The graph shows the gap between African and non-African focus on a given topic. The bars measure the percent of all papers submitted by Africans which went to a given topic area, minus the percent of all papers submitted by non-Africans that went to the same area. If the bar is zero, the topic was equally popular among African and non-Africa researchers. It’s a bit hard to draw firm conclusions here, given the large number of topic categories. But if you squint a little (and group topics into broad conceptual categories), what strikes me is the following: African scholars are disproportionately interested in labor (i.e., jobs), firms (possibly jobs again), and monetary policy. Non-African scholars are disproportionately interested in political economy, conflict, natural resources, and (an outlier) migration. Roughly speaking, there’s a division between jobs-focused papers by African researchers and papers by non-Africans focused on institutions. (Center For Global Development)
The Non-Inevitability of Same-Sex Marriage -
But the problem is that people greatly overestimate the effect of public opinion on public policy. This is one of the really key problems with the “Roe was counterproductive” argument. The assumption is that because outright bans on abortion are unpopular in most states, they were doomed whether the Supreme Court intervened or not. The problem is this isn’t how actually how American politics actually works. Madisonian institutions protect the status quo, and people vote for bundles of policy positions, not a la carte. Parties can maintain majority status while maintaining unpopular positions on individual issues, and this goes triple when (as is the case with abortion regulations and prohibitions) the policy disproportionately burdens people with the least political influence. Which is why the movement to legalize abortion had essentially stalled by 1973, with abortion having been decriminalized in only 4 states and the District of Columbia. More battles for legalization would eventually would have been won, but abortion would have remained illegal in many states, perhaps a majority.
And the same thing is true with same-sex marriage. Public opinion may well favor same-sex marriage in the vast majority of states where it’s now illegal by the end of the decade. But this doesn’t mean that people not directly affected by the issue will instantly become single-issue voters unwilling to settle for anything less than full equality. Plenty of affluent suburbanites in states where SSM is still illegal will be happy to keep voting for Republicans who oppose SSM even if they nominally favor it. To argue that the Supreme Court should stay its hand because most states will soon grant marriage equality is to rest on assumption with very little basis.
Academia may not be a traditional bureaucracy but we forget that public colleges are embedded in state governments, making them more like the public sector is some ways than the private sector. That is particularly true when you account for the fact that many black PhDs end up working in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, many of which are part of state college systems. It is not totally beyond the realm of possibility then that black students should engage with some sectors of higher education similarly to how we have engaged the Post Office. That is to say, credentialism is rewarded and, thus, we should pursue it.
The nature of the rewards, however, seems to be what trips up a lot of this advice.
And that is rooted in some fundamental, unexamined privilege.
It is difficult to be embedded in higher education today, particularly if you study it, and not be acutely aware that academic labor is changing and likely not for the better. Adjunct labor conditions are pretty deplorable: low pay, long hours, little prestige, no mobility, etc. When we are in that we can forget that our crappy jobs can be someone else’s upward mobility.
I suspect part of our not understanding this is ideological. To recognize that crappy is relative is to undermine our own fragile, tenuous class consciousness. It’s an old problem. Unions had similar issues as they tried to bring black, brown and white labors together through their shared position in the class structure. The problems arise when your shared position isn’t exactly shared. Focusing so narrowly on class to the exclusion of structural racial projects can put you in this quagmire. Black poverty is not the same as white poverty. That’s not the fault of white poor people but is a function of a complicated mix of social constructs, organizational processes, politics, history and probably magic. It’s complicated. It is also inconvenient, particularly when you really want and need people to focus on deplorable class conditions. So we like to sometimes ignore it. We do so to our peril.
When we obscure those meaningful differences we end up counseling black students considering graduate school that it is a waste of time and money. We do that because our class consciousness says this whole pyramid hierarchy is a scheme and those at the bottom are losing.
The thing with losing is there’s always some construct of what constitutes “winning”. The dominant construct of winning is rooted in privilege and biases.
Winning is different for different folks. I think of Boudon‘s work which I likely oversimplify when I call it a cross-sectional, longitudinal, empirical analysis that conludes that we’re always from where we’re from. Apologies to the philosopher Rakim but sometimes it ain’t where you’re at but is indeed all about where you’re from. Part of Boudon’s argument for me is about social distance being as important to understanding mobility as status occupational/income/prestige outcomes. Basically, if I get a master’s degree that increases my labor value to $45,000* it can sound like crap to a person who went to graduate school, got a PhD and earns $50,000. However, if my parents didn’t have their GEDs and I grew up helping my mom clean banks after hours for her janitorial freelance business — one of her three jobs — I have actually traveled quite a bit of social distance. That can make the value of my graduate degree different than the value of yours. — Tressie McMillan Cottom, “Blanket ‘Don’t Go To Graduate School!’ Advice Ignores Race And Reality?” tressiemc 4/5/13 (via racialicious)
We recommend banning the danza and danzón because they are vestiges of Africa and should be replaced by essentially European dances such as the quadrille and rigadoon. —
Danzón is the official genre and dance of Cuba. It is also an active musical form in Mexico and is still beloved in Puerto Rico. The danzón evolved from the Cuban Habanera (known inside and outside of Cuba as the habanera).Originally, the contradanza was of English origin and was most likely introduced by three different ways to Cuba in 1762 with the invasion of the British to Havana, Spanish colonists, and French colonists (who were fleeing the Haitian Revolution of 1791 to 1804).In Cuba, these dances were influenced by African rhythmic and dance styles and so became a genuine fusion of European and African influences.
