Monday, December 31, 2007

I Almost Said...

Living in a world in which we have to deal with other people and their -isms/assumptions/stereotypes, the art of telling people off is a valuable skill to possess. In my late teens (three or four years ago), my proficiency was limited to "Bitch, I know you didn't-" and name-calling.

But over time, I have honed and refined my ability, learned to use the sweetest words to make the sharpest point. Sometimes, I am so clever and adroit, that it takes people a minute to realize they've even been told off. There's nothing like watching that uncertain, flickering smile disappear from the face of someone who has insulted you as awareness dawns.

Time has wrought another change as well--I'm not as easily offended as I once was. I've learned to bite my tongue, give people the benefit of the doubt, and comfort myself with the knowledge that I know the truth that undermines ignorant assumptions.

Still, there are the occasions when I feel the need to set people "right." And there's no worse feeling than lost opportunities. I've been thinking of times I should've told someone off and was simply too shocked or too slow to do so. Prime examples:
1. When the white girl with whom I'd been having a pleasant conversation in a store reacted with shock at my assertion that I'd taught classes at Louisiana Tech. "Are you sure?" she asked me, "It must have been Grambling [the local HBCU]. I'm sure it wasn't Tech."
2. When the best friend of a person I'd been sharing a reciprocal flirtation with told me he didn't think I was his best friend's type because of my Pretty, Hot, And Tempting physique. Not that his friend had said anything like that but he'd never seen his friend with someone "like me."
3. Every single time I pass this certain male professor in the hallway and he looks me up and down then smirks. I can just see his desire to pet me on the head.
So, whom should YOU have told off?

Sunday, December 30, 2007


So usually when I'm slacking on one thing, I'm on the ball on some other. But lately, I am thoroughly unproductive.

I'm not cooking.
I'm not prepping for the spring semester.
I'm not reading.
And most upsetting to me, I'm not writing.

I can't even have a good cry to get over this spell. I cry like two minutes at wide-spaced intervals and that's it. Last night, tears actually got caught in the corners of my eyes and would not fall.

Perhaps, I thought, I am tired of the house. So last night, in a really inconsiderate way, I called up a guy to whom I'd given a raincheck and was like, if you can meet me in one hour, we can do something.

But, as sweet as he was (is!), when I got home, I felt the same. I decided to write something, at least catalogue how I was feeling. I grabbed looseleaf and a blue pen (that's my serious writing gear) and...


All I could think of was a story from my long ago days teaching elementary. In the middle of class, one of my students was trying to describe how she felt about some event and she told her classmate, "Girl, my bones were even sad."

And I said something to the effect of, "Hush, little grown girl, your bones can't be sad."

She insisted that, yes, they could.

Eventually, I understood her. And right now, my bones are even sad. I'm frozen (dreading going to the AHA next weekend!) in space. I'm also apparently not fooling anyone because my BFF came up here this morning. I cried for two minutes again.

For three hours, she worked her usual magic to reassure and support me and to kick my ass in gear. And while I don't think I feel better, I must.

Because I wrote this, right?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Totally Unbiased, Cutest Baby in the World Post.

My new niece. Why, yes, we know!

Free Concert!

My nine-year-old son ripped his whole dance style from Chris Brown and Columbus Short's character in Stomp the Yard. He's not quite as rythmic or flexible, but that's another story.

Apparently, the Chris Brown madness begins even earlier. Check out my four-year-old godson:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How I Know I'm Back in the Rural South

Actual sign from the high school basketball game I attended tonight:

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Problem with the Blogging... that it's hard for me right now. The words, despite temporary blocks, used to come easily. I've been looking through my archives, and I realize I used to come here and tell the silliest stories--sometimes with a point, sometimes with absolutely none.

And then I realized, I don't feel free to do that anymore. I have these self-imposed standards, this habit of comparing myself to others and judging myself way insufficient. I always want to say something profound and meaningful and... right. Like, I play posts out in my head a million times to try to figure out the ways they might be perceived. For example, the post with pictures of my son below--it took me a while to put that up because I have so many feelings about the military in general and about who the military uses and how it uses them and the effects on our communities. But on the other hand, my child loves Coti and he was glad to share that day with her.

So, I'm trying to reclaim my blog, trying to make it personal, political, silly, serious, reflective of the whole me.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Even More Cuteness...

Trying to placate a sleepy Nick.
The pacifier just isn't sufficient! This just might work... Going... Gone.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

More pictures!

Coti took The Kid to drill for family day.

This one includes Coti's best friend, Nicarlo.

because the words won't come...

How about pictures? Here is my great-niece, born yesterday-- 6 days late and 8 lbs even. More pictures after my visit today.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

CoRA, Edition Six

Please get in your submissions for the Carnival of Radical Action.

...for the sixth edition of the Carnival of Radical Action, Vox and I want you to explore making radical history. How do we create and participate in radical history? And how do we chronicle it?

Some food for thought:
• How do radical activists incorporate history into their activism?
• What are the processes involved in forming radical, history-shaping movements in our day and age (i.e. how do we initiate, shape, translate into action our responses to injustice and violence against and within our communities)?
• How do we learn from the past and incorporate radical themes in our work?
Deadline for submissions is Thursday, November 29.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What I'm Thankful For...

At midnight, my best friend of 28 years called to tell me she was sending me a funny e-mail. "I'm bored," she said, tucked into the house she and her husband are buying while her children slept peacefully. "Mm-hmm," I agreed as I drove to my cousin Trinity's house to take her son some children's motrin. "Just read the e-mail and call me," she said.

Trinity was in the bed, her son and niece tucked in with her. We talked for a moment, then I left.

Upon returning home, I found that I had two friends waiting for me in the yard. New friends, which is amazing, because I don't have many friends and I don't make them easily. So, I climbed into the backseat, sat with them, and did absolutely nothing except run my mouth.

Around two a.m., I finally came in the house. I could smell the evidence of my mom's cooking--the ham was in the oven and the sweet potato pies that I'd poured into the crusts were cooling.

I looked in on my 16-year-old nephew, who was spending the night, climbed over my niece, who was on the floor, and fell into bed.

This morning, a text message from an Alaskan friend whom I haven't heard from in a while woke me. I went back to sleep in a good mood. An hour-and-a-half later, I called from my room into the living room (no, we don't have a big house; I'm just lazy) to tell my niece to put on a pot of water to boil for my one contribution--macaroni and cheese. She said, "Hold on, we're coming." What for, I wondered, but she's 18 and I no longer expect to understand her.

She came into my room with my seven-year-old nephew. They brought me breakfast in bed! They sang me a good morning song! They scrambled my eggs in butter the way I like! For today, at least, I wouldn't trade these kids for the world. My son missed out; like his mom, he was asleep.

