Tuesday, January 30, 2007

An Unorganized History Post

Somedays, I could make 100 posts a day.

And somedays, I can't think of a word to say. Or I'm too busy. Or extraordinarily lazy. Like, I wanted to post about the Kappas who got sentenced to two years for hazing. But I'm too apathetic right now.

But I am reading and writing. I'm sitting in on a labor history class and loving it. I've just read Lichtenstein's State of the Union; Buhle's Taking Care of Business, and I'm about to read Labor Embattled. I also got a book from the library, Hard Work by Fantasia and Voss, that I'm liking it a lot. But I'm all disillusioned now. I have a very idealistic view of the possibilities of labor unions and yet, I can't see how they can ever live up to my dream. The overall feel that I get is that they settled. They became unwieldly old relics stuck in business unionism, an institution unto themselves, instead of organic, vibrant entities able to capitalize on opportunities and the strengths of their memberships.

Last week, the professor asked us did we think labor unions should be concerned solely with issues of wages and working conditions or should they be part of a broader push for social justice. Perhaps, suggested a classmate, we were placing too much on the shoulders of labor unions. Perhaps what we needed was a labor movement, a Labor Party. We spent several minutes wiping away the tears that resulted from our cynical laughter at the idea of the US having any such movement, of acknowledging any class conflict without having people labeled as dreaded socialists and the like (hell, we can't even get most people to vote or anyway advocate for their class interests!).

And then, most of us expressed the idea that labor unions could not fluorish if they do just as the companies who exploit employees do--namely, define their members solely as workers. The well-being of workers depends on much more than a higher wage.

Fantasia and Voss note that the labor movement was becoming more exclusionary just as immigrants from southern and eastern Europe started arriving in large numbers. The emphasis on craft unionism, bastion of skilled, white men, and the racism and sexism that permeated the unions rendered them incapable of reaching both these new workers and black workers. It also meant that union leaders, especially those of the AFL, had a narrow vision of unionism that never included the interpretations of what unionism meant to marginalized workers. For example, many historians have written about how black workers saw union membership as a step towards full citizenship, an avenue for agitation for civil rights. Both Buhle and Lichtenstein indicate that the inability, or as Herbert Hill would argue, the blatant unwillingness, of unions (with a few notable exceptions) to take the forefront in the struggles of the 1960s and beyond meant that they lost much of their appeal. Lichtenstein, using a quote from a young Bill Clinton, notes how the "new" radicals actually viewed the unions skeptically and as part of the establishment.

And that is something else that bothers me, the way that "radicalism" has been treated within unionism by business union leaders like Gompers. Gompers called the IWW (which I will admit I have a largely dreamy view of) a fungus. George Meany bragged that he'd never been on strike. Yes, it's easy to point to Taft-Hartley (an evil piece of legislation, if ever there was one) and blame the legislation for the expulsion of radicals (namely, communists) from unions, but Gompers and his supporters fought many battles against the IWW and later, the CIO, and derided methods like strikes and picketing and IWW members' willingness to get, um, physical. The expulsion of radicals meant the expulsion of the organizers who were most likely to try to reach the unskilled, racial/ethnic "minority" workers. These organizers were also the most likely to see unionism as part of a larger struggle and not an end, in and of itself. The result was an emphasis on bureaucracy and grievance processes and a sad, sad move away from the vision of "social democracy" unionism.

So what happens now? When unionism is at dismal lows among black workers and manufacturing workers, historically (well, since the mid-twentieth century) strongholds? Do unions have a purpose? Can they ever rebound? Will they learn lessons form "alternative" groups like workers' centers (e.g. the Center for Women's Economic Alternatives) and poultry justice alliances? Will they finally see their members' struggles in contexts outside the workplace?

I'm cynical, right now and I shared that in class. So the professor asked, "Elle, are you saying we're doomed?" And I said,"It would take such a radical shift in the mainstream mindset, in the ideology surrounding poverty and class and workers' rights that right now, I have little hope."

He looked at me and smiled and said, "A more radical shift than it took to overthrow slavery? To overthrow Jim Crow, legally? Remember, people thought those things were eternal, too."

And then, my silly old idealistic heart swelled.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Strike up the Violins...

...for the worn out chorus of "I didn't know..." "It wasn't my intent..." and "One of my best friends is (fill in the blank)."

I'm tired of these gangsta/ghetto/"let's mock black people then act like we, as people who grew up in a stridently racialized and stratified society, don't know that it's offensive" parties. At the very least, as my sister noted of the Tarleton State Crew, these people are part of a generation who grew up with a heroic image of Dr. King, so they know that this "celebration" of his birthday may have been just a little problematic.

I really don't have much to add, because, again, this wears me out and I'm late to this. Some good links:

Rachel's Tavern
Philip A. Moore

Was Friday a Monday?

In some alternate universe? Not a pleasant beginning to the weekend. I:

-worked on my disertation at the library, but then left my drive there. It is not in lost and found. I'm not totally panicking because I think I saved the work to my account there. But there are some things on that drive that might not be anywhere else. Why the hell would someone take it?

-got an e-mail from an archivist at Wisconsin Historical Society about some microfilm I've been waiting for since November (lots of ILL issues). He wanted to let me know that he'd given me the wrong call number. Mind you, the ILL request is floating out there, so I'll probably get the wrong microfilm. Again.

-realized my brakes could not go another day without some work. $250!! I so love spending money on my car.

-found out it was supposed to rain again today. And it did. Blech!

-went to bed about midnight and woke up around 4:30, wide awake. Didn't get back to sleep until after six, so when I had to get up at eight, I could've beaten the hell out of somebody!

-am sleepy right now and my sister just called to say, "Let's do something! It's Saturday."

Yes, wet, dreary, sleepy Saturday and she chooses this one day to be chipper and outgoing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


This one got to me:
A white former sheriff's deputy who was once thought to be dead was arrested on federal charges Wednesday in one of the last major unsolved crimes of the civil rights era - the 1964 killings of two black men [Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee] who were beaten and dumped alive into the Mississippi River.
I always feel a sense of "Good, but, damn, he already got to live his life!"

But then, this makes me remember that justice is not measured in how many years someone spends in jail:
"I've been crying. First time I've cried in about 50 years," Moore's 63-year-old brother, Thomas, said after the arrest. "It's not going to bring his life back. But some way or another, I think he would be satisfied."

Dee's sister, Thelma Collins, told The Associated Press through grateful sobs: "I never thought I would live to see it, no sir, I never did. I always prayed that justice would be done - somehow, some way."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rain, Rain...

