“No matter how restrictive the prison, some prisoners find ways to resist. Often within plain sight of their guards, people who are imprisoned devise ingenious ways to reject prison policies. Nelson Mandela recounts the numerous ways that he and his fellow prisoners outwitted, undermined, tricked, and, upon occasion, confronted their captors during the twenty-seven years that he spent as a political prisoner in South African prisons. Craving news of the political struggle outside, prisoners communicated by writing in milk on blank paper, letting it dry to invisibility and, once the note was passed on, making the words reappear with the disinfectant used to clean their cells. They smuggled messages to one another in plastic wrapped packages hidden in food drums. In the case of solitary confinement where an inmate could be locked up for twenty-three hours a day in a dark cell, just surviving constituted an act of resistance. As Mandela observes, ‘Prison is designed to break one’s spirit and destroy one’s resolve. To do this, the authorities attempt to exploit every weakness, demolish every initiative, negate all signs of individuality—all with the idea of stamping out that spark that makes each of us human and each of us who we are.’ Mandela and his fellow prisoners recognized the function of actual prisons under racial apartheid and of apartheid policies as an extension of prison.”—
Patricia Hill Collins
Love this quote, an excerpt from Black Sexual Politics. RESISTANCE.
Notice that she mentions the parallel between the policies that put Nelson Mandela in prison and the policies themselves being an extension of prison. They are intrinsically connected. There is no absolute delineation between “prison” and then “free society” when Black people cannot experience freedom from racism. Slavery and Jim Crow (and its Northern and Western de facto segregation companions) here, colonialism and apartheid there. Political prisoners here. Political prisoners there. Prison Industrial Complex here, unjust imprisonment as a tool of the State there. Racism here. Racism there. White supremacy here. White supremacy there.
Though I recognize the complex, unique and specific issues particular to South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s life and experiences, I see the role of White supremacy globally and the shared burden that Black people experience, even with nuanced and differing privileges and oppressions for other facets of identity. Like he said “We are not anti-White. We are against White supremacy.”
Dear revisionists, Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view. Right now, you are anxiously pacing the corridors of your condos and country estates, looking for the right words, the right tributes, the right-wing tributes. You will say that Mandela was not about race. You will say that Mandela was not about politics. You will say that Mandela was about nothing but one love, you will try to reduce him to a lilting reggae tune. ‘Let’s get together, and feel alright.’ Yes, you will do that. You will make out that apartheid was just some sort of evil mystical space disease that suddenly fell from the heavens and settled on all of us, had us all, black or white, in its thrall, until Mandela appeared from the ether to redeem us. You will try to make Mandela a Magic Negro and you will fail. You will say that Mandela stood above all for forgiveness whilst scuttling swiftly over the details of the perversity that he had the grace to forgive.
Nelson Mandela was not a god, floating elegantly above us and saving us. He was utterly, thoroughly human, and he did all he did in spite of people like you. There is no need to name you because you know who you are, we know who you are, and you know we know that too. You didn’t break him in life, and you won’t shape him in death.
Excerpts from his brilliant essay Mandela Will Never, Ever Be Your Minstrel. I love that he included Bob Marley’s lyrics, because he too like so many very much so human yet very much so remarkable people have been turned into memes and reframed to serve White supremacy and make the status quo and the State comfortable, literally what these people were fighting or singing or marching or writing or speaking etc. against.
When sentiment doesn’t allow for complexity and seeks to serve White supremacy, it cannot respect Mandela’s legacy. It cannot respect Black lives. It cannot be truthful in relation to justice—the justice still needed today for the racism and oppression that still thrives today.
Nelson Mandela was a human being and a complex one who fought with people, not alone, for a justice that cannot be separated from both the desire for peace and the necessity of self-defense from the State, both unity and the reality of racism so virulent and so pungent that we still smell and experience that stench today. His enemies—people who wanted him imprisoned or dead—are the same ones (literally, by name, in some cases) who are desperate and thirsty to reframe his life and legacy in a way where “peaceful” means “sought White approval; didn’t believe in self-defense.” Let’s remember him for who he actually was and what he did, with all of its complicated, difficult, radical and glorious complexity.
