Monthly Archives: March 2013

Why I don’t support same-sex marriage…

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I don’t support same-sex marriage…  I also don’t support interracial marriage…  And shit, don’t even get me going about those damn heterosexual marriages… 

Seriously, I am pro-marriage. I support the notion that people should be able to fall in love, date, maybe get married (and statistically speaking possibly get divorced), find their connection, connect to their soul mate, have a kid… or two… or a tribe… and live their lives. I support the notion that anyone who decides to enter into a marriage should experience the daily grind and the less “sexy” part of the whole institution of marriage.

There is no reason why government should get in the way of that. The issue of marriage in any capacity is a matter of human rights. As human beings, we deserve the right to love and if desired, marry another human being. We deserve to share a life with someone we love legally in every sense of the word; which means being afforded the same protections as heterosexuals. This issue, of same-sex marriage is as ridiculous and inane as suggesting we revisit the legality of interracial marriage or a women’s right to vote in the United States. The reality is we should not be debating the issue.  The reality is, the issue of equal rights is a matter of human rights… You don’t have to agree, nor should you stand in the way.

So this week the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will convene on two related issues. The first, today, California’s prop 8 (the argument recap by Lyle Denniston can be found here) and the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s important to put this in perspective…

In 1967, the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage in the United States. The Court determined that to deny a couple the right to marry regardless of race was anti-miscegenation and unconstitutional. Prior to this decision, many states had already decided to legalize interracial marriage; ergo, individual states were allowing interracial couples to marry while the federal government was not legally recognizing the marriage (sound familiar). In 1967, the Supreme Court determined the fate of marriage among the races in this country. Based on their own arguments, if the court held this to be the case in 1967, why should this argument not be applicable in 2013? Clarence Thomas might want to consider these facts when he looks at his white wife… It was only 46 years ago that the Court upon which he serves as judge legalized and formalized interracial marriage. He has an obligation to consider the weight of this argument.

If we really want to respect and protect the notion of marriage and family, then we have an obligation to legalize and recognize marriage among two consenting adults… We have an obligation to be pro-love and pro-marriage.

A culture of rape – Steubenville and beyond…

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“She got so raped…” A comment made “in jest” when a 16 year old girl was video taped being raped by high school football players.

We live in a culture of acceptability when it comes to rape. Don’t sit there shaking your head, we do. When you consider the number of little girls, teens, and women sexually assaulted in this country annually, it’s very clear to me that we do live in a culture of acceptability when it comes to rape. We are raising our children to be completely oblivious to it and our girls to be powerless in it.

Most recently, this played out in Steubenville, OH. For those with their heads in the sand, Steubenville, OH is the scene of the most recent rape of a 16 year old girl who was either drugged or drunk and passed out. While passed out, the victim was taped repeatedly raped and urinated on; the act was then subsequently disseminated among her classmates. While there is an ongoing investigation regarding how many other students were involved in the assault, this week we saw the conviction of two primary suspects, both age 16, Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays. The boys were members of their high school football team and were clearly seen participating in the sexual assault of and dissemination of sexually explicit material of a minor.  They will have to go to jail and register as sex offenders. But its the media coverage of this has been telling.  From CNN to Fox News, the coverage has been slanted such that the victim in this case, continues to be victimized. There is a level of sympathy and protection afforded the rapists that does not extend to the victim.  In fact, about 9 hours ago, two teen girls from Steubenville were caught and charged with threatening and menacing the victim for reporting the rape.  This the culture of rape.

Recently, rape victim Lydia Cuomo took her case to the New York State legislature. In September, Ms. Cuomo was “brutalized” at gun point by a New York City police officer in an alley. The jury did not convict the officer of rape because of a lack of “credible evidence”.  That lack of evidence extended to the fact that Ms. Cuomo could not remember the color a a nearby car and was sodomized (raped anally) rather than being raped vaginally. Ms. Cuomo was then further victimized by New York State Senator Catherine Young who had agreed to to introduce legislation that would close the loophole to categorize forced anal sex as rape. Senator Young received some push back from legal lobbyist who were concerned the language would create more difficulty obtaining rape conviction, so at the 11th hour, without informing Ms. Cuomo, she changed the language in her bill. Kudos to Ms. Cuomo for going public with her story and shame on Ms. Young for actions. This is the culture of rape.

