Stuff I've Been Reading Lately...

Farai Chideya has put into words something I've thought for a long time:

The key to reinvigorating younger voters, and the untapped 100 million non-voters, is to find an aspirational, inspirational language for political change. The Republicans have been very adept at creating a clear narrative of power and self-determination that appeals not only to the people they serve (the rich), but to anyone seeking to better themselves. Thus the trend of the "NASCAR Dad," a demographic whose economic interests should go clearly Democratic but whose voting patterns are stubbornly Republican. Right now, at least, the Republicans are better storytellers.

She goes on to argue that Democrats need to take back the "language of opportunity"; we need "[a] spot-on narrative will demonstrate that social justice – including no more no-bid contracts for fat cats, more educational opportunity, halting the growth of the prison-industrial complex and better jobs creation – benefits those seeking economic gain." I hear that.

UPDATE: Lisa Michelle Nelson's article "Why We Need Success Stories" supports Chideya's argument and is, I think, a fine companion piece.

I've also been following the Tenure and Toddlers discussions with interest. It only marginally applies to me, as I'm not going to have children, but several have said that those without children should be expected to pick up extra work left over when parents need time off. I have a few qualms with that, and as others have already said, I think the extra work is a problem that the institution needs to deal with in other ways, like on-site child care. These discussions need to take place, of course, because this is an important issue that's on our minds, but they are probably not the most productive use of our time. Actively pushing for changes in the workplace--with individual institutions' administrations--is the best solution, in my humble opinion. (Others have debated whether having children is this big an issue outside of academia. The tenure clock is, of course, unique to academia, but I think it's an issue for everyone, particularly white-collar professions: people who have the luxury of engaging in these conversations in the first place. It seems the news is bleak for parents, whether academic or not. Terrible.)

We're obsessed with beautiful people. Yeah, I know, duh, but I still like this article; it, along with many other AlterNet articles, is a good example of a brief lite argument/cultural critique.

Speaking of reading for undergraduates, I think that "Five Faces of Oppression," a chapter in Iris Marion Young's Justice and the Politics of Difference, should be required reading for all undergraduates--no, everyone of voting age. Young explains brilliantly the ways that oppression works: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. She clearly defines each term and tells exactly how they work. Maybe I'll assign it to my students next time I teach Rhetoric 1101.


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That's what they call humanit

That's what they call humanity

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