Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wee Fish Ewe...

...a Merry end of the Winter seasonal holiday of choice!

We have been enjoying (the royal we, that is) the start of my time off from college teaching (five months of pure bliss!). We started by watching Tom Jones in Las Vegas-- oh yeah, it's not unusual! Was great fun. Sorry not much on the blogside, but I'll try to get back into it after this coming Sunday.

It's not that I muchly celebrate Christmas anymore-- I'm not a Catholic, much less a Christian anymore (all of you out there like me, raise your hands! I thought so...). However, my SO is UCC/Episcopalianish, so I don't mind doing some stuff up. Besides, I think about it this way-- I can really dig Jesus' message, I just cannot dig what humans have warped it into to fit nefarious plans.

In some way, this is a lot like the modern political process. You have a few good people willing to do the dirty work of governance, and you have a whole lot more, apparently, willing to make a ton of cash off of politics to further their own semi-inbred family legacy. Now, given that I don't have many political aspirations myself (But I think I'd make someone a good speech writer!), this is Monday-morning quarterbacking, but still and all I think the analysis is correct. Moreover, I think the analogy of religion and politics as potential tools for evil is apt.

Here's the kicker-- in a country like ours, where the banners of religion and politics are raised high, who can untangle the true meaning of both--usually noble-- endeavors from the machinations of Men (and I do mean men...)?

..and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kofi Annan's last speech...

So he wasn't the most strident person. So he wasn't Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali. So he wasn't perhaps the Churchill of his times...

But you can't fault Kofi Annan's parting shots, though many will, and many will fault his leadership of the UN. So let THEM try next!
Kofi Annan

Monday, December 11, 2006


F*%$#ng Pinochet goes and dies before he can be broasted and brought to justice?

Here's the sick news...

What are YOU dreaming of?

Man Eegee, Blogger extraordinaire, always provokes thought, so I wondered, ala his post about a White Jesus...

I deram of a peaceful world with a measure of understanding and kindness, not to mention hope

I dream of multipartisanship, not just red-blue makes purple (although I'd be a member of the Purple Party!)

I dream of a reevaluation of our economy of greed and capital at any cost

I dream of the ozone healing because we have come to our collective senses in the heavily industrialized nations

I dream of a world in which love of all kinds, consensual and true, are shown respect and honored as wonderful

I dream of a place where everyone is safe, no one goes hungry, and everyone can live without fear

I dream of terrific, free, and massively funded education for all

and finally...

I dream of a place it's okay to dream.

How about y'all?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Second Civil War (click here)

I showed one of my classes the HBO film "The Second Civil War", about an Idaho governor who decides to close the state borders rather than let a planeload of Pakistani orphans land in Boise. Every politician in the film is being led by ratings, polls, and lobbyists, and no one comes out looking well, although somehow the governor of Idaho (Beau Bridges) is in love with an immigrant Mexican reporter (Elizabeth Pena) and wants to name their future son "Juan Pablo Farley".

It is funny, but in a dark, dark way, and the nexes are remarkably complex and I think depressingly real. One hopes this really ISN'T how our government runs itself... but whoever wrote the film knows a little bit about how pollsters and lobbyists work...

Interestingly, it was apparently only shown once on HBO, in 1997. Hmmm...

I'm tired. But I taught the last class of my year!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Democrats obstructing Bush's vowels... and 2008?!

...latest CNN buzz is all about, it seems (when they're not airing Shrub's anger at those damn obstructionist Demmies), is the 2008 elections.

AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE *sound of breaking glass*

Is it conceivable that we can get thru the elections with all the votes counted and then have a few months before we worry about the next Prez? I mean hell, Christmas stuff was up before Halloween in my part of the globe.

So far the buzz is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton-- the SO and I were wondering over brekkies whether the American people could find a way to justify rejecting both a woman AND a person of color, or if there would only be one on the ticket, and wuold that make us better if we had a lopsided race where, let's say, the Repugnocrat was Trent Lott or his ilk yet he STILL got voted in.

Here's a good questions-- which is more deeply entrenched in the US right now-- sexism or racism?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I am wondering..

..can someone who has more experience with Arizona as a whole explain to me how it is that "natives" sometimes can't see the forest for the horrifically lopsided, classist, racist trees? Hell, I come from Texas and I have stopped trying to explain to people why I want to go back (and no, I didn't vote for the Ex-Guv). But somehow it is even more astonishing t ome why anyone would stay in AZ, even in the lovely and probably more mellow hamlet of Tucson.

I figured when I got here, almost completely ignorant of the politics, that being in academics would ensure a relatively educated gaggle of colleagues for me, if not relatively educated students. Some are, but I am astonished by the self-imposed limits of some people I've met in Arizona. You don't have to get out and do a major degree folks. Is it too much to ask to get out of the STATE some time, fer Kerist's sake?

So, it's not all that political, but I am still wondering while in Arizona I feel like a black man stuck in "Far from Heaven". Insight welcome.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Unexpected Border Patrol gift...

Happy post-orgiastic consuming of food and products! One of the most important things I'm thankful for: finding out that the Border Patrol checkpoint close to my home ISN'T OPEN WEDNESDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING NOR THE SUNDAY AFTER due to massive traffic.

Just in case you might have a good reason to know that.. *insert evil grin here*

Post-food orgy catatonia...

Monday, November 20, 2006

The difference between Tucson, Phoenix, and Podunkia

Well, I gave my paper on Education and Politics, and am kinda glad I didn't go theoretical, since those things seemed to go over like lead bricks at the conference I was at. I discussed different student learning styles from San Luis to Yuma, and how our culture might be able to assist in the process of education, but also what we had to do as a culture/ community not to shoot ourselves in the collective foot.

More interestingly by far, I found out that I really have no reason to fear I'm vegetating as an academic in Podunkia/ Yuma, since I found out that some acadmic types from Tucson/ Phoenix were a bit-- well, weird. It felt as if they could talk much talk, and undoubtedly do some walking, yet there seemed to be a sense of disconnect from the very community's students they felt they needed most to serve. I mean, the majority of my students are brown, and pretty much always will be. I go within walking distance of Mexico once a week and only ten miles away a bit later that same day. I live, eat, breathe, and work among my students in a remarkably contentious area every day. And now I know-- Tucson and Phoenix really DON'T konw any better how to deal with the everyday life of Latinas and Latinos.

But I bet they have Thai food....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A break from our regularly scheduled program...

...In-N-Out has opened in Yuma. The phenomenon that is In-N-Out

Yes, they have a secret menu-- and yes, you CAN find it on their website under the menu!

Tomorrow I talk about Education and Politics in Arizona... we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

South Africa recognizes gay marriage...

There is a Dog. Or deity of your choice. And by a GOOD majority.

So... when will we be next to recognize our own citizens' right to happiness?

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Nov. 14, 2006 (Ass. Press)


(AP) The South African parliament on Tuesday approved new legislation recognizing gay marriages _ a first for a continent where homosexuality is largely taboo.

