The gift of ‘Yes, you can’

Dear Sadie and Amelia,

I apologize that this gift has taken so long to reach you, but it took a while to convince the country that it was time.

This morning, America got a beautiful gift when Senator Kamala Harris was named Vice President-Elect of the United States.

I cried. Finally, some of the work of thousands of women over the last century has begun to pay off. 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote. That’s one really long wait.

White men have had the right to vote for 224 years; Black men gained the right 92 years later in 1868, but women – who were equally important in the development and growth of our country – didn’t get to vote until 1920. Susan B. Anthony was arrested when she attempted to vote in the 1872 presidential election. It took another 48 year for the 19th Amendment to pass, guaranteeing women equal status in the voting booth.

Sadie, your mom says that I am the Grammy who is in charge of Female Empowerment and I’m good with that. It comes from something my mother impressed upon me, that women can do anything they want and should challenge the system when they’re discouraged. I believed her and went on to break a couple of small glass ceilings when I worked with the Fremont Police Department as the first female Explorer and LAPD, alongside male trainees and officers as the first female Cadet, proving that women were just as capable as men.

I gladly accept the responsibility of providing you both with information, books, conversations and meet-and-greets with powerful women to help you realize your opportunities. I did it for Sadie’s mama and aunt and, despite the distance, will do the same to make sure Amelia knows that Rock women are Forces of Nature to be reckoned with.

Vice President-Elect Harris bears a tremendous weight upon her shoulders as the First. She will be watched closely, but I am confident that she will prevail. But I need to warn you that there are still people out there who will criticize any mistake she makes, any misunderstanding or misstep she takes – solely because she is a woman. The most cruel critics might even be other women. But don’t listen to their rhetoric. See that Kamala is standing on the shoulders of the thousands of women who went before her and stand strong.

We may have the vote, but we’re still working on the equality.

Fortunately, you are growing up in a society with more equitable opportunities across the board. Despite the challenges, don’t ever tie down your dreams, – let them soar beyond your wildest expectations. And if those dreams include public service, get in there and gain experience. Volunteer to help run nonprofit groups, serve on citizen boards and commissions, and run for office because there is just as much room on the dais for you as there is for men. My wish is that during your lifetimes, you enjoy the freedom to be voted in or appointed to offices simply because you are the best candidate.

Kamala is taking a historic first step for America, but it’s a step she’s worked on and waited patiently for. Patience and hope go hand in hand. Just ask my friend Eileen. She’s 102 and when she was born, women couldn’t vote. Her mother was an activist involved in the women’s movement and marches in Iowa. By the time Eileen turned 21 (the former voting age, getting the vote to 18-year olds is a whole different blog post), she proudly voted and has voted in every election since. She is one of the most confident people I know and absolutely thrilled to see a woman headed for the White House in her lifetime. May you have her determination and pluck.

And when you’re looking at property on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC in the future, know that those keys are within your reach, thanks to a woman who was born in the same city as your Grammy.

Carol Rock is a writer based in the Los Angeles area. She is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years’ experience covering all areas of news and features. She works as a freelance public relations and media consultant, with writing remaining her strong suit. Her tattoo, if it were real, would read “Don’t Die Wondering.”

Your comments are welcome and always appreciated. Please share this on social media!

Celebrating the ceiling she’ll never know

IMG_2021My eight-month old granddaughter has no idea what all the craziness on TV has been for the last few days, except for an abundance of the colors red, white and blue and a lot of crazy signs she can’t yet read. But as Hillary Clinton kicked aside giant shards of glass to accept the Democratic party’s nomination for President, I felt hopeful, especially for Sadie. She will never know a time when a woman could not be nominated to lead our nation.




giphyWhat she didn’t hear was the glass ceiling shattering and another wall of sexism falling. What a victory! And while there is another step before we have our first woman President, this is still an amazing milestone – and one that I and so many other women have been working on for far too long.

Sadie’s great-grandmother (my mother) was one of those women collectively called “Rosie the Riveter.” While my father was serving in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific, she worked at the Alameda Naval Air Station, supporting the war effort; as she and many other women took the place of men who were serving in the European and Pacific theaters. When they returned, she was unemployed, but she believed with all her heart that there was nothing a woman could not do. This became one of the most repeated lessons I heard as I was growing up and one I imparted to my own daughters.



