Friday, July 31, 2009

The TGIF Sex Blog [Sexual Terms]

¡Hola! Everybody...
While my vacation started off on a bad note, things have settled down and I’m having some F-U-N! I’m back in The City, but headed out to New Joisy this weekend. My friend bummed me out because she won’t drive me to visit Falling Water. L

Oh well!

It’s Friday, it’s summer, and it’s about that time for... S-E-X!

* * *

-=[ Misunderstood Sexual Terms ]=-

The only sexual deviance is abstinence.

-- Sigmund Freud

Here are some [very] brief definitions of a few useful though often misunderstood and misused sexual terms...

Bestiality: Sex with animals. This practice is not as uncommon as you might think. The late Dr. Alfred Kinsey, for example, found that about eight percent of the men he surveyed had sexual contact with animals (although usually only once of twice in their lifetimes) proving once again that a man will stick his penis into almost anything.

Exhibitionism: A sexual behavior in which an individual is aroused by exposing his or her genitals to strangers. It’s the shock, dismay, and panic that’s the real turn on. If you don’t act shocked by a flasher, you’ll at least deprive him or her of the sexual pleasure they get out of the experience. Exhibitionists are rarely dangerous, by the way, and do not usually progress to more violent behavior such as rape.

Fetishism: Technically, a fetish is an inanimate object endowed with magical or supernatural power. A sexual fetish is an object endowed with sexual power. Sexual fetishes include objects or body parts such as panties, bras, hair, breasts, women’s derrieres (*grin*), feet (ewwwwww!), or even pictures of feet (double ewwwwww!). The objects may provide tactile sensations (leather, latex, fur) or emit smells (soiled underwear) that serve to stimulate the fetishist. (A fetishist is a person who gets aroused by a fetish.) Some fetishists have sex exclusively with fetish objects and may actually derive greater pleasure from that than from intercourse. For others, fetishes are only an accessory to lovemaking with another person. An overly simplistic and incomplete (in my opinion) explanation for fetishists is that it arises from transferences from feelings of “sinfulness,” “wickedness,” and “lust.” From this point of view, fetishists transfer their sexual feelings to objects. The fetish itself becomes sinful, arousing, and a substitute for a lover. Fetishism is believed to be more prevalent among men perhaps because men seem to be aroused more easily aroused by sights and smells than women are.

Frotteurism: A sexual behavior in which someone gets sexual pleasure, and may even reach orgasm, from rubbing up against strangers in a crowd. Almost every New Yorker I know has a story involving this fetish. Our subway system is probably heaven for people with this fetish.

Hermaphroditism: A term describing the condition of having the attributes of both sexes (from Hermes and Aphrodite, god and goddess of love, respectively). Human hermaphrodites are born with a condition known as intersexuality, in which their reproductive systems and/ or chromosomes are not quite male or female. True hermaphrodites are rare and may have both fallopian tubes and a male deferens. Pseudohermaphrodites are more common and have the chromosomes and interior reproductive system of a woman, but the genitals of a man, or vice-versa.

Hermaphroditism is not uncommon among animals -- some oysters, snails, and worms function both as males and females during reproduction (simultaneous hermaphrodites), and hermaphroditic fish actually change from one sex to another during their lives (sequential hermaphrodites).

Incubus: a mythological evil spirit that assumes the form of a man and has intercourse with someone, usually a woman, at night in bed. Today we call them priests or Oregon trailer trash fathers.

Nymphomania/ Satyriasis: Nymphomania is a condition of insatiable sexual desire in a woman. Typically, such women have a compulsion to lure a series of casual sex partners for one-night stands, and then reject them, because the thrill of newness and conquest is the only thing that enables them to reach orgasm. In men this is considered normal adolescent/ young adulthood behavior (LOL!). Actually, the male version is referred to as Satyriasis, after satyr, the mythological attendants of Bacchus who were half goat, half man and famous for their lecherous ways. Today, we call obsessive/ compulsive sexual behavior sexual addiction.

Paraphilia: A general term used to describe sexual behavior that is considered outside the realm of normal. According to one school of thought, all paraphilias are seen as a way of separating oneself from the “wickedness” of sexuality -- such as transferring it to an inanimate object (fetishism) or having to be punished for feeling lust (sadomasochism). the key factor in a paraphilia is that it must be present in order for a person to become sexually aroused.

Sadomasochism: A sexual behavior in which sexual pleasure results from the giving (sadism) or receiving (masochism) of pain and humiliation. Partners may always play a fixed role (top/ bottom) or may reverse the roles.

Sodomy: This term is often used to refer to anal sex, but technically it also refers to mouth/ genital contact or sex with animals. It is sometimes used to refer to any sexual act not considered “normal.” I have at various times been falsely accused, among other things, of being a sodomite. *grin*

Succubus: A mythological evil spirit that assumes the form of a woman and has intercourse with someone, usually a man, at night in bed. Today we call them cougars or MILFs. LOL

Transsexualism: Transsexuals are those whose sexual self-image or gender identity does not match the sex of their physical body. They may undergo sex-change surgery and hormone treatment to become (as medically possible) their “true selves” -- someone of the opposite sex. Transsexuals do not view themselves as homosexuals but as heterosexuals who at birth were “trapped in the wrong body.” This dissatisfaction with one’s own sex is also sometimes referred to as gender dysphoria.

Transvestitism: Also called cross-dressing, transvestitism is a sexual behavior in which a person is sexually aroused by dressing up in the clothes, especially the underwear, of the opposite sex. Studies have shown that transvestites are almost always male and usually heterosexual. That is to say even though they dress up like women, they still consider themselves as male and attracted to women. They don’t want to become a woman (as in the case of transsexuals, who do); they’re simply sexually aroused by the experience of wearing women’s attire.

Voyeurism: A sexual behavior in which a person becomes aroused from the risk of being discovered while secretly watching a stranger undressing or having sex. Peeping Toms, as they are sometimes called, are rarely rapists; they spy, and then later “re-view” these secret mental movies during sex, either alone or with a partner.

Well, that’s it for today!



PS: Sex is good for you.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Racism [Racial Profiling]

¡Hola! Everybody...
I am on vacation, but today I have a telephone conference to attend to... I wrote the following a while back, never truly finished it, but the recent “national dialog” sparked by the Henry Louis Gates “incident” inspired me to post it. It’s part of a larger essay on criminal justice, conservatives, and racism...

* * *

-=[ Black & Blue: Racial Profiling ]=-

The most dysfunctional aspect of the almost non existent national dialog on race is that it is almost always filtered through the narrow lens of individualism. This serves to leave out any discussion of practices rooted in centuries-long systemic racism that benefits whites and excludes people of color. In this way, the core issue of racism -- how it is deeply embedded in our social institutions -- is left out of any meaningful public discussion. In this way, the arrest of a prominent academic (in his own home) is seen only from an individual perspective, severed from its social context. Our national dialog on race is similar to communication in families plagued by addiction: no one dares speak about “Daddy’s problem” because of fear and shame. As in such families, a destructive dysfunction is maintained by its denial.

