Chauncey DeVega “Race, Sex and BDSM . . .”

TUE AUG 14, 2012

Race, Sex, and BDSM: On “Plantation Retreats” Where Black People Go to Serve Their White “Masters”

by   chaunceydevega       Follow

plantationretreat1

Those who have loved and dated across the color line have to negotiate the realities of race in our society, and by extension, its impact on their relationships. For many, this is done through explicit conversations. For others, these dialogues come implicitly, through gestures, and taken for granted shared assumptions.

But how many folks actually talk about how race impacts their own sexuality, attraction, physicality, or notions of the erotic?

We live in a society that is structured around many different hierarchies of power, authority, and difference. As Foucault brilliantly observed, Power is not sitting out there in the ether, an abstraction that we just talk about in philosophy classes. Power acts through and upon bodies. Certain people are racialized in American society for example. Their bodies are locations of power–and yes resistance. Likewise, certain types of bodies are marked as “normal,” while others are deemed “different” or “abnormal.”

The “popular” imagination holds many assumptions about particular types of bodies. The black male body is something to be policed, controlled, and feared. It is both envied and despised. The Asian female body is “erotic” and “submissive.” The black female body alternates between being fecund, always available, and out of control, while simultaneously being marked as “masculine,” asexual, and unattractive. Latinas are “hot” and “sexy.” White bodies of a certain type are taken as the baseline for what is considered “beautiful” or “normal.”

Ironically, the bodies of black and brown people which are considered beautiful or attractive by the white gaze are judged as such either by how “different” they are from white norms (the exotic or savage) or how close these racialized bodies–almost like impostors or stand-ins–are to the normalized white body.

The very language we use to discuss race, the physical, and the sexual, is a quotidian example of Power in action. But, how are matters complicated when a significant part of a given person’s sexuality, and sense of the erotic, is centered on playing with the dynamics of dominance and submission?

Consider the following passage from the Colorlines article “Playing with Race”:

Contrary to popular notions, BDSM is not about abuse. It’s consensual and trusting and people refer to it as “play” (as in “I want to play with you”). The point of BDSM is not sexual intercourse. In fact, when Williams recalls her first experience as a masochist seven years ago, she says she met her partner, a white man, at a bar and “fell in love at first sight.” They made their way back to his hotel. “For the first time I felt someone could see who I really was.” And that was someone who found it erotic to be a submissive to her partner.In recent years, Williams has added another element to her repertoire as a masochist. She’s begun to engage in what is called “race play” or “racial play”—that is getting aroused by intentionally using racial epithets like the word “nigger” or racist scenarios like a slave auction.

Race play is being enjoyed in the privacy of bedrooms and publicly at BDSM parties, and it’s far from just black and white. It also includes “playing out” Nazi interrogations of Jews or Latino-on-black racism, and the players can be of any racial background and paired up in a number of ways (including a black man calling his black girlfriend a “nigger bitch”).

White master seeking black slave, however, seems the more popular of the combinations.

I could not engage is such types of role-playing. My personal politics would not allow it; my libido would not respond.That is my choice. I do not deny others their pleasure.

raceplay3However, as someone interested in the relationship between race, politics, and racial ideologies, I am fascinated by how individuals negotiate white supremacy and Power.

Are people like Williams or Mollena more “evolved” and “progressive” than those of us who cannot decouple the realities and burdens of race from their bodies and psyches in the present? Alternatively, could this deep sense of both owning and living in a racialized body, be turned into a location for pleasure and catharsis:

Vi Johnson, the black matriarch of BDSM, has presented on race play at kinky conferences and she believes the appeal is different for each person. “When you’re being sexually stimulated, you’re not thinking that what’s stimulating you is a racist image, ” she says. “You’re just getting turned on.”So, for some, she says, race play is about playing with authority and for others, it might be humiliation.

Well-known sexuality and SM educator Midori, who is Japanese and German, often presents her theory that humiliation in BDSM is linked to self-esteem. Take the woman who likes it when her boyfriend calls her a “slut,” Midori says. Perhaps the woman internalized the idea that “good girls don’t,” but she enjoys her sexuality. Because the boyfriend sees her in all her complexity, Midori says, when he calls her a slut, “he is freeing her of the social expectations of having to be modest.”

That’s different than having some stranger (and jerk) calling you a slut. The stranger doesn’t see the full woman. It’s similar with race play, Midori says. By focusing, for example, on a black man’s body, while he’s bound as a slave, she’s bolstering his own perception of himself as strong and powerful…

Her workshop demonstrations have included full auction scenes mimicking those of the Old South. In them, she is the plantation mistress inspecting a black man for “purchase.” He’s in shackles and “I slap him on his face and push him down on the ground, make him lick my shoes,” she says, emphasizing that she only does the demonstration after the “psychological” talk.

