Wednesday, July 29, 2009

let's call it what it is

From Adam Serwer, at Tapped:

"...whether it's the full-on embrace of birtherism or Glenn Beck leapfrogging the shark yesterday by claiming the president is someone "who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture."

I think what's going on here is pretty simple. The GOP has elevated a number of figures it believes represent justified white resentment at minorities encroaching on the power that is their birthright as "real Americans" from Sarah Palin to Joe the Plumber, and they're attempting to do the same thing with Sgt. Joseph Crowley." [emphasis mine]

Read the rest of the post; I have one quibble.

I would say that the GOP's tactics aren't merely 'increasingly racial' but increasingly white supremacist. Calling their tactics racial, or even racist, isn't enough. It allows folks to
"only accept such appeals as coded...deniability is an important factor in modern racism, because without it, it's too radioactive for people to associate themselves with." In other words, coded racism is too benign a cover for the true evil lurking underneath - the political and social ideology of white supremacy, a hard-core belief that the natural order of things begins with a white man on top.

At last, racism goes from the personal ('But I'm not racist! I've never done anything wrong to people of color!') to the structural (America and its institutions, its definition of citizenship and its values are for the benefit, and support, of White Power.)

And now is the perfect time to start calling that shit out.
And calling it what it is.

(I mean, we can all get behind being anti-white supremacist, right?
I mean, no one would be an apologist for it, right? Or do we want to indulge in another mealy-mouthed 'conversation' about white supremacy?)

Monday, July 27, 2009

busted: my knee and race relations

I sat in the Northwestern ER for 3 hours yesterday because I misjudged the distance between a curb, a flowerbed and a sidewalk at 2 am on Sunday morning. I fell, bounced and landed so hard on the edge of a concrete step, a divot of flesh was wedged from my knee and I barely avoided smashing my kneecap.

Some moments from the past 48 hours:

Sitting in my kitchen, both of us ready for bed, my leg in his lap, while we both look at my divoted knee, getting totally grossed out at all the bloody flesh. He looks up and says, 'It'll be ok, babe.'
I say, 'I might need stitches.'
He says, 'Do you want to go to the ER?'
I say, ' can't be that bad, right?' Despite how wrong we both were, it strikes me that, other than my parents and my very close friends, no one has taken care of me before. Correction: I have not allowed anyone to take care of me.

Post-makeshift bandage, kissing in my kitchen, while the thought runs through my head that blood or no, busted knee or no, there is always room for a frolic.

The next afternoon, hobbling and exhausted after 3 hours in the ER, hearing a knock at my door and there's M- on his bike who dropped by to check on me and feeling a little, 'awww!'

And before the fall (heh), waiting for my hot dog at the Portage Theater during the monster flick triple feature, while M- runs into an acquaintance and hearing him introduce me as his girlfriend.

A milestone? Or is it a milestone when *I* start introducing him as my boyfriend, instead of 'my friend, M-'?
In other, more serious, news that has nothing to do with Ding's new relationship, here's a post on the Gates/Crowley Affair from the Tenured Radical about the 'danger' posed by white folks. (Thanks to SybilV's Tweet at Bitch, Ph.D.)

This whole thing has only made it obvious to me that conversations about 'race,' 'race relations', etc. are woefully uneven and won't ever get to any useful point because, frankly, we're all at different reading levels. It has also made it clear that the training I received from UCLA re: semiotics comes in handy. Because when we talk about race, we are really talking about conflicting systems of knowledge and conflicting mythologies that form the foundation of that knowledge.

There is a mythology (of history, of human interactions, of experience) that most North American white people unblinkingly buy into and which people of color (unless they have been privileged by class - and even then, only very rarely) have never had the luxury to believe.

Like, the policemen are our friends. Or, Bridgeport is a perfectly nice community to live in. Or, missionaries just want to read the bible to you and give you blankets. Things like that.

