A Day in the Life

~~~~~SCENE:  Sitting in my room, minding my Twitter.  Housemate/grad student/fellow black girl appears in my doorway.

Housemate:  Can I ask you something?

K:  Shoot.

Housemate:  Has your advisor ever suggested that you not apply for funding?

K:  Ha.  That’s cute.  [pause]  What was their reasoning?

Housemate:  Well, he said I shouldn’t apply for funding right now because I might take some away from people who need it.

K:  [stank face]   Um…did you stop needing to get out of grad school all of a sudden?

Housemate:  Nope.

K:  [pause]  Is he telling anyone else this?

Housemate:  [side-eye–she’s the only person of color in her entire program and one of two in her college]

K:  Yeah….

Housemate:  What should I do?

K:  Rack that shit up.  Do you think the other graduate students are sitting in front of their computers thinking about you while they write their fellowship applications?  Like, “maybe that cute brown girl across the room needs a summer research stipend and perhaps I should cool on this grant right here and let her have it”?

Housemate:  Yeah.  That’s what I thought.

K:  Actually, I’d be pretty pissed if I were you.

Housemate:  Oh, I was.  Cried it out for fifteen minutes.  Then tried to get back to writing.  Wrote two sentences.  Now I’m home.

K:  Hmm.  Well….I affirm you.

Housemate:  [smiles] Thanks man.

~~~~*sigh.  The micro-aggressions of racism in action.

I’m a Winner!

Wooohooo!

I won Evelyn Alfred‘s book give away.  Which means a copy of Ernessa T. Carter’s 32 Candles will magically appear in my mailbox just in time for Labor Day Weekend!  Happy Monday to me!

*sigh.  One day, I will be an older, stronger, well-seasoned blogger who gets free books sent to her too.  And I will return the favor with book giveaways galore.  But until then, I’m gonna tear this one up.  Sixteen Candles was my first Molly Ringwald movie and remains a classic.

Watch the book trailer and read the synopsis here:

Visit the 32 Candles website.

Hang out over at Evelyn’s place.

Follow both of these lovely women on twitter.

Dance it out.  *flounces out of the room to “If You Were Here”*

Yum

It’s almost here.  Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, T.I., Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker and Jay Hernandez.  And some girl-crush Zoe Saldana like a cherry on top.

Your welcome.

The Internet of Things Ate My Activism

This week, ReadWriteWeb reported that more things went online via AT&T and Verizon than humans:

In the race to the mobile internet, the machines have quickened their pace beyond what we humans have, at least in the US. Dishwashers, refrigerators, home heating units and other objects are next in line, then perhaps very widespread tiny sensors – and that’s a lot more exciting than it might sound.

We humans are reaching full market penetration and growth in subscription sales to us is slowing down, but there are more potentially-connected objects than there are human beings, and those objects are coming online faster and faster, according to a new report released today by wireless industry analyst Chetan Sharma. As Stacy Higginbotham, who first reported on these numbers, wrote today, “the data indicates that the Internet of things has clearly dawned, and with it, a new arena of competition.”

I can’t lie.  I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this.  Things?  As in my iPhone?  But isn’t online because I am?

A nifty little video helped break it down:

I know you young’uns are all up on your smartphones these days and that may make a lot of sense to you (read: I blame you).  And I loves the interwebs.  But as a first generation digital native and birth-to-earth sable fangirl–

I.just.can’t.

I grew up in the age of post-apocalypse Mad Max, I’ll-be-back, stranded across the universe with monsters science and military gone wrong sci-fi (all of which coincided ever so nicely with crack epidemic era of hip hop.  Coincidence?).  The Wachowski brothers went to my high school.  My first introduction to afrofuturistic, womanist speculative fiction was Octavia Butler’s trauma-ridden, year 2024 end of the world novel Parable of the Sower.  I still kinda think that the best reading and writing is done with a book in your hands not a Kindle–mainly because I like the finality and legality of paper products.

So when you tell me that the day will/has come when my laundry machine, air-conditioner, fridge and hair dryer are smarter than me…I start getting itchy.  For realz.

moya b. over at Crunk Feminists Collective writes:

“BP Oil Spill cleanup won’t be done til 2014 and that’s a conservative estimate.

Wyclef has the nerve to run for president of Haiti (haven’t the Haitian People suffered enough?! Yo, even Jeff Spicoli is saying fall back!). Seriously?!

Landslides and fires are wiping places off the map!

Google, whose public mantra was “Don’t be evil” has recently reincarnated into the Devil himself and is teaming up with Verison to make the internet even more inaccessible and costly for folks….

I’m done. I am moving away from the (in)justice system and embracing my new love, Nihilism….”

Enter the New York Times Magazine with this disturbing little gallery on scavenging for precious metals in Ghana…

Pieter Hugo/NYT, "A Graveyard for Computers in Ghana" http://nyti.ms/brh9Sj or click for more

…and I’m reminded that all those things that get such pretty animation in the IBM video, all those things including the computer I am typing this on right now are part of a global crisis for “conflict minerals” the average U.S. internet user remains stubbornly quarantined from.

