Category Archives: mental health

Quoted: Tim Wise on “Conspiracism and the Cost of Political Rage”

…[Loughner's] acts cannot be fully divorced from the current political moment either, and specifically that part of said moment dominated by reactionary and right-wing voices, among which are included many whose speakers adhere to Tea Party thinking. It is not that Loughner is, literally, a devotee of the right or its organizational edifices. In all likelihood he is not. Rather, it is pertinent — and should not be ignored by those in the media who are trying to de-politicize his crimes — that his paranoid lunacy, the contours of which one can explore thanks to the wonders of the internet, transpired in a nation where paranoia and its peddling have become common fare. In such a place, the Jared Loughners of the world become ever-more dangerous. And it is this about which we should be rightly concerned.That said, his acts cannot be fully divorced from the current political moment either, and specifically that part of said moment dominated by reactionary and right-wing voices, among which are included many whose speakers adhere to Tea Party thinking. It is not that Loughner is, literally, a devotee of the right or its organizational edifices. In all likelihood he is not. Rather, it is pertinent — and should not be ignored by those in the media who are trying to de-politicize his crimes — that his paranoid lunacy, the contours of which one can explore thanks to the wonders of the internet, transpired in a nation where paranoia and its peddling have become common fare. In such a place, the Jared Loughners of the world become ever-more dangerous. And it is this about which we should be rightly concerned…

After all, there are many people in any society who suffer from mental illness. Many, indeed, who battle the kinds of demons that appear, from all evidence, to afflict Jared Loughner. Yet hardly any of them act upon their delusions by lashing out at political figures. Most often, when mentally ill individuals become violent, their rage is either focused on persons close by in their lives whom they feel have hurt them (family, colleagues, fellow students, a therapist, a former boss), or it is entirely random and without any seeming pattern or purpose (think Charles Whitman at the University of Texas in 1966, or Mark David Chapman shooting John Lennon). That Loughner’s derangement led him to kill a judge and attempt the same with a lawmaker is unlikely a mere coincidence. Events such as this happen at particular times for a reason. There is a reason that Tim McVeigh’s bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building happened in 1995, amid the last national bout with reactionary paranoia: a time in which the right was bubbling with theories about black UN helicopters planning midnight raids on patriotic Americans, gun grabs and a supposedly liberal president who was gearing up for the mass persecution of tax protesters and Bible-believing Christians, among others.

It is not necessary to show that Loughner is a follower of Glenn Beck, or Michael Savage, or any of a hundred or more local variants of the same. It is not, in the end, all that important whether he spent time on right-wing websites, or is (as a Department of Homeland Security memo seems to suggest) a follower of the white nationalist group, American Renaissance, or whether he believes (as some of his otherwise hard-to-decipher internet postings hint) that the Constitution is being usurped by the current government because of its reliance on paper money: a prominent meme among the far-right. What matters is that Loughner, like all of us, has been exposed day in and day out, for several years, to the unhinged and paranoiac ravings of persons who believe America is in its “end days,” and that the sky is falling, at least metaphorically — and not because of global warming, which is just one more piece of the left-wing conspiratorial plot to confiscate all wealth in the name of nature-worship — but because of the communist/socialist/fascist/Marxist/Nazi/Muslim/Kenyan/terrorist/anti-Christ who occupies the White House.

It is that daily stream of poisonous vitriol from which it is nearly impossible to escape.

Read the rest here.

What I’ve Learned from Living with HIV

By Christopher MacDonald-Dennis , reprinted with permission from his Twitter timeline

AIDS RibbonMy name is Chris, and I live with HIV.

I know some were here last year [on my Twitter timeline], so I’ll try not to bore you. I just want to remind us that we are here among you, living, thriving, sometimes barely surviving w HIV/AIDS. I’d like to tell my story: why I made choices I did and what I’ve learned–because I have learned a great deal about myself from this disease.

