We have to replace our furnace/ac. The AC is dead as a doornail, both are over 20 or 25 yrs old and horribly inefficient. So we’ve been getting quotes. Got two that came in at $6500 and $6800 for 3 ton 100,000 BTU 95% efficient 14.5 SEER variable flow and all that jazz. Third dude came today and did a long presentation after having measured all sorts of shit and went on about importance of proper installation, bla bla, explained all sorts of bla-di-bla about the equipment, how their employees are carefully screened and drug tested and they don’t allow any convicts to work for them because in prison they teach convicts plumbing and HVAC and here’s a picture of brown dudes in prison uniforms studying to come rape and kill your wife in your own home under the guise of installing your new furnace and ac, and you can get a heat pump too to further reduce costs, and bla bla more tech stuff, and voila! four options for your consideration, good, better, best, wow, ranging from $11k to $16k.
And I said, “WTF?”
But wait, don’t answer yet, there are rebates, and we can take this and that off, and discounts, and I can come down on price, and so on, and now the four options range from just under $9k to $11k or something like that.
And I said, “dude, you might want to rethink that one part of your sales pitch where you subtly scare me about the brown prison dudes coming into my house.”
And he said, “well, yes, but Ashton Kutcher’s ex-girlfriend was killed by an ex-con, and there are white guys in that photo too.”
I do not think we will be buying the fancy expensive heat pump furnace from this dude with the laminated pictures of scary brown men in prison uniforms studying earnestly to come rape and kill me in my own home.
Jeebus, people, you have GOT to get some new whiney whines, you Whiney McWhinersons.
I’m talking about you, you whiney whiners. Those of you who get all whiney and defensive whenever anyone dares to point out that you have stepped in the dogshit. Stepping in dogshit is an accident and it is something that all of us do upon occasion. Now, when you step in dogshit, do you want to just go blithely prancing about the place, spreading the dogshit hither and yon, stinking up the place to high heaven? Or do you want someone to point out that, jesus h. christ, there’s a great big steaming heap o’ smelly dog turds trailing off your right shoe, why don’t you go scrap ‘em off? Or better yet, just get yourself a whole new pair of shoes, for sure Isis can recommend something stylish.
What you do not what to do, under any circumstances, is trot out that old whiney whine about “oh noes! a witch hunt!” Because now, not only do you have dogshit on your shoe, you have “I am an ignorant fool” tattooed on your face. Perhaps you are not familiar with the google? Try typing “witch hunt” into it. Your friend, Wikipedia, says:
A witch hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials.
Crying “witch hunt” every time someone points out that you stepped in the dogshit is an insult to the horrific suffering and deaths of the thousands of women who truly were persecuted just because they were women. It’s also an insane mockery to liken people speaking up for diversity and social justice to killers of women.
Have you been burned at the stake? Drowned? Pressed to death with stones? Hung? Tortured? Forced to give false witness identifying other “witches” who will subsequently be questioned, tortured, hung/drowned/burned etc.? Is mass hysteria sweeping your local village or region, and hundreds of women are being killed? No? I do not think, then, that you are part of any “witch hunt”.
No. I think you have dogshit on your shoes. Which is a lot stinkier than some poor grad student who doesn’t share the U.S. obsession with showering, deodorizing, and perfuming away every last trace of normal body odor Real Americans find so disgusting. Still, stepping in the dogshit, as I said, happens to us all now and then. It’s not a measure of our character or our self-worth. How we react when it’s pointed out is a different story. Do we cling to our shitty shoes, track the shit all over the place, and then point at some foreign brown dude who, you know, you can hardly understand, and his food smells funny, and he just won’t use Axe body spray? Or do we stop a minute, lift our foot, and look at what we’re unintentionally dragging around with us? Oh shit.
Oh, I know. You’re just trying to help them deal with The Way Things Are. And those idealistic diversity nuts just don’t understand How Things Work Around Here. But the issue is not, how do things work around here. It’s how are you going to work around the things that are here.
You can help people negotiate their way through a treacherous, oppressive, racist, patriarchal hierarchy in a way that lets them come out the other side with some part of their soul still intact. Or you can apologize for the oppressor. Whiney “oh noes! witch hunt!” McWhinerson, are you aiming for the former? Or defaulting to the latter? Are you somewhere in between? Do you even know? Maybe you should take some time and think about it.
I wrote this all in English, the official language of How Things Work Around Here. I hope that’s not a problem for you.
