Take a look at this Today piece on Sarah Palin and “the working mom.”


Ok, first things first. . . why was I NOT surprised to see ZERO women of color in that piece??? Hey media . . . you want to learn about being a working mom? Make sure you get some sistas in your interview next time.

You could start with people like my mother. See, she worked three jobs (including one as a part-time domestic) all while cleaning our landlord’s apartment buildings just to get a good deal on the rent. As a little boy, I remember mom used to wake me up at 4:00 in the morning — she’d mop the hallways while I polished the banisters. She raised a son (myself) and daughter BY HERSELF. In fact, she did such a great job that both of her children now have two degrees (and counting) behind each of their names.

But you won’t hear her story on the cable news. And this speaks to a larger concern. Unfortunately, the Democratic Primary portrayed feminism as an exclusively white, middle-class struggle (no surprise there). Consequently, a lot of women (women like my mother) were overlooked. People like my mother were also overlooked when pundits talked about “hard working Americans.” Just the same, people like my mother are rarely mentioned when discussing the spirit of the American dream.

With that in mind, let’s hope that this Fall Election doesn’t overlook women of color for a second time when they address the “working mom” phenomenon. Guess what . . . our mothers have been working a long damn time . . . they never had a choice!

Despite cries of sexism from such great “feminists” as Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Pat Buchanan (uh huh), I think the real issue for a lot of women like my mother is “choice.”

Now, as a black man, I’d never claim to speak for black women. But, having been blessed with strong women in my life, I feel comfortable enough to say they’d have a lot of policy questions for Gov. Palin as she seeks the role of our nation’s favorite working mother.

This is not to dismiss the issue of sexism. Perhaps Palin has been asked questions about home and family that the media might not ask of a man. BUT . . .let us also not forget the fact that Republicans deliberately chose to introduce Gov. Palin as a “hockey mom” with five kids. She’s already on magazine covers with her baby and Republicans say she’ll appeal to women because of her “working mom” status. If she can benefit from her status as a working mother, then the media has every right to question her thoughts on just how work and family should and (more importantly CAN) come together. She put it out there.

Make no mistake about it, this is a matter of POLICY. And it should remain as such. Ms. Palin should not be attacked or held to a different standard simply because she is a mother of five children. However, if Mrs. Palin and the Republicans wish to paint a picture of the ideal working mom, I see no reason why we shouldn’t scrutinize the Republican policies behind their vision.

This is a big opportunity for women leaders on the Democratic side. For we shouldn’t overlook the possibility that Gov. Palin became a successful working mom, in part, because of opportunities and privileges that ordinary women of all colors never get to see. The question is whether or not she supports programs that will give that same opportunity to the poor and working class women that do not get asked for daytime interviews.

What is her record on issues like health care? Equal pay? Education? Minimum wage? Head Start? After-school and Daycare? Domestic violence? Abortion? Medical and family leave? SCHIP? Workplace discrimination? The list goes on and on.

Democrats should ask these questions. They should highlight their differences with the Republican Party, tie their criticisms directly to the economy and expose the fact that Republicans have yet to propose a solid, detailed social and economic platform that can help the very women Palin claims to speak for. Attack her on the issues.

Don’t fall for the trap. Don’t criticize Palin for being a mother. . . criticize her to the extent that she does not support policies that will allow ALL women the same choices and privileges she had at her disposal.

That’s assuming Gov. Palin takes a similar stance on women’s issues as her running mate. I don’t know her positions on a lot of these subjects. But, if they’re anything like McCain’s, I’m willing to bet she won’t be as attractive a pick to working mothers as Republicans anticipate.

So it’s time to hear the other side of the working mom phenomenon. Perhaps, Democrats can make up for lost time by focusing on some of the women that get overlooked too often by the mainstream media.

So let’s hear it, Democrats. We need to see more Michelle Obama. . . more Hillary Clinton. . . more Claire McCaskill. . . more Kathleen Sebelius. . . more Janet Napolitano. We’ve got a lot of strong voices.

Now is the time to hear them.

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