Category Archives: Uncategorized

The American Identity

I had dinner with my friend Carri Twigg last night. She’s a former organizer who worked in the White House during both Obama terms. She’s the kind of person who attracts attention wherever she goes, and despite her humility, I can tell deep down she likes it.

I was telling her about my recent trip to Minnesota, far, far up north to a town of about 300 people. It just so happened the annual summer parade (celebrating mythical American hero, Paul Bunyan, mind you) was happening. So, embracing my American roots, I saddled up on the street ready to receive candy tosses and cheer on the modest floats.

Just as I was wondering if there would be a LGBT float (it’s Pride season, after all!) along came the Congressional representative’s car. A naive girl, I did a quick Google search in the hopes he stood on my side of the culture wars. Unlikely. The first result was his Facebook post shaming gay people and black people, saying something about Obama’s agenda to ruin the United States.

Shoot.

I was telling Carri about this experience and once again, naively stated, “I think it’s just about exposure” suggesting that if that Congressman, or those voters, just got to know me, they’d feel differently about the entire group.

Carri, half black, born and raised in an all-white Ohio community, smirked. “I’m not convinced,” she said rather gently, going on to explain to me how her community, growing up, was constantly exposed to her (black) which didn’t stop them from saying all sorts of hateful, racists things about black people as a whole.

“I’m going to say the douchiest sentence ever, Erica. Forgive me: have you seen my TEDx talk?”

I smiled, “no, I haven’t.”

And there it is, all laid out: why exposure alone isn’t enough in shaping, and reshaping the American identity.

Transcribing the Helen Thomas Tapes

I’m sitting at a Cafe, transcribing more of the Helen Thomas tapes. When I met Helen in 2007, I asked her if it would be OK to film some of our conversations about life, journalism, politics and the intersection of each. Now it’s 2010, and it’s time for me to sit down and transcribe them all, show her what I’ve got, and see what step is next. Why? I suppose I feel the conversations and lessons that came out of our talks shouldn’t be kept just between us. So many people are passionate about reconstructing fact-first journalism.

She told me during one of our first meetings this was the most difficult time she has ever seen for a young person to enter journalism. Really? I was skeptical. Even during WWII, when she got her start? Even when women weren’t anything but coffee brewers and secretaries in newsrooms? Now? Yes, she told me. In a moment of self defeat, I told her about the advice of some Washington media who told me: if I wanted to get in, I should leave, work at a small news outlet in some small town, and try to make my way back. I loathed such advice. Why would I do that? Even in 2007, I felt a rising tide of change that I wanted to be around for. Helen agreed. “Start at the top. Stay in Washington,” she told me on a park bench outside the White House. And I did. Stay in Washington, that is. And in the years that followed, I would find my own way for education and experience, talking to Helen Thomas about it along the way.

Over the years our poignant conversations produced moments of intensity and real time lessons for me. It has been a remarkable privilege to have these talks with Helen. But truth be told, this isn’t about us. It’s about a significant shift in American journalism – and how two bookends of the industry viewed it. Analyzed it. Consoled each other over it. Found hope from each other in it. Learned from the others experiences with it. And at the end of the day, ended on a note that left each of us feeling optimistic about it.

Here is one quote from this batch, filmed in her cubicle on February 19, 2009:

EA: Two columns ago, you wrote about the stimulus, and about how Obama was courting (Republican) votes. And it didn’t work. Only three Republican Senators voted for the package. What is it really going to take to change the way Washington works, which is what he says he wants to do.

HT: I don’t think he’s going to change the way Washington works. That is, he ought to do what is right for the American people. And if he does, he’ll win.

Posted via web from EricaAmerica’s posterous

Gay Rights: Not a Partisan Issue

Andrew Sullivan once wrote, in a heated blog post, (and I paraphrase) that equality for LGBT Americans is not a partisan issue. It is a human rights issue. His fervor gave me clarity and his observation stuck with me. So today, I’ll take it a step further because we are facing a symbolic moment in the journey towards equality.

Congress will be voting on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the next 48 hours. I’m asking my friends and family to call Capitol Hill and let their Representative know they SUPPORT LEGISLATIVE REPEAL in 2010. The phone number is (202) 225-3121. If you’re not sure what to say, you can take suggestions from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund here. You can also find out if your Member supports the legislation here.

Why do it? Too often do homophobic policies find their ways into national politics, making it difficult for people of all ages living in small towns, big cities and rural areas of America to live their lives fully and openly. They are paralyzed by fear of political and social retribution for being who they are. I know because it happened to me.

Learn more from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund and keep up with the latest news from the Advocate’s Washington, DC correspondent, Kerry Eleveld. Read her analysis of how we got to DADT here.

Finally, I thank you for doing your part. With integrity and compassion for others, I’m ready to take a stand. Are you?

Quick Shot: Stimulus Dollars In Action

Dupont Circle’s 17th Street area is under construction. Block by block, new sidewalks have been laid and lamp posts lifted up.

I guess this is part of the stimulus ripple effect? People are working, goods are being exchanged and the businesses around stand to also benefit. What D.C. neighborhood will be next? My hope is somewhere in the Ward 8, Anacostia region. It is by far the poorest population in D.C. A stark contrast to these city blocks below.

Erica Anderson
Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from EricaAmerica’s posterous

Presidents Who Pioneered New Media

13th President, Calvin Coolidge, and with 44th President, Barack Obama, were both early adopters of new media. In 1925, Coolidge was the first President to give an inaugural address on radio. In 2008…Obama? YouTube.

For more facts on American Presidents, check out the Smothsonian’s National Portrait Gallery! Geek on!!

Erica Anderson
Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from EricaAmerica’s posterous

White House Correspondents Week Kicks Off

I had a great time last night at the Quinn Gillespie & Associates (QGA) and FD official White House Correspondents Dinner “toast” to the Press Corps last night. On my way, I did a quick Wikipedia search to find out the history of the WHCD, as it is a pretty big deal in Washington. Turns out, the WHCD began in 1920 just six years after the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) organized to protect journalists covering the White House. Today, the WHCD has become a sort of “Prom” for D.C., an annual event where some of the most prominent members of the media come out and mingle.

Thanks so much to the wonderful Pat McMurray of QGA for inviting me to the event. While my main WH squeeze (well..my friend and mentor) Helen Thomas, wasn’t there, I felt right at home in the company of talented media professionals like Tim Burger, Matt Dornic, Chris Brown and Brendan Kownacki.

Check out the write up from the Scene Bisnow here and Kiki Ryan’s post at Politico Click here.


Posted via web from EricaAmerica’s posterous

#SecClinton Announces International Women's Fund

Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton (affectionately known as HRC for short) announced today a new @StateDept initiative called the International Fund for Women and Girls. To summarize, the mission is to help the State Department get “high impact” grants to NGOs faster – NGOs that help advance the rights of women and girls across the globe. HRC (referred to as #SecClinton on Twitter) has made it a priority to support private/public partnerships to see this happen.

Check out the Fund’s topic areas here:

Posted via web from EricaAmerica’s posterous

Comparing Headlines: Framing Tonight's Financial Reform Vote

NYTimes takes aim with: “Republicans Vote to Block Debate,” Talking Points Memo takes the same

approach, while Roll Call gives no indication of who is to blame. Which one do you like the best?
Roll Call: “Breaking News: First Senate Vote on Financial Reform Bill Falls Short”
Talking Points Memo: “Lockstep: Senate GOPers All Vote To Block Debate On Financial Reform”

Erica Anderson
Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from EricaAmerica’s posterous