Category Archives: racism

May 31, 2009, 2:10 pm

Remember the Alamo? Texas Conservatives Won’t Jump On The Latina-Bashing Bandwagon

As the Dallas Morning News reported yesterday, prominent Texas Republicans are not jumping on the racism bandwagon being pulled by extremist conservative Republicans over the Sonia Sotomayor nomination. Republican Senator John Cornyn has come out strongly against this smear campaign driven by stalking horses Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh (who, by the way, have not been elected by anybody to anything lately. Just saying.) Cornyn’s colleague, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said to be running for governor of the Lone Star State in the next cycle, has chimed in as well, trying to limit the damage to the Republican Party that these dumb-asses with fat media contracts are doing (and by the way, who cut off Dick Cheney’s Zoloft supply?) Today on CNN’s “State of the Union” she separated herself from the lunatic fringe by saying clearly that the debate should be based on Sotomayor’s record, not on …

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May 17, 2009, 11:54 am

“Clarence Walker Can’t Say Those Things, Can He?” A Review of Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten by Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings

Any of us who know Clarence Walker personally are well aware that he can, and does, say those things. He is the Molly Ivins of the historical profession, a razor-witted, capaciously well-read scholar and critic of scholars, who is often seen at professional gatherings holding court in the hotel bar or leading a large group out to a fabulous restaurant. Because Clarence is my friend, I am immediately disqualifying myself as an impartial reviewer of his new book, Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten by Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009.) But on the other hand, since he sent me a free copy and I enjoyed it so much, I have to express my gratitude somehow. So in an act of fandom, as well as friendship, I am going to try to persuade you to read this delightful book too.

Now, you may say to yourself, “I have read so much on this topic, …

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February 7, 2009, 6:32 pm

Advanced Interviewing; or, My Favorite Martian

“Dear Professor Radical,” wrote a longtime lurker who had finally decided, in desperation, to reveal hirself. “You told us about the job letter. About the phone call. About the conference interview. About wardrobe — even though you obviously know nothing about clothes: everyone knows you wear nothing but black and grey trousers from Banana Republic, complemented by matching T-shirts. And yet, right on the brink of crossing the finish line, you have abandoned us. WHAT ABOUT THE CAMPUS INTERVIEW, DAMMIT?!?”

Well, I’m sorry. This has been quite a dilemma for me, in part because we have been too busy interviewing at Zenith for me to attend to any of my professional responsibilities, much less write blog posts. But I had an ethical problem as well: should I actually be giving advice about campus visits when we, in the history department at Zenith, were interviewing eleven candidates …

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June 29, 2008, 2:36 pm

Until Florida Is Free, None Of Us Is Free

One of the workshops at History Camp featured three wonderful young southern historians who are writing about late twentieth-century political mobilizations in the former Confederacy. A conversation which I love to have, with colleagues and with students, is: does the South still cohere as a region? If so, what is “regional” about it and — given the vast emigration of black and white southerners to northern and western industrial cities in the twentieth century, what characteristics of the “south” are shared by other places? And to what extent does the contemporary South draw on its past for distinctiveness?

I thought of our conversation when I saw this story on the Associated Press wire, which describes an attack last night on city-owned vehicles in Orlando, Florida. Cars were sprayed with anti-Obama slogans such as “Obama smokes crack” and what the AP reporter described as “a…

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March 18, 2008, 8:51 pm

Conquest; Or, Why Do We Still Think Tenure Is A Good System?

The truth is that many of us don’t think tenure is a good system, and would prefer to be in a union. Tenure is, in fact, a more or less abusive system, and one that reproduces power hierarchies as they exist in society and in the university. Many of us who make it through the tenure process with the lifetime sinecure that is promised often do so because we are really good at repressing what actually happened. It is true that women, queers and people of color are not always turned down anymore just because our presence makes others uncomfortable, or just because the kind of knowledge we produce is actually critical of what more senior people in the department do. But it is also true that the people who control tenure nearly always make us hurt for it, even when we get it. I was lucky: I got to put the hurt off until I was being reviewed for full professor.

