Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Thoughts On Capitalism (1952)

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott met in January of 1952. In a letter to Coretta in July, 1952, MLK shared a few thoughts about capitalism:

"I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. And yet I am not so opposed to capitalism that I have failed to see its relative merits. It started out with a noble and high motive, viz., to block the trade monopolies of nobles, but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has out-lived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes."

Source: page 36 in The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson (1998). Grand Central Publishing.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Night Out In Buffalo

My friend of 20+ years came into town. He told me to meet him at the Regal Cinema in some suburb or another. True to form, I showed up right on time, 6:30, when the movie he was seeing with his wife and in-laws would be over. Waiting for Ron, my dear friend who I met in college, I ran into a different friend from college. And not just any friend. He was the very first friend I made at college orientation in the summer of 1990. Always a nice guy with great music taste, I will always remember him as the person who introduced me to Jane's Addiction and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don't think I'd seen him since his wedding, about twelve years ago. So it was quite a surprise to see him and his family walk toward me. We hugged and chatted for a few minutes. He couldn't believe I was waiting for Ron; they were good buddies in college too. In hindsight, I should have twisted his arm to join us for a night out. When will I get to see him again?

At 7:00, I got a phone call from Ron. He never made it to the movie. He told me he would get dropped off in 45 minutes at a bar on Main and Transit. I knew which one so there I went. I stood in the crowded bar, sipped a pint, and watched the Sabres game. It's another wasted season, so who cares, but you go through the motions pretending that you do. I finished the pint and waited outside in the cold until Ron got dropped off.

We met one of our friends at a cool new bar in downtown Buffalo, a bar with just the right colors and the perfect price for a bottle of wine. We drank a lot of wine and mostly kept to ourselves. It was my kind of night. Other than small talking with bartenders, we minded our own business and talked to each other about all the stuff we usually do. After a few hours the place began to empty out, so we figured we'd head elsewhere to finish the night. We ended up in the loudest bar of my life on Elmwood Avenue, where the DJ set a new and absurd standard for volume. This was no place for 40-year-olds. But it's good to find yourself in a place you don't belong once in a while. We had one drink and left to get some late night eats. Pano's had just closed, why, I'll never know. I thought that place never closed. So we ended up at ETS where Ron devoured a steak and cheese sub and a bunch of extra saucy and rather hot chicken wings. Sauce all over his face, he paused for a moment to quietly say "This is exactly what I needed." It cracked me up. Meanwhile, I ate a terrible chicken burrito. As for our friend, he fell asleep with his head suspended in air. That's his customary behavior late at night. I half expected to run into a student and was ready to explain why I was hanging out at 2:00 in the morning. Students don't expect to see their professors at certain times or places. After eating we crashed on couches at our friend's apartment. I tossed and turned until 7:00, probably getting about an hour of actual sleep. I don't like being away from my family. I left at 7:00 to get croissants and muffins for my wife and kids, and headed home to resume my life. I'm a creature of routine and habit.

It was a fun and simple night, just the way I like it. No missteps, no shenanigans. I'm getting too old for shenanigans, I think. The trick for me is to try to enjoy life rather than study it. I've always liked observing more than participating. I'm thankful to the people in my life who help me actually live it rather than just watch it.

The End.

Author's note: most of this story is true. A few details have been altered.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Early Years

"My mother confronted the age-old problem of the Negro parent in America: how to explain discrimination and segregation to a small child. She taught me that I should feel a sense of "somebodiness" but that on the other hand I had to go out and face a system that stared me in the face every day saying you are "less than," you are "not equal to." She told me about slavery and how it ended with the Civil War. She tried to explain the divided system of the South--the segregated schools, restaurants, theaters, housing; the white and colored signs on drinking fountains, waiting rooms, lavatories--as a social condition rather than a natural order. She made it clear that she opposed this system and that I must never allow it to make me feel inferior. Then she said the words that almost every Negro hears before he can yet understand the injustice that makes them necessary: "You are as good as anyone." At the time Mother had no idea that the little boy in her arms would years later be involved in a struggle against the system she was speaking of."

Source: pages 3-4 in The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson (1998). Grand Central Publishing.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Resources for Teaching and Learning About Race and Ethnicity (Updated)

I teach a Race and Ethnicity course at Niagara University. I use many of these resources in my course. I will continue to add resources. Please let me know if you have suggestions for resources to add to this list. Links are in the titles.

