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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Pseudo Diversity: The Decline of Social Justice interest on college campuses

I grew up in Xenia, Ohio, eight miles from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. From the age of about 5 I realized that I was living in the wrong town. I should have been raised in Yellow Springs. Visiting the town–my parents had several friends who lived there–I was aware very early on that these were my peeps. The village of Yellow Springs–so named for a nearby spring that looks like quite a few people have already taken a leak in it, was bohemian, intellectual, unashamedly and unabashedly  liberal, counterculture, innovative, spontaneous and, above all else, totally dedicated to the ideas of social justice. Because of its culture it was home to many bi-racial couples, not to mention same sex couples.  I remember riding through the village in the 1960s and seeing women walk around without bras. I imagine there were quite a few car wrecks caused by the conservative men of Xenia driving through Yellow Springs and ogling the co-eds from Antioch with their girls untethered.  Yellow Springs enjoyed a very scurrilous reputation in Xenia, as did Antioch college. Terms like communist, heathen, leftist, and later hippie were thrown around freely. But, the origins of that contempt were based in fear. Fear that the people of Yellow Springs were generally smarter, hipper and more socially evolved than Xenians. At the time Antioch students were primarily from the Northeast,white and wealthy. When I was growing up there were two liberal white colleges in Ohio, Oberlin and Antioch. Oberlin, like Antioch, has a long history of social justice advocacy, but Oberlin did not have the edge that Antioch did, taking more of a scholarly, persuasive approach rather than the physical as well as intellectual activism of the Yellow Springs institution.

As I got older and began to appreciate my Antiochian neighbors more and more, I found myself disappointed in the relatively lukewarm social activism of Central State University and Wilberforce University students. I would have presumed, at least in the area of black civil rights, that the students at these two HBCUs would be ready and willing to lead the charge. Instead they seemed timid, uncertain and apathetic by comparison. When the Antioch students became aware that a barber in downtown YS refused to cut black folks’ hair, they closed his barber shop down, drove him out of business. Not many CSU or WU students joined in the protests that eventually led to him closing his doors. The black students did slightly better when it was exposed that Geyer’s Restaurant in Xenia would not serve black people, although they employed black cooks–go figure, but it was still the Antioch students who began the protests and led the charge.

So, my standard of what social justice on a campus should look like was forged in Yellow Springs, not Wilberforce. It is so ironic that today Antioch is struggling to keep its doors open, the victim of a scam perpetrated by white colleges and universities almost everywhere that they too are strong advocates for social justice! You do not have to go to a small liberal arts college in southwest Ohio, or out to Berkeley they advertise. We are all down with the cause, you can pursue social justice, change the world and stand up for what is right right here at Vanilla U!  If you believe that I can make you a good deal on a bridge in New York, bring your checkbook.

The modern predominantly white campuses I am familiar with–and that means quite a few, but surely not all–have about as much true commitment to social justice as I do to the Tea Party.  Oh, they are great at talking about it. Virtually every president, provost and dean at predominantly white campuses talks a good game about social justice. Some of them probably even think they mean it, but most of them do not even have a grasp of what social justice means. If they did they would be horrified at some of the things that happen on their campuses and they would be more vigilant in investigating what happens that is insensitive, intolerant and downright wrong and insuring that steps are taken to ameliorate the conditions that allowed it to happen in the first place.

A quick summary of hate speech incidents on college campuses yields over a thousand complaints of hate speech/incidents on campuses last year, and those are only the ones that got out, escaped from the forces that work very hard to keep them quiet, unnoticed and unpublicized.  These incidents, coupled with the miserable graduation rates of certain minorities on campuses, and the continuing the difficulties some women, white and minority, encounter in certain departments or majors, gives a lie to the idea that social justice is encouraged, let alone practiced, by most colleges.  If college campuses were serious about social justice they would have people in power who are change agents,in the positions charged with monitoring and programming for social justice not bureaucratic toadies . But, being a strong advocate for anything in higher education, unless it is something that the majority culture values, is a sure way to become marginalized at best.