Then I was not so lucky…

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February 29, 2008, 12:56 pm

Being “Diverse” in the Middle Ground: Thoughts on Racisms, Sexisms and the Many Phobias

Gayprof, who is a continual inspiration to my desire to write and think better, recently put up this post on being a “minority” in a humanities department. In “Enough Minorities? Minority Enough? (Part I)” he responds to Oso Raro’s thoughts in his this recent post at Slaves of Academe (which, if you have never visited it, is also one of the most beautifully written blogs I know.) In addition, Gayprof is following on a previous post of his own about so-called diversity hiring, and presumably since “Enough Minorities? Minority Enough?” is labeled “Part I” there will be at least one more follow up. I’m looking forward to it. And for those who want to read a really great piece on similar questions, turn to my colleague Indira Karamcheti’s classic article,”Caliban in the Classroom.” Originally published in Radical Teacher, it is anthologized in Pedagogy: The Question of Impersonation, Ed…

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January 17, 2008, 12:56 am

Things I Think About As We Approach The Tsunami Primary on February 5

Here are the things that do not worry me at all.

That Barack Obama smoked pot. The only thing I can say about this is: Oh. Please. Stop. This — and the severe penalties that people can be exposed to for taking naked pictures of their toddlers at the beach and having them developed at Walmart — are perhaps the worst residue of the Reagan era’s conservative cultural backlash. Being honest about getting high is, in my opinion, one of the things that makes this man genuine in his approach to others — it’s no wonder that young people like him! And I can name at least one prominent conservative intellectual/pundit, a man who helped get us into the Iraq war, who I got high with repeatedly in college. So shut up already. Clearly getting high is not a barrier to power.

That Hillary Clinton is a racist. This is truly absurd. Hillary and Bill have been profoundly progressive on race, Bill a…

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January 13, 2008, 1:55 pm

Look! A Black Woman; or, Re-interpreting the History of Black Men and White Women in Politics

I read the Sunday New York Times in this order: sports section, Styles section (quick jump to the “Modern Love” feature, then a scan of the marriage announcements to see if there is anyone I know who is Doing It), “A” section, Metro section, Connecticut section. If, as I do, you live outside the metropolitan area — in Connecticut, Minneapolis or Bahrain — the magazine and the Book Review come on Saturday. This is not only distinctly un-festive, it causes us in this household to miss Sundays with the paper and deli from Russ and Daughters on East Houston Street in New York. But it matters less than it might have in the past.  I have come to dislike the Magazine and the Book Review section; the former is badly edited from my perspective and the stories inane, while the latter tells you nothing you wouldn’t learn from looking up the book on Amazon.com.

I almost never read the “Week in…

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October 7, 2007, 8:07 pm

Columbus Day in Shoreline: the Radical Ponders Her Past

It wasn’t until I first came to Connecticut, back in 1976, that I understood Columbus Day to be a major holiday — that is, if you put aside its importance as one of several opportunities each year for Clover Day at Strawbridge & Clothier’s, which were major holidays to some of our mothers. Columbus Day, or anything else ethnic, just wasn’t recognized in Philadelphia’s WASP-ier suburbs. However, my freshman year at Oligarch, since I was living in a frosh dorm named after a major Robber Baron that overlooked one of the main downtown streets, I was home one Sunday afternoon in October and heard a marching band. I looked outside and it was a huge parade, the Columbus Day parade. I discovered that a central feature of living in Shoreline, or anywhere else in New England for that matter, is a day where we celebrate the guy who never made it to New England at all, but who more or less…

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July 3, 2007, 1:41 pm

Update: the James Sherley Tenure Case at MIT

You may recall this post that I wrote in February about James Sherley’s tenure case at MIT. Since he ended his twelve day hunger strike in February Sherley, whose research is on adult stem cells, has continued his activism. He has acquired at least one ally, Frank L. Douglas, executive director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation, who resigned a few weeks ago to protest MIT’s failure to reconsider the Sherley decision. I believe that Sherley has been on hunger strike at least one other time this year, and he has been holding daily vigils in front of the administration building.

The current struggle, as you can read in a Boston magazine article written by John Wolfson and e-mailed to me by an editor, Jamie Bellevance, is that MIT considers the case closed and wants Sherley to leave the campus. Sherley does not consider the case closed and does not plan to leave campus, at least …

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