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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

Like a first kiss, everyone can remember the very first time they voted.

I am still proud of my first presidential vote for George McGovern in 1972 over Richard Nixon. I was just 24 years old, and was pretty depressed with the results – the ONLY state McGovern won was the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts! He was an anti-war Democrat when Americans were becoming tired of Vietnam; a Senator from South Dakota with an impeccable reputation. But Nixon managed his huge victory through lies and innuendo, with Watergate looming on the horizon.

At least Nixon lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1970 – ’cause if you can be drafted to die in Vietnam, you might as well be able to vote.

I remember my foster parents voting. It was the only time they would leave me alone in the house; they would get dressed up for the occasion, Nell would wear powder and lipstick, Jim would don a tie. They would never say who they voted for, but somehow I knew it was a straight-line Blue ticket. After all, Democrats were the party of working people, of unions, and even the Catholic Church! This was FDR and JFK’s legacy, they were like saints to us.

And then in 1965, LBJ signed into law the Voting Rights Act to end racial discrimination at the ballot box.

“Black people attempting to vote were often told by election officials that they gotten the date, time or polling place wrong, that the officials were late or absent, that they possessed insufficient literacy skills or had filled out an application incorrectly. Often African Americans, whose population suffered a high rate of illiteracy due to centuries of oppression and poverty, would be forced to take literacy tests, which they inevitably failed. Johnson also told Congress that voting officials, primarily in southern states, had been known to force black voters to “recite the entire constitution or explain the most complex provisions of state laws”–a task most white voters would have been hard-pressed to accomplish. In some cases, even Black people with college degrees were turned away from the polls.”

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/johnson-signs-voting-rights-act

But as we know, so often passing a law and enforcing it are two different things. In the South, Republicans managed to continue to suppress the Black vote in covert ways. Outlawing a poll tax for example can be replaced by fewer and minimally staffed polling places in urban Black neighborhoods. Where there is a White Supremacist will, they will find a way – just as legislators are doing now in Georgia.

One of the most egregious changes Gov Kemp signed into law last week was cutting by half the number of days a person can request an absentee ballot. Due to Covid, in the last election about a quarter of the GA electorate voted absentee. And almost 65% of those voting absentee were for Joe Biden.

The first time I voted absentee was in VA. We were planning a trip over an upcoming November election, so we had to present ourselves to City Hall and state the reason we needed to vote early. You needed a reason, like a child getting a note from a doctor in order to return to school. Then after presenting our photo IDs, we sat down right there and voted with paper and pen.

This last election we requested absentee ballots, because… we’re old. TN Republicans didn’t think a global pandemic was a good enough reason to vote absentee. Bob thought it was funny that we didn’t need to prove who we were to anybody, just make the request online, and wait for it to be delivered. And wait, and wait. Then vote and seal it. I mean, who would hack a government agency? We hand-delivered our ballots, along with Ada and Hudson’s, to the official ballot box at Nashville’s historic US Post Office! Of course, sealing it “the right way” was tricky but we managed.

I wonder what my Nana would say because she was denied her right to vote over a century ago, after the 19th Amendment was passed. She had married an “Alien,” aka an Irish born citizen. What would my foster mom Nell think if she saw me in a face mask, voting at a post office? Would she wonder why Republicans are making it harder to vote than it is to buy a gun? I’d like to ask her out on our porch, while she was sipping an ice cold Royal Crown cola. I’ll have a Pepsi myself.

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It’s still the same old story 
A fight for love and glory 
A case of do or die

Guess what? The world does NOT always welcome lovers, as Louis Armstrong so gallantly sang in Casablanca. Remember the 1st Grade boy who was charged with sexual harassment for kissing a girl? Thankfully that judgement was overturned http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/12/us/six-year-old-kissing-girl-suspension/

Well, in a week when we really should be looking critically at yet another school shooting, we have the case of an admitted “hugger” being suspended from his high school for a year for hugging his teacher. Yessir, in Georgia, a 17 year old boy who was 5 months away from graduating and going on to college with an athletic scholarship, has been forced to put his life on hold for a year.

Of course there are two sides to this story, and while I was sitting on a high school board back in NJ I heard all of them. I know that some hugs can hurt, I’ve actually had a rib crack from a friendly bear hug. And some hugs can be dismissive, as in one person is ready to forgive but you’re not quite there yet. Now we have the “inappropriate hug” which is open to interpretation.

But imho, the world can be divided into two camps – like Beatles or Stones? dogs or cats? –  huggers and non-huggers. Will the Love Bug escape her destiny? I’m afraid hugging will be inevitable in her case. IMG_2192

I sign many an email with the term, “Hugs!” I go in for a hug instead of a handshake most days. My kids are huggers, it’s almost genetic. We all know the stance of a non-hugger. Hands hang limp, body bends at the waist warily, head turns away. It’s like a sweaty palm in a perfunctory handshake, you wish you’d known they were non-huggers from the get go, but now it’s too late. You’re locked in an embrace with an automaton.

Sometimes a hug is all it takes. Like the time my next door neighbor’s house was burning down right around Christmas and I walked out into the night and found her, both of us shivering in our robes, and hugged her. She told me later how much she appreciated it and yet it wasn’t even pre-meditated, it was a reflexive reaction on my part. As that senior boy said about his teacher,

“She looked like she needed it.”

One of my earliest memories is of being kissed by a boy named Lloyd on the Kindergarten bus. It was a bit scary and thrilling all at the same time, which is why I remember it. What about you? Any early memories of that first kiss? Any inappropriate hug stories? Has zero tolerance become limitless ignorance? SIGH

And if you’d like to sign the petition to have the GA school board revisit such a calamitous disciplinary action for giving a hug to a teacher, here it is: http://www.change.org/petitions/gwinnett-county-public-schools-overturn-and-revisit-sam-mcnair-s-yearlong-suspension-for-hugging-a-teacher?share_id=RHbqsAXavU&utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

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