Tuesday, January 31, 2012
We don't get that option. I am torn between one of my father's favorite sayings, "You can sleep when you die" and my desire just to be perfectly still for untold moments.
I don't know how to make peace between those two.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
We're Still Here
I Guess It Was Our Destiny To Live
So Let's get on with it!"
-June Jordan (inspired by Auschwitz and Fallersleben survivor Elly Gross, who proclaimed in an interview, "I guess it was my destiny to live.")
Friday, January 27, 2012
Did I tell y'all about the best scalloped (maybe au gratin) potatoes ever that I just made?
Let me rectify that.
So, I needed a side dish and was totally unmotivated to go to the store. I took stock of what was here. Potatoes, half and half, packaged shredded cheese, onions, bell peppers, garlic and some other staple-y stuff.
I know! I'll make scalloped potatoes!
So I did. It was a day that I didn't have to go on campus, but I still had errands to run. I grabbed 5 or 6 or so Idaho potatoes( which I typically hate because they are so dirty, but they are the least expensive and I have 3 boys to feed), scrubbed them, and sliced them on the mandolin. I put them in a bowl with water, a little salt, and a little white vinegar and put them in the fridge. I also diced maybe a quarter of a yellow onion (or a half, I love onion) half of a particularly small bell pepper and two cloves of garlic. Put them in bowls with tops and refrigerated.
Errands, errands, errands.
I returned a few hours later. Began with my cheese sauce--heated 3 tablespoons of butter (not margarine!), added 2.5 tablespoons of flour (no I don't do exactly equal because I am scared of being overpowered by flour). Whisk, whisk, whisk on a low to medium low heat. Keep it moving and keep it blonde. You do NOT want a burned roux. Just... yuck, trust me. In the meantime, I heated 2 cups of half and half with 1.5 cups of 1% milk (no particular reason for this mixture, that's what I had here) and turned my oven to 375 degrees. After about five minutes, I added my warmed dairy products to my roux. You can turn up the temp a little. Stir, let it thicken, stir, etc. When it is just about right (after several minutes is all I can say) add two cups of shredded cheese (cheddar blends work here--I had one called a cheddar melt. I also like the American and cheddar blend. Had it been for a holiday, I would've done one cup of cheddar melt OR American/cheddar blend plus one cup of gruyere), and a dash, I mean a dash--no more than two, of nutmeg. I can't stand for nutmeg to be too strong in cheese sauces. Now taste for salt. Do this after you add the cheese because cheese is salty.
While your sauce was thickening, you know what your lazy self should've been doing? Arranging your potatoes in a greased baking dish then tossing them with your onion and bell pepper and garlic and maybe a a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of seasoned salt. At this point, you can pour the cheese sauce all over them and mix all well. Cover with foil. Put in your preheated oven for 50 or 60 minutes. Remove the foil and, just for the hell of it, sprinkle some of the mozzarella you had left from pizza day on top. Bake a few minutes more. Then let that mozzarella bubble and do amazing, delicious things under the broiler.
Be prepared for your children and/or other loved ones to weep upon your feet.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
21 days to develop a habit, I heard.
I'm on my way!
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Regarding education, the material they distributed said, “Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.”I vote that last sentence be included in upcoming dictionaries as a definition for "white privilege." Let's obscure "minority" experiences so the "majority" can come away looking angelic and declare that "the truth."
That would include, the documents say, that “the Constitution created a Republic, not a Democracy.”
The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”
And this little bit about their rationale:
Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.
“The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” said Rounds
Wow, wow, wow. Apparently, it is okay to dismiss the parts of history that make your heroes look... well... less heroic, to prioritize the image of some over the experiences of others.
As for "liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed," dude, your founding fathers' fathers were the primary reasons there was a notable shortage of liberty 'round these here parts.
They weren't all that revolutionary. They were a bunch of privileged white guys that laid out a system that supported their privilege as wealthy, white men. They did not and did not want to bring liberty to everybody.
