Friday, July 17, 2009

Racism crap: Oh My God, You are Racist!!!!

I love it when I have the intestinal fortitute to face the 900-pound gorilla in the room.

I made a comment on a blog regarding racial differences in the jury and perhaps that might be why that jury is having a hard time coming up with a verdict.

Okay, I should have used the word “cultural” because the term “racial differences” is a crock of crap. There is only one “race”: Homo sapiens, human beings. We are all the same regardless of skin color; our genes are the same though different groups manifest different appearances, different health problems.

Cultural differences are a very real thing though. If they weren’t, why is it that so much time is devoted in a liberal arts-based education on looking at cultural differences, and why it is so important to be understanding (but not necessarily accepting) of different cultural norms.

People, we live in the United States, and unless you are a 100 percent Native American (I guess the proper term is “Indian,” but I get confused between “Indian” from North America, and “Indian” from India), you came from somewhere. As your family assimilated into the U.S., you kept hold of some of your cultural things (usually associated with food or cultural celebrations), and others went by the wayside. There are cultural norms in the United States that are just “how things are done” and frequently there are laws that back up what those norms are.

Those laws were written by people WE put into office.

Just because something is a cultural norm back where you came from does not make it acceptable here in the U.S.! Tripping horses as a Mexican rodeo event is not acceptable in the U.S. Nor is dog or cock fighting. But we tend to shrug and say “Oh it’s cultural” and that makes it sort of okay.

Here’s a good example that I wrote about earlier this year:

Just because it's normal to marry a 14-year old girl back "home" doesn't make it right. "Not knowing" about the law because you are living on the fringe of society because you are here illegally doesn't make it right. I'd be expected to adhere to laws in Mexico, and for me to scream "but I wasn't culturally aware what I was doing was wrong" simply doesn't cut it.

Now here’s my concern with this case I made the blog comment about: It’s a child molestation case where the victims (that were presented) are all WHITE males. The accused exclusively abused males aged 9 to 14 or 15. The jury is a nice representation of the Bay Area; however, there is only one African American juror who is actually an alternate. But I digress.

Right now white males are the lowest of the low. They have been for some time. Basically they are the scapegoats for everything and everyone because they have “worked” to keep everyone else oppressed. (You need to appreciate my sarcasm here—white female is just one rung above white male. I’ve experneiced plenty of “sorry, but the position is filled” only to learn the person hired was not white and not really able to do the job, but because of racial posturing, that person was hired. So much for color blindness.)

So could there be people on that jury trying to send a "message" to middle and upper-middle class males that what they experienced was nothing compared to being a "person of color" every damn day? I don't know. But I'm thinking like an anthropologist here, and why not? It's a valid thesis question that might need answering.

I argue that we need to become more color-blind. Seriously. I do not identify friends and co-workers by a description of their skin color or family’s place of origin. But I understand (from non-white people) that is the wrong thing to do. So what am I supposed to do? I don’t make a decision to be someone’s friend (or not) by a cursory glance at their skin or eye color, or their accent. I don’t walk down the street and when I see a group of young Hispanic men, quickly go to the other side of the street, though I guess I need to rethink my way of doing things. I do NOT look away from an African American person walking down the street toward me. I usually smile at everyone, even if they are not making eye contact.

So I’m the idiot. Guess I will be if and when one of those groups of people thump on me because I'm white and I was there.

When does a person become aware of “cultural differences?” I’ve written about the hurt I experienced in 5th grade when some of my friends came back from Christmas break and decided since I was a gringa, I was bad. To this day I wish I knew what happened those two weeks we were away from school. I tried to stay friends; I tried eating lunch with them, inviting them to my house for overnights, anything to keep them my friends. But I was bad now, not their friends.

So that’s okay because I’m white?

Why is it that so many classes in a liberal arts education are all about “race” and culture? I had to take cultural anthropology to get into a nursing program (of course those peoples studied were not anywhere near North America; I got so sick of hearing about Trobriand Islanders I could puke! I wasn’t going to trip over a Trobriand Islander in my nursing practice?), and then within the program, cultural awareness coursework within each specialty. Back when I was in nursing school, there was much education given to us about the Hmong, a group that had immigrated in large numbers to our area. It is vital to give people space in the health care setting; their cultural norms help keep balance and are a source of comfort.

I then moved on to a “media and race” class earning my undergrad degree, and that class was the biggest waste of time. Anytime I tried to say I do not pick the people I know based on race, the teacher, an African American man, said that was bullshit.

Was it my fault I didn’t grow up around Asian people or African Americans? I grew up in a white and Latino community.

During my master’s program, I took two semesters of “sport and culture,” and my classmates were black, Latino, and white. I got more insight in that class than any other, because I was able to ask those black and Latino people “what do you want from me? What can I do?”

Eventually once you pour through the shit you get “Treat me like anyone else, and accept me for what I am.”

I know everyone’s perceptions are different. We are products of our generations, our parents (though I am not like my father, who was notoriously racist against black people, and I could not get why.), our educational upbringings, and our life experiences. I don’t want to be less tolerant, I really don’t.

But when I am damned for my skin color and my sex and my disability status, I can’t help being a bit bitter and suspicious, now can I?


Greasywrench said...

Caligirl9, the racial bullshit is just Liberal point scoring to groom Democrat voters. I'm 1/2 Irish, 1/4 Cherokee Indian, and 1/4German and I've lived a "Blacker" life than Obama and some of the so-called Black leaders in this country ever will.

Race stats in America are just more crap to keep us in our places. Unfortunatly, the Dems have perfected the art of exploiting it.

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