Suzie B. Anthony

Rochester's revolutionary protecting and promoting her favorite city!

Category: Uncategorized

Burn it down…

Over the last couple of days many people have visited my grave.  At its height it was about an hour and a half wait to pay your respects.  It is a very humbling experience to be remembered in such a way.  When the results came back I can only imagine the dismay my visitors experienced.  The polls and all the information available said Hillary Clinton was going to win.  That information was wrong.

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And now everyone sits at home looking through their social media updates to see what will go wrong next.  I’m sure in a couple years a very unassuming graduate student in psychology will come up with a clever phrase to call this type of malaise, but for now I’ll call it Voting Depression.  It is the sadness that comes when you invest yourself in a process and get nothing back in return.  Repeat viewers of American Idol will know what I’m talking about.  Trump is the ultimate Sanjaya.

We flick through video of riots occurring across the country, children mocking their fellow classmates who are different.  “Build a Wall” they tell to the Latinos.  Go back to Africa they say to the blacks.  And so it goes.  Some Rainbow Pride Flags were burned in Rochester and that’s just the beginning for the city that celebrated its famed suffragette only days before.  Clinton herself has returned to her home.  Her political life is over despite many years of excellent service for others.  It reminds me of when John Kerry was defeated and called a traitor to America despite many years in Government and service in our military and advocating for veterans.

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The Trumpeters didn’t want to elect Donald Trump to the office of President.  They wanted something more.  They wanted revenge.  They wanted revenge because like a child at a fancy restaurant they feel forgotten.  So now their going to cause a scene to show everyone who really holds the power in this relationship.  And the screaming child in a public place always wins.  I’ve heard the chants of “Drain the Swamp” and “Burn it down” by many of the Trump supporters throughout the campaign and I can’t agree more.

The first thing we burn down is the Electoral College and its interference in American democracy.  We need our government to reflect the will of the people.  We need the popular vote to be the only metric by which an elected official may emerge victorious.  It helps insure that all the votes and the persons who cast them are heard.  Republicans in NY now have an equal chance at having their vote matter as Democrats in California.  Equality at the ballot box pure and simple.

The second and more painful experience will be draining the swamp.  The Democratic Party needs younger elected officials and a process by which young blood can rise up through the ranks for it to be viable in the next election.  Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau is young, fresh and vibrant capable of making forward thinking decisions that stump the elderly.  And only the “young, scrappy and hungry” can push a country forward into the 21st century.  Even if it hurts us in the short term we need local, regional, statewide, and nationwide term limits.  This is to encourage politicians to move up the ranks and achieve higher elected office while eliminating politicians from resting on their laurels.  I absolutely love Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, but I also recognize that her long-term presence in Congress prevents any new blood from taking on that elected office and hampers our future possibilities.  No one should see an elected position as a viable lifelong career.  It’s shameful and ultimately counterproductive.  When those seats are finally vacant the electorate often chooses a politician from the opposing party as their representative.  They’ve tasted vanilla for so long they want to see what chocolate tastes like regardless of actual merit.

We need to come together and recognize that our system has been fundamentally rigged for a very long time and we need to fix it before the fluke aberrations of Al Gore and Hillary Clinton become the rule and the will of the population no longer matters.  Start with signing this We The People petition on banning the Electoral College.  It can be done in a variety of ways, but the process needs to start now with your voice.  The second thing you can do is join your local Democratic Committee and make your voices heard.  We have a lot of work to do and it needs to start now.

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I cannot Support Rachel Barnhart

I really wish that I could support Rachel in her primary battle against Assemblyman Harry Bronson.  The reason I cannot is because of her record and the personal interactions I have had with her.

Rachel has been touting her record as a progressive, her career as an investigative journalist and her desire for a more transparent political process.  The problem is she has rarely walked the walk when it comes to the platform she has put forth.

