Georgia demoted McConnell; what comes next?

Joe Biden will begin his presidency with a legislative majority in both the House and Senate for the first two years of his presidency.

Democrats need to take a lesson from the Republicans who have proven themselves wholly unfit to govern, and use that majority to its full effect to put out a full and complete repudiation of McConnell and Trump’s legislative policy.

First priority, after correcting the COVID Vaccination rollout, should be appointing an Attorney General who will investigate and prosecute the crimes committed by the Trump administration.

Second priority should be addressing their assault on the judicial branch of government through impeachment, where possible, of his appointments and by adding seats to the Supreme Court bench to eliminate the Republican majority and the power of the three Trump appointed Justices.

While all that is happening, rebuilding the CDC, reconnecting with the WHO and UN, treating white supremacy militias as domestic terrorism cells, releasing the caged immigrants and returning their abducted kids back to them, rejoining the Paris Accords, police reform, and ending funding to the border wall should all be taken care of.

Improving the ACA and working toward a single payer health care system needs to begin. 

A national minimum wage that provides a living wage, tied to inflation rates needs to be established.

And, the government needs to make a massive commitment to national infrastructure including job training and placement programs to create and fill the jobs necessary, not just to repair and maintain the current infrastructure, but to also upgrade it for the future.

Biden may not be the progressive I wanted, but he is an improvement over Trump, he will assemble a competent cabinet and empower them to lead without heavy handed micromanagement, and he will sign the bills put in front of him by a Democrat majority congress.

This means he will be as progressive as the Congress we, as voters, give him.

So, while we expect him to get to work on repairing the damage of the McConnell/Trump era, we need to get to work on the 2022 midterm elections to provide him an even stronger congressional support system to write the policies and create the budgets we want signed by the President.

The incredible work to drive record breaking voter registration and turnout to defeat Trump and flip the Senate was just the first step, not the end game. Don’t sacrifice the momentum. This is our opportunity to truly start checking and correcting our #Culturalinertia.

Improving Social Discourse, One Word At A Time.

Language has evolved throughout history and will continue to do so far into the future.

As part of that evolution words get repurposed.

When people originally began using the word “run,’ they had no way of knowing it would eventually be used to describe the functionality of an engine, motor, or electrical appliance.

Or, that the word “gay,” which originally described being happy or carefree, would become used to indicate a person’s sexual attraction to partners of the same gender.

Sometimes, words take on a newer derogatory meaning.

During the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, “gay,” was repurposed again by many to describe something that was considered stupid, bad, or lame.

Sometimes, derogatory words are reclaimed to diminish their abusive usage.

This is seen with the incorporation of the word “gay” back into the mainstream acceptance of the LGBTQ community.   People often use “LGBTQ” or “LGBTQ+” to mean everyone included in the “LGBTTTQQIAA” community.  This includes Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Transsexuals, Two-Spirited people, Queers, Intersexuals, Asexuals, and Allies, as well as those who identify as Pansexual, Agender, Gender Queer, Bigender, Gender Variant, and Pangender.

Additionally, there are instances in which aspects of popular culture change the meaning of a word.  In the 1970s, the phrase “Bad ass” was used to describe something as exceptionally good or tough.   The 1980s shortened this further to “Bad,” redefining the way the word was used for years.

Finally, we will see conflation and/or redefinition of terms to push a political agenda.

During the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the American government managed a massive, and remarkably successful campaign to conflate all of the widely varied definitions of Socialism and the definition of Communism into one great “Anti-American” enemy in order to pave the way for the unleashing of Corporatism on the socially democratic Capitalism that made the United States the greatest and strongest economy the world had ever seen at that point with the strongest middle class that had ever existed.  The success of this propaganda effort is still clear today as those fighting against progressive reform attempt to label those fighting for it as un-American, communists, or evil socialists!

