Department Of The Partridge Of The Week
It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself is hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard. 
Can you identify this week’s guest Partridge?
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Department Of If You’re Already Sick Of The Holiday Cheer…
Then this might be for you: The entire L.A. City Council racist audio leak, transcribed and annotated by The Los Angeles Times.
Y’all may remember the scandal, which broke in October and which moiself wrote about in my November 4 post. Bare bones summary of a very complicated story: someone(s)  secretly recorded a behind-closed doors meeting of three Los Angeles City Council members and a local labor leader, wherein Council President Nury Martinez and other attendees slammed some of her fellow council members, gleefully made racist remarks, and spoke openly about how the city’s political districts should be carved up to advantage certain constituencies.
The council was thrown into turmoil, Martinez resigned, and some long-overdue rumination re revising and reckoning our “tribalism” in politics has been aired, including in a thoughtful op-ed by LAT columnist Sandy Banks.
Banks opens her essay with the story of a hurtful incident which happened to her many years ago. Riding a crowded bus and exhausted from a long day at a new job, Banks was touched when a young Latina woman gesture to Banks to take the seat next to her. The Latina woman had just herself been beckoned by an elderly Asian woman to take the seat beside her, but that same elderly woman reacted with visible disgust when the Latina in turn invited the Black woman to join them…and the Asian woman stood up and moved to another part of the bus.
…It has been several years since that episode, but the hurt, anger and shame it roused in me resurfaced last month when I listened to three of our city’s elected Latino leaders gleefully mocking and insulting Black people.
Their tirade made international news, because of the crude and racist language they used to describe Black, gay, Armenian, Jewish and Oaxacan people in a private meeting, secretly recorded, about increasing the political power of Latinos at the expense of other struggling groups.
Then, adding insult to injury in the days that followed, the politicians larded their pseudo apologies with references to serving “communities of color” — when the only color they really seem to care about is light brown. Their own.
And that got me thinking about whether the label has outlived its utility….
Maybe now is the time to scrap the “people of color” label and its “communities of color” twin — along with the pretense that all nonwhite groups can be seamlessly yoked together in the fight for equality by the color of our skin.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the bonds between racial and ethnic groups in multicultural Los Angeles are weak. We may share economic stressors and even neighborhoods, but we have different priorities, challenges and needs — and apparently little regard for solidarity, given that the leaders of our city’s largest ethnic group were trying to hoard power by chopping other groups off at the knees.
The “people of color” frame began to take shape decades ago…. But research by UCLA political science professor Efrén Pérez has found that “the unity behind ‘people of color’ crumbles” when individual racial groups feel their unique challenges are being ignored.
“There is nothing natural about camaraderie among people of color,” Pérez wrote in a 2020 opinion piece for the Washington Post. “For every commonality, a point of difference intrudes on unity.”
Dropping the label wouldn’t mean giving up on the idea that there’s power in our collective energy. But it would allow us to scrap the fantasy that Black, Latino, Asian American and Indigenous people are the sum of our similarities, and should be willing to sublimate our own priorities to advance others’ needs.
And while “people of color” is part of the zeitgeist today, debate over the concept has long been robust in academic and political arenas….
“We have talked about this a lot over the years,” said USC law professor Jody Armour, who specializes in the intersection of race and justice. “I’ve always been skeptical of the ‘people of color’ category.’…. The POC category has replicated this country’s reductive colorism, which strands dark-skinned people at the bottom of its ‘people of color’ hierarchy. It’s become a way ‘of camouflaging anti-Blackness,” Armour says.
( excerpts from “Lessons of the audio leak: Solidarity is dead.
Let’s ditch the label ‘people of color,’ “
By Sandy Banks, Los Angeles Times, 11-21-22 )
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Department Of Bored Of The Rings
Moiself recently read an advice column wherein a man sought counsel on what, to him, seemed a vexing dilemma, and what to me was a “problem” worthy of wanting to give him and like-minded others face-palming so cosmic as to launch them into orbit.
