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Posted by Aviva Dove-Viebahn

First, a confession: I only just made it to see Ghostbusters last week. And rather than wading into the ballyhoo surrounding whether the film is or isn’t a good feminist remake of the 1984 Ghostbusters or even the value of all-female remakes, I want to talk about Leslie Jones—the only black actor among its quartet of supernatural crime-fighters.

BagoGames / Creative Commons

BagoGames / Creative Commons

A lot of people want to talk about Leslie Jones these days—she’s funny, smart and fearless, and her hilarious Olympic Twitter commentary so charmed the producers at NBC that they invited her to Rio. Leslie Jones, however, has been more interested in starting conversations about online abuse.

The comedian and Saturday Night Live cast member was viciously doxxed last week. Her website was hacked and her private information and personal photos posted publicly. She’s been receiving a slew of hateful messages on social media for months, forcing her to leave digital spaces several times to protect herself.

It’s been clear from the beginning that the attacks are both gendered and racially-motivated. Much was made over the fact, for example, that the situation was so dire even pop star Katy Perry used the term misogynoir (coined by Dr. Moya Bailey) to describe what’s happening to Jones. Our problematic surprise over pop stars reading and understanding intersectional theory aside, the horror show of vitriol directed at Jones has rightfully led many fellow celebrities to come out in support of Jones since some of the worst hate tweets began in July (using the hashtag #IStandWithLeslie). But all the support in the world can’t be enough to shake the terror and vulnerability of having your privacy violated, being compared to a dead gorilla and enduring constant threats.

We’ve seen incidents like this before—Gamergate and the spate of hacked nude photos of celebrities that made the rounds a few years ago come immediately to mind—but something about the attack on Jones seems to be both reaching new levels of online aggression and echoing deep-seated, centuries-old criticisms against black women. It’s an example of the worst kind of backlash, as it represents how people respond when their supremacy is supposedly under threat, writes Mark Shrayber: “Make no mistake: What happened to Jones wasn’t ‘trolling.’ It was a hate crime.” Citing Madeline Davies’ analysis in Jezebel, Shrayber adds:

She’s black, she’s a woman, she’s successful, and she refuses to lay down when people come at her. Jones is also older (nearly 50) and doesn’t fit in the historic movie star mold. She is too talented to be relegated to bit parts and refuses to conform to stereotypes, and because of that, the men who hate her (overwhelmingly men, overwhelmingly white) are driven into a state of frenzy by her mere existence.

Jones is also alone—or at least that’s the perception—which makes her especially vulnerable to attack. While there are myriad talented, smart, funny black women in Hollywood, how many of them do we see on a daily basis? Whatever the number, it’s not nearly enough to counter the image of Leslie Jones as an exception rather than a rule. Uniqueness is not a fault; however, it is a slippery slope on the road to tokenism, which is why my niggling feelings of concern at the beginning of Ghostbusters turned into full-blown disbelief by the end of the film.

My reasons for not seeing Ghostbusters until six weeks after its theatrical release were purely personal and frankly boring, but the delay garnered me with an unexpected clarity regarding the dangers of tokenizing black womanhood. Jones’ character, Patty—an MTA worker and armchair historian already playing outsider to the three physicists making up the team—is constantly othered throughout the film.

Observe: “We’re all scientists. And Patty.” “Erin, you’re doing great. Abby, you’re doing great. Patty, try a little harder.”

These are just a couple of the most obvious examples, but I challenge you to watch the film (again, if not for the first time) and not see what’s happening over and over again.

Whether this othering was racially-informed or merely an accident of casting we’ll never know, but it’s almost worse if it was completely unintentional. If director Paul Feig and his creative team were trying to make jokes about racial tokenism that were too ill-defined to land, that’s unfortunate; if, on the other hand, they displayed a complete lack of awareness about what they did to Jones’ character, it’s further evidence of the underlying racism of even well-intentioned “allies.” Until there’s more than one black character thrown in “for good measure,” we’re not going to see contempt of the likes Jones is experience go away anytime soon.

I’m not saying that the othering of Jones’ character in the film led to the actor’s doxxing or can somehow be blamed for it. Rather, I’m arguing that we need to be vigilant about how unconscious tokenism affects the perception of black women (and other minorities) in popular media and beyond—for sisters and allies, not to mention the haters.

When it comes to black women in the media, more is more.

avivacrop-150x150-1

Aviva Dove-Viebahn is an honors faculty fellow at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University. She’s written for both popular and academic venues on gender and sexuality in American culture, contemporary art and television.

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Needed some sand in my flip-flops

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 07:42 pm
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Posted by Fred Clark

I'm back from an impromptu mini-vacation down the shore -- tan, rested and ready for September (once I go out and buy a new Trapper Keeper). Here's some stuff I came across on my spotty Wildwood wifi, including: RIP Gene Wilder; the Family Research Council's white supremacy spokesmodel; and what we can learn from press coverage of Colin Powell's charitable foundation.
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Posted by duVergne Gaines

 

Oklahoma City is the largest metropolitan area in the country currently without an abortion provider. A clinic has not opened there since 1974. Now, Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center is courageously trying to open a first-rate women’s clinic to fill the void—and facing harassment and red tape as a result.

William Murphy / Creative Commons

William Murphy / Creative Commons

This vitally needed women’s clinic hasn’t opened its doors yet, but anti-abortion extremists are already harassing and intimidating the building contractors. They’re trespassing on the clinic premises to videotape the workers. They’re also calling the contractors’ churches to further harass and intimidate them. And on top of the harassment, Trust Women South Wind is being confronted with state bureaucratic red tape and archaic TRAP laws, needlessly adding burdensome costs.

The women of Oklahoma City deserve a comprehensive women’s healthcare clinic. Healthcare should not be threatened because of political motives or extremist intimidation. Abortion is a constitutional right and cannot be denied because of where a woman lives or how much money she makes.

The courage and commitment of dedicated South Wind clinic staff is inspiring to us all. That’s why we at the Feminist Majority Foundation are coming together to raise $17,000 for Trust Women South Wind’s security needs. 100% of the funds raised will go directly to protecting Trust Women South Wind doctors, staff, contractors and patients.

