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2019-03-07 08:43 am

How do you return to regular sleep?

Rosie has been sick on and off for weeks. With the latest flu, this past weekend, she took to sleep ping long hours in the daytime then being up late at night, unable to get to sleep p. I am our semi official on call late /middle of the night person, because B turns into a zombie in disrupted sleep conditions, and he was already obviously catching the flu. I adapted by also taking a longer nap in the middle of the day. It feels a little like I'm serving on a submarine, doing short shifts, instead of having normal length days.

Yesterday when I got home from running early evening errands, Brian apologeticaly told me he had kept her awake as long as he could but she was asleep in the Guest room. so I was not surprised when she woke up hungry at 11. I got her ready for bed and fetched her a banana and her meds, including 3 MG of melatonin. I also brought up a fresh batch of library books. She read for a bit, then settled down. I ribbed her feet and legs, which have been hurting. Then I turned off the light. she asked me to sing, so I did. I got back to me own bedroom at 2 am.

How do we get her back to normal?
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2019-02-12 09:10 pm

York Race Revolts - the presentation

Dr. Peter Levy gave a talk at York College on February 6, 2019, and the York Daily Record posted a video of it.

I have added it to the York Reflections page.
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2019-02-11 11:09 pm

Doing too much, yet getting things done... in the interstices of Life.

It snowed today. About 3 inches, which in Michigan would just mean getting up half an hour earlier to shovel snow, and otherwise winter as usual, but here in York meant they panicked. And by "They" I mean the school districts. At first they notified us there would be a two-hour delay, something that never even existed when I was young in Michigan, but by the time we started getting moving in the morning they had canceled school.

This worked out well for Rosie, who wasn't feeling well anyway, but I had an appointment for massage therapy and chiropractic care, and Brian still had to go teach. Brian actually decided to walk to work to skip dealing with PA drivers who have no idea how to handle snow and also avoid putting his car out in the snow. That left me to shovel, which mostly just consisted of shoving the snow off to the side. The ground was still above freezing, so the snow was wet and heavy, and one of my biggest jobs was pushing the two-foot wide swamp of slush in the road down past our driveway and into the storm water drain that is just downhill from our mailbox. Once I did that the water was able to drain past our property instead of accumulating in the road, but the plows may ruin that tonight just in time for it to freeze by morning.

I don't know if school will be delayed or canceled tomorrow but I'm guessing it will be one or the other.

Rosie's synchro swim practice was also canceled, which again was just as well. I really can't tell if this is a new cold or a relapse of the ongoing cold but either way she seems pretty miserable. She did get dressed (blue like Jewel the Macaw) in time to go to Brian's work so I could hit my appointment. She likes to play with the legos his colleague Joan keeps on hand, and later she told me she played with Brian's Transformers as well. She got moving to let me go to the appointment because she wants me to be relaxed, she said. I admit I can get pretty snappish these days when I'm stressed and headache-y.

I also just get snappish because I make silly mistakes and feel stupid when I'm tired, which is a lot of the time. I was thinking about this as I went down for my nap before going to pick her back up after lunch. I had just recently told a new associate about my condition and how I had to nap in the middle of the day or I get stupid tired. He kind of chuckled and shrugged it off a bit, saying we all get a little stupid when we're tired. Not me. When I am crashing I feel like my IQ plummets at least 70 points in very little time.

I'm sure Brian can confirm this, but here are just a few examples of how this affects me. For one thing, although I *know* I need to nap around the same time each day, which I get tired enough to really need a nap, I get easily distracted, such that my 8-year-old comes up to me me and asks, "Did you nap yet?" and pointedly orders me to bed. Today I went to the guest room to take my nap, picked up my phone to set the timer, and promptly forgot why the phone was in my hand. I remembered I had to set the timer and opened the clock function. The display was totally confusing. I could make no sense of it for a second. Then I realized it was on "world clock" or something and I needed to change the function setting. I looked down at the bottom of the screen, proudly remembered "timer" was on the bottom right, and hit that button. Then I set the timer for 25 minutes, put the phone down, lay down, and fell deeply asleep.