I attended a meeting recently on economic development on a college campus recently. The county in question is poor, heavily minority and dysfunctional when it comes to race relations. It has three school districts in the county, two all black, one almost all white. Guess which one is doing the best? The team from a university that was discussing the situation reported that the town they had spent most of their time in was 75% black. Yet, when they met with town leaders the group was all white. The team went on to say that the black leaders in town did not seem to want to meet with them and were reluctant to engage with the team. I, of course, raised my hand and asked what the racial make-up of the university team was. After all  they had already described the town as predominantly black and the race relations in the place as dreadful. The answer was that there were no black people on the team that visited the town to “help/” What would make them think that black people who had lived mostly in poverty and at odds with their white neighbors would trust a white team of “experts” were actually coming to help them or even that they could be trusted? If people from our universities do not understand that doing research and/or outreach in communities of color requires that you have some people who look like them on the team then I despair of the state of diversity education and understanding on our white campuses.

Social justice may be alive and well on some campuses, but on most American campuses I am afraid it is what my down-east neighbors would call low sick!

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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Normative whiteness: How dare you love your culture if it is not white??

This morning I was having a conversation with a colleague who is Latino. We were discussing the idiocy in Arizona where they have forbidden the teaching of the history or culture of any minority group. In case you have not been keeping up with the lunatic fringe here is the text of the law which says schools will lose state funding if they offer any courses that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” You see, the lovely white folks in charge in Arizona have decided that teaching the accurate history of blacks, Latinos and American Indians to name a few, although knowing these morons I am sure they would include Japanese Internment in this ban, promotes hate and resentment of white people. In other words, to quote Evilene from the Wiz, “don’t nobody bring me no bad news” in history class.

This is not a new thing. In the 1960’s when schools began teaching Black History there was an enormous outcry in certain schools and cities. How dare we separate blacks from white history, even though white history books at the time frequently relegated blacks to information about slavery.Women of a certain age like myself had as much chance of learning about W.E. B. Dubois, or Marcus Garvey at Xenia High School in history class in the 1960’s as we had of learning about the little green men who were supposedly stored in a hangar at Wright Patterson Airforce Base. Come to think of it we probably had a better chance of being instructed on UFOs than on Black History.

One of the reasons so many people are upset with my Latino friends who immigrate here, or who were born here in some cases, is that they refuse to follow the pattern of other immigrants. They do not want to be white, even the white ones, not white the way that our society characterizes white people. Those who speak standard English without any accent, those who are Christians, those who are middle-class and basically cultureless. Earlier immigrants ( blacks do not count, most of us did not immigrate, we were imported as chattel property) were eager to become “Americans” , read white. They dropped their accents as quickly as possible, anglicized their names and kept their culture a private thing for the most part. Oh yes, the Italians would still have some festivals, generally in their own neighborhoods out of the eyes of the WASPs, the Irish would have St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, but again within the confines of the Irish community. Celebrating cultures that are not rooted in WASP history publicly is a fairly recent phenomenon.

This attempt to whitewash American History has been going on for decades.  When accounts of attempted genocide against Native populations, Japanese Internment, the horrors of slavery, Jim Crow’s disgraceful behaviors, etc., were being included in narratives about America beginning in the 1960s it was immediately declared revisionist history.  The odd thing was that all of these events were easily documented as accurate. Evidently it was not veracity of the oppressive actions of the white population towards the people of color that was at fault, it was the fact they were being publicized. ( On a personal note I had a similar experience recently. I presented a paper at the Association of University Professors last summer  which was an indictment of the dearth of black faculty at Research 1 institutions. When I returned to campus it became obvious that the reaction to my paper, which got some minor national attention, was quite negative. I was puzzled. I had offered the paper to several people to read in advance and no one had found fault with it. I asked my critics when I returned whether they disagreed with my data, my findings or my conclusions. The answer was universally “no.” Evidently what they objected to was me telling  about it! )  It was characterized at one point as unpatriotic to tell bad things that happened in America to people of color. It is chilling to see language around the law against teaching about culture in Arizona that uses words like treason.

When blacks began to display cultural pride in the 1960s by wearing our hair in Afros, sporting dashikis and pushing black music onto the airwaves on white, not ethnically programmed radio stations, using slogans like “Black is Beautiful” all of a sudden there was a frisson of alarm in the white community. As long as we had been straightening our hair, trying to lighten our skin, copying white dress, customs, home decor, etc., we were marginally acceptable. As soon as some of us stood up and said, ” I like being black, I do not want to be white” things began to get dicey. We were now being viewed as radical and dangerous. Some of the older black folks at the time were equally alarmed. They felt that flaunting one’s blackness was dangerous. This was still a time when folks were being buried in dams in Mississippi for trying to register people to vote remember.

