May 13, 2013 § 2 Comments
Wow! Four years just flew by. I came into school thinking I wanted to be a mechanical engineer or do international studies and I ended up getting interested in Afro-American studies as well as Chicana/Latina studies. I ended up doing some version of an ethnic studies major with an emphasis on race politics as I like to tell people.
Moving from little old Lodi to the Multicultural Learning Community was one of the best decisions of my life. I went into college not ever thinking about my own race to thinking about race on the daily.
I had some great professors including Friedman, Lindsay, Thornton, Werner, Shashko, Higgins, Shelef, Ringe, Loewenstein, Marquez, and some others who I didn’t have that I met throughout my four years: Goldrick-Rab, Ibarra… there are some great faculty at this university.
I took some great classes: Soul Music, Black Music, Black Feminist Theory, Politics of the World Economy, Politics of Revolution, Politics in a Multicultural Society, Intro to Latin America, Arabic, Spanish, I feel totally privileged and blessed to have been here.
I made some great friends. I lived in some great places. I saw some great sights. I heard great poetry and slam poetry and rap and world music. I fell in and out of love. I want to reflect on a few specific things I did and present some advice (take it or leave it) to whoever stumbles upon it.
I was involved with several different community and campus organizations. From reclaiming foreclosed houses with Operation Welcome Home and Take Back the Land (with the visionary Max Rameau), to working with the Student Labor Action Coalition, the Teaching Assistants Association, Associated Students of Madison, United Council, United States Student Association, and the Learning for the Empowerment and Advancement of Palestinians, to All Hands on Deck and Vote Mob, to the National Student Power Convergence, to Opportunity Nation and Young People For. I’ve seen a lot of community, campus, state, and national organizations at work.
I hope to someday work for one or several of them. I want to do political organizing in some way, shape, or form for the rest of my life.
The advice: I feel the need to tell people to get involved! Just do it! We only have, like 6o more years on this Earth and things ain’t getting any better for most people out there. In fact, I’d argue they’re getting a hell of a lot worse.
As a first year I listened to everything everyone I knew said and tried to absorb as much of it. My opinions are still malleable but they were extra-malleable back then. Now I think I am more comfortable with who I am, my race, my dedication to justice, equity, and freedom for all people regardless of how they identify, that I can not only listen, but be assertive in my own opinions.
Something that has really begun to irk me is the way that campus organizations are so seemingly divided. We are working for roughly the same thing–acknowledging that there is a great amount of racism on this campus and that white privilege does really limit the ability of people who are white to work with folks of other races because they unintentionally and intentionally oppress others–on campus at least I don’t think everyone can work together and I’m not sure it will ever work. I am hoping UW-Madison will be graced and uplifted by a model of interracial organizing we have yet to truly see.
Nationally, I see a lot of organizations trying to work on the same thing. Take student debt for example. There are organizations with millions of dollars and millions of people who are working on it and I don’t think we’ve even made a dent on the issue! Do we need to align our campaigns to make sure we are all at least using the same messaging? I’d say yes. But honestly, let’s take it a step further, and create a campaign with the same messaging, visuals, let’s share resources and connect our membership! Let’s devote research to new economic models, let’s fundraise collectively to support young interns and treat them with respect and dignity and pay them right.
Okay this is just starting to spew all over the place, the last thing I want to say is that lately I have been challenged a lot by the way people talk about the work we do. I don’t have any issue with people critiquing the work I do personally (in fact, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?).
I love a good challenge. I can’t really stand hearing people talk about me behind my back but such is life, life is too short, this shouldn’t be read as frustration or even an accusation it’s just something I’ve been meaning to say.
I’m going to keep doing the same damn thing I’ve been doing this last four years: reading, writing, doing art, figuring out who I am and why I’m on this planet, trying to fight for climate justice, fighting for justice, equity, and freedom in race relations and for gender and sexuality justice, the whole nine yards.
