Tag Archives: theory

I Heart Andrea Batista Schlesinger and Dr. John H. Jackson

8 Jan


I gotta girl crush.

Andrea Batista Schlesinger is one of the leading public policy thinkers of this century.  And yes, you may quote me on that.

She’s the Executive Director of The Drum Major Institute For Public Policy and has lots of cool ideas about how we can best use what we know as a nation to help improve our social and political environments.

I was just recently introduced to Schlesinger at the 2008 Facing Race Conference in Oakland, CA.  I presented on a workshop panel, “Using New Media and Technology to Advance Racial Justice” on behalf of Brave New Films.  For reals – see side pic. dsc_10451

I didn’t meet Schlesinger directly, although I became familiar with her work through others who attended the conference.  Since then I’ve been eager to get my hands on her new book coming out this summer, The Death of Why: The Decline of Questioning and the Future of Democracy.

One notable quote from Schlesinger’s panel discussion that I take to heart goes a little something like this:

“I’m a radical. I think reality is the best place from which to make public policy.”

Best quote of ’09 so far (even though Schlesinger said it in ’08).

Okay, I admit.  I also gotta boy crush too.  Dr. John H. Jackson, President of the Schott Foundation, also spoke alongside Schlesinger at the same panel.  You can view the entire panel discussion at the Race Wire Blog.

Like Schlesinger, Jackson has some great insights into public policy matters, particularly as it relates to education disparities among boys and girls of color.  Though I didn’t get the opportunity to meet Schlesinger, I did get the chance to exchange ideas with Dr. Jackson.  There I was, this no-name writer who happens to work for two cool organizations speaking to a former Senior Policy Advisor to President Clinton and who is currently serving as part of Obama’s education transition team. Oh, and not to mention that Dr. Jackson has a bunch of degrees, his doctorate being from Haaaarvard.  But after we got talking, I realized that we weren’t much different especially since we both agreed that Lil’ Wayne’s rap lyrics are, like, not that profound.  For reals.  He is not the second-coming of ‘Pac.

Take a peep at this video, showcasing a glimpse of Jackson’s perspectives and visions during the conference discussion.

If you’re like me and you love all-things political, social, and current make sure you keep an eye out for Andrea Batista Schlesinger and John H. Jackson.  These two aren’t only my girl and boy crushes of ’09, they’re two intellectuals shaping the future of public policy.

What is a Progressive Movement? (A work in progress…)

12 Nov


A cyber buddy of mine asked me an important question today via Facebook.  He wrote in response to my open letter to Russell Simmons:

“Hey Tara. I totally agree that it is silly to suggest that hip hop will be a serious part of the political process. I have a serious question for you though. What is the progressive movement? Can you put it into a few sentences?”

And this was my response:

Thx for commenting & asking a GR8 question! As I see it, a progressive movement is a forward shift in practice & ideology. As a practice, it’s a fluid space that looks like labor reform (EFCA), universal healthcare, energy policies that work with preserving our environment, not damaging it. I’m thinking in terms of human & civil rights – laws that give LGTBQ folks the same legal ‘privileges’ as heterosexual folks. It’s ideology (& I can write an entire thesis on my idea of progressive ideology), that doesn’t limit our scope of understanding the worlds around us. We begin to think less in terms of “us vs. them,” “this or that,” “black or white,” “moral or immoral” but consider that much of our world functions in an ‘in between’ space. By functioning within this ‘in between’ space, we acknowledge our pitfalls, failures, & vulnerabilities inspite/despite our incessant need to be right. A movement of progress means truding forward beyond what was & moving toward what can be.

I also want to add that depending on one’s ‘core belief system’ a progressive movement will differ. However, notwithstanding these core belief systems, I think folks might agree that a progressive movement is change of some sort. Now what that ‘change’ means to certain groups of people and how that ‘change’ can be accomplished will continually be up for debate.

I think asking ourselves what progress means is the $60 million question of our times.  As I continue to hash out exactly what this monster of an idea means, I wonder what others think about a ‘progressive movement.’  Can it be defined succinctly?  My guess is, probably not.