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Current Issue:
Volume 18, No. 10, Week of October 27, 2003
Important Mid-Term Announcement

jeanne's schedule - Susan's Class Page Archive NEW
Pat's schedule - About Us - Class Materials - Open Access
Previous Issue: Volume 18, No. 9, Week of October 20, 2003
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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan, Transcend Art and Peace
Latest Update: October 28, 2003

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A Statue of Liberty as a Black Woman and the Statue of Liberty on September 11 are Offended by Each Other's History

"I am offended by your received history," Person AND Other answer one another.

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors,
October 2003. "Fair use" encouraged.

Topic of the Week: The Other Answers

Two versions of the Statue of Liberty are answering one another. The one on the right, reflects my imaginary of the more colorful decor that might have graced a Black Liberty. The one on the left is the actual statue on September 11. Today I received an e-mail identified as coming from Jenni Johnson. She was angry. I had offended her. And I'm sorry, for I don't even know her.

"Why can't you people stop with your twisted half-truths regarding history? Bartholdi first created a statue of an Egyptian peasant woman for Egypt. Liberty came later and was modeled after his mother (look at her picture in the link).

All you can do is preach half-lies and inflame your youth - nothing gets accomplished that way. MLK Jr. would have admonished you and your ilk. Satan also twists half-truths - so did Hitler and Stalin.

And she provided the link: History of the Statue of Liberty The Americn Parks Network.

Ms. Jackson didn't reference the file she was reading on our site, and for some reason statlib01.htm is blank. It's an old file, but I remember it well. And there was a painting, too, of the Statue of Liberty as a Black Woman. Ms. Johnson says that the statue was modeled after Bartholdi's mother, but in fact the website she links tells us that "The sculptor's true inspiration for his masterpiece remains a mystery." One source suggests that the inspiration might have been "based on Bartholdi's early drawings for a never-commissioned statue in Egypt." Now Egypt is in North Africa. Maybe, just maybe, the Egyptian model is of African descent.

Be that as it may, the important thing is that the file to which Ms. Johnson refers was written in response to documents discovered in national librairies in France and the U.S. Since I can't find the file just now, I can't tell you precisely where the references came from: A professor at some university back east received information from a friend about the possibility that there had originally been a black woman in the original conception. The professor followed through searching for documents and presented them either on Progressive Sociologists' Network or on Critical Sociology. We provided links for our students to consider the possibility, and I made a painting of a colorful Statue of Liberty as I tried to imagine what she might have been like as a black woman. Bartholdi's original Egyptian drawings, as I recall, were based on his admiration of what the colonized women of Egypt (in Africa) had contributed to the social infrastructure that developed. That would have made sense for the U.S. also.

What matters is not what his actual inspiration was. The Statue of Liberty is an icon, a piece of art conceived to honor woman. Be she white or black, or any other color, the concept of honoring woman is what counts. So, we're sorry that you were offended Ms. Jackson, for you, too, are a woman, and part of that caring and gentleness of nurture that women represent. We understand that the thought of a black statue of liberty defies the knowledge of history that you have received. But that is the problem with received history; it is generally written from the perspective of those who rule. The professor who alerted us to these unknowns in our past stimulated many of us to consider how strange it was to think of a black statue of liberty. Most of us had never heard of even the remote probability.

I was grateful for the link to the National Parks Site because it offered me the perfect view of September 11. The statue of liberty on the right is once again my imagination of what the statue might have been. But now, after September 11, I see the whole painting differently. Instead of just the wonder of imagining our icon as a black woman, the black imaginary in my painting is answering the traditional history of the U.S., in which we insist that we are a democracy of justice and enlightenment, and that we are not like all the other colonials. The black statue answers, insistently, that our history is received history that has blatantly ignored much of what we have done in the name of this great democracy. I cannot imagine a more dramatic illustration of answerability than this great statue reminding the Other great statue, in the midst of her hour of woe, that liberty is without borders, without domination, without exploitation, and that these are the issues to which we have come.

You would ask me not to share these paintings, these thoughts, with our youth. But only when we do share them will we defeat the Hitlers and the Stalins and the Saddam Husseins of this world. I hear the pain the challenge of this answer causes you. And that pain is real, for we have long believed that the U.S. could do no wrong. Now is the time for all of us to acknowedge that we have wronged others, that the U.S. has wronged others in our name. That does not justify those others attacking our homeland. Nor does it justify our attacking theirs, especially in the name of oil. But neither are we justified in refusing to hear the pain that such revelation causes you.

