Why is it powerful women are usually libidinous? Do you believe a sexually liberated woman is more powerful than the bound virgin who chooses to remain celibate due to religious doctrine?
I think women are more powerful with agency than they are without it. I don’t think being “libidinous” is necessarily indicative of agency. I would say anyone who does anything because of religious doctrine isn’t actually making a “CHOICE.” Therefore, women who DO actually choose celibacy, in my opinion, are just as powerful as women who are “sexually liberated,” because they are both expressing agency.
I made my first White friend when I began taking private harp lessons for my sixth birthday. My harp instructor planned recitals for all of her students, and when I arrived at our first practice, I found myself surrounded entirely by White people. As a six year old born and raised in Detroit, this was my first time being left in a room where I was the only Black person. But I was a child, who was idealistic, naive and confident, and I quickly made my first White friend—Emily. Emily and I remained friends until I left the Ruth Meyers’ harp troupe the summer before I entered high school.
But not to worry, because it was during high school that I made even more White friends. And I am still very close friends with most of them today. I have found them to be supportive, reliable, and fun. We’ve seen each other through high school, college and beyond, and I am confident we will remain close friends for the rest of our lives. I look forward to homeschooling their White babies.
I consider my White friends “friends” because they have never had the gall to ask me to choose our friendship over the historical implications of our race and gender differences (did I mention that they are all cismen, too?). What I mean by this, Mr. J, is that my White friends are my White friends because they do not burden me with their White guilt, they do not seek “Black passes” for hurtful behavior simply because we are friends, and they do not try to persuade me that because we personally have such a strong friendship, it is time that the Black community “let bygones be bygones.” My White friends realize that although we are great friends, with wonderful memories and secrets shared between us, and great hopes for the future together, they are still White, and I am still Black.
And because they are still White, they still benefit from a system that has been carefully designed and tailored over centuries to prefer, protect and advance Whiteness. And because I am still Black, I am still oppressed by the same system that privileges them. In fact, their entire White (and male, for that matter) privilege rests very uncomfortably in the small of my back. Without my oppression, they would experience no racial privilege. If it weren’t for the brutal enslavement, rape and mass murder of my people, the wealth accumulation experienced by friend’s ancestors could not have occurred. If it weren’t for the carefully maintained residential and economic segregation of our communities, the wealth advantage still experienced my friend’s parents, and even them, could not be maintained. Inevitably, all White people benefit from the oppression of all Black people—friends or otherwise.
So friendship is not the answer to this problem. It is not enough that we “walk a mile in each other’s shoes,” that we make some derisive attempt at understanding each other’s culture (but really, Mr. J, comparing the Confederate Flag to a du-rag?), and it is not enough that we simply say (or sing, or rap) that it is time to let bygones be bygones. The injustice that we have endured and continue to experience can only be corrected with the absolute and complete abolishment of privilege. Privilege was not abolished through the ending of slavery, or Jim Crow, or any other nominal “victory.” White privilege continues to exist and permeate every realm of life, from wealth to health to residence to education.
If you encounter a White person who feels guilty about this, as it seems you might have with Mr. Paisley, well, that’s just fine. It is not your job to relieve them of their guilt. In fact, some might argue (ok ok, by some, I mean me) that your incredulous sensitivity to White guilt is a slap in the face of all of your community members whose suffering can be inextricably drawn back to White imperialism, supremacy and privilege. Because, Mr. J, in order for us to really make a step at dismantling privilege (of all sorts), we need people who are brave enough to stand firm against racism, privilege and power, even when it is experienced by our friends. I appreciate your attempt at compassion (I mean, I guess), but what oppressed communities really need right now is courage.
And if members of the privileged classes are genuine about wanting “bygones to be bygones” they will abandon their cultural artifacts of violence and hatred, they will seek no sympathy for their feelings of guilt and they will renounce their privilege. Until they are able to that, Mr. J, they are no friend of yours.
And by forging this laughable alliance with them, you’ve become an enemy to yourself. And to us as well.
I get it, Mr. J, because I have White friends too. But at what expense?
Many of us have the desire to make a difference in the world, but the depth of social injustice coupled with our everyday responsibilities can be overwhelming and paralyzing. However, we all have the ability to affect change in our own backyards. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Start a community garden and entrepreneurship club: If you live in an urban area, chances are your community is faced by two problems: fresh food desertification in low-income areas, and lack of positive programs for children. With a community-garden, you can make an impact with both of these problems. Enroll kids to help plant and tend to the garden, then teach them valuable entrepreneurship skills by helping them sell the vegetables to their family and neighbors, or by managing a neighborhood co-opt.
Paint murals over graffiti and gang insignia: Assist in beautification of urban decay by volunteering to paint murals over graffitied buildings and stores. Gather neighborhood kids to help! It seems small, but helping to change the face of a neighborhood contributes to a feeling of safety and community pride.
Organize neighborhood clean-ups: Another great, yet simple beautification project. Organize a group of community members (as always, be sure to include and center youth) and get together twice a month to hold a neighborhood clean-up. You can also have a sub-set of the group who mows lawns for the elderly, disabled and of abandoned homes. There are also small grants available to provide stipends to kids who volunteer in this project.
Create a mentorship connection program: If you’re rich in social capital, this is a great option for you. Bring your friends, colleague and family members on board with mentoring. Contact local schools and youth programs who can nominate children in need of mentoring, and then connect them with your social capital by interest.
Teach youth fitness classes: If physical activity is a passion of yours, use it to help combat the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in low-income youth. Seek space to be donated by a school, community center or gym, and hold fun, interactive classes that get kids up and moving, and rewards them for their hard work.
Host a “Black Girls Brunch” series: Giving young, Black women the opportunity to build sisterhood with one another while discussing key issues they’re facing is invaluable. Each brunch can have a different theme and topic, and you can invite local community members to increase networking and social capital of the young women in the group. Reach out to businesses for in-kind donations to make goodie bags.
