Friday, January 24, 2014

Weekend Reading: The I Wish People Were Better Than This Edition

I swear that next week I'm going to stop ranting and get back to happy posts- and I have a couple of Ask Cloud posts to do, which is always fun.

But first, here are some links that are really good, but that I wish didn't need to be written.

First, as I was doing some research to figure out how I would talk to Pumpkin about Martin Luther King day this year, I found two great articles for grown ups:

This short article in Colorlines talks about what a drive down various Martin Luther King Blvds says about our progress towards achieving his dream.

This article by Hamden Rice is a powerful reminder of what Martin Luther King actually did- which was far more than popular culture usually remembers.

I did have a conversation with Pumpkin about Martin Luther King. I have no idea how I did, but I was reasonably happy with how it went. One thing I learned was that while she had learned in school that Martin Luther King had been assassinated, she didn't know why. So I told her why. She asked a few questions about that, and then changed the topic. I think that is for the best- I'll let her think about it and we'll have different questions to discuss next time we talk about race.

In the wake of several prominent media missteps about transgender people, Rafe Posey wrote a wonderful piece on how to write about transgender people without being an ass.

Here is an article about Dr. V's business partner and former girlfriend. The last paragraph of that story is particularly heartbreaking. How much lower would the suicide rate for transgender people be if the rest of us stopped making such a big deal about it and just accepted them as they are?

The map in this Atlantic article about socioeconomic mobility alarmed me. WTF, East coast? I don't consider the mobility out here in California to be that great, so I find it very disturbing that there are so many areas where it is much worse.

This is probably the last post about the Henry Gee/Dr. Isis debacle that I will link to, not because other good posts aren't being written, but because I, like Nicoleandmaggie, am suffering a bit from patriarchy fatigue and need to not read about it for awhile. However, it is a very good post, so go read it. (h/t @Geknitics). Sadly, the author of that gawd-awful Womanspace story appears in the comments. I wish that dude would just go away. He has clearly learned nothing and has no desire to learn anything.

This article from Hope Wabuke about how black women and girls have long had to choose between education and safety is very good. I have been thinking a lot about how when white parents like me talk about diversity in our kids' schools we are usually talking about situations in which our children remain in the majority race, and expect that the Black and Hispanic kids be bused to us, rather than the other way around. It is not an entirely comfortable line of thinking for me, but I think I need to continue down it. Perhaps, eventually, I will blog about it, but I don't feel like I'm ready for that yet.

Forbes reprinted some Quora answers about why more women don't go to hackathons. Notice how they all start by establishing their credibility as engineers. They do that because that is what women in tech have to do all the effing time. We are rarely assumed to know our stuff technically. We have to prove it. Really. I have to prove it to each new male team member. Almost always. Even though I am a senior member of the team. Even though I lead a group. I am assumed not to know the technology. I see the surprise on their faces the first few times I say something that indicates that I really do have some technical knowledge. I am not imagining it, although if I were to call them on this, they would say I am (I know this from actual experience, back when I naively thought I could help the guys change their default opinions of women). As the women in the Forbes piece say, it is exhausting. It undermines your confidence. It saps your motivation.

Moving on.

I found this article about how the current relationship between the tech community and the broader community in San Francisco does not have to be so contentious via @AnilDash, who had his own post of suggestions as well.

xkcd absolutely nailed the "its so cold out, so there is no climate change" crowd today. Absolutely nailed them.

And because I always like to end with something fun... here is an open letter that I can definitely co-sign.


  1. I grew up in Raleigh, NC, and when I was a student, the schools there had put the various magnet programs in the historically African American schools/neighborhoods. So white families that wanted to send their children to those magnet programs bused their kids into the historically minority neighborhoods, rather than the other way around. Districts can do these things in a smart way if they choose to. Obviously, many didn't.

    1. Anonymous6:57 AM

      Actually a lot of this stuff was legislated. It isn't anymore. There are also a lot of problems with that model. In the end minorities still get the short end of the stick when it comes to public education. Unconscionable.

  2. Alexicographer7:35 AM

    Wake County is a really interesting case, not uniformly good. I'm no expert but do a quick Google Scholar search on Wake County school assignment and you'll turn up a bunch of things published around 2005. I think that in the past maybe five years parents (affluent, mostly white) have elected a school board that has largely dismantled the economically integrated (I'm oversimplifying!) schools Wake had created. Of course this is later than what you write about in your comment!

    (The local funding of schools and associated property tax issues and home value issues, are clearly a big obstacle to more equal education in the US at the K-12 level, at the risk of stating the obvious)


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