newyorker on august 11, 2014 reported: Michael Brown didn’t die in the dark. He was eighteen years old, walking down a street in Ferguson, Missouri, from his apartment to his grandmother’s, at 2:15 on a bright Saturday afternoon. He was, for a young man, exactly where he should be—among other things, days away from his first college classes. A policeman stopped him; it’s not clear why. People in the neighborhood have told reporters that they remember what happened next as a series of movements: the officer, it seemed to them, trying to put Brown into a car; Brown running with his hands in the air; the policeman shooting; Brown falling. The next morning, Jon Belmar, the police chief of St. Louis County, which covers Ferguson, was asked, at a press conference, how many times Brown had been shot. Belmar said that he wasn’t sure: “more than just a couple of times, but not much more.”
newyork times reported today that the autopsy revealed at least 6 shots. and the shot to his lowered head may have been the fatal one. belmar [the cop] said “not more than a couple of times”. read again the newyoker account above and the results of the autopsy and determimne whether 6 bullets were necessary. whether 6 bullets had to be fired, one to the head of Michael brown who ran off to avoid being arrested and being forced into the car.
of all the hollywood movies I’ve seen, i can safely say that ONE bullet to the leg somewhere will deter someone from running. last night i watched two guns where denzel washington shot mark wahlberg in the leg so he couldn’t run off, but not 6 bullets! 6 bullets to an unarmed young man and one to the head which was lowered smells of something rotten and dark.
the questions begs us to stare at police motivation in the face.
Today, it’s 18 yr old michael brown from missouri.
Yesterday, it was 43 yr old eric garner of staten island who died from a police chokehold.
and 22 yr old john crawford of ohio killed in a walmart because a toy gun he’d picked up was mistaken for a real gun.
and ezell ford, a 25 yr old unarmed man of LA shot by police.
and 17 yr old trayvon martin from florida shot and killed by a guard.
and 24 yr old jonatahn ferrel of north carolina who was tased and shot 10 times just after coming out of a car accident and banging on a nearby door for help.
and 2 decades ago it was me, only i didn’t die of gunshots, because i was already like the dead, and perhaps luckily for me. i was unconscious and wounded from having fallen asleep while driving and hitting a telephone pole. i was arrested for ‘drunken driving’ straight out of the emergency room at glen cove hospital NY even though i had no alcohol in my blood, as the doctor told the arresting police officer since he’d taken a blood test before giving me meds. but the white police officer’s words: “oh! she’s fucking drunk!’ resounded in my aching head as he wheelchaired me off in handcuffs with my head concussion, throbbing pain & shock and put me in jail for the night.
Racially charged arrests and killings can’t be dismissed as isolated incidents. There’s an intolerable pattern nationally of unarmed black men and women arrested and dying at the hands of police. Fair adjudication of each case is critical as is finding a way to avoid such senseless deaths & arrests by guns or chokeholds or tasers.
Must all colored people hold placards saying “don’t shoot me! I’m unarmed!” or “my name is khan and I’m not a terrorist!”
The problem is that in Indian culture someone is judged by what they wear, and that someone is usually female. Knowledge and attire should not be a cause/ effect experience. Learning, probing, exploring new avenues clothe the mind, not the body. these days, Americans are getting funded to study in India because of their willingness and interest in exploring something new or differently and they’ll return with new, exciting ways of seeing something that others – dressed for the part- haven’t seen.
Originally posted on itwasjustanotherdaydream:
South Bangalore is known for its traditional set up and that was where I found myself on Wednesday, attending a talk about the characters of the Mahabharata.
It was conducted by a highly religious and learned man, who also happened to be so old that he had no teeth, the character he decided to speak about was Ghandhari.
I got a glimpse of the story from merely the point of view of Dharma, with lengthy explanations about the difference between Krishna and Shakuni. Which as was their intentions, Shakuni’s selfish intentions and Krishna’s intentions of societal good. Which I’ve always understood and never had trouble wrapping my head around.
I had a bunch of questions at the end of the session about Ghandari’s decisions, so I walked into the side room where the old man was sitting and I even got my answer.
