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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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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