Thursday, April 26, 2012

I gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out...

I had one of those times when someone says something to you, and then you say something back, and then a little later you think of something much more clever to say.

I was at storytime and talking to a 7-year old.

A little backstory: My son and I go to storytime at our local library twice a week. You know, that whole getting your kid around other kids his age so he doesn't grow up to be a huge weirdo thing.

A little more backstory: As you may know, I don't chemically straighten my hair. Most of the time, it looks like something that most people would classify as an afro. Sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly industrious, I will style my hair by using something called twists. They're like braids, but not really. So I'll twist my hair and then the next day I'll take the twists out. Then my hair is kind of crimped and overall more dynamic.

The last of the backstory: Normally, I comb my kids hair. This day, we were running late for storytime and his hair is cute and curly when I don't comb it, so I just said no big deal, almost two-year-olds don't have to have combed hair all the time.

So, it is the end of storytime and all the kids and moms and nannies are milling about. My kid and I are about to leave when I hear the 7-year old white girl mumble something. I could tell she was talking to me so I said, What? (or something like that.)

Then she said, You guys have crazy hair.

I am thinking at least part of the reason that she said this is because she is not around a lot of black people (I have never seen another black person at storytime,) and/or most of the people that she comes into contact with on a daily basis have straight, or maybe wavy hair.

Now,crazy isn't as bad as dirty, smelly, ugly or stupid. But it's not as good as pretty, fantastic, amazing or spectacular.

So I said something like, Yeah, then walked out. I thought of this other time when a white person said something unexpected like this to me, and I didn't have a comeback.

But after we left, I did think of something cool to say.

So she says what she said, and then I say...

Yeah...crazy awesome!

Aaaaaand scene.

And before anonymous jumps on here, I want to clarify a few things:

This little girl is not a bad person.
The little girl is not a racist.
I did not give this little girl a dirty look or hit her.
I am not upset this little girl made such a comment.
This little girl making that comment did not ruin my day.

This is simply a mildly entertaining story that has something to do with race and inequality, and so I thought I would share it with you all. If you have a comment, don't bother.

Ha ha! I'm just kidding, you know I love comments. I was just trying to see if some reverse psychology might work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wanna be a baller, shot caller...

I have another funny commercial that I wanted to share. But before I do, I wanted to mention my last post about the black guy and the biker. Now, I try to keep my expectations low (which is a good strategy for all aspects of life, not just blogging,) but I have to say I was surprised I didn't get more comments on that one. So, if you didn't get a chance to read it, or have been thinking about it all weekend and are finally ready to share your thoughts--click here.

Ok, onto the funny commercial--click to watch it.

Just a couple things: I like how there is not a super high percentage of black guys in this commercial. It helps to counteract the ideas that all black guys play basketball/only black guys play basketball. I think the Asian guy is a definite shout out to Jeremy Lin because I have never seen an Asian guy in any sort of sports related commercial before. Did you know Jeremy Lin was born in 1988? Dang, I'm old.

Finally, my favorite part of the commercial is where the guy throws the ball up and it hits the basket real funny. This reinforces the idea that I like commercials where people throw stuff up funny.

Leave me a comment if you'd like. Happy Tuesday!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A black guy and a biker walk into a bar...

Ok, I'm feeling productive. El kid is currently entertaining himself with a foam innertube and will be heading down for his afternoon nap soon. Let's do this.

I heard recently about a bill that was introduced in the Colorado state legislature that would have made it illegal for businesses to discriminate against bikers. Apparently, bikers sometimes go into bars and restaurants and are refused service because the managers don't want to deal with their kind.

Not surprisingly, the bill didn't even make it out of committee. But it did get me thinking.

I asked my husband, "Why is it okay to discriminate against bikers and not against black people?"

He said, "Because it is a choice to be a biker."

I said, "What does that have to do with anything?"

I'm guessing the reasoning goes something like this: If you don't like the fact that people treat you poorly because you are a biker, then stop being a biker. Problem solved.

Black people, women people, deaf people, older people--they don't have a choice to be in these particular groups, so if someone treats them poorly they need to have some sort of legal recourse.

There are two major problems I have with the whole I was born this way argument.

1) When a person says I was born this way it's like they're saying I can't help being this way. And when a person says, I can't help being this way, It's like they're saying, If I could help it, I would. Like when a person says, I can't help eating lots of chocolate what they are also saying is, I have no control over my chocolate eating habits, don't you think if I could eat less chocolate, I would?!!

