Archive for April, 2008


The New Face of the Political Elite

Although I generally agree with the theory that “demography is destiny” in this primary election, I think we’ve all had difficulty parsing out the meaning behind group preferences for particular candidates.  Narratives include: the struggle between Baby Boomers and Generation Me for political, social and cultural prominence in the 21st century; those by NYC Weboy or Anglachel that reveal the class divides exposed in the Democratic match-up; Paul Lukasiak’s well- documented gender gap in primary voting; and endless analyses of race and racism.  Yet, all obscure the more nuanced diversity underpinning voter preferences and campaign competition.  We’re focusing myopically on the voting patterns of African-American and whites – and white ethnics, in particular – when our nation’s diversity has moved for beyond these traditional categories.  Almost 20% of this country identifies as neither white nor black, and Hispanics have the “freedom” to choose from a range of race options – including multiracial. Since the 1960s, immigration from Asia, Latin America, and Africa has grown dramatically.  We struggle not only with four centuries old black-white cleavages, but also with competition, conflict and collaboration among native vs. foreign-born populations, among and within communities of color, across geographic and occupational class divides that differently constrain these groups, and within the gendered inequality that imprisons us all.

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Inside Baseball

A few years ago, a rabid football fan roommate strategically enrolled me in a fantasy football league so that I would be amenable to the endless sports coverage.  I’m competitive by nature, and earned a reputation in our league as a tough “coach,” benching players pretty quickly if they didn’t perform well, making trades, and picking up different guys off the waiver list with some regularity.  Yet I rarely watched football.  There is so much media coverage, and so much statistical information available, that I mainly relied on some modest number crunching each week to set my lineup.  (I was eventually eliminated in the finals.)

My league, unlike most, was almost half women.  Yet sports, including fantasy sports, is generally the province of men.  As with politics.  Last week in the discussion on my campus re: the Presidential election, I was one of only two women in the room who spoke during the 90 minute event, and the only one who spoke repeatedly, and at length.  This gender gap is news to no one, but only recently has the similarities between endless sports coverage and political quarterbacking become so clear to me.

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