Monday, July 16, 2012

A little known -ism.

I was going to call this post, An -ism you've probably never heard of, but I have mentioned it here.

It is also true that you look at and read other things besides this blog, and so it is possible that you learned about it somewhere else. It's helpful for me to remember that my readers aren't as fascinated with my blog as I am. You're not sitting in front of your computers frantically hitting refresh yelling, "WHEN IS MYBLACKFRIENDSAYS.COM GOING TO PUT UP ANOTHER POST??!!?!"

Well, maybe you are--but you shouldn't be.

Ok, on to the video. It is pretty self-explanatory, so just go ahead and watch it below. And resist the temptation to skip over it and keep reading, because it is a really good video that you should watch. And you know I wouldn't say that if it weren't true.

I originally saw this video on this blog. The first time I saw it, I almost started to cry. I share that with you not to influence your perception of my level of commitment to the cause, but in the hopes that since I shared my reaction, you might be more willing to share yours.

Just a couple more things. One, I think about the fact that if these tweeters were talking about almost any other group of people, there would be outrage. That is not to say that someone couldn't put together a video of a bunch of derogatory tweets about black people or gay people or intellectually disabled people or overweight people. But I think even if you did find a bunch of tweets like that, such a large portion of the tweets would not be related to said targeted group killing themselves or ceasing to exist.

On a related (and probably more important) note, if the average person was following a tweeter who said something racist or homophobic etc. they might be more taken aback/likely to say something than if you saw a tweet talking about how the tweeter doesn't like short guys. It's like, heightism is way more ingrained in our culture. I mean, I have a degree in this stuff and I had never even heard the word heightism before a couple of months ago. When I type it, my computer gives me the red squiggly line under it that tells me it is a word that it doesn't recognize. It doesn't do that when I type racism. Or homophobia.

Which leads me to my final point. The only reason that my computer recognizes the words racism and homophobia is because some people a long time ago that had to deal with racism and homophobia were like, "You know what? This is a bunch of bullmess. I'm tired of this and even more tired of being told that any problems I have to deal with because of this are my problems. These are your problems too, you racist/homophobic dumbass."

[I'm sorry for the salty language, but my people from a long time ago were really mad.]

Similarly, the only reason I heard this word and saw this video is because the guy who runs that blog decided to start a blog to tell people more about heightism. Once again , it all comes back to people taking action to try and help create the world they want to see. It really is that simple (and that hard.)

So, what was your reaction to the video? What do you think about heightism? How have you perpetuated it? Have you ever experienced it yourself? I'd love to hear your answers to these questions or anything else you might like to share in the comments section.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Made in America.

Here's a commercial that I've wanted to post about for awhile. It's promoting the website The sound quality is not the greatest, because for some reason doesn't have this commerical on their official youtube channel. So this is just a video of someone recording the commerical off of their tv.

If you couldn't hear it, the man is saying how he was "afraid" of what he might find on the website, yet turned out to be pleasantly surprised that his relative, "was born a slave, but died a businessman."

Now, I have written before about how I feel about the word "but".
What if this guy's great-grandfather had been born a slave and died a slave? He makes it seem like the fact that his ancestor became a businessman is some sort of saving grace. Which begs the question: is there supposed to be some shame associated with being the descendant of slaves?

On a semi-tangent, one of my favorite quotes as a teenager was, It is better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees. I first heard it in a Star Trek movie. I'm not sure why I liked the quote, probably because it was all about being courageous and standing up for yourself, both things I like to try to do my own life. However, I think on some level that even at that young age, I was equating it with the black struggle for freedom.

Then I read this really thought provoking book called Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal. In it, Randall Kennedy makes a really worthwhile argument about the idea of rebellion and why some blacks might have chosen not to participate, or even to inform white slave owners about plans for uprisings.

Kennedy points out that those people, (that many would call sellouts,) could have been motivated by the fact that slave uprisings were rarely successful, and often resulted in many other slaves that weren't actively participating in the uprising being severely punished. So the informant would tell in an attempt to serve what he/she saw as the greater good.

I am not saying whether that is the right or wrong way to look at the situation, just that I can understand that point of view. I suppose I am also saying that in this instance, there isn't necessarily a right or wrong side of the issue--just a lot of murky, unpleasant shades of grey.

So if we go back to my quote, we should remember that black people weren't freed from slavery because of some uprising. They were set free because of the proclamation of a white vampire hunter.

Addtitonally, if one of my ancestors had decided to die on his/her feet instead of live as a slave, I wouldn't be sitting here on the world's most comfortable couch writing this blog post--because I wouldn't exist.

As I wrote that last sentence, I started to get emotional thinking about my ancestors, whoever they might have been. I just want them to know that I appreciate what they went through, whether they died as slaves, or businessmen, or maids, or warriors, or nurses, or alcoholics, or whatever. They were all people trying to make the best out of their lives, with the resources they had available to them. And there is honor in that.

And now it's question time, dear readers...

What do you know (or not know) about your own family history? Where did you learn this information?
How do you think you would feel if you knew you descended from slaves?
How do you think you would feel if you knew you had descended from slave owners?
What (if anything,) do we learn about ourselves when we learn about our distant relatives?

Feel free to answer these questions, or tell me anything else you'd like to share by leaving me a comment.