The man wanted to propose marriage to his sweetie. His dilemma, as he saw it, was that his partner makes so much more money than he does that any ring he would buy or pick out would not be as fancy or somehow as “deserving” as that which she could get for herself. He did acknowledge in his letter that “she’s just not a fancy jewelry type person,” and that they had already been discussing marriage, and she’d indicated she wouldn’t necessarily want an engagement ring at all.
Oh my… That took me back. But first, this public service announcement.
Men, women – we’ve all have been lied to. Diamonds are not a rare treasure, despite the fact that the jewelry industry in general and diamond pushers in specific want you to think so, and have worked damn hard to equate the color, carat, cut, clarity the of rock to the quality of your loooooooooove. And no one works that scam angle quite like the Debeers company.
“The perfect diamond is a promise of the perfect relationship, because love is supposedly rare and so is this stone. We want the story that tells us our relationship is special. And we don’t want to accept that rarity isn’t all that meaningful.”
(“Diamonds Aren’t Special and Neither is Your Love,”
The Atlantic, 1-29-21)
Ahhh, the rings. Wedding rings; sure, whatever. But the whole engagement ring thing, where one person in the couple wears one but the other does not, reeks of sexism and the history of marriage as property transfer of a woman, from her birth family (read: father) to her husband. I suppose a ring is a more genteel way than pissing a circle around the woman to declare territorial rights, but it is still a pronouncement of ownership, and not any less creepy to me just because our culture has been injured to it.
Answer me this, moiself asks rhetorically (because no one has been able to give a cogent reason when I’ve asked seriously): Why is it the woman who wears an outward signal of “I’m ‘taken’ ”  and the man does not, when the couple are both engaged to be married?
Why are engagement rings still even a thing? It’s just…stupid.
Menfolk, the marketing that is aimed toward you with regard to this “tradition” is truly mind-numbing. It is meant to get men to internalize the idea that the engagement rings they pick out are signifiers of their commitment and worth. Also, let’s face it, the not-so-subliminal attachment message is that the bigger/more expensive the ring he can afford, the bigger the man’s…uh, manliness.
Interesting anecdote: despite the stereotype of women being interested in such things, my “congratulations” to couples who announce their engagement is never followed with “Ooooh, lemme see the ring.” Because I don’t give a flying fuck about such foolishness and wish we’d all move beyond that. I do give a flying fuck about this very-interesting-fact-of-my-experience: the only time an engagement ring has been proudly and insistently displayed to me in those announcement circumstances has been via the engaged dudes. For example: on at least three different occasions – a work or holiday party, or other social gathering – when a couple’s engagement was announced, as I started to say something congratulatory to the couple, the man grabbed his fiancé’s left hand, shoved it in front of my face, and all but demanded that I praise the ring he’d given her.
I suppose that’s a more socially acceptable way to brag than for him to drop trou at the party and display his 14 karat manliness, but….
MH and I have been married for 30 something years now.  It should come as no surprise that I did not wear an engagement ring, nor was I given one by MH, because he knew my opinions on the matter. When we were Getting Serious ® and discussing our future together, MH said, just to check, that he assumed I would not want an engagement ring? I told him that I’d never worn rings of any kind, with the exception of my The Man From U.N.C.L.E. ® spy ring and my high school class ring, only one of which I treasured and both of which I lost after just a few weeks of wearing. 
Also, I’d never worn much jewelry of any kind– rings, bracelets, necklaces – except for earrings. I had my ears pierced when I was a junior in college, at the behest of one of my roommates who declared one holiday season that I was a difficult person to shop for and “Could you just please get your gawddamn ears pierced so I can always know what to get you for Christmas?” 
MH and I laughed when I told him this story, and I joked, “Yeah, so, engagement earrings….”
