Monthly Archives: September 2006

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee Part XIV

September 03 2006 (07:35:00) US/Pacific

Denouement
To view this series from the beginning, go to:
http://wordpress.com/tag/utla-human-rights-committee/
“Gilroy,” to date has not responded to my request for examples of my “cavalier” decision making or his assertion that I took credit for the work of others, begging the question, does he have examples, or is he simply trying to intimidate me.
it’s working.
<>I’m torn; to stay and fight, or to move on, or perhaps, some composite of the two. I am so amazed at the incredible anger, resentment and cruelty that disability provokes in ordinary people and, apparently even in those who dedicate much of their lives to social justice.

There is an important fight here, this is not about status within a small group, but access to an enormous labor apparatus. I do not feel safe within the Union hall. Since standing up to “Clarence” however clumsily, I have been attacked for doing those tasks the Committee assigned me to do. Projects and commitments I have made seem in limbo, unsure if I will be allowed to continue on them, unsure if I will want to or will be able to. I have been deeply depressed and distraught and my health has suffered greatly over the course of these events. My emotional composition is not as strong as my ability to weave words may imply and my physical health has suffered greatly from the stress and pressure of these events. We mythologize the strong woman archetype, never grasping that behind their strength is the same fear and self doubt with which we all grapple. Perhaps that’s why I love Frida so much: her honest expression of her most vulnerable thoughts and pain, so beautifully, graphically, and nakedly portrayed. Throughout this ordeal, I have endured all of the physical symptoms of one who is being harassed and discriminated against, whether they suffer in silence or dare to speak out. For the victim, silence equals death. For the perpetrators and observers, silence is complicity.
I too have other options for my limited time and limited strength. I have much to do elsewhere: there’s my reiki practice that needs building, my writing that begs me for greater attention and promotion, an endless list of social justice work than cries out to be done, my relationship with Andy, my son, Leon and a few close friends, my health, building community, working in my garden, maybe even going back to school.
I could even be happy.
But it nags at me:
This isn’t right.
This just isn’t right.

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Ableism in the Human Rights Community Part XIII

Since La Quinta:

To view this series from the beginning, go to:
http://wordpress.com/tag/utla-human-rights-committee/


On Monday after the Conference I entered the new email addresses  from the sign in sheets, to the listserve.
At the Conference, some individuals had expressed on the HRC sign in sheet, an interest in working on the HRC/CAMS Conference, so I sent to “Ethel” and “Gilroy” (members of HRC, and leaders of CAMS) the names and contact information for these individuals. I suggested that, as these names were from an HRC list, that CAMS not add the names to a CAMS listserve without getting permission first; a rather simple and legal suggestion. As I had provided both phone numbers and email addresses, this was hardly an unreasonable or meddlesome suggestion. Additionally, I intentionally got them the information as quickly as possible so as not to replicate the type of petty sabotage that “Camile” has been carrying out. I supported HRC/CAMS Conference and didn’t feel that personal differences should be any reason to withhold material or make life difficult to these otherwise adversarial activists.  It is also important to state that up until this point, at least in the minutes (remember, I wasn’t able to stay at the retreat!) the conference on all proposals and leaflets, is billed as an HRC/CAMS Conference.  In the past, all decisions of conferences sub-committees, were subjected to approval by the HRC Committee before the suggestions and plans of the sub-committee could be implemented – a procedure I support and followed.
Here are portions of the email exchange that ensued.  All emphasis have been added after posting, to provide emphasis to this blog’s discourse:

To the two HRC members who are also leaders in CAMS (Coalition Against Militarism in the Schools) I sent this post:

——– Original Message ——–_Subject: hrc/cams conference contacts_Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 21:50:01 -0700_From: Emma Rosenthal
at the hrc meeting at the leadership conference, the following people _indicated on the sign up sheet their interest in working on the hrc/cams _conference, of course, i also added them to the hrc newsletter list so _anything that goes out about that conference, will go to these folks, _but i figured you would want the contact info too, and will probably be _setting up a planning committee discussion list.  what is listed below _is exactly the information provided. people who are already on our lists _may not have provided all the necessary info.  if you don’t have contact _info for some of these folks and you need it,  i’m sure we can all piece _it together.
emma
(names and contact info were provided, but of course are not included in this blog.)

