Category Archives: Self

Whitewashed Veins (Assimilation is a Violent Process)

My skin is white
White like an eraser
An eraser that wiped the brown from my skin
The skin of my cousins
The skin of my grandmother
Like the eraser that wiped her name
From her husband’s life
Her name is Maria, his wife
She is not named Mary
But that’s all he’s ever called her

She dressed in white dresses as a little girl
White dresses that erased the accent from her mouth
Erased the Spanish from her lips
Erased her native tongue
From her mother and my mother and me
So, now, when people say spic
I forget they mean me

My blood has been whitewashed
But I am not clean
My love is not wrangled by gender, color, or creed
But I married a white man
So marriage is okay for me

I don’t know my mother’s mother’s tongue
Her parents swept it under the rug
To keep their babies fed
In hopes they’d be free to tred

They succeeded
I’m so scrubbed
They don’t know me
‘Cause it won’t show on me
I walk in camouflaged skin
It’s all I’ve ever lived in

I lie awake at night
Wondering who I might have been
Wondering how much danger
I would have been in
If my genes showed a bit more melanin

My skin is white
White like an eraser
An eraser that wipes away my history
Until it is a mystery

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Political Heartburn

Feeling the Bern

Flames leap with each beat

up my throat

 

How can so many

hate

   Progress

Defeat

Every step countered

 

They don’t wave me over in the lot

I’m not of their Lot

They smell the liberal sprinkling of salt

Imagine me burning

Imagine us flailing

What’s left when all that’s left is anger

and entertainment

My chest is one match from explosion

Apart

Together

Tired of the same

Begging for change

It shall come

From whom?

For whom?

The future is now

See the light

Feel the creeping cold

 

nuclear possibility

 

Who causes Armageddon?

Who brings Heaven?

 

You.

 

Me.

 

We.

“I want a brighter word than bright.” -John Keats

I am imperfect and so are all of you. There is beauty and frailty in that. I feel beautiful and frail tonight. I have for several days now. I want a brighter word than bright, but I can also relate to how Keats felt here:

“I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.”
― John Keats

I feel wonderfully stable in my personal life, yet my blogging life is giving me quite a bit of woe. This is the first time that is the case. This is me kicking to the top as best I can.

I have made mistakes. I have witnessed mistakes. There has been a lot of talk (read: disagreement) about what those mistakes are. Everyone has a piece to say and everyone feels they are right. There is listening and hearing and ignoring and criticizing and dehumanizing and pontificating and thoughtfulness and respect and anger and frustration. There is all of that and more, often studded with orange stars.

I believe in peace, compassion, understanding, and empathy. I know that my fellow bloggers do as well. So how can it be that we are all so sideways? We are imperfect, but that is no excuse. There are only a couple of people whose heads have remained completely cool. Other than those few, are we all just giving lip service to these ideals? Do we abandon them when push comes to shove?

No, it isn’t that simple. Still, there is a small fact that has been burrowing through my brain like a cancerous tapeworm. I do my best to be compassionate and empathetic in my blogs. I don’t always do this well, but I try. As a result, I don’t get controversial often. The one time I post something knowing it would incite controversy (but still believing it the right thing to do), my stats exploded. It was one of my highest comment days ever and broke my page view record.

Compassion and empathy are what I believe will make the world better, but they are all but ignored when standing beside controversy. This makes me sadder than I can possibly state.

There is but one small seed of hope. The page view record set by controversy was surpassed by something better, communion. Alan Rickman died and my post with Dumbledore’s quote about death was suddenly in demand. This wasn’t about me or my post, it was about people grieving a life well-lived and remembering a time when they read something that touched their humanity.

I watched the page views soar hopefully. I wanted so much for communion to beat controversy, even in this smallest microcosm. It did and I felt better.

The disagreements have continued and my reservoir of compassion and understanding is nearing empty. I know I do not understand you all perfectly. I know that we do not agree on all things. I don’t want that. I want honesty. I want recognition of truth and I am willing to fight for it. Compassion and empathy are necessary, but so are grit and passion.

I spent too much of my life smiling and saying things I did not mean for the benefit of others. Those habits are still with me, but I am breaking them down a little more each day. This week has not changed me, but it has shown me where my line lies. I champion peace and understanding, but not at the expense of truth.

There can be no peace or understanding where truth is forfeit. My mind is open to the fact that what I think of as truth is not always so, but I will drown if I sacrifice honesty for peace. I want a brighter word than bright, but also a brighter world, so you can find me kicking towards the sun.

“To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” -Dumbledore

I am a little shocked at just how sad I am about Alan Rickman’s passing. He was my Snape and a dozen other wonderful characters I loved.

This seems an appropriate repost.