My sister spent the night last night as well. I checked in on her. She's had a long week and she was tired. But she was cheerful and enjoying her breakfast. Then, I looked in on my dad. He was still bundled up in bed--strange for a typically early riser--but his breathing was regular and I could see his head poking out from the top of his covers.

From the kitchen came the scent of my mom's dressing and the sound of her soft voice as she talked to the children. She scolded my son about sleeping in a necklace. "Why, MawMaw?" he asked. "I'm scared you'll strangle yourself!" she said. The kids sat at the table eating as my mom did last minute stuff in the kitchen.

"Anyone heard from (my 17-year-old niece)?" She's due anyday now (tomorrow, preferably :-).

"Not yet," her sister answered. "Mama said she better hold that baby--no one's missing dinner today."

I sat down in my favorite chair, at the computer which is my lifeline :-), in our bright, busy kitchen, in our little warm house, with my big, loud family, and I felt good.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Birthday my BFF*, Kimberly.

Love and alcohol, girl.

*I'm hoping saying things like "BFF" will take the sting out of turning 33!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Carnival of Radical Action, Sixth Edition

Inspired by the wonderful M...

“Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.”

That is, according to my limited research, an African proverb that I first encountered at nubian’s site. But as a historian who minored in world history (with a focus on west central Africa) and specialized in the U.S. since 1945, I knew it to be true. Despite all that I learned in my African history courses, the Africans and their descendants whom I studied in my U.S. courses had no history, no background, no lives. They just appeared one day in Jamestown to serve English settlers. That was what the hunters’ history emphasized.

That is just one of the many reasons that for the sixth edition of the Carnival of Radical Action, Vox and I want you to explore making radical history. How do we create and participate in radical history? And how do we chronicle it? (This is a question that dominates my mind as I continually reflect on my long-term goals as a historian.)

Some food for thought:

• How do radical activists incorporate history into their activism?

• What are the processes involved in forming radical, history-shaping movements in our day and age (i.e. how do we initiate, shape, translate into action our responses to injustice and violence against and within our communities)?

• How do we learn from the past and incorporate radical themes in our work?

Vox and I are co-hosting the carnival here. You may submit posts here, use the Blog Carnival submission page, or contact Vox or me. The deadline for submissions is November 29, 2007 and the CoRA will be posted in early December.

And the Mystery Pregnancy Belongs to...

My sister, of course. We were hesitant to say anything because she's had three miscarriages, so she wanted to wait until she was into her second trimester.

Anyway, she's due to deliver April 16.

And my niece is due December 1st, though I'm secretly willing her to have the baby on November 23, my birthday (a.k.a November's Real National Holiday/Day of Thanksgiving).

I Know You Know Already

But I still have to say it.

I am writing-blocked.

Now, I know that happens every couple of months or so, so why do I feel the need to announce it?

Because shortly after I admit it, usually the words come.

So I'm superstitious.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Love My Mom

She says the darnedest things.

Tonight at the store, she was replenishing the kids' school supplies. One of my nieces needed some pencils. I told her to get the pack of 24 wood pencils for $1. She turned up her nose and said, "I don't write with those pencils, Auntie." She prefers mechanical.

"Mmph," my mom said. "You must not plan to write at all, expecting MawMaw to spend three dollars on four or five pencils."

I heard that trademark "mmph" a little while ago as I sat scrambling to re-edit my application letter. "What is it, Mama?" I asked.

"Girl, I'm just looking at your daddy's dentures."

"What about them?"

"A thousand dollars worth of teeth and he won't even wear 'em. Mmph. I think they were more than a thousand dollars. It's a shame."

"That he won't wear them?"

"No, that he don't realize they'll make him look better."

Then she told me how she was about to go to bed and pray a special prayer of forgiveness. Some woman at her job (in a poultry processing plant) has been bugging her. I asked why she had to pray for forgiveness.

"Because today," she said, "I thought about putting that girl on the tray with them drumsticks."

Monday, November 05, 2007


It occurs to me that I am cataloguing, watching, and waiting for shit to explode in my little corner of the world.

Something is going on here in my home region, something created by the nature of race, gender, and class relations here. Everyone is whispering, but no one is talking.

To date:

Precious "Petey" Story, an 18-year old white woman, was murdered in August. The suspected murderers are young black men, one of whom Petey had previously dated.

Shortly thereafter, when the family of a local white girl decided that she was missing, they went to the home of her black ex-boyfriend and demanded entry. She was not there (was later found on her family's property), but that did not stop her parents from withdrawing her from the local, primarily black high school. They were careful to state that they were not racist, but did not believe in interracial dating.

Over the next couple of days, at least seven other white students withdrew (fewer than 30 were enrolled). When my offended best friend asked one of the white boys about it, he said that his sister confessed to being "afraid" to attend school with so many black boys now. "If one of them tries to date her and she refuses, she's scared of what he might do to her."

Really. He said that.

In a neighboring town, four black boys and one white girl checked out of school one day. They "went to one of the boys’ house, located close to the school, where sex occurred between one of the boys and the girl." They returned to after-school activities and during that time, the girl said she had been raped.
The 14-year-old girl was taken to a local hospital, treated for possible rape, and released to her parents.

A 16-year-old male [was charged] with forcible rape... and placed... in an undisclosed juvenile detention center. He was later released.

...The school district conducted a thorough investigation of the incident and determined that sex occurred, but there was no evidence of a rape. No staff members were notified that a rape had occurred during the school day.
The girl's parents have removed her from the parish school district.

When Ouachita Christian (you know what "Christian" typically means in the name of a southern school right? k, thx) played the majority black Madison High School in football in September, some parents reported hearing gunshots. Some time later, OCS played the (majority black) high school where my best friend is cheerleading advisor. She sent her girls over to introduce themselves, but the OCS cheerleaders were not allowed to come to their side. The gist of the OCS cheerleading advisor's explanation? While it was safe for the black cheerleaders to face their crowd, they couldn't trust the black crowd not to shoot at their cheerleaders.

When I visited the local high school recently, the staff was abuzz with the news that a white male student had brought a noose to school at another nearby high school. School officials have not let a word of that out, so I cannot verify that beyond what I heard that day.

Then, keep in mind, I live about 100 miles from Jena and about 45 miles from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, home of these students who mocked the circumstances surrounding the Jena Six cases by blackfacing themselves with mud.

