What if professors really are human? (On Professor Walter Vale of The Visitor)

As I watched the beginning section of The Visitor and was introduced to Walter Vale, a sad-sack economics professor, I was prompted to think about professorial characters in film. They are usually male and often either wacky, depressed, unfaithful, or horrible teachers (or all of the above).

I love the film Wonder Boys, but Douglas’ character is hardly an overly positive representation. I also liked Smart People. But, that professor also fell into the typical type-casting noted above. As for the husband/professor in Terms of Endearment, well how dare he treat the wonderful Debra Winger that way! I suppose Indiana Jones is a quite positive, albeit rabidly unrealistic, celluloid professor.

Watching The Visitor, I found myself asking “Where are the women?” (This is pretty much a refrain in my head as I watch TV/film as men outnumber women like a bazillion to one on the screen.)

The only woman professor that I can think of in a film is Julia Roberts character in Mona Lisa’s Smile. It’s been a long time since I saw that movie, but I remember having a love/hate relationship with it. I liked that Robert’s character was smart, funny, and a good teacher. I didn’t like they had to include the romance narrative for her character or all the other females. Doing so mitigated against the “you don’t have to get married just because you have a vagina” message of the film. Also, as I recall, the film was seething with privilege of the white, hetero, moneyed variety.

The Visitor carries on the tradition of what seems like a rather unchanging representation of bad college professors in movies.  (Readers, please let me know if you can thing of positive professor’s in movies!) Does Hollywood have something against my kind?

In the film, when a flustered student comes to Professor Vale’s office with a late paper, Vale curtly refuses it, acting out the stereotype of professor as non-emotive robot. I do have a strict policy on late work myself, but I am human – when life gets in the way of churning out that academic masterpiece, I take context into account (as do almost all profs I know).

As we learn in the first quarter hour or so of the film, Professor Vale is lacking in human social/emotional skills, let alone teaching acumen. He lectures from the podium to largely empty seats, marking him as someone who has not read his hooks or Friere. He has not supplied the students with a syllabus, though it is weeks into the semester. Then, horror of horrors, we see him simply whiting out the date on a syllabus from several years ago, presumably to teach the same exact course he has been slogging through for 20 years. No wonder why those seats are empty.

Finally, we learn he has not really co-authored the paper he is asked to deliver at an NY conference, but only read it. Further, he is not really writing the book he uses as an excuse for course releases. Not only on tenure review committees, but on Ratemyprofessor.com, he would be raked over the coals!

After this introduction to Professor Apathy, the film makes a sharp turn to explore issues of immigration, globalization, incarceration, and, yes, the meaning of life.

What finally wakes Professor Vale from his academic slumber is the friendship he forms with a trio of people after being forced to travel to an academic conference in New York. Once there, he finds his Manhattan apartment inhabited unexpectedly by Tarek and Zainab, both who are in the US “illegally.” (I put this term in italics as I do not believe humans can be “illegal” and question the linguistic ways US culture deems some as worthy of citizenship and others as “illegal.” Acts can be illegal, people cannot.)

Walter and Tarek become good friends, bonding through music and the drumbeats of New York life. Meanwhile, Walter doggedly attends his academic conference, which is portrayed as boring, meaningless, and devoid of real human contact. Incidentally, the conference scenes show most of the academics in formal business suits. I have been to many academic conferences, albeit none of them economic ones, and NONE of them have been populated by people wearing suits only. Blazers maybe,  but formal three piece business suits? No. What the film seems to attempt to convey in these conference images (as well as in the representation of departmental meetings) is: ACADEMICS ARE BORING! They have no idea what is going on in the real world! They talk in academic jargon about pointless stuff!

Certainly, some of these negative depictions are partly true. There are a lot of boring academics and some that don’t know much beyond their ivory tower area of expertise. Many do speak ‘academese.’  Yet, MOST are not this way (at least not in my experience). The academics I have known care about the world and making it a better place –  they seek new knowledge and experiences. And, while they might use three and four syllable words more often than the next person, they are generally pretty interesting and certainly do not dress in three piece suits!

So, while I liked the broader messages of the film (the critical view of (im)migration policies, the scathing critique of the prison industrial complex, the global focus that reveals white/western privilege), I took issue with the professors are not quite human framing. For Professor Vale, it is the ‘real humans,’ the ones that play music, have sex, and enjoy food, which must bring him back to life.

Walter’s friendship with Tarek, Mouna, and Zainab are what return him to the human side of this dichotomy. Even the names are telling here – Walter is boring and redundant, while a name like “Zainab” is full of verve and originality. It takes real humans with cool names to save this sad, boring, hopelessly un-cool robotic shell of a professor – that, and of course, a little hetero loving.

It was a great film, but sadly, yet another negative depiction of a professor.

(And, as a side note, I am off to one of those “boring” conferences the film derides, but it promises to be anything but boring. We will not be wearing three piece suits  – rather, we will be protesting at the Pentagon, lobbying at the White House, and strategizing about how to de-militarize the globe. If you live in DC and want to take part, or if you are interested in de-militarization generally, go here to check it out. As I will be at this conference all weekend, I won’t’ be online again until likely Monday afternoon. Sorry in advance for any delay in responding to comments/links.)

What if women and men got equal skin coverage?

The Academy Awards this past Sunday reminded me of the rabidly unequal skin coverage our culture consists of. As per usual, female shoulders, necklines, arms, and sometimes legs were bare, while men were all tuxedo-ed up. The tiny snippet I saw of the red carpet nauseated me. Some man was tearing women to shreds, noting this ones dress looked like a napkin and that one didn’t know how to stand or pose properly. Assessing them like pieces of meat, he and other red carpet mouthpieces enacted a type of sexism our cultures loves so well – the objectifying male gaze.

This gaze was particularly apparent in various high profile magazine covers from late 2008 that showed excessive skin. However, this skin exposure was not equally distributed between female and male bodies. In fact, the only type of skin that was heavily exposed in mainstream mags was of the “hot hetero white woman” variety.

For fully nude but ever so “artfully” covered bodies, take Jennifer Aniston on the cover of GQ:

Or, Kate Winslet on the cover of Vanity Fair:

For more partially clothed with mega skin exposure of the “hot woman” paradigm, here is Tina Fey on the cover of Vanity Fair:

Where are the naked or skin exposed men? Well, unless you look at health or body building or non-hetero directed magazines, you won’t find any. Once in awhile a you will see  “hot six pack” exposure. Or, you might see a lot of David Beckham skin (however it might be next to lots of Victoria’s).  Further, such male skin exposure is usually framed around an athleticized narrative – the body is “hot” because it is in such good shape and has such nice muscles. The body is strong and powerful.

