Worth It

By White Privilege, I Mean the Ability to Stay Alive (Afua Hirsch, Claudia Rankine)

I have discussions with Saidiya Hartman, the literary theorist and writer, about whether this line of inquiry is worth it, and she stands on the other side of it. But I can’t see how it’s not worth it. If you don’t engage, I feel like it gives people too much power to say that what they have they will always have. Race is a constructed thing, so if it’s constructed in one direction it could be constructed in another direction. So I think that it’s definitely worth it. I mean, we’ve seen with the protests in the last few months: people are capable of changing.

There’s a deep psychological need for whiteness to go unexamined. White people have one understanding about what whiteness is and to trouble it is to trouble them. And they cannot hold it, they really cannot bear it, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with me.

Identity and Recognition

Black, Native, and Fighting for Recognition in Indian Country (Jack Healy)

If the United States still had to honor treaty promises it made to tribal nations, then tribal nations had to keep their word to the descendants of those formerly enslaved by the tribes.

In a statement, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation said that the issue of the status of the descendants of enslaved people raised thorny questions about tribal citizenship that “cut to the core of self-determination.” They said the tribes had fundamental rights to run their own governments and decide for themselves who qualifies as a citizen.

Read then Act

Introduction to Critical Race Theory (Adrienne Keene, syllabus)

This graduate seminar will explore the foundations and central tenets of Critical Race Theory, from its origins in Critical Legal Studies, to current applications, debates, and evolutions, with particular attention to CRT’s intersections with the field of American Studies. We will also bring in CRT “offshoots” such as TribalCrit, LatCrit, AsianCrit, and DisCrit. CRT posits that racism is endemic to society, but that we must also remain committed to social justice and praxis. How do we navigate these tensions, use CRT to provide a toolkit for navigating scholarship, and work toward social change in the realms of race and racism?

Happy New Year!

Fortifying Imagination (Jason Reynolds, Krista Tippett)

And if I claim to love them — because all of us claim to love our kids, but I think, sometimes, our love sometimes gets conflated with our fear. And that’s OK; I understand that fear is real. But, for me, my own personal opinion is that if I love them, I have to tell them the truth. I have to figure out how to tell them the truth because a lot of these kids can handle it.

Consequences in Red

How Decades of Racist Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering (Brad Plumer, Nadja Popovich)

There are places like Gilpin all across the United States. In cities like Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Portland and New York, neighborhoods that are poorer and have more residents of color can be 5 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter in summer than wealthier, whiter parts of the same city.

And there’s growing evidence that this is no coincidence. In the 20th century, local and federal officials, usually white, enacted policies that reinforced racial segregation in cities and diverted investment away from minority neighborhoods in ways that created large disparities in the urban heat environment.

The consequences are being felt today.

Fall

US Coronavirus Rates are Rising Fast Among Children (Lauren Leatherby, Lisa Waananen Jones)

The rise in reported cases comes in part from more widespread testing, but Dr. O’Leary said there was evidence that minors were becoming infected at a higher rate now than earlier in the year because hospitalizations and deaths among children had increased as well.

Although much is still unknown about how the virus affects young people, like adults, Black and Latino children who contract the virus are more likely to be hospitalized.

Respair

On Witness and Respair: A Personal Tragedy Followed by Pandemic (Jesmyn Ward)

During the pandemic, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house, terrified I would find myself standing in the doorway of an ICU room, watching the doctors press their whole weight on the chest of my mother, my sisters, my children, terrified of the lurch of their feet, the lurch that accompanies each press that restarts the heart, the jerk of their pale, tender soles, terrified of the frantic prayer without intention that keens through the mind, the prayer for life that one says in the doorway, the prayer I never want to say again, the prayer that dissolves midair when the hush-click-hush-click of the ventilator drowns it, terrified of the terrible commitment at the heart of me that reasons that if the person I love has to endure this, then the least I can do is stand there, the least I can do is witness, the least I can do is tell them over and over again, aloud, I love you. We love you. We ain’t going nowhere.