comics, Calvin ponders

Black. White. (epside three)

One of the challenges of talking about race is that I think both sides are so charged that it makes it difficult to speak candidly about race issues, either generally or in specific terms. And I say that not as a comment on the show so much as a comment about me and the challenge I have in talking and writing about race and racism, whether the subject is this show or otherwise.

Tonight's episode had more of the same old recurring theme of people seeing what they want to see and not seeing what they don't. In the last episode, Carmen referred to a woman as "a beautiful black creature". Today's show picked up where that one left off. The black family found her words very upsetting. I thought it was the word "creature" that troubled them the most, but Brian commented at one point that he wouldn't have a problem if she had simply said "beautiful creature". When I heard her make that comment, I knew what she meant. I understood her intentions. And I wasn't offended. (Yeah, I know, I'm not black, right? That doesn't mean I don't find things offensive.) I was, however, disappointed. It's not that I took her comment as disparaging towards the woman in any way, but it brought attention to the fact that Carmen thinks of black people as being something very different from her. And, yes, culturally and complexion-wise, they are very different from her, but... black is part of the identity in her mind of every black person whe meets. This isn't new with her... I've seen it throughout the show, from the very beginning of the first episode. Her husband Bruno does the same thing, too. It's disheartening for me, because for all their talk about how people shouldn't distinguish between how they treat people based on race — and I do believe their intentions are genuine — they appear to be incapable of internalizing that sentiment. The best they can do is separate but equal. I guess I haven't seen an instance where they've treated someone different (setting aside some of their conversations, of course) based on their race, so maybe they do a better job than some of approximating "separate but equal", but it's important to recognize that, internally, they still see race and identify people based on race.

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me and Izzy

Black. White.

I watched the season premiere of Black.White yesterday on FX. It has a very short "season"... I think it only has half a dozen episodes or so. The basic premise, for those of you who haven't heard of it, is this:

One white family and one black family swap races to see how life is on the other side of the racial divide. Makeup artists transform them into the other race and they get to experience the world from a whole new perspective. Well, not a whole new perspective, as the first episode shows, but I'll get into that in the next paragraph. The two families share a house and get to discuss issues of race around the dinner table at the end of the day... which can be quite interesting. :)

The white family has a husband, wife, and daughter. Of the three, the daughter, Rose, 17, seems to be the most grounded. Actually, I think she may be the most grounded out of both families. The talked a bit when they first got together about how to be white vs. how to be black and she interjected at one point and said something about how they seemed to be talking so much about stereotypes. I wish I had the actual quote, because I think what she said was rather poignant, especially for a 17 year-old white girl who, if you listen to the black husband and wife, you'd expect to be least sensitive towards race and stereotypes. Quite the opposite. She appears to be the most aware of the delicate nature of race issues and the most open-minded. The white mother, Carmen, has good intentions, but seems to make a lot of mistakes. For her part, I think it's more social ignorance and a lack of exposure than anything else. The white father, Bruno, on the other hand, annoys the hell out of me. He is arrogant and ignorant and unsympathetic, which is a very bad combination. He seems to like using the "n" word and I think he thinks it's okay to use it excessively because he's not calling anyone the "n" word or, at one point while he was in makeup, was playing the part in a room full of black people talking about race issues who were unaware that he was really white and none of whom ever used the word themselves. He posits that black people more often than not perceive racism where there is none and, while I think there is some truth to that, he goes way overboard with that to the point where it often seems as though he's denying that racism exists in our society at all.

The black family has a husband, wife, and son. The son comes off as apathetic about the whole project. He's almost as bad as Bruno in acting like race doesn't matter. Rose asked him at one point what he wanted to get out of the experience and he said he was just there to enjoy himself and have fun with it all. The previews for the next episode show an irate mother upset that he said nothing when, in the company of a group of white kids and while in makeup himself, someone used the "n" word. I'm not sure what the context or circumstances were because that wasn't included in the preview (of course), so I'll have to watch the next episode for that. The mother, Renee, has all the attitude of the stereotypical black woman. She has to work in the white world so she knows all about being white and doesn't need anyone to give her any tips, though she has plenty for the white family. One of those suggestions was to not ask a lot of questions because it just makes you seem nosey. Her husband, Brian, added that white people are always so chipper and friendly and that black people aren't like that, so the white family should temper their friendliness when in makeup. I found that whole exchange interesting because, on the one hand, it's stereotypically white to be friendly yet there's always this perceived inhospitality. And it was that exchange that prompted Rose's remark mentioned earlier.

