Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ethnic Studies is for Everyone

Arizona’s legislature and governor recently decided to try to end ethnic studies within the state’s public schools. While it might be easy to ridicule Arizona (fun, too), we should be careful about assuming that the Grand Canyon state is anomalous in these efforts. It is merely one piece of an increasingly reactionary right-wing effort to control education curriculum. Far-right members of the Board of Education in Texas also recently attempted to alter that state’s “social studies” standards with a similar philosophy as Arizona: Students shouldn’t learn anything about this nation’s past that might make them feel bad.

One of the more astounding elements in the Texas changes is that they sought to downplay Thomas Jefferson’s role within the curriculum because of his critique of Christianity. That’s deep, man. How much more conservative can Texas get? When you start thinking that one of the slave-holding, elite “founding fathers” was just “too liberal” you know you’ve crossed into a new horizon of crazy. I imagine that the only place further to the political right you could go next would be to start arguing that George III wasn’t such a bad guy after all. Next thing you know, the Texas school board will be suggesting that the U.S. war for Independence was just some socialist conspiracy, what with their demands for a government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.

Leaders in Arizona couched their animosity to ethnic studies as really being about defending the ideals of the nation. Tom Horne, the architect of Arizona’s measure, pulled off a neat rhetorical trick that the right has found so useful these days. He posited that programs initiated to combat institutional racism are, in fact, the “real racism.” “The most offensive thing to me, fundamentally, is dividing kids by race,” Horne stated to the New York Times. Tucson’s ethnic studies programs (where Latino/a children make up 56 percent of the students enrolled) particularly irked Horne. He claimed that existing Mexican-American classes “are teaching a radical ideology in Raza, including that Arizona and other states were stolen from Mexico and should be given back.” Of course, Horne never bothered to actually attend any of these classes or find out their daily content. Nope. Why worry about things like that when you are ceratin you are right?

Really Horne gives ethnic studies teachers/professors too much credit. As I often say, I can’t convince my students of the need to use the spell checker before they submit their assignments, much less alter their political views about the nation (nor is that my goal).

Horne wants a new curriculum that depicts his fairytale version of the nation with an education focused on the “individual” How one can talk about a nation only through individuality seems to be a paradox to me, but what do I know?

Now, I haven’t been involved in Arizona’s ethnic studies programs, so I am as ignorant as Horne to their particular content. It would be foolish to comment about it without more first hand knowledge. So, the rest of this post is not about the Arizona public schools in particular.

I do know ethnic studies programs broadly, though, and can imagine that Horne is operating off of some pretty outdated notions of Chicano Studies. Most Chicano/a Studies programs would indeed encourage students to question the intent and results of the U.S. Mexican War. In doing so, they aren’t offering a radical reinterpretation of historical events, but instead offering students opportunities to think critically about hotly contested issues that were, in fact, alive in the nineteenth century (even Abraham Lincoln believed the U.S.’s rationale for the war to be dubious). But when was the last time that you heard any Latino/a scholar, politician, or activist invoke Chicano nationalism (the idea that the U.S. is unredeemable and Chicano/as should break off to form a separate nation)? That form of Chicano nationalism has dropped out of the popular discourse so much that I have to explain the very idea to my students when we reach the sixties and seventies. Otherwise they assume “Chicano nationalists” were deeply patriotic toward the U.S. So, you might say that Horne and his ilk are battling the Ghost of Chicano Past.

These recent moves in Texas and Arizona suggest that the far right is looking to win votes by appealing to people’s worst intentions. Apparently hating the gays isn’t the vote getter that it used to be for the GOP, so they are reverting back to the tried-and-true in U.S. history: exploiting anxieties about racial difference.

All of this comes at the same time that there has been a lot of hand wringing at Big Midwestern University about the future of its own ethnic studies programs. The omnipresent budget crisis that exists across academia has led some to suggest that ethnic studies programs are unnecessarily costly. This is somewhat absurd given that ethnic studies programs’ operating costs aren’t even a drop in the bucket of the whole university. Nonetheless, cuts must be made somewhere. Proposals have ranged anywhere from eliminating Chicano/a Studies and other ES programs entirely to creating a monolithic ethnic studies program that will “include everybody.” While most scholars (and anybody who thinks for more than five minutes) discount the idea that we now live in a “post-racial nation,” some are nonetheless suggesting that individual ethnic studies programs have passed their prime. Previous arguments that the individual units each provide much needed and distinct service to the campus by providing diversity no longer hold. The message has been clear: The ethnic studies programs must adapt to the current model of consumer student demands or die. BMU wants to see students in seats. With all of these attacks on ethnic studies programs, we may well ask, have ethnic studies programs become anachronistic?

