The race for the jobs

But the South!

race-and-ethnicity-main-imageIn the many jobs that I’ve had, I never thought my race was a factor. Some of them were affected by previous relationships. Being a page at Binghamton Public Library, doing bookkeeping at the Schenectady Arts Council, managing at FantaCo, for instance. In each case, there were people I knew, one black, two white, who undoubtedly helped me secure employment.

Then there was a slew of jobs where the employer just wanted a competent person for the position. my two stints as a janitor qualify. And BTW, I was pretty good at it, especially in Binghamton City Hall in 1975.

I graduated from library school in May 1992 and applied for several positions. The State Library offered me an interview in July of that year, but I was unsuccessful. Then I heard about this job at the New York Small Business Development Center. My friend Jennifer was interning there. They had just gotten a grant to provide library reference services, not just for the NYSBDC but for the whole country.

Michele, who had started the library as a half-time position became the director. Jennifer was the second librarian hired for what was dubbed the Research Network. I was interviewed and became the third librarian on October 19. Lynne was hired on October 22 and was the fourth. Since the program ostensibly began on October 1, we had a lot of work to do from the get-go, including getting the materials from the Georgia SBDC, which had the gig before New York.

How would they deal with it?

It was only five or seven years later that a person who would be in the know and impeccably reputable told me a story I found rather unsettling. I shan’t reveal who they are except to say they were most definitely in the know.

I had interviewed well enough. But apparently, there were one or more persons on the committee who were concerned about my race. Specifically, the job required that the librarian in that position create liaisons with the state directors and other staff in the other states’ lead centers. Many of them were in the South, of course. The search committee was afraid that these folks wouldn’t cotton to working to a black person. So I was rejected for that reason.

Then, someone up the State University of New York food chain told them, “You can’t do that!” SUNY is the host institution of the NY SBDC. I ended up getting the job after all.

The news, a half dozen years after the fact, was initially jaw-dropping. Then, thinking back on who was on the search committee, not so much. If a certain party hadn’t intervened, I would not have gotten the job. I would not have known why, either.

Of course, it got me to wonder about all the other people who didn’t get the job because of bias. Despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, I have no doubt that racism has crept into the employment mix.

Book: So you want to talk about race

We have to talk about it because we’ve harmed people

so you want to talk about raceA friend of mine asked if I had read So you want to talk about race, the 2018 book by Ijeoma Oluo. I said it was on my list. The truth is that it was in the house, but in a flurry of tidying up, it got misplaced.

Now it’s found. And I read the 240-page paperback in three or four hours over two days. The story was compelling because she put a lot of herself, a “black, queer woman” with a white single mom, on the pages.

“It’s about race if a person of color thinks about race.” I related to that. At the same time, she notes that “almost nothing is completely about race.” And that explaining systemic racism is not always easy.

In the chapter about talking about race incorrectly, the primary subject was her own mom. “Why can’t I be talking about… anything but this.” Conversely, Ms. Oluo tells about her OWN failure to check her privilege. She explains intersectionality better than most people I’ve read.

Her chapter on affirmative action was not academic but personal, with her family finding the need to sneak into a vacant apartment in order to take showers. A school game tagged her brother as “homeless,” when in fact the family had literally experienced this.

Lock ’em up

The school-to-prison pipeline the author talked about is quite insidious. I recently saw a story on the news about an eight-year-old mixed-race kid with special needs. He was arrested for felony assault for hitting his teacher in December 2018. He couldn’t be handcuffed because the boy’s wrists were too skinny. The child is STILL traumatized by this experience.

The particular pain of the author, at age 11, and her brother being subjected to the N-word in what they perceived to a safe setting was particularly awful. She explains an almost comical example of cultural appropriation at a dining establishment. I’ve never understood why any white person would ask a black person if they could touch their hair. Yet it’s a common phenomenon.

I’ve never liked the word “microaggression.” It seems to trivialize the pain of being, for instance, the fat black kid afraid of eating pizza, even though she hadn’t eaten all day. I myself hear the one about my proper use of English. Also, generally, “you aren’t like other black people,” as though that was supposed to be a compliment; n.b., it is not.

Ijeoma Oluo’s then eight-year-old son didn’t want to sing the national anthem or say the pledge of allegiance at school. He wanted to duck a school assembly to avoid it; it did get worked out. I’ve had my own issues with those symbols, albeit slightly later in life. He also realized he ought not to play with toy guns like his white friends did because he didn’t want to end up dead like the 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.

Importantly, in “But what if I hate Al Sharpton,” he addressed a lot of myths. About Martin Luther King and what he really stood for. About Malcolm X. (The late folk singer Phil Ochs also addressed this in Love Me, I’m a Liberal.)

