Archive for September, 2012

life as a story

From Don Miller’s “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”

“I wondered if life could be lived more like a good story in the first place. I wondered whether a person could plan a story for his life and live it intentionally” (39).

“A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it” (48).

“[Jason] hadn’t provided a better role for his daughter. He hadn’t mapped out a story for his family. And so his daughter had chosen another story, a story in which she was wanted, even if she was only being used. In the absence of a family story, she’d chosen a story in which there was risk and adventure, rebellion and independence. ‘She’s not a bad girl,’ my friend said. ‘She was just choosing the best story available to her’” (51).

“I knew if we were going to tell a good story, it would have to involve risk” (52).


michael chabon, columbia-md, and race

I was taught by black teachers alongside black children from diverse backgrounds — poor and middle class, Southern and Northern, country and ghetto, Army brats and the children of black lawyers and doctors — that the battle for civil rights was a shining part of American history, very much on the model of the Second World War. A terrible conflict had consumed the efforts of people I considered to be my personal heroes, and then the good guys had won. For proof of this, I needed to look no further than my best friends, my neighbors, my favorite teachers, so many of whom were black. Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Charles Drew: in the City of the Future, in 1970, a young Jewish boy could look at the lives of these people and feel connected to them, indebted to them — in a very real way, descended from them. Because if there was one salient fact about the black history that I learned, from the lips of black teachers, as a boy growing up in Columbia, Md., it was this: Black history was my history too. Black music was my music, and black art was my art, and the struggles and the sufferings of black heroes were undertaken not just for the sake of their fellow African-Americans but for my sake, and for the good of us all.

When I left the City of the Future to attend college in Pittsburgh, I began the journey that eventually landed me at last in the capital of the eternal American present: Los Angeles. And on that morning of the Simpson verdict, I discovered, to my shame, to my absolute wonder and horror, that in the course of that journey I had, somehow, become a racist. To qualify as a racist you don’t have to go to the extreme of slurring, stereotyping or discriminating against people of another race. All you have to do, as I realized on that autumn morning in 1995, is feel completely disconnected from them.

september stuff

To those who are FB friends–have been off for about a week to give me some space as I try to submit some R&Rs to journals and work on class prep. I may just stay off indefinitely; it’s definitely helping productivity.

“Conditional acceptance” is a bit of an oxymoron, but it’s sweet news in the world of peer-review. High five to my collaborators Nick (Bowman) n’ Nida (Denson) for a great job pulling together our paper on socioeconomic diversity.

I am really enjoying teaching this semester–what a privilege to get to see the light bulbs go off in students’ heads.

Welcome to our new director of Asian American Studies at UMD, Janelle Wong! Although it has been hard for me to get over to AAST so far, it’s incredibly exciting to have Janelle and her energy/scholarship/leadership here at UMD.

marilynne robinson

To think that only faultless people are worthwhile seems like an incredible exclusion of almost everything of deep value in the human saga…

People are frightened of themselves. It’s like Freud saying that the best thing is to have no sensation at all, as if we’re supposed to live painlessly and unconsciously in the world. I have a much different view. The ancients are right: the dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of this, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege.

Interview with MR in the Paris Review

who votes? yo mama

She sure does!

Asian Americans between 18 and 24 years old were among the least likely to vote in the 2004 presidential election . . . Just 35.5% of Asian American voters in the 18- to 24- year-old category cast a ballot in the 2004 national election, compared to 47% of the overall 18-24 population. (from here)

why this guy likes mormons

Fascinating. And hooray for caffeine-free Diet Coke:

voting id and asian americans

Cribbed from JZP:

Critics of new voter ID laws say they may prove challenging for some Asian Americans. The difference in foreign name structures on documents could mean some legally registered voters will be unable to vote. If you’re an Asian American, are you worried? Share your thoughts and experiences with us at