Host a “Black Boys Lunch” series: See concept above. (:
Mentor youth in the juvenile justice system: Mentorship of youth who have had contact with the juvenile justice system can be particularly important to preventing recidivism. Help them reenter school and find employment. Connect them with programs and people that can keep them on the right track.
These are just 8 ideas, but there are many more! Have a good one? Please reblog and share! Like any of these ideas but need help getting started/gathering resources? Email us a ABLEDetroit@gmail.com (no need to be Detroit-based)!
Not really. It’s fun to try new positions and all that, but switching too much can be annoying. If I’m headed to where I need to be, and you suddenly switch up, I’mma be mad. Also, I think some men switch up SO much to disguise the fact that they don’t actually have a stroke. I think the truly talented don’t need to be on no Cirque du Soleil shit all the time.
In a melody recognizable to most, Joan Osbourne once wondered “what if God was one of us?” Today in church, while working really hard to completely ignore all the things happening about me, I figured it out.
If God was “one of us” (and by that I’m assuming she means… real) he’d be sitting on death row, and labeled one of the most vile, evil humans to ever live.
God kills people, a lot: It’s impossible to know how many people God killed as documented by the Bible. Sometimes he killed people en masse, and the total mortality rate was unknown. Also, the writers of the Bible rarely recorded the total number of women and children killed by God because… they don’t matter, of course. But if we total all of the cases of people killed by God when we know the exact number killed, we’d get a figure of something like 2,476,633. And remember, that’s not including the millions of people killed in mass killings (like the great flood), or women and children. How much time do you think God would get in prison for that?
God allows people to die, a whole lot: And not just die, but die in really horrible ways and situations. About 6 million children starve to death every year. Every minute a woman dies due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. In the US alone, someone dies in a fire every two hours. I could go on and on with statistics about people who suffer for years before dying from various diseases. The point here is if God is omnipotent as alleged, he has the power to prevent all of this suffering and premature death, but doesn’t. If a human could wiggle their nose and stop innocent kids from starving in the millions, but just didn’t want to, we’d call them an evil, sadistic fuck and would probably burn them at the sake.
God is a rape apologist: And sometimes even encourages it, as in Deuteronomy 21:10-14, when he encourages men at war to rape the female captives in order to make them their wives. Other times he simply makes rules for excusing it, like in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 where he says if you just insist on raping a virgin, paying her father some silver makes everything ok. What would we call a man today who think it’s ok to rape women during war, or that paying off a rape victim’s father makes everything ok? No no, besides a Republican. … Evil! That’s the word I was looking for.
God is really into blood sacrifice: So there’s the whole “blood of a lamb, passover” thing, which I personally think is strange enough. But God is also REALLY a fan of filicide. First, it was Abraham, who he ordered to drag his son to the top of a mountain, strap to an alter and then murder to show his devotion to God. Whoa. Jim Jones much. But then he sent an angel to say “just kidding!” and all was well. Or so we thought, because then there was Jesus. So God impregnated a virgin against her will (see what I was saying about rape?) so that she could give birth to his son who he would eventually allow to be nailed to a cross (or… maybe not quite, because crosses didn’t appear until centuries after Jesus, but that’s besides the point), and brutally murdered. God alleges he did all of this to save us from perishing in hell for our sins, but couldn’t he just decide to be a decent guy and not send us to hell? I mean, did he really have to rape a virgin and murder his own son? I don’t think so. I think he likes it. Because he’s a deviant, sociopathic freak.
What the fuck is hell all about?: If your kid did something wrong, would you punish them for as long as you possibly could in the most brutal, horrific ways imaginable? If a parent abused their child for years and years and years because they disobeyed them, wouldn’t we think this person was absolutely horrible and demented? If our justice system sentenced someone to prison for life for stealing a candy bar, wouldn’t we think this was a punishment that was not in accordance with the crime? So, what the fuck is hell all about? Making people (or their souls? or second bodies? or something) burn for all of eternity, forever and ever and ever, for something they did in a finite life?
I could go on. The point is, if God was one of us, he’d be a sociopathic, demented, deviant, violent, woman-hating asshole who lets kids starve to death and tortures people forever and ever because they do not praise his egotistical name. We would surely name him as one of the worst things ever to come to be and kill him for his innumerable crimes against humanity.
Let me preface this post by telling you all of the things that I am not: I am not a Quentin Taratino fan, or even a big movie fan for that matter; accordingly, I am not a movie critic; furthermore, I am not heavily into pop culture critique either.
But here we go nonetheless.
I saw Django Unchained honestly without having seen a single trailer, or really knowing what it was about. From Twitter I gathered that it had something to do with slavery, and killing White people, which sounded good enough to me. Truth be told, I really only went to see the film because it was Christmas evening, I was restlessly bored, and I wanted to hang out with my friends. And, of course, Jamie Foxx.
The movie begins with Dr. King Schultz, a bounty hunter disguised as a dentist, freeing Django from a chain-gang of slaves traversing Mississippi to be sold, after a brutal violent show-down. The pair goes on to travel around and kill mothafuckas with a price on their head. In exchange for Django assisting Dr. King, as he is called, in his kills, Dr. King agrees to free Django and help him rescue his still enslaved wife, Broomhilda. Great, right? Right? ….. Right?
Wrong. Oh so very wrong.
As little as I knew about Django Unchained, I did know that it was posited as a film about an enslaved man regaining his agency and seeking retribution in the form of death against those who have enslaved him and his people. What I got instead was a film about a White savior and his Black sidekick who goes around killing people who are already in trouble with the law (for their crimes against WHITE victims). Essentially, you have a White man working well within the law extending some of his agency to Django in return for him doing the actual dirty work. Now, that’s what I call some extrajudicial revolutionary shit! Or not.