I looked out the window this morning, and thought,

How the hell did Noah stand this???

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

To Quote Ice Cube...

Today was like one of those fly dreams
Didn't even see a berry flashing those high beams...
Today I didn't even have to use my a.k.
I got to say it was a good day.
Not that I have an AK. But Monday was a good day. So, even though I can't sleep, it's a content sort of insomnia, I suppose.

I spent Monday in the library and was really productive. My chapter is all over the place, but I was able to slash and move and consolidate so I have a clearer idea of what I'm trying to do.

My nephew had a number of As and Bs in his progress folder. We agreed on a place for dinner without the kids killing each other (Sis is out of town). I cleaned the stove and the kids helped vacuum. And my son brought home this:

And... one day this week, elle, who likes to envision this blog as (at least partly :-) academic, will post about her dissertation, seeking your insight and wisdom. Shocking, I know. In the interim, read up on unionization and the South and black women and right to work laws and unions' exclusionary practices (yeah, right, huh?). I have this absolutely exciting thesis (not wholly original) about what unions failed to realize when they were ignoring low-wage industries with high proportions of workers from marginalized groups and what they're going to have to do to reach these workers.

I know. Contain your excitement.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why I'm Pro-Choice

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

Why am I pro-choice? I don't often examine my reasons, am usually content to offer a "because women should have autonomy over their own bodies" as sufficient cause. But what about me personally? Yes, I've had an abortion. Yes, I've had a child. In both cases, I chose what I wanted to do, and I believe that every woman should have that right.

There was no incapacitating post-abortion syndrome (or whatever the "pro-certain-life" crew is calling it lately). What I did feel was relief. And here is another reason I'm pro-choice, because the discourse around pregnancy, abortion, and motherhood is such that, while I didn't feel guilty about the abortion, I felt guilty about not feeling guilty. I felt guilty because I had no business being pregnant anyway--I should've known better. I felt guilty because one of the factors in my choice was that I was a college student on scholarship far from home and I knew that I wouldn't have been able to stay at my university. Was that selfish? And as a woman, defined largely as a potential mother, wasn't I supposed to be infinitely selfless? I don't want other women going through that "ashamed of not being shamed."

But I am learning that the way I conceptualize choice is influenced somewhat negatively by my privileged-in-some-ways status. First is my previously narrow definition; when I talk of reproductive freedom, I usually mean access to birth control and abortion. Though I know that there are other issues, I prioritize those, because they have been my concerns. But recently, I found this definition from INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence :
REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM INCLUDES: Free and low cost drug treatment for pregnant and parenting women that offer neo-natal care, pre-natal care, and childcare. * Freedom to seek health care services without the fear of being reported to the police, welfare officials, child protection services (CPS), or immigration law enforcement. * Harm reduction strategies that reduce the risk of babies being born drug exposed. * Resources to address the root causes (rape, poverty, trauma, oppression)for which pregnant women use drugs. * The TRUTH about the risks of choosing long-term birth control methods like Norplant and Depo-Provera. * Supportive community environments where women can make healthy and non-coercive reproductive choice
Yes, I thought. I agree with every bit of that. So why haven't my words and thoughts reflected it? But rather than dwell on why I haven't prioritized these issues, I have to work to make them part of my own definition of reproductive freedom.

And BfP has posted an excerpt from Andrea Smith's Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide. What it reveals is that a narrow definition of choice like mine "continues the marginalization of women of color, poor women and women with disabilities." Some reasons why:
1. One example of this marginalization is how pro-choice organizations narrow their advocacy to legislation that affects the right to choose to have an abortion–without addressing the conditions that put women in the position of having to make the decision in the first place.
2. While contraceptives are often articulated as an issue of “choice” for white women in the First World, they are articulated as an instrument of population control for women of color and women in the Global South. (I think petitpoussin's post about "elective" sterilization in California prisons is somehow related to this).
3. The prevalent ideology within the mainstream pro-choice movement is that women should have the “choice” to use whatever contraception they want. Yet, mainstream activists often do not consider that a choice among dangerous contraceptives [like Depo-Provera and Norplant, which I know are favored at some health units in North LA] is not much of a choice.
I have been dismissive, even on this blog, of the effects of the population control/eugenics ideology of Margaret Sanger in a, "Yes, it's bad, but look what came out of her work" sort of way. I have been dismissive, in real life, towards women who have unwanted pregnancies and yet cannot afford abortion: "How can't you afford abortion? Having a child is much more expensive!" I have been dismissive, in my thoughts, of women in my community who have unwanted pregnancies and yet do not want an abortion because of religious and cultural beliefs.

And what I can say, as a woman, and I think, for me, especially as a woman of color, is, "Shame on me." My own discourse about choice has to stop being so limited, so clueless, so exclusionary.

It's really not choice at all, if it is only the domain of women who can "afford [it] or [who] are deemed legitimate choice-makers."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Lesson for elle, the Verbose

So, Kactus tagged me. A story in six words. I've been thinking and thinking. Results so far:

His suitcases, packed. My heart, broken.

A vicious sting. It slithered away.

She gave everything. It wasn't enough.

I like doing this. In the meantime, I tag Julie, Ragey, InfoScholar, Gwyn, Zan, and anyone else who wants to participate.

And BF TX, leave one in the comments :-)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Out of the Mouths...

...of astrologers. My horoscope for today, submitted sans comment.

Distractions abound today, so it will be a bit of a struggle to keep your eye on the ball. The good news is that before the end of the day you will get a sneak preview of what things will be like when you have finished this project. You are due for some major recognition -- and there are possible financial rewards as well. Let your people know that socializing is not in the cards right now, that your time needs to be devoted to your latest mountain-climbing expedition.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Red Car and The Green Light

You know, it's a d-a-m-n shame when you have to wrack your brain to figure out what you do for fun. But rather than dwell on the somewhat isolating activity that's occupying much of my time lately (ahem), I'm going to take you back a decade or so, in honor of Blog for Radical Fun Day.*

If you know anything about me by now, you know that I am from the country. And not a gently rolling area outside a major city. Nuh-uh. I mean the kind of country where I know intimately my cousins 23 times removed, picked my share of purple hull peas, and had a graduating class of 32. And being that my hometown is a proud place that tries to live up to all the stereotypes of rural places, we had our very own hole-in-the-wall club. It was called the Green Light.