To start: I have been positive for 15 years. March 10, 2010 was  my anniversary. I am 41 yrs old. In fact, I was born exactly 1 week before Stonewall rebellion in NYC. I was born and raised in Boston in a working-class neighborhood. I grew up in uber-dysfunctional family: brother diagnosed as sociopath in teens, dad an alcoholic, mom mentally ill. It was hell in that family, I was a little “sissy” who knew at early age he was gay. I was OK with it but knew others wouldn’t be. I was terrorized as kid–ass kicked a lot. My city didn’t like femme boys. Also, I am mixed: dad was white, mom Latina….looong before mixed folks were cool.  :) We just were odd. So I grew up alone…and lonely. Went to college and  didn’t just come out of closet..

I blew the doors off hinges! I became popular…and, most importantly, saw that men were attracted to me. So I became BHOC–Big Homo On Campus–who also partied hard at clubs. I felt what I thought was acceptance for the first time. I was an activist, a feminist, just thinking I had to it together…but I was promiscuous. It filled a need. Men wanted me; I was desirable. Because of my background I mistook it for love. At 22 I was in my first relationship with an AIDS activist [and] always used condoms. Broke up after 3 years and saw a man I had dated briefly in college.

I still remember the night we met. His smile shut off every thinking part of my brain. I know you know those fine types–your brain disappears. He asked me home. I accepted after he asked my friends (we had a rule–we come together, we leave together.) They agreed–he was that fine. We went to my place & began to have sex. I noticed he wasn’t going to use condom. I thought about it but was afraid he would leave me. Yes, I was more afraid a man would leave than protecting myself.  We never talked about status until 3 months in…he said he was too scared. That made me pause…

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“Colorblindness,” “Illuminated Individualism,” Poor Whites, and Mad Men: The Tim Wise Interview, Part 1

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

One of the perks of my particular role as Sexual Correspondent is getting to talk to some of the sexiest-to-me anti-racist thinkers.  So, you can guess my response to Racialicious’ owner/publisher Latoya’s question: “Do you want to interview Tim Wise?” (Precise answer: “SSSSSQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”  Of course, Wise is happily married with children; thus, my lurve for the man stays at “SSSSSQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”)

Tim Wise 3If someone asked me what is it about Wise that makes me so swoony, I’d say—besides his sleepy, brooks-no-bullshit blue eyes, his Southern-gentleman smile, his Baptist-preacher rumbly voice, and his precise facial hair—that he does quite a bit of the heavy lifting on handling whiteness, especially white privilege and racism, so I don’t have to.  To have someone like him on my side in this nastily trippy Mobius strip called Race in America is, frankly, quite endearing to me.

His latest book, Colorblind: The Rise of Post-racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity, is full of win because he succinctly takes apart the Obama Age meme of “post-racial” as well as its progenitor, the ableist term “colorblind(ness),” as the fallback retorts when race—and particularly racism—is discussed and/or called out.

In fact, as I will argue, colorblindness not only fails to remedy discrimination and racial inequity, it can actually make both prob­lems worse. To begin, if the rhetoric of racial transcendence gives the impression—as it does, almost by definition—that the racial injustices of the past are no longer instrumental in determining life chances and outcomes, it will become increasingly likely that per­sons seeing significant racial stratification in society will rational­ize those disparities as owing to some cultural or biological flaw on the part of those at the bottom of the hierarchy. In other words, ra­cial bias would become almost rational once observers of inequity were deprived of the critical social context needed to understand the conditions they observe. Whereas a color-conscious approach allows for a more nuanced understanding of racial inequities and how they’ve been generated, colorblindness encourages placing blame for the conditions of inequity on those who have been the targets of systemic injustice. Ironically, this means that colorblind­ness, often encouraged as the ultimate non-racist mentality, might have the consequence of giving new life to racist thinking.

–From Colorblind: The Rise of Post-racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity

Andrea Plaid: In your book, Colorblind, you explain what it is.  What is the difference between that and “race neutrality” (if there is a difference) and why doesn’t either work, specifically in the POTUS Obama’s case?

