Thursday, August 7, 2008

St. Louis American stuff

It's always weird being out of town on a Thursday, when The St. Louis American hits the streets. I identify strongly with the print edition, which I edit - the website, not so much. Like a lot of smaller newspapers, we went online with a template we bought, and no one is ever that excited with a template, including our online team, who do a great job with the hand they've been dealt.

But I'm miserable when I don't work on an edition of the paper. It always feels like losing an opportunity to make a difference, personally. So I worked as much on this edition of the paper as any other, despite being on vacation. I even was phoned into all of the editorial meetings. The biggest difference was not getting the pleasure of holding the physical object in my hands this morning and paging through it.

The state primary on Tuesday was the big story, and I'll stand by my analysis of the outcomes of the statewide races. I was most pleased, personally, with the victory of Clint Zweifel. In fact, I wish he were running for governor, rather than state treasurer, and that Andria Simckes had won the nomination for treasurer. As for Jay Nixon, well, we are talking about Missouri, which means a guy like me is not going to get anywhere near anything he wants.

I'm also very pleased with our publisher for running with my idea for our editorial, which calls out a large number of unnamed male politicians and operatives (black and white) who underestimated the women candidates in this election cycle. This Missouri Democratic primary was something of a battle of the genders. It kind of underscored the Obama/Hillary thing, which seems - unbelievably - to not be over yet.

I do wish Hillary supporters would get behind Obama, and as a journalist I may be driven to play hardball tactics toward that end. But the male undervaluation of women is so pervasive that - as desperately as I want to elect Obama as the next president - in a way I can't quite blame women for playing endgame politics on this one. I just hope they don't, because I don't want to be on the other side of that endgame.

The person mulling this over, mind you, is a white guy who identifies, not only with black folks, but with black womenfolks. Of all the novels I have read that made the most sense to me - I mean, that most helped me to spec out my own identity - first on the list would be Sula, by Toni Morrison, which is basically about two black women. I'm secure in my masculinity, and I've noticed that I'm not black, but the dialectics of identity and consciousness set forth in Sula were a revelation to me, about me.

And I've been running around for fifteen years in a band (Three Fried Men) named from a phrase in a book by another black woman, Zora Neale Hurston. Go figure.

That said, I'm not particularly idealistic about woman. They seem, on average, every bit as dangerous and flawed as men - and equally powerful, in their own ways, which is why they are just as dangerous. I've often said: If women ruled the world, there would be less war, but more suffering. That's a joke, but I think Rodney Hubbard, Tony Condra and Mike Roberts Jr. know what I'm saying today.


That photo is of my heroine Zora Neale Hurston at the 1937 New York Book Fair, from The Library of Congress.


Nikki said...

This is the most important piece that you've written because it sheds light into your heart. A place that is sometimes hidden behind being an editor. Many of us can identify with your need to "feel or touch" the end piece of a product we produce whether it's in art form or written. It happens to me too with the weekly newsletters. I have this instant urge to print out the Adobe form after the newsletter is sent to all my constituents. Then at the end of the day or the weekend, I read the newsletter again as if it were in front of me for the first time. I ask myself if the point was evident so everyone could identify in some way or whether there was enough research done to make the piece meet my own Mothers' standards of "sufficient evidence."

Separate from the designer position, what you are saying in this blog is so important to identify as a legitimate conversation. There are issues we must all face in our careers as there are barriers that we thought never existed.

"I am a woman and please listen to me roar."

There's no other way I'd have it. There's no other way millions of other women would have it. We have that Tiger instinct--the ability to stare into one's eyes and assess immediately the intentions of those surrounding us. We protect what is important to us whether it's our family or the extended family we call our communities. In our purest moments, we have intuition and feel the vibes that are echoing off one persons body to another, sometimes hoping to even dodge certain people if necessary. (Ok, so it's 2:30 am and I'm up for the day.)

Their Eyes were Watching God, Zora said. That product was an end result of her professional life. However, you well know the struggle she faced in her own personal life. You know who her friends were in her personal life. Zora should have been more mainstream. Even in the Black Renaissance there were glass ceilings for Black women. You wonder why our friends end up being Langston Hughes' all over again. It is because there is a tie that binds among people that are seen as "less than equal to the status quo." We understand inter community oppression, especially in politics.

But, I am a woman and you at this moment are going to listen to me roar. The pleasure in reading about womens' suffrage in our history is that it teaches us there has always been a problem in being viewed as equals to our male counterparts. So instead of becoming the victim, we have become the victor, sometimes the heroines. But heroines come in different forms, not just public figures. For me, older women that have been in the movement for decades are my heroines. People like Willa Boisseau - a person who has passed on and only few in the Black community have ever heard of - served as my heroine. She taught me to just tell it like it is and not apologize for speaking the truth. She taught me to confront people when there's a question left unanswered. In Nelly terms she was saying, "Don't be Scurred (scared)." And of course there is Harriett who helped develop my backbone. She's the WOMAN who taught me unapologetic advocacy.

Anyway, one can go on and on about their personal feelings in regards to being a woman in a hierarchy, but I'm just glad you are writing what is in your unedited piece.

Confluence City said...

Wow, "Nikki" (I think I see through the alias ...), that is an amazing response. I learned a lot from it. I appreciate the encouragement to write "from the heart," as well. I would have thought I always did that, but that might be one of my (male) blind sides talking.