While the Prof Was Out: Important News Quickies

While my computer was out for debugging, you’d think I would be out walking around on the beach enjoying our vacation. After all, being far away from the office (have laptop and uni laptop bt never blog from the latter) I was virtually internet free accept the phone and the coffeeshop that has 1 wee little lap top for die hards. In truth, I did enjoy being virtually “offline”, this vacation has been critical for us as a stop gap between one set of cancer treatments and the next big cancer test in the family. And yet, I was consistently watching the news and these are the stories that stood out for me:

Positive Stories

  • Houston Mayor Bill White via Council Member Jolanda Jones declared July 25th  Transgender Day in Houston @ the Transgender Center 1 year anniversary. The Day will help raise awareness about both the discrimination against Transgender people and the triumphs of the transgender community and trans center in Houston.
  • Leonard Peltier was granted another parole hearing, citing the admission of the prosecution that there was NO direct evidence that he was involved in the shooting of 2 FBI agents
  • President Obama announced he will sign the the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on Friday which expands the rights of differently-abled people in the U.S. to agreed upon international standards. (More on this on Friday)
  • The Matthew Shepard Act passed. The Act gaurantees extra staffing, investigators, and forensic equipment and databases to investigating potential hate crimes against people based on perceived sexual and gender transgression. read more here
  • Salt Press managed to save their press from going under by asking everyone to buy just one book they published. This story inspired me to come up with a challenge for all of you: please buy a book written by a woc or a woc inclusive press. I’m going to do a whole post on this in a day or two when I’ve coordinated the effort.


  • Sotomayor got 13 votes recommending her for full confirmation – 12 democrat and 1 republican. Senator Graham broke with his party to vote for her but diminished his vote by saying,  “I wouldn’t have picked her, but I understand why Obama nominated her.”

Negative Stories

  • Henry Louis Gates homes and yard has been repeatedly postered by unidentified Cambridge residents claiming “reverse discrimination” and blaming Skip for creating racial tension. One of his neighbors, reports there were tons of signs with similar themes on the lawn and the trees lining the sidewalk infront of his home. This serves as a reminder that when the media moves on racism continues. And while the focus on his privilege as someone who can have a mediation at the White House is warranted, so is a discussion about the targeting of him and his home by members of his community for daring to be upset about being accused of breaking into his own home and then arrested b/c he got angry.
  • Health care got back burnered to discuss what kind of beer Gates, Crowley, and Obama drink. I think this is an insult to the N. American people in general, b/c of the massive need in this nation for health care, and to those who have been harassed and/or killed by police brutality who have no similar access to recourse. For me the discussion should have centered around larger issues of inequality and existed alongside health care coverage in popular media. Meanwhile, Republicans took advantage of the distraction to try and remove a public plan from the bill and  to exempt businesses from having to carry some form of health care. Very few outlets bothered to discuss the impact of these issues consistently.
  • The Governor signed the new California budget which will leave some of California’s most vulnerable populations devistated by cutbacks. Among those who will be losing many needed services: the elderly, differently-abled adults and school based children, mothers and children, unemployed and underemployed women, immigrants, and students.  The budget also cuts HIV funding!!!! So who cares if poor folks get the cocktail, didn’t big pharma already say they needed to be “thinned” anyway (this is actually true, a colleague is working on a book about HIV meds, big pharma, and race and class comments they’ve made). Several of my colleagues are not sure their departments will withstand the cuts and at least one has been told her department is done by the end of the upcoming year. On so many levels I am grateful I did not take the two offers to lure me away from my current position to return to Cali, and to think, this time last year I was really regretting it . . . and while I think these thoughts are relevant and important, the myopia of academe while the whole state (and possibly the region) is going to hell feels really privileged to me even if we are facing unemployment or moving to new departments.
  • schizophrenic mom dismembers her own son after family members noticing post-partum and schizoid episode failed to call authorities. Women of color and people with mental health issues both have a long history of being mistreated and/or ignored by the health profession and many, especially those with mental health issues, can find themselves incarcerated for daring to be in public. The fear of discrimination may have been a deciding factor in this Latina’s family’s decision not to call authorities and the result is a dead child. Until we confront the ways systemic oppression, particularly in policing the Other, people will continue to suffer. When a call for help can lead to hurt, how do you choose wisely? and while racism and ableism did not make this woman kill her child, could their absence have helped prevent it? read full story here. (and yes, if this had been a white mom, I still would be talking about ableism, and if it was an able-bodied white mother I would add it to the posts in which I ask if there are larger structural issues turning mothers on their children as this is becoming a much more widely reported phenomena these days. Is it an offshoot of sexism + classism or something else? B/c I’ve done a lot of these posts in the last 3 years and I think it had moved beyond the exceptional “sicko” argument at this point.)

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