Readers won’t be surprised to learn that I think it is premature to dig a grave for ethnic studies. Besides, when the time comes, ethnic studies would much rather be cremated.

Ethnic Studies Programs still address key needs within the nation’s schools and universities. Rather than shirking from these attacks or going on the defensive, it may well be worth the effort for ethnic studies programs to reevaluate their core missions and goals. For my part, I’ll talk specifically about Latino Studies.

No single history or literature class can cover everything about the United States in great detail. Added into that is the fact that many (most?) U.S. history professors and teachers continue to omit any mention of Laitno/as at all in their course content. Specific courses on ethnic groups permit us to consider unique experiences within the U.S. They provide basic knowledge that all citizens in the U.S. can use. Had he taken a Latino Studies course, for instance, Vaughn Ward, the Republican congressional candidate from Idaho, might not have made the huge gaffe of declaring Puerto Rico a separate country.

As many attempted to point out in the Arizona case,“heritage” students do find education more rewarding and personally relevant if they are able to engage with materials related to their own sense of cultural and racial identity. Ethnic studies units provide support and a fundamental knowledge about the histories, experiences, and artistic expressions of groups that are not often discussed.

It is a mistake, though, to assume that ethnic studies programs can (or do) only serve “ethnic” students. Horne and others erroneously imagined that the existing Chicano/a studies programs excluded non-Latino/a students (which they did not). On the contrary, regardless of a student’s personal racial identity, ethnic studies programs provide a cultural and intellectual competence to think critically about this increasingly diverse nation. Race-studies units work in partnership with women’s studies and LGBTQQ studies to provide alternative perspectives on the history and experiences of various groups within the United States.

Much to Horne’s dismay, ethnic studies programs reveal that this country wasn’t (isn’t) always a fair place. Certainly the nation has given Horne a good ride, a nice standard of living, and political access. Had he learned more about ethnic studies, though, he would learn that his individual experience cannot be translated to an entire nation’s worth of people. Racism, homophobia, sexism, and other forms of social inequalities have prevented the country from living up to its self proclaimed goals. Indeed, he might even ask the historical question, “If the U.S. is a land of such opportunity and egalitarianism, just why did Chicano/a activists ever advocate breaking off from it?” Chicano/a activists in the sixties and seventies developed cultural-historical narratives that were therapeutic at the time, but as mythical as Horne’s imagining of a race-blind U.S. He could condemn Chicano/a activists if he likes, but their experiences and strategies are nonetheless part of U.S. history.

Providing exposure to the unique experiences of ethnic groups remains a key element of ethnic studies programs. To expand their usefulness and explain their value to those seeking to trim the budget, ethnic studies programs will need to establish themselves as providing key support for students in a variety of careers. While politicians and scholars are losing sleep about the future of ethnic studies programs, professionals in health, law, education, and marketing are already well aware of the potential value of ethnic studies. These are fields that see first hand the rapid transformation of this nation and the emergence of Latinos as the nation’s largest minority. These are also fields that are desperate for professionals who have the cultural competence to enhance their services to diverse populations.

To end, I’ll say that I am always surprised when folks like Mr. Horne accuse professionals in ethnic studies of being irrationally angry or “hating America.” Where do I hear people saying that we should hate the government? It seems to me that these days that message is much more likely to come from the right wing Tea baggers. They tend to ignore that the current government was elected by a hefty majority of voters or that their radical views are far outside of the mainstream.