Wary Wonderlust

cemetaryI am going to die. There have been times in my life when this fact scared me. Two unknown details of my demise still have the power to worry my weary mind: when and how. I don’t want to die young, before my children have grown and blossomed. I wouldn’t prefer a painful death. Other than that, the certainty of my finality no longer fills me with introspective angst.

Most humans are brought up with a pervasive faith in an afterlife. A common thread is found in the tapestry of life-after-death beliefs: retribution. How exactly that retribution will be paid varies widely. Some believe that a caste or species change is in order. Others are certain that a supernatural world awaits them on the other side. Regardless of the specifics, the idea of one’s actions being tallied and answered for is ever-present. While the rewards and punishments differ, religion in…

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“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” -Gandhi

I have a friend. Most of you know him. He is one of my true friends, internet or no. We disagree about some things. He made a post about some of them. When my reply hit 1,000 words I figured I should probably make it a post instead. These issues are complicated and multifaceted and I appreciate talking about them at length. I hope that this post will lead me and others to encounters with new ideas and a more focused worldview.

The friend is Vance and his post is here. My reply follows.
brain-exchange
My friend, you have been brutally honest with your criticisms, so I shall be brutally honest with my reply. I know you are frustrated and I can empathize. To be honest, you made me laugh even as I (strongly) disagreed with you. Which I think is maybe what you were going for.

You’ve missed the point (from my angle) –almost entirely…not altogether, but almost. 

There probably is some small, vocal subset that does blame you for things that you haven’t done, but most advocates for social equality are not so illogical.

Where gender is concerned, you said:

I’m told that men shouldn’t be involved in the gender debate, that they should just listen quietly and be educated. Fair enough: quiet listening is necessary to education, and speech before learning leads only to Fox and Friends. But there is a time for quiet listening, and there is a time for taking what one has learned and getting into the conversation, respectfully but actively. Otherwise, there isn’t much point in learning in the first place.

We have talked about gender inequities before and, given the content of those times, I think this is at least partly influenced by those talks. I say ‘talks’ because they were not conversations or exchanges. You said your piece, I said mine, repeat, and close the browser. I think we talked at each other. For me, it felt as though you had your opinions and that my challenge to those opinions insulted you. I hoped my comments would be a starting point. Instead, they became the final destination. I take at least part of the blame for that. No doubt I could have spoken better.
And yet, I cannot bring myself to take much blame.

You see, I’ve run into this situation too many times to count. The situation: Men, usually calling themselves feminists, talking about equality. By talking about equality, I mean talking over me or shrugging off the conversation when we get to a divergence. Again and again and again. You speak of listening with the intent of being educated, but if our few attempts at exchanges are anything to judge by, you may have never truly listened.

I don’t want to leave men out of the conversation. I know some feminists do, but I don’t. Still, men need to recognize that there are things that they just cannot know. And, yes, especially white men. When you are so used to the world listening to your voice and orienting itself to you, even a minute shift can be jarring for reasons not immediately understood. It is hard to adjust to and accept. Yet, if we are to improve as a society the skill must be learned by those in power. Even those with power they didn’t ask for.

There are things that men need to say about gender equality and I want them said. Here’s the thing though: they already are. Men have the platforms, they have the respect, they have the confidence. When a man stumbles upon a space (almost certainly online since there are very few such places in meatspace) in which his voice is not placed on a pedestal, it seems to him as though some indignity has taken place when in reality the limelight is only being shared for the first time.

I have seen only a handful of men actually listen consistently. I don’t know any of them personally. On occasion? Sure, I’ve seen it myself–but never consistently.
So, a man routinely listening to feminists about feminism and then speaking to them with respect and understanding? Surely it happens, but I have never witnessed it. Not really. It’s so exceedingly rare.
Can you imagine the pain of every man in your life failing to listen to you so often that the mere fact that some man, somewhere might not seems like a fantasy? It hurts.
Your post? It made me laugh. And, Vance, that laughter hurt.

It hurts to see a woman say something about feminism and then to see a man to say something similar. Especially online. Seems like that should be a good thing, right? So why isn’t it? Because the woman gets degraded almost exclusively with a few encouraging comments here and there. Meanwhile, the man gets lauded with maybe a few degrading comments. The comments that degrade him? Words referring to women and their anatomy. Because to be a woman or to be like a woman or to have female anatomy is degrading. It is literally an insult to be female. Is it any wonder that some have tried to make being a male insulting? They’re trying to even the score. They’re striving for justice. Anyway…
The man will endure a few of these insults and he will be a hero for having done so. The woman will quietly shut down or change the subject or turn off the comments and sludge on while being lambasted as a censor. If she trudges on and consents to the comments, she will be threatened with rape and death.
She will say something. A man will say the same thing. The cycle will continue. It will continue to hurt. By all means, speak out, but never mistake your words for experience.

