Category Archives: racism

April 29, 2015, 10:53 am

Teaching Baltimore, Teaching the History of American Violence


Baltimore burning in 1968. Photo credit.

During this year of police violence, and organizing against police violence, I have avoided blogging about the many issues raised by Ferguson, Staten Island and Baltimore. I am ambivalent about this decision, because it isn’t as though I do not have a lot to say, and that saying it in this space is not important. Many of these protests occurred in my own city: my students and I marched, and we talked. Urban uprisings have been the most consistent theme of the academic year.

Yet I have been overwhelmed by these events. More importantly, I have also been troubled by the role social media has played in the dynamics of these uprisings, and by the extent to which some academics posture as virtual, semi-professional, urban revolutionaries when they talk to the Internet. Without…

Read More

December 7, 2014, 11:13 am

Is The New Republic Dead? Who Cares?


What do you mean A DIGITAL MEDIA COMPANY????

I won’t even begin to try to recapture the traffic on Facebook about the recent implosion of The New Republic (mostly because I don’t have time to ask my friends if I can quote them) but several things surprised me about this event.

First, many people who have resigned from TNR in the past week are friends of mine. Second, they were all men, and all white. Yes, this honkin’ radical lesbian has a lot of #whitemalefriends, and some of them wrote for TNR. Surprise!  None of my friends who resigned from this 100-year-old publication were gay, people of color or women: they never wrote for, or worked at, TNR in the first place.

I was unaware of all these things since I haven’t had a subscription to TNR since college (and yes, contra one of my friends, I do…

Read More

October 31, 2013, 3:27 pm

Happy Halloween, B!tchz (And Other Tales From The Crypt)

Wagging-Finger-2The rollup to Halloween this year has been full of warnings about what not to do, primarily:

Don’t wear blackface.

Let me rephrase this for you in case that was too abstract and college professor-y:

Don’t. Wear. Blackface. Ever.

Now, here’s the advanced class. Having abandoned your Trayvon Martin outfit, when you are considering your new costume and party theme options, ask yourself: is this like blackface — but Asian? Mexican? Native American? Then proceed to the advanced class and ask yourself:

Does my costume or party invitation say: women are sluts? If so, adjust to preclude sending this message too.

Somehow Theta Xi Fraternity at the University of Michigan did not get the memo that just because some hip-hop stars tell stories about gang life, and call each other niggah, and talk about how much they hate women, doesn’t make any of these things ok. Nor does the…

Read More

May 6, 2013, 10:26 am

Where Are the Women At The New York Review of Books?

nyrb052313_png_230x1292_q85One of the paradoxes of being a female intellectual in my generation is that we grew up dreaming about being part of a literary and academic establishment that did not include people like us. This is, of course, doubly true for lesbians and women of color. My life history is informed by what is, and what used to be: sometimes the two collide. These collisions usually occur when I revisit the literary institutions that have shaped my aspirations and career since the 1960s.

My perspective on publishing is a comparatively long one. I have been a continuous subscriber to publications like The NationThe New Yorker and  The New York Review of Books since I was a teenager. When, as a young person, I imagined myself a writer, I imagined myself writing for those publications despite the fact that they were almost entirely written by men. Since feminism was only beginning to make an…

Read More

March 21, 2013, 12:32 pm

Stop and Frisk: Report on Floyd v. City of New York

stop_frisk_061712-thumb-640xauto-6263Tenured Radical is currently out of the country.  Today we turn this space over to Rachel Jane Liebert, a Ph.D. candidate in critical social/personality psychology at the Graduate Center, and member of CUNY’s Public Science Project. Below, Liebert  is reports on day 2 of  Floyd v. City of New York (notes from day 1 are here.) This trial that may determine whether the New York City police department can continue its policy of stopping and frisking young men without probably cause. 

After the crowds of yesterday, I arrived at the courtroom embarrassingly early this morning and spent an hour or so smitten with the view out of the fifteenth floor windows of 500 Pearl Street. Wearing a hat of mist, the scattered snow-scene of downtown Manhattan was beautiful and meditative. It seemed twisted that I could find peace in the phallus of a system that pours people into cages. Perhaps…

Read More

August 30, 2012, 5:11 pm

We Built It: But Who Are “We,” White Man?