We are sorry to have hurt you. We mean you no harm. But we ask that you share with us the pain that we have felt for so long that we in the U.S. could not imagine the Statue of Liberty as a black woman. Share it by letting us know that you were not aware of our pain. And we will tell you of the hurt we have felt, and listen in good faith to the hurt that you have felt, for we do not mean to hurt one another.

I tried to paint from within my own gift of answerability a visual scene that would let you see both pains, the Statue of Liberty with the WTO burning behind her; the imaginary statue of a woman who could never aspire to those heights in a country that would not acknowledge her as a woman. We are both hurting. It is hard to go back into history and understand what really happened. So few documents are preserved, and then by chance, as often as by intent. Liberty and democracy and freedom are about our respecting each other, and doing our best to see the pain of the Other, the world as it appears to someone not like me. But the future can be written by both of us, by all of us, for here are only two of many. The future can be written in peace and justice when we take the time to respect one another.

Thank you for sharing with me the pain we caused you in our old file on the Statue of Liberty. I hope that you will understand the importance of our imagining history as it might have been, had not colonization and domination been the agenda of empires. The Statue of Liberty can only grow in beauty and meaning as we welcome once again all peoples, all colors, all classes to share in a new agenda of peace, justice and healing.

Thank you for writing. Please write again if you wish to.

Jeanne Curran
Professor of Sociology

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Coloring Book on Answerability and the Statue of Liberty For the Fall 2003 Exhibition.
A Book on the Practice of Answerability First draft of a report for the Fall 2003 Exhibition.

For more information on the Statue of Liberty and Progressive Sociologists' discussion of received history on this issue:

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Fall 2003:The Naked Space

A Visual and Aural Exhibition of the
Sociology of Answerability

Wednesday, December 3 and Thursday, December 4, 2003
Loker Student Union, CSUDH
10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Both Days

sponsored by Dear Habermas Website as evolved from Moot Court

  • Coloring Book on Answerability and the Statue of Liberty For the Fall 2003 Exhibition.

    We welcome you to consider other coloring sheets that might bring our visitors to awareness of the crucial issues today in our lived experience. We don't yet have any sheets on the labor issue. I think that's important. And I'd like to hear your other ideas. I'll help with creating the coloring sheet if you need that. jeanne

  • Establishing an Awareness of an Empty Memory Space to Reconfigure the Fractal Patterns That Yield Answerability A Visual and Aural Research Experience About Giving Students Voice.

    We welcome you to submit questions for interview schedules, to help with the survey and analysis, and to share with us the interpretation of our students' need for answerability, both now and as alumni. We will address the importance of student voice in the future of the university. This experience will encompass a substantial portion of the work in Statistics 220 in the Fall of 2003. And it will combine some of the theoretical foundations of Bakhtin (as interpreted through Greg Nielsen) and Steve Riskin.

  • A Book on the Practice of Answerability First draft of a report of this teaching process.

    We welcome you to help us find the fractal bits and the vacant memory space that may render the model useable for many others of all ages and educational levels.

  • Revising our College History to Introduce Answerability. A proposal by Francisco Reyes, with jeanne's response. Maybe you could share a few excerpts, so we could sample what such a history might be like. jeanne

  • Planning, Sharing and Curating the Fall 2003 Exhibition

    We invite you to help with the art, the dance, the music, the text, the theory, and the curating of this Fall's exhibit. Each of the proposed projects will go up here as fast as my little fingers can type them up. jeanne

    • Answerability and the School System Author and Director: Guadalupe Saldana, CSUDH. Lupe would like someone to help with the visual components of this project. She does have photos.

    • Community Short Story of Fall 2003. Welcome to join in. I'll join in later. Ran out of time. Change names, characters, plot, whatever you wish. I just put this up to give you an idea about how some of you might like to tell the tale of some of your lived experiences. jeanne

    • I, the Black Woman Author and Director: Shannon Giddings, CSUDH. Commentary on answerability to the disrespect of naked lady mudflaps.

    • Naked Space, A Poem Author, Michael Griffin, CSUDH. Michael broaches our theoretical position on naked space and fractal lived experiences through poetry.

Formal Announcements:
Local Meeting on Future of Higher Education

Sponsored by the California Faculty Association - We discussed it last week, jeanne

From: David Bradfield
Subject: CFA Honors Lecturers

Working Together in Hard Times: Envisioning the future of higher education

Campus Equity Week Regional Event
Friday, October 31st
Noon to 3 pm -- (Lunch provided)
Loker Student Union

Join with faculty, students, legislators, and community leaders to protect higher education.


