Every time I think this wacky four year ride also known as, The Trump Presidency,” can’t get any stranger it always responds with…
There were certainly notable stories this week: Alabama rallied back from a 17 point deficit to beat Georgia in a game strangely reminiscent of that Falcons — Patriots Superbowl game we ALL recall. Oprah Winfrey gave such a resounding speech at the Golden Globes that it caused pundits and morning news shows to debate the question of whether or not she would run for President. (They even had Gayle on TV giving the bestie update). Tickets for Marvel’s newest movie, Black Panther, went on sale and we black folks bought tickets like they just announced the LAST Frankie Beverly and Maze concert. Immigration officers raided 7-Eleven stores across the country, Walmart credited the republican tax plan for helping them raise their minimum wage — then promptly turned around and closed 63 stores, and there seemed to be some bipartisan effort to address DACA until the shithole happened.
Nevertheless, the drama of this administration often keeps us from seeing real stories and real issues that can and should have meaningful impact on our lives. These are stories we should share, talk about and remember. Here are three I think worth noting.
Daniel Holtzclaw gets 263 years
In 2015, ex-cop Daniel Holtzclaw was brought to trial for the crimes of sexual assault and rape on poor black women in Oklahoma City. Under the impression that no one would believe reports of “these” women, Holtzclaw terrorized black women ranging in age from a 17 year old child to a 67 year old grandmother. This week, Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 for the rapes and assaults of these women. That’s right. A white cop was sentenced to 263 years in jail for assaulting black women. While credit must be given to the women who suffered, reported and testified against Holtzclaw, credit should also be shared with those few officers that LISTENED to them and followed up with real investigation of their stories. These women were not dismissed and instead, given the benefit of a full and thorough investigation which yielded the conviction of rapist masquerading as a law enforcement officer. Imagine what could happen if we got that kind of cooperation in investigating police shootings of unarmed black men…
Moms Take on the EPA
In a very surprising move, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt invited members of Moms Clean Air Force to a sit down meeting in his office. My first thought was, “Boo, this ain’t what you want!”
The members of Moms Clean Air Force are a strong, well educated, highly motivated group of mothers that are SERIOUS about clean air and protecting children’s health. The group has over 1 million moms and dads nationwide and are active on a local, state, and federal level. Short story: they are NOT here to play politics with anyone, do NOT screw with them about kids health.
I’m not sure what Mr. Pruitt THOUGHT he was going to get out of this meeting, but as a mother, a member, and a former EPA official, I was so proud to read that mothers held their ground. Mr. Pruitt was forced to listen to how he was attempting to destroy methane regulations, allow polluters to get away freely since he’s gotten rid of the enforcement division and made us look like fools on the world stage because he thought is was ok to leave the Paris Climate Agreement. (My words not theirs, but somewhere in my mind I just envision a group of mamas with a switch in one hand saying, “You bet NOT make any more changes you hear!” ) I applaud groups like Moms Clean Air Force for tackling this administration head on. We should support and join groups that are doing this work. Read an in depth account of the meeting here.
Meanwhile in Oregon…
Remember that Bundy standoff a few years ago with militia that took over federal lands? Well, they did it again and this time, no one is really doing a thing about it. Members of various white militia groups have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and set up a dummy government. Federal authorities are taking no action and the FBI is sitting at the airport — literally. The group believes that the land inherently belongs to them and ranchers should be allowed to use the land without penalty. (It is important to note that the State of Oregon was originally deemed a “White only” state; people of color, were barred from citizenship until 1926.) They have even likened the takeover to that of the Black Lives Matter movement. Once again, the exercised white privilege of this and similar groups is broad ranging and wide reaching. They’ve managed to take over several local establishments, threaten local law enforcement, shut down schools for a week and even run the sheriff's wife out of town. Members of the Burns Paiute Tribe are frustrated (as well they should be) at the lack of response by state and federal officials. They’ve had to watch in horror as militia members toss around their artifacts and ceremonial items that are kept on site. This is one to watch as I doubt this administration does nothing more than allow them to continue in the nice warm, cozy, WiFi establishment and be white men.
There are dozens more stories that deserve our attention. Slurpies and Shitholes are entertaining, but we must watch how our elected officials respond and handle many of the local issues that hit us quickly and in the spaces we live everyday. Don’t ignore the obvious. Talk about it. Stay woke.
Heather McTeer Toney served as the first African American, first female and youngest mayor of Greenville, MS. She was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Regional Administrator for the US Environmental Protection Agency in the Southeast Region. Mrs. Toney currently manages her own consulting firm and is a sought after speaker. She loves triathlons and bacon; and at any time, can be found chasing her toddler or riding in classic cars with her husband and daughter. Follow Heather on twitter at www.twitter.com/heathermcteer and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/heathermcteertoney