Joyce’s BOOK BLOG No. 4

Political, Historical, and Cultural Books for Gifts

The Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance is Hurting Women, Men and Our Economy
By Caryl Rivers, Rosalind C. Barnett

Michelle Obama In Her Own Words
Michelle Obama

Chasing Light: Through the Lens of a White House Photographer
Amanda Lucidon

A Collection of Poems — Gwendolyn Brooks
By Gwendolyn Brooks, A Myers

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010

The Complete Poetry — Maya Angelou

Incendiary Art — Poems
Patricia Smith

Collected Poems — 1950-2012
Adrienne Rich
Introduction by Claudia Rankine

Joyce’s Book Blog No. 2

Franklin: Queen of Soul
Celebrating 50 Years of R-E-S-P-E-CT: By Essence Editors

At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Aretha released the album Respect, her best-selling album, and this is its 50th anniversary coinciding with five decades of the movement with the Respect boomerang with rock and roll through civil rights marches and in homes where tortured souls and foot soles relaxed. You could say it was the bugle call for freedom and justice resounding today, rejecting the hype of “we have overcome.”

This masterpiece with historical, illustrious, and memorable photographs and essays from long-time, writerly friends and fans of Aretha is a keepsake. Those original fans range from civil rights activists to baby boomers who grew up with Respect. All races and ethnicities worldwide know Respect, and it is the song for all times.

To Aretha with love and respect from young and old music connoisseurs, including President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, my baby sister, Renalysis, and, of course, me. We will run to the bookstore or race through new releases from electronic books or Kindle Readers for this must-have.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Aretha and R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Respect and love for humanity and your higher power. Mine is God.

Joyce’s BOOK BLOG No. 1 

Political, Historical, and Cultural Books for Gifts

Be Fierce: Stop Sexual Harassment and Take Back Your Power and Getting Real. By Gretchen Carlson who writes eloquently about the harrowing sexual harassment upstaging her life and about the cruel after effects from unsuspecting reactions.

With the recent outings of sexual harassment and rich and powerful men falling down from lofty ladders and reputations busted, Carlson’s memoirs are timely, essential, and a need-to-read.

The  bugle call of a  culture clash between genders, but women are below their rightful pay grade. Rich men reached the pinnacle of success while women’s careers are often stalled or in abstentia. They clawed for ecomonic viability but lack parity with salaries of  77 cents on the dollar of the average man. 

Nevermind that arrival of women with a seemingly cultural shift is a drip in a dipper after eons of gender bias and sexual misbehavior. Without an attitude reversal, lasting change in culture is unchangeable. Carlson acknowleges that #MeToo is a start.

What next? Carlson’s lumnious and insightful account is based on firsthand knowledge of aforementioned hidden horrors crossing every corner of society, and she circulates protective steps in the uprising of exposed gender violence.

Gender violence — misogyny and sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence — a broad threat to gender equality. Carlson recognizes that this debaucle of power and control reaches far and wide from boardrooms, media, business, from Hollywood to Congress to construction bosses to bar owners…on and on. 

Women and supportive men are fighting back.  Carlson got off the political foot stool and stepped across the runway like a Super Model, emerging as a leader putting truth to power. She empathizes with pain and courage for women. She knows that  education and understanding are vital along with “how and what to do if…”

Ever woman and ever man who loves her needs to read Carlson’s memoirs. She unburdens her soul and unchains the gender bender and bashing, and sorts out a roadmap.  Anyone who wants to know more should read her illuminating word.

Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America
Edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding

Twenty-three feminists who’re successful writers voiced protest and solidarity in essays on Trump’s America and the danger to women’s progress. Yes, the election is over, and distraught not anger is the outcome. The discomfort and agony still dig deep into the country’s psyche, of voters who caused Hillary Clinton to win the popular vote. Hence, a logical question is where to now, and the response is to wield power in the backlash. I call it the Beat Back.

 But I’m still bewildered about 53% of white women who voted for Donald Trump and proud of the 94% of African American women who voted for Clinton.So are the diverse group of writers who personalized the disparaging and exhausting election. It’s unquestionable to them that when Clinton, a qualified political veteran, lost the highest glass ceiling, all women lost, and bravo to African American women for their much-needed, valuable stance for women’s rights. 

