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Monday, October 15, 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As some of you already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month here in the US. For the past several years, my brother has participated in annual fundraising activities to support research into the causes, treatment, and cure of breast cancer. This year, he's participating in the Komen Race for the Cure, and you can donate in support of his efforts here.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but as many of you know, I have other reasons to be aware of the disease, all year long.

Brother,  Mom, and Me

I don't know how old we all were in that picture, but I know that my mom was 45 when she died of breast cancer. I turned 18 that summer, 4 months after her death. Half a lifetime later, in April of this year, I had my first mammogram, after a doctor thought she'd found something in my right breast. I got lucky -- it was a false alarm, and I celebrated my birthday this year with extra joy.

Tonight, it occurred to me that I've now had more birthdays without my mom than I had with her.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you have reservations about the Komen Foundation, or would just prefer to help fund breast cancer research through another organization, there are plenty of ways to contribute to the cause. Please consider making a gift to the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, or the group of your choice.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Michael Chabon discusses his inspiration for "Telegraph Avenue"

And on that morning of the Simpson verdict, I discovered, to my shame, to my absolute wonder and horror, that in the course of that journey I had, somehow, become a racist. To qualify as a racist you don’t have to go to the extreme of slurring, stereotyping or discriminating against people of another race. All you have to do, as I realized on that autumn morning in 1995, is feel completely disconnected from them.
--Michael Chabon, NY Times, "O.J. Simpson, Racial Utopia and the Moment That Inspired My Novel"
There is something, I think, very compelling about the sentiment above. What I really find interesting about the rest of the article is that he talks about the problem of standing back and observing the other, not connecting as real people, but doesn't seem to realize that he's doing it, right there, in the rest of the piece. The fetishization of the pigment line on his classmate's hand? His sadness over lost "connection," while brushing aside any actual engagement with the reasons for that disconnect? His romanticization of non-existent racial utopia? It's highly problematic and, if not quite racist, then somehow dismissive, patronizing, condescending, glib -- I can't quite put my finger on the term I want here, to describe the way in which the attitude is "off." But it sits wrong with me, somehow, like a wistful paean to his own privileged distance.