Conservatives contend that liberal indulgence has been the cause for black crime in America. This is utterly astonishing considering it has come after decades of a historically unprecedented increase in the incarceration of black Americans. A conservative-dominated era marked by efforts by legislators and courts to “get tough on crime” and drugs in the inner city. Those who read me are by now familiar with the sickening numbers: almost one in ten black men aged twenty-five to twenty-nine was in prison at the start of the twenty-first century, compared to one white in ninety. Between the mid 1980s and the mid 1990s, the number of black men sentenced to prison for drug offenses increased by more than 700 percent.

This conservative disconnect between the idea that blacks have been absolved of personal responsibility by guilt-ridden, namby-pamby liberals and the reality of nearly thirty years of increasing harshness to black offenders suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong with the conservative argument.

There is.

The problem of black urban crime is arguably the ugliest, most emotional, aspect of the debate about race in America today. Beginning in the late 1970s and continuing on during the neoconservative ascension during the Reagan years (and accelerating during the 1990s), white and conservative commentators felt blacks lost the high moral ground. During this time the image of the brave little black girl walking up to a schoolhouse door in the face of jeering white crowds was replaced by fearsome (“wilding”) young black men coming down the street ready to take your wallet or your life. That transformation of black youth from victims of injustice to sociopathic predators fueled public policies that quietly reduced funding for education and other beneficial programs and funneled those resources into the service of creating a prison/ industrial complex historically unparalleled by any enlightened society.

Conservatives downplay racism (except, apparently, when it comes to appointing wise Latina women Supreme Courts judges) pointing out that victim surveys do show that victim of violent crime, including black victims, describe their perpetrators as being disproportionately black. Following this wave of research, many conservatives suggest that racism has nothing to do with the disproportionate number of black arrests. However, victim surveys cannot be legitimately be used to dismiss the fact that the criminal justice system is free of bias. They tell us nothing of how blacks are treated before incarceration, for example. More concisely, victim surveys alone cannot explain why the number of black men sentenced to prison for drug offenses increased by more than 700 percent in the ten-year period of 1985-1995, or why 80 percent or more of incarcerated drug offenders in seven states are black.

Recent research makes it clear that aggressive police behavior toward minorities cannot be explained away simply as a result of higher rates of black crime. A study of police stops of civilians in New York City, for example, done for the New York State attorney general’s office (Flynn, 1999), found that over a fifteen-month period in 1998 and 1999, blacks were stopped by police six times as often as whites were, and Latino/as, four times as often. Blacks made up about 25 percent of the city’s general population but 50 percent of the people stopped by the police. Whites made up 43 percent of the population but just 13 percent of civilians stopped by the police. Blacks were stopped considerably more than they were arrested, whites less so.

In fact, the scientific evidence on patterns of discriminatory police practices show that it is consistent and long-standing. Evidence from a variety of sources has shown for decades that such discrimination is systemic and widespread, even in police departments that are generally considered to be highly professional. Indeed, those discriminatory practices are not only tolerated but also frequently justified as good police work by the police themselves. Those practices, however, are often the initial steps in a process through which people of color, and minority youth of color specifically, are funneled into the maws of a criminal justice system.

In a classic observational study, markedly different treatment for black youth were found, even in departments widely known for the superior quality of its personnel. Especially minor offenses (situations where officers hold a great deal of discretion in deciding which actions to take) the police were much more likely to give blacks the tougher dispositions and less likely to release them outright. The researchers discovered that the most crucial factor in the police officer’s decisions was based on cues inferred from the youth’s character: “Older youths, youths with well-oiled hair, black jackets, Negroes, and soiled jeans... ” and boys who in their interactions with officers did not exhibit “what were considered to be appropriate signs of respect” tended to receive the most severe treatment and dispositions (Piliavin & Briar, 1964).

More recent work suggests that similar patterns prevail today, even after decades of efforts in some jurisdictions to improve the racial record of police. Newer research (Conley, 1999) reconfirms that black and Latino/a neighborhoods are more likely to be the focus of heavy police monitoring and surveillance to begin with, and that black and Latino/a youth are more likely to be defined by police as threatening and insubordinate, more likely to be stopped under various (and often false) pretexts, more likely to be arrested than to receive a warning, less likely to have charges dropped by the police (Human Rights Watch, 1996).

There is supportive evidence from some recent research that police are well aware of these racially structured practices but that they often defend them on one or more related grounds. On the one hand, police still operate under a peculiar form of circular reasoning that tends to reify the black stereotypes that were common over a generation ago. Since minority youth are more statistically more likely to be carrying weapons or dealing drugs on the street, the line of reasoning goes, why would police not concentrate their limited resources on them?

But the consequence of this reasoning, of course, is to exacerbate the very differences that are invoked to justify racially targeted practices in the first place. This in turn reinforces the public’s image of the gun-toting drug dealer or gang banger as black or Latino/a. And this confirms the validity of the police focus on youth of color, which then goes around and around in the same kind of vicious circle described in studies over forty years ago.

It’s all an exercise in tautology. In other words, By largely confining surveillance and searches to blacks and Latino/as, police authorities ensure that most of the people arrested for transporting guns or drugs on the freeways, for example, are black or Latino/a. This, of course, further validates the disproportionate focus on minority drivers. “To the extent that law enforcement agencies arrest minority motorists more frequently based on stereotypes,” a report mentions, they continue to “generate statistics that confirm higher crime rates among minorities which, in turn, reinforces the underpinnings of the very stereotypes that gave to the initial arrests” (Human Rights Watch, 1996).

This vicious cycle was escalated during the 1990s with injunctions that allowed police to target youths, often in ambiguous terms, as gang members if they so much as stopped to talk to a friend on the street. At one point, the county of LA outlawed so many colors, it was discovered the colors of the flag were illegal (Davis, 1992). This escalation has certainly been a major factor in the role of the police in the school-to-prison pipeline -- the shunting minority of youth into the criminal justice system. One study in a California County widely known for its extensive white drug-using counterculture found that 93 percent of youth sent to juvenile court for the offense of “possession of narcotics or controlled substances for sale” in the 1990s were Latino/a. Of youth and adults arrested in 1998 in California for the recently enacted offense of “participating in a street gang,” only 13 percent were white and non-Latino/a; almost 67 percent were Latino/a alone.

It follows then, that race still helps to determine who will enter the formal justice system in the first place and thus shapes what will happen thereafter. And what the research shows clearly is how persistent racial stereotyping works with long-term structural disadvantages to ensure that blacks wind up more often in the criminal justice system. It is well-known that adverse structural disadvantages cause blacks to have higher rates of offenses to begin with. The higher rates of offenses are then used as a justification for closer police monitoring of minority youths and by courts to sentence them more severely. The levels of incarceration serve to undermine black communities, as the collateral consequences of incarceration include obstacles to employment, education, and housing, which increases the risks of re-offending and higher rates of recidivism.

Conservatives fail to recognize the destructive effects of that cycle, mostly because they deny that there are structural reasons for high black crime rates. According to the conservative mindset, blacks are congenitally more prone to a criminal mentality. In this way, it's deemed perfectly appropriate to stop a well-dressed black professional. And if he becomes "insurbodinate (read: "uppity"), it's just as justified to arrest him.

Taken on its own merits -- divorced from its social context -- the Gates arrest doesn’t seem like much. I know some black people who express their belief that the incident had nothing or very little to do with race. However, placed within its social context, Gates’ arrest had a lot more to do about race than we care to admit as a society. Surveys show that at an overwhelming number of black men admit to being racially profiled at some point in their lives (Fausset & Huffstutter, 2009 ). I know Gates has experienced this as has our President. Almost all my darker-skinned friends have been targets. There is a strong conservative push to deny racism in our lives. And that, my friends, is a huge part of the problem.

