About Da Realist 1

Dedicated to truth. Yeah that's me. I'm Da Realist 1--African-American Historian, Researcher, Writer, Novice Blogger, Feminist, Wife, Dog Lover, and Southern Girl (although not necessarily in that order).

Jaywalking while Black

downloadTo me, jaywalking seems like a minor infraction. At most, it is a misdemeanor violation that might lead to a ticket or a fine, but recent events illustrate that it has become probable cause for harassment, suspicion, arrest, and violence.

On May 20,  2014, an African-American professor at Arizona State University in Tempe was arrested after a confrontation with an ASU police officer (Stewart Ferrin) that began as a result of her jaywalking. According to Assistant Professor Ersula Ore, she was crossing the street to avoid construction. Although others had done the same, she was the only one stopped for jaywalking. In the footage taken by the cruiser’s dashboard-mounted camera, Ore asserts that in her three years at ASU she had never seen anyone pulled over for jaywalking. And I must concur. There are two things I know from all my years on large university campuses: Construction and jaywalking are ubiquitous. I have never seen someone who was stopped–let alone arrested–for crossing the street in the wrong place or at the wrong time. The tickets issued from the constant stream of students, faculty, staff, administrators, and other pedestrians for jaywalking would be enough to keep the campus police busy all day, every day.

The campus officer was clearly displeased with Prof. Ore questioning his probable cause and his authority. Ore seemed incredulous that he would treat a “citizen” and a “professor” in such a disrespectful manner. When Ferrin attempted to put handcuffs on Ore and arrest her, she resisted and the officer slammed her to the ground. After this, she can be heard asking, “Are you serious?” as she is lying in the street.


A crosswalk near my home.

Certainly, there are those who have argued that incident’s escalation was the professor’s fault. But to paraphrase Ore, How is someone supposed to behave when she is being disrespected and manhandled?

Although she stands fast in her assertion that her civil rights were violated, Ore pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of resisting arrest and was sentenced to nine months probation on August 1. Prosecutors dropped the original charges of “obstructing a public thoroughfare,” refusing to produce identification, and aggravated assault on a police officer.

While Prof. Ore’s situation left her physically and psychologically battered, she was not broken. Unfortunately, Michael Brown, the young black man killed by police on August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri (a St. Louis suburb), did not escape with his life. Early reports indicate that after visiting his grandmother, Brown and a friend were walking home when a police officer told the 18-year-old to get off the street. Not surprisingly, the police officer’s version of the events differs greatly from the witnesses, but both sides agree that Brown was unarmed.

I would like to believe that trumped up charges of jaywalking are not the new “driving while black,” “stop and frisk,” or “papers, please.” But these cases remind us that even in this so-called post-racial America we must continue to proclaim both our humanity and our citizenship rights. As W. E. B. Du Bois stated in 1906, “We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a free-born American, political, civil and social; and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America.” Black communities–in fact, all communities– are entitled to “freedom from fear” that those who ostensibly “protect and serve” in reality have malevolent intent.


See also:

Catherine Calderon, ASU Professor Gets 9 Months Probation for Resisting Arrest in Incident that Sparked National Attention, The Republic|azcentral.com, 1 August 2014.

Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, Arizona Professor’s Jaywalking Arrest Quickly Gets Out of Hand, cnn.com, 30 June 2014.

Dean Schabner, Witness Says Missouri Teen’s Hands Were Up When Cop Shot Him, abcnews.go.com, 10 August 2014.

Conner Wince, ASU English Professor Pleads Guilty to Resisting Arrest, The Republic|azcentral.com, 9 July 2014.

Video of ASU Professor’s Arrest



Foto Friday: Big Sweep

I planned to attend a local museum Thursday and take some “new” pictures for this week’s Foto Friday, but life got in the way. Fortunately, I have a stockpile of photos from previous occasions. I took this picture when Da Hype 1 and I visited Denver in 2012.

"Big Sweep," Denver, Colorado, 2006

“Big Sweep,” Denver, Colorado, by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen (2006)

Artists Claes Oldenburg (1929-) and Coosje van Bruggen (1942-2009) are known for their outdoor sculptures in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Their art projects are often large-scale reproductions of ordinary objects. This giant sculpture of a broom and dustpan, called “Big Sweep,” is outside the Denver Art Museum and is over 31 feet high and 25 feet wide.

Wacky Wednesday: What Fictional Character Are You Most Like?