After the Civil Rights movement successfully made overt racism unacceptable, this era also brought about a much more subtle and subversive form of racial oppression by those in power.  Some attempted to repackage the language of their racism behind false patriotism, while others held out Freedom of Religion as a shield for their hatred.   This ushered in an era of better veiled, but more extensive systemic racism in deceptive packaging.

These various forms of language evolution happen so regularly that each year the Oxford English Dictionary adds entries for approximately 1000 new words, along with roughly 4000 new definitions, to the compendium of our language.

Now, more than ever, due to the politicizing of many important words, it has become vital to ensure we use words that truly communicate the meaning we are attempting to convey.

The disconnect in the arguments presented against progress and understanding often come from an intentional deception behind the misuse of the words used to present those arguments.

We need to evaluate the more divisive words used in these discussions.

This requires differentiating between preferential bias, bigotry, racism, and racial oppression.

People may find themselves more attracted to a person of the same skin color or even a different color as sexual partners or friends.    This is preferential bias.   It does not necessarily mean they hate or dislike people that don’t match what they are naturally drawn to.

If, however, a person hates people of different color and treats them in a manner less respectful than other people because of their skin color, he is displaying overt bigotry.

When bigotry progresses to the use of derogatory language to dehumanize another, or an attempt to bring harm to another – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, etc. — because of this arbitrary criterion, we have entered the realm of racism.

Combining racism with the power to create a more sweeping practice to dehumanize and/or harm entire communities creates institutionalized racial oppression and injustice.

Often those resisting the fight to reform institutionalized racial oppression and injustice will qualify their statements with some form of “I’m not racist, but…”

What they’re really saying is:


“I don’t call those people derogatory words, I don’t burn crosses in their yards, I don’t wear a hood to lynching parties, but I don’t want those people living in my neighborhood, or going to school with my kids, and if they’re being unconstitutionally beaten or killed by police it’s probably because they deserve it.”


Clearly, these people are racist, they have just learned not to be overt, by using coded language.

These same people like to toss around the word “Thug,” because the use of words such as the “N-word” make it impossible for their metaphorical white supremacy hood to mask their racist identity.

According to the Oxford English dictionary, the original definition of “thug” is:


“A member of an organization of robbers and assassins in India. Devotees of the goddess Kali, the Thugs waylaid and strangled their victims, usually travellers, in a ritually prescribed manner. They were suppressed by the British in the 1830s.”


The same source lists the correct current definition as:


“A violent person, especially a criminal.”


Yet, as John McWhorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, explains; what people mean when they use it in context of talking about black people protesting injustice, or even Black people in general, is:


“A nominally polite way of using the N-word. Many people suspect it, and they are correct. When somebody talks about thugs ruining a place, it is almost impossible today that they are referring to somebody with blond hair. It is a sly way of saying there go those black people ruining things again.”


With this connotation, even community leaders and rich, successful businessmen become “disgusting, disrespectful thugs” if they dare to protest injustice, even peacefully.

Which brings us to “respect.”

Over the last year a passage has been traveling the internet that explains the misuse of this term quite well.


Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority.”

And sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say “if you won’t respect me I won’t respect you” and they mean “if you won’t treat me like an authority I won’t treat you like a person.”

And they think they’re being fair but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.


Demanding respect while refusing to return it exposes the incredible sensitivity over the word privilege, especially regarding White Privilege.

Having privilege does not mean having a better life.   It means having less barriers to a decent life than others.   This privilege often manifests in ways that those benefiting don’t even realize is happening.


  •  A White person receives a job offer because the resume of a better qualified person of color was thrown in the trash because the hiring manager didn’t like the ethnic sounding name.
  • A White person makes an offer on a house in a great school district, because a family of color wasn’t shown the house the previous week by a realtor attempting to maintain the “racial integrity” of the neighborhood and school.
  • A White person gets stopped for running a stop sign and doesn’t have to immediately begin thinking about how they’re going to survive the next few minutes if their skin color is scary enough to make the officer “fear for their safety.”


