I am privileged

Saturday, 1 July 2017 10:41 am
carose59: dealing with people (the same as people who aren't different)
"It Was Sarcasm. I Won't Do It Again."*

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I was just taking the privilege quiz only I had to stop because statement two made me laugh uncontrollably.

Statement two is: "I have never been discriminated against because of my skin color."

The correct response is, "I don't know! I didn't ask!"

Because there were these girls, see, these black girls, who would circle me, back me into a corner and play the "let's pretend to be friends with this loser, then mock her when she falls for it" game. Were they doing it because I was white or because everybody else did it? Hell, it was a game the white girls played, why shouldn't they play it too? Or maybe it was my stuck-up, smarter-than-everybody else aura. (Fuck it, I was smarter than most of them, but I wasn't stuck-up, I was terrified and weird.)

This is not a situation where you can say, "Excuse me, but why are you doing this? I might need to know later." Mostly you can't do that because they won't tell you; they're busy pretending to like you and they'll deny they're doing anything at all but being friendly.

Do I sound paranoid?

I don't know why, when I was in the fourth grade, every time I went out for recess a little black girl in a lower grade—second? Third? Again, I didn't ask. It didn't seem appropriate, or particularly important at the time—I didn't ask why she came over and kicked me. Not just once; she'd spend the whole recess kicking me, if she wasn't stopped and I had no idea how to stop her. She was smaller than me—I was tall back then, and older. (Older than her; I wasn't older than I am now. That would make no sense at all.)

I have only the vaguest memories of this and they might not be mine. My mother worked in the school library and saw this happening from the window. The school administration wouldn't do anything about it because, apparently, part of reparations included little black girls being allowed to kick random white girls with no explanation. (I don't recall it hurting; what I recall is being utterly baffled.) My mother finally came out and dragged her away from me. I don't know if it happened again. I have blocked out practically all of that year of school, which you can maybe see why.

These incidents led to me being afraid of black people.

Mind you, I was already afraid of people in general—from the third grade on I was bullied by first white girls, then white boys as well. The incidents with the black girls prefriending me (Look! I made new word! It means: that thing people—usually girls—do when they pretend to be your friend so they can later mock you in a more personal way [because you've told them your secrets, or even just your likes and dislikes] and add how stupid you were for believing them).

Where was I? Oh, yes, that incident didn't happen until the eighth grade. In the meantime I had a lot of the same treatment from the white girls, but there was a big difference: I knew those girls! I'd been going to school with them since first grade, I'd been friends with them. (Why that changed, what happened exactly, I don't know. But being hurt by people you know makes more sense than being hurt by strangers. There's logic to it, it's not just chaotic. It's horrible, but it's less scary.) I didn't even know these black girls; I couldn't figure out what I could have done to make them want to hurt me.

There were no cultural differences between me and the white girls, nothing of any significance; that could not be said of me and the black girls. (It's really culture that causes misunderstandings, not race.) I seemed not to be able to talk to anyone without saying something wrong (smarter, stuck-up) and if I couldn't do it in a culture I understood, what chance did I have in one I knew nothing about?

I think that's when I started to freeze. Don't move, don't make eye contact, don't speak, just wait until they get bored and leave. Because running wasn't an option, and neither was fighting back. I couldn't even be rude, even though everything I said was interpreted as rudeness anyway, stuck-upness, superiority.

I think of myself as having a lot of privilege because I came from people who read a lot and thought outside themselves. With a high school education, I can talk to people and have them think I went to college. But I'm still mostly scared all the time because I do not understand other people at all, and that target feels like it's still on my back.

*John Dortmunder
carose59: PLS (moses supposes his toeses are roses)
Now, That Should End In A Question Mark, But They Obviously Didn't Have the Money To Spend On the Extra Ink, So They Just Gave It a Period.*

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I dreamed about Pat again last night.

We were in one of our old apartments, only it didn't really look like any of them. (I know where this comes from, I was talking about one of the apartments have old-fashioned radiators, and the apartment in the dream had them.) As usual had been dead but now she wasn't, she didn't know that and I did. She was really, really happy, happier than I'd seen her—well, probably since I told her we were going to New York the autumn before she died. We were looking out the window at the rain, and Pat was talking about how it was going to snow later in the day. I was thinking that I knew where her mittens were (and I do, I've been wearing them), but I'd thrown out her boots (which I did—they needed it) and where could we go to get her new boots that would really be good for her to walk in, and what was I going to tell her about the boots? But she had a coat, and mittens, and I'd figure the rest of it out.

I was kind of disturbed when I woke up, the way I always am when I have these dreams. I'm so afraid Pat will find out she's been dead/I've thought she was dead (I never seem to know which it is).

I'm trying not to think too much right now. I'm afraid of losing my job—our department is scheduled to be cut from 16 to 8 people. The theory is those of us cut will be transferred, maybe to the newly opened Central library, which would be all right in terms of how far away it is (about the same), but the work would be different (working with the public, which I haven't done in nearly thirty years) and there would be driving home in the dark (which—night blindness). I'm careful in the winter, I catch rides with other people, or I schedule so I'm only driving in the very early morning when it's dark, but there's virtually no traffic. This won't be possible with the new building, where the hours are nine to nine, Monday through Saturday, and I think noon to five on Sunday, though who knows what they'll even be by autumn, when it opens.

This means no New York this year. I can't spend the money, and I'm afraid to use any vacation time. If I have to resign, I'll get paid for that time which will give me some cushion.

