Thursday, July 26, 2007

Won't You Take Me to [Midwestern] Funky Town?

Here we go again, Kiddies. GayProf is starting his life over . . . again. All my library books have been returned. My internet connection will end at midnight. My goodbyes have been said. The movers are coming to pack and haul away my meager positions in Boston. I will leave tomorrow to set up residence in Midwestern Funky Town.

Leaving Boston makes me incredibly sad. I loved this city. I also met many cool people. The goddess truly protected me by giving me a chance to escape Texas after the worst year of my short existence.

Everything about this city made me feel like I was home. Alas, I am so sentimental that I will even miss the MBTA.

Sometimes, though, it is no use liking or disliking change in our lives. Rather, it’s better to just go with the course that appears before us.

Don’t get me wrong. Midwestern Funky Town will certainly be a cool place to live in its own right. Compared with Texas, it is Xanadu. Big Midwestern University is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better job that I go to, than I have ever known.

Plus, I look forward to living in the little cottage that I rented. For almost the same rent as my studio apartment in Boston, I am getting a whole house in MFT. It will be great to have a kitchen where the appliances aren’t the size of an Easy-Bake Oven. I will also have distinct rooms that can be labeled “bedroom” and “living room.” Though the landlord had wanted to rip out the woodburning stove for insurance purposes, I eventually convinced them to leave it. It should be cozy, but still a palace compared to my more recent abode.

Most importantly, though, I needed to make sure that I wrote this entry for July so that I didn’t break my streak of 9's. With the odd exception of February, CoG had nine entries every month this year. I did not plan this at all. Actually, I only noticed it relatively recently (about the time VUBOQ also pointed it out to me). So, if I didn’t plan it, why did I always turn out with nine entries per month?

Well, I had one theory that involved a future me, who is trapped in a temporal loop, sending back messages to the present me in order to prevent a future disaster. Yet, I can only receive those messages as a subliminal thought. That might be unlikely, though.

Whatever the case, here are some things that I have learned about the number nine:

    Many Buddhist rituals require nine monks.

    Ancient Egyptian belief focused on nine major gods and goddesses.

    Nine is not the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.

    Nine out of ten are the number of times that the Orange Line was delayed when I needed to use it.

    The Bible has nine chapters in the Book of Amos.

    Cloud Nine, from what I understand, is supposed to be quite nice.

    Mayan religion proclaimed that there were nine levels to the underworld. The ninth was a place of extreme darkness and suffering.

    The villainous character Giganta first appeared in issue number 9 of the original Wonder Woman comic.

    Many people consider the Nine of Wands card as a warning to proceed carefully when it is dealt from a Tarot deck.

    When GayProf was nine years old, he joined the Cub Scouts.

    In the year 9 A.D., Ovid was banished to Tomis.

    There are nine planets in our solar system (Well, only eight now if you accept that Pluto has been downgraded).

    New York’s Ninth Avenue runs 45 blocks before turning into Columbus Avenue.

    The Searchers had a number one song entitled “Love Potion Number 9" in 1965.

    Sagittarius is the ninth sign of the Zodiac (I know almost nobody born under Sagittarius except my father).

    Dante described nine circles of hell in The Divine Comedy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Moving and traveling has made me neglectful of memes. CoG has been tagged several times for an assortment of them, but I have not had a chance to respond. Thus, this entry will address two memes.

First, let me extend my appreciation to those who selected CoG for the Thinking Blog meme (Ragnell, Tenured Radical, Atari Age, Diary of a Goldfish, and Slaves of Academe). You all make me blush. Plus, you left me with a problem of not being able to decide which five blogs from my blogroll to choose in return. They all make me think in some way or another. If I were forced to choose, it would probably just mean that I would crush on my usual suspects who get the most mention on my blog already (You know who you are).

I am, therefore, taking the lame way out and changing the Thinking Blog meme to my own rules. Yeah, I am a rebel like that. Rather than choosing blogs that already have tons of readers, here are five blogs that I think should have more readers/commentators. They all have GayProf’s Magical Seal of Approval©:

    1. Un-Cool – I only recently found this blog, but I adore it already. Lina, a British woman currently at work on a MA thesis, takes a distinctive and irreverent view of everything, but especially towards sex and gender. Hate it or love it. Either way, she should be having hundreds of comments on her provocative entries.

    2. Mercy O. Warren – Truth in advertising, I knew Mercy when neither of us had a blog. Still, she is bringing sexy back to the eighteenth century. Looking for arcane knowledge about the drafters of the Constitution? Have you ever wondered what an elite Massachusetts woman would do with a blog if such things existed in 1789? Mercy is your gal (though she should update – ahem).

    3. Earl Cootie – When I think of a gay 1950s gas-station attendant crossed with an imaginary childhood aliment, I think Earl Cootie. Sure, he has a peculiar obsession with the Aves world. What gay man doesn’t? Well, okay, I don’t. And, come to think of it, none of my friends do either. Still, Earl has a sense of humor that I adore, even if he is a birder (which always sounds more dirty than it should).

    4. All Things Bitter – Have you wondered what gay life is like in Nebraska? Neither did I –- until I read All Things Bitter. It turns out that gay life in Nebraska leaves one, well, rancorous on pop-culture issues.

    5. V.U.B.O.Q. To my mind, VUBOQ updates his blog at an ideal level. Usually he posts more than once a day, which means that you can count on him as a return-visit blog when you are “working.” His real-life cousin will soon be my neighbor, as well.

    Finally, this man clearly has good taste as he won the CoG prize for knowing a [disturbing] amount about me:

DykeWife and Screw Bronze! (Maybe others?) Also tagged me for the “Eight Facts” meme. The rules for it are pretty straightforward:

* each player lists 8 facts about themselves
* the rules of the game appear before the facts do
* the player ends by tagging 8 people

So, here are eight things that you might or might not know about little GayProf:

    1. I am color blind. This realization first came when I was in third grade and was tested in school. The nurse gave me one of those books with multicolored dots and told me to trace the maze or name the shape/image on each page. I thought that she was nuts. All the pages were just a jumble of dots. She seemed so adamant, though, and I was eager to please. So I just made up a path through the dots in order to placate her her. She then told me to inform my parents that I was color blind.

    Funny thing when you tell an eight-year old that they are color blind, they only hear the operative word “blind.” I therefore concluded that I would soon be as feeble as Mary Ingalls from t.v. Out of bravery, I decided to conceal this information from my parents lest they worry. I was resigned that I would slowly lose my sight, but do it quietly and without complaint.

    The nurse exposed my lie of omission when she phoned later in the week as a follow up (I guess to make sure that my parents weren’t enrolling me in flight school). My mother was fairly confused as to why I burst into tears over it.

