Hiking in Cold Spring Harbor
From some recent fall adventures (Shelter Island and the Hamptons) ..
I haven’t posted food lately, so.. get ready for an avalanche of overdue vegan & vegetarian dishes from the past months ..
Let’s start with this delicious brunch from today:
Spinach, mushroom & bell pepper scramble, hashbrowns, beans & cilantro, meatless meatballs in herbes de provence gravy .. with gluten free toast and homemade fruit beer cocktail.
Yep. That was good. “Better than any restaurant,” she said.
So many heavy words, we feel the weight of them; we feel the weight each time, every time, all the time.
Black, brown, race, racism: words that come up; words you bring up.
It is not that we only feel the weight through words. The load does not lighten when light remains white. Whiteness is a lightening of a load.
Not white: loaded.
When you bring up racism it is like you introduce something that would not have otherwise existed. It is racism that makes “racism” a foreign word, a foreigner word, what you impose on others, what gets in the way of happiness, reconciliation.
Smile: things will get better!
Smile: they won’t.
No wonder words matter. Words are materials. We build worlds with words. We make words from worlds.
This is why: so much of contemporary politics, we might call this so much “happy multiculturalism”…
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To be a person of color, to be black, to be queer, to be a woman: is to know what it means to not be defended.
We know what it means to not be defended, to have no other choice than to marshal our own defense in the midst of continual defenselessness.
I’m tired of people not defending us. I’m tired of looking to people for defense.
I’m tired of longing for defense that has not come, that is not coming, that, should it ever come, is already late.
I’m tired of being made to feel grateful to those who belatedly defend us, if and when they defend us at all.
And I’m tired of seeing people belatedly defend us, after the fact, after the bodies have been piled sky high — after they have already eaten my ancestors’ rotting corpses — and expect to be congratulated, thanked, made to feel good.
I’m tired of being disappointed.
* * *
The main thing I know about intersectionality is that I am tired of living at the intersections of so much bullshit.
Women, people of color, queers and blacks must continually launch our own defense and defend ourselves for defending ourselves. We must not only defend against offenses – we must also explain both the offense and the defense.
These are fundamentally indecent things to have to do.
Anti-oppression work is an enterprise that is, by definition, beneath us. For it requires the saying and doing of things that shouldn’t have to be said or done.
It is very upsetting to be asked to explain why the on-going, everyday, routine suffocation of black and brown and queer and female (and..) life makes me sad and angry. It is beneath me to do this explanatory work, but I do it anyway. In part, I do it because I have chosen this line of work — but all people who experience oppression are required, in some way, to perform the critical exegesis of our pain. The demeaning shuffle and jive of our suffering.
It is beneath us to have to say that black and brown people deserve the breath in our lungs, the blood in our veins, the tongue and teeth in our mouths, the spaces we occupy. It is beneath us to say that our dead should be mourned. It is beneath us to say that colored knowledge is extraordinarily valuable and perpetually undervalued. It is beneath us to say that white supremacy exists, that the suffering it engenders is an immoral horror that should keep you up at night. It is beneath us to say that patriarchy and homophobia are moral wrongs. It is beneath us to assert the centrality of women’s work and women’s worth. It is beneath us to say that we are a wounded culture, a wounded society precisely because power renders the wounds of the less powerful invisible, unknowable and, then, when knowable, knowable only as the normal state of affairs, the way things should be, knowable not as a wrong, but rather as the evidence of the wounded’s unfortunate and indisputable inferiority.
It is beneath us to know that when people of color and blacks and women and queers do the work of defending ourselves, we will be appreciated less, embraced less, recognized less, paid less than whites and men who ‘enjoin’ the struggle. Even worse, we will undoubtedly be attacked, policed, shunned, shamed and punished.
All of this is beneath us.
All of this is beneath me.
Interesting read, as I am thinking/writing on Mills and Nussbaum in my book ‘Resurrecting Slavery’ ..
Human capabilities and the racial contract: Avoiding the epistemology of ignorance of liberal contractarianism
Abstract: Global relations are largely shaped by what Charles Mills calls “the racial contract”: the sometimes explicit and sometimes unspoken agreement that social arrangements must favor whites over nonwhites. This bias is strong among white political philosophers and especially in the liberal contractarian theories of Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Kant, and, most recently, Rawls. While these theories pay lip service to nominal equality in the name of universalism, they also ignore the inequality and disadvantage that nonwhites suffer at the hands of whites, and thus they contribute to epistemic obscurantism and racial domination. In this paper, first, I strengthen Mills’s argument by providing an even more convincing objection against the procedural requirements of John Rawls’s theory of justice; second, I argue that this objection gives us a good reason to distinguish between Rawls’s liberal…
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You may think I’m talking about the Nobel. But I’m not. Here is the 1969 rejection letter and reviews of an early version of Granovetter’s “the strength of weak ties” paper. It was rejected by ASR.