Conley, D. (1999). Being black, living in the red: Race, wealth, and social policy in America . Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Davis, M. (1992). City of quartz: Excavating the future in Los Angeles . New York: Vintage Books.

Fausset, R., & Huffstutter, P. J. (2009 July 25). Black males' fear of racial profiling very real, regardless of class. Los Angeles Times.

Flynn, K. (1999, December 1). Racial bias shown in police searches, state report asserts. New York Times, p. A1.

Human Rights Watch. (1996). Race and drug law enforcement. New York: Human Rights Watch.

Piliavin, I., & Briar, S. (1964). Police encounters with juveniles. American Journal of Sociology, 70(2), 206-214.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The TGIF Sex Blog [The Other & Sex]

¡Hola! Everybody...
Well, I start my two-week vacation at the end of business day today. As I mentioned previously, I will be attending an intensive mediation retreat this weekend and then spend a few days in New England in quiet reflection near the healing quality of a body of water. I will eschew all media (as much as I can), perhaps write a little, but mostly, I’m going to practice doing nothing. It turns out that doing nothing is quite a task. I have queued some entries, and if moved, I might post the follow-ups to my racism series. Hasta la vista, my friends...

Before I move on to my blog, I would strongly recommend that you read the following article: click here. Every time I read it, i get goosebumps.

* * *

-=[ Sex, Domination & Resistance ]=-

The term miscegenation was first used in the 1860’s when American journalists invented the word in order to discredit the Abolitionist movement by stirring up debate over the prospect of white-black intermarriage. (On a tangential note, I find the parallels between miscegenation and the current gay marriage “debate” utterly fascinating.) In any case, miscegenation refers to sex or marriage between two people of different races.

Let me start right off by stating that I am of Puerto Rican descent, a people that has one of the highest rates of interracial marriage in the world. I believe only Brazil has higher rates. The funny thing is that Puerto Ricans don’t see it as “interracial.” There’s no “white” Puerto Rican as opposed to a “black” Puerto Rican. We are Puerto Ricans first. In fact, we don’t even adhere to a black/ white dichotomy. This is not to imply that racism does not exist among Puerto Ricans, it does. However, how we view and construct race is drastically different from the way you Americanos conceptualize it. But that’s a subject for the last part of my racism series...

I first began thinking about this post a couple of weeks ago. I was going back and forth with some neocon rube and he submitted that because he married someone who was “half black,” that meant he was incapable of being a racist. I don’t follow that at all. I mean, there are misogynists (men who hate women) who marry women -- does that make them all of a sudden enlightened men? In fact, there’s a long and ugly history of the eroticization of the “other.” I consider myself a feminist and someone who works against racism, but that doesn’t mean that I’m exempt from my social conditioning. I’m sure if I look close enough, I can find prejudice and sexist bias. I think being open to that possibility is what serves as a liberatory force. Whenever I hear someone say, “I am not a racist,” or “I am not sexist,” I am reminded of the family values guys who are in actuality man-whores.

According to a survey done in the 1970’s an average of one in five Americans have dated someone of a different race. Most interracial relationships are not based on difference, but in the same way other relationships are formed. However, those that deliberately and consistently select a partner of another race do so for reasons such as sexual novelty or the appeal of submissive women from other cultures. In America, it is not uncommon for some white girls to seek out black boyfriends as part of a larger pattern of breaking away from their parent’s values. This is especially true if the parents were controlling and/ or racially prejudiced. My personal observation is that this dynamic is widespread on the internet, where both girls and women can seek lovers from other races free from the prying eyes of their neighbors and families.

Conquerors have always used sex as both a weapon (i.e., rape) and an excuse to justify their barbaric practices. That inhabitants of the “New World” ran around practically naked served as a rationale to label them brutes and an abomination to the Christian ideal. They were not seen as human and were subjected to some of the most barbaric acts in the history of humankind. This tendency reached its low point between the 16th and 19th centuries, as wave after wave of European colonial expansion was followed by campaigns to convert the heathens and save them from their own ignorance.

Americans have disapproved of most types of miscegenation since its colonization. Marriage or sex with Indians, Jews, Catholics, and Asians, for example, was discouraged. But it was sex with blacks that incited the greatest violence. Blacks, in contrast to slaves of other eras, were discriminated against solely because of the color of their skin. This was in large part due to Christianity’s interpretation of Ham’s curse of his descendants being turned black and made to serve as slaves.

This misinterpretation, not surprisingly, coincided with the desperate need for new labor in the production of molasses (molasses being the first foundation of the new American economy). Later, the theory of evolution was perverted to condemn blacks to a lower developmental status. Despite these prejudices against blacks, white slave owners were very much sexually attracted to their black slaves. For hundreds of years, the legal system supported the rape, sexual harassment, and subjugation of black women, not only during slavery, but also after their emancipation. One of the laws passed during the 17th and 18th centuries by the English colonists pronounced mulatto offspring between slave and freeman to be slaves. In contrast, the Spanish colonies granted children of mixed unions their freedom. One author wrote, “if he [white man] could not restrain his sexual nature, he could at least reject its fruits and thus solace himself that he had done no harm... by classifying the mulatto as a Negro he was in effect denying that intermixture had occurred at all.”

Wow! I’m sure there were many white slave owners who denied being racists because they fucked their slaves. One area of study I would love to see done is an exploration into how the centuries-long legal sanctioning of the rape of women of color has impacted the sexual psyche of the white American male...

The 19th century saw a continuation of the practice of black lynching. However, now instead of accusing black men of fomenting rebellion they were charged with rape. This charge was often leveled at consensual unions because it was believed a white woman would never freely succumb to a black man.

Frantz Fanon did a much better job than I ever could of exploration the connection between hate and the eroticization of the other, and I definitely don’t have the room or time to give it a proper treatment here, but I’ll give it a try. Western colonizers were often attracted to the people and practices they claimed to despise. Late 19th century Anglican missionaries in Papua, New Guinea, for example, complained incessantly about the low morals of the “natives.” but the Papuans themselves maintained that the worst morals were found in mission houses. In Africa, it was not unusual for men who preached chastity (likely the forebears of modern neocons) to father children by native women. One such reverend had so many daughters that in 1874 he turned his mission into a brothel in which to prostitute them.

Another example of the sexualizing of the other was the famous Hottentot Venus who was admired in Europe for her beauty. The Nama or Khoihoi (Hottentots) of southern Africa typically have a lot of fat on the buttocks. Europeans were enthralled with the Hottentot Venus’ ass (shades of J-Lo!). If you ever get the chance Google her and read up on her story. While the Hottentot Venus was celebrated during her life, when she died, her body was dissected in an attempt to “scientifically” document her “otherness.”

Ultimately, colonialism was in reality sexual in nature. The New World and its inhabitants, as illustrated in the blog art today, was depicted as a woman, naked and vulnerable, before the conqueror. The metaphor emphasizes how new lands were seen as virgin territory to be plundered by male explorers from “civilized” Europe.

Well, that is all for now, c-yawl when I get back...

