Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Now That You Mention It, There Are Times I Hate My Race...

...Because all too often, we humans are complete bloody morons.

So I spent a little time over the last few days, going the rounds with a particularly egregious example of human idiocy, over at the above linked CPP post. Mostly I was just messing with the jackass, but I'll admit that he had me rather irritable. Not because he was being smug and trying to get my goat - to the contrary, I would have probably just dropped it if he had been. The reason I got rather cranky with this particular person, is because he actually believes he has a valid point. He truly cannot understand why he was being mocked and no one was taking him seriously, except for me. And honestly, I was more than a little harsh with him. Reasonably so.

You see, this particular idiot truly doesn't grasp the notion of beige privilege. He figures that because there are plenty of poor white folks, then it must be a crock of crap and those of us beige type folks who have issues with that "hate our race." That we must just cheer when another "white" person goes to jail for drugs. Completely missing the point, even after it was quite clearly explained to him and later he was smacked upside his cyber-head with it.

Personally, I don't want to see anyone in jail for using or selling currently illicit drugs. I do want to see violent thugs in jail, but I want to see them in jail for being violent thugs, not because they also happen to be drug dealers. Or if they sell to kids, but honestly, I would also like to see people who sell alcohol to kids go to jail too. Because I'm pretty sure that if we start actually putting people in jail, instead of fining them and the store, they might take it a little more seriously. But I digress.

I want to see the laws enforced equally - and make no mistake, I want them enforced. As much of a radical as I have been and still am, I am also a very firm believer in law and order. Nor do I restrict that to laws I agree with or actions I disagree with. I want to see the law enforced, even when we're talking about acts of civil disobedience, something that I have engaged in on more than one occasion. I want to see them enforced right up to the point that it becomes an impossibility without the level force necessary, far outweighing the acts of disobedience - such as happens when there are so very many people involved that enforcement becomes impractical.

I don't want to see statistics that show me people with a brown hue to their skin are getting busted for dope or simply pulled over, far more frequently than their beige counterparts. I don't want to walk down the street in my old ghetto neighborhood in Portland and get a quick stop for a minute or less, by the idiots from the gang task force - then watch them harass my neighbor for about fifteen minutes, until he finally agrees to let them search him in front of his daughter, who is watching from the balcony. A neighbor who doesn't even drink, much less use or sell illicit drugs. A neighbor who works two jobs, so he could try to get his family the hell out of that hellhole.

This didn't used to bother me nearly so much. I mean it did, but it was peripheral - not really an issue for me. Go figure it wasn't, I've had very limited experiences with racism - fewer still where I happened to be the target of the racism. But then, I may have mentioned - I'm beige. And I grew up in an area of the midwest, that isn't exactly a major metropolis - not even close. There wasn't major unrest or even much in the way of overt racism - it was more of a passive aggressive sort. But it was and still is, rather segregated. For that matter, the underlying passive aggressive racism still flourishes, though it is far less than it was when I was a child.

Then I left the area I grew up in and hitchhiked away. One of the first places I ended up, is kind of a quintessential midwestern dream-town, Saint Louis. It is like a absolutely massive, small midwestern town, that is imbued with many of the best traits of small towns, while simultaneously being imbued with many of the best traits of larger metropolitan settings - including being considerably less segregated. I was suddenly surrounded by diversity and honestly, it really rocked. I frequented a club that catered to the performance art scene and there were people of many different colors hanging out and performing there. It was really cool, but honestly, it didn't do much to make the topic of racism all that much less peripheral - some of the artists used racism as a theme, but it wasn't really prevalent where I was living (I'm beige remember - it was probably there, but I didn't see it), so the impact was minimal.

It wasn't really until I moved to Portland, that it became far more than peripheral to me. It wasn't until I watched how the people with darker skin in my neighborhoods were treated, compared to how my beige skinned neighbors were treated, that it really started making me angry. It wasn't until my then four year old asked me what racism meant, that I really, really got angry. "Thankfully" we had already discussed anti-gay bigotry when he was three and arbitrarily hating someone because of their skin didn't seem any more silly than arbitrarily hating them because they happen to love people of their own sex - though it made no sense whatever to my little boy - still doesn't.

Then we moved to the really crappy, ghetto neighborhood. When I was threatened with arrest, because I was trying to explain the the neanderthal thugs with badges, that they were messing with my hardworking neighbor, in front of his daughter...I was fucking explosive.

And now it has even more impact, because there is a spectacularly brilliant, absolutely beautiful women who I am coming to care for more and more, on a virtually daily basis. Not the most practical of situations for a number of reasons, it is, nonetheless, what it is. It also happens that she is not beige in skin tone like I am.

I don't want to live in a culture that will treat me better than the women I am falling for - a women who if anything, is rather brighter than I am.


Toaster Sunshine said...

I agree: there are indeed times that I feel deep shame at the actions of my fellow palefaces.

However, I completely disagree with you about Saint Louis being an integrated city. All the palefaces live in Clatyon, Florrisant, Town and Country, South County, and north of the Missouri. Most of the African-Americans live on the eastern side of downtown St. Louis along Grand and Gratiot, as well as in Tower Grove and Benton Park. Chesterfield is where the Asian-Americans have mostly settled. And if you want to get really specific, I ask you to consider The Hill (Italian), Dogtown (Irish), and Soulard (French). The Central West End and Delmar Loop are, however, decently integrated, but they are just 2 islands amid everything else.

My father's wife was raised in South County. When she found out I was dating an African-American girl in high school she fucking blew her top and outright banned that girl from setting foot in the house, screaming about how she didn't want any "caramel grandbabies". Certainly didn't stop me any.

Anonymous said...

why would anyone be ashamed because of someone else's behavior?

DuWayne Brayton said...

Hey Toaster -

I have to admit that my experience of St. Louis was pretty limited. I lived on south city and the only places I went outside of that were academic settings, the museum complex/botanical gardens, public radio stations and a few bars I vaguely remember as well as the loop, where I played music.

Anon -

First, please do everyone a favor and make up a name - it's much easier to keep track that way.

Second, while I don't engage in it in this context, I am often embarrassed to be human and occasionally embarrassed to be an American.

The latter is easy, because we live in a democracy and therefore all share a certain responsibility for the actions of our nation. The latter is more complex, because it's not possible to control the actions of an entire race.

But it is indeed embarrassing to be human, when so many of us do so many horribly stupid things. It is not necessarily rational, but we are not entirely rational beings.

And there is also a rational reason as well - association. I am actually working on a post that will get into it more, but as a fairly ardent activist, I am indeed ashamed, angered and dismayed when people commit terrorist acts in the name of causes I support. Because even though I have always spoken out very strongly against terror, I am still associated with those acts through the movements I support.