I also think that when you create a fictional film based on an actual historical event, you owe it to the people affected by that event (and to your own integrity as a filmmaker), to situate your fiction in an authentic historical backdrop. Tarantino obviously disagrees. The movie was rife with historical inaccuracies and incompatibilities, some covert (would any White man really kill a slave at his fine dinner table? No.) and others blaring and insulting to the audience by the depth of their untruth (Mandingo fighting was never a thing, but way to slip that stereotype into every one of your films with a Black co-star).
Maybe I’m hard to please, but I didn’t really walk away feeling as if Taratino wrote any of the characters with agency, rightful indignation and revolutionary action. Django was given his freedom, by happenstance, by a trite White-guilt ridden bounty hunter. Broomhilda’s slave master was killed not by her devoted husband, but by the same White savior. What a rebellion! The few slaves Django did manage to free (as a byproduct his actions, not as the direct goal), he just kinda left… hanging.
Anyway, let’s go back to Broomhilda. If you’ve seen Django, you might be saying, “Wait, who?” I know, I know. As integral as she was to the plot, she had a total of maybe 4 minutes of speaking time. For all the suffering and trauma she endured, she was never humanized as a character. We never heard from her. Her longest lines were in German. Which is another thing: I get that an enslaved woman knowing a second language is unique, but wouldn’t it have been more revolutionary and intriguing to the plot if her “second” language was her “original” language? That she was teaching other enslaved persons to regain a sense of identity and use as a strategizing tool? Wouldn’t that give her more agency, versus her knowing a language that allows her to speak to…. even more White people. I mean, I guess that’s cool too. I guess.
[Insert paragraph here about how Stephen’s character was a fucking joke: a yessuh massa head house nigga who helps himself to the whiskey in his master’s study? A slave so important that when he tells White men to put their guns down they listen, because God forbid they take HIS life? Right.]
Speaking of Stephen, kind of, is it just me, or is it a little peculiar that Django’s ultimate and most noteworthy kill, the BIG shabang, literally, was Stephen? I mean, here you have this film allegedly about this newly freed man going around kicking ass and taking names of all the fuckshit White people who have been brutalizing his people for centuries, and his most important kill is of… another slave who, for all his ornery betrayal, has been brutalized himself. A brotha killing a brotha. Now THAT’s new.
Long story short, Quentin Taratino has a hard-on for re-imagining history and infusing it with violence, corny one-liners and the gratuitous use of the word “nigger.”
He’s a twelve year old in a grown filmmaker’s body. I’m over it. But enjoy!
Sometime in September, the non-profit organization where I work was set to have an event at a popular store, who, in partnership with a brand of running shoes, was donating money to our after-school program. The event consisted of a class of our after-school students coming in to meet a professional athlete, some Q&A, a check presentation and tons of pictures.
The event was supposed to begin at 4pm, but was delayed by almost an hour because a gang-related shoot-out occurring at a park across the street forced the school into lockdown. Our director informed me that school lockdowns due to gun violence occur here frequently. A representative from the shoe company who overheard that comment nastily remarked that we shouldn’t have chosen a school where violence was likely to cause a delay in the programming.
In an effort to get me acquainted with the schools in Chicago, a colleague offered to drive me around the city a week or so into my new position. As we pulled in front of a tall, brick building on the city’s southwest side, he recounted an incident that occurred here a fews before school let out for summer. During recess, a 9 year old boy grew hot from the running and playing, and decided to take off his shirt. Curiously, he had been wearing two white collared shirts the entire day, but it wasn’t clear why until he removed the top shirt, tossed it on a patch of budding grass and went back to playing with his friends. Hanging heavily on his small frame was a bulletproof vest. His teacher swiftly escorted him to the principal who called his parents. Twenty minutes passed before his father arrived at the school, furious about being pulled away from his job. School personel pushed him on why his son was outfitted with police gear. It was because the boy walks home from school, the father stated in more aggressive terms, and has to walk across gang lines to get there. Everyday he has to traverse a war zone. Bullets ring out often. Some of his sons own schoolmates had been wounded by bullets meant for rival gangs while walking home, or playing basketball in the street. With the coming of summer, the area was becoming even more dangerous. The father said he’d lose his job if he left to pick him up from school everyday, so this was his best way of protecting him.
The principal insisted the boy never be sent to school with a bulletproof vest on again.
This past Friday in Newtown, many children were robbed of carefree joy and naive feelings of invincibility; in Chicago, children are never given this gift to begin with. Millions across the nation tuned in while President Obama lead a memorial for the children slain in Newtown; in Chicago, fallen children are memorialized by tattered teddy bears, empty liquor bottles and withering balloons wrapped around lamp posts. Giant cards formed out of neon poster boards sit atop porch shrines, cluttered with misspelled love letters of goodbye written by the shaking hands of 10 year olds. The violence that occurred in Newtown was disastrous and sporadic, but likely to never occur there for generations. What happened in Newtown was a jeering tragedy that catapulted a privileged, predominantly White community into a dark valley where violence and dispair flows like hot lava, permanently rearranging everything in its path. It is in this dark valley where many of the children of Chicago live, every day.
Death is like tar that leaves a dark, ugly sore wherever it lands. In Chicago, this tar overflows in the streets, puddling in parks where children play and adults barbeque, seeping through the windows of first floor bedrooms where young siblings color on hardwood floors, dripping from the ceilings of school buildings where children struggle to quiet their empty stomachs and worried minds. No one escapes the sting of death here fully alive. Those who manage to walk away breathing are soiled on the inside. With every son, daughter, mother, father, cousin, sister, brother or best friend slain, your hope and humanity rots and leaks into the river of tar to be carried off, to overcome another. My heart breaks that we only seem to care when the tar flows upriver.
