An Inclusive Litany


New York officials set up special bins to collect the newspapers of commuters coming through the Penn Central railroad station. Police arrested a Lynbrook, Long Island, woman after she retrieved a newspaper out of a recycling bin for a quick look during rush hour.

Paulette Caldwell, a New York University law professor, won tenure for an article that started as follows: "I want to know my hair again, to own it, to delight in it again, to recall my earliest mirrored reflection when there was no beginning and I first knew that the person who laughed at me and cried with me and stuck out her tongue at me was me."

Margaret E. Montoya, law professor at the University of New Mexico, also dwelled on the subject of hair in her essay "Mascaras, Trenzas, y Grenzas [Masks, braids, and messy hair]: Un/masking the Self While Un/braiding Latina Stories and Legal Discourse": "One of the earliest memories from my school years is of my mother braiding my hair, making my trenzas."

The Justice Department ordered the Washington, D.C., subway system to place raised bumps on the edges of its subway platforms to alert blind people, a change that was estimated to cost $30 million. However, the National Federation of Blind People opposed the mandate because it believed that blind people would be likely to trip over the bumps and fall in front of trains.

The D.C. Metro already features a number of conveniences for its disabled passengers, including platforms that are slightly sloped away from the track bed in case someone's wheelchair should happen to become unlocked.

After a drunken ship captain wrecked an oil tanker and caused one of the worst oil spills in modern history, costing Exxon $5 billion in punitive damages, Exxon responded with tough new drug and alcohol standards for employees in safety-sensitive jobs. The company is now facing 107 lawsuits by employees claiming discrimination against alcoholics and drug users.

A Labor Department judge declared: "Public perception of the Valdez incident as having been caused by a recovering alcoholic does not justify discrimination against all recovering alcoholics."

The Maine supreme court ruled that Mrs. Jeannine Pelletier, a golfer who hit herself in the face with her own golf ball, can collect the $40,000 awarded her in damages by a jury.

A Reuters report from Stockholm, Sweden, September 19, 1995:
Cheap red wine will be used to power environmentally friendly buses in Sweden because of an ethanol shortage, a spokesman for the Stockholm City Council said today.

The council has been granted permission by the European Union to import 5,000 tons of surplus red wine from Spain, said the spokesman, Kenneth Forslund.

"There has been a representative from the commission here checking that we are only using it for the buses," he said. Wine has to go through an industrial process to be turned into fuel.

The price of ethanol, made from wood, has jumped about 30 percent in one year, Mr. Forslund said.

Many of Sweden's buses are powered by ethanol.

Lehigh Valley Legal Services, a Pennsylvania agency funded by the federal Legal Services Corporation, filed a lawsuit on behalf of an indigent 16-year-old boy to help him seek custody of the child he had fathered by rape. Legal Services helped the boy challenge the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania law that denies rapists the chance of custody.


Among the products forced to gain approval by the Food and Drug Administration as "medical devices" are New Freedom Ultra Thin pads, McDonald's sunglasses, a baby highchair insert, a dental bib, a dental tray, a foot comfort massager, a low-pressure mattress, a wheelchair cushion, mint-flavored dental floss, spectacle frames, an Amish country spa, and Super Poli-Grip denture adhesive cream.

[Ed.: FDA Commissioner David Kessler later proposed to reclassify cigarettes as "drug-delivery devices," and thus under the FDA's jurisdiction.]

Selections from Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing, by Marilyn Schwartz and the Task Force on Bias-Free Language of the Association of American University Presses. The following guidelines may shed some light on how to refer to women using the English language:

  • "Scholars normally refer to individuals solely by their full or their last names, omitting courtesy titles." [Section 1.41, lines 4-5]

  • "Because African-American women have had to struggle for the use of traditional courtesy titles, some prefer Mrs. and Miss." [Section 1.41, lines 23-25]

  • "Most guidelines for nonsexist usage urge writers to avoid gratuitous references to the marital status of women." [Section 1.41, lines 1-2]

  • "Ms. may seem anachronistic or ironic if used for a woman who lived prior to the second U.S. feminist movement of the 1960s." [Lines 7-9]

  • "Careful writers normally avoid referring to a woman by her first name alone because of the trivializing or condescending effect." [Section 1.42, lines 1-3]

A fair housing organization in Pennsylvania sued a realty company for using the term "rare find" for a house it offered. The house was in a black neighborhood, and the fair housing activists claimed that "rare find" was a racially discriminatory phrase indicating that it was rare to find nice homes in black areas.