Oh, and the local solution for addressing the violence and problems here? Take the black kids to Angola and "scare them straight":
Gary Clark, a childhood friend and successful businessman, and I were having conversations recently and the topic of jail came up. ...we talked about the number of black men incarcerated and the things that scared us straight.
“You remember when we were at Westside High* and prisoners were brought to the school and talked about prison life, ’’ said the retired Mobil Oil accountant and successful business owner. “...The things they said about prison life scared the (heck) out of me. I knew then, I was not going to do anything that would send me to jail.”
Tommy L. Carr... and members of the community have taken at risk juveniles -- mostly boys -- on prison visits. “And I have seen how these visits changed the lives of young people,” said Carr. A planned Oct. 23 trip to Angola – the Louisiana State Penitentiary - sponsored by District Attorney Bob Levy, will introduce both area boys and girls to prison life.
Angola... has a prison population of more than 5,000 of which 77 percent are black males.
Most prisoners are sentenced to natural life or exceedingly long sentences. It is estimated that 85 percent of the current population will die behind prison walls.
Carr wants to stop this madness. Both Levy and Carr should be commended for their intervention efforts to keep juveniles out of jail.
Even if it means scaring them straight.
That passage is so simultaneously loaded and clueless that I just can't break it all down right now.

Why am I troubled? I mean, for a long time white parents have been vocal about their desire to separate their kids from ours because our kids are violent, threatening, and dangerous, because a violent act committed by one black kid is reflective of the inherently criminal nature of all black kids. In a sense, this is nothing new. Part of me thinks maybe I've just been away for a while and am supersensitive to all the tensions simmering here.

But the other part of me thinks things can't continue to go on this way. This is a lot, in a small area, in a short time frame. I think people here have to begin to talk. Because I am hesitant and, yes, afraid, I decided to begin here.
*Westside High was the "black" school in the latter days of segregated schools in Union Parish.

Friday, November 02, 2007

You Ain't Never Seen...

A Batman and Robin this fierce and righteous! Behold the godbabies:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Happy late birthday Trinity!!

You know I've always thought that Halloween birthday explained so much...


From Document the Silence:

In a Litany of Survival, Audre Lorde writes, “When we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” These words shape our collective organizing to break the silence surrounding women of color’s stories of violence.
I want to help break that silence (my own story, posted sometime ago, is here). But I want to write about what happens when people do break the silence--not to stop the violence, but to perpetuate it.

I've written here about how the discourse surrounding well-known cases of violence against black women is so heartbreakingly, overwhelmingly negative in the attempt to lessen the impact (and even deny the fact) of that violence. And about how the language used about the so-called "immigrant problem" shapes opinion and policies that deny immigrant women their status as women, mothers, family and community members, human beings.

There is so much more to be said. But today I wanted to focus on the negative language, the language that hurts our spirits and sustains the violence, that I hear daily, intimately.

This is my Claudia and her girlfriend.

*****picture redacted*****

Now, while I love Claudia in her own right, one of the things for which I have so much respect for her is the fact that she is openly out and unapologetic in small town Louisiana. There are, of course, the hateful whispers and slurs. But what I hear most are the faux-sympathetic-tone comments, the "if-onlies"--she is smart, beautiful, determined, funny, if only she... lived her life according to someone else's expectations. And then there are the concerned members of our church, who aren't biased or hateful or judgmental or just damned nosey--they are just worried about her eternal soul. Nevermind if they make her life hell.

Her experiences are one of the reasons I wholeheartedly disbelieve the old "sticks and stones" line. Because these words do hurt; they are spoken to crush her spirit, to shame her, to make her be someone that she is not.

This is Felicia. Everyday in October that I passed the civic center in a nearby town, I had to see a memorial, a red silhouette, on the lawn for Felicia and too many other women and children killed by relatives.

Felicia was murdered a few years ago by her estranged husband as she was attempting to move on with her life. She was vibrant, lovely, and unapologetic about the way she lived her life--a source of much talk in a small town.

Felicia was married three times. My best friend, her goddaughter, teased her about the fact that she wore white each time. She told us, she was going to wear white each time--until she got it right.

She believed her third marriage was the right fit. It turned out not to be so. Felicia and her husband were separated and she had begun dating someone else.

Her husband shot her in the parking lot of a local Wal-Mart, went home and killed himself.

For a short while, there were sympathetic outpourings, respectful silences. And then, the breaking of the silence, again negative, began. For some people, Felicia had caused her own death.

Because she, as wife (and thus property), had been with another man.

Because she was not afraid to move on from situations that made her unhappy.

Because everyone knew, **wink, wink** her reputation.

And even some people who condemned him based it on the observation that, "he knew what he was getting."

And I hated those words, imbued as they were with the attempt to justify, rationalize, excuse what happened to her.

In fact knowing, feeling, experiencing the ugliness of words, as so many women have, is one reason I support documenting the silence. Because I want the silence broken. And I want it broken by words we have learned to use to support, build up, nurture, preserve, love each other.

Because I am worn out by the alternative.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Readers of the World...

...Delurk! I heard through the grapevine that today is De-Lurk day. Though I know I haven't kept up my end of the bargain so well in the past few weeks, if anyone is still out there, say hi!!!

P.S. Isn't lurk the most horrible sounding word ever?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


My niece was one of the senior attendants on her homecoming court. After a week or so of running about frantically, her aunt was tres, tres glad the Saturday afterwards.

Anyway, here she is:

Posing outside the gym before the coronation.

With her escort.

During the homecoming parade the next day.

Game Night

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Really, This Is Not Wholly a Post to Gain Your Sympathy

But **sigh** I moved back to Louisiana just when Bobby Jindal is about to become governor. And he's like, so sold on the whole American dream idea that he believes

"In America and here in Louisiana, the only barrier to success is your willingness to work hard and play by the rules."
Mm-hmm. That sparks a number of questions for our new governor: Who defines success? Are you really relying on the old "if you don't make it you're not working hard enough" trope? Who makes the rules? Are they the same for everyone? Is this statement really your take on all the problems Louisiana faces?

And then there are the other endearing facts about Jindal. He is apparently anti-hate-crime legislation, anti-gay rights, so willing to court fundamentalists that he ignores his biology degree, unwilling to vote to override the S-CHIP veto, and on and on.
Of course, I've only been back home a few months. But after reading:
Posts from the Anybody but Jindal blog
I'm sure this governorship is going to leave me with a bad taste. Oh, and just so you know more about my part of the state:
Jindal paid particular attention to north Louisiana, a conservative region that was widely viewed as critical to Blanco's victory four years ago. In a candidate forum in Shreveport earlier this month, Jindal said that he had visited the region 77 times since declaring his candidacy.
He visited my town this past summer. I snapped this pic from the car window, all the time thinking, "A Fresh Start for whom?!!":
Somebody come rescue this square peg!
The one good thing--in trying to read more about Jindal, I have come across some good Louisiana links.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stopping Violence Against Women of Color

From Document the Silence:
Recent events in the United States have moved us to action. Violence against women is sadly, not a new phenomenon in our country or in the world, however, in the last year women of color have experienced brutal forms of violence, torture, rape and injustice which have gone unnoticed, received little to no media coverage, or a limited community response. We are responding to:

The brutal and inhumane rape, torture, and kidnapping of Megan Williams in Logan, West Virginia who was held by six assailants for a month.

