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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Race and Privilege: A Reaction to Wilson’s “More Than Just Race”

In an American society where White Male is default and access to opportunity is taken for granted, Wilson rightfully asserts in More than Just Race that People of Color must take precautions whites do not take and indeed rarely recognize that these efforts to maintain societal comfort in their favor are even occurring (p. 1).  Because special status and ease of opportunity usually go unrecognized by the privileged, it makes it easy to come up with a myriad of unsystematic reasons why persons of color, unskilled laborers and women in poverty remain unable to climb the class ladder.

There is an intrinsic and quite basic neglect to recognize the value in statistics on social problems when they contain roads to solutions and the opposite problem when they point out glaring inequalities (p. 2). Privilege suggests that 47% of people (low-skilled, low or no income earners, Black men and single women) do not contribute to society and therefor are not eligible for the benefits of a communal society.  It does not suggest inequality of income, of resources, of opportunity OR maybe most importantly, it does not suggest equity in societal contributions which is actually the case for the bracket spoken about in Romney’s suggestive quote.

Wilson also points out that, as a society, if we can judge a people by the actions it takes rather than the speeches it makes, we have continually determined that systematic denial of opportunity is in the best interest of those with power.  As our workforce and the jobs it contains has become more and more technologically advanced, where internet access is a necessity, a cell phone is the communication utility of need, and even McDonald’s drive-thru employees must have a working knowledge of touch screen applications, our education system continues to deny the poor and persons of color access to skills necessary for even the lowest skilled and lowest paying jobs.  By allowing our poor schools to lag in computer and technology education, we begin a course of systematic racism/classism by denying even the lowest ladders to be unqualified for the lowest skilled jobs.  This winds up favoring middle and upper class/Caucasian applicants (often summer and part-time student workers with more than adequate other opportunities) who may not have families or other responsibilities to support in the same way that low-skilled persons of color do (p. 8).

Due to such limited opportunities, communities and neighborhoods neglected by government and society must create and engage in underground economies and societal norms that create opportunities in the situation dealt them.  These adopted codes of street and shady dealings are required for residents where they are adopted, but these reactions to limited economic and social opportunities wind up being circular, self-perpetuating limitations to upward mobility in the society right outside these communities.  Because of this, the privileged outside the community can with clear conscience deny the causes of codes and any society hand in them by victim blaming and repudiation of any personal responsibility on the part of the people who live in disadvantaged communities (p. 21).

The privileged make assumptions based on this victim blaming mentality because they have never 1. Been without adequate transportation or access to it except in rare circumstances that were easily rectified; 2. Been without emergency or discretionary income, even a very small amount, where poor persons of color live paycheck to paycheck and have little opportunity to save.  When these opportunities arise, they may be denied access to banking, or find their savings obliterated by even a small emergency; 3. Been without an opportunity to relocate should economy or lack of public services necessitate a move and finally,;4. Been in a situation where attachment to space and place became a real and obvious burden to spatial mobility when moving became necessary (p. 26).

Society focuses on micro causes of poverty and lack of economic and class mobility, exposing the normalcy of privileged thinking.  It is only when a macro cause fundamentally changes the life or money situation of the privileged that this class acknowledges as a whole that government, culture or policy may profoundly affect individual lives.  Unfortunately, even when this happens (taxes increase, the public demands more economic equity) a disconnect remains between how these changes can affect a micro situation and how huge system norms affect real individual lives of those born without inherent privilege (p. 27).

Written by thelittlepecan

October 1, 2012 at 9:42 am

It’s Mah Birfday!

As I sit here buried under fifty million inches of snow* on my birthday, finally able to access the internet, I’m pondering what a birthday post looks like.  Like the rest of the nation, I spent the weekend engrossed in the events of Tucson, AZ.  Unfortunately, on my birthday this year, we are a nation in mourning.

