Monday, June 27, 2016

#NUVOpop: Last Week In Comics

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 1:29 AM

6/22 Last Week's Comix from Bridget Wilson on Vimeo.


Hello, everyone! Sorry for skipping a week, but I was on vacation all last week! I went to the beach, read some Preacher and freaked over last Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones.

Now it's back to "reality".

Good thing my "reality" involves an unhealthy dose of comic books! This week... more Civil War 2 (it just won't stop) issues are coming out. This one involves our heroes choosing their sides. Will your favorites be Team Cap(tain Marvel) or Team Iron Man? We also have a new speedster popping up in Flash #1, Deadpool and Gambit are going toe to toe again, and Justice League is wrapping up with issue #52. 

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TOP PICKS

Wonder Woman
(W) Greg Rucka (A) Liam Sharp

It's a weird time for everyone's favorite goddess of war. Wonder Woman's lasso of truth has stopped working for her. In Wonder Woman Rebirth, Diana discovers that the "story keeps changing". Confused, she turns to her greatest foe for help.

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Lucas Stand
(W) Kurt Sutter, Caitlin Kittredge (A) Jesus Hervas

Lucas Stand follows our "protagonist", Lucas, who is an army vet struggling to re-acclimate to civilian life after a tragic accident overseas. After doing the unspeakable one night, he gets recruited by the devil to find demons that have escaped from hell. His mission takes him through all different points of time, filling his (after) life with purpose once again.
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She Wolf
(W/A/CA) Rich Tommaso

She Wolf is a fast paced comic about a girl who gets attacked by, what she believes is, a werewolf. The comic follows her as she starts to transform into a werewolf and struggles to remain normal. It also deals with the death of her boyfriend, who was the "werewolf" that attacked her.

Deadpool V Gambit
(W) Ben Acker, Ben Blacker (A) Danillo Beyruth

Deadpool and Gambit have pulled off a lot of cons together. As they pull off one of their final cons, they get double crossed by a guy they thought they could trust. Setting aside their differences, they decide to do one final con to get the man that stole their money from them!
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Aquaman 
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(W) Dan Abnett (A/CA) Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy

Arthur Curry is half human and half Atlantean, but he's also 100% Aquaman, protector of the seas and King of Atlantis. For as long as anyone can remember, humans and Atlanteans have not gotten along. Arthur wishes to bridge the divide so that in turn, he can feel whole. He decides to host a peaceful meeting in Atlantis with the world leaders, however things take a turn for the worst when Black Manta crashes the party!


That's all we have time for right now! This Wednesday, it appears that DC is taking a break from Rebirth-ing. However, the Dark Knight 3 Master Race #5 will be out and Jupiter's Legacy Volume 2 will begin as well.

I'll see you Wednesday!
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Democrats sit in, Republicans run away

Posted By on Sat, Jun 25, 2016 at 4:22 PM

TWITTER.COM
  • twitter.com
When the American people get killed at rate 20 times higher than the rest of the developed world, it’s time for leaders to … take a vacation.

That was the message Thursday from the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and other Republicans in the face of a sit-in by Democrats over the issue of gun control.

Democrats wanted a vote on a couple of relatively innocuous, common-sense measures to expand background checks on gun purchasers and prohibit gun sales to people who are on the no-fly – people who are suspected of being terrorists. Both measures have overwhelming public support. Somewhere, depending upon the poll, between 80 and 90 percent of Americans approve the measures.

Republicans in the House are not among that overwhelming majority. They were – and are – so determined to avoid a vote or even a discussion of America’s gun violence epidemic that they ignored a sit-in that started Wednesday morning and lasted into Thursday.

To avoid dealing with the issue, Republicans adjourned.

Rather than talk honestly about guns and violence, the GOP leaders fled.

Democrats vowed to continue the sit-in when the House resumes work on July 5.

Republicans’ determination to avoid discussion of the carnage connected to guns in America is part of the strategy the well-paid lobbyists for the National Rifle Association and other parts of the gun lobby have used for years.

When the discussion turns to guns and people start asking why the United States can’t solve a problem every other nation in the developed world has, the flacks for the NRA and their well-trained house pets in elected office observe some simple rules.

Shut down.

Shout down.

Deny. Deny. Deny.