    My form of color blindness is not the most severe version. I can tell the difference between primary red and primary green. If, however, red or green are mixed with any other color, they “disappear” from my vision and I only see the other color. Therefore, the color purple is more of a theoretical than a reality to me. For my eyes, it just looks blue. Take note: If I say anything about pink, turquoise, or purple, I am just bluffing.

    2. I have never gotten tired of the view from the Red Line when it crosses the Longfellow Bridge. Indeed, it is my favorite part of the whole T system. There is something great about seeing the Charles River and the Boston skyline after you emerge from the subway tunnel that always makes me smile. It could be sunny, raining, foggy, or snowing, but the effect has been the same.

    Now that I am moving, alas, I will have to watch the reruns of Spenser for Hire to remember these good times (Though the actually journey from Kendall Station to Park Station is oddly much longer in the intro than it really is in life. Inexplicably, the train also skips the Charles/M.G.H. Station in Spenser's version of Boston).

    3. I use clothes dryers very sparsely. For one, clothes dryers take up lots of energy and are, therefore, bad for the environment. Two, they are also rough on your clothes. I much prefer to allow things to dry on their own. The exception would be sheets, towels, and underwear.

    4. I have a list of cities in North America that I consider my ideal places to live. Currently, the top four are Boston, Chicago, Montréal, and Albuquerque. I have applied for jobs in all of those cities at one point or another, but nothing permanent has panned out.

    5. My credit rating is in the crapper right now. I probably wouldn’t even qualify for financing on a Vespa. Eighteen months of trying to pay both rent and my part of a mortgage meant that I often missed payments on other things. Though I am starting to get things under control again, it will take some time to fully fix everything.

    6. I am very allergic to juniper (a coniferous plant). Because junipers require less water than many other plants of their size, they are frequently used in New Mexico for landscaping. This meant that Spring was hell (HELL) for me when I was growing up. It also took a significant amount of time before I figured out why gin made me instantly ill. Gin’s flavor comes from juniper berries.

    7. During my undergraduate years, I took one semester of Russian. It was a heady time. The Soviet Union was collapsing and I thought it would be a diplomatic gesture for me to learn more about our former national enemy.

    It turns out that I have zero (o) talent for learning foreign languages. All that I remember from that class was how to say, "Excuse me, please, where is the Bolshoi theater?" On the plus side, though, learning to write with a different alphabet improved my handwriting in English (true story).

    8. I have surprisingly strong feelings that Michael Gambon should be fired from the Harry Potter movies. I don’t begrudge him his distinguished acting career, but he has made a terrible Dumbledore.

    I know that Richard Harris died. It would be unseemly, and possibly illegal, to dig up his corpse and reanimate it using robotic technology. Still, that would be preferable than watching the abysmal Gambon, who has ruined every scene in which he has appeared in the Potter movies. Luckily, he had very little screen time in the most recent film (though still did a terrible job).

    At first, I was confused about why Gambon portrayed the wizard as a hippie or a bizarre beach comber when that was not, in any way, implied in the books. Then I learned that he didn’t really work very hard at the role. "I don't have to play anyone really,” the actor told the press, “I just stick on a beard and play me, so it’s no great feat.”

    By his own admission, Gambon is simply not doing his job. Acting requires work and dedication in learning a character. His attitude about not needing to bother with that for Dumbledore has shown in his wretched performances. Warner Brothers should fire him immediately and replace him with Ian McKellen.

Given my slowness in responding to tags, it would seem hypocritical to tag other bloggers. You will know if these memes are right for you.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

If By "Gay," You Mean Happy

I have returned again to the Greater Boston Area. Alas, I had to turn down some friends’ offer to join them in P-Town this weekend because of the astounding amount of work that I need to accomplish before moving to Midwestern Funky Town. Have I mentioned previously that moving sucks?

Beyond mourning my departure from Boston and bemoaning my lack of P-Town time, I have also been thinking about a series of comments made by friends while I was in Texas. Who knew that such a short visit to Texas could provide so much blog fodder? Or perhaps I am just obsessed with the Lone Star State in a pathological way. Whichever. . .

From time to time, I heard mention of the local gay bar. One of the nights that I was there, I even suggested to a Sassy friend that perhaps we should check it out. My friend (who, btw, identifies as hetero herself) observed that there was little reason to go that bar as its patrons were almost entirely college-aged heteros, despite its alleged status as the town’s only gay locale.

This got me to thinking about the politics of queer space in a place like a small Eastern-Texas town. Before we start, though, let me make it clear that I am not suggesting that we need to institute “queer-only” spaces. I don’t, for instance, support the Australian guy who wants to ban heteros from his gay bar. Nor am I suggesting that heteros who go to gay bars are somehow out of place or unwelcome.

Queer spaces have usually been created as places that are intentionally open to everybody. It seems to me that trying to exclude people from those spaces would be counter to the notions of sexual freedom for which we fight. I also think that devoting any effort to policing space based on ideas of who “belongs” and those who don’t establishes very bad precedents indeed.

With that acknowledgment, I would suggest that debates about urban space are prevalent both within the queer community and also between the queer community and others. In Los Angeles, for instance, queers are experimenting with claiming allegedly “hetero” places for brief periods. The New York Times featured an article on July 22, 2007 about “flash mobs” of gay men showing up to straight locales, such as bars, and temporarily turning them “gay.”

Yet, the leaders' explanations about these assemblages don’t seem to be about remaking the urban landscape per se. Rather, they argue that their activities are in opposition to already established gay bars and clubs. Matthew Poe, an organizer for the flash mobs, stated that he sees it as a means to break down queer spaces. “There’s a place for gay bars," Poe said, "but we feel gay people have become so segregated that some of them don’t go out into the wider community anymore.”

I confess that I am confused about how taking over a place with hundreds of gay men (who quickly outnumber the hetero population) really places one within a “wider community.” Nor do I like the idea of repudiating other queer spaces as if they exist outside of our society. Right now, though, there is a certain vogue in queers critiquing queer places. This has lead to others hysterically predicting the demise of gay bars as we know them.

As I have mentioned previously, I actually have little fear that queer spaces will simply disappear. Men and women interested in same-sex sex are always going to want a place where they can meet people like themselves for sex and/or relationships. Mixed crowds are too much effort when you want a sure thing.

Still, we are seeing changes as the queer community adjusts to the internet, a renewed emphasis on marriage, and altered attitudes about sexuality. Boston and other major cities are grappling with keeping gay bars viable, but the ones that remain are still largely queer (but welcome most people (assuming one wears the appropriate costume. (As an aside, I so prefer the Boston model of gay bar where the emphasis is on drinking over dancing. Bostonians have the good sense not to be distracted from the real goal of going to a bar (besides sex with men))).

