Sunday, September 25, 2016

Thwimpie – A Spoiled Brat named Little Donnie Thwimp

Brilliant analysis of Donald Trump and the linguistic advantage that he enjoys in his very strong-sounding name, but which, he cogently argues, is entirely subvertible by re-naming him:  "Thwimpie."  "Little Donnie Thwimpie."



Thwimpie – A Spoiled Brat named Little Donnie Thwimp

A Voyage Into Sound Symbolism by George Lakoff
As strange as it may sound, the sound symbolism of a name has become an unnamed central issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. As a cognitive linguist, my job is to study the issue and, at the very least, to name it.
Perhaps the best-known discussion of naming occurs in Juliet’s soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Here is Juliet, proclaiming that all that divides her from Romeo are their family names.

Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.

Shakespeare here was writing about love, not profit or politics. Donald Trump’s father changed the family name from Drumpf to Trump. It was a name change worth billions. Herr Drumpf understood the power of naming, as has his son, who renames his rivals: Lyin’ Ted, Little Mario, Crooked Hillary.
Trump has made his fortune by marketing and selling his name. He slaps his name in large bold letters on Trump Tower, Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks, and so on. He has even managed to get his name on property he doesn’t own!

The name Trump is his brand, his product; he sells his name. When he seeks financial backing for a project, he insists that he be paid very well for the use of his name, even if his name is used just to get investors or bank loans. The condition is that he gets paid for the use of his name, even if the project fails and goes into bankruptcy. Time and again, his companies have gone bankrupt; but though others — builders, employees, investors —  lose money, Trump is always paid for the use of his name.
What it is about the name “Trump” that sells, and would it sell if it were changed a bit?

Sound Symbolism
There is a subfield of cognitive linguistics that studies sound symbolism, where there is pattern in a language linking sound structure of a group of words to what is called an ‘embodied conceptual schema’ that characterizes a significant part of word meaning, though by no means all word meaning. To give you a feel for sound symbolism, consider words ending in –ip: drip, clip, snip, rip, dip, sip, whip. There is a pattern here: the meanings all involve a short path to a sudden stop. This is what the mouth is doing; there is short path of breath to a sudden stop. The pattern is called an “image schema.” It provides structure to a meaning, without filling out the whole meaning. Moreover, the pattern does not cover all –ip words or all short paths to a sudden stop. It is simply a pattern that fits a significant number of important cases.
The –ip sound is called a rhyme, which occurs at the end of a syllable. Sound symbolism also occurs at the beginning, or “onset”, of a syllable. Consider words beginning in cl-: clap, cling, clasp, clump, clench, cleat, cloak, closed, club, cluster, … . The pattern involves things coming together: either the part of the hand in clench, the two parts of a clasp, the two hands as in clap, the members of a club, the trees or plants in a clump or cluster, the cloak what comers together with the shoulders it is attached to. When the blades of scissors come together in a short path to a sudden stop, there is a cl+ip, as in clip. English has dozens of such sound-symbolic patterns, as observed by Richard Rhodes and John Lawler in their classic paper “Athematic Metaphor” (Chicago Linguistics Society, 1981; <;.