I'm really scared about this. My mind is so fuzzy lately, the idea of having to learn a new job is terrifying.

*Sara M
carose59: the world in general (while spring is in the world)
"And I Know My Life Would Look All Right, If I Could See It On The Silver Screen."

I'm beginning to believe that nobody in this country knows how to live in the moment.

Maybe that's obvious. But Christmastime always makes me think of it because of the way people do Christmas music, and Christmas lights. People have their Christmas lights up before Thanksgiving—OK, up I understand, it can be cold and nasty here at the drop of a hat, so putting the lights up on a nice day in October is very reasonable.

But what I don't get is turning the damn things on. I mean, seriously. Just hang them up, and leave them there. Just because they're up doesn't mean they have to be turned on, right?

OK, let's be honest here. I don't even mind them being turned on really early, because I think they're so pretty, and I'm too much of a hedonist to turn down pretty when it's offered. OK? So, go ahead, turn them on, I won't complain. They're too pretty to complain about.

And on the oldies station they had an all-Christmas music weekend—the weekend of Thanksgiving. What is the rush? I will give them that they waited 'til after Thanksgiving—which was de rigueur in my mother's house—you weren't allowed to play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. I remember that from when I got my Partridge Family Christmas album. I know I had the plastic off it, and it sat on the turntable, but did I play it? No!

But it really isn't the earliness that bothers me. It's the way it all ends Christmas day! My mother was telling me that the people next door turn on their lights the day after Thanksgiving, and take them down Christmas day. Christmas day! What's the deal? It's like it's the end of some kind of race, and having run it, it's over, we can forget it now. It's certainly not like it's a real holiday, where you might like to actually enjoy the moment, the day that is Christmas.

And has anybody ever heard of the Feast of the Epiphany? The Adoration of the Magi, when the Wise Men brought their gifts to the Christ child? Twelfth Night? How about the Twelve Days of Christmas? All those gifts, starting with the partridge in the pear tree, started arriving December twenty-sixth, because that's when the twelve days of Christmas are—December twenty-sixth to January sixth.

I know, hardly anybody knows this, and nobody really cares, and it's not really my point anyway.

It's the huge rush to have it over with that gets me. Radio stations that have nothing but Christmas music for the week preceding Christmas will stop playing it that afternoon. Hello—the day isn't over! What's the big rush? What's wrong with hearing Silent Night Christmas night, or ever the day after Christmas?

And it seems to me to be connected to the whole not-living-in-the-moment lifestyle that's running rampant in this country. Now, God knows I do this too. I have movies and TV shows on tape that I know I will never get around to watching—but I somehow feel I have experienced them just because I own them. Why? And now it seems that people are doing this with their whole lives. Everything has to be photographed, videotaped, recorded in some way . . . because our brains are going to be erased sometime in the near future, and we might need this record to remember who we are and what we've done.

I mean, yeah, I took pictures in NYC, and I wish with all my heart I had more. But I wouldn't give up having played in the surf for more pictures.

And now the pictures are being staged. Oh, I know it's always been that way for weddings, at least to a certain extent, but now they're taking pictures of "the happy couple" before the wedding. It's more practical . . . but it's not real. I know if I did that, I 'd look at those pictures and think of them as the pictures that were taken before my wedding. How can a fake picture capture a real memory?

"That's OK, I got it on tape!" But, what were you thinking while it was going on, what were you feeling? Whatever it was, you were one step removed from what was happening, you were behind a camera. You can look at it later, but you can never experience it again. Or maybe again is the wrong word.

I know I've been trying to hang onto pieces of my NY trip in a way that seems obsessive, but no matter what kind of pictures I might have, even if I'd taken a picture every second of the trip, I'd still be longing to go back. In fact, I'd probably be longing for it even more, since I wouldn't have experienced the trip, I'd have experienced a camera experiencing the trip.

It just seems terribly empty, this living life through a camera lens.

*James Dean, The Eagles
carose59: the rose behind the fence (Default)
"Nope, Nope, Nope! You Can't Start Singing Loud Just At The End Of Something! You Would Have Thought After All This Time--Decades Worth Of Time!--That You Would Have Learnt By Now If You Want To End War and Stuff, You've Got To Learn To Sing Loud All The Time So People Can Hear You!"*

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I took a long walk this evening, and while I was out I saw something . . . odd.

There was this statue in someone's front yard. Now, a lot of people have statues in their yards--the Blessed Mother, Jesus, St. Francis. I didn't recognize this one--it definitely wasn't the Blessed Mother, and I don't think it was Jesus, though he was wearing a robe. It could have been St. Francis, though my St. Francis has a dog at his side, and a bird on his shoulder and this one didn't have either.

He did have something, though. He had a small, plastic American flag draped across his shoulders like a shawl.

My first thought was of Abbie Hoffman. I don't know how many people remember Abbie's flag shirt, the one that was censored on The Mike Douglas Show. (For anyone who doesn't remember, and is wondering how you censor a shirt, they put a big blue dot over him.) It was disrespectful to wear a shirt like that.

At least, it was disrespectful if you were Abbie Hoffman. It wasn't a bit disrespectful when Roy Rogers wore the same shirt. When Roy wore it, it was patriotic.

I don't know what it means when some saint I can't identify wears it. I suppose it's that God is on our side, though I've never understood that philosophy. I really need to go back and figure out just who that guy is.

*Arlo Guthrie

July 2017

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