Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Now that I understand it better, I have to admit my initial thoughts may have been an over-reaction.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


That often happens. Especially with you. But, what is the topic?


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Oh, sorry! Remember when you forwarded me the email from that woman who had read about our detour into the world of Criminal Justice on our website, and she said, "I just wanted to encourage you to consider changing the language a bit." At first, I rolled my eyes, but then I got annoyed.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I remember the email but have no idea why you would get annoyed. It was not a random email from nowhere. She and I are both members of the Texas Women's Justice Coalition, although she is much more active as, for me, it is a learning experience. Plus, since she had been incarcerated, she has a very different perspective than I do.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I wasn't questioning her credibility; I was annoyed because we've gone above and beyond to make it clear that we have open minds in terms of the criminal justice population – male and female. In fact, thanks to you, I went from a "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality to seeing them not as bad people, but people who have made bad choices.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


OK, but now I'm really confused as to why you were annoyed. It is not like you are only willing to help people on "the outside" but not when they are "inside".


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


No, that's not what I'm saying. It's that initially, I thought to myself, gee, we've done all this – and for free – and it's some of the most rewarding work we've done, yet we're being criticized for using the word "offender"?! Seriously? One word!


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Yes, but she followed up by explaining how when we referred to them as "offenders" before seeing them as "people", it was contextually appropriate. However, by continuing to use the word "offender" it "perpetuates the dehumanization of the people in the minds of your readers."


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


But one word?! I felt like she was ignoring everything else we said and being overly sensitive to one word!


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Sounds like you are the one being overly sensitive. Regardless, that one word has connotations, and conjures up images and stereotypes and misconceptions. It defines the person by their crimes and punishments, ignoring everything else. Words are powerful, so should always be used carefully, especially in criminal justice situations, where there is already such strong bias by both the media and society.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I understand that. Now. The fact you thought it important enough to change the language on our website so quickly helped. Plus, the Marshall Project article you forwarded helped me understand that just because your intentions may be good, your choice of words can be damaging.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I never realized that the word "offender" could be offensive (sorry, could not resist), as are other words such as "inmate" or "prisoner." But if changing it to "person who is incarcerated" can help change mindsets and attitudes, it seems an easy thing to do.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



Well, it worked on me … once I got past my assumptions and over-reaction.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io



Sometimes change happens one person at a time …
Photo by Joseph Sohm for Shutterstock


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

When I read the "Breaking News" email about the passing of Colin Powell from complications from COVID-19, I realized that many of us didn't even know he was being treated for illnesses that weakened his immune system. To me, he always seemed to be one of those incredibly strong and resilient men that could overcome anything, as I knew he served as the country's first Black national security adviser (during the Reagan administration), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (under President George H. W. Bush) and secretary of state (under President George W. Bush).

I first became aware of Powell during Operation Desert Storm and was living in Hong Kong at the time (shortly after I married a Brit, Shell assigned him to the Far East). I can remember being halfway around the world from home while watching seemingly non-stop news briefings featuring "Storming Norman" Schwarzkopf, with his "larger than life" details about the extraordinary precision of the airstrikes. At the time, it almost seemed more like a computer game than an actual war.

However, Powell had a far greater impact on me as he exuded calm mixed with steely determination, projecting an air of confidence that you sensed came from experience and deep personal commitment. And at this time of war and conflict, he provided a comforting feeling of power and control.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I will not pretend to be a history buff, nor will I reflect on Mr. Powell's greatness as a military figure, statesman, and trailblazer. I will leave that to others. But, several things stand out about Powell as a man. First, he put America ahead of political party, stating, "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat, throughout my entire career, and right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties."

Thanks to Punchbowl News, I learned that as a young man, he worked in a toy store, and the owner, a Russian immigrant Jew, admired the young Powell so much that he impressed upon him the importance of getting an education. Powell was so touched by this that he stayed in contact with him for the next 50 years. (I loved the sprinkling of Yiddish phrases as Powell tells the story.)

Of course, I could not help but smile rewatching this video of Powell along with two other motorheads, Jay Leno and (at the time) Vice President Biden "racing" Corvettes. And, may explain why one of my many favorite Powell quotes is, "Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror." But in his passing, you cannot help but look back over all he did for our country.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. May he rest in peace.

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

I can't believe that Halloween's almost here, and the house isn't already decorated. Can I use the fact this is the first year I'm an empty nester as an excuse?


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

No! But without Sawyer home asking about it or prodding me by pulling the decorations out of the garage, it's still just sitting on my "to do" list. But fall is my favorite time of year, and I love seeing the house with all the Halloween decorations, so it will happen.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I would think you could just put out the inflatables and be done with it.
Keep Reading ... Show less
Image by Arseniy45 on iStock


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io

I know Columbus Day is a federal holiday, so banks are closed, but otherwise, it's barely celebrated. Growing up, it seemed like it was an important part of fall, not only because we had off from school, but because I can still remember (yes, those straight-A student school memories) learning about America being discovered by the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Especially since he was trying to find a new way to get to the "riches" of Asia (without having to sail around Africa) and found the Americas instead! I still recall hearing that some people thought the earth was flat and his ships would fall off, and although it may not have been many people – it still made a lasting impression. Regardless, he became one of the most famous explorers in history.

I love history, so I loved everything about the holiday and even remember the names of the three ships, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, all these decades later. And although I've long forgotten most dates in history (after knowing them for the test, of course), the year 1492 is etched on my memory, as I suspect it is for many people.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Obviously, Red needs to "update" her history on Christopher Columbus, and I am not talking about "obscure facts" like that might not have been his real name. Information has been discovered (pun intended, although this is a serious situation), leading to significant discussion and controversy about Columbus "the person" versus the romanticized hero originally depicted in history books.

As you would expect from any explorer traveling the world, there would be encounters with indigenous people. However, historians now believe Columbus' interactions were despicable (my word, not theirs) due to his use of violence and slavery, and forcing people to become Christians. In addition, he exposed the New World to diseases and other complications in what is now referred to as the "Columbian Exchange."

So, in keeping with the spirit of today being a holiday to celebrate, a "replacement" holiday, Indigenous People's Day, was created. And, although technically not a federal holiday, it does fall on one and hopefully will help us all refocus. In fact, this past Friday, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples' Day, stating,

"For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples' resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society."