TR- Words
This brings us to tr- words. When you say tr- in English, your tongue starts out with the tip just in back of the teeth and pressed along the top of the mouth to pronounce an r. Then a vowel follows and the mouth is forcefully opened, moving with the vowel in one direction or another. In short, there is forceful press and a forceful release. Not surprisingly, English has a very common sound-symbolic pattern in which the initial cluster, the onset tr- expresses Force, with a forceful tension followed by a forceful motion.
There are many kinds of forces involved in many kinds of forceful actions and experiences. As a result the tr- words span a wide range of meanings in which an initial force is part of the meaning of the word. Start with tr+ip, trip — a verb expressing a force resulting in a short path to a sudden end: you can trip on something that exerts force on you sending you moving to a quick sudden stop, or you can trip someone else sending them moving to a quick sudden stop.
Then there is try, in which someone exerts force to achieve some purpose. Trap can be a forceful action by one or more people to retain someone, or can refer to a mechanism that exerts force to restrain someone. A truss holds an injured body part in place by force. And to trim or truncate something is to forcefully cut it shorter. To forcefully start something is to trigger it. A tremor is a forceful movement of the earth, as in an earth quake.  A trench is a long hole dug with force. A trumpet is a musical instrument that takes force to play and as a result of the force makes a loud sound.
Then there are machines that exert force to move things: a truck, a tractor, a train, a trolley, a tram, and forms of transit. Motion across some area usually requires force to carry out the notion. Trans- means across and in the right word, it can express forceful motion across or forceful change, as in transmit, transfer, transpose, and transfigure.  
The forceful motion of a train moves along a track, while heavy steps on wet ground can leave tracks. The forceful motion of people over a landscape creates a trail that others can move along. Forceful motion on a landscape over a distance can be a trek. Forceful walking is treading, with the past tense trod. And the tires of a wheeled vehicle need tread to forcefully grip the road. To forcefully step repeatedly on something to destroy it is to trample it. And an object to jump up and down on forcefully and repeatedly for the sake of exercise or play is a trampoline. The successful use of force to achieve something significant is a triumph. A problem that can be solved by forceful action is tractable. A trend is an event sequence understood as exerting a force in itself to continue motion in the same direction in the future.
Some forceful events exert harm, for example, a trauma, a tragedy. The very thought of them can exert the force to make you tremble.  A trial is an event you undergo that can seriously harm you and that takes forceful action or resilience on your part to avoid that harm. A tribulation is a harmful effect you undergo when you experience a trying experience.
You can sense the force of the tr- sound in a word if you try to rename an object or experience. There is a reason why a tractor is not called a yiss! Or why a trauma or a tragedy is not called a “wug.” In studying sound symbolism, you need a sense of your own reaction to the sound of word and what would happen under a renaming.

-UMP Words
Now we move to the sound symbolism of –ump words. In the pronunciation of  –ump, the u is a schwa, a mid-vowel, neither high nor low, front nor back, a giving up of breath, as in “uh.” The nasal m is pronounced by opening the nasal tract allowing air to move up and around the nasal tract and then down to the mouth to stop at p. There is release of low energy “uh” tracing a rise in the nasal tract ‘m’ and then a lowering and stopping of the breath at p.
It is a sound pattern that expresses entities of low or no energy having a 3-dimensional shape that can be traced over time as a rise and then a fall. We can see this sound symbolism in bump, lump, hump, rump, plump, and stump, which in each case has a 3-D shape that can be traced by a rise and then a fall.  A clump (say, of trees) is a group brought together (cl-) with that shape. A pump is an instrument for blowing up stretchable objects into that shape. A jump in place is a rise and then fall. When you dump something, it goes downward (d-) and what is dumped has the –ump shape. A frump is a low energy person with such an appearance. A grump is someone who makes a growling sound and has that appearance. To slump is to take on such a shape, and a baseball player goes into a slump when his hitting becomes ineffective and his batting average falls. A chump is an ineffective person who is a “fall guy” in interacting with an aggressive effective person who can take advantage of him. And a thump is the sound made by a low energy fall against a solid resonant object.
This bring us to  tr+ump Trump as a name. It has a causal structure: a causal force (the tr-) followed by a person or object (the -ump) that the force acts on and affects. The person or object either already is an –ump or is made into an
ump by the force. As a person’s name, tr- followed by -ump symbolizes a person who acts with force on existing chumps or creates them by his exertion of force. In short, it names someone who has the power to take advantage of others. In business, it names a person who can profit by taking advantage of others. Similarly, in the game of bridge, trump is a card of a suit that will always win the trick, that is, it has power over a competing card of lesser strength.
That is why he can sell his name in a business deal, market his name by plastering it on everything he owns —  the Trump Tower, his airplane, his steaks, wine, suits, ties, with signs in bold letters. He even has managed to get his name on buildings he does NOT own <;.
Tr+ump is a perfect last name for a presidential candidate who offers himself as the ultimate authority, able to turn others into chumps in politics. It is the perfect name for the ultimate Strict Father and authoritarian ruler — the ultimate authoritarian who makes those ruled into chumps.

