Archive for April, 2012

25
Apr
12

Loosening or Tightening the Knot

I dislike absolutes in life, especially casually tossed out, hyperbolic blanket statements. They dig under my scalp and into my brain like psychic chiggers.

I know, I know…given past experience, you probably figure this is a post that’s going to be about racial stuff. And then you go back to the headline and get confused and wonder, “Is it about lynching somehow, whether literal or metaphorical?”

Nah.

The blanket statements and knots I’m talking about relate to marriage (or any other similar relationship between two people—any theoretically committed, long-term gig to be by each other’s side, in each other’s bodies and juggling each other’s hearts).

I’m a veteran of marriage, having been in one for more than 14 years now, and having dated my amazing (and lovely, and talented and smart and yes every so often frustrating and infuriating) partner for a couple years before she became my wife. I don’t think that makes me an expert, but I have enough hours logged now that I can say a few things with authority.

First, no marriage fails in a vacuum and second, no marriage is doomed.

Save your retorts for the end; give me a chance to explain. This isn’t one of those religious “You can’t ever let your marriage go to pieces” posts.

You see, one of the people I follow on Twitter (and who follows me) is going through a separation (her second with this man, I guess) and probably to divorce. We’ve traded a few tweets and I’m sure many other people on Twitter have communicated with her too, with support, commiseration, questions and maybe even criticism.

She seems to have a pretty healthy outlook overall about the situation, even though it’s stressful, obviously. But she made a tweet today that took me aback, about how she wasn’t innocent in the breakup, and that it is entirely her fault.

No, it isn’t.

I can say this with assurance, and it goes to the first of my earlier assertions: No marriage fails in a vacuum.

Just as it takes two people to make the relationship (well, usually two; it can be more, of course), it takes both of them to tear it asunder. In the heat of emotional things like this, it’s easy for both parties to point the finger of blame, or even for their friends and family to assign the role of villain to one person.

But I’ve come close to the abyss in my marriage. There have been some rough times in recent memory and moments I thought it was all over. My wife and I have come back from the brink, and I have a very good feeling that we either won’t get to the brink again, or we’ll figure out again how to avoid going over the edge if we do.

Something interesting has happened for me in the travails I’ve faced in my own marriage: Realizing where I’ve gone wrong (mostly because I was willing to look inside myself and my actions in the context of the marriage; many people aren’t willing to do that). Now, I’m not going to say who was mostly to blame for the near ending of the marriage. But while one of us was noticeably more responsible for the dilemmas we faced, neither of us was anywhere near guiltless.

Fact is that in any relationship like this, no one is blameless. One person might be 99% to blame and the other 1% to blame, but there are always contributions and failures on both sides, and rarely is it so lopsided as to even be 80% or 90% in one person’s corner.

And that is part of the reason why no marriage is inherently doomed to failure (my second assertion). Because there is blame to go around, there are opportunities for both parties to fix things. If both parties are willing to truly look at themselves as honestly as possible and at the other person, those people will be able to get to the heart of what’s causing the rift.

Once the causes (and rarely is it just one thing) are identified, they can be fixed.

I don’t care how dire it is. They can be fixed.

However, the question is often: Should they be fixed?

And another question, perhaps more central to the issue, is: Are both people willing to do what needs doing?

Both people can make the commitment to change whatever needs changing in their behaviors, attitudes, perceptions or whatever else. They can save the marriage.

The question is never “can a marriage be saved” but rather “is it worth the effort/pain/time to save it?”

In our case, it has been worth it. Some major changes have been made. Changes that many would not be willing to make and that some might even say neither person should have been willing to make.

As to the former, not everyone can make the necessary changes. That doesn’t make them bad people or failures. We can only go as far as we feel we have the strength to go.

As for the latter point, whether the changes should have been made, well…that’s no one else’s fucking business. It only matters that we felt the marriage was worth keeping and that whatever discomforts might come with making changes were worth the payoff. No one looking from the outside toward the inside can truly judge whether there’s something worth saving; only those on the inside can really decide.

That’s not to say people on the outside can’t help with insights, observations and advice. But they don’t get to make the decision, and they sure as hell shouldn’t be coming out with “I told you so” comments if an attempt to save things fails. Because, bottom line, it isn’t their marriage; it isn’t their call.

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22
Apr
12

Here’s What I Don’t Understand…

Twitter rather heavily trends toward people of higher socioeconomic status. They tend to be more educated and more financially secure than the general population and, if I recall correctly, more so than Facebook users overall, too. (No, that’s not a slam on Facebook; it’s just differing demographics and should not be read as me saying Twitter is better or its members are smarter.).

