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mephistia

attempting obscurity

I mess around with writing, but deep down I'm pretty sure I'll never actually get published because I treat it like a hobby and not a passion -- I write when I have time, instead of making time to write.

 

When I read, I prefer YA sci-fi/ fantasy as my go-to fiction reads. I tend toward this genre because I read fiction as an escape from the daily drudge of life. YA sci/fi-fantasy usually has more upbeat/ hopeful endings, while adult fiction of any genre (except romance) tends to have more depressingly realistic endings. Sometimes I read romance novels, but I really prefer the type with plot/ character development between sex scenes, and I don't like having to hunt for them.

 

In non-fiction, I prefer history, biographies, psychology, gender studies, social/applied sciences, and law/ public policy.

Currently reading

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps -- And What We Can Do About It
Lise Eliot
White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race
Ian F. Haney López

Black Labor and the American Legal System: Race, Work, and the Law

Black Labor - Herbert Hill Hill is a pretty dense, yet informative read. In Part I, I was most effected by the information about the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and how was pretty much ignored for years, only to be revived almost in conjunction with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.That is a part of history that's always neatly brushed over and pushed to the side. The story is usually rattled off as, "The North and South fought the Civil War after the South seceded from the Union because they wanted to keep their slaves. In the end, the North won. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 to free the slaves. Because of this, he was assassinated." From there, the story segues into a quick biography of President Lincoln, touches lightly on the Westward movement, gives a quick nod to the Trail of Tears and a mention of the land we gave the Native Americans, and then boom! We're in the 1960's, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement. Somehow history classes magically bypass 100 years of pseudo-slavery after the North and President Lincoln "beat" slavery.The general assumption that comes from this lack of information is that the Emancipation Proclamation must not have covered the specifics of outlawing slavery and slave-like conditions, so it was easy for the Southerners to "get around it". And maybe Lincoln being assassinated made the situation worse, or something.Obviously, such assumptions are wrong. There were specific laws and requirements intended to erase "badges and incidences" of slavery, and (in my humble opinion), they were pretty forward thinking for the time they were written. No, they weren't perfectly phrased, but it was certainly better than nothing (which is the impression high school history classes gave regarding post-war laws addressing discrimination).In Part II, Hill looked at how the Federal government, unions, and private business handled employment discrimination during World War II. This was pretty fascinating in the sense that we as a society are taught that capitalist businesses do what is best for the bottom dollar, but over and over in the reading there are examples of businesses and unions doing exactly the opposite. Rather than desegregate in a time of war, when young, able-bodied white workers were in short supply and when it was considered unpatriotic not to hire anyone willing to work, there are repeated examples of businesses and unions choosing to segregate based on race rather than take the most cost-effective and efficient course.Of course, World War II highlighted these choices, but the decision to segregate was already implemented and was, in most cases, the excuse for continued segregation (e.g.: This is the way it's always been done, so why should we stop?). I thought the formation and history of the Fair Employment Practice Committee was pretty interesting, but also heartbreaking. The quote on page 188 illustrates what a Sisyphean work it must have felt like:"The AFL Metal Trades Council of the union were much concerned about discrimination in the rival shipyards which had contracts with the CIO. They were much concerned about the discrimination being practiced against Negroes in that yard. I was told, however, there was no discrimination in the Gulf Shipbuilding plant because there were no Negroes there; therefore, they couldn't be discriminated against."I can only imagine how mind-bogglingly frustrating it must have been to have been tasked with seeking out, recording, and (when possible) addressing discrimination; but with no real authority to change anything discovered, and all the while having to work with the sort of people who believed the absence of black people in the workplace meant there was no discrimination.It was pretty frustrating to read about the government caving under the discrimination of the unions in the name of efficiency. Worse was the sense that it almost, almost, seemed excusable in the context (there was a war on, efficiency and manpower was necessary, etc. etc) -- but for the examples where the government didn't cave, or where a union didn't brook discrimination and racism within the ranks. Rare though such examples were, they clearly gave the lie to any claims of "expediency" or "efficiency" as a viable excuse for caving to discriminatory policies.