Last November, in Texas, an 11 year old girl was gang raped by 20 men and teens. The defense attorney for one of the defendants, Jared Len Cruse suggested at the trial that it was the girl’s fault for attracting these men to rape her.  How an 11-year-old could know enough to be a “temptress” for one much less 20 men unless she’s been repeatedly subjected to sexual abuse is one thing.  But to suggest it in defense of the man who set her to be rape up is beyond absurd.  Again, blame the victim; this is the culture of rape.

Yesterday, it was reported that a Swedish couple was attacked while biking in India; the man was beaten and tied up while his wife was gang raped. Local officials there are suggesting it was the woman’s fault (partially) for the attack; they were apparently guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and not alerting authorities to their presence in the province. While this part of India is known for being dangerous, this information is only known to locals; again, this is the culture of rape.

This was also the consensus in the Dehli gang rape case where a young woman was repeatedly beaten and raped on a bus by five men including the bus driver while traveling with a male companion; she subsequently died from her wounds. In Egypt, reporter, Lara Logan was repeatedly and brutally raped by men who were “celebrating” the resignation of Hosni Mubarak; she was ultimately saved by a group of women and 20 soldiers. It took over 20 people to intervene in her attack. This is the culture of rape.

The rape statistics in the United States alone are striking. According to the website, One in Four, 1 in 4 women in college have reported either surviving a rape or an attempted rape since their 14th birthday.  That means, on average between the ages of 14 and 22, 15% of females have been raped and 12% have survived an attempted rape. According the to Center for Disease Control, based on a sample of 5,000 respondents, 20% reported being forced to submit to sexual intercourse against their will and 42% of respondents never informed anyone of the rape. This means by the time your daughter, sister, cousin, wife, niece, friend, neighbor, etc.gets to college, she has a 1 in 4 chance of either having already been raped or will be raped.  And 42% of rape victims, she may not talk about it until years later.

For those who travel outside of the continental United States, a whopping 19%-28% of college age women report having been raped or having had a rape attempt take place in locations where they are typically they are treated much worse than here in America.

And unlike years past, where rape was a quiet thing to be covered up, where a victim might shower, cry, become depressed and withdrawn from the world while to cope and figure out how to make sense of something that feels like getting hit by mac truck, we now have social media and smart phones. In this way, young men are able to treat girls as less than human publicly and text, tweet, and invite public comment about it. And it’s become a joke, socially acceptable behavior among the teenage set and the victim gets to relive this over and over again. This also happened in Steubenville.

I recall dating a guy in my 20’s and we were talking about the notion of rape generally. His response was very a dismissive, “I know so many chicks that have been raped, sexually assaulted, or molested, what’s going on with y’all?”  I remember being struck by the ‘what’s going on with y’all’ because in my mind, I wondered what the hell was wrong with the men in our society.

I am not always quick to blame the media and music’s sexualization of women (Lil’ Kim, Kim Karshashian, Nicki Minaj), but there is a there, there. Most recently, Lil’ Wayne released a video called Love Me. In this video, the women who “love him” are in cages and contraptions that are indicative of a BDSM culture. Seriously? You put non-human things in cages, you put animals in cages…  The indication in this is that these women love him even while treated as sub-human, to be used sexually…  Like the aforementioned women. The inference is that they invite this, they like this, they want this… That’s the culture of rape and misogyny.

Something has happened in our society. Somehow, we’ve come to a place where the general population thinks it’s okay to go beyond objectifying women and straight up not even seeing women as human. Women aren’t being treated as soulful creatures, rather they are being drugged up, literally pissed on, and fucked in the the worst and most demeaning way imaginable. Something has happened where we have society that appears to lack a collective consciousness and women are people who should be debased and discarded like shit on the bottom of a shoe.

