I opine

A break from politics, sort of

Posted in gender by jaeminuf on September 10, 2008

I say sort of because Hanisch, nearly forty years ago now, cogently made the case that the personal is political.

Though it may not readily appear so, what I set out to write about is entangled in a thicket of weighty concerns, including first and foremost the 2008 Presidential Election, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts, the mortgage crisis, the credit crunch, Sarah Palin’s nomination as VP candidate, the necessity for women to remain economically self-sufficient…

Yesterday, as I was taking a break at my favorite…

Well, actually nevermind yesterday. Literally just this moment, at 2:32am, I received a call from a restricted number. I didn’t think it could be a telemarketing solicitation, although I would not put it past them these days. But it wasn’t a telemarketing firm. It could, nonetheless, be construed as a kind of a solicitation.

Well-Intentioned But Misguided

Posted in education, ethics, gender, politics by jaeminuf on September 7, 2008

When I returned from my first year at Bryn Mawr College, I was a bit of a firebrand. Full of zeal, passionately committed to righting wrongs, to disabusing grossly mistaken notions less enlightened folks held, and so on. (Yes, cringe all you’d like… It’s totally deserved.)

One of the issues of note for me was the politics of naming. Of ensuring that we did not continue to perpetrate violence by denying people their right to self-definition. So, holier than thou I was, thumping on my soapbox (yep, this tendency is obviously not new) that it’s not merely about being politically correct (which to me meant wanting pat, easy answers so that those who were so hung up on being pc would not have to really reflect upon their own complicity in the perpetration of violence) but about putting an end to violence psychically, socioeconomically, culturally, that it was about radical change, and so on.

So, here I was, a zealous eighteen year old telling my very kind thirtysomething neighbor (who was trying to raise her son on her own after a divorce all the whilst trying to pursue a meaningful career that’d utilize the top knotch education she’d received at William and Mary) how horrible it was that people continued to say “indians” to refer to Native Americans, that this name reiterates the violence of Euro-American hegemony. At that moment, my good neighbor tried to get me to step back and question whether I might be shooting myself in the foot by being so aggressively dogmatic in “enlightening” and “raising the consciousness” of my neighbors. And to question whether I was not in my own way doing violence to Native Americans by reducing them to being nothing but dignified victims of Western hegemony, by allowing myself to regard them primarily in terms of their victimization. And to ask myself if every single person who was of indigenous descent would choose to self-identify as Native American, that might it not be that Native American was yet another externally imposed label, one that says more about those other Americans who are not Native? If I remember correctly, I think she tried to tell me that, if anything, it was a more common practice amongst those I was calling Native American to identify themselves by their tribal affiliations.

I didn’t catch it then. In fact, (more…)

Eat, Pray, Love: A Companion Piece

Posted in books by jaeminuf on August 19, 2008
One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Today I finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search For Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.

My sister had lent me her copy many months ago now because she thought I might find it helpful in my search for bearing, for I had been raging at the world, thoroughly grief-stricken, unmoored and topsy-turvy, unsure if I would ever reengage with this world with its treacherous minefields, precarious precipices, and sometimes unforeseeable and almost always disregarded quicksands.

I read Gilbert’s account of her journeys in such a way that the first two stages of my own life of late coincided almost perfectly with the stages Gilbert experienced and described. When she indulged in Italian pastries in order to reacquaint herself with the basic pleasures that life and humanity had to offer, I was just emerging from a period of giving myself over to music and dance because, frankly, I needed a beat other than that of my own heart to sustain me, a rhythm by which to ensure there would be a tomorrow, and the electric charge of the dancing and the fĂȘting to jolt me repeatedly into the world of the living. When she turned herself over to the austere discipline of an Indian ashram in search of the divine within, I dove headlong into eight, nearly backbreaking months of trying, as if my life depended on it, to motivate and teach the hyphenated youth of America as a part of my own move toward order, discipline, and the divine, if you can see teaching as life-giving and life-affirming as it has been for me.