It's International Blog Against Racism Week--how quickly that rolled around again! And how timely it is, too.

I have probably said enough about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., here. Everyone knows that President Obama said that that the police acted "stupidly," and he has retracted that adverb at least twice. This morning on Morning Edition, Steve Inskeep and Juan Williams discussed the issue (you can hear it here), and tomorrow's plan for Obama, Crowley, and Gates to get together over some beer. Williams refers to Obama having "slipped in such a way as to betray some kind of loyalty on racial terms" and says "slipped" more than once. (Inskeep is white, Williams black.) Meanwhile, a lot of people seem to be going much farther and calling Obama a racist.

My thoughts )
Tags:
It's International Blog Against Racism Week--how quickly that rolled around again! And how timely it is, too.

I have probably said enough about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., here. Everyone knows that President Obama said that that the police acted "stupidly," and he has retracted that adverb at least twice. This morning on Morning Edition, Steve Inskeep and Juan Williams discussed the issue (you can hear it here), and tomorrow's plan for Obama, Crowley, and Gates to get together over some beer. Williams refers to Obama having "slipped in such a way as to betray some kind of loyalty on racial terms" and says "slipped" more than once. (Inskeep is white, Williams black.) Meanwhile, a lot of people seem to be going much farther and calling Obama a racist.

My thoughts )
Tags:
aelfgyfu_mead: Aelfgyfu as a South Park-style cartoon (Aelfgyfu in the Liber Vitae)
( Jul. 23rd, 2009 05:04 pm)
Not news about moi for a change, but the kind that shows up in newspapers.

I normally try to avoid the political, but I have seen so many comments about Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. that make me sick, that I do want to say something. I work for a university. I once broke into my own house--or, rather, sent my daughter to break in. I'd locked the key inside (long story, not worth telling), and brilliantly got then Very Small Child to crawl through the cat door, run to the front, and let us in.

No one called the police on me. If anyone had, I'd have shown the police my ID, especially if they came while I was still outside my house. I cannot imagine the police then calling the police at my university to verify that my faculty ID was valid. If the police had done the unimaginable and not taken my ID but called the university, I'd have probably said some highly uncomplimentary things myself. I didn't realize that you could be arrested for insulting a cop. You can, but officials will likely drop the charges. I think Slate spells it out pretty well here:
Once Dr. Gates was inside his house, he was under no obligation to come out or to show his identification. He did. I do believe he expected common courtesy in return, not further doubting of his identity.
They can charge him for disorderly, but that's not really how the law has been interpreted by courts. They have every good reason to drop the charges.The rant continues, though not for much longer )

Now that you're already depressed or annoyed, I thought I'd pass on this new-to-me news: Amazon can silently delete books from your Kindle. A medievalist's nightmare )
Tags:
aelfgyfu_mead: Aelfgyfu as a South Park-style cartoon (Aelfgyfu in the Liber Vitae)
( Jul. 23rd, 2009 05:04 pm)
Not news about moi for a change, but the kind that shows up in newspapers.

I normally try to avoid the political, but I have seen so many comments about Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. that make me sick, that I do want to say something. I work for a university. I once broke into my own house--or, rather, sent my daughter to break in. I'd locked the key inside (long story, not worth telling), and brilliantly got then Very Small Child to crawl through the cat door, run to the front, and let us in.

No one called the police on me. If anyone had, I'd have shown the police my ID, especially if they came while I was still outside my house. I cannot imagine the police then calling the police at my university to verify that my faculty ID was valid. If the police had done the unimaginable and not taken my ID but called the university, I'd have probably said some highly uncomplimentary things myself. I didn't realize that you could be arrested for insulting a cop. You can, but officials will likely drop the charges. I think Slate spells it out pretty well here:
Once Dr. Gates was inside his house, he was under no obligation to come out or to show his identification. He did. I do believe he expected common courtesy in return, not further doubting of his identity.
They can charge him for disorderly, but that's not really how the law has been interpreted by courts. They have every good reason to drop the charges.The rant continues, though not for much longer )

Now that you're already depressed or annoyed, I thought I'd pass on this new-to-me news: Amazon can silently delete books from your Kindle. A medievalist's nightmare )
Tags:
aelfgyfu_mead: Aelfgyfu as a South Park-style cartoon (Default)
( Mar. 23rd, 2009 08:13 pm)
Just a few interesting links I've picked up over the last few days, on varied topics:

This little Freakonomics entry gives you a free link to a Chronicle of Higher Education article about the international paper mill trade. I'd have given you a direct link, but I couldn't give you a free one, and I'm guessing most of my readers don't have subscriptions to the CHE. (We have an institutional one.) The article is fascinating, and kind of horrifying, but also rather funny, in a painful way.

