Category Archives: Books

But That Was Then, This Is Now : Part 3 A Little Property History

plantation houseThis is the third post in a series that started because of a white person’s question on Facebook: What have whites ever done to blacks —  after slavery — to keep them from succeeding? Don’t they have exactly the same opportunities as we?

Read the introduction to the series here.

(For this post I rely heavily on Ned and Constance Sublette’s eye-opeing book: The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry.)

In America, one of the main ways to build assets is through home ownership. In the previous post I already laid out the many ways government on every level, together with the housing industry, kept African Americans segregated from whites, how they kept them out of middle-class neighborhoods and how they refused to give them mortgages. A century of segregated neighborhoods, racially restrictive covenants and redlining have left African Americans far behind where home ownership is concerned.

If we’re going to talk about real estate, though, to really understand the scope of the injustice done to African Americans, we need to go back to the very beginning of white land use in America. Continue reading

The Zwarte Piet Debacle From the Outside, Again

zwarte clownOkay, it’s the end of November and that means that Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is arriving in the Netherlands, with his helpers, who have traditionally been all called Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). The Zwarte Pieten are traditionally white people with blackface. People of color in the Netherlands have gradually become vocal about not liking that and the Dutch reaction is incredibly embarrassing to me. Continue reading

Fascism in America 10: Suppression of Dissent and Propaganda

trump tv

Image: thedailybeast.com

Suppression of Dissent

An important aspect of fascism or any kind of dictatorship is forcible suppression of opposition. In a fascist country, the state is all-powerful and all-important–if you’re not for it, you’re against it and therefore an enemy of the state. Continue reading

Adrift in Books

007_edited-1Today’s writing prompt is the perfect excuse to revisit the post about my raft book collection.

I’m not big on collections. I used to be. I had all sorts of collections. If I saw something I liked, I would start a collection. Until I felt that I was surrounding myself with things just for the sake of surrounding myself with things, and I got rid of most of them. Continue reading

Famine, War and Love: a Novel

famine, war and love

Image: amazon.com

A reader of my blog recently published a novel and he has been kind enough to send me a signed copy!

The story makes the connection between the famines of Ireland in the nineteenth century, the Netherlands during the Hunger Winter of 1944-1945 under German occupation, and Ethiopia in the early 1980s,  thus bringing into view the universality of the effects of hunger, war and displacement. Continue reading

Dinner and books in an Austin Strip Mall

pamuk-xlarge

Image: telegraph.co.uk

R and I looked on Yelp for a place to eat in north Austin this evening, and we ended up in Troy, a Turkish/Mediterranean place in a little strip mall where we had been once before, a couple of years ago. Continue reading

Refueling: Filling my Tank With Drukwerk and Stroops

image: dutchcommunity.com

image: dutchcommunity.com

Well, waddaya know? The daily writing prompt is “Recharge“, just as I was getting ready to write about refueling as an immigrant. Another term I learned recently, from Akhtar’s book Immigration and Identity.

What do you do to refuel (or recharge) as an immigrant–to get your home fix, as it were? Continue reading