Privilege is the absence of systemic obstacles created to provide a more difficult path to success for a specific group of people.   If those obstacles are designed properly, people who are not affected by them, never notice them.   We have spent centuries perfecting the design.

Look at how hard some states make it for specific communities to obtain the necessary ID to vote. Intentionally placing the offices which provide the necessary documentation to receive ID as far from each other and from the community as possible, making the hours of operation of such centers difficult for low income families with multiple jobs, and who rely on public transportation, to utilize.  They do all this, however; without creating a fee for the actual ID that can be identified as a poll tax.

Just before a push for voter registration began for the 2016 primaries, Alabama closed more than thirty of their Driver’s License locations in Democratic districts to make voter registration of new low income Democratic Voters more difficult.

Wisconsin pulled a similar trick by eliminating polling centers forcing voters to travel to much harder to reach locations, with limited hours of availability, and longer waiting lines designed to deter elderly, infirm voters, as well as those with small children and no financial resources for child care while voting.

Privilege is a “trigger-issue” for many White people because it forces them to admit that successful Blacks managed to become more successful despite having to overcome greater obstacles.

Black families have long taught their children it’s necessary to work twice as hard as a White person from the same neighborhood to achieve half as much.   While I am not sure the ratio still holds exactly true, the concept certainly has not been invalidated, yet.

This brings us to “equality.”

Those arguing against equality use an argument that defines equality as the same in all aspects.   They claim those fighting for equality want everyone to drive the same fancy cars and live in the same fancy houses.

This is not what anyone fighting for equality is attempting to achieve.

We are fighting for:


Equality of Opportunity


All people regardless of color, gender, religion, sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity, or any other arbitrary qualifier should have the same opportunity, the same obstacles or lack of them to their success.    Whether they achieve their own definition of success in life should be nothing more than a matter of individual drive, motivation, persistence and ability instead of systemic blocks to prevent them from becoming successful because those who have already obtained more power don’t approve of them.


Equality of Pay


The point isn’t that everyone should be paid the same amount of money despite their type of work, quality of work, or volume of work.   Only, that two people doing the same type of work, the same volume of work, the same quantity of work should not be paid less because of any of those arbitrary criteria.   Assuredly, those doing better work and/or more work, should not be paid less.


Equality of Justice


No one is saying that White people should be treated worse by police, or sentenced more harshly for the crimes they commit.   The argument is that People of Color should not be treated any worse than those White people that commit the same violations, nor should they be sentenced any more harshly.


The race for equality is not over when the first person or team crosses the finish line, it is only complete when the last does.
Those bringing up the rear could get there sooner if everyone would help push and pull each other forward along the way.
Our society would be far better off if those that had already reached the finish would grab a vehicle and go back to start giving rides.
Sadly though, far too many reach the end and forget all about those they left behind, even the ones that helped them along the way.
Even worse, a significant number are intentionally laying traps to hinder those behind them.   They don’t have to do it by tossing around dehumanizing slang.   What they’re doing is far more evil.


We must stop them.


When it comes to racism, institutional oppression, and injustice, there are no innocent bystanders.

You’re either guilty, an enabler, a victim, or you’re actively working to put an end to it to help the victims.

If you choose to fight against these things in our society and help us progress forward to a truly inclusive and cooperative society, don’t allow your opponents to redefine and reframe your message.

Finally, we must understand the vast difference between access and inclusion.

A retail business may become handicap accessible by putting a wheel chair ramp outside their front door and rails in the bathroom stall.  That doesn’t make the aisles inside wide enough or clear enough for a wheel chair to traverse, or the products reachable by someone confined to a wheelchair.

Telling People of Color they can use the bus, but they have to ride in specific seats because they’re not worthy of the better ones was similar.

This is what access without inclusion is telling people:


“You can use this service, we’ll let you inside, but everyone, especially you, should clearly understand you’re not really welcome here.”


I hope you’ll join me, and that this information helps, in the fight to build a more equal and inclusive society.