In the interest of transparency, I am a sex positive person (at least according to the survey onyourmorals.org). In many ways, I am also a bit of a libertine and a hedonist who is comfortable in both exclusive and open relationships. I also have certain predilections and tastes that more “vanilla” folks could find “kinky” or “different.” Ultimately, I am just myself, and do not know how to pretend to be anyone else.I am also full of contradictions and complications as sexuality and the erotic are not neatly bounded constructs (for example, I do not like watching interracial porn where white men have aggressive sex with black women as chattel slavery looms too large in my mind; however, I have no problems watching black men have aggressive sex with white women). I have also dated many women from a range of racial backgrounds: I love women; I love variety.

I share those details not to titillate; rather, because while I am rendering a judgement of sorts, I would not want to sound “judgmental.” The difference is a subtle, but nonetheless, an important one.

One of the questions I will be asking Viola Johnson from the Carter Johnson Leather Librarywhen I interview her in the next few weeks (fingers crossed) is how do we separate more “healthy” types of race play from those encounters that are rooted in disdain for the Other and white supremacy. Are these just inter-personal contracts or do these types of sexual relationships gain power (and are made erotic) precisely because of how they signal to larger societal taboos?

If the website Fetlife is any indication, there is apparently a not insubstantial number ofpeople who engage in sexual roleplaying and BDSM using the motif of chattel slavery in the antebellum South. A cursory review of the member profiles suggests that many of these people are white supremacists. This is apparently not a deterrent to the black men and women who want to “serve” these white masters.

plantation2Here a white “slave owning” master offers some insight on race play and “plantation retreats”:

My major kink-interest is in chattel slave-ownership in today’s world but following the historical models of 8,000 years of historical slave-ownership tradition (from Greek-Roman through modern day)…along with everything that might relate to it (which sometimes can go pretty far into the realm of BDSM activities, depending on the partner). I’m very knowlegable in the field of historical slavery.Some of my other non-kink interests include history and philosophy, classic cars, music, science, singing and writing lyrics, architecture, comparative culture, language, reading and counseling..

I get a lot of questions about “Plantation Retreat”…so here are some basic facts:

My goal in creating and hosting Plantation Retreat is to provide a safe and welcoming, private place (and opportunity) for White Masters and plantation slaves/niggers to meet and explore their mutual fantasies. I get a lot of questions and answer many individual questions. To simplify things…here is some general basic information:

The gathering lasts for up to 2 weeks this year, with the main gathering around the 4th of July…folks can stay as long or as short a time as they want (some stay even longer). Masters can stay at the compound here or in a hotel if they want to (as can any personal slaves that they bring with them or any other slave that is ordered to do so).

Slaves arriving on their own stay here and are considered (and protected) as property of the plantation or my personal property.

Slaves sign up for a specific length of service. Slaves can specify what their limits are or that they will serve in any way the Master/guests desire. Sex is not required, but depends on individual choice (as do other activities). Most Masters desire to use slaves sexually in addition to normal domestic services. Some slaves are used only for hard labor. A slave’s assignments and duties are based on its experience and ability-level (some require whipping or punishment). Masters have their own king or queen bed (up to 5 available); slaves sleep where they are told to sleep (unless they are ordered into a Master’s bed and allowed to sleep there). Normally a slave sleeps at the foot of a Master’s bed, but some can be chained or caged elsewhere.

The minimum requirement for slaves is that they be obedient and respectful of all Masters and work to give the Masters and enjoyable time. This can be anything from preparing and serving drinks and meals, doing housework or yard work, to providing sexual relief on demand, to hard labor in the compound (depending on the slave’s previously-stated limitations). Slaves should expect Masters to be totally comfortable and free in using humiliating or degrading racist speech in referring to or speaking to mud-slaves. It’s not all punishment and misery for slaves…there is plenty of time for camaraderie and playful fun also. Some slaves even form a brotherly bond with the other slaves that serve with them. Masters also form lasting bonds and friendships based on their mutual interests and sharing slaves.

It’s just a small friendly gathering of White Masters at my house/compound….being served by mud-slaves as might have been in a modern version of slave-days. one might call it a situation of consensual non-consent/slavery. Slaves can set their limits and the time they will be in service as slaves in advance…. and also what they expect to learn and experience from the experience. The more that a slave lets me know about itself in advance, the better I can guide its growth from the experience.

