Hard to believe it’s been 20 years.

My father, Peter Robertson, passed somewhere between April 15 and 16, 1997.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, wish for his advice, remember a goofy moment, and feel deeply sad that he left us so soon.  More than anything, though, I feel very grateful for the 36 years I got with him.

He always liked to tell the story of being born in a cabin in Wyoming, though the reality is that my adventure-prone/family-avoidant grandfather had come to Wyoming to try to start a dude ranch, which he abandoned after (1) his father-in-law joined them to keep an eye on him; and (2) his second child (my uncle) was born.  Dad ultimately spent most of his childhood in St. Louis, as a white kid surrounded by privilege who rooted for civil rights and Jackie Robinson.

Image: white woman (Amy) in short sleeve shirt and khaki shorts and older white man (Amy's dad) in a short sleeve shirt and blue pants stand in front of log cabin.

My father and me at the “log cabin” the year before he passed.

He was a lawyer who devoted his professional life to advocating — in state government, at the EEOC, and as a consultant — for civil rights and specifically equal employment opportunity.  Outside his professional life, he enjoyed languages, travel, the coast of Maine, card games, the St. Louis Cardinals, fried eggs over easy, trains, grilling in the snow, pretending to understand my brother’s Chem E thesis, Christmas morning, and his almost endless extended family. Nothing made him happier than gathering everyone around the table — at home or a restaurant — for a long, conversational meal. He’d show up at our colleges or law/grad schools and gather up a big group of classmates and friends to go out to dinner. Nothing fancy – ever.  Most commonly a diner, or some egregiously Americanized Chinese restaurant (lemon chicken, anyone?).  After he passed, many of his professional colleagues told us similar stories:  he was always gathering everyone together for a friendly dinner after any event.  With that in mind, in creating his headstone, Bruce and I paraphrased a line from MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech —

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

and added this plaque:

Peter Clendenin Robertson
November 5, 1935 – April 16, 1997.
“Let us sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

Triangular granite stone about 18" high, bearing a plaque: "Peter Clendenin Robertson, November 5, 1935 - April 16, 1997. "Let us sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

Love and miss him, and am deeply grateful for everyone who has shared his stories over the years.  If you knew him, grab some friends and remember him over a plate of lemon chicken.

Update:  here’s a post with additional fun photos:   https://thoughtsnax.com/2010/11/05/photographic-tribute-to-my-dad/  

Ignorant, Evil, or Both?

The Trump Administration’s latest trainwreck, via the NYT:

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, set off an intense backlash on Tuesday when he suggested that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was worse than Hitler and said incorrectly that Hitler had not used chemical weapons during World War II or against his own people.

Is he ignorant of gas chambers?  Or did he mean to imply that German Jews were not Germans?

Bathroom segregation as it should be.

Image:  Two bathroom doors.  The one on the left has a stick figure of a human and below it, the words “People who don’t pee on seats or floors, don’t steal plumbing fixtures or toilet paper rolls, throw paper towels in trash cans, flush, and only write witty and  entertaining graffiti.”  The one on the right has a stick figure of a pig’s face and below it, the words “People who pee on seats and floors, steal plumbing fixtures and toilet paper rolls, throw paper towels on floor,  don’t flush, and write disgusting or boring graffiti.”

 

 

Nevertheless she persisted, disability rights division (a start) (updated)

As most of the world knows by now, the white Republican men of the Senate voted to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren when she attempted to read a letter from Coretta Scott King.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Nevertheless, she persisted.

It’s now a badge of honor, not to mention accurate description of the persistence of the women who have broken barriers in a wide variety of fields.  Herewith, my small contribution:   Nevertheless, she persisted, disability rights division, with an emphasis on ass-kicking disability rights sheroes I know and love, and a few I love but don’t know, but wish I did.

Update: more #persistent women added below; will try to keep adding, but there are so many of you!!!

Carrie Ann Lucas.  [Image:  Carrie, a large white appearing woman in a colorful dress, in a power wheelchair using a vent; her daughter Heather, a smaller white appearing woman in a plaid shirt and jeans, in a wheelchair; behind Heather, Carrie’s daughter Aszia, a tall dark skinned woman in a t-shirt and jeans; Carrie’s son Antonio, a white appearing teenage boy in a brown shirt; Carrie’s daughter Cinthia, a light skinned teenage girl in a pink tank top in wheelchair; and Carrie’s daughter Adrie, a dark skinned teenage girl with a blue shirt and blue hair tie, in a power wheelchair.]

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Robin Stephens and Laura Hershey.  [Image: two light skinned women who use wheelchairs.  Robin in a flowered jacket and black shirt with short salt & pepper hair; Laura in a maroon jacket with brown hair using a vent.  With them, is a light skinned woman in a blue shirt.]

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Julie Reiskin.  [Image: light skinned woman with glasses perched on top of her head, in wheelchair, hugging a golden retriever dog.]  I suppose I should have chosen a more professional photo of Julie, but Julie and Chinook were besties.

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Haben Girma.  [Image:  dark-skinned woman with long hair, holding a keyboard and reaching out to a German Shepherd dog with a harness.]

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Corbett O’Toole.  [Image:  light skinned woman with salt & pepper hair, in wheelchair, speaking into a microphone.]

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Harriet McBryde Johnson.  [Image:  light skinned woman with two long dark braids, leaning forward in her wheelchair over a desk crowded with papers and books.]

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Marilyn Golden.  [Image:  light skinned woman with curly brown hair and glasses.]