Female skin exposure, on the other hand, does not require strong, healthy bodies. While some females exposed thus certainly are strong and athletic, the poses tend to sexualize the female body, rather than present the female as powerful or muscular. Often there is a come hither look or pose, a failure to look the viewer in the eye, and/or a suggestion that the pose is taken for (a) male(s) pleasure.

None of this analysis is new – Jean Kilbourne has, for years, done excellent work critiquing the unequal exposure of the female body, particularly in ads. Laura Mulvey’s work on the “male gaze” is also key here (see a post on this concept here).

However, the EXCESSIVE normalization of EXCESSIVE amounts of female skin is still a problem, despite all of the theory and activism that calls for a stop to such unequal exposure due to its very harmful effects on the human psyche — both female and male.

By setting up female body as the “to be looked at” body, and the male body as “the looker,” an unequal dynamic is put in place – a dynamic that promotes feelings of dominance and superiority in the looker. Moreover, this dynamic perpetuates heterenoromativiy, framed as it is as if males desire females and vice versa. Of course, there is much possibility for non-hetero or queer pleasure in media images with skin exposure, yet, when this pleasure is put under erasure or not explicity prounounced, is it really working to subvert normative concepts of gender/desire? Is such exposure “closeted”? And, if so, how could skin exposure be made less heteronormative, less sexist, and less patriarchal?

One option would be less skin exposure all around – and, I do think we need to question our current cultural propensity to sexualize EVERYTHING. I don’t think we should inundate our children with the message that “hot bodies” are a way to sell everything… Nor should we give them the message that exposing their own skin will lead to success, praise, or monetary gain. Yet, we do. Kids learn from Miley Cyrus (see Vanity Fair images below) or Vanessa Hutchins (see images below) that nude or nearly nude pics will get you all sorts of attention. Girls learn that showing their belly button or wearing their pants as low on the hips as possible will get positive reactions. Boys learn that muscular arms and chiseled abs are swoon worthy. Where are the messages about that most important body part – the brain?!?

So, while I will admit that the viewing of exposed skin can be pleasureful, I think we as a culture need to be more judicious about such exposure. We need less of it, and, when it is there, it needs to be EQUAL exposure – one six pack for every cleavage shot, one chiseled chest for every long leg – and, at least one body of color, one fat body, one short body, one disabled body, one old body, one non-cisgender body, and so on for every “ideal” body…

What if there was an Academy Award for best intersectional lens?

If, in addition to best picture, best actress, best director, and so on, the Oscars awarded “best intersectional lens,” Frozen River would be my pick. With its nuanced examination of class, race, white privilege, gender, geopolitical location and the global realities that simultaneously force migration and enable profit from human trafficking, the film functions as a less heavy handed and more globally aware Crash.

Unlike that Oscar winner, Frozen River is only nominated in two categories, best actress and best writing. I think it should also be up for best picture and best supporting actress. Plus, it should hands down win my suggestion for best intersectional. Heck, this film should prompt the creation of that award!

If such an award existed, how would other Oscar contenders fair?

Of the films I saw, The Visitor would also deserve a nomination in such a category.  The astute representation of US immigration policy and its deleterious effects, the denunciation of incarceration/legal systems, the suggestion that the global economy is rabidly unjust, and the examination of race/class dynamics certainly make it the runner up. Yet, as is the case with almost all films I saw this year, it fails in the gender category. (I didn’t see The Wrestler but from previews it seems it could be another contender for an intersectional lens award).

Milk’s portrayal of gay rights and political activism gives it points for a social justice lens and LGBTQ factor. Yet, it was really only G with on one lone L and hardly a nod to B, T, or Q. There was one Asian gay male and one problematically exoticized gay Latino. As I watched, as much as I enjoyed Penn’s performance and the points the film made about activism, I kept asking “Where are the women? Where are the queers? Where are POC?” Was SF really that damn white and male?

As for Slumdog Millionairre, the focus on class was laudable, but the heteronormatvie romance theme accompanied by the rags to riches fairy tale framing was hardly groundbreaking. Good music, great cinematography, great acting, great characters, yes. But great intersectional film? No. (Especially given the film’s failure to locate the analysis of class and violence in a globalized frame that took Western hegemony/imperialism to task.)

Doubt critiqued patriarchy and sexism in relation to religion, education, race, and class. And I don’t know of a better film exploring the hierarchical gendered dynamics of the priest/nun dichotomy. Yet, all the key issues the film circulates around were dealt with a bit too subtly to give it intersectional woomph. When I saw it as a play, the narrow confines of the stage made for a sharper critique.

The Changeling lacked any intersectional edge. This was particularly disappointing given the narrative was rife for more focus on gender, class, and the institutution of motherhood in a historicized context. The film gestured toward the sexism governing the police force and the wider society, but the sex/class dynamics only hovered at the edges, never making their way into the body of the narrative. Plus, were the nods to heteronormative romance thrown in at the end really necessary? Like Collins will be ok now that her boss has asked her out to dinner or a cute detective gave her the look. Ugh.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button never moved beyond its “curious” nostalgia, romance, and wish-fulfillment. This was especially frustrating given the rich characters and the complex, shifting socio-historical moments the film circulates around (ala Forrest Gump). The movie danced  around race, class, and ageism, yet skirted any real engagement with these let alone with either the war/militarization or the Hurricane Katrina framing.

Wall*E focused on corporate consumer capitalism and environmental devastation but gets a zero for its representation of gender, race, class, and sexuality. Double zero for the fat hating components of the narrative. For more on Wall*E, see one of my most widely read posts: “What if Wall*E and Eve lived in a future populated by transgender queer robots” here.

I am still processing my reaction to The Reader. I think the gendered dynamics of Winslet’s character, the other female SS guards, and the nearly all male judicial system could have been teased out more. The representation of all the women turning against Hannah with Michael being her lone prince smacked of stereotypical sexist portrayal-as did the depiction of the “survival” Jewish daughter at the end.

Dark Knight
doesn’t deserve an intersectional nod either. I found its portrayal of race particularly problematic, as noted here.

If you haven’t seen it, please please please see Frozen River. Its out on DVD and its intersectional focus, strong acting, superb writing, and over-all societal critique is worth your time – way more so than crazy red carpet shenanigans. (I admit to watching the Awards, but the pre and post show stuff is too much for me. I even tape the show itself it so I can have the fast forward button at the ready).

Who knows, maybe we will have a “Feminist Film Awards” show someday on mainstream television (and yes, Ellen would be a great host  — or Margaret Cho – or Wanda Sykes – or all three!)- if so, hopefully we could focus less on the dress and more on the content/messages of the films.

