President Obama & Charles Hamilton Houston, pt II – a guest post by socioprof.

My friend and fellow denizen of Ta-Nehisi Coate’s Golden Horde, the lovely and delightful socioprof, took President Obama’s 21 year old “Black History Minute” and moved the ball forward in a comment that evening in the Open Thread – and her comment is so full of win, that I had to make a post of it. Thanks, socioprof!


There is such a beautiful (and long) thread here, socioprof wrote after watching the clip.

The man that our President lauds some 20 years ago is Charles Hamilton Houston. Houston attends Harvard Law and is the first Black person named to the Harvard Law Review.

He later trains Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP lawyer who (along with Houston and others from the NAACP) successfully argued before the Supreme Court, convincing Warren and his Court that separate was indeed unequal, and was ultimately the first Black person appointed to the Supreme Court.

Marshall has a young, female law clerk while serving on the high court. After Houston’s death, there was a professorship named at Harvard in his honor. Marshall’s young, female law clerk – Elena Kagan – held that professorship.

In a parallel stream, a Harvard law professor, Charles Ogletree, teaches a Black woman from Chicago’s South Side named Michelle Robinson, and then some skinny kid, also from Chicago – though by way of Hawaii and Indonesia – with a funny name, famously big ears, and a White Kansan mother and a Black Kenyan father. That kid with the name and ears goes on to become the first Black person to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review.

Ogletree continues to mentor the kid and goes on to found the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law with the support of Harvard Law Dean, Elena Kagan.

Five years later, that kid with the ears is President of these United States and appoints Kagan to the Supreme Court.


I’m sorry, sometimes American history is just a little bit grand.

I am (apparently) a Public Intellectual!

The extremely interesting and very respectable The Public Intellectual has asked to occasionally reprint my posts. Whoot! Today they ran my first Occupy Wall Street post; tomorrow they’ll run what I wrote about Oakland. Very nice! Please show them some love (click here, if you haven’t clicked on either of the other links already) and poke around the place a bit. They’ve got some very cool stuff going on!

Busy busy busy.

This is actually pretty much what I look like.

Oookay. I have a lot to catch up on. Not least that I appeared on Russian teevee again today…! But first, all the other catching up:

  1. My first real post at Feministe — which was pretty well received! — was a slightly re-worked version of my post about the use of the word “nude” in the fashion, so I won’t crosspost the whole thing. But it starts like this:

    Dear Fashion Industry,

    I’ve been meaning to write ever since that big wedding that took place in London this past spring, and then as various bits and bobs of fashion flotsam and jetsam have wandered across my heat-blurred summer vision, but, well, events overcame me. Life, and your whatnot. But finally, here we are, tete-a-tete. Did you miss me, Fashion Industry? I hope so!

  2. My second real post — which is getting chewed up and spat out as we speak! — was a slightly re-worked version of my post on Beyonce. Again, no real point to crossposting the whole thing, but it starts like this:

    Whenever I slip into Starbucks for a little iced Joe these days, there she is: Beyonce.

    For the moment, I won’t get into the outfit she sports on the cover of her latest work, nor the disturbing fact that it seems every album Beyonce puts out is adorned with an ever-lighter version of her genuinely lovely self.

    No, I want to talk about her music, but there’s still one more caveat: As a 46 year old suburban mother who likes loud rock n’ roll, I am not nor have I ever been Beyonce’s target audience.

  3. I’ve posted my regular book recommendation at Americans for Peace Now (though at this point, it might be more honest to call it “semi-regular” — it’s supposed to go up on Fridays, and for two weeks running, it’s gone up the following Tuesday. Sigh). Here’s the top of that; for the rest, please click here; for an archive of all earlier recommendations, click here (a perma-link to the archive can be found under Pages, on your right).

    When the first intifada hit Israel with the shock of a tidal wave, I was living in Tel Aviv.

    Many of my male friends – including the young man with whom I was in love and living at the time – found themselves called to endless rounds of reserve duty to face off against stone-throwing youth.

