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Friday 11/6 - Thursday 11/12


By Cara Jepsen

6 FRIDAY At first glance this weekend's National Whiteness Conference evokes a nightmare of skinheads, survivalists, and other neo-Nazi types. But its goal is to abolish whiteness as a racial identity. "Since 'white' people were the ones who created the idea of race and racism in the first place, they're the ones we need to study to figure out how to end the inhuman legacy of both," says organizer Lowell Thompson, author of the book "White Folks": Seeing America Through Black Eyes. The third edition of this annual conference will be attended by an estimated 500 academics and activists, including Noel Ignatiev, author of How the Irish Became White and editor of the journal Race Traitor. It starts today at 1 with a symposium on whiteness and the media conducted by Chicago Ink's John K. Wilson at the University of Chicago's Reynolds Club, 5706 S. University. The conference continues through Sunday at locations around the university. Admission is on a sliding scale from $15 to $125. Call 773-643-5732 to register.

7 SATURDAY The "mammy," the "china doll," the "hot tamale," and the "stand-by-your-man country woman" are a few of the ethnic stereotypes women are forced into, says Kathleen Thompson, coauthor of the book A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America. Tonight Thompson will explain the limitations of the white middle-class ideal at a panel called We Are Not All on Pedestals: When Gender Meets Race, Class and Ethnicity, where she'll be joined by composer Regina Baiocchi and actresses Cheryl Hamada and Consuelo Allen. It's part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, which this year looks at issues of gender and runs through Sunday. Thompson's panel is from 4 to 5 today at the Chicago Historical Society, North and Clark. Tickets are $3 in advance, $5 at the door. Call 312-661-1028 for festival info or 312-294-3000 for tickets. For a complete listing of festival events, see the Section Two art listings.

While some people view female bodybuilders as freaks, there are others who find their supersculpted physiques a refreshing alternative to the soft and skinny standard of feminine beauty. One of the latter is performance artist and art historian Joanna Frueh, who's coediting a book, Picturing the Modern Amazon, and curating a show of the same name for the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Tonight at 7 she'll give a lecture on the topic, called The Real Nude. Afterward professional bodybuilders Debi Laszewski, Heidi Neubauer, and Cathy Zelinski will demonstrate typical posing routines, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session. The free talk kicks off a series of 25th anniversary events at Artemisia Gallery, 700 N. Carpenter (312-226-7323).

8 SUNDAY Academy Chicago publishers Anita and Jordan Miller spent four years and a million dollars trying to get John Cheever's family to comply with a contract to publish 68 of the writer's uncollected stories. The court's decision in the infamous case--which called some aspects of the standard book contract into question--had publishers everywhere rethinking their agreements with authors. Not surprisingly, the big guys turned down Anita Miller's book about the ordeal, Uncollecting Cheever: The Family of John Cheever vs. Academy Chicago Publishers, though she finally found a publisher in tiny Rowman & Littlefield. Miller will discuss her trials and tribulations tonight at 5 at Women & Children First Bookstore, 5233 N. Clark (773-769-9299). It's free.

9 MONDAY People who pierce every body part and tattoo every inch of available flesh are merely dilettantes compared to those who engage in what shrinks call self-injury. Their "deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-lethal" activities include pulling out their hair, cutting and punching themselves, and inserting objects in body openings. They're usually from middle- to upper-class backgrounds and--surprise!--suffer from low self-esteem. "Self-injurers commonly report they feel empty inside, unable to express their feelings, lonely, troubled by sexual feelings, not understood by others and fearful of intimate relationships and adult responsibilities," say experts Karen Conterio and Wendy Lader, who run the Rock Creek Center's S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives Program in Lemont. Tonight the two will discuss their book, Bodily Harm, and explain how to treat the disorder. They'll start at 5:45 at Transitions Bookplace, 1000 W. North (312-951-7323). It's free.

10 TUESDAY Consider the case of the freelance writer who was dumped by a free weekly after her byline appeared in a daily paper. Unless she can prove that she had been discriminated against or that the employer was breaching a contract, she's probably out of luck. But sometimes there is recourse--an employee handbook can qualify as a contract. "My best advice is to consult a lawyer," says employment attorney Eugene A. Hollander, who admits he has never personally experienced the trauma of being sacked. He'll earn a few karma points tonight from 7 to 8 at the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library when he leads a free seminar entitled Lost Your Job? Learn Your Rights! The library is at 4455 N. Lincoln. Call 312-747-4090 for more.

11 WEDNESDAY Poet Cranston Knight didn't go to Vietnam because of heart trouble, but he was inspired to write a collection of poetry about the conflict after hearing a friend's terrifying stories about the war. Those writings were collected into a book called In the Garden of the Beast. "Chicago and ghetto wise / no job / is a long way from having / been a / Sergeant in charge of men / in the bush," he writes in his poem "Home." Knight will read his work with Reader contributor and army vet Mary Shen Barnidge at a Veteran's Day event entitled From the Front Lines. It's tonight at 7:30 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (773-296-1268, ext. 26). Admission is $5, $3 if you sign up to read on war and peace at the open mike.

12 THURSDAY Though the all-black 99th squadron, the first group trained at the Tuskegee Institute, kicked some Nazi ass in Europe in 1943, it was still five years before Harry S Truman issued a pair of executive orders paving the way for the integration of the armed services. Tonight a group of local Tuskegee veterans (who range in age from 75 to 85) will be introduced between two stepper sets at a special tribute to the Original Tuskegee Airmen. Doors for the 21-and-over event open at 6 at Mr. G's Entertainment Center, 1547 W. 87th. The $12 admission fee ($10 in advance) benefits the Tuskegee Airmen's youth outreach program and includes food. Call 773-928-4695 for tickets or information.

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