And while I had been clubbing a couple of times in large cities and in the college towns close to hometown, there was nothing in the world so wonderful, so worthy of all-week anticipation, so much fun as Saturday night at the Green Light. Now, were you to cast your eye upon this marvel during the daytime, you'd raise your eyebrow and re-think your characterization of elle as a sensible woman. For it is nothing much to look at under the glare of the sun, a small wooden building, tilting precariously to one side, that makes Harpo and Sophia's juke joint look palatial.

But oh, at night, and on Saturday nights in particular, we packed that place with an enthusiasm never before seen... except on the previous Saturday nights. We stepped on each others' feet. We bumped each others' hips. We frequently had to escape outside for fresh air. Yet, the Green Light maintained a mysterious aura that made it seem the hottest spot in all the South.

Indeed, so deliciously overwhelming was the experience of the Green Light, that you could not go in unprepared. No! There was a ritual Sis, Cousin T (whom I shall call Trinity), and I observed on Saturday nights. There were preparations during the week sometimes, if the party had a theme--hurried jaunts to Lane Bryant and the hair salon, inspections of the supply of lip glosses and liners--but the Saturday night ritual began around 6. On cue, one of us would turn on the CD player. Blackstreet, Biggie, Tupac, UGK, Xscape, some old Dr. Dre, circulated for the next four hours. We took turns bubble-bathing in our one tub and yelling directions at whoever was ironing clothes that night.

Every once in a while, we'd stop to hype ourselves up by singing along: "Looking for that good stuff, da-da-da-da-daaaaa-da, Tighten up on that back stroke," or "If you take your love away from me, I'll go crazy," or, for a minute, "Every time I see your face it makes me wanna sing and every time I think about your love it drives me, Crazy." You see, Trinity and I didn't drink yet, and so these mini-concerts helped keep us pumped, helped keep the hearts pounding, while we were getting ready.

And then the donning of the carefully selected, group approved outfit. We'd wonder aloud, "Does this look right? Tell the truth. Don't have me lookin a damn fool!" But that was a rhetorical exercise. One glance in the mirror was the ultimate affirmation. I had a level of conceit matched only by... well, Trinity and Sis's conceit. We were pretty in three different ways and couldn't no one tell us shit! Thus we'd exit the house and climb into my car, a 1991 red Mercury Cougar.

I loved that car with a passion that has yet to burn within me for my later automobiles. They simply do not have the heart, the strength, the ability to take a beating that the Cougar had. It was a hand me down from my dad and when it finally gave up the ghost, it had almost 300,000 miles. That car lived through accidents, haphazard driving, and constant overload.

But I digress. We'd drive the 6 miles to the Green Light, wheedle our way in for free or grudgingly hand over the $5. And then, it was on. For most of my life, when it comes to dancing, I have been a wallflower. But not at the Green Light. I danced. I laughed. I flirted. I had much attitude when the occasion called for it, like when best friend Louisiana and I were slow dancing next to each other one night (she with her now-hubby, don't remember my partner) and some girl came up to her and acted like she was going to slap her. In an act of beautiful fluidity and grace, BF LA and I swung on her at the same time. Alas, I did not get to earn any fighting cred right then; BF LA ended the debacle by throwing the offender into a table. And then we kept dancing.

And there was also Big Ferg, the best friend of DJ Quiet Storm, who would get on the microphone and admonish wallflowers, "If you scared, go to church." When a song came on that my girls and I loved, he'd tell Quiet Storm to turn down the music so the whole club could listen to us sing. Horribly. But with so much enthusiasm and none of our usual self-consciousness.

We loved the Green Light for another reason--it gave us the opportunity to rub something in the cops' face. They harass any black club in the area and they hated when the Green Light was open. They'd come make sure every single car was parked in the too-small lot, not too close to the road--in which case they'd gleefully ticket or tow. But for the most part, all they could do was sit and wait, hoping for a brawl, or a gunshot, or a drunk driver. We used to go outside and stick our tongues out and flip them off. They'd act like they didn't see.

But one night, they set up a checkpoint. Big Ferg was on probation and didn't have a driver's license. So, Sis agreed to drive him home in Quiet Storm's car. Turns out, the car's brakes were shot. They ran into a ditch and Big Ferg rolled over onto Sis. Now, Big Ferg was 5'5" and about 450lbs. Sis remembers that he apologized profusely while he was on top of her and all she could say was, "Mmph." That was so funny to us then and now, in light of later events, it is really a sweet memory.

Then after the club, since I was still firmly ensconced in my ability-to-stay-up-all-night years, we'd climb into the Cougar, usually six or seven of us by then, and ride the 22 miles to the nearest "city." We'd converge upon the Huddle House or, much more fun, the Texaco, for a late night breakfast. Yes, I said Texaco. Yes, we have delis in our gas stations--makes up for the lack of fast food franchises. A controlled (after all, we had house training and the parents weren't coming to get us out of jail for bad behavior) afterparty would ensue. And just about dawn, I'd collapse into bed, too tired to take off my makeup or my bra. But I'd have sweet dreams.

So that is what a early-twenty-something country girl did for fun. Any other day, I might have been too embarrassed to tell you.

But, oh, never underestimate the lure of a Red Car and a Green Light.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lord, I'm Feeling It Today...

..fat, that is. And not for any reason like my pants won't fit or something.

Ok, promise not to fuss. I know I publicly swore off radio stations a while ago, but I was weak this week--I've been having the Hooked on Phonics Multiplication CD in my car since Christmas and I'm tired of it.

But anyway, witness godforsaken Station #1: Last night, they apparently had people call in who were basically saying, "I'm fat and I'm proud," or "I'm not ashamed." Okay. But then the DJs suggested that, since they had fat people representing, "Are there enough anorexics and bulimics who could call in and represent?" To which they all laughed and one guy said, "Nah, man, they're probably too weak from throwing up dinner." And the original DJ said, "I'm just saying, since anorexics and bulimics are the opposite of being fat."


Horrible Station #2: Topic for the morning? How do you feel about fat people? Chosen because one listener called in and complained about how she was sick of seeing fat people at buffets with three or four plates. And that she was tired of fat people because they were lazy and they stink. And I thought, my God, what other group could you get on the radio and say this about and have the hosts laugh?* I turned it in the middle of one girl, obviously young, who called in with tears in her voice to defend herself, "I'm fat and I don't stink. I make sure I shower everyday." I really felt sorry for her.