This reminds me of one of my many issues with the idea of "colorblindness," that if we pretend not to see and refuse to talk about things, from skin color to differential treatment to patterns of inequity, that they will magically disappear. No one will have to be uncomfortable. No one will have to acknowledge the perpetuation of inequality and discrimination. And, oh, if you bring those things up, well, you're the racist.
Also, I am faintly amused by the way they use words like "truth" and "made-up."
Life in our post-racial world.
Monday, January 23, 2012
As we celebrate the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade [which was January 22], the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that recognized a woman's constitutional right to legal abortion, we can't forget how many times women's lives have been put at risk in the past year. Legislators in 24 states passed 92 anti-abortion provisions in 2011, shattering the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005, according to the Guttmacher Institute.Far, far from over, unfortunately.
These new restrictions included waiting-period requirements, onerous and unnecessary clinic regulations and cuts to family planning services and providers because of their connection with abortion. Thanks to a newly energized grassroots coalition, voters defeated the Mississippi Personhood Amendment, a measure that would have legally defined personhood as beginning at fertilization in the state's constitution. But that fight is far from over.
I am hoping that this perseverance rolls over into my academic life. I've been on a writing hiatus since early-December. I really need to work on an article that is bugging me.
Wish me luck!
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
From the Associated Press:
A newly discovered horse fly in Australia was so “bootylicious” with its golden-haired bum, there was only one name worthy of its beauty: Beyonce.
Australian researcher Bryan Lessard, 24, says he wanted to pay respect to the insect’s beauty by naming it Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae. Lessard said Beyonce would be “in the nature history books forever” and that the fly now bearing her name is “pretty bootylicious” with its golden backside.
This is not an honor. He is not doing her a favor. In fact, Lessard is evidencing an ongoing, problematic fascination with black women's bottoms. Dr. Janell Hobson, in an essay in which she analyzes "the prevalent treatment of black female bodies as grotesque figures, due to the problematic fetishism of their rear ends," (88) on the history of this bullshit:*
[A] history of enslavement, colonial conquest and ethnographic exhibition-variously labeled the black female body "grotesque," "strange," unfeminine," "lascivious," and "obscene." This negative attitude toward the black female body targets one aspect of the body in particular: the buttocks (87).Dr. Hobson delves into the longstanding fascination with/assumptions about black women's alleged hypersexuality, a hypersexuality symbolized by our deviant bodies and an "emphasis on the black female rear end, with its historic and cultural tropes of rawness, lasciviousness, and 'nastiness'," (97). And though this history extends much farther than two centuries into the past, she highlights the heartbreaking and dehumanizing display of Saartje Baartman, arguing that "perhaps no other figure epitomizes the connections between grotesquerie, sexual deviance, and posteriors than the 'Hottentot Venus'," (89), put on display primarily for the " 'strange,' singular attraction" of her rear end (88). As crunktastic notedm over at the Crunk Feminist Collective, about Lessard's naming of the fly in Beyonce's "honor," "The legacy of Saartjie Bartmann lives."
Lest you think this is purely a compliment (I say purely because I am sure, in some strange way, Lessard meant it as such), ponder Dr. Hobson's words on Sir MixALot's Baby Got Back:
This so-called "appreciation"of black women's bodies does not necessarily challenge ideas of grotesque and deviant black female sexuality. Interestingly, both the song and video uphold and celebrate the black body precisely because it differs from the standard models of beauty in white culture, (96).Substitute "the naming of the fly" for "both the song and video."
