It's So Hard To Stay Nice (Part Two)

You're different. Everyone's made it clear to you all your life. Strangers, teachers, peers, and for many, even parents. You've suffered. No one understands. But you're still alive, you've made it through even the worst of times.

And just when you're starting to feel a little stronger about yourself...just when you're thinking, "hey, I'm going to step out into this world tomorrow and be proud of who I am!" Just when you're feeling it...someone kicks you from behind yet again. But you have to stand back up...yet again. That's what you have to learn from Constance's story.

I'm unsurprised but still disgusted to find out what happened recently to Constance McMillen - the lesbian teen whose school cancelled prom so that she wouldn't go.

The parents who had been organizing a private prom, the one she was supposedly invited to, tricked her into going to the wrong location. YEP, they sent her to some "fake prom" along with 7 other kids (2 of which have disabilities). So there you go, that's high school for you.

This is the stuff of MEAN GIRLS. This is the stuff of nightmares a-la showing up to school naked. This is the kind of stuff unpopular kids go through. This feels so personal. I may not be lesbian, I may not have gone on a public mission to challenge my school's discriminatory actions, but I was an outcast. But not to this extreme. Many of us have had moments like this, but not in such a massive and public way. Imagine, your whole school turns its back on you. How is that? Not one person informed Constance or the other 7 people that they were being sent to a fake prom.

Yet if you read this short article, you'll see that Constance said they all had a blast - all 7 of them. They did so because that's what the outcasts do. The popular thing dies after high school, and then the outcasts move on to do great things. Some popular kids make it too, but from my experience, the ones who really made me suffer didn't go too far.

Some people just don't get the pride. The pride that comes with years of experience as a person of DIFFERENCE. But those who are different get it. No matter what marks you as different, and no matter what extreme of different you are, if you're different you get it. There will be a point when you must decide - I will no longer give in. I am not a mat.

You have to get up every time, and you have to stand proud. Be DIFFERENT! Be BLACK, be LESBIAN, be WOMAN, Be ASIAN, be LATINO, be WHO EVER YOU ARE. And be it proud! Don't you let others beat you up literally or figuratively. Don't let others beat the YOU out of you. Don't give in.

I'm so touched, so incredibly touched, by this infuriating yet uplifting story of DIFFERENCE.



It's So Hard To Stay Nice

I say it over and over to myself all the time - it's so hard to stay nice.

If you're a nice person deep down, it slowly gets beaten out of you over time. It's beaten out much faster of those who struggle in more ways than others - those of color, those suffering from poverty, those with any mark of "difference."

Take a look at Constance McMillen, who's high school canceled it's prom just to stop her from wearing a suit and going with her girlfriend. Sure, the parents organized a private prom that will be open to students of any sexual orientation. But last I heard, Constance stated she's not even sure she'll go because she has to see how her peers treat her back on campus after this huge ordeal. All she wanted to do was wear a suit and bring a gal.

I can't begin to tell you how many guys I saw cross-dressing and fake-fondling one another in my high school years - from some cross-dressing fashion shows to male beauty pageants. As long as they weren't "serious," no one complained.

But for others, the harsh realities of our troubled world kicks in much much younger. Young children, abused in so many ways, around the world. Those who are most disadvantaged, neglected, and ostracized are the most vulnerable. It's the typical, "well, it's terrible what happened to Chelsea King, but what about all the daily, unreported, sexual crimes against young black girls in poor communities? You never see their faces on nation-wide news..."

There is so much cause for bitterness. There are so many reasons to become calloused as we get older. Cynical. But we must fight cynicism, as Conan O'Brien so eloquently put it on his final night on the Tonight Show.

I realized that I had let myself become somewhat cynical, and upon hearing O'Brien, who specifically directed his message to young people...well, I was touched. Yet I haven't been able to shake it off fully. I still struggle to stay nice. I am still scared of people sometimes, because I fear getting hurt or cut down in some way. For the longest time I was convinced that "everyone's fake." Then I realized, no, people are afraid to open up. Once you open yourself up to someone - you know, cutting the crap - you can't take it back. They've seen you. So people shell up and say "hey, how are you, let's have coffee sometime" without caring much to follow up.

So now, as much as I struggle to take in all the ugly stuff during the day - sarcastic remarks by a casual acquaintance, blatant attitude from a stranger, upsetting stories of tragedy and injustice on the news, disrespectful men on the city streets...I try to shake it off because I don't want to become mean. Plus, it would be too easy to become mean. To be open-minded, and to take in more perspectives than your own, that's hard. And it's a task that can never be truly fulfilled.

For what it's worth to any struggling reader out there, I want to reach out to you and say, don't give in. Let someone into your soul. Then others will let you into theirs.


White Evangelicals and their "Toolsets"

An excerpt from my other blog about race relations and white evangelicals:
The racially important cultural tools in the white evangelical tool kit are “accountable freewill individualism,” “relationism” (attaching central importance to interpersonal relationships), and antistructuralism (inability to perceive or unwillingness to accept social structural influences).

Absent from their accounts is the idea that poor relationships might be shaped by social structures, such as laws, the ways institutions operate, or forms of segregation. Again, understanding evangelicals’ cultural tools illuminates why this element is missing. White evangelicals not only interpret race issues by using accountable freewill individualism and relationalism, but they often find structural explanations irrelevant or even wrongheaded…Evangelicals are thus also antistructural because they believe that invoking social structures shifts guild away from the root source—the accountable individual. However, evangelicals are selectively aware of social institutions—they see those both impact them in their own social location and tend to undermine accountable freewill individualism. For instance, they are aware of affirmative action because such programs can impact them in their social location, and they tend to oppose such programs because they go against evangelical understanding of accountable freewill individualism.


