It’s been so long since I’ve updated this blog; how do these things even start, again? During my 16 year hiatus, I’ve taken up contortion, succumbed to the weight of my scholastic burdens, and joined a luge team in preparation for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (stylized as PyeongChang by the Olympics committee, but not anywhere else– why..?) Sadly only one of these things is true, though I have high hopes for new creative ventures over the next few months. I’m staying at William & Mary this summer to work at the library, continue some research on youth violence for a Government Department professor, and work a paid position proofreading and editing a biography on Robert Frost that one of my English professors is writing. That last endeavor is by far the most exciting, but also the most intimidating: how can I, an undergraduate who can barely manage putting on socks in the summer months, be expected to provide useful writing aid to a published poet and author with a Ph. D? It’s an awesome opportunity that I know will really benefit me, and it feels like a pretty grown-up thing to do. But I don’t know, it’s weird.
As for other things I have planned for the summer, I’m really thrilled to have more free time to blog again. They say that writers should write every day, and I’ve done that to some extent, but not nearly at the level that I’d consider to be optimal. I’m going to try to pump out posts with some regularity while getting back into creative writing privately. I suppose I’d share a creative piece if I felt very confident in it, but we’ll see. It’s been a while. Outside of writing, a friend also staying at W&M suggested that watercolor painting could be a fun hobby, which I would definitely be into. There’s a whole lot of TV that I haven’t had time to watch, too, like Empire, Silicon Valley, Scandal, Jane the Virgin, Fresh off the Boat, etc. So that’ll definitely be happening. And there are plenty of other things that I’m excited about that I don’t feel like writing about right now. It should be a great time! Now, to change the subject, I’d like to talk a little bit about something that stirred some controversy this semester at W&M.
Condoleezza Rice was announced as the 2015 Commencement speaker back in early March to an extremely mixed reception. There was talk of people on both sides of the argument writing letters to the administration urging them to cancel her appearance and defending her merits as Commencement speaker, respectively. I’ve been wanting to offer my perspective on the issue for a while now, since I think it varies a bit from a lot of what I’ve been hearing. I’ve mostly just come up with variants for her name following her resurgence in the W&M popular dialogue (Condensation Quinoa, Continental Barley, Conversation Basmati), but I do have other things to say, too. First of all, it’s important to acknowledge the gravity of Rice’s achievements: she was the first female Secretary of State, the first black female Secretary of State, and the second overall black Secretary of State after Colin Powell just before her. She IS “#blackexcellence,” as popularized by Twitter, whether you agree with her politics or not. I don’t, but I fully recognize her accomplishments.
Secondly, a lot of the criticism directed at Rice relies on rhetoric decrying her for being a “war criminal,” a statement on which I have mixed feelings. I won’t comment on whether or not I feel that Rice qualifies as a war criminal for her role in launching an illegal war or approving the torture of terrorist suspects, but I find it odd that many of the same people demonizing Rice for war crimes would very likely express excitement for an appearance by President Obama or Hillary Clinton at William & Mary despite their less than ideal track records. I would just prefer consistency in how we choose to critique our politicians over criticism based on party lines.
Lastly, and most importantly, I disagree with sentiments suggesting her censorship. I find that kind of behavior destructive and counterproductive. Surely Rice would have something interesting to say as a successful black woman in politics, regardless of her political affiliation. Censoring her entirely serves only to negate discussion and doesn’t yield the desired effect, in my opinion. A more effective way to demonstrate opposition to Rice’s politics while still allowing her to speak would be some form of symbolic protest that she wouldn’t be able to ignore; for example, students might paint their palms red to represent the blood of war crimes, and then raise them while she is delivering her speech. That’s powerful. That’s something that people will photograph and talk about. And that’s something that she will remember when she leaves the William & Mary campus. I would choose that kind of extremely visible protest over shutting an event down all together 100% of the time.
So, that’s all I have to say for now. Hope this has provided some insight into my summer plans and thought process when it comes to this particular issue. I heard there there’s free coffee at Wawa today, so I’m gonna go do that. Get outside and soak up that Vitamin D, kids.