What stayed with me was the way…
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Originally posted on Kafila:
Statement from Bir Zeit University Institute of Women’s Studies, Palestine
Gaza Under Attack
As we write this statement, 25 days after the brutal incursion on Gaza, over a thousand and four hundred of innocent civilian women, men and children have been butchered by Israel’s war machine and much more are threatened to be killed. The call for raping Palestinian women by the so-called “Bar-Illan University Arabic Literature Professor” teaches us, once again, that Israeli “scholars” and “academic institutions” are an organic and integral part of the Zionist colonial project. Also, the parliament member, who happens to be a woman, advocates the killing of all Palestinian women, a Rabbi calls for mass murder of Palestinians while taking their foreskins as trophies, in addition to the display of many rape references on banners and images (head covered woman from the top while indecent from the waist down with a very provocative statement below)…
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“Sound of silence” was sung by simon & garfunkel back in 1964. Whenever the song fills the air, a sense of serene and tranquility is imparted upon its listener although its lyrics talk about sadness. this ‘silence’ sung by the nightingale duo, is far from the deafening silence that the world is displaying on the Israeli palestinian tit-for-tat following the recent murders of 3 Israeli boys and the revenge killing of a Palestinian boy.
Professor shulman’s account of the death of one of his students struck an involuntary memory in my own mind of another Arab boy, whom I had in one of my French classes. a straight-A student, whose name I will not easily forget, not because he was smart as a whip, but because of the sad story he told the class the day I asked him, and all the other students: “d’ou venez-vous?” (Where do you come from?) followed by “Pourquoi est-ce que vous etes venu aux etats unis?” ( why did you come to the US?).
This is how we marry new vocabulary of nationalities with new verb conjugations in class. Students are eager to use the French language to tell others about their country and identity. And since my class is always multi cultural with lots of students either first generation-whatever-their-nationality or born here, it is always fun learning about the origins. We don’t only learn about the French and francophone worlds, but often enough about countries we have never had to wonder about, like Palestine.
these lessons give students (and us, professors), a platform on which to use/speak french, and by the end of the semester we know a good deal more about human geographies than we’d know otherwise. But this day the sound of silence uttered by my Palestinian student had a weighty sadness compared to his camarades de classe, who laughingly told the class why they were here.
This 18 or 19 year old student had been immediately sent to the US a few years prior following his brother’s murder: the brother was gunned down by Israeli police on the streets for not having ID right before my student’s young eyes.
In restless dream he walked alone
narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘neath the halo of a street lamp,
he turned his collar to the cold and damp
when his eyes were stabbed by the flash of a bullet light
that split the day
and touched the sound of silence!
the other students gasped in loud disbelief as the sound of his words trapped in silence struggled to find their way out of his memory and into the classroom.
His story finds an echo in Joachim prinz’ words: “…the most important thing that I learned in my life is that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful, and the most tragic problem is silence.”
Not the student’s silence nor his parents’ who sent him here for a safe life. But the silence of the world while this kid and his brother’s silence (and others’) is punctuated by sirens, rockets, explosions, and death. The tragic problem is the silence of the world which has put blinders on. The world which has become deaf because it prefers not to hear about the reality of the situation; the world hearing without listening, and not daring to disturb the sound of silence. A world too heavily drugged by propaganda and news spreaded by the powerful with deep convictions that all Muslims are bad. This silence of the human herd which has become the drug that keeps them pacified while hatred rages on between Palestine and israel, like a cancerous cell. The growth of this silence by watchers-by whose minds continue to be detonators of xenophobia, bigotry and senseless killing on both sides of the strip.
And when I see this cancerous silence broken with “there won’t be peace in the region until the palestinian’s love for their children is greater than their hatred of israel” I then wonder which is preferable:
Silence or speech?
I wonder what such people would say if they learned that Palestinians do love their children as much as any other country, much like this family forced to send their young son so he may live to be loved longer by his parents who fear that he may be shot down because of his identity or because he isn’t able to tell adult police his name; whose story that day filled the air of my classroom with more silence.
Originally posted on Kafila:
The following is a report from the indefatigable Prof David Shulman, who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prof Shulman works on the history of religion in South India and poetry and poetics in Tamil, Telegu and Sanskrit. David Shulman writes as protests inside Israel increase, as do right-wing attacks on the protestors. This report has been circulated by Prof Louise Bethlehem of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
July 12, 2014 Umm al-Ara’is, Susya, Bi’r al-‘Id, Ma’asara
Business as usual in the South Hebron hills. There’s a war on in Gaza, but that too is business as usual, the meaningless biannual ritual in which both sides gleefully smash one another before reverting to the status quo ante. The Israeli media are drowning us in words, a vast and raucous flood, and the government is putting out its familiar, mendacious statements; perhaps in…
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we live in a diet culture. we diet. we’re on and off where food, info, relationships/partners and media are concerned. we binge on all of these.
finally, american technology is catching up to americans’ penchant for overdoing it and finding plenty of willing indulgers [teddy wayne in new york times 4 may 2014 in "life is streaming past you"].