Outside of shoveling the snow, taking out the garbage and recycling, remembering to finally give the recycling guys their winter holiday tip, that appointment, that nap, a quick stop at the butcher, managing Rosie, making Chili for tonight, pre-preparing burgers for tomorrow, doing the dishes, processing one load of laundry, and getting Rosie to bed, I didn't get much done today.

I have a bunch of volunteer web design and event promotion work I wanted to get done last week (Does anyone have a copy of the font Winner Narrow Black, btw?), and am also working on a wikipedia article I want to finish and get out there. I managed to get Rosie to finish writing a letter to her pen pal and to make some progress on a needlepoint project she's doing, but I have to admit that she also spent a fair amount of time lounging on the couch with tea and a cat, watching Rio and Moana on my laptop.

Now that she is in bed I have just caught up on email a little and on updating my calendar, and other correspondence. I don't know if Rosie will be staying home tomorrow but even if she is I'm going to have to insist on using my laptop myself.

How was YOUR day?
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2019-02-05 10:52 am

All Deaf kids should get a chance to learn sign language (ASL)

A discussion elsewhere has made me aware that hearing parents of Deaf children are and have been discouraged from teaching their kids ASL (sign language), and that there is a political movement to counter that -- to assert that Deaf children have a right to language they can use to communicate with the Deaf community.

I just want to say that I support that movement.

for more background, read
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2019-02-03 08:55 pm

Grow with google: Getting Found on Google Search and Maps

Despite the title, this is really pretty much just a talk about Google My Business:

I attended the workshop and found it useful.

This is part of a Grow With Google series, which included a talk on email, spreadsheets, etc:

Reaching Customers Online with Google

Digital skills for your community:
netmouse: (Light!)
2019-01-29 05:30 pm

Favorite Bean Recipes (a FB Discussion)

The departure from FB Has Begun, so far as I can tell.  So I am making a point of capturing some of my favorite recipe threads.  I have also backed them up as plain text. Here's one from October 20, 2014:

Anne K Gray
I keep reading things that say we should eat more beans. I did not grow up with any beloved recipes involving beans outside of re-fried beans in tacos and of course chili. Please, for the love of beans, give me your favorite bean recipes.

Lynda Gronlund-Naeem --Bean dip
Ok, you dip tortilla chips in it. It is amazing.
1 can chick peas
1 can black beans 
1 can or frozen package of sweet corn
1/2 jar of roasted red peppers, chopped in small pieces 
1/2 jar of trader joes marinated mushrooms chopped in small pieces
1 regular size package of feta cheese crumbles
1/2 to 2/3 bottle of trader joes balsamic vinaigrette 
Mix it all together in a big bowl and scoop it up with corn chips or just eat in shamefully by the spoonful o_O
Rinse the black beans & chick peas before putting them in
Eleanor Sayre -- Orzo with black beans
2C cooked black beans
1 lb Orzo
3 T Butter or olive oil
1C Orange juice
1t cumin
1/2t ground ancho
salt and garlic to taste
1 drop lemon oil
Make one pound orzo. In a large skillet or pot, mix 2C cooked black beans (canned and drained ok), 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil, 1 cup orange juice, 1 teaspoon cumin, half teaspoon ground ancho, salt to taste, garlic to taste, one drop lemon oil. Boil about 10 mins, add cooked orzo, simmer 2 mins, eat. 
Can also add toasted almonds if you hate salmon.

Jennifer Hoyer  -- Bar BQ beans and rice Any mix of beans you like. Add your favorite bar BQ sauce and some sautéed onions. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer 10 min. Serve over brown or white rice.

The list is long, so click here to read the rest... )

Original discussion:

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2019-01-28 10:07 am

Getting to inbox: zero (unread)

Might be an impossible task, but still. Goals.

I am steadily reducing the number of things I am subscribed to and deleting old notifications, especially from lists.

A couple months ago I nuked the promotions tab in my gmail account, at which point my Inbox swelled to 48,000 UNREAD messages. Some have suggested I should have just deleted everything in the promotions tab FIRST, but part of the reason I was getting rid of it was there were things in there I wanted to see, in a timely manner, and letting gmail pseudo-randomly decide what to filter out of my inbox really wasn't working for me.
Before I nuked my Promotions tab, I believe my inbox already had roughly 12K unread emails in it.

