Politicians who hate government give government a bad name

Ronald Reagan, considered a secular saint before, during and after his two presidential terms by many in the Republican Party, an actor-turned-politician who also served as California’s governor, was famous for his stated disdain of the thing he spent much of his life doing: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Of course, his administration’s tax cuts were plenty helpful for high earners, but it certainly made for a catchy sound bite. And it became a guiding philosophy for his, and now Trump’s, Republican Party.

And that brings us to the culmination of the effort to paint any government acting competently with a dash of compassion as evil — Texas, the Lone Star State that went it alone. We all saw how that worked out. When a cold snap broke the state, exposing glaring failures in everything from its independent energy grid to its power and water systems, the state’s leaders were either ghosts — escaping to Mexico for a vacation, in the case of Sen. Ted Cruz, or to Utah, where state Attorney General Ken Paxton traveled — or defiant apologists.

Seeking environmental justice: the impact of climate change on communities of color

The recent extreme climate event in Texas slammed many cities and towns throughout the state, but — as is the case in many natural disasters — communities of color were most affected. This has been a trend in the country, with many of these communities still feeling the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey – as well as man-made disasters such as the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. What is the cause of the disproportionate impact, and what policies can reverse this pattern?

Chrishelle Palay and Justin Onwenu join this episode of Equal Time. Palay runs the HOME Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for equitable recovery from natural disasters, while Onwenu is an environmental justice organizer for the Sierra Club and an appointee to the DNC’s Environment and Climate Crisis Council. With host Mary C. Curtis, each discusses the issue of environmental injustice not only in Texas, but across the country, and why long-standing inequities demand grassroots activism and change in local, state and federal policies.

Mary C. Curtis: The Challenges of Reopening Schools Safely

CHARLOTTE, NC — President Joe Biden says his goal is to open the majority of K-8 schools five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office.

It comes as schools in North Carolina are slowly reopening with rotated schedules while teachers are next in line to get the vaccine.

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis has more on the debate to reopen schools.

You can catch Mary C. Curtis on Sunday nights at 6:30 PM on WCCB Charlotte’s CW discussing the biggest issues in local and national politics and also giving us a look at what’s ahead for the week.

What’s next on immigration, an issue that’s personal, political — and complicated

Immigration policy is one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities. He has signed five executive orders and issued another four statements and proclamations — in less than two weeks — that include: upping the annual number of refugees allowed into the country nearly tenfold, seeking to reunify families that were separated at the border, stopping construction of the border wall, and looking at access to the legal system for immigrants.

Mary C. Curtis speaks to former immigration advocate and senior director for Obama’s White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz about the past, present and future.

Since when has racial equity been a controversial goal? Sadly, forever

Somehow, I thought she would live forever.

Cicely Tyson, actress and force of nature, left the world so many heartrending, joyous performances — and much more. She told stories, informed by her 96 years on this earth as an African American and an artist, navigating an industry and a world that sometimes found it difficult to accommodate her own high standards.

One story in particular haunts. On a press tour publicizing her 1972 film “Sounder,” a white male journalist’s comment shook her and helped her decide to choose roles carefully. As she recalled, he told her that “it was difficult for me to accept the fact that this young boy, who was the elder of your sons, referred to his father as ‘Daddy’ [in the movie].” She said she understood what he was saying: “What he could not come to grips with, is the fact that this little Black boy was calling his Black father ‘Daddy’ as his children were calling him.”

But that was nearly 50 years ago, wasn’t it?

In January 2021, in Rochester, N.Y., the go-to for police confronting a situation involving a distraught 9-year-old Black girl yelling for her father was to push her down into the snow, handcuff her and, when she refused to sit in a police car, pepper-spray her. “You’re acting like a child,” said an officer sent to protect and serve. “I am a child” was the frightened little girl’s response.

That racial equity was high on the list of policy priorities for the Biden-Harris administration was not surprising. From policing to housing to health care, made explicit by a pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, inequality is on display for all to observe, if not experience. The United States has only sporadically turned its gaze inward when it comes to righting racist wrongs, usually when civil rights activism has forced the issue through protest and sacrifice. And under the leadership of Donald Trump, U.S. policies either put the brakes on any effort to realize America’s lofty promises or tried to drag the country backward into a Make America Great Again past that never was.

The GOP talks a good game, but let’s review those conservative principles

What is the Republican Party in 2021? It’s easier to say what it’s not.