Not long after that (what I assumed was a) throwaway remark, MH presented me with a pair of diamond “engagement earrings.”  I almost convinced him to get one of his ears pierced so we both could each wear one. But he was still young enough and concerned enough with what his parents would think,  and respectfully declined my request. Somehow, we both managed to survive our engagement without me wearing the traditional visible marker of such. We chose matching wedding rings: simple gold bands engraved with a weave pattern.
Fast forward thirty years. One evening at dinner MH said something along the lines of, “BTW, in case you’re wondering why I’m not wearing my wedding ring….” which caused me to look at his left hand and see that yep, his fourth finger was ringless. No, I hadn’t noticed. He told me that in the past few weeks at work his fingers had started to ache and swell. He’d visited his workplace’s occupational nurse, who couldn’t tell if the puffiness was the beginnings of arthritis or simply the results of too much clickety-clack time on keyboard, but advised that MH remove the ring now in case the swelling got so bad he had to have it cut off. 
“Oh, that makes sense,” I replied. Then I immediately took off my wedding band and put it in a safe place. I assured MH that I did not do so out of spite or anything negative; rather, for parallel conformity. We are either both wearing wedding rings, or we aren’t.
In the weeks to come MH investigated ring alternatives, while I actually/kinda/sorta felt like I didn’t need it. Sure, I’d worn one for almost 30 years at that point, but a part of me had never gotten used to wearing a ring, and I was always twisting it and found it cumbersome for handwashing. I recalled to him, from my previous life of working in the medical profession, how over the years I’d met and talked with several patients and couples who did not wear wedding rings, typically for one of two reasons:
(1) occupational hazards; i.e. one or both of them had jobs in metalworking or sports or manufacturing jobs where avulsion (eeeewwww….ick) was a risk, or
(2) a dermatologic allergy to the metals used in the ring bands.
Some of the couples fashioned their own bands out of various other materials; one couple chose not to wear rings; at least two couples I met had their wedding rings tattooed around their ring fingers. 
MH did some online searching and found silicone bands he liked. They are flexible, come in a variety of sizes, widths, colors and patterns– even camo, for the romantic military fanatic outdoorsman. Bonus: they usually cost less than $30, so you don’t feel bad (and by you of course I mean moiself ) if you lose them. It’s fun, to occasionally change the color and pattern. After all, the only thing that separates us from our fellow primates is our ability to accessorize. Anyway, that is what we have both worn ever since.
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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
“Instead of wondering why I don’t need god to be good, ask yourself why others do. Consider that true morality lies in doing what’s right without expectation of divine retribution or recompense for our actions.”
( Freethought Today, 11-22 excerpt from “Letter to a Mormon mother,” by Oliver Brown,
5th place winner of FFRF’s 2022 high school essay contest,  )
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May you reconsider your usage of POC and other group-signifying terms;
May you discover the cheap thrills of wearing colorful silicon rings;
May you get your gawddamm ears pierced as an easy gift receiving solution;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Specifically, in our pear tree.
 who, as of this writing, have not been identified.
 Which is how one man mansplained engagements rings to me, when I wondered aloud about their meaning.
 Don’t ask me to do the math, which I have to do in order to remember. Okay; it’s 34.
 My parents insisted I get my high school class ring, because I might regret *not* having one later…why they thought I would regret such a thing, I have no idea. I lost the ring in a bodysurfing wipeout at Newport Beach.
 Yes, Sandra Banana, that was you.
 When the horrible news about diamond mining and the “blood” diamonds began emerging years later, I stopped wearing them, first “warning” MH of my intent. I did not fault him, and neither did he: he’d bought them in good faith and had no idea about how dirty the diamond industry was.
 After all, he was already dating and now engaged to this crazy older woman….
 The ring, not the finger.
 In discussing the various ring alternatives with our offspring, our generously tattooed daughter was – surprise! – highly in favor of the ink option.
 “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.
No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.” Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org
 The William Schulx High School Essay Contest for college-bound seniors had this prompt for 2022 contest entrants: “Please write a letter to a religious friend, relative, classmate, teacher, etc., who buys the myth that one can’t be moral without believing in a god.”