Ethnic studies, women’s studies, LGBTQQ studies, disability studies, and others do remind us that the nation has lots more work to do before it can claim to be governed by the consent of the people. People on the right are mistaken, however, if they imagine that these units are fueled by anger. On the contrary, these units actually have a tremendous optimism that the future can be better than the past for everybody in the country. Pointing out institutional inequities isn’t the end game for ethnic studies. Ethnic studies programs also interrogate the variety of strategies that various groups have employed to battle and transform institutional inequalities. Scholars in those fields have faith that learning from the hard work of previous generations will ultimately lead to the nation becoming the egalitarian republic it pledges to be.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Amazon Sisters are Doing it for Themselves

Join me today for the final section of "Inside the Blogging Studio with Bourgeois Nerd." If you are just tuning in, and surprised to find out that this blog has new content, do read Part I and II


Bourgeois Nerd (BN): What do you think your blog audience is? I get the impression that yours is much more diverse than mine. It’s harder to tell, since I don’t get the kind of comment feedback you do, but I’m definitely very much a gay man blog, whereas you have more women and straight people.

GayProf (GP): I have been really lucky that some mighty cool people have stopped by to read my blog. Some of the people that I have met (either virtually or in RL) through the blog have been absolutely the best (with just a few exceptions).

Over time, I think CoG’s readers have shifted a bit. Now that most of my posts tend to be about the academic world, my audience has predictably shifted to more professors and such. In the start, though, I had very few academics reading the blog. I think it depends on the content that you are producing. Your "Skimpy Sundays" probably draws a particular crowd of **ahem** fashionable men.

My truly loyal readers are my legions of fellow Amazons. Great Hera! What would I do without them?

BN: There is a very thriving academic blogosphere. It’s actually been around since I started reading blogs; academic blogs were among the first ones I read.

Are there any bloggers you wish you could be?

GP: You, darling, of course.

BN: Stop! You make me blush. (Go on!)

But, seriously, who do you admire? For me, there’s my big blog brother Scott, of course (and even if I knew he would beat me up if I didn’t include him, I’d still say that). There’s also Eric over at Sore Afraid. He writes the most beautiful, lyrical, dryly funny long-form pieces about his life and ruminations on language, gay culture, religion, and family. Plus, he’s hunky, smart, and well-traveled. Chris Sims is an incredible comics blogger; he makes me laugh almost every day; Joe Jervis and Andy Towle; and, of course, there’s you, my Amazon Sister! Who doesn’t want to be GayProf, though?

GP: You are wise to try and emulate me.

Gosh, if I have to start naming all the fantastic bloggers out there, I know that I will accidentally miss somebody. I have really enjoyed seeing Tenured Radical and Historiann develop a whole different dimension to their academic careers through their blogs. A few times in meetings, I have heard colleagues reference Tenured Radical on a particular issue. That suggests to me that her blogging has an impact. Like a Whisper and Angry Black Bitch are really great at thinking about questions of social justice in the news.

Tornwordo, VUBOQ, and Someoninatree are some of the more personal blogs that I still keep up with as much as I can. Dorian at Postmodern Barney remains the undisputed queen of gay comic bloggers, I am pretty sure. Down and Out in Denver is a newer blog that has some sly wit.

All these many years later, I still, still, still miss the Ninth Circle of Helen. She was fabulous.

See? It’s just too hard to narrow down the list because there are so many people out there rocking the blogosphere.

BN: You once commented that you could be “nostalgic for what I had for breakfast this morning.” Light-hearted self-deprecating hyperbole that it is, I actually really identify with that statement, because I sometimes feel I’m one big walking pit of nostalgia. I’m nostalgic for things I didn’t experience or was even alive for. Do you think nostalgia is intrinsic to nerdiness? Do you think this inclination had something to do you’re your becoming a historian?

GP: Breakfast this morning was so great. The coffee was just the right temperature. I had a banana that was perfectly ripe. Such a breakfast will never happen again. **Sigh**.

Actually, I think becoming a professional historian is a good cure for romanticizing the past. I mean, I don’t really want to go back to an era where my sexuality would have resulted in my being sent to jail or given electroshock therapy.

BN: This extreme nostalgia is one of the reasons I’m obsessed with memory, why I find books so important. To lose memory is to lose a world. Books are the only way to capture an individual’s thoughts and feelings and point of view, even if only in a limited, edited way. You’re in the business of reconstructing memory. When you’re working on NERPoDs, do you feel like you’re resurrecting people and times? Do you regret that you can only do pale shadows, because you’re limited to what was written and recorded?

