This Is How You Start A Personal Essay

“When I entered the job market, in 2017, I was mistaken for a prostitute.”

Carlyn Ferrari in ‘You Need to Leave Now Ma’am’.

“I learned to present a highly curated version of myself. I smiled. I made small talk. I exchanged pleasantries. I suppressed the urge to remind colleagues of my expertise during meetings, knowing that my tone or dissenting opinion would be perceived as angry, intimidating — or worse — insubordinate.

I listened as my first-generation students and students of color cried in my office and talked about how they felt they didn’t belong. Though it broke my heart, I treasured these visits. I had more in common with these students than my colleagues. Like me, they were brought in to “diversify” the campus. They had no support and neither did I. Every time they spoke their truth, I felt like a fraud for hiding mine.”

Pressing Pause On A ‘National Conversation On Race’

Everyday brings more examples. People regularly write, speak, and/or behave in ways a majority of people would deem racially insensitive, if not outright racist. What should we do about that?

It seems like we’ve decided to make the consequences so severe that the racially insensitive have no choice but to suppress their racist tendencies. Dox them, ostracize them, fire them from their jobs.

Conservative Republicans, who not always, but often are racially insensitive, are quick to label this “cancel culture” which only adds to their persecution complex and makes them even more defensive on subjects of race.

Personally, at this time of heightened racial consciousness, I’m most interested in what militant black men and women are thinking. The more militant, the more I tune in.

Historically, there have been repeated calls by progressives of all colors for a “national conversation on race”. As a life-long educator, that strategy is my preferred one, but I’m not hearing militants make many, if any references to “conversation”.

Maybe that’s because conversation requires slowing down in order to address mutual defensiveness. Instead, activists are accelerating demands for long sought for changes which makes total sense given our collective attention deficit disorder. How long until the media spotlight shifts? In essence, strike now for legislative protections against state-sponsored violence; strike now for the removal of Confederate statues, flags, and related symbols; strike now to destroy white supremacy in whatever form.

As a pro-conversation educator, I’m out of step with the times. Which is okay. Just know I’ll be committed to the conversation long after the spotlight shifts.

 

Tuesday Assorted Links

1. Unbundle the police?

“It’s an unacknowledged peculiarity that police are in charge of road safety. Why should the arm of the state that investigates murder, rape and robbery also give out traffic tickets? Traffic stops are the most common reason for contact with the police. . . . Many of the police homicides, such as the killing of Philando Castile happened at ordinary traffic stops. But why do we need armed men (mostly) to issue a traffic citation? Don’t use a hammer if you don’t need to pound a nail. Road safety does not require a hammer.”

2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes as well as he played basketball, and I contend, he may have been the best ever. #UCLA.

“I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”

3. When it comes to Presidential leadership, Mexico just can’t win.

“The numbers were startling: In March, Mexico’s government said, the country’s emergency call centers were flooded with more than 26,000 reports of violence against women, the highest since the hotline was created.

But Mexico’s president brushed aside his own cabinet’s announcement, suggesting, without evidence, that the vast majority of the calls for help were little more than pranks.

‘Ninety percent of those calls that you’re referring to are fake,’ said the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, when asked about the surge in calls at a recent news conference. ‘The same thing happens with the calls the metro gets about sabotage or bombs.'”

For shit’s sake. This from a leftist populist, who won the presidency more than a year ago by promising to transform Mexico into a more equal society. Fool me how many times?

Why America Can’t Escape Its Racist Roots

Orlando Patterson, Professor of Sociology, Harvard.

“. . . sociologists have argued that while some whites may have liberal views, a lot of them are not prepared to make the concessions that are important for the improvement of black lives. For example, one of the reasons why people have been crowded in ghettos is the fact that housing is so expensive in the suburbs, and one reason for that is that bylaws restrict the building of multi-occupancy housing. These bylaws have been very effective in keeping out moderate-income housing from the suburbs, and that has kept out working people, among whom blacks are disproportionate, from moving there and having access to good schools. Sociologists have claimed that while we do have genuine improvement in racial attitudes, what we don’t have is the willingness for white liberals to put their money where their mouth is.

One of the fundamental aspects of the American race problem is segregation. The black population is almost as segregated now as it was in the ’60s. That is the foundation of a lot of problems that blacks face, but it also explains and perpetuates the isolation of whites who grow up in neighborhoods where they don’t see blacks or interact with them. That reinforces the idea that blacks are outsiders and don’t belong.”

And Chris Rock says, “Being a cop is a hard job, it’s a hard fucking job. . . . But some jobs can’t have bad apples. Some jobs, everybody gotta be good.”

