please stop tickling me

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Location: Portland, Oregon

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What it's Like to be Annoying in America

Hey, here's what Catrina Bush has to say about something:

"I am not a native Oregonian, so understand that it took some time for me to get adjusted to the culture here."
As it does everybody who has ever moved anywhere, no doubt.

"After five years of living here, it's clear to me that Oregonians are most comfortable when their environment is culturally homogeneous."
As is the case with most people in most places.

"Honestly, the rainy weather irritates me more than anything else because it disrupts my active lifestyle."
Well, that's...Okay, 'but nobody ever does anything about it', right?

"I'm reminded every day that I'm marginalized here, that the best way for me to fulfill the basic human need of acceptance and belonging is by conforming to the dominant culture"
What does this actually translate out to? Am I about to find out?

"I can't tell you the number of times I've been rejected, berated and downgraded here. I'm black, proud of it, intelligent and attractive. But many people here seem uncomfortable with that."
Do you spend a great deal of your time pointing out how wonderful you are, then getting blank stares? When you notice how your schtick seems to be falling flat, do you then say it's everyone else's fault?

"It often seems that people are nervous in my presence. They try to be nice, but it comes off as phony and unworthy of my trust."
Do you think people are nervous in your presence because you're clearly judging them- based on their race, no less? And when their -perhaps clumsy- attempts to soothe your insecurity don't work, you decide that they aren't worth the approval of one so wonderful as yourself?

"So I propose that Oregonians just get over themselves, because not everyone wants to abandon her racial identity to be perceived as less marginal in yours."
I'm still looking for an example of some sort that shows what injustice has been done to you here. And "just get over (it)" is what dismissive elitists say when they have no argument.

"That homogenous, elitist mentality that's so prevalent here gives Oregonians a false sense of superiority and entitlement to judge others. Quite frankly, that's not the way the world works."
Funny that you bring it up: a false sense of superiority is what makes the world go 'round, as far as I've noticed. It seems to work pretty well for you.

" If what I've said has offended you or if you think that in some way I've judged you unjustly, then hold on to that feeling, because then you'll know how it feels to be black in Oregon."
Ah yes; and of course, if anyone has issues with your shallow characterizations and vague accusations, it's their problem. Nice.
This was published on the Opinion page of The Oregonian today, and it reminds me that we're pretty much always going to have to put up with facile commentary for as long as people wish to discuss race -which is to say, forever.

Then of course, there's the website Stuff White People Like, which is funny and insightful in exactly the same way that Jeff Foxworthy is funny and insightful. I had the following exchange over there:
on March 15, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I’m sure I’m not the only one to say this, but none of these things here that whites like are inherently bad.

I’m now suspecting that some bright bulb is going to write the obligatory ‘I love how some people don’t appreciate satire’ response. Well, this blog does a crap job with both the humor and observational aspects that should comprise satire, so what’s the point?

White people love making fun of ‘white people’; it’s how they assuage their guilt.

rayray on March 15, 2008 at 7:04 pm

it’s less about shirking guilt and more about quid pro quo. more importantly, unless clander has already
stated, we don’t know his/her race.

he/she could be a negro. don’t get it twisted, rich bachelor.

richbachelor on March 15, 2008 at 7:19 pm

Not getting it twisted, rayray. I’m talking about the general theme, and didn’t speculate about the ethnicity of the blogger.

Because true equality means not giving a fuck about that sort of thing, right?

rayray on March 15, 2008 at 7:25 pm

except you ended your post with “white people love
making fun of white people” and so
i’m postulating that this blogger may not be white.
in which case the whole continuity of this blog is

and no, sorry, that is not what true equality is

As it happens, the author of the blog is indeed white, but I still didn't say that at any point. The self-satisfied, trying-way-too-hard-to-get-laid style says White Guy to me, but still, I was talking about the other five-hundred some-odd people who "LOL"-ed all over the damn thing.
Unfortunately, I'd literally been talking earlier that same day about how the one sure fire way to never ever be taken seriously was to call yourself 'Ray Ray'. No joke. And here he is.