If you're still leaning towards, "compliment," think of this: The recent "global desirability of a Black girl’s ass" is not complimentary; it grows out of a history of othering and "exotifying" black women's bodies and "excuses her allegedly less desirable dark complexion, full lips, and kinky hair," you know, the still grotesque and "ugly" parts of us.** But the appeal of black women's butts is not always enough to "excuse" our deficiencies/lack of beauty in other categories. In fact, a curvy backside becomes even more desirable when it is not attached to a black woman. As Dr. Hobson notes,
[P]erformer Jennifer Lopez offers a slightly different take on rear-end aesthetics. Her Latina body, already colored as "exotic" in a so-called changing American racial landscape, bridges the desires of black and white men, because she can serve as the "racial other" for both. More importantly Lopez's derriere does not carry the burden of Baartman's legacy.Or, as I read in my Facebook feed the other day,*** part of the adoration/fascination with Kim Kardashian is the desirability of having physical features typically associated with a black woman unencumbered by the history of racism, colonization, and devaluation.[snip]Dominant culture came to celebrate Lopez's behind as part of a recognition of "exotic" and "hot" Latinas, women perceived as "more sexual" than white women but "less obscene" than black women. In this way, Lopez's body avoids the specific racial stigma that clings to black women's bodies (97).
I guess what it boils down to is the naming of this fly as symbolic of a culture of what crunktastic calls "disrespectability politics":
This is a world where disrespectability politics reign, a world where black women’s bodies and lives become the load-bearing wall, in the house that race built, a world where the tacit disrespect of Black womanhood is as American as apple pie, as global as Nike. (Just do it. Everybody else is. ) In this world, Black women have moved from “fly-girls to bitches and hoes” and back again to just, well, flies. Insects. Pests.
Please spare us honors like these, Mr. Lessard.
* Janell Hobson, "The 'Batty' Politic: Toward an Aesthetic of the Black Female Body," Hypatia 18, no. 4, Women, Art, and Aesthetics (Autumn - Winter, 2003): 87-105.
** From this sentence by crunktastic: "In this world, the global desirability of a Black girl’s ass excuses her allegedly less desirable dark complexion, full lips, and kinky hair." I know, I know; someone might argue that full lips are all the rage, but remember they can't be too full and they are much "better" on a non-black woman--hello, world's fascination with Angelina Jolie!
***paraphrased from a note or article posted by one of my friends for which I have searched desperately and cannot find. Please let me know if you know the citation. (Update: Here it is! Hat Tip to checarina at Shakesville, where this is crossposted)
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The attack on reproductive rights in the United States is likely to heat up in 2012, and we have an early entrant in the race to the bottom in the form of a court decision that went through on Friday, ordering the immediate enforcement of a mandatory sonogram law in Texas. More specifically:
The law, enacted in 2011, requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on pregnant women, show and describe the image to them, and play sounds of the fetal heartbeat. Though women can decline to view images or hear the heartbeat, they must listen to a description of the exam…unless she qualifies for an exception due to rape, incest or fetal abnormality.
This is not the first state with such a law and I fear it’s going to become a growing trend in the US, right along with dismembered fetus anti-abortion ads on television. The right wing is bent on making abortions as difficult to access as possible through every possible means, and that includes coercive, invasive, and unwanted interference from their medical providers. As spelled out under the law, this is yet another hoop in the series people with unwanted or dangerous pregnancies must jump through to get access to medical care, and it’s a humiliating and shaming one.
Says Texas Governor Rick Perry:
The Fifth Circuit’s decision requires abortion providers to immediately comply with the sonogram law, appropriately allowing Texas to enforce the will of our state, which values and protects the sanctity of life.Texas "values and protects the sanctity of life," said, I am sure, without irony.
But... this is Texas, number one in the number of executions carried out in the last 35 years and the state where the legislature hoped, just last year, to gut education, health care, and social services.
I guess, however, with regards to a state in which lawmakers "slashed family planning funding by two-thirds," we should not be surprised at the continued erosion of reproductive rights.
Doesn't make it any less scary.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Following the Tumblr chain, I think I need to give credit to this post.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I have a weakness in which I indulge every weekend: Sour Apple Martinis. I like cosmos. I love margaritas. Malibu w/pineapple is my bar drink. And my girls are turning me into a flavored-Ciroc fan. But when it comes to what I am going to mix at home, it's all about that sour apple, for some reason!