The Renaming
The point here is that Shakespeare was wrong. A rose by any other name need not smell just as sweet. Tr+ump is a great name if you want to vote for a powerful person who can take advantage of others — make chumps out of people you don’t like: liberals, Mexicans, Muslims, the Chinese, blacks, and people who can’t take care of themselves, namely, the poor.
If you are among the tens of millions of Americans who wholly or mostly idealize strict father morality, someone named TR+UMP sounds like your man.
But what if he didn’t have that name? Would you be voting just for the name, not the real person?
It has been observed that he often acts like a spoiled child. In fact, he was a spoiled child. When his father tried to teach him personal responsibility by making him take on a paper route in Manhattan, he kept out the rain by getting the family chauffer to drive him around in the family Cadillac on his paper route!
In financing building, he got loans on his father’s collateral housing empire that would not rent to African-Americans or Latinos. He got tax breaks through his father’s influence with city officials, who depended on his father’s political donations.  When things don’t go his way, he just makes up lies and depends on then power of his name to get him through.
And he renames is opponents: Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Crooked Hillary.
Suppose he were renamed.
If there is any a putative strict father cannot be, it is childish and spoiled — and weak.  Some children at a young age have trouble pronouncing T+R.  The R turns to W after a T, as in Twump, and the T may weaken to Th, as in Thwump. Suppose we change the U to I, to indicate smallness. That would be Thwimp: Little Donnie Thwimp. The –ie on Donnie is called a “diminutive,” it makes someone or something sound smaller. Thwimpie is a possibility.
Imagine a national renaming campaign, starting now. Imagine those with photoshop skills might change the name on the image of his Tower to Twimp Towie. Changing the letter on his plane to Twimp, and have it falling toward the ocean. Photoshop campaign signs to Thwimp / Punts. Imagine running Twitter campaigns with #Thwimpie.
The fact is that Little Donnie Thwimp is something a strict father  authoritarian cannot be named because it is a weak childish name!
Little Donnie dreams of being the ultimate strongman, like Putin, and to cover his weakness, he tells lies, he tells BIG LIES, REALLY BIG LIES! But the bigger the lie, the greater the weakness. He is weak on foreign policy. He is weak on economics. He is especially weak on history. He is really weak on his taxes and has to hide them. And he is dangerously weak on the facts about the use of nuclear weapons!
Twimpie’s weakness is revealed in his exaggerations: What he likes is “terrific.” What he dislikes is a “disaster.”  All or Nothing. Weak on careful, subtle reason.
Would voters who want a strong authoritarian vote for someone named Thwimp? Or Thwimpie? Or Little Donnie?
Do the Thwimp polls. Let’s find out.
Democratic candidates need not engage in the renaming. Let the ordinary people who understand the lies and the weaknesses do the renaming on social media.
But isn’t this just fun and whimsical? Shouldn’t everyone be focused on fear — the fear that he might just get elected. The fear is real and justified. But the problem with justified fear-mongering is that it gives power to the person you’re afraid of. By all means discuss why the fear is justified. But take the power away. Rename and rebrand: Twimpie.
If people vote for someone on the basis of the sound symbolism of his name, change the name. Let them try to say they want to elect a Thwimp with a straight face.

