Category Archives: Women’s equality

Benicia Rally in support of Roe v. Wade – photos, video

Benicia residents gather in large numbers, hear powerful speeches, lift great signs, march to Benicia State Capitol

Benicia Rally in support of Roe v. Wade at Benicia State Capitol, May 14, 2022 | Photo with permission, more photos by Larnie Fox.

Benicia Independent, by Roger Straw, May 15, 2022

When we heard about the Supreme Court’s draft opinion that would gut women’s right to choose, we knew that a fierce opposition would erupt all over the nation.

Benicia Rally – BANS OFF MY BODY, May 14, 2022. Photo by Larnie Fox

Few dared to hope that Nikki’s email calling for a protest would blossom 250-strong on the Benicia Green and march up First Street, showing incisive and demanding signs, chanting and posing for a historic photo at the old State Capitol.

Benicia Protest March – BANS OFF MY BODY, May 14, 2022. Photo by Larnie Fox

But that’s how it was on Saturday at the Bans Off My Body rally right here in our small town, our beloved Benicia.

Inspired and organized by Benicia artist Nikki Basch Davis and Benicia resident Cathy Bennett (who brilliantly MC’d the event), the lineup of speakers was impressive:

    • Former Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson
    • California Assembly Member Lori Wilson
    • Candidate for Solano County  District Attorney Sharon Henry (currently Chief Deputy District Attorney)
    • Benicia Mayor Steve Young
    • Benicia City Councilmember Christina Strawbridge
    • Maggie Kolk, Benicia-Solano Community Activist
    • Ana Petero, Fairfield-Solano Unified School District Governing Board, professor at Solano Community College, member on the Solano Commission for Women and Girls
    • Dana Dean, Benicia attorney, Trustee on the Solano County Board of Education
    • Terry Scott, Director, Benicia Community Foundation, Chair of Benicia Arts and Culture Commission
    • Mary Susan Gast, Benicia Poet Laureate
    • Carol Patterson, President, League of Women Voters of Solano County
    • Kari Birdseye, Chair of Benicia Planning Commission and Candidate for Benicia City Council

Benicia videographer Constance Beutel filmed the event, and put together a 5-minute video of Highlight Clips:

Dr. Beutel also published a 52-minute version with near full-length coverage of the speakers’ remarks:

In my politically diverse extended family, and among friends and neighbors I know across the spectrum, it is and will remain a woman’s right to choose whether and when to start or expand a family, whether and when to conceive, carry, and give birth.  Men of good will support this right.

A government that by legal fiat imposes forced maternity interferes with a woman’s freedom, and in so doing, interferes with all of our freedoms.  We stand ready to support freedom of choice no matter the dictates of a supposedly “supreme” council of judges.

Roger Straw
Benicia Independent

Benicia gathering Saturday May 14 for Women’s Reproductive Rights

Nationwide rallies are planned for this Saturday to advocate for Women’s reproductive rights.  In June the US Supreme Court will rule on a case that is likely to overturn the 50-year precedent of Roe v. Wade and result in state bans of abortion.  Many alarmed organizers have designated this Saturday, May 14th as Women’s Reproductive Rights Day.  There will be marches  and demonstrations across the nation, including here in Benicia.

Benicia speakers will include former Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson and Benicia Poet Laureate Mary Susan Gast.

A Benicia event organizer writes:

Hello my friends,

I sincerely hope to see most of you at our gathering this coming Saturday May 14, noon-1:30pm on the First Street Green across from Sailor Jack’s.

Having a sign expressing your opinions and feelings will add to a powerful presence.

The internet is full of sign suggestions. Here are a few:

      • MY BODY MY CHOICE
      • GET YOUR ROSARIES OFF MY OVARIES
      • OUR BODIES ARE NOT A POLITICAL BATLEGROUND
      • WE ARE WOMEN NOT SPERM CARRIERS
      • MY MIND MY BODY MY FREEDOM
      • KEEP ABORTION SAFE AND LEGAL
      • HANDS OFF MY DAUGHTERS

> For more ideas, see also on Google:


Benicia mom Amira Barger: I’m a Black Bay Area parent. The Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings were disappointing — though not surprising

A Black Bay Area parent and community activist reflects on the Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings

SFGate, by Amira Barger, March 30, 2022

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes emotional during an impassioned speech by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. | Andrew Harnik/AP

I hope my daughter never has to endure the treatment Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been subjected to.

