The Updates #15

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Week 15 of the updates and some weeks, it's definitely a challenge to get it in by Monday!  


I checked in with my advisor this week about what's next.  We discussed the possibility of graduating in May.  It sounds tight and challenging and yet, I'm gonna make a run for it.  In order for me to graduate and walk in May, I would need my dissertation submitted to UMB by April 20, which means I will need to have defended my dissertation by mid-March, which means I need to have a solid draft of my dissertation by March 1 to give to my committee.  
A black and white photo of a door at a school with a sign next to it that says "Vote here" in English and Spanish.
Vote Here

Simply put:
  • 107 days until March 1
  • 121 days until March 15
  • 152 days until April 15
That's ambitious--really ambitious; but my chair believes I can do it and I, at least at this time, am going to make that the goal.  My back-up goal is that I will have everything done by June 1--that is, I want everything to be done by June 1 and I can be largely done with this as a process.  

This will be a challenge and yet, I feel energized to do so; this will be 8 years in June; I think that's enough to be engaged with all of this.  
This week was strange because all in the course of a few hours I managed to step up in a meaningful way, step up in a mindless way, and not say something when I felt like I should.  A strange day for sure.  

The work culture is definitely one that encourages speaking up when something is amiss; we know that it's often when we're uncertain or see something that seems not right, that there's an opportunity to speak, reflect and learn. 

Wednesday afforded me three such scenarios.  In one situation, a conversation was happening where someone attempting to contribute to the conversation was repeatedly overlooked/interrupted.  I interjected to say I wanted to hear from the person who was not being seen. It was a simple but clear way to disrupt what did not feel right.

The second scenario was trying to articulate something that was public, most people knew about and even some folks have said things, but nothing seemed to be done; even though the potential for harm was real.  Because of the power structure and the moment, I kept searching for an opportunity to respectfully call attention to it; to call in an issue.  But there didn't seem a kind way of doing it.  I'm still thinking about how to redress this and think it might end up with a one-to-one conversation with the possibility that the person will understand.

The third scenario--well, I flubbed. I wanted to speak to some issues that I saw were challenging to a gathering and that I thought were being ignored in the immediate and large sense; I also (in hindsight) realized that there were aspects that were challenging to myself.  With the goal of trying to help others and ultimately myself, I didn't really think through the message; that is, I could send the message but how I framed and connected it could have been much better.  I realize this happened as a result of rushing and just trying to get something "off my plate" rather than giving it the due consideration it needed.  

Together, they give me a lot to think about in terms how, when, and what to speak up about and that remains something I'm reflecting on from the week.

What I'm Reading

America On Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s by Elizabeth Hinton: Hinton's book is filled with incident after incident of Black resistance to state violence in the late 20th century. It's damning and powerful, enough to make readers skeptical just how much the police force as state-sanctioned violent can be trusted in racial justice work.  Hinton shows time and again, Black communities seeking solutions to protect their lives, families, and livelihoods and regularly disrupted by city, state, and federal practices that ignore, undermine, or dismiss their needs and considerations. Whether it's providing equal access to public resources (paid for by the same residents denied access), demanding improved methods of community relationships, or just wanting to be treated as humans, white public leaders and the police force by proxy choose derision, harassment, and violence time and again.  What's powerful in Hinton's book is that this vast legacy of resistance to racialized policing helps to frame a better understanding for the ongoing movements whether it is Black Lives Matter, Defund the Police or other actions that recognize that after generations of trying to reform the police to not marginalized Black people, a different solution is needed.

Hello, Habits: A Minimalist's Guide to a Better Life by Fumio Sasaki: A minimalist writer who lives a minimalist life writes a book about habits. I wasn't a fan of this book in that it doesn't really offer anything new that you might find in other books in this realm and it doesn't offer a profound take. It continually refers to the same 3-5 well-known people to prove its points (when not pointing to the author himself).  The minimalist approach creates an anesthetized element to the book that leaves a lot of the richness and subtlety that I think is important if one wants to meaningfully add to this conversation. 

What I'm Watching

Nope: Jordan Peele's latest film taps into so many things I need to watch it again.  But some initial thoughts?  A solid horror film and one that has some interesting layers.  Who gets to be named or seen as human or worthy of life shows up in some interesting ways (the chimpanzee, horses, the horse-rider from the first film, the alien itself); the borderline of surveillance and evidence (who gets to wield it and why); what it means to be seen and what it means to look (and all the power ensnared in all of that). All that and yet, it still works a straightforward horror film that will get your heart beating. 

Atlanta: I just watched an episode in season 1 that focuses entirely on Vanessa and it was fascinating.  It reinforces my rule that if I give a show 5-6 episodes it will show me if I need to continue.  The episode explores Vanessa's world (The sometime-romantic interest of Earnest and mother of his child) and I found this important for the series which has largely been only presenting the male lens. Vanessa's arc in the episode reiterates on many levels the impossibility of choices (or choices that don't feel like choices) for people, particularly women and mothers who life on the edge of survival. There's a dynamic in which one cannot win or catch a break and even when one does elevate into other opportunities (represented by her friend and later in the episode, her boss), the situations are equally damning.  

This Week's Photos

Vote Here: The black and white depicted my mood when I took the photo as I showed up right at the polls opening to vote. A lot of folks are happy that there was no "red wave" and yet, what did happen was that exciting either. I explained it to a colleague as it felt like, "well, I didn't get COVID, but I got a cold."  Better but still largely disappoint because of there's still a lot of crazy in the right in this country that breeds violence, hate, and intentional destruction of democratic institutons.  

What's on My Mind
Lots as usual and yet, nothing that seems to raise to the level of sharing here.  Probably a reflection of that fact that I didn't put in enough time to really contemplate and write more about this.  Alas, I ran out of time and had to get onto the next things!

Till next week...

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