The other important factor here is that many rapists do not define what they do as rape. According to One in Four, 8% of men surveyed admit to engaging in acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. And among these respondents, 84% said what they did was definitely not rape. This means that there is a clear disconnect between what constitutes rape and what men perceive as rape. One in five men have reported being so aroused that they felt they couldn’t stop themselves from having intercourse with a female, even though she did not consent and 35% of men said they would engage in some degree of rape if they could be assured that they would not get caught or punished. (Is it me or is anyone else having a “what the fuck” moment here?)

We can all point to a number of things that are taking place in our society starting with a general sense of soceital decay, but somewhere, somehow, our boys are getting the message that this behavior is okay. And in the cases identified, this time they got caught, so chances are they were pushing those limits and boundaries on some other girl before and no one was saying anything, whether the girls silenced themselves or were silenced by others.

We have to empower our daughters to speak up about being raped. We have to give our girls the skill set, support, and resources to be outspoken bout being raped.  We have to stop the stigma and the notion that somehow its the victims fault. We have to stop having pre-conceived notions of what a rape victim looks like, dresses like, or is like. We have to get angry, as men, as women, as parents, as lovers, as friends, as family members, as friends, as people who just give a damn about other human beings. We have to be present and mindful about comments are made in front of boys about females.  My 10 year-old-daughter has been verbally assaulted by boys who “say suck my dick” and refer to girls as bitches with enough confidence and regularity that it’s clear those boys are learning it in their home environment. We have to instill in our kids a basic level of respect for each other as human beings. And we need to address this “pack” mentality so that we aren’t just having to address one rapist, but the rapists that are engaging in this behavior.

Across America, there will always be those towns and cities that have the elite athletes who are protected and heralded as the second coming of the messiah… And that’s fine. But these kids need to know about respect, accountability, and bullying… yes, bullying. Because the strong should not take advantage of the weak. Because men do not treat women like that. Because no one should feel intimidated by their peer group to engage in a gang rape. Because this culture of rape as it has evolved is sick and twisted in the worst way possible and continually morphing unless we stop it.

And because in college, I  became part of that one in four club… and I will make damn sure it is not a club my daughter or nieces join.

“She got so raped…” That shit is not a fucking joke.

Race and Class in America… My story.

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Earlier this month I turned 40. Forty (for me) has brought about a number of things including a greater desire to engage in discussions that might be deemed controversial.  I find myself harking back to my college days where I liked to challenge people’s perceptions and ideas (mostly respectfully). Those who know me well, know I love to play Devil’s Advocate just to see where people sincerely are coming from. Recently, in celebration of my impeding 40th year, I was having drinks with several colleagues and associates and one of my long time acquaintances made some comment about my lifelong “privilege” (their words, not mine). Apparently, that “privilege” being my skin color (which I suppose is fairly light), light-ish brown eyes, and whatever features or hair type is deemed as “privileged”.  However, the truth is, any Caucasian from Brooklyn to Florida will look at me and know that I am NOT a white woman of European descent nor do I share that particular privilege.

On the flip side, African Americans will look at me and know that I am one of many multiple mixtures that exist among the various people of African descent, especially those who come from cultures and countries that have been colonized over the centuries. Latinos will look at me and…  well, that’s a really mixed bag. I say that only because of the recent acceptance of the term “Afro-Latina”. A term has more recntly come into the mainstream American consciousness thanks to actresses like Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson. 

But here’s my reality. I was born to a very brown first generation born Bajan (Barbados for those who don’t know) woman and a white looking (green eyes and all) Puerto Rican man. That makes me Caribbean American or a BajaRican.  During the 70’s and 80’s most people who saw my parents just assumed I was bi-racial but my father does not (let me repeat, DOES NOT) consider himself white, he considers himself Puerto Rican, pure Boricua, nothing else.  Papi’s (what I still call my father) consistent attitude over the last 75 years of his life has been he knows who and what he is, you don’t need to get it because it doesn’t matter, the ONLY thing you need to know  is that he is Puerto Rican. He only identifies culturally, and yes, as a Puerto Rican if you didn’t get it the first couple of times, he doesn’t do the race thing and won’t be baited to playing that game.