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obituary - Philip F. Hopper

Sunday, January 15, 2006
Philip F. Hopper
The Chillicothe Gazette

Philip F. Hopper, 81, of Chillicothe, died 7:16 a.m. Saturday, January 14, 2006, in Adena Regional Medical Center, following an extended illness.

He was born April 30, 1924, in Ross County to the late Floyd and Pearl Baer Hopper. On May 23, 1970, he married the former Irene Cottrill Ware, who survives.

Also surviving are children, John (Ana) Hopper, of Hilliard, OH, Mary (Thomas) Hankins, of Granville, OH, Theresa Hopper, Carol (Gordon) Huff, of Toledo, OH and Carey J. Ware, of Chillicothe; grandchildren, Ian, Erin, Seth, Aaron, Rebekah, Paul, Kristen, Tommy, R.J., Katie and Stephen; 4 great-grandchildren; and a brother, Oliver Hopper, of TN. He was predeceased by his first wife, Mary Fulop Hopper; a son, Rev. William Hopper and a sister, Evelyn Durrant.

Philip served in the U.S. Navy during WW II and retired in 1982 from Chilpaco where he had worked for 35 years. He was a member of the Walnut Street United Methodist Church and American Legion Post 62.

Funeral services will be held 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 17, 2006, in the Ware Funeral Home, with Dr. Dennis Mohler officiating. Burial will follow in Greenlawn Cemetery where military graveside rites will be conducted by the Ross County Veterans Honor Guard. Friends may call at Wares from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Walnut Street United Methodist Church, Main and Walnut or the Ross County Humane Society, 2308 Lick Run Rd. Chillicothe, Ohio 45601.
me and Izzy

supermarket sushi

Supermarket sushi is nowhere near as good as the real stuff, made fresh at a restaurant. Is it just me or does knowing that supermarket sushi is crap compared to fresh sushi make you wonder if you're really missing out on something when you drink a glass of milk.
me and Izzy

Thanksgiving through a straw, passing a stone's not like "pass the shoe", and business VoIP

Not sure how many of you are familiar with Jones Soda... they're known for having unusual flavors. Well, they have a special holiday pack out now that includes flavors like "turkey and gravy" and "wild herb stuffing". Sounds horrible, doesn't it!? I mean, seriously, who in their right mind would want to drink pop that tastes like turkey!?

I couldn't find any at the store, but Bekah called me the other day from a different store and said she saw some and asked me if I really did want to try it. Of course! Now, having tried the cranberry and wild herb stuffing, I think I'm well-qualified to tell you that I don't recommend you give it a try. Now you know.

I still wish they had the special regional pack that includes the "smoked salmon" flavor, but oh well. :)

In other news...

My kidney stone... oh, I had a kidney stone a few weeks ago. Anyway, it's been about two weeks now since I've had any pain from it, so I'm guessing it's passed by now. My guess is that it broke up and passed in bits and pieces. That's probably already more information than any of you care to know, but, suffice it to say, I'm fie now. Except that I'm "fine", not "fie", but the "n" seems to require a little extra pressure when typing on my keyboard. I guess it's time to dismantle it and give it a bath again. Heh... my keyboard's the oldest part of my computer at this point. If I'm not mistaken, I believe it's about 8 years old. :)

Things have been very busy on the work front. My coworker Tom and I have been meeting with Cisco, 3Com, and Nortel vendors for Voice over IP phone systems. That's taken up a lot of our time and, with the organization's budget situation (we've had some high-level layoffs recently), we're not sure we're even going to be able to convince the powers that be to sign off on the project. A VoIP phone system would definitely be cheaper in the long run both to use and to maintain, but requires significant investment in infrastructure. I think the advantages outweigh the costs and that there's the potential for a return on investment that goes beyond simple long-distance savings, but even if the powers that be can be convinced of all of that, the infrastructure costs are what they are and if the money's not there... what can you do? We'll see.

I've only been in the house a little over a year...