Friday night, I walked into my friendly neighborhood store for my "weekend libation."
"I want something new this weekend," I proclaimed.
"Mm-hmm," said the clerk.
I walked all around, with this silent perusal: "Do I want rum? I don't feel like rum! Ugh, gin makes me sick! No vodka! I'm tired of weekend martinis!" Etc. Etc.
I walked to the counter and looked behind there.
"I really want something new."
"You say that every time," the clerk reminded me.
I stood, indecisive, while she asked me about my son. "13, right?" said the store's owner.
"And going on 23, tall as he is!" said the clerk.
I sighed. The clerk decided to make it easy on me. "I already know," she said. She grabbed the sour apple pucker and some vodka. "Go to the grocery store and get your juice. It's too expensive here!"
I couldn't do anything except laugh...
And pay for my stuff.
So, someone in the Occupy Memphis movement flew the U.S. flag upside down.
Feelings of horror ensue, including words from service people (with details of their service and their decorations) who were offended by the display, one of whom declared, "Over 1 million men died protecting that flag." (Emphasis mine, for, well, obvious reasons.)
I never can understand how people are more disturbed by the "mistreatment" of a flag than of people. Like, "We're not bothered by the fact that people feel compelled to protest to draw attention to the very real social and economic injustice that is characteristic of this country, but they flew the flag upside down? The Horror!"
Another of the interviewees equated this to a declaration of war. I think one of the main claims of people involved in this movement is that war has already been declared and has been viciously waged against the majority of us for sometime now.
And then the caption contains this:
The United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 176, under "respect for flag," reads: "The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property." It is a fair assumption that the protesters camped on Main Street are not facing "extreme danger to life." They are in no danger of an attack from enemy forces or even at risk of being run over by a trolley. They are just messing with the system.
First, I'd argue that many people, pressed to the wall and on the verge of economic ruin, might feel that there is an "extreme danger" and that they are being attacked. Also, are you really expecting dissenters to follow the carefully laid out rules? To be as heavily invested in your national symbols when they are telling you that your nation is not what it claims to be?
As to that last insightful sentence I quoted: Why yes, yes, they are trying to mess with "the system."
I don't think they see that as a bad thing.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Everything. Like, in the midst of re-reading Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow (I'm teaching it (again) this Spring), I have (previously) run across Cara's review of the book and, just today, this interview with the author and other scholars bearing the grim subtitle "How a Racist Criminal Justice System Rolled Back the Gains of the Civil Rights Era." This article also centers the book and the school-to-prison-pipeline that acts in some of the same systematic ways as the old system of Jim Crow. As I read them, I am disheartened, overwhelmed, teary-eyed. And I thought, "My God, so far to go!"
Everything. Like the fact that I have never watched The Great Debaters but today caught the last ten minutes of it with my boys. I was struck by the young man at the end who spoke of our duty to resist unjust laws, of the fear and shame with which African Americans lived, of a world in which you could stumble upon a lynch mob and do nothing but hide, hoping to save your own life. As I watched, I felt awe-struck, angry, teary-eyed. And I thought, "My God, how far we've come."
Far enough that I, the granddaughter of domestics and sharecroppers, will get up tomorrow and go to my job as an assistant professor at a public university after making sure my kids are safely off to school, once upon a time little more than a dream for most teenaged black boys whose lives were dictated by agricultural needs.
You know, I've never known for sure if the words to that old song are "My Soul Looks Back in Wonder" or "My Soul Looks Back and Wonders." I don't worry about it much, because either is fitting when I look back over the course of the history of people of African descent in this country. So far we've come. Every once in a while, I do take a moment, reflect, feel gratitude, feel strengthened, realize the resilience that comes from past victories and defeats. This is one of those days.
And then I remember, So far we have to go. And I get back to business.
"Like a food truck?" I asked.
"You know the health department is all over those. We have to work hard and keep it super clean!"