The case of the bar in Texas, however, raises a different set of issues than all of that. This is a question of appropriation in a place where queer civil rights are actively undermined by the majority population. This is not about queers finding new spaces, but rather about one of the few queer spaces being turned into something else.

When I first moved to that Texas town, there was not a single gay meeting spot in the entire community. For a place with a substantial college-aged population, that seemed shocking to me. Then again, it was Texas. They don’t like things that they imagine scare the horses.

After a couple of years, some enterprising fellows from Austin (or was it Dallas?) decided that there were, indeed, queers looking to spend their money on beer and a half-way decent cocktail. To open, though, they had to largely down-play the “gayness” of the bar. The town leaders who issued building permits and licenses preferred that it be called a “video bar.” So, the bar couldn’t advertise directly that it was a gay bar, but could let it be known that it was a gay bar through word of mouth. Yes, Texas still operates as it if is 1966.

To the credit of the owners, when the bar opened its doors, it was probably the nicest one in town. Whereas most of the other local drinking establishments were either covered in sawdust or attached to a chain restaurant, this one actually offered mixed drinks and a functioning dance floor (Which, as I have mentioned, isn’t my preferred style of gay bar, but they didn’t build it for me).

I showed up only a handful of times in my remaining time in Texas. Each time, I observed that it was becoming less and less queer. By my last visit, the hetero couples (most of whom were college students) far outnumbered the queer patrons (perhaps even as much as two to one).

“But, GayProf,” I hear some asking, “How could you have a problem with people just looking for a drink and a good time? What difference does it make? Also, who shot J.R.?” I actually don’t care about people being out looking for a good time. The bar’s niceness makes it easy to understand why people of all sexualities found it appealing. If I were a young[er] hetero or queer living in that town (Thank the goddess, I am not), it would make sense to turn to it. And Kristin Shepard shot J.R.

The problem, it seems to me, is that many heterosexuals have confused their own ability to access queer spaces with queer people having civil rights or social equality. Many imagine that because seeing queer people is no longer taboo for them that this must mean that everything is just fine for the queers.

There is a general conflation of their own “indifference” with real change. Indifference, however, is not the same as equality. Just because these hetero Texans are willing to sip margaritas and share a dance floor with (the rapidly shrinking number of) queer patrons doesn't mean they have struck a blow for social justice.

It is more likely that the hetero Texan patrons of the bar enjoy the space as novel and unique. Queer spaces are still forbidden enough that they are exciting, but made safe through the preponderance of heteros who overtake them. It was always my impression that heteros never appeared in that gay bar alone. Instead, they traveled as either hetero couples or in groups of single women. At all times, their heterosexuality was asserted to avoid any "confusion."

Perhaps there is some historical retribution at play here. Maybe as the gay Carl Van Vechten unabashedly took advantage of African American spaces for his own entertainment and to make himself wealthy, so now heteros are playing out their slumming fantasies amongst the gays. Shall we call this phenomena the Curse of Van Vechten? Can the novel Faggot Heaven be far from hitting the bookshelves? Or, given the digital age, it will probably appear as a miniseries on Bravo Network.

Whatever the case, I am willing to bet that most of the patrons in that bar largely ignore how queer people are actually treated in day-to-day life in the city and state. That is assuming that they are even aware enough to ignore how queer people are treated. If we assume that the hetero bar patrons match the voting patterns of their community, a substantial majority of them are also voting for candidates and parties that are actively hostile to queer people.

The bar patrons conveniently overlook that Texas has passed several laws and a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. They likewise turn a blind eye to hate crimes committed almost daily against queer people in the state. This includes the June 4 murder of Kenneth Cummings Jr., a Southwest flight Attendant, in Houston, Texas. The man who confessed to Cummings’ murder claimed that he was “doing God’s work” when he set out to a local gay bar to find his victim.

Queer spaces are needed in places like Texas because it is still not safe to be queer in the state (or, really, the rest of the nation, either). If hetero Texans want to be our guests in those spaces, it seems reasonable to expect that they commit to fighting for our rights as well. You can have a drink, but it's going to cost you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gotta Move On. . .

I have arrived for a brief layover in Midwestern Funky Town. It is how I remember it: Midwestern and funky. For those who are tracking GayProf’s journeys across the nation, you will know that I am just here to deposit my car before returning to Boston for the final move (*sob* to leaving Boston).

Moving still sucks. Right now I am having arcane banking issues. Who knew, for instance, that check cards had daily limits that were much less than your actual account balance? Nobody told me this! Or, if they did tell me, clearly they weren’t attractive enough for me to bother listening to them. We’ve been through this before, people. Important financial rules and regulations should only be delivered to GayProf by muscular, brown-eyed men (preferably from Southern Spain).

While I am complaining, let me also mention that while in Texas I wore some new shoes that totally trashed my feet. I now have quarter-inch-deep slashes on both of my ankles. Even though I obtained another pair of shoes (basically canvas slippers) days ago, my wounds are still bleeding. Given how painful they are, I can only assume that many of my faithful readers are spontaneously developing sympathy sores on their own ankles. It must surely be a version of gay stigmata. Wounds for fashion are, after all, the most holy.

My oozing sores aside, driving through the center of the nation reminded me of things that I had not thought about in quite some time. It’s surprisingly easy when you live in the greater Boston area to forget about what is actually happening in the nation west of Worcester. Actually, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that there is a nation west of Worcester.

Of course, I am kidding. Nobody thinks about Worcester.

On the long drive, however, I had plenty of contact with the South and Midwest. These encounters are good “reality checks” for me. For instance, many of my friends and I have constantly chatted about Bush’s approval rating. It is one of the lowest (soon to be the lowest) that any president has ever had. Yet, he still has the support of around 30 percent of the nation. “Who?” we always ask, “Who are these people that compose the 30 percent?” Texas provided the answer.

No sooner had I literally set foot on my former campus when I saw a student wearing a “Texans for Bush” t-shirt. No, he did not wear it with irony nor was he attempting a naughty double-entendre. It turns out that Bush still has quite a lot of support in Eastern Texas. People there will even choose their garments to demonstrate their love for the man despite his tanking the economy, hiding in a bunker on September 11, trashing the environment, starting wars, screwing-over the veterans of those wars, and using the Constitution as a Depends undergarment.

Of course, it’s easy to criticize Texas. It’s fun, too. All the same, this type of extreme conservatism isn’t just limited to the Lone Star State. Illinois surprised me with the number of right-wing road signs that dotted the highway.

The Land of Lincoln, unlike Texas, is a state that I actually like. For starters, it has my favorite city in the United States: Chicago. Boston is darn close to toppling Chicago, but the MBTA needs to start building more subway track for that to happen. I don’t mean zombie green-line track, either. I mean real subway track that is actually sub.