To the HRC list, I posted:

——– Original Message ——–_Subject: listserves_Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 22:55:40 -0700_From: Emma Rosenthal
i entered the email addresses of those who signed our sign in sheet at the leadership conference.  we now have over 200 contacts on our newsletter list. quite a few people signed in but didn’t give an email address, including a few that indicated that they wanted info about our events and/or wanted to work with us.  when i get a chance, i’ll call these folks and explain that we won’t be able to contact them by phone and if they really want info, we need an email address.  (unless anyone wants to make several phone calls before every meeting and event!  –i didn’t think so 🙂
a few email addresses were not legible, and if they also provided a phone number, i’ll call them and get the correct address.
it probably goes without saying, that when someone gives the hrc their contact info, that that info is for hrc use only, and should not be used to distribute info for any other group.
reminder: we have two primary lists:
a discussion list:
the discussion list has not been updated for a while. there are many people on the list who have not participated in the planning of hrc events or meetings.  after the first meeting of the coming year, unless there is an objection, i will redo the list to reflect the membership for this year.  to be a member of the committee, a utla member must attend either the first meeting of the school year, or two consecutive meetings.  so i’ll make sure we keep the list current, by cleaning it up in september and then maintaining it after that. the discussion list is an unmodified list of the hrc for organizational purposes only.
a newsletter list
<>the newsletter list provides information to the hrc contacts, as well as members, announcing events and meetings.  it is an advertising tool and a organizing tool.

steve, andy an i are the moderators of both lists.  to post to the discussion list, simply send an email to: utla-human-rights@lists.riseup.net
to post an hrc related announcement to the newsletter list, send it to: utla-human-rights-admin@lists.riseup.net  or utla-human-rights-editor@lists.riseup.net
all of the moderators will receive this email, and any of us can put it through, or you can email any of us directly, or post it to the discussion list.
additionally, it may be necessary to set up other lists to plan specific events.  for example, last year i set up a list of the conference sub committee, and another list so that i could communicate logistical info with all the presenters at the conference.  the same may be necessary for the hrc/cams conference, and chairs of those committees would set those up.
<>in addition to entering the new email addresses to our list, i have also sent to “ethel” and “gilroy” the info of those who indicated an interest in the hrc/cams conference planning. (one of the email addresses on that list is one of the email addresses that is not correct. i’ll resend the correct info when i get it.)

emma
__________________________

GILROY ATTACKS  -a message from a parallel universe……

And I respond….

