16 January 2008


I thought that you might have
Some advice to give
on how to be

~Jan Arden,
Insensitive, Living Under June, 1995

I have hyper-sensitive skin. This is a legacy from my father's side of the family. Dermatologists and other folks who care for skin troubles just hate that term, sensitive, because it doesn't really "mean" anything. Sensitive to what, exactly?

For me, its artificial colors and fragrances, and I have to be careful with soaps and other cleaning agents that might hurt my skin.

Lately, I've been wondering if I'm hyper-sensitive in other areas of my life as well. In the last couple of days, I've heard some remarks that I consider excessively racist. I've always been a champion for the underdog; and bias of any sort, be it racism, sexism, most other -isms, I don't understand well. You don't like me because I'm Slovak/a girl/short/any other identifying characteristic, but you haven't taken the time to get to know me? I don't get it.

I'm standing a bit on the edge of a dilemma; do I repeat what I'm talking about, and thus perpetuate what I see as hate speech, or do I just try to describe it to you in vague terms and leave you with these very nebulous sort of ideas?

I think I have to spell out what I'm talking about. Because I'm not sure if these two instances are"just" bad or way over the top. I think they're way over the top; see what you think.

A man that I was talking to said (about someone I know) "She's very pretty. For a black girl."


Back up.

Did you REALLY just say that?

I was so stunned, I was speechless. Striking me speechless is tough; I've always got lots to say about any and everything. I didn't know what to say. Over the years I've variously done nothing, said something smart-assed and nasty and biting back, and outright verbally attacked whoever said what I found offensive. None of those has ever really worked well.

I'm not proud of what I did this time. I did and said absolutely nothing, and excused myself as soon as I could.

Then, a woman, telling a story to a group of people, said, "...then this young kid comes in the room and sits right in the middle of us, and he was dressed like a thug. He had on, y'know, that Sean John stuff, like black people wear..."

I know my eyes got wide at that one, but again, I did and said nothing at all. That makes me ashamed. I feel like I should have called both of them out, pointed out how inappropriate those remarks both were.

Maybe I am being overly sensitive. I don't know.

I don't think I want to get to the point where things like that *don't* bother me, though.


Dawna said...

Hrm, I'm thinking you were being a little hypersensitive.

They weren't being racist but stating a type.

For example: "Pretty for a black girl." Sad but true, as per human evolution, races in biology don't mix. I feel racist for this, but I don't think I could EVER date anyone who isn't a white guy. This could sling over the nationalities, but I have a certain automatic quota as for attraction.

I am not shallow or ignorant, something which most people know, but I just cannot hop over that colour line. A LOT of people can't. Notice how 90% of the Jensen Ackles fangirls are white? Notice how the interracial couple percentage is just as low? It is a natural human... thing. (Forgive me, it is still early so words are escaping me a bit.)

Shemar Moore is super hot- for a black guy. Meaning that he is great looking, but there probably isn't any way in hell the attraction goes beyond that.

The same thing relatively applies for the "he was dressed like a thug". Now they could have been hip on tha lingo 'cause kids who dressed like that call themselves thugs. I've dissected the whole concept with a guy I knew who lived in D.C. (Marlon was his name and he thought himself "gangsta").

"Just because you are black, does not mean you need to dress like that." I said to him.

"I don't have to dress like that, but I am comfortable dressing like that just like you white folk don't mind wearing plaid. You ain't never gonna see a black dude wear plaid and be comfortable about it." He replied.

This isn't just going along the stereotypes, this is genuine cultural comfort.

But anyhoo, yeah, those people may have been just being rude, but the fact that they used the word "thug" makes me think that it is more generalizing the look.

The hardest part sometimes with being a white person and being under so much scrutiny for being racist is that it is hard to not see when the lines are crossed. We can't dance or hold beats either. LOL

Lucy Arin said...

Yeah, but it is that 'type' that bothers me. Someone who's attractive is attractive no matter what color their skin is, aren't they? That qualifier is just unnecessary in my book.

As far as dating goes....since I've been with DH for more than half my lifetime now, envisioning being out in the dating world is tough for me. I think interracial couples face an uphill battle; not because love can't conquer all, but because the rest of society, on both sides of the color line, aren't nice about it.

Long term relationships/marriage is/are tough enough without adding condemnation from both sides of the family too. A lot of the ex-pats I keep in touch with haven't been able to make a go of their relationships with Swedes...more than 50% of those relationships fail. A shared history, similar upbringing, a comparable background all help, IMHO.

Look back at my grandparents day, too, for the flipside; Gran is Catholic, Pops was Presbyterian. When they got married, that was a 'mixed marriage'. !!! They were married for more than 50 years when Pops died, so it can work.

Ahh, fandom. Ahh, Jensen.

Sorry, where was I?

Oh, yeah. Fandom.

Fandom is white, overall. The Buffy fandom, Star Wars fandom, Star Trek...all of it. But just a few years ago, fandom was overwhelmingly male too...Trekkies were mostly 13-23 year old guys.

I'd just love to see a time when no one cares what color your skin is, what gender you are, what your ethnicity is....naive, I know, and overly Pollyanna, but it would be nice.

Dawna said...

True enough.

I just think that being 100% comfortable with the interracial thing is an uphill battle all on its own, along with female equality (these two factors are greatly connected). This society is still new in the big picture, so it will take time.

It is funny how often I have to kick my hubster's butt when he starts going onto tirades how women just aren't suited for the construction industry, an industry with which he works quite often. Reminding him that women are new to the concept of being in a male dominated workplace is hard enough without men writing them off simply because their ideas are different.

In my experience, race is similar. We're not used to being with such a diverse group of people that sometimes it is hard to find common ground. So to be genuinely attracted to someone of a different colour is just a new concept that we have to adjust.

Humans are interesting animals.