It appeared to some white folks that an outbreak of uppityness had broken out among large segments of the black population. They were proud to be black they said. Who ever heard  of such a thing? They were making demands! How dare they? And, they had stopped trying to be mistaken for white, trying to blend in. The nerve!  Now, having constructed a pretend post racial society with the election of Barak Obama–who has certainly done a lot for black folks since he has been in office–these Latinos show up, speaking Spanish ( I know they are talking about me) listening to Latin music, celebrating their culture! Here we go again. Why can’t these minorities understand all they have to do to succeed in America is to be as white as they can be? Of course, in order to do that they have to acknowledge the superiority of the white race to their own culture, but that is a no-brainer, right?

In the 1970’s I was teaching American History in Xenia Ohio at Warner Jr. Hi. I decided to add a series of lessons on Black History. Because it was not in the curriculum ( surprise!) at the time I had to go to the principal and then to the curriculum committee ( on which I served) to get it approved. I was able to get it approved after submitting lesson plans, learning outcomes, etc. Proudly I announced to my class that we would be, for the next three days, studying Black History from 1619 to the present. Obviously this was going to be a Cliff Notes version of Black History, but small steps were necessary in that time and place.  Several of the white student snickered. One of the white males said ” that is going to be a short lesson” letting me know that I had my work cut out for me. In justice to my home town I only had one parent request that her child be removed from my class, a request that was denied by the principal.  I write this to say that most people in America of any color do not know the history of the people of color in this country. Ask people about Japanese Internment they might know but ask them about the Braceros Program, about Madame CJ Walker, or about the siege of Ft. Pitt and the dissemination of smallpox infected blankets to what were considered recalcitrant Indians. Ask them about the Tuskegee Study that infected black men with syphilis in order to study the effects and you will probably get blank stares.

Could teaching about these things make minorities have hard feelings against white? Maybe, but as an historian I believe we have to tell it like it was accurately to the best of our ability.  If we are making up history it is bad no matter what the subject. Such accurate knowledge about people of color might also make whites understand more why some of us do not want to be white, but are proud of our culture as they should be of theirs for the most part.

I am, and always have been and always will be an uppity black. I was taught from infancy to be proud to come from a strong, resourceful, talented, intelligent culture. That does not mean I do not like white people. It does not mean I hold grudges against white people for past sins. If you were not alive at the time I cannot hold you accountable for it. I can, however, hold you accountable for continuing some of the practices that were initiated long ago to oppress people of color and for continuing to insist that white, Christian, straight, English speaking people are the only normal ones.

To me black is normal, everything else is different. That does not mean it is inferior or superior, it is just different. And wouldn’t this world be boring if we were not all different? Do not ask me to imitate a culture that is not mine and I will not ask you to imitate mine, although when we get right down to it from music to language a lot more white folks imitate black culture than vice versa. Be proud of who you are and what you are and encourage everyone else to do the same.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

9/11: a teachable moment that we missed

I, like most people, remember exactly where I was on 9/11/01. I was preparing for my first class of the day, Western Civilization 112. I was sitting in my office at Clark State College in Springfield, Ohio and one of the professors came down the hall, stuck his head in my office and asked me didn’t I have a son in NYC?  I told him I did, Christopher lived on Convent Avenue at the time and worked for Scholastic Publishing. There is something going on there, he told me, something about a plane crash hitting a building.

I tried to pull up some info on my computer, but we did not have the same kind of technology then that we have now, so I was not able to find out anything. Just as I was about to call Christopher to check on him to see if this accident had happened near him, another person came running down the hall and said another plane just hit the World Trade Centers. Obviously this meant  it was not an accident, but an attack.

I immediately dialed Christopher and got him on the first try. He assured me that so far he was fine, but could see smoke, hear sirens and was aware of what was going on. He said he was amazed at the sight of the first tower on fire. We talked for several minutes, thank goodness I had called early enough that the lines were not overwhelmed and then he promised to keep in touch and hung up to go watch television to see what was happening.

I walked over to the library to watch on television the horrible events that were unfolding in NYC. Classes were canceled and I went home to watch and to talk to Chris throughout the day. When it became apparent that the attacks were over, the Pentagon crash, the plane going down in Pennsylvania due to the courage of the passengers, I began to wonder about why this had happened?

What would make a group of people want to cause such widespread destruction and panic. By that time the news was reporting that it was the work of “Islamic terrorists.” I think that was the first time I had ever heard that term. Later that day I heard the term Al Queda for the first time I think. So, it was mid-eastern Muslims who did not like us. Why?