Rape survivors in the Dunbar Housing Projects in West Palm Beach, Florida one of whom was forced to perform sexual acts on her own child.

A 13 year old native American girl was beaten by two white women and has since been harassed by several men yelling “white power” outside of her home.

Seven black lesbian girls attempted to stop an attacker and were latter charged with aggravated assault and are facing up to 11 year prison sentences

In a Litany of Survival, Audre Lorde writes, “When we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” These words shape our collective organizing to break the silence surrounding women of color’s stories of violence. We are asking for community groups, grass-root organizations, college campus students and groups, communities of faith, online communities, and individuals to join us in speaking out against violence against women of color. If we speak, we cannot be invisible.

Join us and stand up to violence against women!
  • Be bold, be brave, be red. Wear red on October 31, 2007. Take a picture or video of yourself and friends wearing red. Send it to: We’ll post it!
  • Take Your Red to the Streets! Know of a location where violence occurred against a woman of color? Have a public location where you feel women of color are often ignored? Make violence against women of color visible by decorating the space in red. Be sure to send us pictures and or video of your display!
  • Rally! Gather your friends, family, and community to rally. Check out the Document the Silence website for the litany we’re asking participants to read together on October 31st. Be sure to send us pictures and/or video of the event! You could even gather where you created a display!
More details here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reason Number 63589 This Blog Must Stay (Relatively) Pseudonymous

So that I can say things like this:

1. Right now, I am sleepy and my bra is so tight, it feels as if the strap is trying to fuse with my skin.

2. I am so looking forward to American Gangster. Denzel, Common, Idris Elba, and Chiwetel Ejiofor on one screen?

I'ma have to take a towel--but not for tears :-p

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Because I like to Believe You're Invested in My Life

High School Homecoming
Mid Semester Exams
Community Wide Fall Carnival
University Homecoming
Attempting to keep the peace between your recently-moved-in 18-year-old niece and your nine-year-old son (who apparently live to aggravate the hell out of each other and, thus, out of you)
One busy elle.

I'll be back soon...

with pictures, even. ;-p

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mychal Bell Back in Jail

From the AP:
Mychal Bell, 17, was unexpectedly sent back to prison on Thursday after going to juvenile court in central Louisiana's LaSalle Parish for what he expected to be a routine hearing, Carol Powell Lexing, one of his attorneys said.

Instead, state District Judge J.P. Mauffrey Jr. decided Bell had violated probation and sentenced him to 18 months in jail on two counts of simple battery and two counts of criminal destruction of property, Lexing said.
Now why would you expect anything routine from the
Louisiana court system? Or maybe this is routine.

In discussing this with me, my father said, "Well, baby, they had to do something to show they could keep him in jail if they wanted." And he sounded so certain, like this is something he's just so used to.

H/T My dad and Trinity (who called me at 8:30 this morning pissed off!)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Crazy Mama

So I had one of those days in which I left home around 7 AM and just returned around 8:30 PM. I hadn't seen my child all day and I was a bit anxious to set eyes upon him.

Now, his bedtime is 8:30 in hopes that he's asleep by 9. Every other night, I have to stay on him about his bedtime (and staying in bed--he'll pop up with suddenly **urgent** questions).

I figured he was awake, so I knocked on the door, too tired to go back to the car for my keys. He opened it, said hi, then went back to bed.

My niece looked at me with an eyebrow raised. "He must be tired," she said. "Well, 8:30 is his bedtime," I told her, as if it was a normal occurrence that my child apparently had been in bed before bedtime.

Then, I sat down and started thinking.

This was a bit strange.

So, I go check on him. He's sleeping in my mom's room. Stranger still.

"Hey," I said, "What's up?"

"Nothing." He sounds pretty cheerful, so I press on.

"You could sleep in my room if you like," I offered.

A polite, silent decline.

"Well, okay." And I walked off.

And thought some more.

And went back.

"Did you have a good day?" I asked.

"Mm-hmm. My nanna (his godmother) says she's proud of my behavior."

"Well, I am, too." I looked at him for a moment. "Are you sick?"

"No, ma'am."

"Then you must be really tired."

"Uh-uh. I'm not tired. Do you need something?"


"Okay." As in, Goodnight, Mama and leave me the hell alone.

So I left him the hell alone and I haven't gone back.


But why is it, when you get what you think you want, it seems really crazy?

Monday, October 08, 2007

What I'm Reading...

Kortney Ryan Ziegler (nubian) on women of color as bloggers
Our words challenge the inherently racist idea that we are incapable of engaging in intellectual discourse. As we tread on the ideological terrain that tries to position us as inferior bloggers (and intellectuals), we strengthen our resistance by merely naming oppressions that other bloggers don’t. We provoke a conscious need to remedy the ills of racism in the hopes of transforming society. We resist the standards of what should and should not be said in the virtual world, standards which to some degree reflect the oppressive conditions of our larger society.
BfP on institutional violence against girls
15 year old girl arrested, punched in the face and pepper sprayed for breaking curfew
13 year old girl arrested for writing “Okay” on Desk
10 year old girl arrested for taking scissors to school

Girl arrested for spilling cake:

And so many more incidents. Too many more incidents.

Professor Black Woman on how recent incidents of violence against PoC are not "isolated incidents" but part of a pattern. She also notes how PoC and their allies who document and protest the pattern are likened to "antebellum white Southerns who took isolated incidents out of context in order to stir up a violent fervor targeted at a named enemy."
What is telling about this accusation is not only how easy it is to do a basic search and discover the number of incidents we are talking about but also the ways that once again standing up for the basic civil and human rights of people of color is being seen as inciting hatred and violence.
Ann on the invisibility of black women in the U.S. She's illuminating the truth in the phrase "All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men," the subtitle of Hull, Scott, and Smith's But Some of Us Are Brave.
[B]lack women have never been accorded humanity, personhood, nor womanhood, in America.

We have always been everyone’s toilet to be used for the most grossest and abominable manifestations of female hatred.