A Woman Without Refuge: Patriarchy in Black & White
A few weeks ago, a video surfaced of rapper Lil’ Reese grabbing, punching and ultimately stomping a young woman while his male friends stood around and cheered him on. This was, of course, not the first time the abuse of a Black woman has been capture and publicized. Shortly after Chris Brown’s attack against Rihanna, pictures went viral of her sustained injuries. A bus driving viciously uppercutting a woman passenger after an altercation in Baltimore spread like wildfire. All of these cases were met with criticism and outrage, but also exceedingly with jokes, memes and sentiments essentially culminating in victim-blaming.
After the video of Lil’ Reese was broadcast, I made the true statement that the physical safety of Black women is more threatened by the presence of Black men than White men. This upheaved centuries of one-minded racial resentment that places Black men in the singular, immutable position of “victim,” and White men in the only seat of oppressor. Many outraged Black men (and a notable number of Black women) accused me of being “racist” towards Black men, of siding with White men, of being a race traitor, and of creating statistics to advance an agenda that paints Black men as violent animals.
There are many potential reasons for the increased rate of violence against Black women—ghettoization, poverty, and under-education are all possible starts. But the forefather of abuse against women, Black or not, is patriarchal misogyny. If poverty creates the psychological potential for bouts of violent eruptions, it is misogyny that makes women the object of that violence. Black women suffer at the hands of Black men every day due to patriarchy and misogyny.
The kyriarchal structure of the United States situates most Black men near the very bottom of the proverbial ladder, thereby disenfranchising them and greatly circumscribing their power. In this sense, Black men, in general, do not have much societal influence or power, and have less agency over their own lives than most other demographics of people. It can also be said that because Black women are outpacing Black men in educational attainment and career advancement, that Black women in some respects have more social power, as a group, than Black men as a group. This suggestion is fiercely debated among sociologists, but if we do accept it to be true, it does not change the fact that Black men still presume power over Black women in interpersonal, romantic relationships. This is a power given to them by the larger social structure of patriarchy, one that then catalyzes their mistreatment, abuse and murder of Black women. The advances (and it is important to note that even these advances are disproportionate when demarcated by class) made by Black women in the educational and professional realm do not diminish the interpersonal power maintained by Black men in relationships.
Pointing this fact out does not erase the fact that Black women, like Black men, are subject to the oppressive power of White men. Black men dominate Black women in the areas of romantic pairings, sex and domestic roles such as child rearing and cleaning, while White men capture an incredible political and economic concentration of power that Black women are largely unable to escape. The oppression experienced by Black women under the rule of White patriarchal supremacy is institutional, pervasive and many times, covert, while the domination of Black women by Black men is more interpersonal and overt. The trajectory of a Black’s woman entire life is inevitably influenced by the weight of White male oppression. And for heterosexual Black women, the trajectory of her romantic and sexual life is molded by the hands of Black men.
In other words, Black women have no male-dominated safe place to turn. We are the victims of both Black men and White men. We are harmed, diminished and dehumanized by the will of White men and Black men. We are refugees from our own race and yet cannot seek harbor from the races outside of us. This isolation and invisibility is exasperated by the refusal by many Black men to view themselves as being actors of oppression themselves. The long history of racism against Black men has deluded many in our community to believe that they are victims, and only victims, without reproach. When confronted about their own transgressions against Black women, this single-minded state of victimhood causes them to accuse you of siding with their victimizer.
Black women face a myriad of oppressive forces from various directions. We are subjected to the raced, gendered and classed oppression of the empowered White male institution, which distorts our image in media, reduces our viability in life and dehumanizes us to sexualized beasts. We are subjected to the misogynistic domination of Black men, which, catalyzed by other oppressive forces like poverty, causes us to be raped, beaten and killed more frequently than any other woman. Until Black men accept their role as being active aggressors in the destruction of Black women, until they realize statuses like “victim” and “oppressor” can be held simultaneously by one person, until they renounce their subscription to White male patriarchy and stand on the side of the liberation of Black women, Black women remain a disowned group, at-risk, wherever we turn.
As humans, we have a profound sense of self-awareness. We are cognizant of our own existence, of life and death and of the complexity that distinguishes us. An inevitable consequence of this awareness of our own being is a quest to understand ourselves, and where we came from. Why are we here, and how did we get here? Cultures across the globe have address these questions differently since the first modern human traversed on two feet. While the answers vary incredibly, they can, more or less, be separated into two main categories: creationism and evolution.
Here we will examine the merits of the main arguments advanced by both sides using the criteria of explanatory power (does this argument offer a detailed, specific explanation?), logic (is this explanation logical?) and simplicity (is this explanation simple?). While there are several other good ways to evaluate an argument, most would agree that the three criteria we’ve selected are sufficient for determining the best of two explanations.
What is a Theory?
In everyday language, most people use theory synonymously with hypothesis. Unfortunately, this colloquial exchange is incorrect and very misleading. A hypothesis is a speculative guess that has not yet been tested. A theory, on the other hand, is a well-tested and widely accepted principle that has been established by repeated observations, and testing. Theories have predictive power, which means that they can predict events on very general terms. In science, being a theory is a great thing. Being a theory is even better than being a scientific law, because laws simply describe things, while theories explain them. Thus, we have the Theory of Evolution, a widely-accepted principal that has been well-established through the integration of observation, testing, facts, laws and predictions.
What is a Supposition?
A supposition is a belief made to account for known facts. Unlike a theory, a supposition has not been tested, and is not supported by observations. Where there are gaps in information, a supposition may be used to fill in the details. For example, humans know that they are here on earth, along with many other creatures, but did not know where they came from. The Supposition of Creation fills in the details by assuming that if we and others are here, we must have been created.
It’s important to note that the Supposition of Creation far outdates the Theory of Evolution.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s see what the Theory of Evolution and the Supposition of Creation have to say about the origins of life.
Where did we come from?