Without clinics there is no choice. We cannot let extremists harass, stalk and terrorize abortion providers. Trust Women South Wind’s clinic in Oklahoma City cannot wait—and neither can the patients who will soon rely on it for vital reproductive healthcare.

6996487632_1c6ec75b4cduVergne Gaines is the Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project. Previously, she co-directed Rock for Choice for seven years. Gaines graduated with honors and a J.D. from Loyola Law School, where she was a member of the prestigious Entertainment Law Review. 

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Posted by Victor Mair

In "Voice recognition for English and Mandarin typing " (8/24/16), we took a brief look at a Stanford-University of Washington-Baidu study that showed, according to an NPR article, that voice recognition finally beat humans at typing.  The title of the original study is "Speech Is 3x Faster than Typing for English and Mandarin Text Entry on Mobile Devices", and the authors are Sherry Ruan, Jacob O. Wobbrock, Kenny Liou, Andrew Ng, and James Landay.

Abstract (may be found here):

With laptops and desktops, the dominant method of text entry is the full-size keyboard; now with the ubiquity of mobile devices like smartphones, two new widely used methods have emerged: miniature touch screen keyboards and speech-based dictation. It is currently unknown how these two modern methods compare. We therefore evaluated the text entry performance of both methods in English and in Mandarin Chinese on a mobile smartphone. In the speech input case, our speech recognition system gave an initial transcription, and then recognition errors could be corrected using either speech again or the smartphone keyboard. We found that with speech recognition, the English input rate was 3.0x faster, and the Mandarin Chinese input rate 2.8x faster, than a state-of-the-art miniature smartphone keyboard. Further, with speech, the English error rate was 20.4% lower, and Mandarin error rate 63.4% lower, than the keyboard. Our experiment was carried out using Deep Speech 2, a deep learning-based speech recognition system, and the built-in Qwerty or Pinyin (Mandarin) Apple iOS keyboards. These results show that a significant shift from typing to speech might be imminent and impactful. Further research to develop effective speech interfaces is warranted.

Here's the pdf for the original Stanford paper.

The following is a guest post by Silas Brown, which goes into much greater detail about the context of the achievement described in the Stanford-UW-Baidu study.

=======================================

According to the NPR article:

In English, they found the software's error rate was 20.4 percent lower than humans typing on a keyboard; and in Mandarin Chinese, it was 63.4 percent lower.

… except that it wasn't a keyboard.  The link to http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.07323 says "the built-in Qwerty or Pinyin (Mandarin) Apple iOS keyboards".  That means on-screen keyboard, not physical keyboard.  It's no surprise to me that the iOS keyboard is awful – I'd be far more interested in a study that used an actual physical keyboard (second-hand phones that have them are still available, although the manufacturers don't like to make them anymore so they're trying to trick us into thinking we don't want them anymore – but it's still possible to pair a phone with a Bluetooth keyboard if you can find a good one).

And the news report is very misleading to put this after such high-ranking things as the Kasparov-Deep Blue chess match and the similar Jeopardy and Go matches.  The human opponents in those setups were world champions.  So if you're going to follow on from that, I would expect the human side to have an experienced secretary and a proper office keyboard, not some random volunteer typing into an iPhone.  At least we get the phrase "mobile devices" a couple of paragraphs down (which is from the paper's title, although even this is pushing it because "devices" can include tablets but the study used only phones) – this aspect should have been more prominent.

Furthermore, the paper says nothing about how participants were asked to trade-off between speed and error rate – presumably they could achieve a much lower error rate at the expense of slower speed, but they didn't want to because they were only being paid a fixed amount and probably wanted the test to be over and done with sooner rather than later.  It doesn't really make sense to compare both speed and error rate in the same test because obviously there is a trade-off (on BOTH systems, as we are told the speech system offered post-recognition correction and participants might have chosen to skip this if they were rushing).  It would have made more sense to fix one and measure the other, as in "make sure the text is 100% right and we'll time how long it takes you to make those edits" or "use all of 20 seconds to make as many edits as you can and we'll measure how good it is when the clock stops".

Oh, and they excluded punctuation marks because they found a 1999 conference paper saying it's not a fair comparison.  But in real life it's sometimes possible to use a punctuation mark to save several words of meaning, so perhaps, instead of having participants transcribe a fixed set of sentences exactly, it might have been better to tell them they can change the wording if they want as long as the result is unambiguously the same meaning according to some reasonable neutral observer (or as long as they agree their rewrites will be published for all to see).  That would make a better fit for applications like sending emails from phones, since how many keyboard users are told they can't have punctuation in real life?  And I expect speech recognition systems have got better at punctuation since 1999, so wouldn't want to say "let's just forget punctuation because somebody in 1999 did".

So yes I'm afraid that study does look a little over-hyped … but it would be nice if voice recognition could improve to the point where I don't want my real keyboard. Although, for messaging, if you're going to speak, then you might as well send the person a voice message, unless there's some reason why the message must be in text or you need to carefully edit what you say and can't make yourself a script first.

Please note that I was reacting to the NPR headline "Voice Recognition Software Finally Beats Humans At Typing" and its opening line "Computers have already beaten us at chess, Jeopardy and Go" in their report here.

I'm not saying the study isn't good, just that I think NPR over-hyped it by placing the performance of average iPhone users on a par with world-championship contests (I assume that hype was NPR's doing, not the researchers).  Unfortunately, it's not obvious how to get the reporter Aarti Shahani's email address to check if they'd like to reply.

=======================================

Clueless Microsoft language processing

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 07:29 pm
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Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum

A rather poetic and imaginative abstract I received in my email this morning (it's about a talk on computational aids for composers), contains the following sentence:

We will metaphorically drop in on Wolfgang composing at home in the morning, at an orchestra rehearsal in the afternoon, and find him unwinding in the evening playing a spot of the new game Piano Hero which is (in my fictional narrative) all the rage in the Viennese coffee shops.

There's nothing wrong with the sentence. What makes me bring it to your notice is the extraordinary modification that my Microsoft mail system performed on it. I wonder if you can see the part of the message that it felt it should mess with, in a vain and unwanted effort at helping me do my job more efficiently?

