Quotations, Words, and More

For years, I have kept a document that I call “things to think about.” Whenever I come across something interesting that I want to be reminded of or that I haven’t finished internalizing yet, I add it to the list until it’s no longer something I’m actively thinking about or no longer something that immediately interests me. In this post, I share my current “things to think about” with you. 



In every historical example, missionaries pave the way for other colonizers and capitalists, and often, are themselves the colonizers and capitalists, with intention to dispossess and accumulate whatever they can, including but not limited to souls, land, labor: there are no missionaries with good intentions.

The industrial revolution has thus made universal the colonial principle that has proved to be ruinous beyond measure: the assumption that it is permissible to ruin one place or culture for the sake of another.

The dead do not like to be forgotten, especially those whose lives had come to a violent end.

But my point is, multiracialism is about “hope and change” in a way that blackness is not and can never be, because blackness is a constant reminder of the violent formation of the nation and of whiteness. Every desired national-multicultural future is one without Black people in it.

When the blood in your veins returns to the sea, and the earth in your bones returns to the ground, perhaps then you will remember that this land does not belong to you, it is you who belongs to this land. #NoBorders

Racism is a matter not simply of individual psychology or pathology, but of patterns of cultural representation deeply ingrained within practices, discourses, and subjectivities of Western societies.

If you’re an Americanist historian, you better also consider yourself a historian of race. There’s nothing in this country’s history that doesn’t lead back to racism. To paraphrase a now-famous metaphor, racism is the sugar in the American cake. Sure, the cake has other ingredients, but once the thing is mixed and baked, you’re never going to be able to take a bite that is sugar-free. Nods to racism (or any sort of oppression) don’t count. We need a profession-wide, systemic understanding of what racism is, where it comes from, and how it morphs and changes to stay alive. That’s the only way we’re going to learn to win the fight against it.

TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

But this is History. Distance yourselves. Our perspective on the past alters. Looking back, immediately in front of us is dead ground. We don’t see it, and because we don’t see it this means that there is no period so remote as the recent past. And one of the historian’s jobs is to anticipate what our perspective of that period will be.

He [Thomas Jefferson] owns his own children at various points, but he didn’t write a document that says “we think that maybe possibly all White Men with money are equal in a few kind of ways and maybe they can get a government.” That’s what the Constitution says. But the Declaration of Independence has a moral imagination beyond the imperial reality of the 1776.

In other words, aging, as we know it, scarcely existed [before the modern era].

The question “why do all of the Black kids sit together at lunch” is framed in ideologies of Whiteness, with built in assumptions about what is normal and right.

Dear Non-Disabled Politicians: One day you will also be disabled. Not a curse. Just fact. Disability, simple is, part of life.

If a wheelchair user can’t play Beyonce, Beyonce can’t play a wheelchair user.

History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to quiet deeds. History remembers the battle, but forgets the blood. Whatever history remembers me, if it remembers anything at all, it shall only remember a fraction of the truth. For what ever else I am, a husband, a lawyer, a President, I shall always think of myself as a man who struggled against the darkness.

Work has also been the American way of producing “racial capitalism,” as historians now call it, by means of slave labor, convict labor, sharecropping, then segregated labor markets—in other words, a free enterprise system built on the ruins of black bodies, an economic edifice animated, saturated, and determined by racism. There never was a free market in labor in these United States. Like every other market, it was always hedged by lawful, systematic discrimination against black folk. You might even say that this hedged market produced the still deployed stereotypes of African American laziness by excluding black workers from remunerative employment, confining them to the ghettos of the eight-hour day.

See these, too.