This is a topic that I, as a blogger and a historian, have been so hesitant to write about in the way that Ann does--contrasting attention given to the struggles of black men for justice, equality, citizenship, personhood, to the abysmal lack of attention given to black women's struggles. The divide is at times very real to me, but from other angles, it can seem to be a false separation.

Donna Darko has questions for white bloggers:

If four white lesbians aged 19-24 were sentenced to 3 1/2-11 years in prison for defending themselves from a man who held them down, choked them, ripped hair from their scalps, spat on them, and threatened to sexually assault them, all because they were lesbians, wouldn't it be a top story on the progressive blogs for its ludicrousness?
And that's just her first question!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Teaching Woes #2

From Historianess:
Yesterday I gave a quiz in my survey class. I like quizzes; they're a good way to measure how well students are picking up basic facts and patterns, and they're a good way to see both if the students are reading, and how they are doing the reading.

One of the easier questions was "Name two Puritan colonies." Based on my notes, they had three options there: Massachusetts Bay, New Haven (I would accept Connecticut as an answer), and Providence Island. I figured some students would answer with Plymouth or Rhode Island, which would give me an opportunity to remind them that the Pilgrims were Separatists, and that Puritans considered theologically-liberal Rhode Island to be a den of iniquity.

Instead, about two-thirds of the class answered with "Jamestown" or "Virginia."

ARGH! I'm sure that somewhere in a lecture I did talk extensively about how Massachusetts was a Puritan colony and Virginia was *not* a Puritan colony.
From elle's best friend, a high school teacher:
Girl, I'll be up there, thinking I'm teaching my heart out. And they seem to be listening, they ask questions, we talk... then they take the test. And girl!!!
No, she didn't need to add anything else.

From elle herself, after recent exam results in one of my classes:
My God, are they in the same room I'm in?
Seriously, like most professors, I work really hard to give fair exams and quizzes. The vast majority of the time it goes well.

But sometimes, I get results that send my blood pressure through the roof. I don't worry inordinately about really, really low failing grades--those are typically earned by students who don't come to class and/or who admit that they didn't prepare.

Nope, it's the 50s and 60s that really bother me. It's as if there was some effort, but something just didn't quite click. A lot of questions run through my head: What didn't they understand? How could I have presented the material in a different manner that may have stuck with them? How could I have helped them make connections? Was it a "good" exam?

Of course, there are the questions that bother you deeply, the ones that are hard to face--about your ability, skills, and effectiveness as a teacher in general. For example, I can honestly say that I believe I am a "good" teacher, but there are areas in which I want and need to improve.

And that is one thing that has been difficult for me--sitting down and developing goals and plans for how to improve and continue to grow.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Weekend Note

More teaching woes to come. But for now...


Despite the best efforts of Republican spinmeisters to depict American conservatism as a nonracial phenomenon, the partisan impact of racial attitudes in the South is stronger today than in the past.”

Republican politicians… have tacitly acknowledged this reality. Since the days of Gerald Ford, just about every Republican presidential campaign has included some symbolic gesture of approval for good old-fashioned racism.

And the cynicism of the “Southern strategy” introduced by Richard Nixon, which delivered decades of political victories to Republicans, is now starting to look like a trap for the G.O.P.

[Republican] contenders have snubbed not just blacks— but Hispanics…. If this sounds like a good way to ensure defeat in future elections, that’s because it is: Hispanics are a rapidly growing force in the electorate.

And both Hispanics and Asians, another growing force in the electorate, are getting the message. Last year they voted overwhelmingly Democratic, by 69 percent and 62 percent respectively.

In other words, it looks as if the Republican Party is about to start paying a price for its history of exploiting racial antagonism. If that happens, it will be deeply ironic. But it will also be poetic justice.

-Paul Krugman, "Politics in Black and White," New York Times 24 September 2007.

H/T BfP and Shannon

Friday, October 05, 2007

Teaching Woes #1

Don't worry, I'm not second guessing my career choice... for now.

But Lord, the students! And other professors have the same experiences (which I'll cover in a post or three).

Professing Mama talks about laying the smackdown
Anyway, I was discussing the problems with their papers, which I FINALLY returned today, and they were tuning me out. I can handle a little multi-tasking in the classroom, but today was ridiculous. They were IMing each other, whispering, and doing God knows what else. Not cool.

So, as I began the Powerpoint, I laid the smackdown: "If you can't pay attention, then get up and leave RIGHT NOW."

Stunned faces look at me.
I had similar experiences over the last week in one of my classes. First, one student (in her defense I think her voice just sounds confrontational)* came in having a bad day. She was frowning and rubbing her head before class. After class started, she rolled her eyes as I lectured and snapped her cell phone closed--loudly--after sending a text message (something I usually kick students out for; I can't stand that). Rather than confront her right then, I decided to talk to her after class. This was her first time acting like that, and I had some sympathy for her headache or whatever.

And then, she turned her frustration on me. Near the end of class, while I was talking, she says--again, loudly--"Is that all we're going to do?"

To say I was shocked was an understatement. Oh, I've been challenged a couple of times before by know-it-all students. And there had been a constant buzz in my classrooms earlier in the semester about the fact that I seemed "so young." One of my students asked me if I was really the "teacher's helper." But, I'd nipped that in the bud.

So, when, Ms. I-Have-An-Attitude came at me like that, I initially said, "What?"

And she repeated her question defiantly. To be honest, my first response was a snap back: "No, that's not all we're going to do," I told her, "Apparently, we're going to send text messages and act bored as well."

At which point, she sat back and looked embarrassed. And of course, I felt guilty and launched into a spiel about how the syllabus outlines what we'll do in this class, what is expected academically and in terms of classroom conduct, and that the reason we examine source documents is not to bore or overburden them, etc.

But that's still on my mind. Despite the fact that she's come to my office twice since then to talk about her exam and to clarify something from the lecture (she'd never been before). I don't want her feeling like I dislike her/she has to kiss up to me to pass.

Then yesterday, in that same class, three students came in (not all together) rather late. That's not a problem I've had with this class-in one of my other classes, I did tell them if it was more than five minutes after class began, by my time, don't come in. Once I actually stopped a couple of students on their way in and said "See, you next time," I haven't had that problem anymore :-). But anyway, I requested these students see me after class. I asked why they were late. Two of them were like, "I overslept" and "Honestly, I don't have a reason." And I gave a don't-do-it-again-it's-rude-and-disruptive speech and they agreed.

But Mr. Student #3 had much attitude, "You must have me mixed up," he said, "I'm never late." "Well, you are today. And I would appreciate it if you aren't again." Oh, he kept mumbling all the way out of the classroom.