L-R: Raj, Penny, Sheldon, Leonard, Howard

L-R: Raj, Penny, Sheldon, Leonard, Howard

Have you ever seen “The Big Bang Theory”? It’s probably my favorite show. It’s a sitcom on CBS about a group of friends–Sheldon Cooper (theoretical physicist), Leonard Hofstadter (experimental physicist), Howard Wolowitz (mechanical engineer), Rajesh Koothrappoli (astrophysicist), and Penny (waitress/aspiring actress). While Penny works at The Cheesecake Factory, the other main characters are employed at Caltech in Pasadena.

My husband seems to think that I was separated at birth from Sheldon, who is brilliantly played by Jim Parsons. I am not quite sure how to feel about this. Is this a compliment or an insult? On the one hand, Sheldon is a genius with two doctorates and an IQ of 187. On the other hand, he is weird, socially awkward, and. . . uh. . . crazy.

Sheldon is very particular about his “things.” He doesn’t like people touching them, and he doesn’t like people touching him. So, he is extremely uncomfortable with interactions like hugging. Sheldon has routines that become ritualized–always knocking on a door the same way, always sitting in the same spot, always eating certain food on certain days. He’s a fan of science fiction and comic books and enjoys dressing up as his favorite characters for costume parties, Halloween, and renaissance fairs. Finally, he is always reminding people that his name is Dr. (Not Mr.) Sheldon Cooper.

To be honest, there are some similarities between me and Sheldon. I am a little eccentric. I always say that you have to be a little bit crazy to get a Ph.D. And, yes, I have no problem telling people I am Dr. (not Miss, not Ms., and not Mrs.). While I admit to being “particular” about my things and being an introvert, I blame this on being raised as an only child. We’re a little “different.” Although I have never been the life of the party, that doesn’t mean I haven’t partied (sans costume, of course). Lastly, I do have an aversion to hugging, but my friends and family don’t care. They hug me anyway. On the show, Sheldon is fond of saying, “I’m not crazy; my mother had me tested.” I tend to think everybody’s a little crazy though, even me. I just don’t know if I’m like Sheldon.

So, what fictional character are you most like?

Foto Friday: Flowers

I love flowers. I don’t know how to keep them alive or the proper names for most of them, but I love them. In summer there are beautiful flowers everywhere. Case and point. I found these beautiful flowers growing behind my local bike shop. I stopped to admire them and decided to photograph them as well.


I’m so glad there are people who have green thumbs.

Summer Reads

My first Harry Potter book!It’s summertime! Time for backyard barbeques, vacations, family reunions, block parties, swimming, festivals, fireworks, fireflies, and relaxing. I look forward to summer because I can sit on my balcony and read a good book. It’s my favorite way to relax.

Every now and then, I like to take a break and read something that has absolutely nothing to do with my research or teaching. This summer I have started reading the Harry Potter books. I quickly finished the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and I am already reading book two, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As usual, the books are so much better than the movies. I can see why the younger set fell in love with these books; they are wonderfully written. I especially like the friendship between Harry, Hermione, and Ron. I am fascinated by this whole “wizarding” world that J. K. Rowling created. She has an amazing imagination.

To be honest, I have read other young adult/teen novels including Twilight and The Hunger Games trilogy. So, far Harry Potter is definitely my favorite.

Well, the cat is out of the bag: I like Harry Potter. So, what are you reading this summer?

Foto Friday: Little Free Library

Have you heard about the “Little Free Library” Project? I first saw the libraries on Pinterest and thought, What a great idea! It’s a neighborhood book exchange that started in Wisconsin in 2009. Now there are more than 15,000 around the world, including the one that I recently found in my neighborhood.

Little Free Library, Coralville, Iowa

Little Free Library, Coralville, Iowa. Sharing books, encouraging literacy. I LOVE IT!

The books are free. The idea is to share your favorite books–“take a book, return a book.” I didn’t take a book, but I brought a contribution.

My Little Free Library contribution.

My Little Free Library contribution.

What Have You Done for Yourself Lately?

mybikeAbout a week ago I was really stressed out. I was not sleeping well at night because I was besieged with crazy dreams. As usual, I shared this with Da Hype 1. (We talk and text almost every day.)

She asked if there was something, “other than the usual” that was “weighing heavily” on my mind. Nah, just job searching, paying bills, trying to lose weight, global warming. . . Same old, same old. Worrying can be a full-time job.

