Navy Blue Nixon and Other Stories of Second Presidential Debates

Second debates have produced great debate moments.  Sometimes they even get higher ratings.  In this episode, we look at great moments of second presidential debates.  Including the two Nixons the …

Source: Navy Blue Nixon and Other Stories of Second Presidential Debates

Queer Digital Stories: Identity

Queer Digital Stories: Looking Back This post is the third in a series written by participants of our queer digital storytelling workshop.  Below is the film created by Caleb Hernandez, Identity, f…

Source: Queer Digital Stories: Identity

As Seen in Argentina

I’ve just recently returned from Buenos Aires and I thought these images from an upscale shopping mall–Alto Palermo–were fascinating (and a little disconcerting). Evidently the post-Charleston terror attack response to the Confederate flag has not crossed beyond US borders yet!

I think if you cut them into Daisy Dukes they * maybe * could be seen as ironic. They clearly were NOT in Buenos Aires.

I think if you cut them into Daisy Dukes they * maybe * could be taken as ironic. There didn’t seem to be any tongue-in-cheek (that I could discern) in the presentation at the Buenos Aires retail space.

This past summer several people asked me to weigh in on my feeling about the Confederate flag removal, but I feel like I’ve been pretty clear on that over the years. This issue is a bit trickier and I hope to get to that over the holiday break.  On the 2015 Confederate flag moment I’ll just quickly add: Yes, it needs to go from anything publicly funded or associated with the current government. Yes, much of the debate wasn’t really about that flag. No, this scene’s poignancy and impact hasn’t been diluted.


Is it Abercrombie? No, it's Cook!

Is it Abercrombie? No, it’s Cook!

Vintage Side Eye!

Three women from Guadeloupe, Ellis Island circa 1900 (Photo via the NYPL)

Three women from Guadeloupe, Ellis Island circa 1900
(Photo via the NYPL)

An image for every Texas county clerk who won’t issue a same-sex marriage license

Police officer Leroy Smith helps an overheated man wearing National Socialist Movement attire up the stairs during a KKK rally & counter protest on July 18, 2015, in Columbia, S.C.  Temperatures that day reached in the upper 90s.

Police officer Leroy Smith helps an overheated man wearing National Socialist Movement attire up the stairs during a KKK rally & counter protest on July 18, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Temperatures that day reached in the upper 90s.

Soon after the US Supreme Court final decision on marriage equality reports began to emerge from (mostly Southern) county clerks who claimed they can refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite the highest court’s order to do so. A handful were reported to have resigned their jobs, which I can respect if not particularly admire. I would equate it to a public school teacher from Alabama who quit in light of Brown vs Board of Education because she didn’t believe in integrated education. She too would deserve some credit for resigning and not engaging in narcissistic grandstanding on the job, unlike these state employees following the Obergefell decision in June, 2015.

The above photograph from this past weekend features another public employee. One who understands that freedom of speech and assembly are constitutional rights protecting all Americans, even for those views we find most odious. An African-American public employee who didn’t refuse to report to duty the day the Ku Klux Klan was to protest at the South Carolina capitol building. A public employee whose motto is likely “to protect and to serve”. In other words, someone who can put their job and the Constitution above personal beliefs–much less mere pique and pettiness.

Thanks for being patient in 2014

As many of you have noticed, it has been pretty quiet around here since summer. I hate making New Years resolutions, but I do plan on being more active again in 2015. As some of you know I’ve spent most of my non-working, non-playing time the past 6 months researching the 1840s, 1850s, 15th POTUS James Buchanan (yup, he was gay) and Senator William Rufus King (him too). It’s been an honor FORD 76to assist on this project. I am incredibly proud and excited for my very talented friend. Hopefully I’ll have a few spin-off posts that are related to the time period and people researched. In the meantime, thanks so much for your messages and tweets over the last year (and the shirt Kressenda! It was a pleasure to help you out on your paper–I wear it all the time!).

Bewildered Old Woman




When Affirmative Action Was White*

Ah, the comments section for online news stories. Should it be avoided at all costs? Or is it a useful way to get insight into the pulse of the people? If the news announcing Pres. Obama’s executive order to institute mild student loan reform is any indication it’s even worse than it looks. Yet, on other sites the commentary and reaction following Ta-Nehisi Coates tour de force on reparations has been, on the whole, one of the most engaging and thoughtful online discussions I’ve ever been a part of. If you haven’t read it yet, do it! I think it may prove to be the most important thing published this year.


Contempory politcal cartoon on reparations.

I’ll be making a bit of a Reconstruction-politics pilgrimage this fall, so there will likely be a lot of political cartoons from that era coming up later this year. However, the online discussions over the last month or so immediately made me think of this political cartoon (below) from just after the Civil War. It represents complete outrage over appropriating money to establish a Freedman’s Bureau to assist and educate newly emancipated slaves. Free (primary) education and job placement assistance for African-Americans provokes the image of lazy takers then as it does today.

Yet on the left hard-working white Americans toil honestly splitting rails. Could that have been a homestead? You know, free land granted by the US government to those wiling to cultivate and occupy it? The method by which countless pioneers settled the hinterlands and tamed the wild? Funny how no one says “government handouts won the West”.  From where I stand free land definitely counts as a government handout.

Going forward I think Coates’ piece might go down as when we started rethinking the framing device for the reparations discussion. Unlike the contemporary cartoon above it’s not about “paying for what your ancestors did”. Nor is it about getting blood money for something horrible that happened to one’s ancestors.  It’s not about personal racism or forays. It’s about studying institutional programs over the years: from slavery to redlining in 1970s Chicago. It’s about a public admission and reckoning that much of the success and earned wealth of the United States of America came through successful federal and state “Big Government” programs: the Homestead Act, the GI Bill, the National Industrial Recovery Act. “Big Government” affirmative action programs when Affirmative Action was white.


1866 anti-Freedmans’ Bureau political cartoon from Pennsylvania.


* thanks to author Ira Katznelson for the inspiration and phenomenal research.