Bayo Ayaba Callender passed suddenly on Monday, October 9, 2023, a victim of cancer. Bayo was a person full of life and expression. She had much to give to the world and she gave unstintingly. After having lived in many parts of the world including China and traveling through several countries in Asia, she worked in The Hague, The Netherlands, and in Stockholm, Sweden. Bayo was a maven working with various organizations addressing the constancy of negative institutional and cultural outcomes to problems of race and gender. Working to reduce the persistence of those disparities, she brought that learning to the World Bank Group (WBG) in Washington, DC. As the first Race Equity Officer of the World Bank Group, she was key in helping that venerable institution mature and develop various means for institutional change.
Sometimes in league with other organizations, Bayo was a silent partner, helping to shape the public work of others. Such is the case with her work with the committee named Lucy’s Children* at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. The committee is housed in an organization that has a track record devoted to raising hard questions and probing answers. It provides analysis through papers, lectures, and selected operations to stimulate positive, workable responses to difficult issues and increase effective self-learning and redirection. Lucy’s Children is a place where the gaps are identified and the dots are connected.
In this time of grief sharing, we have established the Bayo Callender Memorial Fund at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture (BCMF/BSEC). The work goes on. Bayo’s imprint is with all who touched her. Giving to continue her legacy is one way of remembering her and ensuring that her efforts continue with vigor and resoluteness.
Lucy’s Children at BSEC
* Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old fossil skeleton of a human ancestor discovered in 1974 in Hadar, Ethiopia, by Donald Johanson and Tom Gray on November 24, 1974.
“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth”
Henry David Thoreau
Americans in a certain respect are under-read and over-exposed thanks, in part to social media, thereby producing a population that has a highly personal and ego-centered view of themselves and the world. This makes many conversations very difficult. One of them is an open discussion about abortions. Arguments rather than discussions ensue because they do not begin at point of inquiry or investigation, they start from the viewpoint of opinion, deemed self-knowledge. Often this position is vociferously espoused as righteous. Yet, one is reminded of the wisdom of Mark Twain, I paraphrase, “It’s not what you know that is the problem, it’s what you think is right that just isn’t so, that gets you in trouble.”
Having babies, having sex, seeking it, lying about it, and registering opinions about it are as old as time. That’s largely how the human family — such as it is — got us to now. Only recently, that is, in this part of the century, has the conversation about women — in my opinion — taken on any measure worthy of greater introspection. I learned very early that the brand of feminism as described and espoused by the burgeoning brand of this school of thought — largely driven by Caucasian women — did not jibe, hold muster or was greatly incompatible with my own sense of the idea. As a Black woman, my idea of feminism was almost wholly different from what I heard and saw in print. I deemed my branch of the discussion as “womanism,” in perhaps a futile attempt to make a philosophical distinction from the aforementioned.
Some 49 years after its Decision, Roe v. Wade is still being bandied about and stalked by some states and advocates doing enough forward-backward motion on the subject to make the cha-cha look like the merengue. There are so many more aspects to the man-woman-child thing than a court’s decision could ever possibly consider. The results, nevertheless, are swept up in the long term, particularly the woman and the child. Now, however, the highest court in the land will have a go as to whether we move societally forward well into the 21st century or backwards into earlier times.
The High Court, in my opinion, should only consider cases in light of being the ultimate protector of the citizenry given the constant movement by “the system” — primarily its economic thrusts — to devour various parts of the vulnerable among its people. In my mind’s eye, that would keep the most predatory aspects of “the system” at bay. But it doesn’t and it won’t.
There are several cases underlining the High Court’s current review of the abortion issue. The Roe v. Wade case is the seedbed of these cases which are in various stages of review. There is Texas S.B.8 which is the legislation allowing and enabling vigilantism. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, initiated by the state of Mississippi, clearly puts the question of abortion squarely on the table. As important as all of the rest of 40 years’ worth of argument is, where is the country headed? And, by whom? If it is for the better, then how is that case being made?
So, now at the Bench are those who are most vulnerable — the mother and the child. I think that men should stand outside of that circle, as this is a step too far. That means that the six robed jurists who sit on the High Court ought not be deciding on abortions per se. If anything, they should be deciding if state and local jurisdictions are way beyond their boundaries in making laws that hold women and children hostage. And, the female jurist who thinks like the men should also step aside as that viewpoint has already been represented. So that in my Supreme Court, that’s down another one, seven so far. Now will the women who think on behalf of millions of women in all walks of life, stand up? Hmm . . . , only 2 are standing.
