I feel repetitive in noting I didn’t read as much as I’d hoped to this past month, but April was truly one for lite reading. In part, due to an overall lack of motivation and, more importantly, the precedence of a wonderful family visit. Nonetheless, a few things did get read, and for those interested, here they are.
Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, by Herman Melville
Dawn, by Octavia E. Butler
Not a Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Some quick, brief thoughts on the ongoing repression and resistance in occupied Palestine:
The consecutive brutal raids on al-Aqsa during Ramadan by the fascist government of Israel shouldn’t been seen as isolated incidents. Nearly 100 Palestinians have been killed so far this year by Israeli forces, including massacres in Jenin and Nablus. Harsher conditions have been imposed on thousands of Palestinian political prisoners. Laws from banning the flying of the Palestinian flag to allowing Israel to strip Palestinian citizens of Israel of citizenship have been passed.
Relatedly, other measures, such as the revocation of the 2005 law removing settlements from the northern West Bank, to the loosening of gun ownership regulations, to the creation of a National Guard specifically designed to target Palestinians and under the control of Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir, all point to a government desiring and planning for conflict and escalation as a means to continue the Zionist settler-colonial project.
I blame this month’s lack of reading on the U.S. government. In particular, preparing documentation for our appointment at the U.S. embassy to obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), which perhaps I’ll write about at another time, but probably won’t. The good news is at least all that work/not-reading paid off and our little one is now a U.S. citizen.
But in between cursing profligate bureaucratic obtuseness and the absurdity of citizenship, a few books got read, along with a series of fascinating academic essays, which I’ll be sharing more about below. This month’s round-up includes:
Becoming an Ally to the Gender-Expansive Child: A Guide for Parents and Carers by Anna Bianchi
The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz
Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender-Nonconforming Children by Diane Ehrensaft
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty
Polarización y transfobia: Miradas críticas sobre el avance de los movimientos antitrans y antigénero en México por Julianna Neuhouser, et al.
Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers
In March of last year, we learned that my partner was pregnant. Along with the rollercoaster of emotions that entailed, we were also met with innumerable recommendations. Some of which, to my gringo ears, sounded completely bizarre, to be frank. “Don’t go out during an eclipse, or else your baby will be born with a cleft lip.” “Always wear something red to protect the baby.” “Put on a safety pin to ensure it reaches full term.”
But more than anything, as seemingly everywhere else in the world, advice and divination nearly always revolved around gender. “If your back hurts, it’s a boy.” “If you eat chiles, it’ll be a girl.” “If you don’t have much morning sickness, it’s a boy.” “If you have heartburn, it’s a girl.” The guessing game of gender seemed never ending and always pointing toward different conclusions, along with the constant questioning of what we, the parents, wanted: a girl or a boy.
Finally, about three months into the pregnancy, the obstetrician could make an “educated guess” that we were going to have a boy. Amount of chiles being eaten or not, this guess was later confirmed by subsequent ultrasounds. I wish I could say that my response was one of disinterest. Rather it was one of both joy at the thought of having a son, accompanied by the worry of knowing too many men (along with myself) and hoping my son wouldn’t be like them. But a third thought pervaded my thinking and continues to prod at me to this day: what does it even mean that this child is a boy?
Another month gone and some more books read. Why not share? Building off the epically popular “January Reading” post, clicked on by an entire 11 people who weren’t me, I’ve decided to expand the Internet a bit and add a post for February’s books.
As a result of life circumstances, I didn’t get as much reading done as I was hoping to this month, though some books definitely gave me a lot to talk about. How about you? What have you been reading? As for myself, here are the texts this post will be talking about:
Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov
The Keeper’s Six by Kate Elliott
The Visit by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild
Radon Journal Issue 2
Sustainable Superabundance: A Universal Transhumanist Invitation by David W. Wood
The Actual Star: A Novel by Monica Byrne
The Idea of the World: A Multi-Disciplinary Argument for the Mental Nature of Reality by Bernardo Kastrup
For those who don’t know, one thing I love to do is read. And while the Occidental calendar of months and years are rather arbitrary, one thing I have started doing in 2023 is writing brief reviews of what I’ve been reading and sharing them on a couple social media sites. I figured I might as well share them here as well. Instead of publishing each review as its own post, I’ve decided to just do a one-off round-up of every book I’ve read this month. I have no idea if this will be a regular feature of the blog, we’ll see what next month brings.
A major reason for doing this is that along with reading books, I love talking about books. So if you’ve got thoughts on any of the books or reviews below, or have your own recommendations, please do share! I’m always looking for new reads to add to my list.
Here’s a list of the books reviewed in this post:
Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov
Critique of Black Reason by Achille Mbembe
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging by Dionne Brand
Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory by Martha Wells
The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe
Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation by Calvin L. Warren
Machinehood by S.B. Divya
Cannibal Metaphysics by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro
It’s Going Down is in the midst of a brief (mutually agreed upon) takeover of the popular podcast It Could Happen Here. Alongside journalist Kim Kelly and labor organizer Tova, I joined their second episode on general strikes to discuss the history and my experiences at Occupy Oakland and in particular the general strike that occurred on November 2, 2011, when 100,000 people shut down the port of Oakland.
Near the end of last year, I became a father. As expected, it’s been full of ups and downs, joys and frustrations, precious moments and sleepless nights. But one thing I didn’t expect to encounter was racism. More specifically, racism in the guise of compliments.
My partner is Mexican and currently we are living here as we wait an eternity for the US immigration system to process her visa request. During this time, we’ve been inundated by visits from her family members and friends. And I’ve been consistently taken aback by how many have pointed out the color of our child’s skin and complimented us on it – as if we somehow genetically modified our baby to meet their racialized expectations. “How light-skinned he is!” or “Oh, what a good color! Congratulations!” are some of the more frequent comments.
To be certain, our child is light-skinned and at this moment can easily pass as white. But the phenomenon of an individual telling my partner that she had “chosen well” by reproducing with me and as a result was “improving the race” was not a response we had been anticipating. Nor the other range of comments, such as our child being smart because “first-world babies are more advanced.” One wonders what words would have been (un)spoken if our child had different skin pigmentation.
If you’ve visited this site in the past year and a half or so, you may have noticed the password-protected “Alchemical Speculative Placemaking” tab at the top. This post is to announce that, for what it’s worth, I’ve decided to make it open access and welcome you to check it out if you’re interested.
The story behind it is that it was initially a project for a course I took in Spring 2021. It needed a home online, I had a website, so I put it here. It was posted in February of that year and has not been updated since. Changes to WordPress mean some features no longer display as they originally did, but the pages are still navigable.
At first glance, it likely appears to be more esoteric and personal than the usual (albeit sporadic) content on this site. That, in fact, is what led me to keep it closed off behind a password for so long. However, I believe that ultimately it resonates with the beliefs, strivings, views and politics expressed here in other pieces. It is simply taking a different avenue to develop and articulate them. An avenue that I feel is crucial for fully embodied and integral individual and communal liberation. For others, that avenue may not take the shape of alchemy – which is simply a metaphor for deeper processes – but will likely contain many of the same facets.
As there are more words of introduction on the actual page, I’ll leave it here. Thank you for taking the time to have a look, and as always, I welcome your feedback!