Being a Black woman and the mother of a young Black girl, I felt it was important for her to witness this historical moment. But instead of the positive experience it could have been, the scene that played out was sadly familiar. As we sat together watching the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, my nine-year-old wondered why Texas Sen. Cruz frequently interrupted Jackson.

“May I say a word I’m not supposed to?” she asked. “Isn’t he kind of being…a jerk, and why isn’t anyone doing anything?”

I explained a lesson from bell hooks: “Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power — not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.” Black women have a common experience — we are often required to respond with restraint and calm in the face of misogynoir (misogyny directed towards Black women where both race and sex play a role), so as not to disrupt the dynamics of power. I witnessed this misogynoir with my daughter as Jackson smiled and paused — a response born of hard-earned wisdom. It was triggering to watch.

We have waited 233 years to be represented. The Supreme Court has had 115 judges — of these, there have been two Black men and five women — none of them Black. Interestingly, confirmation hearings have only existed since 1916, when Woodrow Wilson put forward Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish man nominated. Hearings were not previously required for the white Christian men who had historically held these seats. Many might suggest the treatment of Jackson is some sort of retribution for treatment received by the last two Supreme Court nominees — particularly Brett Kavanaugh. Several GOP senators alluded to as much. However, in presuming this, one chooses to conveniently forget the circumstances surrounding those hearings.

Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault. The consternation surrounding Amy Coney Barrett had less to do with the nominee than it did with whether, only weeks from the presidential election, confirmation proceedings should be happening at all. Senators blocked President Barack Obama from replacing Justice Antonin Scalia in the spring of 2016 — months before the election. During her hearing, Barrett repeatedly sidestepped questions, stating she shouldn’t give an opinion on matters she might have to rule on as a justice. Such answers have long-standing precedent, and did not seem to ruffle too many feathers among the GOP members of the committee. Contrast that with their treatment of Jackson, berated for not answering questions even as she was interrupted time and again. Still, she sat composed as she was met with conjecture and infighting amongst senators. Compare that with Kavanaugh, red-faced and shouting at the committee about how much he liked beer.

One might also be tempted to write off the treatment of Jackson as merely partisan politics as usual. However, you would only have to go back so far as the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to note the marked differences in tone and tenor of those hearings compared to the Jackson hearings. A desire for the “most qualified candidate” has been the GOP rallying cry in response to President Joe Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman. Of course, the quiet part of that seemingly reasonable request is the underlying assumption that no Black woman could possibly fit the bill as “most qualified.” As a federal appellate judge, a district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an attorney in private practice, and as a public defender, Jackson has broad experience across the legal profession. A visual from the Washington Post paints a poignant picture of the totality of Jackson’s unparalleled qualifications in comparison to her would-be colleagues. Kagan, for example, had never been a judge at any level before her appointment to the Supreme Court, yet her nomination was met with a far greater degree of civility.

What Jackson endured is a result of inequitable procedure propped up by decades of empty diversity, equity and inclusion promises without accountability. True commitment to inclusion requires opportunity for any historically excluded or marginalized person to enter without constant monitoring of the system. Black women, who must overcome the bigotry of both race and gender, are most often the last to be allowed in the room. As it stands, there are no Black women in the U.S. Senate, nor are there any Black women serving as governor. Yes, Kamala Harris is the vice president. And Jackson’s confirmation would be a step. But these singular exceptions do not themselves break the ceiling too many of us encounter.

I consult in diversity, equity and inclusion, and my professional experience leads me to believe that the linguistic and mental contortion we saw Jackson masterfully navigate was not nearly as difficult as assumed. She is a trained contortionist, as are many Black women. We anticipate the questioning, racism, sexism, and blatant contempt. We know that, once in the room, the fight to prove ourselves only intensifies. We embody the age-old adage of exceptionalism: “twice as good, to get half as much”. This often manifests as an alphabet soup of degrees and certifications behind Black women’s names, mine included. The problem with exceptionalism is that it falsely espouses one will, having achieved the exceptional, be treated well. Sadly, these hearings have served to reinforce that, not only was Jackson’s humanity not sufficient to be treated well, but neither were her exceptional qualifications.

I want more than this for us. This being the vitriol, pain, and perseverance. This being hopes and dreams sandwiched between systemic barriers and misogynoir. This being agility and strength earned on a rigged playing field. I want more than what we have today. For me, for you, for my little Black girl, and all little Black girls to come. We are to be treated well because we are human. Full stop. Our success should be judged by more than proximity to an impossible and unnecessary white ideal. We are enough as we are. The preeminently qualified Jackson, with her own display of vulnerability and humanity, reminded us that being human is enough. I saw myself and my daughter in Jackson, as her daughter proudly looked on. I know many of us did. Because her story is our story.