Sexually Yours,


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Racism & Sports

¡Hola! Everybody...
As it is, we spend more right now on health care than is necessary for universal coverage. The issue on the table is no longer whether we should do it (we must), nor whether we can (we already spend more for much less). The national healthcare “dialog” has degenerated into how we can continue to place profits before people and still make it look as if “reform” has been effected.

* * *

-=[ The Sportin’ Life & Million Dollar Slaves ]=-

Shaq is rich, the white man who signs his check is wealthy...Wealth is passed down from generation to generation; you can’t get rid of wealth. Rich is some shit you can loose with a crazy summer and a drug habit.

-- Chris Rock on wealth

One of the consequences of racism is that whiteness is rendered invisible. Whites can afford to be nonchalant about race because they cannot see how this society produces advantages for them because these benefits appear so natural they are taken for granted (Kinder & Sanders, 1996). They literally do not see how race permeates America’s institutions and how it affects the distribution of opportunity and wealth.

What’s more, if people of color cry foul, if they call attention to the way they are treated or to racial inequality, if they try to change the way advantage is distributed, if they try to adjust the rules of the game, white Americans see them as trouble makers as asking for special privileges.

If there’s any realm in which the color line should have disappeared by now, it should be professional sports, where measures of achievement are clear-cut, empirical, numerical, and uncontested. Still, race matters in sports and not in the way perceived by many. Sports is an arena that’s seen as one of the most meritocratic, colorblind institutions in American life. Yet, though 79 percent of National Basketball Association (NBA) players in the 1996-97 season were black, 76 percent of the head coaches were white. By 2001, the proportion of white coaches dropped to 66 percent, as ten NBA coaches were black.

Although 66 percent of the National Football League (NFL) players in the 1996-97 season were black, 90 percent of the head coaches were white (Lapchick & Matthews, 1998). by the 2000-2001 season, the numbers had not changed; there were still only three African American head coaches, accounting for 10 percent of NFL coaches (Lapchick & Matthews, 2001).

The situation is not much different in college sports. Sixty-one percent of Division I-A male basketball players were black in the 1996-97 season, but 85.5 percent of the head coaches were white. The numbers had barely changed at the end of 2001 season, as the proportion of white head coaches decreased to 78 percent. In addition, although 52 percent of the Division I-A football players were black during the 1999-2000 season, 92.8 percent of the coaches were white. By 2001, nearly 97 percent of the head coaching positions had gone to whites.

These discrepancies are unlikely to even out anytime soon. After the 1996-97 college football season, there were 25 openings for head coach of Division I-A teams. Only one of those schools, New Mexico State University, even interviewed a black candidate. During the 1997 and 19998 seasons, thirteen head coaches were named in the NFL, a turnover of almost 50 percent in the thirty-team league. Not one of the replacements was black. During the next three years, the situation did not change much. Although the NFL turnover rate was 75 percent between 1998 and 2001, only one African American was hired as a head coach.

Can these inequalities be described using the conservative framework? Can these discrepancies be explained by the concept of merit? c’mon, I know quite a few reading this like to subscribe to the “it’s up the individual” philosophy. Some may say that these head coaches got their jobs because they had the best records, for example. The evidence, however, does not support this explanation. Up until 2001, there had been only four black head coaches in the history of the NFL. Each of them has either played or coached on a Super Bowl championship team, or was a college conference coach of the year. By contrast, as of 2001, only thirteen of the twenty-seven white NFL head coaches held this distinction. Even a cursory analysis shows that merit has little to do with the criterion of for being a head coach. the potential pool of blacks has included (to name just a few) Johnny Roland, All-American running back and Pro-Bowler who has been an assistant coach for twenty-two years; Art Shell, former Pro-Bowler with a 56-41 record as head coach of the Raiders and currently an NFL assistant coach; and Sherman Lewis, ten-year offensive coordinator for the Green Bay packers and an NFL assistant coach for twenty-nine years.

Who was chosen? One thirty-four-year-old with eleven years of coaching experience, two of which were as offensive coordinator, and a forty-two-year-old with four years experience as an NFL assistant coach and one year as a college head coach. Each of these men had been an assistant coach under Sherman Lewis, who was passed over. Also chosen as head coaches were a former head coach whose previous four years produced records of 8-8, 7-9, 7-9, and 2-6, and ten men over the age of fifty-five with an average record of 6-10. Only one member of this “old boys club” had made the playoffs the season before. All were white. It appears, contrary to the bleating of conservatives and some whites, that race matters more than merit in hiring NFL head coaches.

According to a report released in 2002, African Americans in the NFL are the last hired and the first fired (Madden, 2004). Few of them were involved in the interview process. Since 1920, the league has hired more than four hundred head coaches and, as of the end of the 2002 season, eight of them (2 percent) have been African American. As one observer offered, “When you see a Denny Green fired after the record he has built and then not get a new job, or Marvin Lewis coach the best defense ever, win a Super Bowl and two years later not have a head job, you know something is wrong” (George, 2002).

Similar patterns are found in other sports. a study of lifetime pitching and batting averages, fir example, shows that black ballplayers have to out-hit and out-pitch their white counterparts by substantial margins to win and keep their jobs. One little-known fact is that mere journeymen can have long and profitable careers as long as they are white, but among African Americans, only the very best superstars and above-average players will succeed. Perhaps this is why there are so few black baseball managers in major league baseball. Baseball typically hires managers, coaches, and front office personnel from the echelon of “good but not great” players. Because most of these players happen to be white, black ballplayers experience difficulty becoming coaches.

The interesting point to all this is that professional sports mirror the cultural patterns of the larger society. In a national project looking into the hiring practices of large law firms, for example, it was found that black applicant s with average grades are less likely to be hired than whites with the same records. Black partners are much more likely than whites to be Harvard and Yale graduates. The “black superstar” requirement is most evident at the most prestigious law firms. As one partner at an elite Chicago law firm told researchers, his firm sets “higher standards for the minority hires than for whites. If you are not from Harvard, Yale, or the University of Chicago... you are not taken seriously” (Staples, 1998).

As these and future examples will show, race counts heavily in the ways Americans are treated. Being white has its advantages, and being non-white has its disadvantages. The problem of race in America is that people are treated differently according to the color of their skin. The most important aspect of being white, it follows, is not pigment, melanin, or skin color. Rather, it is the connection between being white and having better economic opportunities and life chances.

I will be going on vacation after this Friday, but I’ve queued some entries for next week. Because I see so much energy on the denial of racism, I will document its existence in major areas. next up: healthcare.



George, T. (2002, October 6). NFL pressured on black coaches. New York Times, p. 9.

Kinder, D. R., & Sanders, L. M. (1996). Divided by color: Racial politics and democratic ideals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lapchick, R., & Matthews, K. (1998). Racial report card: A comprehensive analysis of the hiring practices of women and people of color in the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the NCCA and its member institutions. Boston: Northeastern University, Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

Lapchick, R., & Matthews, K. (2001). Racial and gender report card. Boston: Northeastern University, Center for the Study of Sports in Society.

Madden, J. F. (2004). Differences in the success of NFL coaches by race, 1990-2002: Evidence of last hire, first fire. Journal of Sports Economics, 5(1), 6-19.