“Gilroy”  who is both a CAMS leader and an HRC member, replies to me off list, ccing the message to “Ethel.”
——– Original Message ——–_Subject:  Re: hrc/cams conference contacts_Date:  Tue, 22 Aug 2006 06:04:16 -0700
I thought this was a CAMs conference! I think setting up any more list serves will just confuse the issue.
Emma, I do not how comfortable I feel that you are imposing your influence of this. It seems in the past for conferences that you have grumbled and complained a lot, made many cavalier decisions, and then taken credit for other peoples work.
CAMs has to plan this conference, not you! _HRC has already helped us but that does not mean that you are being put in charge of anything. Please do not assume that your are able to delegate further roles for HRC or HRC members.
“Gilroy”
My response, cc’d to “Ethel,” Steve and Andy.
——– Original Message ——–_Subject: Re: hrc/cams conference contacts_Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2006 07:56:40 -0700_From: Emma Rosenthal
what a strange email!
i took the time to send you the contact the day after the leadership conference. a thank you MIGHT have been in order.
you might want to reread my messages.  i don’t think you understood what was being said, because you totally ran the wrong way with this.  sometimes that happens when we react too quickly or let our feelings get in the way of our judgment. you obviously harbor long-standing resentments towards me that influence your judgment of anything i do.
according to the minutes from the retreat, conversations with steve and andy, and emails from “ethel,” this was to be a joint conference, jointly planned. if that’s not the case, i have no problem with that.  but it should be clarified, because it isn’t clear to quite a few people.  personally, though difficult, i was planning on working with anyone necessary, despite the chasms and resentments that are rampant within this committee, which is why i got the contact info to you as quickly as i did; but if CAMS wants to work on its own, i, personally am more than comfortable with that.
at the HRC meeting in la quinta,”clarence” added a column to the HRC sign in sheets for people to check off if they were interested in working on the CAMS conference. that’s the information i sent on to you.  but these lists were HRC lists, and so it’s very delicate when one group gives email contacts to another group.  that’s all i was saying.  if you are right, that this is essentially a CAMS conference that is not accountable to HRC and that it is not a joint conference, then you should have sent around your own list. ( if it is a joint conference though, then all members of HRC, including me, are entitled to give input.)
if it is part of HRC, then we would send announcements on HRC lists (and will probably send them out anyway, because the work of CAMS is very important to the HRC! and just as i did with the contact info, will make sure that the info gets out quickly, despite the internal politics and bad feelings going around.)  but it would not be appropriate for CAMS or any group to use email addresses from an HRC list without the permission of the people who signed up. (that’s easily taken care of with an email or phone call asking for permission. — and you have the information, because i gave it to you! and even if the conference is not an HRC conference, then i still think sending you the contact info was appropriate.  i just hope and trust that you will not use the contact info inappropriately. if it wasn’t appropriate to send the info to you,  then i owe those people and the HRC an apology.) on the other hand, if any sub-committee needs to set up a list to communicate among the organizers or presenters, they shouldn’t need to go through me or andy or steve or anybody. that was all i was saying.
so, to repeat!
HRC has two lists: one internal, one external.__subcommittees may want to set up separate lists and should be able to do so without needing approval of anyone but those on the lists themselves.  so i wasn’t imposing myself on this, but just the opposite.
nor was i delegating any work to anyone, just explaining what the role of the listserves are so that my own work, as one of the moderators of the list would be accountable.
that’s my position, which isn’t written in stone (but rather, was submitted digitally, and can be amended or opposed.)
and please, let me know who didn’t get appropriate credit for their work and which decisions were made without democratic process and HRC approval?
you might want to check the HRC minutes before making such extreme accusations.
___________________________________

<>Gilroy reasserts my marginalization:     <>again, cc’d only to “ethel.”

——– Original Message ——–_Subject: My observations_Date:  Tue, 22 Aug 2006 09:45:14 -0700_From:  “Gilroy”
I am very busy right now at work but I do need to respond to this.
Let me repeat:
Emma, I do not feel comfortable in your self-appointed role as a conference planner.
If you want to give input fine than give it through the normal channels of meetings.
We do not need a seperate list serve for the conference. I don’t think we need a another committee either.
CAMS has been busy planning this conference for quite awhile and we have a vision for the conference that is appropritate and focused.
I think Emma, that you take way too much credit for other peoples work. If you think this is an extreme comment than I guess your idea of internal self-reflection is limited only to other people.
Frankly, I do not know what if any role you should take in this conference given your past bizarre behavior.__”Gilroy”____________________
Truly stunned by “Gilroy’s” assertions, and concerned that there may in fact have been an oversight on my part where I had not given credit to someone for the work they had done, or perhaps had made an undemocratic decision, searching my memory for an example to back up his accusation, and finding none, wrote to him, cc’d again, to Steve, Andy and “Ethel.”
——– Original Message ——–_Subject: Re: My observations_Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 14:45:38 -0700_From: Emma Rosenthal
dear “gilroy”_i have been reflecting very deeply upon the feedback you have given me, but can’t think of a single example of what it is you are accusing me of.  i would hate to think that i took credit for someone else’s work or didn’t follow democratic procedure in taking action that i thought was on behalf of the committee.  without examples of the behavior you refer to, my self evaluation stops short of simply believing you on faith or relying on my own memory of events to guide me.
while i understand that you harbor deep seated anger and resentments towards me, i would welcome any real and constructive feedback you might have.  sometimes the best information comes from the worst source, for who else can see our shortcomings quite as well as our adversaries.
i await you response with hesitant anticipation.
emma
___________________________________
The only response by “Ethel” the (self-appointed) chair of this Conference, included in a larger conference planning update, posted to the HRC list, was the following”
“For clarification, CAMS is providing the leadership with input and support from HRC.”
in this post she refers for the first time to the conference as the CAMS/HRC conference, not the HRC/CAMS conference.