That is why members of Congress beholden to the gun lobby rammed through a measure to prevent the Centers from Disease Control from even researching gun violence. The last thing the NRA wants is for people to have facts, rather than the gun lobby’s increasingly deluded mythology about America’s history in regard to firearms, to consider while they ponder the wisdom of our weapons laws.

That’s also why, at the state level, the NRA’s chief water-carrier, Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, felt the need a couple of years ago to belittle and berate a woman testifying before a legislative committee about gun control – even though he had all the votes in the legislature he needed (and more) to stop any measure she might propose. The goal is not just to stop gun control measures from becoming law, but to intimidate people so much that they won’t even talk or think about gun control – all in the name of preserving constitutional rights, of course.

And it is also the reason Republican leaders flee the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives rather than take a vote on gun control measures they know they have the votes to defeat.

Shut down.

Shout down.

Deny. Deny. Deny.


Speaker Ryan dismissed the Democrats’ sit-in as “a publicity stunt.”

Yeah, but that’s beside the point.

Because of the NRA’s stranglehold on the legislative process, advocates for sensible gun laws now are looking for – and finding – ways to force the discussions the gun lobby is determined to suppress.

There’s a long history of House members going to unusual lengths to force discussions. Because the Democrats’ sit-in was led by civil rights legend U.S. Rep. John Lewis, R-Georgia, most observers looked to the protests of the 1960s as an inspiration.

There are even earlier precedents.

In the 1830s and 1840s, U.S. Rep. John Quincy Adams, a former president, engaged in a series of maneuvers designed to force discussion on an issue upon which the House’s leadership had imposed a gag rule. Adams’ actions enraged opponents, who, like Paul Ryan, dismissed them as stunts.

The issue Adams wanted to talk about was slavery.

He knew he didn’t have the votes to abolish slavery at that time. But he also knew that there shouldn’t be any subject that free people should be afraid or denied the opportunity to talk about.

More than that, Adams believed there shouldn’t be any issue troubling the American people that could not be considered by the House of Representatives – which, once upon a time, was called “the people’s house.”

That’s right.

The people’s house.
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Popular pitfalls in political platforms

Posted By on Sat, Jun 25, 2016 at 4:05 PM

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There he sits, sipping an iced coffee, the Hero of Hammond, the Sage of Shelbyville, the Larynx of Logansport, the Tutor from Terre Haute, Indiana’s third U.S. Senator, Phinneas Phogghorn.

“How’s the campaign going?” I asked.

He throws back his massive mane and gives forth his loud laugh, “Fine, fine, just as fine as it’s been these many years. Today, I met the adult grandchildren of folks who first voted me into the Upper Chamber of our great U.S. Congress.

“Preparation and education, that’s what does it,” he says. “Yesterday, my economic advisors helped prepare my platform planks on that slippery subject.”

“What did they recommend?” I ask.

“The Song Book of Success,” he says. “Those old refrains voters have heard before, familiar tunes used to good effects by both parties.”

“Like what”? I query.

“Population growth, higher per capita income, and smaller government; the recipe for a comforting confection voters can’t fail to consume cheerfully,” he smiles.

“You see, son,” he continues, “as we attract more people to Indiana, our per capita income rises. Growing places attract high income people and high income people then attract more people and more jobs. It’s the roller coaster to success.”

“Senator,” I say, “National evidence disproves that idea. From 2000 to 2015, that wasn’t true. Not true for the 50 states or for the 381 metropolitan areas. Population growth and growth in per capita income are not related.”

“Further,” I continue, “you can raise per capita income or average wages just as much by giving ten low-paid workers an extra $5,000 a year as you can by giving a $50,000 bonus to one highly paid worker.”

The Monarch of Middlebury looks perplexed. “Indiana’s problems are long term,” I say. “They won’t be resolved by bringing in a new set of people. What are today’s Hoosiers, your voters, going to think when you suggest they’re the reason our state ranks 38th in per capita income and 47th in its growth since 2000?

“But,” he butts in. “Don’t we have to attract high-paying jobs and the people to fill those jobs from elsewhere?”

“Nothing wrong with that,” I say. “But how can we justify spending state and local funds to subsidize a company moving next door from Carmel to Fishers? What’s the benefit there?”

“Nothing’s perfect,” Phinneas answers.

“Perfect?” I sputter. “The uninformed contentment of Hoosier citizens is our leading public policy threat. Just yesterday a friend emailed me, ‘We have too many governments, yet Indiana is probably better than most in this regard.’”