Long Island Housing Services sued a newspaper for permitting the use of the term "professional" in classified ads. A spokesman for the group claimed that the word "professional" was a racist code word.

The Chicago Tribune reported that realty professionals in various parts of the country had been told the term 'walk-in closet' is unacceptable because it discriminates against wheelchair-bound persons, and that 'master bedroom' likewise suggests slavery.

The New York Times noted in November 1993: "Anyone shopping for a house these days is likely to find brokers reluctant to answer the question of which community has the best schools, particularly in metropolitan suburbs. While this is a major concern of the buyer, brokers know that an inappropriate answer could be considered a violation of the Fair Housing Law." The Westchester County, New York, Board of Realtors discourages its members from giving out average Scholastic Aptitude Test scores of local schools even though the figures are published in the newspaper. Board attorney Edward Sumber observed, "There is some feeling that high SAT levels imply a non-racially mixed area."

In Iowa, a woman accused of shoplifting a $25 sweater had her $18,000 car—specially equipped for her handicapped daughter—seized as the "getaway vehicle."

A Massachusetts man won a court victory in summer 1994 on his right to subsidized Section 8 housing even though he was judged to be a pyromaniac.

The parents of Eleanor Glewwe, who is Chinese-American, and Hana Maruyama, who is Japanese-American, wanted to take advantage of a public school "choice" program by transferring the girls from Takoma Park Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland, to Maryvale Elementary School in Rockville, Maryland, which features a curriculum in which only French is spoken. But the Montgomery County Board of Education rejected their applications because if the girls transferred it would mean too few Asians in their old school, thus increasing the "ethnic isolation" of the remaining Asian students.

Eleanor's mother Mary Yee then tried a different strategy: because her husband is white, she changed her daughter's racial classification from Asian to white and applied again. But school officials again denied the request, this time citing a policy that discourages transfers out of schools undergoing significant enrollment changes.


The Federal Highway Administration proposed a special waiver program to accommodate the disabled in which truck drivers could be blind in one eye and have weak vision in the other eye.

Hundreds of businesses were held liable for the cleanup costs of the Lorentz Barrel and Drum Superfund site in San Jose, California—even though the California Department of the Environment required the companies to send their empty oil drums to a recycler, and the Lorentz site was the only one in the state.

Movie critic John Powers reviews Apollo 13 in the Washington Post, July 9, 1995, and in so doing manages to come completely unglued:
[T]his particular true story seems tailor-made for today's conservative mood—its Angry White Men and its nostalgia for a homogeneous America that never was. Ours may be the first country ever to pine for its lost glory while still being the most powerful nation on Earth, and in its rose-colored images of bygone days, Apollo 13 makes such nostalgia seem like a rational political position.

In fact, its story line could be a Republican parable about 1995 America: A marvelous vessel loses its power and speeds towards extinction, until it's saved by a team of heroic white men. I can imagine the political commercials in which Hanks morphs into Phil Gramm.

Although the movie's publicity trumpets its historical accuracy, the movie itself celebrates the paradisiacal America invoked by Ronald Reagan and Pat Buchanan—an America where men were men, women were subservient, and people of color kept out of the damned way. And what of satanic '60s counterculture? In one of the most telling subplots, Apollo 13 vanquishes the Jefferson Airplane. Astronaut Jim Lovell's daughter goes from being a rebellious teen with "White Rabbit" on her stereo to a docile young woman restored to the bosom of her family by her father's ordeal. Whatever the dormouse said, she's forgotten it.

A thematic comparison, conducted by columnist Arianna Huffington, of two political profiles by Gail Sheehy that appeared in the November 1987 and September 1995 issues of Vanity Fair:
Newt Gingrich:
He props his hands, as acquisitive and chubby as a baby's, on top of his head.
Michael Dukakis:
He begins moving slowly, sinuously.

Newt Gingrich:
"He completely ignores her," observes a Washington journalist.... "It's my impression the marriage is a dead letter. He is so self-absorbed, she could open the door wrapped in plastic wrap and he wouldn't notice."
Michael Dukakis:
Dukakis is being projected also as an ideal husband.... "The marriage is an inspiration."

Newt Gingrich:
During 1979 and 1980 Newt ... entered a period of crisis. He almost ... "wiped out."... "There were people concerned about his stability."
Michael Dukakis:
All the wunderkinder had a midlife crisis. A screeching inner halt that made him take stock.... For a wunderkind like Dukakis, often the best thing that can happen is a major midlife crisis.