Annnnyway, because Illinois has Chicago as well as its own MFT in the form of Champaign/Urbana, I always thought of it as a nice blue zone. So, I was a little taken aback by the unending religious bill boards. You know the types that I mean. They usually say things like, “Gay Marriage Makes Baby Jesus Cry” or “Jesus Eats Satisfying Snickers Bars” or whatever it is that ultra-Conservatives believe that people want to read on the highway.

More than those messages, though, I was not expecting a barrage of roadside gun propaganda. The most memorable of these attempts was a series of signs that said, “A hooligan would think twice if he knew that his teacher was packing. Guns save lives.” Wow – Somebody at the Ministry of Truth deserves a bonus for that one. Not such “Ignorance is Strength” have they come up with such amazing double speak.

This whole idea of arming teachers really strikes me as bizarre. Some pro-gun loonies always propose these ideas after the nation has a mass shooting. Apparently they think that every school should resemble the O.K. Corral.

These gun folk are also usually pretty inconsistent. They often claim to want the Constitution to be interpreted “literally,” except when it comes to the gun question. They all tend to ignore the “well regulated Militia “ bit of the Second Amendment. I wonder how hard it would be pry the guns out of ultra-conservatives cold hands if ownership meant a tour of duty in Iraq.

Their solution instead is always to hand out more guns. Let me tell you, as somebody who works in a classroom, the solution isn’t to give firearms to teachers and professors. We would be too tempted to use them.

Students who submitted papers two days late would just be asking to be grazed. Taking classes “Pass/Fail” would require Kevlar body armor. Grade grubbers would have to ask themselves if they were feeling lucky before coming to office hours.

Arming professors would also make academic conferences much more entertaining, if not also more deadly. Who would need a quip to retort a tough question about your research when you have a Magnum? For my part, it would sure solve the problem of trying to convince conservative historians that Latino Studies is actually a real academic field.

Maybe that is the best way to convince conservatives of the need for gun control after all. If the nation's lefty historians start looking like their own army, suddenly legislation restricting the sale of fire arms won’t seem nearly so extreme.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

If I Owned Hell and Texas. . .

Greetings from the greatest place on earth! Well, the "greatest" if you have drunk the Kool-Aid and sat through the indoctrination sessions. For everybody else, it’s just Texas.

My return to Texas coincided with the death of Lady Bird Johnson. That made me sad. She was always an underrated person. Let’s be honest, she didn’t have the best chances for being a beloved public figure. Following Jacqueline Kennedy as First Lady must have been miserable. How could one hope to top pill-box hats and historic preservation? I am sure she got tired of hearing things like, "Jackie Kennedy was so young and pretty! Everybody wants to dress like her." or "Jackie Kennedy restored the White House" or "Jackie Kennedy speaks French fluently" or "You know, Jackie Kennedy's husband cheated on her constantly and even slept with Marylin Monroe." Well, maybe Lady Bird never got tired of hearing that last one.

Of course, Lady Bird didn’t help herself by digging bar-b-que pits into the White House lawn. Being from Texas is no excuse for being tacky.

That aside, Lady Bird did at least one thing in her life for which I will forever be grateful: She promoted the continuous seeding of indigenous wildflowers along Texas highways. This made Spring the only desirable time to live in Texas and it was truly spectacular. Trust me, when you live in a flat, colorless void, a little bit of natural color goes a long, long way.

Aside from mourning the death of a national matriarch, my goals for returning to the Lone Star State have been attained. Yesterday, the shipping company came and swooped up the last remaining items that I still had in Texas. Right now, they are hurdling their way to Midwestern Funky Town.

Coming back to this small Texas town has not involved nearly the level of unpleasantness than I expected (knock wood). Don’t get me wrong – Any aspect of moving still sucks. Returning, however, hasn’t really depressed me like I thought that it would. It has made me very, very sweaty (Jesus Christ, it’s hot here), but not depressed.

Probably that has a lot to do with the fact that I know that I am leaving. Most of the bad memories are, well, just memories. If I spend a good amount of time thinking about them, they can make me sad again. So, I don’t. Instead, they are just shadows on the edge of my consciousness about a part of my life long since left behind.

Thanks to a Sassy and generous friend, I am staying a couple more days in Texas for social reasons. I had forgotten and/or taken for granted that there were some really interesting people in town. My time with my Sassy friend, in particular, has been great. She even hand-painted a sassy picture for GayProf:

We have drunk lots and lots of wine and eaten lots and lots of food. We also had a ritual viewing of Legally Blonde.

There have been lunches and cocktails with others in town as well. Still, I long for something outrageously ceremonially to mark my departure. Would it have been so hard for the town to arrange a public holiday where officials spoke about my greatness? Or, at the very least, there could have been a parade so that I could dress like this:

Well, maybe that would be a little silly. Clearly that is a winter hairstyle.

Even without the parade, I have discovered that a good number of people in my former town have found CoG. Why is my secret identity the worst kept secret on the web? Oh, right, because I make only half-assed attempts at concealing it. . . Damn it! Diana Prince made it look so easy.

Oh, well. Time to break out the golden lasso and force them all to forget about me. It's more humane that way. They would try to carry on without me, but they would always feel the crushing void of my absence. To prevent them from accidentally being reminded, I have also removed the entry for Center of Gravitas from the library's card catalog system:

Now I shall rest up before my big drive across the center of the nation. I will close, though, by offering what GayProf would look like should he ever appear as a character on The Simpsons:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Shall Fear No Evil

For the past year, one thing has caused me dread. Now that time is upon me. Today I return to Texas to pack and ship the last of my items still there. Fortunately, it will only be for a short time. Still, I am not looking forward to it. While the politics in Texas are atrocious, my real reluctance derives from the fact that returning will surely dredge up some of the worst memories of my life.

At the same time, I am happy that I will get to see some people who are important to me. Also, I will always be grateful to my former Texas institution for the job that I had.

Once I have completed my task in Texas, I will make the long drive with my car to Midwestern Funky Town. After that, I will fly back to Boston for my last time few weeks here.

In the meantime, here are some things that you might or might not know about the state ofTexas:

    * The Mexican federal government never recognized Texas as an independent nation. When Santa Anna return to Mexico, the Congress disregarded the agreement he made with the Texan forces. For Mexico, Texas was a territory in rebellion.

    * Mexico emancipated all slaves in the republic in 1829. Texas refused to oblige. In 1835, Mexico once again banned slavery within its boundaries. Texas ignored this law.

    * Under Spain and Mexico, Texas was a fraction of its current size. Its current boundary at the Rio Grande was a total Euro-American invention without historical basis. The original boundary of Texas ended at the Nueces River.

