Black post

See what you think of this.

These white folks, who call the other white folks “backwards,” “rednecks,” “racist,” and “trash,” hate to have their whiteness sullied by these other white folks. They wouldn’t want colored folks to think they were like those white folks. So, they latched onto the thing that they hate about backwards white southerners more than Honey Boo Boo, trucker hats, Toddlers and Tiaras, burning crosses, and Swamp People combined–the confederate flag.

So it can’t come down until those self-righteous Yankees unlearn their own racism, or what?
What about this?

If the confederate flag is one of the few properties whiteness has left, since the immigrants and blacks and lesbians and baby killers have repossessed everything else, how will white folks, even the ones who are advocating for it to come down and the others who will outwardly heave a sigh of relief when the thing comes down, react when nothing is left but the flesh of their terror?

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Yankee post

I lost a whole post but it was very interesting on my Yankee roots. It involved my 3x great grandfather the Irish minister and immigrant, an important figure, some of his publications and publications on him, and my exact relation to Lyman Beecher (father of Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and an important person in his own right). I think we are actually descended from his cousin, also a Lyman Beecher but four years younger. This is disturbing as it means we are not descended from a brother of the Lyman Beecher, so we are not as close cousins of the two famous abolitionist Beechers as was always said.

In any case almost every branch of that side of the family is overrun with dour Calvinists, and the reason my great grandfather, a Russian Calvinist, lost his church in Maine had to do with his calling them un-Christian because they would not integrate.

The past is endlessly fascinating, another world. Lyman Beecher, the famous one, believed in gradual emancipation and recolonization of Africa by freed slaves. He and my Lyman Beecher, another of my 3x great grandfathers, were born in the eighteenth century, and the Irish one was born in 1800. It is interesting to note that I am only five generations away from the eighteenth century, though, because generations in my family are so long.

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On southern pride

A local musician, one of my colleagues, and some other people have been going on about how — if I understand them — it is unfortunate that Dylann Roof associated himself with the Confederate battle flag, because that flag has nothing to do with racial violence. It does have everything to do with their families’ apparently cozy and/or heroic pasts, which of course have nothing to do with racial violence.

It is an interesting contradiction … or is it just a cover-up? Of course that flag means what it means, and its wavers know that, but they say it just means “heritage” — ancestors that died — so they can keep waving it and feel well. OR: is it that the pain of defeat and occupation, which one can still feel in some little towns here, is great and one needs a symbol of defiance?

But I am being too kind, I think — people are nostalgic for the bad old days but will not say so as it is unfashionable, so they say contradictory things. I idly watched The Butler and there are problems with the film but it does do a good job of reminding one of how, quite recently, people got away with treating black people and of how difficult it was for them to navigate the situation. I thought, “These allegedly kind Confederates should watch what the butler has to go through, and then they will understand.” Then I realized, “No. Actually, they want to be the ones who put him through it.”

Southern culture means black culture and creolization, actually, and it is quite distinct from Northern culture. It also means living in the aftermath of slavery and apartheid. In this panorama that battle flag is the badge of a certain group, not of everyone. It seems that that group is the one whose identity is bound up in the maintenance of white supremacy, which is disallowed, so it is without content as it were, and it is writhing in pain therefore.

The expression of this writhing is baroque — so many conceits, so much surface talk, around a center that is either empty or that has to hide its contents. Talking to these people is like talking to people who are hiding something and I guess it is because they are. These are my fragmentary thoughts so far on this matter. Have you any?

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On the “entrepreneurial” model and education as a commodity

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts, which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilisation: we might even say, to life itself.  In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. These values are identified as requiring the reproduction of norms of conduct that students are themselves failing to reproduce.  Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located.

The entire article is well worth reading. Related: I want to think about sexual assault policies again.

In somewhat related news I have become fascinated by the series Call the Midwife which is, for one thing, feminist and for another, a fascinating document on the advent of the National Health and the transformation it brought. Electricity, running water, a bathroom in each apartment, and birth control as well as safe abortion are such new things, and they have so changed the contours of life for those with access to them.

When I lived in Europe in the seventies — not the thirties, the seventies — there were still many apartment buildings with toilets on the landings (only) and showers in the courtyards (only). But it was the social democracy that had changed the lives of the majority. “There were so many ugly girls,” I was told of life before the war; after the war better nutrition had made many beautiful. (I saw echoes of that, of course, later on in the third and fourth worlds, realizing that in fairy stories the princesses are always beautiful not for some symbolic reason but because they have had literally had the chance to grow straight bones.)

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Cure

I will cure myself with research today. It really does change your perspective and return your dignity.

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Mantra

It would be, do not allow the way the university treats you to affect your own professional identity. Do not let them undermine your stability or sense of self-worth. This, however, is easier said than done … how does it not mean “rise above it, dear?”

I have always admired the skill of some people, who know they are being mistreated and remain proud, rather than wonder if it is something they have done or that they deserve or that the are overreacting to — or not notice it is mistreatment, since it is the only treatment they know.

But I have always admired the skill of some people.

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Des théories

Continuing, I miss Puerto Rico and Louisville and everywhere, but mostly Puerto Rico and the things I did not get to do there (which would have involved piercing that touristy surface). I guess we can say this summer is exciting and eventful so far but I need it to be restorative.

I went to campus to try to resolve these funding issues and ran into a colleague who said he had funding issues as well and was angry. I thought yes, I am angry, and this is the prohibited emotion since one is only allowed to be angry at oneself.

Depression and anxiety are repressed anger; self-destruction is anger turned upon oneself. These are clichés, but does that matter?

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