Paul Haeder, Author

writing, interviews, editing, blogging

It’s a call for submissions, for the Oregon Humanities Magazine, and the theme is, adapt =

Features for “Adapt”

For the Summer 2019 issue of Oregon Humanities, we want to hear your stories, ideas, thoughts, and arguments on the word “adapt.” Share an experience about conforming in response to some sort of pressure. Tell us what it takes to alter and revamp a system that needs to change. Explore a historical or current event that shows the process and outcome of adaptation.

We especially appreciate good stories and fresh ideas, particularly if they relate to challenging questions, diverse perspectives, and just communities. Tell us something we’ve never heard before. Show us something from a different angle. Make us feel, see, hear, smell the world anew.

Well, I am in a slipstream of writing this creative non-fiction, possibly to no avail, because in many ways, the Oregon Humanities is parochial and not so cutting edge. The conservative pitch of writing with academic-based writers or MFA-trained folk is something I have always had a problem with.

But I am pounding away on this word processor to invent my own “story” of adaptation, my own personal journey through fiction, ecology, non-fiction, and life, man!

Below, my answer to a short editorial written by the Oregon Humanities’ director — here. “We the People.”

Well, ironically, I am answering the “we” question during Black History month, another “we” in the pot of America (named after an Italian map maker) that is not a melting pot but a mixed salad tied to destroying many great people’s land and existence, the “we” of First Nations, and then the new “we” that this nation of whites decided were “they,” but were in fact the “we” of enslaved people. 

Seems like a pretty exceptionalist attitude to ponder the rugged individualism that the myth of America is built upon on, on the backs of so many “we’s” — internment for Japanese Americans, the Old and New Jim Crow, the continual attack of undocumented people this “we” society calls “illegal aliens.” I wonder if those Mexicans and Central Americans see themselves as the “they” in the “we the people” America, or should they believe what “we the white America” call them, “we the aliens?” 

I don’t think so. 

Here, this is the “we” an African-American math teacher in Mississippi posted on her classroom door: “They stole scientists, doctors, architects, teachers, entrepreneurs, astronomers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, etc. and made them slaves.” 

Jovan Bradshaw is a sixth grade math teacher at Magnolia Middle School, but she decided to teach her students something other than addition and multiplication this Black History Month.

 “It all started with this little boy in my class. We were talking and he said, ‘Slaves didn’t do much because they couldn’t read or write.’ He kinda caught me off guard,’ Bradshaw said. “I said, ‘Baby, if I snatched you up and dropped you off in China or Germany or Africa even, you wouldn’t be able to read and write their language either. Does that make you useless or any less educated?’”  

Paul Haeder | February 2019 | Otis  

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