Monday, April 30, 2007

I Haven't Forgotten...

...the promised series. Just been busy with more pressing matters.

And I've been thinking, maybe y'all should get together and raise a collection to send me to a spa or on a cruise or something...

...cuz it's DR. ELLE, now, baby!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What of Rural America?

I want to do a short series on my neck of the woods back in Louisiana, brought on by a number of recent events. I'm prompted by a post to the St. Louis White Citizen's Council of the 21st Century Council of Conservatives Citizens' blog. I was going to link, but I'm not trying to leave trackbacks.

Anyway, the post was about the nationally televised case at Spearsville High in which two fifth-graders had sex in school. Initially, the poster was alarmed because wikipedia said Spearsville was 96.7% white and it just couldn't be white kids having sex. It couldn't!!

Fortunately for his psyche, a Spearsville resident wrote in to let him know that the students were black and that Spearsville High was nowhere near majority white. He was relieved and started going on about how black children mature (sexually) more quickly and he knew it couldn't have been white kids, and how the guy who responded to him wrote about Spearsville High going to hell in a handbasket because of black children in school there.

And I thought...

1) Not once is anyone talking about how the census counted not one black person in Spearsville in 2000, when I know that the village has a significant black population (there's an all black subdivision, for one). Let me just say, the fact that the historical trend of undercounting (and not counting) people of color/ignoring our communities continues ought to tell you something about our life in North Louisiana.

2) The letter-sender-inner glossed over the horrible state of education and schools in Union Parish (which I will happily tell you about in an upcoming post). No money, corruption, overpaid administrators, underpaid teachers, you name it, they got it.

3) In the high-speed car chase mentioned in the post (in which a black Spearsville High School student was killed), black people in Union Parish are very loudly suspecting foul play. The kid was being chased by police who (allegedly) left the scene of the crime then returned and were (allegedly) seen doing something questionable to the car. Now, whether or not that is true, my point is to give you an indication of how very much the police are distrusted by the black community in Union Parish. And trust me, it's for a good reason.

4) The racial divisions there are so sharp it's almost unbelievable. Almost.

So I will tell you about how this little area of rural America is dying and how so many of us who care, who crack about our country, backwards homes love them and worry and have absolutely no idea what to do.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Intense navel-gazing in process.

Watch out for undue self-absorption, crying jags, unprovoked anger, ceaseless guilt, and self-thrown pity parties.

I'll tell y'all all about it later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

When Will It Be Taken Seriously?

From the beginning, the fact that police and school officials defended their actions by dismissing the initital shootings at Virginia Tech as a "domestic issue" has shocked me. From BfP:
The most horrible thing I’ve heard throughout the coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting has been that police did nothing after the first shootings because they had believed it to be “just” or “only” a “domestic” issue. Nobody will even call it for what it is. They thought some crazy asshole had killed his girlfriend. Sad, but not important enough to shut down a thriving campus. Disturbing, but not urgent enough to send swat teams up and down the hallways, banging on doors, pushing people out of classrooms at gunpoint.
This window they provided of how people, fuck it, how police still think about "domestic" abuse--unimportant, only between two people, normal--I just don't have the words to express my disgust.

Her name is Emily Jane Hilscher, and she was not just a "domestic" abuse victim and she was not, as this vile account tries to fetchingly entitle “The girl who led to massacre.”* Why, why, why are we still having to assert and defend women's humanity?

Then, as I am/was typing this post, I click more links (in the comments here) and find that the shooter may have actually been stalking Hilscher, that their may never have been a romantic relationship. Thus the dismissal of her death is further problematized by the fact that it was based on assumptions and undoubtedly, the purview of people who think they've seen it all before. I can't wait for the articles that discuss how she led to her own stalking.

I know that I am not being coherent; I just can't right now, because I am so fucking angry. So, so, damned mad.
*I included the link so that you could go leave a comment. Please leave a comment.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Look What Gwyn Wrote!

Not that it's surprising--Gwyn and writing kind of go together. But I felt this the moment I read it.
Side Step
I remember being eleven and doing steps in front
of the four-story tenement we called home
sophisticated lady—you know that’s me
spelling Mississippi
and saying ooo-chie-wally-wally
long before nas and the bravehearts made it a hook
I remember older black women looking at us
and shaking their heads as we battled the girls around the corner
to see who could pop that coochie and twist like this
I remember pumping with all my might
and not really knowing what I was pumping
but most of all
I remember what it felt like to be with my girls
as we each took our turn in the circle
giving off more attitude than anyone under fifteen had a right to
and knowing that we were the baddest girls out there
because we deemed it so
we said things little girls shouldn’t even know
but when I remember how we were when outside
and what it was like to be one with them
and how later we’d jump double-dutch
or skate around the block
I think of how innocent we all were even as we chanted
“my man made me do it, he really, really, really . . . got on down”
slapping our hands and stomping our feet in unison
we must have felt invincible
and all of our steps occurred in the dawn
before we learned that black women’s sexuality
should be concealed
lest it be used against her in the court of public opinion
itself steeped in legacies and histories of lies
when I remember what it felt like to be so free
from cloaked and hidden sexualities
it amazes me that girlhood games gave it to me
and I hold on to it now as I smile at kim, foxy, trina, and khai
maybe they took the side step and remembered what we all forgot
I wonder if I can reclaim some of that innocent
yet brazen and brave little black girl back


I'm just now sitting back down and seeing news reports about the shootings at Virginia Tech.