Words and concepts:

  • Nacirema
  • neoliberalism
  • age consciousness 
  • physicalize
  • destabilize
  • decenter
  • manufactured innocence
  • symbolic immorality 
  • queering
  • cripping
  • intersectionality
  • positionality
  • social construction
  • phraseology 
  • hummingbird effect
  • metaphors 
  • unstable knowledge 
  • emotional real-estate 
  • autonomous 
  • negotiation
  • distantiation
  • postmodern
  • homosocial
  • androgynous 
  • verisimilitude
  • essentialism 
  • new military urbanism
  • endless deferral of meaning
  • praxis vs theory 
  • magical thinking
  • online disinhibition effect
  • total institution
  • subvert the normative 
  • system justification theory 
  • identity protective cognition theory 
  • social dominance orientation theory 



  • While people can handwrite 22-31 wpm or type 19-33 wpm (up to 40 wpm, except for professional typists), the average lecturer speaks 140 wpm. The average person can read 250-300 wpm. 
  • There was no federal concept of citizenship until the 1860s. 
  • Children were not considered “people” until 1967 in a SCOTUS case known as In re Gault
  • Most of life follows the “un-schooling” method of learning. 
  • Read as a product of a specific time and place and read transhistorically, how much is missing from the Christian Ten Commandments. 
  • The importance of taking careful time to evaluate how academic information is framed for the general public and even what is presented to the general public. “Concerned about how it’s popularization…” 
  • What are implications–in terms of making History accessible and in terms of distorting History–of Holocaust films such as the excellent Bent being in English?
  • Every film, in some way or another, in the end, seems to uphold cisgendered heterosexuality (cishet). 
  • From the perspective of Queer Theory and Dr. Kathryn Bond Stockton, everyone in a relationship is “homosexual” if you take society’s obsessive focus on genitals away and focus on how much the couple is the same in other terms. 
  • The EEOC should recognize intersectional discrimination. For example, an employer can legally discriminate against Black women, as long as they don’t discriminate against women as a class or against Black people as a class. 
  • An individual’s sex changes with their every move and every choice in life. “Women” in the army will have more testosterone. “Men” who take care of children will have less testosterone.
  • Debates as to whether or not the brain is a computer are generally silly, misguided, and present-centric. 
  • At least 1 in 4-5 girls and 1 in 6-10 boys will experience some kind of sexual abuse before they reach age 18. Over a life time, at least 1 in 3-4 females and 1 in 10-30 males will be raped. Some studies suggest the number of males raped is actually closer to 1 in 3-4. 

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda

Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

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4 replies

  1. When combined with your comment about TJ “owning” his kids, your thought listed above, “Children were not considered “people” until 1967 in a SCOTUS case known as In re Gault” also reflects the fact that until then, children and wives were considered the “property” of the husband/father. A friend of mine (call him Mike) who was born in the 1950s, whose mother had been a divorced woman before she married Mike’s father (Harry), told me that because Mike’s mother had a child (Frank) of whom she had to give custody to her ex-husband (Ken) when she divorced. Mike only discovered this half-brother, Ken, 12 years after his mother’s death. Mike’s own father had not known about Frank, but Mike’s older half-sister did, and she kept that information to herself until her long lost brother, Frank, approached her. It was only after 1967 that women began to be recognized as having equal rights to custody as men. Then in some states it appeared to be overcompensation to women.

    Have you ever listened to the radio show “Philosophy Talk” (https://www.philosophytalk.org/) offered by two professors at Stanford U? They would greatly appreciate a copy of this list, since they are constantly coming up with great topics for discussion on their broadcasts. You can find them on iTunes, but many radio stations offer it. KALW in SF (http://kalw.org/schedule/week/kalw#stream/0) streams it on Sundays, repeating it on Tuesdays, but there are other stations that play it, especially on the West coast. There is an increase in interest in philosophy these days, especially with the exclusively philosophy TV show, “What Would You Do?” on Friday nights. I once heard a philosopher asking the best questions of kindergarteners, so little kids really like to talk philosophy, no matter how elementary they sound. Most kids start to grasp the nuances around some basic ethical questions, like when is it fair to take more cookies than the others? It would be a great exercise for your students to come up with reworded questions that grapple race/gender/privilege that would appeal to the very young.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for that example, Dr. Hyde. I haven’t read much on the subject, but I do know that men were long preferred in child custody cases (and were long the ones charged with raising the children!). Women were seen as being “too emotional,” “too childlike,” etc. The movie Kramer vs. Kramer kind of illustrates this historical pattern.

