Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Review: How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood by Peter Moskowitz

I attended a trade show in New Orleans or Baton Rouge a year or two after Katrina. There's plenty of down time at trade shows when I would exchange small talk with the people manning neighboring booths. One person shocked me by telling me that the flooding had the silver lining of cleaning out the city. I didn't understand at the time that what he meant was that it would facilitate capitalists' exploitation of the space previously occupied by displaced black residents of the city, whom he and policy makers at all levels viewed as expendable at best and liabilities at worst.

Peter Moskowitz's book How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood wants people to understand the following:
  • Gentrification isn't an inevitable or natural process. Students of capitalism have long ago noted why, if unchecked, it would occur, but human societies don't have to choose to follow capital's dictates.
  • In the United States, racist policies have ensured that the negative impacts of housing crises fall on black and brown people.
  • Policy makers at the federal, state and municipal levels have adopted gentrification & suburbanization as vehicles for economic growth and have subsidized these processes.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Film: Brotherhood by Meryam Joobeur

Brotherhood | Film from Midi La Nuit on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Review: How to Read Islamic Calligraphy by Maryam D. Ekhtiar

Emily Neumeier reviewed How to Read Islamic Calligraphy by Maryam D. Ekhtiar in the January 22, 2020 Los Angeles Review of Books. Professor Maryam Ekhtiar works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"Ekhtiar’s volume is part of a wider How to Read series of handbooks produced by different departments at the Met, designed to equip readers with the essential tools and background to appreciate an entire class of materials ranging from Greek vases to Oceanic art. While the series in general promises to prepare its audience to “read” all kinds of art objects, the resulting title for this specific installment is particularly apt, because it points to the most fundamental (and fascinating) characteristic of Islamic calligraphy: that it is an art form meant to be seen as well as read." -- read more --


Patrick J D'Silva also wrote a positive review of the book for Reading Religion, published July 25, 2019.

I have not read the book.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Documentary: "Border Bandits" by Kirby Warnock

Border Bandits is a documentary and dramatization of the murder of two Hispanic USA citizens, Antonio Longoria and Jesus Bazan, by the Texas Rangers in 1915 in an area of the border with Mexico near the confluence of the Pecos and Rio Grande Rivers. While USA popular culture has glorified the Texas Rangers, the documentary notes its participation in two waves of violence directed at the people in the path of white supremacist settler colonialism in that region. The first wave was in the mid-19th century, and it was directed against the Apache and Comanche indigenous nations. The second took place under cover of the Bandit War and the Mexican Revolution in the 1910s, and it was conterminous with the dispossession of Hispanic landowners in favor of Anglos. The documentary places the 1915 murders in the context of this second wave of violence, where up to 5,000 Hispanics were murdered as corporate Anglo agricultural interests took over the region.

Kirby Warnock's grandfather related in an oral history project that his father, Roland Warnock, had known the two murder victims and had participated in their burial. You can read the transcript.


The documentary explores the events of that day and the subsequent lives of the participants and their descendants. As such, it is a good example of social history.

When I watched the movie, I thought of the following:

1. The importance of oral history. If you have a relationship with an elderly person, ask that person about his or her childhood and record your conversation. Or get them to talk with StoryCorps.
2. The similarities in USA warfare from the original wars the Anglo colonists waged against the indigenous nations on the Atlantic coast of North America, through the Bandit War and now the Global War on Terror. The settler colonialists took advantage of divisions or acts of violence to mobilize its military and militias to seize resources from the indigenous or colonized peoples.
3. The wholescale violence employed in these wars & ethnic cleansings resulted in some blowback as murder replaced peaceful methods of conflict resolution. Roland Warnock, the great grandfather of the film's producer, was murdered in broad daylight in front of his son, who produced the testimony which forms the basis of the film.
4. The pressing need for every parent to read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen and review their children's social studies curricula.
5. Uncle Karl (Marx) & Uncle Friedrich (Engles) were on the money when they said that police's purpose is to preserve the ruling class's control over the means of production.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Alif Baa Taa: Learning My Arabic Alphabet by Asma Wahab, designed by Nadia Afghani


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Our two books side to side! Both 6 inches x 6 inches, perfect for little hands!!. . . Yes our book is not the cheapest on the market, and it’s not a large book. But, we designed every aspect of our book with little hands in mind. We wanted to keep costs as low as we can for our customers while keeping quality high. . . . We wanted our books to be able to fit in any purse, or bag so it can come with you in the go. Larger books tend to stay at home and not get read as much. In order to get familiar with the language little hands need to see it often. So next time you are headed out the door, remember to pack our books to entertain your little one!. . . . . . #muslimmom #muslimmummy #muslimbaby #arabicbooks #learnarabic #eidgifts #dubaiexpat #expatmom #arabmoms #arabkids #arabicalphabet #muslimauthors #alifbata #teachingarabic #cmwwednesday #readyforramadan2019 #muslimwomen #multilingual #islamicart #islamic_art #islamicschool #islamicparenting #mixedbabies #kidsbooks #eidshopping #babybooks #babybooksgift
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Elise Bellin, Librarian of the Islamic Resource Center, wrote a review published at Wisconsin Muslim Journal.
With clear, borderless illustrations and large, recognizable script, this board book brings the basics of the Arabic alphabet to young Western audiences. Paired with each basic letter form, Wahab has included the transliterated sound, a common Arabic word in standard script, and the word’s transliteration. A simple illustration of that word brings understanding to the audience as well. -- read more --
I haven't read the book. You can acquire it here.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Review: Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet

I first heard about Jennine Capó Crucet's Make Your Home Among Strangers when students at Georgia Southern University burned it after she spoke there about white privilege in the Fall of 2019.

The novel deals with many vital themes, but I recommend it especially for students in high school & college who may have mixed feelings about stretching their wings for personal achievement.