Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mexican hat: en masse and solo

with 49 comments

Above, from Fireoak Dr. on June 5th, behold a happily flowering colony of Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera. Below is a fresh new Mexican hat flower head along Capital of Texas Highway on June 14th.


Yesterday I quoted from the speech that Martin Luther King Jr. gave in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. Probably the most famous line from that speech is this one: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Now it’s 58 years later, and it pains me to have to say that Dr. King’s color-blind approach to human interaction is falling out of fashion. For some Americans it’s completely gone, and they insist on categorizing and analyzing everything according to race. One such person is Ibram X. Kendi. Where Dr. King strove to end discrimination, Kendi applauds it: “The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

Now, you might say that Kendi is just one person, and so what if he’s a racist?* Unfortunately Kendi has had one best-selling book after another. The U.S. Navy has put his How to Be an Antiracist on its recommended reading list. Institutions have paid him and keep on paying him tens of thousands of dollars to deliver speeches.Time magazine included him in its 2020 annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Boston University has appointed him to the Andrew Mellon Professorship in the Humanities. And on and on the insanity goes.

What a sorry state my country has fallen into!

Some people are speaking out (and writing out) against the insanity. If you’d like a detailed article along those lines, you can read one by John McWhorter, a linguistics professor at my alma mater, Columbia.

– – – – – –

* Notice the Orwellian way this racist calls himself an antiracist, just as a certain violent fascist group calls itself antifa, i.e. anti-fascist.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 20, 2021 at 4:29 AM

49 Responses

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  1. The Mexican Hats en masse and solo reminded me of a time when Edward de Bono and Lateral Thinking and the Six Thinking Hats were supposedly the solution to all our problems. When I went to see how popular his opinions and theories are today I discovered, to my surprise, that he had passed away just 11 days ago. His obituary is an interesting read. His work is described as a revolution. I am not so sure about that but there might well have been one if the Foreign Office had gone along with his suggestion of solving the Arab Israeli conflict via Marmite! https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jun/10/edward-de-bono-obituary


    June 20, 2021 at 6:21 AM

    • I don’t believe I’ve heard of Edward de Bono, who died the week before last, to your surprise. Nor was I familiar with Marmite, which I see is a yeast extract that contains the zinc de Bono hoped would solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. I do like his clever solution to the problem of the black stone in both of the moneylender’s little bags. As for the notion that logic will never change emotion, that seems to be largely true. On the other hand, it seems logic may be able to change someone’s perception.

      In any case, it’s interesting that my floral hats triggered your mind’s association with hats of a thinking kind. As far as I know, Mexican hats don’t think—at least not unless nurtured with ample doses of Marmite.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2021 at 6:59 AM

  2. Mexican hat are one of my summer favorites. They’re festive and unmistakable. I keep hoping the large colony that used to exist in our pecan orchard will return. I have no idea what happened to them. This is the second year in a row where they did not come up. I’ll have to fetch some seed heads from the ditches and see if I can get a few started.

    I wonder what Dr. King would have to say today?


    June 20, 2021 at 7:46 AM

    • Sorry to hear you’ve not been festivity-favored in your meadow two years in a row. Good luck on re-hatting the colony.

      As you’ve seen here in recent years, this species has provided me with many a portrait. As Mexican hats are still around, I expect I’ll take more pictures of them in the next few weeks before they fade out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2021 at 7:53 AM

    • I expect Dr. King would be appalled by calls for discrimination as a remedy for discrimination.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM

  3. Sorry. Like Kendi, I celebrate our differences. Love the photos. Thank you.

    Margie McCreless Roe

    June 20, 2021 at 7:54 AM

    • Glad you like the pictures. However, I’m perplexed at how discriminating on the basis of racial differences “celebrates” those differences. Discrimination is no cause for celebration.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2021 at 10:46 AM

  4. I like the way you placed the Mexican hat carpet together with the individual flower, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    June 20, 2021 at 8:52 AM

    • I wanted to give two very views of the species from opposite ends of the spectrum: individual and communal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2021 at 10:59 AM

  5. The Mexican hat against the blue sky sure has a personality. Thich Nhat Hanh also wrote extensively about his ideas on how to achieve true peace. We need more love and more compassion, less hate and discrimination. Nothing will be accomplished in the way of peace for as long as we foment hatred and revenge. If you want peace-he wrote- don’t walk protesting with hateful signs against violence, shouting, fighting with others who disagree with you. By doing that we are feeding the very fire we want to put out. Don’t like discrimination? Don’t discriminate. If we try to be the change you want to cause in the world we’ll have accomplished 2/3 of what we can effectively do. I am not denying that there is discrimination in the world, but like you, I question wether more discrimination is going to solve any problems at all.

    Alessandra Chaves

    June 20, 2021 at 11:29 AM

    • Whatever rationale is claimed, more discrimination will only make things worse. As you said, and as Chief Justice John Roberts also indicated: If you don’t want there to be discrimination, then don’t discriminate.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 20, 2021 at 1:03 PM

      • Maybe this is too simple for some people to understand…

        Alessandra Chaves

        June 20, 2021 at 1:23 PM

        • It seems to be—alas!

