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Race. Part 2.

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

I want to get back to Rev. Jeremiah Wright , Barack Obama, and Race. When the right-wing media had its heyday with Wright, they cut his speeches and sermons to shreds and left out everything he said that didn’t suit their purposes. I’ve already posted Father Pfleger’s defense of Wright. Father Pfleger knows Wright well and says it better than I ever could, but I’d like to take an academic’s approach and direct us to the text. I had listened to Rev. Wright’s speech to the Press Club on the radio while I was doing something else, but I went back again to the Rev’s speech (all of which is on Youtube, along with the hateful cuttings of his sermons) and I took some notes. I want to point out what Wright says that the media didn’t pick up. [read on]

Race. Part 1.

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

 I’ve tried to make my life my statement about race, even though we’ve known since W.E.B. DuBois said it in 1914 that scientifically “race” doesn’t exist.  Race is not inscribed in our genes, any more than “class” is. But the perception of race exists. People have been enslaved, imprisoned, lynched, raped, tortured, and shot because of the perception of race. People hate each other, fear each other, and make assumptions about each other based on the perception of race. I am racist because I was born White in a system of power based on the perception of race. I’m part of that system. I can’t get out; my skin is what it is, and there is nowhere on this planet untainted by that system. Therefore I choose to work on myself, to be aware and vigilant for ways I embody or absorb racist ideology, and to put the whole weight of my life into the effort to educate myself out of it and to counteract racism in every small way I can. I will always have plenty of work to do, inside and outside. Plenty of people have written about race better than I will ever be able to. But I need to begin putting a few words together, if only to join a conversation with White people about race in our lives. Anybody else is welcome to listen in, chime in, or quit reading now. Very few people read this blog, so what I’m about to say will remain secret. Despite that, I have trepidation. My grandmother told me a version of something Jeremiah Wright’s grandmother told him: “If you keep your mouth shut, you won’t ever say anything to make people think you’re stupid.” He didn’t heed his grandmother’s warning, and neither have I. Whatever it is that I’m about to say will be flawed, imperfect, inadequate, and a work in progress. So here I go. [read on]

Father Mike Pfleger Rocks!

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Thanks to Hafidha, whose blog brought this amazing ten-minute argument to my attention! I haven’t heard such a powerful anti-racist statement in years. Those of you who are not in the USA may not understand the whole argument–and you don’t need to understand the whole argument. The core of what this priest says is simply obvious to anyone who looks closely at what passes for dissent in the USA: when a white person criticizes the U.S. government, it’s “criticism”; when a Black person criticizes the U.S. government, it’s “hate.” The hate-mongering Fox News interviewer is utterly out of his depth with this man, and it is a thrill to see how powerfully Father Pfleger re-frames the discussion in terms of poverty, class, race, and history, and away from the interviewer’s intention of fanning hatred, bigotry, and ignorance by means of kneejerk soft-headed opinion and out-of-context sound-bites .  Father Pfleger speaks with clarity, force, and sharp intelligence. Anyone who has not seen this video, please drop everything else in your life and watch it now. Or as soon as you possibly can.

Activity to the south

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Something remarkable is going on in South America. This began as a travel blog, and while it has turned into Kendall’s Random Thoughts on Just About Everything, international politics is a field I generally avoid, because there are other people more fit to talk about that than I am. But the whole “Dirty War” happened in Argentina in the 70s, and I didn’t know a thing about it till a few years ago. I feel ashamed of the privilege and ignorance that allowed me to be a happy hippie girl in those years, to think of myself as a “leftist” because I participated in a few marches and a “revolutionary” because I licked some envelopes and sent out some fliers advocating peace and love–while I remained clueless about the systematic torture and elimination of thousands of people of my own generation that was going on in Argentina. My political activity in those years was wearing a T-shirt with a peace symbol on it. Now, perhaps because of blogs and the internet, I think many of us are aware of atrocities going on in Guantanamo, Iraq, Darfur, and Tibet (and in isolated towns in Texas), and I think each of us wonders rather lamely what we can do, which is a tiny bit better than having no awareness at all. But something very different, much more hopeful, is going on in South America. [read on]