I asked Mark if I could share this; he agreed. He also wrote, “I’d note also that this rejection illustrates the importance of framing. I framed the original draft, which I wrote in grad school, as a treatment of “alienation”, more or less in response to the ideas of Louis Wirth and others that the city was an “alienating” place. The editor therefore sent the paper to reviewers who seemed to be European-oriented alienation theorists, who rightly saw that I was not talking about alienation as Marx did, but failed to imagine that there might be any other valid way to talk about it, as you can see from their comments. When I later…
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I spend nearly everyday writing and reading about global and local configurations of white supremacy and anti-blackness, with a special emphasis on the U.S. and France. This subject is the topic of Resurrecting Slavery, one of two books I am completing this year while on leave with a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.
I made a decision to use this year to begin a conscious process of decolonizing my scholarship. This is a process that I began a few years ago, inadvertently, as I increasingly embarked upon a journey of mindfulness and well-being. As I prioritized my own self-awareness, I also found it necessary to liberate myself from harmful things in my personal and professional life, including and especially unexamined dynamics of white supremacy, anti-blackness, heteropatriarchy and other forms of insanity that pervade the power structures within which we are all conditioned.
For me, decolonizing myself from these forces means becoming increasingly aware of my own ignorance as well as the power relations that shaped and produced that ignorance. Decolonizing my scholarship means increasingly coming to see so much of what I have been socialized not to see. This is all difficult, emotionally challenging work that also requires me to accept things about myself and my socialization that I would rather not acknowledge, while also speaking difficult truths that, by their very nature, offend people in positions of power.
And so, it was with this intention that I decided to expand my intellectual horizons and read more widely and deeply within and outside my field(s). I was especially interested in gaining a better understanding of the history of anti-racist (and racist) thought within sociology and the social sciences more broadly. I also wanted to engage feminist, black feminist, intersectional and critical race theories — schools of thought that had been downplayed or downright ignored in most of my professional training in elite white settings.
What all of this reading has shown me is that there are exceedingly few books written about race, ethnicity and/or gender that do not make me want to throw up. I say this with all humility — and as someone who is writing a couple of books that will probably make someone else want to throw up. When I say that most of what I read about racism and sexism makes me sick, what I mean to do is draw attention to the actual, lived conditions of knowledge production that a queer woman of color is, by the nature of this work, forced to contend with. For the reality of my work means that I must engage with “theorizations” and descriptions of social realities that take, as their premise, my inferiority and/or the inferiority of others who are ascribed non-white, non-male, non-able-bodied, non-heteronormative status by hegemonic notions which were themselves produced by historical processes of violence and immorality on the part of people with power seeking to consolidate that power through the imposition of narrow, abhorrent definitions of worthiness and humanity.
As all of us are wherever we are in our own imperfect processes of decolonization, we inevitably produce work that reflects the blind-spots we possess at any given point in time. And, given that most of the scholarship produced about inequality is written by people who have not committed themselves to a public or private process of decolonization, I find myself reading the work of colonized minds.
Perhaps the saddest thing of all, however, is that unprocessed and undertheorized colonization persists even in the work of well-meaning, ‘liberal’, anti-racist, queer and/or feminist scholars. That is, even some of our most thoughtful, well-read and down-for-the-cause thinkers — including people of color — are nonetheless producing work that makes it very clear that they (we?) have yet to fully embrace an appraisal of black and brown life that has been decolonized from white supremacy, from anti-blackness, from the varied and intertwined forms of insanity that have produced the ‘modern’ societies in which we all live, work and try to survive today.
I say all of this as a very long and labored preamble to the on-going reactions I am having as I try to make my way through Roxane Gay’s widely lauded Bad Feminist. In the text, she makes it very clear that she “embraces” the possibility of being a “bad feminist” because she is human, because she knows she is imperfect and is simply trying to understand the world in which she lives. And I have to say, there are many things I admire about her writing – including the care and courage with which she tells her own stories, the telling of which requires a willingness to be vulnerable about things that are very difficult to reveal.
There is a danger, however, in buying into individualistic notions of imperfection without also grounding our analysis of self and society in a historically and sociologically informed understanding of the power relations that have produced the world into which we were born as well as the world we all contribute to constructing in our everyday lives. And this danger, I think, is on display in Gay’s text, especially insofar as she tries (or fails) to connect her own experiences to broader questions of race and inequality.