    It was during that time, as I followed the news with a consuming obsession and watched my previously unflappable boyfriend writhe in his sleep from nightmares, that I went from a vague “we should all find a way to get along, gosh it’s so sad that the Arabs don’t want to” kind of politics, to understanding that Israel had two ways to resolve the problem of the occupied territories: Massive ethnic cleansing, or two-states-for-two-peoples.

    As I couldn’t get behind the first option, and had begun to understand that the stone throwers had a point in demanding their rights, I became an active supporter of the two-state solution.

    And yet I can say with all honesty that it wasn’t until I read Mary Elizabeth King’s 2007 A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance that I understood that those stone throwers could have responded with arms and ammunition, but that their grassroots leaders chose not to. That, indeed, the entire intifada was rooted in notions of nonviolence.

  4. I’ve added a couple things to the blog rolls, and as always, I most heartily urge you to… check them! Both!

    First, under Smart People (because I had no idea where else to put it) you will find the truly awesome and very informative (if occasionally somewhat smoothing-off-a-few-too-many-rough-edges-for-sake-of-brevity) What the Fuck Has Obama Done So Far?

    And second, under The Funny Papers, you will find Gabby’s Playhouse, a webcomic which I first came to know through this comic, which had me (I think not suprisingly!) assuming that said “Gabby” was of the lady persuasion. Turns out I should have been tipped off by that comic’s title: “In which we betray our gender.” Gabby’s a man. A very, very talented man. Don’t believe me? Click here!

I’ll be back later with the TV stuff, pinky swear!

My on-going domination of all the internets.

Ok, so a funny thing happened on my way to obscurity.

This blog was found by the good folks at Feministe, and two weeks and one day after I wrote that woe-is-me-I’m-not-sure-if-I-can-stand-writing-anymore post, they emailed to ask if I would like to guest blog this summer…!

And so, not being a complete idiot, I said yes. And with great pleasure!

The gig begins today. I’ll be crossposting everything I write for Feministe here and at Angry Black Lady Chronicles, as per yooz, but I encourage you to go over there as well. The writers at Feministe are passionate, come from wildly varied backgrounds, and always leave their readers with new ideas to chew over. You’ll find a link over to your right, on the Smart People blog roll, or you can click right here. Either way, I urge you to check it!

My first post is an introductory thing, much of which is information that any regular reader of In My Head already knows, but if you can stand being introduced to me again, here ye be:

Lovely to meet you.

Hi Feministe!

:: waves ::

So, I’m one of the summer guests! And I’m very honored, not to say a little surprised to be here. My own blog is a teeny-tiny affair, and because I have roughly as little tech knowledge as one could reasonably have and still run a blog, I never have any real sense of how broadly anything gets read or by whom – but the internets, man, you never know where you’ll wind up! So here I am, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

But who the hell (you ask yourselves, and quite reasonably too) are you?

I’m a professional freelance writer. I wrote for many years in big newspapers and smaller magazines, doing news, op/eds, features, and book reviews and/or serving as a foreign correspondents’ assistant at a few really-big newspapers (Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post).

All of which means that since the bottom fell out on print media in 2008, followed closely by the bottom falling out on the world of finances, my byline has barely appeared anywhere. So it goes. I still do book reviews! And write a lot for leftie/progessive PR firms and leftie/progessive nonprofits.

As I mentioned, I also blog, posting at my own place (Emily L. Hauser In My Head) and crossposting at Angry Black Lady Chronicles. I started my internet life as an active commenter at Jezebel (where I was known as ellaesther), but went out in a blaze of Midwestern polite disagreement over their new commenting policies like, two years ago or something, so it’s entirely possible that the policies have changed again and are currently really quite human and lovely, but I wouldn’t know.

Other than that: I’m a straight white lady married to a straight white dude, living in the suburbs of Chicago with our two white kids (sexuality yet to be determined, as far as I know). I drive a station wagon, and volunteer at my kids’ schools.

I’m a feminist who actually managed to march (as a high school freshman) for the ERA before it was killed. I spent a good few years as a rape crisis counselor. And I’ve written in several national newspapers about the fact that I’ve had an abortion. I’m to the left of Obama and to the right of Kucinich. I volunteered in the 2008 Obama campaign & intend to do so again in 2012.