But really, this time, I am through. Multiplication facts never sounded so good.
Of course these are people who noted on air that the "gay brigade" was going to be after Isaiah Washington. And once the woman host thought about that, she appended, "But I love the gay brigade."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Belated Demand to De-lurk

Because I am still cold and irritable, I am demanding that anyone who stops by regularly but doesn't comment, please do so. Yes, I know I'm over a week late, but really, it's me. Did you expect differently?

I don't think I really have lurkers--I recognize most of the cities or ISPs of the people who come here. But I do have at least one that I'd love to meet--someone from my university who checks in once a week or so. De-lurk posthaste so I don't inadvertently talk about you to your face. :-)

Despite my irritability, I promise to be kind and welcoming--school is cancelled for the kids, which means I didn't have to get up on my day off, go out in the cold, and drop them off. But I'm still awake!!

Though that will be remedied shortly.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How to Piss elle Off When She's Already Sleepy and Cold

...fuck with the kids. Seriously, I checked my e-mail today and one AOL headline was "Why Didn't Boy Try to Escape?" a reference to Shawn Hornbeck.

I get a particularly nasty attitude when people ask this of battered women (because just leaving, you know, is so easy to do). But when assholes start asking it of kids?

I get sick to my stomach.

He is a child who had to depend on this man for everything. Everything. And who knows what the bastard may have been telling him? Who knows how terrified he was at what might happen to him, to people he loved, if he tried to escape? So what if he had internet access and a phone? If you've been in a violent or abusive situation, you know escaping is more about what is in your mind than all the routes available to you.

I hate this question, because it has the suspicious smell of victim blaming. There is an implication that "It must not have been too bad," or "He must have liked something," or somehow, an 11-year-old child was in collusion with his abductor.

I hope they focus this much on the damned kidnapper's motives.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Three Carnivals. The resultant likelihood of elle getting any academic work done on this cold, rainy day... mmm... approximately 0%. But if I read up now, I'll be good the rest of the week, promise.

First, at abyss2hope, the Carnival against Sexual Violence. One highlight:
In How to tell a rape victim posted at F-Words, we get Sara's story of her experience with date rape, and how the "fate worse than death" idea kept her from recognizing it as rape because it hadn't completely broken her.
I think I know how Sara feels--in my case I took it to the point of, "Since I'm still functioning, working, writing, was I really raped?"

Next, at Working, Writing, Wailing Mama (that really should've been my name), there is the Carnival of Gradual Progress. What I need to check out posthaste:
check out the strategies for productivity provided by Jim Gibbon on overcoming procrastination and developing personal productivity. StyleyGeek gives another great roundup of such strategies here. (And don't forget to check the comment threads for more input on how the strategies are working for others.)
Finally, the 46th edition of the History Carnival is up at Investigations of a Dog. The carnival links to dcat who posted Reductio Ad Kingum. An excerpt:
But King stood for some fairly specific things in his life, and his legacy deserves more than simply to serve as a pillar of virtue for whoever can hastily utter his name first, irrespective of whether that invocation bears scrutiny.
which sounds vaguely* related to what I may have been trying to say in the post below.
vague on my part, not dcat's

On Martin, Metaphors, and Mohandas

Happy Birthday, Dr. King! God bless his memory. And Happy King Holiday, readers!

Okay, lots to say and I lack the finesse, the right words to say it--but I'm saying it anyway.

As a historian, and one who absolutely loves the study of the post-World War II U.S., I am always amazed by how we use Dr. King as a metaphor. He is, at once, a synonym to the Civil Rights Movement, the influence of the black church, and positive black manhood. Now, while none of those is a bad thing, they don't leave much room for him as a person; one who didn't spring from somewhere as a full-fledged leader, but whose life experiences shaped and--the part the metaphor most obscures--continually changed his philosophies.

As a mom to a school-aged child, I understand the usefulness of the metaphor. You can explain to children the bare bones of segregation, as "white people and black people couldn't...", but answering the question of, "why did it change?" is a lot more difficult. So you pull out the King metaphor, highlight it with a touch of school segregation (to make it relevant!) a dash of Rosa Parks and a smidge of "I Have a Dream" and voila! They get it.

Somewhat. You see, we can tell King's life in a very linear fashion, where it makes sense that point A (alternately his birth to a preacher and teacher OR the incident in which he was told he could no longer play with his white friends) led to point Z (usually identified as the March on Washington). My nephew has absorbed the metaphor quite well. His one minute rendition of Jim Crow and it's demise: "When he was a little boy, he played football with his friends and two of 'em were white and then they said they couldn't play with him anymore and he was upset. So, when he got big, he had a dream And so, before Dr. King, white people and black people couldn't play together and after Dr. King, they could." And we nod our heads and think, that will suffice.

Unfortunately, we remain content to let that suffice for far too long. To a point where people become resistant to learning anything else. And no, I'm not throwing up my hands and lamenting the fact that, "All they know is MLK!" I want them to know MLK and other people, too. But I also want my son to know more than names and big events. I want him to understand that segregation wasn't just about separation--it wasn't just that white and black kids couldn't play together, but that there is a whole ideology of superiority and inferiority coded into that separation. And I want him to understand about grassroots activities, especially the roles women played as organizers. I think this history is too important to be understood solely as a metaphor.

I have a person-as-metaphor left over from my childhood, too. It is centered around Mohandas Ghandi, whom I know primarily in terms of Dr. King's adherence to non-violent protest. Thus, I admire Ghandi from afar, as the securer of India's freedom (ah, metaphor) and an influence on the CRM. I have this quote by him appended to my e-mail signature:
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
And because I understand Ghandi in simplistic, metaphorical terms, I was content to quote him.

But, one of the friends I e-mail regularly is Jewish, and last night, she sent me this
You might want to rethink quoting Gandhi. I discovered that Gandhi recommended, when Hitler started imposing discriminatory laws against the Jews in the 1930s, that all German Jews commit suicide. After the war, when challenged, he stuck to his recommendation!
Thus, in the weeks since she has learned this, her metaphor of Ghandi, which was similar to mine, has changed. And because I am trapped in thinking not of Ghandi, but of what I was taught about Ghandi, I am really disturbed.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

And On That Note...

...I'm logging off for the night. H/T Meagan.

You Are 63% Addicted to the Internet

In your opinion, life without the internet is hardly worth living.
Could be, but you probably need a bit more fresh air and sunshine to think clearly.

Four Songs I Have on Repeat This Weekend.

Really. I cannot stop listening to 'em. Since Friday night!