Last night I got the unread emails in my inbox down below 10K.

So... that feels good.

What are your goals right now?

Have a good Monday!
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2019-01-24 09:35 pm

York Reflections

Shortly after we moved to York, I learned that there had been race riots and rebellions here in the summer of 1969. "So," I thought in 2015, "the 50th anniversary is coming up, and there's almost enough time to plan something appropriate to do!"

Fast forward 4 years, and the 50th anniversary of the race riots/revolts/rebellions is fast approaching. I have been pushing behind the scenes to get people to actually engage with the question of how to appropriately commemorate the event(s).

York XL is helping establish plantings around the two benches that were erected to honor the two people who died one fateful weekend in July, 1969, on a hill in a city park overlooking the places where they were each shot, on different days. (One a young white cop in a supposedly armored car, the other a young black mother, in a car that was unfortunately similar to a car that had previously threatened a heavily armed white gang.) We also hope to erect an historical plaque on the site near the benches, which currently only bear their names and none of their history.

York College is running a series of events highlighting Hidden Figures in York's history, which includes a talk by Dr. Peter Levy next month.

A huge Community project called 10,000 Acts of Kindness is hoping to set a World Record for largest community dinner on June 30th, 2019. ... and I'm sure more will be done.

A few of us are also collecting Oral histories, and applying for grants to better record and preserve this history.

A couple years ago, when we were discussing names for this project, I settled on York Reflections, and established a domain name, I just updated the page for the first time in years.

Trying to get to know the local community well enough to give the right nudges to a project like this in just 4 years has been a (probably hopeless) push. Some of the proposed events have gotten a firm thumbs-down from the community and been canceled. Different organizations are taking different approaches, and though they have come together to discuss ideas and issues, the collaborative I was hoping to build hasn't actually coalesced. Still, things are happening, so I thought I would at least post a public record of things I think are related on the website.

So, that's a thing.
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2019-01-24 01:42 pm

How de do to dos

So... How'd I do on my to do list yesterday? well... I got plenty of rest. I did not catch up on mail, though I did do the dishes and I got started unpacking From Rosie's and my trip to Michigan.

I haven't gotten caught up on photos yet from that trip. I may post some to Flickr. I've been maintaining my Flickr pro account and I remembered the other day it was partly because it was pretty easy to share photos from there to here/LJ.

since I was still coughing and sometimes so badly I got lightheaded, I promised B that I'd go to the doctor today, which I did. he's putting me on another round of antibiotics.

I also got my monthly shot of Octreotide today, and blood pulled for some chromatin labs.

Did not get far on the hair scrunchies yesterday. :( am going to try a different kind of needle but in the meantime I ordered a backup plan from that should be here tomorrow. Rosie's Synchro meet is Saturday.

But first, I go mentor fifth grade journalists and pick up my antibiotics and new sewing needles.
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2019-01-23 08:22 am

To Dos

What I am doing today:

A. making Hair Scrunchies for R and her two partners to go with their suits for the Trio routine for their Synchro meet on Saturday

B. catching up on the Mail (both snail and email)

C. Resting -- The Bronchitis got actively worse on my trip to MI, possibly due to shoveling snow for an hour Saturday morning to make it to Janet Chin's funeral, plus having to walk to and from our gate (A76) twice at DTW because the express tram is out of service until April for some reason.

D. if there's time, working on a Wikipedia article.

But first, the breakfast dishes.
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2019-01-04 10:33 am

(no subject)

Today's plan:
* continue to catch up on email and online tasks

* rest (still getting over bad bronchitis)

* play hookie and go see Aquaman at the cheap theater with Brian

* take spider plants and bags and some books to Hannah Penn for students End the era of baby spider plants taking over my life. Except there are still some at YCDS. hmm. But not in my house!

* rest some more

* stop in at the Goodridge Freedom Center event tonight.

* fold laundry and watch a movie with Rosie

(recommendations for movie?)
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2019-01-03 04:37 pm

(no subject)

I have a cat who wants to be on my lap *and* washing my arms.

Scratchy cat tongue. Otherwise soft warm cat.