ON TRANSPARENCY
Has Rachel been transparent in regards to her work as a journalist?  She claims to be a progressive, but is she really?  When Emily Good was arrested for filming a police officer she was silent.  I contacted her personally and asked her to cover the story.  I thought the story (which turned into a national news story) merited more attention than it was getting and when I approached Rachel over twitter she said “no thank you”.  She knew Emily Good because she is a longstanding activist in the community and Rachel felt that a person who was so vocal on urban issues “had it coming” and that even though the interaction between police and Emily Good was filmed Rachel felt the story was lacking.  She was wrong and her track record shows a clear bias against activists who are attempting to make the community better.  The Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter may be fads, but underneath the hype is a clear desire for under-served populations to be heard and recognized.  Rachel would rather focus her efforts elsewhere whereas Harry Bronson has put his money where his mouth is.  He’s owner of Equal=Grounds, a cafe that caters to the LGBTIQ community and its supporters.  He did this long before the issue of gay rights was a public conversation and he was one of many elected representatives who spoke out in favor of marriage equality on the local, state and national level.  Where was Rachel’s stories on marriage equality?  Did she march in solidarity with us at the protests and pride marches and organizing meetings?  No she did not.

ON ETHICS
Rachel has spoken out in favor of marijuana legalization, equal pay for equal work and pledges to support our ailing population, but isn’t ethics a life long pursuit?  Where is her activism on these issues prior to her pursuit of elected office?  Rallies occur every year on these very issues and yet I can find no record of her ever speaking at one, or marching or participating in any way.  Yet now that she wants your vote she’s willing to support issues that she has no track record of supporting.  Whereas Harry Bronson does have a track record on marriage equality, family leave and a host of other issues.

For these reasons and others I cannot support Rachel and it truly pains me as a suffragette to say so.  I want more women in elected office, but gender is not the most important factor.  I want a person in elected office who is an activist for people who do not have a voice and who is willing to risk on behalf of others.  Bronson has taken risks for his community.  Rachel has not.

The Truth is Worse than we Think

By now everyone knows the name Sandra Bland and everyone has an opinion on her story and her life even though there is very little in the way of facts to go on.  She was found dead in her jail cell and the initial assumption is suicide, but the final opinion is not yet forthcoming.

In the absence of information conspiracy theorists are beginning to make themselves known and nowhere do they flourish more than on the internet.

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do have my opinion on what happened to Sandra Bland and I think its scarier than anything any armchair detective can come up with.  I think she committed suicide.

Here is what we do know:

  1. Ms. Bland was on her way to a job with her alma mater, an opportunity that would be life changing for her.
  2. She was an outspoken critic of police brutality and a proponent of the #blacklivesmatter movement.
  3. In her encounter with the police officer and her arrest she knew she was in the right and that she just encountered a police officer that is the epitome of everything she fought against.
  4. She’s arrested, thrown in jail and left there for three days because she has trouble raising the bail money needed to get out of jail.
  5. She’s found dead in her cell with a plastic bag around her neck.  An official autopsy would later confirm it was suicide.

This should scare people more than any potential murder investigation or federal inquiry into police conduct.  Ms. Bland was a strong person.  We all saw the video; she was strong, but the circumstances were against her.  She was moving to Texas to work at her alma mater so that she could be a part of changing the lives of the next generation of Americans.  She’s stopped by a police officer and thrown in jail on trumped up charges.  She’s left to rot in jail for three days and risks losing her job and everything that she’s worked so hard for.  She’s having trouble raising bail money like many other struggling black men and women who become part of the system.  It doesn’t matter that she was right and that the officer was wrong.  She knew she would never get the chance to be right.  She wasn’t going to escape this arrest nor was she going to escape future harassment and arrests at the hands of corrupt police.  She was living in a world not of her making and not in her control.  She realized that in America, black lives don’t matter.  And after three days she hung herself with a plastic bag finally taking control of a game she couldn’t win because society stacked the deck against her and her strength would not be enough to change the system of brutality against people of color.

This scares me more than any other scenario because this is just the first of many.  I fear that men and women all over the USA will come to lose hope and take their own lives rather than live in a system that fails to recognize them as whole persons.  We still live in a world of 3/5s democracy and that has got to change.