I figured that would change his mind, he-of-the-science-project-on-growing-random-things-bedroom. But who I am to discourage my child's entrepreneurship/ideas? Maybe he'll really do it one day!
I often decry the sanitizing and beatification of MLK, Jr., because it makes him all conveniently palatable and ripe for consumption. It makes him safe for white people to admire and accept and celebrate.
But I don't often mention the flipside of what that means for his image. The quote above was written by one of my cousins. I've heard the same derision repeated by students in my classes. They think of MLK, Jr. as obsequious, unreal, too willing to compromise, the polar opposite of their image of the fierce, uncompromising Malcolm X (and I should talk about the construction of him at some point). They claim to respect MLK, Jr. and his work, but they feel that he could have gone farther and that he too easily said "what white people wanted to hear."
And, after a mental eye-roll and side eye, I ask them, can't they imagine, given all they've learned over the course of an "African American History from 1865 to the Present" class, that there would've been people who thought of him as uncompromising? Who didn't want to hear his messages of social and economic justice and equity? Who thought of him as a threat? I also ask them to define militant. Is it a term that has to be rooted in the willingness to take up arms?
Typically, I can at least get them to re-consider. But the idea that I, as a "progressive" historian, am considered the ridiculously "revisionist" one?
I think, in the future, I will have my students spend a few minutes juxtaposing my cousin's quote, their own perceptions, and this article by Fred Grimm, which notes:
The icon of the national holiday, the Disneyfied hero celebrated by school kids, a replica of the original made into someone palatable to business and civic leaders across the political spectrum, hardly resembles the righteous rabble-rouser who inflicted so much discomfort on the American establishment.And I will remind them that King himself acknowledged and accepted the fact that, in his time, he was considered "an extremist":
[M]odern powerbrokers, in their prosaic tributes, tend to forget the Martin Luther King Jr. whose causes would have a stinging resonance in 2012 America.
After a year when some political leaders have tried to gut public worker unions, they might find it a bit inconvenient to recall the Martin Luther King who was gunned down in Memphis in 1968 during a campaign to organize the city garbage workers.
In a time when the American middle class has noticed that the one percent was scarfing up an ever greater portion of the nation’s wealth, while its own relative buying power has been frozen since 1970, King’s demands for economic justice might seem just a bit too contemporary. (Someone might also notice that his movement’s Resurrection City, the shanty town protest against economic disparity, erected a month after his death, might as well been called Occupy Washington.)
Amid so much apprehension over the lack of judicial restraint in the use of roving wiretaps and other surveillance authorized in the Patriot Act extension signed by President Obama, our political leaders would rather forget about the Martin Luther King whose home, office and hotel rooms were bugged, for years, by the FBI. (J. Edgar Hoover explained the “unshackled” surveillance of King as a way to track, “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.”)
After a decade of war in Afghanistan, with that long, bloody, pointless diversion into Iraq, it’s doubtful that the we’ll hear our President or congressional leaders from either party quote from King’s anti-war speech in 1967, when he called the United States, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”
Certainly, the politicians behind the coordinated campaign in 14 states (including Florida) to enact new voting restrictions, would be vexed by the Martin Luther King who fought to bring voting rights to the disenfranchised.
...though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. [...] The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? [...] Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
The one-dimensional, heroic caricature that we have made MLK, Jr., into does a disservice to the legacy of our creative extremists and the work of dissenters in shaping and re-shaping this country.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Saturday, January 14, 2012
It's like a manifesto, but filled with fat.
[Content Note: This post contains discussion of fat hatred and disablism.]
I've spent the past two hours (give or take) tweeting my fingers off about fat hatred and the fact that, no, Paula Deen allegedly having diabetes is not, in fact, "justice" for her particular culinary oeuvre, which centers food associated with fatness.