A Rose Is Still a Rose by Aretha Franklin (Irreplaceable is like a later version of this song's message).
Until You Come Back to Me by Aretha.
First Love by Goapele.
Backstroke by Teedra Moses.

Every couple of hours, I throw in Maroon 5's Pure Imagination. I hate when I get stuck like this.

Saturday Family Blogging-Basketball Edition

Okay, so it's Sunday. I started it last night. The kids are in a basketball league. A few shots from game day:

Sis and son after his team's win.

BF TX and son. She's not standing, so y'all can't see how disgustingly cute she is pregnant.

The Kid and my reluctant godson, pre-game.

Trying not to look smug in victory.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

help... weak... need... food

So, Sis and I are waiting anxiously to go out to dinner. But since I struck a deal with the devils last night, we can't.

See, the kids get to watch TV Friday and Saturday night. They'd made big plans to watch Jump In on Disney last night. But, I had errands to run and Sis was out so they had to go with me. I promised they could watch it tonight.


Around 7:40, I gave up the battle and started watching it with them. KeKe Palmer reminds me so much of my sister, so I have a soft spot for her. And Corbin Bleu is taking over the role the lead character in High School Musical played--boy who tries to do something labeled decidedly non-manly and is harrassed for it.

My first impression? Damn, it's bad enough 99% of the Disney cartoons have main characters with dead and missing moms; must Corbin's mom be dead, too? What is it about us mamas that's so horrible and prohibitive-of-character-development?

Saturday Family Blogging

First up, long overdue Christmas pics.
My cousin from the post below and her sister. She, her sister, my sister, and I all have the exact same initials. We're also all brilliant and beautiful. :-)

My son (in back) and nephew in "my" room at my parents'.

My nephew opening a gift. He has the camera smile down pat.

My older goddaughter (my Belle!) opening Teh DORA. She was uninterested in anything else I bought her after that.
Three of our little girls.

And some of our boys.

Two of my gifts.

More in July.

January 13, 1913

Delta Sigma Theta.

Is anything else so sublime, so invigorating, so awe-inspiring and yet so much like a gentle, lyrical caress to the human ear?


Today, my Sorority is 94 years old. It has been a turbulent but blessed, beautiful, historic, journey.

For Gwyn, Ragey, BF TX, BF LA, and any other Sorors who stop by--Happy Founders' Day!

For my line sisters, I think of this probate chant:
We are the ladies,
Of Delta Sigma Theta,
Everyone knows,
There's no one greater!
Elegance, Intelligence,
You know we are live.
We are the new Deltas
Spring 95.*

And here is my cousin, still a neophyte, representing:


*Lord, I'm old!!!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Cue Mighty Mouse Theme

Can women have that Save the Day Guy syndrome Lauren named and Zuzu expounded upon?

Cuz Madonna seems to have a bad case with regard to her recent adoption of a little boy from Malawi.

Dang, she's all modest about rescuing people 'n creating new laws 'n stuff.

What will our intrepid superheroine conquer next?

Thursday, January 11, 2007


After an unusually long PTO meeting, I stopped at the store to try to buy a new USB cord to plug my digital camera into the computer. It disappeared in Louisiana and has yet to be seen again.

Anyway, I couldn't help myself... I stopped by the book department, particularly the section labeled "African American." For long moments, I stood mesmerized by a most scrumptious trifecta: autobiographies of LL, Denzel, and Tavis, all with lovely cover photos (Lord, ha'mercy, LL!). Once I tore myself away, I realized that I've been ordering books online too long; apparently, so-called "urban" books are all the rage. The shelves were swamped with them. And Lord, some of the titles made my eyebrows lift. Titles like She Ain't the One, Around the Way Girls, My Woman His Wife and so many others. And y'all, I swear, there was one called Someone Else's Puddin. WTF?

And before you think I'm giving urban books a particularly hard time, I will admit to judging those particular selections solely by their covers. They could be excellent--but I can't get past the puddin' reference! I have read a couple of urban books though--I remember liking one quite a bit. The other one was too much for me--not in terms of sex or suspense or drama (I won't even get into some of the non-academic stuff I read and enjoy)--but just something about the whole package. It was a little overwhelming.

Next were the inspirational books. I smiled politely at those, picked up a couple, and returned them to their correct spots. That's another prejudice I have--I'm scared if I actually read one, I'll come away feeling guilty. I know, I know, I'm a grown ass woman who makes her own choices. But it's hard to escape that Baptist upbringing sometimes.

And then there was a little interesting section where urban seemed to meet inspirational with titles like Drama in the Church and some works by Kimberla Lawson Roby (whom I have not read) that focused on... well, drama in the church.

There was a work by Zane--Caramel Flava. I didn't even have to pick it up--I got it for Christmas. :-) And, I started to pick up a carelessly placed copy of He's Just Not that into You, make copies, and distribute it to a couple of friends. But, hell, we know the signs; there's no use in paying ten bucks for affirmation.

There were also (my favorite!!) black cookbooks. Cooking with Garvin, whom I don't know. Mo'nique's You Can't Trust a Skinny Cook--which was all funny to me until I realized the cooking shows I watch most often have Paula Deen, Ina Garten, and Emeril. And, Rachael Ray, of course, who's a bit curvy. I didn't particularly like Giada de Laurentiis and another slender woman whose name escapes me now. Apparently, elle shares the wariness about skinny cooks. And one called Cooking for Your Man, which I was all ready to get on my high horse about, but then I had a reality check. Enough said.

Finally, pushed out of the African American section were the works by more mainstream black authors. They were on a shelf simply labeled "novels." I hope that's because they have such a loyal fan base and sell so well that people will seek them out. But given the number of highly-glossed lips, barely covered bottoms, stacks of money, and sunglasses (when did they become teh symbol of "urban"?) I saw in the other section, I doubt it.

I just realized there's no way I can edit that last paragraph to not sound snobby--well, maybe except to say, if it gets people reading, good.

What did I buy? Did I even buy anything? I'm not telling because, if I did buy something, trust, it goes on this list begun by petitpoussin. And I'm not ready to divulge. **she writes coyly**

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Three Things (Thing One)

So, I have three things to say, and rather than kick myself for being online right now, I'm going to say them, then bid you all adieu as I once again place the computer in quarantine. I'm leaving this on top so you'll know these all important three things are here and in the posts below.