Tim Wise: I use them pretty interchangeably here. Basically, my argument is that post-racial colorblindness  fails on two levels: 1) it fails to solve problems that are race-specific and caused by racism and discrimination, and 2) it fails to help build support for broader progressive social policy (contrary to the claim made by its proponents), because even when you put forth “colorblind” policy (like universal health care, more money for schools, a jobs bill, etc), it is perceived by whites as a racial transfer, because of the way social policy has been racialized for 40 years. So whites hear “black people” when you talk about any policy to help the have-nots or have-lessers. Which means that the right is going to use race as a weapon anyway, to push those buttons with whites, and when the president refuses to punch back, even against the most blatant and absurd examples of that racism and race baiting, it emboldens the bullies and makes him appear weak. Obviously, he has to be careful how he engages race, but the evidence I present in the book (which is based mostly on research from the field of social psychology) has found that allowing race to remain sublimated and below the surface actually makes it easier for people to act on subtle biases, because they can do so without ever having to confront the contradictions between who they claim to be (open-minded, non-racist, etc) and who they really are.

AP: If “colorblindness” doesn’t work, then why use it?

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Dagnabit Shit Fuck: True Blood Recap S03E11

Hosted by Thea Lim and featuring Joseph Lamour, Tami Winfrey Harris, Latoya Peterson and Andrea Plaid

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Thea: Another sort of lackluster episode, though better than last week’s. Though I have to say this eppy sure had lots of good oneliners:

I used to drink hot sauce straight out of the bottle…that was a good time.

Dagnabit Shit Fuck!

So you turn into a panther! What the hell! That ain’t so bad.

Tami: What no love for Pam calling Bill an “infatuated tween”? That was the quote of the night. It perfectly captured the essence of the Bill and Sookie romance.

Andrea: Oh! My! Gawd! Pam aced the ep with that line. I so heart that vamp (pun intended).

Thea: Well, I didn’t want to steal all the good lines…I wanted to give y’all a chance to list your own fave oneliners :) Also I just read on the internet that Mama Hoyt actually said Dagnabit Shit Fire! I truly hope not, Shit Fuck is just so wonderful.

Thea: But to get down to the really really important business: poll – do we prefer LaLa as a pet name for our favourite, or Laffy? I can’t decide.

Joe: I love it when Ruby calls him Lala, but not when anyone else does. My vote goes for Laffy.

Tami: Co-sign, Joe. I love “Lala,” but it feels like one of those special names within friends or family that only one person is allowed to use. I’m going for Laffy.

Latoya: Team Lala. It makes me squee to think of 6 year old Lafayette. But Laffy works too.

Andrea: Honestly, I like Laffy or even Lafette, which is my fam’s nickname for my uncle, who shares the same name. I’m with Joe: let “Lala” be his mom’s nickname for him. Though, to be honest, I don’t like it coming from her mouth because there’s a homophobic bite to it.

Thea: Hm…that’s an interesting point about Lala having a homophobic bite…especially since every episode since its intro, Laffy has been addressed as such. This week, it was by the religious icons during a bad trip. Aiyeee..but more on that later, of course.

A Black Panther?

Thea: So here, for once, I would like those of you Charlaine Harris fans who’ve been sitting on your hands in the corner for fear of spoiling anything for the rest of us, to step up: is Crystal a black panther in the books, or is that just a choice they made for the visual medium of TV? Actually, wait a sec, are all panthers black? Since this is True Blood, master of dabbling foolishly in serious historical shit, I can’t help but wonder why they would choose a black panther, an animal which is, as professorjawn put it in the comments last week, “a uniquely racialized animal in the US psyche.”

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Joe: Other than the Pink Panther, panthers are all black, otherwise they’re called something else, like jaguars, leopards, cheetahs, and cougars (another loaded word, this day in age.) While reading the book I definitely assumed the (spoiler alert!) Hotshot people were all panthers, and that those panthers were of this variety: and not of the beret-ed variety. Also, to my (cursory, at best) knowledge, a panther is not actually a type of cat like a lion, but it refers to the color. For instance: a black jaguar is a panther, and a black cougar is a panther. There is a such thing as a white panther, but its rare, like a white tiger. Confusing enough? Yes, yes it is.

Interestingly enough, the reason that panther cats of any variety turn out black is because of- take a guess- an abundance of melanin. The writers, and Charlaine for that matter, probably didn’t think too hard about which species of cat to go with. Willful ignorance strikes again, I guess.

