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An Open Letter to George W. Bush

I've been reading a lot of responses to Bush's homophobic, hate-filled spew, including one from Lauren, but Flea's 24 February post is the by far the best, most eloquent. I command you all to read it.

Oppression in the Academy

I'm afraid I don't have anything insightful to say about either of these articles. All I can say is that I am saddened by both, and you need to read them.

An "Uppity" Memoir and some "Cheeky" tips: On what it is like for me to be a woman of colour at a university whose structure is still predominantly white and Eurocentric in its focus

Sex and Silence at Yale

First Woman President Symposium

How very cool. I might have to do a little weekend trip to Moorhead for this!

First Woman President Symposium

September 24-25, 2004 - Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, MN (USA)

MSU Moorhead will hold an interdisciplinary conference that unites leaders in politics, media, and academia to explore the history, culture, and future possibilities of electing a female president of the United States of America. This two-day conference will feature special invited guests who are active in national and international politics and media as well as prominent academics in the arts, humanities, and social sciences who have substantially contributed to our knowledge of women in politics. Laura Liswood, Secretary-General of the Council of World Women Leaders at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, is the keynote speaker. Paper proposals are invited in the following categories: the history of women in politics, analysis of party platforms, creation of candidates, missed opportunities, mechanisms and forces of exclusion, international examples of women in politics, media and cultural representations of women in power, the demonization of women in politics, and the role of the 'First Lady,' among others. The conference organizers especially encourage paper proposals from all levels of academics in American Studies, Economics, History, Mass Communication and Journalism, Multicultural Studies and Humanities, Political Science, Sociology, Speech Communications, and Women's Studies.

Required: Submit an abstract of 250 words and a c.v. (including phone, fax, and e-mail addresses) to contact below.

Deadline: March 1, 2004

Contact: Dr. Christopher Corley, c/o Dean of Arts and Humanities, 250 Bridges Hall, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, MN 56563 USA

ATTN: First Woman President Symposium

E-Mail: corley@mnstate.edu

Via thirdspace chora.

Silence of the Blogs

This article in Salon helps to remind me why I study blogs. I tend to get asked a lot of questions about blogs and blogging; usually people want a list of good resources on blogging, or they want to know what a blog is, or they have questions about software tools or how they can use blogs in their teaching. It's not that I'm not happy to answer these questions--really! In fact, I'm flattered that those who ask consider me to be a resource. But...sometimes it feels like when I worked as a hostess at Logan's, and I had to repeat the same sentences over and over, all day long:

Taking guests by case of raw, red meat because I had to do this for everyone who came in:

"Did you know that our meat is cut by hand every single day by our own meat cutters? Then it is seasoned and aged three days for tenderness!"

When we got to the table:

"Our soup of the day is chicken noodle, and our catch of the day is halibut."

But this article in Salon reminds me of what the right questions are. Of course you have to know something about blogs before you can ask such questions, and I have nothing but love for newbies. I think that in the future, I will throw in with my informational responses a little taste of why blogging is so important to me. The article describes a pro-democracy protest in Iraq that at least one Iraqi blogger wrote about, which didn't get picked up by The New York Times:

"Here is one young man in Baghdad equipped with nothing but a camera and a keyboard who reported on news better than established media worldwide," says blogger Jeff Jarvis. "This shows what citizens media can accomplish." (It was Jarvis who put the digital camera in Zeyad's hand, sending it to him via Federal Express to Baghdad at a shipping cost half as much as the $200 camera.)

"My guess is that it would take years for Westerners to understand Iraq and Iraqis," Zeyad tells me, "but we're working on it and that's what my blog is mostly about." As it turns out, the first step may be convincing Westerners that their own press isn't always (or even usually) the best authority on the subject.

That's what I'm talking about: Blogging brings up issues of hegemony, disenfranchisement, and marginalization. It presents implications for understanding social structures and maybe even effecting social change. I wish I had more specific claims to make, but I'm learning. Those more specific questions and claims are what I'll be working on for the next few years. I know the instrumental questions are necessary, but I'm more interested in the effects of blogging.

Thanks to Jen for emailing me the link.

New poem by Julia Alvarez

Upon hearing that Laura Bush cancelled a tea for poets after hearing that some of them planned to protest the war in Iraq, Alvarez wrote:

The White House has disinvited the poets

to a cultural tea in honor of poetry

after the Secret Service got wind of a plot

to fill Mrs. Bush’s ears with anti-war verse.

Were they afraid the poets might persuade

a sensitive girl who always loved to read,

a librarian who stocked the shelves with Poe

and Dickinson? Or was she herself afraid

to be swayed by the cooing doves, and live at odds

with the screaming hawks in her family?

The Latina maids are putting away the cups

and the silver spoons, sad to be missing out

on música they seldom get to hear

in the hallowed halls. . . The valet sighs

as he rolls the carpets up and dusts the blinds.

Damn but a little Langston would be good

in this dreary mausoleum of a place!

Why does the White House have to be so white?

The chef from Baton Rouge is starved for verse

uncensored by Homeland Security.


Instead the rooms are vacuumed and set up

for closed-door meetings planning an attack

against the ones who always bear the brunt

of silencing: the poor, the powerless,

the ones who serve, those bearing poems, not arms.

So why be afraid of us, Mrs. Bush?

you’re married to a scarier fellow.

We bring you tidings of great joy—

not only peace but poetry on earth.

The Iowa Caucuses in Review

Greg Greene assesses the outcome of the Iowa caucuses, which I did not see, but I was checking the results and wondering what was happening with Dean. Greene has this to say, which I find interesting:

To go against the grain a little, I think this result helps Clark. The blow Dean took in Iowa could push his New Hampshire supporters with second thoughts to another candidate — and with Kerry, the Iowa winner, coming from next door, I don’t imagine many people drifting to his campaign.

Clark has had the run of New Hampshire for the last couple of weeks, thanks to the other candidates’ having decamped to Iowa — and as the only candidate with nationwide backing and financial support that compares to Dean, he stands in the best position to gain from any slippage in Dean’s support. If he can capitalize on the momentum he’s built this month, he could make a strong showing — possibly even in first place.

Better Late Than Never, I Guess.

In November 2002, a story was published in the Chronicle (sorry, the link is for subscribers only) about a possible discrimination case at Virginia Tech:

Three faculty members holding hand-lettered signs stood in the back of the room. "Appoint Shelli Fowler," read one. "Honor Fowler's Contract," said another. The third message echoed the question that's been whispered in hallways at Virginia Tech for the past five months: "What If It Is Discrimination?"

The Personal Is Political, Example # 5,634,987

Thurmond Kin Acknowledge Black Daughter. When Strom Thurmond was 22 years old, he took advantage of his 16-year-old maid, Carrie Butler, and they had a daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, whom the Thurmond family is finally publicly acknowledging. It seems that Washington-Williams and Thurmond had a close relationship, but he would not admit that she was his daughter, and she kept the secret "out of respect" for him and his political career. I'm with Jesse Jackson on this one:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a native of South Carolina, said he was struck by the similarities between Mr. Thurmond's situation and that of [Thomas] Jefferson, asserting that they reflected "a deep and ugly Southern tradition" of white men taking advantage of young black women in their employ.

"By day, they are bullies," Mr. Jackson said. "By night, they manipulate race to their advantage."

Referring to Mr. Thurmond and Ms. Washington-Williams, he added: "The point that strikes me the most is that he lived 100 years and never acknowledged his daughter. He never let her eat at his table. He fought for laws that kept his daughter segregated and in an inferior position. He never fought to give her first-class status. Thomas Jefferson did pretty much the same."

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