One where no one must give up their ethnic identity, religion, gender identity, sexuality, or find a way to “pass” just to be welcomed.  

One where we openly acknowledge our commonalities and celebrate, instead of requiring forced denial, of our differences.

A society in which the success of one person or group does not require the manufactured failure of another.


Overcoming Cultural Inertia Part 3

This is part three of my ongoing series.  In this series of articles we are exploring the effects of what I have termed “Cultural Inertia” in our society, with the hope of helping us to recognize and overcome some of the issues that are not only holding us back but in many ways leading us in the wrong directions.

For the purposes of this series, I am using the term Cultural Inertia (#Culturalinertia) to refer to issues that we have accepted in our every day lives as norms.  Norms which have become so deeply ingrained in our society that they influence our discussions of progress without our even being aware of them.   One excellent example was raised recently by Jackson Katz as he showed an audience of about 400 people—students, community members, faculty, and staff—how common language used to discuss the issues is perpetuating gender violence today.

In part 1 we explored many of the high level aspects that bleed through all aspects of our society, including topics like gender norms, bigotry and racism, marriage equality, and many others.   In part 2 we focused on a specific aspect of the history of the denial of racial equality.

Here, in part 3, we explore the cultural inertia embedded within the claims that educational quality in the United States is steadily and rapidly declining.

There are many aspects to this that we could talk about which include:

  1. The school to prison pipelines.
  2. The initiatives to defund public education in favor of private school charters in order to educate a selective audience with a restrictive curricula agenda.
  3. Established racial and class bias in standardized testing, “gifted and talented” advanced placement selection,
  4. Established racial and class bias in selective criteria for allocation of funds and support resources to specific school districts.
  5. Poor pay and support for educators in specific districts leading to less qualified instructors in far too many positions.

Honestly though, many outstanding articles and essays have been written on each of those subjects, and quite a few excellent and thorough studies have been conducted and published on each of them.    There is little point in rehashing them here again.

Instead, we’ll turn our attention to two much more pervasive, less discussed, and deeply intertwined societal norms that contributes to all of it without us even recognizing that we’re feeding the problems with our own accepted bias,


Abdication of Parental Responsibility


We are told that children have become so disrupted and unruly in classrooms that teachers can no longer control the educational environment.   This has become so problematic that school districts have their own police departments with “resource officers” on campus, or at least at those schools considered most “at risk.”

But a good number of those troubled and disruptive students often turn out to be intelligent students who finish their work faster than their classmates and are expected to sit, bored and quiet, while waiting for others to catch up to them.   They become fidgety and distracted and mislabeled as the problem themselves.   The better educators recognize these kids and find ways to challenge them or keep them engaged in additional tasks to prevent disruption.

If we take those students out of the equation we are left with a much smaller number of real classroom troublemakers; those that are intentionally disruptive and sometimes violent beyond any reasonable expectation of a teacher’s ability to deal with them.

Over the course of the last several decades, especially since society began requiring two parents to work at least one full-time job each — and in the case of single parents, more — in order to receive living wages for their family, more and more parents are expecting schools to raise their kids instead of just educate them.

Many don’t even realize that they have taken this step, but when parents are more and more absent from the daily lives of their children, even if by societally enforced necessity, they are forced to have a smaller role in role modeling acceptable behavior and interaction with them.

This has placed the burden on school educators to not only handle the complex and difficult tasks of conveying knowledge and teaching critical thinking skills, but also constantly interrupting those processes to show kids how to be better humans and how to cope with social interaction conflict.

It is beyond unreasonable to expect the teachers we have to expect those educators — especially with what we pay them — to have the training and qualifications to tailor those lessons to each child’s individual learning style and life experiences every day for every student which whom they interact.  This is completely exacerbated by funding cuts increase the amount of students in each classroom for teachers to reach, connect with, and educate each day.