media entertainment has given consumers far more freedom to watch, listen to, read. at any time, night or day. at breakfast, lunchtime, dinner. with or without friends and family present.
the paradox of choice (barry schwartz 2004) however argues that we surfeit our choices which engenders anxiety, dissatisfaction and even paralysis sometimes. this refers to the profusion of choices within a single set like picking out a salad dressing out of 175 varieties. or as one American noticed when he visited my ‘developing’ country for the first time: “no wonder you guys have good teeth! white teeth!” i’ll add to that the fact that people may be overweight, but not obese. ‘overweight’ like the caribbean or spanish men we see in photos, where only a protruding belly is evident, but the rest of the body, normal sized. this friend – who visited my country – upon walking the grocery isles, discovered that only one chocolate cookie could be found on the shelves, and not shelffuls of cookies. in america, there are shelffuls of all kinds of cookies, not just plain chocolate chip, but chocolate with pecan, chocolate chip with walnuts, chocolate chip with snicker doodles, and other cookies, too like butter cookies. and these butter cookies with as many variations as their chocolate chip counterparts. imagine a kid in a candy shop, swelling with desire to taste everything! think temper tantrums, vomiting, parents shouting ‘stop!’ or “no” or…
here in america, there are 62 episodes of “breaking bad” much like the shelvefuls of cookies or salad dressings adorning the isles. colorfully and plentifully. binge eating and binge watching. but just because we “can” watch all the time doesn’t mean we have to. daily lives become like food. anorexic, info rexic and now digitally bingerexic. if adults are bingeing and plugging up, who will tell [their] kids to unplug and consume slowly? the kid in the candy shop metaphor is in full force here!
many years ago, we didn’t see obesity coming nor lung cancer. we had food in plenty and cigarettes to match food’s abundance, and today we have mega problems on both, including death. in this millennium, we are witnessing the obsessive compulsive behaviors of kids and students shooting and murdering others. in this millennium, we are medicating kids for restlessness. why? one reason is that sedentary kids have sacrificed playing for sitting in their rooms and surfing, posting, chatting etc. valuable skills and weight losing measures are sacrificed from the lack of playing which entails movement and building social skills that kids have in other cultures which don’t medicate for ADHD. kids are supposed to be active. but here in america, we medicate kids to calm them dow and we even run short of drugs to medicate them because other bigger kids are taking these prescription drugs as recreation drugs in elite shcools and other places.
granted we don’t always know why some kids turn out shooters, but lately, we have been finding out too late on the kid-shooters’ Facebook page that there were clues to their developing personality. who was looking or monitoring these kids-who-turned-their-action-hero-game-figures? their personality was emerging from their bingeing on games, media but no one noticed and sometimes if they did, precious little was done as we learnt from adam lanza’s mother. or from klebold’s and harris’ penchant for goth subculture, metal music and violent video games. chickens coming home to roost. today, 90% of kids play video games, and 90% of games often include mature content and/or some form of violence. or parents have two or three jobs to make ends meet so they are not available to supervise kids. these kids’ patterns of likes, dislikes were emerging from you tubing, receiving news, tv, gamification [new word on webster dictionary. i wonder why?] posting and deleting friends and messages and photos. the constant sweet rush of info on kids and adults alike.
yesterday, I saw a child at the subway platform asking his mother and father what something was. we were at an outside platform with birds flying around, trees humming in the cool spring winds, people bustling about their way, litter flying everywhere as trains whirled past the station. the kid was pointing to some object, asking the father and mother something, but they were connected to their device and repeatedly ignored that child’s need and quest for learning, and instead modeling behaviors to that child to become ‘plugged’. nature, which provides vital learning steps for kids, was forfeited by these plugged-up parents and adults. and as i sat in the train towards home i see parents on netflix, iPad, iPhones, smartphones while kids ‘misbehave’.
but, if kids must binge in our bingeing culture, maybe parents could give them books or educational articles to binge on. that way they would be getting the same info we did as kids, but on devices. let them binge on binge-worthy stuff like the great works of prose and poetry, math, science, and NOT on violent games such as mortal combat ; dead space; medal of honor; call of duty black opps; castlevania; assassins, creed brotherhood; deadrising etc. all are for 18 years and older and include mature content. there are tons more. and there are many games that benefit an emerging mind and personality. strategy games like the kind we see in ender’s game where the kid is more adept at strategizing than adults. there are digital building blocks games. lego is great, but isn’t the only creativity tool.
so where does that leave people of free choice?