The mud-slinging and blame-throwing obviously starts immediately in this country.  No one wishing to accept their own blame for the violent rhetoric we have established here.  I muse about my own ideals and how they might be hurtful and mean, even violent.  We all get wrapped up in our principles at times and say or think things we wish we hadn’t.

As a progressive and non-theist, I often feel myself coming up with extreme statements or agreeing with others who make them.  More than once I have found myself wishing for the nuclear holocaust to hit the Middle East, not because I hate humanity, but because it seems a mess that can never be cleaned up.  “Just bomb them to bits and be done with it.”  Yeah, I said it.

We must take responsibility for our speech.  That is the flip side of that most precious freedom guaranteed us by the First Amendment.  You cannot just talk and expect that no one is listening.  In a time of endless information, you can be guaranteed that someone, somewhere is hearing you, reading you, nodding with you.

No one but the shooter held the gun.  The RWNJ, the NRA, the Tea-Party were not there in Arizona and it is more than a little bit offensive to try and place the murder of a 9year old on the shoulders of ideals instead of a criminal.   However, we must admit that the country is desensitized to violence in the worst way.  We teach our kids to kill through video games from the time they are tots.  We use violent metaphor to make our political statements…and then, when it happens, we all point fingers at everyone but ourselves.

Maybe we should try a little understanding.  Extreme rhetoric doesn’t help anyone and it loses the masses who sit squarely in the middle, wishing for change but failing to see its ability to succeed.  Be the change.  Talk, don’t yell.  Discuss, don’t argue.  Love over apathy, Kindness over hate.

Happy birthday to me and thank you so much for all your well wishes,  I appreciate each one of you.

*Fifty-million=like 6”.  Whatever.  It’s cold.  I don’t do cold.

Written by thelittlepecan

January 10, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

A Word on Tolerance. Well, Several, Actually.

I fancy myself a pretty open-minded individual.  I like civil rights, I’m a big fan of free speech and I personally think the United States Constitution was a great start for securing those things for a budding nation.  When I’m studying groups I don’t understand or want to know more about, I think I have a great capacity to tolerate whatever crazy ideals the members of that group may have and I try very hard to honor their humanity without compromising my own.

But, there’s one thing I can’t stand, I won’t stand and certainly in my personal life I absolutely will not tolerate.  Intolerance.

Liberals get bagged as very wishy-washy when it comes to things like this.  I hear that right-wing stand-by “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” often as the go-to for pointing out that open-minded tolerance of all types of views and opinions basically makes us spineless.

I think I may agree.

See, we’ve gotten so used to touting ourselves as lovers of everyone that when people start spewing hate all over the world, including our schools, even from those in charge of education, we sort of throw our hands up in the name of free speech.  Or go the opposite way and start threatening people or their families, which is pretty abhorrent behavior.

Then there’s this guy, Andrew Shirvell who used to work in the Michigan Attorney General’s office but was fired for conduct unbecoming an officer of the court.  Conduct in the form of an anti-gay blog.

I’m not advocating that we start policing folks for taking advantage of their Constitutional right to be a jackahole (similar to whack-a-mole) at all.  What I am advocating is that we stop allowing people the space in our personal lives to be hateful.

I used to really try to let everyone have a say on my social networking pages.  Then someone posted something really anti-GLBT.  I was mortified.  I was worried that my gay and lesbian friends would see that and think that I was okay with someone posting things like that on my page.  So, I started deleting.  Then I started deleting “friends” who could only drum up happy talk for other types that only believed like they do.  I am not the United States and my personal life is not a democracy.

Bishop Spong (who is one of the few religious heroes I have) has done amazing work changing minds and lives inside the Episcopal Church.  He recently wrote a sort of manifesto (and again, I’ll thank my friends in Religious Roundtable for the heads up on this one) basically refusing to engage in the debate of intolerance anymore.

“Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: “New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth.” I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.”

You can read it in its entirety here on Walking With Integrity.