GP: I think NERPoD and NERPoD: The Sequel are both creating a type of memory more than they are recovering memories. It seems to me that making arguments about the past helps us to think about our modern concerns. So, even though I am writing history, it is always a product of the present.

In terms of the actual (now dead) people, I would like to think that they would see themselves in the things that I write. They were people who were trying to figure out how to deal with race and racism in a remarkably hostile nation. I doubt that they imagined any historian would really care about their lives 150 years later. Their goals were more immediate: How do I feed my folk when ravenous Texans keep snatching my land away from me?

BN: Do you ever feel like a “bad gay”? I feel like I’m “missing” certain things. Yes, yes, yes, gay life isn’t and shouldn’t be nothing but a sea of hedonism, parties and sex and debauchery. This is stereotype, and not how all, or even most of us, live, or should live. But, you know, I wouldn’t mind some hedonism.

GP: Don’t dream it, be it!

I feel like I’m a great gay! Though, more sex with other gay men is always welcome.

BN: I think gay people should be able to be who they are, whether it’s a screaming queen or a boring-ass suburban like me. It’s good we’ve moved away from stereotypes. But I feel we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water. Suburban conformity shouldn’t be a goal, simply a choice. And the whole fetishizing of “straight-acting” and “masculinity” is maddening, especially when it turns on those who do conform to old stereotypes. There are people out there who are genuinely effeminate: there are show queens, there are drag queens, there are queens who just love Ethel Merman and Cher, and they’re just as much a part of this community as any gay couple with 2.3 adopted children and two SUVs in the driveway. To deny them is folly. Straight people aren’t going to accept us if we purge ourselves of the “bad” images and act like good little drones; many straight people will never accept us at all. If we are accepted, it must be for all of us, not just those who can “pass.”

GP: After all these many years, we still haven’t learned the lessons in the sacred text Free to Be You and Me. A hungry nation calls out, “Marlo Thomas, where are you in our hour of need?”

It seems to me that the whole nation has taken a slow veer towards the conservative side. The queer community isn’t alone in valorizing the nuclear family. Over the past decade, I have been saddened by the number of straight people I have met who unquestioningly adopt some pretty retrograde gender notions in their marriages and families. During the 1990s, it felt like there were more people critiquing assumptions about relationships and being quite critical of narrow ideas about "family."

Nowadays the nuclear family has become a type of competitive sport. Middle-class folk are on a mission to raise the “perfect, genius, super special” children. It disheartens me that people define their identity through these types of familial relationships.

I am also disappointed that the gay marriage debate hasn’t prompted a wider discussion about whether “traditional” marriage is really working for the majority of people. Given the ever escalating divorce rate, I would sorta think it isn’t.

It seems to me that queer folk are actually quite involved in negotiating the terms of their relationships that are markedly different than their hetero counterparts. Many gay men, for instance, openly reject monogamy as a hallmark of a stable relationship. That discussion, though, gets lost in the effort to make sure that everybody imagines that gay relationships are “the same as” straight relationships.

This is a strategy that most civil rights groups adopt at some point or another. Certainly some members of the African American community at the turn of the twentieth century or members of the Latino community in the 1940s and 1950s openly advocated for an adoption of “middle class" values and practices as a means to obtain equality in the nation. So too are some gay men and lesbians putting out the idea that if everybody was the same, then we wouldn’t be different

It’s not that I oppose gay marriage. For some people, that type of relationship really is the best suited for their personality. We also have to fight the fight given it was handed to us by the radical right. Maybe, though, my own experience has made me more skeptical about marriage’s overall value and durability. I always say, the best thing about legalizing gay marriage would be gay divorce.

BN: You said it, GayProf! I’m a product of a rather traditional middle-class upbringing, and I’m more than proud of it, but it should be an option, not a diktat. I think it’s great that many gay couples negotiate non-monogamous relationships, and hate when other gay people especially tut-tut such things.

Well, I think this blog conversation has run its course. I must say, I enjoyed it immensely! We definitely have to do it again.