One of the coolest privileges I had was traveling: going to a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon and traveling to Mexico to meet with #YoSoy132 were not only huge privileges but also incredibly humbling and transformative. I miss those kids in Lebanon so much and I hope to go back as soon as I can. When I think about how terrible things are in the United States that always puts it in more perspective. To my friends in the movement in Mexico, I am blessed to call you friends and I hope we can continue to work in global solidarity for more just and dignified immigration policy and generally for better living conditions for everyone world-wide.
Taking Astronomy was also a sobering experience this semester. What was at first just a routine way to fill a science requirement really opened my eyes to how expansive the Universe really is. It speaks to my experiences on Earth too: there’s a whole planet out there, and although sometimes my own conditions and others’ seem dire, there are lots of people facing incredibly rough situations out there too. Let’s do what we can to work to change the real conditions of everyones’ lives while at the same time having a little bit of fun and living a fulfilling life despite the fact we are just ants on another anthill in the entire Universe.
If you have questions or comments holler below. I didn’t set out trying to say much in this post I just want to thank everyone who has given me so much and allowed me to be the best I think I can be. I look forward to the next few years, hopefully traveling as much as I can, working for some organizations if possible, graduate school if I can raise the funds, and hopefully running for office in the near or distant future.
April 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Here’s my testimony from the press conference on WISPIRG the other day:
My name is Maxwell Love and I’m a representative with the Associated Students of Madison student council. As a member of student government I believe that we are fiscally responsible with how we allocate our funds and it is disappointing to see the Chancellor has no faith in students’ decision making capability.
I know that the SSFC takes their role in allocating over 42 million of seg fees seriously and that they strive to be responsible and go through a rigorous process of determining where to allocate seg fees in order to best serve students.
A few weeks ago SSFC unanimously voted to submit an appeal to the Regents to defend their decision to grant WISPIRG funding including their professional staff. As a member of the student government I am concerned with the Chancellor’s refusal to respect our decision regarding the allocation of these fees without consulting us.
I hope the regents will recognize that unless we are making a policy or legal error the Regents should reinstate the professional staff funding. Also I hope they recognize that we are simply students trying to exercise our responsibility in shared governance by funding awesome programs to make campus a better place and we are being told: no.
Lastly, as part of this university where we claim to cherish the Wisconsin Idea the notion that we take what we learn from the classroom and roll up our sleeves and apply it to problems spanning to the bounds of this state, this decision by the Chancellor does NOT further this idea instead it squashes a program like WISPIRG that embodies everything I hold dear at UW-Madison.
April 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This is a quote on what mental health is from the article “Women and Mental Health” by Marian Murphy:
“A healthy and growing person can be described as moving towards increased acceptance of and openness to herself and others; increased self-support and self-esteem; growing capacity to give and receive love; increased intellectual competence and creativity; greater freshness of perception and richness of feelings (both joy and pain); a more aware, autonomous, and caring value system; a growing sense of closeness to the natural world; a greater frequency of moments of transcendence; a growing enjoyment of living in her present experience.”
“Using this kind of standard most people live in a state of permanent mental ill health. At the very least it is estimated that on average we each fulfill less than 10 per cent of our potential for this kind of growth.”
April 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Around 11 and a half years ago I was sitting in Mr. Knueve’s 5th grade classroom when he rushed out of the room and grabbed a T.V.
Our class sat there in mild disbelief–we were young–as we watched buildings come down that were mostly unfamiliar to us.
The times have changed. I got an update from the New York Times app on my iPhone early this afternoon that there were two bomb blasts at the end of the Boston Marathon.
I quickly pulled up my mobile browser, which confirmed that two had died and 20 had been wounded. Now, the reports seem to be unclear as to how many have died.
The reason why I am writing this post isn’t to recount the day’s events, a million others are doing that right now. Rather, I am writing to remember September 11th.
I didn’t necessarily have a word for it at the time, but what America’s growing sickness post-9/11 could only be described as racism and Islamophobia.
Islamophobia dominated my academic interest for years after. In 7th grade I wrote a speech about the French hijab ban that stopped little Muslim girls from going to school with their religious headdress.