 

 

Catching Up With Anti-Liberty University

If this Dustin Wahl Twitter thread is any indication, maybe Jerry Falwell’s spell on Anti-Liberty University is more tenuous than meets the eye.

Wahl, a 2018 A-L-U graduate, uses his grandfather’s pic as his profile pic.

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Related. ‘Does not reflect the God of the Bible’; LU professor resigns after Falwell’s mask tweets.

Dr. Christopher House:

“As an African American man and Christian pastor, I am horrified and appalled that the president of the largest Christian university in the world would knowing and intentionally use images that evoke a deep history of racial terror of people of color in the U.S., specifically individuals who look like me, for the purposes of making a political statement to the Governor of Virginia.

I was brought into LU to generate the kind of dialogue that challenges the ideas, narratives and ideologies that underlie the very images Falwell intentionally used to make a political statement to the Governor of Virginia. Falwell did so at the expense of Black people and Black pain. This is abhorrent, evil and sickening! This does not reflect the God of the Bible!”

A-L-U’s tax exempt status is a travesty.

Minneapolis Burns

“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Violent protests over Floyd death spread beyond Minneapolis.

The Death of George Floyd, in Context.

How White Women Use Themselves as Instruments of Terror.

 

 

Weekend Assorted Links

1. Steve Spence’s legendary sub-5:00 mile streak comes to an end after 43 years.

2. Who do the Duke and Duchess of Sussex think they are? Afua Hirsch explains.

“If the media paid more attention to Britain’s communities of color, perhaps it would find the announcement far less surprising. With a new prime minister whose track record includes overtly racist statements, some of which would make even Donald Trump blush, a Brexit project linked to native nationalism and a desire to rid Britain of large numbers of immigrants, and an ever thickening loom of imperial nostalgia, many of us are also thinking about moving.

From the very first headline about her being “(almost) straight outta Compton” and having “exotic” DNA, the racist treatment of Meghan has been impossible to ignore. Princess Michael of Kent wore an overtly racist brooch in the duchess’s company. A BBC host compared the couple’s newborn baby to a chimpanzee. Then there was the sublimely ludicrous suggestion that Meghan’s avocado consumption is responsible for mass murder, while her charity cookbook was portrayed as somehow helping terrorists.

Those who claim frequent attacks against the duchess have nothing to do with her race have a hard time explaining these attempts to link her with particularly racialized forms of crime — terrorism and gang activity — as well as the fact that she has been most venomously attacked for acts that attracted praise when other royals did them. Her decision to guest-edit British Vogue, for example, was roundly condemned by large parts of the British media, in stark contrast to Prince Charles’s two-time guest editorship of Country Life magazine, Prince Harry’s of a BBC program and Kate Middleton’s at Huffington Post, all of which were quietly praised at the time.

Her treatment has proved what many of us have always known: No matter how beautiful you are, whom you marry, what palaces you occupy, charities you support, how faithful you are, how much money you accumulate or what good deeds you perform, in this society racism will still follow you.”

3. Trump takes credit for decline in cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society says he’s wrong. How long until their funding is cut further?

“The President has a history of proposing to cut funding from the National Institutes of Health’s budget, which includes funding for the National Cancer Institute, an agency that leads, conducts and supports cancer research. The final budgets that Congress approved ended up being more generous than Trump’s proposals.

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote on Twitter, in response to Trump, that ‘cancer rates dropped before you took office. Hopefully they keep dropping because Congress rejected your cruel research budgets, which sought billions in CUTS to @NIH and the National Cancer Institute. This is good news despite you – not because of you.'”

And so it goes, in these (dis)United States of America.

4. Why do people believe in hell?

“How can we be winners, after all, if there are no losers? . . . What success can there be that isn’t validated by another’s failure? What heaven can there be for us without an eternity in which to relish the impotent envy of those outside its walls?”

How Not To Apologize

Another master class, this time from Shane Gillis.

From today’s New York Times—Shane Gillis Dropped From ‘S.N.L.’ Cast Among Criticism For Racist Slurs. Shortest S.N.L. career ever.

After being caught uttering racist shit on tape and film Gillis apologized by saying, “I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said.”

I’m guessing he could’ve salvaged the biggest break in his life had he shown genuine remorse, by you know, mentioning specific things he said that were hateful and the specific people most effected. But obviously, he felt so little remorse, he couldn’t fake it.

His non-apology apology translates this way, “Screw any and all of you who are too sensitive for your own good.” A sentiment that always works wonders when reconciling with others.