I’m Bummed

There’s nothing to be done about it.  One of my friends quit her job yesterday in one of those fiery flameout screaming yelling crying scenarios you think must not actually happen in real life.

It’s been hard for her to find a wide circle of friends here in Nashville, so she’s moving back home.  And I can see why.  If the social life isn’t going to pan out and the job isn’t going to pan out, at least not any time in the near future, why not go someplace where it seems more likely that it will?

Just how hard is something supposed to be, you know?

I guess that’s something each person has to work out for herself–what she can put up with and what’s too much.

I have a hard time working that out.

And I read Mack’s post this morning, about racism and Imus and it really upset me and pissed me off.  I about want to go around punching random assholes at gas stations.

It bothers me that Mack, a dude I care a great deal about, has to go through this shit, but damn, I keep thinking about his kids, who I adore.  What if that were The Girl, with her big dark eyes and her long brown hair, standing in line waiting to get some gum?  Or The Boy, doing his goofy dinosaur impression?

When’s it going to happen to them?  That I about can’t stand.

I can remember being pulled aside as a small child by a parishioner at my dad’s church who had a million questions about why my cousin M. was so “dark.”  I’ll never forget that accusatory look on her face, and the anger.

It scared the shit out of me, like we’d inadvertently done something wrong, just by bringing M. to that place.  I think I got that the wrong thing we’d done was to bring M. some place where she wasn’t welcome, but I’m not sure.

I don’t know.  I guess my point is that kids ought to be able to count on adults to protect them.  And even if adults have some stupid shit between them, we shouldn’t take it out on kids.

And yet, not all adults buy into the whole “protect kids from harm” thing and, instead, feel free to make kids the target of their idiocy.  And since we were taught to respect adults, we just assume the adult has some valid point we can’t yet see.

That’s not really profound.  But it pisses me off.

And bums me out.

Which brings us full circle.

So, at least there is order in the universe, even if the order of things is crappy.

Edited to add:  I guess this illustrates the main reason I don’t believe in raising your kids to be “color-blind.”  My cousin M. is clearly not “white” looking, even though she considers herself to be a white person, ethnically.  It was never an issue in our family and it never came up.

Fine.

Did that spare her from being the brunt of folks’ bigotry?  No.

Upon reflection, I’m going to guess that my aunt’s family is Native American and I will remember to ask my dad.

20 thoughts on “I’m Bummed

  1. For me, at least, I try to look for some reason to hope. When I was building my home, I went to a local insurance company recommended by my foreman, (I didn’t know many people here yet)and sat down to sign up and write a check. The premiums were more than fair, and I was about to move my vehicle insurance there when the lady suddenly blurted out “your policy includes an uninsured driver rider, you know, in case you get hit by a drunken Mexican.” It was an incredibly stupid and insensitive thing to say, and it cost her employer my business. But when I think back on some of the things that have happened to me, that incident at the insurance company is actually progress!

    I try to keep in mind that I have had an advantage over some of my fellow Latinos, because I speak with no trace of an identifiable accent, and I have been described as “Italian looking” or “Greek looking” on a number of occassions. I think this is why that lady felt “safe” saying what she did. My children will no doubt have a similar advantage, though I have done my best to make them aware of their heritage and in particular the sacrifices made by their grandparents.

    You know what is kind of funny? My daughter came home upset one day because one of her friend’s Dad had forbid her to come to our house anymore, not because of our skin color, but because of the giant Kerry banner I had in our front yard. Imagine! Liberals! There goes the neighborhood.

  2. in case you get hit by a drunken Mexican

    See, wtf…where is this whole idea coming from…i.e., Donna Locke is an example that I truly and sincerely do not understand. She blames the fact that her daughter was injured by a drunken driver on the fact that they guy is an illegal Mexican. (My usual rant to follow: my father was killed by a drunk driver. He was black. I don’t blame the black race for my dad’s death.)

    Did I miss some memo that said if you’re Mexican, you’re probably going to drive drunk?

  3. and I have been described as “Italian looking” or “Greek looking” on a number of occassions

    I read that as “Great looking” and I was thinking, “man, I mean, yeah, he’s hot and all, but does he have to be so arrogant about it?” Oops. ;)

  4. My niece was given holy hell in school because of the Kerry sign in my yard and because she sort of parroted what I said at home about Bush being an asshat. I felt really bad about it, was going to take the sign down and did the whole speech about we need to respect the president’s office even if we don’t care for the president, that sort of thing.
    She took a bunch of crap because other kids were parroting what there parents had said just like she did with my words.
    I have really thought about this over time about how words do make a difference and my personal responsibility in it all.
    As for Imus (and I haven’t read Mack’s post yet) he’s done this crap before and it’s not the first time.
    Another example that words do hurt and they do make a difference.
    Incidentally, I kept the sign up.

