist Republistoked anger at the passage of health care reform.


Let's call these people what they are and what Rep. Bart Stupak rightfully called them. Domestic terrorists.

I don't like and have zero tolerance or respect for the Tea Klux Klan, especially after last weekend's disgusting display protesting a bill that will prevent the insurance companies from denying them coverage due to a nebulous list of preexisting conditions.

The Tea Klux Klan is 75% Republican and monoracial. It's an Astroturfed movement that claims it's not racist, but hurl racist and homophobic slurs at African-American, Latino/a, Jewish and gay legislators. Your protest rallies are monoracial affairs filled with racist signs showing your breathtaking levels of miseducation to the world.

And note to Dale Robertson, founder of the teabaggers, 'nigger' is not spelled with an 'a' in it.

What we have is the spectacle of white people behaving badly, just like their pointed hood wearing, Confederate flag waving parents and grandparents did the last time we engaged in passing ground breaking progressive legislation in the 60's.

Nullification didn't work then, and it won't work in the 2K10's.

Turn off the Fox Noise, right wing talk radio and read a fracking book that's not penned by Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh.

As Parliament-Funkadelic once sang, free your mind and your ass will follow. But if you want to follow the GOP off the cliff of irrelevance, be our guests.

But we're putting you peeps on notice that we're going to fight harder for our vision of an America that works for everybody who lives here. We are not going to allow large numbers of stupid people to vote us back to the 19th century.

Not this time, in 2012, 2014, not ever.

Been there, done that.

Negro Republican Calls President 'Buckwheat'

Yeah, I know it would be desirable to have more African descended people involved in both parties, but what's the point of that exercise if they're going to mimic the oppressors behavior?

Corey Poitier is running for US Rep. Kendrick Meek's House seat in Florida since Meek is running for the US Senate.

The high school civics teacher delivered a passionate speech against the health care reform bill Monday night to Broward County Republicans. During the speech, Poitier addressed the President by saying “Listen up, Buckwheat…”

Aargh, another Negro GOP sellout is born.

That might gain Poitier GOP fans, but not in a district that is 57% African American and 9 out of 10 peeps voted for the man he just disrespected with the comment.

And it begs the question I asked at the beginning of this post. What's the point in having Black peeps in the GOP if all they are going to do is be chocolate covered sycophants spouting the same tired conservative talking points we overwhelmingly reject when white candidates spout them?

Thank You SUNY- Oneonta

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to SUNY-Oneonta, Dr. Bambi Lobdell and the many people that extended the kind invitation to have me speak on their picturesque campus on African descended trans issues.

I had a wonderful time talking to Dr. Lobdell, her students, faculty and various people in the Red Dragon family. It was a wonderful experience overall and I hope to have another opportunity to do so in the near future.

Feel free to stay in touch with me for any questions you have on the subject of trans issues as they relate to African Americans.

Shut Up Fool! Awards Happy Birthday Speaker Pelosi Edition

Today is Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 70th birthday, and she's had a great week leading up to it. She got a historic health care passed twice through the House and stayed classy through the process as the Republifools showed their asses.

As for that pool table you wanted as a birthday present, Madame Speaker, you earned it.

Now if you'll just show transgender Americans some love and get ENDA passed through the House.

And now, since it's Friday, let's move on to see what fool or fools deserved our illustrious award this week.

It was a tough one, with Ann Coulter tripping over her tongue in Canada, the usual tripe from the triumvirate of Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity, and the unhinged rantings of Tea Klux Klan members.

But my winner this week is Rep Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) favorite 'Great White Hope', Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)

Cantor had the nerve to step up to the mike the very day that reports of a white powdery substance was sent to Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) office, Dem legislators being called the n-word, f-word, wet---ks and baby-killer complete with multiplying reports of death threats against them.

And what does he talk about? His debunked claim that his Richmond office was targeted, but won't issue any recordings other than the one GOP legislator Jean Schmidt (R-OH) received from a pissed off brother.

He along the rest of the conservafool movement blamed Democrats for the violence and terrorist acts stoked by a year of racist, inflammatory GOP rhetoric.

Rep. Eric Cantor, shut the HELL up fool!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

'Triple Nickles' Honored

The three surviving members of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, Walter Morris, Roger Walden and Clarence Beavers, AKA the 'Triple Nickles' were honored in a Pentagon ceremony today.

At that time for African-American military personnel, 'serving your country' meant being herded into service units. They endured racism and suffered the indignity of seeing German prisoners of war getting better treatment than they did.

The 555th got its start with Morris and a group of African-American soldiers serving at Ft. Benning, GA. It's the US Army base dedicated to training our paratroopers.

As an exercise in building up their self-esteem, Morris and his men began to emulate the paratroop training on their own time they witnessed the white trainees go through when they were done with their other duties.

"We went to the calisthenics field and we knew the routine because we had watched them. ... We started with the five-foot platform where they jumped into the pit,"

"The most interesting thing of that was the replica of a C47 plane -- the body of it -- and the students went in there and sat down and they pretended to be paratroopers," Morris said.

