Entering your apartment while black

Later, I learned that the Santa Monica Police Department had dispatched 19 officers after one of my neighbors reported a burglary at my apartment. It didn’t matter that I told the cops I’d lived there for seven months, told them about the locksmith, offered to show a receipt for his services and my ID. It didn’t matter that I went to Duke, that I have an MBA from Dartmouth, that I’m a vice president of strategy at a multinational corporation. It didn’t matter that I’ve never had so much as a speeding ticket. It didn’t matter that I calmly, continually asked them what was happening. It also didn’t matter that I didn’t match the description of the person they were looking for — my neighbor described me as Hispanic when he called 911. What mattered was that I was a woman of color trying to get into her apartment — in an almost entirely white apartment complex in a mostly white city — and a white man who lived in another building called the cops because he’d never seen me before. [link]

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Obama should have read Neustadt as an undergrad

OBAMA: What I didn’t fully appreciate, and nobody can appreciate until they’re in the position, is how decentralized power is in this system. When you’re in the seat and you’re seeing the housing market collapse and you are seeing unemployment skyrocketing and you have a sense of what the right thing to do is, then you realize, “Okay, not only do I have to persuade my own party, not only do I have to prevent the other party from blocking what the right thing to do is, but now I can anticipate this lawsuit, this lobbying taking place, and this federal agency that technically is independent, so I can’t tell them what to do. I’ve got the Federal Reserve, and I’m hoping that they do the right thing—and by the way, since the economy now is global, I’ve got to make sure that the Europeans, the Asians, the Chinese, everybody is on board.” A lot of the work is not just identifying the right policy but now constantly building these ever shifting coalitions to be able to actually implement and execute and get it done…

[Truman quoted by Neustadt] “I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do the things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them. … That’s all the powers of the President amount to.” [link]

To say “life was better” in the 1950s is to long for the restoration of racial privilege

Yes, nearly 60 percent of white Americans believe that life in America before the advent of the cassette tape, the ATM, IVF, the hand-held calculator and the bar code was better than it is today. Apparently life was very good for these Americans,  when segregated public facilities were a legal requirement in the South and Southeast and a social norm in many other places. Most people of color could not obtain credit or a loan from most “mainstream” banks. Most women of all races and ethnicities  could not do so either. This was a vastly different America, one where life was not at all easy for a whole lot of people. Still, this is the America for which apparently many white Americans long.

That this is understood as a better “way of life” is, to say the least, disturbing.  [link]

Nazi refugees were seen as possible fifth columnists

The Saturday Evening Post told its readers that Nazis “disguised as refugees” were working around the world as “spies, fifth columnists, propagandists or secret commercial agents.” Similar stories appeared in such organs as Reader’s Digest and American Magazine, with the latter running a feature that bore the calm, collected headline “Hitler’s Slave Spies in America.”

The idea in that piece was that the agents among the refugees didn’t want to do Hitler’s bidding. They simply had no choice, because otherwise their relatives back home would be in danger—an approach the article called a “blitzkreig of blackmail.” This theory was endorsed by no less than President Franklin Roosevelt, who said at a press conference that refugees (“especially Jewish refugees”) could be pressed into Nazi service with the words “we are frightfully sorry, but your old father and mother will be taken out and shot.” [link]

She said, “When I was 18 …”

I use this blog like a scrapbook of writing I find interesting. Sometimes it’s the topic, other times it’s the prose. This writer travels a very long distance, very neatly, in just two sentences.

When I was 18, my boyfriend of two years hanged himself from the rafters of his garage. He was the first boy I kissed, the first I loved, the last person I talked to at night and the first person I talked to in the morning, until one sunny day in November when I woke up to a call from his mother. [link]