Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it

It's Thanksgiving, and that means it's time to raise a glass to one of America's forgotten important women, Sarah Josepha Hale.  As I'm sure you all remember, it's an annual tradition of mine to post about Sarah Hale on Thanksgiving, because she's the reason it's a national holiday.

For years Americans had celebrated Thanksgiving, but there hadn't been a set date for it, and it wasn't an official national holiday.  The only official American holiday was July 4.  Starting in the late 1830s, Hale started lobbying American presidents to make Thanksgiving our second national holiday.  She was editor of Godey's Lady's Book, the most popular magazine of the 19th c, so she had some clout, but it still took her a hell of a long time.  In 1863, Abraham Lincoln finally agreed to designate Thanksgiving a national holiday, since he and Hale saw it as an important symbolic gesture of national unity during the Civil War.

So here's to Sarah Josepha Hale, who won't be completely forgotten as long as Baxter Sez is around.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Blog tour, day 1

The blog tour is underway.  Jenna Freedman of the Barnard Zine Library Blog gave Girl Zines a shout out today!


Cutest baby ever

Cutest baby ever, originally uploaded by AlisonPiepmeier.

Wearing her R2D2 hat that my mom made for her.


Blog tour for Girl Zines

As you're all well aware, my book Girl Zines is available now.  Several fabulous bloggers have agreed to read the book and review it on their sites.  As of now, here's the schedule for the Girl Zines blog tour:

Nov. 24:  Barnard Zine Library Blog
Nov. 28:  Martin
Nov. 29:  Sassyfrass Circus
Dec. 1:  Viva La Feminista
Dec. 4:  Grassroots Feminism
Dec. 7:   CHANGE Happens:  The SAFER Blog
Dec. 20:  Doris Zine Blog
Dec. 21: Sashmo

Other blogs are going to review the book, too, including Afrogeek Mom and Dad, The Broads on Bull, and the Charleston Women's Collective blog.  I'll give a heads up when they do!

Thanks to all these bloggers for their interest in the book!


Glee, disability, and Girl with Pen

Jeez, I am blogging all over the place these days!  Check out a new post I wrote about the tv series Glee over at Girl with Pen.  Thanks to Rachel for drawing my attention to the episode "Wheels," which is all about disability.


NWSA Conference blogging

I'm annoyed with the She Writes website.  They invited my friend Heather and me to blog about the NWSA Conference and said that they'd put our posts on the main page, but instead they've got an activist campaign going, and it's impossible to find any of the blogs Heather and I have written.  So I'm abandoning my She Writes blogging, and I'll share with you all my thoughts on the conference.

It's been a really great conference--the best one ever.  No kidding.  At a panel this afternoon I was sitting next to Angela Davis, and that's got to be some measure of conference quality:  when you just happen to be sitting next to Angela Davis.

The theme of the conference is Difficult Dialogues, and several sessions have made dialogue not just the theme but also the method.  Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Jacqui Alexander, Kimberle Crenshaw and Bonnie Thornton Dill, and Beverly Guy Sheftall, Frances Smith Foster, and several others have all had public conversations as part of the conference.  We've had the opportunity to see these very significant scholars in dialogue with each other.  Crenshaw was probably the most brilliant person I've had the chance to hear from at the conference.  She's the scholar who came up with the term intersectionality that's a central component of my WGS teaching and scholarship (and basically everybody else's, too), and she spoke extemporaneously about the origins of critical race theory, particular legal cases that structured her own thinking, and the notion of race as an intellectual framework.

I also had the opportunity to see a former student present some of her research about the media treatment of the Duke lacrosse rape case.  She made a fabulous contribution to a really great panel about sex trafficking and sex work--I was so proud that she'd been my student, and I learned a lot from her paper.  For example, she discovered that in the media coverage of the case, the fact that the victim was a sex worker was mentioned five times more often than the fact that she was a college student.  Skewed representation of this woman and her value, you think?  Jamie used the concept of "intersectional stigma" (shout out to Kimberle Crenshaw and Michele Berger here) to frame her discussion of this media coverage.  Really interesting.

I also saw an excellent panel on hip hop feminism, and I bought a bunch more books, including one with the provocative title My Baby Rides the Short Bus:  The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities.