My sister and I did some shopping for the house today and I finally have blinds for my bedroom window! I'm going to try to get mine put up over the weekend.

I'll finally be able to take down the towels and sheet I have taped up over the window!

What? Huh? Oh, no, it's not duct tape. I'm not that ghetto! (Though duct tape would have done a better job of keeping them from falling off the windows!)

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article: Who'll lobby for social services?

Who'll lobby for social services?
Detroit Free Press [link]
by Mark Stutrud, President of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Whenever government faces an issue involving energy, the "oil lobby" is loud and clear about how it should be resolved.

When proposed laws involve education, the National Education Association makes its opinions known.

Transportation, telecommunication, banking, agriculture -- all have powerful voices speaking on their behalf.

Now both federal and state governments are developing budgets that will severely curtail services to some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society, and the debate is much too quiet.

Those who are least powerful have little voice in the public arena.

They are people like Catherine. She can't speak for herself because she has Alzheimer's disease. Otherwise, she would let the policymakers know that she lives on Social Security, that her family does not have the means to pay for her care, that she depends on Medicare and Medicaid. She would tell them that the workers at her nursing home earn so little they can barely keep their own families together.

They are people like Jason. He's only 2 years old, so he can't tell the politicians how his teenaged mother's drug habit was stronger than her maternal desire to care for her child. He can't tell them that he depends on the state to give him a safe and loving foster home or that he needs Medicaid to pay for his doctor visits. He doesn't know that his foster mother hasn't had a rate increase in several years or that she often spends her own money to make sure a growing boy has clothing and shoes.

People like Debby can't speak for themselves because they can't speak. Debby can't move without a wheelchair. She needs help to bathe, dress and eat. The caregivers in her group home know how she's feeling by her face and body language. But Debby doesn't realize that those caregivers often leave after just a few months because they earn less than a living wage.

These are not people with "special interests." What's special is their need for basic human services that most of us take for granted. They are the most vulnerable members of our communities. They cannot speak for themselves because they are too young, too ill or too disabled. They are the ones who fall through the holes when the social safety net is torn.

Because they can't speak for themselves, they are easily ignored. When budget priorities have to be made, it's easy to cut programs for people we do not see, whose voices we cannot hear.

There are legislative proposals to save dollars by setting time limits for people receiving Medicaid, regardless of their physical or mental health, or their employability. How can we expect people with multiple disabilities or families earning less than $8,000 a year to pay for health care on their own?

There are proposals that will freeze payments for the home- and community-based waivers that help frail seniors receive needed health care services in their homes instead of a nursing home. How does forcing people to leave their homes make us a healthier society?

There are proposals that will eliminate or freeze health care for a thousand Michigan teens who are "aging out" of foster care and forced to fend for themselves. This group is at very high risk of homelessness, unplanned pregnancy, substance abuse and imprisonment -- all of which cost more than up-front services to help them learn to be successful adults.

This is not the way an enlightened society should treat its most vulnerable citizens.

In some political circles there is a romantic notion that churches, private donors and foundations could, if they were so inclined, provide all the necessary financial support for a social safety net. This is a fallacy.

Generous donors do provide a small but powerful portion of the operating budget for Lutheran Social Services of Michigan and the other private nonprofit agencies that contract with state, federal and county governments. But while these contributions help enormously, the main responsibility for social service must lie with the government, working in partnership with nonprofit agencies.

I appeal to our legislators to listen to the stories of the thousands of Michigan residents who cannot speak for themselves.

Caring for our most vulnerable is not only a matter of charity, it is a matter of justice, and it should be one of our highest priorities.

Let's place Catherine, Jason and Debby at the top of the list when it comes to making budget decisions.
home repair

scratch that idea of turning the toilet into a rocking chair!

Quick post today...

Toilet wasn't bolted to the floor properly since I moved in. After a while, it began to rock a little when you'd sit down on it. The bolt sticking up from the floor is bigger than what comes in the standard kit. Yesterday, while my sister and I were at Home Depot, I remember the issue with the toilet and sought out some bolt caps (that's what the guy at Home Depot called them) of a couple different sizes larger than the one in the kit and, what do you know, one of them worked. No more movement when sitting down or getting up from the toilet.

It makes me feel good to finally have that taken care of.

I'm not as thrilled about my property taxes. *sigh*
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