The Point
What’s the point of a Thwimpie campaign? The candidate is not going to change his name, and reporters are not going to do serious investigative reporting using only the candidate’s new name.
The point is simple: The President of the United States and the Leader of the Free World should not be chosen on the basis of the sound symbolism of his name.
The sound symbolism is unconscious. This paper brings it to consciousness. Offering an alternative with very different sound symbolism is crucial if Americans are to become aware that the sound of the name can be working on them unconsciously and against their better judgment.
Sound symbolism is an issue in this presidential campaign — as weird as that sounds. The issue can only be brought up with a discussion of what the sound symbolism is and what a very different sound symbolism might be.
The issue may sound laughable. But it is quite serious. It needs to be brought to attention, and to be reported on.
And it should raise ratings. Because while being serious news, sound symbolism is not just informative; it is fun. Fun in the news raises ratings.
Fear also sells in the media. Shouldn’t you be afraid that someone has a chance of being elected president based on the sound of his name?
This is a real fear, as well as fun.


Could this be true? Charter School chain wrapped up in Turkey’s Battle With Muslim Cleric

In the same morning that I read this story about an understaffed school in Detroit that hired a 13-year-old to teach math for a month, I come across this one that together help illustrate what is going wrong with public education.  At one end, are the savage inequalities that help subsidize the exorbitant wealth and even shady politics on the other. 


Mr. Amsterdam is aiming to tie the schools on his list to Mr. Gulen and expose what he said is a “money laundering” scheme. Some schools, he said, illegally use public funding to pay for immigration lawyers to win visas for teachers and administrators from Turkey. The schools then expect these Turkish employees to donate to the Gulenist movement, he said, and pressure them to donate to American politicians who advocate for Mr. Gulen.

The schools, he said, illustrate why Mr. Gulen should be extradited. They “give him political influence in a very big way,” he said.
Our own Texas Education Agency is conducting an investigation of Harmony Schools.  Here's the allegation currently being pursued by Lawyer Robert Amsterdam:

He alleged that the parent company of the schools hired Gulen supporters from Turkey, paid them more than other teachers and required them to donate to politicians.
The TEA said it is reviewing the complaint to determine if it should launch a formal investigation into some of the allegations, including whether the schools gave preferences to some vendors and misused state and federal funds. Harmony denied Mr. Amsterdam’s allegations and said it is cooperating with the review.
Check out Gulen's posh living and working environment in the Pocono Mountains.   

There's definitely public dollars to be made on the backs of our children and in the face of grinding inequality in so many of our nation's schools.  See the connections, my friends?  

The so-called "free market of schooling" amounts to little more than a freedom to exploit the public purse and so doing, thwart the public, democratic purposes of schooling—and indeed, to foster ever greater inequalities.  To imagine beyond this how they may be embroiled in global politics is a perspective that this story asks us to consider.

Angela Valenzuela

Turkey’s Battle With Muslim Cleric Careens Through U.S. Classrooms

American charter schools have become embroiled in a proxy fight between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen

Lawyer Robert Amsterdam is working for the government of Turkey to investigate schools and other institutions he says are connected to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish officials blame for July’s coup attempt.Lawyer Robert Amsterdam is working for the government of Turkey to investigate schools and other institutions he says are connected to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish officials blame for July’s coup attempt. Photo: Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal

A global proxy war between the president of Turkey and his No. 1 nemesis played out early this year in an otherwise routine public-school board meeting in Fremont, Calif.
On the agenda during the January meeting was a pitch from the chief executive of a California charter-school chain, which had proposed opening an outpost in the Silicon Valley suburb.
Also in attendance, and bearing a long list of objections, was a lawyer representing the Republic of Turkey.

The attorney, from London-based Amsterdam & Partners LLP, “has been following us around lately” trying to block the chain’s projects, Caprice Young, chief executive of Magnolia Public Schools, told the Fremont board. “He is a representative of the Turkish government who seems to believe that we are affiliated with a religious group with whom we are not affiliated.”