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee PartXII

At La Quinta:

After the brief exchange on line on the rights of disabled people to stand up for their rights, and all of the controversy and personal attacks used to obscure the issue, on line, the group changed focus toward the Leadership Conference at La Quinta. The Human Rights Committee had reserved two tables; one for CAMS (Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools) and one for t-shirt sales. I had hoped to work on recruiting teachers to the Committee, but not able to participate in the retreat, was a bit disenfranchised from the process, but was able, on line, through the list serve to have some say in the process. Another Committee member had taken charge of t-shirt sales, and I fashioned a sign-in sheet. I also made sure we had large table signs. We had one leaflet of upcoming events, but we really should have had a more impressive and informative table, including teacher resources.
Linda Baughn and I volunteered to help with the table and I committed to spend as much time helping out as my health allowed. By now I felt I was walking a tight rope; careful not to “complain” too much about my health, but also wanting to be “matter of fact” about my limitations so that I wasn’t held to commitments my health didn’t allow me to keep. –an interesting double standard.
When I got to La Quita, “Ethel,” “Mildred,””Clarence” and -yet to be introduced: “Camile” greeted me with huge grins that to anyone not in the know, could have been confused for deep friendship and warmth.
Choosing not to go the path of plastic smiles and air kisses, I gave a steel eyed “hello.”
There was definitely a chill in the 110 degree desert heat.
The first event was a reception of the keynote speaker, hosted by the Human Rights Committee. The event was MC’d by Committee member, “Camile,” who, though she hadn’t posted to the list on the current debate, has for two years now, been extremely uncooperative and unwilling to work with me, even to the detriment of her own programs. When “Ethel” and “Mildred” referred to observing people “reacting to Emma,” Camile was the only example I could thing of, otherwise the immense hatred and resentment toward me was totally unpredictable, not only by me but by Andy and Committee Chair: Steve Seal.
When I was Chairing the conference sub-committee, “Camile” repeatedly “neglected” to provide me with key materials needed to secure salary point and finish the program for portions of the conference that she herself proposed or was slated to lead. I had to repeatedly request basic information from her: bios, workshop descriptions. Now, lest we imagine that “Camile” is simply incompetent, it should be stated that having secured PhD, there is little doubt that she is capable of writing a simple workshop proposal. After weeks of this game, finally I would ask Andy to ask her for the necessary information and she, after grumbling and complaining, would provide the documentation requested. The second year she also neglected to provide her bio in her conference proposal so I used the one from the year before, but this last year her workshop was co-presented with “Mildred” and the workshop proposal “Camile” submitted did not include “Mildred’s” bio. When I wrote to “Mildred” requesting her bio, she wrote me that she had sent it to “Camile.” Upon “Mildred’s” request, “Camile” finally sent me “Mildred’s” bio, delaying the salary point project proposal submission to the district, by several weeks.
So it came to me as no surprise, at the Friday night reception, when, having introduced most of the Committee members, elucidating on the conferences they had participated in, “Camile” neglected to mention me, or the two conferences the Committee had held the last two years. I was not surprised, but rather prepared, and simply, introduced myself and announced that we would be having more conferences in the future as we had in the past.
<>When we looked at the Leadership Conference schedule, we noticed that each Committee had a meeting slot, which would have been an opportunity to introduce our Committee to prospective new members. We had no agenda. We were totally unprepared for this opportunity. We hadn’t even discussed the meeting as a committee. It was simply THERE, in the conference schedule. I suggested to Andy, at 11:30 pm the night before, that we develop a proposed agenda and get it to Steve. We were careful to construct an agenda that was sensitive to the conflicts ensuing in the Committee. We wanted to make sure that the agenda was consistent with the mission of the Committee and a showcase of our work. It was Andy’s idea that everyone in the room introduce themselves, with committee members explaining their Committee work. It was my suggestion that those responsible for projects within the Committee, present their programs: The upcoming HRC/CAMS Conference, UTLA House motions brought by the Committee and upcoming Conferences. Following this rubric, “Ethel” would present the upcoming conference, Andy would describe the Committee’s impact on UTLA policy and I would describe the Conferences we had done in the past, and plans for future. Andy handed Steve the agenda then next morning and it was the agenda used in that meeting. So while I am about to be accused of “taking credit for the work of others” (—tune in tomorrow, readers!) in reality, I am beginning to obscure my work, lest my intentions get lost in the vitriol hurled at me by “ladies” who hide behind silent innuendo, passive aggressive sabotage and the insistence in manners over all, while the men (“Clarence” and, tune in tomorrow; “Gilroy”) behave more openly hostile, without any insistence by my adversaries that the same rules of decorum be applied to them. –it’s all so 1950’s it’s hard to believe these people didn’t just step out of a time capsule, leave alone that they have been on the frontlines of human rights work and dialogue for the duration of that time.