The Senator squirms; I carry along. “Indiana ranks 18th among the 50 states in number of government units per person. Plus, we’re 10th highest in governments per square mile.

“Son,” he confides, “we’re not going to resolve any problems going against the collective satisfaction of Hoosiers with their existing ways.” Then he grins, “Maybe it’s time you converted …. to decaf.”

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Running victory laps at a funeral

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 11:31 AM

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Some people are slow learners.

In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, many loud voices have demanded a quick solution to the problem of terrorism.

The loudest of the voices, not surprisingly, belongs to the king of the clueless – the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump.

(That rumbling sound you hear is Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan thrashing in their graves at the thought of The Donald bearing the standard for their party.)

Trump used the tragedy in Orlando not to express grief for the victims and sympathy for their loved ones, but to prove that a person can be morally tone-deaf and double-jointed at the same time. He patted himself on the back for being right, he claimed, about banning Muslims from this country.

Really? The shooter in this case was born in the United States in 1986. His parents came from Afghanistan, a country that, at the time, we supported in its war with the declining Soviet Union.

Just how would imposing a ban nearly 30 years after the shooter's birth have stopped this atrocity from happening?

But Trump's complaint – and the complaint of the know-nothings who cheer him on – is that President Barack Obama and others refuse to call the shooter a "radical Islamic terrorist." Trump says that's a case of "political correctness."

What other reason could there be for the president refusing to use those words?

Let's start with the fact that thoughtful and fair-minded people, Republican and Democrats alike, are trying to avoid making this a religious conflict.

That means they refrain from attributing acts of evil and violence to a faith – Islam – that abhors such things. It is no more fair to refer to this shooter or other killers as representatives of the Muslim faith than it is to call Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber) or Eric Rudolph (the Atlanta Olympics bomber) a "radical Christian terrorist."

We don't hold an entire faith tradition accountable for the actions of the deluded few. That's the moral argument.

The practical one is that we don't want to make it easier for the folks who wish to do us harm to recruit others to their cause.

We tried fighting a large-scale war against terrorism. It's been more than 13 years since President George W. Bush stood on a flight deck and proclaimed "mission accomplished" in that war.

We're still paying for that mistake.

Bush's swagger and boastfulness – which is nowhere near as pronounced as Trump's – helped energize and, yes, radicalize opposition around the world. The seeds of arrogance and ignorance we planted more than a decade ago have blossomed into murder and mayhem.

Intelligent people have learned from that experience and realized that, while fist-shaking and chest-thumping may make us feel good for a moment, they aren't substitutes for genuine problem-solving.

I also disagree with Trump on the use of the last word in the phrase that means so much to him – the word "terrorist" in "radical Islamic terrorist."

The word "terrorist" grants these folks a dignity they don't deserve. It suggests there is some political purpose or military goal to their murderousness – that they are, in some way, distant cousins to soldiers.

They aren't.

If the nearly 15 years since Sept. 11, 2001, have taught people who have been paying attention anything, it is that some things are too serious – or at least they should be – for posturing. Mass murder is one of them. We don't run victory laps at a funeral.

Donald Trump and his amen crowd aren't among those who have absorbed that lesson.

Some people are slow learners.

And some never learn at all.


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¡Hola Hoosiers!

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 11:25 AM

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Hola Hoosiers! And hello to all you wonderful readers of NUVO. I'm overjoyed to be the newest member of the NUVO family. I'll mostly be dealing with social and cultural issues in our Voices section but over time, you may see me pop up in other parts of the newspaper.

You could say NUVO and I met at the perfect time. I've recently relocated to Indianapolis, and it wasn't hard for me to figure that I was living in a city with a much lower Mexican/Latino population than I'm used to. It made me think so much about my race since moving to Indianapolis. One common question I've encountered in conversations is: "What do I think about Donald Trump?" And I'll speak more about that subject in a different piece.

For now, I will say that I'm hoping to move past this question, and the other most common question I get asked: "What do you think the best Mexican restaurant is here?"

At the end of the day, we don't have to all be the same to call ourselves Hoosiers. We all want to be accepted for who we are — having a mutual respect and interest in each other's cultures is how we can do that. I plan on going out into my community to see what people think about my culture here and what they know of it. I want to shine a spotlight, not just on my people, but all minorities. We'd like to establish a stronger voice for everyone who feels like they are not being heard from enough. I want to share my culture and experiences with others — my culture is your culture.