What if we, as feminist bloggers, are governing our actions by the ethics of a lifeboat?

When I started this blog last May, I was a blog virgin. I had never blogged let alone read many blogs.

A woman near and dear to me had suggested I start a blog on a whim, noting that as I love to write so much, and academic writing is such a slow, cumbersome, rule-bound process, I should give blogging a try. With visions of pornified MySpace pages in my head, I was wary of the virtual style of communication. I wondered if my convictions that writing can serve as an important form of feminist activism and that theorizing (a la hooks) is a libratory practice could translate to the online universe.

I didn’t realize until diving into the blog waters how rich, vibrant, and diverse the blogosphere is. Being a feminist, I gravitated towards the deep pool of feminist blogs. However, I soon hit some rocks as I swam through the sometimes murky sometimes far too facile waters. I was variously buoyed up and drowned, wondering when and if feminism might serve as a floating device rather than an anchor. Among exhilarating surfs through intellectually critical prose, I was dismayed to find some serious pollution in the waters. White privilege clogged the atmosphere. Cisgender perspectives, transphobia, and heteronormanativty seeped into the discourse. Attacks and vehemence flowed, sometimes in a trickle, sometimes in torrents (and not only from foul trolls, but from feminist bloggers themselves).

As I kept writing and kept reading, I found myself variously exhilarated and depressed. The new ideas, the critical work being done in virtual spaces, the sense of community – all these were akin to a thrilling white water ride. But, the in-fighting, the ‘waves’ attacking one another, the highlighting of some voices and the silencing of others, these were like drowning yet again in all the problems that have plagued feminism for so long.

From the start, I had intended to invite both bloggers and non-bloggers to write at Professor, What if. Motivated both at a practical level and a theoretical one, I hoped to be able to keep my blog chugging along during the heat of the semester and full-time teaching AND to open up my little space to a diversity of voices. However, thanks to my communication with other feminist bloggers, I have come to see that the guest blogging paradigm can be exploitive. Further, it can serve to keep the ‘big fish’ firmly at the top of the food chain as the little minnows struggle not to be swallowed up.

I still have hope that sharing our virtual spaces and voices can be productive and transformative, but I realize now that these waters require very careful navigation if the intention is to keep everyone afloat. This concern brings the infamous essay “Lifeboat Ethics” to mind with its chilling premise there is not enough room in the boat for everyone. As its subtitle, “The Case against Helping the Poor,” indicates, the thesis purports we must govern our actions by the ethics of the lifeboat and realize there is not resources for everyone in the world to thrive.

As feminist bloggers, we must work against such a paradigm and endeavor to keep everyone afloat. Both those that request guest posts and those who agree to be guest bloggers should aim to keep everyone in feminist blog waters alive and well. Unlike that final sinking scene in the Titanic where those in the water are frantically pushing others down into the water to save themselves, I hope we can find a way to swim, rather than sink, together.

The first guest post will speak to some of these concerns, addressing the worrisome ways the feminist blogosphere functions as an empire, or lifeboat, rather than a flotation device. Do we want to be the colonizers, the colonized, or do away with the imperial process altogether? Do we want to launch a select few to safe land while letting others drown? While most feminists would immediately voice disdain for imperialist practices that exploit and oppress, I think we need to think very carefully about how our own actions sometimes further entrench, rather than erode, systems of power and privilege.

What if we made the incorrect and imprecise use of “illegal immigrant” illegal?

As Mirta Ojito argues in “No Human Being is ‘Illegal,'” the use of the term “illegal” is not only a crime against the craft of writing, it is also wildly imprecise, incorrect, and racist. As Ojito notes, the term “has become a strictly anti-Hispanic immigration battle cry. And nothing rallies this nation quicker and more efficiently than the presence of an alien. Particularly one who is also considered ‘illegal.'”

Lyle. E Davis relies on this anti-Latino, anti-human  battle cry in his front page story published February 5, 2009 in The Paper (a San Diego publication). I use the term “anti-human”  here because that is what the so-called “anti-illegal” stance is. Humans are not illegal; “illegal” describes the action of doing something against the law, NOT the person breaking the law. Are people driving 100 in the school zone illegals? Are rapists illegals? Why is it we only use this dehumanizing language in relation to (im)migrants?

The lead to “Illegal Immigrants Go Home!” reads as follows:


If you are a legal immigrant to the United States of America, we extend our hand in welcome. If you are illegal, you have broken the law and you need to go back to wherever you came from. You are not welcome here.”

Using a pompous tone to underscore his war cry (“We are very puzzled at the inability of otherwise intelligent people to grasp this common sense statement of facts”), Davis exudes blatant racism that is (not surprisingly) accompanied by amazingly bad writing (for instance, immigration laws are referred to as “goofy” repeatedly).

Oozing misinformation throughout, the article is so appallingly under-theorized and so thoroughly saturated with hate-mongering that I entreat you to write a letter to the editor here (who is, in fact, Davis himself) and also to voice your protest to the businesses that carry this atrocious waste of paper (for the full list, see below).

Every paragraph drips with prejudiced cant, forwarding tired notions such as only “taxpayers” deserve to be in the US. This taxpayer argument is filled with holes. It goes like this: “if you don’t contribute taxes to the economy, you shouldn’t get citizen benefits such as education, health care, social services, etc. Well, guess what? Immigrants DO pay taxes! I am puzzled by the inability of the author to grasp this basic fact.

According to the ACLU, “on average, immigrants generate public revenue that exceeds their public costs over time-approximately $80,000 more in taxes than they receive in state, federal and local benefits over their life times.”

Justice for Immigrants similarly reports:

“Between one half and three quarters of undocumented immigrants pay state and federal taxes.  They also contribute to Medicare and provide as much as 7 billion dollars a year to the Social Security Fund.  Further still, undocumented workers pay sales taxes where applicable and property taxes-directly if they own and indirectly if they rent.

The immigrant community is not a drain on the U.S. economy but, in fact, proves to be a net benefit.  Research reported by both the CATO Institute and the President’s Council of Economic Advisors reveals that the average immigrant pays a net 80,000 dollars more in taxes than they collect in government services. For immigrants with college degrees the net fiscal return is $198,000.  Furthermore, The American Farm Bureau asserts that without guest workers the U.S. economy would lose as much as $9 billion a year in agricultural production and 20 percent of current production would go overseas.”

