Monday, February 28, 2011

It's great to be a white guy.

I have no idea why, but every year I watch the Academy Awards.

And every year, I turn off the TV, mildly entertained, yet wondering how I again could have spent three hours watching Hollywood's aristocracy fawning over each other. They marvel at one another's important contributions to American culture; their orations are often worthy of Emmies for best Oscar performance.

This year, my disdain for the show's planners dialed up to an eleven, but not until the closing moments. Fifth graders from Staten Island's PS-22 chorus brought down the house with a fantastic rendition of "Over the Rainbow." That part was really cool.

But just as the song reached its finale, the kids scooted to the front of the stage and squatted down as a curtain rose behind them, revealing all the evening's Oscar champions. The contrast was profound, as the predominantly brown-skinned, T-shirt clad eleven-year-olds knelt reverently while the overwhelmingly Caucasian award winners, bedecked in millions of dollars worth of evening wear and jewelry, towered above the tots.

I'm sure the event's organizers juxtaposed these disparate groups to show that yes, dreams can come true. But at that moment, one glaring fact dominated my thoughts: those kids from Staten Island, especially the non-white variety, are faced with a far higher rainbow to vault than the cronies and fat cats behind them did.

Maybe I'm a little sensitive to our disadvantaged youth since learning about what our Republican-controlled House of Representatives has been up to of late. On February 18, led by Representative Chris Smith, R-New Jersey (that's him, above), the House passed a measure to end Federal Funding for Planned Parenthood.

That's three-hundred and thirty million dollars a year.

You may have heard conflicting information from your favorite right wing pundit, but make no mistake. Planned Parenthood has been prohibited from using federal monies for abortion for over thirty years. Nope, these funds are used for ninety percent of what PP does: preventive, primary care, which helps prevent unintended pregnancies through contraception, reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections through testing and treatment, and screen for cervical and other cancers. How despicable, indeed.

Over 1.2 million youths and adults participate in Planned Parenthood educational programs every year.

One in five American women has chosen Planned Parenthood for health care at least once in her life, which piqued my curiosity. I wondered how many women serve in the United States House of Representatives, and the answer is:

Out of a total 433 members, sixty-seven, or fifteen percent, are women.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Clearly, a savings of  $335 million from the coffers of Planned Parenthood won't amount to a ding in the budget bucket. Then why? Why do these men care so much?

That's the point. They don't.

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