I also believe in putting action and experience behind my words. During my junior year of high school, I wanted to explore a career in law enforcement. I applied for and became one of the first female Police Explorers in the state of California. This excellent training program, previously only open to males, made a significant mark in my pursuit of a career in law enforcement and my education overall. Now, girls fill the ranks of Explorer programs across the country.



Along with becoming an Explorer, I also volunteered with the Let Us Vote movement, which resulted in the passage of the 26th Amendment of the Constitution in July 1971, giving 18-year-olds the right to vote. Although I was just one of many savoring this victory, I felt I really mattered in November 1972 when I actually got to cast a ballot, something I’ve done every election since.


A few years later, I became the first female Police Cadet for the Los Angeles Police Department, another kick at the glass ceiling that came with some challenges. As department brass pointed to me as an example, many of the staff I encountered in the field did everything they could to discourage me from trying to become a police officer. They said women didn’t belong, the job was too dangerous, we didn’t have the temperament, men felt like they had to protect us, blah, blah, blah. Never mind that I was a marksman on the firing range and excelled on the psychological tests. I took that opportunity to learn everything I could about serving the public and 348sworking within the legal system. My street senses were strong.


I worked out like a fiend to pass physical tests at the Academy and was on track to go into an upcoming class, but a family crisis changed my mind and I stepped back, but not before nudging open a very heavy door for females that followed me.


When I became a mother, I impressed upon my girls their grandmother’s message, that they could do anything they wanted. By that time, smaller barriers were falling by the wayside, thanks to legislation like Title IX and Equal Employment Opportunity, but there were still a few holdouts. Even though people generally said women could do anything, there remained a reluctance to give them the opportunity to lead. Women filled high offices, such as Speaker of the House (which only happened in 2007), Secretary of State (in 1997), but President was out of reach. We’ve made progress, I cautioned, but there is still much to do.


For those who think this accomplishment of putting a woman in charge is no big deal, especially if you are female, don’t be fooled. The attack on women continues, from the Republican Presidential candidate to members of Congress (all male) who still believe that they control your body. I remember the days before Roe v. Wade, when coat hangers were the surgical instruments of desperation. And despite legislation that is supposed to protect them, across the nation women earn an average of 79 cents to every dollar paid to male workers. It’s long past time that equality becomes the accepted law of the land.




Sadie, the struggle is real, but change is possible. As a nation, we have a lot of work ahead of us, especially in the areas of racism, discrimination and immigration. We need to reestablish respect and civility, kindness and compassion – traits that I know your parents hold dear. We need to spread more love and less hate. Women are good at that.

Right now, those choices are in the hands of your mother and grandmothers, your father, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, friends and fellow Americans. I’m proud of our progress and sincerely hope we don’t screw it up before you join the deciders in a short 17 years.


Carol Rock is a writer based in the Los Angeles area. She is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years experience covering all areas of news and features. She works as a freelance public relations and media consultant, with writing remaining her strong suit. Her tattoo, if it were real, would read “Don’t Die Wondering.”


Feedback is welcome and encouraged! Please be civil, your passion and ideas will be respected as long as nobody’s calling anyone names. Let’s communicate! And feel free to share!



Politics: I used to love you, but it’s all over now

Because in 1968, Nixon was a rock star.......
Because in 1968, Nixon was a rock star…….

In the late ’60s, I was an impressionable high school student, fascinated with politics. I learned about caucuses and electoral votes and campaigning during my high school’s presidential year mock convention. I helped elect a “governor” at Girls State, volunteered to make phone calls and sign up voters at the local campaign headquarters for Richard Nixon and embraced the democratic process.

I became a tireless volunteer on the campaign of Larry Fargher, a Republican who was challenging then-powerhouse Don Edwards for the local Congressional seat.

On election night in 1968, I learned what it was like to attend gatherings that marked both victory and defeat. Nixon was the one who won.

Undaunted, I couldn’t wait to vote and worked on the Let Us Vote campaign that resulted in the passage of the 26th Amendment, guaranteeing 18-year-olds the right to vote.