    * Texas launched an invasion of New Mexico in 1841 with the intent of claiming it as part of their rebellion. Leaders in Texas believed that they would be greeted as liberators. When they arrived in New Mexico, they were promptly arrested and sent to Mexico City as prisoners. Their defeat was widely celebrated in New Mexico.

    * A nineteenth-century-New-Mexico playwright created a dramatic interpretation of the 1841 Texan defeat. It has my favorite line of dialog ever: “You insolent Texans, how dare you profane the territory of Mexicans?”

    * During the U.S. Civil War, Texas attempted to invade New Mexico again. They were defeated again by the predominantly Mexican Union Army stationed in New Mexico.

    * Dr Pepper was invented in Texas.

    * El Paso, Texas is geographically closer to Needles, California than it is to Dallas, Texas.

    * Texas had not officially claimed to be an independent nation at the time of the Battle of the Alamo.

    * On January 6, 1915, a radical group of Mexicans issued the “Plan de San Diego.” in San Diego, Texas. Essentially, the plan called for Mexicans, African Americans, and Asians to unite against a common Euro American enemy. As a response to the numerous lynchings suffered by Mexicans and African Americans in Texas, they called for the murder of all Euro American men over the age of 16.

    * Students at the University of Texas voted singer Janis Joplin the “Ugliest Man on Campus” when she was attending the school in the early 1960s.

    * Texas is the nation’s top producer of wool.

    * The song “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was written about an African American woman of mixed ancestry. The titular reference to “yellow” was commonly used in the nineteenth century to describe an African American who had a “lighter” complexion. The original lyrics read:

      She's the sweetest rose of color
      This darky every (sic) knew
      Her eyes are bright as diamonds
      They sparkle like the dew
      You may talk about dearest May
      And sing of Rosa Lee
      But the yellow rose of Texas
      Beats the belles of Tennessee

    In the twentieth century, all references to race were expunged. The new lyrics read:

      She's the sweetest little rosebud
      This soldier ever knew

    * When asked directly about the consequences a 2005 Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage would have on real-life queer Texans, Governor Rick Perry responded, “Texans made a decision about marriage and if there's a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that's a better place for them to live.”

    * Over 2 million children live in poverty in Texas.

    * Has the highest percentage of children without health insurance in the nation at a shocking 20.3 percent.

    * State and Federal environmental agencies have found that the Hayes-Sammons Chemical Co. left a significant amount of toxic waste in the predominately Latino community of South Mission. Efforts by residents to seek compensation for illnesses and deaths related to this contamination have been ignored since 1972. The Texas Supreme Court has refused to hear a case pending since 1999. This story is repeated countless times across the border area.

    * In 2003, school children became required to recite a “Texas Pledge of Allegiance.”

    * On June 15, 2007, the phrase “under God” was added to this Pledge.

    * Texas murders more prisoners as part of state-sponsored executions than any other state in the nation.

    * Texas Penal Code 2016 makes it a felony to sell sex toys in the state.

    * It is also illegal for any individual to own more than five sex toys in Texas. Owning six sex toys is considered “intent to sell” under the Texas law.

    * Texas has three of the largest cities in the U.S.: Houston (Fourth largest), San Antonio (Seventh Largest), and Dallas (Ninth Largest).

    * Texas also has three of the fattest cities in the nation: Houston (The fattest in the nation), Dallas (sixth fattest in the nation), and San Antonio (Tenth fattest).

    * Texas is a non-white majority state. The student body at the University of Texas, however, is less than 15 percent Hispanic and only 3.9 percent African American. At Texas A&M University, 11 percent of the students are Hispanic and around 3 percent identify as African American. The two flagship universities in the state, in other words, do not at all reflect the reality of the state’s population.

    * According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 221 victims of Hate Crimes in Texas in 2005. In other words, in less than every two days, somebody in Texas is attacked based on their perceived race or sexual orientation. This number is also probably a serious undercount as the DOJ is notoriously conservative in considering what constitutes a “hate crime.”

    * John F. Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Moments before he was shot, the wife of the Texas governor, Nellie Conally, told him "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you."

    * It was revealed in 2005 that a captain at Val Verde Correctional Facility and Jail in Del Rio, Texas displayed a picture of himself in a Ku Klux Klan hood on his desk.

    * Houston is currently building an eighteen-lane highway. It’s a not so subtle “Fuck You” to the environment.

    * George Bush, Sr. has his presidential library at Texas A&M University.

    * Faculty at Southern Methodist University have protested a plan to build George Bush, Jr’s library at their university. The alma matter of Laura Bush, the SMU administration is strongly in favor of the idea and has ignored the faculty’s feelings on the matter.

    * The administration of George Bush, Jr’s own alma matter, Yale University, has expressed no interest in placing the library on their campus.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


My last entry has generated enough anxiety that I will take the unusual step of clarifying my feelings on children. While it is generally true that you shouldn't call GayProf as your baby sitter, I am not actually advocating the deportation of children. I apologize for offending my readers. Indeed, I appreciate being challenged. My apologies also go out to children, but they really shouldn’t be reading this blog anyway.

Rest assured, I have no real interest in seeing social services cut off for children. On the contrary, I believe that we should be expanding the scope and range of social services for children. Moreover, I believe that children are some of the most vulnerable citizens in this nation and the ones whose rights are most often disregarded (usually by their own parents).

The last section of the previous entry was intended as a satiric comment on how quickly and easily some people in this nation are willing to shut off access to basic social services for people in our population. When we apply the same standards to another group of humans, in this case children, that notion seems absurd. Or at least that was the attempt, but clearly it functioned poorly given the distress it caused.

Every child, based on their humanity, deserves access to a quality education, healthcare, and a safe living environment. I think, though, that the entire discussion around parenting, children, and the responsibilities of this nation are far out of kilter. Right now we are totally unable to have productive discussions about parenting because it has been moved to a sacrosanct realm.

Notions of parenting, however, need to be interrogated in this nation. Having children is not, for instance, an altruistic gesture for humanity. Indeed, given the amount of resources that U.S. citizens consume, it is quite the opposite. The exception to this would be those people who actually are altruistic and adopt already existing children who didn’t otherwise have a safe home.

In the seventies and eighties, the nation had explicit discussions about the notion of zero population growth and suggested that people needed to carefully consider the consequences of bringing new humans into an overpopulated world (This idea has seemingly become so unpopular in recent years that the organization Zero Population Growth changed its name in 2002 to “Population Connection”).

The earth, however, is still overpopulated. Since 1980, the earth’s population has grown 30 percent. More people mean more consumption and more waste. It means already exhausted urban structures are going to be pushed to the breaking point.