Using Pat Buchanan as an extreme example, there won't be any common ground wrt race relations until we first see the Buchanan mythology of America as intrinsically flawed, one-dimensional and, at its core, the product of white supremacist ideology. Or, if that phrasing makes one uncomfortable, then perhaps White Racial Frame is more palatable.

(what Feminism 101 does for basic feminist discourse, RacismReview does for academic studies of race/anti-racist work and is a gem of a site if you're honestly interested in anti-racist discourse.)

I remember using one of Pat Buchanan's early essays about the 'manifest destiny' of America, waay back in the early 90s, as an extreme tool to challenge the idea of 'neutral' values (as well as provide the ideological backdrop of cowboy narratives.) Values are never neutral. Some ideology, or interest, is at play. And, frankly, since the White Racial Frame constitutes the foundation of our western culture it is, unfortunately, everywhere. Right thinking people naturally distance themselves from a Buchanan because he is so blisteringly and overtly racist (and his Southern accent doesn't help) but fail to see the how the White Racial Frame invisibly informs our culture and our experiences and, consequently, makes them complicit in disseminating it.

Which brings me back to the Gates/Crowley Affair. Listening to our national media, and the pundits - as well as the folks around here - speak so simplistically about it makes me think that, unless all parties get on the same page, 'talking about race' with most non-people of color will continue to be like speaking to a Stockholm Syndrome victim.

Friday, July 24, 2009

work, again.

this past week has confirmed it: i am *not* cut out for direct service provision or program operation. ugh.

we have a number of volunteers through a national volunteer program assigned to our site; then the budget thing happened. we had to lay off one of our program directors who was going to supervise half of the volunteers. to keep our volunteers, we offered them alternative assignments which necessitated, basically, the reworking of the volunteer program from the ground up - or ass backwards. whichever.

long story short: i am not a program director; i just write the proposal. why am i creating the workplan for a program? i am not a program director; i just write the proposal. why am i creating the job description for the program? why am i talking to the volunteers? why am i doing what a program director does? grrrrrr.

i'm cranky AND hungry.
last night i cooked dinner at M-'s place.
keeping things simple, i whipped up a very nice carbonara. but, geez, dude tools are primitive. do all single guys have kitchen tools from c. 1978?

we watched a few shows (catching up on TrueBlood and Hung - which is hilarious), held hands, dozed off on the couch and went to bed. and...that's it.

i have chosen to adopt a different attitude when it comes to the school-night celibacy we seem to be practising. i realized why i was so upset with the idea of it before - i have always placed an inordinate amount of value on sex as a rubric for how much a guy likes me. in other words, if a guy likes me, he'll have sex with me. this is not to say that this is true. B- had sex with me, but i don't know if we 'liked' each other. and i'm happy to say that there are dudes out there who have been fond of me (and i them) and we have never had sex. so it's not exactly a correllary.

but. in the past, i have equated my own value with the amount of sex had. there. that's closer to the truth.

(if my therapist was reading this, she'd be proud of my breakthrough just now.)

so when it seemed that we weren't having sex as regularly as i thought we ought, i automatically thought it was a reflection of my value. where this thinking comes from, i hesitate to probe. or, i'll just blame it on B- who will become my boogie man for all things dysfunctional and messed up.

(ExRoomie says that's unfair. 'He was mentally ill. He was on meds, or off them, neurotic and crazy. You cannot use him as a measuring stick.')

i realize that kind of thinking is warped, as well as sad, hence the change in attitude. the school-night celibacy is not a metric of my value (or a measure of his lack of regard for me); it is merely we are old and tired, in food coma and it's the middle of the week after a hard day at work. who wouldn't go to bed next to the person they like after all that?

baby steps that i will eventually allow myself to shower there in the morning.
P.S: to all my 9 (!) readers who were curious to know if M- knew about my blogging about him. Yes, he does.

Last weekend (which was really lovely and I'll write about it later, perhaps), we were hanging out in Nilda's and having really serious conversations again about our families. It's odd, the moments we choose to open up. We do it in public. Huh.