SEE VIDEO HERE:  Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan pinned the coup attempt that gripped the country on a self-exiled cleric living in the U.S. named Fethullah Gulen. Gulen denies any involvement. Here’s a closer look at this influential preacher. Photo: AP (Originally published July 18, 2016) 
Magnolia is among hundreds of targets in a battle between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his former political ally Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric with millions of global followers, who left Turkey in 1999 and lives in Pennsylvania.
Turkish officials blame Mr. Gulen for orchestrating a July 15 coup attempt. They accuse him of trying to subvert the democratically elected government via positions his sympathizers hold in the judiciary, police and academia.
Turkey has asked the U.S. to extradite Mr. Gulen on charges unrelated to the putsch. U.S. officials have said they would consider all evidence Turkey presents as part of an extradition request; privately, many senior U.S. officials said they are skeptical of Turkey’s claims against Mr. Gulen.

Mr. Gulen’s network is hard to define. His supporters run schools and foundations around the world with clear ties to him. His links to other institutions are less clear, including to U.S. schools such as Magnolia. The chain was founded by two Gulen sympathizers and counts Gulen admirers among its teachers, said its CEO, Dr. Young. She said Magnolia has no legal, financial or governance connection with him.

Robert Amsterdam, whose firm was hired by Turkey, said he has about 25 employees and consultants fanned out around the globe to prove a theory, an effort that predated the coup attempt and has gathered momentum since. Roughly 150 schools in the U.S., and hundreds of other academic institutions and businesses around the world, he claims, channel millions of dollars annually to the Gulen movement.

“This is truly a global political and criminal movement,” said Mr. Amsterdam. “In the U.S., they’re teaching 60,000 students. I don’t know how they have time to teach when they spend so much time gaming the system.”

A Turkish embassy official in Washington referred inquiries to Mr. Amsterdam.
On a recent day, Mr. Gulen sat on a gold-colored couch in a book-lined office in a former summer camp in Saylorsburg, Pa., a Pocono Mountains town. He agreed to meet and be photographed but declined to speak, citing health concerns.

Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen at his Pennsylvania compound.Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen at his Pennsylvania compound. Photo: Ianthe Dugan/The Wall Street Journal

His representatives referred inquiries to Yuksel Alp Aslandogan, executive director of the Alliance for Shared Values, a nonprofit that promotes Mr. Gulen’s ideas and his “Hizmet” movement. Mr. Gulen denies involvement in the failed coup, denies trying to subvert the government and is opposed to violence, said Mr. Aslandogan. The cleric, he said, is 77 or 78 years old.

Mr. Aslandogan defended the movement, saying: “There are hundreds of businesses and NGOs within the Hizmet movement that have been legally operating around the world…and have been praised by local authorities and heads of state for their contributions to the country in which they operate.”

Some U.S. schools on Mr. Amsterdam’s hit list were founded by Gulen sympathizers but Mr. Gulen doesn’t run them, said Mr. Aslandogan, who himself helped start a school in Chicago.

‘Money laundering’

Mr. Amsterdam is aiming to tie the schools on his list to Mr. Gulen and expose what he said is a “money laundering” scheme. Some schools, he said, illegally use public funding to pay for immigration lawyers to win visas for teachers and administrators from Turkey. The schools then expect these Turkish employees to donate to the Gulenist movement, he said, and pressure them to donate to American politicians who advocate for Mr. Gulen.

The schools, he said, illustrate why Mr. Gulen should be extradited. They “give him political influence in a very big way,” he said.

Caprice Young, CEO of Magnolia Public Schools, one target of Mr. Amsterdam’s team, says the California charter-school chain was founded by sympathizers of Mr. Gulen but has no affiliation with him. Caprice Young, CEO of Magnolia Public Schools, one target of Mr. Amsterdam’s team, says the California charter-school chain was founded by sympathizers of Mr. Gulen but has no affiliation with him. Photo: Michal Czerwonka for The Wall Street Journal   Continue reading story here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tomás Rivera Book Award Fundraiser

Friends, please consider making a donation. This is a worthy cause. Dr. Jesse Gainer does such a great job with this in faithfully pulling together a hugely successful award and award program annually. If you've never attended, treat yourself to a truly delightful opportunity at Texas State University. It's an awesome experience to be in an auditorium with literally hundreds of fourth-graders (800 last time I attended) from throughout the state of Texas that's attend this who listen carefully for hours at a time to the day-long program—and where us adults are the"loud ones." Ok, I'm guilty. Happily guilty... :-) 
Angela Valenzuela

The Tomás Rivera Book Award highlights exceptional quality children’s and young adult literature that reflects the Mexican American experience. We believe in the importance of multicultural literature for all people and the urgent need for all young people to see their languages and cultures reflected in the books they read. Each year we honor winners in categories for younger and older readers. We provide books for children, connect children to award-winning authors and illustrators, and encourage parents, teachers, librarians and other adults to engage with this literature with children and youth.

