Sunday, March 23, 2008


The movement was built on the premise that women were smarter than men believed, wanted more than men felt they deserved, were more ambitious than men were comfortable with, and had dreams bigger than the boundaries men set for them. It was about being politically affirming, not politically divisive.

This quote from a writer at, sorry I lost the reference.

I think that
a) at core, this is what the movement was about at the beginning
b) even this reasonable position was met with strong resistance
c) most people today would have no problem accepting the above
d) in many ways, the movement as it is today has been twisted and exaggerated from within and without to such a degree that it's now considerably more -- and less -- than what it was at the beginning.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Clinging to history

Ok, that last post clearly resonated with a lot* of people. Maybe you'll like this one better. But probably not.

This is an old article; an interview with one of the white students who protested school desegregation in Little Rock. Unlike Hazel Bryan Massery, who apologized publicly for her actions, James Reed Eison refuses; in his words, “I am angry at the judgments... We were the products of our time and should not apologize.”

Now, I’ll grant him a couple of points:
1) white/black relationships in the segregated south were not always abusive or hateful at the individual level. I’m sure many white folks treated many black folks with kindness and consideration, and no doubt some understood what they had inherited by simple unmerited birthright, and that their circumstances did not make them better people than their black friends.
2) We’re human; in the stories we tell ourselves, we like drama, we like familiar archetypes, we like a struggle with a good protagonist and an evil villian. We want to feel excitement, passion, and righteous anger; we’re not so moved by nuance, by conflicted or complex characters who are “partly good and partly bad.” So we tell the story of Little Rock with 9 black heroes and 1,500 evil white villains, and give little consideration to the fact that they were mostly young people who were products of their place and time, inculcated with certain attitudes, still in the process of finding who they are in the world and what to believe. There but for the grace of God, etc.


Regarding issue #1 (there were nice white folks who didn’t treat black people badly): What Eison doesn’t understand is that all those acts of charity or kindness or camaraderie took place within the context of a spectacularly unfair and repressive two-tier society. The extra money Eison’s mother gave to her maid was hers to give because the society was structured to usher her into that place of privilege and (relative) wealth, and to keep her maid – and her daughters and grand-daughters – working as maids. No matter how much his dad liked hanging out with his colored friends, at the end he went home to comfort, privilege, and opportunity that they would never be allowed to experience. White privilege was built on the backs of slaves; the entire southern social structure – the very thing that placed Col. Eison in the position to be0 magnanimous and oh-so-tolerant – was the end-product of an egregious and unequivocal wrong: the enslavement of a people, and the resulting disenfranchisement of their descendants. Now, that’s not to say that Eison, who never owned a slave, was personally responsible for righting the wrongs of his great-grandparents. But it seems to me that he might be moved to view his actions with an eye to context, with consideration of the History that he holds in such reverence.

As well: Evil *is* evil. A mob screaming, spitting, brutalizing young people because just because the young people want to get an education is wrong, period. It cries out for an apology, and more. To fail to see that is a most willful blindness.

And finally: for a historian, Eison is incredibly ignorant. When prompted about wealthy black Americans of the time he says, “…There were some with a little bit of education and could read, and I’m sure they were fine people.” An interesting way to describe the black doctors, lawyers, architects, scientists, etc who had succeeded in spite of a drastically tilted playing field.

But all that said…
That’s not even what I was going to talk about. What was interesting to me, was the insecurity I saw in Eison’s words and position. I’m (obviously) not trained in psychology, but I see two things that scream insecurity to me:

1) devotion to the familiar past.
Eison appears to have a tremendous investment in, and reverence for, History. He works in a museum. He collects artifacts. He’s very involved in his family history. And he mentions straight out his discomfort with the changes in society at that time.
All of that suggests to me that change is scary to Eison, and even when it’s forced upon him he clings desperately to the past in a way to preserve and cement the familiar into his life and consciousness.

2) inability to be wrong.
In addition, apologizing would make Eison wrong. Inability to be wrong is a common trait of insecure people – they think admitting failure or error diminishes them in some way. He says “…then apologize – that’s weak.”

In short, the man seems insecure to me.
And this is where one writes a tight and pithy paragraph neatly summarizing one’s position and leaving the reader with some type of conclusion. Go.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


sorry away so long. horribly busy. i'll pretend you missed me.

here's something i was talking to a friend about recently. maybe i posted about it before, not sure.

i used to be very uncomfortable with/around strongly-expressed emotion -- joy, anger, lust, grief, whatever -- it made me feel nervous, and i liked things to be under control.

at this stage of my life, however, i've become different. i feel like those emotions (and others) are what make us alive -- they're what prove we're not a rock, or a tree, or emotionally/physically dead.

the ego has a lot of defense mechanisms to avoid feeling uncomfortable things like worry, fear, shame, uncertainty, sadness, etc.

what i used to do about being around strong emotion is what people do all the time, only i didn't realize it before:

when people expressed strong emotion, i believed that they shouldn't do that so much.

when X person does or says something, and we feel [uncomfortable feeling] in response, our immediate reaction is that X person shouldn't have said or done what they said/did.

so we invoke some social rule, or religious tenet, or "helpful suggestion", or whatever.

IOW, we put it back on them. they are a rude person. they should be more polite. they should tone it down. they should be more outgoing. they should be less outgoing. they should speak up more. they should learn better english. they shouldn't swear so much. they should get their teeth fixed. they should learn to drive. they should lose some weight. they should have invited us to the party. they shouldn't have invited *him* to the party. they shouldn't dress so sexy. they shouldn't ignore me.

they they they they should should should should...

but almost always, all that's really happening is WE FEEL a certain way. 90% of the time, others' actions only affect us in how we feel in response. seldom is anyone actually hurting us, or taking away our stuff, or hurting someone we love, etc. it's about us, not them. and we don't want to (or don't know how) to take ownership of that feeling and accept it and (if needful) do something about feeling that way.

how often have you said or thought "he/she should/shouldn't do X"? and i bet you have a solid reason behind why they should/shouldn't do whatever it is. but if your reason, your rule, is so valid and important that you feel the need to judge another person's life, why specifically them right now?

if X person should lose some weight, why aren't you commenting about the other 100,000,000 chubby people in the USA?

if so-and-so should learn to drive, or swear less, or dress less nerdy, why? i'll tell you: because it would make YOU more comfortable.

that, plus making ourselves feel better by comparison, is 90% of why we express opinions about other people.

or anyway, that's what i think.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

more quotes, just to get that video off of top post...

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.
- Jackie Mason

There are times when parenthood seems nothing but feeding the mouth that bites you.
-Peter De Vries

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
- Eric Hoffer

Sunday, March 02, 2008

worst parents in the world

Who thinks it's funny to give their 10-yr-old clothes in an old X-box box? Apparently at least one couple in the world does...

i am slow

i are spozed to be a computer professional. but i'm pretty busy, and don't always keep up.

anyway, it's taken me till now to make use of a reader to keep up with the sites i like (my brother, who does keep up, told me to).
i had subscribed to various RSS feeds, but not all organized together.

aaanyway, for anyone who doesn't already, i suggest using Google Reader (or similar). then all your favorite sites appear one one page, with the ones containing new content bolded.

that is all at this time. for tips on setting it up, call my brother.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

one-note banjo

Just in case you got tired of hearing me rant about how snooty grammarians annoy me, here's a guy saying it better than I could...