Anyway, we were there, forcing ourselves to be honest about things. He was honest about his family history; I was honest about mine. He was honest about his past lovers; I was honest about mine (though if he asks about my number, I will not answer - so none of his business.) And so, in the interest of honesty, I said: You know I mention you on my blog.

M-: Yeah? Everything?
D: No...just observations. Things that happen on a date or a funny conversation.
M-: Am I famous?
D: No, but you're popular. You're beginning to have a following. The posts about you are the ones with the most hits. Are you cool with that?
M-: Maybe I'll have groupies.

There you have it. M- is cool with it and looks forward to fan mail. Let the M- stories continue.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

jimmy carter is still my favorite president

so, in the post below, a long time reader advises me of the value of the 'conversation' between those who believe different things. and i value that advice. i even value the belief in the need for dialogue between disparate ideas and people in political discourse.

(goodness knows one wouldn't want to be seen as an obstructionist, in any way.)

but i disagree about some of the 'conversations' we're having.

there are just some conversations that aren't open to ... conversing.
or conversion.

things like combating sexism and misogyny. things like anti-racism. or things like civil rights for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

at the beginning of the 21st century i am not prepared to 'converse' with anyone re: how important it is for people to be on the empowering and progressive side of these issues. frankly, it shouldn't be up for debate. logical, reasonable, civil, civilized people aren't sexist, racist or homophobic.

(it's the same way i don't waste my time arguing with people about the existence of God.)

jimmy carter just ended his 'conversation' with the southern baptist convention over their centuries-long, continued sexist treatment of women and the social impact that treatment continues to have. why shouldn't he?

(and no, i have no opinions on whatever this Elders thing is, which sounds like something from a comic book.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

go, run, young lady.

I have deliberately missed all of the Sotomayor hearings. I just can't take it. I put myself in her shoes and my chest gets tight. It's a freaking trigger for me. (I have a serious problem with authority and seeing a woman of color being bombarded with old white dude asshattery just makes me think of other panels of white men judging women of colorin history. Phyllis Wheatley, Anita Hill, dissertation defense panels, anyone?)

Anyway, it got me thinking that, sooner or later something has to seriously change. We keep waiting for these dudes to die but these old dudes cling to life like cultural vampires.

I cannot tolerate these old talking heads who are reliving the day back in 1952, when Miss Sally had the nerve to try and vote and his dinner got cold - and he's still mad about it.

(I'm talking to you, Pat Buchanan. Why the fuck are we still trotting out your blisteringly racist ass to comment on anything?)

But when I read this piece by Ellis Cose, on Sotomayor, and the persistent lie that she is unqualified - and how these lies are bruited about by men who would be called mediocre at best - this makes me even angrier.

These old dudes have to go.

They have to go.

And we have to start replacing them.

If this was a play by Aeschylus and the republic was in danger by ignorant and unworthy men, what would happen? The women would step up.

So let's start stepping up. I was kind of joking in the post below, but not really.

If we want to see the end of these racist and sexist confirmation hearings, then we have to be on the other side of those tables.
If we want to see the critical issues of women and girls addressed, and not just serviced through human care organizations - then we need to be the person sitting at the table, holding the pen, signing the bill. (I mean really. Women are flooding the social service sector, which is shot. How much more effective could we be on the other side?)
If we want to really bring an end to the racism, the sexism, the homophobia, the hate, the violence, the oppression, the poverty - then WE need to fucking do it.

THEY aren't doing it. THEY aren't doing it in Springfield, IL and they aren't doing it in Congress. And THEY can barely let anyone else do it on the SCOTUS.

So you know what? THEY can kiss our collective feminist asses.

The White House Project is having a boot camp training in Wisconsin in October. I'm revising my resume and saving the dollars to go. Who's with me?

Democracy for America (yeah, the Howard Dean group) is having a training in Chicago, in August, about grassroots organizing and campaigning. I'm signed up, I got three other women to sign up from work and we're going. Will you go?