That gallery was for Ghana.  Across the continent (via Afrobeat):

While not the only mineral fueling the war in the Congo, coltan (columbite–tantalite) is the mineral at the center of issues.  80% World’s known reserves are in Congo (DRC), mostly in the Eastern provinces of Kivus and Orientale. Tantalum from coltan is used in capacitors in consumer electronics products such as cell phones, DVD players, video game systems and computers, including iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac, PCs, cell phones, digital cameras, etc.

The brutality against women and children in this region is well-documented.  Rape IS a weapon of war.

We bitched and moaned about Naomi Campbell accepting or not accepting conflict diamonds but we are right now building an Internet of Things every time we search Bossip or YBF on our smartphones.  Talk about a technology industrial complex (especially with the Google-Verizon deal).  And at what cost?  And for whom?  And how do we–will we, hell, can we–stop?

The Cool Kidz Book Club: Reading Wench

Welcome to the Cool Kids Book Club.

I, @kismet4, @MDotWrites and @fortyoneacres (and you, perhaps?) are diving into Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s, Wench.  We’ll probably be hashtagging it up (#wench or #dolen) and you may even get some oh so scintillating blog posts out of us here, here and here.

Perkins-Valdez’s short bio reads like the life I wish I was living and still plan to one day…

Dolen has been writing seriously for about thirteen years. She finished her MFA in Creative Writing in ’98 and her thesis she had to write was actually picked up by an agent and went to auction. Unfortunately, the thesis did not sell, but it made her realize one day it could happen to her in a big way.

She went back to school studying for her Ph.D., when she found out she rather liked scholarly research. She accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Ralph Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and continued her research on race riots at the turn of the century. Afterwards, she landed a tenure-track job teaching African American Literature. Throughout those years, however, she continued to write fiction – short stories and two novels that never saw the light of day.

Listen to her interviewed on Tell Me More.  Visit her blogspot here.

…her name makes my Afro-Latina mouth water and some of my favorite people have endorsed the book.  But I’ve been scared to pick it up.

One of the things I want this blog to foster is a deeper meditation on the immediacy of the legacy of Atlantic slavery and slave trading in our twenty-first century lives.  It’s what I research and I’m convinced that a true understanding of the ramifications of the not-so-peculiar institution will one day fundamentally change the world (no, for real).

That said, my slavery-as-fiction cocktail is too often mixed with one-part excitement and three-parts cringe reflex.  I’ve been burned before–by authors who would like to think they are portraying the experiences of women during slavery in ways that fully affirm and empower all the female characters but end up failing to grapple with the fullness of abuse, assault, and trauma.  When this happens, I’m usually left with stories that glide over the extent of the brutality or enter too deeply into it, obscuring the vitality, promise and power within those same women’s lives.

But I’ve got @MDotWrites holding my hand.  And the Secret Society Sister Network at my back.  So I’m going to jump in.  I’ll keep you posted on where the book takes me.

Dozens, “Blacktags” and Other Ish Black People Do

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to report that black people use twitter.

*gasp*

Yes, chile.  And their use of twitter is so fascinating that some white folks even stay up late at night to peer into the heart of darkness and chuckle at the witticisms of these little nigs Negroes blacks and enjoy their “hilarious, bizarre or profane” midnight dances conversations into the wee hours of the morning.

*sigh*

I hope that paragraph above does all the work it needs to.  I hope it shows how misguided Farhad Manjoo and the editors at Slate were to even post such an ill-informed and nineteenth-century-esque article.  If it doesn’t then find your way over to Because, Really, the Black Snob or Instant Vintage for a much longer, funnier breakdown (@innyvinny even has a gallery of black twitter birds for your cutting, pasting and posting pleasure–see mine?).

If and when you read it, I hope the problems with the Slate article are more obvious to you than to @fmanjoo–problems like monolithic blackness, the rap-circa-2001-generically-brown twitterbird, the preoccupation with stats say nothing but do their best to mystify something very simple:  that “black people are online:”

“Yet much like discovering a country where people are already living, anytime the mainstream picks up on something that black people have been doing since forever (wasting time on the internet, shooting the shit like everyone else) it is supposed to be indicative of some larger, big, mysterious thing.”

Turn your clinical digital spotlight upon me!  Make me visible and by doing so make me real!  Ahh!  The power of the mainstream (which you could also read as white or as emanating from a legacy of whiteness and white privilege although Farhad himself is not white) gaze!

But I’m not writing to jump into the internet swarm that is headed straight for Farhad’s twitterfeed and Facebook page.  I’m anti-swarming (peace and love, yall, peace and love).  And I’m upset not at the piece itself but at the way its existence obscures and butchers a phenomenon that deserves a lot more attention–and a historical eye.