The article by Davis also covers what it terms “The Economic Impact on Schools of Illegal Aliens,” suggesting that “children of illegal aliens” are “draining” the system. Yeah, cuz only white kids of Western European descent deserve an education. How about the human rights notion that ALL children deserve to be educated? Is the author, with his obsession with legality, concerned about the children of rapists and murderers? Should they too be barred from an education? How about the children of bigots like himself? The humane answer is that ALL children, regardless of who their parents are or what they do, deserve equal opportunities and equal access to education.

Davis then claims that “It is likely that the single biggest cost to the county (but not to the county government) of undocumented immigrants is unreimbursed emergency medical care.” Costs, costs, costs – but where is the discussion of the BENEFITS migrants bring to the county/state/country? Where is the assessment of the contributions?  Ever eat lettuce or tomatoes Mr. Davis? How about fruit? Who do you think picks that vegetation? Do you drink wine? Any concept of how many migrants DIED this summer due to inhumane labor practices in California grape fields?

And, speaking of glaring omissions, where is the analysis of corporate globalization? Heard of NAFTA? Any idea of what drives migration?

The article also attempts to paint all migrants as gang members in a long section entitled “Illegal Aliens and Crime.” Nowhere does the article share that (im)migrants do not increase the crime rate and, in fact, commit FEWER crimes than native born Americans (see Justice for Immigrants here). The real crime is the fact that this claptrap was published in the first place. The real tragedy is that many will read this and nod in agreement, easily swallowing lies they have been force-fed for so long.

To ramp up the fear-mongering a bit more, the article notes “We do not know what they carry in their bodies,” depicting migrants as dripping with infectious diseases and just waiting to “cleverly” exploit the US health care  system. The author suggests the solution is to “Raise hell. Often.”  Yes, because addressing the bigger politics of domination that make migration a necessity such as corporate capitalism, globalization, and empire would be a bit of a stretch for someone who sums up the immigration system with the ever so-intellectual sentiment “it’s goofy.”

Lastly, the author has the audacity to end with the claim that he is NOT anti-Latino, claiming “It’s only illegal immigrants I reject.” He then lists a number of awards and recognitions that supposedly prove he isn’t racist, noting he is “close friends with many Latino families.” Yeah, just like Sarah Palin has a gay friend. Please.

I am dismayed such a sorry excuse of journalism made the light of day in San Diego last week. I hope you will be angered enough to write the editor and to boy/girlcott the businesses that refuse to stop circulating this paper (see the list below). Those of us who believe ALL humans deserve an equal chance on this planet of ours need to raise hell by loudly voicing our discontent when such bigotry tries to pass itself off as a voice of reason.

As for you, Mr. Davis, do us all a favor and stop marring journalistic integrity. Perhaps it should be illegal for someone such as yourself to be an editor.

And, just for good measure, here is a sampling of immigration myths verses facts from the ACLU website:

MYTH: Immigrants are a drain on our social services.
FACT: By paying taxes and Social Security, immigrants contribute far more to government coffers than they use in social services.

MYTH: Immigrants have a negative impact on the economy and the wages of citizens and take jobs away from citizens.
FACT: Immigration has a positive effect on the American economy as a whole and on the income of native-born workers.

MYTH: Immigrants-particularly Latino immigrants-don’t want to learn English.
FACT: Immigrants, including Latino immigrants, believe they need to learn English in order to succeed in the United States, and the majority uses at least some English at work.

MYTH: Immigrants don’t want to become citizens.
FACT: Many immigrants to the United States seek citizenship, even in the face of difficult requirements and huge backlogs that can delay the process for years.

MYTH: Immigrants don’t pay taxes.
FACT: Almost all immigrants pay income taxes even though they can’t benefit from most federal and state local assistance programs and all immigrants pay sales and property taxes.

MYTH: Immigrants send all their money back to their home countries instead of spending money here.
FACT: Immigrants do send money to family members, making it possible for more people to stay in their home countries rather than migrating to the United States. Importantly, sending remittances home does not keep immigrants from spending money in the United States.

MYTH: Immigrants bring crime to our cities and towns.
FACT: Immigrants are actually far less likely to commit crimes than their native-born counterparts. Even as the undocumented population has increased in the United States, crime rates have decreased significantly.

Businesses in San Diego County that carry this sad waste of paper:


Carefree MHP Citrus Ave., south of E. Valley Parkway
Truly Yours Restaurant E. Valley Parkway at Midway
Midway Mobil E. Valley Parkway at Midway
East Valley Parkway Community Center Library
Downey Savings & Loan E. Valley Parkway at Citrus
Town & Country MHP 2280 E. Valley Parkway
Rancho Satellite 1980 B E. Valley Pkwy
Big Ernie’s Rib Shack 1815 E. Valley Pkwy
Farmer Brothers 1350 E. Valley Parkway
Postal Depot 1341 E. Valley Parkway
Submarina 1300 E. Valley Parkway
Marte’s Donuts 1131 E. Washington
Videotown 1131 E. Washington
Villa del Rey Retirement 1351 E. Washington/Hickory
Mega Tom’s Restaurant Elm & E. Valley Pkway
Palomar Hospital 550 E. Valley Parkway
Palomar Emergency room 550 E. Valley Parkway
Redwood Town Court E. Valley Pkwy
Charlie’s Restaurant Ivy & Valley Parkway
S.D. Credit Union Broadway & Valley Pkwy
Joes Glass Shack 228 N. Broadway
George Burgers 350 N. Broadway
Jalapeno Grill 503 W. Grand
Escondido Library 2nd & Kalmia
The Blue Mug 122 S. Kalmia
Continental Deli 201 E. Grand
Taste of Florence 340 E. Grand
Fillipi’s. 114 W. Grand
Downtown Deli 138 W. Grand
Bank of Escondido 200 W. Grand
Dominic’s Restaurant Regal Theatre Centre
La Tapatia 340 W. Grand
Champions Restaurant W. Grand
Discount Tire 209 S. Escondido Blvd
Escondido Lumber 310 S. Quince
Gems n’ Loans 340 2nd Avenue
Westside Cafe Redwood at 9th Ave
Redwood Terrace 710 Thirteen Ave
Redwood Elderlink 13th & Redwood
Major Market S. Center City at Felicita
Centre City Cafe 2680 S. Escondido Blvd
Animal Urgent Care 2430 S. Esconidido Blvd.
Hot Shot Burgers 2250 S. Escondido Blvd
Mohnacky Animal Hospital 2250 S. Escondido Blvd
Brigantine Restaurant S. Center City at Felicita
Escondido Workout S. Center City at Felicita
Jimbo’s 1633 South Centre City Parkway
Pho Hong Cali 330 W. Felicita
Discover Infiniti 9th & Terrazza
Mercedes Benz 9th & Terrazza
Escondido Chamber of Commerce 720 N. Broadway
Joslyn Senior Center Escondido
American Legion
Kaiser Permanente Primary Care N. Bdwy & Mission
Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy
Kaiser Permanente Laboratory
Kaiser Permanente Nurse Stn
Kaiser Permanente Primary/2nd floor
Discount Tire 550 N. Broadway
Dominic’s Regal Theatre Complex
Witt Lincoln/Mercury 728 N. Esc. Blvd.
Holiday Wine Cellar 301 W. Mission
Golden Egg Omelet House Corner Center City Pkwy & Mission
Comstock Bar & Grill 316 W. Mission
Bob’s Gems 250 W. Crest, Suite A
Beauty Shop (next door)
Dr. Lim’s Chiropractic Office 205 W. Mission – “P”
Old Mission Jewelry 343 W. Mission
Chicken’s Plus Greek Restaurant 309 W. Mission
Wagon Wheel Restaurant Mission/Center City Pkwy
Koko Loco Centre City Pkwy
Coco’s/Serby’s Lounge 501 W. Washington
Young Cadillac 1515 Auto Park Wy North
Escondido Audi Auto Park Way
Escondido Mazda Auto Park Way
Brecht BMW Service 1555 Auto Park Way N
Heller Ford 1717 Auto Park Way
Heller Ford Hyundai/Suzuki 1717 Auto Park Way South
Heller Auto Group 1717 Auto Park Way
Jack Powell Chrysler/Plymouth 1625 Auto Park Way S
Mossy Nissan 1551 Auto Park Way N
Grangettos 1105 W. Mission
Pine Tree Lumber 707 N. Andreason
Farmer’s Brothers Restaurant 937 W. Mission
Cocina del Charro 525 N. Quince
El Norte Medical Grp 306 W. El Norte Pkwy
Dairy Queen 310 W. El Norte Pkwy
CVS Drugs 318 W. El Norte Pkwy
UPS Store W. El Norte Pkwy
El Norte Gas & Car Wash El Norte Pkwy at I-15
7/11 Store W Valley at I-15
Toyota Scion 231 E. Lincoln Ave
Toyota Trucks 231 E. Lincoln Ave
Toyota Used Cars 231 E. Lincoln Ave.
Escondido Country Club
Blue Mug 1882 W. El Norte
Madrid Manor 1401 El Norte Pkwy
Rancho Escondido 525 W El Norte Pkwy
Escondido Workoug 17th & Juniper

