Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Birthday

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Trin.

She's a whole 28 years old!

I hate her.

Happy Halloween

My sister-in-law is in nursing school. They had a costume contest this week. She decided to represent Pam Grier's 1970s movie characters.

"Cute," I told her, "But next time..."

"... less smile, more gun."

Happy Halloween, all!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It All Makes Sense...

H/T matttbastard **UPDATE--Some bloggers are putting forth the argument that the woman is screaming "he's a redistributor." But as to the claim that believing the word screamed was a slur "It makes us look like drooling, illiterate morons," I think that diarist is off base--there are a number of reasons it's not hard to believe that was yelled out at a Republican/Palin Rally.**

Of course Sarah Palin won't take time to tell a person who screams "He's a n*gger," that her language is unacceptable and has no place in political discourse. Not only is her party a safe haven for bigots, but the above mentioned slur dovetailed nicely with Palin's spiel about ::some:: people believing government has to take care of us and ::some:: people regarding government as "the other half" of their family.*

You know, in case anyone didn't recognize where Palin was heading with her "erosion of work ethic and productivity" line.

Talk about a segueway.

*In my opinion, that "other half" comment, especially, was a dig at single mothers.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Speaking of questions for the weekend...

The Kid: "Mama, can I ask you this question?"

elle (looks at him warily, figuring he's going to ask when am I going to be over my aggravation over his half-hearted job on his book report): "Yeah."

The Kid: "How did racism even start back then?"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hard to Break

These are my poor, chewed off nails. Yes, I know it's a horribly nasty habit. Yes. I've tried to quit. Yes, they are typically hidden beneath a few layers of acrylic.

But I can't do it anymore--I hate going to the nail shop and increasingly, the hair salon. These are things I used to consider treats to myself. My opinion has changed because 1)good grief, these are time-and-money-sucks and 2) I don't feel compelled to "look pretty" for anyone else anymore--and I hope that compulsion stays buried. If I'm happy with my appearance, that's enough.

I'm still keeping salon appointments, but it takes every bit of my energy to motivate myself to get my nails done.

I also pull out my eyelashes, curse like a fiend, and use retail and food therapy to soothe my ragged nerves.

Any bad habits you want to divulge?

Friday, October 24, 2008

What the Election Means

When I was (almost) ten, I was not particularly interested in the presidential election. I remember thinking it was cool about Geraldine Ferraro; I plotted non-bloody situations in which she could become president. I also remember very distinctly my parents' sense of, "That's nice, but oh well." My mom used to talk to her friends about how everyone knew Reagan was going to win again, a pronouncement that was usually met with sympathetic murmurs and a quick change of the subject.

I was a know-it-all, thought-I-was-the-smartest-thing-evah kid, and I had little interest in the larger world. My son, the skateboarding, pop-rock-hip-hop, dancing obsessed ten-year-old has put me to shame.

He loves Barack Obama, has sat through debates, has critiqued John McCain. He's observant of other people's comments and bumper stickers. He walks around the house lamenting the fact that he can't vote. I've had to reassure him a million times that I'm going to take him with me when I do.

The other day, he begged me to break the no-TV-no-recreational-internet-Monday-through-Thursday rule. He wanted to go to "Kids can vote there!" he told me. I told him he helped Senator Obama edge by Senator McCain. You should've seen his smile.

My son identifies with Barack Obama for obvious reasons and this campaign means something to him that even I can't fully understand.

It's on these kids' faces:

All those pictures are copied from Yes We Can (hold babies), btw.

He is so eager, so protective and adoring of Barack Obama, that I've had to call him on two things.

First, a few days ago, I was trying to decide what clips from the The Murder of Emmitt Till I would show in my African American History class. My son saw parts of it and asked for the back story--he knows a bit about Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement already, but we've always discussed "And black people could be killed for..." in an abstract sense. But here was the story of a boy, only a few years older than he, who'd been savagely murdered. That troubled him enough.

But when I told him the murderers got away with it, he got visibly angry. "Wait til Obama is president," he said. "Racism-"

"Will still be here," I interrupted him. "Baby, Barack Obama being president will not fix all of the things we've talked about."

He nodded, but I know, in his heart, he thinks an Obama presidency will rectify so much of what is wrong.