The National Assembly passed the Civil Union Bill, worked out after months of heated public discussion, by a majority of 230 to 41 votes despite criticism from both traditionalists and gay activists and warnings that it might be unconsitutional. There were three abstentions.

The bill provides for the "voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union." It does not specify whether they are heterosexual or homosexual partnerships.

But it also says marriage officers need not perform a ceremony between same-sex couples if doing so would conflict with his or her "conscience, religion and belief."

"When we attained our democracy, we sought to distinguish ourselves from an unjust painful past, by declaring that never again shall it be that any South African will be discriminated against on the basis of color, creed culture and sex," Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the National Assembly.

The bill had been expected to pass given the overwhelming majority of the ruling African National Congress, despite unease among rank and file lawmakers. It now has to go to the National Council of Provinces, which is expected to be a formality, before being signed into law by President Thabo Mbeki.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

I don't really watch football that much, since SOME people I know have horribly competitive tendencies in my house, and he ain't the dog.

However, while bringing my head up from the local sports teams' losses on the weekend, I noticed a remarkable football/ soccer game of its own beginning nationally: Iran or not to Iran?

If you Google news read, as I sometimes do, you'll notice a top headline with our QB, George "C student" Bush, pretty much trashing Iran, as might be well expected. On the field as well is Tony "GB" Blair, our QB's normal backup, asking for a bit more patience and utilitarianism.

I can understand the Red Team's side, what with the bad blood of the past with Iran. However, when your ally, well, several of them kindly request a "rapprochement", it might bear some thinking.

OF COURSE! Let us not forget (as if we could) some of the fallout of the elections. I didn't have to wait long to unearth anti-Pelosi images, stories, hysterical rantings. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to buy an "I Love Nancy Pelosi" shirt, even though I'm not from California. I'm wondering if the elections spanking and subsequent Blue Tide Rising (TM) are playing with our QB's head and pride, making him stand harder on things he 1- likely doesn't understand fully and 2- gave lip service to. When your "Architect" of war is outed as a shameful hussy by the Army (Navy, Air Force, Marines) Times and basically is sacrificed (as he damn well deserved to be) for the appeasement of a ravenous crowd tired of the BS, you might feel defensive. You might throw when you should've stayed with the ground game.

Let's just say he's not headed for a BCS game yet. Meanwhile, Ford is still around. Ford/ Carter 2008?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Absolutely my favorite ad of the season...


..obviously summarizing Repugnicratic misfires on ads... and WHEN did so many people (mostly Republican guys, apparently) develop such hate for Nancy Pelosi?

Yee haw, cowpokes! Ride em up, move em out, conGRESS!!!!!

Will my country now be mine? Ours?

...truth be told, it's beautiful outside, I'm feeling good, I listened to reggae on the drive in, and I tried not too feel too smug or overconfident. I do, after all, live in crAZy. I stayed up too late to watch returns, completely ready to feel that sinking failure again, certain robberies were going to happen, certain some pendejo was going to shoot someone at a polling place...

But nothing happened.

And, something happened.

What we, who have become so tired and frustrated and angry with the lies, deceit, arrogance, fear-mongering, and anti-American, anti-Constitution, hell, anti-human dignity wave of political endeavor will do with a putative victory by slightly less arrogant bastards (but god of your choice bless Nancy Pelosi!) is a good question. I'm not a libertarian or a some goofball Ayn Rand type, but I am really concerned that in a wave of giddiness we forget to take control. In the same way I want Latina/os, Chicana/os, Mexicana/os, and brown peeps of all kinds to get up stand up, I am fully aware many of us have been so tired just trying to keep our heads above the water of agressive arrogance. I truly want us to be able to take a few collective breaths as a nation, then remember not to giggle too much in public.

However, I am greatly pleased that Arizona, of all places, voted down the marriage amendment. I hope that means we're interested in NOT letting government rule every aspect of our lives. The anti-immigrant and English only BS is just that, though I deeply worry, given a penchant nationally in some spheres for illegal detention, that the bail amendment will impact quickly.

What the anti-immigrant things mean to me is that though I have no accent, have a PhD, and can throw a perfect spiral, I still might be a target for some wackos like Warden or Felony Dove because I'm brown. My white husband probably wouldn't make much difference to them-- he'd be a race traitor. Even though he's Bohemian and Irish...

Johnny Clegg, a white singer from South Africa who plays with a black and white SA band and was harassed for doing so before the dismantling, wrote this song about his country during Apartheid, and when I was listening to it recently I thought-- one day my country will be mine... but, right now I don't know if I'm the witness or the crime.

And I am DEAD tired of you who who cause friction in the land.


Woman Be My Country

Here we stand on the edge of the day
Faces melting in the African rain
So many seasons of silent war
So many drowned before they reached the shore
Nothing is clear to me any more in this sad and strange landscape
I've got no defense, I've got no attack
I can't leave, I can't stay and I've got no way back
Hard to deal with the way things have been
I can't lie but the truth is so extreme

Woman be my country, 'till my country can be mine
Hide me deep inside your borders in these dark and troubled times
Remember me my innocence before I drowned in the sea of lies
Woman be my country, 'till my country can be mine

Too many seasons of quiet rage
Too many young people just wasted away
Too many futures hanging in the balance
Too much owing nothing left to pay
A lonely flag flutters in the breeze
for the hardened hearts who still want to believe
Am I the witness or am I the crime
A victim of history or just a sign of the times
Across my heart questions and shadows still fly
But in the dead of the night I know where the answer lies

Woman be my country, 'till my country can be mine
I have no flag, I sing no anthem, I no longer carry an armalite
Bathe me in you sweet rivers, anoint me with your touch and your smile
To your colours I give my allegiance, I lay it on the line

Ngikhathele ngifile wena weqat' izwe
(I am dead tired of you who cause friction in the land)
Ngikhathele ngifile zindaba zakho
(I am dead tired of you, and your matters)
Yash' imizi yobada
(The homes of my fathers are burning)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mi Vota es... pues.. MAYBE mi voz...

Well, I went and did the voting thing-- and here's the report!

The little hamlet east of Yuma I live in has the polling place at the elementary school, right off the main drag out of town and to I-8. Dutifully, I dragged the S.O. to the place to get there just after 6am when they opened. On the way there, we saw the local PD putting up a sign for a Diesel Fueled Vehicle Checkpoint on the main drag, next to the polling place's grounds. By the time I finished voting (having to cast a provisional ballot which then got counted because someone forgot it was provisional and now they will have to pull it out later-- oh dear!-- since I didn't receive the early ballot they said I had been sent). My sticker should have said "I THINK I voted today!"

When we went back out, the stop was in full action, police directing people and cars, and trucks being pulled over to be, I have no idea, "inspected" for diesel fuel lawbreaking? It was slowing down traffic to the highway, and no doubt freaking some people out with the police and the flashing lights and trucks being pulled over.

