December 07, 2004

Once you go black.

Apologies in advance for another bitching-post. It's that time of semester -- which those of you attending or teaching at a university can relate to, I'm sure -- and I'm stressed out and in general feeling very critical about everything. So there. What's wrong with people? It's not bad enough that we have what I have heard called the civil rights issue of our generation that we're not dealing with very well: gay rights. We're still not through with the original civil rights issue regarding race, either. Before 1967, I would not have been allowed to marry the person that I did, because she is black and because I am white. Some of us got over that, didn't we? Not all of us, though. Remember that contraversial commercial a few weeks ago that involved Nicolette Sheridan and Terrel Owens? Come on, there was no more skin and no more sexual implications than in the very show that Ms. Sheridan stars in, let alone the soaps that the same network airs when kids are actually awake and flipping through the channels. People were pissed off because she was blonde and white and because Owens is black. You know that those Nascar dads and big Wal-Mart moms are horrified at the idea of a black man penetrating a white woman. You should see the stares my wife and I get sometimes around here. There are parts of the country I don't even like to get out of my car in while travelling, no matter how much I have to pee or how badly we need fuel. Is all hope lost? Are we really a country of bigots, closeted bigots and those very very few people who don't have their heads up their asses in 1630 or 1960? Are things getting better or worse? Shows like "Friends" continually put together inter-racial couples without having to point it out like something is wrong with it. Great. But the same show constantly made gay-jokes about all of the male cast members: "Dude, that's so gay." "Dude, you kissed a guy." While charges that the show was always a "white show" might be attenuated by their portrayal of inter-racial couples (which I think does really go further to advance true racial equality, at least on NBC, than merely having black cast members), the show was clearly homophobic from its debut in 1994 until that tearing ending in May 2004. And no one seemed to care or even notice. Gay jokes are funny, right [sic]? Can we assume that the generation leaving college and graduate school now is any less narrow-minded than our parents and grandparents? I knew plenty of homophobes in college and even a racist kid or two. That's just sad. Sometimes I want to run away to somewhere else. I can fake my way through a little German, and my wife is fluent in Spanish. If we could learn some French, we could run away to most European countries. I was a good Boy Scout and all that, and I have one of those yellow-ribbon-magnets on my car (that is, until some bastard stole it). I don't lack patriotism or love of my country. But I don't like it sometimes, more and more often now. You know how it is when you love someone, but they are in a stage where they are continually doing stupid and mean things, and you don't like them for a while, despite your continuing love? (Crappy example, I know.) That's how I feel about the US these days. It's not a giving up. If I ever left, it would never be for good, only to get away for a while and to return and remember what I love about living in the United States. I know that my veteran father always tells me when I call home and bitch that this is "the best country to live in." But is it right now? I know how whiny this all sounds, so please don't leave "If you hate this country so much, College Boy, leave" comments. Read what I said. I don't hate my country. It's precisely the love I have for my country that makes me so angry and makes me want to leave for a while. Besides, if you hate anyone who doesn't fit your narrow definition of patriotic (or you hate gay people and people of color and anyone who is a not exactly a Christian), then why the fuck are you reading this blog?


Alcarwen said...

your disappointment in the state of affairs at the moment attests to your patriotism to me...if you didn't give two shits about america, honestly, it wouldn't bother you that things aren't the way they should be...

and let's face it. things are in no way the way they should be. i love my country too... and the ideals that it should be standing for but isn't at the moment...

i'm sure no place is perfect, but we're capable of being a hell of a lot better than we are as a nation.... and i'm in agreement with your righteous anger;-)

Sal said...

>"Before 1967, I would not have been allowed to marry the person that I did, because she is black and because I am white."Also, because you wouldn't have been born yet.

Many places still refuse to let unborn people marry and, sadly, I don't see this changing until and unless the unborn march upon Washington in their millions.

Pragmatik said...


Stasyna said...

Two words: Nationalism [and the] Illuminati.

I may believe in possible false beliefs, like the ones I have in secret organizations, but they're MY beliefs. Someone judging someone uoccurs because they clash with eachothers own beliefs. It's a cycle that either makes sense or doesn't. If you bash someone's take on things, they can do the same right back at you.

It's very seldom that an equilibrium is achieved whan deep-rooted beliefs are challenged. Racism and sexuality are deep-rooted.

Pragmatik said...

True, deeply-rooted beliefs are hard to change when they are challenged, but they seldom change when left UNchallenged, I think.

JLo said...

Actually, John, my college is dealing with this issue. My college is predominately white, Christian, upper-middle class college. In the By-Laws, faculty have to be members of a Christian church to be hired and remain professors. There is ONE African American professor on the staff. Diversity has become a big issue that the college has been trying really hard to ignore. A Commission has been formed to re-evaulate the Christian requirement, but issues like sexuality are being ignored. It isn't even listed in the list of "gender, race, religion (for students, that is), and handicap." The t-shirts for the college's Gay/Straight Alliance this year read:
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
That's all well and good; but, as I'm learning, no one wants to change. Not really. Not here.

Pragmatik said...

Those T-shirts sound really cool; is that from Gandhi?

I was reading about that Christian requirement on your blog the other day. It's really strange, and it sounds like a good idea that they're re-evaluating it.

Yeah, sometimes it seems like people are so...comfortable with their strange points of view and exclusionary values that they don't see why they should or could or would change. Sometimes I wonder if pushing ideas like racial-equality and equal treatment regardless of one's sexual preference is not as bad as fundamentalist Christians trying to push their beliefs on me in order to save my soul, or something like that.

But I think that values like racial equality, sexual equality, equality regardless of sexual preference or religious affiliation are all HIGHER values -- not just points of view held by "progressive" people. Aren't they just "right" and to be held by all?

But then again, I sound like a fundamentalist or extremist. I suppose it's a weird circle.

Nonetheless the test could be love and hate. Advocating a set of principles based on love and acceptance seems like a good way to go. And that means loving and accepting everyone, even fundamentalists and haters, I suppose.

I'm rambling:)

Stasyna said...

Left unchallenged? I suppose that's true.

If your opinion has a profound objection which you were not consciously aware and noone is there to voice it, then it goes unnoticed - That's true. It usually takes inspiration outside of someone else to spark change, for an individual cannot live for himself alone, but needs influence. Opinion and criticism helps to strengthen and reaffrirm one's belief since it is a test of what they preach (or practise), making for an positive not a negative.

Sal said...

Related (on a deeper level) post you might like:

you need to read to the end of the comments