They didn't know as they performed their extracurricular training that the War Department was considering forming an all Black paratroop unit. When they decided in February 1943 to form the 555th, Morris soon became its top non commissioned officer.

Twenty soldiers started the training and on February 18, 1944, 17 soldiers graduated and earned the Parachutist Badge. As the unit's first sergeant, Morris was the first man of the 555th to be pinned with his parachutist wings.

The 'Triple Nickles' decided to spell it differently from "nickel" to make sure people knew they were unique as the first African American combat paratroop brigade.

They wanted to be part of the combat jumps planned for the D-Day invasion, but White commanding generals were loathe to deal with the additional complications of integrating the all White 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and declined to use them.

However, the Triple Nickles would make their contribution to the war effort in an unexpected way.

Reeling from the fire bombing raids devastating Japanese cities, the Japanese attempted to strike back by releasing incendiary bomb laden balloons that the North Pacific winds carried to the US West Coast.

The intent was to set fires in cities such as Seattle, WA or San Francisco, CA, but the balloons started huge forest fires. However the Japanese didn't know what the balloons were accomplishing. The War Department had the twin goals of wanting the fires put out and ensuring the news about what the Japanese balloon bombs were accomplishing stayed secret.

The U.S. Forest Service needed help putting the fires out, so Morris and his Triple Nickles packed up their gear and were flown to Oregon to take part in a secret mission called Operation Firefly.

The Triple Nickles were given quick training and became the first "Smoke Jumpers" -- firefighters who parachuted into rugged mountain terrain with nothing but shovels, axes and basic supplies.

Their mission meant they had to get the fires under control or out before they could return to base. The Triple Nickles performed 1,200 jumps in accomplishing their mission before the war was over.

But because Operation Firefly started out as a secret, the Triple Nickle's pioneering contribution to protecting the home front and to history was all but lost.

Today's ceremony lifted the veil of secrecy that kept their pioneering roles out of the history books and ensures that the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion earns its rightful place in the proud history of pioneering African American military units.

Walter Morris also had the honor of pinning the paratrooper wings on his Iraq War veteran grandson.

Gemini Mini Documentary

TransGriot Note: Mini Documentary on Chicago drag queen Saya Naomi Diaz Deleon or Gemini. It includes commentary from Christina Kahrl, who was recently featured on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Happy Birthday To The Queen Of Soul!

Time for everyone to bow and curtsy in the direction of Detroit because today is the birthday of Her Royal Soulness, Aretha Franklin.

She was born on this date in Memphis, TN in 1942.

She has had a long and distinguished career in the music industry, winning 18 Grammys. She was the first female artist inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and has had 20 No. 1 hits on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart, starting with 'Respect' (one of my fave songs) in 1967.

She became on June 28, 1968 the second African American woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine.

She has also garnered a long list of honors culminating in being named the Number one singer in the rock era by Rolling Stone magazine. She beat out Number 2 Ray Charles, Number 3 Elvis Presley, Number 4 Sam Cooke, and number 5 John Lennon for the honor..

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 and sang at President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009. The hat she wore that day is now housed in the Smithsonian.

PETA may not like the Queen of Soul, but who cares what they think? The rest of the planet loves and respects her.

Happy Birthday, Aretha!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

U of L Makes Several Restrooms Gender Neutral!

TransGriot Note: This news comes courtesy of Brian Buford , head of U of L's Office of LGBT Services.

Vice President for Business Affairs Larry Owsley informed students yesterday that he had converted six restrooms to gender neutral as part of an agreement he made with leaders from commonGround and the Office for LGBT Services last fall. Two new buildings, the Duthie Center and the Center for Predictive Medicine, will also include gender neutral restrooms. "I've committed to including gender neutral restrooms in all new construction," Owsley said.

The new restrooms are on both campuses: Dental school, first floor (two restrooms); Humanities, third floor (two restrooms); and the Law School, second floor near Cox Lounge (two restrooms). They are all single-stall, private restrooms that were updated by changing signs.

Students met with Owsley before Pride Week 2009 to ask for the additional restrooms and explain the importance of safe spaces for people who are gender non-conforming or transgender.

"Bathrooms are often the places where harassment is most encountered. And when someone whose gender expression is even a little bit different from their genetic identity steps into a seemingly exclusive male/female-only space, it sets them up for personal attacks. That gets eliminated with gender-neutral restrooms," said student Evelyn Avery.

Thoughts On Health Care Reform Passage

While I was in Oneonta I watched the contentious debate before the House vote on the health Care reform bill late Sunday night-early Monday morning.

While I'm not happy about it and want nothing less than universal single payer health care (or Medicare for all), it's a starting point.

If we liberals all agree that Medicare for All is a worthy goal, then our first order of business is to show up to the polls en masse in November. We need to defend the legislators that braved Tea Klux Klan attacks to vote for the bill and show that there's a political upside to passing groundbreaking legislation, not a penalty.

These folks will face unrelenting levels of ignorance from now until November. Some have been spat on called derogatory names, and had bricks thrown through their office windows. The brownshirt tactics need to be repudiated.

