The Economy of the Future Must Include Singles

Women hit the glass ceiling in academia and in business when their needs are not taken into consideration. What happens when single women are not paid equivalent to men? One guess, the loss of the ability to build a future.

Grit? Forget it. Many are born gritty, but grit will not help when those who make the budgets and disperse checks assume women can be paid less simply because they are female.

So, why do so many politicians make pleas to the “American family” when so many Americans (45% in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau) are single? 
At least one state understands the plight of American singles, Ohio. Ohio celebrates “National Singles Week” the third week in September. More states should do the same. 
Question for Presidential candidates: 
How can singles reap the economic benefits of the middle class when the economy seems geared to the married middle class? 

Hillary Clinton’s Challenging Run for the White House

Hillary Clinton needs to win progressives and Ronald Reagan Republucans. These constituencies may prove challenging. What do they want that Hillary has not already proposed a solution for? Does anybody know?

Hillary Clinton, a politician the world has known for decades, gave what might have been the speech of her career this past Thursday, July 28, 2016, at the DNC in Philadelphia. 

What was different, was the degree to which she allowed the audience insight into her motivation for running for the highest office. She talked about her Mom who encouraged her to stick up for herself. Her Dad, a self-made businessman. Basically, we learned that Hillary is a human being with a family life and a faith-based worldview.

Hillary Clinton’s poised, eloquent delivery, not unlike that of her daughter, Chelsea who introduced her, seemed to charm — and at the same time rattle — the audience. Mostly there were cheers,  progressives also jeered at some of her centrist positions.

If progressives, and Ronald Reagan-conservatives, remain cool to Hillary Clinton, it may be fair for Clinton’s team and political organizers to ask:

  1. “What more must Hillary Clinton do to win trust?
  2. “What can the progressive, or the conservative, do to earn Hillary Clinton’s trust?”
  3. “Need Hillary Clinton mention Donald Trump at all in her next stump speech?”

After Philadelphia, and after the Cleveland convention featuring Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump, it’s too late to insist that Hillary Clinton is not Presidential. Now it is appropriate to consider how the world may be transformed should the U.S. elect the first woman President.

Clinton’s opponent, Trump, must work hard to beat the re-introduced earnest Hillary Clinton.


Disney’s “Zootopia,” and the Urban Zeitgeist in American Political Discourse

Want a primer on intersectional politics? Go see Disney’s “Zootopia,” a tale of a tenacious country bunny rabbit with aspirations of being an urban cop in Zootopia where the majority of residents are prey and the minority, predators. If you, like I, thought that seeing a kid’s movie would be a nice break from watching primary-election coverage, think again. Evertything is politics, including Disney movies.

“Zootopia,” the movie, presents an animal world eerily reflective of the detritus of American domestic policy. Still pondering what effect 1990s-era crime legislation has had on American society? Note that in the Zootopian metropolis something appears to be affecting a minority of the predators’ behavior leading to moral panic and irrational quality-of-life-mediating decisions by some of the prey-majority. In the introduction, audiences receive a primer on the entire ecosystem of Zootopia and the outlier-communities. The predator class, sly foxes, family-loving otters, courageous-lions, live under suspicion of wilding-out to the detriment of the mellow bunnies, meek sheep, and other prey.

An aesthetically stunning film, “Zootopia” provides a way to reflect upon the current divisive rhetoric of the American presidential primary campaigns. How do political science professors, social studies teachers, and parents go about having conversations with children about politics, today? When one presidential candidate offers to pay the legal bills of audience-member thugs who lash out at disruptors, can there be hope?  Campaign politics aside, America appears to be a nation constantly at the verge of reconciling, or attempting to reconcile, the trauma of centruries of colonialist ptractice.

“Zootopia” audiences see echoes of a ’90s-era rhetoric of “super-predators” and restrictions on the freedom of suspect predators. Rodney King’s message about getting along, takes on new meaning (Zootopia is an urban space much like Los Angeles). With forays into alternative cultures, gender inequality, underground economies, and mixed relationships, “Zootopia” comments on the precarity of identity and the diversity of the American experience. A cute bunny cop and her enlisted partner, a fox (surprise!) navigate an emotional tightrope in order to maintain their fragile relationship and solve an incredible mystery related to the politics of identity.



What Does Ted Cruz’s Flame Represent? A Universal Politic? | Imagery in Politics

With a crowded Republican field, how do candidates for President distinguish themselves as they head into the Southern primaries? One way is through branding. Candidates use logos to distinguish themselves from their competitors. The democrat field is not so crowded, therefore, less scrutiny may be placed on campaign branding materials of Clinton and Sanders, the front-runners. But for the republican candidates, scrutiny may be fierce. Maybe this is why the branding materials of the republican candidates seem to, at times, overpower the respective messengers.

Case in point: Candidate Ted Cruz.

Sen. Ted Cruz

Did anybody else notice the similarities between Sen. Cruz’s backdrop on his stump speeches and that of the famous inspirational TED Talks? The slogan “TRUSTED” with TED in the classic red provides a visual context for the Senator as audiences watch him speak. Depending on where he stands, though, the message conveyed to audiences can be the difference between “RUSTED,” “USTED,” “TED,” and “ED”. This risky design causes too much speculation. Once could easily be distracted with, “Hey, that looks like the TED Talks logo! Can they do that?” This cognitive interference may distract from the message Sen. Cruz tries to convey.