Then, he came home Wednesday, sort of pissed, because his friend's mom had a "Nobama" sticker on her car.

He thought aloud about the likelihood of the friendhsip being able to continue. I scolded him for that and told him that not everyone has to agree with him politically. He just looked at me because he's still self-centered enough to think that everyone ought to see things the way he does.

This picture was on Yes We Can (hold babies) yesterday:

The caption beneath read
These two boys waited as a long line of adults greeted Senator Obama before a rally on Martin Luther King Day in Columbia, S.C. They never took their eyes off of him. Their grandmother told me, “Our young men have waited a long time to have someone to look up to, to make them believe Dr. King’s words can be true for them.” Jan. 21, 2008.
Whatever happens, while I am admittedly intrigued by Obama, as a person, I am deeply appreciative of what Obama, as a symbol, has meant to my child.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nothing's New under the Sun

working through some thoughts...

## ETA another hopefully relevant thought below ##

While sitting in the pediatrician's office yesterday, I flipped through an issue of Time, drawn by the cover above. Interesting that, to show how race is less of a factor, half of his face is leeched of color, fading to white, in a sense.

Because we all know white = default, and thus, without race.

I was willing to venture beyond the cover because I wanted to read Ta-Nehisi Coats's article on what it would mean to black people if Obama loses.

Instead, I flipped first to Peter Beinart's essay, Is Barack Obama American Enough? He begins
"I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America." So said Sarah Palin about Barack Obama on Oct. 6 as she attacked him for his decision to "pal around" with onetime Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers. With Obama back in the lead, the new, harsher Republican line surprised almost nobody. The Obama campaign declared it a distraction before it even arrived.

But seen in historical perspective, the McCain campaign's strategy against Obama is actually kind of shocking. For years, the recipe for injecting race into a political campaign has been clear. First, invoke the specter of black crime, as Lee Atwater did in 1988 when he vowed to turn murderer Willie Horton into Michael Dukakis' "running mate." Second, attack lazy people in the inner city, as Ronald Reagan did in 1976 when he condemned a Chicago "welfare queen." Third, bash affirmative action, as the late North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms did in 1990 when he ran an ad showing white hands crumpling a job rejection notice.


[T]his year, with a black man actually running for President, the old recipe has been shelved. John McCain hasn't run ads on crime, welfare or racial preferences. At the GOP convention, the subjects barely came up.

Does that mean race doesn't matter this year? Hardly. It just matters in a different way. In the past, Republicans often used race to make their opponents seem anti-white. In 2008, with their incessant talk about who loves their country and who doesn't, McCain and Palin are doing something different: they're using race to make Obama seem anti-American.
I've highlighted the parts of his premise that I have a bit of an issue with (and it's certainly not the heart of his argument that troubles me).

Actually, seen from a historical perspective, it's not shocking. The political treatment of African Americans in this country has always painted us as not American and thus, our patriotism has always been suspect. The 1857 Dred Scot decision simply legalized what people already "knew": African Americans were not citizens, not Americans, not to have access to the country's legal or political systems. The 14th amendment less than a decade later would do little to change that, especially in the South. One of the primary arguments that southerners used in disfranchising African Americans was that we had proved ourselves unfit to serve in the American political system during Reconstruction and that we lacked the qualities of people who deserved the privilege (not right!!!) of the franchise.

But other regions of the country had their own methods of exclusion. Definitions of who was American increasingly excluded people of color (and certain immigrants and their descendants). To be American was (primarily) to be a white person of Northern/Western European descent.* I'll come back to this in a moment.

## I think this exclusion of African Americans from the category of "Americans" is one of the things that prompted Roy Wilkins to proclaim that the greatest contribution of the New Deal to the Negro "was its doctrine that Negros are part of the country and must be considered..." This ideology was overwhelming. Despite widespread discrimination in New Deal programs and FDR's unwillingness to take a stand on anti-lynching measures, the sense of finally being included prompted millions of African Americans to leave the party of Lincoln. ##

I just watched a film clip from Scandalize My Name in which the House Committee on Un-American Activities called Jackie Robinson in to discern his opinion on Paul Robeson's statement that African Americans wouldn't take up arms against the Societ Union. The narrator of the clip described it as (paraphrase) "Jackie Robinson being called upon to testify about the loyalty of his race."