Staples, B. (1998, November 27). When a law firm is like a baseball team. New York Times, p. A42.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Racism in America

¡Hola! Everybody...
Editing is the hardest task in writing... I am afraid the following isn’t a shining example... I started this series a while back, so it would be better if you go to the real intro (click here) and its follow-up (click here). The second link is especially important because I define my terms there.

* * *

-=[ Racism in America, pt. III ]=-

DYSON: And if white guys were being mistreated this routinely and being murdered as they are, by policemen, this would not be acceptable. That‘s why President Obama needs to use his bully pulpit to explore race, not run from it, not avoid it, but to engage it.

MATTHEWS: I think he engaged it by getting elected last year.

DYSON: Not enough.

(cross talk)

MATTHEWS: You don’t know. He‘s off. He’s free.

DYSON: I got brothers in prison.

MATTHEWS: And they are -- well, tell them to get a good lawyer.

-- Chris Matthews and Michael Eric Dyson on Hardball discussing the arrest of Dr. Gates

* * *

What follows in the next few entries could be loosely termed a literature review on racism in America. Plugging through such literature can have an adverse effect on your state of mind. As much as you think you know, one still comes away shocked at the persistence of racism. Add to that the overwhelming effort -- on all levels -- to deny its existence and it can get pretty much gloomy. A friend claims she knows when I’m immersed in the literature because she says my mood changes. LOL

It’s a trip... I am reminded of Dante’s inferno: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here... ” LOL!

All kidding aside, what I hope to offer is a critical theory of racism not only to explain and better understand it, but also to envision possibilities for change. Since at least the time of Marx, critical theory has attempted to uncover the dialectical relationship between systems of oppression and human agency.

The core problem of the racial dialog in this country (if we can even claim one), is that too often many Americans, especially white Americans, see racism as an individual matter, as something only overt bigots engage in. In this way, the racist foundations of all our cultural institutions are ignored or dismissed. A case in point is the interchange quoted above. What isn’t understood or acknowledged by Chris Matthews is that the arrest of a prominent African American academic doesn’t take place in a vacuum. As I will show in later entries, racial profiling, the uneven implementation of criminal justice policies, and negative black stereotypes all combine to create what is in effect an apartheid structure impacting almost all facets of the black experience in America. One cannot drive, shop, hail a cab, and apparently enter ones home while black. It happens and many white people either simply don’t understand or are apathetic to the enormity of the problem. That’s why Matthews can smirk and say, “Tell them to get a good lawyer.” He doesn’t get it. There’s a phrase, “Driving while black,” used to describe one form of racial profiling. I would say there should be another catchall phrase: “living while black.”

But I digress... Racism is much more than an individual issue. It is both individual and systemic. An extensive social reproduction process that generates both patterns of discrimination within institutions and an alienating racist relationship enables systemic racism. On the one hand, you have the racially oppressed, and on the other, the racial oppressors. These two groups are a function of the racist system, and therefore they have different group interests. The oppressed seek to overthrow the system, while the oppressors seek to maintain the status quo. In this way, in typical dialectical fashion, social oppression contradictions that compel change. Great inequality of resources across the color line eventually leads to periodic eruptions of resistance by African Americans and other people of color.

At this juncture conservatives believe that a color-blind constitution means public solutions to end social inequality between racial groups are illegitimate, the equivalent of “reverse racism,” or “racial social engineering.” This view adheres rigidly to the notion that government should be held to a strict standard of racial neutrality and that any attempts at legal redress to rectify racial inequalities is wrong.

I reject this position. If America is to achieve its full potential, I think it is the government’s duty to use public policies to root out abiding racial inequality. I think it makes sense to consider carefully how labor market discrimination, private institutional practices, and public policies have contributed to the accumulation of economic and social advantage in white communities, and the concomitant disinvestment of social and economic capital in communities of color.

Most people assume that white racism cannot account for abiding black inequality. Conservatives attribute persistent gaps in poverty rates and income between blacks and white to African Americans’ socially irresponsible choices regarding education, marriage, work, and crime, rather than to labor market discrimination. What accounts for labor market disparities, conservatives say, cannot be discrimination since they submit that discrimination has all but disappeared. What accounts for wage inequality is the differences between blacks and whites in pre-market factors such as schooling, work habits, life and job skills. According to conservative scholars, what may look like persistent employment discrimination is better described as employers rewarding “workers [who have] relatively strong cognitive skills.’

In the coming entries, I will show that the analyses of conservative scholars suffer from a myopic insistence on disregarding sets of data while focusing on data that girds their arguments. In other words, their work is seriously flawed.

In the coming days I will show racism impacts criminal justice, health, employment, education, and yeah, sports.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Electronic Blindness

¡Hola! Everybody...
First off, I want to thank Pat Buchanan for his outrage at that most oppressed of all minorities -- the white man! As a person of Puerto Rican descent with light skin and blue eyes, I feel his pain! Actually, I am black/ brown. I consider myself a person of color -- a Latino. I'm black! I am black, that is, until the men in the bedsheets and hoods come for us. At that point, you are on your own, brotha! LOL

* * *

-=[ A New Day ]=-

I’ve been meaning to let loose my “racism” series for some time now. The biggest problem (for me) has been to distill what has become a paper at least 50 pages long and over 100 references into 2-3 pages. I realize that will be impossible an impossible feat, so I will try to concentrate my writing on this topic over a series of entries here.

It’s going to be hard journey. Going through the denial and excavating the truth has been extremely challenging to what little sanity I can claim. There’s much to uncover, much more to deconstruct, as waves of conservative “scholars” continue the work of denying its existence, racism has become whitewashed.

It exists. It’s a lot different from your understanding. More importantly, I have realized that for us to get to the new day, we have to look in the mirror and acknowledge the truth. Racism would exist even if there were not one racist. It’s in the very fabric of our society, in all of our institutions. Shit, for some it’s in the very air -- literally.

On CNN, Soledad Obrien will have her own Black in America, pt. II series. I’m sorry, but I am loathe to watch yet another series on race without its proper context. I am tired of seeing electronic images dedicated to creating a pathology of the experiences of black and brown people and of poor or the working poor. Contrary to the teachings of Corporate Christianity, being born into a poor family isn’t a sin. Being poor isn’t a sin. To be sure, what I am offering here is a journey through the heart of darkness at the end of which I hope we can all emerge into the dawn of a new day where we can all work toward reconnecting to our essential humanity.

I believe we stand at the precipice of a quantum evolutionary leap. Our choices today will decide whether we will make this transition successfully or become the first species to cause its own extinction. I also believe there are enough of us to lead us through this quantum leap. There are more than enough cultural creatives to succeed. On the other hand, all that is needed for failure is our quiescence.

Why write about racism? Well, for too long, there has been an enormous amount of financial resources and energy poured into denying its existence. This is how we got to being the world leader in incarceration. If being poor is a function of your intelligence (or lack thereof) and racism doesn’t exist, then it follows that locking up mostly young people of color is justified. Welcome to the new eugenics! Dumb black and brown and po’ white muthafuckas born of sexually promiscuous crackhead teen mothers, spitting out litters of sociopathic cop killers -- the super predators. Now, that’s an image you can cop to and yell “Yeah!” when a neocon politician stands up on his soapbox and talks about getting “tough on crime.” All that is needed is to racialize poverty and it makes it the fault of the victim. The new racism, people, is clothed in the language of personal responsibility and the myth of rugged individualism.