Newt Gingrich:
His blind spot may be his own perceived invulnerability, his faith in his ability to always manipulate opinion.
Michael Dukakis:
The real blind spot for Dukakis lay in operating as a politician too principled to practice politics.

Newt Gingrich:
If you ever fight with Newt on one of those things, he will either go ballistic or he will break down. It's dangerous.
Michael Dukakis:
According to those closest to Dukakis, he is not without emotional range. He can blow up at the kids and Kitty. He gets choked up over tragedies that befall friends.

Newt Gingrich:
But in his mania for immediate headlines, Newt has drawn blood, and his enemies will swear vengeance.
Michael Dukakis:
The opposition laughed him off, as usual underestimating. He won.

Newt Gingrich:
Another expert, a psychiatrist at New York Hospital, elaborates on hypomania.... "And in Gingrich, his upbringing and the hypomaniac flair of the personality might create a double reason for his being grandiose because he's trying to overcome the feeling of tremendous inferiority."
Michael Dukakis:
"I think," says psychoanalyst Dr. Don Lipsett, "he began to examine himself in exquisite detail, in a very cognitive, intellectual way."

Newt Gingrich:
Confusion over his identity was a recurrent theme in Newt's boyhood.
Michael Dukakis:
He was the kind of kid other people's mothers loved to hold up as an example.... Did young Michael even have a failure? I ask his mother.... Finally she remembers one occasion. His sixth-grade teacher kept scolding him for writing small.

Newt Gingrich:
He drives himself monomaniacally, obsessed only with his goal. No amount of personal deprivation—100-hour workweeks, no vacations, no time with his wife—diminishes his narcissistic vision of the global glory that will ultimately be his prize.
Michael Dukakis:
The question is, can Michael Dukakis transmit his personal discipline and sacrifice and unswerving confidence to a nation sliding into the twilight of its youthful supremacy?

Newt Gingrich:
From the beginning there has been an overheated quality to Gingrich's ambition ... a sort of Wagnerian overreaching.... Atrocities are forgiven. Especially if the action is rapid fire.... Speed is unfailingly of the essence. The 100-day Contract With America is the best proof. The Speaker has the tendency to set up accelerated timetables and artificial deadlines, based on the necessity to keep his "frenetic psyche" within some boundaries.
Michael Dukakis:
The wunderkind, who had always been in such a hurry to be ahead of everyone else.... He moved like a bullet train through the next fifteen years.

Newt Gingrich:
He should be stopped before it's too late.
Michael Dukakis:
Dukakis is the living, breathing restoration of the American Dream.

Third World Interim Inc. is a black-owned firm that trains minority workers and helps them get jobs. The New York company was hit by a lawsuit by former employee William Hoff, who charged that he was fired because he was white. The dismissal, he therefore maintained, was "in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibiting racially motivated discharges."

But as it turns out, Hoff wasn't any old white male; he was in fact grand dragon of the New York Ku Klux Klan. He was spotted at a Klan rally in upstate New York and a witness had called his employer.

A brief filed on behalf of Third World Interim by the American Jewish Congress, or AJC, argued that, contrary to Hoff's assertion, he was not fired because he was white but because of his political beliefs. "And it's not illegal to fire someone for his political beliefs," explains AJC lawyer Marc Stern. "It may not always be nice, but it's not illegal."

A federal court agreed with that argument, but one question remains unanswered: Why would a KKK grand dragon want a job that helped to promote minorities?

"I guess it paid well," Stern speculated.


Federal District Court Judge Robert P. Patterson issued an injunction against a twenty-five cent fare increase by the New York City transit authority, deciding that it would have a disparate impact on black and Hispanic riders.


The narcotics unit in Marin County, California, used $227,000 that it had received from the federal government as its share of confiscated property to settle a lawsuit from a policewoman on the local antidrug unit who claimed that two policemen in the unit sexually harassed her. After the controversy of the use of seized money was made public, U.S. Attorney Michael Yamaguchi in San Francisco defended the asset forfeiture program: "It's a very successful program. It has lots and lots of money."

The New York Landmarks Commission banned residents of Manhattan's Soho neighborhood from planting any trees because the commission wanted to preserve the grimy industrial feel of the area that existed in the late 1800s.