"Japan Probe" Here to Defend the Most Oppressed People on Earth...Whitey!

So while browsing through Twitter I saw a Tweet by the women over at Disgrasian that stated:
We Don't Care About White People, Apparently
They then linked to a blog post that took "offense" to their position on the McDonalds "Mr. James" ads over in Japan. In their blog post they wrote:
Interestingly, there are some foreigners and non-natives in Japan riled up about this humiliating depiction of themselves, going so far as to compare Mr. James to Stepin Fetchit. Because there aren't enough positive depictions of beautiful and sophisticated foreigners selling things to the Japanese, apparently.
Sothese riled up white people are actually comparing this ad campaign to Stepin Fetchit, who played every single bad and humiliating stereotype associated with Black people during the 1930s. Disgrasian blogs:
I find the outrage leveled at this Mr. James character by certain people to be verging on histrionic. Comparing Mr. James to Stepin Fetchit? Really? Stepin Fetchit was an African-American stereotype popularized in the 20's and 30's. He was known as "the laziest man in the world," and "a befuddled, mumbling, shiftless fool." But one of these fools is not like the other. It's important to remember context here, that Stepin Fetchit was a minstrel character created during the time of Jim Crow laws, segregation, and the systematized oppression of African-Americans that followed slavery. I mean, slavery, okay? Over two hundred years of slavery. It's morally bankrupt to put a fool like Mr. James on par with a fool like Stepin Fetchit; stereotypes like Stepin Fetchit were instruments, ultimately, in reinforcing the second-class status of blacks--and not just socially, mind you, but legally. Stepin Fetchit didn't merely offend. Stepin Fetchit made the abuse of our constitution, the miscarriage of justice, the legalization of inequality, and the back of the bus only that much easier to live with.
But, one thing that really undermines Japan Probe's argument is not just the stupidity of their argument but the fucking advertisements on their god damned page!

Such as this one
And if that one doesn't scream fucked up and racist this one sure as hell does!

Hey, Japan Probe, not that I want to give you sound advice or anything, but before you make an argument about...No, wait, never mind, I definetly do NOT want to give you dumb mother fuckers sound advice on anything.


Racial Targeting Within the Thin Blue Line

I recently read an illuminating article in the New York Times about the recent shooting of Black police officer Omar J. Edwards by his "fellow" white cop Andrew P. Dunton. Now its not exactly getting to the heart of the systemic institutionalized racism that is at the heart of this country (that would be expecting too much, unfortunately, from an elite newspaper) but it did do a good job in going over the incidents of inter-racial police shootings of fellow officers since the shooting death of John A. Holt Jr. (pictured) in 1940 to the present.

One thing that is most glaring that (except in one incident presented by the article) all of the shooters were white and all of the victims were Black or Latino. Yet in the color blind ideology that pervades our present day society many folks are quick to point out that while racial motivations might have been a factor in the past they weren't a factor in this one. What is a factor is "training." In fact, one of the interviewees pointed out:
“Same deal always,” he says of the deadly encounter between colleagues on Thursday night. “They’ll say it’s about training.”
In fact, that is what exactly was said in a article in that same days paper:
“[S]omething is going to have to be done,” added Mr. Glenn, an officer with the 67th Precinct in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, choking up. “Maybe more training or something. I don’t know what we are going to do.”
I'm not suggesting that more training won't prevent more inter-racial shootings but by focusing solely on reactionary training people are ignoring the causes of the shooting, racial prejudice.

Obviously, as Edwards' father-in-law points out, Dunton didn't walk onto the streets with the mindset of actually wanting to kill a fellow Black officer but what was in his mind, more than likely, are all of the stereotypes of Blacks that are perpetuated by our media, national mythologies, everyday conversations, and our society in general. One succinct quote sums it up well:
“If you speak with nine out of 10 officers of color they would tell you that when they hear sirens, in their head they are thinking: ‘I hope these cops know that I’m one of the good guys.’”
All of this points back to the systemic racism that makes Blacks and people of color in general more likely the victims of police misconduct, shootings, harassment, and target ting. A system in were people or color are ghettoized by political institutions while many whites get to live in suburbs. Unless we address this system (as the police force is a part of that system and is obviously made up of folks who grew up in this system, which is everyone) shootings like these will continue to happen, and it won't just be cops of color who are the victims.


Crazed Euro-Centric Whitey Bullshit I Deal With at Graduate School

Cross-posted from The Mustard Seed.

Whitey committing genocide against the Native population...No wait...I need to be "objective." I mean, whitey "negotiating land rights" with the Native population...there we go.

As those of you who have read my About page will know I am pursuing my Masters in Divinity (same as Masters in Theology but one extra year of "pastoral formation" and such) at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Here is an example of some of the great fantastic knowledge I have to put up with.

For an online class (in where we meet for discussion once a week) one of the questions was this:
What are some ways the new context of independence and establishment of the United States shaped American religion?
And my very mild answer was this (bold was added for this blog, just me being slightly snarky)...(Click here to read the rest)


SPEAK! CD Radical Women of Color Speak Out

Cross-posted from The Mustard Seed.

Found it via cripchick's weblog:
Compiled and arranged by Liquid Words Productions, the spoken word CD weaves together the stories, poetry, music, and writings of women of color from across the United States. The 20 tracks, ranging from the explosive “Why Do You Speak?” to the reverent “For Those of Us,” grant a unique perspective into the minds of single mothers, arrested queer and trans activists, excited children, borderland dwellers, and exploring dreamers, among many others.