We didn’t drink the Kool-Aid -- we guzzled. Even black and brown people buy into the imagery. Why else would a black leader like Obama address the NAACP by condescending poor blacks? Newsflash, muthafuckas: the vast majority of poor people of all colors are trying to eke out a living and trying to instill good values into their children. They don’t need your fuckin’ sermonizing. Stand on any street corner on any given morning in any given poor, working-class neighborhood and what you will see are droves of good people going to work for bullshit money, run by bullshit employers with little or no benefits, for longer hours and less money and less security than 20-30 years ago.

Poor black people, people of all races, are working and dying because they had a pre-existing condition while you muthafuckas are looking for a way to appease your corporate masters. Good people, hard-working people, are dying because they can’t afford a medicine, or some administrator denied a potentially life-saving procedure. People are working and dying in emergency rooms as others literally step over them while they gasp their dying breath. People are working and working and working because they can’t retire because some CEO decided their money was best kept at some secret offshore account. People -- poor people, working people, people of all colors -- are working and dying needlessly.

Fuck you.

But I am going to do more than expose racism. As disgusting as it is to muddle through the literature, it’s not a hard thing to do intellectually. At the end of all this, I will humbly offer my own proposals. I will answer the question of how to change the seemingly all-powerful structures. How can an individual (or the sum total of all individuals) stand against the pervasiveness of oppressive structures that seem as inescapable as death?

That’s the hard part. That’s the big question. And, you will find no clear-cut answer here. This is because the definitive answer doesn’t exist... yet.

I will say this much: as long as you stay transfixed by the spectacle of the world as presented on the TV machine and on the internet and in newspapers, it will always seem like a system beyond your control. As long as we cannot think beyond an image created for us by the media, we will live enamored of our golden shackles, our eyes blinded by electronic images, our ears plugged with earphones. We see what we are shown, hear what we are told, and mindlessly bleat about the successes of a nation (“we’re no. 1!”) whose leaders do not know nor care about us.

There is a new day, and it’s not to be found in your store of canned goods and stockpiled ammunition. All that’s needed to come to the realization of a new day is for you to seek the truth, remove the blinders, and stop living as if no one else exist.

You may not read what I will share, or you may find its truth too depressing. I say, welcome to adulthood. Welcome to the dawning of a new day.



Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Madness [Media Whores]

¡Hola! Everybody...
Vacation starts this Friday! I’m going to an intensive meditation retreat (one I missed when Mother Dear was visiting recently), and then maybe spend a few days in New Hampshire at someone’s cabin. I never thought of NH as a suitable vacation destination until a former girlfriend convinced me. It’s very beautiful.

I have a busy week up ahead!

* * *

-=[ Media Whores ]=-

Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.

--Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786

I first caught wind of this stink here. If you check out today’s blog photo, you will find the following from Meet the Press’ David Gregory to the people who handle the hooker governor from SC. It reads:

“Look, you guys have a lot of pitches... I get it and I know this is a tough situation... Let me say just this is a place to have a wider conversation with some context about not just the personal but also the future for him and the party... This situation only exacerbates the issue of how the GOP recovers when another national leader suffers a setback like this. So coming on Meet the Press allows you to frame the conversation how you really want to... and then move on. You can see you have done your interview and then move on. Consider it.” [emphasis added]

This is beyond putrid and it takes away whatever sympathy I may have regarding the slow death of the corporate-owned news media. A man or woman attempting such behavior on a street corner would be arrested for prostitution and rightly so. I submit that journalists today are more concerned about maintaining “access” than actually serving as a watchdog against entrenched power. Rarely have I witnessed such blatant pandering and brown-nosing.

Simply put, Gregory was willing to trade access on his show in exchange for an opportunity to “frame the conversation how you really want to…and then move on.” To borrow the idiotic line by uber-neocon Grover Norquist regarding government: I want to shrink the MSM until we can “drown it in a bathtub.” These are not “news” organizations. They are infomercials for corporatist ideology.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Sermon [The Heart of the Matter]

¡Hola! Everybody...
Whenever you relive an insult -- or think or dwell on it -- you have repeated that same insult. In this way, you relive and re-experience all the insults of your life.

Think about that...

* * *

-=[ Forgiveness ]=-

All isms end up in schisms.

-- Huston Smith

Several years ago, I was having a very rough time at a community meeting. I was trying to educate a group of people on the effectiveness of alternative to incarceration programs. For me, it was a no-brainer: treat the root causes and crime decreases. Treat the addiction and it has a double effect. It’s more effective and cheaper than incarceration which is extremely expensive failure. Address education meaningfully by investing in smaller classroom size and making schools more accessible to parents and we prevent crime before it ever begins. I had the charts, the facts -- in short I had everything I thought I needed to help people see that locking up millions of individuals (mostly young people of color) wasn’t a very smart or effective way to create a moral and just society.

Man, was I getting beat up that day! LOL

At one point, during an intermission, this young white man came up to me and asked if he could address the audience briefly. I don’t why I trusted this individual, I had never seen him before, and I had had it to here

::grabs dese nuts::

... with angry white men. But inwardly acknowledging that the meeting couldn’t possibly get any worse, I shrugged and told him, “Go ahead, finish putting me out of my misery.”

He got up and told of how two men brutally murdered the woman who raised him, his grandmother -- the only family he had. He told of the agonizing pain and hardship; the anger he felt; of how he wanted those who took his grandmother’s life to be punished -- to have their lives taken also. Then he spoke about something that floored everybody. He spoke about his journey from being consumed with vengeance to forgiveness. In the process of speaking of that healing process, he managed to do what all my facts and charts didn’t: he opened people’s hearts to the possibility of a different community; of a different society. A society based not on revenge and killing and an “eye for an eye,” but a society predicated on empathy and compassion and equality. I was never so moved as when I heard this man speak so openly about being torn down only to be arise again. What a lesson! And, no, he wasn’t a religious man, at least not in a rigid sense.

I think this man was able to touch upon the essential nature of vengeance and forgiveness. Vengeance comes from desire -- a desire to make things “right” no matter what the expense. If you killed mine, then I must kill you. And in the short term, vengeance serves to alleviate our pain. But in the long term the desire for vengeance -- like all unskillful desire -- erodes our basic humanity. It eats at us from the inside until we become empty of anything even remotely resembling an enlightened species. Compassion and empathy comes from the part of the brain that triggers love, creativity, collaboration and, physiologically, it releases chemicals and responses that heal -- that strengthen the immune system and encourages fellowship.

I would suggest a different form of spirituality: one that recognizes a universal energy in everything, the humility to admit mistakes, one that promotes flexibility instead of rigidity, and a willingness to tolerate differences.

And isn’t that a story that mirrors any kind of redemption? Couldn’t such a shift be an evolutionary quantum leap? In fact, this is where we stand today: at the precipice of an evolutionary and spiritual chasm, and leap we must or become the first species to cause its own extinction.



Saturday, July 18, 2009

Of Truth and Poetry [RIP Uncle Walter]

¡Hola! Everybody...
As many of you already know Walter Cronkite, an icon from a time when the media actually served as a watchdog against entrenched power, passed away. My feelings are best expressed thus:

Corporate MSM journalists covering the death of Walter Cronkite is like Jeff “Beauregard” Sessions sermonizing Judge Sotomayor on racism. It’s a travesty.