His body isn’t even cold yet and the New York Times has already put out a shameful article declaring Nelson Mandela to be an ‘icon of peaceful resistance.” News outlets around the Western world are hurrying to publish obituaries that celebrate his electoral victory while erasing the protracted and fierce guerrilla struggle that he and his party were forced to fight in order to make that victory possible. Don’t let racist, imperialist liberalism co-opt the legacy of another radical. Nelson Mandela used peaceful means when he could, and violent means when he couldn’t. For this, during his life they called him a terrorist, and after his death they’ll call him a pacifist—all to neutralize the revolutionary potential of his legacy, and the lessons to be drawn from it.
BOOM! And we knew this was coming. It’s everywhere. Media outlets. Individual conversations with Whites. Even some people of colour have bought into the lies because we are not taught the truth in schools because the media, U.S. Gov and education industrial complex work together to sanitize, erase, be ahistorical and manipulate through revisionism. NO!
Taking a break away from the blog and Twitter for the blog for a little while, maybe some days or more; I’ll see. If you’ve been following for a while and want to support via donation, click here. Thanks. “Cya” soon.
70th Read This Week feature! Just about every week (I’ve missed some) I post articles, essays, and/or journal articles/papers that I’ve read and think you will benefit from reading based on your interest in Gradient Lair.
The MHP Black Feminism Syllabus is by Melissa Harris-Perry and includes a nice book list of resources on Black feminism. This was sparked by the disgusting anti-intersectional post in Politico that targeted Michelle Obama. The video for this though…heh. There’s a “Miss Ann” line that is EPIC. I love MHP!
The Nine Types of People You Meet When You Come Out As Asexual by Anagnori on Tumblr is so good. It’s even better than the Asexual Bingo chart. The categories included are the unbeliever, the unwanted sympathizer, the intrusive questioner, the asshole questioner, the unnecessary therapist, the angry uninformed progressive, the angry uninformed conservative, the creep and the decent person. Very informative post!
Dating White vs. Dating Light by guest writer Danielle Small on Racialicious is a good read on being a dark skinned Black woman who dated a White man, then a Black man with light skinned privilege, and experiencing similar responses from people. There’s many factors involved; racism, sexism, misogynoir, colourism, White supremacy and rigid notions of masculinity/femininity as based on dark/light. Interesting piece.
Secularism and Social Justice is an interview of Black feminist, atheist and secular humanist activist Sikivu Hutchinson by David Niose on Psychology Today. It is so illuminating, providing a nuanced portrait of secular humanism where intersectionality and social justice are relevant. Not the restrictions of theism, not the White supremacy of mainstream atheism. Further, she provides great context for The Black Church in political terms; something that evades most White atheists’ thinking since they rarely explore Black history beyond blaming Black people for being theists as if White supremacy is nowhere involved there. Very nuanced interview. Good stuff.
The Privilege of Expecting Community by Robert Reese of Still Furious and Still Brave is a good read about how White privilege produces community in spaces where Black people are alienated; major example used is graduate schools where White women leave for lack of professorial support and affirmation of their research yet most Black students can never expect that in the first place. Good read on a facet of education/employment often overlooked.
This short post (in response to an Ask Box question) by racismschool on Tumblr is great. It is about how non-Black people, which would be Whites AND non-Black people of colour CANNOT use the N word. Being a person of colour who isn’t Black is not a doorway into that term.
If my life was a story (well it is—all of our lives are—but I mean as a medium) and I could have a narrator speak the story, here’s who I’d choose to narrate the story (based on how they speak and the tone and texture of their voices).
'Q.U.E.E.N.’ definitely is an acronym,' Monae explains during an interview at Fuse HQ. 'It’s for those who are marginalized.' She says the 'Q' represents the queer community, the 'U' for the untouchables, the 'E' for emigrants, the second 'E' for the excommunicated and the “N” for those labeled as negroid.
'It’s for everyone who’s felt ostracized,' she adds. 'I wanted to create something for people who feel like they want to give up because they’re not accepted by society.'
Virginity, purity culture, abstinence, celibacy, fear of sex, sexual repulsion, sexual dysfunction/medical issues regarding sexual performance, anti-sex, single. Do NOT use these words interchangeably with “asexuality.”
