Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Have No *Sympathy* For Black America...

STOP! Let me explain the title of this post before sending me racially charged HATE MAIL!!!

I discovered a long time ago that GOOGLE'S keyword search latches onto certain themes and words, redirecting people to various links based on blog post TITLES. For instance, if the words "Multiple Sclerosis" fall in the TITLE of a blog post, that post will make one of GOOGLE'S elite lists about MS. You may recall, I remain inundated with *hits* on this blog because of a certain blog post I wrote with the words "JESUS CAMP" in the title!

And, because I'm a MEDIA WHORE (said with tongue in you know, I RARELY put the words
"Multiple" and "Sclerosis" in any blog title because I DO know it is a cheap way to redirect people to BrainCheese...and I kind of want people to find their way here with a little effort), I decided to put a provocative title on this post so more people "googling" (particularly ANYONE who might be searching the title's ANY order...ahem) would come here to see this video (turn your sound up...this one's good):

A dear, "white"/Caucasian friend emailed this video to me this morning...and I found it so moving, I decided I had to share it here on CHEESE. But, I also want to talk a little more ABOUT the title of this blog post...BECAUSE IT IS TRUE. And, since you've read this far, I hope you will continue to read so I might explain.

I am "white"...pasty, Caucasian, lacking-any-color white. I was born that way. It wasn't a choice. It was pure genetics. My ancestors were "white" (minus that small amount of Native American, aka INDIAN, blood that got mixed in via an indiscretionary roll in the hay by an ancestor with a Pawnee tribal woman over a century or so ago). I grew up in a small, farming town of all "white" people and a handful of NAM (Native American, aka, INDIAN) folks around. I only saw "black" people on TV (Sammy Davis, Jr.) and my first IN PERSON experience with a "black" person was in college. My first experience with what it *potentially* could feel like to be discriminated against because of the color of my "white", pasty skin was in college...when my "black" friend took me home with her to the big city and I attended an all "black" church. I WAS the only "white" person there.

But even this first experience at an all "black" church lent me no access to the perils of discrimination...because I was immediately and lovingly ACCEPTED into the congregation, regardless of my skin color (or lack thereof)...BECAUSE I was my host's college friend and HER mother was the leader of the church choir. Sure, a few heads turned to look at "white-y"...but more so from suspicion of my motives in BEING there (until they learned my connection, which my friend's mother announced to the congregation!) than out of animosity due to the color (or lack thereof) of my skin.

You see, I HAVE no first hand experience of discrimination. There is absolutely NOTHING about me upon first meeting that lends itself to scrutiny of "other than". Anything about me that MIGHT be different in some way is carefully hidden...whether that be age, gender, sexual orientation, religious preference, disability, etc. When first meeting me, I appear to fit the (what was once) *majority* definitions in America. Oh GENDER might signal some to want to PAY ME LESS because I'm a female...but even THIS statistical evidence is less about discrimination than it is socio-economic status.

I specifically used the word *SYMPATHY* in this blog title (versus empathy) because *sympathy* implies I have had a similar experience, which has generated feelings upon which I can RELATE to another's experience. I'm "white". I have no similar experience of discrimination as has happened (and unfortunately CONTINUES to happen) to the MAJORITY of "black" Americans in this society. I CANNOT relate by experience, therefore, I CANNOT even LIE or IMPLY a feeling of *sympathy* (empathy, yes...sympathy, no) to what it feels like for any "black" American to live in this country now or in the past.

And why the #&!! do I keep putting the words "black" and "white" in quotation marks?!? Am I simply further trying to express an *other than* quality of discrimination??? The answer to the latter question is "no"...I have been putting the word "black" and "white" in quotations to emphasize "black" is ALSO not a COLOR in basic color schema any more than "white" is a COLOR. While (by definition) "white" is the absence of all color, "black" is the BLENDING of all color(s).

Look at a basic color wheel. Do you note "black" or "white" ANYWHERE on that wheel? In case you're too engrossed in this post to check, the answer is a resounding NO. Neither term falls anywhere within primary or secondary COLORS on a color schema.

I find the entire notion of skin pigmentation fascinating. And I find it extremely fascinating that the two (what used to be) largest populations of races in the world chose to define their skin pigmentations using words that are not even COLORS! I mean seriously...are "white" people REALLY "white" by definition? NO. My ancestor's (and self) skin pigmentation is more of a pinkish-olive tone on the color wheel...basic beige, for a lack of better qualifying color. And my "black" friends skin pigmentation doesn't even come CLOSE to being "black"...maybe a dark tan or even brown on the color wheel, but definitely NOT "black".