Theory of Evolution:
About 3.5 billion years ago, the earth’s atmosphere was full of inorganic material, like methane, ammonia and water vapor. It was acidic, hot and under more pressure than our atmosphere today. Under these conditions, and across millions of years, the first building block of life appeared, RNA. [Scientists have been able to recreate early conditions of the earth, and RNA and pre-RNA forms were created, as predicted: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/06/tpna/ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090109173205.htm]
RNA had the ability to replicate itself indefinitely, over and over and over again, many, many times. In this replication, mistakes, or mutations, would be made, making the new copy slightly different from the old copy. After many, many mutations, RNA evolved into DNA, the “gene” we are all familiar with.
The first actual life form, or the Last Universal Ancestor, was a bacteria-like single-celled organism that contained a coil of DNA. This organism replicated very quickly, like modern bacteria. In replicating, the DNA would sometimes mutate, so that the new cells were slightly different from the old cells.
Sometimes, some mutations would help the mutated cells survive better than the cells without mutations. For example, a mutation that allowed a cell to break down a readily available substance for food, that the other cells could not eat, would have a better rate of survival, and would be able to reproduce more mutated cells, that were also better equipped to survive. These mutated cells would go on to dominate, while the other cells could be out-competed, and go extinct. This is called natural selection — when the conditions of the environment favor one set of genes over another.
Over billions of years, many, many mutations occurred. Some of these mutations caused the resulting organisms to out-compete their non-mutated counterparts, which would go extinct. Some of these mutations would make the resulting offspring so different from their non-mutated counterpart that they could no longer pro-create. This is called speciation — when a species becomes two distinct species due to genetic mutations. [Scientists have observed mutation and speciation both in nature, untampered, and in laboratory tests: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html]
Over millions and millions and millions of years, trillions upon trillions of mutations very slowly gave way to many different lifeforms. Bacteria, plants and insects came first. Fish first appeared 510 million years ago. Through mutation, some fish’s fins developed into legs, and gulls into lung-like organs, which allowed them to climb into the land. There was plenty of food on land, like plants and bugs, so these creatures survived well and were able to reproduce rapidly, which resulted in more and more mutations. These early life forms eventually evolved into reptiles 10 million years later. The first mammal-like reptile appeared 285 million years ago, and the first mammal 200 million years ago. [Scientists have discovered fossils that, through various forms of dating, support these assertions: http://www.earthlife.net/mammals/evolution.html]
The dinosaurs going extinct allowed the mammals to flourish because they had much less competition for food, and mutation and thus diversity skyrocketed. The first primate appeared 60 million years ago, 140 million years after the first mammal appeared. Human’s oldest ancestor is about 1.8 million years old, but modern humans are only 200,000 years old. We are a very new addition to the world. [Again, fossil record proves this: http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_4.htm]
Summary: The Theory of Evolution argues that all life-forms shared a Last Universal Ancestor that, due to a series of trillions and trillions and trillions of mutations, environmental forces and other vehicles, evolved into everything that is alive today. This explains why seemingly unrelated organisms (like humans and bananas) share 50% of their DNA, and organisms claimed to be closely related by evolutionists (like humans and chimps) share 98% of their DNA [http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/links/china/docs/leaflet_dnabananas.pdf]. The claims advanced by the Theory of Evolution have either been observed in nature, observed in the fossil record or replicated in laboratory tests as predicted. Though understanding evolution from a nuanced perspective seems complex (and it is) the Theory of Evolution is simple itself in the sense that it does not require ad hoc arguments for it to make sense.
Supposition of Creation: [There are many Suppositions of Creation. For the purpose of this essay, we will use the one advanced by JudeaChristianity.]
God created the Universe, including the sun, stars, moon and, of course, earth. Then God populated the Earth with fish, birds, animals and finally created a male human from dust. Seeing that this male need a companion, God took one of his ribs and formed it into a female human. Thus, from God came all things. [Genesis 1]
Summary: According to this Supposition of Creation, God created all things, but there is no evidence of this, and this obviously cannot be replicated in an experiment. There are other issues as well: in Genesis 1, God created animals, then male humans, then female humans, but in Genesis 2, which details the story of Adam and Eve, God created Adam, then animals, then Eve; this story does not explain fossil record, shared DNA, or species who came to be long after the Bible was written; Genesis claims plants were created before the sun, but we know that plants photosynthesize sunlight for energy, so this is an illogical order of creation; the Bible makes no mention of bacteria and simple organisms, which are by the most prevalent life form on earth, making up 50% of our biomass; the Bible claims female humans came from male humans, which is irrational since we know it is female humans who carry, birth and nurture human progeny; fossil records prove the age of many of our organisms, for example, we know that fish are hundreds of millions of years older than modern humans, but the Bible claims that fish are just 2 days older than humans—this is impossible.
While the Supposition of Creation is easier to understand than the Theory of Evolution, it is not more simple. It requires many auxiliary arguments to explain and override its logical inconsistencies with our observations. Remember, the more auxiliary arguments an argument needs, the worst it is. Further, the Supposition of Creation fails to explain any basic questions that can be raised based on our observations of life. Further, it is entirely illogical on many standpoints, and is itself inconsistent across its tellings (Genesis 1 v. Genesis 2).
The Theory of Evolution does not satisfy our human need to know why we’re here, but it is the best theory currently available for how we came to be. Subscribing to the Supposition of Creation over the Theory of Evolution because it gives you a sense of why we’re here (does it really?) is to blatantly ignore mounting evidence in favor of comforting dogma. This is dangerous and wrong. The truth is, not only is the Theory of Evolution incredibly weel-supported, which satisfies our need for logic, rationale and observation, it is also incredibly fantastical, which satisfies our need to feel as if we fit into a special narrative. Had the early conditions of the Earth been even slightly different, RNA would have never formed. Out of so many mutations I don’t even know the right word to use the describe the quantity (maybe a googloplexian?), and therefore trillions and trillions of possibilities, we came to be. That’s much more amazing than being created by a sky wizard, and makes much more sense, too. Doesn’t it?