Please see our short informational video below.

From now until Thursday afternoon we are having a fundraiser. Donations are tax deductible and will go directly to the award. The money we raise will help us continue providing books, transportation, and other resources for children to participate in the annual award celebrations and to experience outstanding Mexican American children’s and YA literature. Please help us reach our goal of 300 donations by the end of the day on Thursday, September 22. Donations can be made at:

Thank you for your support of Mexican American Children’s and Young Adult Literature and of the Tomás Rivera Book Award.

Jesse Gainer
Tomás Rivera Book Award

Judge Orders Texas to Rewrite Voter ID Education Materials

This piece captures Texas' struggle with VoterID —which should have never been a struggle to begin with.  Despite U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos' orders to issue new voter education materials in the context of the July U.S. Supreme Court finding of non-compliance with the Voting Rights Act, our leadership intimates more of what's in store...

On Monday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick — a Republican who co-authored Senate Bill 14 — called for lawmakers to pass new voter identification requirements next year.
“We have a judge, a Democrat, who’s just eviscerating our photo voter ID. We’re going to have to pass it again come January when we go back into session,” he said on the The Laura Ingraham Show. 
It was not clear whether he meant lawmakers should pass less-stringent ID requirements that may be more likely to withstand legal scrutiny or an equally stringent measure.

I think we can anticipate what the end game here is...

Disenfranchisement comes to mind.  What these republican state leaders surely fear is the loss of their incumbencies lest a more open process, among other "unthinkable" things, results in an increasing presence of judges like U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos that symbolize a portent of things to come....

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos
Folks are always critical of our low voter turnout for elections in our state, particularly Hispanics.  We should be equally critical of our leadership that has been on a consistent, seemingly never-ending campaign to curtail the vote, our vote.

The struggle continues....

Angela Valenzuela

The Texas Tribune

Judge Orders Texas to Rewrite Voter ID Education Materials

A federal judge has ordered Texas to issue new voter education materials, siding with those who accused state officials of misleading voters about identification requirements for the November elections.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos on Tuesday ordered changes to certain press releases, posters placed at polling locations and materials on state websites related to voting in the Nov. 8 elections.
She is also requiring that “all materials related to the education of voters, poll workers, and election officials that have not yet been published shall reflect the language” of a prior court order allowing those who arrive at the polls without one of seven forms of photo identification required under state law to cast a ballot.
Ramos' order came after the federal government and other groups challenging the state’s photo ID law — ruled discriminatory by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit — accused Texas of circulating “inaccurate or misleading information” about a temporary fix she ordered for the upcoming election. 