In a wonderful effort to explain how I'm feeling, a wise, dear friend sent me the following observation:
every step you take, you're greeted with more steps to go and the feeling that you're not getting anywhere.
To which I can only say, "Exactly." I have a routine, really I do. Reading at night. Writing during the day. Anxiety at all times because, 1) at some point during the reading, I realize, I cannot read everything on this topic and I've read so much that I can't even cover it all and 2) at some point during the writing, I spend long moments staring at the paper, then scribbling down sentences, then scribbling those out. I am blocked in a way that is only exacerbated (actually, the block is probably caused) by the fact that I need to have a complete draft in the next month. End of discussion. So this chapter has to be finished and I have to go back and add what was supposed to be another chapter into my chapter two (they fit well together, so screw writing a whole new one).

But I've decided that I'm pretty much tired of my own whining. I am not the only person to struggle through this process. I just have to do it. Over the last year of blogging, I've seen Quinn, Ragey, and others do it, so it's not as if I don't know it's possible. So, for at least the next week, there is a moratorium on "poor elle" posts. And if you even smell the delicate but bitter scent of one, feel free to respond with a sharp, "Get over yourself, please."

Because it's just time, you know. I've had long enough. I've read enough. I know enough. And the damned thing is not going to be perfect.

Research Dilemma (Thing Two)

My dissertator group has often offered me sympathy on my struggles to write about people who are still living. Human subjects, anonymity, confidentiality, ugh, it boggles the already near-exploding mind.

But my research has recently become complicated by the fact that I know the area and some of the people I study well. Two of the things my dissertation discusses are 1) sexual harrassment and discrimination faced by women in workplaces that were, initially, largely composed of white male supervisors and black female line workers and 2) ways women work together, outside of formal processes, to resist this and other forms of harassment, poor treatment, and being defined by others as solely workers (denying the importance and salience of their roles outside the workplace) and sexually available (by virtue of a large portion of the workforce being black single mothers).

In my interviews, the following situation has come to light. There is one man in a supervisory position who allegedly routinely harrasses women for sexual favors. He is said to have had sex with line employees in company offices, in parked cars, and at local hotels on break. His hands and eyes, according to one employee, are always "busy." One woman claims to have reported him to his supervisor, to no avail, as the two men are friends. Some women constantly threaten to "turn him in" but don't, for fear of their jobs.

So they bond together and fight him in other ways. They do not approach him singly; if they must go to his station (not really an office), they go in pairs. They warn new hires about him. One woman, who has a reputation for not taking shit, has allegedly threatened to do him bodily harm if he touches her again (apparently, he placed his arm around her shoulder and whispered something suggestive in her ear). And finally, they have begun reporting his actions to plant management.

You are probably not shocked. I cannot say, truthfully, that I was either. Here is my problem: this man is the significant other of someone I know.

Someone about whom I care deeply. And while she does not fool herself about him, she does not know the extent of his alleged actions, that his job is eventually going to be on the line.

In some ways, I want to tell her. But I am bound by the promise of confidentiality. Right?
She does not read this blog. Yes, I am sure. I have three IRL friends/family who know her, who do read this blog, but they already know of the situation, from family members who work at the plant. It is an open secret, apparently, one that I knew something of, I will admit. But I did not know the extent or how much he is feared, either.

Just a Hat Tip (Thing Three)

To brown rab girl fish who found this quote at Brownfemipower's from Audre Lord (which I have liberally truncated)
Every black woman in america has survived several lifetimes of hatred... Now we deny such hatred ever existed because we have learned to neutralize it through ourselves, and the catabolic process throws off waste products of fury even when we love... It is not that Black women shed each other’s psychic blood so easily, but that we have ourselves bled so often, the pain of bloodshed becomes almost commonplace.
Some days, the way I treat (and think of) myself and, yes, other sisters, I feel that all through me.

I'll see y'all later.
From Audre Lorde, "Eye to Eye," Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. The Crossing Press, 1984: 156-7.

Why My Sister Does Better Recaps than the News

Sis: "You know that ol' birth control patch that was too good for us fat women?"

elle: "Mm-hmm."

Sis: "Why..." she smiles, then shakes her head, "I don't mean this in a bad way for the women who used it. But why they cause pulmonary problems and blood clots?"

elle: "Girl, for real?"

Sis: "Mm-hmm. They already being sued. That's what they asses get, trying to leave us out."

Things I'd Miss...

...if my life were any other way.

I've spread the insomnia bug to my sister. Since we were both up, it made perfect sense to forage for food. She made ham sandwiches and called out directions to me--"Get me an orange soda. No, one off the top shelf. And chips. No, I want cool ranch doritos." (My dad often observes that he doesn't think that the youngest in the family has the right to be so bossy. It's worked for our family for 29 years now).

So now she is lying on the passenger side of my bed (don't ask), complaining about the cheetos getting stuck in her teeth (the cool ranch doritos have vamped, apparently, into the clutches of two boys, ages 6 and 8, who wish to remain nameless), and looking for something "good" on TV. Not that we're going to notice once we start talking. She asked me what I'm doing. "Telling everybody how much I'd miss your ass if we ever separated." She looked at me over the top of her glasses and said, "Who the hell else is gon' deal with this bullshit, up at this time of night eating and typing?"
"Bitch," I say.
"Ya mama." From her, I can accept that. :-)

I'm thinking, this sleepless night won't be so bad.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Writing Exercises

I've gotten into the habit of unplugging the modem for a few hours to write sans temptation. I'm going to unplug it again in a little while, for more than a few hours, as I've kind of written myself into an interesting spot in this chapter (interesting spot being elle-code for a corner from which there appears to be no write-able escape). Before I do, I decided to talk (ok, write) out loud to myself to see if I can pinpoint the strange way I'm feeling.

I think the word that would best describe the way I'm feeling right now is melancholy. I'm not depressed, not particularly miserable (in fact, I've had some really bright spots over the last week), but I have this post-holiday, tinge-of-homesick, sick-of-the-dissertation, starting-to-feel-the-pressure sort of thing going on, coupled with an unexplained longing for something. You know the feeling you get sometimes when it just seems as if something is missing but you don't know what? I'm trying to tell myself, it's the phd, elle, you're longing for the phd. Hah! Anyway, the melancholia is manifesting itself physically--a minute ago I felt so boneless and weak that it felt like I was just a big puddle of blah.

Speaking of physical symptoms, I think I've written at various times on this blog (or maybe I just complain to people IRL) about bad bouts of itching, my swollen ankles, and repeated kidney infections. These don't occur together, I don't have hypertension, and my blood sugar levels are okay, so I've decided to swallow my fear and go see a(n) urologist... just in case.

