Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Do You Want to Win a Free Copy of Hill Harper's New Book "The Conversation?"

Another day, another set of prizes to give away.

Courtesy of Gotham Books, we are hosting a contest featuring Hill Harper's (the actor of CSI fame) new book "The Conversation." Hill's work, I just got my copy today and will be reading it on the bus to and from work, presents a light, insightful, and accessible user's manual for African American men and women to better understand that which keeps us apart (and hopefully what can bring us closer together). I am not a big fan of self-help books, but The Conversation is fun reading and I do recommend it.

Now, we respectable negroes have always talked around the dynamics surrounding gender relationships, but this contest seems like a great entry point into this impassioned conversation.

We respectable negroes also have a biting sense of humor-- so of course we can't just give copies of this book away. You all need to work to get this swag. In the spirit of the Church of James Brown (wasn't that a fun contest?), we bring you the chance to play ...insert drum roll...

Doctor For a Day: How Would You Diagnose the Problems that Plague Black Male and Female Relationships in the 21st century?

Each of the submissions should have the following format.

1. Tell us what the symptoms are of the patient (i.e. if the Black Male/Female relationship was a patient, what would he/she come to you as the doctor complaining about?)

2. What condition is the patient in? Please use this helpful guide:
Undetermined: Patient awaiting physician and assessment.
Good: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.
Fair: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious, but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are favorable.
Serious: Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
Critical: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.
3. How would you cure this patient? And yes, euthanasia is a fair answer.


As an example, if I were to submit a response, here is what mine would likely be.

I was the attending physician for the Black Relationship's visit to the emergency room on September 8, 2009. The patient arrived complaining of shortness of breath, headaches, and swollen joints. There were suspicious marks on the forearms and chest that would suggest defensive injuries from an attack, cutting, or a history of domestic violence. The patient's neck also displayed scarring consistent with being burned by hot grits or cooking oil.

In addition, the patient described acute conditions that are associated with a generalized anxiety disorder. I ran a standard exam and the vitals were within a normal range. However, said patient's blood pressure was extremely high (both systolic and diastolic) . When questioned about its lifestyle habits, the Black Relationship became upset, confused, and belligerent. He/she was paranoid and fixated on a deep internal schism around love and acceptance. There was also a repeated reference to "interracial dating," "white people stealing our good women and men," something called "BMW," as well as to "Angry Black Women." I suggested that the Black Relationship consult a mental health professional. At first resistant because of cultural norms, the patient quite wisely and lucidly agreed to do so in the future.

Physically the patient is in FAIR condition. However, the mental and emotional state of the patient is SERIOUS.

My PRESCRIPTION for the Black Relationship is intensive psychotherapy, a series of in depth physicals, as well as a consultation with a nutritionist.


Be as creative as you would like. Yes, the topic of the book is black male and female love relationships, but all folk can participate. If you are one of our gay/lesbian/bi/trans family share your thoughts. If you are one of our white allies and think that bad relationships (especially the "struggle" of upwardly mobile women to find "comparable" mates) are a pandemic and not isolated to any one group please be creative and send in your story as well. But again, all submissions have to link back to the central focus of the contest.

In short have fun. We are giving away 3 copies of the book. But, I will probably have some additional prizes for the runners-up.


critical processes said...

(1 of 2)
This is off-topic but have you ever written about racism in graduate schools?

Macon D of stuffwhitepeopledo recently stated “whenever white people congregate these days, high concentrations of racial homogeneity are just pure coincidence.” …

I am a graduate student at a major biological "research institution" in New York City. You wouldn't know this is a graduate/research program if you stumbled on campus. This exclusive, highly maintained campus feels more like Sandals resort with all of the young upper-middle class white or white male/asian female couples roaming around hand-in-hand during the evenings. Groups of white or white-and-asian students roam with tennis rackets on their way to the on-campus court. Or they congregate in packs at the on-campus student lounge with a personal bartender. Or the white and asian students have parties in the hotel-like student lounge of the dorms.

Most of the groups of people you see dotted around campus are all-white or white-and-asian. The campus is mostly white with a substantial number of asians but has a serious dearth of black or latino students--and I almost never see the other black students.

You wouldn't believe the amounts of implicit racism I've experienced here. Twice while coming on campus I've been stopped in a hostile and condescending manner by newly-hired guards who, having seen my ID, told me that I am 'ok' since I was a groundskeepers or a day worker for the animal facility whose staff is mostly black and latino.

Coming to my dorm, almost every six months someone gives me a hostile look in the foyer as if I'm some intruder. When I attend lectures, I meet the same hostility until I ask a serious academic question of the lecturer.

When someone new comes to my lab, they'll automatically either intentionally ignore me or attempt to condescend to me. Scientific sales reps will intentionally ignore me and proceed to the white guys who are also just students. Believe it or not, this one white girl who rotated in the lab would speak to me in a passive-aggressive/patronizing manner. And almost everyone in the lab, despite my being there for years and attempting to form working relationships with them, never come to me casually or attempt to have conversations (work or otherwise) with me unless I initiate the conversation and never at the casual or intelligent level they have with each other.

