Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Short of a Political Resume

By Regina Garson
Short of a resume, this is a brief overview of my political related experience. Why I suddenly feel the need, I don't know. But I do.

My first experience going deeper into politics was after I had finished my last degree (BS Behavioral Science and BA English, double major), at Athens State College, now University (my first degree was in Advertising/Communications from the University of Alabama).

Anyway, early on, I had the opportunity to do some writing for one of the major minority publishing companies. I actually did some writing for a couple of them. My Behavioral Science curriculum was a split between sociology and psychology, so it was right in line with what I had been studying in school. With the way things were in the area where I grew up, which was just south of Birmingham, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement, I was excited to be able to do some work covering race issues. It was at this point that I started to go deeper on both social issues and politics and I also started to learn how the media worked on the coverage of the various social and political issues as well.

One of my regular assignments was to pull the news from the wire service. We had a set number of stories that I would pull every day on a given topic. My area was women's issues (employment issues, pay, benefits, sexual harassment, related political issues, etc.). So I'd go through and see what the news service had on that topic and pull the ones that I felt were the most important for the site.

One of the first things that I learned was that no matter how important a story might be, we could only run so many stories a day and sometimes things that I really did think were important would not be run because they didn't precisely fit what I was supposed to be pulling or there were no more news slots that day. So you always had to be thinking about which was the most important story to cover. I learned real quick that there is a whole lot more going on than people get in their daily news. That is true even when they try hard to keep up. There is more than one reason for that though, which I will not go into at this point.

Also, on both the writing and as a managing type editor, I covered various worker related political issues, a lot of Department of Labor related, race issues, women and minority equality issues. I  had the Asian American beat for a while, which has its own group of race issues entirely. Race issues aren't always what immediately comes to people's mind. We did some major work on WWII related race issues as well, things like the Japanese Internment and the Nanjing Massacre.

Oh the things you learn along the way, how about that camp they had in Tennessee, just in case they needed to exchange a few Jews for US POWs. Whatever work you do, you learn a thing or two that you never would have known if you hadn't been doing that work. A lot of mine had to do with politics and social issues. I went through stacks of books and articles on the subject and, of all things, ended up auditing a course on Chinese history for background before I was finished with one group of assignments.  Another time, I audited a course in Southern Sociology for some stuff I was writing. That is in addition to working toward my degrees and whatever other research I had to do to write a story or figure out what needed to be written, since I also assigned out stories.

During all that, I was mostly a pretty conservative Republican, but after a certain amount of time spent working with and covering all this stuff, I slowly migrated to the other side. Kind of like a know too much to go back kind of thing. I spent too much time way too deep in those issues. I am surely not the first person who has ever changed their mind on a political party.

Along the way, I took a trip to lobby in Washington on women's equality and workplace issues, at the Women's Equality Summit. I made it to a couple of those famous DC parties and I even got to hear Hillary Clinton talk, now that was something. I am not certain if I was more amazed at her  or being in a a situation to see how all that security comes together for somebody at that level. Anyway, it was all an experience to start to get my toes wet on how at least a few  things work in DC. I surely do love that town, any chance to go back and I have always been ready for more.

My main feminist area of interest had to do with childcare issues, especially regarding the hard time young working women and families have getting by with the cost of childcare. A lot of countries actually do a whole lot better than we do in the US on that one and young families especially do a whole lot better financially as a result. For a while, that was one of my areas of major political effort and coverage. I always felt like changes in that area would make a lot of difference in a lot of people's lives, but it has never been a trendy issue. Preaching about issues that aren't trendy and nobody wants to hear about no matter how much good some changes would do is something else. Oh well. Ivanka Trump is interested in that issue, hopefully she can get somewhere on it.

Although I have done other along the way, my next major political focused writing was with Forward Progressives, mostly covering national politics (see Regina Garson at Forward Progressives). Although I have slacked off on the writing credits somewhat lately, I pulled a lot of my daily commentary to Facebook instead. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I am not so sure. I still have my own blog though, and I have been transitioning this one into more of a political focus.

In the interest of consolidating, day jobs and all that, I had meanwhile pulled a lot of my daily commentary to my personal Facebook page. That might not have been such a good idea either, since I really did try to welcome and encourage bipartisan discussion. The discussions can get quite lively at times, you are welcome to follow me there if you are so inclined. It's a mixture of politics and personal and a lot of people follow me there for the politics.

I am also politically active on Twitter. https://twitter.com/ReginaGarson

In addition to the above, I have also done a fair amount of writing on issues relating to the war on drugs and marijuana prohibition. some amount  educating folks on the war on drugs in general as well. My off line efforts in this area included an internship/practicum at Bradford Parkside Outpatient Addictions program. I have done just  a little speaking out on marijuana prohibition and the drug war related issues as well. Back in the day, I also took training and certified as a paraprofessional counselor, volunteered for a while with our local crisis services. That was in addition to the online resources that I developed and maintained for years. So I have various perspectives on the related issues, politically, as a writer/publisher, in the community and in my daily life.

After a tech writing gig in support of the NASA Ares program, my interest in space and space development continued to increase and I have done a pretty fair amount covering politically focused space issues as well. I was involved with Huntsville Space Professionals for a while and made it to DC for some space related efforts as well.

In the last few years, I decided to take my political involvements beyond writing and have been involved in area political efforts. If there is a town hall, forum or other political meeting nearby and I can make it, I am generally there.

Well aware that as hard as you try, you can't learn everything you need to know about life from books or even the Internet,  I also felt the need for some face-to-face training. In the last couple of years, I have attended political training in Montgomery, Alabama, a couple different political training sessions at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), and I took some local political training in Huntsville as well.

In the meantime, I  also wanted to learn more on how things worked from the perspective of a campaign, so when the opportunity presented itself, I ran for a position as a district DNC delegate this last year. It was my first political run and I didn't win but I got out there, got my feet wet and learned a lot of stuff about how campaigns work from the inside, which included more training. At the end, I didn't do that poorly, and did well in my category. So it's all good.

At this phase of my life, I feel confident enough in my combined politically related work experience, education and life to get out there and get more involved. I also try to read and keep up with what is going on in the news, with the media with the various as well.

Anyway, that is a quick overview of some of my political and social issue related experience. It seems that women continually confront the issue of  when is it time to blow your own horn, at what point have you turned into a narcissist braggart, and at what point do you say, hey folks, I have significant related experience, this is what I have been doing for the last ever how many years and I am not into being minimized because I have reached a certain age, I am a woman, or whatever. It could be that some of all of that is involved.

It could also be that it was a mistake taking so much of my commentary to Facebook. You never quit learning though, or hopefully you don't,  and I have been very active on social media and a lot of politics does indeed happen on social media, so I'll chalk that up to lessons learned because I also know that the minute you blink you eyes on some of this stuff, you have missed the boat. I sure don't pretend to know it all,  but the analyses I do have are a combination of the background of my experience, both education and work, and just being out there and involved. I also try to keep myself informed on an everyday basis and I learn new stuff all the time through my editorial work as well. I'm done.

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