The book ends with a call for action, including Vote local, Bear witness to bigotry, Boycott bigoted businesses, and Supporting businesses owned by people of color.

Yes, Ijeoma Oluo may tell you a few things you already knew if you’ve read other books on racism. But because she puts herself in the story, So you want to talk about race got me to turn the pages. And watch this video. Listening to her speak explains why people who listen to her audiobook enjoy it so much.

August rambling: a word with no meaning

keep the lowest-ranked people at the bottom

rock-classification-table
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The NRA and the Long Con.

There’s No Such Thing as Family Secrets in the Age of 23andMe.

Telehealth Boom Misses Older Adults.

Don’t Blame Colleges for the Coming Fall Debacle. This is just what higher education looks like in a failed state.

Google Voice deserves your attention (again).

The Anonymous Professor Who Wasn’t.

Urban Dictionary TOP Definition: Literally – a word with no meaning in today’s USA.

Webwaste: The Web is Obese.

Vlogbrothers (Hank Green): Ideas are absolutely a kind of magic and It seems like content is now infinite and internalizing the reality that critique is vital…but so is knowing when you think it’s wrong.

A Tale of Two TV Producers and How They Switched Places (Gene Roddenberry and Jack Webb).

Ken Levine interview of Debbie Gibson: Part 1 and Part 2.

Songwriter Ashley Gorley Becomes First with 50 Number One Songs.

Double-O Thoughts.

Octothorpe – another term for the pound, number, or hashtag symbol (#).

Race

John Oliver: US history books and racism.

How Stephen Miller Molded the GOP to His Anti-immigration Agenda.

Pitfalls Black Lives Matter must avoid to maintain momentum and achieve meaningful change.

A Rare Recipe From a Talented Chef, Enslaved by a Founding Father.

A historical reckoning for the global slave trade including the database Legacies of British Slave-ownership.

I’ll have to read Isabel Wilkerson’s important new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. She makes unsettling comparisons between India’s stigmatizing treatment of its untouchables, Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews, and America’s treatment of African-Americans, the social systems that “keep the lowest-ranked people at the bottom.”

Now I Know

The Color of Fraud and The Holbrook Holiday and The Horseless Headsman and The TV That Needed Help and Kindergarten Crabs?

regency-novel-or-pandemic-life
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IMPOTUS

His Threat to Press Freedom Is Global.

Weekly Sift: The Election: Worry or Don’t Worry?

The Lincoln Project: Wake Up.

Yes, Kanye Is Trying To Help Trump Win By Spoiling Biden’s Chances with some help.

MUSIC

Lookin’ For a Leader 2020 – Neil Young.

Global Warming by Michael Abels.

The Ordering of Moses by Robert Nathaniel Dett.

Stevie Wonder music featuring Rebecca Jade and Leonard Patton on vocals, Tripp Sprague on sax and flute, Mack Leighton on bass, Duncan Moore on drums, and Peter Sprague on guitar. The Prayer featuring Rebecca Jade and Chris Walker.

AGO Organfest: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

Concerto for Left Hand in D Major by Ravel, performed by Leon Fleischer, who died at the age of 92.

16, Going On 17 – Laura Benanti and Christopher Fitzgerald

You’ll Be Back, priest’s viral ‘Hamilton’ video.

Brandy – Elliot Lurie. and friends, a cappella (and an Evanier story).

Electric Avenue – The Last Bandoleros and SHAGGY.

William Tell Overture finale, played by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

Coverville 1319: Covers of Public Enemy, RUN-DMC and LL Cool J.

July rambling: The True True Truth

Blind Tom Wiggins and Ulysses Simpson Kay – black composers

arguments-against-wearing-a-parachute
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Who Are Those Guys? – Customs and Border Protection agents in Portland, OR.

Why Hundreds of Mathematicians Are Boycotting Predictive Policing.

Looming Immigration Services Shutdown May Fuel Voter Suppression in 2020.

Apologies that aren’t apologies, 2020 edition.

They’re trying to kill the Postal Service so they can privatize it.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: China & Uighurs.

The Cancel Culture Debate.

Methane is mysteriously leaking from the sea floor in Antarctica, edging global heating to a point of no return.

The Truth About Micromanagers.

People who like embarrassing or angering others find social media more addictive.

Violin Makers’ Dark Future.

Patriotic Millionaires.

The Lincoln Project ads: How It Starts and Trumpfeld and The Wall and New.

The No Cars Experiment.

Why You Should Travel Without a Smartphone.

The Sisyphean Quest to Bring Back Discontinued Foods.

An Oral History of Big Mouth Billy Bass.

How the Ice Cream Truck Made Summer Cool.

I am spiritually Finnish.

Actor John Saxon, RIP.

Gone With the Wind’ star Olivia de Havilland dies at 104.

