The very first time I heard Bernie Sanders speak, I knew who he was knew the energy he was representing knew that he was being fed from the same wellspring of evolving consciousness by which so man…
Source: She has Returned
As noted in this mini-documentary from CBS news “It sucks to be a Muslim in France”…
[I consulted with the producer of the mini-documentary as an expert on the topic]
One of my first trips to Paris as a graduate student in 1995 coincided with a series of terrorist bomb attacks, likely by Algerian Islamic extremists (CNN, 1995), that led to the removal of all garbage cans in the city. Many years later, as a professor working on a book project, I happened to stay in a hotel which was about a block away from where one of the busses had blown up during the 7/7 bombing attacks. Many have written about whether or not terror attacks like the 7/7 bombings or 9/11 have led to a securitization of immigration policy. What is different now is that Europe is currently experiencing the largest flow of refugees since the end of World War II, and most of those refugees are coming from Syria and other parts of the Middle East, meaning many of these migrants are Muslims.
Many European countries have faced terror attacks over the years and have taken a variety of measures to improve security. However, even though new measures may be taken to deal with security, such as stricter screening of immigrants and refugees, most European countries, including countries like Germany, France and Sweden, have remained open to refugees fleeing violence, whether they were Muslims fleeing conflicts in the Balkans or Iraqi minorities fleeing sectarian violence.
Europe has faced a challenge integrating Muslims from various countries and backgrounds. However, it is important to keep in mind that the recent attacks in Paris appear to have been perpetrated by so-called “home grown terrorists,” i.e., radicalized Muslims who were born and raised in Europe. This makes the connection between terrorism and refugees rather tenuous.
Perhaps a larger issue, in terms of integration, is the situation for immigrants, ethnic minorities and Muslim citizens, given that many of them live on the margins of society. Many are the targets of racism, but also have to deal with living in places like the suburbs (banlieus) of Paris where they have little educational and job opportunities. France has been trying to address this issue for many years, with a variety of policies, including antidiscrimination policy, as described in my book, Legislating Equality. Although the French government initially embraced antidiscrimination policy through its equality body, politics eventually reduced the impact of its activities related to racism.
Journalist and documentarian Rokhaya Diallo has examined these issues through the lens of Americans visiting France in her recent work, Steps to Liberty. Going back to the 1995 movie, La Haine (Hate) it seems that little has changed. However, I have seen a new awareness developing among various groups including Muslims and those who now consider themselves black and French. I have written about the impact of racial equality legislation on blacks in France in the book Invisible Minorities. These groups have the potential to develop as voting blocks and to impact politics in France, as well as other European countries. These political developments can be important to the integration of minority groups and may ultimately create a new outlet for the frustrations that can lead to radicalization.
It’s been a while since I have blogged, life has been hectic as I prepare to move from Austin to the San Francisco Bay area – I’ll be the new Provost at Menlo College starting in July. As always, running is one of the ways I deal with stress, and I’ll be running a 5k this evening, the Trail Foundation’s Margarita Run. Given that it will be hot, humid and I’m tired from traveling, I have to think carefully about how I will prepare myself for tonight’s run. For me there are four distinct phases of fueling a run. The first is what I eat for my regular meals. I try to avoid running on empty – I always eat something before a race, and I’m blessed with a digestive system that can handle almost anything before a run. When I ran track in college, I would always be in the first event of the day, the long jump, and the last, the 4×400 relay, so I learned early on that I had to be able to eat and run.
These days, if it’s a morning run, I’ll often eat some yogurt and/or a banana, and for the second phase of my run, the actual run itself, it depends on how far I am going. If I’m running more than an hour, I always take water, and some gel, chew or other type of fuel. I used to drink a lot of Gatorade, but found that I wanted to control my water vs sugar intake a bit better, depending on the heat and humidity.
In many ways, I find that music is another way to fuel my run, so I’ll call it the third phase. I usually listen to dance music to keep me going. Songs by Michael Jackson, Prince, or the latest pop or R&B is fine, I’m usually into my head so that I’m mostly focused on the beat. I don’t always use music, only for longer runs. If I’m running less than an hour, I like to use the time to work through problems in my head, or just zone out for a while.
The fourth phase of my run is recovery, which starts with stretching and some drills to strengthen problem areas. This is also where I usually treat myself to a hot chai latte, or hot chocolate. I use almond milk instead of cow’s milk, but it gives me the protein and carbs my muscles need to recover from a run. I will sometimes take supplements that help with recovery if I’m training intensively, but I haven’t done a marathon in a while, and I’m sticking mainly with 5ks and 10ks with the occasional half marathon thrown in. I find that if I have been doing my training right, the recovery from these types of races isn’t much of a problem.