Now, with reports on Facebook that a 20-year-old Saudi suspect has been detained, I again worry that our country will measure our patriotism post-attack by our hatred of Muslims and Arabs. It is a slippery slope.
This tweet suggests that Boston PD doesn’t have anyone in custody.
As we move forward, it is worth noting that the news often develops too quickly, and that rumors can spread faster than a wildfire, especially with the advent of the Internet.
April 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
Hey all. In May I will be graduating. Phi Beta Kappa invited inductees to submit sample speeches for our induction ceremony so I thought I would share mine here as a way to recap my four years at UW-Madison. Ultimately, mine wasn’t selected but these are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned at this university.
I didn’t know much about Phi Beta Kappa when I received my membership letter so I casually talked to a few people about it and accidentally threw my letter away then didn’t give it another thought.
Over spring break, my dad mentioned my acceptance to my grandfather at the dinner table and his face lit up. He proceeded to tell me that my great-great-grandmother, Anna Norsman, was also accepted to Phi Beta Kappa at UW-Madison in 1898. Wow, a whole 115 years ago.
My father had told me I was a fifth generation Madison student but I never really knew how to talk about it. I think I used to be a bit guilty that my family has had access to this university for five generations.
There are a few things I want to talk about today: responsibility, soul, happiness, sadness, and failure. And of course, what a “love of learning” has to do with all of these things.
First off, I wonder why the word ‘accountability’ has any place in our lexicon? In a lecture on the education system in Finland, author Pasi Sahlberg said, “there’s no word for accountability in Finnish […] accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.” Thus, accountability assumes expectations while responsibility ensures ownership.
Let’s try making the switch from accountability to responsibility.
For example, is it our job to hold our elected officials accountable, or is it our time to take responsibility and make concrete improvements in the lives of our friends, families, and fellow citizens?
I think it’s our job as a generation, as scholars with a “love of learning,” to take responsibility to ensure that education is accessible to all regardless of socioeconomic status and identity so that others can share in our love.
This, at least, has seemed to help me switch the way I talk about being a fifth generation student.
One of the best classes I ever took at the UW was “Soul Music and the Civil Rights Movement” taught by Professor Craig Werner. The reason I loved this class wasn’t so much that Professor Werner gave us music for every class, nor the fact that we listened to that great soul music for half of every power lecture. It was the way in which the way the music connected to the struggle of people who are Black and Brown in the United States.
As a white person who minored in Afro-American studies, perhaps the greatest thing I’ve learned about myself at UW-Madison was about what it means to be white. The irony, eh? What I mean was that learning about white privilege unlocked a set of new doors in my life, the most important being the door to my soul.
It’s like hearing music, but not really listening. To take it a step further, it’s like listening to the music but not really feeling. It’s like being friends with yourself but not really loving yourself. We are here because we love learning but we also must make it our life long project to love ourselves.
Soul music taught me the joy of the blues. To quote James Baldwin, “now joy is a true state, it is a reality; it has nothing to do with what most people have in mind when they talk of happiness, which is not a real state and does not really exist.”
Another seemingly odd thing I learned at UW-Madison is that joy [what we oft confuse for happiness] is really sometimes sadness. If we reposition our perspective, not only can the saddest moments lead to joy, but also they can be joy in and of themselves.
One of the saddest moments for me throughout college was when my good friend, and noted First Wave scholar, John Vietnam died last August on campus.
One of songs he wrote, which begins with the dedication “if I win this contest I’m going to donate $250 to Children of Vietnam” goes something like this, “if I could find lines just to spit them in the verse, to fix the prisons and the schisms, I’d be finished with my work.”
Ultimately Nam passed away before he was able to end the school-to-prison pipeline. To most people, this would suggest that he failed. Honestly, thinking about Nam brings me joy because I have come to realize failure is essential to success.
Not only do I have no doubt that had he lived, he would have been up to the tall order but also that his music lives on forever. Nam, in immortality you are successful.
A liberal arts education is really about connections right? That’s why they make us take a wide range of subject material and we see the connections in all of it, or so they told me as I enrolled in a bunch of science requirements.
