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Showing posts from June, 2017

Review: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

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White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wise's memoir of his own awakening to systematic racism in the United States is a powerful and useful tale for white people to read and reflect on their own experience. From his early upbringing in the south to his education in New Orleans and early days of activism against the David Duke campaigns in the 1990s, Wise explores the ways in which he has succeeded and failed in being an ally to non-white people. But what Wise does best throughout the book is to mark with clarity the ways in which the privilege afforded him by being white created opportunities or nullifed threats that would have existed for him, were he not white. Additionally, he is great at unpackaging the ways in which investment in whiteness doesn't harm just non-whites but does damage to white people as well. For anyone looking to better understand how one can strive to address and engage with the racial strife in this c…

The PhD Chronicles: 1/3 Complete!?!?!

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I'm not entirely complete with the summer session--after all, I've got 3 papers to still write in the next month but I am done with the courses themselves and am poised to finish these papers, thus, completing the first 1/3 of credits for the program.  24 credits in just over a year.  It's been intense to say the least but I'm glad I've stuck with it.

This semester has been a bit more emotionally rougher than I would like.  I had the malaise of the first week, which was hard to get through and then the massacre in Orlando happened at the start of the second week.  Though I was able to recenter myself by the end of the first week, the start of the second week with the shooting, shook me up some more and the inevitable hate and bigotry that spewed forth from many pitting bigotries of all sorts against one another and alienating so many people also cut deeply.  The rawness of that coupled with the reminder of the potential harm that "education" as a systemati…

Review: March

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March by John Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These three graphic novels capture John Lewis's first-hand account as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. From his upbringing in Troy, Alabama to his entrance into college and earliest political experiences, the story provides his bird's eye view and experience in striving for a nonviolent revolution in the face of overwhelming white supremacy, oppression, and violence. His experience in the 1960s is paralleled with the inauguration in 2009 of President Barak Obama, providing a beacon to the harsh and vitriolic culture to which both Lewis and Obama (and for that matter all African Americans) were (and continue to be) subjected to. Through the three volumes, Lewis touches upon the leadership of the Civil Rights Movements, the different factions, and the challenges of trying to find the best courses of action to take. The book is both a history and a primer on attempting to change a racist culture that is worth reading…

Review: TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

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TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris J. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anderson, the head of TED, the central repository for engaging ideas in small 7-18 minute speeches by many key industry leaders (of almost every industry) presents a concise and clear guide to organizing and preparing to give the best speech of one's life. Focused largely on giving a "TED Talk," which is not necessarily every talk one is likely to give, Anderson walks readers through everything from different approaches on preparing, to technical considerations to delivery styles and wardrobe questions. He draws upon many of the most famous TED talks to illustrate the best examples of what he is discussing and while he does refer to bad examples, he usually is vague on the details, sparing the targets (and probably himself from lawsuits). I appreciate Anderson's ability to pull together different aspects of a speech and clarify with each, what is the essential consideratio…

The PhD Chronicles: Year 2, Week 1 Done!

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As can be told by my earlier post, this week has been rough.  I ran into challenges a lot about what I was doing and why.  I'm still not sure I'm entirely out of the miasma but I'm in a slightly better space.

Monday rolled into Tuesday, wherein I had two presentations to work on.  One of which, I won't lie--I got a bit more persnickety than I probably should have but I couldn't resist.  I'm not a big fan of unnecessary and meaningless work and the presentation wherein we were supposed to summarize 70-100 pages of findings from a book that had 20-year-old research in it (in some areas, that's ok, but when we're talking about who our students are--it's irrelevant), seems like a tremendous waste of time given all the other things we could do.  The other presentation I was a bit more fond of, but because of poor planning, we didn't get to it.  (Note to educators, use your time in the class wisely and if you scheduled for many people to present, do no…

Review: Focus by Arthur Miller

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Focus by Arthur Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across this novel in a used bookstore and thought the premise sounded fascinating, especially since I've been a fan of Miller's dramatic works. The story follows Lawrence Newman after he awakes in the middle of the night to hearing a screaming woman being assaulted. But since the woman is a minority, he largely seems to pay it no mind. The bachelor enjoys a home in a white Christian neighborhood and works in New York City and is largely successful until his eyesight gets the best of him and he's forced to get glasses. His glasses, as he feared, make him appear more Jewish in the race-obsessed world of the World War II 1940s. What follows is Lawrence's demise as those around him increasingly suspect him to be a Jew and he becomes subjected to the same cruel realities that he perpetuated just months before.

Miller's tale is a classic tale of what it's like to live in another man's shoes but also well layered …

The PhD Chronicles: Year 2, Week 1, Day 1

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Here I am, back again at the start of the fourth semester (or first semester of my second year as a PhD student and well, I'm nonplussed.

It's been about three weeks since I finished last semester. and though I made sure to take that three-week   break as a three-week break and do little to engage with my program and allow myself to reboot, I'm not sure I'm as recharged as I would like.  I guess I would call it a bit of a malaise that I find myself in that is in part generated from me and in part from the program.  The part that is from me comes from a mixture of things.  
So while I have certainly taken a break during this time, that doesn't necessarily mean I have stopped from engaging in intellectual work or contemplation--I don't know that I'm capable of that since, learning, thinking, and reflecting are things that I am largely attached to as a central piece of my identity.  However, sometimes, what I am learning and reflecting on can have a strong emoti…

Review: American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good

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American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good by Colin Woodard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Woodard provides a fascinating framework for understanding the differences in the United States between those who lean towards more collectivist approaches to society and those that believe in more individualistic approaches. Building off his previous work, rather than provide a simple divide of socialist vs. libertarians, he articulates the presence of eleven "nations" within the United States that represent different historical-cultural origins and occupy different geographical spaces in the country. From there, he delves into the history of the country and illustrates how different alignments of the nations resulted in the swaying of the country between its more collectivist and individualistic modes of governmental involvement. It's a fascinating book that highlights the often-complex ways in which different people align and dissent…