The Return to the Mothership

All the folks who were in the office today went over to Mothership Barbecue for lunch.  It was, as always, fabulous.  We were a little rowdy, talking all about how it’s no surprise that the men were all getting take-out and the women were all sitting in the restaurant to eat.

Luckily, Knuck couldn’t hear us because the group in the next room was even louder and rowdier!

And you know who it was?  SistaSmiff, Saraclark, and Malia!

Yep, at one point, I knew everyone in the restaurant. 


But What Did His Ex-Girlfriend End Up Doing with Her Skill?

As I always do, I’m perusing Dean Dad over a refreshing glass of orange juice, and he’s going on about the three types of students and I’m trying to decide which one I’d be when I read

Then, there are the maniacs. The maniacs have the lowest GPA’s, since their energy is directed only where they want it to go. These are the people who look bored most of the time, then break out with cryptic statements that are alternately brilliant and insane. […] They’re prone to enthusiasms, and the oddly off-balance knowledge of autodidacts. But they also bring the most dedication to a single area, which is why they tend to produce the most interesting and risky work. I had a girlfriend in grad school who fit this category; her speciality was unbelievably sophisticated spontaneous narrative. (Aunt B., over at Tiny Cat Pants, has this same gift.)

Well, holy shit, folks!  Talk about getting your questions answered.  I start to ponder which description fits me and Dean Dad just fucking tells me!

Anyway, shoot, I don’t quite know what to think of that.  I’m so flattered I about can’t stand it.  “Unbelievably sophisticated spontaneous narrative.”  Wow.  Thanks.

But Dean Dad, what does a girl do with a speciality like mine?  If I put “Get paid to produce unbelievably sophisticated spontaneous narrative” in the “goal” section of my resume, to whom do I send it?

Ha, you know, last night Tim Morgan sent me the video we shot for WKRN back when they were trying to turn bloggers into their newsgathering minions.  I can’t get it to work here at home, but if it works at work and if Tim doesn’t mind, I’ll point y’all to it for an example of my skills at spontaneous narrative.  My favorite part?  “A giant ray gun is aimed at WKRN.”  But I’ll warn you up front, I’m in it.  So, if seeing me and hearing me is going to ruin your ability to imagine me as a kind of Drew Barrymore who reads to much, don’t watch.

White Privilege

At lunch we were talking about white privilege and country music and how it seems obvious that country music is music by and for white people, primarily, and yet we still have difficulty talking about race, especially as it pertains to whiteness.

I was thinking about that because David Cantwell’s post about race and music and Merritt popped back up in Bloglines for some reason and he says,

Indeed, the conviction that racism and race prejudice must coincide with conscious race-based antipathy—with intent—is dangerous in its own right. Among us white folks, I’m afraid, it is a too common assumption that racism demands burning crosses and Grand Dragons to deserve the name—and that an absence of such blatantly bigoted intent indicates an absence of racism period or, for that matter, a lack of any racial problem whatsoever.

Some academics call this attitude “white privilege.” That is, the privilege white folks like myself have of not having to think about race very hard, or at all, if we don’t want to, as well as the privilege, as it were, of falling into defensive and self-flattering patterns when we do address race.

I completely agree with the first paragraph.  It’s the second paragraph that gives me pause.  I don’t think he’s wrong.  I just think it’s more complex.

I hate the word “problematize” because it doesn’t mean anything other than “there’s something important going on here but I’m too lazy or distracted or incompetent to discuss the nuances of it” but I do want to take this moment to problematize the idea that white privilege is, in part, the privilege of never thinking about whiteness, because there is something important going on here, but I’m not sure I have a handle on the nuances of it.

When I was growing up in rural Illinois, I knew no black people except the kids of the ministers that my dad was friends with.  There were no black kids in my schools.  There were no Asian kids.  There two Mexican families–the Herraras and the Salazars at one school, but none at the other.  It was just a bunch of white people.

We were constantly talking about whiteness.

We should have been in a utopia of white privilege.  With no one different than us to force us to see ourselves as “white,” we should have never thought about it.

But we thought about it all the time.

We were proud to be white and especially proud when we were acting properly white.

I don’t know if I can get at this exactly right, but we weren’t judging what “white” was by comparing our actions against the actions of non-white people.  We were judging what “white” was by comparing our actions to the improper actions of other white people, the white trash.

And this is, I think, something crucial that academics don’t get.  Our privilege was not that we never thought about white people or what it meant to be white–we thought about that all the time.  We rarely thought about black people.  Or anyone else who wasn’t white.

When we did, it was in some abstract “Be careful in the city, there are dangerous minorities there, and they are all in gangs” way.  But for the most part, it never came up.

See, what I’m trying to get at is that we didn’t see being properly white as something that put other people down; it was an attempt to raise us up.

So, I don’t know.  I think this comes back again to class and how poor white people are supposed to be the shock troops of the powerful.  Poor white people believe that if they can act properly white, they will be accepted by white people in the classes above them.  Whiteness, which they have come to think of as a defining element of their community, is supposed to guarantee their acceptance into all white communities.  Poor white people expect to benefit from their loyalty to other white people.  If they’re acting properly white and still not being accepted, it’s easy enough for the blame to shift to non-white people, because who, once he’s invested his whole life in believing that shared whiteness equals shared community, wants to face that the people he perceives as being in his community don’t see him the same way?

The Tiny Cat Speaks

She finishes eating, then she just starts blathering on. She’s just sitting in the middle of the kitchen making these noises that don’t sound like the noises she makes when she’s making noises at the other cat. They sound almost like human sounds, except not quite discernable words.

I look at her. The dog looks at her. I look at the dog.

Finally, I’m like “You’re welcome. I would have fed you sooner, but I didn’t realize you were out of food.”

And she made another little noise and went upstairs.

I don’t know. It just strikes me as funny. Clearly, the animals have been watching us long enough to know that sometimes we make weird noises and expect the other pink ape in the house to make some noises back at us.

I think it’s kind of cute that the animals are learning our ways.

Because I’m all about running late for work in order to give y’all what you want…