Think before you Pink

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Breast_Cancer_Awareness_(263497131) Photo from wikipedia.

It is a feeling of hopelessness that brings us to this place. Desperate to save those who suffer. Determined to prevent those we hope never will. We are clawing and grasping to find any morsel of earth to hold onto when we feel like we’re spiraling out of control.

It is hopelessness. I know that now.

I used to think it was ignorance. Or lack of caring. I used to get angry. Every October when the grocery aisles started to display a sea of pink. “Pinkwashing” we call it now. Pink ribbons. Pink products. Pink everywhere. A tradition so old it has a name. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it used to make me so angry to watch the way we commercialize it.

Then my father has a brush with the C word. The word we don’t even want to spell because it feels too forewarning and…

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Pathologizing Black Folks is America’s Religion, Or: A Few Thoughts on Roxane Gay’s ‘Bad Feminist’

Aware of Awareness

I spend nearly everyday writing and reading about global and local configurations of white supremacy and anti-blackness, with a special emphasis on the U.S. and France. This subject is the topic of Resurrecting Slavery, one of two books I am completing this year while on leave with a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

I made a decision to use this year to begin a conscious process of decolonizing my scholarship. This is a process that I began a few years ago, inadvertently, as I increasingly embarked upon a journey of mindfulness and well-being. As I prioritized my own self-awareness, I also found it necessary to liberate myself from harmful things in my personal and professional life, including and especially unexamined dynamics of white supremacy, anti-blackness, heteropatriarchy and other forms of insanity that pervade the power structures within which we are all conditioned.

For me, decolonizing myself from…

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Voiceless No More

Red Thread Broken

Update: I’m happy to report that the administer and I have been able to resolve our differences and move forward in a respectful manner. Nevertheless, adoptees’ voices are still largely ignored, and I still feel the heart of this piece remains true.

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Absolutely nothing is known about the first years of my life. My personal history begins when I was two years old, allegedly abandoned on a busy street in Nanjing, China. From there I was taken to the local police station, and then to the Nanjing Social Welfare Institute. In these ways, the beginning of my life can be characterized by a complete lack of control. The decision to leave my first family was not mine.  This was made by the national government in 1979, when China first introduced the One Child Policy. And this was again made by the local government, as Jiangsu Province implemented one of the strictest family…

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Of Coffee, Ice Cream and Soccer Shoes

Witty Worried and Wolf

6-8Soccer

My friend Liz and I are in that sweet spot between Menopause (been there, done that) and Medicare (not there, not needing that).

She called me the other day and said, “I have two things to ask you.”

“O.K., what’s up?”

Did I want to see a new movie she thought we would both like?  That led to a discussion about possible restaurants to go to after the movie (if we could stay awake that long.) Which led us to talking about why she eats so much healthier than I do.  (I like kale, I do, but really, 3x a week?). After several more stray conversational tangents, I asked her,

“What was the second thing you wanted to ask me?”

She replied, “I forgot.”

“Fine, no problem. Call me back if you remember.” I said.

Maybe she will remember, maybe she won’t.  This happens to me often too. I like to think that we have all the time in the…

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Grab a Seat

The Squeaky Robot

For the budget-conscious person in Hanoi, there are no better alternatives to eating than traditional Vietnamese dishes found on every sidewalk, corner and alleyway. One needn’t look far. The food here is delicious, cheap and fun, as it requires a level of proactivity and interactivity that is unfamiliar to many cuisines worldwide. I say proactivity because the best places in Hanoi only serve one thing, and they only serve that one thing for a short window in the day. My favorite bun cha place is open for three hours a day at most, even less if they run out of food. So you must plan and run. Once you plop down on a dubious plastic cube, the interaction begins. Fix your plate with whatever options are available: limes, chili sauce, garlic vinegar, pepper. Mix whole chilies into your fish sauce – let it rest! The chilies must permeate everything. Many…

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Baudelaire and procrastination: the flâneur, the dandy, and the poet

Procrastination: Cultural Explorations

The following is a guest blog by Tamara Spitzer-Hobeika, one of our speakers in this autumn’s Procrastination Seminar. Come and hear Tamara discuss ‘Baudelaire’s dandy: the anti-procrastinator’ on Wednesday 29 October at 5.30pm in the Old Library, All Souls College, Oxford.

baudelaire 1855 Baudelaire, by the famous photographer and balloonist Nadar (aka Gaspard-Félix Tournachon), 1855-8

Il n’y a de long ouvrage que celui qu’on n’ose pas commencer. Il devient cauchemar.

The only difficult work is that which we dare not begin. It becomes a nightmare.*

—Charles Baudelaire

These words by the accursed poet, the writer of beautiful spleen and terrifying idéal himself, are a perfect mantra for anyone experiencing the entrancing throes of procrastination.

The sentence that follows them in his Journaux Intimes (1887)—“By putting off what one has to do, one runs the danger of never being able to do it”—confirms that Baudelaire was no stranger to procrastination. Since…

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