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 20, 2021 at 2:24 PM

          • That’s all very idealistic but the reality is that peaceful protestors have historically, and now, been treated with great violence by police *despite* being peaceful. It’s not about behaviour. I would rather be thought a simpleton than go along with your line of reasoning.

            Ms. Liz

            June 20, 2021 at 5:41 PM

            • I watched dozens of hours of “peaceful” rioters attacking police last year.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 20, 2021 at 7:18 PM

            • You are wasting your time, Liz. What you may not understand about American conservatives is that they have no solutions for problems. They also support no solutions for problems. Many things that have been proposed to solve issues do not meet with their approval and rather than fix them with bipartisanship they just want to throw everything away with no replacement or offers of improvement. We saw that with Obamacare and they are still trying to throw it away rather than make it better. Obama admitted that it wasn’t perfect and offered to work together to make it better but no. Same here. If the teaching solution is that terrible offer to work to make it better. Good luck with that. No solutions. Only criticism and rejection. If this program you hate is so terribly discriminatory what do you offer to help the situation? Alas…I hope that isn’t too simple to understand.

              Steve Gingold

              June 21, 2021 at 7:56 AM

              • I’ve been following enough of what’s been happening, and what’s been said, to understand the truth of this Steve G. From what I’ve seen of black people’s thoughts, they just want the truth taught in schools without whitewashing of the slavery narrative and the ongoing legacy thereafter. There seems to be a fair few whites who prefer to have the truth too, even though its painful. Truth *should* be simple and not mislabelled as ‘CRT’ and railed against. Also, I read of one US person who’d moved from north to south during the time they were educated and what they were taught differed markedly, depending on location. I mean, it’s already a complex situation without folks deliberately stirring it up and fomenting division. All parties need to come to the table and engage in *good faith*, is that a thing anymore? A healthy future for the US and it’s children depends on it. My experience in New Zealand is that the more we have *genuinely* engaged with Māori in good faith, and properly welcomed their involvement and leadership in local issues, overall the country has benefited and we have been the richer for it. I acknowledge we didn’t have chattel-slavery but there were, and are, grave injustices that are being worked through. Honest dialogue and discussion is helpful, and recognising the humanity of others. Is this possible in the US?

                Ms. Liz

                June 21, 2021 at 4:47 PM

                • From this comment and others you’ve left, I get the impression you think race relations in the United States today are the same as they were 80 years ago. If you’re aware of any school district here now, in 2021, that does not teach about slavery, Jim Crow, etc., please point me to it. I’ve not heard of a single one.

                  One thing that I and others have against critical race theory is that it lays a guilt trip (that’s lingo from the 1960s) on white children today for what some white people did here decades and generations ago. My white ancestors a few generations back were busy trying to avoid being slaughtered first by Cossacks and then by Nazis. That’s a strange sort of “white privilege.”

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 21, 2021 at 6:35 PM

                • I agree with you that the “guilt trip” factor is a really core issue that presents a real barrier.

                  I doubt that people sharing personal accounts of their education that I’ve read on twitter are all 80yo though. Here’s one example:
                  “I’ll never forget one of my college professors who tried to make it seem like slaves didn’t have it bad and then looked at me and the only other Black kid and said we should be proud our ancestors built this country.

                  That’s far more damaging than what the GOP is trying to ban.”

                  ~other people replied to this tweet with their own experiences and it was clear that the education varied greatly from one location to another.

                  I’m trying to get an understanding of what the truth actually is about current American education. It’s not just whether it’s taught, it’s *how* it’s taught as well. Thank you.

                  Ms. Liz

                  June 21, 2021 at 6:50 PM

                • As I was saying, if you don’t like the idea of explaining to children about slavery and the part white folks played in it and why they did, come up with a better way to make sure they understand the correct behavior toward people who do not look like them. Teaching about slavery, or the holocaust, is all well and good, but prejudice against black people, and jews in case you haven’t noticed the increasing number of nazi demonstrations, continues. Just because you think all people are equal doesn’t mean everyone else does and a great number of Americans don’t even want there to be equality between the races. So again, with your background in education suggest a better way than just teaching history without the back story and examples of how prejudice continues today. Telling everyone to just stop does not work.

                  Steve Gingold

                  June 21, 2021 at 6:50 PM

                • I don’t know how you’re inferring that I “don’t like the idea of explaining to children about slavery and the part white folks played in it and why they did.” Over the decades that I worked as a teacher, I developed many good ways of explaining concepts. Granted, those were usually mathematical concepts because that’s the subject I taught, but you probably remember hearing me complain on other occasions that the quality of teaching in the United States is on the whole poor. For quite a while now, when studies have looked at the performance of American college students according to what they major in, those who go into education have the lowest average performance on objective tests. In contrast, if you look at Finland, only top-tier students are allowed to become public school teachers. I’d love to see us move in that direction.