Virginity is mostly a heterosexist, phallocentric, shame-oriented construction meant to police the sexual choices of women (though not only women; some people are genderfluid or intersex and still face the same thing) via patriarchy, sexsim, misogyny, misogynoir, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and more, and at times is used to question the masculinity (when masculinity is patriarchal) of men for being “less of a man” for not having sexual intercourse by a certain age. Any person of any sexual orientation can ascribe to this thought/behavior, though it tends to be heterosexist and cissexist when spoken of and usually relies on binary notions of gender and patriarchal binaries. (May also be connected to some theisms.)
Purity culture takes virginity a step further by then equating the actual value of a person to their sexual choices. It’s often heterosexist as well, focusing on a woman “preserving” her body and sexual experiences for a husband who depending on where the purity culture is proliferated, might not have to reciprocate the same “preservation” because of patriarchy and sexism as well as patriarchal notions of masculinity where men “have to” have sex while women “wait.” Any person of any sexual orientation can ascribe to this thought/behavior, though it tends to be heterosexist and cissexist when spoken of. (May also be connected to some theisms.)
Abstinence is usually associated with youth and refers to delaying sexual experiences until a relationship is legally recognized by the State as having value, i.e. via marriage, or when a “respectable” relationship can occur. Sometimes it only refers to waiting until college/adulthood before having sex depending on the social class/cultural norms of the particular person in question. Any person of any sexual orientation can ascribe to this thought/behavior. (May also be connected to some theisms.)
Celibacy is usually associated with adulthood and refers to an extended period of time where a person does not engage in sexual intercourse after having sexual intercourse sometime in their life before. The reasons may be personal (whether good [i.e. disinterest] or bad [i.e. shame]), medical, theistic, or simply “just is” and is not an over the top effort to “avoid” sexual intercourse, but simply a choice.
Fear of sex can be a reaction to trauma, result from strong disinterest, relate to a particular theism or be the response of shame. Anyone can be legitimately afraid of sexual intercourse. While marketed as the ultimate pleasure, for some people sex is painful, traumatic, not of interest and/or creates anxiety. (Not speaking of rape here. Rape is NOT sex.)
Sexual repulsion is what it is stated as—repulsed by sexual intercourse to the point it evokes a feeling of sickness or extreme dislike. This feeling is not specific to any particular sexual orientation. Dysfunction/medical issues refer to specific medical conditions (i.e. hormonal, biological, response to injury/trauma) that impact libido, arousal and performance. This can occur with anyone and is not particular to any sexual orientation.
Anti-sex speaks to people who are either opposed to sexual intercourse across the board or are opposed to very specific forms of sexual intercourse (i.e. a cissexist homophobic anti-sex person opposes sex unless between a cishet man and a cishet woman), or opposed, but in a political sense (i.e. some anti-sex people want White supremacy, heterosexuality, and cis/able-bodied privilege decentralized from “sex positivity” ideology).
Single is obvious; simply a person of any sexual orientation that is not involved in a sexual and/or romantic relationship. This word still tends to favor people who aren’t asexual. While people of any sexual orientation who are single can face endless insults and even inequality and discrimination, being asexual and single is written off as pathology quite often.
Asexuality is a sexual orientation. People who rarely or do not at all experience sexual attraction (though they may experience other forms of attraction; i.e. sensual, romantic, aesthetic) are asexual. It is about attraction, not their behavior the night before. It is not solely any of the things listed above though some of them can impact asexual people just as they can impact heterosexual and queer people.
Not all asexual people are people who have not had sexual intercourse before (“virgins”) or are prolonging their first sexual experience (abstinence). Not experiencing sexual intercourse is not what makes someone asexual or every teen who has not had sex yet would be asexual, which of course is ridiculous. Not all asexual people participate in purity culture. Many find it repulsive, restricting and heterosexist/sexist/dogmatic. Others may find it to be a good thing but still are not asexual solely because they think physical intimacy should not occur without a marriage license or adulthood. Celibacy does not even apply to some asexual people. Some do not engage in sexual activity whatsoever, so they are not on a prolonged “break” from sexual intimacy or intercourse. Celibacy does apply to some asexual people who were celibate before coming to terms with their sexual orientation as not heterosexual or queer etc. and can apply to some asexuals (i.e. gray, demisexual) who while rarely experiencing sexual attraction still may have sex and are thereby able to be on a “break” from sexual activity.