My mother grew up in the 60’s here in America and quickly assimilated into African American culture (Bajan’s weren’t a prevailing majority in Brooklyn) and so she was Bajan at home and “Black” when she was out in the world.  That means all the issues faced and bore by brown women during my mother’s formative years were her experiences. Ultimately, as many did in her generation, she felt her brown skin, full lips, curly hair were ugly. She grew to hate light skinned women (yes, careful what you hate, it has a habit of ending up RIGHT in your family and in my mother’s case, in her womb).  My mother attended Erasmus Hall HS here in Brooklyn, when the majority of students were White and Jewish (a la Barbara Streisand), and high achieving. In spite of that, she was encouraged by her guidance counselor to be a cleaning lady because she was told she would not achieve much else. Ultimately, to my mother’s credit, her confidence and encouragement to succeed came through joining the civil rights movement and owned her Blackness. She went on to obtain a BA, 2 Masters, and her Doctorate. (Just saying she’s pretty kick ass).

Why all this context?  Because this is where I come from, this is who I am, these are my people, this is my culture. These are the stories and realities that surrounded me as I was growing up as a culturally mixed girl in a pre- hipster, pre-Obama Brooklyn. Where bi-racial was sort of new and folks only identied as either/or. I was warmly welcomed by Black Americans and rejected by Latinos for not looking like a “typical” Latina. Nor did I “behave” like a typical Latina because my father did not raise me to wait on men, cater to men, or take care of men. I was raised to be an independent, opinionated, un-accented, and assertive woman. Not the qualities my Latinos were really big on during my adolescent years. Oh yeah, and I was “too dark”. Too dark to be a true Latina. Never mind that in Puerto Rico I saw A LOT of Boricua’s that looked like me. But the NuyoRican culture here, didn’t quite embrace it (yet). So, here in Nueva York, I didn’t quite the fit. But my lighter Puerto Rican cousins did. The overall result?. I stayed away from the Latino community for years dismissing my Puerto Rican side totally. My resentment and anger remains close to the surface with Latinos.  I have managed it better, I am learning to get over it, but I won’t lie, I still walk with it often.

Why is THIS important? Because these collectives experiences, while sometimes painful, never felt like a “privilege”, rather it served to help shape my view of race in America. Ultimately, once I entered undersgrad at Chatham College and joined the Black Student Union, I suddenly found myself dealing with African Americans women who were not New Yorkers and the issue of race relative to the light/dark dissent became more of an obvious issue in my world; while I came to realize that it was really someone else’s issue, the reality is that I had to bear a portion of someone else’s anger due to this social construct that we’ve agreed to abide by. 

This experience helped shape my views in identifying the real core issue here – race as a means to division will always keep people from observing and acting on class struggle. During the process of self identification, I sought to identify culturally, rather than racially. In doing so, I sought to challenge everyone rather than concede to the either/or notion – no one was exempt, my parents, friends, family, and strangers.  Ultimately, I found solace in those women of any race who had a shared socioeconomic class experience with me. While I still struggled around the “race” issue, I found that in spite of race, having a common concern as women, as women seeking education, as women who were seeking to define themselves as thinking beings rather than a mixed chick from Brooklyn, or a pretty Black girl from Maryland, or a White girl from Harrisburg, we were much stronger when we focused on shared issues, experiences, and concerns in our world. This led me to realize that coming together on matters related to class are much more dangerous to the status quo because it serves to unite people rather than divide.  