I began to do some research and found out a lot I did not know about our relationship with certain folks in the mideast. What I learned made me sad. Religious bigotry I was familiar with. Lots of white religious folks had based their justification for slavery on the story of Ham in the Bible. The KKK used “Christian” as one of their mantras while they preached hatred against blacks, Jews, Catholics and a vast array of other people.But, hatred by Muslims was new to me. The few Muslims I knew seemed just like anyone else to me. There were black Muslims who sold bean pies and newspapers in big cities and other Muslims who were generally simply olive skinned people, frequently from another part of the world. I would not have known most of them were Muslims unless they told me. Wearing of the hijab was rare in my neck of the woods and as far as I knew there were no mosques in the area, although there must have been, in hindsight.

Muslims were not deemed that much more different in the pre-9/11 America I was familiar with than Quakers or the Amish, they were just people with a different religion than most of us.

After the disaster, after the planes stopped crashing and the country stopped reeling from the worse terrorist attack from outside our borders I was amazed to hear people begin to hate Muslims. Not just the men on the planes, who we presumed were Muslims, but all Muslims. At least one of my teaching colleagues at Clark State was Muslim, professors my husband knew from CSU were Muslim. How could people blame them for this?

One of the things I heard white people say that stunned me was “How can they hate us and want to hurt us without even knowing us, we have not done anything to them.”  I realized then what a privilege it must be growing up assuming everyone was going to like you unless you did something to make them dislike you. My first reaction was not kind, it was “Welcome to my world!”

As the months wore on and we declared war on Iraq–talk about a stretch, the rhetoric grew stronger, and more hateful. It reminded me of the dark days of the Vietnam War where some people wore tee shirts that said ” Kill them all and let God sort them out.” One spot of levity offered some relief, my friend Ellen and her family who had been doing charity work in Africa returned after 9/11 and seeing so many American flags on cars wondered why there were so many diplomats at LAX when they landed!

9/11 was what happens when hate, intolerance and bigotry are allowed to flourish and act. Instead of making certain that message was shared with every man, woman and child in America we chose to hate them more than they hate us. As Ghandi said,”An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Even in the memorials that are being shared all day today there is, from time to time, a glimpse at something evil besides the men who took so many lives for so little reason.

If Americans continue down the current path of divisiveness, intolerance and bias that we currently are the terrorists will have won. That is not the way America was envisioned, not even the men who were our Founding Fathers, slave holders though they were, denied the equality of human beings. They did not walk the walk, true, but they did at least talk the talk. Banning marriage between two people who love each other because they are both the same sex, resegregating our schools, killing people because they are a different color, go to a different church, speak a different language, act differently, dress differently, think differently are act of terrorism just as sure as what happened on 9/11.

We cannot change what happened on 9/11. We can remember and honor those who lost their lives or who lost loved ones. We can, however, work to create a world where no one looks at another human being and decides because they are different they have to die.

Let’s roll!

 

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Football Players: Modern Gladiators?

I went to the UNC versus Rutgers game today at UNC. It was hot, fun and UNC won, so it was all good. However, having been at the Hampton versus Florida A&M game on Thursday I was struck by the difference in the crowd, racial difference of course, what else would I be noticing? At Hampton the crowd was probably 98% black. At Carolina it was probably close to 90% white. I am sure that it is my own prism that made me uneasy as I watched the mostly white crowd cheering for the mostly black teams.

I could not help but think back to when a good fighting slave would set a master back big bucks. I also could not help wondering how much of the athletic prowess of young black men is responsible for the fear and view of them as violent that so many whites cling to? If they are that strong and fast surely they must be dangerous.

Going even further I wondered how many of the white folks in the stands cheering wildly for the black men on the field would be happy to see them at their family Thanksgiving dinner? I am not white ( duh) so perhaps I am doing  white folks a disservice , but knowing what I know about race and racism in America I cannot help but have these questions surface. I imagine they would throw me out of Kenan Stadium if I started asking white fans, ” What would you think if Hakeem there started dating your daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter?” , but I would love to know!

Are they only modern gladiators, to be cheered on Saturday and treated differently on Monday when they are not wearing their pads and the music is not playing and no pom poms are waving?

And, this is not something I would only like to ask Carolina fans. I would equally like to ask white Ohio State fans–Braxton is cool for a son-in-law, right?, Georgia fans, University of Mississippi fans, Wisconsin fans and Stanford and Oregon and all the other white universities that field teams with large numbers of black players.