I have cut back my reading on RaceFail '09, but I was glad I read [livejournal.com profile] kynn's entry here. I do believe that parody can be powerful; on that note, food and drink warning applies to the entry.

And now for something completely different: my brother sent me a link to a bit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail as a Lego movie. Go watch.
aelfgyfu_mead: Aelfgyfu as a South Park-style cartoon (Default)
( Mar. 23rd, 2009 08:13 pm)
Just a few interesting links I've picked up over the last few days, on varied topics:

This little Freakonomics entry gives you a free link to a Chronicle of Higher Education article about the international paper mill trade. I'd have given you a direct link, but I couldn't give you a free one, and I'm guessing most of my readers don't have subscriptions to the CHE. (We have an institutional one.) The article is fascinating, and kind of horrifying, but also rather funny, in a painful way.

I have cut back my reading on RaceFail '09, but I was glad I read [livejournal.com profile] kynn's entry here. I do believe that parody can be powerful; on that note, food and drink warning applies to the entry.

And now for something completely different: my brother sent me a link to a bit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail as a Lego movie. Go watch.
If you haven't been following RaceFail '09, or you thought it was safe to go into the Internet again...it's not over. See the posts [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong has been making with key links; she also has an entry here designed to catch people up by recapping some key links and major issues.

I've made a couple of posts, and I keep thinking that's it: people who are much more eloquent on the topic than I have been posting, and people who are much more knowledgeable, and I'll let them handle it.

The last few days, though, I've seen people saying, "That's it--I've had it with SF and SF fandom." They've had it because they don't see many [fans* see below] standing up to the ones doing truly offensive things. There are people who combine white privilege, educational privilege, and professional privilege--and take all those advantages and use their powers for ill on the Internet. They get paid to write or edit, so I've been thinking they must consider their time on the Internet part of their jobs; they seem to have way more time to post than most of us do, and yet they spend it so very badly. I don't want my silence to look like assent )
Tags:
If you haven't been following RaceFail '09, or you thought it was safe to go into the Internet again...it's not over. See the posts [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong has been making with key links; she also has an entry here designed to catch people up by recapping some key links and major issues.

I've made a couple of posts, and I keep thinking that's it: people who are much more eloquent on the topic than I have been posting, and people who are much more knowledgeable, and I'll let them handle it.

The last few days, though, I've seen people saying, "That's it--I've had it with SF and SF fandom." They've had it because they don't see many [fans* see below] standing up to the ones doing truly offensive things. There are people who combine white privilege, educational privilege, and professional privilege--and take all those advantages and use their powers for ill on the Internet. They get paid to write or edit, so I've been thinking they must consider their time on the Internet part of their jobs; they seem to have way more time to post than most of us do, and yet they spend it so very badly. I don't want my silence to look like assent )
Tags:
First, something a little tangential but related through RaceFail '09: I've been thinking a lot about when one has a responsibility to speak up and when it's just no use to reply to someone saying horrible things. I've also been thinking about the "I can say what I want" defense, "it's just words," and "if you don't like it, don't read it". I found essay online. It's in an academic context, about teaching ethics to students, but it deals with questions of who should intervene and under what circumstances, and why words have real force and can be aggression:
James Porter, "The Exercise of Critical Rhetorical Ethics". This is on Google Books; I've never tried posting a link to a chapter there before, so I can't promise it will work.

Today Brilliant Husband got a book in the mail addressed to "Resident," which was already odd. It's called The Enemy Unmasked. Guess who the enemy is? The Catholic Church! And so soon after I'd said that real discrimination against Catholics had all but died out! It's kind of funny, really--until Chapter 2, "The Illuminati-Jewish Front." That is so not funny.

I'm posting partly to see if anyone else on my flist has received one. I also want to say a little bit about this outrageous book and how I was wrong to think anti-Catholicism nearly dead. (I knew anti-Semitism wasn't.) More about the book, and how old slanders die hard, if they die at all )

If you get the book, please let me know--yes, I suppose it's just vulgar curiosity. If you hear people repeating stuff from it and want some facts to reply, please let me know that too, and I'll see what I can do.
Tags:
First, something a little tangential but related through RaceFail '09: I've been thinking a lot about when one has a responsibility to speak up and when it's just no use to reply to someone saying horrible things. I've also been thinking about the "I can say what I want" defense, "it's just words," and "if you don't like it, don't read it". I found essay online. It's in an academic context, about teaching ethics to students, but it deals with questions of who should intervene and under what circumstances, and why words have real force and can be aggression:
James Porter, "The Exercise of Critical Rhetorical Ethics". This is on Google Books; I've never tried posting a link to a chapter there before, so I can't promise it will work.