Then, she asked something that literally stopped me in my tracks: “What types of things are you taking time out to do that make you happy?” In other words, she was asking, “What have you done for yourself lately?” (Cue the Janet Jackson music!) It took me a while to return that text, but I finally answered: “Pretty much, nothing.”

Had I turned into one of those self-sacrificing women who takes care of everyone else but herself? Nah, that’s not my style. However, my financial situation had led me to give up a lot of things to save money. My gym membership, regular pedicures and facials, and bi-weekly trips to the hairdresser had all fallen by the wayside.

What could I do for myself that wouldn’t cost too much? I was inspired by one of Hype’s friends. She rode her bike over to Hype’s house one Saturday morning when I was there. Hmm. . . I had a bicycle in my garage that was essentially gathering dust. I was very careful not to hit it when I parked my car, but I had not ridden it since last summer. So, last week, I went out to the garage, put some air in my tires, and took a ride. I was pretty tired when I came back home, and my legs felt like spaghetti. But it was a good kind of tired. That night I even slept more peacefully.

I hit the gate and I hops on my Schwinn

And I tell the homies, “aight then”~”This D.J.,” Warren G

I’m pretty sure I won’t become like the Lance Armstrong clones I see around my neighborhood. I’m not into racing; I don’t even have that kind of bike. For now, I’m just enjoying evening rides on my Schwinn. I’m doing it for me, and that’s what matters.

So, 2 Dope Readers, what have you done for yourself lately?

Foto Friday: Special Effects

I was walking on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University when I came across this scene. Steam was billowing from a pipe on one of the campus buildings and surrounding a nearby tree.


It seemed eerie to me, like special effects you might see in a horror movie, so I added some special effects of my own.


Readers, I’d love to know what you think. 🙂

Daddy Issues

Image courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigital Photos.net.

Image courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigital Photos.net.

I am my father’s oldest child. I am my mother’s only child. And last weekend I was feeling “some sort of way” that I couldn’t quite articulate about Father’s Day. A day to celebrate fatherhood is a difficult day for those of us with “Daddy issues.”

Although I grew up with lots of maternal and paternal family, I did not grow up in the same household as my father. In fact, he lived in another state with his wife and their children, my two brothers and sister. I usually communicated with him through my grandmother (his mother), who made sure I had school clothes and things of that nature. I saw him infrequently, mostly during the summers, when he visited Mississippi or I visited Illinois.

Years ago I was bitter and resentful towards my father for not taking care of me, but I have softened. A few years ago, in an uncharacteristically heartfelt and serious conversation, he apologized to me. Since then, I have felt more sympathy for and empathy with him because I realized that Daddy had “Daddy issues” too.

One clear example of this was my first-and-only meeting with my paternal grandfather. When I was about 14 or 15, my great-grandmother (my paternal grandfather’s mother) died. Strangely enough, though I had never met this grandfather, I knew my great grandmother. She visited the M-I Crooked Letter several times and gave me $2 bills whenever I saw her. I can only recall my grandfather’s name being mentioned a few times, and I don’t remember that being positive. But I knew who he was instantly because my youngest brother was his spitting image.

After the funeral, I saw my grandfather talking with a group of people including Daddy. When I approached them, my grandfather promptly introduced me to my own father. (He didn’t know me from Adam.) “This is my son,” he said, excitedly. “I know!” I replied. “That’s my father!”

As is my nature, I joked about that encounter. But really, how sad was that? In retrospect, I wonder how this made my father feel. That he and his children were strangers to his father could not have been a good feeling. My grandparents’ marriage had broken up in the 1950s when my father was quite young, and his two sisters were not much older. After the divorce, my grandfather remarried and had another family. (My grandmother remarried as well.) Did Daddy feel abandoned by his father? What kind of pain did that cause him? I thought about what kind of role model my grandfather was for Daddy. Not a very good one, that’s for sure.

Now I’m not giving Daddy a pass on all the disappointments of my childhood. But as 2Pac said, “I ain’t mad at ya.” As a historian, I try to understand people from the past so I can tell their stories in the present. The least I can do is try and apply that understanding to my own family. No, he never did send me that bike he promised me when I was ten. But as an adult, he has helped me–coming to pick me up from college for summer, giving me cash occasionally, and more recently helping me on four interstate moves in ten years. I know he loves and cares about me. . . in his way. I don’t know if he felt love from his father.

I’m not sure how Daddy will feel about this post. It’s doubtful that he’ll even see it. I love my father, but I haven’t talked to him in a while. Despite my conflicted feelings, I sincerely hope he had a happy Father’s Day.