Here is the message as it actually appeared on my screen:

We will metaphorically drop in on Wolfgang composing at home in the morning, at an orchestra rehearsal in the afternoon, and find him unwinding in the evening playing a spot of the new game Piano Hero which is (in my fictional narrative) all the rage in the Viennese coffee shops.

The Microsoft Office 365 system and its Outlook email manager (which my university has ordained that we shall all use) decided that a certain word sequence in the message might denote an event that I would want to enter on my calendar. It therefore linked the text to a popup calendar dialog box and marked it up in underlined blue to let me know it had done this (without my permission or consent).

Office 365 is the crappiest, slowest, most annoying email system I have ever encountered, and that is really saying something. I could write reams for you about its stupidities and detrimental effects on my productivity. Its attempts at showing intelligence are perhaps its worst feature. I have no idea what kind of natural language processing botch could possibly be implicated in generating the hypothesis that morning, at an orchestra rehearsal in the afternoon, might denote an event (would the event be in the morning, or the afternoon?), but clearly there is no syntax involved in hypothesizing it, and even less semantics. It looks as if the program simply spots words denoting time points or intervals, like morning or afternoon, and makes a guess at the boundaries of the containing constituent. (It often assumes the whole sentence or paragraph is relevant, but here it just took a nonconstituent word sequence.)

I'm not particularly interested in the mechanisms that add these links, except perhaps as an example to illustrate points I have made elsewhere (namely that the state of the art in computer handing of human language is so dire that something needs to be done, though nothing will be done, because nobody cares). I am, however, profoundly interested in the question of how to switch this and other putatively smart features off. But there are no signs of any such way. I have examined all the settings panels minutely. There is no way to stop the system guessing wrongly at event references (and references to other entities like dates and addresses) and linking parts of the text to the Office 365 online calendar system (which I do not use).

There is likewise no way to stop it underlining every word that is not spelled according to American English conventions: though sold in and configured for the USA, this horrible product is on the lookout for aluminium, centre, defence, colour, licence, marvellous, medalled, realise, rigour, signalling, theatre, etc., and marks them up as errors. As a sophisticated British-born bidialectal user, I expect that when I send an email to a British recipient and choose to use British spelling conventions, my decision to employ British norms will be respected. (Notice that it would be perfectly within the powers of current computational linguistics to recognize consistency in British or American spelling practices within a message.) I do not want to be graded and judged and edited by a clueless piece of misfeatured junkware.

It's typical Microsoft: bloated programs with ill-programmed fancy features you never asked for and don't want but can't turn off (or can only turn off with great difficulty after intensive searching through hundreds of preference panes). Recall Mark's post about the way Excel invents gene names by making incorrect guesses at dates that it imagines the user might have intended, and inserting its guesses into text fields, ignoring what was actually typed.

Microsoft markets software that is utter shit to begin with, which is already bad, but what's worse is that it is evolving shit, and new versions keep emerging with new layers of shit laid over the old shit, and it thinks that although it has shit for brains it is smarter than users like you and me.

The less I have to use Office 365 the less grouchy I will be, so don't email my academic account, OK?

Coming of Age

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 07:00 pm
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Posted by Imani Brooks

Illustration by Sofia Bews.

Illustration by Sofia Bews.

Since I was a kid, I imagined that my 18th birthday would be magical. I dreamed of a big celebration, and signing a contract promising to be an upstanding citizen. The excitement level would equal the joy one feels when they receive the key to the city. Fireworks. Balloons. Music blaring. Fabulous catering. The works. Though, within months of my 18th birthday, fear crept in. Am I really ready for this?  

****

 
On my birthday, I woke up to texts from my loved ones. A group of freshmen left me balloons outside my dorm room at boarding school. My school advisor gave me the most delicious cheesecake, topped with strawberry syrup and Oreo crumbs, as a gift. I was glowing with happiness. But before the academic day ended, I got involved in a situation that would test my definition of loyalty.
 
My friends and I were accused of crossing an unclear boundary during our senior formal and disrespecting our community values (because they were unfounded, I won’t get into the specifics of the charges against us). I had served on my school’s student honor council for months. Upon meeting with faculty, I was given the chance to be absolved from punishment if I agreed that my best friend was the one who caused the problem. But I knew this wasn’t the case. This situation tampered with my moral compass as some of the students involved did not get harsh repercussions. My friend and I were the only people of color involved in the incident, and I felt that we had been wrongly singled out. I felt major conflict because I wanted to just graduate as smoothly as possible. I could tell one side of the story and only save myself. It would be the cleanest way to get out of the situation, I thought. I needed to make a snap decision as I sat in front of the rector. I chose loyalty. Nervously, I made it clear that I felt that the school’s judicial system was being unfair. I could feel uncomfortable discrimination lurking behind my other friends’ decisions to stay silent.
 
On that day, I became an adult as the word is associated with an age. In the same day, I made my first major decision that reflected a harsh world. My big day became clouded with the reality that I am entering adulthood as a black woman. Is it irresponsible to want the fireworks, balloons, party jams, and food when adulthood was never meant to be simple for me?
 
At the end of the school year, I had to reconcile again with the reality of the world as a black woman. All of the seniors sit through high school-to-college transition seminars that teach us how to practice safe sex, how to recognize and treat alcohol poisoning, and what our new legal rights are as adults. We were handed cute, colorful booklets. But I didn’t pay much attention to mine. Eric Garner couldn’t breathe, Sandra Bland was violated, and I wept for Tamir Rice. Enough shootings of unarmed African Americans have taught me that my legal rights function differently than those of some of my classmates’. Sometimes rights do little to protect as they should. Instead, my dad gave me a pamphlet from his fraternity. It pointed out how to address the police as a black person in America upon arrest, and one’s rights to an attorney. The pamphlet symbolized that I have to be stronger, more focused, and more in tune with myself. I have always been aware of the sacrifices of my dignity, ease, and wants as I live in a country built by my ancestors but not meant for them. It is so easy for me to fall into a tired and pessimistic mindset because the world is more complicated for those with different skin tones. Instead, I have learned to seek empowerment in the little things—podcasts by black creators; Beyoncé’s spiritual guide, more commonly known as Lemonade; and train rides. My parents have always been aware of the depressing reality of being a black person in this country. Maybe that’s why they tried their best to inflate my life with a different kind of privilege—their version of protection for me.
 