Race is no small thing in America. It’s a very hard and emotional thing for us because of the historical context by which we understand it. Truthfully, I think we love to talk about it, cling to it, talk around it, make inferences about, but ultimately, I am not convinced we can never address it to a satisfactory resolution. Race can be utilized temporarily to bring us together under tough circumstances but ultimately, the divisions continue to arise. Because every group here and abroad that has historically been colonized by Europeans has had the wonderful parting gift of being divided according that socially constructed idea of “race”.  Slave masters firmly established the concept of race into our collective psyches during the horrific period of slavery in America and it has remained since. The Spanish did it to the Taino Indians (which were the original inhabitants of Puerto Rico) after bring African slaves to the island of Borinquen creating divisions on color. The English did the same to the Arawaks and Caribs whom were the original inhabitants of Barbados… and so on… You see, we all carry this shit with us as part of a collective history if we come from any part of the world that has been colonized.  And I guess its real easy and simple to make assumptions by looking at me if you don’t look like me and figure that somehow, in all of this, I’ve inherited a “privileged” that I haven’t quite experienced personally. No one knows my scars just as no one knows the scars of my mother, my sisters, my father, my lighter and darker cousins, etc. 

However, with respect to race, we seem to like to talk about it… a lot…. still, with very little resolution… 

Prior to his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. began moving past the race issue and began to look at the issue of classism in this country. He was convinced that the class struggle in America was the ultimate equal rights issue in this country. Malcolm X also began to focus on this issue. The reason this is important is because I am more convinced today than I was 20 years ago, that classism that IS the real issue that needs to be addressed in this country.  

It’s the foundation of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit in New York State as a means of addressing the achievement gap in education and the means of providing appropriate resources in every public school classroom in New York State. The issue of class over race is now playing out with respect to college entrance and how schools will begin considering diversifying their student body – according to classnot race. Class struggle is the foundation of all human rights issues and something that is a worldwide concern.  It is also a harder issue for many of us to get into because it means that collectively, we would have to move past our own singular and exclusive issues involving race and think in a more broader and collaborative context. It can be done. I’ve seen this take shape with the group Mom’s Rising. A multicultural group of women who are committed as working mothers to educate, advocate, and lobby as mothers on behalf of their children – these issues range from battling childhood obesity to providing parenting resources to mothers.

We can live with and own our history, our scars, our anger, and continue focusing on a singular issue relative to racial equality. However, the reality is that race is a arbitrary social construct used to divide, subjugate, and indoctrinate – if the analogy is that religion is the opium of the masses and spirituality connects the individual to the Creator, then race is the method used to maintain a clear division while confronting class struggle brings cohesion and potentially real progress.  Realistically, we won’t all agree on the same measures by which we could make the “changes” we seek but we can work collectively on a shared goal or issue more easily.

It is worth noting that America is not a homogeneous society. And this is becoming more relevant with new ethnic groups coming into the country. Many countries outside of the U.S.find cohesiveness through a shared culture and ethnic identity; but we can no longer rely on race as a means of bringing us together on issues temporarily while engaging in infighting based on any number of variables that divide us. Many of us from the same socio-economic background whether pink, purple, green, or orange, understand certain fundamental realities about the world and can coalesce on that.  Moving past the issue of race, looking as how the civil rights movement  functioned, as a collective, with other races becoming involved AND openly supporting the cause AND dying for that shared cause is why that movement was successful.  We have to get over the race issue in this country. It’s an imperative.  And we have to get over the race thing because ultimately, if we don’t make it as important as we have made it, we will continue to see a clear distinction between the 1%, the 99%, and the 47% – issues brought front and center during the 2012 presidential race.

The number of bi-racial births in this country has grown from less than 5% to over 7% in the last year. That means that there will have to be a bridging of the race divide because we have a generation coming behind us that will have a different experience and outlook on race.  We cannot ask children of multi-ethnic and cultural backgrounds to “choose”, they are both. Obama is both. Culturally, I am both. And the conversation will have to change, it’s not a question of if, it’s an issue of when. The Republicans are just now gearing up to discuss race politics. Given how far behind the eight ball they are, maybe it’s time for the rest of us to move towards a more comprehensive discussion.

