Given his significance in our nation’s history and his role as a source of inspiration for so many, you would probably assume there must have been a film about Martin Luther King, Jr. But while he has factored into many stories captured on film before, there hasn’t been a major motion picture focusing on his life. Director Ava DuVernay has taken on his story in Selma, and avoids many of the biopic pitfalls to make a beautiful, riveting and moving film. It features an amazing cast, led by a wonderful performance by British actor David Oyelowo as Dr. King.
The film doesn’t come out until January, but I was fortunate enough to catch a (not completely finished) screening of the film in San Francisco last weekend. Here’s why I think everyone, but especially activists and organizers, should make sure to get out and see Selma next year:
Voter photobombing Mitch McConnell, via abcnews.com
Last week was rough for progressives, to put it mildly. Some reactionary, frightening candidates were able to win competitive races and take over the Senate. Key governorships were lost. Of course, this is all cyclical to a degree, as Jon Stewart pointed out by pulling up some 2-year-old footage about the “bloodbath” endured by Republicans. There are many conversations to be had about what our side could have done better in various races. In the meantime, people will face real consequences, whether they’re young immigrants who are waiting for their chance to become citizens or low-income people who desperately need the Medicaid expansion that Republican governors refuse to implement. It can be incredibly disheartening to people who poured time and money into this year’s elections, and made their voices heard at the ballot box. Some people want to throw their hands up at a process that seems to have been coopted by the Koch brothers and their friends. Amidst the deluge of bad news, we can’t lose sight of the real, meaningful impact we still managed to have this election.
As feminism has gained new power in recent years, more and more people are eager to get on board. The cultural cache of identifying as feminist and empowering women can be seen everywhere from celebrities donning feminist t-shirts, the VMAs, and the Late Show with David Letterman. Most of these people are undoubtedly sincere when they express their support, and lend their cultural power, to embracing women’s rights. It becomes a big dodgier when corporations pick it up to sell products.
We’ve all heard a million excuses for why women aren’t advancing in the workplace. We’re not aggressive enough. We’re too aggressive. We’re just not as competent as the male candidates. We’re not “leaning in” enough. We make lifestyle choices that put us at a disadvantage in the job market. Basically anything but gender discrimination.
It can be difficult to dispense with these excuses and prove discrimination, especially the kind that is often subtle or subconscious. Jessica Nordell points out one place we can look to see very clearly how gender affects workplace dynamics: the experiences of transgender people. (more…)
It’s midterm election season, which means an onslaught of frantic emails and late night TV jokes about how no one cares about the midterm elections. Without a presidential race at the top of the ticket (though frighteningly we’re already having the 2016 conversation), a lot of people are content to let this one pass them by. As with most elections, there’s a lot at stake, and the results will directly impact our lives. I could go on about control of the Senate, extremely close gubernatorial races and state legislatures that have passed everything from Stand Your Ground to draconian voter ID laws. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to focus on some of the issues on the ballot around the country, and opportunities we have to beat back offensive laws or proactively be more bold than our governments are willing to be on their own.