Friday, November 02, 2018

Weekend Reading: A Mixed Bag Edition

Today is Dia de los Muertos. Since my kids go to a Spanish language immersion school at which most of the teachers are from Mexico and many of the kids have Mexican heritage, the school does a Dia de los Muertos festival and other related activities. The festival won't be until next Wednesday, but both of my kids had the opportunity to take in a picture for a Dia de los Muertos altar today. This is the first year that they've taken a picture of someone they knew - they both took pictures of their great-grandparents, who both died this year. Previous years, they've taken pictures of other relatives who they had never met. I told them about the people in the pictures: my grandparents on my mother's side and my great-grandmother, but that was just me telling stories. This year, my kids have their own stories to tell about the pictures they took to school.

I always find the act of finding a picture for the altar and putting it into a picture frame a comforting ritual. This year, there was a little extra poignancy to it.

Anyhow, if you don't know much about Dia de los Muertos, go read about it. It is really a beautiful holiday.

On to the links.

First, in hobby-ing links: I posted another Where in the World quiz on Adjusted Latitudes. I am enjoying the process of finding a good photo to use and then coming up with wrong answers for the quiz!

Also, I ran a short sale on Here's the Deal, Micah Edwards' humorous retelling of the Book of Exodus. Through tomorrow, you can get the ebook for just $0.99.

In other links:

This article by Tim Murphy about Democrats' outreach to the increasingly diverse group of voters in Fort Bend County, Texas, is really, really interesting.

Anne Helen Peterson and Graham Lee Brewer have an article up about the difficulties Navajo voters are facing in Southern Utah, and it is worth your time.

I had never read this column by Eugene Patterson, written after the Birmingham bombing. It was circulating after the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh and if you've never read it, you should.

This story starts by talking about a ghost tour... but really it is just an interesting story about a Black woman named Mary Ellen Pleasant, who lived in San Francisco around the turn of the last century.

In recommended listening: Anytime I see that someone has interviewed Zeynep Tufekci, I listen. Isaac Chotiner's interview of Tufekci on I Have to Ask is a particularly good one - I highly recommend it. (Another person who I'll always listen to get interviewed: Rebecca Traister. I always learn something!)

Kids are awesome:

So are cats, I guess:

This is pretty amazing in a weird way:


Have a good weekend!


  1. Socal dendrite8:41 PM

    Oooh, ooh, I know this one! (Adjusted Latitudes quiz) I've been there myself, albeit about 15 years ago now :)

    Serious question about Dia de los Muertos. I'm a white British person, married to a white American, so no Mexican heritage on either side. I'd like to take the opportunity to do something similar to what you describe: show the kids pictures of deceased relatives and tell them stories. It would be a nice way for me to remember my grandparents and others and for them to learn about them. Is it okay to do this in the context of Dia de los Muertos, or would that be culturally insensitive? (I could do it randomly at other times of year but I like the idea of it being an annual tradition.) I would love it if our school did something like yours and taught them all about the beautiful Mexican tradition but I haven't heard of anything so far (my eldest is in K - they had a big Halloween celebration but I think that is all). What do you think?

    1. I am very much also a gringa, so I can't give a definitive answer - but from what I've heard our Mexican-American friends and some of the other parents at the school say, my take is that people are generally OK with the other people participating in the Dia de los Muertos traditions. What they don't like is the commercialization of the holiday. They don't want to see the American corporate machine pick up the holiday and use it as yet another marketing opportunity.

      So, my take is that it is fine to join in a celebration led by the Mexican-American community, or to honor some of the traditions in your own home. But it is not so fine when people outside the community try to organize Dia de los Muertos events without the involvement of Mexican-Americans. I read a good essay on this distinction once, but can't find it now. If I can find it later, I'll post it here.

      In your shoes, I'd probably find the nearest Mexican bakery and buy some pan de muerto, explain a bit about the holiday and the traditions to the kids, and then say that it is not your heritage, but you like the idea of a special day to remember relatives who have died, and then bring out your pictures and the stories. So it would not be about reconstructing the actual Dia de los Muertos traditions, but teaching your kids a bit about those traditions and using them as a prompt for your own family tradition.

      But I'd very much like to hear what any Mexican or Mexican-American readers out there think!

    2. Socal dendrite2:50 PM

      Thank you! Yes, that sounds exactly like what I would like to do: honor the tradition respectfully and without commercialization. I'll tread lightly though, if we do decide to do this next year.


Sorry for the CAPTCHA, folks. The spammers were stealing too much of my time.