I find it interesting, first of all, that men would think that they have the right to discuss a woman’s body, but the converse — that women discuss men’s bodies — never holds, it never gains traction in the public discourse of things male. Surely, this reluctance is either the by-product or a tenet of gender-based possession and ownership, an essential cornerstone of patrimony. Make no mistake, women buttress this thinking as well as men. They just can’t let it go! Or, better yet, examine the idea and the failures of the patriarchy more closely. Having neither heard of nor been a part of any national discourse that was honest, insightful, and well-honed, I am not expecting to hear one now. But, this is an opportunity to say a few things, so here we go.
First, men have enough trouble with their own bodies, their roles and responsibilities particularly their work in families to devote themselves entirely and in entirety to those elements, never mind the women. As a gentle reminder, it is due to them that a child is even conceived. If the men spruced up their relationships and rose to their responsibilities better, we might not be having this conversation at all. In the many ways men engage in conversations about sex and its aftermaths, 99 times out of 100, theirs is not the consideration of long-term consequences. Need I remind you of the popularity of the “little blue pill” advertised ad nauseam for the single purpose of encouraging sexual engagement by men. Please, do not quote any mishmash about adoption being a viable alternative for unwanted, full-term babies. Were it that simple! For those who say that women should make better choices, I say mothers should raise better sons and fathers should be better dads. However, this is NOT that chicken and egg question. The point is, for women for whom the question rests, there should be choice. Period, end of discussion!
Women do not face abortion like going to the movies or like johns hunting for a prostitute. There’s no joy in this. Men who never had a child do not realize the medical risks taken in childbirth, in full or partial-term. That is part of a woman’s biology and we are extremely grateful that the medical profession has stepped up to the plate on that! This comes with the full knowledge that medicine like all of the rest of it has a ways to go and that what we know has come at great cost.
I am bewildered why so many people who have nothing to add or support or do not care about the life after birth have so much to say while the child is in the exclusive province of the carrier, its mother. Where a couple has decided and committed themselves to parenthood is not the issue here. Whatever and however they handle their business we presume will be fine. They will work it out. We are talking about the others, where problems are recognized early on, where this is not going to have a good end, where the carrier is alone and cornered, where there is no love and maybe none of the other essentials for good and decent home life. . . no other way out. This is a woman’s dilemma regardless of marital status, whether of high or low birth across time.
This conversation may have barbs, it should. Realities are different from ideals, but some of us work diligently to homogenize the two as much as possible. Let’s talk. I’ve put some things out there, so when are we going to have the discussion on raising better men? Now don’t get all silent on me, boys.
By Muriel Tillinghast
“As anti-vaxx groups nationwide continue to push dangerous theories, some are already reaping the consequences. In their latest deadly advice, the same anti-vaxx groups that pushed at-home COVID-19 remedies including drinking bleach, taking ivermectin, and gargling Betadine have been encouraging members not to go to the hospital.”
Daily Kos, Aysha Qamar , September 217, 2021
Clearly there is something going on in the resistance COVID protocols including wearing masks, frequent hand and face washing, and maintaining about 6 feet distance between strangers. I shake my head regarding not only the resistance, but the fury with which some of those parties respond. Masks and inoculations/vaccinations seem to be the prime targets. I try not to be judgmental, but here’s my thinking:
1. OK, I get it that one doesn’t want to be told what to do, but everyone gets directions, orders, advisements all during one’s life, some you follow willingly and others not so. However, if someone provides the hope of saving your life and the lives of your loved ones, what’s the beef?
2. I don’t like wearing masks either, but I have learned to make it work. It is a matter of getting use of something. I breathe through my nose and mouth when I have the mask on and I manage. You will too.
3. “I am not going to get the disease.” There’s no reasoning behind that one, so I’m going to skip that argument.
4. I got the flu after I got my flu shot. No argument. And you might catch COVID after the COVID shot, but here’s the kicker. With no immunity, severe illnesses including death is almost certain, if the virus is contracted. With the shots, it appears that the virus will be less virulent. Avoid the most serious effects is personally and medically important. One article said that 70 million people who are avoiding the inoculations are “simply kindling for the virus fire surely to come.”
