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Mark Dobbins: “Dear Becky”

Singer and Songwriter Beyonce

Dear Becky:

I’ll wait while you put down your yoga mat.

You voted for Trump. After these past few weeks, I really have to ask, “What the hell were you thinking?” Seriously, Trump? The shouting guy on the TV?

I know, you were so concerned about those email servers. Do you even know what an email server looks like? And Benghazi! Find Benghazi on a map unassisted and I’ll eat a bug.

You overlooked the fact that he broke two marriage vows but somehow think he’ll keep his oath of office.

You overlooked his addiction to tweeting – and tweeting – and tweeting.

You overlooked a lot that would have set your hair on fire had President Obama done the same.

And because of you, every thinking person in this country is freaking out. But not you.

Because you are safe behind your yoga mat of white privilege.

You didn’t join the millions of people who crammed our streets to protest. Because you were busy. Because Emma had a lesson. Because Noah had a game. Because you had to get the oil changed on your SUV. Because you were busy being white. Because it doesn’t affect you – and it never has.

By now you’re sputtering, “But I have black friends,” “I’m not racist,” and my personal favorite, “I’m not privileged.”

Yes, you are. You’re privileged, and probably racist too. Most white people are and don’t even know it – or do, and don’t care.

Here’s a simple way I use to test white privilege. Can you go an entire day without interacting with a person of color if you tried? I’m betting the answer is yes. That’s the bubble of white privilege that you think will protect you. But it won’t. Not by a long shot.

So you want to keep those “nasty hombres” out of our country by building a wall? When the price of your food skyrockets because white folks won’t pick crops, you’ll care then. Because it affects you.

So you think by insulting foreign leaders our nation looks stronger? You equate shouting with strength – because you have always had the microphone and always think you will. How many times have you shouted “I want to see your manager,” when you didn’t get what you wanted, then, at that moment?Now Trump is the manager and there’s no one else to call.

So you think defunding Planned Parenthood will make abortions go away? When Emma comes home someday with bad news, you’ll always have a way to fix that problem. A poor woman’s abortion is Emma’s D&C. Most people won’t have those choices. But you will. That’s why it’s called “pro-choice.” Because we want the choices you have always had – and always will.

By now you’re probably angry and about to write something nasty in the comments section. I hope you do. I want you to be angry. As I promised in my first column, I’ll probably make you mad from time to time. This is one of those times.

But stop for a moment and think.

Could I be just a little bit right?

And could you be just a little bit white – and privileged?

Regards,

Mark

PS: We’ll talk more about this in the upcoming months. I’m just laying the groundwork for that conversation. I hope you’ll stick around.

(Featured Image: Katrina In Yoga Pose, by Earl McGee on Flikr CC)

Mark Dobbins: I’m Not Ready To Make Nice

As I sat down this week to write my first column, I wanted to make nice, I really did. In the wake of the disastrous first weeks of the Trump administration, conservatives across the political spectrum called for unity, saying “Give Trump a chance.” I was going write about how we can bridge the ever-growing divide that is tearing our nation apart. It was even going to be intersectional.

I had planned on listing what I, as a “big city liberal,” believed. I’m from Philadelphia, a predominantly Democratic city on the East Coast. We don’t always agree. Like most Democrats, we argue. But there are some things we do all agree on. Good paying jobs that let families do more than just survive. Not choosing between medicine for our children and paying the rent. An educational system that works. LGBTQ rights that let us live our lives without fear or prejudice. Police who don’t murder people of color and get away with it. Strong unions. Politicians that don’t pat us on the head while picking our pockets. We want to be happy. We’re not asking for special privileges – just the basic rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” we all learned about in school. That’s what I was going to write about.

Then I started covering the protests that swept Philadelphia and realized that the time for kumbaya was over.

Image by Mark Dobbins

I heard mothers tell me how, for the first time, they were afraid for their children. That a madman now controlled the White House, and instead of spending his time fixing our problems, takes to Twitter to call people names. Who hangs up on world leaders. Who tweets every time someone dares to disagree with him. Who needs a timeout.

