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Posts Tagged ‘race’

affirmative action

My pa sent this piece to me, perhaps it’s of interest to y’all.

Something I found interesting about it:
The writer speaks of “unconscious bias”. Doesn’t this seem like a redundant statement? If you were aware that you were biased wouldn’t you do something about it? I’d like to think so, but maybe not. Maybe the point is that unconsciously or not our society doesn’t really want to change.

I think it’s interesting even in our speech how we handle these issues. When describing this problem the writer says “So why is it that people of color still lag so far behind their white female counterparts” When of course the problem here is not that POC are at fault and “lag behind” but rather our system and those in power are lagging. And yet this sentence by it’s structure places that blame on them. While I’m guessing Sophia A. Nelson never meant to imply that (and I’m sure someone will argue I’m reading too much into this and they probably have a point) I still think it’s reflective of how we view our society and it’s problems and how this “unconscious bias” infiltrates how we even start to talk about it.

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Sexist Lionso today i went on a walk. i was dressed in a long flowy patterned skirt, a black tank top, flip flops, a long necklace made of shells, two rings, and a bracelet, with my hair in a long braid. FYI my skin is brown and my hair is black and people say that i look “indian” whatever that means. im 5’4″. and i have a long-term boyfriend (which is relevant to this story) and i love him and he is super nice and devoted to me and he is a feminist and he is like one of the few men in the world im comfortable being around.

so on my way home from my walk, i was sweating up a storm because it was hot and humid outside. but i must have looked approachable despite my eclectic appearance, for this 40-something man comes up to me, 15 feet near my house (i hope he didn’t know that that was my house), and says, “hi, i saw you in tarrytown, and its nervous to talk to someone you dont know. and i just think you are really pretty, and you must be a nice person.”

at this point i was still flattered. i had seen this guy walking out of town as i walked into town. i dont remember if i smiled at him or just ignored him. i have this huge problem when i walk in populated places. i dont know where my eyes should go. first of all, im nearsighted, so its awkward to sqiunt at someone who might be someone i know. i dont remember though, if i had this problem since before i became nearsighted a few years ago. so i walk and walk, and there are plenty of people, walking around, or sitting around, or talking to each other. i dont know if it would be aggressive to look at them, and my natural impulse is to look at the ground a few feet ahead of me. it feels safer, since i dont know what people me to do with my eyes, atleast i wont have to watch them be awkward around my own awkwardness. but then, i feel like im being passive and submissive. so i try to look ahead of me at eye level, sometimes smiling at people with babies and pets, but usually not smiling because many people tend to look straight ahead of them and not smile back, and then i feel sheepish for having made the effort of smiling at them. also i worry, what if someone saw me smile at them and them not smiling back, and thought i was a fool?

damn, it sucks to be me? idk.

so i dont remember if this 40-something man, who has a mustache and beard, mostly black, peppered with some white, and misaligned teeth (not too bad, many people have misaligned teeth and they are not altogether unappealing to look at), maybe 5’7″, wearing a faded teal t-shirt and probably jeans and i think dark sneakers…was someone i smiled at the first time he saw me. probably i tried to look at him to send him the message that i wasnt afraid of him (even though i kinda was, im afraid of mainstream looking white people, as well as white men with a weird/cautious gait, which he had). but i tried and looked at the faces of many people i met, so that i wouldnt seem/feel scared of them.

so here i am, on my way back home, pretty much there already. the guy is walking towards me, as though he were on his own walk out of town and then was walking back into town. i looked at his face again and then diverted my eyes to look straight ahead in front of me as soon as i saw that he was nervously meeting my eye. do not want to get into a conversation with this stranger. he says, “hi, i saw you in tarrytown, and i just think you are really pretty, and you must be a nice person.” so i feel like he’s just being a nice person, like my friend alene, who says nice things like that randomly to people, and then is offended when theyre weirded out. i dont want to offend people who are random kind strangers. so i take off my headphones and i say, “oh thanks,” chuckling appreciatively. oh lord. i wish i hadnt. then he says, “if sometime, youre free, i would like to talk to you,” and im like oh shit i shouldnt have let my guard down, but im still optimistic that he means he wants to hang out as friends. im like maybe he just wants to meet someone to be friends with because maybe he is hopelessly depressed and suicidal and maybe a kind word from me would detract him (this reminds me of lucie’s stand-up comedy piece about a similar, though probably fictional situation). but theres a lot of weird tension and i think he is looking at my chest. so i go, “well that would be good, but i already kind of have a boyfriend, if that’s what you mean,” and he’s like “yeah, youre probably too young for me anyway,” and im like “yeah” (i wish really badly that i had said, “youre probably too old for me” dammit. i want to be more assertive and less “sure id totally fuck you, and ofc you can be on top obviously, if only it werent for my pesky boyfriend!” ew ew ew ew this is really grossing me out but thats how i feel, like i might as well have said that instead.)

