Why do I know white culture so well? Because I’m a black woman. And while I, and just about any person of color who has spent their lives in a white supremacist society, know enough about white culture to write a book or two on whiteness and option the bestseller movie rights, y’all know almost nothing about us and even less about yourselves.
Find yourselves white people. Find yourselves so that you can know what whiteness is. … Find yourselves so that racism no longer surprises you.
Seeing the world clearly takes trouble. It is ongoing work to educate myself on racism, both my own personal racism and the systemic kind.
The hard part is knowledge of my own footprint:
self-interest in continuing racism
failure to act when opportunities came up
fully believing racist ideas
The easy part is that all I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. Once I learn something it stays learned.
Rachel Dolezal did a service. Racial identity is a social construct. Black and White are identity, not genetics.
There are many instances of families slipping into Whiteness over the generations. Why not the other direction? What Dolezal did shocks us because we can’t believe she would prefer Black over White.
She deceived with regard to her genes as a byproduct of choosing her identity. There were few explicit lies, and they weren’t about important things. The deception, not the lies, is what disturbs people.
She did nutty things. I’m not saying I’m in love with her. But people do nutty things all the time. None of us would care about this person except that she switched from White to Black, which shocks because:
1. We think it’s worse to be Black than White
2. We think Blackness and Whiteness are genetic rather than social
In that switch she did a service. We are confronting those racist beliefs because she called our attention to them.
We did a study with pairs of orangutans in which we tested their ability to communicate and cooperate to get rewards. We hid a banana pellet so that one orangutan could see the food but couldn’t reach it. The other orangutan could release a sliding door and push the pellet through to her partner, but wasn’t able to take it for herself. They did okay (but not great) when playing with me, and they mostly ignored each other when playing together. We then performed a similar set of studies with human two-year-olds. Compared with the apes, the two-year-olds were very good at getting the reward (stickers) when they played with an adult.
Taken together, these studies tell us something about human evolution. Unlike apes, humans are good at pooling their talents to achieve what they can’t do alone. It’s not that the apes don’t care about getting the food – they got frustrated with one another when things were going wrong, and one orangutan in particular would turn his back and sulk. However, unlike humans, they don’t seem to be able to harness this frustration to push themselves to do better.
As a reader, I need an RSS reader that caters to personal-scale blogging. There isn’t one now.
Professional blogs generate a torrential flow compared to personal blogs. In a river of posts where all sources are competing for attention, the professional posts flood out the personal ones. Your reader needs a rate limiter for overposters.
RSS readers need to make it trivial to reply to your friend, with similar gestures to Facebook and Twitter. It should be possible to post a private reply, to Like, to repost/retweet, or to comment in-place in your reader. The software should have sophistication comparable to Facebook, for example there should be a range of Like types that include “wow” and sympathy.
RSS readers also need to provide readership metrics to publishers. Otherwise your friends with personal blogs get close to zero feedback. With a big professional-scale blog there are enough readers for comments to happen. But with a personal-scale blog comments are few and far between.
I’m not totally clear on the source of this, which is credited on YouTube as **New Adam Curtis Film** ripped from Charlie Brooker’s 2014 wipe documents Putin’s adviser Vladislav Surkov Nonlinear warfare – A new system of political control.
25 years ago I heard about this program from a USENET newsgroup called Mosaic. I downloaded and installed it. As they say: Mind. Blown. All the pages had a grey background. The images would download one by one, and you could see each line of pixels loading. A later version would download the pictures simultaneously.
I read about Mosaic in a little blurb in a print publication, so I checked it out and it was a-mazing. I did a bit of random surfing and before too long stumbled into a particularly yucky subculture. That was my first inkling of the memetic future to come. It’s been double rainbows ever since.
The team discovered that male and female baboons each produce four vowel-like sounds. Females produce one that males don’t, and vice versa, so in total there are five distinct vowels. They correspond to the second syllable in “roses”, and the vowel sounds in “you”, “thought”, “trap” and “ah” (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169321).
The findings raise fresh doubts about the link between the position of the human larynx and the origin of speech, says Fagot. He thinks important features of spoken language may have originated as far back as the common ancestor of monkeys and humans, which lived about 25 million years ago.
One way to read this slowly unfolding thought (in my recent posts) about non-human intelligence is that evolution is slower than we can imagine. Yes, we became precisely human when our species popped up, but imprecise versions of human are still pretty close.
This blog is an open journal. I don’t know why I like having a public notebook that nobody reads, just that I do like it. It serves enough of a purpose that I keep doing it.
I am not seeking readers here. My guess at the readership is five people, all of whom know me well enough to send a direct email.
This blog is public. It is not for secrets. I expect that a little of this writing will be read by business connections.
It is indexed by search engines, but is low on the search results for my name. I don’t expect many business connections to find it.
Personal blogs like this one are a dead medium. In their 2000-2010 heyday I had enough readership here to think of it as a publishing platform, but that time has passed and isn’t coming back. Independent blogs are now for either professionals on the scale of Gawker or journals on the scale of this one.
But the rock-bottom readership here allows me to do writing at low risk. This blog would be a better place than Facebook for damning party photos or abrasive politics. I don’t have to worry about context collapse.
Until I started blogging around 2001 I filled up physical notebooks, Moleskine-style. My writing voice there was about the same as on this blog. Even this post could be one of those journal entries. They weren’t intensely personal. They weren’t confessional. I wrote blue sky ideas, drew inventions, endlessly redrafted the same essay.
A blog that is read by few people is a social medium like any other. It’s a cowpath in the making.