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Friday, August 27, 2010

Get over it, part 2

Elon James White on racism being over. A couple of highlights:
White privilege, institutionalized racism all just disappeared, you know, just like the oil in the gulf. Actually, it's exactly like the oil in the gulf, you know, even though we can't see those huge plumes of racism - I mean oil - right beneath the surface, you know, we all know it's still clearly there.
Oh, how I love to be told to get over it, you know? It's like the smell of fresh-baked bread in the morning, ha ha. If that bread was being baked by an unpaid negro and then later on they were going to have to go pick cotton.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lack of access to fresh food in the lower 9th ward

My best friend posted this CNN video on FB (the woman the reporter speaks to at the beginning is her sister in law).

I'm glad to see someone paying attention to this problem. The problem is real - I saw it firsthand recently, on my trip home. There is not a grocery store in sight in the lower 9th ward. In fact, for those who own cars that they could drive to the grocery store, it's only recently that there's a gas station in the area. And the overgrown lots and abandoned houses the reporter mentions in passing are common. I've talked to some of you about how my grandmother's old neighborhood has open fields in it where houses should be. It's disturbing, but it is, in my opinion, better than the alternative, which is the state of things in my best friend's neighborhood. Every day, on the drive back to her house, we passed several still-abandoned houses, many still bearing the search teams' marks noting when it was searched, by whom, and how many corpses were found. Someone said to me recently that she was tired of hearing people complain about Katrina. "It's be five years - MOVE ON!" I found myself wanting to drive her past those houses, and ask her how she suggested people "move on."

But I digress.

This post is about life in the lower 9th ward, post Katrina, especially the lack of access to fresh food. Sounds bad, yes? It is.

But, while the open fields and disaster-graffitied houses are new, the basic problem addressed in this video is not. As the reporter mentions, the nearest grocery store PRE-Katrina was a 1/2 hour walk away. I'm sure the situation has worsened post-Katrina, but my memories of the lower 9th ward (most of my family lived there) do not include easy access to fresh food. In the immediate area, within easy reach of residents who may not have cars (which is what the article is talking about), I remember liquor stores (easy access to alcohol and cigarettes), corner stores (easy access to processed foods and a rare overpriced fresh fruit), and, much later (when I was in middle or high school, maybe) Wagner's Meat Market (their slogan was "You can't beat Wagner's Meat"). My understanding - though I never checked - was that this was a discount meat store. They also sold gas.

Sounds bad, yes? It was.

And, this lack of options is not just an issue for the lower 9th ward in New Orleans, though I suspect that the situation has been magnified there by the effects of hurricane Katrina. Regardless of whether or not 80% of your city has been flooded by a catastrophic levee failure in the face of a category 5 hurricane, access to grocery stores - which tend to carry the widest selection of healthy food at reasonable prices - is often worse in low income neighborhoods. A 2009 Reuters article, about analysis of data from 54 studies published between 1985 and 2008, says that people in low income neighborhoods like the lower 9th ward "are less likely to have easy access to supermarkets carrying a wide variety of fresh produce and other healthy food." Several of the studies compared also show that stores in low income neighborhoods and minority communities are likely to carry lower quality foods.  I'd love to see some data comparing the lower 9th ward's access to fresh food pre- and post-Katrina, then comparing those numbers to the norm in other low-income neighborhoods nationwide. I suspect the results would be depressing, not simply for the way things are now, but for the way things have been there for a long time.

As my best friend asked this morning, "Where was the activism before the storm?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Drinking the haterade: True Blood edition

My favorite part of this week's Racialicious roundtable on True Blood.
Latoya: She acts like a chickenhead, despite having superpowers, turned her back on her homegirl multiple times, and has thrown her entire family under the bus so she can have hot animal sex with Bill Compton. I’m firmly in the hate camp. I reiterate, fuck you Sookie!
Once again, lots of good points, though I actually disagree about the boringness of last week's episode. I was only bored when the drug trip/vision quest went on too long and when Sam's totally unnecessary and largely uncompelling backstory was going on. I was enraged when Bill and Sookie were onscreen, but I guess that's not quite the same as bored...

Reading comics in public

Found out this morning that there's something called International Read Comics in Public Day.  It's happening this coming Saturday, in fact. Glen Weldon at NPR's Monkey See blog sees it as a chance to make his love of brightly colored superhero comics as public as his interest in "dense, serious, black-and-white comics about war and art and history and social class and blah." DC Women Kicking Ass wants pictures for "Women Read Comics in Public." I see it as a sign that I should get out and enjoy the weather, as the idea of reading whatever I happen to be reading publicly doesn't seem like such a huge deal to me. Yes, I understand that it might if I'd had more experience of being publicly mocked for what I was reading, but I have very little shame about my entertainment choices, and I'm likely to read whatever I happen to be reading in public. Cormac McCarthy on the bus? Check. Entertainment Weekly on the BART? Check. Dante's Comedia on the Caltrain, Twilight while standing outside during a fire drill, or Pride and Prejudice at Starbucks? Check, check, and check. Today, in fact, I'll probably take advantage of the nice weather by finding someplace outside to read part of Justine Larbalestier's Liar. There might also be ice cream involved, but only because there are no snowball stands in San Francisco.

On Saturday, I'll probably read The Sandman, vol. 8: World's End in public, because I've been meaning to finally finish the series, and it's likely to be sunny outside. And I might send a picture in for WRCiP, because it does make sense to me that there's some profile raising to be done there. (I wonder if I get extra points for being a Black woman reading a comic in public.) But I guess I'm curious: is it really that big of a deal? I feel like people read all sorts of things in all sorts of places, and I guess it's never really occurred to me that something that wasn't somehow obscene would be something you'd hide to read (at least past high school).