(Yes, it's true that rich foods make some people fat and/or unhealthy; it is also true, however, that rich foods do not make other people fat and/or unhealthy; it is further true that foods not associated with fatness make some people fat and/or unhealthy. You may detect a patten here! A pattern that suggests people are not Bunsen burners!)
Anyway! Because I'm a motherfucking progressive optimist and shit, I wanted to end on an upbeat note, so now I'm busily tweeting my manifatso. And here it is:
I want to be in the world, and I will participate, and I will take up the space that I need without apology. Also: I may occasionally eat butter. But mostly: I will be publicly, shamelessly, unshakably fat and happy. Happy-Go-Lucky, in fact! I am a fat woman, and I will matter—to me and to you.
Read the rest here.
And I just have to add: Diabetes as justice? As what fat people or people who eat certain food deserve? I wonder if @baratunde has seen diabetes in action, if he knows what it can do?
Maybe I should tell him about how my father and grandmothers and uncle lost their kidney function and had to go through the exhausting process of dialysis every other day.
Or maybe I should tell him how frustrated my father and MamMaw were by sores that wouldn't heal, that turned gangrenous, that took their limbs.
Or maybe I should tell him about my grandmother losing sight in one of her eyes and my mom's terror now that all the changes she's made mean little in the face of worrisome reports from her eye doctor.
Or maybe I can bring up my niece, who, just out of her teens, dropped from 130 lbs to 94 lbs (on a 5' 11" frame), was unable to walk more than a few steps, and was perpetually tired, her (gasp!) thin frame ravaged by diabetes?
Or maybe I should tell him, how, as I lay in bed sick with other ailments, my dad's dialysis shunt came out, bringing with it copious amounts of blood, a flow that no one could stop, that ultimately took his life... while I, she-who-thought-she-could-fix-everything, had to lie their, unable to move, and listen to him ask people to hurry to help him. Listen to my family's sounds of panic and uncertainty and urgency. Listen as people came to help me get dressed and I knew, if they were rousing my grievously sick self from bed, that he must be gone.
Is that how justice is defined now?
Friday, January 13, 2012
I'm starting fresh! Give me ideas--I'll re-post this for a few days because I assume most people have more exciting lives than I on a Friday night. Who should I be reading?
Ran across these last night (the baby's story was updated around 6 this morning, so I assume he is still missing.)
An Amber Alert has been issued for a missing 18-month-old who was in a car that was stolen at a Walmart store off South Gessner.
Houston police say Evan Montgomery Lamar Miller was in the back of the Jeep when it was stolen around 5:44pm from the parking lot of the Walmart store at 11200 S. Gessner.
The stolen vehicle is a green, 4-door, 1996 Jeep Cherokee, Texas license plate BP2N042. The car has a "Baby on Board" sticker on the back window.
Police say Evan was last seen wearing a blue knit cap, a white T-shirt, a gray sweatshirt, hunter green sweat pants with stripes and tan hiking boots.
Evan is pictured below. On the left is a sketch of his suspected kidnapper.
**Missing Teen in The Newark Area** PLEASE REPOSTThe blogger says Amber's ex-boyfriend has been stalking her. He's pictured below:
Attention Newark & surrounding areas... Amber Torres has been missing since yesterday. If anybody know’s of her whereabouts or has info please call Newark Police Dept
SHE WAS LAST WEARING A BLACK HOODY & BLACK JEANS/PANTS FROM HER HOUSE. SHE IS ABOUT 115LBS & 5’2 TALL. SHE DOESNT HAVE HER GLASSES. iTS REALLY NOT LIKE HER TO REBEL & RUN AWAY. SHE DOESNT HAVE HER CELL,MONEY OR A COAT TO WEAR.
Please help bring them home!
We are the ladies
Of Delta Sigma Theta
There's no one greater
You know we are live
We are the NEW Deltas
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Read and SYDH along with me.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Even if it's fluff.
So, in 2012, I am trying to get in the habit of writing something, ANYTHING each day. Seriously, sitting my butt down in one spot and just going for it.
So, here we go.