So yeah, ask me about my “privilege”. I will tell you that my “privilege” stems from the fact that I was fortunate enough to grow up in the borough of Brooklyn, in a culturally diverse household that discussed politics, civil rights, and human rights (ad nausea). I was forced to attend various protest that I did not want to go to but  it provided me with an educational experience in that I experienced other people’s pain in the world. I’ve met people from all walks of life from the poorest of the poor to those with some sick wealth. I’ve dated politicians, aspiring athletes, and regular joes from the hood most who have imparted some real wisdom and learning. My friends include people who were teen moms who barely got out of high school to folks who have completed post doctorate fellows in England, they are all good people and have their own struggles. I barely made it into college due to poor grades but ultimately received a Masters of Science in Urban Policy and Management (law school remains on my mental back burner). I have been on welfare and was ashamed about it. I’ve been hungry, I’ve been horrifically broke. I’ve come back from that too. My parents have been married 40 plus years and I did grow up in a two parent household – I was often the only person I knew who did. I married the first real man I ever met who accepted me warts (figuratively speaking) and all. Together we are raising a beautiful brown child of multicultural heritage, still in Brooklyn, in the neighborhood and apartment building where I was raised. 

That is my privilege, none of which has a damn thing to do with how I look and everything to do with my sense of reality. A reality that includes the understanding that poor people whether upstate in rural New York, or downstate urban Brooklyn, whether in Louisianna, Florida, Memphis, Tennesse, or Maryland… Whether in the favela’s of Brazil, the ghettos of Russia, or the streets of the Jiangxi province in China, the slums of Puerto Rico, or Kingston, Jamaica… Poor IS poor. Struggle IS struggle. Pain IS pain, doesn’t really matter the color of it. When it’s there, it’s there. A lack of access to quality healthcare, a decent home, the capacity to take care of oneself and one’s family is horribly demeaning and dangerous to communities. Communities are the foundation of healthy people. Unhealthy and fucked up communities create unhealthy and fucked up people. That’s not a race thing…

Republicans are listening… The Dems should pay attention too…

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Trey Radel is possibly the future of the Republican party. He is a conservative Congressman from Florida who is under 40 and therefore able to still able to evolve a bit with respect to his political stances.  He has the capacity to connect to a younger generation of voters. He’s a good looking guy and has no problem being appropriately aggressive with liberal reporters and has been an advocate of bipartisanship to get things done in Washington.  Congressman Radel is more comfortable with playful appropriate confrontation in the media in a cool frat boy sort of way and he’s only been in office all of 3 months. While he did engage in some questionable decision making during his run for office, he managed to pull through all of that and maintain the support of his party and obtain a respective majority of the vote. These are the things that most parties look for in future leaders and candidate, one either is or isn’t “that”.  Congressman Radel appears to be “that”.

Radel is the type of politician that Democrats need to watch. Careful. He is likable and unlike Marco Rubio, he seems more sincere when making quips about Lil’ Wayne and other mainstream musicians. Radel seems as comfortable talking to people of color as much as he does with his base constituency. He also is an early supporter of former Governor Jeb Bush for President in 2016 and Bush appreciates the support. This is significant because Bush has been clear in several recent speeches that if Republicans keeps losing presidential elections, the Republican agenda will be lost. He’s right. Neither men are interested in the fringe groups of the party, they are cultivating a new Republican identity. They will hold true to their conservative roots while playing moderate and center…

The Democrats should be mindful of this and respond accordingly. We do not have the next Obama in the Democratic party. And Democrats are pining their hopes on the current leadership – Hillary Clinton in 2016, but if she isn’t willing, who do the Dems have?  The Republicans took their whupping and now, they are retooling. The Democrats should pay attention, and plan accordingly.

Marco Rubio is the GOP Saviour – Only Not So Much…

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In 2011, a young Latino from Florida was elected to the US Senate.  His name was Marco Rubio. Rubio rode into prominence on the backs of and with the support of the Tea Party movement; he was the extreme right’s response to Obama. He was young, good looking, articulate, and… Brown.  A perfect poster boy for the Tea Party’s rebuttals to any claims of racism. You could almost hear it –  Surely we cannot be as racist as the rest of the country believes we are if we own support this guy, Marco Rubio!