I’m also Jewish, American-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-two-states and a Zionist (meaning I’m often very lonely in my little Venn diagram), and I often write about Israel/Palestine and the conflict — but then again, I also often don’t. Recently, for instance, I’ve written about Marcus Bachmann, a fucking awesome Planet of the Apes-techno mashup, and weird rules that exist in my house (“no biting the table,” for one).

So. Here I am! :: jazz hands ::

My approach to comments is as follows: I’ll wade in there with y’all, but I ask that people remember the humanity and the dignity of everyone. Which is to say, if you disagree with me (and some of you are likely to disagree with me, right? It’s the internet!) or with anyone else in a thread, please express that disagreement in a way that sheds more light than heat.

But enough of my yakkin’! Let’s rock n’ roll!

Or: I’ll be back to rock n’ roll a little later with a real post. But I will stop yakkin’ now.

Another guest post!+ Yes, another holiday.

I am very proud to say that I am today’s featured guest poster at NonProphet Status.

Chris Stedman (perma-linked in the Smart People blogroll) is the Managing Director of State of Formation, an initiative of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions — and he’s an atheist. His blog is dedicated to the entirely reasonable proposition that atheists and people of faith can find a place of mutual respect, and work together toward shared goals. We found each other through Twitter (all hail the Tweet!), and he asked if I might like to rework an old piece for posting over at his place — to which I could only say: Yes, please!

Here’s the top of that post — for the rest, please click through!

Lately Americans have been talking a lot about faith – the Muslim faith. As we grapple with the understanding of just how diverse we are as a people, Americans of good will – Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims – have been striving to help their countrymen learn that we have nothing to fear from Islam. As a believing Jew, I’ve been right there in the thick of it.

But as I struggle with the fact that so many of my fellow citizens fear a belief system dear to the hearts of 1.5 billion people, I struggle also with another, far less acknowledged, fact: Even more of them fear my husband.

Because he doesn’t believe in God at all.

I urge you to also check out the important work that Chris just did for The New Humanist (published the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University), an “attempt to offer an introductory but comprehensive consideration of the issues surrounding nonreligious involvement in the interfaith movement.”

The idea that interfaith cooperation is necessary to advance social progress was not a conclusion I came to overnight. In fact, after I stopped believing in God, I spent some time walking about decrying the “evils of religion” to anyone who would listen. I wanted nothing to do with the religious, and was sure they wanted nothing to do with me.

…Now I see interfaith cooperation as the key to resolving the world’s great religious problems. All the more, I want my secular community to join me, to share their stories and learn from those of the religious. And, more importantly, I want us to join with the religious in working to resolve the problems that afflict our world. Together, we will accomplish so much more.

And speaking of religion!

Tonight (in, like, half an hour) yet another Jewish holiday begins! I would explain, but honestly, it’s kind of complicated — it’s two holidays smooshed into one, unless you live in the Diaspora, where it’s still two, unless you come from Israel, which we do, so it’s still one for you, unless you’ve officially moved to the Diaspora, which we have, so then it’s supposed to be two, unless you’re like us and holding on to your Israeli-Jewishness by your very teeth and thus only ever celebrate them smooshed together as one…. Who has time to explain all that!

I will say this though: Among our celebrations over the next day/two days will be Simhat Torah, a celebration of our Torah, the very thing that makes us a people. We finish the annual cycle of reading the first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) — and then we start all over again. There will be dancing, and parading about with our Scriptures in our arms, and children running around like wild things, and it will once again remind me of how much I love the homey reverence with which we hold our faith and our holy books, awed and yet also literally carrying it all in our all-too-human hands. It’s a good thing.

It’s a good thing — and, as per usual, it means I won’t be here again until there are three stars in the sky on Thursday night. (Or possibly later, as these Diaspora Jews, they think the whole dancing with the Torah thing is tomorrow night, so I’ll be in services! I told you it was complicated).

So, the usual reminder: All first comments require my approval — if you get stuck in moderation, I’ll fish you out as soon as I can.

In the meantime, chag sameach, happy holiday! (And go read NonProphet Status!).

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