In case you have forgotten that marriage is only between a man and a woman, Laura Bowman accepts Bradley Thompson’s proposal on the GOP convention stage. Photo credit.

Remember that old joke where the Lone Ranger and his Indian scout Tonto are surrounded by unfriendly Native Americans? The Ranger says, “Look’s like we’re in trouble,” and Tonto replies: “Whaddaya mean ‘we,’ white man?”

Well, the next time Republican strategists hold a meeting about the gender gap, or any other gap for that matter, they might want to consider reducing the frat party atmosphere of their national convention. I bet that even if you aren’t a Democrat it becomes tiresome to watch a bunch of white people hooting, hollering and jeering as if they were at a football game every time one of their speakers tells a bad and mean-spirited joke …

Read More

February 11, 2012, 2:27 pm

On the Satisfactions of Editing a Book Series

Lately my Facebook friends are very aware that I have become a co-editor (with Renee Romano of Oberlin College) of a book series at the University of Georgia Press, Since 1970:  Histories of Contemporary America. Friends (and “friends”) are getting barraged daily with little items from the new author page I set up  last week for Since 1970:  Histories of Contemporary America.  Want to like our page?  Go here. Want to order the first book in the series, J. Brooks Flippen’s Jimmy Carter, the Politics of Family, and the Rise of the Religious Right? Go here. Want to pre-order Renee’s and my new edited collection, Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History That Talks Back? (Of course you do: go here.)

See, you just started reading and already I have given you the opportunity to order two great books!  Now…

Read More

August 21, 2011, 3:46 pm

For Colored Only? Understanding “The Help” Through The Lens Of White Womanhood

Full disclosure: I was raised almost entirely by my white biological mother without the assistance of paid domestic labor.  This is neither a good thing or a bad thing.  It  just is.

I decided to begin this post with a title that would make my white readers uncomfortable in a way that “The Help” (Tate Taylor, 2011), and the Kathleen Stockett novel it is based on, will not.  Although I have overheard the word colored used intimately and fondly, I am outside a community that privileges me to actually speak it except when I am giving a lecture about segregation.

Which I am about to commence.

For a white person to describe African-American people as “colored” is too closely associated with the forms of thinly-veiled race hatred masquerading as civilization that characterized middle class white racism in the 1960s. White courtesies — like substituting “colored” for the curse…

Read More

March 17, 2011, 5:12 pm

Killing Two Birds With One Stone: Tea Party Candidate Solves Social Problems, Shoots Self In Foot

Tea Party social welfare program?

In case you were wondering why we haven’t solved the problem of how to get cheap food on the table without large numbers of undocumented workers who will work under substandard conditions for no money, it’s because wussy liberals won’t bring back the chain gang.

Okay, Jack Davis, who wants to run for the vacant seat in New York’s 26th congressional district didn’t quite say that.  But this is what the Tea Party candidate did say, according to reporter Jerry Zremski, as he was being screened by the GOP in that state:

that Latino farm workers [should] be deported — and that African-Americans from the inner city [could] be bused to farm country to pick the crops.

Several sources who were in the Feb. 20 endorsement interview with Davis confirmed his comments, which echo those he made to the Tonawanda News in 2008, when he said: “We have a huge unemployment…

Read More

December 16, 2010, 2:16 pm

It’s A Poor Sort Of Memory That Only Works Backwards; Or, New (Old) Thoughts About Tenure

Alice Ad-dressing the White Queen.

`You’re wrong there, at any rate,’ said the Queen: `were you ever punished?’

`Only for faults,’ said Alice.

`And you were all the better for it, I know!’ the Queen said triumphantly.

`Yes, but then I had done the things I was punished for,’ said Alice: `that makes all the difference.’

`But if you hadn’t done them,’ the Queen said, `that would have been better still; better, and better, and better!’ Her voice went higher with each `better,’ till it got quite to a squeak at last.

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass (And What Alice Found There) (1871)

Paul Caron over at Tax Prof Blog reports that a new study “conducted under the auspices of the American Bar Foundation with additional funding from the Law School Admission Council” finds that “the perceptions of female tenured faculty members and tenured faculty of color” about the granting of tenure in law…

Read More