Though voters who possess photo identification are expected to bring it to the polls in November, those without it still have the opportunity to vote. They may sign an affidavit certifying they are U.S. citizens and present proof of residence, such as a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.
Ramos last month ordered Texas to spend $2.5 million to educate the public about these relaxed requirements.
That order said Texas must educate voters about "the opportunity for voters who do not possess" photo identification "and cannot reasonably obtain it to cast a regular ballot.”
But the U.S. Department of Justice and other plaintiffs argued that Texas recast the language of that order by limiting voting to those with photo IDs or those who “have not obtained” and “cannot obtain” such identification.
The key difference, plaintiffs argued, was that Texas stripped the word “reasonably,” potentially discouraging those who could obtain photo identification only after surpassing significant hurdles.
Chad Dunn, a Houston-based attorney who represented groups suing the state, suggested the difference was more significant than it might initially sound.
“The fear is that somebody hears that 'can't' language and thinks: ‘I can drive to Arkansas and get my birth certificate, and I can get back today and get down to an office, and potentially get an ID issued — but I’d miss picking my kids up from school, and I’d miss an intolerable amount of income from work,” he said. “So I have an impediment for doing so, but I suppose it’s possible” to get a photo ID.
“It’s troubling that the state chose to use language in some of its advertisements that didn’t track exactly the court’s order,” Dunn added.
Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, said Tuesday that her office's "No. 1 objective is and remains educating voters as clearly and efficiently as possible. We are prepared to respond to the order.”
In a 9-6 ruling in July, the federal appeals court ruled that Texas’ ID law, known as Senate Bill 14, violated the federal Voting Rights Act because black and Latino potential voters were less likely than others to possess ID from the narrowly drawn list of what’s acceptable at the polls.
Texas officials claim these rules prevent voter fraud, which Gov. Greg Abbott has called "rampant." But opponents — backed by court rulings — have pointed out that in-person voter fraud is incredibly rare.
The appeals court ordered Ramos to draw up a temporary fix for the law, and later weigh meatier issues such as whether Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minority groups in passing the law.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, plans to appeal the July ruling this week to the U.S. Supreme Court, spokesman Marc Rylander told The Texas Tribune. Asked about Ramos' latest order, he said his office was "pleased" that Ramos denied a motion from private plaintiffs to change the affidavit voters without ID must sign and that she decided some of the educational materials complied with her order.
"Our office still maintains the common-sense measures in Texas voter ID law are valid," Rylander said.
On Monday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick — a Republican who co-authored Senate Bill 14 — called for lawmakers to pass new voter identification requirements next year.
“We have a judge, a Democrat, who’s just eviscerating our photo voter ID. We’re going to have to pass it again come January when we go back into session,” he said on the The Laura Ingraham Show. 
It was not clear whether he meant lawmakers should pass less-stringent ID requirements that may be more likely to withstand legal scrutiny or an equally stringent measure.
Patrick’s office did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
Read more about voter ID here:
  • Texas agreed to terms that will weaken its voter ID law and that lawyers suing the state say will make it easier for minorities to cast a ballot in the November general election.
  • The federal government is accusing Texas of circulating “inaccurate or misleading information” to poll workers and would-be voters about relaxed identification requirements for the November elections.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Art & Identity: Barraza's Roots Reflected in Color, Canvas - Dr. Santa Barraza

We have so much talent in Texas.  I'm happy to share these images and story by and about Dr. Santa Barraza, respectively, that appear in the Javelina Today, the Magazine of Texas A & M University-Kingsville.  

She is the quintessential Tejana artist and teacher, widely respected for her many contributions, most especially her artistic representations of indigenous, pre-Columbian icons, themes, and folklore.

To these, I add a photo I took of one of her pieces in a colleague's home in California that graces her living room wall.

Thank you, Santa, for your inspirational work that continues to enrich, deepen, and nourish our sense of selves as people native to this continent, to these very lands that we have inhabited for literally hundreds of years.

I hope that someday UNESCO will recognize the unparalleled strength, beauty, and power of your work as a World Heritage contribution to humanity.

Con toda sinceridad,

Angela Valenzuela


Art & Identity:  Barraza's Roots Relected in Color, Canvas

Report: Teacher Shortage Crisis Can Be Averted by Keeping Educators in the Profession

Report: Teacher Shortage Crisis Can Be Averted by Keeping Educators in the Profession: A new report urges states to address the conditions that are driving qualified teachers out of the classroom after only a few years.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Close Look at CCBC's 2015 Data on Books By/About American Indians/First Nations

A Close Look at CCBC's 2015 Data on Books By/About American Indians/First Nations

Thursday, September 15, 2016

On February 23, the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin released its statistics on the numbers of children's books by/about American Indians/First Nations and People of Color during the year 2015. Their data is based on books that are sent to them. It is raw data that does not address the quality of the books themselves. This data is important and I'm very glad they collect it. I use it in my work.