San Marcos

The Engraving Place RSF Road/Palomar Airport Rd
UPS Store 663 S. RSF Rd.
Debbie’s Pie Shop 740 Nordahl
Concentra Medical 740 Nordahl #117
Agusa’s Super Sandwich 740 Nordahl Rd. #118
Starbucks 751 Center Dr #111
Dalton’s Road House 751 Center Drive
Stater Bros Grocery 1330 E. Mission
#1 Nails 1300 E. Mission
Kinalay Thai Restaurant 1252 E. Mission
Smoke Shop 1250 E. Mission
Yum Yum Donuts 1240 E. Mission
Albertson’s 151 Woodland Pkwy
Postal Annex 197 Woodland Pkwy #104
San Marcos Family Restaurant 576 E. Mission Road
Dr. Mark Cafagna 456 E. Mission
San Marcos Community Center Civic Center
San Marcos City Hall Civic Center
LA Fitness Civic Center
Subway 7664 Concerto Lane
Sombrero Mexican Restaurant 7664 Concerto Lane #103
Supreme Donuts 108 Pico
San Marcos Senior Center 111 Richmar Ave.
Supreme Donuts 108 Pico
Tina’s Deli 760 N. Twin Oaks Valley Rd.
Hampton Inn 123 Carmel St
Ralph’s Pharmacy College Center
Prestige Nails 313 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road #113
Campus Dental 314 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road #112
Longs Drugs 320 S Twin Oaks Valley Rd
Sports Legend 328 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road
Mr. Taco 342 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd
Starbucks 344 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd. #145
Subway 344 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd #344
Kaiser Medical Craven Road
San Marcos Care Center 120 Craven Rd.
Denny’s San Marcos Blvd
Subway 727 San Marcos Blvd #727
Sansai Japanese Grill 575 Grand Avenue
Janbu’s Juice 100 Grand
Quiznos 575 Grand Avenue
Ramada Hotel 517 W. San Marcos Blvd
Camping World 200 Travelers Way
Alberto’s Tacos Home Depot Center/SM Blvd #103
Starbucks 126 Knoll Road
Panda Express 696 W. SM Blvd
Evans Tire 736 San Marcos Blvd
San Diego Credit Union 790 San Marcos Blvd
Acapulco Restaurant
55 Yard Line Restaurant Row
Cocina del Charro Restaurant Row
Papa Bambino’s
George’s Burgers 217 N. Las Posas
Corner Liquor 1660 Capalina
Sorrento’s Italian 1450 W. Mission Road
Churchill English 887 W. San Marcos Blvd
Graybill Clinic 1595 Grand Avenue
Panda Garden
Starbucks 131 Las Posas
Senor Pancho’s Mex Grill 1909 W. SM Blvd
Washington Mutual 130 Las Posas
Leann’s Café 1045 San Marino Dr. #334
The Quails Restaurant 1035 La Bonita Drive
Brookdale Senior 1590 Security Place
Silvergate Senior 1550 Security Place
SM Car Wash 355 S. Rancho Santa Fe
John Smylies Law 3643 Grand Avenue
Graybill Clinic 1595 Grand Avenue
Rite Aid Drug 121 S. Rancho Santa Fe
RSF Gas 105 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road
Corner Liquor 1660 Capalina
George’s Burgers 217 N. Las Posas
Martinizing 172 Las Posas
Sprout’s 149 Las Posas
Pat & Oscars 153 Las Posas
Starbucks 100 San Marcos Blvd
Juice It Up 153 Las Posas #144
The Love Boat 121 S. Las Posas #122
California Coast Credit Union 140 Knoll Road
The Computer Factory 847 W. SM Blvd.
Dr. Zarnowitz Orthodontics 800 W. SM Blvd
Tony’s Barber Shop 940 C San Marcos Blvd
Mama Kat’s 950 K. W. San Marcos Blvd.
Fish House Vera Cruz 360 Via Vera Cruz
Churchill English Pub 887 W. San Marcos Blvd
Ranchos Vallecitos MHP 3535 Linda Vista
Palomar Estates West 1930 W. San Marcos Blvd
Albertson’s 1929 W. SM Blvd
Tom’s Restaurant 1205 W. SM Blvd
Parisa Dental W. San Marcos Blvd
E-Food Stores 997 W. SM Blvd
Citibank 740 S. Rcho Santa Fe
Foster’s Donuts 627 S. Rcho Santa Fe
24 Hour Fitness 641 S. Rancho Santa Fe
Arby’s 1280 W. SM Blvd
IHOP 1020 W. SM Blvd #160
Old California Mining 1020 W. SM Blvd #118
Bruno’s 1020 W. SM Blvd #138
China Wokery Restaurant Row #142
Katsu Restaurant 1020 W. San Marcos
Market Street Café 1080 W. San Marcos Blvd
Maui Bistro              ”
Discovery Bank 338 Via Vera Cruz
Social Security 367 Via Vera Cruz
Tom’s Restaurant
Santana’s Mexican Grill