I'm sure by now you are aware of the fact that immigration has been the hot-button topic during this election year, particularly when we talking about the growth of Mexicans living in America. Mexicans/Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the USA. The numbers really stand out when you consider the amount of immigration into America from some many different countries. So what does this all mean when it comes to cultural assimilation into America? How much value should people put into that? There is no reason to ever sacrifice your roots, history or past, especially when Latinos have become such a large part of the culture in America's society. No matter what minority you are, you should be able to keep your identity and be comfortable even if you stand out from the crowd.

I've only been here for six months but I care very much about this city as if it was my place of birth. Anything I write will be out of love and respect for the people here and the culture that grows more progressive every day. I'll bring the perspective of the outsider. It fuels my curiosity to look at a city in many different ways — sometimes locals can forget how amazing certain aspects of their town are and it's easily taken for granted when you've lived here your whole life. I feel like NUVO will be a great place for me to spread the conversation about culture and race in Indianapolis. I welcome you to be involved: email, share comments, suggest things to look into — I'm all ears.

I'm just your average California-born, Mexican-American Catholic, college-educated, son of an immigrant, liberal PFLAG-waving, locally sourced artisan coffee-drinking, Joan Didion-obsessed, Yorkie-owning vegetarian.

You know, the typical stereotype you have of a Mexican.


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Friday, June 17, 2016

Stepping up for Indy's working poor

A letter to the editors at NUVO

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 1:46 PM

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By Jared Evans, Indianapolis City-County Councilor, District 22


In communities across Indiana, good jobs have been replaced by jobs that don’t pay enough to raise a family. With quality jobs such as Carrier and UTEC moving over 2,000 jobs from Indy to Mexico, it’s more important than ever that the jobs in our community – particularly service industry jobs- offer a living wage.

In 2006, Indianapolis janitors organized a union for the first time in order to raise standards and win respect on the job. The resulting agreement between janitors and cleaning contractors secured modest annual wage increases, benefits, and rights at work that professionalized the cleaning industry and forged a path out of poverty for over 700 Hoosier families.

Unfortunately, not all contractors chose to be part of this agreement. Corporate Cleaning Systems (CCS), which cleans several Indy buildings including the prominent Market Tower, pays poverty wages and does not guarantee employees a voice on the job.
As a voice for working people, the janitors’ union, SEIU Local 1 along with community supporters have continuously called on Zeller Realty, the owner of Market Tower and one of CCS’s key clients, to support good jobs here in Indy. In March, I joined them to rally outside Market Tower. Our requests were clear: Zeller is a business leader in our community, that has the responsibility to create good jobs in our city by using a responsible contractor instead of CCS. I stood with them because it’s time for all workers, including janitors who clean Zeller properties, to get ahead and that their children, the future of our city, have more opportunities to succeed.

When companies like Zeller use a janitorial company that pays poverty wages – such as CCS - it contributes to struggling neighborhoods, failing schools, and high crime rates. These issues drag down our economy for our entire city. A lack of good jobs is responsible for a record high number of Hoosiers living in poverty. It also contributes to the staggering growth in poverty in Indiana since 2007 - higher than all neighboring states and the U.S. average. Since 2000, the median income in Indiana has also continued to decline as we’ve lost a high number of mid-wage and high-wage jobs. The trend continues to impact low-wage workers even more severely: in 2015, the median wage for janitors lagged behind the median wages for all occupations.

It is unacceptable that in communities across Indiana, good jobs have been replaced by jobs that push families into poverty. Profitable companies like Zeller Realty must contribute fairly and do their part to create good jobs in our city. When workers have a voice on the job and are paid fair wages, families are able to spend their paychecks at local businesses and contribute to the local economy, which makes our economy stronger, our neighborhoods safer, and our communities healthier. It’s time Indianapolis worked again for the people who work for a living and thus, contribute to the prosperity of Indy’s neediest communities.

City-County Councilor Jared Evans is from the West Side of Indianapolis. He represents Indy’s 22nd District. He is committed to making sure his constituents have a voice at City Hall and continues to stand with hard-working janitors in our community.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Pulse nightclub massacre and the value of safe spaces

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 3:12 PM

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Sunday morning I walked down the stairs of my girlfriend's house, burnt and exhausted from Indy Pride. I sat in the living room with her and two of my best friends. All four of us are gay; and I consider them to be family. With them I feel an ease and sense of home, where who we are and love is not taboo.

