Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What Black Men Think PSA

Damned Straight!

I, for one, am sick of so many of the malicious untruths spread about black men.

I think that it says alot about our society, and how willing we are to believe these "facts" about.

I'm in a rush, so, I'll publish a more indepth post later.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Conseula and Alison on the Road

Alison and I went to Tucson this weekend to interview science fiction writer Joanna Russ. We weren't quite prepared for this interview when we left on Friday, so actually worked quite a bit on this trip (a lot of that work got done in the Atlanta airport during our 6 hour lay over). But, thankfully, we also go to play some. Over in her blog Alison has some pictures of the yummy frybread we got while we were on the Tohono O'odham reservation. Here are some more pictures.

We went to Saguaro National Park and got the most amazing views of desert life.

Here is Alison squinting at the sun (which was unbelievably, deceptively hot) and standing next to a small cactus.

Here I am (bottle of water in tow) next to a huge saguaro. Saguaros can grow to up to fifty feet tall and can weigh more than 8 tons.

Here is that same saguaro in bloom.

The prickly pear cactus was also in abundance. I brought home candy made from prickly pear juice.

Later that day Alison and I went to El Charro Cafe where we ate our fill of tamales and guacomole (and prickly pear and mango margaritas). Here I am enjoying the famous cheese crisp appetizer. It was so big it could have easily fed a small nation.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Market for Niggas--Taalam Acey

I came across this video this morning and thought I'd share.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

An Armed Campus is NOT a Safe Campus

Immediately in the aftermath of the shooting incident at Virginia Tech the usual swarm of loudmouths scuttled out from under the cultural baseboard and began to scream long and loud to anyone within earshot that if the students and faculty at VT had been armed that they'd have been able to deal with the shooter. (I wonder why no one mentioned arming the staff.) In truth, yes, on a college campus with a large percent of its population armed, eventually a shooter would be wounded or killed, but would an armed campus be safer than a campus where only the university police are allowed to be armed?

Lets face facts, federal, state, county, and local law enforcement personnel are screened to weed out the unstable and the unreliable. They receive training in firearms safety, marksmanship, and the use of deadly force, still, law enforcement personnel manage to mistake innocent persons for perpetrators, they miss their targets and hit bystanders, and the occasionally use excessive force.

Last night, after going through a red light, I was stopped by a cop. I made a conscious effort to keep my hands on the steering wheel where he could see them because I didn't want a nervous, pissed off, or frightened cop to make my kids orphans. If I can't trust a trained police officer not to shoot me, what makes anyone think that I should feel safe on a campus full of people who haven't been screened and who haven't had weeks of special training?

In not one of the letters to the editor, blogs, casual conversations, or radio call-in shows that I've been privy to has anyone explained how anyone's supposed to identify the shooter. If you're making your way across campus, and a friend runs up to you and yells, "Hey! Somebody's shooting people in Maybank Hall!" After you draw your weapon on a campus with a large percentage of armed people, how are you supposed to know which armed person is the shooter, and which one is responding to the shooting? How do the other armed people on campus know that you're not the shooter?

When talking to people about deadly force, I gave them this scenario: You've walked into a room in which there is one person on the floor suffering from an obvious gunshot wound, and two people facing each other with guns drawn. What do you do? Every time I posed that scenario, I'd get this response, "I'd shoot both of them." I know that these people were trying to be witty, but it was their very wittiness that exposes one of the flaws of the armed campus. I can think of many more.

If your Spidey sense (or whatever) does manage to clue you in on the shooter, are you sure that you're accurate enough to hit him and no one else? What about the other vigilantes, are you confidant in their marksmanship? What about the background of your target? Are there no innocent bystanders on the other side of the shooter? What about on the other side of that sheetrock wall beyond the shooter? Maybe you'd better add x-ray vision to your Spidey sense. Are you sure that there's only one shooter? Maybe while you're stalking the guy you think is the shooter, his buddy's stalking you.

Also, when the campus police, the local police, or the mob of students and faculty (and staff) respond to the crime, how do you identify yourself as not the shooter? Why shouldn't they shoot you?

Back when I was in the Army, soldiers who had privately owned weapons had to keep them either off-post, or locked downstairs in the arms room. If you wanted your weapon you had to give the armorer twenty-four hours notice before he'd release it to you. I guess that the idea was to keep young hotheads from running downstairs, demanding their weapons, then running back upstairs to settle scores. If the Army, after having invested a LOT of time and money training soldiers in the benefits of firearms safety, felt that it wasn't a good idea to allow soldiers to sleep with pistols under their pillows, why would it be a good idea to allow college students to do so?

