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Implicit racism and my ignorance
I have taught English and history for many years both in high school and college, and during those years my colleagues and students have always considered me among the most liberal and progressive members of the faculty: women, African-Americans, Native-Americans, European and Asian immigrants have all been featured in my curricula, but this month for the first time I have heard about Juneteenth, the day slavery in the United States ended. Why am I only learning about this now?
I have always considered Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in spite of its limited application (only those states currently in rebellion), one of the greatest moments in American history. Now I find that moment eclipsed by what happened on June 19, 1865. Why am I only finding out about this now, two years after I have retired?
I have also just learned that Waldo County, where I live, was named after a man ( Samuel Waldo) who grew wealthy in the transatlantic slave trade. This is a fact that would have been useful to know when I was standing in front of the classroom discussing relevant points about American history and literature. Such knowledge might have made my discourse weightier. Why didn’t I know?
Could it be that implicit racism played a part in my ignorance?
William J. Murphy
Sweet is who we need
As a nurse-midwife working to improve health care for women, I’ve spent time on Capitol Hill informing legislators about midwifery practice and health risks for Maine women like access to care. I learned that educating policy makers is critical, though challenging. I believe we need a senator from Maine who is informed about issues and connected to their constituents.
I sat with Betsy Sweet at the Common Ground Fair when she turned to me and asked, since I work in health care, what is my view on immunization? Here we have a woman educating herself about important issues while continually connecting with the public. I’ve seen her unafraid to enter a room filled with those who disagree with her, listen to their stories, learn from them, then do the hard work of advocating. Betsy Sweet is who we need for senator of our state. She is smart. Her platform is progressive and, though I am more moderate, I am confident of our shared values. She has the experience, stamina and guts needed to actually make the changes we need right now. Look her up. I support her with everything I’ve got.
Gideon for Senate
Sara Gideon is the most able, capable, experienced and knowledgeable Democrat to be Maine’s next U.S. senator. It’s time for change. I have followed Gideon and the job she has done for us as Speaker in the Maine House of Representatives. She has worked very well with members of the two parties and helped bring about necessary changes.
I have been following Gideon and members of her team as they have put together an excellent working campaign, including town hall meetings where citizens can take part in asking her questions and her responses as people watching on their computers.
You can see Gideon and the person asking the questions with signed up people watching the program. Because of the strict personal COVID-19 requirements, this helped the team to let many people that desire to participate. Gideon has worked to tackle challenges Mainers face and has brought people together to deliver results while standing up for Democratic values.
She is running for one of the Maine U.S. Senate seats because too many politicians in Washington are focused more on special interests than the interests of the people they represent. She is a proud mom, wife, sister and daughter, and as she always has in the Legislature, she will put Maine first.
I ask all you Maine voters to join me, to help make Sara Gideon the next Democratic U.S. senator from Maine.
Charles J. Birkel
I need reliable and fast internet more than ever
The past three months have surely been a time when I’ve needed reliable, consistent high-speed internet more than ever. Working as an American Sign Language interpreter, I have advocated and struggled for internet connections that have a fast upload speed as well as download. You see, ASL communication needs to go two ways.
My current position as a sub-contracted educational interpreter usually requires minimal online interpreting through video calls; however, now that my school is closed, possibly for the rest of the year, any work I do with my student must be via video.
Two examples where I’ve battled the slow and choppy internet demon (last month) are as follows: First, through Google, namely video chat/hangouts, when interpreting written material and communicating back and forth about the material. The audio connection was great and came through smoothly on both ends; however, the video connection kept delaying and freezing, mostly on my end (so that my student couldn’t catch what I was signing) and this necessitated much repetition and a lengthier session than the student was expecting.
A second example came through my cell phone camera and then iMovie and QuickTime Player, as I was recording videos of myself interpreting teachers’ greetings to the students. It took me a total of six hours to make and send a total of approximately 30 minutes of video! I will be the first to admit that much of that time was spent trying different applications to see which one could make the smallest version, but then uploading and sending in .mov format took about one and a half hours!
Although I have no intentions of moving out of Somerville anytime soon, I desperately need a more reliable high speed (two-way) broadband connection. At this point, my livelihood depends on it.
Somebody to look down on
There are many people who think that I’m a bad person, and yet, I don’t believe for a moment that they are right. Because the issue is entirely about perception.
Every day, people are being abused and killed because they are perceived to be different. So who gets to damn another person’s life as being inferior and expendable?
Kris Kristofferson said, “Everybody’s got to have somebody to look down on.” But in truth, none of us need someone to look down on. And therein lies the greatest problem and opportunity within humanity.