The Fight for Decent Pay and Racial Justice - Jesse Jackson

Munira Ahmed on Being the Face of the Women's March: 'It's about inclusion' - Edward Helmore

The Deplorable Basket: Declaiming Who Is and Isn't Racist Is a Parlor Game We Don't Have Time For - Ezekiel Kweku

The five things no one will tell you about why colleges don’t hire more faculty of color - Marybeth Gasman

Black in Middle America - Roxane Gay

Insulting Colin Kaepernick Says More about Our Patriotism Than His - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Dear Fellow White People - Kevin Van Valkenburg

Why Is Colored Person Hurtful and Person of Color OK? A Theory of Racial Euphemisms. - John McWhorter

Racial Politics After Obama - Brandon M. Terry

The Fine Line Between Safe Space and Segregation - Emily Deruy

Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever? - Adia Harvey Wingfield

Tamir Rice and the Color of Fear - Brit Bennett

All Hollowed Out: The Lonely Poverty of America’s White Working Class - Victor Tan Chen

The Seduction of Safety, on Campus and Beyond - Roxane Gay

South Carolina Sheriff's Deputy on Leave after Dragging Student from Her Desk - The Guardian

Blame the Police (Sandra Bland's Arrest and Death are a National Scandal. The Police are Responsible.) - Jamelle Bouie

Dylann Roof And The Stubborn Myth Of The Colorblind Millennial - Gene Demby

Shooters of Color are Called ‘Terrorists’ and ‘Thugs.’ Why are White Shooters Called ‘Mentally Ill’? - Anthea Butler

Black Like Who? Rachel Dolezal’s Harmful Masquerade - Tamara Winfrey Harris

A Few Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal - Andrew Lindner

McKinney Pool Party Incident Has Everything to Do with Race - Dorothy Brown

Watch Texas Cop Point Gun at Unarmed Black Teens, Push 14-Year-Old to the Ground - Daniel Politi

In These Times of Racial Strife, A White Professor Explores The Prevalence of ‘White Fragility’ - Nick Chiles

Chapel Hill Shooting Victims Were 'Radiant,' Teacher Says - NPR

At Yale, the Police Detained My Son - Charles Blow

Why We Still Have to Say #BlackLivesMatter - Jenifer Bratter

Ferguson Must Force Us to Face Anti-Blackness - Michael P. Jeffries

Telling My Son About Ferguson - Michelle Alexander

Mike Brown's Shooting and Jim Crow Lynchings Have Too Much in Common. It's Time For America to Own Up - Isabel Wilkerson

Ferguson: The Fire This Time - Bob Herbert

The Death of Michael Brown and the Search for Justice in Black America - Mychal Denzel Smith

Chronicle of a Riot Foretold - Jelani Cobb

The Anger in Ferguson - Jelani Cobb

No, Your Ancestors Didn't Come Here Legally - Ben Railton

Why We Have So Many Terms for 'People of Color' - Gene Demby

The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian-Americans - Jack Linshi

We Interviewed the Filmmaker Behind 'The Whiteness Project' - Jordan Sowunmi
(Click here for direct link to The Whiteness Project.)

Kamau Bell interviews Henry Louis Gates (13 minutes)

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva -- in a 10 minute interview on Book TV, Bonilla-Silva talks about this book Racism without Racists.

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Mark Anthony Neal: a thirty minute conversation.

Why Integrating America’s Neighborhoods and Cities is Harder Than We Think - Jamelle Bouie

Why I Am Optimistic About the Future of Race Relations in America - Jamelle Bouie

"Talking White" (Black people's disdain for "proper English" and academic achievement is a myth) - Jamelle Bouie

What Michael Sam's Kiss Means For The Most Invisible: Black AND Gay - Marcus Anthony Hunter

Whose Deviance Do We Notice? - Gwen Sharp

The Collateral Consequences of Mass Deportation - Tanya Golash-Boza

Scientific Racism Rears Its Ugly Head Once Again - Tanya Golash-Boza

The Problems with White Allies and White Privilege - Tanya Golash-Boza

Symbols of Control - Avi Goldberg

#DeChiefing Is the Anti-Racist Protest That Pro Sports Badly Needs - Zak Cheney-Rice

Donald Sterling: Slumlord Billionaire - Dave Zirin

Donald Sterling's Willing Enablers - Dave Zirin

Video: Ta-Nehisi Coates Talks White Supremacy and Reparations (Interview with Bill Moyers)

My President Was Black - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Color-Blind Policy, Color-Conscious Morality - Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Myth of Police Reform - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Other People's Pathologies - Ta-Nehisi Coates

In Defense of a Loaded Word - Ta-Nehisi Coates

The N-Word On The Fourth of July - Brittney Cooper

This three minute video can be shown to accompany the readings by Coates and Cooper.