GP: It has been my pleasure. Now, let's break out the cocktail shaker and dance, dance, dance.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nerdy, Gay, and Neurotic

Remember to continue reading Part II of my conversation with Bourgeois Nerd. You might learn things about GayProf you never knew.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Inside the Blogging Studio with Bourgeois Nerd

Oh, I know -- You all were expecting another post about the problems I see in patriarch's world Arizona. I do have plenty to say about the most recent law banning ethnic studies. Still, sometimes one needs a little escapism. This is why I jumped at the chance to have a chat with my ol' blogging buddy Bourgeois Nerd. Join us for the first part of our chat here today, and over at his place tomorrow for Part II.


Bourgeois Nerd (BN): Ever since GayProf and Historiann’s terrific blog conversation, I knew I wanted to do something similar. The only problem is I’m not an academic, so there were no historiographic or pedagogical issues we could really discuss. So what I was thinking was we’d talk about being gay nerd bloggers and how that influences our perspectives and content. Or something. It’s a bit meta, perhaps even navel-gazing, but I think it will work. I guess we’ll see.

I guess we’ll go with a slightly cliché question to break the ice: what brought you to blogging? Mine was just peer pressure, basically. I started reading a lot of blogs over a winter break in college, everyone was doing it, so I thought “Hey, why not!”

GayProf (GP): My blog actually started from a convergence of really bad scenes and drama. At the time (so long ago, now!) my eight year relationship with My Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies) was coming to an end. Oddly, it was he who suggested that I do a blog. Maybe he wanted to distract me from all the lies he kept telling. On this I cannot say.

BN: I’ve always wanted to meet Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies) just so I could pop him one on your behalf.

GP: Eh – He’s not really worth it. As it turns out, I am so much better off without him around. Funny how not living with a total loser makes your life easier and more fun. Life lesson learned. To misquote the immortal Tina Turner, "If you wanna love a man like me, it takes a man to do it."

In addition to the relationship nastiness, I was stuck in a miserable small town in the middle of TexAss and surrounded by remarkably hostile colleagues in my work life. The small gay community that was there felt really depressing because they were so under siege.

So, I guess you could say that my blog started out of desperation. I mean, you could say that, but it would make me feel bad about myself.

At the time, the blogosphere felt a bit smaller than it is now. Even though I didn’t anticipate it as a result, it turned out to be a really great way to connect with people.

BN: Totally. The stereotype of the pajama-clad blogger with no friends is so not true; blogging really is a great way to meet people and create communities. I’ve met people I wouldn’t have otherwise in a million years, from the big brother I never had to porn stars to you, My Strong Amazon Sister.

When did you first realize you were a nerd? As I said just the other day on my blog, I think I burst from the womb a nerd; it’s in my blood.

GP: Wait – you think that I am a nerd?!

Just because a person reads all the time, rarely exposes his skin to sunlight, hasn’t watched a television show produced after 1979, and is most widely associated with a campy comic book character, does that make him a nerd?

Oh . . . I guess it does. Damn! This I know for sure: I’d much rather be in a room surrounded by gay nerds than in a room with hetero “cool” people.

BN: To be in a room surrounded by gay nerds would be total bliss for me. (And a sexual fantasy, but we won’t go into that; this is a family blog conversation.)

GP: Maybe your blog is for families, but my blog ain’t for children.

BN: What do you think it means to be a gay nerd? It’s sort of being a double outsider; do you think it gives us a different perspective?

GP: For me, being a nerd isn’t about limits. It’s about being empowered to claim things – Like the authority to decide whether Matt Smith is brilliant or rubbish as the Doctor!

BN: Nerds get to unabashedly love something (sometimes too well), even if it’s not the socially-sanctioned subjects that people are allowed to be passionate about. Hardcore sports fans are as insane as any Star Trek conventioneer or guy who dresses up like Sonic the Hedgehog, but it’s “manly” so it’s okay.

GP: Though, to be fair, hardcore sports fans baffle me. I could see why they might not quite understand the pointed-ears thing (And, yes, I have attended a Star Trek convention in my lifetime.).

BN: Oh, they baffle me, too, but they’re “acceptable” in a way the people who speak Klingon aren’t.

You know, I’ve never been to a convention! It’s totally unbelievable, but true. I really want to go to at least one someday.

