race, gender, and skateboarding

I’ve been skateboarding for a long time.  Every time I’ve been a regular at a skatepark, it hasn’t been common to see more than a handful of girls that ever skate there.  It’s like the problems women have entering male-dominated professions, but dumber and more obnoxious because the people involved are 15.  This is a…

happiness in slavery

Sensational Flesh: Race, Masochism, and Power was a lot of fun to read. It’s a survey of what’s been said about masochism over the years by psychoanalysts, philosophers, and activists: Masochism is a powerful diagnotic tool. Usually understood as the desire to abdicate control in exchange for sensation–pleasure, pain, or a combination thereof–it is a…

coping with hybrid degeneracy

I was reading a bunch of painful black history stuff I’d avoided all my life, and it was both cool and horrifying to discover the history of mixed-race people in particular. I’ve started referring to myself as “mulatto” because it makes people uncomfortable. Mixed-race people tended to be house Negroes, and light-skinned blacks tended to…

the plight of the educated negro

Black Bourgeoisie is a quick, highly uncomfortable read from the 1950s.  It’s about black people who have a lot of money for black people, how they’ve come to adopt white, middle-class American values, internalized racism, and tried to distance themselves from poor black people.  It’s scathing and its publication apparently caused a lot of butthurt. …

the psychoanalysis of lacanian psychoanalysis

Until approximately 5th grade, I was a Jehovah’s Witness. The Witnesses have often been compared to a cult. I grew up to have a half-serious, half-ironic interest in Lacanian psychoanalysis. It’s probably not a coincidence. Richard Webster’s “The Cult of Lacan” is funny and should be read by everyone. It’s pretty damning, in that the…

white slaves working the sugar plantations of Crete

I started reading The History of White People, and this was a surprise to me: Sugar came into medieval western Europe around the year 1000 in a linkage of sugar and colonialism. In a pattern familiar to Americans later on, Venice processed and sold the sugar that Italian, Greek, Bulgarian, Turkish, and Tartar farm laborers…

Jesus was executed in Kashmir

The Lidai fabao ji is a Chan Buddhist text from the late 700s, rediscovered as part of the Dunhuang manuscripts in 1900. It’s a large cache of documents that was sealed in a cave for mysterious reasons in the 1000s. It had all sorts of interesting things in it, like the earliest dated printed book.…

passive aggression is respectful

Viola Cordova’s cultural background was half Hispanic, half Apache. What I think is interesting about this passage is that the behavior she’s describing would normally be described as passive-aggressive, lacking in assertiveness. The behavior DOES make sense in the context of a culture that values interpersonal harmony, where mutual empathy and caretaking can be expected.…