- Herman Wallace: Surviving 40 years in solitary (BBC News)
Some prisoners are placed in solitary confinement because they have assaulted or killed another inmate or a guard. Others are held there because they are gang members – and are considered dangerous.
Prisoners in solitary confinement are held in their cells on “average 23 hours a day”, according to Craig Haney, a University of California professor who testified at the June 2012 hearing.
“Prisoners go for years – in some cases for decades – never touching another human being with affection,” he said. “The emptiness and idleness that pervade most solitary confinement units are profound and enveloping.”
Some prisoners in solitary confinement commit suicide. Others hurt themselves. One man in New Mexico, said Haney, “used a makeshift needle and thread from his pillowcase to sew his mouth completely shut”.
Last summer 30,000 California prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest against solitary confinement. State lawmakers said they would examine the issue – and the strike was cancelled. Years ago, inmates at the Angola prison were disturbed at the way that Wallace and others were treated in their isolated cells.
- Presumed Incompetent (Inside Higher Ed)
The 30 essays in “Presumed Incompetent” expose a nasty truth about Academia: it is not above the realities of everyday American life. It, in fact, reproduces and reinforces society’s inequalities, stereotypes, and hierarchies within its own walls.
That academic women, especially academic women of color, are often presumed incompetent, is probably not surprising to most. The virtue of this book is that it enables the reader to see that these experiences are not individual experiences nor are they the result of individual flaws. Keeping this insight in mind, these essays become more than just “stories” or anecdotes. They point to the larger structural and cultural forces within Academia that make the experience of being presumed incompetent for women of color far too common.
The book is a collection of various types of essays: scholarly literature reviews of the experiences of women of color, personal narratives, and interviews. The content is divided into five parts: “General Campus Climate”, “Faculty/Student Relationships”, “Networks of Allies”, “Social Class in Academia” and “Tenure and Promotion”. As one can tell readily from the themes, the book isn’t directed at students, nor is it meant primarily for use in a classroom (although there are several chapters that would be a good fit in courses that cover race, class, gender and sexuality issues). The book’s primary audience is faculty and administrators. It not only highlights the cultural and structural obstacles facing women of color in Academia, but proposes strategies and recommendations aimed at faculty and administrators. Several essays do this effectively, but Niemann’s concluding essay provides a particularly valuable summary of strategies and advice.
- Men Who Love “Scandal” (The Root)
Thursday night is date night at my apartment.
Nothing special, just drinks — a glass of water for me, red wine for her. We have not seen each other in months, and I’m excited to be reunited.
Her name is Olivia Pope.
We will meet in my living room, where she has shown up promptly at 10 p.m. on and off for the last 18 months. I will be on my couch. She will be in my television set.
She is not real, but my love for her, as she is played by Emmy-nominated actress Kerry Washington on the hit political drama “Scandal,” is very real.
Olivia and I will pick up where we last left off tonight with the season 3 premiere, and I will remain devoted to her week in and week out. I will tweet about Scandal incessantly while it airs. I will cut off any real dates with real women on Thursday nights by 9, and I will start every conversation on Friday with, “Did you watch ‘Scandal’ last night?”
- A Love Letter To the Hood (The Toast)
I’ve been trying to write about Chicago violence for a good two months now. The facts are easy to obtain from any major news source, though the way in which those facts are presented leaves a lot to be desired. Context matters, though, and it appears to be completely missing from most discussions concerning my city. If you were to take a map of Chicago marked with the neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, and overlay it with a map of school closures, you might begin to see a pattern. Add in yet another map of cuts to public transit–including the decisions to shut down train lines for repairs for months or years at a time–and a picture emerges of neighborhoods that have been systematically isolated.
Experts on Chicago (who often are neither from Chicago or remotely educated about Chicago politics or Chicago history), often disparage the people in the community. And no, I’m not making excuses for gang violence. But when we talk about violence in the communities where gangs are most common, we have to talk about the economics of crime. We have to talk about the impact of poverty, of police brutality, of school closures, of services being cut over and over again to these neighborhoods. We have to talk about the impact of racism on wealth building in communities of color. We have to talk about politicians who think the solution to crime is to throw civil liberties out the window. We have to talk about why the institutional reaction to white-on-white violence was settlement houses, while the institutional reaction to violence in predominantly Black and Latino communities is to bring in the National Guard.
It’s easy to forget that the people living in those neighborhoods are more complex than a sound bite, when those sound bites are often all that make it into the mainstream media. There’s this idea that the community is responsible for fixing itself, as though these things are happening because the people living there have dozens of choices and they choose the ones that leads to violence.
- I Wasn’t Invited to the Talk-About-Race Deal. Good. I Didn’t Want to Be. So There! (Dallas Observer)
The basic model of a racially monochrome neighborhood does not come from anything good. It is not a legacy of pride. It is a legacy of racial segregation. And segregation is always bad in the long run.
Here’s what I found from my years of taking part in talk-about-race deals. They don’t do any good. Something about race simply eludes verbal exposition. Race isn’t a philosophy. It’s mental astigmatism, a distortion of the glorious reality that is our sameness, our absolute and fundamental equality as human beings.
I don’t know why, but you just can’t talk your way out of racism. You have to live your way out of it by working together, refereeing your kids’ fights and sleep-overs, hugging through your shared heartaches and victories, touching, seeing, feeling each other’s shared humanity. You have to live next door to each other, not across the river.
That’s not the story of “Raisin in the Sun.” If there is a white person alive who still goes to see “Raisin” in order to get black people, he needs to give up, go home and, every little chance he gets, stay quiet.