White gloves anyone? Would you like two cubes of sugar or one, with your tea? Hold your pinkies up!
Our sign-up sheets circulated at the Friday night reception, and at our meeting the next day, we ran out of sheets because, having only collected two filled in sheets, I didn’t realized we needed more. I asked Steve who had the sheets and he indicated that “Camile” had them. When I asked, at the meeting, that all sign-in sheets be turned in to me so I could update the listserve, “Camile” quietly turned her back as I spoke. She never did give me the sign in sheets, and had to be told by Andy, Linda, Steve and another Committee member to turn over the sheets, before she finally gave them to Steve, at the very end of the conference.
<>Without those sheets, we would not be able to update our listserve in time to get word out of our upcoming meeting or the HRC/CAMS Conference. Any group needs to be able to perform its basic functions through its assigned functionaries without this childish, though “ladylike” conductt.
Simultaneously, contrary to his apology in Boston, “Clarence” conducted himself in ways the continued to contribute to a hostile working environment for me, making clear that he is not done with his abuse or resentments; his apology, as I predicted lacking sincerity was merely a political move. Having failed to gain my silence, he decided to go on the offensive.
Here is Linda Baughn’s post on her observations:
(she refers to Josh Peschtalt, a Vice President of UTLA) :
——– Original Message ——–_Subject: [utla-hrc-discussion] sexism and a hostile environment_Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 06:08:35 -0700 (PDT)_From: LINDA BAUGHN
Compañeros–_I went to La Quinta in a spirit of unity with those who struggle for social justice and hoped that we had learned some lessons about putting principles before personalities in the discussion in the committee this summer. I unfortunately arrived late to the conference–I had to meet with a lawyer concerning my husband’s arrest in a demonstration against the Minutemen which I will bring to the committee’s attention separately–and went directly to the committee meeting._I was happy to see several new faces and what appeared to be a spirit of solidarity and struggle, although I was somewhat taken aback by “Clarence’s” t-shirt with an image of a bikini-clad woman and the slogan “Eat Oysters, Get Lucky.” I shouldn’t have to explain this to anyone who defends human rights, but it is axiomatic that using a woman’s body to sell anything is sexist in that it objectifies the female body, let alone the more specific references on the t-shirt. Anyway, I commented to Andy and to “another Committee member” (name deleted by Emma for this blog) that I thought that men should take the leadership in educating other men about sexism and assumed that that would happen (and it may have)._Later at the pool, “Clarence” came up to me and told me that I shouldn’t have posted about the retreat; that he wasn’t the bad guy, and I wasn’t there. I responded that whatever the case was about the retreat that I was present at the pool-side with him, and that I was offended by his sexist t-shirt. He responded that I was the only person who had said anything to him, that several women had found it amusing (!) and that his purpose in wearing the shirt was to piss off Emma. I told him I didn’t know about Emma, but that I was pissed off. “Another union member” (name deleted for this blog ) was present and heard this exchange, which was quite shocking.
I shouldn’t be surprised when people on our committee, raised in a society in which sexism and racism are pervasive, exhibit reactionary ideas. We are all products of our environment, and it is a life-long struggle to rid ourselves of these ideas. It’s not the first or the last time that women have to struggle around sexist ideas held by men in the movement.
On the other hand, I was shocked by the pure malice that “Clarence” exhibited in saying that he was intentionally trying to offend Emma. This is harassment. I think we have to say, in the context of the previous discussions, that this is a deliberate attempt to create a hostile environment for a handicapped woman who is an important part of this committee and may give us insight into “Clarence’s” remarks at the retreat. This is a very serious matter and one which must be dealt with by this committee and the Board of Directors of the union. If an official committee of the union tolerates this kind of harassment we expose the union as a whole to serious liability and that is why I am forwarding this letter to Joshua Pechthalt as well as to the discussion list._I had hoped that we had all learned something from this discussion and we would be able to move on with the important work of fighting against imperialist war and racism that we all want to do–but I don’t think that this can be swept under the rug.
Linda Baughn
______________________
To date there have been no responses to this post. If the issue at the retreat was my explosive reaction, and the rationalization that “Clarence” was “just joking” then what is the excuse of my adversaries this time for the complicity of silence by members of the Committee to this attack against me, clearly made, by his own admission, not simply as a bad joke, but rather as a direct provocation?__Emma