My favorite memory of Cronkite was when he stood up and called the Vietnam War for the crime that it was. Today, a press more concerned about “presenting both sides” than keeping power in check, serves its corporate masters. Jefferson is doing cartwheels in his grave. RIP Mr. Cronkite, sorry you had to see the total prostitution of the media before you passed.

* * *

Nows [no. 1]

How could they have possibly known --
all those dear, dead ladies.

The masochists, the psychos,
the stalkers, nymphomaniacs,
suicides and whores...

That they were blindly serving
one solitary purpose:
to be my basic training,
and endless apprenticeship,
preparing me for
final assault
on my frontline?

And how could I have possibly known
that all my martial arts
would fail me
against the flowers and laughter
that were your forward troops,
the outstretched heart
of your army?

All rights reserved ©

Friday, July 17, 2009

The TGIF Sex Blog [The Best Little Whorehouse in DC]

¡Hola! Everybody...
You know, I’m so sick and tired of hearing white lawmakers saying that if they said something similar to Doña Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment, their political careers would be over.


We have, like over 200 years of crackers like Pat Buchanan, Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, and many, many others saying fucked up shit about people of color! LOL! Shit! Current Sen. “Crackhead” Sessions is a US senator though he called a black man a “boy” and likened civil rights organizations to the KKK. Buchanan is a Holocaust denier and self-professed Hitler admirer! LOL A black muthafucka can’t even admit to knowing, let alone admire, a Farrakhan, for example, without having to pay dire political consequences...

And when are we going to put to rest the myth that whiteness is neutral?

I may not be able to finish this today...

* * *

-=[The C Street Boys: Guilt, Shame & Sex ]=-

Or: The Best Little Whorehouse in DC

It’s not widely reported in the MSM, but apparently there is a Christian-run neocon whorehouse in DC on C St. Almost all the neocon bad boys such as Ensign and Sanders -- both of whom called for Clinton’s resignation during the Lewinsky affair, by the way-- stay there. They fuck their mistresses there, sit down and “fellowship,” sharing the sordid details of the extra-marital affairs there. Who knows what those repressed freaks do there!

The question, I guess, is why do so many who set themselves up as morally superior, often act in a depraved manner when they think no one is looking.

While the answer to such a question cannot be distilled into a snazzy republican soundbite, I do feel that shame and guilt, combined with sex and power often makes for strange bedfellows (pun intended!).

Let’s start with guilt, or the feeling of being found out. Everyone has experienced guilt at one time or another. In fact, literally millions of people are burdened by feelings of guilt of all kinds, especially sexual guilt. But what is guilt, where does it come from, and more specifically, what is sexual guilt?

Guilt comes from an Old English term gylt which refers to a fine for an offense. In modern usage, guilt signifies the state of having committed a transgression, of being in violation of the law. Subjectively, guilt stands for the sense of having done wrong, of being blameworthy. It is a concern over the rightness or wrongness of one’s action. This concern implies a worry that one might be found out or caught, suffering consequences. This form of worry can be manifested even without a person having done anything wrong; the mere thought or intention to do so is sometimes enough to evoke extreme feelings of guilt.

Oftentimes, our feelings of guilt are disproportionate to their causes. It is as if we’re conditioned to have a guilt button that goes off at the slightest provocation.

Let me say that not all guilt is unhealthy. Guilt, like anger or jealousy, is a normal emotion. Psychologists like to distinguish between what they call situational guilt and modal guilt. Situational guilt comes from actually having a committed a wrong (as in causing a woman’s anus to be sore *grin*); modal guilt is the vague feeling of having sinned, which clings to a person like an unpleasant odor. Situational guilt is healthy, but modal guilt is neurotic. Modal guilt is a frozen feeling that creates a habitual pattern, which is dysfunctional because it blocks the free flow of your thoughts and actions.

Still with me?!! LOL there’s much more to guilt, it has deeper roots that reach down into the human condition itself, but it’s getting late.

Let’s move on to shame, or the feeling of being unworthy. While guilt and shame are closely related, there is a significant difference. Guilt is the bad feeling we get from having known we have done something wrong or bad. Shame, on the other hand, is the painful feeling that we are bad or unworthy. This distinction between doing something unworthy and being unworthy has come to play in the field of addiction and recovery. Shamed people believe that something is basically wrong with them as human beings, while guilty people believe that they have done something wrong that can be corrected. Another major difference is that shamed people are usually bothered by their shortcomings, whereas guilty people notice their wrongful acts. Finally, a shamed person lives in fear of being abandoned because they feel unworthy (and you thought it was your parent’s fault, huh? LOL)

Looked at in this way, one can see how shame may follow guilt or how it may feed guilt. The only way a shamed person can heal is by changing their self-concept so that she gains self-confidence or ego-strength. The two emotions combine to create a revolving door that keeps a person trapped in a perpetual spin. Therefore, we must deal directly with guilt and shame if we want to evolve and overcome sexual dysfunction. Whew! LOL

If you’re wondering what this has to do with neocons, well, just note that shame and guilt are the two most widely used measures of control in religious orthodoxy...

Still with me?

Guilt and shame are especially prominent in the area of sexuality. Many men and women feel guilty about sex itself; they think sex dirty or base. (Please note that many practitioners know that even those clients who deny having guilt feelings soon discover, when confronted with their unconscious that they are in fact sitting on a boatload of guilt.)

Many avoid having sex, or if they do have sex, it is in the form of a fast encounter in the dark. Such people almost never talk about sex, or have difficulty in discussing sexual matters openly. Their sexual frustration spills over into their marital and professional lives. Oftentimes, they act out their repressed sexual desires in highly dysfunctional ways; or become obsessed with sexual acts they consider taboo. This sex-negative attitude is most clearly evident in religious fundamentalist circles.

As those in the helping professions can attest, the forms of sexual guilt and shame and their permutations are almost infinite. Sex is most troubling to those who know least about sex, and sexual ignorance dogs the lives of religious puritans. As one of my professors phrased it, “Those who are religiously rigid tend to be sexually frigid.”

It’s no wonder the politicians who claim to hold the higher moral ground often fall short of their own standards. In having made sex a “problem,” Christianity has paid a huge disservice to civilization. Driving human sexuality into the dark recesses of their psyches, religious fundamentalists become a slave to it, rather than its master.



Thursday, July 16, 2009


¡Hola! Everybody...
It’s summer, I live in the greatest city in the world, and I’m single... Life is good!

* * *

-=[ Power, Questions & Democracy ]=-

There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous.

-- Hannah Arendt (1906–1975)

You will not find any youth bashing in this post. When I look at a young person, I see the reflection of a society. We eat our young and lament, all the while using them as scapegoats for all that is wrong with the world. I don’t see “problem” children, I see problem adults. I do not see problem children, I see problem societies. No. You will not find yet another rant against our children here. Instead, what I hope you will find here is an indictment of a society plagued with a collective resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality. All compounded by a blind adherence to dogmatism and an dangerous intolerance toward ambiguity.

As in Emile Zola’s parable, our society resembles passengers on a runaway train, asleep or oblivious to the fact that the conductor and engineer have killed themselves.

