Maria Tallchief, Prima Ballerina

November is Native American History Month.  In celebration, we will throughout the month highlight Native American women of achievement.  

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We start with Elizabeth Marie Tallchief (known as Maria Tallchief), whose father was a member of the Osage Nation.  Born in 1925, at the age on 22 she became a ballerina with the New York City Ballet, where she stayed until 1965.  Tallchief, a protoge of George Balanchine (to whom she was married briefly), was considered America’s first major prima ballerina.  She was the first American ever to dance with Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet.  Tallchief was called “one of the most brilliant ballerinas of the 20th Century” by the New York Times.  When she was no longer dancing professionally herself, Tallchief was active in promoting ballet in Chicago.  In 1981 she founded the Chicago City Ballet and remained its artistic director for many years.   

Tallchief was the recipient of many honors, including induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  She was also awarded a National Medal of Arts, and in 1996 received a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievements.  Tallchief was twice named Woman of the Year by the Washington Post.  She has received many honors from the people of Oklahoma for both her artistic accomplishments and her involvement in Native American causes.

Tallchief died on April 11, 2013 of complications from a broken hip.

 

 

It’s Halloween–Be Afraid

Nel's New Day

Halloween came early this year with television showing scary movies for at least three weeks, and the Internet showing a fascination for bizarre costumes. The Catholic Church is reminiscing about exorcisms, and evangelicals oppose Halloween because it represents demons.

The basis of Halloween in 21st-century culture is fear, and evangelical Christians don’t need the television movies to be afraid. Leaders use far-fetched stories to foment this fear among the followers as a method of control. In that way, people vote against their own best interests. That’s why we hear about the conspiracy theory of fluoridated drinking water and brainwashing in public schools.

YouTube is a popular place for all sorts of horror tales such as Sharia law taking over the country. That’s why conservative legislators keep trying to pass laws preventing Islamic law in the United States while they pass oppressive Christian laws. Browsing the Internet, however, reveals…

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Court reinstates most of Texas’ new abortion restrictions

Court reinstates most of Texas' new abortion restrictions.

A federal appeals court reinstated most of Texas’ tough new restrictions on abortions Thursday in a ruling that means as many as a dozen clinics around the state will not be able to continue performing procedures.

The restrictions could take effect Friday, stopping abortion procedures in at least one-third of the state’s licensed health centers, according to opponents of the law.

The ruling from a panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals came just three days after a federal district judge set aside part of the law, a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. That ruling by Judge Lee Yeakel said the provision served no medical purpose.

The ruling came on an emergency appeal by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, to the conservative 5th Circuit, arguing that the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges is a constitutional use of the Legislature’s authority.

Abortion rights advocates condemned the latest ruling and said the law, passed with great controversy by the Texas Legislature, is unconstitutional and a threat to the health of women.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of health providers in the state, vowed to try to overturn the latest ruling.

AP Abortion Restrictions Senate
Karen McCrocklin, of Dallas, carries a Texas flag with pink running shoes similar to those worn by state Sen. Wendy Davis during her pro-choice filibuster on July 1.(Photo: Jay Janner, AP)
“This fight is far from over,” she said. “This restriction clearly violates Texas women’s constitutional rights by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion statewide. … We will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women in the wake of this ruling.”

The appeals panel said the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital can take effect while a lawsuit moves forward.

Planned Parenthood said that as a result of the latest decision, “abortion will no longer be available in vast stretches of Texas, including areas surrounding Fort Worth, Harlingen, Killeen, McAllen and Waco.”

The panel left in place a portion of Yeakel’s order that prevents the state from enforcing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocol for abortion-inducing drugs in cases where the woman is between 50 and 63 days into her pregnancy. Doctors testifying before the court had said such women would be harmed if the protocol were enforced.

The court’s order is temporary until it can hold a complete hearing, likely in January.

The restrictions are among the toughest in the nation and gained national attention when Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis launched a 13-hour filibuster against them in June. The law also bans abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and beginning in October 2014 requires doctors to perform all abortions in surgical facilities.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Boycott Ender’s Game: My Disappointment with Harrison Ford…

Social Justice For All

Ender's Game (2013) trailer HARRISON FORD (Screengrab)Let’s be clear from the outset. Every ticket sold for the movie Ender’s Game enhances the wealth and well-being of a notorious homophobe. Orson Scott Card has been an enormously successful science fiction and fantasy author and has used his wealth and fame to denigrate and oppose the LGBT community at every turn. Every outlet that promotes the film without acknowledging Card’s opinions and influence is colluding with his vile efforts.

I write this article with a great sadness and heaviness upon my heart, given the first major promotional piece I saw for the film. I was watching the Graham Norton Show as Harrison Ford was promoting the movieShame on Graham Norton for even giving airtime to the nefarious Card and sustaining a heterosexist culture. How ironic that precious minutes of his show were so exceedingly harmful to the LGBT community, including Norton himself.

As we were watching …

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U.S. drops the ball on women’s rights – CNN.com

U.S. drops the ball on women's rights – CNN.com.