Ableism in the Human Rights Community

To view this series from the beginning, go to:
http://wordpress.com/tag/utla-human-rights-committee/
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Ableism in the Human Rights Community Part XII
September 01 2006 (16:03:00) US/Pacific

At La Quinta:

After the brief exchange on line on the rights of disabled people to stand up for their rights, and all of the controversy and personal attacks used to obscure the issue, on line, the group changed focus toward the Leadership Conference at La Quinta. The Human Rights Committee had reserved two tables; one for CAMS (Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools) and one for t-shirt sales. I had hoped to work on recruiting teachers to the Committee, but not able to participate in the retreat, was a bit disenfranchised from the process, but was able, on line, through the list serve to have some say in the process. Another Committee member had taken charge of t-shirt sales, and I fashioned a sign-in sheet. I also made sure we had large table signs. We had one leaflet of upcoming events, but we really should have had a more impressive and informative table, including teacher resources.
Linda Baughn and I volunteered to help with the table and I committed to spend as much time helping out as my health allowed. By now I felt I was walking a tight rope; careful not to “complain” too much about my health, but also wanting to be “matter of fact” about my limitations so that I wasn’t held to commitments my health didn’t allow me to keep. –an interesting double standard.
When I got to La Quita, “Ethel,” “Mildred,””Clarence” and -yet to be introduced: “Camile” greeted me with huge grins that to anyone not in the know, could have been confused for deep friendship and warmth.
Choosing not to go the path of plastic smiles and air kisses, I gave a steel eyed “hello.”
There was definitely a chill in the 110 degree desert heat.
The first event was a reception of the keynote speaker, hosted by the Human Rights Committee. The event was MC’d by Committee member, “Camile,” who, though she hadn’t posted to the list on the current debate, has for two years now, been extremely uncooperative and unwilling to work with me, even to the detriment of her own programs. When “Ethel” and “Mildred” referred to observing people “reacting to Emma,” Camile was the only example I could thing of, otherwise the immense hatred and resentment toward me was totally unpredictable, not only by me but by Andy and Committee Chair: Steve Seal.
When I was Chairing the conference sub-committee, “Camile” repeatedly “neglected” to provide me with key materials needed to secure salary point and finish the program for portions of the conference that she herself proposed or was slated to lead. I had to repeatedly request basic information from her: bios, workshop descriptions. Now, lest we imagine that “Camile” is simply incompetent, it should be stated that having secured PhD, there is little doubt that she is capable of writing a simple workshop proposal. After weeks of this game, finally I would ask Andy to ask her for the necessary information and she, after grumbling and complaining, would provide the documentation requested. The second year she also neglected to provide her bio in her conference proposal so I used the one from the year before, but this last year her workshop was co-presented with “Mildred” and the workshop proposal “Camile” submitted did not include “Mildred’s” bio. When I wrote to “Mildred” requesting her bio, she wrote me that she had sent it to “Camile.” Upon “Mildred’s” request, “Camile” finally sent me “Mildred’s” bio, delaying the salary point project proposal submission to the district, by several weeks.
So it came to me as no surprise, at the Friday night reception, when, having introduced most of the Committee members, elucidating on the conferences they had participated in, “Camile” neglected to mention me, or the two conferences the Committee had held the last two years. I was not surprised, but rather prepared, and simply, introduced myself and announced that we would be having more conferences in the future as we had in the past.
<>When we looked at the Leadership Conference schedule, we noticed that each Committee had a meeting slot, which would have been an opportunity to introduce our Committee to prospective new members. We had no agenda. We were totally unprepared for this opportunity. We hadn’t even discussed the meeting as a committee. It was simply THERE, in the conference schedule. I suggested to Andy, at 11:30 pm the night before, that we develop a proposed agenda and get it to Steve. We were careful to construct an agenda that was sensitive to the conflicts ensuing in the Committee. We wanted to make sure that the agenda was consistent with the mission of the Committee and a showcase of our work. It was Andy’s idea that everyone in the room introduce themselves, with committee members explaining their Committee work. It was my suggestion that those responsible for projects within the Committee, present their programs: The upcoming HRC/CAMS Conference, UTLA House motions brought by the Committee and upcoming Conferences. Following this rubric, “Ethel” would present the upcoming conference, Andy would describe the Committee’s impact on UTLA policy and I would describe the Conferences we had done in the past, and plans for future. Andy handed Steve the agenda then next morning and it was the agenda used in that meeting. So while I am about to be accused of “taking credit for the work of others” (—tune in tomorrow, readers!) in reality, I am beginning to obscure my work, lest my intentions get lost in the vitriol hurled at me by “ladies” who hide behind silent innuendo, passive aggressive sabotage and the insistence in manners over all, while the men (“Clarence” and, tune in tomorrow; “Gilroy”) behave more openly hostile, without any insistence by my adversaries that the same rules of decorum be applied to them. –it’s all so 1950’s it’s hard to believe these people didn’t just step out of a time capsule, leave alone that they have been on the frontlines of human rights work and dialogue for the duration of that time.
