Today I had the best time I have ever had in this region outside of my house. I ended up having lunch with a group of African American colleagues from the administrative staff. At first, I didn’t understand why I was having such a great time but then I realized that nobody had commented on my accent, my name or my place of origin, nobody mentioned “my country” or assumed I had a country different from this one. In fact, my immigrant status never came up at all. Nobody had a problem understanding me, nobody avoided eye contact, nobody discussed things I don’t understand. I wasn’t treated like an immigrant oddity but simply like a regular human being no different from anybody else.

I talked a lot more than I ever do when I’m with a group of complete strangers. The conversation was heavily political but it was never uncomfortable. I understood all of the jokes and all of the references people made. Nobody acted like they’d been approached by an orange alien with fangs when I addressed them. It was so strange to feel completely normal.

I never realized how much I missed the feeling of complete and unremarkable normalcy, of simply being part of a group. And God, what a relief not to have to repeat everything twice and not to have people make a show of not understanding anything I say. 

On Berkeley

I find it impossible to respect people who are writing endless screeds on the super important event of some freak’s talk being canceled at Berkeley while having zero interest in things like the evisceration of public education in Illinois. I’m not saying everybody should know or care specifically about what Rauner is doing to us. But I do believe that there are much more crucial things going on in higher education than that ridiculous brouhaha. Why is it always Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Berkeley on the news and never the community colleges and public universities that are really suffering right now?

So my position on Berkeley: I don’t give a flying fuck.

When temptation strikes to discuss Berkeley and Co, fight it by finding out how your local community college is doing. I promise you will be very enlightened and your perspective on what really matters in higher ed will change dramatically.

More on Bringing up Bebe

Another thing I find confusing in Druckerman’s book is where she sees all those crowds of rude, loud and out of control American kids. I can’t think of a single time I saw a child anywhere in this country pitch a fit, fling themselves on the sidewalk or beat their parents in public (all activities that Druckerman lists as normal American behavior patterns for kids.) If anything, I find children in this country to be exceptionally calm, polite and easy to be around.