Add to this, the fact that turning educators into disciplinarians completely undermines their ability to connect with students and earn their trust.  It immediately makes them less approachable.  It also deters students from being completely open with their line of questioning for fear of reproach.

The complete combination requires educators to serve as parental surrogates instead of  teachers for far too much of their time, and the absorption of that role serves to undermine their entire professional purpose.

So what leads to some of these students become unruly in the first place?

Why do they have so little respect for the educators intrusted with their future?


Deconstruction of the Educational Profession


The role of an educator is the single most important profession any society has.  We entrust these people to shape the minds, and sharpen the thinking skills, of the entire future of our communities, nations, and world.   They are the ones that convey the necessary building blocks, and inspire the minds, of those that will become our future doctors, community leaders, scientists, and innovators, as well as of all those who will take on the vital day to day tasks that allow those people to focus completely on their jobs.  The fireman, police officers, paramedics, plumbers, carpenters, nannies, day care workers, and workers in every possible service industry — all people whose professions are no less important than those others considered “more prestigious” — to the success of the society as a whole.

At some point in our lives we’ve all heard some form of the phrase “Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach.”

The underlying meaning of that simple phrase has pervaded every aspect of all the things discussed above.

In the not too distant past, a good grade school education, from kindergarten through High School graduation, was considered the key to a better future.  so much so that daycares became pre-schools to prep kids for the experience instead of just places for kids to play with their peers.

But over the past few decades specifically, special interest groups have been working hard — primarily through funding of the modern iteration of the Republican party — not only to defund the educational system but to discredit and dehumanize those that choose to work within the profession.

As these special interests work at both the national and state levels to remove as much funding as possible from education they they also worked tirelessly to raise the price of obtaining a higher education out of the reach of many creating an economic disparity that provides a barrier to lower income communities, especially communities of People of Color.

This results in the elusive hope of higher education only being available to the children in those communties through two possible means, enlisting in the military in exchange for an education, or winning the gladiator lottery we call a sports scholorship.

In the most recent years , the Tea Party Republicans, especially, have been slowly stripping away at veteran benefits, including educational fund programs.  This takes away even that hope of improving their lives for many of those people.

As hope diminishes, the incentive to comply does as well.

But, it still isn’t even that simple.

As the narrative pervades the news that the “American educational system is failing” even though that failure is being manufactured, the kids hear and read about it.   It is reinforced as their parents discuss the narrative they’re presented with by the news.  A narrative that says that more and more grossly unqualified people are looking for paychecks as teachers because they cannot do anything else.   This narrative is allowed to survive by politicians, such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, who strip away the necessary qualifications to be teachers because they view education as unnecessary.

Now, even the Republican President and his appointed administration including appointees to the Department of Education are furthering that narrative, pulling even more funding from public schools and granting it to religious charter schools, denying science and in the case of the president, communicating in a way that would make any educated person cringe.   All, while they strip away all the civil rights gains on the path to equality of opprotunity for the students we entrust to them.

Why would anyone expect children to have any respect for the authority of their educators, or the quality of the information those educators convey, in a society that is constatly working so aggressively to deconstruct the integrity of the educational system and profession?

What incentive is there for them to comply other than fear of punishment, which has never been a great human motivator to instill respect and compliance?


How Do We Fix It?


The only way to fix this is to address the core problem, aggressively.

We must elevate the profession of educators at all levels to its proper place at the highest level of of presitige in our nation.

We must pay teachers well enough to attract the best minds for every subject to the profession with the intent of passing on their collective knowledge to new generations.

We need to make teachers into heroes for our children and the schools they work within the places of hope for the children of all our communities to inspire them to want to learn everything they possibliy can from those teachers.

Doing these things, will address not only these issues, but the list of items presented at the beginning of this essay.

The quality of life of our descendents, the future of our communities, the future of our nation, and the future of our world hang in the balance.

It is time to break free of this Culural Inertia and set a new path forward.

If not now?   When?

If not us?   Who?