What in the HELL were they thinking? It's not like election day is a surprise... Conveniently, polls opened at six, diesel fuel checkpoint went up at six. What were they looking for? Sure, some people might be scared off voting, but you also are pissing off voters like me who have limited time to vote because we're going to work. What if I had been driving our diesel truck?

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I DID exercise my right to let the Yuma County election folk know via email what was going on there. ANY kind of situation which could impede voting by ANYONE (including lack of ADA access) should be removed and remedied. I did let the poll workers know that the checkpoint was going up, and I hope against hope they asked someone to try to deal with it. In a fiery election season, the last thing anyone wants is the APPEARANCE of voter intimidation. If I was going to vote and was carrying the legal forms of ID (but say no picture ID), I think I might be a bit freaked by the police next to the polling place. Since it's also a school, you'll have CRAZED traffic the whole time the stop is there. Let's not even mention the farm worker trucks being pulled over with day workers from Mexico or who are now going to be late picking up the day workers from the border.

The police have the right to their checkpoint. Is it not obvious, however, that on election day perhaps you might catch those evil emissions violators a little LESS close to the main drag and the polls??

Like I said... I exercised my right to vote... I THINK. After all was said and done at the polls, they forgot to give me back my little copy of the provisional ballot which I could have used to find out if my vote counted.

This is better than Chicago voting!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ted Haggard.. so full of shite.

A small digression from AZ politics and such...
(from an Aussie paper, the Herald Sun)

Pastor admits lies and sin
Colleen Slevin

November 07, 2006 12:00am

DESCRIBING himself as a "deceiver and liar" who had given in to his dark side, one of America's top evangelical leaders yesterday confessed to sexual immorality in a letter read from the pulpit of the mega-church he founded.

The Rev Ted Haggard, the disgraced former president of the National Evangelical Association, which represents 30 million evangelical Christians, apologised to his flock.

"Because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn't want to hurt or disappoint them," he said.
Pride? How about sheer lust you jerkwad!

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," he said.

He didn't take responsibility when he got caught! Shades of Foley...

Mr Haggard, 50, resigned last week as NEA president, a powerful position he used to lobby Washington against gay marriages and homosexuality. The married father of five quit after a man claimed to have had drug-fuelled homosexual trysts with him for three years.

The independent Overseer Board of the 14,000-member New Life Church, which Mr Haggard founded in the 1980s, sacked him on Saturday. The letter was read to the New Life Church by the Rev Larry Stockstill, a member of the board that fired him. Neither Mr Haggard nor his wife, Gayle, attended.

In his letter, Mr Haggard said: "The accusations made against me are not all true but enough of them are that I was appropriately removed from this church leadership position."

He did not give details on which accusations were true. Mr Haggard had acknowledged on Friday that he paid Mike Jones, of Denver, for a massage and for methamphetamine, but said he did not have sex with him and did not take the drug.

But the Overseer Board said: "Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct."

At the New Life Church, the Rev Ross Parsley has replaced Mr Haggard.

"When tragedy and crisis strikes it is at that moment that you truly decide if you are a worshipper of the most high God. And today as the worship pastor of this church I am very proud of you," Mr Parsley said.

Church member Ryan Price said: "He's reaching out and asking for forgiveness." - AP
From whom? I hope his wife! Who of course, now is being picekd on in other circles...

I could care less whether this man is gay, blue, orange, or lime green- but I am SO sick of the evangelical right-wing hypocrisy passing from Christian in this country! The picture of a weeping "believer" tells the tale. His sin is not in the dalliance, it's in the lying, deceptive, hypocritical way in which he went about it. When will Moderates in Christianity get a grip on this out of control train called fundamentalism? I'm no longer Catholic, but be damned if I don't recognize a system in danger of damaging the people who believe in it. Faith is important to many-- it's not something to be taken lightly by men or women of devious means and piety.

People... are...human. That means they err, doubt, lose faith, cheat, sin, steal, speed, dally, and sometimes snort or shoot up. We're human-- but don't make things worse on a flawed flock by being a pious hypocrite.

The state of Edjucamation in crAZy: Tom Horne

This is semi-old news, but I'm still appalled more isn't being made of it. Tom Horne, AZ Education guru, has been accused of illegal campaigning. Of course, his Demo opponent has been accused of laziness, by not finding out who the emplyers of some donators are (a 25 dollar plus donation apprently triggers this need for info... Go figure.)

Horne is a bug to me, not only for the illegal campaign issues for which the AEA has filed suit, but because in response to Arizona's dead last finish in a nationwide poll of education he opined:
Horne cited a report issued earlier this year by the RAND Corp., a non-profit "think tank,'' which says that when family background is factored out, Arizona scores above the national average in the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. "So on the real test of education, which is test results, Arizona's above the national average on every conceivable measure,'' he said. And Horne said one of the things that proves "is that Morgan Quitno's a stupid company, and I would estimate they have no employee with an IQ over 90.''

The real test of an education is the result of a test? (AFTER factoring out family influence-- how do you do THAT?) My failing students can pass tests well enough with coaching in test-taking skills, while some students who are brilliant lack the nerves or other things to pass the AIMS, SAT, or whatever. In several states, passing the HS graduation tests means you can read at a 9th grade level, NOT the grade at which one passes out of high school, as far as I can tell. This is what the testing of students has wrought.

What is seems to have wrought for Tom Horne is an inability to say "you know what? We fucked up." And it is true, in this state. We are now dead last in funding, BELOW Mississippi (which most couldn't spell without the "crooked letter" mnemonic). I have heard such excuses as "we don't have enough land revenue"-- well, hell with that. I came from a pretty dumb state back in the seventies, survived a piss-poor public ed system, which still serves my family, and I made it out not because of the school, but because of myself. HOWEVER- Texas is HIGH above Arizona in state funding and achievement.

In case anyone cares, (and I don't, but HE brought it up) since Tom Horne is all about tests, here's a rough guide to IQ according to researcher Linda Gottfredson in "Scientific American":
"Persons of average IQ (between 90 and 100) are not competitive for most professional and executive-level work but are easily trained for the bulk of jobs in the American economy. By contrast, individuals in the top 5 percent of the adult population can essentially train themselves, and few occupations are beyond their reach mentally."


89 to 100 IQ score-- 25% of population score this, 50% score below 100
Grade equivalent is: 8th-Grade to 1-2 years of College.
100 to 111 IQ score-- 50% of pop score this, 1 in 2 above 100
Grade equivalent is: 12th-Grade to College Degree

Under these ideas, many of my students would be sub-average becasue they cannot read or do mathematics at a college level. YET-- they passed AIMS!

So even if Morgan Quitno had people with 90 IQs there, they'd still be perfectly qualified--just not probably running the show.

Horrowe'en; Election eve

Well, since tomorrow we pretend to select new or old leaders, change state constitutions, vote on issues of complexity which even the most intelligent sometimes go "duh" about because of arcane wording, and condemn certain US citizens and hard workers to second-class status, I'm calling today Horrowe'en.