Who else does this work?
The Midwest Academy
Wellstone Action

I'm sure I'm missing others. But these are the one ones I always hear about.

Am I telling you all to run for President or even US Senate? Nope. But I'm asking us to start filling in those seats. School boards, city boards, county seats - the smallest most local seat ever - I don't care. The old dudes sitting in them need to start fearing for their political lives.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

let's say an older, Gen X person was maybe thinking of some kind of public service thing.

like, say, me.

what do you think?
absolutely psycho?
yes? no?

gimme some advice here. i'm approaching 40 and getting reckless.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

i blame 'shaun of the dead'

without going into too much graphic detail (ahem) last night was ... revealing.

1. M- is not as vanilla as i thought. i'm always guilty of assuming one thing about a person and then completely surprised when they lift the mask a little and what's underneath bears only a slight resemblance to what i thought i had seen. who'd have thought there were thoughts about voyeurism, bathroom sex, and all manner of naughtiness lurking in that nice guy mind of his?

at some point during the backyard movies double feature (Shaun of the Dead and Creepshow), he leaned over and said, 'you know the only thing that i would say really bugs me about our seeing each other is that we're only having sex about once a week.'

i knew i had been keeping track of how many times we had sex but, for some reason, had no idea he was keeping tabs, too. (see how i assume things?)

'i know we're both busy and your job has been really crazy, and with my work and stuff but, babe, i think we need to make an effort,' he said.

and then started a conversation, in the middle of a stranger's backyard, about how much fooling around time we require. let's just say that an expectation has been mutually set to both parties' satisfaction.

2. it all goes back to our families. while we were in the backyard of my local comic book joint, watching movies projected onto the garage, we sat on hard benches holding hands and talked in low voices about our families. i don't know if i've ever said it here, but watching my parents together (especially during periods of crisis) was a little intense for me. their brand of loyalty and fierce commitment to one another just made me think that i would never have the brass to handle that kind of commitment to another person.

M- is the exact opposite; because of what was missing in his parents' relationshig, the intense partnership that scares me, makes him focused. he wants that loyalty, fierce commitment, intense belonging to another person. it doesn't scare him at all; it is something he really really needs.

3. i'm slowly becoming used to the idea of Being Two. last night, a young woman sat next to me on the bench behind the comic book store. i scooted over, making room for M- when he got back from the bathroom and she and i started to chat about how we knew the different folks there.

when M-returned and sat next to me, she glanced at the two of us and asked, 'and how do the two of you know each other?'

M- took my hand. 'we're dating.'
she smiled. 'oh, that's neat! how did you guys meet?'
i said to M-, 'why don't you tell that story.'

he said, 'we met on Match.' and we went on to tell her about meeting for drinks, hitting it off and taking down our profiles the next day.

M- said, 'i actually had to fight with them to close out my account. i had just signed up and they were giving me a hard time and i kept saying dammit, i met someone, i met my match, let me out of this fucking agreement already. i had to speak to someone's supervisor.'

'that's so sweet,' i said. 'you escalated it!'

'damn straight. i'd escalate anything for you, hon'.' and he kissed my cheek.

the woman looked at us and said, 'that's so cute. how long were you guys single before you met?'

'um, i was extricating myself from a, uh, long-term situation right when i met M-,' i said.

'she had a Friend with Benefits thing going on,' M- said, feeling no compunction against sharing all my business. 'i was out of a relationship for about a year and a half. i'd gone on a couple of dates but when i met Ding, that was it.'

sometimes i don't know how to process hearing him say these things so matter of factly. but it's not like i'm telling him to shut up - so, on some level i must feel the same way. (i just don't say it because i'm a chicken shit.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009


This is a dream I had the other night:

I was on a speaking tour with two other colleagues and were waiting for our
panel at UCLA. [Note: yes, this is probably some work issues bleeding through.] We were standing in front of Anderson Hall when someone called my name.