Backstage racism mates with BDSM, the eroticization of the black body, and finds a place online through a variant of cyber-racism. Amazing. We do in fact live in interesting times.White supremacy is a mental illness. Western (and global) society is sick with it. All of us, across the color line, have been impacted by white supremacy and white racism. But who are we to judge how adults in a consensual relationship decide to work through its pain and ugliness?

As is per my tradition, here are some concluding questions.

Have any of you engaged in race play? For those of you in inter-racial relationships, how do you negotiate these bigger questions of race and the erotic? If our kinks and sexual predilections are in some way a function of life experience, trauma, early childhood experiences, etc. what happened in the life of a black person who is willing to play a slave for the pleasures of white racists?

WHO IS CHAUNCEY DEVEGA ?

Chauncey Devega is an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice . . . of himself, he offers

“I am the editor and founder of We Are Respectable Negroes.
I am also a race man in progress, Black pragmatist, ghetto nerd, cultural critic and essayist.
I have been a guest on the BBC, Ring of Fire Radio, Ed Schultz, Joshua Holland’s Alternet Radio Hour, the Thom Hartmann radio show, the Burt Cohen show, and Our Common Ground.My essays have been featured by Salon, Alternet, the New York Daily News, and the Daily Kos.

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Quincy Jones Sues Michael Jackson’s Estate

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND News Board •● ☥●• The Third Eye Parenthesis

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Quincy Jones sued Michael Jackson’s estate on Friday claiming he is owed millions in royalties and production fees on some of the superstar’s greatest hits. Jones’ lawsuit seeks …

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

Jones’ lawsuit seeks at least $10 million from the singer’s estate and Sony Music Entertainment, claiming the entities improperly re-edited songs to deprive him of royalties and production fees. The music has been used in the film “This Is It” and a pair of Cirque du Soleil shows based on the King of Pop’s songs, the lawsuit states.

See on variety.com

Actress Gabourey Sidibe Fat-Shamed On Twitter By Fans Of American Horror Story: Coven

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham ☥ Coming Up

On the latest season of the TV show American Horror Story, titled Coven, plus size actress Gabourey Sidibe is front and center as Queenie, a young witch with the power of being a human voodoo doll.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"It’s disgusting to see such blatant hate thrown at a woman whose only crime is not looking like most other women in Hollywood; it’s even worse to see so much of if coming from women on Twitter. But it’s nothing new. When AHS: Coven was creeping into its season, fans took to the brain dump box that is Twitter to express their surprise that Sidibe hadn’t bothered to lose weight to earn her spot on AHS while others simply proliferated unimaginative digs at her size, using hashtags like “#big” and “#scary” to describe her casting."

See on www.plus-model-mag.com

OUR COMMON GROUND “In Conversation with George Curry”

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

“Transforming Truth to Power, One Broadcast At a Time”

“In Conversation with George Curry”

October 26, 2013 
10 pm ET                                     LIVE and Call -IN

10-26-13 Curry

About our Guest George Curry

George E. Curry is the editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. The former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, Curry also writes a weekly syndicated column for NNPA, a federation of more than 200 African American newspapers.

Curry, who served as editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service from 2001 until 2007, returned to lead the news service for a second time on April 2, 2012. His work at the NNPA has ranged from being inside the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases to traveling to Doha, Qatar, to report on America’s war with Iraq.
As editor-in-chief of Emerge, Curry led the magazine to win more than 40 national journalism awards. He is most proud of his four-year campaign to win the release of Kemba Smith, a 22-year-old woman who was given a mandatory sentence of 24 1/2 years in prison for her minor role in a drug ring. In May 1996, Emerge published a cover story titled “Kemba’s Nightmare.” President Clinton pardoned Smith in December 2000, marking the end of her nightmare.

Curry is the author of Jake Gaither: America’s Most Famous Black Coach and editor of The Affirmative Action Debate and The Best of Emerge Magazine. He was editor of the National Urban League’s 2006 State of Black America report.

His work in journalism has taken him to Egypt, England, France, Italy, China, Germany, Malaysia, Thailand, Cuba, Brazil, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Mexico, Canada, and Austria. In August 2012, he was part of the official US delegation and a presenter at the US-Brazil seminar on educational equity in Brasilia, Brazil.
George Curry is a member of the National Speakers Association and the International Federation for Professional Speakers. His speeches have been televised on C-SPAN and reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day magazine. In his presentations, he addresses such topics as diversity, current events, education, and the media.

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What Was the 2nd Middle Passage?

What Was the 2nd Middle Passage?

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro: A second forced migration of slaves wasn’t transatlantic.

 

 

Slaves work a cotton gin, drawn by William L. Sheppard, 1869 (Library of Congress)

Editor’s Note: For those who are wondering about the retro title of this black history series, please take a moment to learn about historian Joel A. Rogers, author of the 1934 book 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro With Complete Proof, to whom these “amazing facts” are an homage.