5. So what is this virus in simple terms:
a. As a virus, this thing has no life. It is not a bacterium. It cannot be killed. It can be arrested when it has no more hosts in which to bred itself. How long can that last? Science doesn’t know. The idea here is to stop providing hosts in which the virus can breed and breed it does exponentially when it comes “home” to living, unvaccinated body.
b. Once inside the body, this rapidly reproducing virus can evolve at a rate this is nothing short of phenomenal. The virus enters in one form does not stay that way. The virus can evolve into several different forms depending on the host (your body) and its specific attack formations in various areas.
c. One viral entry can set up more than 12 or more different internal viral formations which can continue to create other formations. I now understand when doctors say, “There is nothing more we can do.” They are not chasing one problem, they may be chasing thousands of problems in one body: blood vessel (clouts), lungs (pneumonias), the heart to name few prime areas where the virus “sets up house.”
d. On NPR “Science Friday,” (October 1, 2021), a British case study was reviewed and it really effected me. About 10 days after he was infected, a man went to the hospital. The infection was noted, but nothing was happening to put them on alert and so he was sent home. As you know, hospital beds are in shortage and so is medical staffing, so he was not a priority. About 35 days later, he was back in the hospital and again his case was considered mild, nothing to work on. Then he came back 75 days later and he was in acute distress. He never got better. On the 101 day of his ordeal he died. His body carried more than a 1 billion viral load of the COVID type. That made me stop in my tracks. I don’t think that people understand this medical adversary. I know I didn’t!
1. Wait, there’s more, something called Long-COVID, for people who survive the virus. Here’s a layman’s type definition: “Although long COVID is poorly defined, the researchers [acknowledge] such symptoms as chest/throat pain, abnormal breathing, abdominal symptoms, fatigue, depression, headaches, cognitive dysfunction and muscle pain.”
2. COVID and its fallout will be with us for decades to come. As of this writing 700,000 Americans have died from the disease, the highest number of COVID deaths in the world. The social and economic impact is staggering, e.g., the number and care of children who have lost one or both parents and other significant family members, the loss of income by death or incapacities per household, loss of property, etc.
Be wise: get the shots, stay up on your vitamins, follow the protocols.
I have written about this elsewhere, but I will commit to writing about it now. I can remember the day it happened It was a Tuesday morning. It was a day to remember not only because of the events that unfolded, but because it was an exceptionally beautiful morning. The sun was shinning brightly and the sky was the kind of clear blue that I would say is reserved for Central Asian skies which were the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. So, all of that was going through my mind while I was driving down 2nd Avenue on my way to a Head Start Sponsoring Board Council meeting. These meetings were held in a conference space of a major law firm housed at Grand Central high above the main floor.
I was listening to the news on 1010-WINS on AM as I remember. In the clarity of the moment, I looked at the sky and saw a plane approaching the World Trade Center (WTC), The building was so big that it could be seen for miles and from 42nd Street it was quite visible. I knew instantly something was wrong. No jet planes fly over that landscape in Manhattan. All jet plane traffic is routed to Queens, so I knew something was off. I just didn’t know how off!
I saw the impact and the black smoke and then the flames. I didn’t have answers, but I saw that there was an attack underway. That was from the left. On the right, while I don’t think that saw that plane, I saw its impact a few minutes later. And, another large cloud of smoke was curling in the crystal blue sky. The World Trade Center — I tended to speak of both buildings as one — was on fire on its topmost floors.(1)
As I had been to 109th floor several times in obviously better times, I knew that the fire department had no way of reaching whomever was up there as the fire equipment cannot go beyond the 9th floor, And, no water pressure could reduce that kind of combustion that far up. It is true that they can do some rescue off of rooftops, but that is assuming that the roof is not on fire and that was to going to be the case now. The people at the top — the ones who reported to work early — were going to be trapped by the fire. Who were they? Why had this occurred?
Fire trucks by the score were racing down 2nd Avenue along along with ambulances. I moved off to the side, parked and proceeded to my meeting in somewhat of a daze. The world that I saw through others’ eyes was fractured, and we all moved as if we were stunned. When I reached the mezzanine of the Pan Am Building, the former name for Grand Central Station, which I reached by escalator, I was told several things: there would be no meetings at this building today; the elevators were closed and we could not proceed any further, wait. Clearly, no we had no idea what in the devil was going on in our financial district or anywhere else, but the building was on lockdown. The word was, stop! After a while I could leave. We all were in a quiet hysteria.
I had to think! What to do now? One of my children was abroad, at least for now, there was safety there. I retrieved my car and proceeded south. Curiously, a continuous layer of thick, light-colored soot floated in the air and was soon to cover everything. According to the moment-to-moment news, a plane was in trouble in Pennsylvania. No details were available just then and another plane had run into the Pentagon. Four jets, four acts of kamikaze-style aggression actually not seen since WWII and pretty much unknown on this landscape were in full display.(1) The country was temporarily paralyzed. Those of us in motion moved around Manhattan in somewhat of a daze, but we kept on moving. Eventually, I headed back north towards upper Manhattan after being turned around because I could not proceed southward after a point. The police were re-routing all traffic after a certain point. I found my daughter who was on foot up around Columbia University. Those students were tumbling out of their classes, too, in disbelief. That I found my daughter rather easily was in itself a miracle!
