Thursday, August 25, 2016

I Need a Trigger Warning for Conversations About Trigger Warnings

I know it's causing agita right this minute at my other alma mater. I know that most of my friends view this as an anti-PC move by cisgender white men. But I applaud it, because I think the worst thing we've done in the past 20 years is to make it possible for people, and especially young people, to listen only to their own truths. That's how we ended up with the Election of 2016! Time for a serious reboot.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

First, Do Your Job

We rail at the GOP Congress because they are dragging their feet on one of their most important tasks: Voting thumbs up or down on Supreme Court appointments. But we are silent when our own state executive branch fails to accomplish two of its main tasks: Releasing funds that have been allocated and filling key slots in state government.

The State Education Department organizational chart from December 2015 shows several key positions vacant. It's now August 2016, and those jobs remain vacant. This page shows job listings at State Ed, with asterisks indicating those jobs that require Budget Division approval to move forward. The most immediate problem, I believe, is at the School Operations & Management and the Facilities & Business Services levels, where capital project approval has stalled, and what once took four to six months now takes a year or more. This may ultimately affect everything from retrofitting lead fixtures to using Smart Schools monies. It's maddening.

The upshot is that the executive branch can require SED to do various things—monitor the spending of Smart Schools monies, fix crumbling buildings, create a task force to review Common Core—yet withhold the very funds that enable the department to do those tasks. This is a Democratic administration that absolutely fails to put its money where its mouth is. We taxpayers think we are funding our schools. Where's the money going? It's anyone's guess.

I'd encourage parents and others to write to Senate and Assembly leadership and to the Governor to ask: "Where's my money going? Why are the halls of SED echoing emptily when we are paying considerable sums to fund that department? Why isn't the Division of Budget doing its job?"

Segregation + Media = Stereotyping

We know that America is more segregated today than at any time since the '60s. For the most part, black kids and white kids don't live in the same neighborhoods or go to the same schools. At the same time, for every middle-class "Black-ish" on television, there are 1,000 stories about poverty and violence in the black community.

So when Trump reaches out to African-American voters with the line, "You're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed—what the hell do you have to lose?" isn't he just parroting the perception foisted upon white America by the media? Yes, we expect our elected officials actually to visit the real world and see it for themselves, but Trump is wholly media-made, so it makes sense that he should believe this skewed version of reality.

When you have a strong middle class, you tend to have people of color working and living together with white folks. Remove those jobs, separate the very very rich from the struggling, and you tend to separate the races, too. At least that's been the result here over the past several decades. And when people are no longer neighbors and in each other's lives, they are free to imagine what "the other" is like. How's that working for us, America?

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Stench of Testosterone and Racism

I've attended NASCAR races and hunt banquets. I've walked past construction sites and New York City fire stations. I've survived pep rallies, bad rock concerts, and sporting events of all kinds. But you'd have to roll them all up into one giant doobie to equal the horror of a Trump rally. That is some scary angry-white-male shit.