Rape and Bill Cosby

There are currently approximately fifteen women that are accusing Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them.  Their stories all have a familiar ring to it.  Most of these women had aspirations of working in the entertainment industry, they met Mr. Cosby at an event and he took them under his wing.  At a certain point, when the two of them are alone, he gives them a pill and a glass of alcohol.  The last thing these women remember from the encounter is being raped by Bill Cosby, but unable to fight him off due to the debilitating nature of the drugs they took.  Most become unconscious a short time later when the full effect of the drugs takes hold.

By today’s standards these women have been raped.  By giving someone drugs and or alcohol you are taking away their ability to consent.  If they can not consent then anything that occurs of a sexual nature is an unwarranted invasion, assault and rape.  Some of these women spoke out when the attacks occurred many years ago, but were told by the justice system that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.  Prosecutors did not want to charge a famous and well beloved man of a crime unless it was a slam dunk case.  Because of a wide variety of factors rape is often a difficult crime to prove.  The attacks often happen in private locations and lack credible witnesses.  In many rape cases there is little physical evidence on the victim, no bruising or tearing of bodily tissue or other signs of trauma that sex was not consensual.  This is hard for us to accept in American culture where we see episodes of CSI or Law and Order where fictitious crime labs are able to find the exact right type of evidence to solve the case.  Cases of rape are under prosecuted and have a staggeringly low conviction rate.  This in turn causes women not to report rapes when they happen.  Why should they stick their neck out and have their personal information, medical history and habits put on public display for a system that has so utterly failed them?

What is most shocking is that when some of these women were victimized what occurred to them would not have been classified as rape, or assault or any other crime.  By the standards in place twenty to thirty years ago these women participated in consensual sex.  That is why many of these allegations never went to trial.  The men in power did not see their rape as a criminal act.  They only saw a woman having lover’s remorse and nothing more.  Here is the most common list of defenses men used when accused of rape by women in the last thirty years:

  • She was wearing revealing clothing
  • She was in his room late at night
  • She was in his room alone
  • She was using birth control
  • She wore makeup
  • She was sexually active with other men
  • She wore a short skirt
  • She willingly took legal or illegal drugs that impaired her judgement and physical coordination
  • She asked him to wear a condom
  • She asked him not to penetrate her vaginally
  • She asked him not to penetrate her anally
  • She asked him not to ejaculate inside her
  • She did not physically fight her attacker
  • She had an orgasm
  • She didn’t tell anyone about the attack
  • She showed no signs of bruising
  • She never explicitly said ‘no’.

These defenses are still used today with limited success and women have opted out of a justice system that is incapable of protecting them from harm.  The allegations facing Bill Cosby may be true.  He may have raped one of these women, all of these women or some other combination thereof. We will never know the truth in this case.  What is clear to me is that even today when a woman walks into a room she is a target of sexual violence.  It is permissible to harass her when she walks down the street.  We can ply her with drugs or alcohol until she says ‘yes’ or loses the ability to consent altogether.  And we can make a bevy of excuses as to why she ‘wanted’ it.

It does not change what happened.  Unless she says ‘yes’, it is rape.

A Lovely Victory…?

Lovely Warren

Lovely Warren

For those living under a rock, City Council President Lovely Warren won a primary victory against Mayor Tom Richards on the Democrat ticket.  Because Rochester is so heavily saturated with Democrats many believe that the Democrat who wins the primary will ultimately win the election.  That topic is grist for another day as the one-sided politics of Rochester is definitely worthy of further discussion.

What I want to talk about today is the convergence of race and politics in our community.  We come from a rich heritage of social activism, but we have recent examples of extreme bigotry directed at people of color by those in positions of authority.  In the same month that Ms. Warren won the primary a young African-American woman by the name of Brenda Hardaway made news when videotape of her arrest was made public.  In the video the pregnant Hardaway is punched multiple times by a police officer before being thrown to the ground and handcuffed.

Earlier this year Benny Warr, a wheelchair bound African-American man, was assaulted by police and charged with disorderly conduct and other charges while he was waiting for a bus.  This is nothing new to people of color in Rochester, New York.  The Rochester Police Department has officially cracked down on minority groups with Zero Tolerance and Operation Cool Down; two programs designed to disrupt criminal activity, but end up harassing poor men and women of color.  These two programs are also very similar to the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk program which was recently struck down in federal court for violating people’s civil rights.

