April 4, 2008
The day before he was assassinated, Dr. King gave another of his powerful speeches, this one known as “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” It’s often remarked on for its almost eerie prescience: King talks about his life in a way that seems to suggest that he knew he wasn’t long for this world, and he also talks about being stabbed and coming close to death several years earlier. What I wanted to comment on with regard to this speech, though, is how much of it remains relevant today. I realize that, at least to most people who would read a blog like mine, such a statement seems rather obvious. Most, if not all, of what King said remains relevant today. Still, within the larger populace there’s a certain complacency, as if the civil rights movement of the 1960s achieved what it set out to achieve, and no more needs to be done. But King articulates what I feel is the essence of the progressive spirit that keeps people striving toward true equality for all U.S. citizens:
Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.
He also speaks to people of faith in a way that makes so much more sense to me than the rhetoric of today’s conservative Christians whose shouts often drown out the voices of other people of faith:
It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.
King himself may be gone, but his memory and the spirit of his work live on. May that continue to be true.
As I’m sure the majority of my readers know, today marks the fortieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. I wanted to mark the occasion, even though I don’t really have anything substantive to add to the discussion.
I came across this haunting image this morning, though, via the L.A. Times’ Opinion section:
Here’s the explanation of the shot:
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., just after 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968. Within hours, Life magazine photographer Steve Schapiro was on that balcony and through the door of King’s room.
“The physical body of Martin Luther King Jr.,” writes Schapiro in a new book of his photographs, “Schapiro’s Heroes,” “was forever gone, leaving a few small material remains behind: a wrinkled shirt, a book, a Soul Force magazine, an old Styrofoam coffee cup. The half-drunk coffee cup gave me a moment of pause. He had left his room planning to return.
February 6, 2008
Written by quixote in a post at Shakesville yesterday:
We’re not supposed to get into an Olympics of -isms. Nobody’s suffering trumps someone else’s.
That’s true. Totally, entirely, completely true.
It’s true all ways. You have to care as much about my suffering as I do about yours.
If my suffering doesn’t matter to you, you’re just fighting for privilege.
Something worth thinking about, at least.
December 10, 2007
I read the news today, oh boy…
- Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR (via Jeff)
- Nine child rapists go free in Australia (via Feministing)
- Prostitution ordeal of Iraqi girls (via Crooks and Liars)
- Toddler with “political hair” threatened with preschool expulsion (via Hoyden about Town)
- Religious vigilantes have killed 40 women in Basra (via Majikthise)
I’ve little doubt that I could find more to add, but that’s all I have the heart for at the moment. And before anyone asks, I’m linking to these stories not to depress anyone, but to raise awareness — which, as Liss points out, is rather like trying to empty the sea with a teaspoon, but I find that preferable to not saying anything.
October 24, 2007
I have family (father, aunt, grandmother) in San Diego County. They were evacuated from their home early Monday morning. The house is tucked in among lots of other houses, so I would be surprised if it ended up burning, but the fact that the fires have gotten as close as a mile away is sobering, to say the least. I was just out there last month. Most important to me, of course, is the fact that my family members are safe — but once I made sure of that, I began dwelling on all that’s at risk. The house that is the closest I have to a house I grew up in that I can still go back to (the actual house I grew up in — from age 4 to age 16 — was a rental, and while I do think I might head back there someday and ask if I can just have a look around for old times’ sake, it’s not the same). The hawk I saw hop nonchalantly off a tree branch just beyond the backyard. A variety of familiar vistas.
And I think of a spot next to a gas station just a mile or two away from the house. It’s a location where day laborers congregate. Where have the day laborers gone? My father volunteers at Interfaith Community Services — where have the people who depend on those services gone? If you were already homeless before the fires, are you still allowed to go to Qualcomm Stadium? If not, what are you supposed to do?
I can understand the desire to compare the current CA wildfire season to the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Natural disaster, displaced people, an excuse for wingnuts to rant about god’s punishment, potential for governmental ineptitude. But it is rather like comparing apples and oranges in a lot of ways — or, as the Rude Pundit puts it, comparing apples and drowned people. This isn’t to say my heart doesn’t break for the people who’ve lost everything — of course it does. There are still people, friends from high school, for the most part, that I need to get a hold of, make sure they and/or their families are all right. And for the individual who is looking at the smoking rubble that used to be her home, the fact that things could be worse is cold comfort, I’ve little doubt. Still, apples and oranges.
One thing’s for sure, though: Glenn Beck can kiss my ass.
October 2, 2007
It seems to have gone like this: girl drops piece of cake in lunchroom. Girl is told by security guard to clean it up. She does so. Guard isn’t satisfied. Girl tries again, then a third time, then tries to leave for class. Security guard pounces, twists her arm behind her back and shoves her down against a table, breaking her wrist in the process. Girl is later arrested for assaulting the guard and for littering.
The end of the incident is caught on a cell phone camera by another student. That student is also arrested.
Girl’s mother goes to the school to complain. She, too, is arrested, and subsequently suspended from her job without pay.
What the hell is going on here?
September 17, 2007
Excerpts from posts I think my readers would be interested in. If the paragraphs I’ve posted here catch your attention, then please go read the rest (and you might even tell them who sent you).