Shadowridge Country Club 1980 Shadow Ridge Dr
La Quinta Inn 630 Sycamore Ave.
IHOP 632 Eucalyptus
Diamond Donuts 730 Sycamore Ave.
Stater Brothers Sycamore Ave.
Subway 2440 S. Melrose
Kaiser 780 Shadowrdige
Kaiser Permanente (2nd Floor)
Kaiser Permanente (3rd Floor)
Tom’s #24 1116 Sycamore & Green Oaks Rd
Albertson’s Buena Vista and Melrose
CVS 1631 Melrose
Papa John’s 485 S. Melrose
Original Pancake House 425 S. Melrose
Inside Vista Court House 325 Melrose
Juror’s Lounge 325 Melrose
Pick Up Stix 251 S. Melrose Dr.
Rancho Vista Car Wash 600 Hacienda Dr.
Ohana Hawaiian BBQ 620 Hacienda Dr. 256
Pam’s Donuts 510 Hacienda Dr #109
Gems & Loans 925 S. Santa Fe
Mission Federal Credit Union 985 Escondido
Picket Fence Restaurant 953 S. Santa Fe Rd.
Vista City Hall 600 Eucalyptus Ave.
Vista Community Center 642 Vista Village Dr.
Frazier Farms Foods 225 Vista Village Dr.
North County Ford 450 E. Vista Way
Denny’s 540 W. Vista Way
Vista Way Cafe 868 E. Vista Way
7-11 895 E. Vista Way
Smile Care 1010 E. Vista Way #8
Community Clinic 900 Vale Terrace
Senior Center 1400 Vale Terrace
Post, Pack and Ship 1035 E. Vista Way
Hair Country Beauty Salon 1025 E. Vista Way
Albertson’s 1301 E. Vista Way
Rite Aid 1363 E. Vista Way
Guajome Park Academy 2000 N. Santa Fe Ave.
Vista HS Bobier Dr.
Vista Adult School ROP 305 Bobier
Stater Bro’s (inside Left) 1461 N. Santa Fe ave.
CVS 1441 N. Santa Fe.
Danish Donuts 1450 N. Santa Fe
Walgreens 1510 N. Santa Fe
San Diego Workout 1010 S. Santa Fe.
CVS Pharmacy 883 S. Santa Fe
Walgreens 802 S. Santa Fe
Melrose Trailer Park 510 N. Melrose
Tri City Hospital ER
Tri City Hospital Lobby
Tri City Hospital Laboratory
Tri City Hospital Restaurant
Tri City Cardiology Wait Room
Tri City Hospital Women’s Ctr


Tip Top Meats 6118 Paseo Del Norte
7/11 901 Palomar Airport Rd
TGIF Paseo del Norte
Lanikai Lane 6550 Ponto Drive
Lakeshore GardensMH 7201 Avenida Encinas
Chevron Station Avenida Encinas
Coin Laundry Avenida Encinas
Kaiser Permenente Avenida Encinas
Kaiser Pharmacy Avenida Encinas
Wish’s Deli 5365 Avenida Encinas
Inns of America 5010 Avenida Encinas
Westmart 4990 Avenida Encinas/Cannon Rd.
West Inns & Suites Hotel Avenida Encinas
AM / PM Tamarack & Hwy 5
Coin Laundry 973 Tamarack
Dinis Restaurant 3290 Carlsbad Blvd
Tamarack Bch. Resort 3200 Carlsbad Blvd.
Surf Motel 3136 Carlsbad Blvd.
Senior Grub Restaurant 377 Carlsbad Village Dr.
Vinaka Coffee 300 Carlsbad Village D. Suite 211
Submarina 300 Carlsbad Village D.
Ocean House Restaurant 2978 Carlsbad Blvd.
Danish Bakery 2805 Roosevelt St
Don’s Country Kitchen 2885 Roosevelt St
Vigilucci’s 2943 State St.
CK Beanz 2775 State St.
Coaster Station
Carlsbad By The Sea 2855 Carlsbad Blvd.
Ocean Palms Resort 2950 Ocean St.
Carlsbad Inn 3075 Carlsbad Blvd
Daily News Cafe 3001-A Carlsbad Blvd.
Circle K 201 Oak Avenue
Boys and Girls Club 3115 Roosevelt St.
Carlsbad Senior Center 799 Pine
Polls Mexican Restaurant 3055 Harding St.
Brighton Gardens 3140 El Camino Real
Vons inside Vons by Starbucks
Top of the Bagel 2540 El Camino Real
Borders Books 1905 Calle Barsallona
Jimbo’s 1935 Calle Barsallona
AM/PM Expo center
Vons 7720 El Camino Real
Albertsons 7660 El Camino Real
Circle K Gas Station El Camino Real
La Costa Coffee 6981 El Camino Real
New York Pizza El Camino Real
Rancho Carlsbad 5200 El Camino Real
Bobby’s Cafe 4901 El Camino Real
Rutherford Cafe 2262 Rutherford Rd.
Carlsbad Boys & Girls Club 7805 Centella
Carlsbad Chamber of Comm. 5934 Priestly
Le Place Deli 5950 La Place Ct
Courtyard/Marriott 5835 Owens Ave.
Ramada Hotel 751 Macadamia Dr
La Quinta Hotel 760 Macadamia Drive
Motel 6 750 Raintree Dr
Quality Inn 751 Raintree Dr
Chevron Station 1044 Carlsbad Village Dr

Car Country Carlsbad

Carlsbad Volvo 6830 Avenida Encinas
Hoehn Acura 5556 Paseo del Norte
Ken Grody Ford 5555 Paseo del Norte
Lexus Carlsbad 5444 Paseo del Norte
Rorick Buick Cadillac 5334 Paseo del Norte
Honda Paseo del Norte
Toyota Carlsbad 5424 Paseo del Norte
Weseloh Chevrolet 5335 Paseo del Norte
Worthington Dodge 5548 Paseo del Norte
Discover Hyundai 5285 Car Country Dr.
Hoehn Infiniti 5245 Car Country Dr.
Hoehn Motors 5475 Car Country Dr.
Hoehn Used Cars Car Country Dr.
Volvo Car Country Dr.