A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of yet another of the “death by a thousand paper cuts**” craptastic things I used to hate dealing with in my days in the scientific workforce. You know what I’m talking about. Could be a retreat, a workshop, a seminar, a meeting, a program, maybe even just a discussion, but whatever it is, diversity is the subject, explicit or implicit. On one occasion it was a discussion about whether a tiny little space should be set aside for students of a certain group. On another it was a pizza party for women students. But ever and anon, at such occasions, you will hear the plaintive wail:
“Where is the [meeting/retreat/study room/pizza party/program] for white men?”
At K-State, where I was for a time director of the Women in Engineering and Science Program, I was asked not once but several times “Where is the program for men in engineering?” I had various answers. Sometimes, when I felt pissy, I would say, “That would be the whole College of Engineering.” Sometimes when I felt polemical, I would say, “You know, that’s a good question. It’s good for us to think about why we need a program for women in engineering. Women can do engineering work, but engineering is not as successful in attracting and keeping them as it is with men. So in a sense, the program is more for the college of engineering than it is for the women.” Sometimes, when I felt Socratic, I would say, “That’s a good question. What do you think men need that they aren’t getting, that a men in engineering program would provide?”
But all times, this is what I really wanted to say:
Jesus H. Christ! Every time I hear that “where is the whateverthefuck for white men” I want to say “seriously? Seriously? you think you are the first motherfucking white d00d in the whole motherfucking world to come up with that acid riposte in a diversity-related seminar/meeting/retreat/discussion? SERIOUSLY? Go away and come up with an ORIGINAL white d00d whine and we will think about giving you a diversity cookie. Until then, open up your motherfucking white d00d eyes and take a look around at how the whole entire world is plastered with signs that say ‘White D00ds ‘Specially Welcome Here!’ ‘K? Thx.”
**(The) Knight Higher Education Collaborative (September 2001). Gender Intelligence. Policy Perspectives, 10(2), 1-9.
Today I googled the phrase “eyes on the prize”. Here’s an excerpt from one link that came up.
The fire hoses and police dogs. The Montgomery bus boycott. The march on Washington. You’ve probably seen scattered footage of these images, but no project ever connected pictures to context with the tenacity of Eyes on the Prize.
The 1987 PBS series brought the strategies and struggles of the civil rights movement to new generations worldwide. Now, after years of wrangling over copyright and licensing issues, Eyes is finally available on DVD for a new mass audience. (It was already available for educators.)
The six-hour series is a masterwork of visual storytelling and eyewitness recollection, spanning the events from the grisly murder of Emmett Till in 1955 to the marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. In between, we find heroes both famous and obscure, many bearing witness for the first time, others who died for the cause of equality.
I have no doubt that is why IKEA felt compelled to create this homage to racial justice and equality, featuring the use of the phrase “eyes on the prize” by a white woman who has seen the light.
A black couple could not have been cast in this commercial, because it is meant to illustrate how far whites have come along the path of understanding racial issues in America.
“The Myth of Black Disingenuity”: Exploring the Intersection of African American History and the History of Technology
I failed to produce this post in time for DNLee’s Diversity in Science carnival – Black History Month: Broadening STEM Participation at Every Level. That’s mostly because I had a bunch of personal stuff going on in the past couple weeks that just wouldn’t leave me alone. I think I’ll be back to more regular blogging now.
You might have already read my brief post on Hercules, the chef enslaved by George Washington who eventually escaped to freedom. In it I noted “It was no small thing to be a chef under such circumstances, and the degree of technical skill required was surely astonishing.” Even the highest tech 18th century kitchen still demanded a range and depth of technical competence that today’s average pampered cook just can’t imagine.
When I read about Hercules in that fantastic set of articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer, I might not have given much thought to the degree of technical skill he must have possessed to turn out state dinners in such circumstances. What put me in the state of mind to ponder such matters was a book I had recently begun browsing: A Hammer in Their Hands: A Documentary History of Technology and the African-American Experience, ed. Carroll Pursell. This book would be worth its price if only for the introductory essay which contextualizes the collection of primary sources that follows with the intersection of African-American history and the history of technology, all in a few short pages. Pursell speaks of the “prehistories” of these fields, and notes the following:
Be sure to catch Fresh Air whenever it airs in your local market to day, or catch the podcast. Rebecca Skloot is on today, talking about her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which, as I hope you know, is released today. And I hope you pre-ordered your copy already. Fresh Air is on at 3 pm and again at 7 pm in Philly – can’t wait!
UPDATE: Terry Gross may just be the perfect person to interview Rebecca Skloot, who is wonderfully telling the story of Henrietta Lacks, and of how she came to tell the story of Henrietta Lacks. If you don’t get to listen to Fresh Air on the radio, listen to it on the web. And then go donate some money to your local public radio station. And then go buy Rebecca’s book, if you haven’t already.