I have rudimentary knowledge of ghettoization; I know the true meaning of ghetto, as a 20 year old living in the suburbs, what can I do? Also, religion gives many Blacks a sense of hope, you know, "If it had not been for Jesus on my side, I don't know where I'd be." If religion can help reform drug addicts, gangsters, prostitutes, adulterers, etc. why is it an issue in the Black community? I'm anticipating your response, I follow you on Twitter, and I genuinely appreciate your POV.
Frighteningly, there’s not much one individual person can do to change ghettoization; its systemic and large. But if you know people living in ghettoized areas with reduced access to things easily available to you, bridge the gap for them! If you don’t know anyone like that, get to know them, through volunteering with schools, community organizations, etc. But be careful. Don’t enter communities you don’t belong to and think you’re there to “help” them or “save” them. The goal is to build meaningful relationships through which your capital can then be shared.
Faith is bad for the Black community, in short, because it thwarts our potential for true anger that is needed to catalyze the revolution we have the potential to lead. At best, Abrahamic faith leads us to believe that our true reward is in heaven, and our task on earth is to follow the word of God, thereby not prioritizing political action in this life, as we will be redeemed for our shitty lives here in the afterlife. At worst, faith leads us to believe that our hardship is actually a blessing from God, and if we simply continue to believe, we will be seen through it. This is hogwash. We need to give up on these false promises, and get real.
what do you think black youth in america are most in need of?
1. The truth. 2. Access. 1. The truth about who they are, who their people are, what their history actually is, and the historical and institutional path to their current condition. Access to the resources (educational, social and economic, primarily, but there are many other) that will enable them to become conscious agents of change in their own communities.
Brown v. Board of Education Ruined Everything, Deal With It, White Woman
[This is a journal I wrote in response to a heated class discussion that happened many months ago. When discussing “neo-segregation” of urban education, particularly in the North, I made the comment that Brown v. Board of Education opened the doors to cementing educational segregation while allowing elitist Whites to control urban education. This comment triggered, uncoincidentally, an elitist White who found my comment to be “ungrateful” and “unfounded.” This is what I had to say in response. Some paragraphs have been omitted.]
Our discussion today in class was particularly provoking and engaging. It seemed the issue of re-segregation resonated deeply with our withstanding views. Although I found today’s discussion interesting and important I also felt a bit guilty or responsible for the turn it took. It seemed as though the dialogue became a debate, and I thought my opinion about Brown v. Board of Education might have catalyzed that. When I initially wrote the paper for an argumentative composition class during the summer term of 2011, I knew my conclusion would not initially resonate well with the dominant narrative. We are constantly taught, especially during Black History Month, to romanticize the accomplishments of the Civil Rights’ Movement, while ignoring present reality. Oftentimes, I feel personally conflicted about expressing my true opinions on this matter. I don’t want to doubt the sacrifices and commitment of my ancestors, grandparents and parents. I know that given their social location and circumstance, they acted selflessly in the best interest of the future generations. Respecting and honoring the contributions of our ancestors is something that has always been very important to me.
But it’s become increasingly difficult for me to sit by and ignore present reality. Constantly I’ve been seeing news headlines showing that wealth inequality, across both races and socioeconomic (SES) statuses, is as largest as it’s ever been since the survey began in the 1980’s. The number of disenfranchised Black men is the largest it’s been since slavery. The segregation of neighborhoods by both race and class is as distinct and as exact as it’s been since the segregation era of Jim Crow. Something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. And while people are busy championing the accomplishments of the Civil Rights’ Era and heralding other civil rights’ movement as the “new Black” movement (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monique-ruffin/gay-civil-rights_b_1168897.html), things are getting worse.
I think it’s important, as aspiring professionals, scholars and world changers, to address the nature of the world honestly. If we are going to seriously affront the systems of privilege and oppression that, at the very least, dehumanize all of us, and at the very worst, literally deprive some of us of the bare necessities of life, we have to confront reality for what it is. President Barack Obama’s election in 2008 has acted as especially rosy glasses, blinding us from reality. I read an article just before class, actually, that discusses how almost 50% Americans live near or below the poverty line, and the rate of extreme poverty in America (living on less than $2 per day) has doubled in the last 15 years (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/06/438907/extreme-poverty-doubled-15-years/). It seems as if America is on the brink of a new depression, in which only the elite few will be able to live comfortably, while the majority of Americans will be forced to suffer without. And given the historically high levels of racial inequality, it seems a particular underclass of Black and Brown lower-class people will exist. The American Dream has turned into a nightmare. Even higher education, which was once acclaimed by my family and people like me as a “way out”, has become a trap, as student loan debt exponentially climbs towards $1 trillion dollars (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/college-inc/post/student-loans-surpass-auto-credit-card-debt/2012/03/06/gIQARFQnuR_blog.html). On the surface it appears as if the individual’s civil rights are increasing (although recently passed legislation like the National Defense Authorization Act FY 2012 challenges this assumption), but economic, educational, even health disparities between demographics across SES and racial lines continue to widen.
As peer facilitators, I believe we are obligated to constantly push the learning curve. We must always be willing and prepared to help our students step foot outside of their comfort zone and analyze statistical data that challenges the current dominant narrative. We have to always be sharply critical of current political initiatives even when they seem to be “progressive” or “liberal.” Present day reality is a perfect example of what happens when we fail to do this. We worship and commend the exception, while blatantly ignoring the ever-expanding rule.