Einstein Bagels 2183 Vista Way
Coast Hwy Launderland 1904 Coast Hwy
Oceanside Beauty School 1575 S. Coast Hwy
Coast Car Wash 1621 Coast Hwy
SK’s Donuts 1129 S. Coast Hwy
Church’s Chicken 518 S. Coast Hiway #102
Laundromat 1110 S. Coast Hiway
31 Flavors 1112 S. Coast Hiway
Grubby’s Diner 1034 S. Coast Hwy
Inside Greyhnd Depot 213 S. Tremont
Hill St. Café 500 Coast Hwy
Coastal Liquor 432 Coast Hwy
AMTRAK Ticket Office 213 S. Tremont
Bessie’s Café 232 S. Coast Hiway
Anita’s Cafe 1908 Coast Hiway
Quick Korner 102 S. Coast Hiway
Pier View Coffee 300 Pier View Way
Best Barber 412 Pier View Way
Jean’s Gifts 307A Coast Hwy
Oceanside Library 330 N. Coast Hiway
Alfredo’s Mexican Food 502 Coast Hiway
Harbor House Cafe 714 N. Coast Hiway
O’side Yacht Club 1950 N. Harbor Drive
Jolly Roger 1900 N. Harbor Dr.
Monterey Bay Canners 1325 Harbor Drive (inside rt table)
Joe’s Crab Shack 314 Harbor Dr., South
Robin’s Nest 280 S. Harbor Drive
Marina Condos 1210 Harbor Dr.
Angelo’s Burgers 621 N. Coast Hiway
Bank of America 700 Mission
N. Cty Transit District 810 Mission
Oceanside High School
Mission Donut House 1502 S. Mission
Mission Square Laundry
Oceanside Boys & Girls Club
Launderland 1527 B. S. Mission
Scripps Medical Center 2201 S. Mission
Oceanside School Dist. 2111 Mission
El Mundo de Mariscos 3110 San Luis Rey Rd
Z Market 3200 Mission
Amador’s 260 Airport
Carlito’s Chicken 158 Roymar Rd.
Fire Station #7 3350 Mission
Delberto’s 3375 S. Mission
Tam’s Donuts 3375 S. Mission #A
Oceanside Car Wash 3655 S. Mission
Gems n’ Loans 3753 Mission Ave & El Camino Real
Bank of America 3772 Mission
Killer Pizza 3772 Mission #124
Fiesta Restaurant 3784 Mission
Laundromat 3784 Mission Ste 134
Ocean Rainbow Ice Cream 3772 Mission #147
Great Clips 3772 Mission #11
Library 3861 Mission
Oceanside Police Department 3055 Oceanside Blvd
Little Caesar’s Pizza 3852 Mission
5 Star Discount Market 5106 N. River Road
CVS 3925 N. River Road
Lamplighter MHP 4660 N. River Road
Grandma BB’s Cafe 539 Vista Bella (off El Camino)
Oceana Clubhouse 550 Vista Bella
VIP Car Wash 1980 Oceanside Blvd
Delia’s Mexican Food 1950 Oceanside Blvd Suite R
Ken’s Donuts 1950 Oceanside Blvd Suite 6
Fire Station #3′ El Camino & Oceanside Blvd
Rancho Del Oro Car Wash 4093 Oceanside Blvd
Pasto Buick 4121 Oceanside Blvd #201
Enzo’s BBQ 4121 Oceanside, #101
Juice It Up 4121 Oceanside #100
Knock Out Pizza 4121 Oceanside #203
White Dragon Kung Fu 4171 Oceanside Blvd #100A
Bruegger’s Bagels 4171 Oceanside Blvd Suite 109
Donut House 4171 Oceanside Blvd #105
Happy Noodle House 4760 Oceanside Blvd A15
Papa John’s Pizza 4225C Oceanside Blvd
Blendz 4225 Oceanside Blvd #B
Temple Hts School
Two Brothers Pizza 4760 Oceanside Blvd B1
Silver Star Beauty Salon 4790 Oceanside A-4
Montessori 2770 Oceanside Blvd
Barber 2770 Oceanside Blvd #A-7
El Asador Mex. Food 2770 Oceanside Blvd A-7
Oceanside Tire 499 College
College Coin Laundry 475-7 College Blvd
Victoria’s Mexican Food 495-C College
Oceanside Chinese Food 495 B College
United Physicians Group 475 I College
Dentist 467-I College
Nail 2001 467-4 College
Trupianos Italian Rest. 467-3 College
Roundtable Pizza 459-10 College
Pepper Tree Montessori 427 College
GiGi’s Cafe 2204 El Camino Real #125
Rookies Restaurant 2204 El Camino #105

Rancho Bernardo

Casa de la Campana
Taco Patron Grill 15817 Bernardo Center Dr.
Seven Eleven 15883 Bernardo Center Dr.
Saffron Cuisine 15817 Bernardo Center Dr.
NY Giant Pizza 15817 Bernardo Center Dr.
El Torito 16375 Bernardo Center Dr.
Passage to India 16425 Bernardo Center Dr
PHO Hoacali Express 16425 Bernardo Center Dr
Thai Cafe 16441 Bernardo Center Dr
Robek’s Juice 15888 Bernardo Center Dr. #120
New York Bagels & Cafe 16588 Bernardo Center Dr. #170
Borelli’s 16588 Bernardo Center Dr.
7/11 16703 Bernardo Center Dr.
RB Donuts 16713 Bernardo Center Dr.
CVS 16773 Bernardo Center Dr
Panda Buffet 16785 Bernardo Center Dr.
Kaiser Permanente 11939 Rancho Bernardo Road
Submarina 17090 Bernardo Center Dr
Incredible Café 11828 Rancho Bernardo Rd. #105
Mission Federal Credit Union 11868 Rancho Bernardo Rd #B
Taco Shop 11868 Rancho Bernardo Rd.
Surgical Centers of America 17190 Bernardo Center Dr. Suite 100
24 Hour Fitness 17170 Bernardo Center Dr
RB Library 17110 Bernardo Center Dr
Hooters 16911 W. Bernardo Drive.
Elephant Bar 17051 W. Bernardo Drive
Long Drugs 11655 Duenda Rd.
Barber Shop Duenda Rd.
Laundry Land 11631 Duenda Rd.
Village Mall 12463 Rancho Bernardo
Ogden’s Cleaners 12461 Rancho Bernardo Rd.
Albertsons 12475 Rancho Bernardo Dr.
Bernardo Restaurtant 12457 Rancho Bernardo Rd
Ogden’s Cleaners 15721 Bernardo Hieghts Pkwy
SavMart Pharmacies 15721 Bernardo Heights Pkwy
Golden Nails 15721 Bernardo Heights Pkwy
Henry’s 15727 Bernardo Heights Parkway
Von’s 11986 Bernardo Plaza
Terrace Gardens 1025 Morningview Drive/Esc.