Tami: The folks in Hot Shot were panthers in Charlaine’s Harris’ books, though I don’t recall her specifying black panthers. II always assumed they were the sort of panther found in America–the cougar. I think the choice of using a black panther for Crystal was stylistic–they certainly look cool lurking in the shadows. It’s just that given True Blood’s sketchy racial imagery this season, even the most benign choices seem to mean something more sinister.

Sookie & Bill Are Boring; Pam Breaks Our Heart with her Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

Thea: So Latoya totally called it last week when she said, “But again, it’s Sookie who gets the creepy chain basement to herself, and she’ll probably be saved in a day or so, so whatever, I can’t drum up any concern.” OMG, try saved in like, fifteen minutes. More and more I am just writing the word “BOOOORING” in my notebook during all the Bill-Sookie scenes.’

Latoya: I hate being right. There isn’t even time to fake concern anymore.

Andrea: LOLOLOL I think we’re supposed to either 1) conveniently ignore that she was rescued or that 2) we’re supposed to get all “yeah girl-power!” that another human–especially a woman–rescued her. I think Ball and Co. wanted us to focus on the fact that she “whupped Pam’s ass” (with said woman’s help) to save her man. What peeved me is Pam’s xenophobic plea regarding Sookie’s sex-worker rescuer, “Don’t leave me here with this idiot immigrant!” The woman response, “I’m a cardiologist!” missed the humor mark because it turns back on her: the stereotyping questions become, “Why is a cardiologist hanging with vampires? Don’t they get good pay in that line of work?” Which can play either way: 1) thoughts about why people go into sex work (basic answer: the reasons are myriad) and 2) the stereotypes of female immigrants as victims of sex trades. Too much hung on that joke, which is why it fell flat for me.

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Wooden Bullets, “Exotic” Accents & Human Masculinity: True Blood S03E09

Hosted by Thea Lim, and featuring Joseph Lamour, Andrea Plaid and Tami Winfrey Harris (Latoya Peterson sadly missed)

Tara: Trauma and Healing

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Thea: Ok, so after all the hating on this show’s treatment of Tara – or, as has been argued, heterosexual women in general – there were definitely things that True Blood did this week which I actually liked. For one, I appreciate the way the show is allowing Tara continuous episodes to show grief and trauma over what happened to her. I also like the way Rutina Wesley has been able to (finally! and consistently!) show other sides of Tara. There were multiple quiet and delicate moments this episode and last, where Wesley did an amazing job of communicating, through that quiet, the anguish that Tara was/is feeling. To me those sorts of scenes required much greater acting chops than any of the shrill, yelling stuff that Wesley was given for the first two seasons. So nice to see Wesley finally given the chance to show how great she is.

What did y’all think of the rape survivor group scene? What did you think of Holly’s speech? I was slightly taken aback to see Tara visit a rape survivor group — just because it disturbed me (and we discussed this in detail) how much Franklin’s abduction and rape of Tara was treated as comedy…I questioned at times whether or not the writers even knew they were writing rape scenes. So to see the writers flip that upside down, and validate that this is what the character went through, was surprising to me.

And then, after both Holly’s speech at the rape survivor group and her reproductive choice moment with Arlene, could it be that Holly’s supernatural power is that she’s a…feminist? What’s this week’s verdict on Holly?

Tami: Agreed. I think the aftermath of Tara’s kidnapping, bondage and rape is being handled well by both TB’s writers and actors. In fact, this treatment brings the early poorly-drawn relationship between Tara and Franklin in stark relief. I think the problem lies in what TB did to the character of Franklin. His first interaction with Tara was laden with menace. He was sullen, dark, attracted to violence and clearly a bad man to know. Once the pair arrived in Mississippi, Franklin was drawn as comic relief–a lovesick loon who happens to also be a predator–even as Rutina Wesley continued to portray Tara as a woman in fear for her life. Sunday, menacing Franklin returned. I think this is why, on True Blood threads not located on sites that analyze race and gender, some folks are mourning the death of Franklin, despite his role as the abuser of a main character. True Blood’s portrait of Franklin allowed viewers to be ambivalent about Tara’s abuse.

