What a difference a day makes

Well, a year, actually.

I am in the second year of my graduate program and I would never have expected that to matter as much as it does.

For starters, I’m not crazed with massive amounts of reading this year. This is not to say there’s only a little of it; anthropology is a reading intensive subject, let’s face it. But I have amounts of reading to do that are actually humanly possible.

I like that.

At the same time, as a second year, I feel like I’m more involved with the mechanics of the department, and those sorts of politics have taken up a noticeable chunk of my time and neurons.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. 
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You don’t know my kind in your world

no-racismAs you may have noticed — or you would have noticed if you’d guessed that it was at all relevant — I don’t spend much time talking about race on this blog. It’s not that I have no thoughts on the subject. At one point in my life, I had enough thoughts on the subject to write a 300+ page transcript about it. But it has never been a topic that I have allowed to run my life.

It’s kind of difficult to describe my attitude about it.

I’m neither angry nor bitter. I have never in my life made any decision about anything with the thought in my head that I can’t do something because they won’t let me. I have never let my race interfere with anything that I decided I wanted to do. It is a fact of my appearance of which I am aware, in much the same way that I am aware that my eyes are brown and that I am 5’5″ tall.

But don’t mistake me. None of this means that I am unaware of the deeply embedded racism that is pervasive in the society in which I live. I don’t get angry when that racism rears its head in particularly spectacular ways (Dylan Root comes to mind) because I have developed a profound cynicism about it over the years of my life. I am no longer surprised or terribly disillusioned by anything I hear because I have never believed that mainstream America has made any real strides toward obliterating racism at all in the 45 years or so since I started paying attention.

In spite of that, on a day-to-day basis, I spend zero time pondering my blackness, or considering my blackness, or thinking about it in any way. For me, it’s just there. The only time it attaches itself to me as a viscerally felt part of my identity is when somebody else makes it a thing.
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Why are middle-aged whites dying?

Like pretty much everything this guy writes, this is quite thought-provoking. I don’t know about you, but I like having my thoughts provoked.

The Weekly Sift

I’m doing fine, but my cousin is dead.

Look at this graph :

In 1990, the death rate for American whites aged 45-54 (USW) was within the normal range of similarly aged people in comparable countries, and similar to the death rate for middle-aged American Hispanics (USH). In all the other countries, death rates continued their centuries-long trend of dropping, with USH tracking the United Kingdom rate almost perfectly. But starting in 1998, USW turns up.

A good summary of this new study is in The Atlantic. The upshot is that about half a million American whites are dead who would be alive if USW death rates had followed the downward track of other first-world countries. The effect seems concentrated in the less-educated classes, and the cause is a sudden jump in the rate of what are called “poisonings” — mainly deaths related to alcohol and drugs —…

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Back to the beginning again


Sometimes, things don’t go the way you want them to … and it really sucks. Things have not been going the way I wanted them to in my life pretty much all month.

Possibly you will remember all that stuff I was waiting for so impatiently last month? Well, a bunch of it came down the pike but things didn’t play out anything like the way I wanted them to and now I get to pick up the pieces.

My plans to move out of the state have been temporarily stymied. That is the biggest of the big deals.

For starters, I didn’t get into graduate school. I have been told that I had a very competitive application but, thanks to a combination of the (poor) luck of the draw and the sort of political bureaucratic waltzing that happens in academia, I got passed over. I have gotten some very good feedback from a couple of sources, which makes me feel a little better, and I am prepared to give this one more shot before I decide that my life dream is destined to be a dud.

I will admit that it’s hard not to get really down and depressed by this turn of events — which is the main reason why you haven’t heard from me for most of the month. In light of the kind of winter we’ve been having, I had been looking forward to moving south but that’s not going to happen either. And that has to do with the money.
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