[Lower Manhattan was now being cordoned off at Canal Street, I believe. At some point in the next several weeks, as I recall, I was there in the debris of ash along with the myriad of fire trucks and ambulances, police still trying to figure things out. On that day, however, whatever order existed was self-imposed. Getting a hold to what was happening took a bit of rock-hard sanity. Before returning to the upper part of Manhattan, I remember continuing going downtown on the east side as close to Lower Manhattan as I could get to find out more. Everywhere I was on that day, Manhattan was eerie, ghostlike, quiet, sobering, and ominous. We didn’t know what was coming next.]
Everyone, including me and my car was getting covered in this light white-grey soot which was everywhere. I was to learn that each one of us was on our own. I observed people were actually helping each other and people needed help. I remember that many restaurants opened their doors and gave people seats and water — the two things everybody needed. I may have taken a bottle or two of the free water, but once I joined with my daughter, we need to find a way to get home. That was our priority.
I was thankful having a car because the subway system was pure chaos. But a car had its limitations. All the bridges exiting Manhattan were closed. The Canal Street and Williamsburg connections were useless. At 59th Street, until way late in the night, that bridge was also closed. I thought about going up through the Bronx and coming down through the Whitestone, but that was closed, too. On another mission, I went to the bank to withdraw some funds and that was closed, too.
All the while, from the earliest time of this event — close to 9 A.M. — people were coming to rescue what they could at the WTC. It turns out that they couldn’t rescue much. With the fires burning and people jumping out of the windows to avoid the flames, but dying for sure on impact, being at the WTC was dangerous business all around. How many really died that day, I submit that we will never know.
I clearly remember that I tried to get someone to open an elevator which was packed with people in a particular building. I don’t remember how I came to learn that information at this time, but it doesn’t matter. It was ignored. Few, if any elevators were opened for various reasons they later said. And, those people that I knew of died. I never got nor did I expect to get an explanation as to why a specific elevator which I knew of was not opened when there was still hope for life. Were I less aware, I would say that the people in charge knew what they were doing, but I know better. Then after the planes’ impact and those immediate deaths, the buildings were due to collapse and so the danger continued. Breathing that air was toxic and actually fatal. And, Rudy Giuliani, America’s mayor, he was no where to be seen. We were on our own.
Christine Todd Whitman, who was at that point the inept head of the Environmental Protection Agency, put out a public notice that uniformed first responders were not to come with any individual protective equipment, e.g., masks, hazard suits and gear and so forth. She was probably goaded into that position as were her other policy moves. However, I thought that this one was particularly odd and colossally stupid. It turns out that I was correct on both counts because almost to a person, all of those who were at scene and obeyed those insane directives have died as a result of some form of cancer. Double deaths, but those of the rescuers could have been mitigated with some common sense. Nope, no common sense was available — just shock and reaction which is how we got to Afghanistan, but that is several paragraphs down in this writing.
We finally learned some of the businesses and companies were tenants. We would never know all as some information remains classified. We know many of the people who were caught in the conflagration, but some we would never know. Families would know who was caught because they didn’t come home ever again. Lots of undocumented people frequented the area for “off the book” work. The Wall Street area was infamous for immigrant workers in that regard. Also, the WTC was a major artery for many subways and underground walk throughs. It is very possible that people at the street level and below were the last to really know what was happening above their heads and by the time their learned, for many, it could have been too late.
There were shops in the area that I loved to browse. There was a great shop on the corner which had the best peasant loft bread and it was not far from a small jewelry store that frequently caught my eye. Across the street from where I once worked was the best hamburger joint in the world and down the street on the other side was a favorite Chinese restaurant on the second floor and a number of others serving great food within walking distance not too far away. Windows on the World, a top gourmet restaurant, was on the 109th floor at the top.
Only the people who were below where the planes hit had a chance to leave the buildings, if they moved quickly and exited by the stairs. Once I knew someone who was doing temp work in one of the buildings. She said, the building shook hard and she smelled smoke. Over the loud speaker, workers were encouraged to stay at their desks. She started putting her things together and heading for the door. She was on the 80th floor. She spoke to another person across the aisle and asked if she were leaving. And, they young woman said no. Well, my girl got up and headed for the stairs which were now flowing with a constant stream of human traffic. Two men were carrying a wheel-chaired co-worker down the stairs. They were not abandoning her. Everyone was moving quickly and quietly, helping where they could. No shoving, just focused determination and energy. No time to waste! According to her experience, they all made it, down and out as they scattered in the street streaming uptown. One hour and 42 minutes after impact, the inevitable happened. In the fire, the buildings collapsed. The people who stayed were never heard from again.