The rest of Clinton voters know they aren’t anomalies in disgust, agony, and concern about the Nasty Woman tag Donald Trump pinned on Clinton. In response, the writers defined Nasty Woman that then-presidential contender Trump called Clinton a Nasty Woman in the third debate, the epitome of emotional abuse, albeit, and mysogyny, the fallout against womanhood and feminism in the 21st Century. 

Nasty Woman demeans women for being aggressive, disagreeable, challenging, or occupying the ultimate high position of power. The presidency is the highest vestige of the challenge. They observed that Trump was so angry they feared he’d slug her after looming over her like a stalker.

The writers suggested a teachable time about where America stands in equal opportunity and encourages a turn from discomfort into comfort in pushing the revolution and forging a new struggle against inequality for “equality and justice.” If anyone is left out, everyone loses — a tenet of equal rights. That’s the lesson from the book Nasty Woman. But if nothing more, the meaning of these two potent words could be reminders that more work is necessary in the 21st Century.

 “We have an opportunity, and obligation, to ensure that the next wave of feminist activism is so clearly defined that it will be impossible for conservative women to ignore…” The feminine voting gap is about how women and men should behave with norms to achieve good and respectable qualities, said M. Talusan, an immigrant and trans sexual woman of color. Neither of these detractors want to disavow that men are privileged power players forever, and too many Americans believe that president is for men only.

The essayists didn’t elaborate, but hinted that the old traps of subordination is unacceptable for women in high-profile careers — especially presidential contenders. These modern “feminists” are persumed to reject their rightful role of homemaker, bottle and dish washer, cook, and for bedroom duties. Black femmes and trans women don’t fall for treacherous tricks, aging fundamentals, and haven’t forgotten their greater burden of fighting oppression, she said.

I read this book with intensified joy and a desire reread it again and again.

Am Woman: Impact of 2017 International Women’s Day Marches. By Sarah Sutherland

The largest march ever with millions of women in a global march on inauguration weekend, putting threats against equality before the world, since women’s right to vote approved in 1920. A shock. They weren’t about to turn back. Some veteran feminists, lesbians, and other first time protestors walked in cold clime. Others in hot weather. Others in snow.

Sutherland brought readers behind-the-scenes insights and profiles of some marchers, and her perspectives about the goals and impact. She enhanced TV footage and soundbites of a day in vivid color and insightfulness.

The march challenges us all to consider gender successes and the potential of a new presidency, expecting progress not regression and stay inspired and focused.

Get This

Health care isn’t about politics. Health care isn’t about money. It’s about who or what America is. It’s about security of life. It’s about value of humanity. It’s about you, your family, your friend, your co-worker with cancer. It’s about you, your family – children, mother, father, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend – your friends, your neighbor, or your co-workers with cancer standing in the wing, waiting to pounce without warning. Money won’t matter because even the richest Americans will take a meat cleaver blow to their bank account. Riches won’t save your life if money is more important so you hang on to the purse strings too long before diagnosis. Disease outbreaks are like bullets, they have no names on them.

Health care is about disabilities, Alzheimer’s, HIV, Opioid or drug overdose, and other long-term, catastrophic costs.  Heath care is about nursing homes with people like my 52-year-old sister who’s been there for nearly three years; it’s about those in need of at-home nursing care; it’s about the mentally ill. You get the point, I hope. If not, health care needs don’t have to knock on your door today, but who knows what tomorrow may bring. If my sister had had health care for basic treatment she wouldn’t have had that massive, near death stroke because the underlying cause was treatable.

Ask any used-to-be healthy person who got slapped with an unprovoked severe illness or death threat if they could’ve predicted that heart attack, that breast cancer diagnosis (a life-saving mammogram has reduced the death rate}, and the babies born with heart defect. We know where we’ve been, but, I guarantee, we don’t know where we’re going.

As President Obama said, health care speaks volumes about who we are as a country. I say, also, it’s about who we are as humans and what blood of love runs through our veins. We fought and died to bring America into the country we are today, but equality of living, and equality and justice for all, is a never-ending struggle and sacrifice.