I was also rather offended by the suggestion that “oppressed people” who have gained educational and economic achievement and mobility will be unlikely to give up their oppression, therefore making it “risky” or even pointless for clearly privileged demographics to renounce their privilege in meaningful ways. I could only imagine a scale, one side weighed heavily down by a massive metal anchor weighing a ton, with a few feathers atop it, and the other side with just a few beans on it. The beans represented civil rights’ and union rights’ laws, which on the surface seemed promising, but in reality have done little to advance and improve the life of the person of color or the laborer. The massive metal anchor represents the system of classist White racism upon which the country was founded, while the feathers present the few “exceptions” to the clear “rule” that I mentioned earlier, Pres. Barack Obama being a continuously relevant example. To suggest that “balancing the scales” or restoring justice to entire demographics that have been disorientated, disenfranchised and outright destroyed by this system of classist White racism begins with the very few “oppressed” exceptions who have defied the laws of the institution giving up their mobility and corresponding privilege is absolutely absurd. The obvious solution is to dismantle classist, White (and, as I should have mentioned earlier) patriarchal privilege. The suggestion of the opposite, for me, represented a long dominant narrative of blaming the victim that so often paralyzes the motivation and voice of the oppressed.
I am really glad that Emilia made this suggestion because I too left the discussion feeling triggered, perplexed and full of motivation to document my feelings. For quite some time now I have had the feeling that University of Michigan’s School of Literature, Science and Arts in general, and the Sociology department in particular, had not completely fulfilled its obligations to prepare its students to understand and tackle the social issues that torment our times. At least 30 thousand children starve every day. Students, who come from broken and impoverished homes and communities robbed of dignity and hope, are mandated by law to attend schools that ignore their history and affirm their inferiority in past and present society. In my experience, many Sociology classes at the University do not fully explore the deep-seeded causes of present-day societal inequalities. Instead, some students walk away feeling as though they’ve devoted some of their time to learning about the plight of the “underprivileged” and therefore they’ve done their part to eradicate the problem. Even though academia about social inequality, social construction of identities, and systems of privilege and oppression has increased over the years, our academic work has not been enough to meaningfully challenge the many systems that deprive our world of justice and equality.
As the privileged recipients of an elite education and the seemingly infinite networking it provides, we are indebted to the oppressed of our country, and our world. We are obligated to look at the truth, critically and objectively evaluate our past attempts at progression, and contract ourselves to doing a much better job presently. Hearing someone say “Brown v. Board of Education was one of the worst things to happen to Black youth” can be shocking and off-putting. Even if we disagree with the conclusion advanced by such an argument, as intellectuals, we are obligated to objectively examine the evidence used to support such a declaration. By examining the evidence, we learn that we have good reason to believe that the Civil Rights’ Movement of the 1960s did much more to serve the people it “opposed’ than the people it claimed to serve.
Not really embarrassing, but I fall asleep very quickly after good sex. Like, it’s offensive to my partner. I can’t help it. But if I have the wherewithal to get up and so much as put my pannydraws back on, only person who should be embarrassed is you.
Do you feel it's plausible for someone who considers themselves to be heterosexual to have sexual feelings for those of the same sex? Like say if you were a woman who had romantic, emotional and mental connections with men but purely sexual inclinations toward women. How would you handle this?
I would fuck women who are also interested in purely physical encounters. Easy. Problem solved. (:
How Obesity Justice is Inherently Feminist & Pro-Black
Many people regard obesity as a condition plaguing the lazy, and the unmotivated. Obesity is the result of losing the war of will, or so the folk theory goes. Because we are apt to seeing obesity as resulting from an individual’s choices, many of us are unlikely to be sympathetic to those classified as obese. Some of us hold quiet contempt; others of us are juvenilely cruel.
Obesity, actually, is an epidemic resulting from socioeconomic injustice—not a choice. In fact, the agency of those most likely to be affected by obesity is severely circumscribed by a pervasive system of kyriarchy. Thus, to speak of obesity as a matter of choice is to ignore the way systems and institutions interact to limit choices or informed choice-making.
The obesity epidemic is fueled by many ugly features of American society—urban food deserts, subsidization of corn and wheat, and the over-saturation of fast food restaurants and the “supersize me” phenomenon just to name a few. But while these factors have intersected to increase obesity rates across demographics, the obesity epidemic is driven by race and class.
It is not a coincidence that the Black ciswoman is more likely to be overweight or obese than anyone else in America. Unless we are to believe that laziness, lack of motivation and poor decision making are characteristics innate to those born Black and female, we are charged with the responsibility of glancing at obesity through a critical lens.
Black women are also more likely than almost anyone else to be poor, to live in a food desert ghetto, to be the sole provider and caretaker of children, and to belong to a culture that has many fatty, sweet and salty foods as staples that index community, connectedness to one’s history and love. When these baseline factors meet lack of educational attainment and being born to at least one obese parent, a Black woman is more than 80% to struggle with obesity in childhood or adulthood.
Doesn’t sound like much of a choice, does it?
The expected retort is, “Well, most people KNOW what foods are good for them. Most people KNOW that they should exercise. But they don’t buy those foods, and they don’t exercise, so (essentially) fuck ‘em.”
This response is naive, at best. At it’s worst, it’s an ornery attempt to argue that individual actions can always supersede societal conditions. We know this to be untrue.
At the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) quarterly meeting in September, we discussed the role of increasing education of “good” food and exercising in reducing obesity rates in Chicago’s children, who are 6x more likely to be obese than some of their rich, White suburban peers. The startling reality, supported by empirical data, is that increasing education is the action least likely impact obesity rates. Unsurprisingly, reducing socioeconomic disparities was the most effective.
This is because simply teaching someone about what foods are “good” and which are “bad” does not encourage them to make “better” decisions. Food buying decisions are impacted by so much more: clever and psychologically alluring food marketing, price, familiarity, ease and convenience of preparation, and the well-studied, well-documented “nag factor” by children. Further, people, understandably so, are unwilling to abandon foods that they consider parts of their being, especially when this advice is coming from someone outside of their community with privilege inaccessible to them.