The thing is, I don't know if I'm magically expecting them--mostly fresh out of high school--to have transformed in a few months. I mean, I taught high school and your classroom management has to be superb. But, I put guidelines in the syllabus and discussed behavior the first few days of class. Is it really hard not to whisper loudly in a college classroom? Or to put your phone on silent (rather than on vibrate so that you can a) respond to text messages or b) tiptoe out of the classroom if a call comes that you want to take?). Or to read the textbook or preview the slides/handouts made available to you so you don't spend an hour and 20 minutes looking lost, bored, or asking "How do you spell that?" or "Will you say that name again? Or to participate in class discussions? I'm not a "No you're WRONG!!!!" cut 'em down sort of teacher.

I've had to deal with all that at some point as a TA, an instructor, and a professor.

Why are some of our kids so discourteous? So damn uninterested?

And am I expecting too much?
Ouch! Upon re-reading I realized how unfair that sounded, especially without acknowledging that, my "hearing" is probably influenced by past experience and knowledge of the experiences of other women in the academy.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wait Until I Tell Vox...

Oh. She already knows.

Some kids in my neck of the woods, UL-Monroe, decided to do their own re-enactment mocking of the Jena Six case.

So, they go to the beach.

They roll around in the mud.

And then
three students with mud smeared across their bodies stomp on a fourth student, while two of the participants are heard to say, "Jena 6." One man can also be heard saying, "Niggers put the noose on."
One of the little darlings posted the video of the event on her facebook page:

When asked about it, she couldn't even come up with an original defense:
We were just playin n the mud and it got out of hand. I promise i'm not racist. i have just as many black friends as i do white. And i love them to death.
Now, I feel pretty confident in saying that black folk are pretty tired of self-proclaimed non-racist white people loving us to death. (Because really, y'all are killing us).

And I'm so waiting for the unoriginal defenses others will mount. You know, that "They didn't intend," and "They didn't realize it could be perceived as racist" and "It was just a joke" and on and on and on.

Damn. It must be nice to continually be given the benefit of the doubt.

H/T Jasmyne Cannick. And keep checking Vox's college racism round-up. Unfortunately, she has to add to it somewhat regularly.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

What Louisiana does David Vitter Live In?

So Bush vetoed the SCHIP reauthorization. And in his usual cowardly manner, he skulked off to do so.

Bush is so distasteful, dishonest, and really, just so disgusting to me that I just don't spend much time talking about him. I need the supposed naivete of these children, I guess:

But guess who agreed with him?

David Vitter.

Of Louisiana.

You know, Louisiana, with one of the highest poverty rates in the South? (And that says something).

I've been shaking my head about that for a few days. I have to ask, in what Louisiana does David Vitter live? Surely it can't be the one in which 91,000 children still are uninsured (LaCHIP covers about 107,000 children)? Where, consistently, about one-fourth of children live in poverty? And another 23 percent live in families whose income is 100-200 percent of the Federal poverty level?

And the percentages of low birthweight babies and pregnant women getting late or no pre-natal care, the infant mortality rate, the shortage of primary health care providers? All higher than the national average.

Health care in general in Louisiana is in an abysmal state. But the LaCHIP program has made a difference for our children--since 1999, the number of uninsured children in Louisiana has dropped significantly.

And David Vitter has the nerve to ignore all that. Why, Mr. Vitter, why?

His official answers:
Because he wants to make sure "individuals who already have employer-sponsored health insurance [are exempted] from eligibility for SCHIP coverage." Mind you, according to Governor Blanco, "only 10.5 percent of children with LaChip live in families with access to employer sponsored health insurance."

Because he's worried about that evil of all evils, socialized medicine--he called the bill "Hillarycare." (Way to score a point and strike fear and loathing in the hearts of his supporters, huh?)

My official theory:
Despite the very real need for the SCHIP program, and the demonstrable effect it has had, in the state that he's supposed to represent, Mr. Vitter's still trying to stay in his party's good graces. He's had enough trouble without adding the burden of voting against the Disaster Decider.

Politics. I really wish they'd get back to being about people.

Monday, October 01, 2007


The 32nd edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence is up at abyss2hope.

The 57th edition of the History Carnival is posted at Osprey Publishing Blog.

The Carnival of Radical Action number five is at Sudy's place.

Read, read, read.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Reed Walters would have us believe that the strangely uneven application of (in)justice in Jena is coincidental, a result of the fact that his hands are tied by the limitations of Louisiana law:
In the final analysis, though, I am bound to enforce the laws of Louisiana as they exist today, not as they might in someone’s vision of a perfect world.
But, from the Southern Poverty Law Center comes a reminder that Walters is not just strictly following the word and rule of law as he claims:
Walters ignores the tremendous latitude prosecutors have to raise, lower, or dismiss charges as they see fit, under the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion. The injustice in Jena is not that any criminal charges were brought in the assault on Justin Barker. Rather, the injustice is that black perpetrators in Jena receive a completely different brand of prosecutorial discretion than white perpetrators.
The SPLC's article goes on to address and refute many of the points that Walters brought up in his op-ed, arguing that Walters's exercise of prosecutorial discretion is colored by, well, color.

dnA makes a similar argument noting that Walters
repeatedly used his prosecutorial discretion only to seek jail time for the Jena Six, not after the nooses, but after the series of violent incidents that occurred in the town between students at the school for months after.
Though it has been duly noted since the op-ed appeared that Walters made a number of omissions in his quest to paint a portrait of "the reluctant white lawman trying to keep the piece in a town full of savage Negroes," dnA does an excellent job of illuminating and analyzing those omissions.

The point of this post is not sound like a stilted book review (I must be sleepier than I realize). Kevin got me to thinking ( I sound so country when I say that, but there it is :-) when he made this comment:
The official narrative has become "six black kids beat up a white kid. One of the black kids is in jail, and black people are angry." That's it. That's what people are basing their opinions on.
Why is it so hard for people to see beyond that narrative? Of course, there are many answers, most of which narrow down to the deceptively simple cause of racism.

But I am struck by how Reed Walters is feeding that narrative and wondering about the other ways in which it is sustained.

H/T Francis L. Holland

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mychal Bell Released!

"Teen in Jena 6 case released on bail after D.A. drops effort to try him as an adult."

Oh, my God. Finally!

Police Brutality Strikes Fifth Anniversary of Sylvia Rivera Law Project

**Update from Jack:**
Reggie and Ileana have just been released from police custody! The DA declined prosecution, which means that no charges are being pressed. They are free and clear, and are now getting the support they need from their community - in person.
**Those arrested are friends of Alexis Pauline Gumbs, who blogs at Broken Beautiful Press.**
NEW YORK - On the night of Wednesday, September 26, officers from the9th Precinct of the New York Police Department attacked without provocation members of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and of itscommunity. Two of our community members were violently arrested, and others were pepper sprayed in the face without warning or cause.

