As we come to the end of 2020, we are taking some time to recall those things that we didn’t get to celebrate together. Fair enough. It isn’t that I thought of gender when I sat down to do an end-of-year reflection of this awful 2020. Rather, I just happened to be sitting down to write down my thoughts on gender on this penultimate day of 2020 and thought to myself: I should prepare an outline of what my main points might be. And oh yes, one of those main points is that this year of 2020 was the 25-year anniversary of the Beijing Platform and Declaration on the Rights of Women. Major events and visible displays of the anniversary had been planned for Mexico in April and then France in May, but then the whole process leading up to these events was abruptly suspended, and the main events were postponed until 2021. Continue reading “Gender 2021: Post-Pandemic? Post-Beijing?”
Warm greetings to everyone for a safe and healthy 2021 – and hopeful for a changed world, too. The promises are there – in vaccines, in new leadership, in new ways of working and living together. And for a calm and quiet holiday at the end of this memorable year.
Living with the pandemic continues to define our lives in a uniquely isolated setting. We love Villa Ndio, but we also love sharing it with family and friends. For the Christmas holidays, we had accumulated holiday decor over the years that we minimized using in recent years. We had spent many a Christmas here with children growing up and grandparents nearby. But the past few years took us away to visit our grown children elsewhere for most of the holiday time – thereby leaving the Christmas decorations stored away in the grenier. This year, however, we’ve been bringing all the decor out of their boxes as a sort of mental health gambit. Continue reading “Christmas Décor 2020”
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”
Warm greetings to all in this “month of memory”! Isn’t that an interesting way to describe the month of November? It sounds better than to say the “month to honor the dead”. But that is what it is, the month to honor the dead, first with chrysanthemums and then with poppies and cornflowers.
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”
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”
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”
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 “Pandemic Musings: 4. The Daily Routine in the Second Wave of Altered Living in the COVID-19 World”
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”