MA in White Power

Readers may be interested to see the proposal for MA studies in White Power (critical white studies), lead by Nathaniel Coleman, which is being considered as an addition to the UCL curriculum. Details of the proposal are available here, and feedback can be given. This feedback may make an important contribution in determinations of whether this MA program will be incorporated into the curriculum. Do take a look and leave a comment if you see fit!

More on the genius-stereotype and underrepresentation

Readers may be interested in this radio interview with psychologist Carol Dweck, who discusses the work by Sarah-Jane Leslie and colleagues on underrepresentation and the genius stereotype. Dweck (who was not a part of the study) discusses how the idea that innate genius or smartness is required to do well in certain fields might affect learning, motivation, and the gender gap. (Readers might also be interested to note that there is a call from a woman about seven minutes in who majored in philosophy, achieving straight A’s. She was nevertheless told by her advisor that she didn’t “have what it takes” to apply to grad school.)

What, to the Black American, is Martin Luther King Day?

Philosopher Chris Lebron in the NYT.

During the days of slavery one could identify a person analogous to the swine-drover in the meat market. This person — we might call him a man-drover — rather than ushering pigs to market to be sold as a transferable commodity, did so with blacks. It goes without question that this treatment was inhumane. It made blacks into something less than human, things to be traded as objects to fuel economic necessity.

You may think that these days are long past but consider the case of Ferguson, Mo., — a city of 21,135 people, predominantly black, that served 32,975 arrest warrants for nonviolent offenses in 2013. This remarkable level of surveillance and interdiction incidentally generated for Ferguson more than $2.5 million in revenue from fines and court fees — the city’s second largest source of revenue. I ask you, what is this except the return of the drover in the mask of state legitimacy? In a nation where blacks possess only on average a dime of wealth for every dollar of white wealth, how is this reclamation of scarce resources anything but the continuation of oppression by other means, the reduction of blacks to instruments of economic necessity and exploitation?

If this does not convince you, listen to the audio track of Eric Garner’s last words. In a tragic sense, his plea — “I can’t breathe” — is the soundtrack of black life under conditions of deep unfairness and disregard: When we use the breath we have to ask for the rights and respect that ought to be ours, we have little breath to accomplish much else. Everyday life becomes the double struggle of working not only for what we need but also for securing that to which we are entitled in any case. Dr. King may have seen the promised land, but we appear to be anchored off its coast.

Living with Mental Illness

What’s it like when a loved one is struck by mental illness? Here is one person’s account…

The next morning I woke to find Giulia sitting on the bed, calmly but incoherently talking about the conversations she had overnight with God, and the panic set in. Giulia’s parents were already on a plane to California from Tuscany. I phoned the psychiatrist, who said, again, to take the medication. By now I thought that was a great idea—this crisis was clearly way beyond my depth. But still, Giulia refused the meds. The next morning, when I woke, I found her pacing around our bedroom, relating her animated chats with the devil. That was enough. With Giulia’s parents, who by then were in town, I drove her to the Kaiser Permanente emergency room. Kaiser didn’t have an inpatient psychiatric unit, so they sent us to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, in downtown San Francisco, where Giulia was admitted. We all thought her stay in the psych ward would be brief. Giulia would get a little pharmaceutical help; her brain would clear up within days, maybe hours…

The article is long but very much worth reading.