I noticed the other two black guys, who are accomodationists (and overrepresented with respect to the real dearth of black students on campus), also attempt to have conversations with the white people in the lab but they are always the ones to initiate the conversation.

After five years of being here, the only thing I've learned is that white and asian people are the only people competent enough to be scientists.

A maintenance staff guy wrote an article in the student rag praising the university's president in light of the great hall of European philosophers like Kant and Hume and the great European scientific tradition. Additionally, the sense of ownership and privilege among other students is just incredible.

I'm beginning to think that biomedical science is almost a white supremist enterprise by default. Science is supposed to be a collaborative endeavor with a free collegial exchange of information and support, but when people are constantly patronizing or condescending to you, such is a psychological assault informing you that you are inconsequential, "tolerated" or unwelcomed. I read a report somewhere that around half of black graduate science students drop out of their programs. If they meet the same kinds of hostility or implied white supremacy I meet, small wonder.

critical processes said...

(2 of 2)
I've especially felt a sort of patronizing attitude right off the bat from many of the white female students on campus. White women, with the help of affirmative action, have made great gains in both scientific student bodies and faculty, but you would still be wont to find black faculty and only a little more lucky in locating black students in scientific graduate programs across the country. That aside, most of my interactions with white females on campus has been unnecessarily hostile and patronizing.

There are two other black male students who happen to be in my lab; they're very sycophantic towards the white male students, which surprised me. They're always kissing up, laughing nervously, you know that trying to court your attention laugh, around these other white males who are just graduate students like them. They prick up their minds and attempt to engage the se white guys with crisp, intelligent conversation. They'll go to the white guys equally whenever they have a problem as if they are the fount of knowledge, (I've never seen them approach any of the white girls or the Indian guy when they have problems, but they will approach them for prick-up-your-mind 'casual' conversation, more than they give me [or each other]). When explicitly in the company of the white guys (which never seems to be together with each other), they intentionally ignore me or will attempt to condescend to me. It's irritating to watch white guys no better than the average black guy get their egos stroked day after day by white girls and sycophantic blacks while they also slap themselves on the back. It's not like they're especially brilliant or that this science is just so difficult that only superiorly intelligent white supremists like James Watson can do it.
I don't even want to get into the student listserve conversation I had to observe in the wake of James Watson's comments back in 2007. Some of them practically endorsed the man with statements like "science is about objective data, not political correctness" or "what does giving a writing prize for his autobiography have to do with him making statements that any old man would make"?

gordon gartrelle said...

Yeah, talk about off topic.

This reads like a passionate editorial/blog post. I would like to invite you to do a guest post here about this subject. I'm sure the others would second my invitation.

Vee (Scratch) said...

I edited this piece once, its under 590 words. I hope its decent . . . all I do is draw, give me a break. Enjoy!

I usually tend to get 10 - 20 walk-ins, but I only take 5 - 7 appointments a day at the Center for Black Relationships Health & Research Studies. I'll tell you about one recent appointment, names will be withheld as per the center's policy.

This couple was particularly odd. The male subject appeared to be intoxicated, possibly on marijuana. His female counterpart was very agitated and could not wait for our session to end, repeatedly stating that she needed a strong drink. Normally I would write off their relationship as being critically unstable but they’ve been able to endure each other for several years, seven to be exact. One time during a heated argument, I noticed the male cringe as if he expected to be hit by the female. This was odd because he exuded many alpha-male qualities except when relating to her. He has been between jobs while pursuing a career in music. The female was working full time, assuming all the financial responsibilities of the household. She complained that although he kept the house clean, organized and cooked great meals, he did not have any real ambitions or plans.

I noted all the complaints and frustrations then I asked them what made their relationship work. She quickly stated that the sexual relationship was great and they have a great time only when they go out together. The male subject simply nodded in his stupor. After pushing him for a reply he stated that he loves her but wishes she was more sympathetic towards his dreams. The male subject offered that the relationship was fine when he was financial supporting her through grad school, but then things changed. Before their back and forth, tit-for-tat argument began to escalate again I decided to stop them in their tracks.

Their relationship is as fairly normal as it gets but they can make it great. They have their highs and lows. No real expectations are explicitly declared and they obviously share different values and morals. I told the male subject that I strongly suggest he begins to learn how to open up emotionally, find a Plan B and to reduce his marijuana intake. I let the female subject know that she needed to respect the man she fell in love with, learn to listen effectively, and reduce her alcohol consumption. Then I told them to quietly list the roles of a man and woman, indicating which were cultural or universal. For the next session, we will discuss the roles and expectation of men and women in intimate relationships. I explained that like many relationships, the repair and growth requires understanding and education. Prior to the next appointment, I insisted that they participate in our Communication 101 workshop. I let them know that I thought they had hope for a great rewarding relationship; it all depended on how much time and work they invested in making it flourish.

Please note that this is one example, not indicative of the majority of Black Relationships. I’ve had many cases that informed me that despite what the statistics, surveys and op-ed pieces in major media outlets say about this subject, our relationships are not monolithic and are determined by a variety of factors like education, religion, culture, socio-economic and educational backgrounds. I must admit, while there’s a cause for concern, through focus, education everything will be fine.

Vee (Scratch) said...

Did I win the free book?