I'm keeping them in my heart.

I'm It

Sylvia tagged me... and I need the brain break!!

A- Available or Single? The body is available but the mind is way too preoccupied.
B- Best Friend. V and KHB.
C- Cake or Pie. Cake.
D- Drink of Choice. Most Commonly--Strawberry Margaritas. But I have some good memories from my early 20s with Pink Panties
E- Essential Item. My computer and wide-ruled notebooks.
F- Favorite Color. Brown.
G- Gummi Bears or Worms. Worms.
H- Hometown. Small town, North Louisiana (I am still at least nominally pseudonymous, right?)
I- Indulgence. Romance Novels, Smirnoff Ice, and beef fajita quesadillas. All together. Preferably in bed.
J- January or February. February--January always seems rushed
K- Kids. One. If you ever hear that I have another, say to yourself, "Damn, elle slipped up!!"
L- Life is incomplete without… Humor. I need it desperately sometimes. Oh, and chocolate. Life is not worth living without chocolate.
M- Marriage Date. I don't think so.
N- Number of Siblings? Two plus Trinity.
O- Oranges or Apples? Oranges.
P- Phobias/Fears. Really (sadly) I worry that my dissertation won't meet expectations. And I worry about my child. And in the phobia category--anything that slithers, hisses, or is green.
Q- Favorite Quote(s). From my good friend, Kate September: "My writing is a bunch of good intentions and no time." "Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment." - Elie Wiesel (thanks, Dave); "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." -John F. Kennedy
R- Reasons to smile. 1) The dissertation is progressing. Unevenly and with a healthy dose of blood, sweat, and tears, but it's progressing. 2) The school year is almost over.
S- Season. Autumn.
T- Tag Three. Mon, Fab, and Southern_Lady. (If you haven't already)
U- Unknown Fact About Me. It will stay unknown.
V – Vegetarian or Oppressor of Animals. I'm thinking of what I could oppress for lunch right now.
W- Worst Habit. Spending way too much time on the internet. (Had to keep that one from Sylvia. Hell to the yes!)
X – X-rays or Ultrasounds. Depends on what you're looking for. Your doctor should decide.
Y- Your Favorite Foods. Most any ;-p Seriously, when my mom is not trippin' , I love her soul food.
Z- Zodiac. Sagittarius.

Friday, April 13, 2007

R.I.P. Eddie Robinson

Lord, I've been remiss in posting about him. But you can't imagine what Coach Rob meant to generations of black children who grew up in North Louisiana. Grambling was our school, whether you had a family member who attended or not (I did--my grandfather and my Aunt Jo graduated from there).

One of my best childhood memories revolves around Grambling football. One Saturday, every fall, we'd get up, when it was barely light, to get ready for the homecoming parade. We had to drive a little bit and you had to get up early to get a good spot. So, we'd freeze to death, but be so excited. And it was wonderful--from the high school bands who emulated the Tiger Marching Band (including the Carroll High band affectionately known, in North Louisiana, as "Little Grambling") to the ultimate appearance of Miss Grambling.

After the parade, we'd go eat. No light fare on Homecoming Day, uh-uh. The more grease, the better, apparently. So, sometimes we went to Spivey's Chicken in Grambling--I still remember the slogan of Spivey-licious--but it was usually too crowded. And other years we went to the Griff's Hamburgers in Ruston, across the street and a world away from Louisiana Tech. The cooks there did their own thing to those burgers and they were good--if you didn't mind the arterial damage.

And then there was the game. Baby, the Orchesis Dancers would have you wishing for rhythm and synchronization. Those sisters were always on point. And halftime? I won't even go into the show the bands put on--you know all the stereotypes. :-) 90% of the time, I didn't even know who won the game and I had a good time anyway.

And Eddie Robinson presided over it all for fifty-seven years. Yep, I had to spell that one out. Fifty-seven years of dignity, humor, grace and love. Love for football and, more importantly, love for the generations of players whose lives he touched.
“When he walked on that field in 1941, it wasn't flat, it wasn't even, it was slanted up sharply,” [LA Senator Mary] Landrieu said. “It's not level yet, but because of his life it's getting there and we all are beneficiaries of that.”
God bless Coach Rob.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

F*ck Don Imus

I walked into my labor history class late today, in the midst of a discussion on Don Imus. My professor said, "Ms. elle, please join us. Do you have any comments?"

"Not any that should be spoken in a classroom," I answered (in fact, my whole commentary at that point consisted of the title of this post). He laughed and assured me that whatever I wanted to say would be okay. All semester, we've joked that a camera was hidden somewhere, documenting for posterity (and eventual trials) our way-left-of-center commentary and reviews. Today, my professor said, the camera was off.