Continue reading

45th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Colorlines has a spread on the August 6th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.  Things to remember–just the little things, oh ya know, like due process–when these folks start discussing new ways to strip you of your rights.

Check the stunning imagery here.

Prop 8 Overturned

Edit: Colorlines has the bullet points of the decision if you don’t have time to read the 143 page document above.  Also check them out for their follow up post on marriage, immigration and people of color.

In case you didn’t know:

After a five-month wait, 9th Circuit District Court Judge Vaughn Walker offered a 136-page decision in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, firmly rejecting Proposition 8, which was passed by voters in November 2008.

“Although Proposition 8 fails to possess even a rational basis, the evidence presented at trial shows that gays and lesbians are the type of minority strict scrutiny was designed to protect,” Walker ruled.

“Plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right. To characterize plaintiffs’ objective as “the right to same-sex marriage” would suggest that plaintiffs seek something different from what opposite-sex couples across the state enjoy — namely, marriage. Rather, plaintiffs ask California to recognize their relationships for what they are: marriages.”

“Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society.”

The judgment was the first offered by a federal court with respect to laws banning gay marriage at the state level and it promises to have massive reverberations across the political and judicial landscape. The decision is now expected to head to the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court, also based in San Francisco, for appeal, and from there to the Supreme Court. (Gay marriages will not resume immediately in California; the decision has been stayed until August 6 to consider arguments regarding an appeal.)

via Huff Po

Prop 8 Ruling FINAL–via Scribd

New Media, New Readers & a New Literacy

So the digital humanities world is all a goo-goo over a new toy: Anthologize.  Created at the One Week: One Tool institute at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, Anthologize will (hopefully) revolutionize academic publishing–and thereby (hopefully) give the academic tenure and promotion process a much needed reboot:

Anthologize, software that converts the popular open-source WordPress system into a full-fledged book-production platform. Using Anthologize, you can take online content such as blogs, feeds, and images (and soon multimedia), and organize it, edit it, and export it into a variety of modern formats that will work on multiple devices. Have a poetry blog? Anthologize it into a nice-looking ePub ebook and distribute it to iPads the world over. A museum with an RSS feed of the best items from your collection? Anthologize it into a coffee table book. Have a group blog on a historical subject? Anthologize the best pieces quarterly into a print or e-journal, or archive it in TEI. Get all the delicious details on the newly revealed Anthologize website.

But academia is actually a little late in the game. In the Land of Sable Fan Girls (where I spend my time when I’m not dissertation writing or course planning), famed black horror author Tananarive Due, her equally famous scienece fiction writing husband Steven Barnes and the delicious-as-he-wanna-be Blair Underwood have been producing? writing? a novel called From Cape Town With Love that capitalizes on all that new media has to offer.  A Vook (as opposed to book, ha ha, get it) is a video e-book, available on iPad, iPhone or desktop, with pictures, video and interactive text (click here for the deets and sample video).  And this past May, a group of writers and software developers took inspiration from the gargantuan gaming industry to produce an interactive e-book called The Mongoliad. Ignoring, for now, the huge race-fail in the title, the book is less of a book and more of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure meets the fantasy epic gaming console–and had its baby.

With Barnes and Knobles up for sale (wow) and the Kindle and iPad changing how we read, it only follows that new ways of writing, researching and telling stories will follow.

But….

I miss the days of the book.

It isn’t just that I love books, although I do. I like to hold them in my hand.  I hate paying for them and I hate the hyper-exclusive elitism of the academic publishing industry.  But I’m not convinced either of those are going away anytime soon.  I’m pretty sure that if I need or want a print product, I’ll still be able to find it even as words-on-paper become more reclusive.  And I am actually a HUGE supporter of digital humanities and what it does to bring academia closer to the people academia was meant to serve.

What I really love and have always loved about being a writer and the writing process is the solitude of the process.

If you follow the links above,  you’ll find one theme unites all of these projects–they require group work.  Teams of professors got together at GMU and produced Anthologize.  Due, her husband and an entire production team–along with Apple and the publisher–got together to make the Vook.  Stephenson had a team as well.  I mean these are huge projects that just seem really small and simple after they are done.

If I wanted to follow Due’s lead–and I have definitely thought about it–I’d need to deal with a software developer, a visual artist, a webtician (my catch-all for all those more tech saavy than myself), and an animator….along with the odd agent, a publishing house, the Apple magnate, lawyers to protect my rights….

Once upon a time when I was writing, all I needed was a computer and me.  And maybe an agent and a publisher and a Borders for when I was done.

But the actual process itself was about me and words and paper and sometimes pen and the characters that lived in my head.

I don’t want to see that go.  There is a certain amount of solitude, time and reflection needed to make really beautiful sentences appear on the page.  Or on the screen.

We still need time for reflection.  We still need time to think.  We aren’t finished yet.

Besides…

Sometimes you get tired of playing well with others.

Sometimes it’s just your fucking sandbox and your toy and your sunshiney day and you want it all to your damn self.