With a majority of the party’s House members voting to invalidate the results of a free and fair election, and a good chunk of its voters going along with the fantasy that Donald Trump was robbed, it’s clear the GOP is not a stickler for democracy or the Constitution. And with most Republican senators not interested in holding an impeachment trial for a former president accused of “inciting an insurrection,” Americans can be pretty sure the party is not too keen on accountability.

It’s not a new contradiction. But while it’s true that the GOP has long instructed voters not to “look behind the curtain,” the mess that is spilling out has become impossible to ignore. The sight of thousands of violent rioters storming the center of legislative government will do that.

So what are just a few of the slogans that have crumbled?

‘If racism is a lie, how has it been sustained, institutionalized and structured in America?’

Racial equity is front and center for the Biden administration. That said, how does the nation begin to dismantle centuries of ingrained policies?

Mary C. Curtis talks to award-winning social change agent Dr. Gail C. Christopher in this episode. Christopher has some compelling ideas and is working with Congress to try to change policies that enable racism and inequity to flourish, and transform a belief system that values some lives over others.

No surprise, American Catholics are as split as the nation over Biden

At the memorial service on the eve of Inauguration Day for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died from COVID-19, it was symbolic and fitting that a prayer was offered by Cardinal Wilton Gregory. It was a reminder that the other half of the presidential ticket made history in 2020.

While Kamala Harris’ groundbreaking vice presidency has garnered most of the attention, Joseph R. Biden Jr. also is only the second Roman Catholic president of the United States, with John F. Kennedy’s ascension as the first coming 60 years ago.

Gregory’s words that night provided comfort to a mourning nation: “Our sorrow unites us to one another as a single people with compassionate hearts. May our prayer strengthen our awareness of our common humanity and our national unity at a time when harmony is a balm that seeks to comfort and strengthen us as a single people facing a common threat that is no respecter of age, race, culture, or gender.”

But his brief address that night emphasizing “common humanity” and “national unity” did not mention something Gregory himself acknowledged in an interview with Religion News Service, a subject the first African American to hold that rank in the Roman Catholic Church was well-equipped to voice: “The Catholic Church exists within society. … It is supposed to be a source of renewal, conversion. But we are Catholics who live in the American environment, and therefore we share some of the very same problems that the wider society does: racism, inequality, a lack of opportunity.”

It was a divide that I’ve felt throughout my life, as a cradle Catholic with 16 years of Catholic education under my belt. I spent my elementary years in an all-Black school taught by an order of nuns founded in Baltimore by a Black woman and a French priest in 1829 to educate Black children, and high school and college at predominantly white Catholic institutions, never far from reminders of my race and my place in the church. My experiences, good and bad, loomed as large and real as the sacraments.

Some losers win a different prize; some are lost forever. What awaits Trump?

When you lose something precious, something valuable — the big prize — you don’t have to get stuck with the “loser” label forever. Life and politics are full of examples of broken hearts and smashed dreams, and also examples of those who managed to rewrite their legacies in meaningful ways that benefited themselves and society.

Donald Trump has proved that he is not the kind of person given to reflection or remorse and would seem the last character capable of earning redemption. He slinked out of the White House on Wednesday, burdened with grievances, two impeachments and “what-ifs,” beating an early retreat before Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in. But it’s not too late for him to learn something he has not so far in his 74 years.

Though he predicted four years ago that an America without his leadership would crumble, it was Trump who brought a vision of “American carnage” to life. The lasting image is of his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol, attacking democracy itself, and of a COVID-19 death toll passing 400,000, Americans mourned not by him but by Biden and Harris on inauguration eve with a solemn and soulful service the country needed.

But Trump’s Wikipedia entry doesn’t have to start with the word “disaster,” not if he looks away from his red-carpet exit to pay attention, even with his notoriously short attention span, to how others have conducted themselves when confronted with power and influence slipping through their fingers.

When churches need protection, it’s not normal, it’s dangerous. And it’s a sign of trouble to come

The end of an old year prompts not just relief for a 2020 in the rearview mirror, and optimism for the new one ahead that has to be better, but also a chance for that last look back. Which stories lodged in the headlines, and which ones disappeared all too quickly?

As Washington prepared for an onslaught of pro-Trump demonstrations this week, organized by those who refused to accept the president’s defeat and hoped to rattle officials with a last grasp at power, I could not forget the damage from the last time supporters of President Donald Trump visited D.C., when the grounds and property of Black churches were vandalized. That drew not nearly enough outrage, or at least it seemed that way.

For his next act, Trump invited his followers to flood the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to protest as Congress counted the state-certified electoral votes in a democratic process that is usually routine.