I would also like to ask black fans a similar question about the white players. Would they be welcome at the family Thanksgiving dinner table? Race divides us in America in ways that most people are so used to they do not even see. Churches are, for the most part, still very segregated, so is housing,  so is education. There is more likelihood today that a black kid will be attending a school that is predominantly black or minority than there was in 1972.Recently my cousin posted on FB that an issue of a magazine dedicated to “American heroes” of 9/11 does not have a single black person represented. This led to my statement that Americans frequently do not associate the term ” American” with blacks. Except for athletic references when is the last time you heard a black person referred to as an “All American girl/boy?” I will answer that question for you… never! Same with ” the boy/girl next door.” We are not generally chosen to represent the country or the ideal young man or woman, that is reserved for our paler folks.

Don’t believe me? Close your eyes and think the words “cheerleader, mayor, girl next door, All American boy” what did you see? No fair changing because of the previous paragraph!

So, I have to wonder if athletics is bringing us closer since we are all cheering for that multicultural team or driving us father apart because of the way we view the athletes as human beings off the court/field/arena, or not having any impact at all.

So, the next time you see them flash those faces up on the jumbotron at your local stadium ask yourself this question, ” Could I pass the dressing and cranberry sauce to that individual without  any problem?” If the answer is ” No” report to your nearest social justice professional immediately for therapy!:-)

PS. I have an Asian American daughter in law ( she does not play sports but is a mean Zumba teacher!) and a white son in law  ( he did not play sports either, but is seriously smart) and I love them both.  So my answer to the question above is “As long as it is bipedal, loves my child , has not been convicted of a felony and is of average or better intelligence, welcome to the family!”

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Is marriage becoming extinct?: Should it be saved?

Okay, we all know I have been married for four decades. It has been a good marriage, very few fights, we are almost always on the same page, or within the same chapter about most important issues from raising children to football team allegiance. As I look back on the years, however, I do what everyone does I suspect, wonder about “what if?” I am the co-planner of an annual research videoconference and next year I want the topic to be on unplanned pregnancies. This is obviously a problem in America. The latest data indicate that 1.7 million babies were born to unmarried women in 2007, a 26 percent rise from 1.4 million in 2002 and more than double the number in 1980. Unmarried women had 39.7 percent of all U.S. babies in 2007 , which is, again double the percentage in 1980. While in many cases the topic has been racialized, with black and Latino births being highlighted that is because the demographers, purposefully or simply as a matter of methodology, frequently deal in percentages rather than real numbers. In 2007, 106 per thousand births to Latinas were to undwed women, 72 per thousand births to black women were to unwed women, 32 per 1,000 births to white women were to unwed women and 26 per 1, 000 to Asian women were to the unwed.  Percentage wise the Latinas and blacks are leading, but considering 76 percent of the people in America identify as white one does not have to be a mathematical genius to determine that there are many more thousands of white babies born on what the British would call the wrong side of the blanket.

While doing some preliminary research on unwed motherhood, however, I encountered a different phenomenon. Much of the rise in the birth rates of children born to unwed mothers in the past decade has been not to teenage girls swept up on the waves of adolescent hormones but to women in their 20s and 30s who either chose not to marry or could not find a suitable mate and therefore decided not to postpone parenthood while they waited for Mr. Right. This puts an entirely new spin on the issue. Many of these women are not economically disadvantaged, or uneducated. As a matter of fact one author suggests that the very success of these women is why they are single parents, that they have been unable to meet men, particularly men of their own ethnic group in the case of the blacks and Latinas, that are in their same educational and economic category. The plunging rates of college going among minority males–actually among all males–would tend to lend at least some credence to this theory.

There are also, according to statisticians, a growing number of women who simply do not want to be married. In a study highlighted in Time magazine women were shown to be much fussier about who they would marry, being much less flexible than men in the race, religion, politics, etc. of their potential mate and much less likely to want children. In other words they wanted to maintain their independence. There is one school of thought that says women are beginning to enjoy their independence having only recently, in many cases, achieved it while men do not have to think about marriage as limiting independence since it historically has not done so for them. There is no doubt that a male with a baby on the way is much more independent and able to carry on his life as usual than a woman who is carrying the baby is. Even after the baby is born our cultural norms have changed some but not to the point where most people would consider the father, rather than the mother, the primary care giver.