With other supposed allies in the room, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker had to be the one to boldly disrupt the disgusting onslaught — to affirm, to encourage, to look her in the eyes and give a moment of reprieve. As Black women, we continue to navigate a world that so often demonstrates how little it values us. The sexism, racism, and discrimination are constant. Celebration of our perseverance only serves as a tacit reminder of the systemic inequity we face while offering little in the way of actual change. Do us a favor, if you will: 1. Lead from your chair to disrupt harm. Affirm, encourage, and look someone in their eyes and recognize their humanity. 2. Call your senator and demand confirmation of Judge Jackson.

A lesson I teach my nine-year-old is one we can all apply here: Leave people and places better than you find them. Also, don’t be a jerk.

Amira Barger is a Bay Area Black mom, an adjunct professor of marketing and communications and a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant.

 

Former Benician Susannah Delano on California’s ‘Great Resignation’

BenIndy Editor: Full (and prideful) disclosure: Susannah Delano is my beloved – and highly talented – daughter.  🙂  – R.S.

Legislature’s ‘Great Resignation’ provides great opportunity for women

By Susannah Delano, Special to CalMatters, February 15, 2022 Susannah Delano is executive director of Close the Gap California, a nonprofit organization that recruits and prepares progressive women to run for state Legislature.

We’re witnessing the “Great Resignation, Capitol Edition,” with more than a quarter of California’s 120 legislators exiting the building in 2022.

Why are we losing so many legislators in one year? It’s a combination of factors – redistricting, which left many incumbents with no place to run; a domino effect of open seats as members seek new roles; and the reckoning of term limit reform passed in 2012.

Where some might see chaos, we see opportunity.

The 2022 election marks the start of California’s “Great Opportunity” to elect a Legislature that truly reflects the people it serves.

California has a reputation for leading the nation forward on critical issues including climate change, equal pay, reproductive health access, long-term care, minimum wage, family leave, early education and more.

But when it comes to women’s representation – California falls short.

Only 37 legislators – less than a third – are women. Of the 37 women serving, 28 are Democrats and 9 are Republicans. California ranks 28rd in the nation for our percentage of women legislators.

Our goal is nothing short of parity for women in the California Legislature, this decade. When I briefed political insiders on that audacious goal years ago, many of them gave me a virtual pat on the head and wished me luck. But in 2022, that audacious dream is starting to look a lot more real.

In my 20 years of working to elect more racially representative, progressive women to office, I’ve never witnessed a higher caliber of candidates step up to run at the state level. As we’ve worked with the majority of these women, I can tell you they are experienced, savvy, and ready to win.

In the fight for equal representation, we are all too used to incremental progress at best. But this year, the hard work of identifying, encouraging and preparing women to run is paying off at an unprecedented scale.

With musical chairs ensuring the Legislature will lose at least eight of its women incumbents by year’s end, this historically robust wave of reinforcements is exactly what might ensure women’s numbers continue to climb in 2022.

Common sense and research tell us that running for an open seat is the likeliest path to victory for a newcomer. What’s unprecedented about 2022 is the volume of open seats, and the number of accomplished women who are ready to win.

In the 35 legislative seats open so far in 2022, an astounding 45 female candidates with the capacity to run competitive campaigns have launched so far. In nine districts, both of the top two contenders are women.

These women arrive with impressive backgrounds and track records of service to their communities. They’re nonprofit directors, nurses, labor and tech leaders, small business owners and entrepreneurs. They’ve served on city councils, school boards, and local and state commissions.

The women running for open seats in 2022 are overwhelmingly Democratic, and also present historic levels of diversity. More than 70% are women of color, and many are LGBTQ+.

In this time of legislative turnover, who comes next will determine what comes next. The nation will look to the pipeline of leaders and innovative policy solutions we battle-test here in the years to come.

While we are losing some extremely effective legislators in 2022, as long as well-prepared women keep stepping up, and stakeholders are brave enough to put their resources where their values align, voters will have the opportunity to elect new voices and transform the Capitol’s decision-making tables.

The women of 2022 are the future many of us have dreamed of for decades.

They will need to overcome a disproportionate number of barriers along their paths to election. But today, their sheer number, talent and determination should inspire us to look beyond the Capitol’s Great Resignation, and recognize this moment for what it is: California’s Great Opportunity to put the world’s fifth largest economy on a fast-track to reflective democracy.