Over the last three years, Rubio has worked diligently to separate himself from the more extreme factions of the Tea Party party while maintaining his GOP conservative principles and credentials.  More recently, he was recognized in Time magazine as The Republican Savior to which the Senator promptly and “modestly” responded via Twitter (and I paraphrase) that Jesus is the only Saviour.  That said, he’s relished the spotlight and has played up to the notion that he can turn the party’s image.

The GOP has had high hopes for Rubio. He is now the poster boy for GOP diversity, a son of  Latino immigrants, coming from a family of modest means, and having benefited from student loans and government programs for his educational attainment and subsequent success. His own mother is a current recipient of Medicare.  All government sponsored programs based on policies that Rubio would oppose based on a fiscally conservative GOP agenda.  While I am loathe to call him a hypocrite, I would argue a level of inconsistency and hypocrisy in Rubio’s positions over the last several years.  He’s done a bit of the Romney flip flop enough to lead us to wonder what his real positions are.

In his rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) speech, Rubio proceeded to crash and burn… horribly.  Now I will stipulate (as have others) that is not easy to follow the SOTU, especially when that person’s last name is Clinton or Obama.  But if you accept the task and are seen as the second coming of the GOP (and we all know the GOP needs a major shift), you better be able to handle it when the cameras come on and its time to speak.  I felt awkward FOR Rubio. It was uncomfortable and an important moment for the GOP fell apart.  If Rubio is supposed to the be the new face of the hip cool conservative who knows who Tupac is (and allegedly listens to him a la Paul Ryan’s playbook) and this was supposed to be a bi-partisan introduction akin to a blind date, then we were introduced to a sweaty, nervous, shaky, and uncomfortable disaster.  And the chemistry was off. And it was a let down.

First impressions mean a lot.  They matter. Especially to someone who doesn’t really know you.

Let’s look at Rubio’s response to the SOTU. He noted that his parents immigrated to the US, yet his original position on immigration reform was decidedly anti-immigrant, until recently, and it’s still questionable. Rubio benefited from many of the government programs that made him the “successful” person he has become, only now, he would like to cut many of those programs that offer opportunities for low and middle class people coming up behind him.  Rubio offered JFK and Ronald Reagan up as supporters of free enterprise as a means of growing the middle class arguing Obama is opposed to the notion.  Only it is VERY obvious that Obama has more in common fiscally with Reagan than any current sitting Republican member of  Congress, in fact, given an introspection of the Reagan’s policies of the 80’s relative to today’s current GOP climate, he never would have made it out of California much less to the presidency (you can thank Republican Jeb Bush for that bit of insight).

So what now?

It is time for the GOP to seriously reflect on who they are as a party.  This really is a historical time for the party to consider who they wish to be, what they wish to represent, and how they plan to get there for the long haul.  Its not that difficult.  There is a strong history of reform in the Republican party until they decided to be the party of old, white, and privileged.  Putting forward members of the party who have more pigment will not help the party.  Re-establishing itself as a more moderate and sane party would go a long way for attracting a more diverse group of people.

The Democrats managed to do this successfully during Clinton’s years in spite of the fact that some of Clinton’s policies were decidedly unhelpful to many people of color.  Yet, their perception of Reagan/Bush played a huge role in how the two parties were viewed among African Americans and Latinos in this country.  So Democrats were able to enact welfare reform legislation under Clinton that hurt more than helped the poor and communities of color who were impacted.

So Republicans, Rubio is not your saviour, he doesn’t even come close. You will have to find a more sincere way of revamping and retooling your image, by actually doing it.  You will have to align more with the middle, you will have to take a page from Meagan McCain’s book, you will have to made some hard decisions. You will have to get rid of the Tea Party/GOP image.  You will have to become more bipartisan and not because you feel that you have no choice, but rather because democracy and accountability calls for it.

Rubio can be helpful to the GOP, he can be a leader in the GOP, but as far as being its saviour? Mmm, not so much….