Andrea: I think that Tara’s kidnapping, bondage, and rape all falls under the umbrella of “abuse,” which is the term we’ve been discussing ever since we saw Franklin go that route in his interactions with Tara after he glamored her into getting into Sookie’s house and getting the information that Sookie was in Mississippi. To that end, we’ve had hearty discussions about Franklin’s abusive behavior and how we weren’t cool with that.

Which brings me to Tara going to the rape survivors’ meeting: I. Loved. This. Scene. It rang true for several reasons: 1) as a Black woman who survived rape and felt a bit goosy about seeing a therapist for a while, I know that I received a lot of support attending such “lay” meetings, where I learned a way to form a vocabulary for what happened to me; 2) yes, I learned that vocabulary from white women because, like Tara, I grew up in a town where the people who were having such discussions and support were white. That doesn’t mean, ergo, that white women are “better” at it than black people or other PoCs. It simply acknowledges a reality that people will seek their healing in imperfect spaces that may not “make sense” racially speaking but makes perfect sense to them…as well as speaking to the simple fact of demographics; 3) it reminds me of the connections I’ve made on- and offline with women, especially women of color, who are surviving abuse and simply seek a voice that resonates with their own. Also, Tara was finally given space to tearfully lay her burden down and not be chastised for not being a Strong Negress, which sometimes happens at these meetings, too. Spot on, TB creatives…whether y’all realize it or not. Continue reading

The Snot Factor, Death And Sex, & Improper Firearm Use: True Blood S03E08

By Thea Lim, Joseph Lamour, Tami Winfrey Harris, Latoya Peterson and Andrea Plaid

The End of Bilkie set to music

Andrea: So….Sookie’s newly found fairy identity leads her to 1) her screaming her ass off (per usual) with the realization that her man’s been using her for her fairy juice and 2) her doing the first mature thing (in my estimation) since this show started: breaking up with the vampire. My question is: Bill is a couple of centuries old. Did he *really* think Sookie wouldn’t get hip to the fact that he’s just no good for her? And that weepy I-nearly-killed-you-but-I-lurve-your-ass-Sookeh speech just gave me bitchlips because of Bill’s (willful) naivete.

Latoya: Seriously. I was so ready for this cycle of dysfunction to end that I had prepared some theme music for the final farewell in the hospital, 1TYM’s “It’s Over”:

(For those of y’all looking for the translation, click here)

I suppose its kind of apropos most of the concert videos push together It’s Over and Put Em Up, following the sad song with the “I will not be defeated” joint.

Thea: I will say that I liked the symbolism of the blood line being broken between them. It looked nice. Yes, I can occasionally be mollified by a nicely shot bit of poetry.

Tami: I would have been more impressed by the breakup if it had lasted more than 24 hours. Yeah, Sookie and Bill’s parting was well acted, but I still cry foul on the reasoning for the split being “Well, we’ll never have picket fences and sunny days together” and not “You nearly killed me. I hear you have some creepy file on my family. My best friend says you left her in a life-threatening situation.” It all came down to Sookie not being able to have her romantic fantasy relationship. Harumph!

Joe: I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I found their break up really well acted and rather touching. The one thing that Oscar winners know how to do best is weep uncontrollably, and boy did Anna Paquin get to show why she has that thing.

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Thea: Agreed. Sheepishly.

Andrea: But, Joe, what pushes mere weeping to Oscar-nabbing is what my moms calls The Snot Factor. Anna Paquin and Stephen Mowry didn’t snot; ergo, no awards. When they go home at the end of a day’s shooting they should rent Gladiator. Russell Crowe got that Academy Award on the strength on his nasal stream. Just saying. :-D

Joe: Ha! Halle, anyone?

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The Racialicious Review For My Name Is Khan

by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
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WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

The die is cast early in My Name Is Khan, when the titular lead, Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), having already been identified as autistic, is snarkily asked by a TSA agent what he has to tell the President.