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Stella Young.  [Image: small red-haired woman with a black dress and red polka-dot shoes, sits sideways in her wheelchair to smile a the camera.]

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Tatyana McFadden.  [Image:  light skinned woman in striped tank top, sits in manual wheelchair in front of a set of steps that are painted with her image and the quote, “Anything that a person with disabilities wants to do, they have the right to do, and that can change the world.”]

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Ingrid Tischer and Alice Wong.  [Image: Asian woman with glasses wearing a red shirt with white appearing woman with brown hair in blue flowered shirt.]

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Vilissa Thompson.  [Image: dark skinned woman wearing black shirt in a wheelchair next to President Obama.]

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Lydia X. Y. Brown.  [Image: Asian person in checked shirt with short black hair and glasses speaking into a microphone.]

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Stephanie Thomas.  [Image: close head shot of dark skinned woman with braids.]

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Becky Ogle.  [Image:  white appearing woman with short light hair, in a wheelchair, carrying what appears to be Justin Dart’s hat, surrounded by other people standing and using wheelchairs, and on the right, a uniformed officer speaking into a megaphone.]

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With deepest appreciation for these and many other #persistent women with disabilities.

 

Goliath: A ThoughtSnax TV Review

Predictable David v. Goliath lawsuit:  1

Screaming harpy lesbian law partners: 2

Tragically evil disabled characters:  2

Tragic accommodations required by tragically evil disabled characters:  2

Prostitute with a heart of gold: 1

Prostitute with a heart of gold actually named “Gold”:  1

Hilariously accurate deposition objections:  check.

Hilariously inaccurate trial procedure:  check.

Major unresolved plot points:  2

Fat paralegal relegated to storage locker to review documents:  1

Percentage of women who are not the fat paralegal who are rail thin:  100

Awkward references to size of fat paralegal:  1

Opportunities for Billy Bob Thornton to shamblingly, self-depricatingly mansplain the shit out of everyone:  pervasive.

Billy Bob Thornton’s accent when he does this:  adorably but inexplicably Southern.

Missed opportunity for climactic cross-examination scene between BBT and tragically disabled former law partner that might have redeemed the show:  1

Overall grade:  C-

 

PROTECT • RESIST • REACH OUT: a liberal manifesto … with beer and BBQ.

In these Trumpist times, we liberals have three essential tasks.  Spoiler alert:  I propose we all come together at a “table of brotherhood” — possibly including BBQ and beer — to appreciate the important things liberals can do to save our country and its people.

PROTECT • RESIST •  REACH OUT

PROTECT

Protect individuals and groups under attack by the new administration and its fellow travelers.  Whether through lawsuits challenging discrimination and harassment, representation of immigrants, trans* people, and others seeking to secure their rights, or simply standing up to bullies and showing solidarity with their targets, we need to protect our brothers/sisters/siblings from this administration.

RESIST 

Resist the legislation, policies, and nominees who threaten civil society.  Call your congresspeople and tell them Sessions, Bannon, and other regressive choices are unacceptable.  Prepare to work with agencies largely hostile to civil rights, the social safety net, the environment, and other important values and policies.

REACH OUT 

Reach out to marginalized populations whose sense of hopelessness or despair led them to vote for Trump.  I’m not suggesting we reconcile with racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia.  Instead, we need to reach out to people — yes, poor white people — who are feeling so desperate that they were willing to believe Trump would bring positive change to their lives.  People who rely on Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or food stamps, and yet voted for Trump.  People who have lost their jobs and are under the impression that Trump will bring them back.  These people are going to suffer over the next four years and we need an organized effort to not only protect them (see Item 1) but to let them know that Democrats and liberals are on their side.  My friend Carrie Lucas said it best:  we need to take credit for the things that are helping people.  We also need to be able to convey the ways that the GOP Congress and GOP governors made their lives miserable enough to make Trump attractive.

And we need to do all of this with a deep layer of mutual respect.  One of Trump’s most successful lines was that he opposed “political correctness.”  I personally hate that, because what I hear is opposition to attempts to be civil to traditionally oppressed people. For many folks outside the coastal/urban bubble — even many who are not themselves “ists” of any sort — “political correctness” has come to stand not just for the caricature of having to use specific words for specific groups of people, but for the entire perceived message from elites that they’re doing it wrong, that is, the class divide in a two-word catch phrase.  Everything from “you’re not supposed to say ‘homosexual’ or ‘handicapped’ anymore,” to “you’re feeding your kids the wrong things and I can’t get a decent cup of coffee for miles.”

We need to formulate, promote, and distribute widely a plan to save America from Trumpism — and elect Democrats in 2018 and 2020 — that can be quickly and easily conveyed and understood.  And then we need to convey it respectfully, compassionately, human to human; to to reach outside, drive outside, roll outside, get outside our coastal/urban bubble, connect with people, and talk about these important things.

Here’s the platform:

  • Mutual respect.
  • Medicaid for all.
  • Massive investment in public education including vocational education.
  • Free community college.
  • Higher minimum wage.
  • Sensible gun laws that treat guns like cars:  readily available if licensed and trained.
  • Progressive income tax and social security tax.
  • Sentencing reform focused on drug and mental health treatment and education toward successful release.
  • What else, policy wonks?

Let’s talk about these important points over BBQ and beer.  Not kidding.  My plan needs unifying food and drink.  An army of Democratic-sponsored food trucks.  It was no coincidence that Martin Luther King spoke of us “sitting down together at a table of brotherhood.”  I see a plan starting to come together.  Step 1:  the Democratic party adopts my platform; Step 2:  food trucks.  Who’s in?