This week I got to go on a few field trips. On Tuesday, I saw Nicholas Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn speak in a giant auditorium at Lehigh University to hundreds of people. On Wednesday, I saw Walter Naegle speak in the small “Big Room” at United Friends School to fifty people. The latter was a much better use of my time.
I was taught not to say anything if what I don’t have anything nice to say. Well, that goes against my feminist and academic sensibilities, so I will simply say this. I am not sure how much Lehigh paid the couple to give their talk on Tuesday, but that money should have gone to funding anything else. The talk was unfocused, lacked nuance, and was blatantly offensive at points.
I think my sole tweet from the night (thank you to my Twitter mentor, doppelgänger Colleen, for the lesson) says it all:
I have a complicated relationship with the duo, and approach their work with trepidation. I think their intention is good, but their output feels painful to me. Perhaps the other worst part of the night was when a photo of three young black boys popped on the screen “accidentally” instead of a picture of rats. All I know is when I give a talk, I am prepared and focused. And I sure as hell don’t get paid what they did.
On a much more positive note, in a small room magic happened on Wednesday night. United Friends School’s Diversity Committee hosted Walter Naegle to speak about his now-deceased partner Bayard Rustin, for whom the kindergarten class is named. During the talk, he got close to tears a few times when remembering Rustin and the work he did for all human rights. When I asked where Bayard found the courage to speak out about intersectionality before it was probably even a term in human rights movements, Walter suggested the Quaker values that Bayard’s grandmother instilled in the family (specifically the SPICES). Because Bayard was an out homosexual, he was often seen as on the periphery, even though he organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I greatly appreciated hearing Walter speak about Bayard’s commitment to economic equality. Rustin is the subject of the documentary Brother Outsider which you can watch here for free. Much of the talk was about bringing his important story to light so that he can be remembered for his significant work. There is a new book about Rustin’s work, Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist, Also, there is something we can all do to ensure that his legacy is honored. His family and friends are running a campaign to place Bayard on a stamp. For information on how you can help the cause, visit their website. Here’s fellow lefty (in more ways than one) Walter signing a book for Ev. And that is Rustin’s Medal of Freedom awarded in 2013!
So, I haven’t offered much in the way of news…here are a few quick hits that I found interesting this week.
For some reason, we still haven’t figured out to ensure that society doesn’t discourage girls from going into the sciences. It is 2015, people.
Fox “News” continues to air people who think victim-blaming is appropriate. For the last time, just because a person is drunk does not mean he/she deserves to be assaulted.
Finally, some humor that gets at all of the things I love at once. If Gandhi took a yoga class,