Category Archives: Articles of Note

De-Fund vs. Re-Fund

Heard this great interview yesterday with Professor Phillip Atiba Goff.

It was this paragraph I was thinking about today:

GOFF: Yeah, and that’s a good thing because in this moment when we’re talking about defunding the police, I think we forget that it was a much quieter movement to defund schools in Black and brown communities and to defund mental health and to defund jobs and to defund architecture and parks. We’ve defunded every darn public good where Black and brown people live, so much so that policing is usually the only public good that we find. So part of the movement right now in terms of how municipalities are working is from defund to refund. These are dollars that should have been going to the community in the first place to prevent the sets of things that have people calling 911.

History Docs

Getting harder and harder in class. Tried to use these two pieces today:

How a teenager’s video upended the police department’s initial tale
From the article, we read the report and then discussed what the necessity of recording, of witnessing, or documenting the world.

Then I tried to use the closing paragraphs of this article to talk about the process of doing history. Will order this book soon.

One of the things that makes this slender book stand out is Gordon-Reed’s ability to combine clarity with subtlety, elegantly carving a path between competing positions, instead of doing as too many of us do in this age of hepped-up social-media provocations by simply reacting to them. In “On Juneteenth” she leads by example, revisiting her own experiences, questioning her own assumptions — and showing that historical understanding is a process, not an end point.

“The attempt to recognize and grapple with the humanity and, thus, the fallibility of people in the past — and the present — must be made,” she writes. “That is the stuff of history, too.”

Damn Critics

I know how this works. Hua Hsu is that good at his job. First I read the article. I’ll be fascinated by the poet, by their work, by the way they describe their work. I’ll track down the first couple of books, get them from the library, and sit down to read.

And it will all go right over my head. I won’t understand the poems at all. Just not smart enough.

Still, the closing quote is as good a description of what I’m trying to do as a teacher as I’ve read:

“You go out and you look in the sky. We live in this act of creation that is unfathomable and overwhelming. The intricacy, beauty, fearsomeness,” he said. “We push back by becoming active, becoming producers, and putting our little pieces of creativity down next to it. It’s this idea, I can do something, too.

But every now and then, when the flow’s not coming, you gotta get up from your couch or the desk, you gotta go out on the porch, look up at the sky and enjoy the humility of just taking in this obviously superior and more complex creativity. What we do could never match that. Could I ever write a poem as intricate as a pinecone? Wallace Stevens has got nothin’ on this.”  (Nathaniel Mackey)

Three articles

This opening piece from the magazine on social media contains this perfect description:

Late in January, I logged into Twitter only to see that an account I followed had decided to talk about racism. This is a not-uncommon experience for social media: Check to see what your friends are doing or look at cute dogs, and it’s not long before you’re digesting a near-stranger’s analysis of contemporary social issues.

The twist, of course, is that the account is managed by O.J. Simpson.

________________________________________________________________


I’ll use this article with my photography unit in U.S. History. The essay by Celeste NG is superb.

This book review describes a book that I’ll have to read. These passages:

On average, one child is shot every hour; over the past decade roughly 30,000 children and teenagers have been killed by gunfire — recently eclipsing cancer as their second-leading cause of death. (Unintentional injuries, such as those caused by burns, falls or drowning, are the leading cause.)

These numbers suggest the scale of the physical, mortal toll inflicted, but they cannot account for the psychic price paid by kids who live in the dark, long shadows of the aftermath of such violence: those who lose a friend or relative to gunfire; who witness gun deaths at close quarters at a vulnerable age; whose lives, and life chances, are shaped by a premature brush with mortality. And since such children were not struck by a bullet, they are not counted and, at least in any official sense, do not count.

Cox, John Woodrow. Children Under Fire: An American Crisis, (__: Ecco, 2021).

Obama

Hard to know if I’ll listen to this or not. I would like more shots of that home studio. But this quote:

“In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys,” Obama says in the first episode. “We still share a fundamental belief in the American ideal. Not as an airbrushed, cheap fiction or an act of nostalgia that ignores all the ways that we’ve fallen short of that ideal. But as a compass for the hard work that lies before each of us as citizens.”

NYT Coverage here.

Darkest day of the year

I loved this essay: How We Survive Winter

“I have spent some long, scary nights waiting for the sun to come up. There have also been some long, barren seasons when I feared the sap would never rise again,” Barbara Brown Taylor, an author and Episcopal priest, reflected. “The hardest thing is to keep trusting the cycle, to keep trusting that the balance will shift again even when I can’t imagine how. So far it has.”

“The most important thing is to hold that tiny spark of life, if it is in a bud, in a seed, that is our work, to hold on to life, so when spring comes back, there can be growth. If you fail at that, spring doesn’t matter,” she said. “That seems like a Covid teaching to me.” (Robin Wall Kimmerer)

Reminded me of this passage, which is on my stick:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Many versions here.

Great headline

White clicktivism: why are some Americans woke online but not in real life? And a solid article as well.

I’m trying to think whether I might use this in English — alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates — or whether I want to use it in history.

Quoting:

“Following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, many white Americans have spent the past year taking part in a social justice movement online and on the ground, combating systemic racism and opposing police brutality. Bookstores sold out of race education books, social media timelines were consumed with Black Lives Matter support, and protests drew diverse crowds.

But then we saw the election results. Trump won the support of 71 million Americans this year – including 55% of white women and 61% of white men. Even in liberal hotbeds like New York, California and Washington, Trump maintained 48%, 47%, and 36% of the white vote.”

Yo-Yo Ma

Great interview.

For me as a musician, I try to be aware of where I am. As a performer, my job is to make the listener the most important person in the room. The only way to avoid burnout is to care about where you are. My good friend Manny Ax12 would always say to me that it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday; if you’re here today, that’s what counts. Being present. Caring. You’re working with living material. That goes back to memory. The living material is only living if it is memorable. Not only that it’s memorable but that you pass it on. That is what I’m thinking about with every single interaction. Whether it’s a kid, someone on the street, in a concert hall or with you, David. It’s the same thing: How to be present. Because if you’re not?

Re-written:

For me as a teacher, I try to be aware of where I am. As a teacher, my job is to make the students the most important people in the room. The only way to avoid burnout is to care about where you are. My good friend Manny Ax12 would always say to me that it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday; if you’re here today, that’s what counts. Being present. Caring. You’re working with living material. That goes back to memory. The living material is only living if it is memorable. Not only that it’s memorable but that you pass it on. That is what I’m thinking about with every single interaction. Whether it’s a student, someone on the street, in a school or with you, David. It’s the same thing: How to be present. Because if you’re not?

Thoughtful article

What if Instead of Calling People Out, We Called Them In?

Not sure why this is in the style section, but glad it got published.

“The antidote to that outrage cycle, Professor Ross believes, is “calling in.” Calling in is like calling out, but done privately and with respect. “It’s a call out done with love,” she said. That may mean simply sending someone a private message, or even ringing them on the telephone (!) to discuss the matter, or simply taking a breath before commenting, screen-shotting or demanding one “do better” without explaining how.

Calling out assumes the worst. Calling in involves conversation, compassion and context. It doesn’t mean a person should ignore harm, slight or damage, but nor should she, he or they exaggerate it.