By defaulting to the immutable characteristic argument, the person is in someway agreeing that their immutable characteristic is not ideal, but they have no control over it.

Perhaps my concern with this argument is obvious. But if it's not, I will explain it now.

It is true that I was born black. And as of right now, there is no way for me to change that fact about myself. However, even if I could change it, I wouldn't. I like being black, and it is a significant part of my identity. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, and so I don't see any reason to be anything different.

2) The second problem with the born this way argument, is that it opens up the idea that people who aren't born a certain way are legitimate targets for discrimination/poor treatment. Like bikers: Well, no one told you to be a biker, so if you don't like the dirty looks/decreased employment opportunities/ etc. you get, stop associating yourself with that lifestyle.

This completely overlooks the fact that it is the people who are doling out the poor treatment that are in the wrong, not the people choosing to wear leather pants and long hair. It doesn't matter if I choose to present myself in a certain way or not, am I not entitled to be treated with the same dignity and respect as people that appear in a way that is more pleasing to you?

Well, bikers have a reputation for being rowdy, it makes sense that a restaurant owner might not want them there.

Well, black people have a reputation for being rowdy too. But if you turn a black guy away from your restaurant because he's black, he can sue you.

This leads me into a nice transition to my next point: Why is it illegal to discriminate against people of a certain race, sex, age etc.?

One thing that I learned from reading The Help was that it was illegal for black and white people to commingle. Now, I know that they were called Jim Crow laws, but I didn't put two and two together that black and white people couldn't eat at the same lunch counter, even if they wanted to. In my mind, it was like the stuff about voting and running for office were the laws, and the stuff about the restaurants and stores were more like customs. But no, it would appear that even if a black person and white person were each consenting to hang out together in a public place, they could be arrested.

Obviously, this is bad. But I don't necessarily agree that the answer to it's illegal to have black and white people eat together is it's illegal for black and white people not to eat together.

Ok, hear me out. What rights do individual business owners have about who they will or won't serve in their establishments? You may remember that Rand Paul made a similar argument, but he got his booty handed to him.

Clearly, it is okay in our society for a business owner to say, We don't serve bikers. Why not okay to say we don't serve black people? Is it because black people went through slavery and bikers didn't?

I personally would like to go to places where I am welcomed with a smile, and not have to wonder if I am being served only because it would be illegal not to serve me. If a person put up a sign that said whites only, that might be better, because then I would know that that person didn't want me (or my money) and I could find another establishment to support. It would also help because then I would know which of my white friends did go to these businesses, which would help me get a better understanding of what their priorities were. Like how I can't go to Chick-Fil-A anymore for delicious chicken sandwiches with extra pickles because Chick-Fil-A doesn't like gay people.

It seems like a more reasonable response to Jim Crow laws would have been, it's no longer illegal for blacks and whites to hang out, so now do whatever you choose to do. Some business would have stayed segregated, and some would have decided to integrate. And everyone would know where they were and weren't welcome.

Well, black people pay taxes and small business owners get tax breaks, so these businesses should be open to everyone.

Bikers pay taxes too.

It's like by making discrimination illegal, we didn't stop people from wanting to discriminate--we just basically forced them not to. And that forcing thing hasn't really been going very well. Because most places where there is some element of choice--schools, churches, neighborhoods, etc. are still quite segregated.

If discrimination was still legal, we would all have much clearer picture of what we were working with. Perhaps I could avoid situations like this one. Maybe we could finally see just how far we have (or haven't) come.

Just a couple of other things before I close: I would not be a proponent of making discrimination legal in any public or government space (like libraries, government buildings, public schools etc.) Also, it is quite possible that since I never lived in the era of whites only signs that I have no idea of their damaging psychological impact. Perhaps being followed around in stores and/or receiving poor service is actually a major upgrade.

My basic point is this: In an ideal world, anyone could go anywhere and be treated with kindness, because we all recognized each other's common humanity. But there is a reason that be nice is not a law in any state, city or municipality: Because you can't legislate morality. People don't treat others decently because they have to, they do it because they want to. We should be focusing on getting people to want to, not forcing their hands through laws.