      I haven’t heard of that radio program but will check into it. And I’m really intrigued by your great idea of having students frame course issues for young children.

      I’ve seen many clips on YouTube from “What Would You Do?” – I’ve thought about ethical issues of the show itself. Given the situations they create, it’s very possible they could “trigger” someone who had a real-life experience with whatever the issue is, for example.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oops, Dr. Pegoda, I referred to the half brother as Ken at one point above, when he is correctly Frank.

    Also, Philosophy Talk recently did a repeat of “Queerness” recently and “Racial Profiling and Implicit Bias” last Sunday. (So the latter episode is probably still being aired on some stations that broadcast it before Sunday at 10 am Pacific time, e.g. WMNC Michigan, KTNF Minnesota, which, I think, does it on 2 different days, KTSW, Texas is inconsistent, KOPB Oregon, YPR Montana, KCMJ Colorado?, KZSU, California. Some broadcast more than 1 week late).

    You know, I thought about the ethics of “What Would You Do?” scenes, too. Last night they had a young child actor with his “mother” in a restaurant where she threatened to put hot sauce on his tongue when he did not behave in a way she wanted. I thought to myself that they must not have put real hot sauce in the bottle on her table and that the kid must have needed to practice with actors in a restaurant setting, with other actors playing the people who intervened, because it is difficult to get convincing responses from kids without practice. I know the actors wear these ear pieces to get coached answers to what other people do, as well. But obviously, you would not want actors who have been abused before taking part in something where someone they “know” is abusing them in the open. The female actor who was crying in one of the “experiments” might have been really empathic with the woman so badly treated because of previous experience of bad treatment.

    I also wished they had a show which featured the more subtle signs of child abuse. They could hire a psychologist who can spot abused kids by what their parents do in public with them. Most parents really try to hide the fact that they do not treat all of their kids the same while in public, and there are tell-tale, and very subtle, signs in both kids and adults who were abused. Parents who abuse often seem to be “over-protective” of their kids, scared to death that they might be discovered. However, mothers are under a huge amount of pressure this way, with some being “over-reactive” in public, not necessarily because they are abusive, but because they are judged too easily, and even wrongly.

    The psychologist could go around with the staff to different places pointing out the signs. Those kids/adults and parents can be filmed, but only very secretly and not for broadcast, for use as a method to teach the actors on how to act like the abused kid. (Do they have to give permission to be filmed?). There are some films that can be used for teaching that Karlen Lyons-Ruth took of babies and young children in studies of “Stranger Danger” situations. Her research showed attachment problems which often result from abuse (some specific signs mentioned at http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/indiscriminate-affection-children-real-stranger-danger-0526174). And then test the general public’s ability to spot the signs in actors.

    One problem with that article as mentioned above: not all abused kids will seem to “lack boundaries” toward total strangers. It is also likely that the kid who asked her teacher if she could live with her is trying to actively do something about an intolerable situation at home where everyone acts like they hate her. And it doesn’t mean that these kids will continue to lack the social boundaries after the age of 5, because they will discover that most people outside of the family will just ignore them or decline their attention entirely. They learn very young that most people will not help them at all, and that they have no way to escape the abuse other than to find a hiding place.

    We all need to learn the signs, and there are not necessarily clear marks on kids, like bruises. Bruises can be caused by any accident and are temporary. Verbal abuse is actually even more damaging than physical/sexual abuse. Most signs will be present again and again, but few people probably recognize that they have seen that kid before in a public place unless the signals are obvious. But that kind of pulls the spontaneity out of the show because there are so few people in the general population who might even notice. It could be used as a test in schools for teachers and staff, though.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Some Favorite Quotations – Without Ritual, Autonomous Negotiations

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