GP: I had a generally good time at the convention. It was around when I was 12 or 13 and Nichelle Nichols was the speaker. My father dropped me off at the convention center at 10 am and then returned around 6 or 7 pm. Today, he would probably be arrested for child abandonment.

But if your sexual fantasy is to be in a room surrounded by gay nerds, maybe you might want to look into the Trek conventions? I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

BN: A real nerd is interesting because they’ve put time and thought into at least one non-mainstream activity or product. Anyone can talk about the weather, but not everyone can argue convincingly about warp core design.

Also, Matt Smith: brilliant as the Doctor. It’s heresy, I know, but, at least at the end, I kinda couldn’t stand David Tennant and Ten. The smug pomposity made me gag. (To add to the heresy: I think Chris Eccleston is much hotter than Tennant, especially with the leather jacket. I also think he was the better Doctor and actor.) I think Matt Smith and Eleven will be just the right kind of unabashedly goofy to clear the air after two very angsty Doctors. And Amy Pond is just amazing. I’m predicting she’ll be my favoritest Companion ever.

GP: Sacrilege! Only Martha Jones can hold the title of favoritest companion!

BN: Poor Martha. That’s always how I think of her: “Poor Martha.” She got a really raw deal as a Companion.

GP: Martha was the only companion who felt like a solid peer to the doctor. Donna, though, was a nice change in that she wasn’t always fawning.

Matt Smith strikes me as more pompous than David Tennant. Smith seems to be doing okay so far, but I can’t say that I adore him. He often looks out of his acting depth – Kinda like he is a teenage boy who borrowed his father’s suit to play a business man in the high school play.

BN: Do you think a gay nerd is really any different from being a straight nerd, other than appreciating all the men in spandex, or do we have some unique perspective?

GP: Being queer gives us a unique perspective on everything else, so of course I think we are different caste of nerd. I’ve heard different theories about the attraction of some gay men to nerdom. For me, nerdom provided an absolute escape from a pretty grim adolescence.

BN: I totally hear you about “escape.” It was definitely that for me. This sounds so pathetic, probably because it is, but there was a large stretch of my life where books and Star Trek were my only friends. Even now, it’s a nice way to escape from quotidian reality.

Do you think your blog helps you at all in your academic work? I know some academic bloggers, such as The Little Professor, use blog posts to “think out loud” about issues they’re working on professionally.

GP: Well, given how indiscreetly I critiqued some of my evil TexAss colleagues, I’m lucky it didn't end my career as an academic!

The way that it has helped my career is much the same as most people report about blogging: It provided a much wider circle of people that I know. I wouldn’t say that the writing has done much for me (except occasionally distract me from NERPoD). Instead, I tended to use the blog to write about things that I wouldn’t have been able to write about in my academic career.

What I like about the blog is that I can have a bit more of a sense of humor. It might surprise you, but academics aren’t well known for being a barrel of laughs. Even when we are writing about really serious issues, I think that you can still poke fun. Like, for instance, noting that Arizona recently changed its advertising campaign to be “The Grand Klan State.” It’s a little clunky, but it apparently tested better than “Got Whiteness?”

BN: I still can’t believe that law passed. Tell me you’re going to do a post on that, as only you can?

GP: I did my best before hand.

BN: You sure did. But now they’re getting rid of any teacher with an accent, and, in a direct attack on you, outlawing ethnic studies! What is going on?!?

GP: The governor just signed the law outlawing ethnic studies courses. That state is becoming a leader of asshattery.

BN: You post less, but generally longer-form, and usually have a long comment thread. I tend to post more, but generally shorter-form, and rarely have many, if any comments. This isn’t a criticism of my wonderful, fabulous readers whom I love very much (it isn’t), or to say your (wonderful, fabulous) readers are better, but I do find it interesting.

GP: My posting less isn’t really by design. After five years, the ol’ creative tank might be nearing empty. It would be nice to think of it as a genius campaign to build momentum for the blog. In my fantasies, scores of people are huddled around their laptops waiting for the day that a new post emerges on CoG. In reality, though, the blogosphere has a shorter attention span than Bart Simpson. Any day, I expect the blogging version of Heidi Klum to send an e-mail telling me that I’m “out.” I wonder who that would be – Joe. My. God?