I have written about the importance of questions in the past. Almost every act we take is an answer to a question. Sometimes we forget the questions, obsessing as we do on answers, and our actions take on a mindless (unquestioning?) quality. In my life, questions have always been about power. Asking them enabled me to overcome the many challenges I faced as a young man -- especially challenges regarding where I “belonged” (or didn’t). This link between questions and power is at the heart of our democracy -- or what is left of it.

With the market permeating almost every aspect of our society, and consumerism grows, and neoliberal policies shrink our world, our power as citizens of a democracy will come from our ability and willingness to ask the right questions. To question our government, our educational system, our communities, ourselves. And by questioning I don’t mean merely questioning, but learning to look for and ask the unasked question. Inquiry is more than asking the obvious (often all too simple) questions that come with yes or no answers. It is a process of discovery, asking, re-asking, synthesizing, and evaluating until we have come to an of uncovering the truth. Or at least something approximating it.

Inquiry is more than an act, it is deeply embedded in the values and idea of a democracy. In turn, I define democracy as more than representative government; it is also a system that values equality, justice, and the peculiar idea that every member of a group has something of worth to offer the whole. In this context, a democracy requires a citizenry that pays attention, thinks critically, and analyzes information effectively.

People love to beat up on teachers and schools, or try to lay the blame of our current educational standards to lazy or apathetic parents. This type of thinking (or lack thereof) is exactly what I am talking about here. In attempting to find the one answer, we miss the forest for the trees. As in all social policy areas, solutions for education are complicated, multifaceted. But we have a society obsessed with answers at the expense of first asking the questions. In that way we assure that nothing of worth gets accomplished.

We teach our children that the answer is all that counts. We test students to death, reinforcing the idea that correctly filling in bubbles is the same as learning. Our educational system has become an assembly-line factory dedicated to the cause of test preparation while we throw out the guiding philosophy of critical thinking -- that we must discover, ask questions, accumulate evidence, make determinations.

We like to wrap ourselves in the flag on the 4th of July and crow that “we’re no, 1” but we don’t trust that our young can question the way our communities work, so we disinvest in education and the teaching of civics.

Instead, we teach our young to become mindless consumers so that they can better serve the ideology that the market is the answer to everything. We don’t teach them to question it, we teach them to follow it blindly. Not too much difference between that and fundamentalist blind faith, is it? We teach our children to choose better, but not in the creation of those choices.

This obsession to answer is what plagues our society, as so many look for confirmations of their biases than actual personal and collective exploration and exchange of ideas. How many times have you witnessed someone cutting-and-pasting a link or a whole webpage and use it in lieu of real debate? Oftentimes, these links haven’t been questioned, nor consumed. Textual regurgitations I call them. This is what we teach our young. In fact, I find more pleasure in speaking with young people for they are naturally curious beings, full of awe and wonder, but we’re sucking this natural wonder out of them.

Like good educators, good societies understand the limits of absolute knowledge; they don’t try to teach everything there is to know. The best we can do for our children is to cultivate in them the habits of mind of inquiring, critical thinkers. They won’t get their critical thinking skills through rote teaching, ideology, or groupthink, no matter how well they can use Google. Answers are not retrieved, they are constructed.

What would happen if Google took a day off?



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From Here to There & Back Again

¡Hola! Everybody...
I see y360! has finally died. It died a slow, painful death. Some things need to fall by the wayside... I see some eulogies being passed around, so why not?

* * *

-=[ How I got Here from There ]=-

I have been writing for the 'net since waaaay before blogging was ever invented. Most of my earlier writing came in the form of “interactions” on newsgroups (if you have to ask... ). Actually, I’ve been on the ‘net since the early 90s when I used mostly to connect with social scientists, psychologists, and researchers.

Man! How I marveled at how some were able to cite studies and pull up stats defending one particular policy or theory over another! How I wanted so badly to become as conversant and at ease with method and analysis as these people.

Writing on the ‘net made me a lot smarter, quicker, and also a lot more confrontational than I am in real life. But man was it fun. LOL!

After several legendary flame wars involving everything from relational psychoanalysis, economics, and cultural studies to whether the Yankees were better than the Orioles, I decided to stop writing. School was almost over, my life had changed, and it was time for this flame warrior to hang up the old gloves. What shocked me was that the day after I announced my “retirement” I received literally 100s of emails from people telling me I was like their morning cup of coffee and that my writing would be missed. I was quite honestly flabbergasted.

Over the years, I have met, through my writing, people from all over the world. A journalist from Australia came to visit NYC twice, for example. An actress from Cuba stayed at my place when I was married. A dancer from the Netherlands, people from all over the US. I met a salsa fanatic from Germany (“Der Salsaholic”), and my friend met and married a woman from Spain. I met a Marxist professor from India teaching at Michigan and a photographer who eventually wrote a book on salsa. I met musicians, many of whom were my personal heroes, and artists of all kinds.

I was also threatened and stalked by Cuban-American reactionaries, and Christian fundamentalists, as well as white supremacists, and black separatists. LOL

Suffice it to say that my earlier ‘net interactions were quite rewarding. But I realized I had to stop writing for the ‘net and fighting all those wars. Ask anyone who knew me at the time and they will tell you I was formidable -- people didn’t really want to fuck with me too much. LOL!

I stopped, though, and I’m glad I did. Then one day many years later, I posted an article on death on, of all places, a singles site. Again, I was shocked at the number of personal messages I recieved. I may not be a good writer, but damn, sometimes I can reach a heart.

So I began writing again. All this was before blogging and as my interest in matters sexual developed, the more I wrote about it. I kept getting thrown off sites because my subject matter was controversial: sex and religion. By then I think I attracted a small group of fundies who seemed to want to shut me down. Eventually, I started my own website and for a while I had a pretty good following -- over 150 registered users, but then the guy who was doing the tech part was trying to make money off my popularity, so I shut it down. anyway, a friend told me about this site where I could blog -- actually do what I had been doing for while, but on a platform made for the kind of writing I was doing. He sent me a link to y360, and the rest, as they say, was history. I quickly had a following. Some people have been reading me for years and, as I said, sometimes -- sometimes -- I can touch a heart, or make someone think or get pissed off. LOL!

I was kicked off y360 about 6-8 times. I forget the number of times. Now, mind you: I never hassled women, nor did I stalk anyone, for that matter. My content was, however, controversial and I love to say shit like “fuck” and “goddamn” and shit like that. But mostly, I noticed that I would get deleted if I posted too much on sex and the religious persecution and repression of sex.

I met quite a few people on 360. I think 360 was OK... it wasn’t all that. You know how it is: someone dies and all of sudden, the muthafucka was a saint, right? Shit, people will probably say nice things about me when I die, which proves that it doesn’t mean squat. I met some wonderful people, yes. But gawd! I met some seriously deranged muthafuckas! LOL

Anyway, long before I was kicked off y360, I had created an account here and on Blogger before it was co-opted by Google. I just never really put the effort into nurturing these sites. With 360 being treated like an unwanted stepchild and its users acting like gluttons for punishment, I decided not to return after the last boot and stayed here. Someone suggested I turn my attention to my blogger site (thanks Rip!), and since then, I’ve given some half-hearted attempts at driving traffic there. I think eventually I’ll stay at blogger (or start my own site). Well, that’s how I got here.

Good riddance to the rabble on 360 and I hope those good souls I met there stay connected with me somehow.




[un]Common Sense