Monday, June 30, 2014
Last night, I got the opportunity to preview a film that debuts on PBS stations nationally tonight. The title is "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs" and it's only an hour and twenty minutes long, but it took me over two hours to watch it because I kept pausing the film to make sure I didn't miss a single minute while I was writing stuff down. Six pages of stuff. Not so much "notes" for this post as quotes I want to remember. "American Revolutionary" is more than a film; it's an experience. And Grace Lee Boggs is more than a 99-year-old revolutionary. She's a force of nature.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Rev. Osagyefo Sekou: "The Master's House Is Burning -- bell hooks, Cornel West, and the Tyranny of Neoliberalism"
I'm not sure why, but many intellectuals make a lot of people nervous. In my not so humble opinion, intellectuals are not necessarily more intelligent than other people. In fact, I've known some who were not even particularly bright, if you know how to tell the difference. They just use bigger words or more complicated sounding reasoning because they learned how to do that and, in the process, developed an exaggerated perception of their ability to prove it -- without, unfortunately having anything worth saying to add to the conversation.
On the other hand, some intellectuals -- no matter how much they intimidate their listeners -- are not trying to and truly do have some knowledge to drop. bell hooks and Cornel West are two such intellectuals. Nevertheless, from time to time, for whatever reason, somebody who either can't or simply doesn't want to understand what they're saying tries to take a pot shot at something they've said. Last month, Truthout.org ran an op-ed piece by the Rev. Osagyefo Sekou addressing some criticisms against them and, in the process, not only clarified their ideas, but added a few of his own. I give you:
"The Master's House Is Burning: bell hooks, Cornel West, and the Tyranny of Neoliberalism"
by Rev. Osagyefo Sekou
Music, literature, food, clothing, and language (including slang) are all part of our shared and very popular culture. Pop culture bobs and weaves, shifts and changes, adds and subtracts, reaches back and jumps forward in all directions and constantly. And in doing so, it continually spins our human tale of woe and glory. Here's one man who believes it's time for us to take a hard look at where we are and where we maybe need to be instead.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Somalia has appeared in the U.S. news often in the last year or so. When I read this essay by Diriye Osman, I knew immediately that my readers needed to see it, as well, to develop a better, more complicated, and more beautiful perspective on this culture and its diverse population and what at least one Somali writer has to share with us about the human condition there, here, and everywhere.
"Why We Must Tell Our Own Stories"
by Diriye Osman
Monday, June 23, 2014
One of the things I pay a lot of attention to in the parish where I live is the fifty-year long process of refusing to racially integrate the public schools so that every student will get the same quality of education. By this I mean adequate books, libraries, equipment, fully trained culturally competent teachers and administrators representing all ethnic groups in the region, and school disciplinary policies that reflect a commitment to embracing all children to maximize their potential as future citizens. This is not currently happening and has at no point ever happened here, as 5th Circuit Judge Ivan Lemell will attest.
It's not reassuring to discover that we're not the only ones. And, unfortunately, it's not encouraging that we're hearing more about what is being called the "re-segregation" of the public school system nationally. I have long since realized that the public being aware of stupid, mean-spirited, classist, sexist, and White Supremacist practices and policies will do exactly nothing to fix social problems until that same public understands that these practices and policies are causing and will continue to cause problems for all of us in several ways.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
I've been on hiatus for nearly two months now and y'all just sit patiently (as it were), knowing I'll be back, knowing this blog is my partner for life, knowing you're never far from my mind.
I crashed and burned again at the end of this semester. Worse than usual even. Depressed, exhausted, done, done, done. So bad I had to implement an actual campaign of recuperation. Reading novels. Watching Netflix. Taking afternoon naps. Talking to my therapist. Lying in the grass watching the clouds drift overhead. I even gave up coffee. And it still took weeks to begin to believe I might eventually return to the land of the living. (*shakes head ruefully*)
The good side to hitting bottom, though (and yes, Virginia, there is a good side to hitting bottom), is that it forces you to re-evaluate and even let go of some stuff, to change your perspective, to find a new level of self-acceptance, to embrace reality.
The subsequent problem, of course, is that when you begin to feel better, there is always the possibility -- if you're as OCD as I am after being raised with a performance standard that accepts nothing less than perfection -- you might pick up everything you let go of -- again. Hopefully -- this time -- I will not do that. Especially since, as was suggested to me the other day when I was getting a massage, if I don't learn to let go of the illusion that I must fix (and be in control of?) everything, I might have to come back and do this again to learn it (please, no!).
So, a couple of days ago, I posted the online Introduction to Sociology course I have to teach in July to pay my August rent. And I'm taking baby steps back to you today, hoping that I've learned my lesson. We'll see.