Yesterday, Professor Clyde Woods passed away. Shock doesn’t begin to describe my feelings. They’re something more like disbelief and emptiness. While I’m not going to wax poetic about his contributions to academe (others can do that much better than I can, trust me), I do need to reflect on him as a person in my life. I met Dr. Woods while earning my undergrad in African American Studies at the University of Maryland. I took two of the best classes of my college career with him, “Hip-Hop & The Blues” and “Washington & Prince George’s [County] History, Culture & Policy.” I always appreciated the way he pushed us to make sense of the world around us, examining everything from a new lens. He gave us the leeway to do things that fell outside of the expected boxes, something that other professors balked at. I’ll never forget our trip to Riversdale Mansion, which indulged my obsession with antebellum architecture and forced us to go beyond the walls of our classroom, beyond the steps of campus, and really see the community.
Recently there have been a number of prominent student suicides across the nation, and this week a student from my institution is suspected to have committed suicide (it’s still being investigated). In light of this, there has been conversations bubbling up in the media and I’ve observed some exchanges on social networks that have basically demonized people who commit suicide as selfish. I admit, before recently, I held the same view. I felt that suicide was arrogant in a way and cowardly in another. I thought it was selfish of someone to take their own life, without consideration for those they’d leave behind, whether it was parents, children, spouses, or friends. How would parents feel to lose their child? How would children feel to grow up without a parent? And how would friends and other family cope with the loss?
I’ve always considered myself an ally, but it wasn’t until recently that I really started to take it seriously. Today’s political climate, between Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the ongoing debate about same-sex marriage, is downright hateful, and I have too many LGBTQIA* family, friends, colleagues, etc., not to be. So last week I had training to join my campus’ network of LGBTQIA faculty, staff and students who are prepared to act as advocates and resources to LGBTQIA faculty, staff and students.
The first news story I saw today was this, about a little girl who was trapped in a Conyers, Ga. Wells Fargo bank fault for four hours. The first thing I thought was that her mother is going to get fired. Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but if I were a manager, I’d be thinking the following, which are all predicated on the assumption that mom was actually working a shift, not just visiting or conducting her own banking business:
This article (click the title to read) just reminds me of how fundamentally different western nations, in general, view lives. How is it that a family of ten can be killed by a misguided missile launching system, but we’re not up in arms about it? I guess their lives don’t mean as much because … I’m sorry, I’m having difficulty coming up with an excuse for the way their deaths have been disregarded. I can’t imagine living in a war-torn nation. To be honest, I don’t want to. But it’s a luxury that I at least recognize I have. The fact is that I absolutely cannot fathom what it would feel like to live somewhere bombs drop on a regular basis. How do you attempt to live a “normal” existence with that kind of threat looming? Doesn’t that violate Maslow’s heirarchy all kinds of ways? I get really bothered by the lack of attention these kinds of events get in America. I hear all the time about the Americans troops who die overseas. And this isn’t to belittle the loss of their life at all. But why can’t we acknowledge the people who get caught in the crossfire of foreign policy? They certainly […]