Help Me Not Be Such an Ass: Sept 2-17, 2015


Hello, fellow Asses. This time: exactly 10 things.

1. This article says it is about how white people avoid taking responsibility for racism; I’d say it’s more about the actual thought processes that go into deflecting any feedback connected to racism. And includes a nice pair of “alternatives to that deflection” principles:

  1. How, where, and when you give me feedback is irrelevant – it is the feedback I want and need. Understanding that it is hard to give, I will take it any way I can get it. From my position of social, cultural, and institutional white power and privilege, I am perfectly safe and I can handle it. If I cannot handle it, it’s on me to build my racial stamina.
  2. Thank you.

The above guidelines rest on the understanding that there is no face to save and the jig is up; I know that I have blind spots and unconscious investments in white superiority.

2. A site with concise short videos to watch about charter schools in New Orleans.

3. A site where California makes its carceral-state shit public. Hell yes CA!

4. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations.” Please read this.

5. What We Can All Learn From Nicki Minaj Schooling Miley Cyrus on Tone Policing.

6. Powells’ City of Books’ “25 Women to Read Before You Die.” 

I went to because I finally am going to have to read Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine.” It’s time.

7. “These Are Words Scholars Should No Longer Use to Describe Slavery and the Civil War.”


9. Rebecca Solnit on women being (incessantly) asked about their reproductive status, and what that points to about the askers. SING IT, REBECCA. We talk about open questions, but there are closed questions, too, questions to which there is only one right answer, at least as far as the interrogator is concerned. These are questions that push you into the herd or nip at you for diverging from it, questions that contain their own answers and whose aim is enforcement and punishment. One of my goals in life is to become truly rabbinical, to be able to answer closed questions with open questions, to have the internal authority to be a good gatekeeper when intruders approach, and to at least remember to ask, “Why are you asking that?”  Go read it all!

10. Professor Barbara Fields on Behind the News with Doug Henwood (this is from 2013, replayed recently). Fields and her sister Karen co-authored “Racecraft.” (book blurb: “Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed.“). This show should be called Get Your Well-Meaning Progressive Brain’s Ass Kicked with Doug Henwood. It’s so good.

That’s it for now…if you have suggestions for not being such an Ass, I’ll always take them.

With love,


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