Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Black Members of Congress Update

I called the Congressional Black Caucus today in a (successful) attempt to finalize my chart on Black members of Congress following the November election. I hadn't been able to confirm the reelection of Virgin Island delegate Donna Christian Christensen. She IS returning. I also wasn't able to determine if any new African-Americans had been elected from districts that hadn't had Black representatives. The CBC said there were no new members, except Martha Fudge who replaces Stephanie Tubbs Jones who died. (Other new Black members who had replaced Black members of Congress had done so early enough to be listed as members of the 110th Congress.)

You can take the link to previous post to see the chart of the members.

This means that the US House now has one fewer Black member because William Jefferson, who was indicted on bribery charges was not reelected. In his place, the first Vietnamese-American was elected to Congress. And the only Black member of the Senate also leaves, but in a more positive way - Barack Obama resigned from the Senate after being elected President.

The link also has a paragraph from a report that lists the number of members who are women, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American in the 110th Congress. It's the last paragraph of the post.


  1. I was excited to see Joseph Cao win; he is truly living the American dream,proving that anyone can go any where and do anything in America.

  2. Well, Tea, yes and no. Not everyone can do anything. There is only one president of the US at a time. 25 per century if no one was ever reelected, if they left office faster than that, people would lose interest in the office. So, only 10-20 people or so in a century can realistically become president.

    The odds are a little better for the US House, except that some people stay in office for years and years. Tell Ethan that anyone can do anything.

    People keep buying lottery tickets because they believe anyone can win. And perhaps the hope that $5 or $10 a month buys is worth it for some people. Sometimes unexpected things happen to unexpected people. Cao was at the right place at the right time. But he's one person. How many Vietnamese and Americans had to die in Vietnam to create the situation that caused the US to get a lot of Vietnamese immigrants so that one of them could one day get into Congress?

    Cliches trap us into thoughts that have kept so many people stuck in desperate lives. They think they have a better chance to escape with a lottery ticket than breaking loose from the mental traps that truly bind them.

    Yes, good for Cao. But why did Jefferson have to hide the $90,000 in his freezer that eventually enabled Cao to win?

    Sorry, I just watched a terrible, bloody, misogynistic dvd that someone must have given me at the festival. I didn't know what it was and I didn't turn it off. It was, cinematically, very well done. Morally, it had no redeeming qualities I can think of. And I'm suffering the aftermath of watching it.

  3. Dude! You need an aerobics class!

    I'm trying to be upbeat. I've not been able to use the bathroom by myself in three weeks since my 3 year old got clingy. (She pounds on the door yelling, "Mooooom! Are you done yet?" Or the others yell or bicker.) On the bright side, I can use it alone in the dark at night. I feel somewhat trapped in my own abode even when on the commode!

    Maybe my cliche needs to be modified: Anyone can do anything in America, provided they either find or create the circumstances they need to succeed.

    I am reading a book called "Around Sarah's Table." I find myself intimidated by how successful and smart the women are-- one has THIRTEEN kids and is a principal and she HOSTS A MIDWEEK TALK GROUP for these smart women. I feel like a loser. I should be happy for them and focusing on their success, but I find myself feeling like a waste-- but it's not about how many times you fall or even how many people have suffered to get to where you are (as long as you did not cause it.) It's about seeing chances and taking them and (forgive the cliche) getting up more times than you fall. You have to keep your head up and not shoot yourself when you are wounded. (I am so full of cliches now!)

    I'll tell Ethan that his time has not yet come-- it will. If both he and Mark got in and with the way our economy is headed, they'd get blamed for not doing as much or (I will NOT forgive Glen Massey for saying this as he fought Lyda) "bringing in our fair share." (They guy ran MSC and you'd think he could do better than cliches!) Then everything would be blamed on the Democrats. I think in Eth's case, Alaskans have to see Don get voted out of key positions and he's rendered useless anyway.

    I think that cliches can trap us, but there is also some truth to them that some can apply.

  4. lol, didn't mean to rain on your parade. But then I read the newspaper this morning (it was in the ADN, but the link is NYT.)

    "As he told Zengerle, 'I am explicitly turning my back on, I think, these kind of empty models that say, you know, you can be whatever you want to be. Well, actually, you can’t be whatever you want to be. The world decides what you can and can’t be.'”

    "As usual, Gladwell intelligently captures a larger tendency of thought — the growing appreciation of the power of cultural patterns, social contagions, memes."

    He calls them cultural patterns, social contagions, memes. I called them cliches and mental traps."

    The maxim that "anyone can do whatever he wants" is an adjunct of social Darwinism which posits that the rich are rich because they deserve to be and the same is true for the poor. It blames the victim of societal structures (economic, educational, legal) and tries to get one's attention from the way society makes things easier for some and harder for others. So if you are home alone trapped by your kids, well, that's your fault. And, of course, you could have made different decisions. Gladwell and I are saying, well, maybe, if you'd had different parents, different life experiences, different genes, etc. Yes, we are all human beings and we all make choices, but how many of those choices are programmed and how often do we have true free will? You can choose among 40 deodorants, but where's your health care choice, or you transportation choices?

    He even seems to agree with me that free will comes when you can step out of yourself and see those structures that trap you. Not just the kids and the ailing auto, but the societal institutions that exist (or don't exist - like good public transportation or affordable walkable communities, reasonable childcare, health care).

    " Most successful people begin with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so. They were often showered by good fortune, but relied at crucial moments upon achievements of individual will.

    Most successful people also have a phenomenal ability to consciously focus their attention. We know from experiments with subjects as diverse as obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers and Buddhist monks that people who can self-consciously focus attention have the power to rewire their brains."

    So if you feel trapped at home, I'm saying it's not totally your fault. And it seems to me that given the situation you've fallen into, you are doing pretty well. You usually look at the positive. You love your kids and have fun with them. All that will pay off with dividends in the future. You're making your payments now.

    And that lady with all the kids who is a principal, etc. Where does she live? Where are the grandparents and aunts and uncles of her kids? You moved to some God-forsaken outpost (I know there are a lot of God substitutes out there) with lots of people who do not believe in community let alone government which could establish support systems for families. And you've grown mentally so that you see through the facades of the people you used to be buds with. So they don't work for you anymore.

    "Seeing" with truly open eyes doesn't necessarily bring joy, because it causes you to see the pettiness and hypocrisy all around you. But just as we accept the destructive power of a hurricane, human behavior - collectively - can be thought of as a natural event. But one we can shape.

    So keep on shaping.

  5. I'm shaping alright. . . I just glued a donkey tail to my hand (on accident of course) and an angel costume to the newly laid fake wood floor. <3

    That lady is in a Hasidic community in NYC with a supportive community. . . you have a point!


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