So, yeah, I’m gonna do that, too.  There aren’t always two sides to every story.  Sometimes there’s just right…and then there’s wrong.  I feel confident, even arrogant, that I’m on the side of right, on the side of human rights, so yanno, if you don’t agree, feel free to not engage with me about it, either.  I won’t tolerate intolerance.  So.  There.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

When in Rome?

Through one of the Muslim women in the religious debate group I moderate, I found this beautifully written article on CNN.com about a journalist who decides to don the niqab in order to better understand and, let’s face it, infiltrate the culture on which she is attempting to report. It is an inspiring piece about meeting others where they are instead of always expecting people outside of Western culture to come to us.

But, that’s sort of where my positivity expires. As a Western woman, I get social “breaks” that women in Africa, the Middle East, Central and East Asia rarely get. And, pardon me, but that’s still not enough. I’ve been exchanging dialogue with Muslim women on a regular basis for four years now. They are intelligent, sincere, and compassionate women. They have theologically sound arguments that often make me stop and say, “Hmm.” But, I’m still coming back to the fact that, no matter how much I try to understand another culture, religion or basic way of life, I cannot with any honesty say that I think mandating a woman to cover anything so that she can be treated as if she is not standing right in front of you is liberating. At all.

As a matter of fact, I find it demeaning and what’s more, I find it disheartening that, just like conservative  Christian women feel they are showing strength by submission, these Muslim women feel empowered by giving up one of the most empowering thing we possess; our facial expression.

When I was 21, my mother took me on a trip to Spain. This was pre-9/11, by just a couple of months and part of our tour included a day trip to Morocco. No one went out of their way to get me to cover my hair, or cover my skin, or anything. I wore a long skirt because I was aware it is Muslim dominated kingdom, but I really didn’t think all that much about it. I got a few wayward glances, but nothing too out of the ordinary for an American girl in a foreign country. I didn’t cover my hair, hell, I didn’t cover my arms.

Now, I suppose, given that the amount of knowledge and culture I now posses, greatly exceeds that which I had 10 years ago, I’d probably try to be more aware of my surroundings. I may cover my hair and arms…if doing so didn’t raise my internal body temperature by about a billiondy degrees.

I understand that in order to find common ground, sometimes we need to adapt to others rather than expecting them to adapt to us. Though, I wonder if Gena Somra at CNN could have better shown solidarity with her host country by donning the niqab during the first part of her trip and then removing it several days later to show solidarity to the women of Yemen in a small act that may reveal to them that, yes, they too can take control of their lives and for a small moment, show the men who would interacted with her that she was the same, covered or not. As for those who systematically ignored her while she was covered, well, they’d have done the same either way.

I think people ought to be able to do what they want. Mostly. If a woman wants to cover from head to toe, in a free society (or at least as free as we’ve come to be in our history) then I suppose that’s on her. But, in societies where this is the norm, expected or part of the religious based culture, freedom seems to be an idea without much reality. I appreciate Ms. Somra’s act of decorum and humility, but I think it falls flat in the face of women’s rights.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 8, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Blah, blah, Jesus, blah.

Yesterday, a “friend” posted some ridiculous drivel about not apologizing for being an American and some other mess about making kids say the Pledge of Allegiance.  Something about they “don’t make the kids say it no more.”

 

So, I mentioned that yes, indeed kids do say the Pledge at school and I know this because my boyfriend’s three boys all say it.  The response was that “well, we were forced to say it.”

 

Being a fan of actual facts and not fear-mongering, divisive, made-up bull-shit, I said that no, compulsory recitation has never been the case, though it has been tried in several areas of the United States since its addition to the school day.  You can actually thank the Jehovah’s Witnesses for saving you from being forced to pay allegiance to any flag or country without your permission.  I know this because I stopped saying the Pledge in the 5th grade in protest, ironically enough because I felt like we weren’t “One Nation under God” and until we were, I thought it was fallacy to recite it.  I was further supported by, I dunno, a little summer class I took on religion and politics.  But, hey, what the hell do I know?