It's an ancient, frightening holiday, stretching back into the dim mists of putative republics which, then as now, were almost always controlled by a small aristocratic group, all men usually, and all with a vested interest to stay there once elected. Precious little restraint was shown on the run up to Election Day, with Sejanus countering Rufio's pronouncement that he didst sleep and dine with swine. While Sejanus may damn well have, he couldn't APPEAR that way to the electorate, so he would post signs and posters indicating Rufio's mother hadst kept company with German soldiers. In the end, moeny tended to win, and if occasionally an upstanding rep was chosen-- they'd be killed not long after.

Fast forward 2500 years later or so, and let's peek now... in some places, the incumbent is asailed as "weak" on some "vital" issue, "incompetent", "the worst", "bad for our country", one whom "we can't afford anymore". In the last gubernatorial in crAZy, Janet Napolitano's dead in the water opponent hinted at lesbianism. Kyl hints Pedersen has hinky tax practices. Bonnie Garcia over in California "prefiere los perros", according to a recent Spanish-language ad, over "seres humanos".

Not that much has truly changed. Our unfortunate political victims of a warlike juggernaut are our soldiers, fighting without the things they need, our kids, struggling to pass a test which barely confirms they can read, or if they can they only have to read at a 9th grade level to graduate high school, only to fail or be told they need remedial work to go to college, the great potential equalizer.

Yet, we wake up tomorrow and hold our nose and hope that our representatives represent. I'll vote at 630 in the morning, before driving to work, as opposed to having the day off and my vote being compulsory as some other more civilized countries do. Many of us will scramble around at lunch to vote, curse and swear when we forget a picture ID and someone gets cranky at the polls, try to find time between kids and dinner to vote then sit down to find out some company in Florida that makes electronic voting machines screwed up (Like HERE or HERE)

Unfortunately or not, that's where we are thousands of years after the founding of the Thingvellir, the fall of Rome, the eclipse of the British and Japanese empires, and 3/4 of the way through the US empire.

What will we see?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A note on new links..

...while a pretty proud Tejana feminist, I have always wanted to return to the island I was born on, Guam/ Guahan. I have no idea why. Perhaps 9 months of rocking in my mother's belly, being lulled progressively by surf sounds did something. I remember writing a paper in middle school, and again in high school, on Guam, and remember hearing stories of the latte stones, and others.

My family spent four years there prior to my birth, and then jetted to Oklahoma (gasp!) afterwards. There's no real connection, except I was native-born and have met some Chamorro folk later in life.

HOWEVER- I am very much interested in colonialism, post-colonialism, diaspora, and what I call in my book the "strange non-diasporic postcolonial condition" of Texans on the Mexico border after the TX-MX border, when a 'government' arbitrarily MADE some border dwellers "instant Texans". I'm very interested in American nationalism and imperialism as it has made itself known, particularly in places we might forget or even WANT to forget. Hence, my searching again for a Guam connection.

So, raza-- no worries. I'm a good poco loco Tejana feminist!

Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

On this solemn day, let's remember the losses we have had to endure as a country from warmongering, extreme nationalism, ignorance, greed, cultural imperialism, isolationism, and fear.

And please, if you are so inclined-- pray for a change.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More brouhaha election-style

Well, while the sleepy hamlet I live in is not exactly bustling with action, the fair and entirely too ignorant at times burb of Yuma is bursting with election day fervor! Or, so you would think form all the campaign signs.

However, I was interested to note that some signs have started to disappear. I was on my way to work when I noticed a couple of long-haired guys (liberals? Animal Rights activists? Lost snowbirds?) stopping by the "It's Hogwash" sign (Proposition to put an end to some types of food animal torture-- you try not turning around in a box for your lifetime). Next thing I knew, on my way back home, the sign (and it was a BIG sign) was gone.

Now, I don't exactly feel bad about that, but it reeks more of a republican desperation than the act of a citizen of conscience. Repubs tend, at least among those not fiscal conservatives, to shriek instead of discuss when challenged, to lie, steal, misguide, and cheat. Do I have proof of these contentions?

SURE I DO! Foley... Bush and the towers... Enron... Rush... etc etc...

How people get away with the most outlandish statements, under the guise of "first amendment rights" is amazing. While I'm not about suing as a course of life, maybe someone needs to start some libel suits!

off to teach...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Race, racism, and racial identity from the academy..

I was cruising the net while trying to not speak (laryngitis), and was induced into reading this story on the Chronicle of HIgher Education's site. I'll excerpt it here:

Colorblind to the Reality of Race in America

How will race as a social practice evolve in the United States over the next few decades? The American public, and indeed many scholars, increasingly believe that the country is leaving race and racism behind. Some credit Brown v. Board of Education, the revered 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision pronouncing segregated schools unequal, and the broad civil-rights movement of which the decision was a part, with turning the nation away from segregation and toward equality. Others point to changing demographics....*snip*

My sense of our racial future differs. Not only do I fear that race will continue to fundamentally skew American society over the coming decades, but I worry that the belief in the diminished salience of race makes that more likely rather than less. I suspect that the laws supposedly protecting against racial discrimination are partly to blame, for they no longer contribute to racial justice but instead legitimate continued inequality. We find ourselves now in the midst of a racial era marked by what I term "colorblind white dominance," in which a public consensus committed to formal antiracism deters effective remediation of racial inequality, protecting the racial status quo while insulating new forms of racism and xenophobia.

The Jefferson County school district, in Kentucky, covers Louisville and surrounding suburbs. A target of decades of litigation to eradicate Jim Crow school segregation and its vestiges, the district has since 2001 voluntarily pursued efforts to maintain what is now one of the most integrated school systems in the country. But not everyone supports those efforts, especially when they involve taking race into consideration in pupil assignments. In 2004 a white lawyer named Teddy B. Gordon ran for a seat on the Jefferson County School Board, promising to end endeavors to maintain integrated schools. He finished dead last, behind three other candidates. Indifferent to public repudiation, he is back — this time in the courtroom. Gordon's argument is seductively simple: Brown forbids all governmental uses of race, even if designed to achieve or maintain an integrated society.

He has already lost at the trial level and before an appellate court, as have two other sets of plaintiffs... But Gordon and the conservative think tanks and advocacy groups that back him, including the self-styled Center for Equal Opportunity, are not without hope. To begin with, over the past three decades the courts have come ever closer to fully embracing a colorblind Constitution — colorblind in the sense of disfavoring all uses of race, irrespective of whether they are intended to perpetuate or ameliorate racial oppression.

Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, is thrilled. As he gleefully noted in The National Review, there's an old saw that the court does not hear cases it plans to affirm. The Bush administration, too, supports Gordon and his efforts. The U.S. solicitor general recently submitted a friend-of-the-court brief urging the justices to prevent school districts across the country from paying attention to race.

