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Archive for December, 2008

Via Ruby Sales at Spirit House:

Dear Friends,

Heads up on a story that I am working on! A seventeen year old Black high school football star, Billey Joe Johnson, headed to college with a pocket full of scholarships to schools throughout the South and in Oregon, was stopped by a police for a traffic violation. The police alleges that when he went to check Billey’s license, he heard a gunshot. He returned to Billey’s car and found him slumped over the seat. According to policeman, Billey shot himself with a shotgun. I have tried to get more information. It is closed and, a tight lid surrounds this shooting! If you know anyone in the Gulf Coast region or in a position in Mississippi to get facts, please let me know. I have also spoken to a local woman who went to scene of incident. She is highly suspicious the official story.

Update: 9:15pm. I have spoken with a member of the Johnson Family, and he told me that the family including the parents have not yet seen Billey’s body. The police claimed that they were sending the body to Jackson, Mississippi to be examined by coroner. As a matter of fact when the parents went to the scene of the incident,. The police refused to let the parents see their son. The parents want justice. They need us to get this story out in the media. Please note that the police called the coaches, not the parents, to identify the body even though they came to the scene and requested to see the body.

THE OFFICIAL STORY
“The police said: “George County High School star running back Billey Joe Johnson died Monday from a single shotgun blast after a deputy stopped his car and was preparing to conduct a check of Johnson’s driver’s license. They go on to say: “According to the George County Sheriff’s Department, Johnson was stopped on Mississippi 26 in the city limits of Lucedale. The deputy was in his patrol vehicle about to conduct the license check when he heard the gunshot. He saw the victim lying on the ground by the driver’s side door of Johnson’s vehicle. A shotgun was lying on the 17 year old. Johnson’s football coaches were called to the scene to help identify the body.” http://www.sunherald.com/newsupdates/story/1002213.html or see Mississippi Press Register.

This is highly suspicious. They did not let the family see the body for eight hours. Already White reporters have started a whispering campaign against Billey by declaring that he was mentally ill. Of course, they all said they were sharing an off the record comment. I quickly responded that if high school officials thought him to be manic depressive, surely they got him help! Silence. Feels like slander/coverup. I am waiting for a call back from a Black preacher in George County.

Lets spread the word. Say no to a coverup!

Sincerely,
Ruby Sales

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I don’t get very many mass emails of the paranoid propaganda type forwarded to me, and when I do, I generally roll my eyes as I hit the delete key. Occasionally one of those emails lands in my box courtesy of someone that I either care about, think should know better, or both. In those cases, I’ll run the text of the story through Snopes or Urban Legends, and then forward evidence of the fake-ness of the story to the person who sent it to me. All that to say, I don’t give them a lot of thought, and when I have to think about it, I move on pretty quickly. For instance, a couple of weeks ago one of my students forwarded an email that has been going around for several years, having to do with the supposed rude and condescending response of a major network executive to a viewer who had complained about the “homosexual agenda” in a program. After running the email through snopes, I learned that the email was indeed genuine, but it was not from an executive, nor was it the official position of the network. I sent the information back to the student, the student issued a sheepish “sorry,” passed the info on to the rest of the people she forwarded it to and we were done.

Because I don’t traffic in nut-wingery, at least not that of the rightwing kind (yeah, I’ll cop to a little leftwing nut-wingery from time to time) I knew about the vicious anti-Obama emails flooding in-boxes across America only via hearsay and on the occasional blog. I knew they were out there, and I knew they were harmful, but I really didn’t think about them, you know? I was more concerned about the things that were being said on radio and television, what was happening at conventions and conferences and later on, at campaign rallies.

The other night I went to a meeting at my church. After the meeting, while most of us were out in the hallway bundling up to go home, one of the older (white) women in our congregation came over to talk to me. She is a sweet old woman, probably in her seventies. She recently read something I wrote that was published in real life, under my real name, about the campaign, the election and it’s aftermath.

The woman told me, kind of shamefacedly, that she had not voted. I was a little surprised. Then she went on to tell me that she was afraid. She was afraid of Obama, she said, because she had gotten so many emails offering “proof” that he was a Muslim and a terrorist. She was afraid of what was going to happen to the country if Obama won the election. She did keep assuring me that it wasn’t because he was black… it was the Muslim part that got her. And I want to believe her truth

Now, I knew this stuff was out there… I mean, it’s the whole reason the emails were flying around, along with all the other propoganda – the buttons, the waffle mix, the “satiric” magazine covers. But here I was face to face with a person I knew … telling me about the fear and confusion that had been placed in her. I don’t know if the people sending the emails to her were people she knew or not; in some ways it doesn’t matter. But it other ways it does, very much so. It means that someone was deliberately taking advantage of her because of her age, at the very least. And they got away with it – they frightened a woman who, because she is a citizen of this country has every right to vote – but they deliberately frightened her and effectively silenced her. She did not cast a vote for the person they wanted … she just didn’t vote at all. How many, many others did not vote for that reason? And, as my example above illustrates, it’s not just the elderly that get pulled into believing something just because they got it in an email from a friend.

And it makes me angry all over again – not at her, but at those who would not only disparage fellow human beings – an individual, on the one hand – fair game, I guess some would say – politics being what it is; but also entire groups of people – black men in particular, people of color in general, Muslims. That tactic was evident to anyone paying a marginal bit of attention – accuse him (or anyone) of being a Muslim; that will take away any measure of trust.

