Help Me Not Be Such an Ass: November 23-December 14


Hello good people! Heavens, we live in a world, don’t we? It’s all so much. And you are so lovely, to be reading this; I mean that both because it’s really meaningful to me that anyone does so, and also because…well, it includes the premise that you are probably an Ass, because we all are, and further, that we can assume some responsibility. So how about a pat on your own back for being down for that! You’re probably not much of a back-patter, but just go on ahead this once.

So here’re some things:

  1. I’ve been saying to myself for a while and out loud for less time that I just don’t so much read white men anymore, unless there’s a special reason, not because their perspective is worthless but because I believe I can trust ambient culture to communicate it to me without my seeking it out. And then today I saw this lead: “Unless it’s to support someone I know or explicitly recommended, I no longer read white men. It’s not to make a political statement so much as I’m tired of seeing the world through their eyes.” and followed it to “A Response to ‘On Pandering,'” by Nichole Perkins, which offers us a perspective we don’t get to hear as often.
  2. And I’m saying all of this to lead up to…a white man I will read these days, Corey Robin, because bless him: he’s woke as hell. One of the only blogs I go ahead and get delivered to my inbox and read immediately (hi Aurora and James, you are the others!)
  3. Blackish. I’d heard it was good but it takes a lot for me to start watching a show, and in the end it was how deeply Crissle and Kid Fury from The Read love it that got me started, and it’s got to be the most intersectional beautiful thing on network TV. Go get it however you get things! Especially “Crazy Mom,” good lord…so good.
  4. David Liben: a webinar on misconceptions about the “achievement gap.” I’m not a user of that phrase because it’s often wielded in defense of neoliberal policies and as a way to distract from need for systemic change (rather than change on an individual or even school level), so if you are like me in that way I can reassure you that this is not a neoliberal webinar! If you are an educator with 2 hours in a car coming up, just put it on and listen. One favorite quote: “A little confusion is not terrible.”
  5. “How to Be an Anti-Capitalist Today” in Jacobin. It taught me about “real utopias” and has all these connection to Peter Block’s “Community: The Structure of Belonging” and Lisa Goldstein’s talk I recommended last time.
  6. Creed. My god. Yes! The new Rocky movie just might help with some Assness.  I’m pretty sure Michael B. Jordan’s body of work could help anyone not be such an Ass. And that was not meant to be an objectification of his physique in Creed, though it certainly could be…what I am talking about is The Wire and Fruitvale Station and Friday Night Lights. Anyway, “Creed” also features a character with hearing loss, and you may or may not know how much a part of my life that is, but anyway: it means something to have it onscreen.
  7. #StayMadAbby. Mass culture does not stop lying through its rotten teeth, telling us that white people are smarter, more deserving, et bullshit cetera, but there is plenty of truth available, and sometimes it really is on Twitter. #StayMadAbby can point you in some sound directions to learn about the current Supreme Court case, and the history of affirmative action (spoiler: it has historically benefitted white women more than any other group. See also “When Affirmative Action Was White“)

    And these! I love these both so much. There are a lot of variations on the first…something about the kittens gets me, though. My hope is not that kittens are stand-ins for women here (because please shove that), but rather that EVEN KITTENS pray for that absurd confidence.

  8. Last year’s People’s State of the Union Poetic Address to the Nation. From the US Department of Arts Culture, which as you know by now I think is just everything; this is from last year, and this year’s is coming up! Sign up to participate (run a Story Circle in your community, be that geographical or spiritual).

9. Rebecca Solnit’s coverage of COP21. “Coverage” as in what she actually wrote as dispatches (for Harper’s) but also just her constant updating via Facebook on stuff others wrote too (the link is to her public profile, where it all lives). There’s simultaneously so much and not enough about COP21 (as in, it’s not as everywhere-on-everyone’s minds as it might be, and also once you decide to try to be informed there is SO MUCH because SO MUCH is happening and at stake), and she just distills and curates and helps us with our climate Asshood.

10. Seeing John Waters do his Christmas show, live in ATL because my husband is the best. The show was good, and strange, but more than anything it was a reminder of much nutty shit there is in this world. And how closely we guard ideas about what is tasteful, or not, and think that those ideas correlate to something more cosmically significant than just what we’re into, or not. If you’d like to blow up your own notions of taste and self-importance, I recommend John Waters’ movies! It’s time for me to a) revisit the ones I know I like and b) investigate some I haven’t seen before.

11. Hearing the two hosts of The Get, a newer podcast I think I’ve recommended already, break down their own experience of being alerted to  some potentially exclusionary Assness on their own parts. It’s in episode 5, at about the 20 minute mark, and if you are like most of us in a place of having had just about enough of some more-privileged group’s goddamn privilege while simultaneously wrestling with all your very own privilege and what it means for how you show up in the world, it’ll feed your soul.

So, that’s it for this time. If you have suggestions for not being such an Ass, I’ll always take them.




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