Anyone in an elevator was doomed. In fire, the elevators automatically go to the bottom shaft which is below floor level and have to be opened by engineers or trained service personnel — all unlikely to be available under these circumstances. This is why it is written on all elevators near their doors that in case of fire, take the stairs. “In Case of Fire, Do not Take This Elevator” should be familiar to everybody. All of it — that cozy enclave of wealth and consumer pleasures which was the financial district was gone almost in an instant. Confusion, anger, confusion and frustration, death remained. That was on that day and for many days and years to come.
In a day or two, a name was floated on the news, Osama Bin Laden.(2) I didn’t remember hearing of him before, perhaps I had, nor had I paid much attention to a country called Afghanistan. I am reminded, however, that prior to the New York experience with him, “he blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.”(3) Still he was vague, but not for long.(2)
It seemed, at least according to the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld issued statement, that the United States had been the victim of a state of war by one Osama Bin Laden and they were going to get him no matter what.(3) Now a thousand questions were asked then and most of them remain unanswered even now. How does an entire country get to be the target by one man’s operation even if it did cost thousands of lives? It was a complicated question and the answers were even more complicated. Nonetheless, soon, the United States was headed to Afghanistan to find this elusive character who lived in a cave and was on dialysis. In any case, the Americans who worked in Afghanistan knew him. It seems that there was a history via the mujahideen, the Afghan fighters, who had been battling the Russians for the previous decade or so. It seems that the United States — always itching to fight the Russians in a proxy war — knew and had trained many of the mujahideen who now had a leader who now declared war on the United States.
Let me add to the package of absurdities, our fearless leader, George W. Bush, the son of Herbert Walker Bush, who was not only not the sharpest knife in the drawer, was also the puppet to the puppet masters of Richard Cheney, his vice-president, and head of Halliburton, a big war contractor, along with Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. This ensemble to arch-right nut jobs not only decided that a full-scale war should be raised against Afghanistan, but declared that “this would be a short war,” that we’d be over and out in a matter of weeks. Spoken aloud and with some semblance of intelligence, a war was started.
The blind were leading the blind, the United States walked into an area full-blown about which they knew little or nothing. In fact, maps of the country were so rare that the map sellers in the Manhattan had their maps pulled by the Pentagon. I know because I spoke to several of them. And, now 20 years later the Americans have finally left the best way they could, running and in some disarray. It wasn’t easy coming in. And, it was never going to be easy or victorious coming out. That I could have told them for free, not at the cost of $825 billion for which they have nothing to show for lives lost, money spent and the destruction.(4)
Alexander left Afghanistan 2,000 years ago. The Russians left it willingly after their losses in the 1990s. So why would the Americans think they could shape this rugged country in their image with some people they had just met and with whom they have almost nothing in common? Arrogance! Billions spent on something useless, while the infrastructure of the country was decaying, lots of homegrown issues were left to simmer then flameout. . . Osama was finally caught and disposed of on a clandestine mission in Pakistan of all places.
These are my short notes on the long engagement in Afghanistan and America’s militarism as its prime and most consistent area of foreign policy. Enough has been said for now.
1 Later I learned that all 4 jets had about 20,000 gallons of fuel and were due to fly out to California. So, they were deliberately selected to do maximum damage for an air strike.
2 Some of the huge family spell their name Ladin, maybe to separate themselves from Osama’s legacy.
3 “ . . .[T]hat killed mostly Kenyans and Tanzanians (224 dead, 4,500 injured.” Additionally, he was the mastermind behind blowing up the USS Cole, a ship deployed in the Gulf.
Source: “In The End, Bin Laden Won,” Michael Moore, online substance.com, September 7, 2021
The USS Cole was a naval destroyer in the Gulf of Aden. Seventeen American sailors were killed, 38 wounded. Source: USS Cole attacked by terrorists – HISTORY
https://www.history.com › this-day-in-history › uss-cole…
4 1,856 of these deaths have been the result of hostile action. 320 American service members have also been wounded in action during the war. In addition, there were 1,720 U.S. civilian contractor fatalities, for a total of 4,096 Americans killed during the war. More than 46,000 civilians have been killed by all sides in the Afghanistan conflict. These are the direct deaths from bombs, bullets, blasts and fire. Sep 1, 2021 See,
United States military casualties in the War in Afghanistan
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › United_States_military_c…