Help Me Not Be Such an Ass: Jan 15-Feb 14, 2016



Hello! Lately I keep thinking “my God, what a time to be alive! and reading!” There is just so much and it’s so interesting and good and I cannot keep up. I have a book in every room right now because I can’t stop starting them, and it means my mind is so swirly, and in all this help-seeking behavior I am probably creating new needs for help, as in “help remembering to take a walk every day, and call my loved ones to learn about what kind days they’ve been having.”

Also: a new participatory puzzle project is afoot, and this time it’s jigsaws! If you like jigsaw puzzles, deconstructing cultural hegemonies, or BOTH, it’s for you. It doesn’t matter where you are–the project comes to you. Click here for more and to self-include (form embedded at the end of this post, as well).

And now! A selection of that to which I turned or was turned to for help this last month:

1. #EdResearch4SpringValley: In response to the video’d incident of violence against a Black female high school student in South Carolina (a School Resource Officer grabbed her by the neck, slammed her desk to the floor and then dragged her out of the desk), a group of educational researchers have crowd-sourced (crowd = more ed researchers and social scientists) “a list of research that addresses the marginalization and treatment of youth of color in our schools.” It’s so much help not being such an Ass, all in one place. They say: This is an offering in service of our youth, who are often subjected to discriminatory treatment, racism, gender and sexual violence, class bias, and other forms of dehumanization.  While all of these works are in the public sphere, generally many are not as visible to the general public. Therefore, we aim to make them more widely known to educators, parents, students, activists, community-based organizations and many others, as they continue to eradicate social injustice in schools and education. 

2. Mime ministries. My chorus sang at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at First Baptist church in Carrollton. Also there that night was a six-person group who performed what I now know is an established praise form in Black churches: mime ministry (it looks like this, explanation here). I had no context for it then, and spend so little time in churches, so I was going to be struck no matter what. But wow: I was overcome by the gifts and genius of these young people.

3. Master of None: Oh wow. Aziz Ansari is an intersectional feminist! This show is everything. It’s on Netflix.

4. Other people’s stories: Usually when I need extra help not being such an ass, it’s because I’ve forgotten that I am one of seven billion people, each of whom are at once themselves and part of humanity. A good way to remember is to engage directly with the stories of others, which you can do at the Story Portal of the “People’s State of the Union.” Also, next Saturday is the Poetic Address to the Nation! Livestream it and know you are one of many!

5. Students at the University of West Georgia held the first Black Lives Matter Poetry Jam, and I think the first BLM campus event period. Genius after genius got up and changed everybody’s life a little or a lot. I have no video or resource to share; just an exhortation to find who in your area is creating spaces like this, and go be in that space.

6. Hey guess what! My Dad, Ray Boddy, STILL has one of the top 3 most-cited-of-all-time articles in the Review of Radical Political Economics: “Class Conflict and Macro-Policy: The Political Business Cycle.” One source of help not being such an ass is to be confronted with the awesomeness of your parents. (I can’t share this article but if you have a scholarly hook-up, they can get you access). I’m about half way through this 19-page paper, understanding perhaps 30% of what I read. Dang, Dad. (Similar mom moment here, if you recall).

7. Slavery, Reparations, and the Mythic March of Freedom, by Walter Johnson, from 2007. I can’t share it PDF because it’s from an academic journal but if you can find it, read it. (This whole post is riddled with things I can’t share properly! Thank you for understanding.)

8. The right-now flurry of writing connected to the cases for and against reparations, for and against Ta-Nehisi Coates, for and against class politics as articulated by the writers of Jacobin…it’s just consuming. There is so much and I don’t know where to tell you to start, so here’s a google page of everything. Finish with this: “Reparations and Other Right-Wing Fantasies” and bask in how much you do not and can never know about the world.

9. The flurry of writing about Beyoncé. Apparently, I have managed to set up my echo chamber such that what makes it to me is basically “sure, she used imagery from the Black radical revolutionary tradition, but the video/performance’s stance remains essentially neo-liberal/capitalist, so whatever” and “A brilliant Black woman is about to tell you things you’ve never considered and better start, so take a seat.” I understand there have been some Sheriffs in a huff? Anyway: if the Marxists are going to make me choose between them and Beyoncé, they are going to lose, so I hope they ease up. Also, if you have not watched Formation itself, go give yourself the gift of it. And then, finally, watch the SNL skit and just fall down.

10. Echo Chamber: Yes, I’m noticing mine. Helpfully, David Byrne has some wisdom on this matter.

Ok: that’s it for now. I am finding 2016 hard to keep up with in terms of all the help available, so if you have a suggestion, I’ll always take it..because otherwise I’m likely to go down a “what is Beyoncé’s case for/against reparations?!” rabbit hole and I might never come out.



And here’s the self-inclusion form for the jigsaw project:

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