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reflections on some lineages of the human condition

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Cheers for America’s Children of 2020!

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in Blog, Politics | 0 comments

            How rousing and exhilarating is the spirit and energy of the many-hued cast of the musical Hamilton! How well it mirrors – in advance – the demographic change predicted to occur in the year 2020. That’s when, according to the US Census Bureau: Most of the nation’s children will not be of European descent. Or, to put it another way, Children of solely European descent or origin will be fewer in number in the US than the children of indigenous, and/or African, and/or Asian descent or origin, and certainly, much fewer in number than the children of “mixed” ancestral heritages. Question for all: What does this mean for me and “my people”? Do I feel excited by this change? Eager to add more shadings to my own family’s repertoire of choices and imaginings? Or am I so frightened that I can only hope that walls, deportations, and exclusions will somehow stave off the inevitable just a little bit longer? While we consider these options, families as varied as the cast of Hamilton are being formed every day, and they are growing. How can I not cheer their beautiful...

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A Tale of Two Faces

Posted by on Jul 14, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

What would have happened if they looked like this? Imagine if the boy on the left was found dead, incontestably shot and killed by the man on the right. How differently the course of events would have gone! Racism is, at its deepest core, about the pre-linguistic, pre-behavioral, “in your gut” feelings of (fully human) “people like us” versus “those dangerous others” (who may just be less-than-human, and thus are all the more dangerous, cunning, and animalistically endowed). At a level that does not easily allow for conscious self-examination, there is an unspoken fear of “their” danger to “us” which motivates words, actions, laws, and policies regarding “them”. The use of racial epithets, the creation of behavioral traditions  (e.g. residential segregation) and the enactment of legal tactics (e.g. Jim Crow voting strategies) all stem subsequently from those deep-seated concerns about keeping “those others” (safely) in their place. It is not easy to root out these elements of racism in ourselves and in our families. All humans like to think of themselves as “good people”, and particularly among people who are educated and tolerant, it may come as quite a shock to come to find out that our assumptions about safety and danger have been, since earliest childhood, shot through with learned, though seldom explicitly...

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Forever in Our Hearts – Loki

Posted by on Jul 7, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

This is the piece I wrote to be published in the “Forever in Our Hearts” section of the September, 2013 issue of the quarterly magazine, the Leo Letter (the official publication of the Leonberger Club of America) To write about our magnificent communicator, Loki, requires me to use words, which of course Loki could never produce. But that never stopped him from understanding our words and all of our other ways of communicating, both consciously and unconsciously, and of communicating...

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To Fellow Members of the Leonberger Club of America: My Loki is Gone

Posted by on Jul 3, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

This is the email I sent to the LeoList (an email list for members of the Leonberger Club of America) announcing Loki’s death. A great heart has stopped forever – our Loki boy’s… Our huge-hearted, people-loving Loki boy  died yesterday (Tuesday) morning at the emergency animal clinic, leaving us in grief and tears. We’ve known for more than a year that he had laryngeal paralysis, but he was actually doing relatively well, even without a tie-back operation. We got...

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The Montgomery Police Badge, the Harlem Shake, and Other Post-Pain Performative Gestures

Posted by on Mar 6, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Two recently televised events – Melissa Harris-Perry’s reaction, on her show, to the Harlem Shake dance craze, and Montgomery, Alabama Police Chief Kevin Murphy’s public apology to civil rights veteran Representative John Lewis – both caught my eye as being surprisingly relevant to the book project I am working on now regarding deadly prejudice in an entirely different historical and cultural context. The puzzle I am grappling with in my own work is deeply personal. As a Polish-American anthropologist...

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Williams-Sonoma as a Longing Machine

Posted by on Dec 10, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Back in July, Carina Chocano wrote an intriguing piece, “Pinterest, Tumblr, and the Trouble with ‘Curation’” about the “curation” or reblogging of other people’s ideas and images on sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest. The line in her piece that smacked me with its perfect arrangement of words was this one: “In other words, your average Pinterest board or inspiration Tumblr basically functions as a longing machine.” “That’s it!” I responded, like Charlie Brown when he recognized the perfect appropriateness...

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Reflections about Snake Lake, Poland, Hate – and Your Senior Thesis

Posted by on Sep 12, 2012 in Blog | 2 comments

I wrote this blog post originally for the CSoc Blog – describing how Comparative Sociology faculty and senior thesis students spent a Saturday in early September from 10 am to 4 pm, working together to demystify the research process involved in producing a senior thesis.   Just before leaving my house on a Saturday morning for the senior thesis retreat at the Tacoma Nature Center at Snake Lake on September 8, I briefly checked my Facebook news feed and came across this...

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For Those Who Mourn…

Posted by on Apr 19, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

This post should be read after first reading my post “To my cousin Kathy (August 10, 1954 – April 15, 2012)” – below) As I begin writing this in a time zone three hours behind Buffalo’s, Kathy’s funeral must be just concluding. For all of you who, like me, mourn her loss very deeply, I want to share something I discovered quite by accident on my Facebook news feed not long ago: a link to the music of Zbigniew Preisner, the...

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To My Cousin Kathy (August 10, 1954 – April 15, 2012)

Posted by on Apr 18, 2012 in Blog | 2 comments

Who would have predicted, 30 years ago when we were both newly pregnant with the new life that would become our first-born sons (born two days apart in the early months of 1983), that the letter-writing you started between us would grow and develop to make us so close, so verbally attuned to each others’ lives? You were the premier family correspondent, with your long, newsy letters delighting your recipients. I learned to follow your lead, attempting to match...

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Zbigniew Preisner’s album – Requiem for My Friend (1:07:29)

Posted by on Apr 12, 2012 in Blog, Polish Composers | 0 comments

From Preisner’s website: “Once, we had a joint conception to create a concert telling a life story. The premiere was planned to take place on the Acropolis in Athens. It was intended to be a large event, a hybrid of a mystery play and an opera. Krzysztof Kieślowski would be the director, Krzysztof Piesiewicz was responsible for the script, and I was planning to compose the music. “Once, we thought it might be the first of a series of musical...

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