Yes, because that loyalty was always in question--not that any perceived "disloyalty" could possibly have anything to do with the way African Americans were treated. Many communists in the U.S. were pushing for civil rights and full citizenship for African Americans, but it was stunning that some black people were receptive to those messages?

Trying to improve your condition is supposed to be the American way. But, when African Americans do it, it's painted as problematic, selfish, and suspect. To go back to the previous example, agitation for civil rights, for improving the status and opportunities of African Americans, for the end of Jim Crow and de jure segregation was [IS] linked to communism, and thus was unAmerican in itself.**

Also included in the abstract "American way" category is being politically drawn to and supportive of people who represent or at least support your interests. But this is not allowed for African Americans. Think of some Republican arguments: 1) Most African Americans support Democrats, overwhelmingly, because they engage in the unAmerican practice of encouraging reliance on the government instead of individuality and "personal responsibility." That's it--all our political awareness and concerns boils down to "I wonder what I can get from the government." Then there's 2) even though we typically support Democrats, we support Barack Obama primarily because he's black. It's like they say "let's create interchangeable reasons for why we believe black people are 'shills' for the Democratic Party" without ever once acknowledging that we have legitimate political concerns and that our affiliations are by choice.

White people who support the McCain campaign, however, are putting "country first." Which brings us back to the privilege of being the default; they are de-raced, perceived as having no (racial) self-interest. This is perfectly evidenced by Michael Savage's
[F]orgive me for being so blunt -- but it seems to Michael Savage that the only people who don't seem to vote based on race are white people of European origin.
The implication: because these real, pro-American Americans act in the best interests of the country. It's an implication possible because of who is defined as American.

*Which brings me back to that definition and the reason the McCain-Palin technique isn't all that new. If being American is being white, then there is little difference between being anti-American and anti-white. These people certainly understand that:

See how they mix fear of Obama's "foreignness," his possible "antiAmerican-ness" with fear that he is "anti-white?" On some level, they understand the American political system as one that has upheld white supremacy and remained a place where power is largely invested in wealthy white men.

This might be a slightly different angle, but it's the same old game.
**Links between African American agitation and communism served as a self-fulfilling prophecy for some--of course African Americans who were not truly American, would be attracted to the ultimate anti-American doctrine.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Love Your Blog

BFP loves my blog.

::does southern (b)elle swoon::

Okay, with that out of the way, I'm going to do this meme, too. There are so many blogs I love, though I'll try to keep this (reasonably) brief.

No surprise that I have to reciprocate the love first. I love La Alma de Fuego and its proprietor. So much that I'll stop there to keep from embarrassing myself with further fan girl behavior.

And Just_Me, k8, and Ragey are all special to me. My blogging life would be a lot lonelier (more lonely?) without them.

Ms. Sylvia? Gets mindless adoration.

Matttbastard--my favorite funny, on point political blogger.

Kevin, who some time ago said of me
She’s one of those bloggers that once you start reading her, you feel like she’s your sister.
That was also swoon-worthy and so very special to me because I feel the same way. A funny, sweet, brilliant brother with politics I love. ::sigh::

Quaker Dave. He's just... Quaker Dave.

Noemi. I especially love the posts about Texas and the poetry.

My favorite Mami. She's just bad!

Liss. As I told her before, mrs. o and I sit and ponder how absolutely delightful she must be in person.

Renee. Always a breath of fresh air. She reminds me so much of my sister--she tells it like it is.

Speaking of telling it like it is:
  • WoC PhD, who's a personal and professional inspiration for me.
  • Nezua at UMX. (He's also one of the coolest people on Twitter :-)
Giftie Etcetera. It's like watching a life unfold through witty, self-assured prose.

And man, Kai's writing (and of course, the stuff he writes about!)

No, I did not list my WHOLE blogroll!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poem for a Tuesday Morning (or, How I HATE a Damn Headache)

Got a headache.
Can't seem to shake.

Two Excedrin taken.
Headache not shaken.

A cherry coke guzzled.
Headache unmuzzled.

Getting off my ass
to go to class.

Feels like lead
shot through my head.

Or maybe a missile.
I sense early dismissal.

Matter of Time

Despite all the other images I've seen,

this is the one that made me cry.

H/T Jill who saw it at Post Secret.

