January 28, 2009
Often when I’m on TV, they’ll ask what are the three most important things for people to do. I know they want me to say that people should change their light bulbs. I say the number one thing is to organize politically; number two, do some political organizing; number three, get together with your neighbors and organize; and then if you have energy left over from all of that, change the light bulb.
January 21, 2009
Just in case anyone missed it yesterday (as I did), here is the poem Elizabeth Alexander wrote for and read at President Obama’s inauguration. My take on it, in a nutshell: will history remember it as a great work of art? Probably not. However, it seems to me that it suited yesterday’s mood, and I certainly appreciate the sentiment behind it. (More discussion at One Poet’s Notes, The Guardian, and Shakesville, the last of which gets the hat-tip.) Anyway, without further ado, here is the poem:
Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration
Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.
All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.
Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.
We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.
I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.
Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?
Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.
In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.
—Elizabeth Alexander, 2009
January 16, 2009
The Family Security Matters consortium has released its Third Annual List of America’s Most Dangerous College Courses, and naturally Michael Bérubé was all over it. (Er, in the sense that he wrote about it on his blog, not that he appeared on the actual list.) Go here to check out his coverage, and read the whole post, because he includes his “remarks to Anne Neal of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni at our National Communication Association debate on ‘diversity in higher education’ last November,” which are well worth reading. A passage I was particularly struck by:
I currently serve on a task force that is trying to make Penn State more accessible, in class and out, for students with disabilities. (A subject you don’t often hear mentioned in these debates.) But the rationale for the formation of this task force, which is charged basically with getting people to obey a federal law, is that it will enhance diversity at Penn State. I’ll take that rationale if I have to, but given my druthers, I would prefer to talk about doing justice to students with disabilities, just as I would prefer to talk about doing justice to women and minorities who were barred from institutions of higher learning for centuries.
After reading Bérubé’s post I clicked over to the FSM list (the first time Bérubé referred to the Family Security Matters consortium as FSM in his post, I did a confused double-take, because for a moment I took the acronym as referring to the Flying Spaghetti Monster), hoping for a wingnuttery-inspired larf. Not really any luck on that point, I’m afraid; Bérubé already covered the best stuff. However, I was intrigued by this “dangerous” course: Read the rest of this entry »
January 11, 2009
From this piece at TNR:
At the very end, [Robert Gibbs] addressed this [question]: “Is the new administration going to get rid of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy?” He responded, “You don’t hear a politician give a one-word answer much, but it’s yes.”
Here’s hoping the Obama administration follows through on that assertion, and soon.