One more day of conferencing tomorrow, then tomorrow night it's home to the Ween and Biffle.

Mama on the road

Today begins day three of my first trip away from Maybelle.  Biffle sends missives via text message:

"Toast, scrambee, oatmeal, juice.  New friend:  Bobo's water bowl."
"Down for nap.  Nary a tear."
"Goodnight Gorilla."
Little flags that let me know how their days together are unfolding.  I send messages back, documenting the very different pace of my days here at the conference:
"Book signing went great almost sold out!"
"I have used my research money to buy books, now lunch."
"Just got back from early meeting now going to work out before more meetings."
I wondered if I'd feel like a limb had been severed, being away from her, but fortunately, I find that I'm really enjoying myself.  This is an incredibly busy conference for me, so it would have been very difficult to bring her along, not to mention unfair to her, since I'd hardly see her.  Far better for her to be at home with Biffle, and with her normal nannies and friends.  And for me, I'm getting to run around and think and talk, go out with my friends after sessions at night, sleep in in the morning (unbelievably luxurious).  Probably not coincidentally, I have bought a bunch of books about motherhood.

I'm heading home tomorrow night, and I'll be ready.  But I'm happy that Maybelle and I are making it through this first separation successfully.


Girl Zines and the NWSA

The blog tour has started, and I didn't even know it!  The American Prospect and Jezebel both had posts about Girl Zines on Thursday.  Meanwhile, the blog tour I did know about is shaping up--I'll post the dates here very soon.  About a dozen wonderful bloggers have agreed to review the book and/or interview me.

In other news, I'm at the National Women's Studies Association Conference in Atlanta.  I'll be blogging about the conference over at She Writes, the new social networking site for women writers.


The Web Site That Wouldn't Die

I'm guessing everyone that reads this blog has seen www.bannedfromwalmart.com. Although that was mostly a grad school project which i haven't really followed up on/promoted/maintained/etc. i may get half a dozen or more emails every month of someone telling their story to me. Sadly, most of the writers want a t-shirt because they got caught shoplifting. Obviously what i thought was multivalence, or at least charming obtuseness, didn't quite come though for some folks.

Regardless, today i got FIVE emails. I knew something was up. I news-googled "banned from wal mart" and i found this story.

Thanks for the shout out Fox(crapass)News.


White people picking up litter

This morning we had a neighborhood litter pick-up in our neighborhood.  A woman down the street singlehandedly organized it, bought doughnuts and coffee, got garbage bags for everybody, and advertised by hanging signs on telephone polls.  She had maps so that we could all designate where we were going to go, so that we didn't double up, and she'd gotten permission for us to use the local elementary school's dumpster.  The effort was a great success:  lots of people came out, we hauled off bags and bags of garbage, and we got to meet each other.

And we were all white.

This is an interracial neighborhood.  My guess would be that these days it's probably 40% white, 60% black.  But it didn't surprise me that everybody who came out this morning was white.  This was an event sponsored by a well educated white woman who's lived in the neighborhood for less than a year, and all of us who came out were well educated (or in college) white folks who've lived here for five years or less.  We are the gentrifiers, but we were tired of the trash on the streets.

Biffle and I were in a great neighborhood group in Nashville.  Our neighborhood was mostly black, and it was poor and rough--the kind of place where, on a litter pick-up day, you might find used condoms or bullet casings.  Despite these very serious challenges, we actually had a very functional interracial neighborhood organization there, made possible by the efforts of a nonprofit group that exists solely to help neighborhoods organize.

In the absence of a functional interracial neighborhood group here, and a functional nonprofit that can facilitate that group's operations, I find that I'm feeling pretty cynical and resigned about our neighborhood in Charleston--a neighborhood that is in every way in far better shape than our Nashville neighborhood.  I'm aware that there are problems, but I feel unable to do anything about them.  I'm aware that it's fucked up that a bunch of white folks marched all over with their garbage bags, picking up candy wrappers and beer bottles--it could easily lead long-time neighborhood residents to say, "Who the hell do you people think you are?"  But I'm sick of the trash on the sidewalks.