Today Brilliant Husband got a book in the mail addressed to "Resident," which was already odd. It's called The Enemy Unmasked. Guess who the enemy is? The Catholic Church! And so soon after I'd said that real discrimination against Catholics had all but died out! It's kind of funny, really--until Chapter 2, "The Illuminati-Jewish Front." That is so not funny.

I'm posting partly to see if anyone else on my flist has received one. I also want to say a little bit about this outrageous book and how I was wrong to think anti-Catholicism nearly dead. (I knew anti-Semitism wasn't.) More about the book, and how old slanders die hard, if they die at all )

If you get the book, please let me know--yes, I suppose it's just vulgar curiosity. If you hear people repeating stuff from it and want some facts to reply, please let me know that too, and I'll see what I can do.
Tags:
I've been following [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong's links to the current uproar over racism and cultural appropriation with interest and a great deal of apprehension. I haven't read anywhere near all the posts she has linked to, and I've ignored most of the replies on a lot of these items.

I've realized something about things I say and how they may be heard that, well, embarrasses me, but it's better to know than not to know. This may all be navel-gazing; take it for what it's worth, and if it helps someone else, great. If it only helps me, well, please don't laugh at me too much. Maybe becoming a little less clueless, under the cut )
Tags:
I've been following [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong's links to the current uproar over racism and cultural appropriation with interest and a great deal of apprehension. I haven't read anywhere near all the posts she has linked to, and I've ignored most of the replies on a lot of these items.

I've realized something about things I say and how they may be heard that, well, embarrasses me, but it's better to know than not to know. This may all be navel-gazing; take it for what it's worth, and if it helps someone else, great. If it only helps me, well, please don't laugh at me too much. Maybe becoming a little less clueless, under the cut )
Tags:
I know some of you have been following the discussion of race, writing and othering, and privilege, probably more closely than I have. For those who might have missed it:

I've been reading some of the links from [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong's many recent lists; I won't give links to each post because a) it would take a while and b) it might be out of date by the time I post. Rydra has been amazing in linking to so many good and important discussions. Some of my other friends have also done good posts and replies to other people. If you only read one thing, I think this post by [livejournal.com profile] ciderpress gives a good summary of some of the outstanding issues--and outstanding hurts. A lot of harm has been done. If you have more time, the LiveJournals of [livejournal.com profile] shewhohashope and [livejournal.com profile] deepad and the blog Seeking Avalon have been especially well-written--and they have persevered despite some horrifying abuse.

I've mostly not said anything, or I've just thanked people for posting. I have only given substantive comments on two posts, I think, where I hoped I could help more than I hurt. I have learned some things. I'm not going to list them, because I don't think they're reducible to a list, and, as I've been reminded repeatedly, this really isn't about me.

I do have a few things to say, though:
• I've seen accusations that the People of Color who started talking about cultural appropriation and misrepresentation are racist. Some of the posters have been blunter and angrier than others, but honestly, none of the racism I've seen has come from the posters I've listed or the People of Color on Rydra's list that I've read. I wasn't silly enough to think racism was anywhere near dead, but I apparently was pretty silly to think that fen were more open-minded than other people. Many are, but some aren't, and fen can be as hateful as anybody.
• I'm an academic myself. Academic credentials and discourse should not be wielded as a weapon, and if I ever do it myself, someone please point it out to me (gently would be nice). I'm disappointed and embarrassed to see a kind of discourse that should be used to expose and dismantle prejudice and foster understanding instead used to reassert privilege.
• A lot more listening is needed. That's part why I haven't posted before, but I worry that after a point, silence does look a lot like assent. My silence hasn't been assent to hurtful things that have been said; it has been a desire not to throw fuel on a fire, an uncertainty about the best response to people I don't know, and more than a little cowardice. I still mean to do a lot more listening than I do writing, and I'm listening in Real Life as well as LiveJournal.
• Apparently there really are people who think the inauguration of President Obama means the end of racism. No, clearly not. Would that it were true! May I live to see it! (That's a prayer, not an expectation.)