On or related to the Jena 6:
- This is nearly two weeks old now, but still worth reading — Do you understand where you are? :
There was a note about the local nightspots. Namely, that there were none. Save for the juke joint down the road a piece across from the “Fish Shack”, and of course, the few spots some 35 minutes away in Wilmington. But one of the note’s points of interest got some of the young people going. It stated, that after 8:00 P.M., NO ONE WAS TO GO DOWN ACROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS, PAST THE GREEN HOUSE (an actual green-colored house), AS THAT WAS THE DEMARCATION LINE BETWEEN FREE-GOING COUNTRY, AND KLAN TERRITORY.
Doing so was, according to the note, “tempting fate” and “taking your life into your own hands”.
Many of the assembled—particularly the younger ones, were agog at this special note, thinking it was a.) a joke, b.) a silly wive’s tale, and worst of all, c.) an open provocation to their God-given right to flex their northern-bred muscle and “rights”. After much clamor, older relatives prevailed upon the upset youngers, and implored them to please observe the warning. It was not a frivolous one.
On a related note, Blue Gal’s vlog for the week tackles the racism inherent in certain white attitudes, not to mention the phrase “the suspect was an African-American male.”
On the sexism front, Echidne of the Snakes tackles a speech to the APA entitled “Is There Anything Good About Men?” I encountered this speech a few weeks ago and reacted, emotionally speaking, similarly to EotS, but had a harder time articulating what bothered me about it (aside from, “Women improvise less when playing jazz? Really? Erm, how about Ella Fitzgerald?”). Luckily, EotS is articulate enough for the both of us (and then some, I’d say):
That men are both better and worse than women, according to Baumeister, is because men are more likely to be found in the tails of various test distributions, even if the average scores are the same for men and women. This means that there are more men in the upper tail, and it is those men who run everything and build the boats they then take out to make discoveries and to amass treasure which they then take back home and get to mate with most of the women. The guys in the lower end are the ones who commit murders and such and never get to mate at all. But almost all women get to mate, you see?
Ok. Let’s do that again: HISTORICALLY speaking, the men in the upper tails of various distributions were more likely to build the boat and bring back the treasure and mate with all those women. That’s why today’s men should be ON AVERAGE better than today’s women if Baumeister’s argument made sense. But it doesn’t have to make sense, so men and women are still equal on average in various abilities but men are more likely to be really bad or really good. The only way all this would make sense is if men started a lot less able than women and only slowly, over centuries, managed to crawl up the frequency distributions. OOPS. We don’t want that.
So let’s tell the same story about motivations! Yes, that’s the ticket, because there is no way of properly measuring motivations or their environmental component, so discussing the evolutionary inheritance of motivations by gender will work! Never mind about the genetic explanation for such an inheritance. We’ll worry about that later.
In entertainment news, Liss watched the Emmys so I didn’t have to. Normally I like the glitter and spectacle of award shows, but I just couldn’t be arsed about the Emmys. Sounds like I didn’t miss much outside of the Holy Trinity of the Church of the Fucktologists.
August 30, 2007
On Owen Wilson’s (ostensible) suicide attempt: Owen and Me at the Thinkery:
Another aspect of all this is how it doesn’t help for people to be surprised that a particular person is depressed, or bipolar, or suicidal. On the surface it seems like a compliment, and surely that’s how people always intend it to be. But to have everyone express shock and wonder that you’ve got a mental illness only serves to increase your sense of alienation. That it was my wife who first spoke of depression to me, who insisted that I seek help has been an immense comfort to me, because it showed that she knew me, the real me, and knew there was a problem, and she cared enough to want to fix it. When I told my mother about it, she wasn’t expecting it, but neither was she in shock. “I’ve known there was something for years,” she said, “But I never could put my finger on it. And I never knew what to do for you.”
Melissa McEwan (usually of Shakesville) writes of Senator Craig at Comment is free: His own private Idaho:
Which in the end makes him a truly pitiable figure, just another victim of the so-called morality that casts same-sex attraction as a conquerable bit of devilry, like the offer of a rich dessert during a post-holiday diet: “Oh, I really shouldn’t … well, maybe just one bite.” Or would make him a pitiable figure, except for the niggling truth that Mr Craig was one of the purveyors of that morality, an architect of its policies and wielder of its wedge issues. And that sort of thing tends to rob people of their sympathies – even when it’s not remotely clear that he deserved to be arrested in the first place.
Bill Quigley at The Black Commentator: How to Destroy an African American City in 33 Steps — Lessons from Katrina:
Step Twenty Two. Keep all public housing closed. Since it is 100% African-American, this is a no-brainer. Make sure to have African-Americans be the people who deliver the message. This step will also help by putting more pressure on the rental market, as 5000 more families will then have to compete for rental housing with low-income workers. This will provide another opportunity for hundreds of millions of government funds to be funneled to corporations when these buildings are torn down and developers can build up other less-secure buildings in their place. Make sure to tell the 5000 families evicted from public housing that you are not letting them back for their own good. Tell them you are trying to save them from living in a segregated neighborhood. This will also send a good signal – if the government can refuse to allow people back, private concerns are free to do the same or worse.
August 14, 2007
Simple: racism (via Feministing):
Well, a recent slide show by an unidentified Glamour editor on the “Dos and Don’ts of Corporate Fashion” at a New York law firm shed some light on the topic, according to this month’s American Lawyer magazine.
First slide up: an African American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the ‘Glamour’ editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was ‘shocking’ that some people still think it ‘appropriate’ to wear those hairstyles at the office. ‘No offense,’ she sniffed, but those ‘political’ hairstyles really have to go.
Lovely. Read the rest of this entry »