In 2015, CCBC estimates that they received about 3,400 books. Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen at St. Catherine University, working with illustrator David Huyck, Molly Beth Griffin, and several others (including me), created a graphic that depicts the CCBC data for 2015. Kudos to Sarah for getting it done. David Huyck's idea--to reflect the percentages by different sized mirrors--is excellent. Including animals, trucks, etc., is also excellent because it tells us that there are more books about animals, trucks, etc. than about any individual demographic. That's deeply troubling.

As of this writing (Thursday, September 15, 2016), the graphic has gone viral. It is being widely shared across social media. I'm very glad to see that, but I'm also seeing lots of assumptions about the data itself. My post today is a close look at the data specific to Native peoples and my attempt to look closely at that 0.9% on the graphic.

Earlier this year, CCBC sent me the list of books on their American Indian Log (it includes First Nations, Latin America, Pacific Islands, and New Zealand). There are a lot of ways to analyze their list. I may do more with the list in another post, but for now, I'm focusing on fiction (according to CCBC's tags) published by US publishers.

Fiction, US publishers:

Here's the list of fiction written or illustrated by Native people (titles in blue are ones that AICL has recommended, here or elsewhere; titles in black have not been reviewed)
  • Bruchac, Joseph. Trail of the Dead. Published by Tu Books/Lee and Low (Apache)
  • Bruchac, Joseph. Walking Two Worlds. Published by 7th Generation (Iroquois)
  • Robertson, Robbie. Hiawatha and the Peacemaker. Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers. (Mohawk)

Now here's the books on the CCBC list, by writers and illustrators who are not Native (titles in red are ones that AICL reviewed here or elsewhere and did not recommend; titles in black have not been reviewed)
  • Bowman, Erin. Vengeance Road. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Apache)
  • Johnston, E. K. Prairie Fire. Published by Carolrhoda/Lerner. (Haida and Tseshaht)
  • Osborne, Mary Pope. Shadow of the Shark. Published by Random House. (Maya)
  • Rose, Caroline Starr. Blue Birds. Published by Penguin/Putnam. (Tribal nation not specified)
  • Shepherd, Megan. The Cage. Published by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. (Maori)
  • Velasquez, Crystal. Hunters of Chaos. Published by Aladdin/Simon and Schuster. (Mayan and Navajo)
  • Voelkel, J & P. The Jaguar Stones: The Lost City. Published by EgmontUSA. (Maya)

Who publishes what?
In 2015, the Big Five publishers did not publish Native writers. Over half of the books the Big Five published misrepresent and/or stereotype Native peoples. As I found in the 2013 data set, Native writers get published by smaller publishers.

What does that mean?
If teachers/librarians wanted to get all 11 of the fiction from US publishers on the 2015 CCBC list, they'd likely have a harder time getting those from the smaller publishers because those aren't stocked in stores like ones from the major publishers. Given the poor quality in the books from the Big Five, children will most easily see problematic depictions of Native people.

Is there a focus on one Native people?
Yes. There are 3 books with content specific to the Mayan people. I think that's interesting because this sample is US publishers. We might expect that, in sum, we'd see them publishing books about US tribal nations, but, no! It is very hard to make generalizations based on such a tiny set of data, but what do you think?
What settings (chronologically) get published?
There are 11 books. Some are straight up historical fiction (Blue Birds). Several, like Shadow of the Shark are hard to categorize because there's time travel. I think this sample is not large enough to make any definitive statements about setting, but what do you see? What observations might you make?

The bottom line:

The Native child in the new graphic is holding a very small mirror. 

When you take a close look at the quality of the books that could be mirroring her in some way, what she gets is, primarily, distortions. 

This post was updated on September 16 to correct an error. Patty Loew's book was incorrectly listed in the CCBC log as fiction. It is nonfiction and has therefore been removed from the list of books by small publishers, above.