BN: I definitely know what you mean about the creative tank running low. I find my creativity and posting frequency is very, very cyclical. I also have an advantage in that I often just throw up a link to someone else’s work and say “Hey, this is cool!” and call it a post, plus I at least have my “Skimpy Sunday” feature where I just throw up some pretty men. You actually sit and think and write, which is a lot harder and time-consuming.

Do you think the vast improvement in your life has something to do with your dwindling blog output? If blogging was therapy for you, then the dissipation of your issues has made “therapy” less vital.

GP: Maybe. . . Definitely the early years of the blog were partly about working out what felt like a serious trauma. It probably felt that way, because it was. You’re right that my life is so much better now and I don’t need to “vent”.

Mostly, though, I think the slow down in blogging is that my current life has also left me absurdly busy. I’m lucky if I have time to read my favorite blogs, much less write something. Big Midwestern University kids itself if it thinks that having a dual appointment is anything other than double the work of a regular appointment. They then wonder why they lose so many faculty to other universities.

But I also do have fewer creative ideas than I once did. Somewhere around the second or third year, I put a lot of thought into ways to make the blog grow or change. Maybe my creative energies are going elsewhere (like NERPoD: The Sequel) these days.

BN: I once wrote creatively a lot: poetry, short stories, etc. My ambition was to write the Great American Fantasy Novel. But my period of greatest creativity was when I was in high school suffering from major depression; as I’ve grown older and generally happier, the urge and ability to write has pretty much evaporated.

Joe. My. God. and Andy Towle would be my guess for blogging Heidi Klum, BTW, though actually I think RuPaul would be more appropriate. “The time has come for you to blog post FOR YOUR LIFE!” (Have you watched RuPaul’s Drag Race? You really should. This season isn’t as good as last season, though.)

GP: I do like RuPaul’s Drag Race. This season was not quite as good as the first. It disappoints me, too, that the show has tended to subtly discriminate against contestants with an accent. In the first season, Nina Flowers was not given the crown because (according to RuPaul) she had “language issues.” Likewise, I felt like Jessica Wilde was eliminated once she was unable to shill Absolut Vodka in a Midwestern accent.

BN: The second season of RPDR was definitely inferior. The talent level was, overall, lower, and the bitching was just over the top. There’s a difference between being bitchy and being a bitch, and too many went too far over that line this time around.

GP: But to get back to the topic at hand – which I am pretty sure was me -- I write posts that are often quite lengthy. Maybe this is the type of thing that Little Professor refers to as “thinking out loud.” There is some issue that has me thinking (draconian immigration laws; imbalanced school curriculum; whether Jill Munroe could take Pepper Anderson in a cage match) and I am trying out an argument about it.


Read Part II tomorrow where Bourgeois Nerd and GayProf discuss secret blog identities, social phobias, and gay marriage. Plus, GayProf will show you how to get coffee rings out of your antique furniture!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Justicia, Libertad, y Ciudadanía

Arizona just continues its journey to crazy land. In addition to the draconian antimmigrant/racial profiling law, the legislature is also considering two measures that would deprive funding to schools with undocumented students and also a measure that would outlaw race and ethnic studies programs in the state of Arizona. Well, race and ethnic studies programs except those focused on white people, who apparently aren't a racial group in Arizona. The latter measure also carries a reference title of “prohibited courses.” Sounds to me like Arizona is racking up its anti-U.S. points by now being against free speech, doesn’t it?

Today happens to be Cinco de Mayo. In Mexico, this holiday commemorates an important military victory against a French invasion force. That's right, France. Personally, I always suspected that this holiday only gained traction during the brutal dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz (since he was involved in said Battle of Puebla), but I’d need to look into that.

In the United States, this holiday commemorates any flimsy excuse to drink oneself silly midweek. Nota bene to the people of the U.S., José Cuervo was not a Mexican freedom fighter.

President Benito Juárez led Mexico into battle with the rousing statement, "The [French] Imperial Government will not succeed in subduing the Mexicans, and its armies will not have a single day of peace... we must stop them, not only for our country but for the respect of the sovereignty of all nations." He did not motivate his troops by saying, "Winning this war will mean half off on all pitchers of frozen Strawberry Margaritas! If you finish by 1867, then I'll throw in some complimentary chips and salsa."