We, of course, spoke about the attacks at Pulse in Orlando — a violent violation of another safe space.

Late Saturday night, a man named Omar Mateen walked into a club with a pistol and an assault riffle, opening up fire on the 300-plus people inside, killing 50 and injuring dozens more. These people were there to celebrate, to have a brief moment where dress and how you identify isn't seen as "other," where if only for a night they weren't seen as different — just as a person.

That is the value of a safe space.

The concept is hard to explain to someone who doesn't need one. If you have never been harassed for looking too masculine or too feminine, if you have never bitten your tongue in public because you don't know what unfriendly ears are near by, if you have never gotten a call from a friend after they were beaten or raped because of their sexuality, you cannot grasp how much these places mean to us. Places like Pulse are points of rejuvenation and solidarity.

Protection is needed and a safe space provides that — until it is breached.

They're invaded every time someone hateful walks in, every time a member of our community is killed somewhere in the world for who they are and every time one of the 40 pieces of anti-trans legislation in this country are heard in a committee.

We are reminded that there are miles to go before safe spaces are no longer needed — when anywhere you go can be a place of protection.

It's so easy to walk around gathering up pieces of hate after an attack like this, to light a fire against an entire group or mindset. But that's not the answer.

This was not a random act of terrorism. It was precise and calculated, and reflects the way queer and trans people of color are put at risk every day. A Latin night at the club was directly targeted on Sunday. It was a massacre based on race, gender and nationality, aimed at the most vulnerable around us.

This was an attack on America, but mostly it was an attack derived from a systematic oppression that must be addressed. It was driven by a misguided man who did not hear the parts of his faith that call for love and charity. Extremists exist in every religion, but they are and always will be a minority. There is a disposition amongst the dominant discourse for equality, and the sanctity of safe spaces is where that conversation can flourish.

I beg my colleagues in media to not diminish stories about hate crimes, and I beg everyone reading this to be aware of how you can protect people in small ways. And to the beautiful souls who were taken that night:

I don't know you, but every ounce of my being wants to fight for you, to protect you. I will never share a drink with you, but know that I love you, truly, deeply, love you. And you will not be forgotten.


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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Orlando and our silence

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 11:04 AM

MORGUEFILE.COM
  • morguefile.com
Now is not the time to talk about guns in America.

The National Rifle Association flacks and other members of the gun lobby assure us that the moments right after a tragedy, such as the one in Orlando, Florida – where an angry man shot more than 100 people, killing at least 49, at a gay nightclub – aren’t the time to talk about guns. Emotions – grief, anger, etc. – cloud the issue.

Nor are the rare days in which we don’t have a mass shooting in America the right time to discuss guns. Why spoil one of the now relatively isolated periods of peace and quiet with talk of tragedy?

No, really, there is no good time to talk about guns in America.

This is, the gun lobby and its fellow travelers say, the time to talk about other issues, such as whether the shooter in Orlando should be called a radical Islamic fundamentalist or whether other mass shooters should be called people with mental illness.

(The fact that the killer in Orlando seems to be at least as much of a raging homophobe as he was an aspiring terrorist should be downplayed in the NRA script, because many of the people who carry water for the gun lobby like to beat the anti-gay drum themselves.)

And, whatever we do, we should divert attention from the young Indiana man arrested in California with an arsenal in his possession who apparently intended to perform a similar massacre of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Los Angeles.

He wasn’t a Muslim – just another Hoosier from a state where we love to demonize our LGBTQ neighbors, friends and family members for political purposes and where we encourage people to bring guns to school.
There is a circularity to the NRA’s argument about guns that is a thing of tragic, tragic beauty.

Because there are people in the world who wish to do us harm – terrorists, people with mental illness, criminals – and we have made it easy for them to get guns, we have to make it easier for us to get guns to defend ourselves. But that makes it still easier for the bad guys to get guns, so we need to have still more guns to protect ourselves, which means we have to make it even easier to get guns for everyone, good and bad.

The solution, in other words, to every problem is guns.

More guns.

Still more guns.

It’s the kind of logic only firearms manufacturers and gun dealers could appreciate – and love.

Perhaps that is why, even though the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population, U.S. citizens own more than half of the world’s privately owned guns.

