Don’t call us, we’ll call you

January 25, 2009

Limits of our loyalty

I wrote about my second family member interview here and here and here.  If you had asked me during the summer which interviewee would have the greatest impact on me, I don’t think I would have said her.  But it turns out she comes to my mind quite often…this time while teaching my Marriage Enhancement class on Thursday.

Our topic was loyalty and I drew a lot of my material from two sources: my grad school mentor extraordinaire Vickie (I LOVE this girl!) and Dr. Blaine Fowers, a marriage therapist and scholar.  Since the purpose of the class is to enrich the students’ marriages and most of them are still very newlywed, we don’t talk a lot about the darker sides of marriage.  But it seemed important at this point to discuss the limits of our loyalty.  I quoted from Dr. Fowers:

“When a spouse is abusive, unfaithful, or addicted to alcohol or drugs, a wife or a husband must question the degree and form of his or her loyalty. Deciding how loyal we should be can be difficult at times, even excruciating.”

I was really struck by one part of this statement in particular: the form of loyalty.  I thought of this woman again, how she kicked her husband out of the house before he was arrested because his alcoholism was too destructive.  But even as she kicked him out, she helped him get an apartment, managed his money, drove him to and from AA and work, hired a lawyer.  The form of her loyalty had to change, but who could doubt that hers was still a deep, profound loyalty.

It is a strange thing to think that there are times when our deepest loyalty may be demonstrated by doing something that appears in the moment to be hurtful or harsh. I love this woman for all the things that she taught me that I am still discovering.


January 9, 2009

Our new president

Five living presidents

Five living presidents

Seeing this picture made me think about the fact that I was intending to write a post following the election in November.  I wanted to wait a little while, let things simmer down (for me, mostly, because this election got really old to me a long time before November 5th!!!).  But it’s probably been long enough now for me to say the few things I wanted to say.

First off, I did not want Obama to be the next president.  I find some of his positions troubling to my very core.  I worry constantly about some of the directions he’ll take us in.  I guess deeply troubled is the best way to put it.

But there is one thing–one REALLY BIG thing–that excites me.  Even though I worried about Obama winning in the weeks and months (or was it years we were talking about this darn election?!) leading up to it, I worried as much about the possibility of him not winning because he’s Black.  In past years, I’ve read psychological and sociological theory related to voting behavior (I used to be a political junkie until…well, we won’t go into that here) and some of those theories would suggest that it would ultimately be difficult for many people to vote for a Black man, despite what they might say to pollsters before entering the voting booth (see social desirability bias, for example).

This was particularly on my mind this summer as almost 70% of our interviewees were Black Americans.  If anyone wonders whether racism still exists, you need look no further than our criminal justice system.  It is rampant with both institutional racism (e.g., harsher punishments for crack cocaine violations, a more commonly Black crime, than powder cocaine, a more commonly White crime) and racist attitudes (“you don’t want to interview ‘those people'”).  Not that our interviewees complained much about it; very few either subtly or overtly blamed their situation on racism.  But it is there, everywhere, and in some moments, it felt so thick I could cut it with a knife.

So I rejoice in this: a significant boundary has been crossed.  I believe it is psychically important for all Americans, but especially Black Americans, that the new first family looks like this:


January 5, 2009

Are you kidding…it’s 2009?

Filed under: Incarceration research, Miscarriage, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 3:41 am

So the last month and a half is kind of a crazy, messy blur in my head.  Oh well, I’m sure someone would have told me if something really important slipped by me.

So a resolution for the new year: must blog more.  And this is more than a hobby goal because when I work on my thesis, I usually add a post.  And when I don’t work on my thesis…you get the idea.  There has been far too little working on my thesis considering I’m halfway through my second year now.

Good luck to me in 2009.

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