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My reading list so far

In no particular order:

  • A Dance with Dragons by George R R Martin (yes, again)
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • oops no wifi to access my wishlist, so I can’t remember the others :/
  • Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness: What it Means to be Black Now by Michael Eric Dyson and Touré
  • The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Girls by Jessica Valenti
  • Purity: A Dark Thriller by Douglas Clegg
  • It Ain’t All About the Cookin by Paula Deen and Sherry Suib Cohen

Anybody got any book recommendations?

I just finished my book list besides re-reads of ASOIAF books and Union resource manuals. I just finished Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee and would appreciate similar titles. But anything to do with social justice is good as well. Also open to novels, but I can be a bit picky. I don’t like traditional fantasy (ie not a fan of LOTR, tolerate Rothfuss, but worship George R R Martin). I also think Jeffrey Eugenides is a genius (which reminds me that I have yet to read his latest novel.)

I’m a pain I know.

Edit: I thought The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was balls ass boring, and I’m sure that helps none at all.

Organizations like the UN do a lot of good, but there are certain basic realities they never seem to grasp. One is that every war is different, even those with surface similarities, because the reasons and the ways countries fight have everything to do with their histories and the way their societies are organized. If conflicts aren’t identical, resolution can never be one-size-fits-all. Maybe the most important truth that eludes these organizations is that it’s insulting when outsiders come in and tell a traumatized people what it will take for them to heal.
Leymah Gbowee, Mighty Be Our Powers

dagLists: White Privilege Reading List



I’ve received several asks in the last three weeks about white privilege. Here are three books that are must reads, in my opinion:

Theodore Allen. The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control (Verso, 1994). Outlines the legal and social construction of white. Very good study. And a new edition of Allen’s 2-volume work is being published in February 2012, according to Verso.

Paula S Rothenberg. White Privilege 4th Edition (Worth, 2011). A good anthology of the classic texts in this topic. Recently updated.

George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics

Robert Jensen, The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege

Tim J. Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

Reblogging for reference

(Source: dagwolf)

We hadn’t brought peace to Liberia, but our work was emboldening the nation. God’s hands were under our effort and I saw daily how right it had been to begin the work by mobilizing at the bottom. You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.
Leymah Gbowee, Mighty Be Our Powers

Parenthropology: The Problema with Skippyjon Jones

Then using his very best Spanish accent, he said, ‘My ears are too beeg for my head. My head ees too beeg for my body. I am not a Siamese cat…. I am a chihuahua!
Skippyjon Jones (2003)

As an anthropologist, I have two words to describe the above passage: Mock Spanish.

You know Mock Spanish. If you are born-and/or-bred American -English-speaking and monolingual - then you have heard it on the playground and even in the classroom as well as at the supermarket or at the water cooler. You might be able to recall recent instances of speaking it. For example, said without ambivalence or ambiguity as a flat denial to requests for candy, car, or casual sex: “No way, Jose.” Or, delivered in a comparable dead pan, part cyborg and part Austrian: “Hasta la vista, baby.”

Mock Spanish is not necessarily a direct mockery of Spanish or of speakers of Spanish.

“Speakers of Mock Spanish are likely to view their use of Spanish as indexing positive personal qualities,” writes Rusty Barrett, a linguistic anthropologist, in a 2006 article, “Language Ideology and Racial Inequality: Competing Functions of Spanish in an Anglo-Owned Mexican Restaurant.” In other words, when Anglos (a term that is meant to contrast with Latinos) use Mock Spanish, they are “just joking” or even exhibiting their easy familiarity with another language and culture.

This is why the suggestion that Mock Spanish might be “racist” inspires insistent objections, including accusations about “political correctness.” For Anglos, Mock Spanish is a sign of education and open-mindedness - the opposite of the ignorance and closed-mindedness associated with “racism.”

Even more important, Mock Spanish is a sign of having a sense of humor. There is no meanness intended here, the reasoning goes -just a bit of fun.

Yet, the yuks of Mock Spanish derive from stereotypes about Latinos that circulate among Anglos. Familiar uses of Mock Spanish include the “borrowing” of words like manana, which for Spanish speakers refers simply to “tomorrow,” but for Anglos connotes procrastination. In other instances, borrowings include obscene or vulgar terms like “cojones” or “caca.”

Or consider this equation for constructing Mock Spanish: “el” + English word + “o” - which yields such formulations as “el cheapo” or “el stupido.”

Stereotypes about Latinos might not be referenced directly in Mock Spanish, but linguistic anthropologist Jane Hill noted that “the negative residue of meaning” remains attached to its uses. “Those who hear Mock Spanish jokes, for instance, cannot possibly ‘get’ them - that is, the jokes will not be funny - unless the hearer has instant, unreflecting access to a cultural model of ‘Spanish speakers’ that includes the negative residue,” Hill wrote in her 1995 article, “Mock Spanish: A Site for the Indexical Reproduction of Racism in American English,” which introduced the term and the concept to scholars.

Here is where we need to consider “racism.” Again, I quote from Hill’s 1995 article: “To find an action or utterance is ‘racist,’ one does not have to demonstrate that the racism is consciously intended. Racism is judged, instead, by its effects: of successful discrimination and exclusion of members of the racialized group from goods and resources enjoyed by the racializing group.”

We need to consider that racism is not now, and in fact might never have been, only about “hate.”
Hill suggests that a significant reason for why we need to pay attention to Mock Spanish is this: "In a society where for at least the last 20 years to be called a ‘racist’ is a dire insult, and where opinion leaders almost universally concur that ‘racism’ is unacceptable, how is racism continually reproduced?"

At this point, let us return to Exhibit A: Skippyjon Jones.

"Yip, Yippee, Yippito! It’s the end of Alfredo Buzzito! Skippito is here, We have nothing to fear. Adios to the bad Bumblebeeto!"

Then all of the Chimichangos went crazy loco. First they had a fiesta. Then they took a siesta. But after waking up, the Chimichangos got down to serious bees-ness. —
Skippyjon Jones

On the one hand, the rhymes here are catchy and to be honest, clever. For example, the use of “bees-ness” not only references a “Spanish accent,” but also the character of Alfredo Buzzito, the bad Bumblebeeto.

On the other hand, Skippyjon Jones not only (indirectly) references well worn stereotypes that are instantly and unreflectingly accessible to the grown-up’s reading the book to their children, but it also reproduces them for another generation - in the form of what might be experienced otherwise as an entertaining, gentle, and sweet little story.

I think it proves Hill’s point that parents, writing reviews on amazon, will praise this book because it “introduces” Spanish words to their children - and that the critics become accused of missing the point of the story and being self-righteous and having no sense of humor. In fact, the expectation that a children’s book must be innocent seems to be used as itself a defense of Mock Spanish. That is, because this is “just” a children’s book, it cannot possibly contain “racism.”

It is exactly because I find the book, with its use of Mock Spanish, to be catchy and clever and cute that I also find it concerning.

Emphasis mine



I have spent most of today working on a essay about the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan.

I am currently surrounded by library books about Teo. And even though Sara may give me crap for saying this, but I heart old book smell and wasting time imagining the past lives and readers of these beautiful used books.

Oh no no don’t get me wrong, I love books, too. I love book smell; I love book history. I just absolutely hate people who are really shitty about eReaders and think there’s absolutely nothing positive about them. I hate the people who act like the advent of the eBook equals the death of publishing rather than the natural evolution of it. I hate people who can’t recognize the merits of an ebook simply because it does not smell like an old book. It’s a lovely smell, one of my favorites and the reason why I have a ton of bookshelves… But ebooks have their place and are merely the future of information distribution.
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