I would like to go on to say, I am not a racist...but I DO discriminate. Every day. We ALL do. We discriminate based on our past experiences and our preferences...whether THAT discrimination involves color/skin pigmentation or not. We discriminate between what we LIKE and what we DO NOT prefer...we DO judge a book by it's cover (unless we already know the author). We separate ourselves into groups we feel we belong to and groups we feel no affiliation with. We join with people who think in similar ways we do and DISCRIMINATE (by definition: "discern or single out") ourselves as separate from those who do NOT share our views or similarities. We DISCRIMINATE every day as individuals, groups, societies, and races. DISCRIMINATE only becomes a negative word when we ADD the term OPPRESSION with it...then the middle part of the word comes glaring out at us: disCRIM(E)inate.

I have no sympathy for "black" America because it would be morally wrong of me to claim I do...and would only serve to further add to a sense of self-righteous and pompous maligning pity. I cannot and WILL NOT ever know what it is like to be "black" or "African American" or anything other than a pasty Caucasian/"white" skin-pigmented individual. I simply do not have the same experiences and would NEVER want to negate another's experiences by attempting to align mine with theirs. I have NOT been discriminated *against* because of my skin pigmentation and neither have I been held in oppression. Likewise, I cannot apologize for the actions of my Caucasian ancestors...I can feel a sense of personal/genetic shame, but an *apology* would only again be a hollow attempt at feigned sympathy.

What I CAN do is work diligently to ensure NO race of people is held in oppression again in this country and that NO race is discriminated *against* as a MEANS of oppressing them.

I will NEVER have SYMPATHY for "black" Americans...and, but for the grace of "God" go I, I thank my lucky stars that, to date, I never HAVE had those experiences that lend me *sympathy*...


mdmhvonpa said...

It is impossible for someone to not have a bias. Bigotry is another thing entirely, eh?

harkoo said...

I have learned about discrimination now that I am disabled. I feel I have to pull this one off with class now that I am seen as "different". It is a very interesting experience.

Blindbeard said...

I nodded and laughed my way through this whole post. If you receive any hate mail, it will only be because they did not read the whole thing. I don't want to get into anything too political, but I gotta say, "GO OBAMA!" I'm thrilled to have him in office and have high hopes for what he can/will do for this country.

Spaz Attack said...

Sorry BC, but as I was reading I was smiling to myself -- oh how you do love to stir the pot! Your words are true, the meaning is deep and I appreciate your honest assesment. Interestly how we seem to be comfortable around those who ACT similar to ourselves. For instance, I don't notice skin color of any who I can relate too -- I'm among the many who loved the Cosby Show, and I didn't think twice about the skin color.
And it doesn't matter what the person's skin color is if he's carrying guns, tattos and piercings and acting like a thug, because I'm going to fear that person and instinctly be ready to strike back.
I think that instinct be true of most -- no matter what race, creed or color. Most fear what is different.

Cathy said...

Thanks for sharing the video.
I hope people take the time to read your entire blog.

MS. ME said...

Amen sister! This post should be required reading!

Tracys Ramblings said...

This post was so well written.
I had honestly never thought of things like this. Yes, I knew the definition of the words, but I guess I used them in the manner that I had always heard others use them.
After college, I moved to Alabama to live with my father for a while. It was lower Alabama or "LA" as locals call it. I worked with a nurse who was older than me and she told me that she was going to adopt me and be my mother since mine wasn't doing her job. She was African American.
And after a while, I did start to call her and think of her as Mom.
She took me to church with her one Sunday after spending the last Sunday telling everyone that she was bringing her daughter with her.
I will never forget the puzzled stares and questioning faces when she started introducing me to everyone as her daughter.
And like your experience, they did not descriminate against me, they took me in as their own. My "mother" was one of them afterall.
That was a beautiful experience in my younger life and I will always keep that memory in me. I think that the African American race is a beautiful one, as are all of the others.
But, also like you, I cannot "sympathize" for them. Empathy, yes, sympathy, no.

Denver Refashionista said...

I think this post will generate many hits on google. You go girl.

have myelin said...

Wonderful. You said what I couldn't put into words.