Here is another challenge. Add to the TED Talks-like design of the “TRUSTED” backdrop the red, white, and blue flame, that also resembles the red-and-white flame logo of Claremont Graduate University, and one really begins to wonder who designed these campaign materials for Sen. Cruz and who is the intended audience for these materials?

Not every registered voter is familiar with TED Talks, or the Southern California-based Claremont University Consortium (CUC), a group of small colleges and two graduate schools (of which CGU is one). It is important to note that CUC is next door to Claremont Lincoln University and the Claremont Institute, neither a part of the CUC, but certainly at home with the name Claremont and what Claremont represents. When people search for these names, inevitably they find the flame. That other institutions feel at home borrowing the message of intellectualism and universal tolerance for the Other may bode well for the Cruz campaign, in the long run.


By borrowing heavily from both the TED Talks and Claremont Graduate University logos, is the Cruz campaign signalling a desire to appeal to an audience beyond the evangelical base the media typically associates with Cruz? If so, what audience?



Gothic Horror & Iconic Southern Style Through a Southern California Lens: Beyonce’s “Formation” ‘Slays’

When looking at Beyonce’s “Formation,” keep in mind migration. Sometimes the best way to get a handle on a situation is to change geographic location.

In “Formation,” Beyonce’s epic video, we see an ode to a people’s relationship to both the land and the American cultural politics of geography. Mood? Dark. Chic. Magic. The video was released the weekend of Super Bowl 50, a contest pitting the Panthers against the Broncos. This video appears early in 2016, when echoes of American activism sift through layers of soundbites and marketing ploys.

Part of the conceit of “Formation” is a commentary on American cultural politics. The video was not shot in the South, but in California. Perhaps this suggests that when the subject of commentary is systemic structural inequality, the vastness of Los Angeles, with a nod to Hollywood’s Gothic Westerns, provides an artistic safe space for exploration and creation.

“Formation” collapses history by reinterpreting Southern life. With copious references to historic events in African American culture and the human will to survive, this video provides echoes of a traumatic past merged with the promise of a future. Today’s struggles, whether for clean water, as in #Flint, or the struggle to thrive, spotlighted by #BlackLivesMatter, are part of the tapestry of “Formation”.

Beyonce Political Philosophy 101

After watching Beyonce’s “formation” video, I wondered: What local institutions exist to protect minorities from those in power who do not prioritize the needs of the vulnerable? What colleges and universities (besides Virginia Tech) work in tandem with local governments to safeguard the public trust? Note the existing controversy about the failure of local academic institutions to intervene in the Flint, MI water crisis.

Beyonce brings her brand of feminism to the world and graduate women’s studies classrooms flip out. Women’s studies departments are debate-grounds for discussing feminist vs. womanist discourse during a time when the “vs.” part should be ignored in favor of solidarity. During a time in America’s history when the potential exists for voters to elect the first female President of the United States, controversy abounds as to why more Millennial women do not appear to be behind Hillary Clinton. Are traditional Second Wave Feminists counting on feminism to save Hillary Clinton? If the answer is yes, then someone better call Beyonce — or at least one of her squad — because feminism has changed since the rise of the Millennials.

Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum may have trouble negotiating with various diverse constituents including democratic socialists, liberals, fiscal conservatives, feminists, womanists, and POCs. But Beyonce’s-style of feminism resonates with many youth. But how well does it resonate with traditional Second Wave Feminists? This question is purely hypothetical and meant to illustrate a potential cultural gap that could have significant implications this presidential election season.

I personally know how hard it is to be a feminist, a womanist, and a female person of color. Although I rarely see my perspectives reflected in public policy or political discourse, I’m still an avid consumer of news and public policy “White Papers”.

Public policy decisions that impact people’s relationship to infrastructure concern me most. The tale’s been told before: the citizens of Katrina, the citizens of Flint, the citizens of Southern West Virginia: Poor people, at the mercy of public policy makers, risking lives to stay afloat, and to avoid tainted water.

One cannot help but grieve, whether the grieving comes filtered through the lens of womanism or feminism.

More About The Video

Arresting imagery from daily life in New Orleans is the focal point of “Formation”. We see Beyonce resting atop a sinking police car wearing a red-and-white gown, maintaining characteristic poise despite (in spite of) her precarious position. The scene dramatizes the relationship between nature, the State, and the black body. Always precarious. A water-logged police car slowly, slowly becoming indistinguishable from the muck. Thus, it begins.

Beyonce and Squad as Cultural Creatives

Another part of this video shifts the focus to domestic life and features antebellum architecture. Yet, Beyonce and her team shot the video in Southern California, not in the U.S. South. Beyonce’s team scouted the Fenye’s Mansion in Pasadena for the “Formation” mansion. Without giving too much away (although the link about Beyonce’s crew visiting the Fenye’s Mansion provides some details), the production team’s attention to history, and to re-creating and re-interpreting the past, deserves commendation. This is Beyonce, the artist with a team of cultural producers, creating art, re-interpreting history, making history.

There’s a scene featuring Beyonce that also made me think of black-and-white photographs I have seen of the late painter Georgia O’Keefe who said, “To create one’s own world takes courage”. The word courage, typically associated with militarized tales of valor and bravery, takes on new meaning when applied to people of the Diaspora. Survivors feature prominently in “Formation” with all of the trials and tribulations. Despite the treachery of policy-makers and the betrayal of infrastructure, people survive to build new worlds.

Could Beyonce’s “Formation” be the beginning of a healing?