Monday, December 10, 2012

Double Standards

I think about things a little differently than most. I used to believe that my perspective was common, but when I spout off my ideas, the people around me look at me as if I'm a one of those homeless people who are slowly leaking crazy all over the floor, and why won't they quit babbling?

When it comes to ideas about women's rights and feminism, I'm ambivalent. That's a weird thing coming from a woman, I know, but hear me out. Top tier for me are human rights. Is this woman being treated fairly and rightfully as a human being? Are there some human beings receiving rights and benefits that she is not? Why?

I don't care that the answer is because she is a woman. I only care that she is treated fairly. How she is treated should have nothing to do with her gender (or sex--but that's a whole 'nother can of bananas). Yet some people make women's rights not about equaling up the playing field, but about women getting what they deserve.

It ends up with this weird mixture of regression and spite. For example, people behaving as if women should be the ones deciding if what's happening to them is fair or not. However, how is that different from our current system in which mostly men (of a certain demographic) decide the rightness of a situation?

I despise double standards. When the implications of a societal norm are not thought out, it leaves everyone hurt. Take, for instance, the issue of physical threats. We're in a bar. It's night and the place is crowded and boisterous. A man laughs loudly with his friends, making large gestures with his arms as he tells a grand story. He steps back in his reenactment and bumps into a woman behind him and spills her drink onto her blouse. "Sorry," he says. In response, the woman dashes the contents of her glass in the man's face. The man shoves the woman lightly.

In most cases, the man will be bounced or have the cops called on him. What happens to the woman? Oh well, you see...physical disparities. Well, let's change the woman to a scrawny twenty-one year old dude. What happens in this scenario? Why is it different? Oh, still a strength discrepancy? Let's make the man who spills the drink a linebacker. Well, the young guy should know better than to throw a drink in man's face when he has no chance of defending himself.

And a woman shouldn't? But, someone will think, the man shouldn't be resorting to physical violence at all. And the woman should? Throwing her drink in his face is an assault, no doubt about it. Oh, it burns me. I've read too many stories in which a man is maimed by some woman and she isn't even called out on it, let alone punished. I seem to be the only reader who is disturbed. This is an ideal situation? Why is this acceptable?

Why are rights treated as if they were non-replenishable and scarce resources? Giving women more rights doesn't mean they have to be taken away from men. Just because some men oppress doesn't mean that they are all inferior.

It will take a lot of relearning on all sides for gender relationships to become truly equalized. If no one is superior to the other, then no one should be treated as superior. That's a roundabout statement and not an obvious one at that. We women can sometimes demand contrary things. We won't our dinners paid for and our doors held open, but we don't want to pay for a man's dinner or open his door. No, we'd rather just pay for our own meals and open our own doors if everyone's going to get touchy about it. Remember this anniversary, we demand. Yet the things that are important to the guy we deem unimportant and fail to remember.

This culture of treating men as if they were expendable oafs is toxic. No one will win this war.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chicken & Watermelon

My husband told me something extraordinarily funny: he won't eat watermelon in public. He thinks that  doing so would perpetuate a stereotype. He likes watermelon as well as any other fruit, but that particular one has too much negative meaning.

"Yeah, and then I'll bury my face in a wedge and spit out the seeds like a machine gun." He'd then demonstrate the seed spitting--side to side in an ignorant way. It was a messy eating of a person who doesn't know much. What would always make me laugh was how vehement he would look while doing it. "I's sho duz like me some waddermelons!" he'd say, pumping a fist to the side. Sometimes he'd add an irrelevant "Massah!" for effect.

There's sadness mixed in his portrayal. He can't be who he really is. If he reaches for watermelon, there's all of this judgment and contempt attached to it. It becomes a spectacle. Even if no one else around him would think that and he knew that, he'd know that image was in the collective mind. He wouldn't even eat any at a church friend's home because he said he can't in front of white people. His main problem was that it was still on the rind. It being cubed and in a bowl would have let him keep some dignity, I guess.

The simple act of showing like for a certain piece of food becomes a dilemma. I remember from my high school days an incident that occurred during our lunch. They had cooked too much fried chicken (they usually ran out of food) and since they didn't want to throw it out, they offered more portions to the students. Well, the principal came to the "black tables" first. I don't remember any of us accepting the offer, although some white kids did. We never mentioned what had happened among ourselves either. Why talk about the mundane?

Racism isn't the problem here. It helped to cement those stereotypes we can't quite run from, but that's not what I'm feeling now. It doesn't seem as if we can ever escape the past; we wear it on our backs like dowager humps.

There's all kinds of things that I don't dare do or say around those who aren't my closest friends (some of my closest friends are different ethnicities) because I don't want to be laughed at. I don't want to put an image in someone's head who doesn't know better that they will carry around with them and spread. It's beyond making a fool of me; I'm worried about making a fool of us. I think that's a little of what my husband faces when someone sets a plate of watermelon or fried chicken in front of him.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Just Stop

Please. Just stop.