White gloves anyone? Would you like two cubes of sugar or one, with your tea? Hold your pinkies up!
Our sign-up sheets circulated at the Friday night reception, and at our meeting the next day, we ran out of sheets because, having only collected two filled in sheets, I didn’t realized we needed more. I asked Steve who had the sheets and he indicated that “Camile” had them. When I asked, at the meeting, that all sign-in sheets be turned in to me so I could update the listserve, “Camile” quietly turned her back as I spoke. She never did give me the sign in sheets, and had to be told by Andy, Linda, Steve and another Committee member to turn over the sheets, before she finally gave them to Steve, at the very end of the conference.
<>Without those sheets, we would not be able to update our listserve in time to get word out of our upcoming meeting or the HRC/CAMS Conference. Any group needs to be able to perform its basic functions through its assigned functionaries without this childish, though “ladylike” conductt.
Simultaneously, contrary to his apology in Boston, “Clarence” conducted himself in ways the continued to contribute to a hostile working environment for me, making clear that he is not done with his abuse or resentments; his apology, as I predicted lacking sincerity was merely a political move. Having failed to gain my silence, he decided to go on the offensive.
Here is Linda Baughn’s post on her observations:
(she refers to Josh Peschtalt, a Vice President of UTLA) :
——– Original Message ——–_Subject: [utla-hrc-discussion] sexism and a hostile environment_Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 06:08:35 -0700 (PDT)_From: LINDA BAUGHN
Compañeros–_I went to La Quinta in a spirit of unity with those who struggle for social justice and hoped that we had learned some lessons about putting principles before personalities in the discussion in the committee this summer. I unfortunately arrived late to the conference–I had to meet with a lawyer concerning my husband’s arrest in a demonstration against the Minutemen which I will bring to the committee’s attention separately–and went directly to the committee meeting._I was happy to see several new faces and what appeared to be a spirit of solidarity and struggle, although I was somewhat taken aback by “Clarence’s” t-shirt with an image of a bikini-clad woman and the slogan “Eat Oysters, Get Lucky.” I shouldn’t have to explain this to anyone who defends human rights, but it is axiomatic that using a woman’s body to sell anything is sexist in that it objectifies the female body, let alone the more specific references on the t-shirt. Anyway, I commented to Andy and to “another Committee member” (name deleted by Emma for this blog) that I thought that men should take the leadership in educating other men about sexism and assumed that that would happen (and it may have)._Later at the pool, “Clarence” came up to me and told me that I shouldn’t have posted about the retreat; that he wasn’t the bad guy, and I wasn’t there. I responded that whatever the case was about the retreat that I was present at the pool-side with him, and that I was offended by his sexist t-shirt. He responded that I was the only person who had said anything to him, that several women had found it amusing (!) and that his purpose in wearing the shirt was to piss off Emma. I told him I didn’t know about Emma, but that I was pissed off. “Another union member” (name deleted for this blog ) was present and heard this exchange, which was quite shocking.
I shouldn’t be surprised when people on our committee, raised in a society in which sexism and racism are pervasive, exhibit reactionary ideas. We are all products of our environment, and it is a life-long struggle to rid ourselves of these ideas. It’s not the first or the last time that women have to struggle around sexist ideas held by men in the movement.
On the other hand, I was shocked by the pure malice that “Clarence” exhibited in saying that he was intentionally trying to offend Emma. This is harassment. I think we have to say, in the context of the previous discussions, that this is a deliberate attempt to create a hostile environment for a handicapped woman who is an important part of this committee and may give us insight into “Clarence’s” remarks at the retreat. This is a very serious matter and one which must be dealt with by this committee and the Board of Directors of the union. If an official committee of the union tolerates this kind of harassment we expose the union as a whole to serious liability and that is why I am forwarding this letter to Joshua Pechthalt as well as to the discussion list._I had hoped that we had all learned something from this discussion and we would be able to move on with the important work of fighting against imperialist war and racism that we all want to do–but I don’t think that this can be swept under the rug.
Linda Baughn
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To date there have been no responses to this post. If the issue at the retreat was my explosive reaction, and the rationalization that “Clarence” was “just joking” then what is the excuse of my adversaries this time for the complicity of silence by members of the Committee to this attack against me, clearly made, by his own admission, not simply as a bad joke, but rather as a direct provocation?__Emma

