29 Jun


Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. 

 – John F. Kennedy



I am so glad I was born a woman. It has allowed me the freedom to not conform. From first consciousness of a personal identity it was clear I was not an equal to any male; not simply different from boys, but unequal as well. This message was not simply from parents and family members immersed in Italian culture. It was the American cultural premise that boys mattered more: their plans must be first-met, their hopes first-fulfilled, their preferences first-considered. They never noticed what seemed obviously appropriate for their well-being. Why should they have done so? The culture fit them well. Their shoes fit. When shoes fit well, one does not notice. One only notices when the shoes pinch. I have worn shoes that pinch my entire life. It makes me cranky, angry and tired. This is not because of individual men who treated me so badly, although there a few who shall remain nameless. Men and women agreed to share this norm within our personal relationships and cultural institutions. It always take a prince to save the princess in our stories. Thank you Drew Barrymore for your portrayal of a different kind of princess in EVERAFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY.


I cannot compare a woman’s discomfort with that felt by African-Americans,Native-Americans, Latinos and other groups hobbling along with pinched shoes seeking the American dream. Even when they are  allowed to join in the race, painful feet make their chances of winning a race so much more difficult. The pain is different for each of us, but we recognize the restricted gait in others. For white men the race is also a struggle. They must work equally hard to train for the race. The course they run is the same we all run. The only difference is that our shoes pinch. We understand our struggles are common struggles. But our pain helps us become sensitized to issues of injustice, discrimination and abuse of power. This is not to ignore those white men who are equally sensitive to issues of injustice and would never discriminate or abuse power. In fact, they amaze me since it would be so easy for them to simply move ahead and leave the rest of us far behind.


As I watched the faces of those brave and committed Congressional Democrats who walked out on the Republican contempt motion initiated by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CAL) I saw the faces of people who know an abuse of power when they see it, because they have experienced it so often themselves. And because they have never been able to conform to the white-male power model, they have been free to grow into people with   the strength of character, perspicacity, and empathy for others to speak truth to power.These men and women of color were joined by white representatives who understand the common struggle we all face, and know we must face challenges together.


Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which initiated the protest, led the exit from the House floor, civil rights icon Rep.John Lewis (D-GA) at their head as the contempt vote against A.G. Holder began, along with minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CAL), minority whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Asian-Pacific American Caucus,and the Progressive Caucus who were joined by more than 100 representatives of the House of Representatives.




Rep. Hoyer asserted the walkout was not about race but “to call the attention of the American people, who are angry about confrontation, angry about gridlock, angry about the fact that we are not focused on their priorities: jobs, investment infrastructure, the environment, education, innovation, building our economy.” Leader Pelosi commented that the effort was a political ruse meant to erode respect for and confidence in A.G. Holder and  impede the Justice Departments’ efforts to prevent voter suppression. This is what speaking truth to power looks like: men and women of every nationality, race, color and hue hand in hand to overcome injustice and abuse of power by awakening the rest of us.



  1. Pat Manion June 30, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    Thank u Elaine 4 your excellent writing in saluting the members who walked out 2 show what a sham the Republican party is doing 2 our Jistice Dept. We must do all we can 2 help President Obama & all Democrats running 4 office this Fall.
    Pat Manion

  2. Edith Cooper July 1, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Louise this is a great article, my hope is that the many who read will allow the truth of what is being committed in our democracy, by this republican congress, to take over their hate, contempt and self-inflicted blindness and change their language from “me the person” to “we the people”. When that happens than “we the people” can hold this congress in contempt for keeping the American people hostage.

  3. davegirves July 1, 2012 at 9:41 pm #


    I love how you can move and twist the story by first grabbing our attention and then painting a different, yet related, analysis of current events.

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