****

 
It wasn’t until I began applying for financial aid for college that I thought about responsible spending. Which things are really needs versus wants? How can I build up my power to say “no”? Should I stop asking my parents for money? I put pressure on myself, feeling like I should’ve learned those lessons already. I realized that my parents took care of a lot of things in my life. I’d never had a paying job. I do not possess a driver’s license. I traveled, shopped, and functioned as I pleased. I didn’t think about where the money for my lifestyle was coming from. I’d simply been comfortable.
 
By my second semester, I had a breakdown that included many calls in tears to my dad apologizing for my irresponsible concept of money. The calls were mostly just me talking frantically and my dad saying over and over, “It’s going to be OK, Z.” By the third call, he said quite simply and a bit exasperatedly, “You haven’t ruined anything. I am not mad at you. If anything I’m proud of you. Your worrying shows me that you will conquer adulthood and make good decisions. You won’t figure it all out at once. And guess what? That’s fine.”
 
My dad is my hero because he made education a priority. He was a first-generation college graduate. He was the only one out of his seven siblings to go to college. As a student, he worked to fund his education, then he obtained a law degree. As I was growing up, his work allowed me to have great opportunities—boarding school, traveling, and birthday parties. My parents raised me in an environment where I wasn’t expected to have a job and also be a student. It was their ideology, because of my father’s triumphs, that a job did not need to be a priority for me. It was his necessity, but they raised me in comfort, so it wasn’t mine. That privilege is very complicated to wrestle with because I want to give back to my parents. That is what I thought I had to do once becoming an adult. I do not believe that excelling in school is sufficient, no matter what they say. My privilege has affected my adulthood transition to be about finding other ways to honor my parents that aren’t completely linked to my current finances.
 
****

 
Ultimately, I am defining what being an adult means, and I’m choosing to focus on the positives. I can vote now! I have been following politics for a long time. I went to both of Obama’s inaugurations. I have volunteered for Democratic and Republican campaigns. I cheered on Bernie Sanders in North Carolina. Now I don’t have to settle with going with my parents into the voting booth and “voting.” I get to show my ID and cast my own ballot in one of the craziest presidential elections in America’s history.
 
My reluctant acceptance of adulthood is sealed in my class ring. After graduation, students turn their class rings upside down. The seal is flipped. Figuratively, all of the wisdom and lessons we’ve learned in four years will now give us strength to face the uncertainty that lies in adulthood and college. As I slip on my ring, a layer of comfort and determination settles over me. Adulthood is just beginning. The truth is I have no idea what could be awaiting me in the real world. I will trust that my parents prepared me to take on adulthood. I’m ready. ♦

Imani Brooks is a first-year student at Emory University who believes in the power of the pen, the magic of traveling, and the soul-healing words of Kendrick Lamar and Nina Simone.

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Posted by Susanne Dumbleton

This week, one of the most remarkable achievements by one of the age’s most remarkable leaders will occur with little fanfare in the West. In Myanmar, representatives of the 135 ethnic peoples who make up the population will gather to discuss what it would mean to become a federal democracy.

Those who will attend do so with hope but also fear, for by coming they have agreed to lay down arms and be open to compromise. The most apprehensive hedged their bets, accepting the invitation only at the last minute, so it is only now that it is certain that attendance with be 100%. It is widely accepted that this is true only because all the delegates trust the person who has inspired them to be present—Aung San Suu Kyi.

Wikimedia

Wikimedia

Over the decades, numerous persons have tried to bring the people together this way. Generals with tanks and fighter jets failed; UN special representatives failed; US congressmen failed. Only Aung San Suu Kyi has been able to pull it off. Cynics scoff, saying Aung San Suu Kyi is effective because she is attractive, a snipe as absurd as an old on: that Gloria Steinem impacts public policy because she is tall.

For the past eight years, I have been studying Aung San Suu Kyi as part of a larger work on the approach women take to the fight for social justice and human rights. I have interviewed scores of individuals in Burma and abroad and read widely on the issues facing that people. I know that the people who are converging on Naypyidaw in coming days have put aside their general distrust of government only because they trust the woman whose invitation they received.

Granted, Aung San Suu Kyi does turn heads. She dresses her diminutive figure handsomely, weaves a fresh flower into her hair each day, and carries herself with regal bearing. But her effectiveness is a result of her fierce intelligence, deep empathy, intrepid will, fierce loyalty, and stubborn determination, not her pearl earrings.

There is nothing delicate about the task she has asked people to take on. The shadow of the recent past hovers over all. For over 50 years a military regime brutalized the people. Army units were allowed to operate with impunity throughout the country—seizing land, raping women, imprisoning individuals without charge, running elaborate neighbor-spy systems, collaborating with drug operations along their borders and effectively destroying the education and health care systems.

Even today, danger lurks. As the generals eased government over to civilian control, they wrote into the Constitution a chapter giving them the right to dissolve Parliament, and impose martial law if they perceive a threat to order. Peace and safety are not guaranteed to the attendees of what is being called the Second Panglong Conference—but the woman in whom they are investing trust earned it by suffering beside them over the years and by reaching out now.

For 15 years she endured house arrest. She withstood several assassination attempts and imprisonments and undertook a dangerous hunger strike. She stood resolute as the military executed, imprisoned or drove into exile one friend after another. Like them she was betrayed more than once by individuals in whom she placed her trust.

Yet she never relented. After her release, she traveled extensively throughout Burma, listening as the people and their leaders described their wha they had seen and articulated their fears. Always she refused to stoke hatred and refused to make promises she could not keep, continuously insisting she wants what they want—a system that will be fair. Not surprisingly, that is the focus of this conference she has convened: to find the balance of regional rights and common national rights. It will not be any easier than the conference in Philadelphia in 1789, but the fact that they have convened is an important first step. Because they trust her, there is a chance.

Among my findings about the women leaders who become powerful is that they root their ideas in empathy so profound that they move beyond fear. Once fearless, they act. Once in action, they refuse to be stopped.