(The Root) — 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro No. 16: What was the second Middle Passage?

Thanks to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, edited by David Eltis and David Richardson, we know that about 388,000 Africans were transported directly to the United States over the course of the slave trade, which ended officially in 1808. This brutally cruel and disruptive phase of the trade, as all American schoolchildren should be taught, is known as “the Middle Passage.” But what is often left out of many survey courses is the second Middle Passage, and that dark chapter in American history involved far more black people than were taken from Africa to the United States. It was also uniquely cruel and brutally destructive. And it unfolded during the era when cotton was “king.”

That second forced migration was known as the domestic, or internal, slave trade: “In the seven decades between the ratification of the Constitution [in 1787] and the Civil War [1861],” the historian Walter Johnson tells us in his book Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market, “approximately one million enslaved people were relocated from the upper South to the lower South … two thirds of these through … the domestic slave trade.” In other words, two and a half times more African Americans were directly affected by the second Middle Passage than the first one.

When we think of the image of slaves being sold “down the river” on auction blocks — mothers separated from children, husbands from wives — it was during this period that these scenes became increasingly common. The enslaved were sometimes marched hundreds of miles to their destinations, on foot and in chains. Indeed, the years between 1830 and 1860 were the worst in the history of African-American enslavement.

Why? Because of the unprecedented growth of the cotton industry. Until Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and had it patented in 1794, cotton harvesting was extremely labor-intensive. The cotton gin is deceptively simple: It just separates cotton fibers, or “lint,” from the seeds. Before the cotton gin, one person could clean five or six pounds of cotton a day; using the cotton gin, one person could clean a thousand pounds of cotton a day! The effects were immediate and dramatic: As the historian Ronald Bailey explains in an article for Agricultural History, in 1790, the United States produced 1.5 million pounds of cotton; in 1800, it produced 35 million pounds of cotton! By 1830, that figure had grown to 331 million, and by 1860, on the eve of the Civil War, cotton production had grown to 2,275 million pounds. 

The more money the planters made from cotton, the more cotton they wanted to grow. The more cotton the planters wanted to grow, the more slaves they needed to grow the cotton. The world’s desire for cotton — and the Southern planters’ and Northern industrialists’ desire for profits — seemed insatiable. 

Meanwhile, since the slave trade from Africa was ended in 1808, slaves in the Upper South had become extremely valuable commodities. Their owners, whose tobacco plantations were no longer, say, sufficiently profitable, sold them south, in droves. As Ira Berlin concludes in The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations, “the internal slave trade became the largest enterprise in the South outside of the plantation itself, and probably the most advanced in its employment of modern transportation, finance and publicity.”

Most of us are familiar with the dreadful Trail of Tears, which in 1838 removed the last of the Chickasaw, the Cherokee, the Creek, the Choctaw and the Seminoles from the region of the South known as the “black belt,” resettling them to “Indian Territory,” which became the state of Oklahoma in 1907. Ever wonder why this was necessary? In a word, cotton. These Native American people were living on what was perhaps the richest cotton soil in the world. And their removal, following the Louisiana Purchase, created a scramble to settle their lands and raise cotton, leading to one of the greatest periods in economic expansion and profitability in American history. 

The number of slaves needed in the new states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, where cotton reigned, increased by an average of 27.5 percent each decade, demanding that entire families be relocated from plantations in the East and Upper South. As Steven Deyle points out, “Southern slave prices more than tripled,” rising from $500 in New Orleans in 1800, to $1,800 by 1860 (the equivalent of $30,000 in 2005).

Of the 3.2 million slaves working in the 15 slave states in 1850, 1.8 million worked in cotton. No wonder the dominant motto of the era was “Cotton is King!” Cotton produced by slave labor was so profitable that it would take a costly Civil War, and the loss of more than 600,000 lives, to end it.

As always, you can find more “Amazing Facts About the Negro” on The Root, and check back each week as we count to 100.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief ofThe Root.

One student editor fired, another suspended following protests at Grambling State Univ.

One student editor fired, another suspended following protests at Grambling State Univ.

20 Oct 2013

By Tracie Powell

UPDATING

The online editor was fired and the opinions page editor is under a two-week suspension at Grambling State University’s student newspaper, The Gramblinite, following growing tensions there between students and administrators.

David Lankster Sr. said he’s been fired after tweeting statements from anonymous sources and photos of dilapidated facilities (here and here) using the newspaper’s Twitter account, and he accused the school’s Director of Public Relations and Communications, former journalist Will Sutton, of attempting to censor student journalists.