We need to stand up and fight just as fiercely for our value and ideaas just as fiercely as the Tea Klux Klan does for their misguided ones. We would ideally like to do it with more dignity and class than they do.

But if they want to act like nekulturny WWE wrestlers, so be it. Bring on the political brass knuckles, the sharp tongued rhetoric and kick their behinds.

Liberal does not mean wimp, and we need to reinforce that fact to these America hating fools on a regular basis. We need to stop being scared of stupid people, lead and start being the 'A' students that were mandated in 2008 with cleaning up the mess the conservative 'D' students left.

We also need to regularly point out, compare and contrast the superiority and fairness of liberalism to their failed, selfish and predominately monoracial political philosophy.

Leadership means you have to make some tough choices that are not politically popular. Let us as liberals and proud Democrats always make sure we are on the side of people who seek justice and fairness.

Let's make sure we do what's right, not what's right wing.

When America is at its freest and fairest, its because it practiced and espoused liberal values. We regress as a country to dark, sinister places when conservative selfishness rules the day.

The bill that passed and was signed by President Obama Tuesday tells the world that we're tired of being the only country without universal health care coverage for its citizens. We're tired of being 49th in health care issues and are finally joining the rest of the industrialized world to emphatically acknowledge what they did decades ago.

Health care is a right, not a rich person's only privilege.

Color Of Change Petition For GOP To Rebuke Bigotry And Tea Klux Klan

TransGriot Note: This is a petition from Color Of Change addressed to the Republican Party to get them to ride herd on their Tea Klux Klan surrogates and chill out on their condoning of racism as a political tactic.

Good luck with getting the GOP to drop the drive to become the Southern National Socialist White People's Party, but thought it needed to be posted to the blog.

Dear friends,

It's time to hold the Republican Party accountable.

You've probably heard about Tea Party members shouting "Nigger!" at Black Congressmen during a protest in Washington, D.C. last weekend. One of the protesters spat on Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, while another called openly gay Representative Barney Frank a "faggot" as the laughing crowd imitated his lisp.[1]

But Saturday was just the most recent example of the intolerance and hate coming from right-wing extremists this past year. At times it's been instigated by Republican leaders. When not, it's usually condoned and seen as part of a strategy to score politically. Either way, it's completely unacceptable and has to stop.

It's time to confront Republican leadership and force them to take responsibility for the atmosphere they've helped create. Please join me in signing ColorOfChange's petition confronting Republican leaders about hate and fear-mongering in their party, and ask your friends and family to do the same:

We're calling on RNC Chair Michael Steele, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to publicly do two simple things:

- Unequivocally condemn bigotry and hate among their supporters, and make clear that those who embrace it have no place in their party.

- Make clear that they will not tolerate fear-mongering and coded appeals to racism from officials in the Republican party, at any level.

Republican leaders publicly denounced Saturday's ugly scene, but they failed to acknowledge that this is only the latest incident in a pattern of violent rhetoric, racially charged imagery, and paranoid conspiracy theories at Tea Party rallies.[2] Many Tea Partiers aren't simply about dissent -- they use fear and hatred to assault the very legitimacy of our elected leaders. It's the worst America has to offer. Despite this, Republican leaders court the Tea Party movement while methodically supporting, exacerbating and exploiting their fear and anger for cynical political ends.[3] This is nothing less than a betrayal of American values, and it's up to us to force the Republicans to stop aiding and abetting this enterprise:

The Tea Party movement has been marked by racially inflammatory and violent outbursts since its inception a year ago. GOP leaders are trying to pass off this weekend's assaults on Congressmen Lewis, Cleaver, Clyburn and Frank as isolated incidents. But when so-called "isolated incidents" crop up again and again, a pattern starts to emerge. The examples are numerous.

At rallies held to protest tax day last year, Tea Partiers carried signs that announced "Obama's Plan: White Slavery," "The American Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama's Oven," and "Guns Tomorrow!"[4] The Republican National Committee had endorsed the rallies, and RNC Chairman Michael Steele encouraged Tea Partiers to send a "virtual tea bag" to President Obama and Democratic Congressional leadership.[5] After reports of the fear-mongering signs surfaced, Steele did nothing to distance his party from the lunatic fringe. He has even gone so far as to say that if he didn't have his current position, he'd be "out there with the tea partiers."[6]

The Tea Party's venomous rhetoric picked up steam over the summer, when angry mobs flooded town hall meetings legislators had organized as sites for rational, civil debate on health care reform. After one meeting in Atlanta, a swastika was painted on the office of Congressman David Scott (D-GA), who had also received a flier addressed to "nigga David Scott."[7] Some protesters showed up at town hall meetings carrying guns, including at least one man who was armed at an event where the President was speaking.[8] Again, Republicans responded to these tactics with silence, doing nothing to denounce them.

Our country deserves better than this. No matter what party one supports, we should all take strong action to support civil, honest, and respectful public debate. Please join me in calling on Republican leaders to denounce racist rhetoric and fear-mongering, and reject it from their party. And when you do, please ask your family and friends to do the same:



4. See Reference 2