What if you are looking to educate young girls about important black female activists/feminists?

My nine-year-old was assigned a report for Black History Month a few weeks back. While I do wish teachers assigned non-white male focused reports year-round (see my earlier post here on this matter), I suppose I need to  be happy with the small steps mainstream education is taking to be more inclusive (while working to encourage bigger steps behind the scenes).

Being the feminist that she is, my daughter insisted on avoiding the obvious male suggestions she was given (Martin Luther King, Junior, Malcolm X, Obama) and doing a woman. (As an aside, how sad is it that here, in 2009, elementary school curriculum is still so male-centric!!! How sad that I still have to be excited when she gets the chance to focus on women in school. This should be the norm – not the exception!)

My daughter  emphasized she did NOT want to do Rosa Parks. “Everyone already knows about Rosa Parks mom!” she lamented. “Who else can I do?” Thus, she understands the importance of RAISING awareness rather than merely repeating information her classmates already know.

So, with a number of names in our head, we  headed to library in search of kid-friendly biographies. I envisioned finding many at our impressive local library. Ha! How wrong I was.  The only two we found of the women on our list were biographies of Coretta Scott King and Zora Neale Hurston. Where were the juvenile women’s history books/biographies covering Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Josephine Butler, Lorraine Hansberry, Shirley Chisolm, Fannie Lou Hamer, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Phillis Wheatley, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Patricia Hill Collins, Audre Lorde, Cynthia McKinney…?Heck, where were the ADULT books on these women?

Of course, copious information about these women can be found online, but my daughter’s assignment required a print biography. While King and Hurston are certainly worthy of attention, my daughter wanted to talk about a woman that her classmates had likely not heard of. Further, she wanted to spread a feminist message to her fellow 4th graders. Granted, she did not use these exact words, but her comments regarding the type of woman she wanted to research and the message she wanted to convey revealed these aims.  (I love how kids express anti-racist and feminist views in the simplest of ways. If they grasp the concept that we should all be treated equally regardless or our skin color, gender, body, etc, why can’t adults?)

Dismayed by our lack of choices at the library, we spoke to a reference librarian to ensure we hadn’t missed any books. Nope, we hadn’t. So, I asked my daughter if her teacher said she HAD to read a biography for research and it turns out she didn’t – the assignment required book research, but not necessarily a biography. As I knew our library stocked the children’s books by bell hooks, a light bulb went off in my head.

“Why don’t we check out the books by bell hooks and then we can research her biography online. This way you have done BOTH book and internet research.”

“Sounds good,” she replied.

But, being the stickler that she is, she insisted we try to read a biography too. Hence, we ordered Bone Black and I read it aloud to her (edited a bit for nine year old ears). And, what fabulous messages it contains for children! An analysis of gender policing, sexism, white privilege, racism, classism, the marriage imperative, and familial violence runs throughout, yet the material (typical of hooks) is presented in very approachable way.  Ah, if only all kids (and adults) read hooks!

I am so glad my daughter’s assignment led us to this book. I dog-ear hooks theoretical works tirelessly, but never before now had I read  her memoir(s).

As I read Bone Black with my daughter, stopping frequently to discuss all the issues hooks raises, I found myself continually wondering why there are not MORE books like these, and more written for children. Why can’t there be more kid-friendly, exciting  biographies rather than the dry, verbose tomes that fill the library shelves???  Moreover, where are the books that teach children about social justice and equity issues? Enough of the Hannah Montan-ing of childhood already! We need books that don’t merely serve as advertisements for the latest Disney brand.

So, dear readers, why not celebrate this black history month by reading Bone Black: Memoirs of Girlhood with your kids?  If you don’t have kids, read it for yourself and use all that extra time not having kids gives you to dip into those areas and voices of black history that are too often forgotten and neglected…

Happy Black History Month everyone, and here’s to a future in which we don’t need “special months” to honor history other than that of DWMs (dead white males).

What if we made June white-male month?

In an earlier post about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I included the fairly well known joke:


If February is Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month, what happens the rest of the year?



Renee, of Womanist Musings, expanded on the joke’s answer in the comment thread:

“…having those two months dedicated to women and blacks is discrimination. Deciding that we only need to talk about blacks in February and Women in March means that for the rest of the year it is okay talk about white males. If we truly meant to be inclusive these would be issues that we talked about 12 months a year. “Special Months” are not a sign of tolerance they are a sign of discrimination.”

I, along with Renee, take issue with “special months.” I think they set up a segregationist approach to learning that allows (and even celebrates) learning about “Others” only during appropriate months.

Come February, teachers break out the Martin Luther King Junior picture books or play his speeches for students. If they are really trying to be “multi-cultural” they might also include “extra” curriculum on Black History, ensuring their lesson plans pay homage to the month. The problem is that this type of inclusivity should not be done for a month, but throughout the year.

However, being the white-centric, male-centric society that we are, some claim we should be thankful for such months. I say what we should do is flip it around and make June “white-male history month.” The rest of the year could be all-inclusive curriculum. (Note: I picked June as it is the end of the school year and I think it is high time WM’s came last for once. I think it is also important to point out that I am referring to the normative conception of white-maleness here — or middle to upper-class, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied, right leaning, “properly masculine” white males who must, of course, like sports)

It is not that I don’t like white males – in fact, there are quite a few I love. Those that I love don’t see this idea as problematic because they realize their privileges and want to work to dismantle them. They understand it’s time to share the reigns.

I am not saying we need to deny that WM’s have done great things, but we need to give everyone else an equal place in history (and school curriculum).

So, I say enough with the “special months” – let’s make the whole damn year reflect the true diversity of this planet and let’s stop making it ok to be racist, sexist, and homophobic year round. Let’s stop making it ok to only care about cancer in October or only be aware of transphobia on transgender remembrance day. How about instead if we tried to be human(e) every damn day? How about if we revamped our conception of history to include everybody – not just white male heterosexuals? And while I’m at it, how about we paid as much attention to social injustice and what we can do to make the world a better place as we do to friggin’ Super Bowl Commercials? That would truly be a time worth celebrating.