I always have to keep in mind that I am getting older (50!) and I have always paid attention to my back issues, meaning I have to make sure that I have strong abs. I switch up my cross training on a regular basis to keep myself from getting bored, and train different types of muscles. I have all the tools I need at home to do a variety of workouts, including kettle bells, dumb bells, a medicine ball, and I’ll even do some hula hoop when it’s nice out. I focus on my abs with some pilates, yoga and just plain old fashioned push ups and sit ups. Every few years I’ll meet with a personal trainer to get some training tips and learning the latest ideas on staying in shape.
Overall, I find that it’s important to maintain a regular workout routine to keep my energy levels up during the day, reduce stress, and to sleep well at night. I look at running as important to both my physical and mental well being. I need fuel to keep running, but running and working out is my fuel for life.
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Our day started off with a walk to the mask making shop and we learned about wells in Venice – most squares or plazas have wells to collect rain water, as well as places where flood waters can come through so they don’t destabilize the supports under the islands. At the mask shop, we learned about different techniques for painting masks and had the opportunity to paint our own masks. It was very fun watching the kids play around with the paints and try different approaches to their masks.
The next set of pictures is from the Doges Palace, a very opulent place where the leaders of Venice lived until the city/state was conquered by Napoleon. There were many beautiful rooms, showing off the wealth of Venice and the many artists who provided their talents to decorate the palace. We also saw the place where prisoners were kept, and the bridge of sighs that led to the prison cells. We also visited St. Mark’s cathedral, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures. It is an amazing space, filled with mosaics that took 400 years to complete.
My son’s 8th grade class at St. Francis School is continuing a tradition of a spring break trip to Italy, and luckily my son, Andrew, didn’t mind that I tagged along. We’ll be traveling across Italy for the next week, including stops in Venice, Florence, Assisi and Rome.
We took a bus from Austin to Houston, then traveled to Venice via Paris. There are 30 kids on the trip, 4 teacher chaperones and 5 parents. It is a great group to travel with, the kids are very well behaved and so far they have done a good job of listening and following instructions. Many of the kids slept on the plane, but it was still a very tiring and long first day in Italy.
We were lucky that we had nice weather today, it was warm in the sun and I’m sure that will help with the jet lag. We arrived at our hotel around 1:00 and took some time to settle in a bit before going to get some lunch and gelato. We walked to Piazza San Marco, stopping to learn some facts about Venice along the way, including the way that the city was built on marshes by putting long pine trunks into the sandy ground and topping them with marble and bricks until they got above the water level. We spent about an hour checking out the Plaza, then walked over to the Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge in Venice, dating back to the 1500s.
More pictures to come!
Much of my writing in this blog has been a way of processing my feelings of grief from losing people close to me. However, there are many forms of grief, as I was discussing in a twitter chat today (#SaturdaySchool). In this instance I am leaving a university and city that I have loved and been deeply involved in, but this grief is combined with the excitement and joy of moving to the new position of Provost at Menlo College. This new position means a return to the San Francisco Bay area where we have many friends and family, and I will be very close to my alma mater, Stanford.
Austin and the University of Texas have been my home for the last twelve years, and they have been some of the most important and formative years of my career. My second son, Brandon, was born shortly after we arrived, and is proud to call himself the only real Texan in our household. We were warmly welcomed into an amazing community, Aldridge Place, where we have all made so many friends. But life goes on, and many of those friends have moved away over the years. My boys will be entering 6th and 9th grade next year, so they will be changing schools in any case. This doesn’t lessen the grief I know that they will feel at leaving their friends, but I know the move will also open new opportunities and horizons for them.
We are lucky that we have a few months to adjust to the prospect of change. There will be time for going away parties, in between house hunting trips. In the era of social media, staying in touch with friends in Austin will be easier than when we left Seattle 12 years ago. A new adventure is ahead of us, but I’m grateful for the times we have had and the friends we have made in this life’s journey.
In October 2013 I set a goal for myself – as I celebrated my 50th year (I turned 50 in October 2014) I would run one race per month for the next year. As of January 2015 I have run 15 races in 16 months including 5 half marathons. My streak ends here, although I will continue running, of course. It’s time to take a break, do some other types of exercise at least until the Capitol 10k. So here’s the report from my most recent race, the 3M half marathon on Sunday.
I had high hopes for this race a few month ago, perhaps of even running close to my previous PR of under 1:45. However, December brought the flu and a sinus infection that slowed me down. So I lowered my expectations, focused mainly on finishing and enjoying the journey. As always, I run with my angels, and they were definitely with me. It was a beautiful morning, cool and crisp as the sun rose in north Austin. It was great to connect with my girls from Black Girls Run before the race.
The first half of the race was fast, I stuck with the 1:45 group for a while, about through mile 3, then watched them move ahead – the 1:50 pace group didn’t catch me until about mile 7, and given that I’m planning to focus on 5 and 10ks in the spring, I figured it was a good workout to stay close to an 8 minute pace up to that point. The rest of the race was much slower, but I finished in about 1:54, a solid time for me.
