Friday, April 30, 2010

Hoist the Fail-Sail and Go Forth!

This may or may not be a series, if people continue to be redonkulous. These are some bizarre things that have been said to me or in my hearing recently.

Animal rights groups (emphasis mine) and middle easterners are the people discriminated against these days.

Ok. What?
First of all, let's get rid of this idea that anyone who is "different" from the "norm" (read: straight, cis, white, presently-abled, young, etc) is NOT facing discrimination every. single. f-ing. day.

Secondly, animal rights groups? Really? You mean, these people? The same people who were racist, fat-shaming douchebags to Aretha Franklin? The same people who compared owning a pet to the horrific murder, rape, degradation and enslavement of millions of people for centuries?

Discrimination against fat people also, insert gay people, women and smokers is the last acceptable form of discrimination.

Listen. Nothing is the new racism-against-black-people. Black people still have to deal with racism every single day.

Secondly, why are "black people" and "women" always two separate categories? Do you mean to tell me that people who tick off both the "woman" and "black" boxes on their census forms are nonexistent, like unicorns? Are you telling me that Angela Davis, Renee of Womanist Musings, Gabi of Young, Fat and Fabulous, Latoya Peterson of Racialicious- these African-American Woman-people are imaginary?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Governor Jan Brewer;

I lived next door to illegal immigrants for a short while. Know what they looked like?

Well, they were white Canadians on expired student visas.

...but of course, the police are gonna be on the case of people like that.

Babakiueria- Watch this film!

I just learned about this amazing and sadly obscure film made in 1986. This is satire at its finest; Aboriginal Australians colonize a land full of white people.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Read this book! #2

Good afternoon, everyone! *squints into the empty theater* Hi, reader. Thanks for coming.

I just want to tell you about this fabulous book I finished reading! What is it?, you say? No? You just have to pee? Ok, go ahead. I'll just talk to myself here.

Anyway, here it is: The Untelling. This is the kind of book that you finish and sigh. If you're me, you put down your apple enormous chocolate-chip cookie and close your eyes. Tayari Jones doesn't leave anything unsaid, but you still want there to be more book there. Maybe it's because Aria is so much like so many of us; imperfect. Hard on herself. Fallible. Sometimes, weak. Get yourself a nice tall glass of iced tea and settle in with this one. You're not going to want to stop reading.

Speaking of books that make you seriously consider only working on your legs since barbells make you have to put the book down, here's another one I read recently: Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Powell's thinks she's just Dole- she's not). Wench is Perkins-Valdez's first novel, and takes place at a resort in free Ohio during slavery times that was visited by white men and their black mistresses. I wish there was another word I could use here that takes into consideration the complicated relationship a "favored slave" could have with a man with whom she had no choice but to sleep with- in any case, this book is amazing, and heart-wrenching, and you should read it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

what privilege looks like

I arrived at the Philadelphia airport at approximately 5:30 AM for a flight at 7:10 AM and checked in at the terminal. A young African-American woman was attempting to check in next to me. After a few tries, she tapped me lightly to get my attention.
"Excuse me, do you know how to use this?"
"I'm doing the same thing you're doing," I replied dubiously, but then I looked over at her screen. She was attempting to check a bag. TOO CLOSE TO FLIGHT TO CHECK BAGS, read her screen. "When's your flight?" I asked her, alarmed.
"You should definitely ask an attendant to check your bag manually."

We've all been there, in some capacity. At least, any of us who fly from one place to another on occasion. Certainly you want to be there two hours before your flight, but life happens. Sleep happens. Traffic, and rental-car trainees happen. Getting lost happens. And really, it wasn't too long ago that the only people who were consistently at the airport an hour ahead of their flights were the anal-retentive types. Now, you could spend an hour in security alone.

I finished checking in, watching her try unsuccessfully to get the attention of the airline employee, a middle-aged white woman, for a good five minutes. This employee, who was having a leisurely conversation with an older white woman, did not even make eye contact with the young lady beside me. There was not even an impatient, eye-rolling, "I'll be right WITH you."

Nothing. My fellow traveler might as well have been invisible.

I gathered my bags, printed my receipt, and strode over to the airline employee, who was roughly two feet away from me (in other words, there is no way she could have simply not seen or heard the young lady trying quite politely to get her attention through words and hand gestures. "Excuse me," said I in my best imperious voice. This tone, which I learned from my mother, is polite and firm. It says, 'I am an important white lady and you will acknowledge me NOW.'

Naturally, she looked up and met my gaze head-on. "Yes?"

"This young lady is having difficulty checking her bags. Can you please help her?"

And then I stood there until she walked over there and started talking to the lady in question.

Then, I went through the security line.

As a fat (but not TOO fat), young, able-bodied, cisgendered, US-citizenship-having, white person travelling alone,
I was not subjected to a random luggage search.
No one detained me and asked me why I was travelling and what I was planning to do.
No one reported me as a potential terrorist, or asked me to get off the plane. Everyone smiled at me, called me 'dear', and wished me well.
My seatmates sighed and groaned about having to sit next to my fatness, but I was not asked to buy a second seat as the armrest went down and the seatbelt fit me.
I did not have to worry about being asked to remove braces or go through security in pain and agony, as I could walk all by myself.
I did not have to worry about being unable to take essential medication for several hours, as I am not currently taking any medications.
I did not have to suffer the humiliations of being grilled about having been born with a different name than the name I carry now.
I did not have to present several forms of ID. My driver's license was just fine.

There are things I did not have to worry about that I do not even KNOW about, as I am a person of privilege.

The face of privilege is MY face.

We with privileges have three choices.
One: we can simply lament our privilege, and yet still benefit from it.
Two: we can fail to acknowledge our privilege, and yet still reap its bounty.
Three, and this is my choice: we can acknowledge that our privilege is like an extra twenty dollars in our pockets every day, and we can use those extra monies to benefit those who don't get paid.

What does this mean?

Speak up for others.
Don't choose comfort over what is right.
Allow people who do not have your privilege to tell you when you have spoken with the voice of privilege. Take your medicine, and let it make you better.

EDIT, 2:38 PM:
Here is another very different account of air travel by a person with a disability. Part of privilege is the assumption that everyone gets treated with respect, and that if they do not, it is their fault. Let us not make such assumptions.