By the NRA’s reasoning, that should make us the safest place on earth.

Instead, American citizens have a 2000 percent greater chance of being killed by a gun than people who live in other parts of the developed world.

That’s right – 2000 percent.

There are war zones that don’t have the casualty rates that American homes, streets and neighborhoods do.

Such disturbing facts don’t seem to cloud the judgment of our elected officials who are oh-so-eager to do the gun lobby’s bidding – perhaps because the NRA and other similar organizations distribute cash in the form of campaign contributions and lobbying largesse like candy canes on a Christmas tree.

Much of that cash comes from gun makers and sellers, who take pains to obscure the full extent of their support for the gun lobby. Those gun merchants make direct contributions, it is true, but they also fund the NRA and other groups by buying memberships for gun purchasers.

The income for the NRA shows up on the books as membership revenue, but the cash comes from companies that profit from gun sales.

Make no mistake about it – this is about commerce, not constitutional principle.

The gun dealers fund the NRA because they want to keep the cash registers ringing, even as the body count climbs.

That’s why, in the gun lobby’s America, there always will be time for grief.

Time for tears.

Time for funerals by the score, by the hundred, by the thousand.

But there never will be a good time to talk about guns in America.
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Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando = Indiana

An openletter to the editors at NUVO

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 4:02 PM

MARK A. LEE
  • Mark A. Lee
[Editor's Note: The following is an open letter submitted to NUVO by Dana Black, candidate for the Indiana House in the 88th District. She faces incumbent Brian Bosma, Speaker of the Indiana House, in the General election in November.] 

By Dana Black

Your hate for who I am led you to believe you had the right to deny me life. This is not an uncommon theme in America; in fact it is as American as apple pie. The events of Orlando's Pulse club, although the extreme, is being echoed in may state houses around the country. Other than the massacre at Wounded Knee, this is the greatest mass shooting in the history of our country.

Your disapproval of my existence makes you believe you can deny me my civil rights, deny me life. Just recently, State Rep. Brian Bosma released a statement suggesting they will study adding the LGBT community to protected class status in our civil rights statutes. And this weekend, Indy Pride Weekend, the Indiana Republicans at their convention and are discussing whether they should change their marriage language from only one man and one woman. The idea alone suggests their idea of a family is the only type of family, and all other demographic configurations are not worthy of their support or protection.

See, here is the thing, you don't have to like me or what I stand for or how I live my life, but you don't have the right to deny me life. You don't have the right to suggest that I am somehow less than you because I don't believe the way you do. Please understand when you make these assertions; you can't control how they are received. Omar Mateen thought as you do, and there are many others who think the exact same thing and will use your words to justify their actions against the LGBT community.
I went to bed Saturday night elated that I spent the day celebrating openness and moving forward with my wife, my granddaughter and closest of friends I call family. I woke up this morning to read and see a tragedy that stopped my heart. Republican leaders in Indiana, you have the opportunity to do what is right and protect the citizens of our great state. You have the opportunity to stop any potential violence against my community by proclaiming that all Hoosiers have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness regardless of whom they love. Will you take the necessary steps or will you continue to be a huge part of the problem? It really is up to you.

Indiana voters, you have a choice in 2016 to elect an individual who believes every citizen of this state has a right to his or her life.
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The Pulse nightclub massacre and the value of safe spaces

This was not a random act of terrorism. It was precise and calculated.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 1:05 PM

The Indianapolis Men's Chorus sings at a Indy Pride-coordinated vigil last night at Old National Centre. - MARK A. LEE
  • Mark A. Lee
  • The Indianapolis Men's Chorus sings at a Indy Pride-coordinated vigil last night at Old National Centre.
 
Sunday morning I woke up and walked down the stairs of my girlfriend's house, burnt and exhausted from Indy Pride. I sat in the living room with her and two of my best friends. All four of us are gay; and I consider them to be family. With them it’s a vacuum of protection, an ease and sense of home, where who we are and who we love is not taboo.

We, of course, spoke about the attacks at Pulse in Orlando — a violent violation of another safe space.

Late Saturday night, a man named Omar Mateen walked into a club with a pistol and an assault riffle, opening up fire on the 300-plus people inside, killing 50 and injuring dozens more. These people were there to celebrate, to have a brief moment in their week where how you dress and how you identify isn't seen as “other.” They were there to find a place where there was no world outside, where if only for a night they weren't seen as different, just as a person.

