Saturday, January 5, 2008

Which candidate do you support? Take the Candidate Matchmaker Quiz

Do you know who you're going to vote for in your presidential primary or caucus? Who you'll support in the presidential election in November?

Do you know which candidate your views align with most closely?

Take the Candidate Matchmaker Quiz below and see if the "facts" match your perceptions.

Disclaimer: This Candidate Matchmaker Quiz was produced and / or distributed by Fox News...home to Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Brit Hume and John Gibson (among other partisan hacks). If you disagree, consider the source.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Closed minds continue to be one of our greatest downfalls...

This column appeared in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The columnist does a great job highlighting missed opportunities. She talks specifically about Memphis, but the same dynamic exists in most places. Closed minds continue to be one of our greatest downfalls...

Kwanzaa debate misses key idea

By Wendi C. Thomas

Sunday, December 30, 2007

We missed it again.

We had a chance to rise above, to be better, wiser.

Instead, it's as if we reverted to childhood, distracted by a shiny object, a distant glint of what might be racism. The possibility of prejudice glimmered and we were transfixed.

County Commissioner Henri Brooks, a black woman and a Christian, wanted to celebrate the African-based holiday of Kwanzaa at the Shelby County Administration Building.

Probate Court Clerk Chris Thomas, a white man and a Christian, thought that would be an inappropriate use of a government building.

His attempt to throw a Christian party had been thwarted, so why was Brooks allowed to hold what he still contends is a spiritual celebration, not the values-based event those of us who have celebrated Kwanzaa know it to be.

Despite Biblical commands against suing another believer, Thomas sought an injunction to keep Brooks from doing exactly what former County Commissioner and Memphis City Councilman Shep Wilbun did at least four times without controversy in the 1990s -- hold a Kwanzaa event in a public building.

A judge ruled Wednesday in Brooks' favor, and that evening she was able to continue the tradition she has maintained for 13 years . She held a public, open-to-all gathering to mark Kwanzaa, which celebrates seven values that anyone -- regardless of race -- could be proud of.
By my count, more than 200 people have sounded off on blogs and media bulletin boards about Brooks and the event, most comments laced with the righteous indignation that should be reserved for matters like genocide or global warming.

But instead, it was the predictable venom spewed when people disagree about how an affair involving race has been resolved. Some of the sentiments should shame even the most hardened bigot, like this one from The (Nashville) Tennessean Web site: "After seeing Henri Brooks in action, all I can say is what a pity her mother wasn't pro choice."

The funny thing is -- and by funny I mean unfortunate -- only about 100 people came to Brooks' Kwanzaa celebration. Odds are there wasn't much overlap between the 200 complainers and the 100 celebrants, which means that a lot of folks chose not to see firsthand what Kwanzaa is -- and isn't.

As she opened the Kwanzaa celebration Wednesday, Brooks had this to say: "I'm not going to say it was a problem to get in here. I'm going to say we had an educational opportunity."

What I'm about to ask you to consider may set your teeth on edge, but work with me.

On this, Brooks is right. This was -- it is -- an opportunity. For all of us. If those who have never celebrated Kwanzaa had gone to the county commission chambers, we would at least know how to pronounce the seven principles of the weeklong celebration: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).

But this was an opportunity missed. We miss a lot of these chances in Memphis, even though they surround us.

They are at the temple we've never visited, the mosque we've never stepped inside, the neighborhoods we denigrate but never drive through.

They are in the unfamiliar languages of immigrants we pass at the mall.

They are at the cultural festivals, such as Kwanzaa, that are open to all although we never go.

Maybe we're afraid that what we'd find would be too different. Maybe we're afraid we'd discover we're so much the same.

Or maybe we haven't yet grown tired of crossing our arms tightly and closing our minds even tighter to the stunning diversity and commonality that could be our communal power, that could stitch together the racially scattered fragments of Memphis.

Today, those of us who recognize Kwanzaa will reflect on the principle of purpose, or, as the official Kwanzaa Web site says, "to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness."

And in this, in Nia, is another opportunity -- for all of us, regardless of race, to work for our collective good to restore Memphis to the greatness she deserves.