The sons and daughters of John Wayne, John Lennon, Caitlyn Jenner, and others tell what it was like to grow up with a world-famous dad .

Rotten Tomatoes: 100 Worst Movies Of All Time. I’ve seen zero of them, FWIW.

Race

Rep. John Lewis wasn’t seen as a hero from the beginning — and there’s a lesson in that. Plus Barack Obama delivers his eulogy.

A new word in my vocab: misogynoir, where racism and sexism meet.

The health disparities of systemic racism.

ERIC Crow, Jim Crow’s liberal twin.

Peggy Shepard is Featured in CBS Environmental Racism Story.

I’ve not read it. Thoughts? Robin DiAngelo’s best-seller White Fragility is a book about how to make certain educated white readers feel better about themselves.

Characteristics of white supremacy culture and, from NPR: White supremacist ideas have historical roots in U.S. Christianity.

“I Have Struggled”: Black TV Journalists Talk George Floyd Coverage, Industry Diversity.

Calling on the Ancestors: The Gift of Ralph Ellison.

Now I Know

The Post Office That’s Underwater and The Cheeseburger on Ice and When Video Games Go Bitter and International Wallyball and When Bread Breaks Arms and The Politician Who Went to Prison.

COVID
Confirmed Cases.
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Health care executives fear public distrust of vaccine will lead to the continued spread of disease.

John Oliver on coronavirus conspiracy theories, and related, The True True Truth.

Inside His Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus.

DeVos’s Plan to Reopen Schools Hides a Sinister Agenda and Back to School.

We’ve Reached Peak Libertarianism — And It’s Literally Killing Us.

Buddy, first dog to test positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., has died.

How to make masks that everyone will want to wear.

Why Pandemic First Dates Are Better and We Found Love in a Hopeless Place.

Gee, Anthony Fauci -Randy Rainbow.

MUSIC

Lincoln Center version of Carousel starring Kelli O’Hara and Nathan Gunn available until 8 PM ET on September 8.

Rebecca Jade! Live From The Merc with Peter Sprague (7/26) and Home Made, Part 4 (7/25).

Everybody Cries – Rita Wilson, from “The Outpost”.

The Battle of Manassas, by Blind Tom Wiggins.

How Can I Keep from Singing – NYC Virtual Choir and Orchestra.

Fantasy Variations by Ulysses Simpson Kay.

A rock concert of 1,000 performers.

Coverville 1317: Cover Stories for Beck and Jack White and 1318: The Slash Cover Story.

If the world was ending – JP Saxe.

Hamilton Cast Tribute To The 40th Anniversary of A Chorus Line (2015).

Longest Time (Quarantine Edition) – Phoenix Chamber Choir.

Jumpin’ Jive – Cab Calloway with the Nicholas Brothers number from Stormy Weather.

Lean on Me – Bill Withers (live).

K-Chuck Radio: Order in the Court”.

“BIG DADDY…STRANDED IN THE JUNGLE” to ten (audio version) episodes!

Lydster: creating another Jesus

collage

JesusI was quite unclear what my daughter’s specific motivation was. Suddenly, she needed to cut up magazines, and sort the pieces by color. Bye bye, old, unread copies of Vanity Fair.

Then she did a couple of drawings on 8.5″ by 11″ paper, one in green, the other in blue. She added digits as though she were creating a paint-by-numbers. And she was, of a sort. She was creating a code for the different colors, and the gradation within the hues. Using the copier, she made the primary image larger.

Our church had disposed of some old hymnals a couple of years ago, and we had three or four copies. One of them died for her art, as she arranged the pages as her background. There was no musical theme involved, BTW.

The living room was quite a mess as she glued pieces on the image she had hand-drawn. Here’s the result of her collage of another Jesus portrayal. It is roughly 30″ by 40″.

Is heaven segregated?

I found an interesting interview from NPR in June 2020. The Rev. Lenny Duncan is a black preacher in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. his 2019 book is Dear Church: A Love Letter From a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US.

A couple quotes: “One of the things I talk about in the book is [the symbolism of Advent] — painting blackness as always in darkness, always as evil and bad, further away from the light of God and all that kind of language we use in our worship.”

And: “I believe that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wants to be better. They just don’t know how. One of the things that we often underestimate with the power of white supremacy is that the people who are the sickest from it, often do not know that they are infected with it.”

The philosophers of the 18th and 19th century codified that notion. In Philosophy of History (Chapter 2), Voltaire argued that blacks were a separate, lesser species. Europeans felt the need to justify their discriminatory treatment of non-Europeans. So-called “empirical methods” readily allowed them to conclude that Indians and Africans were inferior people.

At some level, my daughter, who was in her confirmation class only last year, must be intuitively aware of all of this. We haven’t had specific conversations about what Jesus looked like. Her rendering of another Jesus is her truth.