The other feeling I have right now... does anyone else have the crazy problem of being in love with the idea of someone? Okay, maybe not in love, but feeling a strong attachment/connection to what you believe someone to be? The reason I describe it as being in love with the idea of someone--I don't even know one of my unrequited loves in real life and the other one I haven't been really close to in over a decade. But I know their politics and their brilliance and other quirky little things and I am so feeling them right now.

That is all.

The Giving Tree

That's my son's library book this week. We just read it.

That book always makes me sad, somewhere, deep down.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Wait, It Is the 21st Century, Right?

A while ago, I blogged about how the residents of my hometown elected the town's first black mayor. Since then, one long term employee of town hall has resigned and one police officer has decided to go work in another parish. They are both white. While the police officer claims the other parish will pay more and and pay his mileage, the town hall employee has been pretty honest about the fact that she doesn't want to work for a black man. I know you're thinking, "that's two people, elle," but remember I come from a town in which we have three police cars, a volunteer fire department, and about four town hall employees. So this is significant. And no, these aren't throwbacks to another age--the town hall employee is a year younger than I am. And when I see her, she will smile and speak and I will once again be blown away about how some people just don't get it.

For a number of people in my hometown, "it" isn't racism if "it" doesn't entail some violent act. Sort of like the white girl who confided to me years ago, when my cousin J was dating a white boy, that she just didn't understand why he would date J when he could have a white girl. Or how my high school let black cheerleaders ride the bus with the all-black boy's basketball team, but the white cheerleaders had to be chauffered to games because "it wouldn't look right." I could regale you with stories like that all night, but I digress.

The reason I'm thinking about my hometown mayor, is because I read this: Louisiana Mayor's Death Sparks Controversy. Gerald Washington, the new black mayor of a mostly-white town, was found shot to death and the coroner has ruled it a suicide.
But the coroner and the sheriff have offered no reason for why Washington would have killed himself. No suicide note was found. And there is no evidence he bade farewell to anyone, put his financial affairs in order, or gave any other indication he was about to kill himself, authorities said.
In fact, Washington seemed to be readying himself for his new job:
About noon, he set City Hall's alarm system for the first time. He got instructions on how to raise and lower the U.S. flag. He had already ordered a new mayoral letterhead with his name on it and a button-down shirt embroidered "Gerald Washington, Mayor."
A few hours later he indulged in a hobby, placing a $4 bet at a nearby horse racing track.
Apparently, the coroner wishes people would just get over these damned unfounded conspiracy theories!
"This is the South, so of course everybody's going to say it was some white guy shooting a black guy," said Dr. Terry Welke, the Calcasieu Parish coroner who ruled that Washington killed himself.
Now why in the world would we think something like that?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Toying with the Blogroll

You know how we humans love to categorize and dissect. Expect a mess for the next few days. And if I inadvertently lose you, please let me know!


...that made me say hmm (and okay, a few curse words):
1) During a discussion at home in which I teased bf Louisiana about her little pudge and the fact that she used to say, "After my first child turns four or five, I'm not having anymore,"--her child will be almost seven when the baby comes. She laughed then told me, "We weren't planning this. If they had let me get my tubal ligation two years ago-" Of course, I was like, "Let?" And she proceeded to tell me how she couldn't have the procedure unless her husband agreed, too. He had to sign some papers, too. She never approached him with it because, she says, she simply refused to ask anyone else's "permission" to have the procedure. "I kept saying, but it's my body," she said.

2) Late Sunday morning phone call from frantic cousin, "elle, I thought you said the morning after pill was available over the counter now!" Sleepy me, "It is!" Cousin: "I called Wal-Mart (in a neighboring city of Ruston, LA) and they said they have it, but I need a prescription." Slightly irate me, "I'll call them."

Professional sounding me, "Yes, I had a friend call earlier about Plan B and she was told she needed a prescription." Snotty pharm tech, "Yes, she does." Snotty me, "Even though the FDA has approved it for OTC sales?" Pretending-to-be-knowledgeable pharm tech, "There are two kinds. There's different packaging and we sell the one with the packaging that requires a prescription." WTF me, "Is that a nation-wide Wal-Mart policy or just your location?" Proud pharm tech, "I'm not sure, but I know it's what we do." Professional me again, "Then I need a number for your pharmacy or corporate headquarters." Not-so-confident tech, "Uh, I don't know it." Then:
"You don't know how I could talk to someone about the pharmacy's policies?"
"No, ma'am."
"So, there's no number posted anywhere for customers who want to make a complaint?"
"I don't know it."
"I'll wait for you to find it. Or I can keep calling back to see if you've found it."
"Hold on, ma'am." He comes back with 1-800-WALMART. I call and find they don't open til noon on Sundays. I call back and ask for the pharmacist, who was unavailable for some time until they gave up. I get the same convoluted explanation.
Does anyone know about this?

... that make me happy.
1) Apparently, there was a conspiracy in 1933 in the LA parish I'm studying in which two white men (from elsewhere) enlisted black residents to arm themselves, march on the parish seat, demand more food and assistance "from whites" (that's what the first article says), and demand that some laws change--particularly (according to the article and this shows just how RADICAL the plot was) the law forbidding interracial marriage. Forget the desire to ameliorate the horrible conditions of the Depression for poor blacks in rural LA--we know what they **really** wanted.
From a selfish standpoint, this is going to be important to my chapters one and two. From a more human standpoint, I'm scared of what I'm going to find. The march didn't occur, but I know that some black people did receive shotguns. I know that at least one black man was killed. I also know that I lived in that parish and never heard one word about this. What was done? What happened to the list of black recruits who paid the white "plotters"?

2) I finally joined AHA in November (yes, it took that long). I never thought about it much before and when I did, I was like who has an extra $40. But I bit the bullet and joined. So yesterday, I got my first issue of the American Historical Review. I expressed to my sister that I feel so historian-y now that I'm getting my very own journal (okay, while I love my Labor journals from LAWCHA, it ain't the same!) She said, "You know what will make you feel even more historian-y?" "What?" I asked, thinking about elle in a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, a nice armchair, and an unused pipe. "Graduating," she said.

Have I mentioned that Sis has been in a little bit of a mood since she had to return to the hallowed halls of elementary academia?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Good News

No, not the gospel, but I will make a loose Bible reference.