This empathy, this fearlessness, this action, this determination is what makes Aung San Suu Kyi capable of pulling a people together into a nation‚not her hair style or fabric choice. In an era steeped in scorn, hers is a story worth more ink.

a5ee0f_e41ab79883bc406987a45553c0055089Susanne Dumbleton is Professor Emeritus and Former Dean at DePaul University. She is writing a memoir about the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Maathai, and Sister Helen Prejean as exceptional leaders for social justice of our time.

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An Innocent Fashion

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 05:20 pm
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Posted by R.J. Hernández

Image courtesy HarperCollins.

Image courtesy HarperCollins.

An Innocent Fashion, the debut novel by R.J. Hernández, is a story about dreams, and how the one that saves you today can just as easily crush you tomorrow. It follows a boy named Elián from his hometown in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he feels like he might die of boredom and the lack of beauty, to the East Coast, where he changes his name to Ethan and lands a job at a very Vogue-like magazine called Régine. Elián/Ethan is sensitive, serious, and sarcastic. He tries really hard but still messes up, and in ways that we can relate to. If we met him, we’d want to be his friend. Get to know him, and some of his story, in this excerpt of An Innocent Fashion.


Our house in Corpus Christi, Texas, was a gray one-story rectangle with a flat, faintly caving roof. The front lawn resembled a piece of bread: brown, with patches of pale green mold, bordered by strips of crumbling concrete like a gray crust. The chain-link fence sagged in the middle, from when Tío Domingo crashed his Jeep on the Cuatro de Julio. Every day after school, when the bus dropped me off at home, my mother would greet me and then press her shoulder against the metal to make it stand again. For a few seconds, the fence obeyed; then my mother turned around and it slumped right back, like a child awaiting a moment of parental distraction to stick his tongue out.

My mother, Alicia, was never ashamed of what we had. On the contrary, she was proud of our unremarkable home and, as a cleaning lady by trade, determined to lavish it with the best of her domestic expertise. Three times a week she scattered fertilizer over the dead lawn with the hopefulness of someone pushing vitamins down the throat of a corpse. Inside, she dusted and scrubbed and polished. Yet the dignity of my childhood home was precluded by its very makeup: shag carpets, faux-silk curtains, vinyl tiles, and a racket of rightfully marked-down beige-toned wallpaper. We had stripes in the hall and fish in the bathroom, then in the living room, woefully misprinted flowers—a hundred daisies with their middles missing, each empty ring of petals gazing at the grainy television like a floating, unblinking pupil.

Around dinnertime every day, a pair of white lights would beam through the curtains in my bedroom.

“Elián!” my mother would call to me. Her collection of trinkets and figurines, shored up from dollar stores, garage sales, and the Salvation Army, rattled on shelves throughout the house—miniature cuckoo clocks paired with angel-shaped candles, ceramic kittens with polyresin replicas of the Crucifixion.

The truck door would slam and, with a manly declaration of his appetite, in barreled my father Reynaldo, who owned a flailing family construction company and an ever-proliferate number of sweat glands. He would always kiss my mother, who giggled as his mustache tickled her, then peel off his shirt and drape it around his neck like a sweat-drenched horseshoe.

“¡Cerveza, corazón!” He collapsed mightily at the head of the kitchen counter, and at the sight of me, bellowed “¡Oye, cabrón!” The next moment I would be swept up in his rancid embrace, helplessly tumbled into a thicket of curly black chest hairs.

My mother would swing open the refrigerator door for a Corona, flypaper ribbons whooshing overhead. Suspended, crisscrossed, across the ceiling like party streamers, they ensured an untimely end for any festivity-seeking trespassers, who got stuck like raisins on a sticky bun and suffered slowly among my mother’s rooster-themed placemats, dishtowels, and refrigerator magnets.

“Dame un beso, cabrón,” my father would say, patting his damp, stubbly cheek for a kiss. For many years I thought “cabrón” meant “son,” or some other term of endearment, until I found out it meant “motherfucker”—alternatively, “male goat”—the knowledge of which I could hardly bear. To be fair, I knew my father meant it with affection—although I could never fathom why, in relation to me, his affection should be best encapsulated by the invocation of a farm animal.

When my mother plodded out with dinner—a normal day meant chicken or pork with rice, chili, and tortillas—my father would put me down and slap my behind. Then, if my mother was near enough, he’d slap hers too. I always shuddered at this. The gesture wasn’t cruel, or even unloving—it was just like cabrón, my father’s rudimentary way of showing affection—and my mother seemed to enjoy it. Usually, she pretended to be offended: “¡Ay, Reynaldo!” she would scold, before teasing him with a wink.

My father loved my mother—he never cheated or raised a fist. By anybody’s standards in Corpus Christi, that should have been enough, as even in my youngest years I knew about divorce, and that in other families love was scarce. Yet I was always struck—as I was by the jagged outward contour of my entire life—by the inelegance of my parents’ love, by its crudeness, its vulgarity.

I had no reason to think it should be any different. After all, nothing in Corpus Christi was very beautiful or interesting. The local high school resembled a fortress, with the brown, corrugated walls of a high-security penitentiary; the mall, situated over a cavernous concrete parking lot, was anchored by a beef jerky outlet. The most popular hangout was a bottomless BBQ pit, complete with a drive-through, its windows filled with neon signs and sun-faded photographs of coleslaw and sloppy joe.

It wasn’t all bad, necessarily. Good and bad was a different spectrum altogether, at least as far as God was concerned, and everything I learned at church. But if it wasn’t bad, it was boring, and it was ugly—and those were the two things in life that made my blood run cold.

Nobody else seemed to mind, or even notice, that Corpus Christi was a famine of beauty, and that nothing ever seemed to happen there. From this I gathered early on that other people were born with ashtrays for eyes. They could shore up all the rot and ash just fine, and tap out the muck every once in a while, but for some inexplicable reason, my eyes were more sensitive than that. I was more sensitive than that, and ultimately I think that’s why I was ill-suited to work in the fashion industry: Fashion is an ornate mirror held up to the world, and the world is all rot and ash.

