Saturday, July 28, 2007

affirmative actions

I often feel as though I'm living in a backward state. Missour-uh is about as middle America as you can get.

But then...

Every once in a while, someone here does something really cool.

The latest Missouri hero is Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, who is beating Ward Connerly at his own game. Recently, the geechy anti-affirmative-action crusader descended on our state to introduce a bill that would make affirmative action basically illegal here. His modus operandi is to word the ballot language is such a way as to make folks think they're voting against discrimination.

Here's how he wanted to word the bill in the Show-me State:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prohibit any form of discrimination as an act of the state by declaring:

The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting?

Carnahan, in turn, offered more accurate and less desceptive ballot language:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

Ban affirmative action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities in public contracting, employment and education; and

Allow preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to meet federal program funds eligibility standards as well as preferential treatment for bona fide qualifications based on sex?

Of course Connerly is loathe to swallow his own medicine. He's going to sue.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

kafe kiskeya

On Saturday morning we were out of coffee, so we headed off for Midtown to grab a couple cups and a pound or two. But on our way we spotted a sign on 12th Street, just a block away from Ebony's aunt's house, for coffee. So I stomped on the brakes and we stopped in to check it out.

Kafe Kiskeya. I'd heard about the place and had been meaning drop in, I just hadn't had the chance yet. I'm so glad we did.

For one, they have good fair-trade coffee by the pound, in our neighborhood, so we don't have to keep driving to Midtown every other week. Second, the place is cool as hell.

It's not so much a coffee shop as an art gallery that serves coffee. Sarah, the owner, can't really sell coffee because the City slapped all these requirements on her before she could get a license to do so. She couldn't afford it. So she accepts dollar donations.

Most of the art is from Haiti, and it's pretty cool -- expecially the stuff stamped out of flattened oil drums. The best part is they have open mic nights on Fridays. I'm looking forward to checking that out.

But the gallery is part of a sort of campus for social justice right there in Ebony's old stomping grounds. Sarah's part of a group that bought pretty much the whole block -- a house, a few apartments and a couple of storefronts -- where they offer housing for refugees, English lessons, garden space, and even showers for the homeless.

All good news. That particular stretch of 12th Street could use a little art and cafeine boost.