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Elizabeth Alexander on Language and Racial Identity

Question: What kind of language has held us back in talking about raceAlexander:    If you think about, for example, the one drop loss that gave us Black and White people in the first place, right?  One drop… I mean, what kind of language is that, right?  One drop of Black blood makes a person a Black evermore, I mean, that’s rather rigid.  And that for some people, in either some circumstances or in some bodies, there is nothing at all that is fluid and malleable about racial identification.  So I think that it’s an incredibly interesting topics, these systems of classification, what they mean and what is particularly American about the way that it’s played out over several hundred years. 

Question: Are we still uncomfortable with the language of raceAlexander:    Yes, I don’t know if that’s really any different from… in the past.  I mean, if you think about all of the different things, let us say, that I more commonly say that Black people only because that was… that is the sort of what I was raised on, right?  I mean, what you start out calling the people who you know who you’re talking about.  You know, just because there’s a press conference in whatever it was, 1998 and Jessie Jackson says, “African-Americans now.”  You know, these things evolve and we cycled through a few things more than once, around the turn of the century, many Black people call themselves [Afro-Americans], one word, you see that on a lot of the intellectual material at the turn of the century so these things cycle.  There’s a poem I love by Gwendolyn Brooks where she says, “I am Black.  I am one of THE Blacks.  We occur everywhere.  Don’t call me out of my name…” the voice of the child and the premise of the poem is that teacher has said, “We are now African-Americans,” but what this child holds onto about being called Black is that he wants to be understood as part of a diaspora of Black people.  And so I think that that’s very interesting as well, you know, how the sense of sort of nation converges with a racial understanding of self.  So these… I don’t think these moment is any different from before and I guess that what I would follow which seems to me to be common courtesy as to call people what they wished to be called.

The poet considers race from a linguistic perspective

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

Videos
  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
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Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

Masturbation boosts your immune system, helping you fight off infection and illness

Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?

Image by Yurchanka Siarhei on Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
  • The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
  • Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
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How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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