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project ( is an organization that works on behalf of low-income people of color who are transgender, gender non-conforming, or intersex, providing free legal services and advocacy among many other initiatives. On Wednesday night, the SylviaRivera Law Project was celebrating its fifth anniversary with acelebration and fundraising event at a bar in the East Village.

A group of our community members, consisting largely of queer and transgender people of color, witnessed two officers attempting todetain a young Black man outside of the bar. Several of our community members asked the officers why they were making the arrest and using excessive force. Despite the fact that our community was on the sidewalk, gathered peacefully and not obstructing foot traffic, the NYPD chose to forcefully grab two people and arrested them. Without warning, an officer then sprayed pepper spray across the group in a wide arc, temporarily blinding many and causing vomiting and intense pain."

This is the sort of all-too-common police violence and overreactiontowards people of color that happens all the time," said Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. "It's ironic that we were celebrating the work of an organization that specifically opposesstate violence against marginalized communities, and we experienced a police attack at our celebration."

"We are outraged, and demand that our community members be released and the police be held accountable for unnecessary use of excessiveforce and falsely arresting people," Spade continued.

Damaris Reyes is executive director of GOLES, an organization workingto preserve the Lower East Side. She commented, "I'm extremely concerned and disappointed by the 9th Precinct's response to the situation and how it escalated into violence. This kind of aggressivebehavior doesn't do them any good in community-police relations."

Supporters will be gathering at 100 Centre Street tomorrow, where the two community members will be arraigned. The community calls for charges to be dropped and to demand the immediate release of those arrested.

1) Call the District Attorney's OfficeThe District Attorney's office # is 212.335.9000, you ask for the early *case* assessment bureau, and ask that all charges be dropped against arrest #s 683706 (Reggie Gossett) and 683701 (Ileana Mendez-Peñate).

You can also call:
- Christine Quinn, President of the City Council: 212.564.7757
- Rosie Mendez, City Council person for the district where Reggie and Ileana were taken: 212.677.1077
-Alvin Vann, City Council person for the district where Reggie & Ileana live: 718.919.0740

You can also go on the web to and send those city council people emails with the same message.
And Alexis's words...
“Without You Who Understand"

Two loved ones of mine have had their names added to the long list of victims of the New York Police Department’s everyday every night brutality. And every time this happens it is an assault against my people, whoever they are. People of color, queer people, young people, transgendered people, activists, sex workers, immigrants. Every time this happens is my people locked away.

But these two. These are my people. This is who I have cried with after break-ups, eaten ice cream with when I should have been studying, this is who sat with me in limbo every semester, unregistered and undocumented because no one believed we’d be able to keep paying for school, least of all us. This is who brought me lemonade and sandwiches when couldn’t get out of bed and couldn’t say why, and most importantly these are the people who stayed up all night with me too many times to count, like Pinky and the Brain in pumas with wild hair, plotting and believing in another world. Projecting and practicing freedom. These are the ones who said, yes, we can build that. And we should paint it purple, not blue. And if someone had been tracing our hands as we punctuated every detail about what playgrounds to make out of the rubble of prisons, what mosaics to glue to the empty US mint…if you had been tracing our hands you would have seen that we were spelling blood and water and water and blood. This is what I mean when I say, these are my people.

They are the ones I have trusted to hold my youth and to hand it back to me with a firm nudge if I ever consider selling out. These are the ones I have trusted to sell their vintage sneakers and stolen accessories to hire a lawyer when the state finally notices. We have agreed that this is a morally and strategically better than actually letting each other become lawyers. So these are the ones I trust to break me out of prison, to never forget where I am. To prove the lie of the state when it says no one loves you, you little black girl. You are nothing. No one cares where you are right now. And they have trusted me too, to pawn, to plead, to risk, to witness, to remember. I have agreed to the same.

But I didn’t think it would be today.

As I write this, my people are locked down for keeping their part of the agreement. After months of planning a fundraiser for the Sylvia Rivera Liberation Project my people were ready to celebrate. After gathering queer and trans people of color and allies from all over the tri-state area my people, these two, deserved the peace of bass and the release of rhythm. Late Wednesday night, like every night, my people were dancing. But late Wednesday night, like every night, the state was on the prowl. And right in front of the bright loud colors, right in front of the opening sounds (you see my people dress like confetti parades, my people move like new memories) the NYPD was doing the state, forcing the power of one black man into a space to small for dignity. And my people, though practicing the celebration, though air traffic hailing the future, this night, my people do not forget the moment. This is why my people wear sneakers and flat shoes. They remember what we agreed. So early Thursday morning they stopped the dancing to witness this arrest, one of millions of arrests, (these too my people). And they said with their eyes what we promised we would say. They said
We see you. We remember what you deserve. And when the lie come out that you are not human, that who you are does not matter, we will stand up that moment with the truth. We see you.

And the policemen could not tell who they addressed with their eyes, from the reasonable distance of the sidewalk. The policemen did not know if by “you” their brown eyes meant the person in the handcuffs or the one clanking them shut. So while their brightly clad feet and their hair awake with dancing did not get in anyone’s way, the policemen found their gazes too wide and too loud. So the policemen grabbed them. And closed their own eyes.

These two. My people. And shoved them in the car without warning.

And what I got then was a 2am text message indecipherable and cut short. And 12 hours later an email. They have not been charged. They have not been arraigned.

Because there is no such crime as love in excess. There is no such crime as too bright for 1984. There is no crime called smarter and braver than what day it is. There is no such crime as wanting more.

But they have not been released yet either. Because to place your soul firmly against the blunt edge of lawfulness is to share terror on measured and socialist terms. And police officers cannot afford to remember the neighborhoods they come from and who is now missing, lest their hearts beat and break against the tight armor of the state. And dreamers cannot afford fancy lawyers. So what I got then was a 2 am text message, and 12 hours later an email.

And what I have now is a promise to keep.
Please, please, call someone, send an e-mail, show up as a supporter.

Cuz Only the Good Lord Himself Can Keep Black People from Ackin' a Fool*

LaSalle Parish DA Reed Walters on the protest in Jena on Spetember 20:
I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened. You can quote me on that.
I get the feeling he doesn't mean that the "unfairly portrayed" Jena residents would've been causing the disaster.

Seeing black people act differently from the way he imagines it? He must've been as surprised as Bill O'Reilly!
*Which is not to dismiss the fact that people of other ethnicities protested.

