Thursday, November 16, 2017

Elephant in the Room - Race

I want to talk about race. The cultural differences, protest, and other things that make people feel uncomfortable. That makes me feel uncomfortable. I am not trying to "race bait", I am just trying to open up a dialogue - not about slavery, not about civil rights of the 60s, but about us..today.

Cracker

I will start by saying I am white, like real white. I often jokingly call myself a cracker. People have always said I needed a tan, that they can't look at me without sunglasses, and I've been called translucent, or other similar things that made me feel inferior.

I come from northern European heritage, my ass is flat as a pancake. I exercise, my buns are toned, I just don't carry my fat there. I carry in my boobs and belly. No matter how much I lose, my boobs and belly are not proportionate to the rest of me. The style now is to have that back, but I have a flat back. I want to have the fat taken from my belly and put in my butt, but I don't have money for that.

I also want my size G boobs reduced to size C, but insurances don't cover that, and I don't have the money for it, either, so they are starting to get saggy.

It is fair to say I don't like my appearance very much.

We Don't Even Support or Own Cultures

Yesterday, I read a blog that a Latina wrote about people stereotyping Latinas as being sex pots or great lovers, etc. She says that she doesn't identify with that generalization, but not just white people do it, people of her own heritage do it. She uses examples of Latin TV shows to support her case. You can read it. I linked it above, so I won't go into everything it says.

You see it everywhere now. On the football fields, in blogs, and on the news are many stories about people who are ready to open dialogue for a better society. I don't know about you, but this actually makes me more self-conscious, more awkward, and more reserved - especially the term "white privilege".

I have a few personal stories to tell that have made me also be ready to open some dialogue. The next couple paragraphs will be about that.

Like I said before, I am too white according to other people...mostly whites. I have seen that brown is where to be. If you are on either side of the spectrum, somehow you are not good enough.

It is stylish to have a curvy body, but the curves better be in the right places, or again, you are not good enough.

Some Personal Experiences

The other day, I was at the grocery store walking down the middle main aisle. Two African American ladies...older ladies...came out of a side aisle while I was still a little ways back. They were visiting and stopped, so I just kept walking thinking they will have moved before I got there. They didn't. One lady said, "Come on, baby, you can come through." The other lady said, "I'm not gonna move for her". So, I just said it was ok, I could go around and go down the side aisle.

I don't know the reason why, but I couldn't help but think she didn't want to move because I was white.

My daughter and I lived in the "projects " for about six months when I was down on my luck and health. She was the only little white girl out playing. They had an older African American lady who sold homemade popsicles for 25 cents. All the kids would go buy, so my daughter went with them. She told my 7-year-old daughter that she wouldn't sell to her because she was a "blue-eyed devil". She told her to never even come close to her apartment. I still let my daughter play with other kids. I let other kids come in and play with her. I have never raised my daughter to think some races are better than others. In fact, she is a multiracial friend and dater today.

I had "white bitch" painted on my door one day. My daughter had to see that. We then moved in with a friend of mine where my daughter and I had to share a tiny room, and share the bathroom with 2 other people.

When I tell these stories, I imagine, and sometimes can see, people rolling their eyes. I imagine them thinking,"oh, poor little white girl got her feelings hurt." It is more than that. With the "white privilege" movement, I have got more and more reserved. I don't like talking to people in person. I always feel I am saying the wrong things, even if someone has the same cultural background as me - like I am always skating on thin ice.

I get allergy shots, and everyone at that office is African American. One day I went in sunburnt, so I was joking that I go straight from white to burnt, because I am too white. They laughed, but I got in my car and worried that I was being offensive.

One time in a cultural psychology class, I told the class about my daughter calling any one of another race, brown. She was about 8 at the time. She was telling me something about a classmate, and I said, "oh, the blonde", and she said, "no, the brown girl". I told the class that I didn't correct her. I didn't know what to correct her for as she was using it as a descriptor, so I just didn't say anything. Some of the African American women in the class chuckled and shook their heads, and I was left thinking I had done something wrong but didn't know what.

Present Day

This morning, I brought my daughter, who is now 15, to her counselor's office. At this point, I mainly just keep to myself. With more protest and racial issues, I constantly worry about offending someone or saying the wrong thing. You will usually just find my head in a book or looking at my phone to play a game.

I am pretty closed off. But this morning, an African American woman and child came in. I soon was able to tell that it was a grandmother and teenage granddaughter.

I was struck by how much their stories sound like our stories, not because they were black, but because it was just typical teenage stuff...and typical advice people give teenagers. A couple times I wanted to make a comment, but I am worried about saying stuff that shows "white privilege" or whatever.

At the moment that she was telling her granddaughter about making a career for herself and never counting on a man to provide for her, I decided to open up.

I said, "I always tell my daughter the same thing". We got to talking and found we shared a love for animals. I have fish, cats, and dogs, and so does she. I had a dog named Bright Eyes as a kid, and they had one previously, too. We have owned all sorts of small animals, and so had she. We had a great conversation about instilling pride and self-esteem into young girls, and the time was passed in a better way than me sitting and staring at my phone.

Had I been afraid to say anything, I would have missed the joy of meeting this woman and her granddaughter.

Where Do We Go?

That is what prompted me to write this blog. At what point do we make the gap between us bigger? At what point do we fear being ourselves so much that we just shut ourselves off from everyone?

Is there a way to open positive dialogue without pushing people away?

Can we just accept that some people say the wrong thing? I mean, I think everyone does that at some time. Can't we just be more forgiving, more lenient?

At what point do we find a way to build people up without tearing others down? I truly believe there has to be a way.

Today

In my daughter's school, people of all races are friends with each other. There are gay people, trans people, people of different cultural backgrounds, and they all have friends, and they all get dates.

They think nothing of inter-racial couples. I hate to think that we have to wait for them to grow up so the world can change. Maybe there's a way that everyone can work together to make that change today.

I don't know what the answer is. I wrote this because I would love to see some comments from different people, and their perspectives and experiences. 

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