Some asexual people may fear sex but that is not what makes them asexual. The fear of sex is a separate issue that heterosexual and queer people can also experience. Some asexual people can experience medical issues that impact sexual performance but said medical issue does not determine their actual sexual orientation. If so, then cishet men with erectile dysfunction would automatically be asexual. Obviously, they aren’t. Some asexual people may be anti-sex but so are some heterosexual and queer people. Some may be anti-sex because of bigotry or conversely as a political statement specific to critiquing the narrow ways that “sex positivity" is proliferated. Even so, this is bigotry or sociopolitical resistance, respectively, not sexual orientation.
It should be more than obvious that being “single” has NOTHING to do with sexual orientation yet this word gets used interchangeably with “asexual” (as is “gay;” for Black women, not chasing cishet Black men often means being called a “lesbian” where the word is meant to be a slur via homophobia; feminists/womanists are regularly called “asexual” or “lesbian” where both are used as slurs) by people who don’t know the difference or by people who are willfully ignorant and mean to demean asexual people or shame single people.
Pretending like all of the mentioned words are the same as “asexuality” occurs because people do not have the correct information on asexuality or because they are being willfully ignorant and are trying to marginalize the experiences of asexual people by associating us with labels often used to marginalize those who aren’t performing sexuality in a way that is supported by the status quo or is supported but only via binaries ultimately meant to oppress. Because of the history of racism, sexism, misogyny and anti-Blackness as the root of White supremacy that creates misogynoir, there is no sexual orientation that Black women can have without facing oppression. Controlling images that make heterosexual Black women “Jezebels” and asexual Black women “mammies” while oppressing queer Black women for being neither one are evidence of misogynoir. Though the oppression is not uniform, as heterosexual Black women have heterosexual privilege, even heterosexuality for Black women is treated as deviant and as a divergence from “pure” White heterosexuality, let alone the immense oppression that Black women who aren’t heterosexual face, especially when they aren’t cis or binary gender either.
No examination of sexual orientation will ever be thorough if viewed through Whiteness or heterosexuality alone. Asexuality is its own sexual orientation and should be treated as such, not as an “alternate” word for the ones mentioned above, not as pathology and not as representative of people to control, pity or shame.
“Feminism is supposed to be about equality and women being able to make their own choices. Yet, when famous Black women make choices that are best for their lives, there’s never any shortage of concern-trolling from people who don’t have to live with those choices. We talk a lot about patriarchy and paternalism, but we rarely speak of the way many feminists feel entitled to tell Black women what they should be doing. The maternalistic tone taken by many white feminists and even other feminists of color toward Black women is rarely seen as problematic. When we talk about solidarity inside the feminist movement, we have to talk about differences not just in oppression, but also in goals. For Black women, our struggle is not necessarily about access to the workplace; Black women have always had to work in America. Our struggle is to be recognized as human beings. To have our choices be treated with the same respect offered to anyone else. Whether we’re talking about Michelle Obama, Beyonce, or just the average woman on the street, the reality is that some feminists have children, and their decisions aren’t any less feminist because they are done in the best interests of those children. In fact, as feminism has never mastered being all things to all people, the reality is that no one is in a position to decide for another woman what kind of work she should do, how she should engage with her family, or even which of her choices represent the ‘right’ kind of feminism.”—
A quote from her incredible article on RH Reality Check, For Black Women, Everything Is a Feminist Issue. Part of it is a response to the Politico article that called Michelle Obama a “feminist nightmare.” Yeesh. The racism in feminism remains and she deconstructed it well in this article. Motherhood for Black women MATTERS and if Black women are going to be praised when raising White children (you know, what happened for centuries and still does; many White feminists have women of colour as their nannies as they admonish Michelle Obama for mothering her own children) and shamed when raising their own, then we’re talking about White supremacy, not any movement that can empower Black women. Read this whole article!
For some reason, feministpraxis for men keeps getting marketed (and yes, “marketed,” as it is often portrayed as an object of consumption and a club, a problem with mainstream feminism itself) as 1) being “nice” to women and 2) somewhat rethinking masculinity outside of patriarchy. I don’t only mean cishet men either; I’ve seen this assertion in several spaces for men in the most comprehensive sense of what “men” means. This fascinates me because as a woman, especially as a Black woman, I find this bar low and asking so little involvement of men. The hurdles that Black women are expected to jump over before ever being considered feminist are astronomical compared to White women and trying to compare it to men, Black, White or otherwise is beyond laughable. So little is required of them compared to what is required of Black women, even as Black women’s Black feminist/womanist language and work are regularly appropriated or erased.