I really didn't have much to say. I'm sick of the "If rappers do it, why is it wrong for poor Imus?" And I feel badly for anyone who was shocked by this--naive, naive souls. But mostly, I am tired. As Deborah Gray-White says, it's too heavy a load--this burden black women bear of having to constantly defend ourselves against racism and sexism. I wanted to ask, "Where the hell did that even come from?" but that would imply that there was some logic, some reason behind Don Imus and people of his ilk.

And there's just not.

Some better analyses:
Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson speak for black women?

Four Questions

“Nappy Headed Hos”

Dear MSNBC: It's time to FIRE Don Imus.

Two Weeks Ain’t Enough! and Imus Updates and Commentary

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Pics

My older nieces and nephew. Almost 18, 16, and 17. My 20-year-old niece was recuperating from Sunrise service.

My son's little brother, my goddaughter Belle, my nephew, my godson G, and my son immediately after church.

The kid and his little brother. I cherish the moments they get along.
My oh-so-grow-up cousin. Eight going on 28!
My sister pretending to watch the annual, after-Easter-services softball game. Apparently, it was too cold to smile.
A fuzzy Trinity and me.

Another cousin, Crys
The kid and Belle.

My Belle

Just because she is the most amazing going-on-five-year-old on the planet, a post dedicated to my goddaughter Belle! (Just ignore the ketchup beside her mouth.)

With my son at a church league basketball game over spring break.
With Trinity's son.
Blissfully eating pickles as I bled over my dissertation across the table.
Easter Sunday with my godson G and the Kid.
At the softball game.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Blog Against Sexual Violence

Blog Against Sexual Violence logo

Today is the Blog Against Sexual Violence Day sparked by A Day to End Sexual Violence. While I regrettably don't have time to write up a post (at least today), I'm going to provide links tomorrow. Thanks to Marcella for coordinating this.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The other day, in comments to one of my update posts, Rachel teased
You're not a real grad student until you've either fallen asleep in the library while trying to complete a paper or you've been kicked out of the library because it's closing time.
Turns out, she's quite the sage.

This morrning, I did my usual MWF routine: dropping the kids off at school, getting stuck in traffic, debating on getting breakfast, going to the library. But I was soooo tired today just thinking of wrapping everything up so I can spend Easter with my family and submit my new, revised groundbreaking dissertation by Tuesday. Around 10:45 A.M., after shifting papers, reorganizing my books, scribbling on a notepad and generally getting nothing accomplished in my carrel, I decided I had to take a nap. I was so sleepy, it was the only way I would get anything done today.

So, I prepared to lay (lie? I never know) my head on the desk. Only, with breasts like mine, my head was still inches off the desk. I grabbed a three-inch binder full of articles, placed the sweatshirt I keep in the carrel on it and tried again. Still, the boobies are too high. I realized I could slide my chair way back, so that my breasts weren't on the desktop. But having them there, just hangin' in the wind wasn't comfortable for my breasts or my back. So, on top of the binder I place a really thick volume of the 1960 Congressional Record, an empty book bag, and the sweatshirt. Success!! I took some deep breaths and fell asleep.

30 minutes later, I woke up with neck pain and the beginnings of a headache. But I was still sleepy and determined. So, I sat up, draped the sweatshirt over my head (both to shield my eyes from the light and to cover my face because I know I looked a complete fool), pulled my arms into my t-shirt (it was cold!), and went back to sleep--sitting up.

I woke up mildly refreshed, called a former union official (who has agreed to let me interview her, but that will have to be in the eventual book), and came downstairs to check my e-mail and give y'all the required dose of TMI. It's the strangest thing--it's like I am exhausted, but still motivated. I really want to do this, sleep be damned :-)

I'm on my way back up. I have four hours before I have to pick up the kids and I need to make them count.


...from one brilliant, funny woman. I present the "elle cheer," a most encouraging modification of an old standby:
*picks up pompoms*
Who’s a doctor of history?
What do we want?
A P. H. D.!
When do we want it?
I love my blog friends.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I Haven't Forgotten!

Comebacknikki sent me these ages ago. I kept procrastinating, because number five is hard. I've decided to do it later, but in the meantime, y'all answer it--the thing I need most in this world is more books to read!!!

1. What is your favorite 80s hair band?
BonJovi, hands down. Though, I did/do love me some Aerosmith. And, I have a separate post drafted for Queen.

2. If you could chose another career & instantly acquire the knowledge/credentials to start working in said field tomorrow, what would you choose to do?
Catering and event planning. I have a million related ideas in my head.

3. Have you ever said "I love you" and not meant it?
No. Something in me won’t let me do it.

4. What person do you trust the most?
“The most” is hard! There are at least six people I trust with my life. I’ll go with my sister--I can tell her things I can't tell my parents :-)

5. What are the five books you think everyone absolutely should read?
Leave your answer in comments.


Taking a quick break and wanted to point y'all to:

History Carnival 51

Blog Against Sexual Violence logo
From abyss2hope, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and April 5th is Blog Against Sexual Violence Day. The Carnival Against Sexual Violence will be up April 3 is up.

I am trying to learn to link/leave trackbacks. I never seem to do it correctly! If these are wrong, I promise to correct them later on today.
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...