I turned and it was B-. He looked different - dyed blonde hair, tweed jacket over a loose t-shirt and surfer pants. He was really tanned and looked a little beat up, like he was coming down off a days long drug binge.

My colleagues looked startled and I said, 'uh, hi B-.'
He asked to speak to me and after a hesitation I said yes. At which point, he shoved me into a waiting car and drove away.
I said that people were expecting me, I had a speaking engagement and he needed to drive me back. He said he just wanted to talk and I kept repeating he needed to take me back; there were people waiting for me.

So he did. When I got out the car and he drove away, my two colleagues were looking freaked out and I said it was ok. Nothing happened. And then we went back inside to wait to be called.

And that's the dream. That's it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

i didn't watch the first one...

new blog:
The Retort - It's Time to Talk Back: Black In America 2?!? No Thanks Soledad. Once Was Enough.

money quote: "If you wanna raise your systolic pressha a few more points, tune in July 22nd and 23rd. If you want solutions, stop expecting CNN to do anything right and go sign up to be a tutor."

(for the record, i tried to sign up to be a tutor and failed because 1-i hate teenagers and 2-i can only tutor english; if you bring me math i will look at you with panic. i don't want to be the reason you can't pass your ACTs.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

i am a bad american.

instead of spending my Fourth of July eating vast amounts of bbq, standing on a beach watching fireworks or drinking myself unconscious, i spent the long weekend catching up on sleep, strolling through an empty, drizzly evanston with M-, scratching at tiny mosquito bites and wondering what happened to an entire roll of toilet paper the night M- was felled by a bout of Bad Chinese Food.

hope y'all were safe, fed and also similarly relaxed. happy independence.

now. how about that sarah palin? what the hell??

Friday, July 03, 2009

because i've been so wrapped up in work i decided to catch up on some of my blog reading and, i have to admit, it's depressing. between the stuff about iran, new inroads against women's reproductive choice, the Ricci decision from the SCOTUS, new numbers about unemployment and the economy, the new report on black juvenile discipline (or over discipline), the Tiller murder, the jack-assery surrounding michael jackson's death, everything is just ugh.

i know that political engagement comes and goes in waves; during election years and campaigns i suck up everything and my blood pressure suffers for it. then, when things die down, i ease up a bit but i still read around. but it gets harder and harder. watching real politics up close and personal, watching how it translates into real impact on people's lives, makes it harder to appreciate and engage with privileged talking heads who treat everything like a debate club drill.

why do we listen to these people? why do we give them space to pontificate? why do we pay any attention to them? what do they really know?? you know what i'm saying?

why the hell do we read MoDo?
what gives David Brooks, Bill Kristol, Glen Beck, the Huffington Post or even Paul Krugman, any authority to speak on high?

so this is my way of saying sorry to the 5 readers who come here for political screeds. i'm a little tapped out.
indulge me for my M- posts. it's a break i need.

(speaking of breaks, i'm writing this from a neighborhood cafe. how long has it been since i've been able to do that??)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

bullet, dodged.

while i'm intensely thankful i still have my job today, i am also intensely sad that i am probably going to be saying goodbye to a couple of good friends at the end of the month.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


i couldn't sleep last night.
at M-'s place, i tossed and turned, waking up at 2, then 3, then 4 and finally 5 am. i dressed, got my bag together and sat back on the bed waiting for M- to turn over. he walked me downstairs and gave me a big hug, saying, 'things will be ok today. they'll be ok.'

i think i mumbled 'i know' or something inadequate and walked to the bus that would take me to the train that would take me home.

i'm at work now and everyone is silent. no chit chat. no 'what did you do last night?' just silence.

i hope i get my pink slip by noon so i can go home and cry in private. then sleep.

i've decided that i'm done with being a do-gooder. i now want to work for the most evil corporate entity i can find in the region, make an obscene amount of money and not look back. really. i'm done.

suggestions welcome.