Mychal Bell to Be Tried as a Juvenile

From the Monroe News-Star:
LaSalle District Attorney Reed Walters has agreed that Mychal Bell, one of a group of black teenagers labeled the "Jena Six," be tried as a juvenile, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday evening.

At a press conference with the Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, Blanco said Walters has decided to drop his appeal of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision that threw out Bell's conviction as an adult and said he should be tried in juvenile court.
Walters held a press conference today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Well, Look What's Crawling Out...

"There is a major white supremacist backlash building," said Mark Potok, a hate-group expert at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group in Montgomery, Ala. "I also think it's more widespread than may be obvious to most people. It's not only neo-nazis and Klansmen—you expect this kind of reaction from them."
The mayor of Jena, who says his town is being portrayed unfairly, allowed himself to be interviewed by the leader of a white supremacist organization. What the hell? I mean, my God! Talk about irony.

I'm late posting about this--see Kevin's post (by the way, is anyone appreciating the truth of Elliott's law like I am?):
As an online discussion concerning race grows longer, the probability of a person referencing Martin Luther King, Jr. as a means to justify their racist and/or ignorant attitudes approaches one.
If I read one more "What would Dr. King think..." from someone questioning support of the Jena Six (and who doesn't know anything more about Dr. King than what s/he hears in soundbites) I might insert my fist through this damned monitor.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Totally Navel-Gazing... say look at my babies, y'all! I need a brain break. My brother's four oldest children (he has six) have been hanging out with their uber-cool aunt since Saturday. Some highlights:

My oldest niece--I don't talk about her much. She's all grown up (20) and working 'n stuff. This is late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. We had to go out of town to get something to eat, of course. As proof of her grown-up-ness, she kept offering to pay for her own food, gas, etc. That was so strange to me!

All eight of my parents' grandchildren. A rare occurence, so I had to get that! This is Sunday after church. My youngest nephew and my son look so raggedy because they have to change out of church gear immediately!
The granddaughters. The great-granddaughter is nestled under that blue t-shirt.

The grandsons--I don't know why the oldest one refuses to smile .

Sunday, September 23, 2007

To the White Progressive Blogosphere...

**Read BlackAmazon.**

When I was younger, I used to spend lots of time on my outward appearance.

Artfully applying makeup so the perfect face would show.

Choosing just the right outfit to make the best of my "good" features, to downplay my not-so-good 0nes.

Practicing my syrupy, southern voice so that my words would sound "right"--no matter what I was saying.

And my inimitable grandmother would look at me and say, "Your slip is hanging."

Meaning, my foundation, the base upon which I built all that artifice, wasn't in order.

Shall I explain what I'm getting at?

Do you know these people? Aside from the fact that they were unbelievably brave and principled?

Do you ever wonder why Rosa Parks instead of Claudette Colvin (who'd refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, AL, bus nine months before Mrs. Parks?) was the face of the Montgomery bus boycott?

Do you ever wonder why this picture of Elizabeth Eckford remaining composed in the face of Hazel Massery's vitriol was such an important image to promote?

Do you ever wonder why sit-in participants had to be so well-dressed, so calm, so "respectable?"

Well, of course you know. The people who would be the face of the Civil Rights Movement had to be virtually blameless. They couldn't give white bigots fodder to dismiss them or the movement. They had to tread a line between being the human face of the movement while upholding super-human reputations and faithfully remaining non-violent.

It was a lot to expect, this demand for perfection, this unspoken implication that African Americans had to be more than human, had to prove themselves worthy of fair treatment, of justice.

But I believe it was necessary then, to stave off attacks from enemies of the movement. Because a flaw, a sign of poor judgment, an episode of human error could be used to question the validity of not only the people involved, but the movement itself.

Well, skip ahead half-a-century, and AAPP makes an observation that struck a chord within me, that "white liberals and white bigots seem to agree."

See, when faced with the question of how the hell can you be so silent in the face of injustice, of unequal treatment, of blatant racism, rather than admit you dropped the ball* or more importantly, that you just didn't get it, you reached back and borrowed those old techniques for impugning the movement.

You can't support the Jena Six (or issues this highlights) because there is no hero?

For people who didn't know much about the Jena Six, suddenly you were awfully concerned about offenses for which Mychal Bell had been convicted.

And you focused on the MAJOR point of "was the slogan really effective/correct/what I would've chosen?"

And you referenced the old, "I just can't understand what they're saying!" I was honestly boggled by the "But... but... I couldn't get clear information" and "Little comprehensible info was published about it."

Oh,and "Well they've been telling us we can't stand for them!" No, you can't. But you can stand with us.

Even if you don't, guess what? We're still going to see and fight the injustice in the treatment of this child:

Whether you think he's a hero or worthy of the effort or not.

And for the other five of our children that you've thrown under the bus--you know, the ones you've convicted even though at least two of them say they did not participate in the fight? The ones who you just know are guilty and that's the other reason you "can't get behind this?"

We're going to press for justice for them, too. They deserve it. They are worth it.

As to all your excuses, your demands for a hero, your offensive "I don't understand?"

I'm saying, "Y'all's slip is hanging."

Get your purportedly progressive foundation in order.
*For example, when it came to posting about the Dunbar Village case and the physical and sexual assault upon Megan Williams, I dropped the ball, trying to wait until I could compose some analysis. I was wrong. I can admit that.

Read this, too!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What I've Read...

...on a Saturday morning. Tina's funeral is today, so I've been up a while.

Good things I've run across already today...

Kevin rounds up and analyzes coverage of the Jena Six coverage.

Like-minded Louisianans at Cenlamar: Questioning the Context of the Story. Cenlamar has other posts about the Jena Six from a very close perspective. (Speaking of Louisianans of like minds--it gets kind of isolating up here in the north. I'll ask about that later.)

BfP with further evidence that the South is not some un-American anomaly when it comes to race.


A Divine Ms. M at Kai's place: Have a Glimmer of Understanding, Or Go Home — About the Jena Six

And Rachel breaks it down in Jena 6: It’s About the Criminal (In)Justice System

Friday, September 21, 2007


Court rules 'Jena 6' defendant to stay behind bars:
Mychal Bell, the sole defendant who remains behind bars from the group of teens known as the "Jena 6," will not be released Friday, a court decided.

Bell, 17, has been in jail since his arrest more than nine months ago.

It was not immediately clear what happened in court Friday, where Bell's attorneys had planned to push for his release.
I'll bet I have an idea of what happened.

You can't tell me someone somewhere (on that court, perhaps?) isn't thinking, quite smugly, "We showed them."*
*And yes I'm cynical and pissed off and not apologetic about it.
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...