That is the value of a safe space.

The concept is hard to explain to someone who doesn't need one. If you have never been harassed for looking too masculine or too feminine, if you have never bitten your tongue in public because who knows what unfriendly ears are nearby, if you have never gotten a call from a friend after they were beaten or raped because of their sexuality, you cannot grasp how much these places mean to us. Places like Pulse are points of rejuvenation and solidarity.

Protection is needed and a safe space provides that — until they are breached.
They’re invaded every time someone hateful walks in, every time a member of our community is killed somewhere in the world for who they are and every time one of the 40 pieces of anti-trans legislation in this country are heard in a committee hearing.

But those spaces are made a little stronger with each blow. We are reminded that there are miles to go before safe spaces are no longer needed — when anywhere you go can be a place of protection because your family is right around you.

It’s so easy to walk around gathering up pieces of hate after an attack like this, to try and light a fire against an entire group or mindset. But that is not the answer.

This was not a random act of terrorism. It was precise and calculated, and is a reflection of the way that queer and trans people of color are put at risk every day. Saturday night was direct violence targeting a Latin night at the club. It was a massacre based on race, gender, sexuality and nationality, aimed at the most vulnerable around us.

This was an attack on America, but mostly it was an attack that was derived from a systematic oppression that must be addressed. It was driven by a misguided man who did not hear the parts of his faith that call for love and charity. His own father was heartbroken to hear what had happened.

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Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando
Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando

Indy Pride's Vigil for Orlando

Hundreds of members of the LGBTQ community and their supporters and allies gathered Sunday night in the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre to memorialize the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.

By Mark Lee.

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Extremists exist in every religion, but they are and always will be a minority. There is a disposition amongst the dominant discourse for equality, and the sanctity of safe spaces is where that conversation can flourish.

I beg my colleagues in media to not diminish stories about hate crimes, and I beg everyone reading this to be aware of those around you and how you can protect them in small ways.

And to the beautiful souls who were taken that night:

I don't know you, but every ounce of my being wants to fight for you, to protect you. I will never share a drink with you, but know that I love you, truly, deeply, love you. And you will not be forgotten.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Men behave badly as a ceiling shatters

Posted By on Fri, Jun 10, 2016 at 1:49 PM

HILLARYCLINTON.COM
  • hillaryclinton.com
History has a cruel sense of humor.

Perhaps that’s why the news that, for the first time, a woman will be the nominee for a major American political party was overshadowed by two men behaving less than gallantly.

Hillary Clinton’s wins in the presidential primaries in California and New Jersey merely confirmed what has been the reality for some time.

She will be the Democratic Party’s candidate for president.

Her victory has been a woman’s triumph – one born of resilience and quiet resolve. Her unflinching determination to keep moving forward, regardless of the obstacles before her, has been a marvel.

Clinton has been in public life for more than 40 years. For much of that time, she has been a lightning rod, catching and grounding the bolts of political and cultural electricity accompanying the emergence of women as significant players in public policy debates and more equal partners in American life.

She has been called everything but a child of God. She’s had her private life made public in the most embarrassing and humiliating ways. She’s been assaulted for being too pushy in public life and too deferential to her husband in private.

Through it all, though, she’s soldiered on – and now she stands as perhaps the frontrunner to become the next leader of the free world.

A survivor.

A victor.

Even at what should have been a moment of triumph for her, she found herself having to fight for the spotlight with two men.

The first was her borderline delusional Democratic opponent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

Sanders said in his concession speech after his thumping in the California primary that his math skills are pretty good, but there’s not much evidence of that.

The argument Sanders and his surrogates have been advancing for weeks now is that Clinton is winning only because of super delegates and other manifestations of a rigged system. That argument neatly overlooks the fact that Clinton has amassed several million more popular votes than he has in the marathon nominating process – that, in fact, she has collected more votes than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, on the hustings right now.

The super delegates have made her win more decisive than it otherwise might have been, but she was winning – and was going to win – without them.

Sanders’ other contention has been that his campaign has been about inclusion, about making sure that all Americans have a voice in the process.

Yet when one of America’s greatest historic barriers to full participation fell as Clinton captured the votes necessary to claim the nomination, Sanders and his team didn’t stop to take note of the milestone.

No, they tried to deny the moment even had taken place.