Do any of you have things you love to read or watch that you don't admit to publicly? You know, besides porn and Twilight.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brain fatigue

Technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.
Paused the DVD I'd been watching to put together a shoe rack and do a quickie closet organization. Having already taken a break from finding out who killed Lily Kane, I thought I'd check voice and email, and take a quick peek at my google reader.  Came across this article in the NY Times (online, of course), which says that I should probably spend a little less time doing exactly what I'm doing, as the constant digital device use contributes to brain fatigue and steals valuable processing time from my brain. I could have told you that, but I was busy updating my Facebook status.

Hide yo' kids, hide yo' problematic internet meme

Racialicous has a good piece today on Antoine Dodson, of You Tube fame. Having gone through my own cycle of outrage and amusement on this one, I think it's worth a read. I was initially shown the "remix" of Antoine's interview, which I laughed at. But, I was horrified when I heard the actual news story that the "song" had come from and realized that we all seemed to be laughing about someone breaking in and trying to rape this guy's sister. Somehow, that didn't actually stop me from laughing, which I felt only marginally better about when Antoine started to play along... (Read the article here).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

True-ly hilarious

Go Fug Yourself has done a "Fug: The Cover" on the Rolling Stone issue featuring Alexander Skarsgard, Anna Paquin, and Stephen Moyer. It's hilarious to me - maybe my favorite thing to come out of True Blood this season. Here's the cover:

My favorite quote from the entry? "SMOY: Blue Steel. BLUE STEEL!"  You can check out the whole thing over at Go Fug Yourself.

In other True Blood news, Racialicious' roundtable for episode 9 is up. As is usually the case, it's full of excellence.

This is where I would usually put my own opinions about the last episode and the season so far, but I think I'll skip that this week, except to say that I think they finally did some things right with Tara in episode 9. It shouldn't have taken until episode 9, and it may still turn out to be too little too late for this season, but I'd love it if this were a turning point for the show.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The 20 worst-paying college degrees in 2010

This list from Yahoo finance/CBS moneywatch puts religious studies at #12 for the worst-paying majors in 2010. No surprise there, really. Check out the full list if you want to see just how little the average child and family studies major or social worker gets paid. Depressing. I'd like to see the list adjusted for graduate degrees, though I doubt it would really change much.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

True Blood. season 3: episodes 7 & 8 (I Think)

A friend wrote of True Blood:
I think what it comes down to in the end, is that it is so fantastically campy and over the top, that I can't wait to see what happens next. The eye candy doesn't hurt either. ;)
You can check out her post here (she writes regularly and interestingly about many amusing things). I was leaving her a reply, and it was way too long, so I put most of it in this post. Just so you have the context.

Now, I think that's definitely how I felt about TB in the beginning - it was *terrible* when it started, but in a really enjoyable way. Graphically sexual, sometimes graphically violent and gross, but also funny, and deliciously over the top. And, I actually felt like it was qualitatively better later in the first season - still campy and trashtastic, but not as empirically bad. (Take this with a grain of salt - I have a high tolerance for bad TV that I find enjoyable.) And, of course, there was the joy of Lafayette. Season two was a mixed bag: I mostly loved 1/2 of it (Texas was largely entertaining), while Bon Temps and the maenad drama wore thin with me pretty quickly. Even then, though, it was mostly enjoyable. When all else failed, there was always the increase in Eric and Pam goodness to keep me going. I mean, that crack about teacup humans alone almost made the whole season worthwhile!

Right now, though, I feel like the bad is outweighing the good. I've complained about a lot of things this season - storylines run amok, racial missteps, problematic gender representations... I'm not deluded enough to think that the show has only recently become bad. My problem is that the show isn't *enjoyable* anymore. I watched the last couple of episodes on Sunday night and thought they were particularly awful. On top of the problematic storylines (and too many of them to boot), the dialogue was awful, and the pacing was off. At the end of two episodes, I felt like I was glad it was over, instead of feeling like I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

There are 4 episodes left in this season., and I"ll probably still watch them. It's even possible that they'll pleasantly surprise me, but I doubt that will be the case. I'll watch them, but mostly because it's hard for me to leave a story-in-progress, especially one that used to be so much fun. And that still has so much eye candy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Laura Ingraham does Stephen Colbert's work for him

So, Stephen Colbert called Laurau Ingraham out on the "hideous, hackneyed racial stereotypes" (and terrible writing and "banal turns of phrase") in "The Obama Diaries." In response, Laura Ingraham name drops Dartmouth and calls Colbert out on his racism.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Laura Ingraham
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

"Banshee is racially...that is - that could be...I mean that is very controversial - a banshee? I think Native American, you know..."
I'm not sure who should be more upset about this one, Dartmouth  or Ireland.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No H8teration in this judgery

Marc Ambinder @ The Atlantic lays out the facts in Vaughn Walker's overturning of California's Prop 8. I suspect that the arc to this particular justice still has a long bend ahead, but it's nice to feel like it's moving in the right direction.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Still (batshit) crazy after all these years

Are we really surprised when Phylis Schlafly says something asinine? (Hint: no, we are not.) I'm really only linking to this out of scholarly habit (the link is my blog's version of a citation, except when I actually provide a citation, in which case it's more like an appendix), because I want to quote from TNC's response to Schlafly's insanity:
Fully, half of the life-span gap between African-Americans and whites is due to African-Americans having to endure punditry about "The Blacks." Whenever a studio anchor breathlessly comments on the "conversation over race," the heart-rate of some old black sanitation worker jumps. It's a conspiracy, son. But I'm wise. Motherfuckers ain't taking me out.

As for me, I'm obviously doing this wrong. Being one of those unmarried women who voted for Obama, I must have missed a memo somewhere, because I collect neither unemployment nor welfare nor children.