Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet and writer. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, Raven’s Perch, and by Cleveland State University among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals. Her chapbook, Liquid Rubies, was published by Pudding House. The Volume of Our Incongruity was published by Finishing Line Press. Diane’s essay, “I Will Sing for You” was featured at the Cleveland Humanities Fest in 2018. Her novel, The Desire Path can be found on Amazon. She is a graduate of Kent State University and holds an M.Ed from Cleveland State University.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Why the Marches Were Necessary in 2017

For those who have disparaged the marches/protests that occurred all over this country the day after the inauguration:

The First Amendment not only allows peaceable assembly (and it was peaceful in all 600 marches) but “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This means we have the right to complain or seek assistance from our government without fear of punishment or reprisal.

Other have reduced the events to an abortion rights march. Not even close. The Cleveland march had 6 speakers. Only one spoke about reproductive rights. The others expressed concerns about Trump’s campaign promises to take away affordable health care, LGBT rights, environmental progress and to build a wall, as well as his many bigoted, misogynistic and racist remarks throughout the campaign—and making fun of the disabled.

There is great support for Planned Parenthood because they provide preventative and basic women’s healthcare as well as contraception, which, by the way, prevents unwanted pregnancy and abortions.

Although there were many men at these marches it was a women’s march because our new president has repeatedly shown his disrespect for women. He has been accused countless times of sexual misconduct. He has been recorded admitting to being a sexual predator, he rates women’s looks, calls women names like pigs, slobs, and nasty. He finds women’s menstrual cycles and breastfeeding disgusting—and we’re supposed to be quiet?

We are concerned about the Cabinet being filled with unknowledgeable billionaires, most of whom don’t believe in the their post:  A science-denier to run the EPA, an opponent of public education to head the Education Department…

On election night Trump promised to be a president for all Americans. But on inauguration day LGBT was deleted from the government website. That’s over 8 million people and their families that he is ignoring already.  He had a great opportunity to reach out to the concerned and fearful citizens about the marches, but instead in his tweet he asked why we hadn’t voted. 

We did vote Mr. President. We are the three million MORE that voted for Hillary Clinton. We are the majority. Get used to it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Day After the Inauguration

Cleveland is not a large city but this is a photo of our Public Square today. I was proud to be an American as I stood with thousands of men and women in concern for human rights in this country under the new administration.  It was a peaceful, respectful and calm day. (It was 60 degrees and sunny on a January day!) It is a grassroots movement happening not just all over America today, but all over the world, in solidarity with us. It is exhilarating, it is hopeful, it is democracy in action.

Yesterday was not an encouraging day for the majority of Americans. Many of us despair at the thought of going backward into the inequalities of the past. We are afraid for our daughters and millions of women not having access to health care and contraceptives. We are afraid for our grandchildren and the unsafe and unstable planet they may live on. We are afraid for our LGBT friends and family that may have their basic rights reversed. We are afraid of our immigrant neighbors enduring even more discrimination and bias than they already have.  We cannot tolerate a leader who makes fun of disabled people and blatantly disrespects women. 

As a retired teacher I, and all my teaching colleagues, are horrified at the nominee for Secretary of Education. She does not know the most basic education laws or issues. She is against the public schools and supports charter schools that have been nothing but failure and are not for ALL children, just the lucky few. 

When I looked at the many and diverse homemade signs today I saw what people are FOR not AGAINST. We are FOR our fellow Americans and their rights. We are FOR healthcare and  excellent  education and saving our planet.  The opposers are AGAINST everything. They are about taking things away starting with affordable health care for millions of Americans. 

The new president already broke his promise to be the president of all Americans (stated on election night) when his administration removed LGBT rights and climate control from the government website. 

There was an estimate of 15,000 in Cleveland today, 500,000 in Washington, 175,000 in Chicago. There are hundreds of marches all over this country.  The president's Twitter account is strangely silent today. 

TODAY I am proud to be an American. What a difference a day can make. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Award Season

Art and creativity, in any form, is a good thing. I need to be creative in some way almost every day. There are many actors and actresses that have been born with a talent as well as a face or body that appeals to us on a movie or television screen. We enjoy what they do and many do it very well. But I have a problem with why they need to be constantly rewarded and adored for it.

There seems to be a televised event scheduled about every week for the next month or two.  I used to love watching these spectacles. When I was a girl I practiced my acceptance speech for my Academy Award because I was going to be the next Julie Andrews.  My dad and I would bet on who we thought would win.

Then slowly over the years I saw the self-congratulatory celebrity worshipping for what it was and I stopped caring who won or didn't win. Then I began watching to see the fantastic and over-the-top dresses on the red carpets. I dreamed of wearing something like that just once in my life (which will never happen).  My daughter had worked for a well-known fashion designer in New York City and it sparked my interest in fashion even though I have no visible fashion sense of my own. (Now I can see them in the news the next day.)

As the decades went by and award shows multiplied America became consumed by a celebrity culture and it became more and more distasteful to me.  Here are people who are exceedingly overpaid, privileged, worshipped and catered to because they are in the movies or television. They simply spend their lives pretending to be other people and on top of their success and fame they need to be constantly awarded for it! Actors appear to live in their own special world of self-importance and mutual admiration. They cannot get enough attention and praise. America contributes to this inequity by buying entertainment magazines, watching entertainment gossip shows and spending enormous amounts of money on movies and entertainment. 

I never got an award for teaching for over 30 years. Have you been extravagantly awarded for your job, your efforts, even for volunteering your services to help others? Where are the awards for the social workers, foster parents, hospice nurses, teachers—the people who work for much less and impact society in a positive way every day? The people who actually work hard under often inadequate conditions with no bonuses, privileges or accolades.  

I don't think movies or television shows are useless. They can be moving and thoughtful or just an escape from real life. They show the creativity of human beings and are often stunning in their imagination and their visual beauty, but that does merit award after award each year. The public  already pays a ridiculous amount of money to go see them in the theaters and now we pay for television too. 

Music is very important in my life, but music awards now consist of the most outrageous videos, dancing, costumes and performances. It is not about the music any longer. There are still unbelievably talented and innovative musicians in the world but they are not the ones you will see on award shows. It's just a popularity contest: who got the most attention, who is the most attractive, or sold the most records. It has nothing to do with quality and talent as far as I can tell. 

People should continue to use their creative skills to produce all types of art. But the incessant need for "awards" is of no value except to the overblown egos of those who already have been rewarded excessively in every other way.