“My name is Khan,” he answers. “And I am not a terrorist.” Then the camera zooms in on the baffled agent and the score swells as if to kick him in the throat and yell PWNED!

The punchline is doubly appropriate, given the real-life Khan’s own run-ins with airport security, and a signal that, though it lacks the musical stylings of more familiar Bollywood fare, Rizwan’s story will not skimp on the melodrama on the way to making its point. But at least it does so effectively.

khan2As he learns after moving to America, Rizwan lives with Asperger’s syndrome. Still, during the first half of the movie, Rizwan’s condition makes him a wiz at repairs, and doesn’t deter him from working as a salesman for his brother (Jimmy Shergill) – or from pursuing a relationship with Mandira (Kajol), a hair stylist he meets during his rounds. The early scenes between Rizwan and Mandira are so bubble-gummy they threaten to make Slumdog Millionaire look cynical, but there’s enough of a contrast between theirs and other rom-com couples to keep the schmaltz from completely overwhelming the viewer.
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Road Warrior [Essay]

by Guest Contributor Scott Bear Don’t Walk, originally published at The Rhodes Project

“Weren’t you the Indian Rhodes Scholar?” she said, as I shivered in her doorway holding my pizza delivery bag, wearing my “Red Pies Over Montana” polyester shirt and ball cap. She handed me 20 dollars for driving a Sausage Lover’s Special through the snow-drifted streets of the reservation border town of Missoula—for a one-dollar tip.

A month before, I had been sitting next to a well-known British novelist at a Rhodes House dinner in Oxford, which involved multiple courses and sparkling conversation over after-dinner sherry. I had been wearing a jacket and tie, not a tux, but near. The writer asked, “Aren’t you the red-Indian Rhodes Scholar?”

They say the Rhodes is one of the few things a person can do at 20 years of age that will be mentioned at 40, that and joining the Marines—but I didn’t go to Parris Island. I went to Oxford, England.

During my fifth year at the University of Montana, a familiar-looking woman, whose face I couldn’t quite place, passed as I walked across campus. Coming closer, I recognized her as a former classmate who had trounced me in every subject in grade school, the smartest person in class, my main competition. Becky—Rebecca (some names have been changed for this story), I called out, asking her what she was doing in Missoula. She said that she had come back from Harvard for the local Rhodes Scholarship interview. I had no idea what the words “Rhodes Scholar” meant. A year later, I would be chosen.

I am from an American Indian tribe—the Crow—located in Montana. I say it this way, “located in Montana” because we predate the founding of the state. We predate the founding of the United States, though this is where we find ourselves. My parents went to college at the local university. They came of age in the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement and the Great Society. Coming from two separate Indian reservations, my parents were the first in their families to go to college, and, until I went 25 years later, the last. They went from poor to professional. They went from reservation schools and Catholic boarding schools, which sought to kill the Indian to save the student, to become active in the American Indian Civil Rights movement. My parents’ generation (though not my parents) founded the “Red Power” movement, occupied Alcatraz Island and Wounded Knee. My father was one of the earliest lawyers in the Crow Tribe, and he still works for his people. My mother was active in American Indian women’s rights, and still works in Indian health care. They made the big leap for me. I went to college only because they did.

Is there such a thing as a traditional Rhodes Scholar? Until the 1970s, a Rhodes Scholar was male. Was he also white? In December of 1992, when I called my mother from a high-rise in Seattle to tell her that I had had been chosen by the Rhodes committee, her first words were, “How many women were picked?” She identifies as a second-wave feminist. I grew up in a house where Ms. magazine and Our Bodies Ourselves sat on the coffee table—we learned that “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” We learned that a woman could do anything—Mother told my sister that she could be a senator—but I wondered what an Indian could boy be? In my Rhodes Scholar class of 1993 there were few minorities, but about an even split gender-wise. I told my mother about half were women. “Good,” she said. My peers seemed to come from two or three certain universities on the East Coast, men and women. Though not Harvard or Yale, my state university had secretly been sending Rhodes, too. The University of Montana was then rated 4th in the country for public schools for sending Rhodes Scholars, a surprise to me, being so close to the poverty and limited opportunity of Indian Country.
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