                  I think it’s quite an exaggeration in 2021 to say that “a great number of Americans don’t even want there to be equality between the races.” Of course there are some, just as there are some antisemites and some Americans who don’t like people from southern or eastern Asia. I see critical race theory (or whatever you’d like to call that movement) as being obsessed with race and exaggerating its problems, while creating new problems by demonizing innocent people.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 22, 2021 at 6:09 AM

              • I was looking at my own photos of Mexican hats and noticed something: long, threadlike ‘thingies’ extending from the flower head. I may have missed them in other photos, but I can’t find any description of their purpose. Have you seen them, or do you know what they are? My best guess is that they might be awns; Shinners & Mahler’s mentions awns, but their description doesn’t quite seem to match.


                June 23, 2021 at 6:31 AM

                • I don’t know why my comment landed here. It was supposed to be at the bottom.


                  June 23, 2021 at 6:32 AM

                • The maelstrom of critical race theory sucked your comment in!

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 23, 2021 at 7:01 AM

                • Now, that made me laugh!


                  June 23, 2021 at 7:03 AM

                • If only critical race theory itself could be laughed off….

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 23, 2021 at 7:10 AM

                • I don’t know that I’ve seen “thingies” like those in your photograph. Are you sure they’re from the Mexican hat rather than from something on it or behind it? For example, I’ve sometimes seen the antennae of a katydid poking out from behind a plant before I saw the body of the katydid. If the thread-like segments really were from the Mexican hat, you might submit your picture to the botany department of a nearby university and ask if anyone there can identify those structures.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 23, 2021 at 7:08 AM

                • They’re definitely part of the plant. I noticed them even when I was taking the photos, and looked more closely. I suppose they could be a variation of the more typical awns. I have some photos of Texas Tauschia to send to Jason Singhurst; I could start by asking him.


                  June 23, 2021 at 7:17 AM

                • I’m eager to hear what you find out.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 23, 2021 at 8:33 AM

        • Things like this are never simple but it is nice to assume that those who disagree with you are not very smart.

          Steve Gingold

          June 21, 2021 at 7:49 AM

  6. I like the patterning in your second shot, it’s a very interesting photo. I read the John McWhorter article last night, twice actually because it’s a struggle to get through and somewhat tedious but I made the effort. I looked up info about him as well. He has his view but I note he’s Black but not from the South, enjoyed a good middle-class upbringing where he was sheltered from police interactions that affect so many black lives, and that over time he’s become more aware of the reality of problems with police. I’m happy he’s had a better life experience than many but that doesn’t invalidate the lived experience of others or change my view that inequities in the system need to be addressed.

    Ms. Liz

    June 20, 2021 at 5:35 PM

  7. Finding a single bloom with that colony as a background would have been nice.

    Steve Gingold

    June 21, 2021 at 3:21 AM

  8. Love the solo flower – it looks like it’s dancing, with its skirts swirling around it… 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    June 21, 2021 at 4:50 AM

  9. Again, I should not have read.
    I remember learning about ‘reverse discrimination’, and that it is supposed to correct some of the problems caused by former racism. I was also reminded that all Caucasians are considered to be ‘white’, and that all white people are guilty of what the ancestors of a few Caucasians did in the very remote past. None of my ancestors owned slaves. None of them were overtly racist, and some were actually discriminated against for not being white enough. For a while, there was a moratorium on immigration of their sort, because there were too many in America already. Now, I must contend with the blatant discrimination against anyone who can not read Korean or Mandarin within parts of my ancestral homeland. Yet, somehow, I am white, and the bad racist guy.


    June 21, 2021 at 12:17 PM

    • Yes, it’s a strange turn of events. For me there’s no such thing as reverse discrimination, there’s only discrimination, which is a bad thing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2021 at 6:15 PM

      • EXACTLY! Like if discrimination was so bad for those who are not Caucasian, how would discrimination directed at Caucasians be a good idea.


        June 21, 2021 at 10:49 PM

        • And yet there are many who don’t get that that’s a double standard.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 22, 2021 at 5:23 AM

          • Don’t know if, but suspect that, you are including me in “some “. Just because one doesn’t totally agree with you does not mean that person doesn’t get it. I do. I never said it is a good thing. I just see the need and attempt at a solution differently. And as I have said please indicate a better way.

            Steve Gingold

            June 22, 2021 at 6:03 AM

            • For me that better way involves fairness and balance. Teach (and teach well!) about past and current wrongs but also teach about the huge progress that’s been made. Don’t commit new injustices as retribution for old ones. The Golden Rule sums it up pretty well.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 22, 2021 at 6:26 AM

          • They get violently defensive if such double standards are questioned, and accuse anyone questioning it of racism! Well, you know how it goes. They can get away with it, like all these hateful women who so regularly accuse any man they dislike of misogyny. Some of them really should be prosecuted for their blatant misandry, but again, it is a double standard.


            June 23, 2021 at 11:04 PM

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