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:

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...