“I was behind it. I was the only one on the ground hearing from the students and players,” said Lankster, the former sports editor who has worked at the paper since 2009. “Sutton was trying to mute our voice because we were tweeting the real news, the truth about what was going on.”

allDigitocracy reached out to Sutton on Sunday; he referred questions to the newspaper’s adviser who did not immediately respond to emails.

Tensions that have been simmering for weeks came to a head last week when Grambling football players walked out of a meeting with college president Frank Pogue; and they refused to play in a scheduled game over the weekend, taking a forfeit. Students are upset about crumbling buildings and a lack of teachers among other things, they said. There’s even mold in a section of the newsroom, Lankster said. Doors to the area are kept locked and students are told not to enter the area, he added.

While Lankster was fired, his colleague Kimberly Monroe was informed she was being suspended for two weeks. Monroe, the editor of the newspaper’s opinion section, said she was asked by the newspaper’s adviser to remove parts of a column submitted by Grambling’s student government president, including the president’s email address that he asked students to use to report problems on campus.

Kimberly Monroe“I refused and then I left,” said Monroe, a graduate student who said she has worked at the paper for two years. Monroe said she later attended a student rally where she spoke with local and national media about crumbling buildings and the student-teacher ratio. The next day Monroe said the newspaper’s adviser, Wanda Peters, asked what role she played at the rally. Monroe responded that she was there as a concerned student. “That’s when (Peters) told me that she didn’t know what she would do with me, but something would have to be done,” Monroe said.

Monroe can be seen in this Associated Press photo and is identified as the organizer of the Oct. 17th rally. She told allDigitocracy that she did help gather students, but had no idea members of the football team would attend. Having players present at the gathering on Thursday turned it into a media event that she did not expect, Monroe said.

Monroe was notified by email on Friday afternoon that she would be suspended from her job at The Gramblinite due to “unprofessional behavior.” An excerpt from the letter below states:

As a member of The Gramblinite, you should not have become involved in a public rally, as you did yesterday.  I know Mass Communication was not your undergraduate major so you missed the classroom instruction regarding conflict of interest.  But the Code of Ethics that you must read and sign each semester as part of your Gramblinite application outlines certain behaviors that are expected of you. Item No. 4 of the Code reads:

“We report the news without regard for our own interests, mindful of the need to disclose potential conflicts. We avoid involvement in campus events, politics, demonstrations and social causes that would cause a conflict of interest, or the appearance of such conflict.”

The letter is copied to Dr. Edward Welch, interim chief of the school’s department of mass communication, Dr. Janet Guyden, dean of the college’s graduate school and Dr. Connie Walton, provost and vice president of academic affairs. Peters, the adviser, did not immediately respond to emails asking for comment on the disciplinary actions against the student journalists, but she did include in the letter that Monroe contributes “much to The Gramblinite and it would be a blow to lose your participation.”

Monroe said she does not agree with the suspension. ”I’m a student first,” Monroe said in a telephone interview, “a student who works for a student newspaper.” Monroe added that she did not sign a code of ethics at the start of the current semester.

Lankster, the online editor, said he began tweeting developments and student frustrations with administrators around Oct. 17. He does not recall how many tweets he posted, but said some of them have been deleted by school officials, but not before they had caught Sutton’s attention. Sutton, a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, did not answer specific questions, but earlier he tweeted these admonishments to Grambling’s student journalists:

Chris Hedges “Death of the Liberal Class”

Chris Hedges, whose book “Death of the Liberal Class” (Perseus) came out the day of this presentation, is also the best-selling author of “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.” Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. Produced by The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy NY, this event was co-sponsored by Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace.

 

 

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, has written twelve books, including the New York Times best seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. Some of his other books include “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. In 2011, Nation Books published a collection of Hedges’ Truthdig columns called “The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.”

Hedges previously spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. The Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges’ original columns in Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011. The LAPC also granted him the Best Online Column award in 2010 for his Truthdig essay “One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists”.
Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and The University of Toronto. He currently teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey.

Hedges began his career reporting on the Falkland War from Argentina for National Public Radio. He went on to cover the war in El Salvador and Nicaragua for five years, first for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio and later The Dallas Morning News. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief there for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he joined the Times’ investigative team and was based in Paris to cover al-Qaida. He left the Times after being issued a formal reprimand for denouncing the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.

Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and studied classics, including ancient Greek and Latin, at Harvard. In addition to writing a weekly original column for Truthdig, he has written for Harper’s Magazine, Le Monde, The New Statesman, The New York Review of Books, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs and other publications. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey and is married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong with whom he has two children. He also has two children from a previous marriage.