****

Cornered by the creeping suffocation of a life without beauty or stimulation, my only defense when I was younger was to read picture books. Every day I stuffed my backpack at the elementary school library with six, the maximum number, enough to keep me occupied all evening as I read to my dog Lola. Lola was a mutt, like me—a cross between a Labrador and some unknown breed—but beautiful and lithe, with a luminescent black coat. During dinner, Lola would lie under my father’s barstool, knowing that some pork or shredded chicken might fall in her vicinity during the ferocious transference of food between the plate and his mouth; then, when I was finished with my plate, she would sniff a moon-shaped crescent around my father’s stool and follow me to my bedroom, where she was familiar with my nightly routine. I flipped pages for hours, mumbling the words out loud, with increasing proficiency, to her upraised ears. Books of fairy tales were my first favorites, because in them the kind-hearted beggar children always ended up ruling some huge kingdom or, in a worst-case scenario, were transformed into birds or squirrels. They also had the best illustrations, and when I wanted to pretend I was inside of them, I stared at the wall, which was blank except for a laminated poster of Jesus Christ with a thoughtful palm upraised and his thorn-wreathed heart bursting through his chest. It was like this every night, Lola by my side as I willed myself through sheer force into another place, another life.

Outside my window I could always hear the neighborhood boys as they bounced around lumpy balls, or yelled over to who got to control a battery-operated car. There were six or seven of them around my age, all led by Cesar Montana, who was one grade older and resembled a boulder in a T-shirt, with a pebble balanced on top for a head.

“Oh, come on, amorsito—you and Lola must be tired of all these books,” my mother said the first time she dragged me by the hand onto the sidewalk. She was only trying to help me. The other boys played outside, therefore so should I—but what she didn’t know was that the other boys wanted nothing to do with me. I was too quiet, too gawky, and clearly I was afraid of them, so why should they accept me? Not an hour after this initiation of our playdate, I was crumpled on the asphalt, sobbing, with a bruise swelling on my knee while Cesar Montana laughed and the other boys said nothing, because they knew that if he wanted to, Cesar Montana could probably just sit on them and they would never live to operate a remote-controlled car again.

I hid the injury from my mother, and thereafter she appeared regularly at my bedroom door, imploring me to join my “friends.” She always had such a hopeful look—all she wanted was for me to be normal—so I would put down my book and leave the house, with Lola by my side. We wandered around the neighborhood as the shouts of the neighborhood boys faded away and the sky steeped, like tea, into a melancholic lavender twilight. As the dust of another day settled all around us, I pulled up flowers from the neighbors’ yards—smelled them, stroked their velvety petals, peered inside of them, and twisted their stems together to make bouquets. If I heard a noise, I would ring my arms around Lola’s neck, pressing our faces together. “Do you hear that?” I would whisper, imagining someone had finally arrived to take me away, to the kingdom that was my birthright. Surely it would be my fairy godmother, or at least the angel Gabriel who, according to Padre José at Sunday Mass, had chosen an ordinary day to tell the Virgin Mary that she was pregnant with Jesus—which meant any day could be the day an angel popped out of nowhere to change your whole life. Of course, the sound always turned out to be just a cat slithering past a rattling chain-link fence, or a ball bouncing in a powdery yard.

I must have made a thousand bouquets, and read as many books, when the day came that Lola didn’t follow me after dinner—didn’t even look up, or budge.

“Lola is old now, she’s going blind,” my mother said, and it was true. I had noticed for some time that Lola’s luxurious black coat had begun to shed, but I had no concept of aging, no understanding that she was getting older, as was I, along with my parents and teachers and the neighborhood kids, all of us moving helplessly toward a bleak, common end. I cried over her as her hair faded and the pus pooled up in the corners of her milky eyes. When I touched her, she tucked her nose under a paw as the tears dribbled down her face, and I realized she was ashamed. My only friend, once so beautiful, had betrayed me—she’d become another sad, ugly thing in the sad, ugly world I lived in.

Months later, Lola was dead. The veterinarian’s name was Dr. Ramos, and his certificate was from a university in Guadalajara, a Mexican city near the town where my father had grown up. Dr. Ramos laid out Lola on a cold aluminum table—whimpering kennels all around us—and waited for my mother and me to say goodbye. Then he held up a large black trash bag and unceremoniously pushed her inside. She was stiff, legs out, like a pig on a spit.

Having only just entered middle school, I had never seen death before, but I didn’t cry. My mother, on the other hand, was choking on her own fluids, a wad of crumpled tissue pressed to her face as tears escaped her chipped red fingernails. Later I learned that she’d suffered a miscarriage before my birth, and in the months afterward my father had given Lola to her as a small comfort while they tried again.

She peered into the black bag and buckled, the fat flapping beneath her arm as she groped blindly for my shoulder. Her watery eyes must have mistaken wetness on my own face, because she pulled me close against her and shakily assumed responsibility for my consolation. “It’s OK, hijo,” she choked. “Lola was safe and happy for many years. She had food and a place to sleep—” she swallowed a placental wad of phlegm “—una buena vida.” A good life.

And after that I did cry—not for Lola, it was too late for her—but for myself, because somehow from the depths of my mother I had emerged wailing and alive, and now in that black trash bag I saw my own future foretold: I would be trapped in Corpus Christi my whole life, where I would have food and a place to sleep, and eventually die. Una buena vida.

That night I left the library books in my bag and crawled into bed alone while elsewhere in the house the usual sounds were muffled. No Coronas snapping open, the television turned down, then just the mournful howl of the vacuum cleaner eliminating the last of the dog hairs. Alone for the first time without Lola, I twisted into a fetal position under my paper-thin sheets. Eyes squeezed shut, I clasped my hands together and begged with all my might for Jesus to come out of the picture on the wall, lay his body over mine, and hold me.

“Lord, please save me from this place.” I dug my palms against my eyes. “Dios mío, ayúdame.”

[Songs for the Coming Home] - Chapter 20

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 06:53 pm
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Chapter 20

York Meeting House is an airy, light sort of place, and it was full to capacity. Two wicker coffins stood in the middle, prior to their burial at Rufforth – the instructions had been to plant two trees – a weeping willow for Clara and a Sessile Oak for Cerian.

