March 9, 2015
Some physical places suffer from spiritual wounds, the invisible but indelible scars of the past shaping the present in ways both conscious and unconscious, acknowledged and unacknowledged. I live in such a place, one of the five towns that was involved in Brown v. Board of Education: Prince Edward County, Virginia. I have lived here for six years, and in that time I have had two children in the school system: they have both had positive experiences with engaged and engaging teachers. They have also, at times, been bored—the work too easy, the tests too constant, the focus too much on rote memorization. That is a problem with our education system throughout this country—ask any teacher. Another problem with our education system is that a majority of the kids in school are living in poverty, much of it the result of institutionalized, and often unconscious, racism. Much of it the result of our history. Put these things together in a town like mine, a small town with two universities and a significant black population that lives in poverty and remembers, in soul and body, the five years the schools were shut down to exclude black children, and what do you get? You get a day like I had last week: a spiritually significant day in a town struggling to heal its psychic wounds.
February 24, 2015
Cindy Crawford has famously said that she wishes she looked like Cindy Crawford. Recently, we got to see what she meant, as a photo of Cindy in which her abdomen bears witness to the fact that she has borne children was leaked on the Internet. Author Leslie Goldman sums up the leak and its consequences nicely: “Women everywhere are feeling empowered, relieved and grateful to her,” Goldman said. “I just wish it had come about under her control.” Indeed, here we see the cultural “iron maiden” (as Naomi Wolf describes it in The Beauty Myth) of beauty at work: women—even supermodels—can’t assume privacy or control when it comes to our own bodies. And the images we are expected to live up to are so unrealistic that every time we get a peek at reality, we heave a collective sigh of relief. This, my friends, is a public health issue.