and then he’s like “how old are you, twenties?” and im like “mhm,” cuz all this is happening too fast for me to formulate how im going to tell him to go fuck off, and he’s like “youre from india, right?” and im like “yeah” and he’s like “and your parents are from india?” and im like “yeah” and i feel really mad that i was so conciliatory and let him get away with asking me personal questions. he’s like “so are you religious in any way?” and im like “that’s a complicated question” and he’s like “yeah, i feel a real affinity with indian culture something blabla spiritual” and im like “mhm,” and he’s like “what’s your name” and this is what im most mad about, that i didnt say “ramona” which is my fake name for creepers who might be stalkers, and tell him what my real name is. and he goes “im jim” and he hands me his hand and i shake it and i ingratiatingly say “nice to meet you” because at this point the choice is between telling him off and potentially getting stalked/killed, or being nice to him and hoping he doesnt bother me anymore due to the nice impression i left on him, at least in my mind anyway. im afraid of this guy and i hope he lets me leave this conversation soon. and then he’s like “have a nice day” and im like “you have a nice day too and thanks for saying those nice things about me, im sure youre a nice person too” and then he walks off in the direction he came from. and im like did he walk all the way back from his walk towards the other direction, to say this to me???? so instead of walking straight to my house i kinda make a little detour and then walk to my house, looking behind me in case he wants to know where i live, and he’s not there so i go home.

well, fuck. was this guy a total creeper? ofc he embodies everything i hate about male-dominated rape culture, he intrudes into my life, probably because he feels (rightly) that i wont tell him to fuck off because im this passive indian woman who is wearing flowy south-asian inspired clothes and jewelry, and he thinks he has the right to comment on what i look like and what kind of person i must be (“a nice person”) and then he asks me out even though that is inappropriate because he is more than twice my age.

so how much should one be scared of a person like this? in general, im scared of most males, even if they dont do anything wrong to me, because i always feel like if things came to a certain climax, they would be mean to me and do something wrong to me. and this is not paranoia, because this is the pattern that has led to much of my alienation with males to begin with, even my little brother, who is not so little anymore. and plus so many of my female friends have to deal with patriarchal bullshit but feel like they cant say anything and then they continue to be kind, though maybe the slightest bit more distant, with these male friends who have hurt them. because women are taught to be graceful about being insulted or intruded upon or used or abused.

fuck this shit. i want to scream through a loudspeaker. i dont want to be graceful or elegant like i was with this man, sad and weird though he might have been. even someone so meek-looking and non-mainstream like him has the ability to make me worried about what he is going to do to me. not to mention his abhorrent rudeness and assumptions about my culture, life, family, religion, and personality. he thinks he has me figured out. he tricks me into shaking his hand. he leaves me unsettled about whether he knows where i live and whether he is going to follow me in the future or if he has already followed me to the point where we talked today. he tricks me into being nice to him when im actually afraid and want to back out of this conversation. im glad though that he turned around and left, instead of waiting for me to leave. though i dont think he understood to extent to which he had been making me uncomfortable. and even though he was somewhat courteous about it, nothing like “you have a hot body” or anything so overt as “i love indian women, they are so exotic, like you!”, everything he said amounts to the expression of a feeling of entitlement to talk to me, to know about me, to ask me out.

ew. im home safe and i took a shower. now im wearing men’s clothes. i feel better about this relatively small event. but i remain worried about the bigger implications of all this. and i worry that he lives in this town and i worry that my rejection made him feel bad and i worry that he may be suicidal and i worry that he will look up my name and follow me around and possibly kill me, like that man who killed the wesleyan student who had rejected his advances.

damn.

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interesting

rachel welchA woman who wants to shield herself from sin pledges to save her first kiss for after marriage.

click me

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towelhead I just watched “Towelhead: Nothing is Private” on surfthechannel.com and I can’t recommend it enough.  The film focuses on a 13-year-old, half Lebanese girl named Jazeera and contrary to the title, the movie dedicates much more time to gender issues and the complex relationship between gender and race, than to race issues alone.  The film, which is based on Alicia Erian’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, tackles  a range of feminist concerns (from virginity to homosexuality to the mixed messages women receive as they go through puberty to unwanted sexual advances from older men) and does so with striking honesty as well as a microscopic accuracy.  Recalling my pre-teen years as I followed Jazeera’s story, I often found myself thinking “wow…I thought I was alone in this…”  One scene that really stuck out was when Jazeera discovers masturbation.  That’s right!  Not only do women masturbate, we start pretty damn young!  Discreetly she rubs her thighs together while sitting at her school desk or the outdoor lunch table.  Flashback to when I was in 7th grade and the boy I had a crush on, caught me under these exact circumstances.

Jazeera’s relationship with a black boy in her grade (not ok with her father) was impressively nuanced and it showed how even this very well-intentioned, likable boy could, with his attitude of protectionism and entitlement, add to a troubled girl’s confusion instead of filling the typical, heroic role so often seen in blockbuster films about STRONG, INDEPENDENT women.  In one scene, the boy, who is angry about hearing how Jazeera really lost her virginity, says “that was my blood,” to which Jazeera responds “no it wasn’t.  it was my blood.”

While the film picks up on many feminist frustrations, Jazeera’s trials are not once over dramatized.  Furthermore, the film does not attempt to give a story of womanhood, domestic violence, and rape, a clean, lifetime ending.  The conclusion, while very hopeful, does not offer any feel-good delusions about the future of Jazeera’s relationship with her boyfriend, her traditional father, or her inappropriate neighbor (played by Aaron Eckhart).

While Jazeera remains very shy and mild-mannered throughout the movie, one can see her gradually learning (sometimes on her own, sometimes from others) how to respond to the racism and sexism she experiences.  Are her responses are the best?  I don’t know and I don’t think its very relevant.  But they do very realistically reflect how us conscious creatures begin to notice that something is just a little off.

You can watch the movie on surfthechannel.com.   Five stars.  brilliant.

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