Yesterday I shared some tweets about this topic, including this one:
Though in terms of womanism, wholeness matters and healing matters—and beyond the scope of challenging sexism alone as feminism is often articulated as—this work towards wholeness is not solely individualized as it often is expressed in feminism. It requires commitment and work beyond individualized actions for personal situations, though those matter also. Feminist praxis for men is more than “being nice” to women. It’s about rethinking men’s ideology regarding all oppression, not only sexism. From there it involves men actually doing. Challenging the men in their lives. Checking their privilege. Not mansplaining. Not hogging the mic. Additionally it involves recognizing their role in speaking about domestic violence/rape, for example, and not as “women’s problem.” This involves men as well. And when I say it involves men, this is not to alter the statistical scope of women, cis and trans, as well as vulnerable non-binary individuals as the most common victims of rape and abuse, to center men. It’s to say that men as perpetrators of violence has to be a topic men discuss, not a "but men ‘too’" statement when men as survivors can be heard without silencing women.
Also there’s the issue of patriarchy itself; men’s feminist praxis cannot only be playing “good man” and call that a reformation of masculinity. Even as that personal masculinity reformation occurs, men have to realize that quoting bell hooks all day on this one topic, masculinity, is limited. bell hooks is the only source for some feminist men since they think feminism is solely about their own personal masculinity. She’s not even the only Black woman whose written on the topic. It’s that she’s placed as the bar that Black women have to meet in order to be considered feminists while for White women it’s having a pulse. Thus, she’s noticeable and not solely for her genius then.
While how we embody the oppressor within is where all feminist work begins, men’s own praxis can’t always be about themselves and self-therapy. If a man’s feminist praxis equals being “nice” to women and internal focus on masculinity and nothing else, it’s just large gaping holes in the work. I have a problem with this. It’s male privilege. Black women who are Black feminists/womanists aren’t allowed to do so little and be recognized as voices/thinkers. And praxis isn’t about recognition alone. It’s work against the many ways that oppression manifests (i.e. yes sexism, but also racism, homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, fat shaming, ableism, classism, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism etc.). But the amount of work Black women are expected to do versus everyone else? I am not interested in Mule Of The World Feminism where Black women move from status quo spaces to progressive spaces to still be servants while men are applauded for so little.
As I’ve mentioned before, I am not so concerned with applauding men who accept the label of “feminist.” I simply watch what men say and do more than if they claim the label “feminist” or not. Do they uphold sexist oppression or do they challenge it? Do they only have an issue with sexist oppression when the target is a White woman? Almost no one takes a stand in defense of Black women, ever. This is what I watch. Do their concerns permeate more than performing masculinity in a way that they think is acceptable in feminist space solely to maintain authoritative positioning no less? Are they more concerned with not being viewed as “bad men” or patriarchal versus challenging oppression any and everywhere it exists, and not solely sexist oppression? This is what I watch. Are they more concerned about “correcting” anti-feminist women or women who’ve internalized sexism and face a greater risk from rejecting patriarchy than most men ever will or are they actually challenging other men’s patriarchal and oppressive thinking for once? Are they fighting for the microphone versus making already male dominated space feminist space? Are they concerned with speaking over women and lecturing women on why patriarchy is bad while ignoring how male privilege gives them the space to do so or are they actually interested in the end of patriarchal domination, including within progressive space? This is what I watch.
I am not interested in handing out trophies to men for feminism nor am interested in them proving how they are “better” than other men and thereby require reward, especially when some abuse while claiming that they are better than men who don’t label as “feminist.” I am interested in anti-oppression praxis that will of course include challenging their own patriarchal notions of masculinity and how they treat women interpersonally, but this work requires more than interpersonal relationships and “proving” how “good” they are. The same work I require from myself is required from men, period. And while certain things will eclipse their experiences and knowledge because of male privilege (and all men do not experience male privilege in the same way; White men with class privilege versus Black men with or without it are not living the same lives as men, for example; this is why knowledge of more than just patriarchy and masculinity is needed by all male feminists; a grasp of intersectionality, not linear concepts on gender is need) still more is required than being a “nice” guy focused on studying masculinity and little else.