At issue is a legally backed ideology of colorblindness that could have implications beyond schools — for higher education and the wider society. Yes, in a narrowly tailored decision three years ago, the Supreme Court allowed the University of Michigan to consider race as one factor in law-school admissions. But since then, conservative advocacy groups have used the threat of lawsuits to intimidate many institutions into halting race-based college financial-aid and orientation programs, as well as graduate stipends and fellowships, and those groups are now taking aim at faculty hiring procedures. This month Michigan voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to ban racial and gender preferences wherever practiced. And looming on the horizon are renewed efforts to enact legislation forbidding the federal and state governments from collecting statistics that track racial disparities, efforts that are themselves part of a broader campaign to expunge race from the national vocabulary.

Gordon predicts that if he prevails, Louisville schools will rapidly resegregate. He is sanguine about the prospect. "We're a diverse society, a multiethnic society, a colorblind society," he told The New York Times. "Race is history."

But the past is never really past, especially not when one talks about race and the law in the United States. We remain a racially stratified country, though for some that constitutes an argument for rather than against colorblindness. Given the long and sorry history of racial subordination, there is tremendous rhetorical appeal to Justice John Marshall Harlan's famous dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 case upholding segregated railway cars: "Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens."

Contemporary proponents of colorblindness almost invariably draw a straight line from that dissent to their own impassioned advocacy for being blind to race today. But in doing so, partisans excise Harlan's acknowledgment of white superiority in the very paragraph in which he extolled colorblindness: "The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is, in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time." That omission obscures a more significant elision: Harlan objected not to all governmental uses of race, but to those he thought would unduly oppress black people.

As viewed by Harlan and the court, the central question was where to place limits on government support for the separation of racial groups that were understood to be unequal by nature (hence Harlan's comfortable endorsement of white superiority). He and the majority agreed that the state could enforce racial separation in the "social" but not in the "civil" arenas; they differed on the contours of the spheres. Harlan believed that segregated train cars limited the capacity of black people to participate as full citizens in civic life, while the majority saw such segregation only as a regulation of social relations sanctioned by custom.


For the first half of the 20th century, colorblindness represented the radical and wholly unrealized aspiration of dismantling de jure racial subordination. Thus Thurgood Marshall, as counsel to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the late 1940s and early 1950s, cited Harlan's celebration of colorblindness to argue that racial distinctions are "contrary to our Constitution and laws." But neither society nor the courts embraced colorblindness when doing so might have sped the demise of white supremacy. Even during the civil-rights era, colorblindness as a strategy for racial emancipation did not take hold. Congress and the courts dismantled Jim Crow segregation and proscribed egregious forms of private discrimination in a piecemeal manner, banning only the most noxious misuses of race, not any reference to race whatsoever.

In the wake of the civil-rights movement's limited but significant triumphs, the relationship between colorblindness and racial reform changed markedly. The greatest potency of colorblindness came to lie in preserving, rather than challenging, the racial status quo. When the end of explicit race-based subordination did not eradicate stubborn racial inequalities, progressives increasingly recognized the need for state and private actors to intervene along racial lines. Rather than call for colorblindness, they began to insist on the need for affirmative race-conscious remedies. In that new context, colorblindness appealed to those opposing racial integration. Enshrouded with the moral raiment of the civil-rights movement, colorblindness provided cover for opposition to racial reform.

Within a year of Brown, Southern school districts and courts had recognized that they could forestall integration by insisting that the Constitution allowed them to use only "race neutral" means to end segregation — school-choice plans that predictably produced virtually no integration whatsoever. In 1965 a federal court in South Carolina put it squarely: "The Constitution is color-blind; it should no more be violated to attempt integration than to preserve segregation."

Wielding the ideal of colorblindness as a sword, in the past three decades racial conservatives on the Supreme Court have increasingly refought the battles lost during the civil-rights era, cutting back on protections against racial discrimination as well as severely limiting race-conscious remedies. In several cases in the 1970s — including North Carolina State Board of Education v. Swann, upholding school-assignment plans, and Regents of the University of California v. Bakke — the court ruled that the need to redress the legacy of segregation made strict colorblindness impossible. But as the 1980s went on, in other cases — McCleskey v. Kemp, which upheld Georgia's death penalty despite uncontroverted statistical evidence that African-Americans convicted of murder were 22 times as likely to be sentenced to death if their victims were white rather than black, **snip** Discrimination existed only but every time someone used racial language. Thus the court found no harm in Georgia's penal system, because no evidence surfaced of a specific bad actor muttering racial epithets, while it espied racism in Richmond's affirmative-action program because it set aside contracts for "minorities."

That approach ignores the continuing power of race as a society-altering category. The civil-rights movement changed the racial zeitgeist of the nation by rendering illegitimate all explicit invocations of white supremacy, a shift that surely marked an important step toward a more egalitarian society. But it did not bring into actual existence that ideal, as white people remain dominant across virtually every social, political, and economic domain. In 2003 the poverty rate was 24 percent among African-Americans, 23 percent among Latinos, and 8 percent among white people. That same year, an estimated 20 percent of African-Americans and 33 percent of Latinos had no health insurance, while 11 percent of white people were uninsured. Discrepancies in incarceration rates are particularly staggering, with African-American men vastly more likely to spend time in prison than white men are.

Or forget the numbers and recall for a moment the graphic parade of images from Hurricane Katrina. Or consider access to country clubs and gated communities, in-group preferences for jobs and housing, the moral certainty shared by many white folks regarding their civic belonging and fundamental goodness.


What may be changing, however, is how membership in the white group is defined. The term "white" has a far more complicated — and fluid — history in the United States than people commonly recognize. For most of our history, whiteness stood in contrast to the nonwhite identities imposed upon Africans, American Indians, Mexican peoples of the Southwest, and Asian immigrants, marking one pole in the racial hierarchy. Simultaneously, however, putative "racial" divisions separated Europeans,

Perhaps we should distinguish here among three sorts of white identity. Consider first persons who are "fully white," in the sense that, with all of the racially relevant facts about them widely known, they would generally be considered white by the community at large. (Obviously, racial identity is a matter not of biology but of social understandings, although those may give great weight to purportedly salient differences in morphology and ancestry.) In contrast to that group, there have long been those "passing as white" — people whose physical appearance allowed them to claim a white identity when social custom would have assigned them to a nonwhite group had their ancestry been widely known. Of people of Irish and Jewish descent in the United States, for example, one might say that while initially some were able to pass as white, now all are fully white.

Today a new group is emerging, perhaps best described as "honorary whites." Apartheid South Africa first formally crafted this identity: Seeking to engage in trade and commerce with nations cast as inferior by apartheid logic, particularly Japan, South Africa extended to individuals from such countries the status of honorary white people, allowing them to travel, reside, relax, and conduct business in South African venues that were otherwise strictly "whites only." Persons who pass as white hide racially relevant parts of their identity; honorary whites are extended the status of whiteness despite the public recognition that, from a bioracial perspective, they are not fully white.