As I was going up the hill on MLK I heard a voice behind me, it was Pam LeBlanc – we finished the hill together and then I had to do my trademark finish, striding it out to the end. Every race holds a lesson for me and this one was that it’s OK to stay within your limits. Sometimes just crossing the finish line is its own reward.
And with Superbowl Sunday just around the corner, must do a shout out to my ‘hawks!
A year later, the heartache remains, but as with all loss, life must go on, and I know that is what my loved ones would want in any case. Every day I feel the presence of my parents, my brother Rick, my niece Melissa who we lost a year ago today, Uncle Clarence, and little Madeline. Hearts break and hearts eventually mend, and I have tried to focus on the love that was shared and that is still an integral part of who I am. There are so many people who have touched my life and helped me move forward, I can’t begin to mention them all — from my high school friends, many of whom I have been able to reconnect with in the last few years, to my friends in Austin who have made our 11 years here so amazing.
I don’t like New Year’s resolutions because they tend to be short-sighted and hard to keep. What I prefer is to look at what I found to be most helpful over the past few years, and how I can focus on those things going forward. I have always been very disciplined about running, it is an integral part of my life that will continue, with some help from my chiropractor (Dan Powers) and massage therapist (Marshall Williams). For me it is about self-care, taking the time to be sure that I am healthy, but I also just love the feeling of running and working out, feeling my strength (kicking some butt along the way!) and reaching my goals. I feel truly blessed to be 50 years old and still out there competing as an athlete.
I have many writing projects (besides my blogs) that I hope to build on, and my students who I hope to get to the next level, whether it is an academic job or some other endeavor. I will be taking the next step in my career, whatever that may be, and I plan to focus on what is best not only for me, but for my family.
Music has always been a part of my life, and my son Brandon inspires me as he progresses in learning classical guitar (you can see him playing here). I bought myself a mandolin for my birthday and I plan to carve out time to play and enjoy making music, again it’s about self-care.
I’m looking forward to sharing new experiences with my boys, I’ll be heading to Italy with Andrew on his class trip for Spring break, and both boys will be changing schools as Brandon moves to middle school and Andrew move to high school (!). Finally, I plan to carve out time with my wonderful husband, Mike, who celebrated his birthday yesterday. We focus so much on our kids but we always manage to squeeze in time alone together, going to see the symphony or a jazz show.
I have an amazing life, and I thank all of you who are a part of it, you are loved.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 50 trips to carry that many people.
Thanks to Patience Brewster, an artist of ornaments and holiday designs, who helped inspire me to share my holiday traditions. As the holiday season springs into full gear, I’m reminded of those wintery mornings growing up in Spokane, Washington with my family. Christmas often started off with midnight mass at Sacred Heart parish, one of the few times I was allowed to stay up so late. We didn’t always have a white Christmas, but I remember very clearly one Christmas morning when it had snowed nearly 2 feet the night before. Being the youngest (of 7 kids), I was always the one who woke up first, full of excitement to see what Santa had brought during the night. That particular morning, I was struck by the moonlight on the snow, so clean and crisp, like a blanket had been laid on our yard and trees. We would always wait until everyone was up before opening presents, but Santa always left a few unwrapped presents under the tree. As I got older, I knew it was my father who would always go out and buy a few more presents on Christmas eve. Christmas was his holiday – he loved putting the lights up on the house, and he always decorated the Christmas tree, we weren’t allowed to help. He had his special technique for putting tinsel on the tree, it brings a smile to my face even now, remembering watching him being so careful to make sure everything was just to his specifications. His engineer’s mind demanded perfection. We always had a beautiful tree.
Once my teenage sisters had been rousted out of bed, we would gather around the tree, opening our presents together. They may have been modest, but they were like treasure to me. Whether it was an EZ-Bake oven, or a new Barbie Doll, I would spend the next few days in new toy heaven. After all the presents were opened, my mother, sisters and I would gather in the kitchen to prepare the holiday meal. I always loved being part of a big family, although I may romanticize it now, I treasure the moments we had together, gathered around the table to enjoy a Christmas turkey, or maybe even crab gumbo in honor of my mother’s creole background.
My husband and I have created our own Christmas traditions, drawing on our families’ experiences. Since he only had one sister, Mike’s family would take turns opening presents, so we do that today with our boys. There was no way we could have done that with my family, it would have taken all day to open presents! We also let the boys help us decorate the tree, but they haven’t shown much interest in helping to put the lights on the house. Every year I get a new ornament from wherever we may have traveled, particularly from some of the national parks. We often spend the holidays with our respective families, and now that we all have our own families, it has been fun watching the traditions evolve and grow over time. Christmas traditions keep us in touch with our past, but it has been very rewarding creating new traditions with our boys.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!