Things Seen 10

Images sent to mrs. o by her cousin.

Is anyone else crawling under a rock until November?

I have no definite plans yet for if he wins.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I so enjoyed all the food stories and tips I got last weekend (and talking back and forth in the comments) that I think I'll ask another question for this weekend.

A few months ago, I read a paranormal romance novel*, chock full of demons. There were demons like lies, violence, pain, etc. But guess who/what else was a demon according to the author?


BFP and Sylvia and I hashed this out on twitter. We pretty much decided, "She's right." Anjali tried to get us to be a little less pessimistic, to no avail.

So, without giving you my reasoning (at first), I want to ask, do you think hope is a demon**?
*Yes I read the whole series. No, no comments or observations on my leisure reading are permissible.

**Doesn't have to be demon in the religious or otherworldy sense. Do you think hope is "bad"/leads people astray is another way to put it, I guess

One Bad Mami

Mamita Mala explains why voting is only one of the tools we must use if we really, actively, want to bring about change.

Transcript below. H/T bfp and miss crip-chick

I’m going to say something extremely unpopular that goes against what the mainstream media and the candidates themselves are telling us and I’m specifically addressing this to my Latino hermanas and hermanos, your vote doesn’t count. In fact with all this hype around the Latino vote I’m gonna tell you not to vote. Now before you start throwing stuff at me, allow me to qualify my statements. Your vote does not count and you shouldn’t vote if you think that your vote alone is going to change the state of things in the United States. As my mentor Richie Perez, que en paz descanse, once told me, voting is just one weapon in our revolutionary toolbox and we all need to think not about just fixing what is broken in this country, but tearing it down and building anew and in building something new we need to use all the weapons available. So, yes vote on November 4th but not if you think your work is done when you walk out of that booth. There is a reason both John McCain and barack Obama haven’t brought up immigration at the last three debates despite the fact that redadas/raids keep tearing families apart.. There is a reason Sarah Palin is talking about and to hockey moms and not futbol mamitas, the ones who are bearing the brunt of the heathcare crisis. There is a reason we are not hearing/reading about the fact that there are two women of color, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente running as a presidential team. We cannot just vote with our hands. We need to vote with our feet hitting the streets. We need to vote with our mouths yelling and spitting truths and that can happen around our kitchen tables and in our kalles. Mujeres latinas, we need to vote with our lips, tits, and hips and the history they carry, from forced operaciones that left our women sterile to attempts to take away all of our choices about our bodies.

So what does this Mamita Mala, this mujer want, seeing that is the theme of the night? This mujer wants you remember those that died to vote in this country, those that got their asses beat to vote, those who still can’t vote including the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, residents of U.S. colonies like my patria/homeland Puerto Rico and millions of immigrants. Use your vote wisely the way a soldier is supposed to use weapon, the way a construction worker uses his tools. Use it to support and work towards something bigger. It doesn’t end on November 4th.

Things Seen 9

My "Things Seen" series might lead y'all to believe that I never run across anything good. Actually, I saw something really cute last night.

My niece and I just took down her braids:

And I told her...

..."Awww, you like a brown Heat Miser!!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're the Ones We've Been Waiting For....

Today I received in the mail oldest son's issue of Vibe magazine. He is 20 years old and usually I just lay it on his bed, sure in the knowledge that our reading interests rarely merge. Today was different. Today the issue had Barack Obama on the cover with the headline
"Dear Vibe Readers, I am running for president to take this country in a new direction. But I can't do it alone. I need you."
I read the editor's note, and noticed she ended her passage by saying, "We're the ones we've been waiting for."

I sat and contemplated this single sentence for a while. Just sitting at my computer and thinking and thinking and thinking. And I thought, June Jordan was right.

I am a Black Woman. I teach at at a high school where we are 85% Black, 10% Latino, and 5% White. All of my high school classes are Black and I do my damnedest to teach them about being proud of where they come from, who they are, and where they are going. Everyday, I feel, in the words of that old spiritual, that I'm on the battlefield, attempting to help them understand the true GREATNESS that comes with being Black.