In the United States, honorary-white status seems increasingly to exist for certain people and groups. The quintessential example is certain Asian-Americans, particularly East Asians. Although Asians have long been racialized as nonwhite as a matter of law and social practice, the model-minority myth and professional success have combined to free some Asian-Americans from the most pernicious negative beliefs regarding their racial character. In part this trend represents a shift toward a socially based, as opposed to biologically based, definition of race. Individuals and communities with the highest levels of acculturation, achievement, and wealth increasingly find themselves functioning as white, at least as measured by professional integration, residential patterns, and intermarriage rates.

Latinos also have access to honorary-white identity, although their situation differs from that of Asian-Americans. Unlike the latter, and also unlike African-Americans, Latinos in the United States have long been on the cusp between white and nonwhite. Despite pervasive and often violent racial prejudice against Mexicans in the Southwest and Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic groups elsewhere, the most elite Latin Americans in the United States have historically been accepted as fully white. With no clear identity under the continental theory of race (which at its most basic identifies blacks as from Africa, whites from Europe, reds from the Americas, and yellows from Asia), and with a tremendous range of somatic features marking this heterogeneous population, there has long been relatively more room for the use of social rather than strictly biological factors in the imputation of race to particular Hispanic individuals and groups.

It seems likely that an increasing number of Latinos — those who have fair features, material wealth, and high social status, aided also by Anglo surnames — will both claim and be accorded a position in U.S. society as fully white. Simultaneously, many more — similarly situated in terms of material and status position, but perhaps with slightly darker features or a surname or accent suggesting Latin-American origins — will become honorary whites. Meanwhile, the majority of Latinos will continue to be relegated to nonwhite categories.

The continuing evolution in who counts as white is neither particularly startling nor especially felicitous. Not only have racial categories and ideologies always mutated, but race has long turned on questions of wealth, professional attainment, and social position. A developing scholarship now impressively demonstrates that even during and immediately after slavery, *snip* and even in the hyperformal legal setting of the courtroom, determinations of racial identity often took place on the basis of social indicia like the nature of one's employment or one's choice of sexual partners.

Nor will categories like black, brown, white, yellow, and red soon disappear. Buttressed by the continued belief in continental racial divisions, physical features those divisions supposedly connote will remain foundational to racial classification. The stain of African ancestry — so central to the elaboration of race in the United States — ensures a persistent special stigma for black people. Honorary-white status will be available only to the most exceptional — and the most light-skinned — African-Americans, and on terms far more restrictive than those on which whiteness will be extended to many Latinos and Asian-Americans.

Those many in our society who are darker, poorer, more identifiably foreign will continue to suffer the ...exclusion historically accorded to those whose skin and other features socially mark them as nonwhite. Even under a redefined white category, racial hierarchy will continue as the links are strengthened between nonwhite identity and social disadvantage on the one hand, and whiteness and privilege on the other. Under antebellum racial logic, those black people with the fairest features were sometimes described as "light, bright, and damn near white." If today we switch out "damn near" for "honorary" and fold in a few other minorities, how much has really changed?

In the face of continued racial hierarchy, it is crucial that we understand the colorblind ideology at issue in the school cases before the Supreme Court. "In the eyes of government, we are just one race here," Justice Antonin Scalia intoned in 1995. "It is American." That sentiment is stirring as an aspiration, but disheartening as a description of reality, and even more so as a prescription for racial policies. *snip* But however far the civil-rights struggle has moved us, we remain far from a racially egalitarian utopia.

*snip*In the hands of a Thurgood Marshall, who sought to end Jim Crow segregation and to foster an integrated society, colorblindness was a transformative, progressive practice. But when Teddy Gordon, Roger Clegg, the Bush administration, and the conservative justices on the Supreme Court call for banning governmental uses of race, they aim to end the efforts of local majorities to respond constructively to racial inequality. In so doing, they are making their version of colorblindness a reactionary doctrine.

Contemporary colorblindness is a set of understandings — buttressed by law and the courts, and reinforcing racial patterns of white dominance — that define how people comprehend, rationalize, and act on race. As applied, however much some people genuinely believe that the best way to get beyond racism is to get beyond race, colorblindness continues to retard racial progress. It does so for a simple reason: It focuses on the surface, on the bare fact of racial classification, rather than looking down into the nature of social practices. It gets racism and racial remediation exactly backward, and insulates new forms of race baiting.

White dominance continues with few open appeals to race. Consider the harms wrought by segregated schools today. Schools in predominantly white suburbs are far more likely to have adequate buildings, teachers, and books, while the schools serving mainly minority children are more commonly underfinanced, unsafe, and in a state of disrepair. Such harms acccumulate, encouraging white flight ...only to precipitate the collapse in the tax base that in fact ensures a decline not only in schools but also in a range of social services. Such material differences in turn buttress seemingly common-sense ideas about disparate groups, so that we tend to see pristine schools and suburbs as a testament to white accomplishment and values. When violence does erupt, it is laid at the feet of alienated and troubled teenagers, not a dysfunctional culture. Yet we see the metal detectors guarding entrances to minority schoolhouses (harbingers of the prison bars to come) as evidence not of the social dynamics of exclusion and privilege, but of innate pathologies. No one need talk about the dynamics of privilege and exclusion. No one need cite white-supremacist arguments nor openly refer to race — race exists in the concrete of our gated communities and barrios, in government policies and programs, in cultural norms and beliefs, and in the way Americans lead their lives.

Colorblindness badly errs when it excuses racially correlated inequality in our society as unproblematic so long as no one uses a racial epithet. It also egregiously fails when it tars every explicit reference to race. To break the interlocking patterns of racial hierarchy, there is no other way but to focus on, talk about, and put into effect constructive policies explicitly engaged with race. To be sure, inequality in wealth is a major and increasing challenge for our society, but class is not a substitute for a racial analysis — though, likewise, racial oppression cannot be lessened without sustained attention to poverty. It's no accident that the poorest schools in the country warehouse minorities, while the richest serve whites; the national education crisis reflects deeply intertwined racial and class politics. ...The best strategies for social repair will give explicit attention to race as well as to other sources of inequality, and to their complex interrelationship.

The claim that race and racism exist only when specifically mentioned allows colorblindness to protect a new racial politics from criticism. The mobilization of public fears along racial lines has continued over the past several decades under the guise of interlinked panics about criminals, welfare cheats, terrorists, and — most immediately in this political season — illegal immigrants. Attacks ostensibly targeting "culture" or "behavior" rather than "race" now define the diatribes of today's racial reactionaries. Samuel P. Huntington's jeremiad against Latino immigration in his book Who Are We?: The Challenges to America's National Identity rejects older forms of white supremacy, but it promotes the idea of a superior Anglo-Protestant culture. Patrick J. Buchanan defends his latest screed attacking "illegal immigrants," State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, against the charge of racism by insisting that he's indifferent to race but outraged by those with different cultures who violate our laws. My point is not simply that culture and behavior provide coded language for old prejudices, but that colorblindness excuses and insulates this recrudescence of xenophobia by insisting that only the explicit use of racial nomenclature counts as racism.

Contemporary colorblindness loudly proclaims its antiracist pretensions. To actually move toward a racially egalitarian society, however, requires that we forthrightly respond to racial inequality today. The alternative is the continuation of colorblind white dominance. As Justice Harry Blackmun enjoined in defending affirmative action in Bakke: "In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way."

Ian F. Haney López is a professor at the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.

Section: The Chronicle Review
Volume 53, Issue 11, Page B6
Copyright © 2006 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

This is long and wordy and a tiny bit jargon-laden, but Lopez points out a quite calculating endeavor of the arch-conservative: race shouldn't matter. It is the same when I hear white people (or any people) quote Dr King's "content of his character" line, without having read the rest of the speech nor being able to quote another thing King ever said.

This is an articulation of the concern other people of good conscience have: why do some of us feel bad about looking at race? Is it not a thing we need to consider and take stock of, in the way in which it models our society's deeds? Can we be colorblind without ignoring the dominance that only some of us can ever have in a society which grew up as Harlan perceived, thinking "white is right" (however whiteness defines itself)? Why do I feel odd when I have white friends who regale me with signs of their blended raciality and proclaim not to see race? Is it because I question their commitment to the ideal of equality? How can you train yourself, after all, to SEE your societally-given benefits? And if you cannot do that, see your general position of advantage (and heavens, hyper-advantage since I'm in higher ed!) whether or not you "asked" for it, then what hope does the idea of colorblindness have?

And I *still* can't speak... *hack cough!*

I hope someone out there has thoughts...

The flu continues... and voting

Just my luck, buy a flu shot from my school and be unable to get it since I'm already sick with the flu. That was last week. This week, I can't talk because I spent the weekend coughing. Lovely.

That's the joy of the web. Don't even need to talk to say something.

The only thing I'll add today is that my partner voted early, and the chutzpah of some of the proposed amendments was pretty bold. I can understand wanting a raise if you're a state legislator, it's an ugly job, but a 50% one? Are these some of the same people who would reject an increase in minimum wage? The boldness of the eminent domain prop was pretty amusing if not scary, as was the marriage prop.

One of the local papers carried an editorial asking why a state so seemingly intested in state's rights and individual liberty had so many propositions on the ballot which put government right the heck back into the equation. I was mildly surprised--I thought it was a pretty good articulation for moderate republicans, if they needed an excuse not to vote party lines.

Well, would all election year dialogue so tempered. I'm gonna go cough up a lung somewhere and whimper quietly...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Just another manic Thursday... in God's own abandoned swamp. Big rain storm, funnel cloud in Yuma, and the apocalypse must be upon us. I also recently made note of the fact that some people claim political ads are too "mean". Of course.

As the state and nation rev up for the election, much heat is being rained down by incumbents upon their challengers. I am not one to claim there isn't hellfire and brimstone in TV political ads lately: the Pedersen/Kyl campaigns are remarkable to watch in their twists, turns, and general invective. I am still trying to wrap my brains around John Kyl as one of the ten best anything. He doesn't strike me as particularly an AZ rep, but I have not lived here that long. Perhaps he is what, as cynics like to say, "arizona deserves". I'm sure no one is as cowboy as he seems to want to be in some of his ads. There are Texas Rangers who don't look as cowboy as he does at times.

Speaking of the state of the nation, heartened am I (and we) by the NJ turn of events recently, providing some kind of protection to American citizens too long unfairly discriminated against for the gender of their lover. Check it out here

I don't think is a bad thing at all. What is interesting is that these potentially quite forward-thinking attitudes come at the same time as a massive wave of conservative hysteria. Moderation seems to be the thing missing from our nation now. If it's there, I am hoping to see it soon. OUr better voices, if we still have them, are being shouted down by a tendency to bullying public figures and meaningless rhetoric. I was watching the Daily Show and was fairly astonished when 1- Wolf Blitzer called out a congressman on the Foley scandal, challenging him to provide evidence for a Democratic conspiracy and 2- when the congressdude retorted "Do you have any proof that they're not behind it?" Check it out: Daily Show on Foley Scandal

Call me crazy, but can you prove a negative like that? What stupid, inane, and other words meaning hopelessly backwards school did that rep drop out of? Pull that shite in my class, I fail you. Like dog!

Oy. TGIT. Hope the weekend brings us all happiness and good news.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Please pause for a message from our blogger.


Sorry. Much under the weather. Enjoy a pic.:)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Whitey McFlighty

I remember reading long ago, and I don't think it's available anywhere online, Berke Breathed's cartoon from his UTX at Austin cartooning days, a piece titled "Honky Trek: White Flight". He put Star Trek Enterprise-like wings on a big RV, with pictures surrounding that of a presumably frightened Austinite suburban-bound white family. According to Breathed, poop hit everywhere. Austinites then (and oh yes, now) had a hard time thinking that white flight could happen in their neck of the woods. Ah pleeze!

Of course, here in the desert SW of Arizona, we have the opposite situation-- here, snowbirds flock in winter for the weather, usually from some place like Minnesota or Illinois. I know there were a few from Chicagoland who went to AZ when I lived in Oak Park, IL. That town itself has a real issue or race-line segregation, pretty much demarcated by anything south of the downtown, more probably anything south of Madison not being very, um, desirable. I remember when I was a wee one in San Antonio, disliking the messy, noisy, truly clueless turistas ("Where's the Alamo?" I'm asked in Alamo Plaza. "Turn around" quoth I). I was warned in the summer I would not like the snowbirds, and I'm not sure about that yet, but traffic is slower!

I wonder how the visitors who come in winter see their particular type of "white flight". I konw they're fleeing some vicious winter weather, but at the same time, they choose a semi-volatile and aggressively (at times) non-white place. I live in a small town east of Yuma proper, and it's filling up with snow birds. All white. Are there no non-white snowbirds? Do they make a community different by being thre? Are they aware of the politics of their presence and even of the distinction they represent (money).

Now, in suburban Chicagoland, white flight has meant a huge run west, higher home prices, arrogant bastid drivers and privilege-expecting kiddos who may never actually want for anything. Many kids have multi-race friends, but none have asked themselves about their relative privilege or why to find more black people or brown people you go to certain places, very geographically distinct. When I was there it was hard to be in the suburbs, not because I grew up with all that much difference (my god, it was San Antonio, people!), but because I had grown up believing that you didn't believe the shite you saw on TV or on videos. I knew it was fake. I was ignorant, and knew I was when I left TX.

So, at the heart of this ramble is my question-- does White/Rich/ Privileged People flight arise from ignorance AND fear? And what is it people fear? If the loss of their income, they would be better off fearing their broker. If that which they do not know, then their perpetuation of ignorance in the face of overwhelming opportunities to learn about the Other so that their kids will also be ignorant, perhaps worse, is criminal.

Who do we blame for Whitey McFlighty? Catch the posting on race/ class recently at Para Justicia Y Libertad. It is still so hard to be an american when what that means is so often defined by the erasure of anything that looks--well, DIFFERENT. Oh the irony in this land of immigrants! "Who's the illegal alien now, pilgrim?"

Monday, October 16, 2006

Upon looking into my readings for today's class...

...I find a little bit of irony. My classes are reading, among other things, Bharati Mukherjee's "Two Ways to Belong in America", about the 1996 near-miss vote which would have denied legal resident aliens any gov't benefits (I summarize). She describes the difference in reaction to the events from her point of view-- Indian immigrant, wife of an American-- and her sister's legal resident status. Something she said made me both sad and thoughtful for a minute-- like Edward Said, she makes reference to the immigrant experience as multifaceted and at times contentious: "The price that the immigrant willingly pays, and that the exile avoids, is the trauma of self- transformation."

In this she's referring to her sister's strong links to India and Indian culture, even after acknowledging the limitations sometimes imposed on females from traditional families. Mukherjee herself relaxed into near-complete assimilation, though her critique makes me wonder if it's assimilation so much as the mestiza hybrid nature many Mexicanos de este lado find themselves in (And from experience, let me say Arizonans do not seem very friendly to the idea of anything except complete assimilation!).

She discusses the large rise in legal residents applying for citizenship to avoid problems, while her sisters mentions how stupid, inane, and reactionary the potential law was. In this, excellent point--her sister gave 30-plus years to education in her city in the US, only to be looked at like so many others as potential terrorist scum. Oddly, nowadays you can just be a good ol' US citizen and find yourself arrested, threatened, or shot if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (viz post 9-11 deaths of some people of color).

What I hope my students take out of this story is how Americans (with or without the sanctioned help of the gov't), with our piss-poor education, lack of attention span, discouraging of clear debate and thoughtful discussion, fear of "a black planet", and a general drugged (real or not) hysteria and anger and trepidation sometimes do not make it easy to BE in this land! When she wrote about two ways of being in America, I thought about all the ways she's missed.

America. Love it or Leave it, so said the bumper sticker this morning. Funnily, that's the problem-- why can't we wrap our tiny minds around more than two things??

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Los de abajo

Yesterday at my school a class put on a version of Los Vendidos by Valdez. Quite amusing, and I took pics for a presentation later. I'm not a huge fan of Luis Valdez, but no doubt he was huge in the day and even now.

What struck me was that at the end, they had the alternate version Valdez wrote later, where the farmworker, pimp, and Mexican-American become landowner, mayor, and CEO. He said that reflected our reality in the 1980s.

I don't think that reflects our reality NOW.



Monday, October 09, 2006

Random graffito in Telegraph Pass, Yuma

While I still need to risk life by taking a picture of it, I wanted to mention something I've seen up on Telegraph Pass East of Yuma on I-8 (about a mile from the Border Patrol Checkpoint).

The first time I saw the spraypaint, it just said "AYUDA" . That was pretty quickly painted over, but was replaced afew days later by "AYUDA RAZA" sprayed on the rocks there. It's a hazardous turn there in the pass, but it's pretty clear someone wanted to make an impression, and it did. Whoever painted it did put themselves at risk, and probably in more than one way

It haunts me some, since I know that the person writing it was probably not stranded ont he side of the road, but was rather making a plea for help for los de abajo, immigrantes, workers, whomever. I don't want to read too much into it, but given Yuma's incredibly complex and sometimes angry politics, I think I should read into it some.

The area is odd as it is, with the checkpoint so far from the border-- a place I have to go through to get how to from Yuma. It's funny how antagonistic a checkpoint can be, even if you're doing nothing more than passing through. Some people also ask the oddest questions: "Just you two? Sure you got no one in the trunk?" I told that guy he could take a look if he wanted. Ay, where will this all end?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Wall


Mother do you think they'll drop the bomb?
Mother do you think they'll like this song?
Mother do you think they'll try to break my balls?
Mother should I build the wall?
Mother should I run for president?
Mother should I trust the government?
Mother will they put me in the firing line?
Mother am I really dying?

Hush now baby, baby, dont you cry.
Mother's gonna make all your nightmares come true.
Mother's gonna put all her fears into you.
Mother's gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She wont let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Mama will keep baby cozy and warm.
Ooooh baby ooooh baby oooooh baby,
Of course mama'll help to build the wall.

(thanks PF!)


...just supposing, one day, someone MADE administrators, politicians, boards of trustees, and the like actually come and be involved in the communities they too often screw over for more than a whistle stop. Suppose one day before you took a position of trust and power, you were made to live among all your constituents, not merely the ones who came to the fundraising dinner.


It hit me recently, and I don't know why it hadn't hit me before, that crAZy is Old Mexico and before that Old Spain (and get off my backs people who want to rant about how it was Native before that and Asiam before that-- really, learn rhetoric first!). This area was a separate country, with a unique language. WHY should we expect English to be primary here? Because snowbirds demand it? "Because it's America, you liberal idiot!"

Well, it has only been America a while. You're in the Southwest. Speak Spanish!

Or calo, or spanglish, or Tex-Mex...


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Great Wall of (*&@#&%&))?!!

Without a doubt, most of the blues of today come from the pendejismo evidenced recently by the political machines that keep grinding away. I am reminded (no small thanks to a pretty liberal and aggressive degree in history) of the 40s and 50s, hysterical chasing of "wetbacks" all over the place. I was lucky to be part of a family (well, okay I wasn't alive then) which had been so long in the area we were invisible.

I haven't asked my mother yet what she thinks of the wall idea. She remembers and has told me about seeing white and colored drinking fountains, and thinking it was foolish. Of course, she went to the white fountain. I remember asking--so, what were Mexicans?

More later on the shamefully two-faced nature of former immigrants being anti-immigrant...

(a little pic of my hometown, San Antonio-- La Margarita has lovely drinks and ambushing mariachis!)
Hola, y'all...

no, that's not "holla". Too old for most of that. I decided, even though I'm leery of the usefulness of blogging, that at this time my sanity will be well served by having a place to vent. I live in SW Arizona (crAZy), and teach at a college-- English, no less. I have never quite lived in a place where race and color are so incredibly knotted up in anger and incoherent occasional ranting. I love where I work , the peeps are lovely, but the state-- the state!

To confess, I grew up in TX (pre-GWB). My home state, which I love so much I have it tattooed on my ankle, is a fraught place with some REALLY weird politics. But rarely if ever were race and color issues so spittingly, droolingly violent when I was growing up. When my mom and grandma were, sure. But even so, living and growing up in the majority had a HUGE impact on me!

Merrily traipsing across the country for school, even Iowa was less virulent. I am positive not all Arizonans lose their minds over immigration, race, or color--but good heavens those who do have the voice!

So, part of this log is to combat that vindicitive, loud ugliness. Perhaps I will be able to provide a bit of insight, especially as in the cours eof my job I am within a mile of the border once a week to teach. I don't want to overtly scream, and I will try to keep the ranting to a minimum. But when was the last time I felt like I could be attacked? Never.

Maybe it's the tattoos...

La Maestra