Sweet cat. How can you drive me so nuts?
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2018-12-05 11:44 pm

Noting continued "Westernisms" in American education.

I was frustrated today to be reminded of how much the Eurocentric/"Western" viewpoint still dominates American education. I subbed for a social studies teacher last week, and again today, and as she laid out the plan for the class for me we were commiserating over how her students didn't know or care about why the History of the middle East and Israel is important, and then she said something I thought about for the rest of the day. Speaking of Egypt, Jerusalem, and the events she was having them study between 3000 and 200 B.C., in three different parts of the Mediterranean, she described it as "The beginning of religion." The religions of the Book, I clarified, and she agreed, but I didn't contradict her overall thesis. Meanwhile, at another point in the conversation she had indicated that she would love to just teach European History, like especially World War I, that era.
And I think, honestly, that she has probably never deeply thought about the fact that people had spread out across India and Asia, and even to the Americas, thousands of years before 3000 BC. And that those people developed their own religions and beliefs without having any connection to the culture of what Western history calls "The cradle of civilization." She might not even know that many world scholars would consider Hinduism to be the world's "oldest" major living religion of which we have historical record.
Or that, written history or not, as Jill Lepore puts it in These Truths, "People order their worlds with tales of their dead and of their gods and of the origins of their laws."

People populated the Americas about 20,000 years ago across the land bridge, and then the water rose again, cutting Asia and North America apart from one another. This was about 18,000 BC. By 1000 A.D, the great city Cahokia, on the Mississippi floodplains, had been built, housed over ten thousand people, and been abandoned. The Aztec city of Tenochtítlan, with a population of over a quarter million people, was founded in 1325. By 1492 when Columbus landed in Haiti, there were an estimated 75 million people living in the Americas--15 million more than in Europe. And even the fairly simple Taíno villagers of Haiti had their own religion. which did not begin, in any way shape or form, in the Mediterranean post 3,000 BC.

(in case you're wondering, in 1500 AD there were approximately 125 million people in China, in the Ming Dynasty, many of whom were Taoist, Buddhist, etc, but some of whom were also Christian or Islamic. There was trade between China and Europe overland, which is how the Europeans came to possess gunpowder and the Compass, both first established in China during the Song Dynasty, before the Mongol-led regimes took over around 1271.)

I believe religion begins in the natural tendencies of human being to a) wonder about the nature of the universe and b) create stories that explain our world. this is also, in fact the origin of science. Both science and religion arose in various forms around the world. They did not "begin" in the Mediterranean any more than did music or dance or other elements of culture, and I hope that future course materials will make that more clear to teachers and students alike.

(as a side note, if you are interested in this sort of thing, look up the recent discussion between Stephen Colbert and Neil Degrasse Tyson.)
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2018-12-03 05:44 pm

Put a Little Sunshine in Their Art - a fundraiser

I have been substitute teaching in the same school one day a week this Fall in a long term assignment. This is an urban school where 100 % of the kids get free breakfast and lunch and those might be their only meals that day. Where 56% of the students who start the school year there will be someplace else by the end of the year, because the lives of many of the poor are not stable. There are lots of challenges these kids face. Multi-generational patterns of trauma, discrimination, and displacement. Can't fix it all.

But I was thinking maybe some of you who do not have children in elementary school right now might help make up for one of the key things these kids are lacking: parents with the time and connections to raise money for their school supplies. I talked to their art teacher about making up a list of supplies, and doing some crowd-funding. That same week, Facebook suggested I do a fundraiser for my birthday. Huh, I thought. Well, I could just do that.

This article on Medium has the text of that fundraiser, as well as info on how to just paypal me money in case you are FB averse.

If we raise enough money, I will arrange for the 7th and 8th graders at the school to get an extra workshop to make durable 3D art they can put in their school garden. I hope we get that far. I know a terrific artist named Tomak who is ready and willing to do that workshop with them. I just spoke to him today. :)

If you can, please help. Even a little bit would be great. Thank you!
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2018-11-19 01:02 am

A letter I wrote in 2011 on engaging students in community work and practical problems

Written to the Then-President of Grinnell College on the subject of alumni volunteering:

Feb 20, 2011

I have in the past done a couple of things for GRASP but have otherwise not volunteered as a Grinnell Alum. I wanted to write to say that one thing I would love to do would be to coordinate with students on projects that would benefit the community. Whether that's an ongoing research project I could advise or consult on from a distance, or a spring break or similar short-term project in my local area that students came to participate in, I think it would be great to get alumni and students together to help make a difference in serving society.