I was only 17, but celebrated accordingly. And in 1972, I cast my first official vote for George McGovern. I have always been one to vote the candidate, not the party.

Eventually, I got into the news business and covering elections became my job. I felt privileged to interview people who were trying to make a national difference on a local scale, working for their candidates much like I had for mine in high school. I admired people who ran for local offices, like school and water boards and City Council, because I saw what thankless jobs those offices could be.

295955_10150460401471057_1845540118_nWhen Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, I remember a particularly festive celebration on election night, where a colorful local character danced a jig around a life-sized cardboard cutout of our new President. That night, I wrote two stories; the first about the Democratic victory, the second about the exuberance of some of its volunteers. It made me think of a young girl I knew 30 years before.

Election night in a newsroom is also pizza night; reporters are rewarded for their indentured servitude with a free meal, as long as their stories are filed on time. I was usually out in the field working the party circuit, turning down proffered wine and appetizers as I interviewed candidates and campaigners who were either over the moon happy or trying desperately to put on a game face.

I actually felt sorry for some of the losers, asking them the $2 million question: Would they put themselves through the wringer again when the next election came around? Many times, my self-editor would figure out a way to make the defeated look undeterred, despite hearing a catch in their breath and momentary hesitation as they mustered a smile and tentatively vowed to play another round.

Barack_Obama_Hope_posterOne of the last elections I worked was the night that our nation elected its first African-American president. When the numbers came in confirming Obama’s win, there were screams of delight, stand-ups with both the victorious Obama supporters and those from his opponent’s camp. There was an infectious high knowing we had all seen history first-hand. My son called me from across the country to share his joy and we agreed that this might bring about some major changes. I saw the night as the best illustration that the democratic process works; that when people actually vote, they might get a candidate that shared their same values.

Was it time for that youthful exuberance again? Nah. I took my memory of that moment, threw it in the “Good Stuff” pile and moved on.

I actually had people ask me if I would ever consider running for office. I surprised myself when my answer – which several years earlier might have been an enthusiastic “yes!” – became “Oh hell no! Are you out of your mind?”

There was an element of celebrity and smug power among local elected officials that I detected during regional contests, causing my skepticism to grow along with my dismay. I saw candidate after candidate fall, victims of hate mail or slander campaigns financed by people who should know better or at least act better. Even worse were the candidates who sold out. What was really awful was that many of these people were friends and neighbors before they ran for office and things got ugly. It was shocking how easily some of them learned to lie or discount the opinions of others.

They said it was good for all of us.

I saw my job as a reporter change from holding people’s feet to the fire and demanding accountability to becoming a mouthpiece for the status quo. I went to the dark side; not only did I not trust anyone, I didn’t really like them for what they had become. It was then that I realized that they got what they wanted, as my collective spirit for true democracy was broken.

And I know I’m not alone.

I’m not foolish enough to think that politics changed just in my lifetime. I know there have been dozens of scandals and bad behavior by people pursuing or holding an office, starting long before I ever looked at a sample ballot. I’m just disgusted with the lack of respect, the condescending attitude, and the party-driven “we know better than you and damn the collateral damage” attitudes that continue to prevail and show no signs of weakening.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe we live in the greatest country and casting a ballot is the least we can do to honor those who fought and died defending that freedom. I will always vote and encourage people to do the same. I strongly believe in the “Don’t vote? Don’t bitch” rule.

If there’s anything that’s nurtured the demon in politics, I believe it is social media. I can’t think of any other vehicle that spews hate, dishonesty, misinformation and discord in overwhelming amounts directly into the homes and pockets of Americans 24/7. It provides the perfect opportunity for engaging in name-calling and hate speech without consequences. And sadly, it’s one of the vehicles influencing voters every day.

photo (35)In the Newseum in Washington D.C., there is a Pogo cartoon that sums it up. I think it might be time to listen to the funny old possum…..

It’s time to reintroduce respect, accountability and honesty into politics. It’s not too late. I may not have the energy to walk precincts, but I am ready to encourage the next generation of hopeful 16-year-olds. It’s time to disband the government of white guys in ties for some diversity, hope and change.

And that’s what’s good for all of us.