This education has mainly taught me to see connections in ways outside of the classroom. That’s why I was blown away when Nam’s song stopped abruptly halfway through and featured a version of this popular quote by Grace Lee Boggs; “instead of just complaining about these things, instead of just protesting about these things, we begin to look for, and hope for, another way of living.” I had read Boggs’ book way back before I ever knew John and here she was again, albeit remixed into one of my friend’s songs. My guess is she’ll keep popping up throughout my life just as Nam’s music will.
I’ve never been one for long speeches so I’d like to wrap this up by saying congratulations. Heck, I wouldn’t even be here had my grandpa not paid my membership fee. He is the one who made me think to take responsibility to share some of my favorite quotes with you.
The only thing I really want to tell you is that it’s okay to feel. To me, a life time of learning must take be accompanied by a responsibility to use our education to grow our souls, to find joy in sadness, and to devote our lives to our cause of education, just as Sahlberg, Baldwin, Nam, and Boggs have done. Ultimately we must fail. The most successful of us have failed and out of failure has come our greatest success.
April 4, 2013 § 4 Comments
So, I can’t take the credit for suggesting “lame duck” (however much I detest the use of the word lame) as a proper categorization for the way Dr. Ward is finishing up his tenure as UW-Madison Chancellor, but I think it’s incredibly fitting.
I dare say it fits as snug as a glove. The way Chancellor Ward is treating shared governance on campus is detestable.
For those of you who haven’t been following along, here’s my version. WISPIRG was granted a contract. Chancellor Ward took out any funds that were budgeted to pay professional staff.
He claims “the rules of F50 state that segregated fees cannot be used to pay the salaries of non-university employees.”
He goes on to state that “payments for salaries can only be done via contract.” Cool, so if WISPIRG is able to secure a contract they should be able to pay their staff. The Chancellor claims that the process determined by the SSFC does not meet the provisions of F50.
The kicker? No one in UW-Madison administration or System will provide language from F50 that suggests SSFC’s process is incorrect. Furthermore, my reading of F50–heavily supported by the fact 36.09(5) gives us the right to designate our fees as we see fit–would suggest otherwise.
After F50 was created, WISPIRG was given a contract three times.
So… a couple of emails later and I’m told that essentially I don’t understand F50, but that they don’t have to show me what in F50 precludes SSFC from granting the contract to WISPIRG as they’ve done twice now.
Oh by the way, WISPIRG was just denied its budget again and the Chancellor waited until the last possible day of appeal to the Regents to release his decision, and then moved the appeal date back to April 12th.
It’s downright disrespectful the way Chancellor Ward thinks he can treat these issues as if they don’t matter and as if the shared governance processes are irrelevant.
I am disappointed by the Chancellor’s action, or inaction, however you look at it. He’s got a few months left and decides what he does can’t be questioned. Shared governance needs to be more than just consulted, it deserves to be respected and a student process for allocating fees is being continuously overruled.
The way I see it there are two options: a) the Chancellor backs down b) the Chancellor decides that he will support the decision of students and 4,500 other students who signed a petition supporting WISPIRG and will approve the budget.
March 27, 2013 § Leave a Comment
So what’s making me happy? I wrote a bit about this on Facebook but I think it’s awesome to see everyone changing their profile picture in support of marriage equality. It’s great because it’s starting a bunch of conversations.
That being said, why in the form of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)? There are so many other great organizations (not to mention individuals) that are working on this issue. It just seems interesting to me that we are promoting one non-profit but perhaps there’s more reasoning behind it? They’be been planning it for years?
Also there are multiple articles mostly in the form of blog posts that suggest the HRC doesn’t prioritize Trans rights. Perhaps that is something to examine as well.
Things that aren’t making me so happy are seeing one of my friends using religion and God as justification for why he doesn’t “support” gay marriage. I understand a lot of my friends saying gay marriage isn’t the end all be all, but it is a step to ensuring equal rights for everyone in this country and it is an important step.
I know I’m guilty of Internet utopianism, it’s been said in many different variations that there is no way the Supreme Court cares about anyone changing their profile picture. What’s even worse is people who think that (as Evgeny Morosov suggests) ‘clicking here’ will save the universe.