So, all of this sent my convoluted mind down another track entirely. What is marriage good for?  Even more interesting who is it good for? Women? Men? Does race play a role? Does economic status? In a society where sexual norms have changed drastically in the past few decades what is the reason to marry? Surely it is not to have sex, I have not looked at the stats on pre-marital sex recently, but the last time I looked the idea of waiting until you are married to have sex seemed to have gone the way of the dinosaur. Even when I was a young woman back when the earth was still cooling standards had been relaxed a bit for the women and it was pretty much open season for the men.  Although Xenia was too much of a backwater to even get most trends like Free Love, we at least heard of it.

So, if you can have sex with pretty much anyone who is interested and stationary, or semi-stationary,  long enough to complete the act, perhaps the reasons to get married have been reduced to two, having two parents for the kiddies and economics. Combining of earnings, resources and assets still makes sense. Two could never live as cheaply as one, but two could certainly earn more money than one. And, having two parents to share the rigors of child rearing also makes great sense. What, however, if I am a young, well educated young woman with a very good job and a very good paycheck? Should I want a husband, a picket fence and a vine covered cottage, or should I want a condo,a Corvette a Cosmo and a nanny? After all, most women are not going to stay home and play mommy these days, they are going to work and raise their child in tandem with some variety of daycare provider.  The Sex in the City series was wildly popular with young women for a reason.

Does it boil down to finding the right partner? A dedicated, handsome,  intelligent,  considerate man who can fix things,likes kids,  dances well, makes a lot of money, is a considerate lover and likes the same things you like might trump your independence in many cases. But, does he exist? My friends know my theory about six men which I will not go into here!

Anyway dear reader join me in considering these questions, which you are welcome to answer in the comment section of course

1) Is marriage still a viable and desirable option in the 21st century? If so why?

2) Who is marriage better for, men or women?

3) What happens in our society if marriage is becoming extinct?

4) Is it worse to be alone or to wish you were?

5) Can a single woman raise a child as well as a couple?

6) Does the current data mean women are unable to find a mate that is appropriate or does it mean they do not want to be married?

Okay you have your assignments, pencils up! 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Goodbye Summer! Welcome Fall!

I am, as I usually am, out of the mainstream. Most people looooooove summer. Right now they are moaning and kvetching about  the end of summer, how awful it is. Nostalgic memories of summers past are being shared like gossip in a small town.

I like summer, but I loooove fall! Summer is hot, there are bugs, lots of bugs, bugs that you do not even know what they are, bugs you are familiar with: Flies, mosquitoes, cicadas, spiders, those big black water bug things.  If you go outside you are going to be confronted by something with six legs.  And it is too hot! Not being one with a sylph-like figure summer’s heat also brings issues. After all there is only so much you can take off in public and still be decent, even if you are slim and lithe, those of us who are not so constructed have even more barriers to comfort in the heat.

In cold weather you can put on layers, you can prepare for the weather by taking an extra wrap or sweater. In the summer you go out in a tee shirt and a pair of shorts–presuming your thighs are not too fat and you are not confined to capris–and what can you take off if you get hot? Hmmm?

If you are the male of the species no matter what you look like it is evidently okay to abandon your shirt, even if you have Donlap disease. But women are limited, even the members of the LBT club still have to wear something on the top!

For most of my adult life I did not work in the summer. I always felt odd when the other teachers at one point or professors at another point were rejoicing over the coming of summer.I did not find the prospect of summer comforting. It did not equate to leisure for me and I am not that fond of leisure anyway.  Summer meant finding something constructive to do and without the structure of the school year. It also meant that I was now in the role of housewife no matter what else I had planned for the summer. It meant keeping the garden looking good–weeding, planting, moving things around, putting in more stepping stones, hacking out the mint that had sounded like a good idea but turned out to be a monster, cooking decent meals—no excuse you are not working–it meant running the kids hither and yon until they got old enough to run themselves hither and yon, it meant all those projects I had postponed over the winter because I was working had to be done. Organizing those photos, painting the study, doing some research for an article or for class in the fall.

Oh, I pretended to fit in. I joined in end of school year parties, I crowed about my joy that the year was over, but it was all a farce. As I closed my classroom for the summer I was already looking forward to the fall. To my new classes, to the bite in the air, to the smell of burning leaves, to the first football game at XHS or CSU or UD or Ohio State or BGSU or Wittenberg, or any of the other dozen or so colleges, universities and high schools I had a connection to. I would delight in the sound of CSU’s band beginning to practice in August–their practice field is down the road from our house. I knew all the songs by the time the season started.