I don't want to talk about "the election." Stop making this so miserable for me. I do not care who won or how he will ruin this country. I don't care.

You're telling me way too much about yourself. You're telling me what you really think of me, of my family. That isn't a good thing. It hurts my heart and frightens me.

We throw such hate at each other, scooped up from inside of us (don't worry; your supply won't be depleted). You fling it while telling me to get over it. It's just an opinion.

Your opinion stinks. I can't get it out of my clothes and my hair. I'm unallowed by tradition to state mine; this is what you get to dictate. I'd like to change those rules and you hate that. I don't need to know this. I'm trying to be your friend.

So please stop.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Problem with Rap

"As long as it's not rap."

Then there's the awkwardness of people trying to look at me or my husband from the sides of their eyes. Trying to gauge our reactions without us noticing. But of course we notice. We see the false preoccupation with lint on shirts or pants or hair. We feel every scrape and creak of the chairs we sit in. All around us bodies make to go places, but are confined, going nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

We are black and so we must like rap. Are we offended? Not in the way one would assume. Rap is not my favorite genre of music, for one. Yet when people sneer at the thought of it, I become a target of that disdain, whether or not that was the intention (and sometimes that is the intention). At that point, I wonder what else this person is intolerant of. What else is presumed of me that they'd rather not exist?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


How long can a person keep asking for her basic needs before she loses her dignity?

Imagine a woman. She can look like anyone, live anywhere. Those things don't matter. What matters is that she wakes up every morning to pray in the dark, at a time most would still call night. After she exercises and showers, she prepares breakfast. She wakes her children to eat and irons their clothes for school.

She pushes the iron around holes in the jeans, over stains that have set, and through spots that are missing buttons. New clothes are needed, have been needed for months now. But to get new clothes she'd need to ask her husband for money and that isn't a conversation that she is prepared for. So she prays that he sees the need and supplies on his own, though she knows it won't happen. She lays the clothes and the children's toothbrushes. They dress in shirts that ride up and pants that end high above their scudded shoes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who Are Budgets for, Anyway?

Budgets are not for me, I can say that much.

They are a way to manage money. How can someone manage what they don't have? I might as well learn about investing my money too. How about retirement funds? What a waste of my time.

If all of my money is going to bills, with less than nothing left over, what am I budgeting exactly? Some people try to make me feel guilty about it. The reason why you're so poor is because you are wasting your money and are not spending it wisely. 

Ex...cuse me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Easily Offended or Easily Offensive (Black People Can Dance)

How should we deal with those who say or do things that can be perceived as prejudiced? Do we let that person know? Do we let it go? What if it's an ongoing situation with someone whom you are forced to interact with almost every day?
Pictured: "Blue Congealed 
Wobbling Blob of Copyright",
Abi Paramaguru

I like to avoid issues that deal with racial prejudices. It's not that I'm in denial or anything like that. It's that I'd like to move on from the whole situation of being “oppressed.” I don't like being reminded that my ethnicity or race limits me because of what others think about it. I could waste my whole life wallowing in the injustice of it. I think if I can live the life that I'm striving for that that will send a stronger message than focusing on what's wrong, what could be better. I'm trying to live better, and I think that I should be living for God and me, not somebody who's trying to keep me down.

Then there are the situations where it's not that the person is actively trying to keep me down, but his or her ignorance is nevertheless doing that. This is very difficult to deal with, when a person's intentions are not lined up with the actions the person makes. In fact, these very people may be only trying to help, but their underlying beliefs and values are doing the opposite of what they meant.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spiritual Gifts

In Sunday school, our class is on a series about spiritual gifts. I'm excited. I've thought about spiritual gifts, read them in the Bible without really understanding them, but I have not really tried to figure mine out.

I did talk to my husband a while back about his opinions of what my gifts to be. I got the old "iono," and my enthusiasm for the whole thing faded.

Now we're working through a book called S.H.A.P.E. that outlines how to discover and develop them. So far, I've realized that the reason I'm so confused with my role in God's plan is that I haven't been searching hard enough for my role. I don't serve enough in the church so I haven't come across the opportunities that develop and strengthen and prepare me for the ministry.

Update 2: A Time to Fight

That psychologist has not called. I am not surprised nor angered by this. It's only what I expected of her and this school district. I'll find other avenues to get what I need for my son.

Whatever happened to professional courtesy? Even if you find the concept of morality outdated, everyone should be concerned about integrity. I hope she doesn't think I will accept her excuses when they come (they always do). Trust has been revoked.

However, I'm moving on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Update: A Time to Fight

At my son's IEP meeting, I talked with his team about removing "intellectually disabled" off his IEP. I got the old run around about how he could lose services elsewhere (like from SSI-- which is none of their business). I asked if it would affect his services in this current school district. They told me no.

So I asked them to remove it. The psychologist said she would call-- a week ago. Looks like that was for nothing. I guess I'll get around to asking the teacher what's up with that psychologist.

Tired doesn't even begin to describe my state of mind.