Far be it from me to interfere with people's drinking, though. Hey, even ol’ GayProf will take the opportunity to enjoy his new favorite spring cocktail, the Tequila Gimlet.

Beyond the ritual drinking, I thought we could also use the day to strike back against Arizona’s anti-Mexican lunacy. There have been a number of proposals to hold Arizona accountable for its legalized hatred. Boycotts seem the best measure. If there is one thing Americans respond to, it’s cash-based incentives.

Still, I think we can be more creative in our approach to Arizona. Here are some additional ideas to make Arizona rethink its xenophobic policies:

    * Since Arizona is so obsessed with documentation, let’s void Arizona drivers licenses in neighboring states. Before being permitted to take your car across state lines, an Arizona driver would need to prove their adeptness at parallel parking. I’ve seen these people’s driving skills. Trust me – There would be a whole lot of walking once they left the state.

    * Cut off their water. Over 1.5 million people are greedy enough to live in Phoenix, or, as I like to call it, the City that Shouldn’t Exist. I would imagine the desert city could get might thirsty this August if their external sources of water suddenly dried up.

    * Redesign Arizona’s flag to be this:

    * Disallow Mexican food from being served in Arizona. Hey, if they don’t like the people, then they shouldn’t like the cuisine either. Let’s put them back on the diet that turn-of-the-twentieth-century Euro Americans used to prize so highly. For breakfast, they will now get to enjoy cornmeal mush with top milk, toast, and coffee. Not very satisfying? Well, wait until Arizona’s new lunch course: dried peas, bread with oleomargarine, and stewed rhubarb. If they want to pretend like it is 1906, then they can eat like it too.

    * Maybe it’s time for another meteor to visit the state...

    * Manufacturers should stop shipping sunscreen into the state. Some cases of melanoma might give Arizonans a new appreciation for their neighbors of a darker hue.

    * Given Arizona really likes the idea of racial profiling, let’s allow police to start targeting angry white men. After all, several of the most recent terrorist attempts in our nation seem to have been performed by angry white men (Eight members of the Christian Michigan Militia Hutaree are charged with plotting to levy war and also trying to use weapons of mass destruction; Gregory Guisti allegedly threatened to assassinate Nancy Pelosi and some of our other national leaders; and Joseph Stack tried to fly his plane into Austin’s IRS building). Shoot, if Arizona started racially profiling angry white men, Sheriff Joe Arpaio wouldn’t be able to make it out of his own driveway without being pulled over by the cops.

    * Only allow Delta to provide airline service to the state. A couple of flights on the “world’s largest carrier” and the residents will be begging for mercy.

    * Since Arizona is claiming that they are doing the job of the federal government, let them take possession of the national debt. By my calculation, each Arizona citizen would owe $1,945,615.06. They might want to hold off on applying for that boat loan.

    * John McCain and Jon Kyl will henceforth be introduced as “the honorable Senators from that jerkwater state that makes the rest of the U.S. sick.”

    * Force Arizona to relinquish its claims to the Latina star Lynda Carter. She might have been born in Phoenix, but she is a national treasure now.

    * Conversely, Arizona must take back former Scottsdale resident David Spade.

    * Arizona can no longer claim to be a republican government. Jan Brewer, who was not actually elected as governor, should be given a new title, like “Chairman Brewer” or “Leader Brewer” to suite her style of government.

    * GayProf will withhold his recipe for the remarkably tasty Tequila Gimlet until Arizona comes to its senses. It’s a shame that Arizona is making the rest of the nation suffer like that.

    * Make sure that Alice really doesn’t live there anymore.

    * Put all of those who supported this measure on a plane to Russia with a note pinned to their clothes stating, “These Arizonans have severe antisocial issues/behaviors. We no longer wish to be citizens with them.”

    * Every person who supports the legislature's measures needs to write an essay entitled, “Why Hating Immigrants is Unamerican.”

    * Send Zorro in and watch him kick some tyrannical ass.

    * Since the legislature claims that their real motivation is jobs, allow them to retire from government and assume a job recently vacated by a migrant worker. Oh, look at me, assuming that members of the legislature could do a real day of hard work.

    * BP now has a new place to stick all that spilled oil. I’m not sayin’, I'm just sayin’.