As I posted recently (ironically):
“[E]very click must be strengthened with every breath that yells a chant, every boot that crushes the ground in march, and every fiery letter to the editor our strength can muster.”
I’m not saying the Internet is ruining our world. I’m not saying it’s making us stupider. I do think, however, that we must accompany our online commitment to justice, freedom, equity, and happiness, with offline perseverance.
As a side note, I do feel a bit happier today. Perhaps it’s the weather, perhaps it’s because I’m on break, perhaps it’s because I saw my sister. Writing a few blog posts probably won’t let me nail it down, nor will they have the power to change my mood, but I do enjoy writing.
March 10, 2013 § 2 Comments
I wrote this in response to a letter to the editor in my hometown’s newspaper:
A letter to the editor last week suggested Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer nominated journalist who was recently guest faculty at Princeton, is “one of the most notable racist columnists in the country.” As an Afro-American studies major I often see white power and Black power conflated. In fact, the former is an offshoot of white supremacy or our system of privilege which has dominated our country’s institutions for the past four hundred some years and the latter is, at worst, an attempt to counteract some of those privileges.
Stokley Carmichael, one of Black power’s more contemporary advocates, describes it in an insightful article entitled “What We Want.” To Carmichael, Black power is “the coming-together of Black people to elect representatives [who] speak to their needs.” Furthermore, it is power from and for the Black community. In short: self autonomy and respect.
In my experience on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus, this should not be so much to ask for but oftentimes I see my friends who are Black encounter extreme racism on the street and even in the classroom. On two separate occasions last Halloween I saw my friends get called the n-word. In the face of such hatred, they responded with calm, collected resolve to educate their peers on their privilege, just as Leonard Pitts Jr. does in his column.
Perhaps the author of said letter should focus their fervor on commentators like Don Imus who called the Rutgers women’s basketball team a bunch of “nappy headed hoes.”
January 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Haven’t been listening to much music lately besides Miguel and the new A$AP album. Also didn’t listen to a whole lot of Mexican music considering the topic of this post. Enjoy!
Whoa. Just got back from a helluva trip to meet with student organizers and activists of the #YoSoy132 movement.
The first few days were spent in the majestic beach/surf town of Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca. I got there after an overnight bus ride and quickly reunited with some friends from the States and my new friends from #YoSoy132.
The group was wonderful. About a dozen students from #YoSoy132 spent the week with us talking about their movement and organizations in the States and I would say we all learned quite a bit.
Above: see some food highlights like Tacos from “Fish Taco,” and a popular beer called Victoria, as well as Entomatadas for breakfast (they costed roughly $1.75).
After returning to Mexico D.F. we stayed at Hostel Catedral near the Zocalo and traveled by metro, metro bus, bus, and taxi to various neighborhoods and friend’s houses around the city.
One day we had a picnic at UNAM the state university. As a side note students pay 20 or so cents to attend and get their degree. Why so low? Education is state subsidized and that is the cost of their diploma.
The picnic was amazing and you can find a short article about it in the Mexico D.F. daily newspaper here. A particular passage I enjoyed was:
“Una de las intenciones fue coordinar una acción conjunta entre los colectivos de varias naciones para alguna fecha particular. Sin embargo, al final de la jornada –que incluyó, como en un día de campo, emparedados, pasteles de chocolate, sodas, frutas, así como unos cuantos lanzamientos de un balón de futbol americano y hasta la presencia de Balú, un perro que jugaba con una pelota de tenis– no hubo acuerdo formal sobre este punto.”
“One of the intentions (of the meeting) was to coordinate an action among several movements on a particular date. However the end of the day included a picnic, sandwiches, brownies, soda, fruit as well as a football ball and even the presence of Balú, a dog playing with a tennis ball and no formal agreement on collective action.”
Needless to say it was an amazing time. We did some touristy things like visiting the Anthropology museum and Frida Kahlo’s house (a personal highlight for all of us).
Huge shout out to Valeria H. who organized the meeting.