I remember when the Knights of the White Camelia (an even more bedraggled version of the Klu Klux Klan, formerly based in Louisiana) was recruiting on campus at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. They came in and set up their table alongside the campus groups who were likewise recruiting. Unlike the campus organizations, they quickly drew a hostile crowd. Harsh words were thrown back and forth, but there was no violence. The university police kept the peace and the worst thing that happened was that the KWK got free publicity out of the deal. Had guns been allowed on campus, the situation could have turned into something much worse. Some of the students would surely have been armed, and without a doubt, some of the KWK would have been carrying as well.

I'm sure that there are some readers who believe that had the students been armed that the KWK would have stayed off campus. Don't be fooled. Terrorist aren't cowards, if they were, they wouldn't be effective. A misunderstanding on either the part of the students or the KWK probably would have resulted in a bloodbath, and the university police would have been out manned, outgunned, and probably helpless to intervene. Think of all the emotionally charged incidents that take place on college campuses -- Sporting events that turn violent, political protests, rivalries between fraternal organizations that often turn violent, and all of these incidents can be exasperated by youthful hormones and sometimes alcohol and controlled substances. Who believes that adding guns to the mix would improve the situation?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Brian's Geekiness Pays Off

Brian wouldn't ever toot his own horn (does that sound dirty to anyone else but me?), but he was in Head2Head Trivia today and kicked butt. Go take a look.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Gunfighter Interviews Conseula

Over on Gunfighter 's blog, people were interviewing each other. Here are the questions he had for me:

1. I know that you appropriated the term "Afrogeek" from elsewhere, but why did it speak to you so emphatically? Do you know many fellow Afrogeeks? Do you network with them/us (I proudly claim status!)?
I thought the term "afrogeek" was a great straightforward description of black people like my husband and I and I was also excited to find out there were other black people who felt the need for a term. While I have few (maybe none?) black friends who are also geeky in real life, I have found several online communities (and a few blogs) where afrogeeks hang out. We should get t-shirts.

2. Who are your favorite superheroes? What makes them your favorites? Are you a Marvel or DC person?
I'm definitely a Marvel person, though I do have a weakness for all things Batman and a giant crush on the Martian Manhunter. I love that J'onn J'onzz can take any form and still chooses not to pass as a human on Earth. And when he does go about as a human, he chooses the form of a black American man because that identity is most parallel to his experience of isolation and marginalization. My Marvel preference is courtesy of my husband who has been a Marvel zombie since he was a kid. I didn't really start reading comics until he and I were married.

3. You are an academic, which I think is seriousy cool... what is your discipline? Is it a subject you always wanted to study? Are you teaching in the subject of your academic discipline?
I have a PhD in English. My specialty is African American literature, with particular interests in literary movements and black intellectual thought. I am indeed teaching in my discipline. I think that the moment I figured out there was a job that would allow me to read and write and talk about books, I was hooked.

4. I'm a bit of a headbanger. I have always loved a lot of the old-school heavy metal. Do you enjoy heavy metal? Tell me about your history with the band "Living Colour"
I enjoyed heavy metal a lot when I was in high school. Hair metal band posters covered the walls of my bedroom. I still think G'N'R's Appetite for Desctruction may be the best rock 'n' roll album ever. I remember loving Living Colour because they looked like me and they played the kind of music I liked and I believed they understood what it meant to be the only black kid at the Whitesnake concert. My love of metal gave way, though, to my love of conscious and alternative rap. I went from listening to Poison and Metallica to listening to Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul and Arrested Development. My musical tastes in general, however, are quite wide-ranging.

5. With all of the amazing history represented in Charleston, do you find that there is any attention played to the very serious contributions made by black patriots in the American Revolutionary war battles fought in South Carolina?
I think there is very little attention paid to the black contribution to anything in South Carolina. There are certainly good people doing good work to correct the misinformation and disinformation that exists about blacks here, but there's also a lot of resistance. Charleston has a very particular view of itself--genteel, tradition-bound, honorable, aggrieved--that it couldn't easily maintain if black people and their history were fully integrated.

6. Do you prefer Kirk or Picard?
Dude, easy one. Picard, for the sexy bald head alone. (My husband says he'd rather serve under Picard because Picard's the better officer, but that Kirk has the luck of the Irish.)

7. Was Hal Jordan The Green Lantern when you first started reading the Green Lantern comics?
I haven't ever read The Green Lantern comics but I do believe Hal Jordan was Green Lantern when Brian started reading them.

8. Brag about yourself for a moment. Go ahead, it'll be fun.
I was the first black woman to receive an honors baccalaureate degree from my undergraduate institution. I recently had an op-ed piece published in The State.

If you are interested in participating, please see the following:

1. Leave a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions (if I don't have your email address, you can email me instead). I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hey Ya! Charlie Brown Style

We obviously need a little bit of levity in this space. Here's what I've been watching when I'm need of a pick me up lately. Outkast and Peanuts--it doesn't get much better than this.