Learning more about the importance of exercise does not give one access to a gym, or a neighborhood where it’s safe to go for walks or jogs. It does not give someone the energy to exercise after a long day of work, and caring for children alone.
Education is ineffective. Justice is.
The three greatest predictors of obesity, when used in tandem, are race, socioeconomic status and cisgender. Black women are targets, and it is not coincidental.
To be antiracism and antisexism is to be empathetic to obesity, to be truthful about its cause and to adamantly resist, subvert and expose the institutions that guarantee its cancerous growth. To make fun of and blame overweight Black women for falling victim to a trap already secured for them is anti-feminist, anti-Black, woefully ignorant and cruel.
What are your thoughts on the Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala?
I think Jill Stein is OK. She’s GREAT compared to her more popular competitors, but in general, she’s just ok. I’m not crazy about her fiscal platform. I do not wholeheartedly support anyone in favor of continuing aid to Israel (even if they also support equal aid to Palestine). There are other things. But she is ok, which is more than I can say for Obama and Romney.
Any advice for a soon-to-be elementary school teacher?
I’m really honored that you’d think to ask me, but honestly I don’t feel confident giving a lot of solid advice. The experience I have working with youth is really concentrated around the ages 14-17, and the (limited) pedagogical knowledge I have is appropriate for around the same age group.
I will say, though, that I think incorporating activities that push creativity and creation and ownership of knowledge are really important. A classic example is show-and-tell days. You could have your students create mini books about something they really like and read their books to the class. (This also gets them writing and building confidence in reading out loud—mastering language use.) You could bring in odds and ends like legos, popsicle sticks, string, washers, pipe cleaners, etc, and have your students create gadgets and have them explain to the class what their gadget is and does. It’s really important that kids, even very young ones, are given the space to explore the art of creation AND be given the role and responsibility of “teacher.” Kids best learn when they are in a setting where they are not just a student, but a teacher too, with something interesting and valuable to teach to you and their peers.
“Condemning whiteness is not the same as condemning white people. Whiteness is a structured advantage subsidized by segregation. It is not so much a color as a condition. Yet because whiteness rarely speaks its names or admits to its advantages, it requires the construction of a devalued and even demonized Blackness to be credible and legitimate. Although the white spatial imaginary originates mainly in appeals to the financial interests of whites rather than to simple fears of otherness, over time it produces a fearful relationship to the specter of Blackness.”—George Lipsitz in How Racism Takes Place (via bi-racial)
Can you explain what you mean by ghettoization? I've seen you tweet about it a few times before, but I'd like more info.
I’ll try to approach this question with brevity in mind. I’ll TRY.
Ghettoization is the process by which institutions, social practices and White will works in tandem to contain Black citizens to segregated residences. I say BLACK citizens and not people of color because ghettoization in America is an institution that UNIQUELY affects BLACK citizens. By and large, data shows that all other “people of color” live in relatively integrated neighborhoods.
I’m going to skip over the historical creation of the ghetto for a rainy day and just get to why ghettoization is such an important institution to study. Where you live is one of the largest external factors determining the path of your life. Through no fault of the residents, when a neighborhood begins to shift from all-White to integration, home values drop suddenly (a study showed that just a THREE PRECENT increase in Black homeownership in a White neighborhood causes a drop in home values). So, White people begin to leave the neighborhood quickly, and an all-White neighborhood quickly shifts to being an all-Black neighborhood. Property values plummet, and landlords and businesses begin to disinvest in infrastructure maintenance causing urban decay. The economic base disappears.
Thus, ghettoization causes poverty and subsequently reinforces it with an awful education system. Cultural, social and language capital (the ability to effectively use “standard” English) become barren in the ghetto, further eliminating one’s paths out. Drugs and guns are injected, and the moral fabric begins to disintegrate. A counter-culture is adopted so that people living in the ghetto fully aware of their inability to escape can find counter means of measuring success and building self-esteem. Because of spatial isolation, politicians representing ghettoized areas are incapable of forming coalitions to push measures that particularly serve the interests of the ghetto because other politicians are not concerned with those measures as they do not benefit their own constituents. Thus, ghettoized citizens are literally excluded from all major forms of capital: economic, cultural, social, language, educational and political.
That’s way too brief to really get into it, but in short, ghettoization is the CHIEF cause of Black disenfranchisement in America, and yet it is NEVER discussed. (I wonder fucking why.) Anyway, read American Apartheid for much, much more. You can find a link for it it at readabookson.tumblr.com, I believe.
I lied lmao...I've always felt it would be useless to enter politics since it seems everyone eventually conforms to the system and becomes pragmatic. However, what do you think of the chances of a party of like minded individuals engaged in local politics at all levels? Could a possible "minority rule" system be established?
Honestly, I doubt it. But hey, go for it, lol. I have no interest in “intervening” in the system at the political level, at all. At aaaawl.
What political and economic system are you in favor of?
I’m anti-statism. At most I’d be a minanarchist, I guess, without the economic ideologies that typically come along with that. Resource-based economy, with no private ownership and an elimination of the ability to accrue and hoard capital. Elimination of labor exploitation.
Long story short, I don’t like her. I think she has it wrong on education reform. I think she’s a top-down elitist. I think she seeks to disenfranchise teachers. I think she incentivizes teaching-to-the-test (or cheating on the test) rather than actual education development. And her organization supported an effort against the recall of a very anti-union Michigan politician, so….
Growing up, did your parents advise you to be a critical thinker? How much of an impact did your parents have on you, academically?
My parents worked hard to make sure I was extremely involved. So in that sense yes. The older I got, the more our views on a lot things diverged, though. Once, my mom, who recently had a resurgence in religiosity, told me that I read too much and my love for reading was confusing me. Bleh.