So, this being the case, why is it that with all the people who are relatively witty and insightful, and often pretty well-educated, on Twitter…well…why oh why does it happen that 95% of the time when a conservative attacks my views on Twitter that person is an utter idiot?

I’m not saying conservatives are idiots, though I have noted a disturbing trend in the right wing in recent years to denigrate education and cut down people who are “smarty pants.” I know for a fact that there are many intelligent, reasonable, level-headed and personable conservatives in my life, around me and online.

I even have a couple who follow me on Twitter.

But when I bring up some hot-button issues or strike a nerve on the right wing’s psyche on Twitter, I almost always get people who spout conspiracy theories, rely on rumor and innuendo, regularly dispute reality, and cite specious sources (or don’t cite any at all and tell me to Google it and then tell me I’m a moron when my Google results turn up no reputable or non-partisan sources to back their claims).

I welcome intelligent discussion, even when I disagree or get pissed off by it.

But damn it, actually show some ability to think. Saying “nyah nyah nyah” to me doesn’t cut it, and you’re embarrassing your conservative peers and making them look worse and less credible to me by your example.

11
Apr
12

Guest Post: A Look at Partisanship and Education

I haven’t had much opportunity overall…and especially not lately…to have guest posts on the blog. However, I was recently contacted by someone with strong feelings on education in the United States, and since I don’t talk about education directly much (though I discuss several issues that intersect with it, such as race and religion), I’m happy to give her the floor. Thanks, Sofia!
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Education in America: Pulled from Two Sides
By Sofia Rasmussen

At the mercy of both state and federal governments, the American education system is caught in a game of tug of war: as liberals and conservatives gain and lose power, the education system is pulled and pushed into policies and directions consistent with the party in power.  To be fair, some controversies have proponents and opponents within each party, e.g., the controversy surrounding the credibility of online doctorate programs.  But, most controversies are party-divided.  For example, as Arizona becomes more conservative, they have passed laws and legislation that outlaws the teaching of ethnic study classes in public schools. The exact language willfully obfuscates this fact, using language such as “…advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” The intent, however, can’t be hidden behind a shield of words: the law itself reeks of vitriol and racism.

This is but one example of an education law where controversy is raised: there are many such laws throughout the United States passed every year. Many of these laws are passed in the south and southwest, where racial tensions are already high; many of these laws deal with conservative ideology, such as a debate raised over a law in Texas regarding the teaching of evolution in schools. The original law didn’t outright ban the teaching of evolution; rather, the law began by asserting that an intelligent design option be presented alongside the theory of evolution. At the time of this writing, several laws are in legislatures, or are already passed, that allow the teaching of creationism in schools.

One example is a law in Louisiana that opens the doorway for intelligent design to be taught aside creationism in schools. This law, again, is worded vaguely and willfully obfuscates its intent. Although there are quite a few laws like this on the state level, as far as controversy at the federal level goes, the examples are quite a bit fewer.

No Child Left Behind

Perhaps the greatest example of controversial education law is the passing of No Child Left Behind during the administration of George W. Bush. The law itself is quite lengthy, although the points of controversy are rather succinct: to wit, schools that demonstrate lower test scores and have students that are behind grade level on subjects such as reading, mathematics, and science, lose federal funding. This law raised the ire of thousands of liberals across America, and was lauded by their counterparts on the conservative side.

These laws are symptomatic of the problem facing education in America today: when you rely on partisan funding for your program to work, you must cater to their ideals. Ideally, the separation between education and politics would be much greater, allowing more teachers to educate our children without our ideals and political theory intervening. The reality is something completely different, something that educators everywhere are grappling with on a day to day basis: what our children can and cannot learn is dependent entirely on what the people in our legislature say. The quandary facing the educators themselves is one of personal decisions against what that legislature says: from both sides, can someone teach, impart knowledge, that they themselves do not believe? The tightrope walked by an educator is one of personal belief, sometimes faith, beliefs that can influence their decisions on what to teach to students, and what to abstain from teaching.

07
Apr
12

I’m Sorry, White America! I See the Truth Now!

So, for a bit of time now in this blog and on Twitter, I’ve been taking many in the white segments of the American population to task for wanting to put blame on Trayvon Martin (the victim of a shooting) and dismiss the culpability of George Zimmerman (the shooter).