While I was a master's student at the University of Waterloo, I saw how their partnerships between industry and students in the engineering program inspired students to tackle real, practical problems in school projects. I can only imagine that all kinds of alumni are in a good position to help Grinnell students identify and understand interesting questions and challenges in their fields of study, even as students are looking for topics to tackle for papers and projects.

For me, for instance, I would love to work with students who are interested in better understanding the history of the country's prison situation, and how many people have lost years of their freedom and in many cases their right to vote and their ability to pursue work in a career field based on convictions early in their lives, often related to the so-called War on Drugs. Alternatively, if any journalism or pre-law students are interested in documenting current conditions or cases, that would also be something I'd be interested in encouraging and being involved with. Similarly it would be good to document and understand conditions in our inner city communities and schools, for instance, and there might be ways we could set up spring or fall break projects to help address those by canvassing suburb library sales to build inner city school libraries or get books to kids a la the RIF program.

I would find collaborations like that really inspiring. If there's anything like that coming to Michigan, I haven't heard of it, but with Flint and Detroit being some of the poorest cities in the country, if I can bring attention and energy here I will.

Thank you for inviting ideas, and I hope you are enjoying your presidency.

Best wishes,

Anne (Gay) Gray, '96
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2018-05-19 07:52 am


Substitute teaching the other day, I had a moment with a couple 7th graders looking at a political globe of the earth. I went over to share with them how I'd recently learned there's a stripe of desert from Africa all the way to the mongolian Steppes in Asia.

We turned the globe to Africa to find the left side of the stripe. Student 1, on my left, said he didn't know how to find things on a globe. He pointed to Niger and asked how you pronounce that. "Nigh-jer," I told him. "Oh," he said. "But where's Africa?" He asked.
I gestured at the continent with my hand while the other student chimed in, "It's right there! That's Africa."

Pause. Student 1 studied what was before him.
"But where's Africa?" He asked again.
"Africa is a continent, not a country," I explained further. "It has many countries, and over 300 languages are spoken there."

"Oooooh." Was his response.

"What's the largest desert in the world?" I asked. Student 2 had it. "The Sahara!"
"Where is it?" He pointed to Niger.

World geography is clearly lacking. It's throughout. Rosie recently came home from a second grade segment of learning to make and paint clay beads, "Like they do in Africa, because they are very poor there and all they have is mud."
(I made sure to share her takeaway with her teacher later. She was clearly embarrassed.)

I reminded her Africa is a continent, not a country, and that they have a wide range of rich and poor people there, like we do here.

Stereotypes are so easily formed.
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2017-10-22 05:55 pm

(no subject)

So... this past week while I was watching my Facebook fill with posts of "Me too" and "I believe you," I was also reading The Round House, by Louise Erdrich. It's not an easy novel to read, but it is an important one. Told from the point of view of an adolescent boy in North Dakota, the novel chronicles the impact on him and his family of the rape of his mom by someone who calculatedly did it in a location that makes it hard to prosecute, because they live on Tribal land, but the attack might have happened within state or even Federal jurisdiction. Because of that and other circumstances, this story has the basis for powerfully expressing the difference between the relief felt when an abuser is locked up and the paralysing fear and powerlessness of trying to continue living while they are free and around in the same town. Erdrich is exposing the continuing barriers to justice in reservation life while also bring us along on a coming of age journey for the narrator. I highly recommend this book to everyone 14 or older.

Note: while there is a rape in this book and some details of the attack come to light, there are no graphic details of sexual violence. However, there are other scenes and conversations that have to do with sex, sexuality, body parts, and violence. In fact the intergenerational dialogue (both spoken and acted out) about sexuality, drinking, violence, and how to treat each other is one of the most fascinating aspects of the book.
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2017-09-15 06:07 am

(no subject)

Dear body,

This waking up at 5 am thing?

