Saturday, June 14, 2008

What Does It Matter To You?

"I think any woman who's questioned about her interest in celebrity should turn and ask her husband, 'Why do you want to watch the Yankees-Red Sox baseball game? What does it matter to you? It is man chasing a ball around a field. It is of zero consequence to you,'" she said. "And that's sort of the same as wondering, you know, if Jessica Simpson is dating Tony Romo." Janice Min, Editor-in-Chief, Us Weekly magazine

"IS Z OR ISN'T Z?"; "THE ROCKET'S LOVER SPEAKS OUT"; "CLEMENS' SECRET AFFAIR" are just three headlines gracing the front of the DAILY NEWS over the past few weeks. The first being the caption under a picture of rapper/businessman Jay Z. The caption read, "The story was that Jay-Z and Beyonce tied the knot this weekend. So where's the ring? Not on his finger in midtown yesterday. (Jay-Z's ring finger on his left hand was actually in an inset circular enlarged photograph). The other two trailblazing news headlines speaks for themselves. The question is, why do we care? Who gives a hoot if Jay-Z and Beyonce were really married or not other than them?

Editor Min's response above is about the closest thing I've come across to a somewhat logical answer, and then again, I might ask the same question she asked concerning why are we so fascinated by watching grown men chasing balls around on a field? I once had a professor that made the statement (I'm paraphrasing) that only a crazy person would sit and watch a baseball game or any game for that matter. At the time I thought he was the crazy one and said to him, how dare you make such a statement and asked him what did he mean? He went on to explain that he had nothing against the sports or games, however it made more sense to him for people to actually go out and play the games (and get some exercise)as opposed to just sitting around mindlessly watching someone else play (not to mention the salaries the players are making to be watched, that's an entirely different CRITICAL THINKER edition.) I now understand what my professor was talking about and Ms. Min's comments above brought his comments back to me. My father being the practical man that he was (yes, a critical thinker too) would always say if they stopped playing baseball tomorrow, would it make a difference to the world? Probably not. Something to think about.

ABC NIGHTLINE did a segment on our fascination with celebrities where Ms. Min was interviewed concerning the popularity of US Weekly magazine and our having to know what is going on in the lives of "celebrities." Even after watching the well done piece, I am still left questioning, WHY DO WE CARE? Are our lives that horrible that we have to live vicariously through someone else or is it misery loves company and we are happy that horrible things are happening to the rich and famous? Do we have nothing else to do other than to watch stupid reality television shows (mindless activity again....hey it's my blog) and fawn over who is doing who or who left who or who is back with who? Must we know who wore what color underwear (or if they were wearing underwear) to what awards show. My God, how long was Jennifer Aniston on every cover of every magazine because of her divorce from Brad Pitt?

If you really look at this critically, one must come to the conclusion that the amount of energy wasted on what someone else (who we don't even know personally) is or is not doing just does not make sense. I must say that I agree with Ms. Min when she tells the women to ask their husbands, "what does it matter to you," and that's my point exactly. What Does It Matter?

Critically yours,

"Isms" vs. Issues

As a talk radio show host, I tend to listen to a lot of talk radio to hear various host styles, listener commentary and of course the latest topics of discussion. One day last week I was listening to one of a selection of talk radio shows that I listen to and heard the host talking about how women were calling into the show and stating that Senator Hillary Clinton lost the presidential nomination due to "sexism." He like I, found this to be extremely interesting and even commented that Senator Clinton had made some major blunders especially where her credibility was concerned concerning her deplaning under sniper fire when the video tape showed her and Chelsea deboarding the plane smiling and waving. He also mentioned some other campaign mishaps and factors that were more likely to have contributed to her losing the race other than the fact that she was a woman.

I wondered as I listened to the women lamenting about the pervasiveness of sexism, if we have indeed reached a time in our history where "racism" actually placed second to "sexism." A black man was chosen over a white woman. Historically, this has not been the case. In general, a white woman tended to always be selected prior to a black man. One example of this was a white woman being sent into space before a black man. I don't recall hearing anything about sexism or racism at that time. When Geraldine Ferraro was chosen as the running mate of Walter Mondale over Jessie Jackson, who had garnered a vast number of votes during that period as a presidential candidate, I don't recall hearing anything about sexism at that time. Think about it, was America any more ready for a woman vice president at that time than it was for a black vice president? Yet, Mr. Mondale took the chance on an unknown Ferraro vs. a known Jackson.

This issue of THE CRITICAL THINKER is in no way an attempt to make light of sexism or racism. They are both "isms" we can do without. It is however, a chance for us to critically think about where we have been, where we are and where we are going. In this race we had both "isms" at play. A black man running against a white woman to be President of The United States. Potentially the first time in the history of this country for either. Which again shows how behind the times we here in the United States are; other countries have had women and black leaders and it's not an issue. I've always advocated for women to have the same opportunity as men with the only distinguishing factor being the most qualified person for the job. When women were "burning their bras" in the 70's, I was in support of that, thinking even then why shouldn't a woman be able to climb telephone poles, drive trucks or run companies just a a man does if she is qualified? It's the same position I take in terms of a person's race becoming confused with his or her qualifications. Neither race or gender ought to be considered as a qualification and yet in this country for many years it has. So it was interesting indeed to see racism square off against sexism.

Now that Senator Obama has become the democratic nominee, the proverbial rubber meets the road. Throughout this general election process we will truly see our "true colors" shining through. Will women who switched to the democratic party to vote for Hillary switch back to the republican party? Will the same folks who voted for Obama during the race for democratic nomination vote for him now that he is the nominee? Will women vote for McCain out of spite because they feel their candidate lost due to sexism? For me, these questions make me wonder if the electoral process is nothing more than an entertaining popularity contest. Women only voted for Hillary because she is a woman; blacks only voted for Obama because he is black. Perhaps, even men only voted for Obama because he is a man and lastly, white men voted for McCain because he is a white man. Where do the issues come into play here? With all of the nonsense about sexism and racism, I ask, what about the issues? The issues stupid, the issues.

We are in one of the worst economic times in a long time and all we can concern ourselves with is whether or not the president will be a black man, white woman or business as usual white man. We have more issues than we can shake a stick at and we are quibbling over race and gender. When are we going to wake up and hold our politicians accountable for addressing issues? Issues that matter to us all and not just a few. We cannot afford to waste our votes based on gender or race. We must choose the best person for the job; period. As we go to the polls throughout the remainder of the year, let's be sure to give some critical thought to our decisions as we pull those levers.

Critically yours,