Monthly Archives: May 2017

My most common thank-you letter

Graduate: Thank you so much for helping me get this job!

Z: I did not help you! I wrote no letter of recommendation, called no contacts, and gave no help writing the cover letter!

Graduate: But you helped so much!

Z: Well, how did I help?

Graduate: When I asked whether you thought I were qualified for it, and whether you thought I would be capable of moving to the town in question and living there, you said yes. Nobody else did, and without your matter-of-fact yes, I would not have dared apply!

Z (aside): Gosh, people are negative!



Filed under Banes, Working

Encore des articles

I told you I should have been a conservationist. I kept saying, this is urgent, and you think I should study the history of western civilization and piano playing so I can become a genteel wife?

Russia as a moderate fascist state.

Actual diversity work. And more diversity work.

Betsy de Vos calls discrimination and segregation “school choice.”

Rachel Dolezal and race in Brazil.


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Filed under ALFS presentation, Banes, Movement, News

La liste pour les voyages

For my first voyage, I still need three AMTRAK tickets.

For my second voyage I have multiple reservations in Belgium: one in Tournai which must be cancelled, one in Antwerp which must be cancelled, and one in Antwerp which much be shortened.

For my third voyage, I need places to stay on the return voyage, I think. Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Flagstaff, Tucumcari, Austin, home. I would love to really explore each place, mais cést déjà tellement.


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Some of the ways in which my mother was a good mother

I am in the stage of recognizing that she was not, due to the emotional abuse and its profundity, but here is something really good.

My mother came from a relatively racist, classist, and anti-Semitic background and rather than propagate that or deny it, she fought against those sentiments and learned to shed them. This meant there were many burdens we did not have to carry ourselves. In addition, she provided us with an excellent role model as she worked to evolve.

I could say a great deal about what led me to think about this, and I realize that like so many perceptions I have, it could lead to a good article or memoir.



Filed under Banes, News

That languishing article

It is hard to write. One of the reasons for this is the number of directions in which it leads. Something I notice in real life, that people do not realize, is in fact how the neo-liberalization works. So we accept “bringing money into the university” as a good thing, without realizing what sponsored research really does to budgets.

That is why I should be talking about the neoliberalism itself, as well as the rhetoric that functions to cover it.



Filed under ALFS presentation

La douleur, ou bien, a gender trap

I wake up feeling I have thrown my life away. I did it when I moved here. I regret it, and I am only waiting to die now. There are forty years left, if I can work long enough to have savings for my old age. If there is not enough to eat, I will take morphine and go.

Where does the pain come from, I keep asking, and I don’t like coming into contact with its source:

We don’t like you, we don’t love you, we don’t believe in you, your only chance of survival is to become a person we would like better and thus, perhaps, earn a measure of protection–which you will need, as you are incompetent and as we say, unlikable as well.

The rejection and the feeling of being thrown overboard.

I did not do the things I would have liked — environmental studies, economics, plastic arts, law, Arabic — because they were not the things corresponding to the person I should be and would not redeem me. What I sought was redemption.

It was all about not being the right kind of girl. My struggles around this led to obedience and imitation in school, not trusting in my own originality which is extreme (and I really should remember that).

Administration is the housework of academia and I am saddled with a great deal of it, and disliked because of this. It is in my power to say no to it, although when I have done this in the past, the results of not doing it have been yet more harmful to me personally than the results of doing it.

I wonder, though, whether saying no a second time is worth a try.


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The paragraphs in question

Era su tipo el de las vírgenes de los más célebres pintores. Porque a una frente alta, coronada de cabellos negros y copiosos, naturalmente ondeados, unía facciones muy regulares, nariz recta que arrancaba desde el entrecejo, y por quedarse algo corta alzaba un si es no es el labio superior, como para dejar ver dos sartas de dientes menudos y blancos. Sus cejas describían un arco y daban mayor sombra a los ojos negros y rasgados, los cuales eran todo movilidad y fuego. La boca tenía chica y los labios llenos, indicando más voluptuosidad que firmeza de carácter. Las mejillas llenas y redondas y un hoyuelo en medio de la barba, formaban un conjunto bello, que para ser perfecto sólo faltaba que la expresión fuese menos maliciosa, si no maligna.