Then after the football season gets into good speed October comes with cider and weenie roasts and the biggie, Halloween! I love Halloween, always have. I have been known to show up on campuses ,high school and college in my favorite guise, adopted long before Harry Potter, a witch! Since I am addicted to education I always had an academic robe and a witch’s hat is easy to come by. My latest one has tiny black feathers all around the brim, kind of a witch with an attitude thing. Now , of course, I can dress up and say I am McGonagal from HP, although I hope I look younger and sexier than Maggie Smith.

Halloween is the perfect holiday, full moon, black cats, orange pumpkins, corn stalks, haunted houses, ghosts, and candy. Who could ask for anything more? What is Fourth of July? Noise and hot dogs, please!

After the fun of Halloween we get ready for the gluttony of Thanksgiving! The silver has to be polished, the good plates washed since they have not been out of the china cabinet since last Thanksgiving, the turkey roaster located, place cards made—my group always manages to find some new people to invite, seating logistics thought out, who does not want to sit next to whom, and the men all want to sit on the side of the table that faces the living room so they do not have to miss any football. Roast turkey, oyster dressing and sage dressing, and sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes and green beans and greens and rolls and cranberry sauce –two kinds jellied and whole and pecan pie and mince pie and pumpkin pie all with real–that means you whip it–whipped cream. What can a summer picnic have to compare?

And then the biggest of all, Christmas!! Buying gifts, wrapping gifts, hanging stockings, putting greenery and lights on anything that stands still. Artificial tree in the living room, real tree in the dining room, kids, grandkids, friends, egg nog, Christmas cookies, rum cake, ham, Christmas Eve party, Christmas carols, everyone in a good mood!

Miss summer? Not a bit! Now when Christmas is over I do get blue, we are entering the dead time. No parties after the New Year’s Day for months usually, dark, cold, boring.

But, spring will come and Easter and my birthday and it will not be too bad. But I will still be watching that calendar. The fun  beach house week in August is the preview and then the magic of Fall!!

Happy pre-Autumn to all!

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Ethics and courage: Partners but not necessarily exclusive!

I recently have had a situation occur that has tried both my ethical beliefs and my courage. It is still on-going, so I do not know yet what is going to happen or how the story ends.

A person I know has done something egregiously wrong. They have denigrated and attempted to humiliate two young women who they have power over. When the offended parties complained to others further up the food chain their complaint was ignored. The young women then came to me for advice, which I gave and they followed. It resulted in a half-hearted and obviously insincere apology. The young women, tired of the stress involved decided to drop the issue, although they were far from satisfied.

Recently, due to circumstances whose origins are still cloudy i.e. the threat of publicity, the situation has resurfaced and further investigation of the incident has been conducted. It is still uncertain whether or not the accused party–the offender–is going to be found guilty and punished or if the event is going to be whitewashed.

This is not the first time I have confronted the dilemma of knowing something is wrong, but knowing if you speak out against it that it may well cost you. I have always considered myself to be a person who will speak up for the wronged no matter what, however, I have never gotten to the point where the person doing wrong seemed to be getting away with it without any consequences.

Adding to the issue is the fact that the person who was reportedly abusive is black, as is one of those who complained.  Adding even more  she is someone I neither respect nor like, which complicates matters more. There have already been several local issues in the newspaper about black educators and coaches and their lack of ethics or their failure to do the right thing. Is it appropriate to want yet another black person to be publicly taken to task? Is my personal animus going to cloud my judgment, impact my decision? Should it?

I do not know, but it certainly seems unfair if what she is accused of doing was actually done. I have very good reasons to believe that she is, indeed, guilty, having been told so both by the young women and another trusted person who was present.

What kind of lesson are we teaching our young people if such things go unpunished? If it is not your ethics and professionalism we judge you on but whether or not we like you?  If there is, indeed, some punishment due to fear the incident will become public  rather than the nature of the offense itself what kind of lesson does that send? You can be abusive and go unpunished unless the public finds out about it?

The final dilemma is that I have the power to make things public, to raise quite a ruckus, but it would be at some personal and professional risk. I will hold out for a week or so to see if the right thing is done by those who should do it. Then the tough decision will have to be made. Stay tuned, and in the interim ask yourself ” What would I do?”

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Uncategorized