I'm a teacher, so I tend to repeat myself. My points here are really simple:
Read some of the thoughtful posts; maybe give some support to the people who have really put themselves on the line and been attacked for saying what they've experienced and giving perspectives on books and fanfic. I'm not endorsing everything by the posters I mention or to whom Rydra links; I do think that many of these posts deserve thoughtful consideration.
Please don't respond in anger or from defensiveness. In fact, if in doubt, don't respond--I've had trouble with this in the past myself. The last few days, I've seen people make complete idiots of themselves with too quick a response. A few have apologized; I respect that. Some just dig deeper, and maybe I can learn from their mistakes without making them myself.

I'll make some mistakes, though: hence the title of this post. I wish I could remember who said it; I'm not sure if I should be crediting one individual, or if it has become a more widespread saying. If I should credit someone, please let me know whom.
I know some of you have been following the discussion of race, writing and othering, and privilege, probably more closely than I have. For those who might have missed it:

I've been reading some of the links from [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong's many recent lists; I won't give links to each post because a) it would take a while and b) it might be out of date by the time I post. Rydra has been amazing in linking to so many good and important discussions. Some of my other friends have also done good posts and replies to other people. If you only read one thing, I think this post by [livejournal.com profile] ciderpress gives a good summary of some of the outstanding issues--and outstanding hurts. A lot of harm has been done. If you have more time, the LiveJournals of [livejournal.com profile] shewhohashope and [livejournal.com profile] deepad and the blog Seeking Avalon have been especially well-written--and they have persevered despite some horrifying abuse.

I've mostly not said anything, or I've just thanked people for posting. I have only given substantive comments on two posts, I think, where I hoped I could help more than I hurt. I have learned some things. I'm not going to list them, because I don't think they're reducible to a list, and, as I've been reminded repeatedly, this really isn't about me.

I do have a few things to say, though:
• I've seen accusations that the People of Color who started talking about cultural appropriation and misrepresentation are racist. Some of the posters have been blunter and angrier than others, but honestly, none of the racism I've seen has come from the posters I've listed or the People of Color on Rydra's list that I've read. I wasn't silly enough to think racism was anywhere near dead, but I apparently was pretty silly to think that fen were more open-minded than other people. Many are, but some aren't, and fen can be as hateful as anybody.
• I'm an academic myself. Academic credentials and discourse should not be wielded as a weapon, and if I ever do it myself, someone please point it out to me (gently would be nice). I'm disappointed and embarrassed to see a kind of discourse that should be used to expose and dismantle prejudice and foster understanding instead used to reassert privilege.
• A lot more listening is needed. That's part why I haven't posted before, but I worry that after a point, silence does look a lot like assent. My silence hasn't been assent to hurtful things that have been said; it has been a desire not to throw fuel on a fire, an uncertainty about the best response to people I don't know, and more than a little cowardice. I still mean to do a lot more listening than I do writing, and I'm listening in Real Life as well as LiveJournal.
• Apparently there really are people who think the inauguration of President Obama means the end of racism. No, clearly not. Would that it were true! May I live to see it! (That's a prayer, not an expectation.)

I'm a teacher, so I tend to repeat myself. My points here are really simple:
Read some of the thoughtful posts; maybe give some support to the people who have really put themselves on the line and been attacked for saying what they've experienced and giving perspectives on books and fanfic. I'm not endorsing everything by the posters I mention or to whom Rydra links; I do think that many of these posts deserve thoughtful consideration.
Please don't respond in anger or from defensiveness. In fact, if in doubt, don't respond--I've had trouble with this in the past myself. The last few days, I've seen people make complete idiots of themselves with too quick a response. A few have apologized; I respect that. Some just dig deeper, and maybe I can learn from their mistakes without making them myself.

I'll make some mistakes, though: hence the title of this post. I wish I could remember who said it; I'm not sure if I should be crediting one individual, or if it has become a more widespread saying. If I should credit someone, please let me know whom.
Actually, I'm not providing all the links. The wonderful [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong is: here, here, and here. If you're at all concerned about how race, sex, orientation, and other key elements of identity play out in writing or in tv, you might want to read some of the posts. [livejournal.com profile] friendshipper is among the posters.

Do be warned: these are hard discussions. It's not rag on Mallozzi or anything entertaining like that (despite the fact that Teyla came instantly to mind when it was time to pick an icon for this post; it's about how we as readers and writers of fic, including Elizabeth Bear, a professional writer, treat characters who aren't like us. It's also about how some posters have reacted to those depictions--and how and why they sometimes hurt. As [livejournal.com profile] deepad notes in her second post, some of these writers are not addressing white writers trying to figure out what to do, but people who have suffered from racism and sexism.