De cuerpo era más bien delgada que gruesa, para su edad antes baja que crecida, y el torso, visto de espaldas, angosto en el cuello y ancho hacia los hombros, formaba armonía encantadora, aun bajo sus humildes ropas, con el estrecho y flexible talle, que no hay medio de compararle sino con la base de una copa. La complexión podía pasar por saludable, la encarnación viva, hablando en el sentido en que los pintores toman esta palabra, aunque a poco que se fijaba la atención, se advertía en el color del rostro, que sin dejar de ser sanguíneo había demasiado ocre en su composición, y no resultaba diáfano ni libre. ¿A qué raza, pues, pertenecía esta muchacha? Difícil es decirlo. Sin embargo, a un ojo conocedor no podía esconderse que sus labios rojos tenían un borde o filete oscuro, y que la iluminación del rostro terminaba en una especie de penumbra hacia el nacimiento del cabello. Su sangre no era pura y bien podía asegurarse que allá en la tercera o cuarta generación estaba mezclada con la etíope.

Is she an angel or a devil? The bolded words indicate that my use of the word “discerning” for “conocedor” is in fact warranted.


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Filed under News, Questions, Race book

WPA slave narratives

They are fascinating and addictive. The best so far is of Abraham Jones, who was born in 1825 and was therefore 112 when interviewed in 1937. He seemed half his age, it was said. He remembered the 1833 meteor shower, when “stars fell on Alabama.” There is also an interesting story of one Louis, who is from Guiné and who has a great deal of knowledge of, and identification with the forest, animals and plants.

What is salient is that these interviews took place in the 1930s, when food was scarce. There is noticeable nostalgia for the food available in the nineteenth century, especially on holidays. It is also the Jim Crow era and there is noticeable nostalgia for the protection of the upper class white people, as well as identification with them — and explicit non-identification with the poorer whites.


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There might be a problem with my title

This title uses, in English, my modified translation of a phrase from a 19th century text. That phrase is “un ojo conocedor” and my title is “That Discerning Eye: …”.

I discovered by chance (well, by reading U.S. slave narratives) that slaves and, I assume others, referred to the “discerning eye” as one that could see spirits. So this is the discerning eye in 19th century folk belief.

I further discovered that “that discerning eye” is a reference to the eye of God in 1 and 2 Corinthians. Also, in the Spanish Bible, people who know God, and distinguish between good and evil, “conocen.”

The ojo conocedor in the original text has a sense of discernment (making fine distinctions among races and colors), knowledge (racial knowledge), connoisseurship (amateur expertise in fine women).

I do not know that the author, Cirilo Villaverde, is referring to the discernment of spirits (although the idea of Cecilia Valdés as an evil spirit is interesting and fits with his attitude toward her). I am assuming, though, that he does know the Bible: God has an ojo conocedor, and those who know Him lo conocen. The Gnostics were also “conocedores.”

So: does all of this enrich my title and my discussion, or does it just mean I have inadvertently chosen a title whose meaning in English (from spiritualism African American folk belief) I did not know and cannot really tie to my argument?

I think the latter. In fact, the introduction to the book could be, or could begin with this discussion of the title. What do you think?


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Filed under Bibliography, Questions, Race book, What Is A Scholar?, Working

On defenses of the Confederacy and Jim Crow

I did not know, and do not want to know, and my father was always kind to his workers, who did not need to unionize.

This kind of statement, especially from an adult in this day and age, is not a sweet excuse but actually a refusal to look at reality and to change it.

It really means:

I do not care about what happened or is happening, I only care about feeling innocent and virtuous as an individual.

ADDENDUM: I should write about my mother in relation to this. One of the ways in which she was a good mother was that she did not try to teach this, but tried to teach against it despite having been taught a great deal of this herself.


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Filed under Da Whiteman, News