Program Highlights

February 9, 2021
Our speaker at the Feb 9th program was Bonnie Mann, PhD, Professor of Philosophy at U of O in Eugene. Her presentation was based on her abstract entitled The Politics of Mass Delusion: Womb Envy and Misogyny from the rise of Capitalism to QAnon. Dr. Mann also discussed the book Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici, focusing on its relevance for today. She pointed out that the QAnon pronouncements are identical to those in the 1903 Russian book Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Henry Ford funded and distributed a half-million copies in the U.S. during the period between WWI and WWII); and also to the screeds used to incite lynchings, pogroms and witch burnings throughout European and new world history. Some advice from Dr. Mann on how to deal with conspiracy theorists and those experiencing cognitive dissonance: Don’t argue. Change the subject and the atmosphere of the discussion to pull the person into the real world.

November 10, 2020
The Oregon Online Branch November meeting topic was Indigenous Slavery. Colonialism was a very important factor as land and labor were the issues. The North was a major slave trading area. All the colonial mimicking tribes participated in the slave trade, particularly the Choctaw and Chickasaw who had slaves. Many indigenous peoples were moved from their homelands to work mines where they were worked and starved to death. Southern Poverty Law Center has information on teaching tolerance and Black, Native American and Latin American Indians. We referenced the SPLC work on slavery particularly. From an education perspective pieces of history could be presented in the times allotted and teachers seldom got to concepts and scope and sequence of content. Books are outside the parameters of K-12 teachers as they don’t make book choices. In education committees chose what they are handed. The following are few of the resources we used for our excellent discussion:

An NPR Podcast on “Lies My Teacher Told Me”
The Aqueduct Between Us”

September 8, 2020
We discussed the concept of Black Feminism and all the YouTube videos and articles we read from our resource list.  The book So you Want To Talk About Race was suggested as an introduction to the subject.    We also talked about AAUW’s response over the years to women of color.  The term “intersectionality” was explored.  Some concepts to think about: appropriation vs appreciation; “stumble bravely”; educate/listen/engage. We all decided we still have lots to learn.

May 12, 2020
There was a lively discussion of the Gerrymandering YouTube presentations and on the issue of Independent Redistricting Committees. Oregon will have a ballot initiative in the fall from the League of Women Voters to change how Oregon does redistricting. Information was shared on  resources for voter information: the AAUW Equity Network Webinar: GOTV and COVID-19, plus the League webinar on redistricting.

February 11th, 2020
Kathleen Hersch, from the League of Women Voters (LWV), talked with us regarding the League, its history, focus and programs. The LWV still works as an official UN observer. It supports the Equal Rights Amendment. Its voter Education tool, available online, is Vote 411. LWV is non-partisan. Its focus is teaching people how to vote, getting them registered, with access to voting and election security. In Oregon, LWV is working on Redistricting Commission ideas. Each state determines how their League functions. Oregon LWV has a free guide which focuses on the whole state. They are working on recruiting diversity, though the group is still pretty much white, female and older. Men welcomed as members starting in the 1970s, and there are some Black and Hispanic members now. With candidate forums, Kathleen said that LWV watches the races, especially competitive ones, and sets a date and venue early on, even before the filing deadline. They may do just one party in a forum, especially during the primary. Another focus is partnering and working with other groups on forums.

September 10, 2019
The YouTube Video, “A History of Voting in the US,” was discussed. Each of us learned something new about voting in the United States. The video was concise and pertinent. Oregon votes by mail, but Idaho does not. But, you can get absentee ballots. We also discussed the cancelling of primaries. The AAUW research document, “The Poll Tax,” by Eleanor Bontecou,  was discussed. This work was done in the early 1940s to help get rid of poll taxes in eight Southern states. Bontecou was a civil rights lawyer. The purpose of the poll tax was to disenfranchise women and blacks. Stacy Abrams, former Georgia state Representative, is currently doing work on the issue of voter suppression in the South.