The United States, which accounts for just 5 percent of the world’s population, consumes 25 percent of the word’s resources and produces 25 percent of greenhouse gases. One new human born in the United States will consume 30 times more than a brand new human born in India and 20 times more than a new human in Africa. Much like the individual who imagines it’s not their SUV or giant pickup truck that is the problem, parents in the U.S. assume no accountability that their individual decisions to have children have broader environmental consequences. Actually, in many cases, children become a justification for a gas guzzling SUV.

No, I am not begrudging people in the U.S. who have children, nor am I interested in the government or anybody else meddling in people’s reproductive decisions. As a nation, though, we need to remember that having children is a choice. Nobody is required to have children. Nobody. End of story.

As a nation, we must be able to discuss and accept that individual decisions about having children result in profound consequences for society (and the earth). Having children should be an informed choice that is taken with a serious eye to social responsibility. In the current atmosphere, however, even bringing up the idea that more people need to think about their decision to have children is to invite scorn (mostly because people don’t wish to take responsibility or admit that, indeed, there is a problem).

One of the main ways that we can combat the problem of overpopulation in the United States is to increase the availability and education about birth control. According to research conducted by Guttmacher Institute in New York, nearly half of all new pregnancies in the United States were unintended. That is a shocking number to me and inexcusable for an industrialized nation. Even worse, the rate of couples using contraception declined in the United States over the past five years. Most of this has to do with a simple lack of access. States have slashed funding to family planning programs. Insurance companies are not held accountable for providing birth control. As a result, people are getting pregnant when it is not best for them or their children.

Likewise, the current administration had explicitly aimed to undermine sex education classes. Studies have shown that three in ten women become pregnant at least once before they are 20 years old in the United States. In contrast, only 6 percent of French women in the same age group became pregnant; only 11 percent in Canada became pregnant. Both of those nations had equivalent rates of sexual activity (in other words, women in the U.S. are not simply having more sex and thus become pregnant). Clearly the U.S. is failing to provide basic information. Abstinence Only Education is much like asking people to believe in the Easter Bunny until they are 25 years old.

Given that people are still going to have children (though, I will repeat that this nation should have fewer of them for the sake of the environment), we could also spend more time considering how parenting is imagined. Unfortunately, the message that is being sent to most middle-class and upper class parents right now is that parenting is a competition. Rather than working collectively for a better position for all the nation’s (much less the world’s) children, parents are encouraged to look after only their own. The quasi-realization that resources are increasingly limited has resulted in the idea that parents must create uber-children who can claw their way to the top of the economic pile.

This, it seems to me, is the mentality that has resulted in the current education crisis in the United States. Middle-class and upper class parents ensure that their kids get an education while caring very little about the school ten miles away. Poorer parents, meanwhile, who don’t have the initial resources or knowledge of the system are simply not able to join the aggressive parenting of the middle class.

Moreover, I am disconcerted that we don’t construe parents as guardians of young individuals who have their own civil and human rights. Instead, this nation basically considers children the property of their parents. This, in my mind, leaves children without any real access to justice or basic guarantees to a quality of life. It also creates an atmosphere where child abuse is ignored or even tolerated. An estimated 906,000 children are victims of abuse and neglect every year in the United States. Over 1,500 children die each year because of abuse. To put that another way, four children die in the United States everyday because of abuse or neglect.

Research conducted on deaths resulting from child abuse suggested that neighbors or family often knew, or at least suspected, that abuse had been occurring. Yet, the abuse went unreported because they believed it was a “private” matter.

Finally, we should consider ways to streamline the adoption process so that the already existing children in the world can have homes. Moreover, we need to battle the creepy notion that one must have a biological child of their own. The nation has lots of children who need homes, but they are not being adopted (except newborn white babies).

For a nation that prides itself on being baby-centered, we are grossly failing the children who are actually living in this country. It’s time for less idolization of children and more concrete discussions about how to improve their actual world.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


My fellow Americans, our nation is in a sorry state. The economy is faltering in most sectors. The housing market is in shambles. Though it received almost no media attention, the number of laid off people filing for unemployment rose again at the end of last month. Most of the nation is riddled with personal debt. There is an unending and badly managed war(s).

Yet, in the midst of all this, people like Lou Dobbs want to blame almost all of these problems on migrant workers. I figure if he can point fingers, so can I. Here are my list of people who are responsible for the sorry mess that we are in:

Voters Who Supported George W. Bush

    Oh, sure, Bush’s approval ratings hit a historic low last week and that was before he commuted Scooter Libby’s prison sentence. While I am really glad that people are finally waking up to what a horrible individual Bush actually is, I am also really confused that people are surprised. It’s not like Bush concealed these things during the 2000 or 2004 campaign. If he has abused power and driven the nation to a Constitutional crisis (and he has), it's because people were dumb enough to try and give him that power in the first place.

    Bush didn’t win the 2000 election. More Americans (who bothered to vote at all) voted against him than voted for him. No matter which you sliced that bad-boy up, the end result was that Bush didn’t get the popular vote and he didn’t win Florida. That’s not partisan, that’s just what happened. We didn’t get a chance to find that out, though, because the corrupt Supreme Court stepped into make sure that we didn’t get a fair election (in a 5-4 decision. Sound familiar?). When a real recount was finally done, the media largely made it a footnote because it might undermine the presidency. Yeah, funny how taking office via a bloodless coup leaves a stain of illegitimacy.

    Still, in order to even make that coup plausible, Bush and his team needed a good number of people who did actually vote for him. When it came time for him to run again in 2004, I was astounded that anybody supported him. In his first term, he mismanaged wars, left the nation vulnerable to attack, pursued illegal wiretapping, and gave a pile of money to his cronies at Haliburton.

    It turns out Bush voters hated other people more than they cared about their own interests (or the interests of the nation). They bought into Bush’s scare tactics about the Middle East and terrorism (ignoring the fact that Bush ran away and hid in a bunker on September 11 (yeah, there’s a guy who will keep you safe)).

    Those voters also really hated the gays. Bush promised to keep harassing gays and depriving them of their rights. The mean people who voted for Bush liked that message.

    Bush has lived up to his campaign promises. Read the transcripts of both elections. He never said that he would care about hurricane victims or make sure that everybody had food on the table. Instead, he said explicitly that he would keep us at war, cut taxes for the wealthy, and make sure that heterosexuals have special rights over gay people. As far as I can tell, he has done everything that people voted him to do. They seem surprised that these things didn’t make their lives better.

The State of Texas

    One of the questions that I am asked most often when I meet people through the blog is, “Is Texas really that bad?” That question usually falls somewhere between, “Do you really own all those Wonder Woman comics?” (No) and “Where is Midwestern Funky Town?” (It’s where Democratic Presidents have made numerous important announcements.).