Ms. Warren is qualified to be mayor in all respects and if elected will be the first African-American woman to be mayor of Rochester, New York.  The question I pose is will her election make a difference to those who have been disenfranchised by previous administrations?  As City Council President Ms. Warren voted with the mayor and the majority of City Council over 90% of the time.  If her views are the same as the mayor’s based on her voting record will her tenure as mayor be more of the same or the breath of fresh air that our city needs?

I’m interested in your thoughts and comments to create a fuller dialogue on this and other complex issues.  Feel free to comment below.

-Suzie B. Anthony

Lisa Jacques Answers the Suzie B. Anthony Questionnaire!

1073174_225506390907121_2119232314_oLisa Jacques filled out our little questionnaire and represents one of only two candidates for city council who have done so.  The importance of tools such as the questionnaire cannot be understated.  By filling out our form and submitting it to me for distribution, candidates like Ms. Jacques, have the opportunity to state their opinions without the filter of editing and we the citizen get a tangible record of their stance on a wide variety of issues of local, regional and national importance.  Read on and evaluate the answers of Ms. Jacques and the other candidates for elected office.

To read Ms. Lisa Jacques’ answers click here.

The Cancer Dancer

There are occasions that take my breath away and fill me with a hope and joy for this world.  A week ago I came across an internet video featuring Tiffany Staropoli.  She has stage 4 colon cancer.  This means that a cancer that originated in the colon has spread to another part of her body.  In this case it is the liver.  Although treatable this is one of the most difficult to remove types of cancer.

Tiffany has chosen to remain positive despite the difficulty of her medical journey and dances to relieve stress and to laugh at herself.  She believes that a healthy positive mental outlook will help her beat this cancer or at the very least help her get through this medical journey with her sanity intact.

I applaud her efforts and wish her well.  To view the interview with Tiffany and her husband Rick follow the link here.

-Suzie B. Anthony

We live in deeds, not years: in thoughts, not breaths;

In feelings, not in figures on a dial.

We should count time by heart throbs.  He most lives

Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.

-Philip James Bailey

Why I Came Back

48175When I was born times were tough. America had just begun to form itself and it became clear as I was growing up that my country could go in two directions. The first would be to maintain the course, keep slavery and continue to relegate women to second class status and defacto property. The other option was a massive change towards broader equality, the abolition of slavery and the equal treatment of women in society.

I died knowing that “failure was impossible” and I was right. Slavery was abolished in my lifetime and those of African heritage were given equality and voting rights. There have been setbacks since then, but it was clear at that moment in time that freedom was on the march for those our country so egregiously wronged. I the right for women to vote was not too far behind and a couple years after my death it happened. Times were tough, but there was a bright horizon to shoot for. Opportunity, prosperity and equality were possible for all who came to the United States of America.

So why did I come back? A historic church near my home was going to be demolished and replaced by a Dollar General store. To me, this building is a symbol of our collective promises and how we have failed to uphold them. This once thriving church was once part of a prosperous neighborhood in a city that was the first boom town in America. We are no longer thriving, prosperous or booming. The worst part is there is no one to blame for this disaster, but ourselves.

I repeat: It is all our fault.

Over the years we have made choices as a society to do nothing and to change nothing about the way we live.  This stagnation has allowed our city to literally and figuratively crumble.  I love Rochester, but I recognize that it needs help: most children in our city grow up in poverty, only 50% graduate from high school and those of African descent still face tremendous hurdles to be successful in life. I want to help Rochester get back on its feet and give voice to the systemic problems facing our city. This will sometimes take the form of promoting the work of various individuals, non-profits or government initiatives with potential to help our city prosper. Other times I will condemn those who choose to exploit others and the political deals that are often too good to be true.

I believe this city can be great again, but only through an active citizenry whose willing to participate. I will keep you informed as long as you promise to listen.

-Suzie B. Anthony