Monday, May 19, 2008

change is inevitable- thinking out loud edition

unless you live in rural america. jollyroger wrote a post recently- and it ties in with my thoughts lately so thanks jolly :)- where he asked whether or not there was any hope of moving these types of folks into the 21st century. my quick answer is no- but that isn't really where my thought patterns are going lately. my question is- what is it that makes some folks- or some groups of folks- cling so desperately to the past? it isn't just america- but i live here so i can be critical (plus, i am not a big one for all kinds of change either). america is touted as one of the most educated (most college degrees) in the developed world and yet- we still have people voting based on reactions to skin color and gender.

anyway- i wonder if it's a genetic thing- or a learned thing- or both? this horrible fear of other human beings that look and sound different than us? oh- that sounds enlightened doesn't it? it isn't. i can be just as petty and mean as any bigoted person with prejudice- because i am human. i try hard not to be- and it is a deliberate thought process on my part because i think about how the other person would feel to be sliced and diced by me. and it demeans me to slice and dice. doesn't stop me when i get mad- that isn't bragging- it's being honest.

it isn't just west virginia or kentucky- some of the most small minded, bigoted, prejudiced people live right here on the border of pennsylvania- a hop, skip and jump from scranton, pa- here in upstate new york. in fact, more than a few live here on my block in a fairly diverse small city in the middle of a sea of white. very blue collar and mostly white but there has been an influx of immigrants from eastern europe, asia and southeast asia, and black and hispanic folks from new york city. that has the blue collar whites' knickers in a twist let me tell ya.

anyhoo- i have been giving it thought lately because i have been nailing clinton to the wall- and i have to say it might be a bit unfair. why? because it has been mostly the clintonistas- her minions who i have had the most problems with. now, granted, she courted them- but they ran with it. these are the same people who i hear women of color and lesbian, bi, and trans women complain about being exclusionary. these are the same people who, under ordinary circumstances, would vote mccain. my beef with hillary is that she is a liar. and i thought more of her than that.

oh- right- the bigots in west virginia. it has been bandied about that throwing more education in places like that helps. emmm.... perhaps. some of the most educated bigots have seats in our highest places of government and industry. i come up short on how to change hearts and minds. because really- when it boils right down to it- how do you stop people from hating other people when they seek out people to hate? they seek reasons to hate you or me- or obama or clinton or muslims or catholics- or whoever. i don't think that those women shown on the video that stewart showed necessarily meant to sound horrible or that they aren't as nice as can be- with their own kind. it is almost an instinctual thing for them because i doubt few have been out of the county where they were born. perhaps that's it. with such a limited world view- how can we expect these people to consider anyone else as people- especially when they don't look like them? i am not making excuses- just thinking out loud.

when you have insulated communities, you get isolationist, us-against-them mentalities. it's easy to be prejudiced when you don't live next to the people you are prejudiced against. but that really doesn't work in places like bosnia or the middle east or parts of africa- those folks kill their neighbors. sigh. i don't know. any thoughts?


Naj said...

First, "hillary & mccain are the same", ditto!

I personally think racism is some inherent biological phenomena related to self-preservation.

For example, when we say things like "Family above all", we are engaging in racism; in some ways; or when we get giddy to have found the biological father who conceived us 45 years ago, we are practicing racism!

Ironically, I think for as much political correctness as implemented in public discourse in the US; this nation is not yet politically correct yet. Older nations have learned to dress their racism, America has not.

I have Jewish friends who complain of racism against sephardic jews, by ashkenazies

I have Black friends who complain of racism against darker blacks by lighter blacks

I have German friends who stand around the water cooler and talk about their "true German" blood and physiognomy

I have Iranian friends who consider Arabs "semites" and themselves "Aryans"

I have Chinese friends who tell me that secretly, they consider the whites to be savages

I liked the taboo placed on racial discrimination; I like the legislations that monitor for it; I don't think opening up a discussion about race should sanctify drawing racial lines of divide; because I think racism IS a natural tendency, but by the same token so is violence, and so is imperialism!

I was "never" made aware of the color of my skin until I one day visited an old black friend whom I hadn't seen for 10 years; she had two children, one 4 and the other 1. The NOVEL look the one year old boy gave me, the way he was grabbing and examining my white hand, the bewildered look he gave this ugly pale creature who I was, the curiosity with which he examined and discovered my soft brown hair made me realize that our bodies react to race; until we "develop" cerebral skills to reconstruct our experiences of the world differently, just as we do with language, for example.

In that sense, then I cannot blame people who live in isolated rural areas for their intolerance; because they have not LEARNED the "other", and learning the other comes by touching, by exposure, by building trust and communication.

The black friend that I mentioned moved from Canada, because she felt she was a "visible minority", and she went to US to blend in ... interestingly she chose an all-black neighborhood, where she feels the weight of race FAR more strongly than she ever did in Canada ...

JollyRoger said...

I am assuming that those who believe racism is biological have naver had any children.

A child does not know the difference until it is explained to him or her. I know this because a couple of my best friends were Black, and my kids absolutely adored both of them; they'd race up, grab them by the hand, and lead them into their room to show them this or that toy.

Up until I saw this, I too might have wondered. I don't wonder now. Racism is a taught stupidity.