    To my mind, Texas is much worse than people outside the state realize. Before I moved there, I thought that I understood Texas. Hell, I grew up in the neighboring state (which is NOTHING like Texas). Man, did I underestimate Texas and their commitment to hard-core right wing politics.

    People who spend their entire lives in Texas probably have no idea how out of step they actually are with the rest of the nation/continent/world. Truth is, they don’t care, either. Whether on the Texan “left” (which is not at all left) or on the right (which is very far right), Texans won’t change course or listen to criticism even if there is solid evidence that the state is moving in the wrong direction. Texas, to them, is the best place on earth and everybody can go fuck themselves if they disagree.

    Do I mean ever single person in Texas? No, obviously not. It’s a huge state with millions and millions of people. There is a diversity of opinion and perspectives there. I also have family and good friends who still live in Texas.

    All the same, however, there is an atmosphere in Texas that has tacitly condoned/promoted some of the most atrocious things that have happened in this nation over the past decades. People of color have been repeatedly attacked and murdered in the state, for instance, but Texans claim that there is no problem with racism.

    It’s also a bloodthirsty, vengeful state that is responsible for the most state-sponsored executions in the nation over the past decade. As I have mentioned previously, Bush’s actions in the Libby case compared to his time as governor of Texas makes me want to vomit. I don’t believe in the death penalty. For me, the death penalty confuses vengeance with justice. Murder is murder in my book.

    Bush commuted Libby’s two-year prison term because it was just “too harsh.” Yet, as governor of Texas, Bush literally had the power to save 152 individual lives. Instead, he allowed the state of Texas to execute all of those men and women.

    In 2000, the Chicago Tribune reported that in one-third of the cases that Bush refused to commute, the lawyer who represented the death-penalty defendant at trial or on appeal had been or was later disbarred or otherwise sanctioned. Lawyers presented no evidence at all or only one witness at the sentencing phase in 40 cases. The Tribune also uncovered evidence of a pathologist who had admitted faking autopsies. None of that, though, seemed “too harsh” to Governor Bush.

    Bush further did not feel it was “too harsh” to execute a man who was mentally retarded. Nor did he think it in poor taste to make fun of one of his death-row victims. Bush is scum and, as a nation, we can blame Texas for giving him his first grab at power.

    Texas wants the rest of the U.S. to be exactly like it. Turns out, they are winning, too. The Lone Star State has three of the nation’s largest cities within its borders. The rest of the nation has been asleep as Texas power has grown. Kill it now! It's weak when it's feeding! We might still have a chance!

Gluttonous Oil Companies

    In the past seven years, gasoline prices have skyrocketed. While I (smugly) don’t drive in Boston, I know that the price of gas hovers over $3 in this city. Given that I will move to a place that has good, but still limited, public transport, I will resume driving soon. Even my smugness needs to come to an end.

    We have never really had an explanation about this price increase. What we do know, though, is that oil companies under the Bush regime are making unprecedented fortunes.

    Long term solutions to this problem should be all the things that the oil companies loathe. Why not start with a law that restricts ownership of gas guzzling trucks and suv’s to people who actually need such vehicles? If your job is transporting anvils to blacksmiths, I might understand why one would need a ginormous pickup truck. If, on the other hand, people own a gas-guzzling vehicle because they lack a decent set of testicles or ovaries, it’s time to take away their keys. Friends don’t let friends drive ball-less.

    Until we make those changes, though, let’s recognize that the oil companies are screwing consumers. Out of all the economic woes in the nation, the cost of fuel is probably hurting American citizens the most. Yet, blame is evaded.

    I am not one who encourages people to “judge a book by it’s cover.” Still, I would like to ask those who put so much effort and passion into keeping Mexican workers out of the nation to compare these two pictures:

    One is the leader of Exxon:

    And one is a Mexican worker:

    Who do you really think is benefiting from current economic and social polices in the U.S.? Who do you think is taking money directly out of your personal pocket? Who do you think fed Boba Fett to the Sarlacc?

Any Person Who Has Ever Been on MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen – Ever

    Some question why there is so much hostility to the United States among different nations in the world. Tune into any episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen and all will be clear. A more spoiled, ill-informed, self-serving group of people one will never find. Any family who consents to giving their child one of these parties should immediately forfeit their wealth and be sent to build aqueducts in the middle of a desert.

    In some cases, teenagers on the show have spent over $200,000 on their little birthday parties. Sure, people are starving, but that’s no reason why Stacy can’t have a dozen stretch limos and invitations that are really engraved MP3 Players.

    From what I understand (Truth in advertising: I have never been able to watch more than a few moments before becoming so disgusted that I had to switch the channel. My knowledge comes from a story in the New York Times), the end of the show culminates with the guest of honor being presented with a new car. I hate to sound old fashioned, but back in my day, we had to earn our cars. Or at least we had to give Bob Barker the accurate price for a can of peas.

People Who Don't Rack Their Weights at the Gym

    Since I was in kindergarten, I have been told to pick up after myself in public spaces. Yet, time and time again I arrive at the gym to find that somebody has left all of their weights sitting on the bar. This has two major problems: 1) I don't know if the bar is free or if they have just wondered off for water and 2) I now have to shelve their weights for them.

    This is a matter of national pride. If the weights aren't racked, I get frustrated. If I get frustrated, I lose interest in going to the gym. If I lose interest in going to the gym, I get fat. Because I am a symbol of the nation, this makes everybody feel bad. Chaos ensues and freedom dies.

    Rack the weights.

Baroness Paula Von Gunther

    Most people don’t know the name. Based on my careful research, however, I have concluded that von Gunther has a darker and more cruel soul than Dick Cheney. Well, okay, that’s an exaggeration. Dick Cheney doesn't have a soul at all.

    Still, von Gunther has a long list of misdeeds. There are many unsolved murders connected with von Gunther. Plus, allegations exist that she sabotaged a cruise ship. It’s also well known that the Baroness has fomented hate and U.S. versions of the gestapo. She has even manipulated the nation’s milk supply in order to rob our citizens of their basic calcium.

    Oh, sure, the Baroness claims to be “reformed.” I don’t believe it for a second!


    When I look around, I see one segment of society that is not at all pulling their weight: children. Quite the contrary, the nation has become obsessed with this parasitic infection of our great lands.

    Wherever children go, they leave drooly and/or stinking messes. They create unbearable noise pollution. I can also attest that children are solely responsible for the nation’s problems with the sticky.

    They eat and eat, but provide nothing in return. Don’t tell me how cute they are, either. We all know that is a dirty lie.

    When Republicans complain about illegal immigrants taking social services, let me remind them that millions and millions of children are responsible for huge drains on our economic resources. At least as a nation we have the good sense not to offer children basic access to health care or guarantee their rights as humans. Won't somebody blame the children?