Much like I must never assume that Christian Lander (the blog's author) is white (though he is), I'd definitely better not assume that Ray Ray is black. But-the use of the five-dollar word 'postulating' where the twenty-five cent 'saying' bespeaks a certain kind of intellectual insecurity that is fairly screaming for me to take it seriously, and above all else, Respect it.
And, gawd help me, I've seen plenty of that sort of shit from white people too, but I have yet to meet a white dude who called himself 'Ray Ray'. Also, that 'quid pro quo' is interesting too, in that it would seem that he's saying the revenge for say, slavery and Jim Crow laws, would be having to read stupid blogs like this one. I like these prices!
Of course, he did use 'negro', which is weird, and I'm still wondering how the 'whole continuity of this blog' got 'disrupted'.

By the way, I'm pretty sure that color-blind commentary is exactly what the point of racial equality is; and the blogosphere is kind of perfect for it, because as we all know, I'm actually a four-hundred pound woman who lives in a subterranean honeycomb of tunnels, attended by a Crew of Gnomes that do my bidding. The 'thirty-seven-year-old-man' thing is just a clever dodge.
And in that equality, an individual is open to readings and interpretations by others, some of whom might very well find you to be full of shit, and it is entirely within their rights to say so, just like it's entirely in your rights to say what you want to say.

If you then turn around and claim that the reason they find you to be full of shit is cultural predjudice, you're doing something very lazy and bad, to my mind. You and I are equals: when you being something other than white means that I can't talk to you honestly, you are infantilizing yourself.

You also may not make fine distinctions, as both conservatives and liberals will pounce on your ass for it. How about this one: there's plenty of reasons for black people (and, far more relevant in Oregon, Native Americans) to be angry, and only a fool would deny it. But- if someone wants to fuck me up because I'm white, that would be racist. And if they want to fuck me up because they want to fuck someone up and then mutter something about getting back at the White Man to justify, they are racist and stupid.

This too: if you are black and happen to be uneducated, there are certain academic types who will be glad to say that it is genetic, just like they thought. This would be racism of the institutional predjudice variety, as the tests they 'prove' this hypothesis with really are culturally biased.
Where I don't happen to see anyone's lack of education as being a product of race, but a product of class: If you're poorly educated, I'll bet you grew up poor.

The thing is, I still feel that I musn't say these things: I feel like all the further anyone wants to go with it is, black people are wonderful. With the caveat being; and if they do anything wrong, it's white society's fault. Well, I sort of agree, but two things there:

1) That would be treating black people like babies again, incapable of individual decision and choices, personal responsibility, etc. and...

2) If we agree that this righteous anger may very well express itself at me or someone I care about, may I at least say out loud that it exists? Or is that, somehow, racist?

And being "proud" of your race makes you an idiot, no matter who you are, in my view. Oh, like you had some say in the matter? If you mean specifically not being ashamed of your race, then fine, but anything over that marks you as a stupid fuck.

Because (and this happens in feminism, sometimes, too) I don't have to go very far into it to note the shift from "I am equal to you" to "I am better than you", and that's what the problem always was.

Oh, I probably have a lot more to say there, but let's just leave it at: this is the level that the debate is at now, and I suspect that it always will be, until it gets worse. This is one that probably -in America, anyway- can't be solved, and so it will result in increasingly tortured logic. I'd like to be proved wrong about this.



Blogger Osa Jubileee!!1!!one!! said...

heeeeeeeeyyy just wanted you to know i have posted 2 pictures on my blog that you should check out :) one is my senior pic. I'll get the invite for grad to you sooooon & hopefully visit soon tooo

2:19 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Do eet, darlin'.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

White is the new Yuppie. And black people can be just as annoying as anyone else...right, Catrina?

Rich Bachelor, you make my black heart ashy and gray around the edges.

4:07 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

That's racist!

10:24 AM  
Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Everyone understands at the level of his own depravity.
Which reminds me of this joke:
Q:How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A:That's not funny!


1:48 PM  

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