This Week in “Help Me Not Be Such an Ass”: January 26-February 2


Here’s what’s helping me be incrementally less of an ass this week:

“saved by the bell hooks” tumblr: just beautiful.

The Radical Brownies!: “…where girls earn badges for completing workshops on social protests, and a beauty workshop that celebrates racial diversity.” Hooray!!

REASONS YOU WERE NOT PROMOTED THAT ARE TOTALLY UNRELATED TO GENDER: may have actually made me more of an Ass (because full of an anger that is righteous, yes, but also attached to itself, like “I’m the best anger there is, jerkoffs!”), but I can’t help sharing it. (Thanks, Erin.)

-Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture: (Note: this means us, not the Aryan Nation) This is unsettling to take in, for precisely the reasons detailed in the framing paragraph: This is a list of characteristics of white supremacy culture that show up in our organizations. Culture is powerful precisely because it is so present and at the same time so very difficult to name or identify. The characteristics listed below are damaging because they are used as norms and standards without being proactively named or chosen by the group. They are damaging because they promote white supremacy thinking. Because we all live in a white supremacy culture, these characteristics show up in the attitudes and behaviors of all of us – people of color and white people. Therefore, these attitudes and behaviors can show up in any group or organization, whether it is white-led or predominantly white or people of color-led or predominantly people of color. 

Colorlines’ concise graph of the racial income gap (e.g. black workers with advanced degrees earn less than white workers with BAs), and Chapter Two of their “Life Cycles of Inequality” series: “Finding Work.10 minute video–voices I don’t usually get to hear. John could help a lot of people be not such Asses.

“A Raisin in the Sun.” I hadn’t read it! It sounds like it was written last year. It was written in 1959 by 29-year-old Lorraine Hansberry, and now I need to read “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.”

State of the Black Union statement and video from #blacklivesmatter.

Kiese Laymon’s “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: book of essays by the man who wrote the “My Vassar ID” piece which led me to get the book in the first place.

Black Adoptees Raised by White Parents–from The Root. As “Black or White” comes out, three people share their own stories and perspectives. A taste: “Kevin Costner tries to redefine race. Is he really trying to redefine race or is he trying to reassert the idea that love can conquer all?” Rollins said. “That isn’t to say that I don’t have an idealistic view. I definitely believe in the notion of what James Baldwin called universal radical love in fighting white supremacy. I don’t think that’s the kind of love Kevin Costner is talking about.”

“Enlightened:” HBO series but available streaming if you have Amazon Prime. I am at the beginning, but what is helping me be not such an ass is how nail-on-the-head it is about privileged-self-improvement culture and about how easy it is for people on an inner journey to get all attached to the idea of themselves on the journey, to idealize it and them-on-it, and be just as much Asses as those they now find so unenlightened…and “Enlightened” does this with gentleness and somehow a simultaneous acknowledgement that even though we’ll mess it up in that way and/or probably our own special way, we still the better (than our earlier iteration, not than “other people”) for doing it, and it’s journey or die. And we get to see Laura Dern do this!

Let’s end on a poem…

Coffee in the Afternoon by Alberto Ríos: I couldn’t find a good online version, so here’s the picture from Poetry 180.

Please don’t sue me, Billy Collins.

That’s it…that’s the help I found this week, or rather the help outside of that I found in the people I was with, which was the most.

If you have suggestions for not being such an ass, I’ll always take them.



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