  • The Honorable Mervyn Dymally, Assembly member, 52 District
  • The Honorable Cindy Montanez, Assembly member, 39 District
  • The Honorable Alan Lowenthal, Assembly member, 54 District
  • The Honorable Jenny Oropeza, Assembly member, 55 District
  • Kent Wong, Director, UCLA Center for Labor Research & Education
  • Marcus Harvey, American Association of University Professors
  • Dr. Susan Meisenhelder, Cal State San Bernardino

Join us.

David Bradfield
CSUDH CFA Chapter President

Higher Education is a Public Interest, Not a Special Interest

* * * * *

On Tuesday, October 28, 2003, Brent Taylor Stenhouse of the APSS (Political Science) Club wrote to invite us to an

Abortion Debate sponsored by the club on Monday, Nov. 24th from 11:30am-1:00pm.

"Dr. Waller (Philosophy Dept., CSUDH) will be going head-to-head with Mr. Steve Wagner ( It should be as informative as it is entertaining!"

The abortion issue brings us into both the ethical and moral sphere as well as that of answerability. As the event comes a little closer, I'll try to post some reading material. jeanne

A Range of Sources on Global Events

Left/Right Perspectives - Cursor - New York Times
Arts and Letters Daily - The Economist - The Guardian
Wall Street Journal -The Weekly Standard - The Nation
Los Angeles Times - Chicago Tribune - The Washington Post
Cursor's Al Jazeera Archive - Ha'aretz - Palestine Monitor

Indymedia - Mother Jones - BBC News - New Profile
Progressive Sociologists Network

Using Academic Language Effectively:

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

Dictionary of Critical Sociology
Maintained by Robert E. Mazur, Associate Professor, Iowa State University, Sociology.

Words of Art: Front Page
Wonderful Fine Arts dictionary at Okanagan University College in Canada.
Will cover many of the terms social theory shares with literary theory.

Today's Word: From the Word.A.Day Site

Social Theory across Disciplines:

Peace and Social Justice

    Wednesday, October 29, 2003. Terror: Terror Two articles on Iraq. Backup not up yet. Pictures not available, but look at no. 8 on the multimedia picture story. They used it for the main picture. But I can't find on site the one that was on the front page this morning. jeanne Project?

  • Monday, October 27, 2003. Criminology: Paul's Justice Page A Page on criminology and social justice that seems to share a lot of our concerns. Put it up for those of you taking criminology comps and for those of you who are considering careers in criminology and social justice. See also Stop and Web-Enhanced Learning. Explore and check with me about midterm possibilities if this material covers your interests. jeanne

  • Monday, October 27, 2003. Just When We Think We "Know": Ouch! The Smithsonian Magazine. Article by Michael Parfit on new indications that fish, when caught in fly fishng, feel pain. Backup The more we learn, the more we come to understand how little we really do know, and the angrier we get when someone confronts us with our misunderstandings. We resist the complexity of the real world in which all of us, creatures and humans alike, seem to suffer when the Other concistently ignores the answers we can manage in favor of his/her own privilege of perspective.

Advanced Theory:

Announcing Mid Terms
Wednesday, October 22, 2003:

Dear Friends and Students (including unintended field mice):

The mid-term is not designed to cut your tails off with a carving knife. Honest. I've been getting messages like Henry's: "Have you decided what day the mid term assignment will be due? I'm still having transportation problems and can't attend class this week. Henry." Some of you are trying to decide on a topic, and worrying about starting. No, no, no.

Share your choice of topics with us, either in class or by e-mail. Then share your ideas with the class. These mid-terms are meant to be community projects that turn into your mid-term only after we have all shared them. That's called the aesthetic process of answerability. As soon as you have an idea, bring it to share or e-mail me. Or share it with your friends. I'll try to keep up, and I'll help you with conceptual linking.

Especially if you're an undergraduate in the graduate seminar, be sure to seek this extra help. jeanne

* * * * *

Mid Terms are jeanne's way of consolidating each class and of locating the 50 or so field mice I now have running around not attending class and not in touch with me. If you are a field mouse, you might need the grade the mid term can generate. If you are not a field mouse, you may choose whether to accept a grade for the mid term. But these are class projects necessitated by the fact that so few of you do have books. I had to find a different process that would guarantee some substantive learning. So, yes, you have to do the mid term. No, you don't have to have a grade on it, unless you have no other grades. jeanne

  • Monday, October 27, 2003. Web-Enhanced Learning: Web-Enhanced Learning One of you asked about how you might focus your midterm on education. That was such an tall and non-specific order, I put it aside for a while. As I came across an e-mail message today that led me back to Paul's Web-Enhanced Learning site, I thought again of your request. It seems to me that a good midterm page could be put together from comparing Paul's information with our Dear Habermas program. I believe that the various ways we find to together the experience of fractal patterns, as Steve Risken calls them, into an empty memory space, will have more to do with education and its quality half a century from now than almost anything else we do. jeanne

