I’m headed out this afternoon for a quick trip to Baton Rouge.  I’ve been drifting around the blogosphere, and had hoped to organize my thoughts for a substantive post on race here, a topic that’s all the “rage” these days (pun intended), it seems, since Jena 6 raised public awareness of the enduring anti-black antipathy in this country.  (In a related moment of rare media activism, the press has filed a motion to open up the Jena 6 re-trial of Mychal Bell.  It’s worth noting that the Chicago Tribune has been relentless on coverage of this case; commendable, especially compared to some of their peers.  Check out the still video image of hot ticket Maxine Waters in action in a recent Congressional hearing re: Jena 6.)

However, my ideas are still churning, and so instead I leave you all with some links to the different conversations that have captured my attention.  In my absence, discuss:

First, activism among the young.  Alive?  Dead? Worthless? I think this inter-generational conversation is overly binary, and certainly bounded by class and race.  As you all know, all my post-Katrina recovery work is happening at the margins of serious global, regional and national activism regarding workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, racial justice.  I’ve tried to raise this point in the past at Ezra and elsewhere, but it seems my experience with activists more likely to be found at the US Social Forum than on the mainstream political blogosphere is not that relevant to the other commenters.

Next, racism and the academy.  This is part of the larger conversation that’s been happening re: racism, nooses and the rising social conflict many of us perceive over racial inequity.  I could spend endless posts on this topic, bringing in the issues of class and gender, but I’d never make it to the airport.  This link is one of many that is a reminder to myself that I need to expend some emotional and intellectual effort on this topic.  In the meantime, another white academic takes the rest of us to task for our complicity in propping up racism; I almost feel irresponsible posting to this one link and no others (such as those from persons of color also calling us out), this topic is such a can of worms.  Let me say for now that there’s two issues for me here: a) the total isolated disfunction of the academy in which we talk to one another about issues such as inequality and race that have almost no relation to the way they play out for in “real people’s” lives (an academic phrase I loathe), and b) the aforementioned social conflict and racial antipathy that is the point of Rachel’s post.

Meanwhile, here’s just a brief glimpse of the impacts of racial inequality on the lives of women and kids, a topic I am digging into right now in the terrific and easy read Flat Broke With Children.  Anyone up for a blog book club?  After Flat Broke, we can get to this one on single mothers choosing to have children alone.  Jessica at Feministing takes issue with some of the letters in the author Louise Sloan’s Salon interview that criticize Sloan as selfish and putting her child at risk by her choices.  I personally like this one by spacekase:

The fact that the lifestyle “choice” championed in this interview is applicable to such a tiny, insignificant fraction of America as wealthy, single lesbians speaks volumes about its relevance. It’s a faux-cause; it is certainly admirable that she is so happy with her choice, but to attempt to link it to fundamental issues such as sexual identity or single motherhood sounds like narcissism to me. I think this is why books and polemics of this type are always doomed to fail. So a few right-wingers pooh pooh your choice — I don’t, and I still don’t really think you’re making some grand stand for womens’ rights.

Start talking about affordable daycare, living wages or the working class and I might think otherwise.

Sums up perfectly my cognitive dissonance over the obsession over women’s reproductive rights in the mainstream feminist blogosphere at the seeming expensive of a wider treatment of how cultural expectations of our role as caregivers clashes with the economic and cultural realities of women’s labor force participation, and how this clash plays out very differently according to race, ethnicity, class, etc. 

And with that, I’m out.  Back on-line Thursday.


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