Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year Appreciations and Predictions

Happy 2008 everyone. I was trying to think of something inspirational or uplifting or profound to share for 2008. But the truth is, I mostly just feel pretty thankful for the past year and happy for being in a good place entering into 2008. So I thought I'd start the new year with a list of 10 appreciations and some hopeful (if fantastical) predictions.

Things I am thankful for:

1) That there are people who actually read this blog (I mean really, I figured it'd only be a handful of people I know but that there are actually people I have never met who tune in from time to time and leave comments, that's more than I ever expected when I started writing this).

2) Good writing. Seriously, I've read some pretty fantastic contemporary literature this past year--some titles that come to mind are FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES, STEALING BUDDHA'S DINNER, and HANDBOOK TO LUCK.

3) Fellow travelers. This includes the people who read this blog, but I guess what I really mean is that I appreciate the conversations I've had with people about race and U.S. culture and American politics and ethnicity and culture and Asian American literature. I'm lucky to have colleagues/friends who are interested in similar topics and who also feel a sense of passion for these issues.

4) Good health--for myself but also for the people in my life I care about. I think in a very real way, my Uncle's death this past year really brought to light that what does count at the end of the day is your health.

5) Mentors and role models. I mean literal ones but also the writers and teachers and scholars I admire. Especially the ones who manage to be scholar-activists. Because as grandiose as it sounds, I also want to make a difference in the world.

OK, on to Predictions, which may just be fantasies, but you know, you have to have something positive to think about, right?

6) A Democratic win! (I'd like it to be Obama, but truly, ANY Democratic win in Nov. 2008 would make me deliriously happy).

7) People will stop equating an attention to race with racism. This is something I've noticed in a couple of the snarky (nasty) blog comments I've read--that anytime someone draws attention to racial issues or racial differences the "snark" will snarl and say that those comments/opinions that focus on race mean that the person is "racist" because they are paying attention to race. WRONG! It truly would be a fantastic day when we could all get on the same page with a working definition of racism--that it's systemic/institutional more than just individual. But more importantly, paying attention to an aspect (race) of the problem (racism) doesn't make someone racist--it makes that someone a person who is attempting to be anti-racist (at least that's my idealistic spin).

8) More attention to climate change issues! Please, we really do only have one planet--it's like the health thing. We really do need to take care of our health and the health of the planet first! Remember: reuse, reduce, recycle.

9) Tiger wins grand slam in golf this year! (Yes, I'm a, somewhat abashed, Tiger Woods fan. It's like eating meat, sometimes I feel guilty about it and wish I could be a vegetarian. But then I eat a great ribeye and just feel happy).

10) Teachers are treated with the same respect and paycheck as doctors/lawyers/financial traders/computer techs. Wouldn't that be a great day? For teachers to actually be compensated for their worth? And I don't mean university/college professors (although they are teachers and deserve respect) I mean the K-12 teachers who are there in the trenches. If you haven't written a thank you letter to that one teacher who made a difference in your life--who said the encouraging thing or who took some extra time with you, even if it was in the 2nd grade, think about doing that today or tomorrow. I know I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Mrs. Hansen (2nd & 3rd grade teacher), Ms. Bennett (Sophomore English teacher) and Ms. Kindle (9th, 11th, and 12th grade English). They gave me, and so many others, so much. So I'm glad that I end with both an appreciation and a prediction, because here's to the teachers of the world, wherever you are, getting the recognition you richly and rightly deserve.

Happy New Year and here's hoping for these predictions to come true in 2008!

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