encourage an important social change

I have long held a sneaking suspicion that by honestly exploring the mulatto experience we will encourage important social change.  I am thrilled to hear that way back when, others had the same idea.  But then slavery ended, and the “powers that be” really needed to maintain the color-coded class system that allowed them such control and wealth, and so did our chances (slim though they were) of being counted for what we really are.  This was not a chance, in my opinion, to distance ourselves from blackness, but to disprove the theory that white and black were different species. I do think we’ve moved beyond that antiquated notion, but I’m not so sure there aren’t a great number of people who consciously or unconsciously believe that black and white occupy space at opposite ends of the spectrum of one species.  I think this article says so much and says it very well.

Census reveals history of U.S. racial identity

by Sally Lehrman

Whether or not they can lay claim to a special category, the “Confederate Southern Americans” who want to write themselves into the U.S. census section denoting “race” have a point.

Race, as the social scientists like to say, is “socially constructed.” Since the founding of this country, we have been making it up as we go. Race is a modern idea, historians and anthropologists tell us, a means to categorize and organize ourselves that we constantly adjust.

The U.S. census serves as an archive of this change, a record of classifications that have been “contradictory and confused from the very outset,” says Margo Anderson, a University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, urban studies historian and expert on U.S. census history. Begun in 1790 as a solution to the problem of how to allocate seats in Congress, the survey didn’t mention “race” originally, but the idea as we understand it today was central. How should slaves be counted? Were they entirely property or were they people? What to do with “civilized” Indians?

Later Congress debated whether to include the word “mulatto,” Anderson says, and finally agreed – but for opposite reasons. Blacks and whites were different species, some argued, so their “unnatural” offspring should be counted. Others felt that documenting the children of black-white relationships would encourage an important social advance.

“Mexicans” were counted as a race in the 1930 questionnaire, but the Mexican government protested and the category disappeared. “Hindu” lasted for three decades. Koreans were written in, pulled out, and added back again.

All along, the “race” category of the census has been a powerful social and political tool wielded both to discriminate and to guard against discrimination. At first, survey categories reflected ideas about the divide between black and white, which immigrants were eligible for citizenship, and how to sort categories of “Indians.” Later, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, its groupings also made it possible to measure compliance with equal treatment under the law.

The census reveals the process of race, the categories by which Americans construct difference and with difference, special privileges for some. It measures who and what matters, how resources have been allocated, and reflects the political, economic and social interests that prop up race. Race is defined and contested constantly, shaped in both personal and social realms all at once, according to Michael Omi and Howard Winant, sociologists who developed the central paradigm for studying contemporary race in American society.

Today, for instance, many Latinos refuse to conform to the forms of race described in the census. “Hispanic” is separated out as an “ethnicity” on the survey, so members of this group are expected to choose a race, too. About 40 percent in both 1980 and 2000 selected “some other race,” often writing in an identity such as “Venezuelan” instead.

But that’s not to say race is an illusion, a set of categories we can write in or wipe away like chalk on a blackboard. Race arose in America as a means to support and rationalize the slave economy. By the end of the 17th century, writes social anthropologist Audrey Smedley, wealthy planters had carefully woven it into a “rigid and exclusionist” system, a legal and institutional hierarchy built upon skin color.

We continue to shape race through both our institutions and everyday actions, and it powerfully shapes us. Public health statistics reveal the damage. On average, white people can expect to live about five years longer than African Americans. Even middle-class black people are more likely than any other group to live with a chronic health condition or disability. American Indians and Latinos suffer disproportionately from diabetes, Asian Americans bear a heavier burden of tuberculosis and hepatitis B, and the list goes on. While genetic scientists hunt for possible differences in susceptibility, public health experts shine their light on society.

Forces like everyday prejudice, segregated neighborhoods and unequal schools wear out hearts and immune systems, clog up air passages and make us fat. San Francisco is among the cities, in fact, studying the ways in which we build disparate health opportunity right into our streets. Who enjoys neighborhoods with clean, well-lighted sidewalks? Who has to battle congested traffic and diesel fumes to get to work or school? Who can walk to a farmers’ market on Saturday, and who sees only fast-food outlets block after block?

When confronted with race categories neatly printed out on a form, it’s tempting to see them as natural divisions. The inequities that go along with them, it seems to follow, are natural, too. With their proposition to claim themselves as a race, the Southern Confederates challenge all of us to contemplate what we mean by that term and what role we play in making its harms and hierarchies real. And when we learn about racial differences in health, in economic success, in education or any other measure, we should remember the confederates. Race matters, and we are the hands that shape it.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/04/17/INA41CUC6V.DTL#ixzz0lZT8DJ4W

intuitive eating

This kind of goes with a couple of youtube videos that I posted recently.  I like it.  It seems like it’s for both those who struggle with eating too much, and those who struggle with eating too little.  I don’t think those problems are too far removed from each other.

boxes of berries


10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

1. Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

2. Honor Your Hunger Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.

3. Make Peace with Food Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.

4. Challenge the Food Police .Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating under 1000 calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.

5. Respect Your Fullness Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.

8. Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.

10 Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.

smoke and rain

New York is experiencing torrential downpours today.  Early this morning the rain took a break, so I decided to go for a run after hearing that the thunderstorms would return in 45 minutes.  It was sprinkling when I took off, but since my hair is already curly, this didn’t bother me at all.  It was actually kind of nice.  I was surprised though by all of the smokers in the park huddling under trees or umbrellas for an early morning cigarette.  The second hand smoke was much more disturbing than the rain.  I’ll never understand why people under a certain age smoke.  With people over a certain age (I’m unclear on what age I mean exactly), I sort of understand because cigarettes used to be marketed as not only cool, but healthy.  But now we all know the deadly truth, so what gives?


kid putting cigarette out

yay, kid!!


asthma cigarettes

ummm…. not for children under 6!? treats foul breath and diseases of the throat!? omg! a greater pack of lies could not exist.  it makes me wonder what is the “cigarette” of today.  what deadly vice, chemical, food, or beverage are they touting as healthy that in 25-50 years from now we will all recognize as lethal?  high fructose corn syrup maybe…

drs smoke camel


throat cigarettes

By the way, the weather lady was wrong and the storms rolled in early and I got totally drenched, but I must admit that I enjoyed running in the downpour.  I never would have guessed that either.



I often consider that, because “mulatto” doesn’t really “exist” in the world at large, medical studies that cite race as a qualifier of the subjects studied mean absolutely nothing for me.  Am I to assume that the ills that typically plague African Americans are apt to plague me, or those of Caucasians?  Or neither?  Or both?  I mean surely our DNA does not take into account the one drop rule and decide that I have only black genes.  For these reasons I was very pleased to hear of the Bogalusa Heart Study…

The Bogalusa Heart Study is the longest and most detailed epidemiologic study of a biracial (black-white) population of children in the world. The study focuses on understanding the early natural history of coronary artery disease and essential hypertension. It is the only major program studying a total and geographically well-defined, biracial and semi-rural community. http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/552027/