Thursday, October 29, 2009

There goes that "excluding Indians not taxed" clause again

Hat tip to Prometheus 6 for judicious quoting of the Constitution over at his place on the 2010 census issue.

October 28, 2009
California Would Lose Seats Under Census Change

A Republican senator’s [Vitter, R-LA --ProfGeo] proposal to count only United States citizens when reapportioning Congress would cost California five seats and New York and Illinois one each, according to an independent analysis of census data released Tuesday. Texas, which is projected to gain three seats after the 2010 census, would get only one.

I can't see Texas giving up two potential congressional seats (representation, $$) just to avoid the Constitutional mandate to count "the whole number of persons in each state." But the state has been known to cut off its nose to spite its face. Texas might, if properly cajoled by its jingoist inbred cousins in Louisiana, join in the attempt to leave non-citizens (oh, whoever could they mean? Our Canadian and British guest workers? Right...) out of the 2010 census. That's a lot of legal residents unsupported.

Even though the proposal to leave out certain whole persons is blatantly unconstitutional, they might get brownie points from the ultra-right for talking a good game-- just for bringing the matter up. That's sad in itself.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why I hate the Confederacy, Part I: Slave Names

Oooh! ®

Then Whitten told some employees he was changing their Spanish first names. Whitten says it's a routine practice at his hotels to change first names of employees who work the front desk phones or deal directly with guests if their names are difficult to understand or pronounce.

"It has nothing to do with racism. I'm not doing it for any reason other than for the satisfaction of my guests, because people calling from all over America don't know the Spanish accents or the Spanish culture or Spanish anything," Whitten says. [emphasis added --ProfGeo]

Hotel owner tells Hispanic workers to change names
By MELANIE DABOVICH, Associated Press Writer
Monday, October 26, 2009
(10-26) 05:57 PDT Taos, N.M. (AP) --

Larry Whitten marched into this northern New Mexico town in late July on a mission: resurrect a failing hotel.

The tough-talking former Marine immediately laid down some new rules. Among them, he forbade the Hispanic workers at the run-down, Southwestern adobe-style hotel from speaking Spanish in his presence (he thought they'd be talking about him), and ordered some to Anglicize their names.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's next, a note from massa giving you permission to travel?

The department also wonders why Bromley's trainer, Senior Cpl. Daniel Larkin, failed to catch his trainee's mistake.
I don't wonder much at all! (Video at the WFAA link)
Dallas cop cites woman for not speaking English
10:50 AM CDT on Friday, October 23, 2009

DALLAS — A Dallas police officer, just out of the academy and still under supervised training, ticketed a woman recently for leaving her drivers license at home, making an illegal U-turn, and being a "non-English speaking driver."

"At first I thought it was a joke," said Brenda Mondragon about the ticket issued to her mother, Ernestina. "We moved from California two years ago, so I thought maybe it's a law here."

It's not, of course. (Crime blog w/ image of original citation)

I am further amused by the fact that, at the leading outlet, the Dallas Morning News, "comments have been disabled on this story" . No, I don't wonder at that either. Nor do I wonder about the 38 other illegal citations for the same thing that this incident brought to light.

Quote of the Week (a TOTF Instant Tradition)

The sheep proudly raised their heads. "Justice!" they bleated in chorus. "Justice!"
     --Leonie Swann (from Three Bags Full)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Earth to Tangipahoa Parish, LA: You need to let go

With hat tip to Julie Dermansky (jsdart) of Flickr, I found several "man on the street" video follow-ups to the Jim Crow flashback story of Keith Bardwell, the "Marryin' Sam" who, in 2009, wouldn't marry interracial couples.

This one is African-American Tangipahoa resident "John Brown":

There are a couple more by the same interviewer. Just to, uh, be complete (but not fair and balanced, thanks) I am including the following video comments of "John Green," a Ponchatoula resident. File under hoist on own petard:

Part 1:

Part 2 (has plenty of US history, Southern-style):

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Louisiana: so much for my nice post-Katrina story

Hat tip to JJP for the first post I saw about this one, "Interracial couple denied marriage license in Louisiana. It's not 2009 everywhere." Apparently it's not even 1909 in some places.
Oooh! ®

Here's the original story from the Hammond (LA) Daily Star. My first glance at the comments there was enough...
JP refuses to marry couple

A justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple last week because of concern for the children who might be born of that relationship.

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish’s 8th Ward, also said it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

“I’m not a racist,” Bardwell said. “I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children.”

Beth Humphrey, 30, said she and her boyfriend, Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond, intend to consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.

Time out for a post-Katrina story

Well, if you put it that way, as a matter of fact I do want some fried chicken. Wanna make something of it?

Leah Chase: The embodiment of New Orleans determination
Many stories have been told about the devastation wrought by Katrina, and Leah Chase, who is 86, probably embodies the struggles of rebuilding as much as any other person.

It took two years, and help from friends and customers, before she could open a take-out window. And even today, her restaurant Dooky Chase is only open for lunch three days a week.
Yes, I'm glad to see people still kicking butt at 86. But I also like this part of the story, about the photos of G. W. Bush and Obama in her reconstructed, reopened restaurant:

At the end of the meal I asked about Obama and her eyes took on a joyous sheen as she practically sang his praises in her deep, rich voice.