This is a task unto itself, for they have been taught they have so many things to be ashamed of, and the primary "thing" is their Blackness. To be Black, they've learned, is to be at the bottom of every barrel (socio economic, education, legal system etc.) They've learned that it is dangerous to want more, to do more, to be more. And I am here, trying to help them unlearn that, emphasizing--in my kids' cases--that it is okay NOT to want to use your body or step on someone else's to "get money," that it is okay use your mind, which is the greatest gift they are blessed with, not just to "get money," but to "get knowledge," to "get empowered."

I wish they could see in themselves what I see in them... that We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For. That potential and possibility are in our very souls--that when we were not allowed to attend public schools with white students; we built our own elementary and junior high/high schools, our own universities and we educated our own students and these students went on to become world leaders. We did that because we were a prideful people who were able to take care of our own.

And with that in mind, I agree that we ARE the ones we have been looking for. From the Harriet Tubmans like myself, trying to lead my students to freedom from the jails they have created within their minds, to the Martin Luther Kings, trying to help us as a people realize we can achieve our life goals without violence, to the Fannie Lou Hamers, standing up for what we believe is right and just. Oh yes, WE ARE THE ONES WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!

And so I return to the Vibe article and to the Obama candidacy. I think it is especially apt that Obama invoked that line long, long months ago. No, I do not believe Obama will be able to right every wrong in America, but I do believe that between him and McCain, Obama is the best man for the job.

And, yes, I believe in so many ways, he is the one we have been waiting for...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women

Has anyone seen the film Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women by Dai Sil Kim-Gibson? Do you know where I can get a copy? My computer has labeled her site as "dangerous to your computer" and won't let me in. Plus, given my computer issues, I am hesitant to do so.

On preliminary search, I see that the book is available, but not the film at places like Amazon. My PBS search--PBS aired the film--is proving fruitless (of course, I don't know how to find anything at PBS--I stumble upon stuff there).

I found this website, which lists the price of the film as $265 which definitely means it goes on my list of "films to ask the department to buy," but I wanted the opinions of people who might have seen it first.

I've never thought about it, but given my fascination with the Civil War home front, the exploitation of women during WWII, all aspects of the Vietnam War, how I think so often about the stories from The Greatest Silence, and what is being revealed, piece by piece, about the abuse of women in Iraq, I think I'd like to develop a class on women and war.


The other day I was sitting in a local restaurant (I swear to heaven I'm about to turn into a big old spinach enchilada with extra guacamole) sipping on a large strawberry margarita(I swear to heaven I'm about to turn into a big old lush). My neighbors at the next table were a pair of elderly sisters. One of them got up to use the restroom. After a while, the other one turned to me and said, "The food here is good, isn't it?"

"Yes, ma'am," I said and smiled.

As her sister approached, she stood up, ready to leave. She smiled at me again and asked, "You ready for Obama to be president?"

I pondered my answer for a minute--a hesitance weighted by my own assumptions; she was a white woman, southern if her accent was any indication, and I thought the question might be some sort of trap or excuse to let me have it. Finally, I decided to frame my honest answer as light-hearted, "Yes, ma'am. I'm definitely ready for a change." Ha-ha, I thought, a "change" quip.

She nodded and said, "Well, it has to be him. McCain's too old."

I raised an eyebrow. Surely, it was a trap. An "old," southern white woman saying John McCain was too old? Not only was she going to nail my ass for supporting Obama, she was going to get me on ageism too.

**Really, some of the e-mails and stories I've read about McCain-as-unfit because of his age have been quite disturbing to me.**

So, very cautiously I asked, "You think so?"

She waved her hand. "Oh, honey, hell yes. That'd be like me being president and I know my mind slips. You can tell his does, too. Have you listened to him?"

This time, I smiled for real. She proceeded to tell me about how she respected his military service and gave me her own descriptive sketch of what he'd endured as a POW. "He's been through a lot. That's the only reason I have sentiment for him," she said, then patted my hand and told me to have a good day.

Her sister hung back, taking long pulls on her soda. Once the talkative sister made it out the door, the soda-drinker turned to me. "I don't care what she says," she announced.


"I don't have sentiment for him. You know why?"

I know plenty of reasons I don't, I thought. Aloud, I said, "No, ma'am."

She looked around, then bent close to me. "He dated on his first wife. Did you know that?"

I nodded.

"I wouldn't care who it was. It could be my own grandson. If he dated on his wife, you know what I'd tell him?"