 

I also mentioned that I don’t believe in god and non-belief really has not one damn thing to do with being an American (apologetic or not) and that the country was built on the backs of all of us (many of whom didn’t speak a lick of English, as it were.)

 

Which was met with some crap about feeling sorry for me because I don’t believe in god.

 

Really?

 

Good frakking grief.

 

First, be proud that I held my tongue, er, fingers far enough away from my keyboard so that little jolts of high voltage didn’t emerge on the responder’s end of the interwebz.

 

Second, I live in a part of the world that has a church on every corner.  I grew up immersed in the Southern Baptist tradition and I am the granddaughter of a United Methodist pastor.  Do you really think I don’t know all about your god, what he entails and whether or not I’m really missing out on something?

 

Give me a break.

 

The mere mention that I might believe something different, or nothing at all, offends you.  Stupid.  You piss and moan about how you’re so damn persecuted because you no longer have free reign to indoctrinate my child whenever and wherever you want, but when it comes to showing respect and compassion and tolerance to someone else…all that Jesus-itude goes right out the frakkin’ window.

 

I won’t even get into the fact that non-belief wasn’t a choice and if I had my druthers, it sure as shit would be a  helluva lot easier to believe than not.  When I was a Christina, I never heard someone say they didn’t think a Christian ought to be able to raise their own child…but I’ve had a Christian tell me someone ought to call DFCS and take my son away because it’s abusive to raise a child without god.  I didn’t say anything about the fact that I really don’t find your god to be all that good and I surely wouldn’t say I feel sorry for you for believing because believing in something so obviously without evidence is really kind of stupid.  Why?  Because my Mama raised me with some semblance  of manners and it’s RUDE to be condescending to someone you don’t know not to mention that it’s a little bit gaumless to engage someone who’s light-years ahead of you in knowledge of religion, belief and history.

 

Idiot.

 

So, I hit “remove from friends.”

 

Bah.  Bunch of BS if you ask me.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 6, 2010 at 12:57 am

Olive Branch on a Hill

The story this week is that Clarence Thomas’s wife, Virginia, has called Anita Hill to “ask” that she apologize for her 1991 accusations of sexual harassment against Thomas.  She called the phone message an “olive branch.”

A pretty thorny branch if you ask me.

Anita rightfully told the press that she had nothing to apologize for and basically the Thomas’s could stick it where the sun don’t shine.

In a time of sensitivity training run amok, the fact remains that reporting sexual harassment can be a pretty awful experience for the victim.  When I was in my early twenties, I began working for a medium sized exhibit house as a freight clerk.  One day, an employee who had befriended me asked if I would give him a ride to the local liquor store to cash his paycheck.  I was going anyway, so of course I said yes.  Came back and went about my day.

The next morning I had two people, one of whom was my direct supervisor, tell me that this person was going around the warehouse telling people we had sex in my car.  I was mortified and very scared.  I didn’t know this person and I’d only been working there less than a month.  I called my mom and asked her what to do.  She helped me draft a letter of complaint.

I went through the proper channels, was sufficiently grilled on all the circumstances…and when the time came, both people who told me of the rumor lied to “protect” themselves and said they never told me anything.  The male employee was essentially acquitted of any wrong doing and to be honest, I still have no idea if he said it or not.  I was fired shortly thereafter and obviously never felt comfortable going to the office again after that, anyway.

I’m sure in this great wide world there are women who make up things for fame, for money, for drama.  Anita Hill is a professionally accomplished woman, a professor, who stood to gain almost nothing, from what I can gather, out of coming forward in front of a congressional committee filled with men who are going to meet her accusations with skepticism from the outset.

Virginia Thomas should be ashamed of herself.  She should also take a big ol’ hint that the world doesn’t revolve around her or her husband after it stopped focusing on them in ’91.  She should also take a hint that just because she doesn’t believe in women’s rights doesn’t mean the rest of us give a damn about her opinion.

Written by thelittlepecan

October 21, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Posted in politics