(CNN) — From the 50th anniversary this
year of Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine
Mystique” to the recent PBS documentary
“Makers: Women Who Make America” that featured Gloria Steinem and scores more women, it’s easy to
assume that the United States is at the forefront of women’s rights.
But we’re not. Even as the rest of the world celebrates International Women’s Day on Friday — not much
of a holiday here — the United States will also stand out as one of the few countries yet to ratify a major
United Nations treaty designed to bring equality to women everywhere.
Critics of the U.N.’s Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, known as
CEDAW, say it doesn’t reflect American values enough. Here’s what they are missing: The treaty takes
American values of equality and women’s rights and makes them global norms.
Of the 194 U.N. member nations, 187 countries have ratified CEDAW. The United States is among seven
countries that have not — along with the Pacific island nations of Tonga and Palua; Iran, Somalia, South
Sudan and Sudan — not the first countries that come to mind when discussing women’s rights.
President Carter sent CEDAW to the U.S. Senate for advice and consent in 1980. It remains in the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations. The Senate has held hearings on CEDAW five times in the past 25
years but failed each time to bring the treaty to a vote on the floor. Why?
Conservative organizations, such as the Home School Legal Defense Association and Concerned Women
for America, vehemently oppose the ratification of all human rights treaties. They insist that human rights
treaties violate American sovereignty. Thirty-eight Republican senators demonstrated this last December,
when they refused to join their more moderate colleagues in ratifying the Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities.
CEDAW establishes the moral, civic and political equality of women and protects women’s right to be free
from discrimination and violence. Thanks to CEDAW, these values have diffused around the world.

Conservative critics are wrong when they claim that CEDAW
reflects radical feminist views. In fact, a Republican woman,
Nixon appointee Patricia Hutar, persuaded the United Nations
to draft CEDAW. On January 30, 1974, President Nixon called
for the U.S. government to commemorate International
Women’s Year at all levels.
Nixon’s announcement won international accolades and
prompted government officials from around the world to follow
suit. In 1976, President Ford sent a bipartisan delegation comprising many accomplished American
women to Geneva to draft the initial text of CEDAW. Hutar’s skill as a negotiator proved critical in
persuading Communist countries to approve the text of the treaty.
The efforts of those American women paid off. CEDAW works. It has empowered civil society
organizations to demand that governments respect women’s human rights and to adopt policies to limit
sex trafficking, domestic violence, child marriage and discrimination in the workplace.
Opponents have a point when they note that ratifying this document has not prevented some countries
from being the most egregious violators of women’s rights. When the most powerful country in the world
does not support women’s rights, it gives permission for other countries to dismiss their commitment to
improving the status of women. With the United States behind it, CEDAW would have even more clout
than it does.
The United States once led the world in rights for women. In the 1970s, the Democratic and Republican
parties supported a wide array of women’s rights policies, including an Equal Rights Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution, publicly funded child care and equal pay for women.
These efforts weakened once the Republican Party stopped supporting women’s rights. I still believe the
United States is one of the best places in the world to be a woman. I would like to see my country once
again assert global leadership on women’s rights. Ratification of CEDAW is an essential first step.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lisa Baldez.

There Is Still Misogyny in Progressive Movements | The Nation

There Is Still Misogyny in Progressive Movements | The Nation.

It should be a given that sexism and misogyny have no place in progressive political movements. They have no place anywhere in our society, of course, but progressive movements should take extra care to root out sexism as they attempt to model the type of society with which they wish to replace the current one. This is not controversial; it’s the bare minimum of what it means to be progressive.

Last week, Brittney Cooper, a professor at Rutgers University and contributor to Salon.com, spoke on a panel at the Brecht Forum in Brooklyn, New York, on the concepts of “ally, privilege, and comrade” when building coalition across social justice movements. By her account of what happened during this discussion, the theme of the evening was completely undermined. At the Crunk Feminist Collective blog, she writes:

So there I sat on a panel with a white woman and a Black man. As a Black feminist, I never quite know how political discussions will go down with either of these groups. Still I’m a fierce lover of Black people and a fierce defender of women.

The brother shared his thoughts about the need to “liberate all Black people.” It sounded good. But since we were there to talk about allyship, I needed to know more about his gender analysis, even as I kept it real about how I’ve been feeling lately about how much brothers don’t show up for Black women, without us asking, and prodding, and vigilantly managing the entire process.

In a word, I was tired.

I shared that. Because surely, a conversation about how to be better allies to each other, is a safe space.

This brother was not having it. He did not plan to be challenged, did not plan to have to go deep, to interrogate his own shit. Freedom-talk should’ve been enough for me.

But I’m grown. And I know better. So I asked for more.

I got cut off, yelled at, screamed on. The moderator tried gently to intervene, to ask the brother to let me speak, to wait his turn. To model allyship. To listen. But to no avail. The brother kept on screaming about his commitment to women, about all he had “done for us,” about how I wasn’t going to erase his contributions.