Not a fan.

netmouse: (Default)
2017-08-02 03:57 pm

"blackface" backlash - an over-reaction? Or a long overdue one?

Reading comments about the white woman who was recently lambasted for darkening her face to cosplay Whoopi Goldberg's character Guinan from Star Trek, I feel like there is an underbelly of the issue that is being missed by many of the white people in the discussion, and not necessarily brought up by the people of color, either.

I appreciate comments saying that someone's race is not something you should put on as a costume when depicting characters they played - that in and of itself is a good point, and an interesting one.

But I feel that simply calling what the woman did "blackface" fails to really connect most people to some of the wounds that are at play here.

Largely because current/younger generations, especially white people, have little-to-no awareness or concept about how pervasive blackface minstrelcy was, to what purpose it was used, and how it has continued to influence how characters of color are depicted in theater and the media, and also how people of color are perceived on the street.

If you are confused by the level of emotion invested in the backlash directed at this white cosplayer, I encourage you to read Let Black Kids Just Be Kids, a recent and very relevant New York Times Op-Ed by Robin Bernstein.

Berstein draws a very credible connection between the practice of blackface minstrelcy and the current patterns of perception that contribute to tragedies like the death of Trayvon Martin and the daily overpolicing and underprotecting of black kids in America.

Bernstein goes on to explain, "only white kids were allowed to be innocent. The more that popular writers, playwrights, actors and visual artists created images of innocent white children, the more they depicted children of color, especially black children, as unconstrained imps. Over time, this resulted in them being defined as nonchildren."

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” one of the most influential books of the 19th century, was pivotal to this process. When Harriet Beecher Stowe published her novel in 1852, she created the angelic white Eva, who contrasted with Topsy, the mischievous black girl.

Stowe carefully showed, however, that Topsy was at heart an innocent child who misbehaved because she had been traumatized, “hardened,” by slavery’s violence. Topsy’s bad behavior implicated slavery, not her or black children in general.

The novel’s success prompted theatrical troupes across the country to adapt “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” into what became one of the most popular stage shows of all time. But to attract the biggest audiences, these productions combined Stowe’s story with the era’s other hugely popular entertainment: minstrelsy.

Topsys onstage, often played by white women in blackface, were adultlike, cartoonish characters who laughed as they were beaten, and who invited audiences to laugh, too. In these shows, Topsy’s innocence and vulnerability vanished. The violence that Stowe condemned became a source of delight for white theater audiences.

This minstrel version of Topsy turned into the pickaninny, one of the most damaging racist images ever created. This dehumanized black juvenile character was comically impervious to pain and never needed protection or tenderness.

Other Blackface Minstrel characters created or perpetuated equally damaging stereotypes of black people, almost all of which were used only as comic relief, and young white people today are largely ignorant about those characters and performances, which continued into the 1970s in some places.

Heck, most of us don't even know or think about where the term "Jim Crow" came from.

Sometime around 1830, a white NYC ctor named Thomas D. Rice learned a popular African-American song-and-dance routine, based on the myth of a trickster figure, an escaped, possibly physically disabled slave named Jim Crow, who would dance and boast. His face blacked out with burnt cork, Rice perfected the act and sparked the tradition of the minstrel act. At first the blackface character was actually a smart and sympathetic one. But as time went on, the minstrel show took on a more racist tone.

Blackface Minstrelcy was very popular in the US in the 1830s and 1840s, but it continued to be practiced well into the 1900s and its legacy continues in the lack of African American characters of content who have primary roles in mainstream US media (books, film, plays, tv shows, etc). This legacy has caused an implicit bias in almost all of us, too little acknowledged, and is very hard to address with counter-cultural re-programming, especially while white people continue to dominate the production fields of those media.

If you think people are over-reacting to white people who darken their faces to portray people of color, please take a step back and learn more about why they are reacting the way they are.

On the topic of depictions in film and theater, btw, I highly recommend you read the historical fantasy novel Redwood and Wildfire, by playwright Andrea Hairston.

Thank you.
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2017-07-09 09:39 am

Sunday morning haiku

Hollow dreams, cupped like
Daisies, float away from me
On a morning breeze.