We can wake up in the morning in need of the basics or have an abundance of gifts like those who’re already well known, already comfortable, and already successful. Most of us are NOT. Somebody has been there to catch us in a fall. They had to because that’s who we are as Americans. Being cavalier and about me-me-me is not who we are as a country.

Things You May Not Know

Barack Obama was criticized by African Americans as many others declare he wasn’t. There’s an entire book by a powerful, respectful black writer, Eric Jerome Dyson, who says the former prez didn’t represent us or do enough for us. And worse, he accused Obama of demeaning us.

Other African Americans complain of the same issues though he rightfully committed himself to represent all citizens. The critics continue to assail the first president whose black, and they expect much without paying homage for what he’s accomplished on the national and world stage.

Obama had a heavy burden not to exclude the most vile and racial discrimination he endured. Just imagine being the most powerful leader in the free world fighting inner and outer worlds — racial on one front and intra-racial demands from blacks on the other and nary a scandal without praise.

Meanwhile it was erroneous for blacks who say he neglected us, and of whites who accuse him of being president for blacks.

“You’ve had the president for eight years now it’s our turn,” says some Caucasions. Yeah like 200 years? White. White. White and vice presidents.

You don’t miss your water till the bucket is empty.

Oh, by the way, Mr. Dyson could have and should have had something positive about “Yes, we did” like the 15 or other white writers. I’m not going to trash Dyson’s book. I think people should read it and “like it” or not.

When Loving You is Right

Say you love me, and I’ll release 100 doves from my window in your honor.

Say you love me, and I’ll buy you a dark chocolate Dove and fan you while you eat it.

Promise me you won’t croon for another, and I’ll write you a poem…buy you a beer.

If you don’t dream of dancing with Denzel and tell me with glee, I’ll buy that red dress and we’ll dance all night.

I won’t give you that Let’s be Friends excuse if I can brag about your booty. If I can brag about your tight buns and chiseled chest.

If you’ll go cruising with me in my Classic Thunderbird, I’ll run with you through woods at night, or if you go to Wrestle Mania with me, I’ll teach you to swim.

I’ll skip band practice if you’ll watch an action movie with me. I know you don’t like violent movies but we’d be together.

If you’ll hike with me in the Himalayas, I’ll take you to the Bahamas on vacation.

If you’ll spend the night with me, I’ll make breakfast for you. But you must promise not criticize my cooking.

If you’ll love me, I’ll love you back. Requited love is the ultimate ride through life.

What’s The Woman Card?

Being a woman is The Woman Card. He or She who does not know their history is likely to make a foolish comment, sticking foot in a lead boot.

What being a woman means has a long list of lingering business.

  1. When speaking about women’s lives, we don’t need to focus on women’s issues. Do we? Women and men are treated equally? Right? The gender gap is a myth. OK? Aren’t women and men treated equally? For real? Aren’t women given equal rights under the Constitution? Oh, well, the answer is “no” all day long.
  2. Every 90 seconds a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth.
  3. Forty percent of U. S. births are born to unmarried women, but we don’t need planned parenthood.Right?
  4. Instead of chest pains, heart attacks in women have nausea, indigestion and shoulder aches. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women out of 22 others including Breast Cancer.
  5. One in every six women has been the victim of sexual assault in the U.S.
  6. Women earn 77 cent of a dollar of men’s salaries.
  7. Every 13 minutes a woman dies from breast cancer in the U.S.
  8. One in five women are sexual assaulted before age 15.
  9. Depression is the No. 1 cause of disability in women.
  10. Of the 154.7 million women in the nation, 83 million are mothers.

Sources: Karen J. Carlson, Terra Ziporyn, and Stephanie Eisenstat, 2004, The New Harvard Guide to Women Health.

Ellen Debois and Lynn Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents, 2005, Cranbury, N.J., Bedford, St. Martins.

Oxford English Dictionary 2nd edition, 20 Vols, 1989, Oxford University Press.

Sarah B. Pomeroy, Women’s Health and Ancient History, Chapel Hill,N.C., University of North Carolina 1991.

Michael Reilly, Girls Born in the Tropics Accessed, April 15, 2009.

United Nations State Division, States and Indications on women and Men, 2006.

U.S. Census Bureau, Women’s History Month, 2009, assessed.