I don't agree with everything any one poster says, except maybe [livejournal.com profile] friendshipper. I'm not prepared to critique these posts myself, though; emotions are running high, and I think I'm going to just read and think, and then think some more.
Actually, I'm not providing all the links. The wonderful [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong is: here, here, and here. If you're at all concerned about how race, sex, orientation, and other key elements of identity play out in writing or in tv, you might want to read some of the posts. [livejournal.com profile] friendshipper is among the posters.

Do be warned: these are hard discussions. It's not rag on Mallozzi or anything entertaining like that (despite the fact that Teyla came instantly to mind when it was time to pick an icon for this post; it's about how we as readers and writers of fic, including Elizabeth Bear, a professional writer, treat characters who aren't like us. It's also about how some posters have reacted to those depictions--and how and why they sometimes hurt. As [livejournal.com profile] deepad notes in her second post, some of these writers are not addressing white writers trying to figure out what to do, but people who have suffered from racism and sexism.

I don't agree with everything any one poster says, except maybe [livejournal.com profile] friendshipper. I'm not prepared to critique these posts myself, though; emotions are running high, and I think I'm going to just read and think, and then think some more.
aelfgyfu_mead: (sketch)
( Aug. 8th, 2008 06:40 pm)
I wasn't really planning to do an entry for International Blog Against Racism Week (see the community here for more info, and thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong for the link) because, well, I don't have anything profound to say. I don't even really have an appropriate icon.

The one thing I might mention just in passing is that when I toured a BAPS--Hindu--temple last week, someone in the group asked about why women wore veils or sometimes full-length robes, and it was quite evident that they were thinking of Muslims, as the tour guide realized. I was astounded that someone could be so confused--and yet everyone there had come to see the mandir and to hear the tour, so they wanted to learn. Our guide gently corrected the questioner. What of the people who don't know and never ask?

Then I read The Yiddish Policemen's Union and thought, "Wait--I do have something to say!" What I have to say is quite simple: read this book. (Of course, I'm never one to stop at simple.) The novel made me think in new ways about anti-Semitism, and more generally about treatments of race and religion in fiction. I was well into the book when it occurred to me I couldn't remember the last time I'd read any books or stories, or seen any tv or movies, that included practicing Jews. No doubt I've missed some treatments; my grasp of popular culture is very hit-and-miss. I do know that when I saw complaints about minority characters dying on Heroes, I thought, "Wait: Isaac Mendez was Jewish? D'oh--of course he was. It's a Jewish name, isn't it?" And yet we didn't get to see a whole heck of a lot of Isaac, and I have little idea of Isaac's background and none of his beliefs. I don't know if that's my fault or the show's. Trying to think of other Jewish characters on my shows, I thought of Robert Rothman, and the actor who played him joking that the character couldn't survive because we never do get Jews in Space.

More about the book, a little of my thoughts, and no real spoilers for the novel )
Tags:
aelfgyfu_mead: (sketch)
( Aug. 8th, 2008 06:40 pm)
I wasn't really planning to do an entry for International Blog Against Racism Week (see the community here for more info, and thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong for the link) because, well, I don't have anything profound to say. I don't even really have an appropriate icon.

The one thing I might mention just in passing is that when I toured a BAPS--Hindu--temple last week, someone in the group asked about why women wore veils or sometimes full-length robes, and it was quite evident that they were thinking of Muslims, as the tour guide realized. I was astounded that someone could be so confused--and yet everyone there had come to see the mandir and to hear the tour, so they wanted to learn. Our guide gently corrected the questioner. What of the people who don't know and never ask?

Then I read The Yiddish Policemen's Union and thought, "Wait--I do have something to say!" What I have to say is quite simple: read this book. (Of course, I'm never one to stop at simple.) The novel made me think in new ways about anti-Semitism, and more generally about treatments of race and religion in fiction. I was well into the book when it occurred to me I couldn't remember the last time I'd read any books or stories, or seen any tv or movies, that included practicing Jews. No doubt I've missed some treatments; my grasp of popular culture is very hit-and-miss. I do know that when I saw complaints about minority characters dying on Heroes, I thought, "Wait: Isaac Mendez was Jewish? D'oh--of course he was. It's a Jewish name, isn't it?" And yet we didn't get to see a whole heck of a lot of Isaac, and I have little idea of Isaac's background and none of his beliefs. I don't know if that's my fault or the show's. Trying to think of other Jewish characters on my shows, I thought of Robert Rothman, and the actor who played him joking that the character couldn't survive because we never do get Jews in Space.

More about the book, a little of my thoughts, and no real spoilers for the novel )
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