Thankful for Neighbors

On the fourth Thursday of the month of November, we will be celebrating American Thanksgiving. This is normally a time for families and friends to get together for a big feast and to be thankful for a successful harvest. This year, the second pandemic lockdown is keeping all of us at home, but we can still be thankful. We are thankful this year for an abundant harvest from our olive trees, and we are also thankful for having such wonderful neighbors. Neighbors have been an important part of our life at Villa Ndio. Here is an essay on how we came to live here at Villa Ndio and some of the things we have appreciated doing with our neighbors. Continue reading “Thankful for Neighbors”

Looking to an American Future for a Global Response to COVID-19

As a long-term advocate of multilateralism, I am inspired by the amazing outreach from multiple American institutions and individuals to engage in global collaboration on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been an embarrassment to be an American in the past four years of a flawed Presidency, but the readiness of Americans to circumvent its barriers in order to participate with others in such initiatives as the Access to COVID—19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) and especially the new COVAX Facility for global vaccine distribution is truly phenomenal.

In order to build on that spontaneous outpouring of American expertise and compassion, the new administration in Washington should join in this effort. The US needs to return to its leadership role in global health matters, but this requires an appreciation for how the pandemic has transformed the issues and the actors. Thus, special attention should be directed to (1) supporting the new multilateral frameworks that are enabled by and often inspired by a multitude of different kinds of stakeholders, (2) expanding the global approach to the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and other tools as they become available, and (3) engaging in a constructive dialogue on the pricing and availability issues in this and future pandemics. Continue reading “Looking to an American Future for a Global Response to COVID-19”

Further Reflections on Racism in America: (3) Corporate Transformations

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 continue to be the legal foundation for equal rights in America.  Fair housing was addressed in the Civil Rights Act of 1968, while revisions in 1972 (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972) broadened civil rights coverage in education. In the years that followed, however, the courts interpreted these laws in ways that often narrowed their scope. In 1990, an accumulation of legislative provisions to reverse the case law was consolidated into a 1990 Civil Rights Act that was vetoed by President Bush. The legislation was reintroduced in 1991 and enacted into law with the help of an unusual coalition that I spearheaded. Many changes in our society since then may affect our current understanding of racial justice, but the lessons learned from this experience in 1991 include some useful insights regarding the role of the private sector in social policy, even today. Continue reading “Further Reflections on Racism in America: (3) Corporate Transformations”

Further Reflections on Racism in America: (2) A Southern Experience in Politics

This segment on North Carolina starts with the context of my personal journey as a State Senator and elaborates on how I was elected to the State Senate by way of a conversion to feminism – and the necessary corollary of gender equality. The lessons learned from this experience brought me directly to a heightened appreciation for the urgency of racial equality and integration. The segment then concludes with a look at the racial and gender issues in North Carolina today. Continue reading “Further Reflections on Racism in America: (2) A Southern Experience in Politics”

Further Reflections on Racism in the US: (1) Collegiate Experiences and Trends

In response to the protests and discussions about racism triggered by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 25 May 2020, I chose to focus my initial reflections on racism in America on my recollections of growing up in Edina, Minnesota, one of the adjacent suburbs to Minneapolis. This led to a stimulating series of reflections from other family members, friends and colleagues. What follows here is the first of a series of further reflections or musings on racism in the US. I’ve entitled in “collegiate experiences and trends” to include my own collegiate experiences at Oberlin College with subsequent trends on diversity in collegiate education. Continue reading “Further Reflections on Racism in the US: (1) Collegiate Experiences and Trends”

The Daily Routine in the Second Wave of Altered Living in the COVID-19 World

Losing track of phases and waves in this COVID-19 world, we are all wondering what these months of altered living have come to mean for our daily routines. Are we in the second wave now? Or is it even the third wave? The French are classifying this latest “curfew lockdown” as the second wave, but the US seems to be on a third upswing, if not technically a third wave. We are all learning as we go along, even as we become distracted from time to time with developments in the real world outside of this weird cocoon. Aren’t we all experiencing a bit of that “COVID-fatigue”? And yet, in this time of alarming upward trends in recorded cases, both in the US and in Europe, we are being called upon to be more cocoon-oriented than ever. Continue reading “The Daily Routine in the Second Wave of Altered Living in the COVID-19 World”

Gender Parity, Matrimoine and Historic Gender Struggles in France

As a long-time feminist with a history of advocacy on gender equality in the United States, I continue to be attracted to gender issues, with a particular focus on comparing the nature of gender activism in different settings.  In this commentary, I would like to address a series of very localized examples of a gender perspective in the French community of Grasse. It starts with some observations about gender balancing in the municipal elections and continues with reflections on a uniquely French look at “Matrimoine” in Grasse and on a broader overview of gender struggles featuring French feminists and others.  Continue reading “Gender Parity, Matrimoine and Historic Gender Struggles in France”

A Melancholy Reflection on Race and Religion in France

In this time of COVID-anxiety, we’re among the fortunate ones in that the losses that we grieve have all been due to natural causes other than COVID-19 – if one can describe that as a fortunate sort of dichotomy, especially since so many of these losses are of family or friends younger than we are. But even the older ones whose demise might not be so tragic were it not for their historic or political significance have added a melancholy to the environment – John Lewis or Ruth Bader Ginsburg come to mind, both of whom have been memorialized in recent commentaries on this website. But it has been even more traumatic when the world suffers from the police brutality of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis or from the terrorist brutality of Samuel Paty’s murder in a Paris suburb. Continue reading “A Melancholy Reflection on Race and Religion in France”

Municipal Elections in France from the Perspective of an American Observer

This is an essay on the municipal elections in France, not on the COVID-19 hysteria that has taken over our thoughts and deeds for the uncertain future.  My focus is on the similarities and differences between municipal elections in France and in the US. I draw on my personal experiences with municipal elections in the US and my personal observations of the municipal campaigns in the town of Grasse.  While there are many paths to a political career,  and many levels of civic activism, whether in the US or France, the politics at the municipal level highlights the significance of the adage “All politics is local”.

Continue reading “Municipal Elections in France from the Perspective of an American Observer”