Jessica had printed sheets explaining how a Quaker Meeting runs – it was an unusual Meeting in that there were two coffins present, but otherwise it would be an hour’s silence and ministry, a waiting on the Spirit for the comfort and prayers She brings to those who grieve, and a time where they could share memories of the two women who had shaped so many lives.

Jessica and the family sat scattered around the room – there were no reserved seats, no ministers, no fulsome eulogies given by someone who didn’t know the deceased. Instead memories were offered of two unique women, united in death as in life.

Jessica herself didn’t speak. She left that to others who spoke of the bridges that the two had built – a common pun on their surnames (Clara Ponti and Cerian Bridges). Bridges from the past to the present, from academia to school, old to young.

Many former students had sent tributes – memories of PhD vivas that Cerian had conducted, or oral examinations that Clara had led. Someone talked of LGBT history, and the changes that had come about in their lifetimes, changes for bad and good, and how they had lived and worked for God’s Praise and Glory.

Talk was there of journeying, of finding the right path at the right time, and of leaving a path when the burden became too great.

Above all was their devotion to one another. One of the Welsh-Italians began to sing some of the old hymns – the love of God, and love of people shone through in words of peace and rest. For all that Quakers don’t usually sing, it was appropriate to Clara’s legacy and as the deep hush descended so a bird outside answered their call through the no man’s land of the city.

THE END

[Songs for the Coming Home] - Chapter 19

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 05:43 pm
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Chapter 19

Jessica sat wondering how Clara and Cerian had come by the full story, and then remembered Sr Rosa. She had known Jac as a young woman, newly arrived in Wales, probably getting bread from the bakery for the cafe that the family ran. This hypothesis was confirmed when Jessica turned over the page and found a diagram of who knew whom, how and where. Classic Cerian, to try to make life easier for herself.

The story continued – Jac had tried to volunteer as an ambulance crew member, but been turned down, and had gone through training in how to use the weapons of war. He had been mocked by his superiors for speaking to people in Welsh, the language of home and hearth, rather than English.

At the front Jac had met Tom, a willing conscript by his own admission – he had tried to sign up underage, but had been rumbled. Tom had at first taken him under his wing, but then turned against him when he found out he didn’t want to be there.

Rosa’s account to Cerian told of how Tom had hazed Jac until the trenches when an officer had pulled him to one side and told him to fight the enemy outside now.

Jac was torn. He was told he would be the first over the top to fight in the morning. If he didn’t go over he would be shot at dawn as a traitor. If he went over, he would be shot at dawn by the Germans.

He couldn’t escape. Couldn’t cry. Had no sweetheart to miss him. His brothers were elsewhere on the front and he was far away from home.

So he sang. Brahms Lullaby, words in Welsh, and when he paused he found that the sound had echoed to the german front line, and the words filtered back in German. That they were nearer than the soldiers realised struck fear into many hearts. Tom decided on a daring course of action, to run along the trench, to try and throw a grenade into a bunker and disrupt the German advance that way.

Without asking permission he went. He landed a grenade, but on the return was hit and lay in no man’s land. So Jac, still singing to give himself courage, went to his rescue, dodging barbed wire and search lights.

It cost him his face, and his body – a shell exploded near him as he fell back into the foxhole. But he saved Tom, something that Tom had clearly resented in the warped way that he had. He had rather died a hero than lived a half-life with the echoes of shells and shrapnel, with fits that racked his body, and pain that he could never escape.

Even for those desperate times, neither man could return to the front, and were discharged as medically unfit to Cardiff, where they had met Rosa again. Jac’s bravery was made known by his commanding officer, and he was mentioned in despatches. Tom was also known for his derring-do, and he would boast of it to the nurses. Jac hid his letters under the bed, and downplayed what he had done.

Jac was sent to Lingfield, and Tom back to the Gwendraeth. Rosa carried on nursing and became a nun. Clara made a comment that Rosa had a soft spot for Jac, but that it wasn’t reciprocated in the same way.
After the armistice there had been parades and concerts to celebrate the soldiers return, and to remember the fallen. Tom had attended one, and been lauded, but soon he was forgotten about, left to his own devices and his war pension.

Jac, Rosa had found out, refused to attend, preferring to sing of Calon Lân than old kit bags, and the women from Armentières. In Lingfield he was alone – the bakery his parents ran had closed, there was nowhere for him to go ‘home’ so he lived there, the only Welshman in the village.

Clara’s poems here held echoes of Hedd Wyn’s frustration with the age, and with war. Jac had not bought into the reasons for war, nor accepted the domino run that had ended when he was struck down.

It still didn’t explain their reunion twenty years later as the storms gathered for war once more. Tom had come to Lingfield as his epilepsy had worsened and there was no longer anyone to look after him. Jac had been shaken by the arrival of his old comrade.

Clara had spoken to Tom after Jac had been found dead. Even though she was 16 years younger than him, he had still tried to charm her, and been surprised by her rebuff. He had worked out where their proclivities lay, and it later it came to light that he had been responsible for the brick and other threats.

Clara and Cerian had made a few enquiries and discovered that there had been a row the night of Jac’s death that had been overheard by one of the colony’s children, a simple lad, with poor recognition as to what was going on.

Tom, when confronted had been defiant decrying Jac as a pacifist and a dreamer, and Tom had become dangerous to the point that Clara and Cerian had fled the scene, and taken the first opportunity to leave, that had presented itself when Soeur Marguérite had decided that they would close at the end of term.

Both had taken jobs at Bletchley park as soon as they had passed security clearance, to do ‘their bit’ for the refugees that they were hearing about. Jac had stuck to his pacifist ways, and apparently been killed for it. Tom was gung-ho for war, but had no time for looking after people like himself who had been affected by war. If he could survive, why shouldn’t they.

It was a very jumbled tale, but Rosa had found comfort in it. She had sung at the funeral, a simple arrangment of Brahms Lullaby.

Daily Links: Politics of Patois Edition

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] rookie_feed

Posted by Diamond Sharp

Good morning! Get ready for Tuesday with these Daily Links


Collage by Ruby Aitken, using a photo via MTV.

Collage by Ruby Aitken, using a photo via MTV.