    Still, those schools are awfully pricey. Get rid of the children and we will have all sorts of money to ourselves. Let’s shorten “No Child Left Behind” to “No Child.”

Monday, July 02, 2007

We Were Never Blind, But When Will We See?

This morning I met Luciferus for an ungodly early morning cup of coffee. Well, at least it was ungodly early for my night-owlish self (9:30 am! I didn’t know anybody was even allowed on the streets at that hour!).

The conversation turned to politics and the crummy state of the union. During our talk, I mentioned that I have been having a hard time responding to last week’s dreadful 5-4 Supreme Court decisions without sounding rancorous – Well, without sounding more rancorous than usual.

Reading a variety of left-leaning blogs, there’s seemingly a general feeling of nausea over the court’s ruling. Most are also imagining it as a symbolic statement about the direction of the nation.

For those who don’t know, last week the Supreme Court severely limited the ability of public schools to consider race as a factor to achieve racial integration. The actual case before the court centered on Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky. The New York Times noted that Seattle has long been a severely segregated city. Efforts to integrate have been slow and hard fought. This new ruling allows the city to simply stop trying. Indeed, Seattle actually stopped taking race into consideration in school decisions in 2002. District officials, therefore, have claimed that the Supreme Court decision endorses their current practices.

We are already seeing the rapid effects of these changes in Seattle. Sixty percent of all school-aged children in Seattle are non-white. The Times reported that the gentrified community of Ballard, however, saw its high school enrollment drop from having a 43 percent nonwhite student body in 2002 to a 37 percent nonwhite student body today (and those numbers will likely continue to decrease). Whites in Ballard don't appear particularly concerned that their school doesn't reflect the reality of the city's school-aged population. The new rhetoric of a "color-blind" society seems to imply that they simply don't want to see people of color.

Of course, those of us living in Boston shouldn’t be smug at all. The Northeast has the highest levels of racial segregation in the nation. Even in zones considered “liberal” like the Pacific Northwest or the Northeast, de facto segregation is becoming the norm once again.

Chief Justice John Roberts glibly promised that pretending that race doesn’t matter in this nation will make it so. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” he wrote, “is to stop discrimination on the basis of race.” Wow – That’s brilliant! With such astounding powers of logic, it’s easy to see how such a brainiac became the Chief Justice of our nation’s highest court.

This reminds me of an AP poll conducted last year for Martin Luther King, Jr Day that triumphantly reported that three-quarters of respondents believed that racism was basically a thing of the past. Well, until the AP started asking African Americans. Surprise, surprise – Two-thirds of African Americans (you know, one of the groups of people who actually suffers under racism) said that racism is still a major problem for the nation.

Historically, the majority of whites have never considered racism a problem in this nation (even during the days of race-based slavery). When one has always been in a privileged position, it doesn't seem like privilege. It just seems like reality. To achieve the changes that occurred required a collation between African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and a minority of whites willing to fight for change.

It’s not unexpected that Roberts confidently ignores that race already plays a major factor in where students attend school. Well, at least race plays an important role in deciding where one goes to school if one is not white (despite the fact that most of the media attention and court cases involve parents of entitled white kids who feel that depriving others of equal opportunity will somehow improve their own lot in life (which it doesn’t)).

For me, the court ruling merely institutionalized what has already been happening in this nation for over a decade. Whether or not the Supreme Court made this ruling, the reality is that we are already living in a more segregated society now than we did fifteen years ago.

According to research accumulated by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, 73 percent of African American and 77 percent of Latino students attend predominantly minority schools, or schools where more than half of students are nonwhite, in the U.S. Moreover, over a third of African American (38 percent) and Latino students (39 percent) attended racially isolated minority schools in which less than ten percent of students are white.

Many people ask why this matters? Among many other reasons, it matters because race and class are intimately linked in this nation. Because school funding and resources are often proportional to the tax base of their local communities, minority-dominated schools often receive less funding and often have difficulty recruiting or retaining teachers.

Given these trends, it’s also little wonder that the Congress failed to pass immigration “reform” last week. Congress and the Court made the nation’s message clear: The U.S. can’t possibly consider granting citizenship to more Mexicans. After all, the U.S. isn’t finished oppressing the African Americans and Latinos who are already citizens. The U.S. likes to finish what it starts – When it has sufficiently harassed its own citizens, it will consider making new ones. Hey, it’s only one nation. It has to focus its efforts.

While I thought the proposed immigration bill had many, many problems (like ignoring the best interests of the actual immigrants), it didn’t take an extra eye to see that the immigration “debate” really focused on questions of race. There was little, if any, discussion of white Canadians or Europeans taking skilled jobs away from U.S. citizens. Instead, the media and right-wing Republicans whipped up a frenzy. One has to only catch a few seconds of Lou Dobbs to imagine that Mexicans are invading the nation, spreading disease, and draining the healthcare system. Under the rhetoric, Mexican immigrants are not individuals who seek their basic human needs in a new nation. Instead, Mexicans become a menacing horde who threaten the fabric of [white] society. Single Mexican women scale fences while eight months pregnant just to drop their babies at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.

Time and time again, all of these claims have been refuted with research (from a variety of sources and political leanings). Under the most generous estimates, undocumented workers in this nation number between three to five million people. That is less than 2 percent of the total population in the United States. Somehow, I don’t think that the problems of 98 percent of the people in this nation derive from this single group.

Undocumented workers are also less than a third of all the immigrants entering the U.S. (Contrary to the notion that most immigrants are “illegal”). Moreover, immigrants generate a net tax surplus (local, state, and federal taxes) of $25 to $30 billion. In other words, immigrants pay more taxes than they actually use in civic services (schools, health care, etc).

Life in the United States is getting worse for most Americans. Yet, the American public allows itself to be distracted with scapegoats. Since the Reagan-80s, the federal government has increasingly cut funds for civic services while also granting major tax breaks to corporations and the extremely wealthy. Because federal funds are stretched tight, everybody is feeling the effects. We should all also be very, very frightened by the way that the Bush government has handled the economy (the U.S. dollar has become increasingly devalued in the world scene. A British pound sterling, for instance, is now worth over $2 US (an exchange rate that has not been seen in 26 years). The Euro, similarly, is close to surpassing its all time high against the rapidly declining U.S. currency).

Whites have a right to be angry and dissatisfied with a government that has failed to provide guaranteed access to a quality education, health care, and security. Yet, the majority of whites are buying into a heavy mythology that promises all will be solved by a “color-blind society” (that simultaneously keeps out Mexican immigrants). They don’t question that their own lives are impacted by the unfair distribution of wealth in this nation. Rather, the blame is placed on the backs of the nation’s minorities and immigrants. Until this nation recognizes that depriving others of their rights does nothing to improve one’s own life, the U.S. is lost.