"No, ma'am."

"That I have no respect for him. No respect for anyone who dates on their wife!"

And then, she swept out of the restaurant.

You never know what conversations you'll have deep in the heart of Texas.

Monday, October 13, 2008

So Familiar

If you ever want to know what is at the heart of my admittedly negative, intractable view of Republicans, here is a prime example of the Republicans I grew up around:

I came of age in an area where white people worshipped a president who seemed to despise poor people and people of color, in a state where a former grand wizard of the Klan attracted the majority of white voters in his bid for governor, in a community in which people intertwine their nostalgia for the confederacy and its this-is-white-man's-government mantra with their allegiance to a Republican Party that appealed to them with a wholly unsubtle southern strategy.

This guy, who is enraged at the thought that he might not be able to do his part to "keep the nigger outta office," is from a parish that borders mine.

Why anyone is shocked!!! at the response of some members of the Republican base is beyond me. Come to my neck of the woods.

H/T Incertus and Space Cowboy

Also, read Kevin here.

Added bonus:

"Yeah, I'm a bad-ass non-repentant racist..."

"...depending on who's looking."

Watch CBS Videos Online

H/T Liss

Things Seen 8

Went shopping to find some bug-related, science-y stuff for an event at my son's school. Check out the science kits I saw.

First, did you know boys and girls require different science kits? Designed to appeal to their natural, scientific interests?

And while the "boy's" kit promises to boost your brain...

...the "girl's" kit promise to relax you and let you experiment with different fragrances.

The boy's box is also covered with words like "go wild" and "erupt" and "blow your mind,"while the only thing that promises to be exciting about the girl's is the foaming and frothing of bubbles.

I had two ideas in the store. 1) Wow, what nice, shiny new wrapping for the very old active boy/passive girl stereotype. In addition to the wording I described above, the girl's kit is "jam-packed with over 18 soothing activities" while the boy's is "jam-packed with over 18 hair-raising activities." 2) They really think girls hate/are averse to science--notice that, while the boy's kit is outright labeled "totally funky science," the girl's masquerades as "totally glamorous spa kit."

But don't worry, a bubble on the girl's box reassures us, "It's REAL chemistry."

A Day that Lives in Infamy

My son says he's out of school because they're celebrating Columbus Day.

To which his droll ass mama says, "I don't know about anybody else at that school, but you are mostly certainly not celebrating Columbus Day."

Or, what Nezua and La Mala said.

ETA: If I ever teach the first half of the U.S. survey again, maybe I'll walk into my Texas or Louisiana (summer school) classroom and begin with this:
Every inch of North America is Aboriginal land which was stolen at the point of a gun, starvation, and the intentional introduction of disease.
I'm totally prepared to fight my way out.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Belated Blogiversary BFP!!!

Yay!! Wheeeee!! Hooray!! Yippee!!

(I don't know how to make it look like confetti is falling, so here's a song)

Much love and appreciation for all that you do, on and off the blogs.

Late Night Snack, Pt. 2

No horror story, this time... yet.

When I was young, tuna fish was one of the staples of kid birthday parties on my circuit. Tuna on crackers (we loved the moms who used Ritz crackers instead of saltines :-) or on soft white bread cut into squares or triangles usually sat nestled among a bowl of chips, the cake with the crunchy, colorful decorations, and punch which was usually kicked up tropical punch kool-aid (all red kool-aids are NOT equal!).

But, when my cousins, sister, and I got older, we realized eating the tuna fish was one thing. Opening it and having the smell on your hands was quite another. We abandoned tuna fish once we learned to make chicken salad which was basically the same recipe with chicken breasts and no smell. We also abandoned the practice of baking cakes and applying the decorations. I used to love the anticipation created by smelling that birthday cake baking. Now, amongst my sometimes-bougie set of friends, my suggestion that I bake my son's birthday cake is met with horror.

The other day at work, one of the psychologists on my hall brought tuna for lunch. She had her door open and the scent wafted down the hallway. Rather than being turned off, I suddenly had a craving for tuna. I picked up some Friday night. And a little while ago I "made tuna fish" for the first time in forever. I think what my family eats/makes is probably properly called tuna salad, but we don't say that.

