As a black woman, I refuse to accept the false choice the McCain campaign has presented me with its vice presidential candidate: Vote gender or vote the issues.

But Gov. Sarah Palin is not the kind of woman I, or many other black or Latino women, can readily identify with. We are not hockey moms. We don’t hunt moose. And when our unmarried teenage daughters get pregnant, society doesn’t see it as a blessing. Instead, we are viewed as perpetuating cultural pathologies.

So, when Palin speaks about herself as the average working mom and woman trying to juggle it all, I can’t relate. In her, I don’t see myself, my mother, my sister or even my next-door neighbor.

On the issues, she’s socially conservative, and her views and opinions run counter to many of my deeply held values and beliefs — not to mention those of my community.

I don’t hear her talking about poverty. Black women and Latinas are nearly twice as likely to be poor than white women.

I don’t hear her talking about HIV/AIDS. Black women and Latinas account for 79 percent of all reported HIV infections among 13- to 19-year-old women and 75 percent of HIV infections among 20- to 24-year-old women in the United States. They are also nearly twice as likely to be poor than white women.

When I talk to my friends about Palin, gender is hardly the point of consideration for them; it is her position on abortion, comprehensive sex education, the war, poverty, affirmative action and immigration that matters most.

Perhaps the McCain camp isn’t talking to black women and Latinas when they say Palin is the average American mom and woman, but if they are, they have a long way to go.

At this point, they not only aren’t talking to us. They aren’t even bothering to recognize us.

C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Women of Color Policy Network at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU and senior research fellow at the National Council for Research on Women. She can be reached at

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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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