A profile of the Rev. George Webber of the New York Theological Seminary that appeared in the New Yorker, July 10, 1995:
Webber graduated from Harvard in 1942 with a degree in history; he has been at the seminary since 1969 and established the prison program. He finds in the Bible "a radical, countercultural Jesus who teaches us to expose the injustices of society and deal with society's victims." By Webber's lights, those victims include violent criminals. "The guys take responsibility for what they did," he explains. "But they can say, 'Look, I messed up, I've done awful things, I've committed murder, I deserve punishment, yet at the same time I was victimized by a vicious, corrupt, awful society that never gave me a chance.' Rarely do I have anybody who wasn't treated like s*** since he was a baby." Of the Sing Sing residents he declares, "They're human beings, not criminals," although whatever else they may be, they certainly are criminals. "Take Don Mason," he says of one of his graduates. "In a fit of rage, he kills his wife. He's not a murderer, damn it all! He committed a murder."

Ellen Wurzo, a 34-year-old secretary, has announced she intends to file suit against President Clinton because he declined to have sex with her. She had announced her intentions to bed the President to all her friends and coworkers, but when she propositioned Clinton at a fundraising party, he replied, "that's out of the question," and walked away. Wurzo claims that this unexpected rejection cost her $16,000 in psychiatric bills, sent her into utter depression, gave her a nervous tic, and made her contemplate suicide. She wants some money to compensate. "I was so crushed at the rejection," she says, "that you wouldn't believe it."

The Oxford University Press has published a new "inclusive" translation of the New Testament and Psalms, intended, the introduction says, to "provide direction and sustenance to those who long for justice."

In the new text, the word "begat" is not used, since it favors fathers over mothers. Metaphors about darkness as evil and light as good are also removed as racist. References to the blind, deaf, and lame change to constructions such as "those who are blind." "Slaves" likewise changes to "enslaved people." References to the "right hand of God" now become His "mighty hand." Parents "guide" rather than "discipline" their children, who "heed" rather than "obey" their parents. References to God as "Lord" and "King" are changed to "Ruler" and "Sovereign." Likewise the "Kingdom of God" is now the "Dominion of God." Curiously, God the "Father" becomes the "Father-Mother," which any single parent would certainly appreciate (Satan, too, becomes gender-free). Jesus the "Master" now becomes simply "Teacher," and the former "Son of Man" is now "the Human One."

Excerpts from the course description for "Mathematics, Gender, and Culture," an undergraduate course offering from the Mathematics Department of SUNY Plattsburgh:
After taking this course the student will be able to:

  1. Describe the political nature of mathematics and mathematics education.
  2. Describe gender and race differences in mathematics and their sociological consequences.
  3. Examine the factors influencing gender and race differences in mathematics.
  4. Critically evaluate eurocentrism and androcentrism in mathematics.
  5. Describe the role culture plays in the development and learning of mathematics.
  6. Give examples of the historical role of women and people of color in mathematics.
  7. Critically evaluate research on the relationship of gender and culture to mathematics and mathematics education.

Course Requirements: ...

3. Journals: (5 points each) Students are required to keep a journal. The purpose of this journal is to record your thoughts and feelings about the course and the material you are learning and to maintain communication between the instructor and the class. The journal entry should focus on the reading and class discussions of the previous week, giving your personal reactions to the material. In addition, you can use your journal to make any comments to me you wish about the course or anything else....

5. Group Activities: (15 points each) Students will be placed in groups of 4-5 people four times throughout the semester. These groups will be given problems which require the development of a mathematical solution. Each group will then derive a solution and then write a summary describing their solution and the process they went through to derive the solution. Each student will also write a 1-2 page reaction paper to the group process describing how they contributed to the solution and how the group process worked.

6. Mathematical Autobiography: (20 points) Write a 2-3 page paper describing your experiences with mathematics throughout your life. Begin with your earliest memories of mathematics and continue up to the present. Think about your experiences both in and out of a formal classroom setting. Do not just describe what courses you have taken but also how you felt about and experienced mathematics.

7. Biography Paper: (30 points) Choose a mathematician (or cultural group of mathematicians) who are not white male. Research their lives. Write a 3-5 page paper describing the life of the person or persons you have chosen and their contribution to mathematics....

8. Ethnomathematics Project: (20 points) This project will require you to make or do some form of ethnomathematics for presentation in class. This must be an example of mathematics in a non-academic setting. For example you may wish to:

  • Make an Incan quipu.
  • Make a symmetric quilt square.
  • Make an African board game such as wari.

Your example of ethnomathematics will be presented in class. You will be required to hand in a one-page paper explaining the mathematics in your project....