I couldn't resist: "So you seem to be an equal opportunity cook," I said, as I drew attention to the other President [Bush II --ed.]. Her twinkle shifted a bit.

"He's a lovely man," she said. "He's invited me to the White House twice and he's such a gentleman." After a short pause she said: "However some men just find themselves in the wrong job."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some of Us Are More Equal than Others, or Hold the Dionne

Yes, it has been quiet around here. Not so quiet in real-- er, physical-- life. I think the capper was last week's passing of one of our community elders who was also one of my former students. An IT colleague's heart attack the same week was a close second. So I shifted to mostly reactive mode, commenting & composting elsewhere, as my online cohort (see sidebar) provided the regenerative fodder I needed. Thanx & a tip o' th' battered fedora to P6, Sea Mist, soulbrother v.2. Thanks even to JJP, where there is far too much mess going on in the comments, but I learned a couple things scrolling through.

If it's all right with you, at this point I'm going to catch up bit by bit, item by item, on matters of human (in)equality in current events, until the task completely overwhelms me.


In that case let's just pick one. The fact that there are so many to choose from is telling.

One should always be wary of citing a columnist whose name sounds like a boutique brand of mustard, but E. J. Dionne's Washington Post column of October 12 cuts across several current issues and is worthwhile for that reason. Here's the disease in terms of the latest symptom, the Nobel Peace Prize award to President Obama:
His opponents are describing the award as premature. The deeper problem is that the Nobel will underscore the extent to which Obama is a cosmopolitan figure, much loved in European capitals because he is the change they have been looking for. [emphasis mine]
Yes, now the President is reviled for being much loved. I will go a step further and suggest that Obama is not just a cosmopolitan figure, but is truly cosmopolitan in the sense described by Kwame Anthony Appiah in Cosmopolitanism. As Yasmin Alibhai-Brown says in her review of Appiah's book, "Cosmopolitanism... provokes attacks from the left for whom it is dilettante and elitist. The right despises it because cosmopolitans make bad nationalists and patriots. All authoritarians detest the internationalist spirit."

That about wraps it up, as wrapped as it can be without bringing race directly into it. Had Dionne stayed with this theme... But no, he had to go there even as he denied the whiteness of "angry white men" (his quotes):
There is no doubt that some of the anger is fueled by racial feeling, which is not the same as saying that all opposition to Obama is explained by racism. Most Obama opponents are simply conservative Republicans who disagree with him. But there are too many racist signs at rallies and too many overtly racial pronouncements in the fever swamps of the right-wing media to deny that racism is part of the anti-Obama mix.
This is the current race-not-race meme as it has evolved across the media. No longer able to deny the racist displays, statements, jokes and diatribes that have been there since Obama announced his candidacy (thanks, YouTube) pundits seek to acknowledge and then immediately nullify them. "Most Obama opponents are simply conservative Republicans..." perhaps, but they're conservative Republicans who tolerate, support, laugh with as opposed to laughing at, and definitely fail to decry the bigots in their midst. When called on it, our angry white non-racist conservatives will briefly denounce the occasional bad apple or isolated instance, no pattern and certainly no systemic issues here, folks, and then they move on, as if that settles the matter.

Let me throw Dionne a bone. I commend him for citing the example of Australia's One Nation party. That does allow us to pick up a hint, a soupçon of a pattern across former British colonies such as ours.
Though [Australian deputy PM] Gillard diplomatically avoided direct comment on American politics, she said what's happening here reminded her of the rise of Pauline Hanson, a politician who caused a sensation in Australian politics in the 1990s by creating One Nation, a xenophobic and protectionist political party tinged with racism.
Hanson to Palin... there and back again. Hm. Go on, now.

[Editor's note: Hat tip to P6 whose earlier post on the reappearance of invisibility caused me to slow down and read and not merely skim the Dionne original. Also for the single-word linking trick.]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A brief visit to the other side

Yesterday morning I learned of the passing of one of the perennial students on my campus, Helen Jones. Helen was in her early 80s and had been taking undergraduate and graduate classes for years, dragging scores of younger students in her wake as she showed everyone what "lifelong learning" actually looked like in practice.

I have seen both joy and concern on her face, as various African American-- students, staff, and faculty-- chose to excel or not. She never let us have it with anger, always with love. She did a lot of behind-the-scenes counseling, trying to keep people on the path, but somehow everyone on campus always knew who was getting straightened out. In the past several years, we heard a little more about personal ailments and a little less about her next academic achievement or whether we were acting right, but that goes with the territory of aging. We'll all have our turn.

I last saw Helen about two weeks ago, sitting in our campus library regaling one of the reference librarians with some tale or other. She was big on regaling. I've asked around, and she was busy on campus as recently as last Thursday. Friday, she went into the hospital.

She developed a quilt project for her Master's degree that reflected her Southern upbringing and aspects of Black history that most of us don't choose to remember most of the time. I'll post a photo if I can find one.

One of my colleagues wrote the following yesterday, and I don't think she'll mind if I reproduce it here:
So many of us will remember this woman of vision, determination, and courage.
I will miss her stories, her wisdom, our travels and unexpected errand running.
Her untamed guidance and ways of modeling how to be an extraordinary Student
has rubbed off on all of us who studied.
She gave us a greater purpose of being,
and in so many ways defined a Strong, Independent, Black Woman.
We'll never forget you Mrs. Jones.