Anyway, I put in Miracle Whip (I'm not touching that black people don't eat mayonnaise thing, but at my house, well, we didn't :-), sweet pickle relish, a little sugar, and chopped up bits of 1) a granny smith apple 2) red onion and 3) boiled eggs. My mom also uses Kraft Sandwich Spread, but my lazy ass figures with the pickle relish, who needs it?

Y'all, that was the best thing ever! How could I have forgotten? I'm about to run out for Ritz crackers in a minute, I swear.

But my late night snack has me thinking about all the ways people jazz up basic foods. I mean, a few weeks ago I was looking for a new mac and cheese recipe, came across a approximately a thousand, and used one that was absolutely horrible. I also experiment a lot with my spaghetti sauce and tacos.

So what common/basic food do you add a little somethin'-somethin' extra to? I'd really like to know because I'm always trying new things. And though I've been HORRIBLE about responding to my commenters this semester, I love y'all and I promise I'm reading, so please share your ideaas.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Failing as a Black Feminist Mama

The other day, my son held the door open for some women who were coming into a restaurant behind us. While they noted how nice and well-mannered he was, he did this little silly bow thing and said "Ladies first."

No, that's not why I think I've failed as a Feminist Mama.

See, when he said, "Ladies first," I began to hum this...

...then sing/rap it outright. He, being a music connoisseur in his own mind, askjavascript:void(0)
Publish Posted me, "Mama, what is that?"

"It's 'Ladies First' by Queen Latifah. From when she used to rap," I explained.

And he said,

"Mama, Queen Latifah used to rap?!"

He was shocked!

So was I.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


You know the joke format where a comedian begins "Blankty-blank is so bad..."

And the audience chimes in, "How bad is it?!"

Then you get the punchline and proceed to ROTFL? Or be amazed by how bad "it" must be? I have one for you, play along.

elle: Starvation during the Great Depression was so bad of a problem...

you: How bad was it?

elle: It was so bad, "There were so many... people starving in New York that the West African nation of Cameroon sent $3.77 in relief."

you: (Appropriate response: Gasp "Wow" in amazement. Things must have been the lowest of the low if perpetually starving Africans* tried to help someone else!!! And $3.77 must be equivalent to a billion to an African nation!!!
A few alternatives to this view. I just ran across the last two, so I need to read more deeply, but the first comes from a former student who just happens to be from Cameroon.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fun Visit

I hadn't seen Elle in over a year. Now that she's living closer to us, I packed the boys up and we headed her way over the weekend. And, if it hadn't been for the fact that The Kid has grown like a weed and is a young man now instead of the little boy I remember, you wouldn't have been able to tell that we'd been away at all.

In college, as roommates, Elle and I often had this problem of talking about any and everything late into the night. We'd both be in our beds with the lights off, just chatting away. We did the same thing over the weekend. Of-course, it's 12 years after college, so I'm feeling the lack of sleep more than I did back in the day!

At any rate, we had a blast! Thanks Elle!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Speak Out Against the Re-Prosecution of Renata Hill, One of the New Jersey Four

From free the new jersey 4!
On Ocober 14th, Renata Hill, one of the New Jersey 7, is scheduled to face her retrial. We are in suport of her desire to not have to go back to trial, and demand that the charges against her cease.

Please send this letter, or one similar in your own words, to the address listed. After sending in the letter, please let us know so that we can tally how many letters have been sent. (
Sample letter below the fold.

Robert M. Morgenthau
District Attorney
New York County
1 Hogan Place
New York, NY 10013


Re: People vs. Renata Hill

Dear Mr. Morgenthau:

I am writing concerning the case of Renata Hill, who is currently awaiting a retrial on charges stemming from an incident in August 2006. Her conviction for Gang Assault was recently overturned on appeal.

I want to encourage you to stop further prosecution in this case, and to release Ms. Hill so that she may get on with her life. Ms. Hill has already served two years on charges resulting from a street altercation that she did not initiate. While she was incarcerated, she was separated from her young son. She also suffered the death of her mother, whose memorial she was unable to attend. Since their convictions on Gang Assault charges, the felony convictions against both Ms. Hill and one of her co-defendants were overturned by the appellate courts. The two other defendants are currently awaiting their appeal hearings.