So what do you think? Is this the most brilliant thing you've ever read? Are you wondering if I smoked something since it's 4/20? Whatever your thoughts, you know I want to hear them. Leave me a comment!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rick Santorum, blah people , and me.

A few weeks ago (before he dropped out of the race,) I had a dream about Rick Santorum.

I dreamt we were in a church, and I was sitting in one of the pews. He had his head in my lap, and I was stroking his hair to comfort him about something--I don't know what. Then a group of beings (I don't know if they were people or monsters,) started to come into the church, and Rick and I ran away from them up towards the front. And then the dream was over.

Weird, huh? Though I'm not sure the last time anyone had a normal dream.

I know that I don't have strong positive feelings for Rick Santorum, so why was I stroking his hair in a church?

Then I remembered something that my old therapist told me when we were discussing one of my dreams. Yes, people really do talk about their dreams in therapy.

He told me to look at it as though each person in the dream was some manifestation of me.

Using this lens, I decided that what this dream was telling me was that I need to let more of the conservative side of my personality come out. Because to my unconscious mind, Rick Santorum represents conservative values. I also interpreted the horde of beings that chased us as backlash from liberal people of all races for expressing more conservative views.

Because that's the tricky thing about race: All the different groups have things that are generally accepted as being okay for them to say, and they have other ideas that they can say that will quickly get them labeled with some not so nice names. I have come to the conclusion that people can label me however they'd like, 'cause that's really all on them.

I am not trying to win some blacker than thou contest; I am keenly aware of how people might think I do (or don't) measure up. What I am trying to do is look for real solutions to problems that sometimes keep me up at night. I know what is in my heart, and ultimately that is what is most important.

So get ready to hear some more republican-y stuff. Maybe even this week if I am feeling particularly productive.

If you have comments you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The State of Florida v. George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder. My first reaction upon hearing the charge was surprise. I figured he would be charged with manslaughter or something similar. I am not a lawyer, but I have watched a lot of lawyer shows. It seems like it might be hard to prove intent. And I think the worst possible outcome would be Zimmerman getting off because the jury thinks that he is guilty of something, but not 2nd degree murder.

That being said, the prosecutor knows much more about the case than I do, and this is what she thought the appropriate charge was. I hope that the jurors that are chosen will listen with an open mind, and follow the law.

Also, let me take this opportunity to encourage you to eagerly serve your community if you are ever called for jury duty. That running joke of people doing whatever they can to get out of it...I've never really understood that. Intelligent people with life experience can do a great service if they give their time for such an important activity. A person's life could literally depend on it.

So, what do you think? About the case in general? The charge? What you think the future holds? Whatever you feel like sharing, I'm all ears.

P.S. Right before I went to hit post, I thought about the part that I wrote that said the worst possible outcome would be...

I didn't say/think that the worst possible outcome would be for George Zimmerman to be convicted of something he is not guilty of. That troubles me, and I think it speaks to how charged this case has become. At the end of the day, George Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty, and he is entitled to a fair trial.

So yeah, if you have any comments--you should leave them for me.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Clueless no more.

I think I've said all I have to say about the Trayvon Martin case. At least until the grand jury says whatever it has to say, or there is some other major development.

So today, I am going to share with you with two interesting pieces of trivia. One I've known for awhile, and one I just learned.

1) When basketball first came out, white people said black people would make unsuitable players. I learned this from watching a documentary about the Harlem Globetrotters. I can't remember if it's because they thought black people would be too dumb, or weren't up to the physical demands of the game. I spent way too much of this morning trying to refresh my memory via the internet. But let me tell you, typing reasons black people are not well-suited for basketball into google doesn't get one very far.

2) Fried chicken was brought to the United States by Scottish immigrants.

I don't know how you'd make the first one a trivia question. Maybe you could just make it true/false. Either way, some interesting race and ethnicity related tidbits you probably didn't already know.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that I have recently added an option whereby you can have new posts emailed to you. This is good if you are a reader who has this site bookmarked, because Lord knows I update this blog...sporadically. It will save you some valuable clicking time, because the new posts will just come right to your inbox. You can sign up over on the sidebar to the right.

Finally, I also wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for reading my blog. Whether you've been reading from the beginning, or have just recently come aboard; whether you frequently leave comments, or never leave them; whether you agree with me, or just like to come and shake your fist at the computer screen: I appreciate you taking time out of your day to read what I have to say (:

Comments? You know what to do.