About the best that could be said of Sanders’ conduct is that it was better than presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s, but that’s a bit like saying a cold is better than the plague.

Trump has spent recent days fulminating about the supposed unfairness shown by an Indiana-born judge presiding over litigation involving Trump University.

(An aside: Has anyone else ever noticed how often self-proclaimed tough guys like Trump whine about how “mean” people are to them? In their world, when the going gets tough, the tough apparently start crying.)

Trump has demanded the judge recuse himself because he is of Hispanic descent and that creates a conflict of interest.

Forget for the moment Trump’s tacit admission here that any American of Hispanic descent would be crazy to vote for him and instead focus on the narrowness of his vision.

He is the leader of a great party and under consideration to be the world’s most powerful leader and he meets those responsibilities by striving to rip apart the country on ethnic, racial and gender lines just to avoid some personal embarrassment.

Perhaps that’s to be expected. This is, after all, the same guy who complained Clinton was playing the “woman card” after he demeaned women in public statements and then touted his endorsement by a convicted rapist, Mike Tyson.

The fact that Hillary Clinton shattered the next-to-highest glass ceiling in America while two guys did their best to remind everyone that the story really should be all about them somehow is fitting.

History has a cruel sense of humor.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Muhammad Ali's magic tricks

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 12:40 PM

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • wikimedia commons

Many years ago, the newspaper I worked for sent me in search of Muhammad Ali.

Ali lived in those days in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a quiet, almost sleepy little town of fewer than 2,000 people about 25 miles north of South Bend, Indiana. The question the paper wanted me to answer was why perhaps the most famous person on the planet had chosen to live in such a secluded spot.

The townspeople in Berrien Springs told me charming stories about the former heavyweight champ. The best ones came from children.

They were too young, even then, to remember the days when Ali roamed and ruled both the ring and the world's stage. They saw him not as a celebrity, but as a kind of silly old uncle, the kind who came to their school to do magic tricks and make them laugh.

When Ali, body shaking, lit the torch at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the folks in Berrien Springs didn't see the Greatest up there. They saw their neighbor. They wept the tears of friends.

A few years later, I met Ali.

It was in Washington, D.C. The American Civil Liberties Union honored him with an award.

His wife Lonnie delivered his acceptance as he stood behind her on the stage. She made a little joke about him. He pointed his finger toward his skull and twirled it – "she's coo coo" – while she rolled her eyes.

It was a well-practiced, but still charming, routine.

They left the stage after that and the crowd surged around him, the man's magnetism moving in waves through the big room. He was just a few years older than I am now, but he looked and moved like an old, old man, the Parkinson's disease that afflicted him keeping his limbs and nerves in constant agitation.

The people in the room didn't care. He was Ali, the man and fighter who "shook up the world."

As I stood before him, I couldn't help but wonder, not for the first or the last time, what it must be like to live with that kind of fame, to have one's character and contradictions both reduced and expanded into caricature.

Because Ali was such a larger-than-life presence, it could be easy to forget the human being within the myth.

The crying little boy who first wanted to learn to fight to get even with the person who stole his bicycle and the brash young man who boasted he was "too pretty" to beat. The eloquent advocate for strong families and the serial womanizer. The warrior for racial equality and justice who disparaged rival and friend Joe Frazier in the most racially charged terms. The gliding, graceful young champion, a man whose movements were as smooth as polished ice, and the trembling, prematurely old man who stood before me.

They all lived in the same skin and skull.

They all were Ali.

Muhammad Ali died Friday. He was 74.

He lived within the enveloping and perhaps smothering bubble of fame as celebrity, icon and brand name for the last 50-some years of his life.

In these hours following Ali's death, I find myself thinking about his time in Berrien Springs and the question the paper wanted me to answer: Why did such a famous man choose such an out-of-the-way place to live for so many years?

The answer, I think, was that the people there saw him as part of the landscape, another face in the town.

He could pass the time in the local stores without having to be the Champ. He could visit the local schools and be goofy with the children, doing silly little magic tricks even the youngest kids could see through.

In fact, it was a kind of magic trick that brought him to Berrien Springs. He'd lived with captivating and crushing fame for so long, through both triumph and decline, that being able to slip out from under the yoke, even for an instant, must have felt as liberating as a blessing.

That's why Muhammad Ali lived there.

It was a town where he could be a human being, not a celebrity.

It was a place where the most famous man on the planet could disappear.


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