  • Saturday, October 11, 2003. MidTerm Alternative Issues: Changing Cultures, Changing Lives Based on a commentary by Hao Tran from the Graduate Theory class. Dea;s with issues of diversity. Lecture and some discussion questions already up. If you want to choose this topic for Statistics, you'll need to talk to me and Hao Tran about how to get data. jeanne

  • Saturday, October 11, 2003. MidTerm Alternative Issues: Breaking Normative Expectations Feels Uncomfortable Based on student drawing. This topic also might serve well for a midterm topic, but I will have to get up essay questions later. jeanne

  • Saturday, October 11, 2003. MidTerm Alternative Issues: Answerability and the Nobel Prize Based onthe October 8, 2003, announcement of the Nobel prize for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Especially for the class on sociology of knowingness this is an excellent example of the extent to which we cannot "know," and the harm we do in the arrogance of believing that we do know. There is considerable and extensive information up here, and you may wish to use this as an alternative midterm topic. jeanne
  • An additional note to the MRI issue: Measuring Social Pain with MRI What we think is not related to sociology today is related to sociology tomorrow. Let us be cautious about "what we know." Discussion questions included.
  • Monday, October 6, 2003. Mid Term Material: Race and Answerability Based on Dwayne Sanders' commentary on the Rush Limbaugh affair on ESPN, this piece is detailed and covers quite a bit of our theory discussions. It will serve as a basis for a mid-term in a few weeks for the graduate theory class. jeanne

  • Tuesday, October 7, 2003. Mid Term Material: Answerability and Differences Based on Dwayne Sanders commentary on prison term length and rehabilitation. This piece will serve as a basis for a mid-term in a few weeks for the Sociology of Knowingness class. jeanne

  • Tuesday, October 7, 2003. Mid Term Material: Mid Term for Statistics Class will be a Report of the Survey on the California Recall, complete with an oral defense of that report before a community professional.

  • Tuesday, October 7, 2003. Mid Term Material: Mid Term for Agencies class will be a class project demonstrating the class' collective ability to display leadership in helping ordinary folks find the help they need. The class will determine over the next week what form the aesthetic product will take. The product must take into account administrative law and leadership in a traditional environment.

* * * * *

Commentaries on Issues

Index of Commentaries
No updating until we have the Fall 2003 Exhibition set up. Sorry, jeanne

UWP Commentaries in Chronological Sequence:

CSUDH Commentaries by Topic

Lived Experience:

Emancipatory Narratives

  • Sunday, October 26, 2003. Labor Issues:

    The Worker's Position: Our kids need food.
    Don't cut our benefits. Suport our unions!

    Commentary by Yvonne Nettles (through the courtesy of Katie Williams.)

  • Sunday, October 26, 2003. I Can Do This, Too! Fractal Bits of Experience Coming Together in an Empty Memory Space Commentary by Linda Ramey.

  • Thursday, October 16, 2003. I Can Do This: Fixed link. jeanne
    I CAN Do This! Nancy Lopez tells of living through this experience of grades without tests. So putting this up this morning is my birthday present to all of you, especially field mice who need guidance so I won't cut off their tales with a carving knife. Maybe it will inspire you. jeanne
  • Saturday, October 11, 2003. MidTerm Alternative Issues: Changing Cultures, Changing Lives An amazingly inspiring commentary by Hao Tran, CSUDH, on answerability across cultural change. This issue seems to provide enough opportunity for discussion that I have included it as a midterm alternative. jeanne

Kids, Etc.: Stuff to Share with Others

  • Update for Young People I'll catch up with these when our Fall class stuff is done. jeanne
  • Update on Health
  • Update for Seniors

  • Monday, October 27, 2003. My Dad and Answerability:

    He let's me answer; that's how I learned.
    Kristine Henderson, CSUDH

    Now, Kristine, you need to compose a paragraph for the catalog explaining how your Dad has made answerability a reality for you. jeanne

* * * * *

Art Shenanigans

  • Tuesday, October 21, 2003. Monique envisioning statistics. Now, Monique, could you give us an interpretation to go with your graphic. I could think of some, but it's 10:45 p.m. jeanne

  • Sunday, October 26, 2003. Answering the Naked Lady Flaps:

    Katie Willimas Answers the Naked Lady Mud Flaps

  • Thursday, October 24, 2003: I can Do This: AnswerabilityU Fixed the link Sunday. jeanne

Academic Discourse