As I finish this post, I note that the Supreme Court has rejected the appeal over Obama’s citizenship… another wildfire internet rumor. I guess that’s something.

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Music Meme – lifted from here.

  • Put your IPod or MP3 player on shuffle.
  • For each question, press the next button to get your answer
  • YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!
  • Tag 10 friends who might enjoy doing the game as well as the person you got the note from.

Not tagging because I’m disobedient like that…. but play along if you like (and let me know).

IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY?
Superwoman (Alicia Keyes)

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Pullin’ Back the Reins (k.d. lang)

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Choux Pastry Heart (Corrine Bailey Rae)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
I Need You (Alicia Keyes)

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Three Days (k.d. lang)

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Trail of Broken Hearts (k.d. lang)

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Work in Progress (Growing Pains) (Mary J. Blige)

WHAT IS 2+2?
Mr. Radio (Chrisette Michele)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
A Little More You (Little Big House)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Mama Knew Love (Anthony Hamilton)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Float (Anthony Hamilton)

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Be and Be Not Afraid (Tracy Chapman)

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Stay the Night (Mariah Carey)

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Change (Tracy Chapman)

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
The Air That I Breathe (k.d. lang)

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Blood and Fire (Indigo Girls)

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Promise Me (Luther Vandross)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Golden (Chrisette Michele)

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Luck in My Eyes (k.d. lang)

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
My Old Addition (k.d. lang)

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
Here and Now (Luther Vandross)

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
So Amazing (Luther Vandross)

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
It’s Like That (Mariah Carey)

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Better Love (Luther Vandross)

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
I’m Fine (Patty Larkin)

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
The Joker (k.d. lang)

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens (Anthony Hamilton)

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Good Girl (Chrisette Michele)

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End of semester blues

This is the last week of the semester; in a few moments I will go to my last class. The holiday parties have started today – profs treating students, students bringing treats (I recognize some of this a mutual bribing by way of evaluations and grades, but some of it is genuine fondness for one another. I’m grateful for that). I have had the sweetness of several students telling me today that one or another of my classes has been their favorite. Cynical me wonders if they are buttering me up, or if I perhaps did not push them hard enough. But mostly I enjoy hearing it. They don’t have to say it. It’s nice to be appreciated.

While I look forward to a break from the never ending drill of prep, presentation, grading, sprinkled generously throughout with shoddy student work and bogus student excuses, the truth is I mourn the end of every semester. When I first started teaching I was totally unprepared for what happens at the end of the term, and happens hard at the end of the academic year – they leave. I try hard to model what some of my favorite profs (undergrad and graduate school) did very skillfully – creating an atmosphere of community while doing hard work. I hope I succeed at it as far as students are concerned; as for me, I miss the heck out of them once classes end. Add to that the fact that in this part of the country, the sun ceases to shine round about October and only emerges again to a consistent degree in late March or April. No students and no sun? Double ugh.

Off to class.

p.s. – Just because I’m writing this sappy post about missing students etc now doesn’t mean I reserve the right to gnash my teeth and say bad words when I’m grading their papers next week. Just saying.

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Oh, the horror!

Actually, I don't see what all the fuss is about...

Actually, I don't see what all the fuss is about...

It seems the latest disaster to strike the world is not the trampling of a Wal Mart employee on Black Friday, nor the country’s economic crisis, nor any of a number of truly horrifying things I could dwell on this fine day.

Because you see, Beyonce dared to show the world her stubbly pits. She is now this nation’s shame. It’s a fashion faux pas. She http://rnbdirt.com/beyonce-armpit-hair-spoils-cadillac-records-premiere/14146/ the Cadillac Records premiere. She’s nasty. I actually heard this on the radio news this morning. We haven’t had a scare like this since Julia Roberts showed her hairy pits and the world stopped spinning on it’s axis…. oh, wait – the world kept turning.

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Sarcasm aside, I have no quarrel with women and girls who rid themselves of underarm and leg hair. To each her own. I, however, don’t shave. I don’t see the point: it’s uncomfortable, I find it to be both a waste of time and money and seriously? Good grooming has nothing to do with whether or not one shaves her armpit and leg hair. Again, I’m not on a crusade to tell women not to do it. But could we hairy women get some of the same respect?

And maybe it would be helpful for us to remember (or learn the first time) that the reason shaving pits became a cultural norm associated with cleanliness, good grooming and femininity has nothing to do with any of that (because I maintain that I am clean, well groomed and have my own brand of femininity) but has everything to do with commerce – selling razors and depilatories to women, and along with that selling a particular view of beauty and real womanhood.

Via The Straight Dope

…..Pete Cook of Chicago has sent me a 1982 article from the Journal of American Culture by Christine Hope bearing the grand title “Caucasian Female Body Hair and American Culture.”

The gist of the article is that U.S. women were browbeaten into shaving underarm hair by a sustained marketing assault that began in 1915. (Leg hair came later.) The aim of what Hope calls the Great Underarm Campaign was to inform American womanhood of a problem that till then it didn’t know it had, namely unsightly underarm hair.

To be sure, women had been concerned about the appearance of their hair since time immemorial, but (sensibly) only the stuff you could see. Prior to World War I this meant scalp and, for an unlucky few, facial hair. Around 1915, however, sleeveless dresses became popular, opening up a whole new field of female vulnerability for marketers to exploit.

Read more here.

Ay yi yi. Are there not more important things to get worked up over? Or is it really that culturally important to police women’s bodies? Yeah, I know. OK.

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h/t Ann

Man Finds Racial Slur Printed On Receipt

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