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Anne Richards to Wendy Davis: Upsetting Monolithic Thinking [Video]

AnneRichardsCapture2DemConvention

Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan and Molly Ivins did it then. Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, among others, are doing it now: upsetting the monolithic thinking, the generalized label, so often inaccurately applied to Texas. More importantly, so do the thousands of women and men who recently showed up in Austin and other locations; and the many who routinely vote against the likes of Rick Perry, but who just as routinely are still rather cavalierly slapped with a “Texas is monolithic” kind of label. Like every other state, Texas isn’t monolithic. As in every other state when the fighting progressive minority is ignored by others, the fight is made that much more difficult.

And when the un-monolithic resist the lazy labeling, there are predictable responses, including: 1) “The majority voted Perry (or whoever) in,” as if this is an original insight; 2) “You should just move,” as if gaining civil rights and equality is done by running away; 3) “Lots of people just want Texas (or whichever state, or in some cases, region, as in stereotypical “the South,”) to secede”; 4) “You’re too sensitive” or “Can’t take a joke.”

Monolithic Monotony (because it is so predictable) is: 1) false, 2) counterproductive and 3) lazy. “Florida,” as in the entire population of, doesn’t support the Stand Your Ground law. “North Carolina,” as an undifferentiated whole, doesn’t support abortion restrictions. Nor does “Ohio” or “Pennsylvania” or “North Dakota” or any of the other states engaged in the same anti-choice efforts. Flip it around: “New York” isn’t one, big, we all think just alike and support marriage equality state. Nor are any of the other states with “same-sex marriage.”

I’m coming from the Left, of course. And I’m coming from one of the states, Texas, about which significant numbers of people seem especially quick to take the easy monolithic labeling path. But whether Texas or North Carolina or Florida or whichever state, the sweeping generalizations make the work toward equality and fairness that much more difficult.

Electeds and significant portions of the Electorate everywhere routinely presume to speak for their entire state. or nation. I think about the monolithic mentality most often when a few LGBTs dismiss the efforts of advocates, or even simply residents of, for the easiest example, “the South.” I cannot understand the reasoning of telling someone who is working for equality that their efforts are a waste, though I do think it might be more about the “judg-er” than the “judg-ee.”

None of this means that, related to Texas, Rick Perry and company shouldn’t be called out for their far Right agenda. Just don’t presume to slap the same label on the entire state. Today Taylor has a post that takes Perry and state Republicans on, but without the monolithic perspective. Very good.

Also today Jessica Luther, a Texas woman and activist on the Left, posted an essay about her feelings regarding how the monolithic mentality (my term, not hers) is playing out yet again. (emphasis added throughout)

I am tired. It has been a long month fighting a GOP garbagefest of lies, cheating, and condescension … .

Today was a hard day, watching the bill that we fought so hard against become law. To get on social media and see (many) … say that it’s so super funny when Lewis Black makes a video saying ‘Fuck Texas’ … was disheartening to say the least.

I don’t need anyone to explain the ‘joke.’ I don’t need anyone to tell me that it was making as much fun of New York as Texas … (or) that the video and the ‘joke’ is … directed … only at Rick Perry (funny because all the animated gifs on my Facebook feed are of people saying ‘Fuck Texas’). I know that Black says this video is in response to ads Perry ran in New York trying to lure people to Texas for jobs. … I can put all these pieces together. …

… But maybe you don’t know (what it’s like when) … people pop up … to tell you that your state sucks, your cause is futile, and that the country would be better off without you in it. …

Some final thoughts: Hillary Clinton is more popular in the state of Texas than Rick Perry. …

Twenty five years ago yesterday, Ann Richard’s spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. The video below is of that speech. Katherine Haenschen, at Burnt Orange, writes:

… Ann Richards, then the Treasurer of Texas, took to the podium at the Democratic National Convention … . The address is just as timely now, as women are still fighting for equal pay and reproductive rights, in Texas and across the nation.

For a taste of today’s reality, see Planned Parenthood To Close Three Texas Clinics and Texas Legislators File Radical ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Bill To Ban Abortion After Just Six Weeks. North Dakota is the first state to pass such a law. I’m absolutely positive that not everyone in North Dakota agrees with that.

Nor do I think everyone in northern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska thinks the idea of a 51st state, North Colorado, is a good one. Or that all of Colorado has forced recall elections for Electeds who support tougher gun control. It isn’t “Ohio” as one, big monolithic state, whose governor just signed into law new anti-abortion measures, and flipping things around again, OB-GYNs Slam North Carolina’s Proposed Abortion Restrictions certainly doesn’t include all North Carolinians, and probably not all OB-GYNs. In Pennsylvania, it’s certain the essay Backdoor push to ban abortion will push it into the back alley doesn’t reflect the position of “Pennsylvania” as a whole.

The real fight – from my decidedly Left position – continues in every state, whether abortion or LGBT rights or environmental issues or surveillance state concerns or whatever. The monolithic mentality doesn’t prevent individuals and groups from carrying on with their work. But it does make it a bit more difficult.

Just a thought, from one lesbian, liberally independent, non-monolithic thinking person in Texas.

(Anne Richards Capture Via Dem Convention)

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7 Responses to Anne Richards to Wendy Davis: Upsetting Monolithic Thinking [Video]

  1. Art Pronin July 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    cool! I shared it on meyerland democrats fb page

    • Joyce Arnold July 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

      Thanks for doing that, Art.

  2. Taylor Marsh July 19, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    Oh, what a great broad Ann Richards was.

    Thanks for this, Joyce.

    • Joyce Arnold July 19, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      I have to be careful, because I could write about Anne and Barbara and Molly every week :)

  3. secularhumanizinevoluter July 20, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    I must confess to and own my own mental and emotional laziness when it comes to just about anything “southern”. I really should tape a picture of A. Richards on my flat screen to remind myself whenever I am confronted with any of my racist relatives or bigoted morons with a southern twang in their speech that some of the most couragous and intelligent….. not to mention most beautiful people and women on EARTH come from below the old Mason/Dixion line.

    • Joyce Arnold July 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

      I love this, Sec. Thanks :)

  4. Cujo359 July 20, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Black’s humor is that aggressive New York style that tends to offend people. Still, I think that segment is hilarious. It’s a reaction to “monolithic” thinking, which in this case is the thinking of Gov. Perry and his cohorts that somehow NY, California, and Illinois (and probably others) are entirely defined as places that have high taxes, and unresponsive and perhaps corrupt governments. That isn’t even sensible on an economic level, let alone the more general one of trying to find a place that works for you and your business. Arrogantly asserting something about a thing without understanding it is going to evoke a reaction that’s just as dismissive from the people who care about it.

    Having lived for more than thirty years now in a state that is supposed to be some sort of liberal oasis, where we can’t get health insurance any more readily than most places (though we could at one time), and where we’re still trying to get public transportation projects started that should have been finished twenty years ago, I agree that no place, and no people, are all of one thing. Neither is humor. In fact, often as not, they’re not what you think they are, particularly if you haven’t bothered to learn all that much about them.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong