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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Ok folks

Ok folks, here is a justification of the Arizona immigration bill in the NY Times by one of it’s authors. He blames the opponents of the bill for being “groups that favor relaxed enforcement of immigration laws” and claims that the Arizona law simply provides a bulwark to already existing national legislation. He also explains “reasonable suspicion” and why the bill won’t lead to racial profiling.

Thoughts?

(I’m trying to be a bit less of a knee-jerk liberal here)

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What if???

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

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jobbing dot com

My parents celebrated the Coyotes win enthusiastically in the Jobbing.com Arena last night. If ever there were a worse name for a sporting venue, I haven’t heard it, but it seemed like an appropriate title for today’s musings.

I continue to apply and continue to have no call backs. I broke down and cried on the phone to my advisor because of how upset I was that it seemed like all the other folks in my department who are on the job market are at least getting interviews and on-campus interviews. It’s supposed to soothe me that it’s a terrible year to get a job and that I am not yet finished. A person with a PhD in hand is way more attractive than one without. It was a very embarrassing moment of sobbing.

The next time I talked to him, I’d heard of an Af Am job that may have some possibilities (someone at my school is good friends with someone at their school, so my application may rise out of the pile of 300 resumes). This is when he says stuff that drives me crazy. After trying to reassure me that it’s just a terrible year in the last phone call, in this one he says that this job is an excellent chance for me to get on the tenure track b/c they’re not going to get anyone as good as me at this late stage. The undertone of that is that all the good people have been snapped up this year already. So much for it being a bad year. He also says that this is probably the only way for me to get into a research university b/c they won’t be able to get a black person at this stage. And, you know, it’s impossible for me to get hired as a white person.

#1 I hate that presumption. It may have been true for him, during the height of universities trying to rectify a hundred years of not hiring black folks in the 1970s, but is it true today? I know white folks with tenure-track gigs at good institutions. If anything it is my institution that may be the problem, or my focus on intellectual history, or my lack of publications so far.  There are so many reasons I’m not getting a job–why does he have to go straight there.

#2 There are a lot of white folks on those hiring committees who may subconsciously be happy to hire a white person rather than a black person. I’ve met them. African Americans are not so powerful in most schools that they compose some kind of a veto block. I know–the couple of black faculty in my department tried to get black folks hired for African history jobs and found it very difficult, b/c there are not a lot of black Americans studying African history as compared to white Americans and black Africans, and the few there were were in high demand. We ended up with one black African on our faculty and 4-5 white Americans and Europeans in African history.

#3 Help me make my application better, don’t just blame my race! This application wants a black history syllabus. I had one, but it is pretty boring, so I’m trying to work on making it better. I’ve never taught a survey course, so I’m trying to figure out how covering content relates to teaching methods. My prof’s suggestion? Put a bunch of articles from the Journal of Negro History on the application to prove that I’m aware that Woodson had all the answers long before the white establishment recognized the validity of black history. Which gets to one of my other questions–is this syllabus actually meant for students or actually meant for the search committee?

On the upside, I never just flipped through that journal like I did with the Crisis and Opportunity, so I found something pertinent to my research almost right away.

It’s just that when my advisor says things like this, I feel like I’m talking to his fresh-out of grad school self/don’t know much about African American history self, and it makes me feel very nervous about the quality of his advising all these years. Granted, for the most part I’ve gone where the sources took me, but I do wonder what the book would look like had I had guidance from someone who knew more about African American history (rather than someone who thinks he does, but often shows his ignorance and then won’t admit it if I have the ovaries to point it out to him).

Other folks, black and white, have provided encouraging words about my work, so it’s not that I don’t believe my advisor when he says its good…I just don’t know whether to believe his advice on the job application process. But he is the first person I turn to, b/c he is the most likely to answer and I have a strong relationship with him.

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Just finished a really excellent discussion of whiteness in the New Yorker. I’m just all aflutter at how great it is…Should I tell you all what I liked or just urge you to go read it for yourself?

Maybe I’ll leave you with Kelefa Sanneh’s conclusion and encourage you again to go read it and see how he gets there.

The demographic shift

doesn’t mean that there will be a white ‘minority’–whites will continue to be the country’s most populous racial group for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t mean that white is the new black–the two races have never been symmetrical, and never will be. And it doesn’t mean that whiteness is innocent of history–you can’t tell the story of whiteness (or, for that matter, blackness) without talking about racism. But, if the old race theory was brutally reductive, there is something reductive, too, about the idea that whiteness, for all its paradoxes, isn’t real. The history of human culture is the history of forgeries that become genuine, categories that people make and cannot simply unmake. So we should probably stop thinking of whiteness as an error, and start thinking of it, instead, as a work in progress. Historians have sometimes framed the treacherous history of whiteness as the slow death of an idea. Perhaps it’s time we start viewing it, instead, as the slow birth of a people.

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What is going on in Haiti?

I’ve been receiving two incredibly different strains of news on Haiti. One, from NPR, the NY Times, and other American media sources tell me about the devastation, the corruption of the Haitian government, the attempts of Americans and ngos to help, and in particular about some stupid missionaries. I remember one NPR sign off talking about how the military presence would soon be reduced, but a promise that the US would not forget Haiti. It emphasizes Haitians who desire more control by international groups, giving voice to a few who even offer the country to the US or the UN to take over because the Haitian government is no longer functioning. Diane Sawyer reported on an American doctor desperate to get children out of Haiti and to his American hospital, but he was prevented by the Haitian government’s response to the Baptist missionaries trying to take children out of the country. It was presented in that “isn’t it obvious that everyone wants to come to the US” vein that is fairly common in US media.

The other stream is coming through listserves and is utterly different. It likens the US military presence an invasion, in the same vein as the repeated US military interventions throughout the twentieth century and again in 2004. It describes the US military preventing aid from reaching earthquake sufferers, letting food rot, and preventing the generosity of the world from being distributed. One email described this as a further attempt on the part of wealthy western nations to take over Haitian resources. Today there was an email about a huge protest in Port-au-Prince on February 17 greeting Nicola Sarkozy–the first French PM to ever visit Haiti. Surprisingly, it was not about immediate needs, but about politics. I’ll quote a bit:

Sarkozy’s visit came amid steps to transform Haiti into a military dictatorship jointly run with foreign occupation forces and aid agencies. Haiti?s legislative elections, previously scheduled for February 28-March 3, have been indefinitely postponed.

The US in particular is preparing to take over the Haitian government. On February 11 the Miami Herald reported that the US State Department had presented top Haitian officials with plans for an Interim Haiti Recovery Commission in early February. The Herald, which had seen a copy of the plan, noted the commission’s “top priority” is to “create a Haitian Development Authority to plan and coordinate billions in foreign assistance for at least 10 years.”

Sarkozy continued, “As for rivalries between the countries that are friends of Haiti … there will be none. The Americans have done good work. They have a million Haitian [immigrants] and they are 900 km away, and I will not reproach anyone for not doing enough. Afterwards, in any emergency situation one can do things more or less well, provoke small tensions. It’s not serious compared to the essential, which is that Americans, Englishmen, Brazilians, Canadians, and everyone else, we continue to work hand-in-hand to help you.”

This statement repudiates widespread criticism from aid officials of the US military occupation’s callous indifference towards Haitian lives. The US military seized the Port-au-Prince airport and blocked the arrival of humanitarian flights, costing the lives of thousands of Haitians dying from infected wounds and lack of antibiotics and other basic supplies. It also refused to admit wounded Haitians to the large sick bay of the USS Carl Vinson, a US aircraft carrier steaming off Haiti, and temporarily blocked rescue flights to Florida.

*Mass protests greet Sarkozy visit to Haiti*

*By Alex Lantier
19 February 2010*

World Socialist Website

There are so many examples of the US news not reporting what was going on, or taking very specific stances, throughout history. Is this happening again? Who do we believe?

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Criticism of the Times

For someone who usually over quotes from the New York Times (though less so lately b/c I was away from the internet flow for awhile), this is a really interesting discussion about how race is mashed into a small box, where the opinions of a few elites represent the opinions of all. Make sure to go into the comments.

Sometimes the depth of the reporting at the Times drives me crazy, yet whenever I end up on other websites, it seems even fluffier. The only thing I really like is the kind of extended articles that come out in the New Yorker and the Atlantic…but how many of those can one woman follow. I know that following just those two certainly limits the kind of material I’m being exposed to. Maybe that’s why I keep trying to find new blogs from people with opinions of very different types (though I will admit I read few conservatives).

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Reactions to “Precious”

Though I’m still happy to have seen a heavy-set, dark brown actress get a start in the business, I have to say I’m glad I didn’t see “Precious,” as this NYT Op-Ed piece confirms. The movie has become a reason to “talk about the state of black families.” Is there still an expectation that African Americans have to be accountable for everyone who shares African ancestry?

JUDGING from the mail I’ve received, the conversations I’ve had and all that I’ve read, the responses to “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” fall largely along racial lines.

Among black men and women, there is widespread revulsion and anger over the Oscar-nominated film about an illiterate, obese black teenager who has two children by her father. The author Jill Nelson wrote: “I don’t eat at the table of self-hatred, inferiority or victimization. I haven’t bought into notions of rampant black pathology or embraced the overwrought, dishonest and black-people-hating pseudo-analysis too often passing as post-racial cold hard truths.” One black radio broadcaster said that he felt under psychological assault for two hours. So did I.

(If I keep quoting, I’ll end up with the whole essay, so I’ll just say go read it)

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