Me:"Edward Norton is so talented; he's always amazing in his movies."
Them:"I wanna fuck a blond guy."
Me:"Benedict Cumberbatch SLAYS as Sherlock. Some of his acting roles are terrible (i.e. hell naw Khan and Assange, ICK), but in that show, he is a god."
Them:"He has a great voice. I would love to hear it while fucking him on the set of Sherlock."
Me:"Idris Elba did the damn thing as Heimdall in the Loki films!"
Them:"*replies with nude photos of other men who aren't Idris*"
Me:"I had a great relationship with someone wonderful some years ago--maybe was the love of my life; but of course not every relationship is sexual in nature. You've read what I've written on asexuality, so you know."
Them:"So...how often did you fuck?"
Me:"Cishet man. Cis man. Trans man. Masculine-appearing genderqueer person."
Them:"Fuck fuckington, sex sexdipity doo dah day."
Me:"I love getting my hair washed at a salon. I had a great Black male stylist recently."
Them:"I almost came once at a salon by being touched. Salons make me horny! Touch me, tease me, kiss me and caress me, hold me tight don't let go, baby I'm about to explode, cause all my love you can control. Here I am, rock you like a hurricane!"
Me:"Oh, Simon Baker from The Mentalist is #mywhiteboo."
Them:"So...by 'boo' you mean you want to fuck him as a groupie?"
Me:"Sure aces can make sexual jokes, many people do. But sometimes we might want to have a conversation about other aspects of a person, just like you do...right?"
Them:"Cock. Penis. Twat. Vagina. If you were really sex positive, you would accept a sexual reply to any and all tweets that mention men. Prude!"
Me:"*bangs head on desk while wishing it was possible to not have every reply to my tweets about someone male be about fucking*"
“Correct me if I’m wrong but no other rapper aside from Macklemore has ever paid tribute to Trayvon Martin. Aside from Plies, Wyclef Jean, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Game, Ace Hood, Lil Scrappy, Papoose and numerous other rappers. Let’s not forget Jamie Foxx and Ebony Magazine who were applauded as ‘wise’ and ‘educated’ for speaking out against racism. Oops, wait.”—
Boom! From the moment I saw that Hurricane Katrina photo side by side with coded racism in how hurricane survivors acquired resources to more recently Nicki/Miley media narratives and now Jamie/Macklemore, I keep remembering how White people and White supremacist media are not even trying. They are blatantly going to applaud the beneficiaries of oppression for saying something about what they will never experience while further oppressing the oppressed who speak out. And then they call this process of sheer White supremacy and racism being an “ally.” Both comical and disgusting.
This is my 69th Read This Week feature! If you’re new to Gradient Lair, each week I post essays, articles and/or journal articles and papers of interest to me that I think will be of interest to you, based on your interest in my blog. Check these out:
The Myth of “Fast Black Girls” by Michonne Micheaux (@LexiScorsese) is excellent and came right after a conversation several Black women had on Twitter about how Black girls are pathologized and sexualized and how the adult Black men who do this and even their own families (including Black women) enable abusers through this stereotype. Conversation stemmed from discussing R. Kelly being an ABUSER for decades and Black women actually targeted by him in Chicago during their teens mentioned so. Critical conversation.
The Radical Politics of #selfies by Lutze (@FeministGriote) is a great read that I mentioned earlier this week when I shared my selfies. She gets to the heart of the matter of positive and affirming images and what that means for Black women and other people regularly marginalized for appearance and regularly excluded from media images that are readily accessible.
This awesome response by textualtidepool on Tumblr to Dan Savage’s ignorance and bigotry against asexual people is everything. Savage is notorious for not giving a shit about anyone not cis and White while queer. He also came for asexuals and this post addresses a direct quote from him, an awful one, and explains why asexual people deal with bigotry from both heterosexual and queer people, even as the former oppresses the latter.
How My Social Justice Failed My Family by Robert Reese on Still Furious and Still Brave is a really beautiful, really painful read about how a major loss in his family—his childhood home—made him reflect on the educational/career path he took, what he knows, and how the system is currently structured to only reward certain degrees. And instead of people saying "well, just major in ___" maybe we need to think about why some subjects are rewarded. Hint: it ain’t the “neutral” “free market.”