My husband gets aggravated every time my eight year points out that the world around her defaults to whiteness and maleness. He thinks I’ve jaded her too soon. I thank all that is good in this world when she does this. She knows that the world is not all white and all male and she refuses to accept the defaults society gives her. Society will change because of girls like her and in spite of the men that will talk over and around her.

sbr082014dapc

Where race is concerned, you said:

I’m told that Black Lives Matter. And they most certainly do. But I’m also told that this is a claim that must exist in isolation; that to suggest, as a member of the white community, that my life also matters, that indeed all lives matter, is an act of imperialism and violence. I am told by those speaking out for their own worth and meaning as people that if I do the same, I am worthless and meaningless. Meanwhile, on many levels, the whole argument misses its own point, given that we are prosecuting it as a multitude of refugees stands helpless and homeless at our borders, hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens stand helpless and homeless on our street corners, and all the rest of us stand idly by demanding more attention for ourselves.

I’m white. Well, as far as society is concerned and let’s face it, race is all but just a social construct.
Where to begin? I’ll say this: I still cringe when I see ads for black only dating sites. They make me think about how we’re still separating ourselves. I feel the same way when I see Christian Mingle ads. But then I remember that I met some of my best friends at a group specifically for non-believing families and that I feel most comfortable on internet forums for women. We’re humans living in a society that has not reached peak equality and understanding. We categorize and label. Sometimes we just need to share a basic level of understanding with other people and that is okay–we will move on as society does.

The last few years have been quite an evolution in how I see race. I knew of prejudice. I knew of racism. I knew Jim Crow was not that long ago. But I didn’t know how bad our issues of segregation continue to be. I didn’t know how ingrained racism continues to be. I didn’t appreciate the absolute failure of our society to recognize its own failings on behalf of people of color. I am white, but two of my great-grandparents are from Mexico. My great-grandfather forced the accent from his voice and dressed his girls in pastel dresses to fit into White America. My grandmother married a white man. My father is a white man. I never learned a word of Spanish at home and all that is left of that part of my heritage are some astounding recipes.

I carry within me the desecration of a race and the race that did the desecrating. At this point, most of us do. No, we are not responsible for the actions of our forefathers. But we are responsible for recognizing the privilege that society bestows upon us today.

Of course all lives matter, but that is not the point. The point is that we have an epidemic of black bodies being beaten and killed. The point is that we have a history of black bodies being split and sold and beaten and killed. The point is that some of us still haven’t admitted the problem. This point is that we have not made amends.

Refugees matter. The homeless matter. The hungry matter. The poor matter. The abused matter. All lives matter–yes, yes, yes. But every person must pick their battles.One person cannot fight all injustices and actually get anywhere. There isn’t time. So each person chooses what is most important to them and tries to make some difference. So, yes, all lives matter. But also, Black Lives Matter. That’s the point.

You said:

I refuse to accept this. I will not play this game nor will I acquiesce to these rules, any more than anyone should give in to the arbitrariness of socially-imposed classes and categorizations. Justice is never about taking dominance away from one voice and giving it exclusively to another. Justice can only come about by way of dialogue; it must involve both the wronged and the perceived wrong-er.

Anyone that is suggesting taking dominance away from one group and giving it to another is probably not worth listening to. It’s about taking dominance out of the equation. I do not think that we need justice. Justice is blind and thus blinds all. We need compassion, empathy, and understanding. We have to meet society where society is at. Society needs #BlackLivesMatter. Society needs feminism. If you think otherwise, just read the comments. (Lewis’ Law can be applied to more than feminism.) Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter may logically be a false dichotomy, but it is a societal fact.

social_media_conversationI do not doubt that you have worthy contributions to make. I do doubt that you have honestly listened to what has been said on these matters in the past. I just can’t imagine that your post came from a place of understanding.

Like it or not, you are white and male. In this universe, on this planet, that means that for those reasons alone you are endowed with powers and privilege. It is incredibly difficult to appreciate that fact. I get it. I’m part of a few minority groups and a few dominant groups. I have medium code-switching abilities. Recognizing the ways in which society attempts to hold me back is hard. Recognizing the ways society privileges me is harder.

It is incredibly difficult to get someone to realize their privilege, even harder to get them to do something about it. Some will be persuaded by grief and empathy, others by compassion or sadness, and many by anger. Even you.
Of course, some go too far in anger and some do more harm than good. We are human, that is our wont.

I do not want you to apologize for things you have not done. I do want your best actions and words. I do want you as my ally. But you have to listen. We have to hear each other. I don’t know if I deciphered your post and heard you as you meant to be listened to. I don’t know if my words are arranged in a way that will allow you to understand me as I mean to be understood. I hope you reply. I hope we keep talking. I don’t want justice–it’s too late for that. We humans have lived too long, we’ve hurt too much. I want equality.