I heard people of color tell me that this wasn’t new to them. America has always been and still is a racist country. It’s just come out of the closet for everyone to see. And now it’s respectable for white supremacists to sit next to the President of the United States without shame and whisper sweet nothings into his ear.

I heard my LGBTQ friends tell me how fear for their lives. Just a few years after we got the right to marry each other, we suddenly are afraid to hold hands in public. In Philadelphia.

Image by Mark Dobbins

I heard transgender individuals tell me how their friends are being murdered – daily – across this country, and how they wonder if they’ll be next.

I heard fear. But I also heard resistance.

I saw the crowds marching in the bitter cold to shut down the streets. The words they shouted differed from day to day, but the sentiment was the same – we will fight back. We will not allow this to happen – again. That our voices will be heard. That this isn’t the America we believed in – and that we want our country back.

In the upcoming months, I’ll be writing about those voices, and how they’re fighting. As a journalist, it isn’t my job to make people comfortable or happy, but to speak the truth. My columns may make you angry. Good. I hope that they do. I probably will poke a few hornets’ nests. I may get stung. I may sting. But I’ll always be honest with you.

All I ask is that you listen. Because, like the song goes, “I’m not ready to make nice.”

Building On Our Intersectional Platform, The NH Labor News Is Expanding And Looking For New Voices

We have new and exciting news: The NH Labor News is expanding.

From our very humble beginnings in 2011, the NH Labor News was started to help share the voices of working people as Speaker Bill O”Brien and the NH Legislature began a new assault on working people. In the early days we focused on unions and legislation that effected unions in New Hampshire.

Over the years we have continued to grow and expand adding new voices. Now many progressives are using the term “intersectionality” to describe what we have been trying to do for many years. Intersectionality is the idea that there is a point where all of our different social movements intersect.

A prime example of this is our work with Granite State Progress. Granite State Progress helped connect our strong labor focused community with new social movements like gun violence protect, LGBT rights, protecting women’s reproductive rights, and voting rights.   There are many examples where these issues intersect with the goals and values of the labor community and many of us are already involved in these fights.

We also added weekly commentary from MaryLou Beaver, Executive Director of Every Child Matters (NH) who focuses on education, poverty and healthcare issues facing working families in New Hampshire.

From the beginning, labor unions helped to push social and economic justice movements. Labor was instrumental in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s and the LGBT movement that began in the 1980’s.

With that in mind the NH Labor News will be working to create an even more diverse cross section of commentators who regularly publish through our network. Specifically we want to hear directly from people inside of these movement to better understand what is happening, why it is important to everyone, and most importantly, what we can do to help. There is a real difference hearing about an issue from someone who is personally effected by policy changes than by someone reporting what they know about it.

Starting this week we will be adding another regular column from Mark Dobbins. Mark is an art historian and writer who currently lives in Philadelphia.

As an LGBTQ activist, Mark has been fighting for civil rights for over twenty years. Most recently, Mark was appointed to the Hillary for Pennsylvania LGBT Leadership Council.

As part of the NH Labor News team, Mark will write about those issues that affect your lives. From workers’ rights, living wages, union rights, LGBTQ rights, and the daily struggles of working families everywhere – Mark will write about what matters to you.

We are also looking to add more voice to our growing network. We are specifically looking for two voices to fill a few a few voids in our coverage.

We are looking for a regular commentator who would like to keep us up to date on immigration and refugee issues. With the newly imposed ban on refugees and the repeal of DAPA and DACA, it will take all of us working together to help protect the rights of immigrants and refugees.

We are also looking for a person of color to discuss some of the issues facing people of color, like the school to prison pipeline, the Black Lives Matter movement, and voting rights.

As of right now, these will be voluntary but as we grow who knows what will happen. So if you know of someone who is willing to take on a bi-weekly or weekly column in the NH Labor News please contact me directly.

Together we can build a strong broad based coalition of working people to fight back against daily assault on our rights.

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