The Politics of Being Friends with White People - Brittney Cooper

Who're You Going To Believe on Immigration? Mark Krikorian or Your Lying Eyes? - Ezra Klein

Fix The Census' Archaic Racial Categories - Kenneth Prewitt

Hopes Frustrated, Many Latinos Reject the Ballot Box Altogether - Jackie Calmes

Racism With No Racists: The President Trump Conundrum - Tressie McMillan Cottom

When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland - Tressie McMillan Cottom

Whistling Vivaldi Won't Save You - Tressie McMillan Cottom

The Logic of Stupid Poor People - Tressie McMillan Cottom

The Truth about Asian Americans' Success (It's Not What You Think) - Jennifer Lee

From Unassimilable to Exceptional - Jennifer Lee

The "Asian F": Perils of a Model Minority - Jennifer Lee

The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian-Americans - Jack Linshi

I Am Not a Model Minority - Bernadette Lim

Desegregation and the Public Schools - Michael Winerip

Will a 'Black' Name Brand My Son With Mug Shots Before He's Even Born? - Nikisia Drayton

Affirmative Inaction - various authors

Sonia Sotomayor Is a National Treasure - David Fontana

Alabama Counties: No Marriage Licenses for Undocumented Residents - Ashley Cleek

'Young Lakota': Reproductive Justice and Coming of Age on the Rez - Aura Bogado

In a Small Missouri Town, Immigrants Turn to Schools for Help - Abbie Fentress Swanson

Suey Park: Asian American Women are #NotYourAsianSidekick - Casey Capachi

Who's Afraid of Suey Park? - Julia Carrie Wong

Dear White People: Film Tackles Racial Stereotypes on Campus & Being a "Black Face in a White Space" - Video includes interview with film's director and one of the actors -- very interesting discussion.

Racism on College Campuses - Peter Kaufman

The Black Bruins (Spoken Word) - five minute video - a powerful speech by a UCLA student.

Why Whites Support Capital Punishment - Jamelle Bouie

America’s racial double standard: White celebs are excused, but black stars are “thugs” - Beanie Barnes

Stop Saying These Things To Asians (3 minute video)

Colorblind (3 minute video about the lack of Asian-Americans in media)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Instagram Envy?

Does Instagram make you envious? This New York Times article suggests that it does. And I quote:
"For many urban creative professionals these days, it’s not unusual to scroll through one’s Instagram feed and feel suffocated by fabulousness"
Well, perhaps "fabulousness" gets to part of it. What do we mean by fabulous? What passes for fabulous in 2014? Whatever it is, I am surely unfabulous. But I won't throw out the fabulous with the bathwater. I quote more:
"Envy, of course, doesn’t operate in a social vacuum. It needs an object of desire. And everyone, it seems, has that friend on Instagram: the one with the perfect clothes and the perfect hair and seemingly perfect life — which seem all the more perfect when rendered in the rich teals and vivid ambers of Instagram’s filters."
I do think the article presents a few interesting observations. I do believe, to a degree, that social media envy exists. We're always making comparisons, always measuring our lives with others in mind. These comparisons work in many different ways. Sure, envy enters the fray occasionally, but so do a host of other feelings and emotions. With regard to envy, I suppose the obvious question is: what makes you feel envy in the first place? Sometimes a picture is just a picture, and doesn't make us feel anything. Or makes us barely feel anything. In some cases, the comparisons will make us feel better about our lives.

I must say, I like the Goffmanesque phrase "stage-managing impulse" that is used in the article. No doubt there are lots of times we want just the right picture. We carefully arrange the details to get the right effect. We try to capture happy in a picture frame, to paraphrase the Steely Dan song "Any World (That I'm Welcome To)." I tried to convey this point in a previous blog post "Making Family Memories." Yes indeed, it feels good to gain approval from our network. But life goes on when we don't receive approval. And I bet most folks manage to be happy enough even if they're not "fabulous." Lots of folks run in social circles without much fabulousness or awesomesaucesness. I'm one of them. I live my life without much awesome to present to the world. Like others, I feel a bit of envy here and there. But no cause for Instagram Panic.

You can probably tell I wrote this a bit envy in cheek. I am somewhat relaxed and relieved now that the Fall 2013 semester is coming to a close. There are final exams to give and grade, but I'm almost done. So I'm having a little fun here. 

The Baconization of Society

Society has determined that bacon is the answer.....

.....but will we ever know the question?????