Then he raised his over 6 foot tall, large brown body out of the chair, and deliberately slung a cup of water across my lap, leaving it to splash in my face, on the table, on my clothes, and on the gadgets I brought with me.

Appalling doesn’t begin to describe this man’s actions. He not only attempted to silence her, he took it a step further by physically assaulting her, in a public space no less. I consider Cooper a friend and comrade, and when I heard this story I was furious. What happened was uncalled for and indefensible on every level. But even more frustrating was the lack of intervention by the moderators and audience on Cooper’s behalf. Here was this black woman being shouted down, verbally abused, at a panel about how to be better allies, and a whole room full of people declined the opportunity to truly be there for her. Understandably, some in the audience may have been too shocked or even afraid to step in. But could no one think of the fear that Cooper felt? Eventually, she says, three men did restrain the man who had assaulted her, but not until after she had experienced “humiliation… loneliness… weariness… and anger…”

For years, black feminists have been outspoken about how the mainstream civil rights movement and more militant black liberation movements have marginalized the voices of black women and far too often mimicked the patriarchal and sexist ideas of the larger society, all the while calling it revolution. It’s anything but. Michele Wallace, in her book Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, explained as much. There is no revolution if at the end of it you ask any group of people to continue their subjugation. Yet even with the work of Angela Davis, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, June Jordan and so many others at our disposal, we have failed to make use of their wisdom and eradicate sexist thinking from movements meant to be progressive in nature.

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To be clear, this isn’t only an issue with black men or movements aimed at ending racism. We can look at the current embrace and subsequent rejection of comedian Russell Brand as revolutionary savior for another example, or take a quick scan of Twitter to watch the interactions between progressive men and women of all colors to see how sexism is either found acceptable or ignored when men’s politics are otherwise laudable. But that shouldn’t be the model we follow. We should constantly challenge the sexism and misogyny of our peers (and ourselves) if we are truly committed to progressive change. We shouldn’t allow it to get to the point where we’re reacting to assault and then patting ourselves on the back because we would never do that. Revolution requires more work.

“I learned a lesson,” Cooper writes, “everybody wants to have an ally, but no one wants to stand up for anybody.” We especially don’t want to stand up when it means our own power and privilege, no matter how little we are afforded, may be stripped away from us. Men who talk a good game about revolution but continue to be invested in the perceived gains of patriarchy, sexism and misogyny not only do a disservice to the movements they part of but also, more importantly, the people for whom they claim to be fighting.

In New York, Connecticut and Ohio, students are demanding an end to gender violence.

Cervical cancer vaccine misses minority women, study finds – NBC News.com

Cervical cancer vaccine misses minority women, study finds – NBC News.com.

Oct. 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM ET

Two cervical cancer vaccines that are recommended for all pre-teen and early teen boys and girls miss the strains most likely to infect black women, researchers reported Monday.

But a new vaccine in advanced development may protect against many more of the strains, and in the meantime researchers say parents should definitely keep vaccinating their kids.

The findings, presented at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, raise questions about whether minorities are adequately represented in research on new drugs and vaccines. More and more research shows that genetics plays a big role in how people respond to treatments, and this study shows that a virus passed from person to person in the most intimate of settings varies based on ethnic and social groups.

“It looks like we have different strains by race,” Cathrine Hoyo, an associate professor in Duke University’s obstetrics and gynecology department, told NBC News in a telephone interview.

“African-American women are about 20 percent more likely to develop cervical cancer and almost twice as likely to die from the disease compared with non-Hispanic white women,” Hoyo added.

Human papillomavirus may be the most common sexually transmitted infection. There are 40 different strains, and virtually everyone gets infected with one strain or another at least once in their lives. Usually, the body can clear it, but sometimes, the virus damages cells and causes cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 79 million Americans are infected with HPV right now, with 14 million more catching it each year.

It causes a range of cancers, including most cases of cervical cancer – which is diagnosed in more than 10,000 U.S. women every year. It can also cause head and neck cancer, including cancers of the throat and tongue, anal cancer and cancer of the penis. Actor Michael Douglas blamed HPV for his own case of head and neck cancer.

Hoyo’s team looked closely at 516 women being tested after having suspicious Pap smears. These tests look for changes in cells that could signal cancer. If something looks wrong, women get a follow-up examination called a colposcopy, where damaged-looking cells are removed and tested for both cancer and for HPV.

More than 70 percent of the women did have HPV infections. Most had more than one strain of the virus. White women had the most common strains, including HPV 16, 18, 31 and 45. African-Americans women were more likely to have HPV 33, 35, 58 and 68.

“African-American women were half as likely to carry HPV 18,” Hoyo said. That strain is included in both commercial HPV vaccines – Merck’s Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix. Gardasil protects against 6, 11, 16 and 18, while Cervarix protects against 16 and 18.

Hoyo says the findings do not mean that parents should delay vaccinating their kids. “I would do it now and do it again with the new vaccine,” Hoyo says.

Merck says Gardasil protects against 75 percent of cervical cancer cases. It’s in the final stages of developing a new HPV vaccine that protects against nine different strains of virus – it adds HPV 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 to the mix.