putting off responsibilities, procrastinating, forming bad habits? consuming media doesn’t help weak inclinations. there’s little discipline for the weak at heart, especially children left to do their own thing. how does a child know to piecemeal if adults can’t? why would a child in a proverbial candy shop stop and not gorge? why do we set age limits as a country and as parents if they weren’t needed?
but, there are some who recoil from this abundance of bingeing. some foreigners new to this culture can feel ‘left out of the conversation’ given all this bingeing. I remember reading an article by mira hair [monsoon wedding, kamasutra, namesake, reluctant fundamentalist, perez family, vanity fair etc] where she spoke about feeling left out in america. she spoke of the mania of spending tons of money to buy gifts at christmas which her culture didn’t do. she felt sad and lonely and missed ‘home’ because she couldn’t fit in into that bingeing lifestyle and it made it harder for her to assimilate into her host culture.
this ‘bingeing-on-free-choice’ world we inhabit is good for the rare kid who knows when and how to use and stop. but what about that kid who’s not disciplined which is a large sector of kids? who will supervise children left to their own ‘devices’? and who will supervise the adults [of those kids] left to their own “DEVICES”?
“I, like, had this amazing time this weekend”.
“like, he didn’t know how to do a simple thing…”.
” this is, like, the only way to do it. Lol”.
” she’s totally going to call you!”.
” I just studied for 2 hours lol”.
” he’s going to call you in total fashion”.
“idk becoz it’s like that!”.
“Is she/he like, for real?”.
‘like’, ‘lmao’, ‘idk’, ‘totally’, ‘yolo’, ‘lol’, ‘lmfao’ and an increase in salty language and/or public profanity assume we’re all in this together since they’ve become casual.
time was when ‘damn’, ‘hell’ or ‘shit’ couldn’t be found in the dictionary except for its literal meaning. even today when I write the word ‘rape’ the spell check changes it to ‘tape’ every time. it simply refuses to type ‘rape’. and forget about the word ‘negro.’ when I was writing about 12 years a slave or the role of history in some races, spell check refused to type ‘negro’. spellcheck also refuses to type words like slut, giving me smut instead, and I must constantly double and triple check before publishing anything.
our culture is very forward thinking compared to most, and not only in langauge. we have taken first place in cinema from the french, italians, and russians who turned out great masters of directing and great cinema. we’ve included same sex in our equality values. we’ve embraced differences like no other country would: we don’t ban or make laws preventing others from donning hijabs, saris, yarmulkes, crosses etc or freedom of speech, and on top of all of that we have affirmative action should any of the aforementioned right be threatened or violated.
still, spellcheck doesn’t recognize rape, slut, negro because they’ve become offensive epithets and also politically incorrect, voiding them of their original racist sting. spellcheck is quite politically correct!
we rule in celebrating our openness to language and culture because a keystone of education in the US is to foster awareness of, and respect for, diversity of opinions and attire and beliefs.
but as forward thinking as we are in so much, we are backward thinking when it comes to language, especially grammar and spelling.
“like” seems to be a sloppy substitute for a precise word or a word, period! this language is employed by a certain age group who text at the speed of perhaps light, and whose mode of conversation has become textual [ and I don't mean from a text, but texting]. but when confronted with a paper to write these same folks don’t know how to spell and compose sentences. my students didn’t know that “i.e.” means ‘that is’ so they read it as the actual letters “i.e.” and not ‘that is’ when I asked them to read aloud.
spell check is there to help, but does your computer always know the difference between ‘new’ and ‘knew’ or ‘their’ and ‘there’ if the writer doesn’t?
the latest word now is ‘literally’. i no longer use that word. millenials have wiped that word clean out of my dictionary! and just as I hesitate to use ‘like’ even as a simile, in its correct form, I now hesitate on ‘literally’. I have begun to wince if ‘like’ or ‘literally’ enter my head. I stop them short of falling off my tongue and becoming language!
what happens when words like ‘lol’ or ‘like’ or ‘totally’ or ‘literally’ take on different meanings and enter the urban, Oxford or Webster dictionaries? will programs be written to enlarge meanings of words previously taken to have a precise meaning? and will machines know what we wish to write?
enlarging one’s vocabulary is always good. a friend recently taught me 2 new words: zinger and trifecta. i quite like them. but abbreviating vocabulary in the way it’s done today by millennials and wanna-be millenials poses another problem: it decreases one’s vocabulary skills in writing. these days students write the same way they talk. they – and even teachers – don’t know that ‘a lot’ is two words or that ‘your’ is different from ‘you’re’.
where are the meaty words such as [not like] “dissendium” or “apparate” or “disapparate” or “obliviate” or ‘inglorious’, which all sound so very powerful and real?