Now, via my association with The Field Negro (http://field-negro.blogspot.com and @thefieldnegro on Twitter) comes to me this story of a poll suggesting most white Americans don’t really believe Zimmerman is guilty of anything, despite the preponderance of evidence that he at the very least disobeyed police instructions and provoked a conflict with an unarmed black teen.

You know, even though even a casual reading of the facts of the case so far indicates that Martin was minding his own business and Zimmerman was at the very least criminally negligent, most of my fellow white folks apparently see some other truth.

So, it couldn’t be that they’re afraid of the specter of racism and are denying reality to rally around one of their own, right? I must be wrong. And so, I think I have finally figured out what happened that night. Black and white America…and everyone in between…you can thank me later.

The Real Story

George Zimmerman, dutiful neighborhood watch captain, is patrolling in his SUV and spots Trayvon Martin skulking through the area wearing a hoodie and menacingly brandishing a pack of Skittles and a soda as he leered at helpless and terrified citizens through the windows of their homes, mouthing threats to them silently through the glass.

Calling 911, Zimmerman reports suspicious behavior and is told that police will handle it and he shouldn’t continue to follow Martin.

Sensing something in the tone of the 911 operator’s voice that suggested possible collusion with the hulking Negro beast marauding in his neighborhood, Zimmerman continued to pursue Martin, knowing he was the only hope of his fellow residents against a fearsome threat fueled by candy and soft drinks.

Suddenly, Martin turned and saw his pursuer. Knowing it was a valiant neighborhood watch captain (for how could the youth even conceive the person following him in an SUV might be a molester, stalker or even a violent racist!), he snarled and began to lunge for the vehicle, scrabbling at Zimmerman’s windows and then cocking back a fist to plunge through the glass and pull the other man from the safety of his SUV.

Realizing now the terrible danger he was in, and suspecting perhaps the 911 operator actually had his safety in mind after all, Zimmerman backed his vehicle away, dislodging Martin and then preparing the leave the scene so that police could do their job properly.

But despite reaching speeds approaching 35 miles per hour in a residential area (and oh how Zimmerman dreaded doing such a lawless act!), Martin was keeping up with him, and used strange mental powers to open the locks on Zimmerman’s doors, pull him out of the vehicle and begin pummeling him.

With no choice, and his heart sick with the thought of it, Zimmerman pulled his pistol, and shot the horrid villain dead.

Now, the only reason we’re not getting this story, and instead getting an ever-changing and increasingly illogical tale from Zimmerman, his legal team and his well-connected judge father, is because of a vast conspiracy in the White House. Yes, “President” Barack Hussein Osama-bin-Obama is spending trillions to turn black youth into genetically enhanced, superpowered Muslim agents of destruction, and Zimmerman unwittingly discovered one of them.

I’m so glad that I know the truth now.

Again, my apologies, “White America.”

05
Apr
12

Whites Are Not an Endangered U.S. Species

I can’t begin to tell you how sick I am of people, particularly those in the right-wing ideologically but also some left-wing and moderate people who seem to lack basic calculation skill, saying white people will be a minority in 2050.

Now, if that did happen, fine. I’m cool with that. Things change.

The problem is the nervous white people who already fear people of color (along with gays and strong women) getting all uptight and violent over such news and shrieking about how the white race is dying off and is going to lose power and…

…shut the hell up.

Whites will not be a minority in 2050.

Current projections say that by 2050, whites will be 47% of the population (compared to 72% now).

That won’t make them a minority. That will make them less than half the population.

If you don’t understand the difference, let’s take another figure from those 2050 projections. It is expected that Latinos will be 29% of the population.

Now, let’s add 49 and 29. I’m sure even the most ignorant racist right-wingers can handle a calculator. 49 + 29 = 78.

That leaves 22% of the U.S. population for black folks, Asians, Native Americans, Arabs, etc.

Combined. All of them have to fit into that 22%.

29 isn’t bigger than 47, nor is 22.

If the projections are correct and current trends hold out, whites will still be the single largest group in 2050.

Will they be outnumbered by all other racial groups combined? Sure. But when was the last time you saw all those groups agreeing with each other and forming a coalition to beat up on the honkies? You see many multiracial power blocs, whether in Congress, business, the media or a street gang?

The biggest difference between 2050 and 2012 if the numbers hold up is that it’s going to be a lot harder to get away with whites calling certain folks spics, wetbacks and all that.

Fine with me. It’ll be nice to see white leaders and power-brokers finally have to negotiate without a position of absolutely overpowering arrogant force. If I’m still alive then to see it, that is.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

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