Notably, the complainant in this matter has commenced a multi million dollar lawsuit and runs a website, Dwayne Buckle Foundation for Justice, seeking donations to his cause based on virulent anti-gay and lesbian attacks.

I believe that further prosecution and incarceration of Ms. Hill would be unjust. She has been punished enough for her role in the event – both by actual imprisonment, and in the impact that imprisonment has had upon her life. I appreciate any assistance you can provide in preventing any further injustice.

Thank you for your consideration.


SAFER Launches College Sexual Assault Policies Database
Students Active For Ending Rape Launches Sexual Assault Policies Database
September 29, 2008--Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) is excited to announce the launch of the College Sexual Assault Policies Database. This online database archives sexual assault policies from colleges and universities across the nation. Developed in response to student requests for examples of thorough and effective campus sexual assault policies, the database will give students access to policies from a diverse array of American universities. The database, funded in part by a grant from the American Association of University Women, can be found by visiting SAFER’s website:
The policies are evaluated based upon how well they fulfill a number of criteria for sound and effective sexual assault programs and practices that have been identified by SAFER. Many policies have also been evaluated to determine whether they are in compliance with all relevant federal legislation relating to sexual assault. Students will be able to search the database to make sure their school fulfills all of the criteria. The database also allows students to comment on the application of the policies at their school, revealing any differences between what appears in school policy and what is actually implemented by the university.

SAFER acknowledges that every campus community is unique, and there is not one model assault policy that will work for every school. However, there are basic guidelines for strong policies: all students should have access to the policy; the policy should be easy to understand; policies should be created with student input and formal oversight; and all policies should include mandatory prevention education for all students, crisis intervention, and long-term counseling. Additional markers of a strong school sexual assault policy include a fill-time staff person dedicated to the issue and the on-campus availability of contraception and STD prophylaxis.
“The policies in the database have turned out to be a very mixed bag,” said Margaret Mikkelsen, director of SAFER. Some schools feature innovative programs, like the
University of New Hampshire’s bystander intervention training. Lehigh University and Columbia University are among the schools that offer online reporting forms. Other schools' policies “don't seem to acknowledge the extent or severity of the problem,” said Mikkelsen, with vague definitions of sexual assault, convoluted reporting procedures, and no discussion of consent.
The Policies Database is an important tool in SAFER’s larger effort to educate and train student activists who want to challenge and reform their university’s sexual assault policies. Currently SAFER offers student organizers a thorough manual on how to create change, a campus activist mentoring program, and organizing workshops for student groups. The Policies Database will further arm students with examples of how to revise policy and provide activists with strong points of comparison when approaching their university administration for change on campus.
Sexual violence remains a major issue on college campuses. Up to 25% of college women will be victims of sexual assault while they are enrolled in school, with an estimated 3% of college women raped each year. Campus sexual assault goes largely unreported—especially by male victims—due to uncertainty among students as to what constitutes rape and a lack of available resources for rape survivors. SAFER began in 1999 at Columbia University when a group of students organized a successful grassroots campaign to improve the school’s response to campus sexual violence. The group expanded across the country as other students expressed a desire to create similar movements on their campuses. To this day, SAFER is primarily run by students, graduate students, and recent graduates.
If you would like to learn more about SAFER, add your campus to the Policies Database, or find out more about organizing a SAFER event at your school, please contact: All media inquiries should be directed to: or 347-293-0953.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Here's an excerpt I got from the Boston Globe Editorial page:

"Sarah Palin, the socially conservative GOP veep nominee, is not opposed to gay people. Heck, some of her best friends are gay. 'I am not going to judge Americans and the decisions that they make in their adult personal relationships,' Palin told CBS' Katie Couric Tuesday night when asked about churches, including Palin's, that promote conferences to convert gays into heterosexuals through prayer. 'I have one of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years who happens to be gay and I love her dearly,' Palin said, without mentioning names. 'And she is not my gay friend, she is one of my best friends who happens to have made a choice that isn't a choice that I have made.'"

It's funny to hear her say that. I often hear white people who are charged with being racist or prejudice tout that they can't be because they have a black friend that they love dearly. So now people aren't homophobes because they have a gay friend that they love dearly. Oh - but keep in mind that her friend made a choice that she would never, ever make herself. How big of her to love the "sinner".

I don't have much else to say. All I can do is sigh.
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...