Twitter elicits a more poisonous information anxiety. It moves so fast that if I’m not continuously checking in, I completely lose track of the conversation — and it’s almost impossible to figure out what happened three hours ago, much less two days ago. I can’t save Twitter for later, and thus there’s always a pressure to check Twitter now. Twitter ends up taking more of my time than I’d like it to, as there’s a constant reason to check it rather than, say, reading a magazine article. —
Ezra Klein, The Washington Post. The Problem with Twitter.
Klein is reacting to Nick Beaudrot’s piece about Twitter, which is an account of why he’s not returning to Twitter after giving it up for Lent until he can figure a way to sort the useless from the useful. Beaudrot graphs Twitter content as 10% links to interesting things and 90% faff, snark and debates better suited to blogging.
FJP: Obviously Twitter has its unbeatable pros as well, and Klein does appreciate them. See reader comments on the piece for some organization solutions to his laments, one of which is to build lists. For tips on how to built newsy twitter lists, see our post here.
Sandberg has penned not so much a new Feminine Mystique as an updated Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Where other feminists focus on articulating the amount of free or underpaid labor that women do, Sandberg places a priceless value on labor itself and encourages more of it, whether paid, unpaid, or poorly paid. “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask which seat,” she says, quoting advice she received from Google executive Eric Schmidt — Feminism’s Tipping Point: Who Wins from Leaning in? | Dissent Magazine
I worked at Facebook from 2005 to 2010 in a series of roles culminating in a position as Zuckerberg’s speechwriter, and had an opportunity to observe the development of Facebook both as a social media platform and as what it increasingly aims to become: a global leader on par with nations. “Companies over countries,” Zuckerberg often said in meetings. — Feminism’s Tipping Point: Who Wins from Leaning in? | Dissent Magazine
The fundamentally conservative nature of the marriage contract is why, I think, younger conservatives are growing more supportive of same sex marriage. Extending marriage rights to LGBT people does little or nothing to address the structure of oppressive family laws and values in society. It also does very little to change the core of the conservative agenda which is, fundamentally, about power and control. This is evidenced by the fact that young conservatives are increasingly supportive of same-sex marriage at the same time that they continue to be champions of austerity who are deeply opposed to public funding of critical safety net programs. And many are terrible on issues of race, equating black and brown people with destructively out-of-control sexuality, crime, and government debt. So their attitudes about LGBT people may have changed, but their worldviews remain pretty much the same. They’ve just let monogamous same sex couples off the hook for certain societal problems, which is essentially what they’ve been doing all along for heterosexuals who marry.
What appears to be leading to this “success” with young conservatives points to another of my concerns. By presenting LGB (I’ll leave off the “t” here) people as basically conservative in our demands, the most mainstream faction within the LGB movement is subtly positioning us as a model minority. And it’s working. Where once attacks against LGB people relied heavily on messaging that mirrored prejudices historically used against people of color (morally debased sexual predators and criminals seeking anti-American special rights), LGB people are increasingly understood to be all-American and fundamentally non-threatening. The sales job basically seems to revolve around the idea that if you let us in, nothing really changes. And, based on the demands at the center of this agenda, this is, to a degree, true.
Also troubling is my sense that the current strategies ignore something about marriage rights that ought to be obvious to anyone excluded from them, especially when that group is arguing that being excluded has real, material consequences. That is, that we are arguing to be able to use marriage as a shield against wrongs that no one, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, should suffer. No loved one should be excluded from survivors benefits and pensions, end of life decision-making, hospital visitation, and the many other family rights reserved for married couples. And when we argue that being able to wield this shield is a right we deserve because we conform with the values of good people, that shield can become a weapon against those who are still excluded. — Scot Nakagawa, “Why I Support Same Sex Marriage as a Civil Right, But Not as a Strategy to Achieve Structural Change,” ChangeLab 3/25/13 (via racialicious)
This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it’s efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell. — The Internet is a surveillance state - Bruce Schneier (via llimllib)
Via Anne Galloway on Twitter, I just saw Living With Less. A Lot Less, an opinion piece in the New York Times.
I run into some version of this essay by some moneybags twig-bishop about once a year, and it bugs me every time.
Here’s the thing. Wealth is not a number of dollars. It is not a number of material possessions. It’s having options and the ability to take on risk.
If you see someone on the street dressed like a middle-class person (say, in clean jeans and a striped shirt), how do you know whether they’re lower middle class or upper middle class? I think one of the best indicators is how much they’re carrying.
Lately I’ve been mostly on the lower end of middle class (although I’m kind of unusual along a couple axes). I think about this when I have to deal with my backpack, which is considered déclassé in places like art museums. My backpack has my three-year-old laptop. Because it’s three years old, the battery doesn’t last long and I also carry my power supply. It has my paper and pens, in case I want to write or draw, which is rarely. It has a cable to charge my old phone. It has gum and sometimes a snack. Sunscreen and a water bottle in summer. A raincoat and gloves in winter. Maybe a book in case I get bored.
If I were rich, I would carry a MacBook Air, an iPad mini as a reader, and my wallet. My wallet would serve as everything else that’s in my backpack now. Go out on the street and look, and I bet you’ll see that the richer people are carrying less.
As with carrying, so with owning in general. Poor people don’t have clutter because they’re too dumb to see the virtue of living simply; they have it to reduce risk.
When rich people present the idea that they’ve learned to live lightly as a paradoxical insight, they have the idea of wealth backwards. You can only have that kind of lightness through wealth.
If you buy food in bulk, you need a big fridge. If you can’t afford to replace all the appliances in your house, you need several junk drawers. If you can’t afford car repairs, you might need a half-gutted second car of a similar model up on blocks, where certain people will make fun of it and call you trailer trash.
Please, if you are rich, stop explaining the idea of freedom from stuff as if it’s a trick that even you have somehow mastered.
The only way to own very little and be safe is to be rich.