At MTV, writer Doreen St. Félix delves into the politics of patois—a dialect of the African diaspora—and its place in contemporary pop culture. —Diamond Sharp

Photo via It's Nice That.

Photo via It’s Nice That.

Sculptor Wilfrid Wood cements the range of expressions at the 2016 Olympic games in clay.

Photo via MTV.

Photo via MTV.

The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony was held this past Sunday night. Journalist Crystal Bell tracked down the legendary albino snake from Britney Spears’s 2001 VMAs performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U.” —Rachel Davies ♦

On Choosing a School in a Segregated World

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 12:53 pm
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Posted by Libby Anne

School segregation did not disappear with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. In fact, by some measures American schools have become more segregated over the past few decades. As anyone who has looked at the problem knows, the root of this issue is residential segregation---as long as we have neighborhood schools, and as long as neighborhoods are highly segregated by race (and class, among other things), we will have segregated schools.Click through to read more!
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Posted by Roger E. Olson

One of American Evangelicalism’s Biggest Failures: Lack of Literary Fiction about Itself When I write a blog post I have to assume readers know something about “where I’m coming from.” I can’t stop and spent hundreds of words explaining my background, my mental, spiritual and emotional context. On the other hand I am excruciatingly aware [Read More...]

"I don't think you cannot deny someone the right"

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 11:59 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

Jamison Hensley, "Ravens' John Harbaugh defends Colin Kaepernick's right to protest anthem", ESPN sports 8/29/2016:

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that he respects Colin Kaepernick's right to protest the national anthem and cited a French Enlightenment philosopher in doing so.  

"Voltaire so eloquently stated, 'I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend it until death your right to say it,'" Harbaugh said. "That's a principle that our country is founded on. I don't think you cannot deny someone the right to speak out or mock or make fun or belittle anybody else's opinion."

I haven't been able to find a recording of Harbaugh's statement — apparently it was part of an individual interview with Hensley — so as usual, we don't know whether it's what he actually said or what Hensley transcribed or remembered him saying.

But whatever the source, what the phrase in boldface says is logically the opposite of what Harbaugh and Voltaire meant, which was either "I think that you cannot deny someone the right to speak out" or "I don't think that you can deny someone the right to speak out".  (… as long as we interpret can as meaning "should", since everyone knows that there's no practical impediment to denying people the right to speak.)

Except that negative concord remains stubbornly active in modern colloquial English, and sometimes sneaks into more formal precincts.

Whoever composed the phrase and whatever the explanation for the extra negation, it surely belongs in our misnegation file — as post #143 in that over-long list.

But I do need to point out that neither Voltaire nor the founders of our country were at all reluctant to "mock or make fun or belittle anybody else's opinion". Nor does the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution mention mocking or making fun or belittling:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I suppose that a law that literally mocked someone's views, without imposing any penalties, might still be viewed as abridging the freedom of speech. But has there ever been such a law? There are "sense of" resolutions, but I don't know any sarcastic ones.

[h/t Marc Ettlinger]

[syndicated profile] experimentaltheology_feed

Posted by Richard Beck

Over the last three posts I've been making the point that in the Bible demons are primordially associated with nations, their gods (see: Beelzebub) or rulers (see: Lucifer). Demons, thus, are rooted in spiritual/political idolatry, giving "god and country" allegiance to nation states rather than to Yahweh and the kingdom of God.

Let me keep making this point, and to start making the link between idolatry and oppression. To do this let's consider Moloch, child sacrifice and the origins of hell.

Moloch was a Canaanite god who haunted the ancient Israelites. The horror of Moloch worship was that it involved child sacrifice, and it appears that many of the Israelites were drawn to the practice. So much so that Moloch worship was explicitly named and prohibited in the Torah:
Leviticus 18.21
Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.

Leviticus 20.1-5
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.
The point to be made here is that when the Bible speaks of idolatry it is thinking of child sacrifice. No wonder idolatry became associated with the demonic. In the Biblical imagination demons, idolatry and oppression go hand in hand.

Things go from bad to worse in 1 Kings 11.7 where Solomon builds a religious shrine to Moloch outside of Jerusalem, on the edge of the Valley of Hinnom. There in the Valley of Hinnom, just outside the gates of Zion, the Israelites would sacrifice their children to Moloch and other gods.
2 Chronicles 28.3
[Ahaz, King of Judah] burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his children in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.
Jeremiah 7.30-31
"The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the Lord. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it. They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire..."
When Josiah enacts his religious reforms, turning Judah back to the worship of Yahweh, he takes pains to desecrate Topheth in the Valley of Hinnom so that no more child sacrifices will take place there:
2 Kings 23.10
[Josiah] desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice their son or daughter in the fire to Molek.
Again, the thing to note here is how Josiah's battle against idolatry was also involved in stopping oppression, the killing of children in particular. Idolatry wasn't merely a spiritual issue, worshiping a different god in a different temple. Idolatry was intimately associated with shedding the blood of the innocent and defenseless.

And we continue to note how idolatry and oppression are intimately associated with Satan and the demonic. Because as you likely know, the Valley of Hinnom--the location of Moloch worship--is called Gehenna in the New Testament, translated in many Bibles as Hades or Hell. Topheth itself became a Christian name for hell.

In sum, the origins of hell--the domain of Satan and his demons--is found in the mixture of idolatry and oppression.

In the biblical imagination hell was a concrete location of idolatry (the worship of a foreign god) and oppression (the killing of children).

Dear Diary: August 29, 2016

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 01:00 am
[syndicated profile] rookie_feed

Posted by Amil Barlow

It's so hot this time of year. Everyone at school was melting. I wouldn't mind it being cold at this point. —Amil

It’s so hot this time of year. Everyone at school was melting. I wouldn’t mind it being cold at this point. —Amil

Keianna

Every teacher I have has asked all the seniors to raise their hand, and then proceeds to tell us how fast this year is going to fly by. Read More »

Cammy

It was really bad, and it felt even worse since I was also the only black girl there. I also have a history with the French teacher who is actually pretty antiblack. Read More »

[Songs for the Coming Home] - Chapter 18

Monday, 29 August 2016 10:32 pm
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Chapter 18 )
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My Prayer

"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best."
-- St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

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