Resistance, Motherhood, and Social Networking Profiles

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Recently I’ve been going through another wave of wondering who my father was. My mother claimed his name was Jake Linn and that he was of Russian Jewish ancestry and came from Virginia. She said she met him when she was at Duke University in 1944. Nobody in her family ever saw him and she had no photograph, so he’s always been a phantom in my life. In fact I don’t much resemble the rest of mother’s family physically, so I’ve always wondered where my tall, angular build and my large-faced blondish looks–which I passed on to my sons–came from. When a man named Jake Linn who came from Florida was contacted by a lawyer representing my mother in the 1950s, he denied ever knowing my mother. He could have been lying. It could have been a different man by the same name. But then my mother had, shall we say, idiosyncratic ways of experiencing reality. Her story about my father changed from time to time. I would passionately love to know who he was, to see a picture of him, and to know a little about his medical history. As part of my recent quest for answers, I googled the name Linn and came up with a Jewish scholar named Ruth Linn whose main body of research is “mature unwed mothers” and their choice to bear children, which she sees as a form of “resistance.” Naturally this interested me, as I flatter myself that I have always been about “resistance,” and I chose three times to have children as a mature single woman–once by birth and twice by adoption. So I got Ruth Linn’s book via Interlibrary Loan, and it is absorbing both in the abstract and in my own particular. Eventually I’ll connect the dots to the profile I just created on Myspace. Read on only if you’re interested in this. Otherwise wait till another day and I’m sure I’ll have another topic. [read on]

Bush’s War

Monday, March 24th, 2008

OK, enough of this head-in-the-sand, self-involved lollygagging. There are other things going on. Specifically, there is this obscene and pointless war in Iraq to make the world safe for oil billionnaires. I have never blogged about it before because everyone I know is dumbstruck by the horror of it, the obscenity of it; and not one of us knows what to do about it.  Nothing I can say will surprise anyone. But today, even if I say what everyone already knows, I have to say something. No one, not even Bush’s own people, has ever given a plausible reason for this war other than to take control of Iraq’s oil. The oil billionnaires who put Bush in power are now rolling in so many more billions of dollars that even they don’t know what to do with the money. Everybody knows this. There’s no point in even putting a link to the information. Now 4,o00 Americans are dead, about a million Iraqis are dead…a million, or at the very least 655,o00. So that would be everyone you have ever known in your whole life, and everyone they have ever known, and their families, and then some. A million dead people, give or take a few, and none of us can count that much suffering. Imagine that many bodies lying on the ground. My mind can’t hold it. How much grief is that? And the people who have lost legs or part of their brains, or who have gone mad with grief and horror, or the children whose lives are shattered by the loss of their parents, by hunger and despair–nobody even counts them.  This coming Friday I’m going to attend a peace action in a park near me, and there is a questionnaire they sent to the people who’ve signed up to attend. The first question is, “What have you done today to bring about peace?” Here’s my pathetic answer: for starters, I’m going to watch TV. [read on]


Thursday, February 28th, 2008

This hot news item got my attention. It points to the execrably stupid fact that the USA incarcerates more people per capita than anywhere else in the world. This is an invitation to my friends John Speer (who is on the verge of gigantic life changes and may not have time) and Stephen Brody to chime in on this topic, about which they are quite knowledgable. Anyone else with strong feelings, opinions, knowledge, or experience of the subject is welcome to have their say, too.

Kennedy/Obama and me, blogging

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

I’ve been sick with a vicious migraine the last four days. It crested yesterday afternoon, and it was all I could do to lie back in the recliner with Basho in my lap, fighting the nausea with an ice pack over one eye, taking drugs. I did watch (out of one eye, with the volume turned low and subtitles-for-the-hearing-impaired running) a movie that should have been terrific but failed (beware the link; it takes time and bandwidth to download): Bobby, directed by Emilio Estevez. With a cast that includes Laurence Fishburne, Sharon Stone, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, and Harry Belafonte, how could it be bad? [read on]

The Lives of Others

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Came home from work today and watched a film of such power that I’m not even going to attempt a “review” of it, though I have to say something. Das Leben der Anderen, or The Lives of Others swept the German Lola awards; it got the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in the USA this year; and it is, for me, unforgettable. There are reviews everywhere already, like this brief but rather ecstatic one from a London critic, or this slick and shiny one from The New Yorker. But the film is a work of great intelligence, sensitivity, and power, much larger and quieter and more intelligent than its reviews. In the “Making of the Film” feature, there is a bit that made me gasp out loud. [read on]

The causes of terror

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

On Tuesday this week, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that he had a “gut feeling” that the U.S. is in danger of another terrorist attack soon. Not practical evidence. Not “intelligence.” A “gut feeling.” That’s America. We trust our gut; we only need “intelligence” when we have to prove something; and if we don’t have the “intelligence” we need, we fabricate it or go back to our gut feelings. The one thing that has helped the Bush administration most is September 11. [read on]