Ableism in the Human Rights Community Part XI

Committee Chair: Steve Seal

——– Original Message ——–_Subject:     [utla-hrc-discussion] re: Respect_Date:     Mon, 14 Aug 2006 09:12:24 -0700_From:     steve seal
Hello all,
Well since the retreat is still on the minds of the committee I think I would like to say something.  Emma has a disability that stops her from many activities.  (you can look it up on google to see the symptoms). She has been a vibrant member of our committee and I wish to thank her for all her work, particularly on the last two conferences which would not have happened without her guiding vision and tireless work.  We do need to be responsive to the needs of people with disabilities both in our committee and in the larger society.  I think this is a given and that since it has become a large issue we need to address it–possibly in the larger union structure as well.
The events of that day have been laid out and we all know what happened from many different points of view.  Obviously we need to be more sensitive to each others concerns in many areas.  This is something we all must be aware of in our future dealings and events.  I think at this point it is time to move forward rather than continue to relive the past.  We need to learn from our history and find the common ground that brought us all together in the first place.  It is time to put principles before personalities.
I think we can move on by acknowledging the needs of our members and by entering in discussion on the larger issues surrounding this debate–those of respect and community.  Human rights are not only larger societal issues but are those that affect us daily in all our work.  Let us acknowledge this and continue to work together for the good of our world, our community, and ourselves.
I look forward to having everyone play a role in our work over the next year beginning with preparation for the HRC/CAMS conference in November and our need to bring in new members.  Let us go peacefully but with determination and focus.
See you soon
Steve
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Tomorrow’s Blog Post:  La Quinta!