(BF Texas--don't kill me). I think, timewise, it's safe to announce that both of my bestest friends in the whole wide world are pregnant. Once I got over jealous, "Hey, those heifers did something without me!" and maudlin, "Even if I wanted to have another baby, I couldn't" moments, I realized I might be more excited than they are. This is almost as sweet as having your own new baby but without morning sickness during weeks 6-14 (yes, I remember), a nose that spread across my face and shined like Rudolph's, and achy nipples. Plus...

Best friend Louisiana is due first, so we are planning a shower for March. At 3 this morning (yes, I have teh insomnia), I sent her an IM saying that I'd seen some cute Noah's Ark themes and to text me with her opinion when she woke up. I found this on my computer a little while ago:
I think Noah's Ark sounds wonderful. Bless his heart, he's going to need Jesus from the beginning.
So BF Texas start thinking...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Another Thought...

...on the Miss Celie's Blues post. Another two thoughts, really.

1) Women are WONDERFUL. Thanks for all the love and encouragement.

2) More of a rhetorical question than a thought really: In remembering how low my self-esteem and self-confidence has been at times, I thought, What happens to us? We aren't born feeling so low. My aunt has preserved a letter that I wrote her when I was five that contains the line, "Do you still think I'm a genius because I am." And my sister's mother-in-law laughs all the time and tells me how bubbly and conceited I was when I was young. Why is it so necessary that things like that be crushed and abused out of women?

But of course, I think I know the answer(s) already.

100 Facts about Elle (17)

Fact # 17
I thought this was cool... if you ignore the smudged eyeliner (that's a bad habit). For a very limited time, see who I resemble! Actually, I see a little Sarah Vaughan and that's it.

***image removed***

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Miss Celie's Blues

This is a very graphic post.
That song, which I love, has come up twice recently, in posts by bloggers I love. You know it, the one from The Color Purple that Shug sings to Celie at the juke joint, the one that gives Celie the courage to poke out her tongue at women who made fun at her. Nubian wrote about why she loves the movie and the song, what she sees of herself in them. And BfP included it in a beautiful tribute to Black Amazon.

I had mentioned to nubian, in another place, that I loved the song, that my sister and I sing it to each other quite often. Since then, I've wanted to write about what it means to me. I've balked at the idea--despite all the things I share with y'all, there's lots I don't say. What would people think? I wonder. Is it appropriate--it's not as if my pseudonymity is unbreachable or even particularly well protected. How personal should an aspiring academic get online?

But I can't shake it, the desire to write about it. And so I will.

I no longer watch The Color Purple from the beginning. I can't take it--Mister's abuse of Celie, the separation from Nettie, the attack on Sophia, and all the other pain is too much. I have to pick it up deep into the film. Usually when Celie's about to cut Mister at the dinner table.

I can't take Miss Celie's pain because it mirrors my own. I know her too well, it feels like. The childhood sexual abuse by a man you should've been able to trust. That first unexpected slap just for speaking your mind. That moment when you touch that newly-inflicted injury with your hand, feeling the blood and still not believing that he could do that, that he would do that. Scrambling to have everything just so, only to be told that it's not right. It's never right. Lying still and squeezing your eyes shut, because it's just easier to go along with it--it can't really be rape if you're in a relationship. Because that would mean you'd been raped more than once. And no one will believe you've been raped more than once.

And I know why she hid her smile behind her hand, too. Oh, yes, part of it is because you don't deserve to be happy. Hell, if you did, all those things wouldn't keep happening to you. But another part is, don't-look-at-me, I-don't-want-the-attention. Because, you reason, after you're abused repeatedly, there must be something about you, something that attracts the attention of abusers, something you're doing wrong. So you struggle to make yourself as small, as invisible as possible.

I did that. And in the back of my mind, I nurtured a love for another song, His Eye Is on the Sparrow. Because I believed those words--that if God cared about a plain, little bird, then surely I, as small as I tried to be, meant something.

But, of course, there's another part to The Color Purple, the part I can watch, the part with which I am beginning to identify. When Celie makes it out. My journey out didn't begin as beautifully as hers did--with letters from her beloved sister (or, perhaps, from the moment she met Shug) or as satisfyingly--when she told Mister off, fearlessly, at that family dinner.

It began in three places, I believe. In my home--I woke up one night from a dream, crying, thinking, what would I be if all those things hadn't happened to me? That was a catalyst, in a sense, because I'd fooled myself into believing that I wasn't really affected anymore, that I was in control of my life, that I wasn't like other women because I'd only been hit three or four times, and I could get out at any point because I had the education and the income, and on and on.

In my mind--because I had a child. And I did not want him growing up seeing me abused or learning to be abusive.

In a doctor's office--after the last sexual assault, when I'd decided to call the police. I spent my 28th birthday in a police car and an examining room. I refused the rape exam--he hadn't been able to penetrate because, tired of lying there and closing my eyes, I'd fought his ass back. And I still couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of my being raped. What I did let them do was swab my face. I suppose he'd considered that consolation humiliation.

But something else happened too. I had to talk to a rape counselor and best friend Texas was in the room. At one point, the counselor asked me something like, "You don't think very much of yourself, do you?" I said no. And best friend Texas started crying. It dawned on me that, for some reason, she thought much of me. And I used that, her love and the love of my other friends and family, who were outraged when I didn't feel I had a right to be, who thought much of me-old, fat, not much more than a little brown sparrow, me. I used it to edify me while I was trying to develop some self love. I can never explain what my best friends, my sister, and my closest cousins have been to me. Never.

So like, Miss Celie, I made it out, too, in a way. I don't think I am as triumphant as she was, not yet. But I do know, for certain, that when I shimmy for my sister and laugh and sing that part, "I'm something, I hope you think that you're something, too," I know that coming from nothing, from sparrowness, I mean it with everything in me.

borrowed from nubian.


Speaking of resolutions, let me give y'all some inspiration. See, each year I still half-heartedly resolve to lose weight.

I went to the (yes, THE, as in only) clinic in my hometown the Tuesday after Christmas (had a jaw problem that made it feel like my head was about to explode each time I pressed the side of my face or behind my ear--which is why I thought it was an earache). Just so happens that I'd also been there December 29, 2005. Well, when comparing my statistics, lo and behold, it turns out I lost weight over the last year.

A whole one-and-a-half pounds!

Now, if someone as haphazard (trust me, that's a perfect adjective) as me can succeed, so can you!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Wish Me Luck!

On two things:

1. Driving back home today. Traffic is going to be horrible as approximately a gazillion people will have the same bright idea.

2. Making this "THE" year. In which I get the PhD. In May, hopefully. I'm going to have to work.

Is that a valid New Year's resolution?
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...