  5. #

    and I have been described as “Italian looking” or “Greek looking” on a number of occassions

    I read that as “Great looking” and I was thinking, “man, I mean, yeah, he’s hot and all, but does he have to be so arrogant about it?” Oops. ;)

    Comment by Kate O’ — April 11, 2007 @ 9:17 am

    You mean hot like this?

  6. In all seriousness, sorry to hear about your friend’s job and her plan to leave Nashville. That just sucks.

    It also sucks what happened to Mack. Unbelievable in 2007. Assholes.

  7. I haven’t made my way over to Mack’s yet, so I’ll probably have some thoughts on that once I read it.

    I’m very sorry that you’ve “lost” your friend. That sucks out loud. I still think raising your kids colour-blind is a good idea. I was raised that way–which was a lot more courageous of my mom in 1970 when I think about it.

    Few people believe me when I say that race doesn’t really enter into my equation when I think of someone or something, but it’s the honest truth. And I prefer having led my life this way. Granted, it also does not directly occur to me to consider the misfortunes someone of a darker hue might experience as being due to his or her darker hue.

    But I still consider being raised colour-blind to be consistent with our faith system. And if enough kids are raised colour-blind, in fifty years there won’t be misguided older ladies like that parishoner.

  8. And if enough kids are raised colour-blind, in fifty years there won’t be misguided older ladies like that parishoner.

    Bingo! I can already see a difference in my daughter’s viewpoint on things like race than I was raised with.

    I think that is because (with as FAR as we have left to go), I personally have experienced that things like race, sexual orientation, religion, etc., have improved somewhat as we get generations further out from the ignorance of the 60s.

    Again, it is obvious that we are nowhere near where we should be.

  9. I tried to comment over at Mack’s but stupidly put a link in my ramblings and it didn’t take. He’ll probably find it in his spam box between Levitra and Viagra spam.
    B., this is showing my age but I went to first grade the inaugural year that Gibson County, here in the big state of Tennessee, desegregated it’s school system. I don’t know the relevance of that but it’s a small piece of history about myself I carry around with me. I can remember people picketing and scaring the hell out of me at five years old.
    It was an odd weird time, but I’m glad that the nieces didn’t have to go through that and didn’t even give race much thought when they started going to school. In some ways, it never changes. But maybe, sometimes it does although we may not see some of the positive ways that things evolve.
    It’s by no means fixed. Not by a long shot.
    Being that my mom was an odd little hippie chick we were taught to be colorblind. In all honesty, it was a good thing.
    And yet I think you have a rational point. Maybe it is best to teach that we are different yet the same because we are all human beings.
    I think that was the message I was taught at least.
    And I do agree with Katherine, philisophically and spiritually if we keep trying to teach our children to be color-blind, maybe, just maybe, eventually it will take. Maybe not in my life-time but I hope in the generation I’m watching grow up now.

  10. Eccch. The colorblind thing makes me absolutely shudder.

    There’s a lot to that that’s pretty specific, and I’d need to write a really link-heavy response to it… but I just can’t get behind that. It’s a huge source of a lot of amazingly bigoted behavior, and it makes it incredibly difficult to have any sort of a productive discussion about group-level dynamics when it relates to race. It’s annoying, and has at times made my life hell.

  11. > Did I miss some memo that said if you’re Mexican, you’re probably going to drive drunk?

    If you are hit by an illegal alien, then that person will not have a US drivers’ license (unless California has passed that law). Because they can’t get a license, they can’t get insurance. So in states where insurance is mandatory, if you are hit by an uninsured motorist (the kind of insurance the woman was commenting on), it might be very likely that they are an illegal alien. This is especially true since the mandatory insurance requirement is usually backed-up by checks at the DMV when you go to (re-)register your car.

    When discussing accidents that are not your fault, the phrase “hit by a drunk driver” is not uncommon.

    So was this woman saying that Mexicans drive drunk? Or was she saying that if you need *uninsured motorist* coverage, then it is probably because you have been hit by a Mexican, and a leading cause of being hit is drunk drivers (of any race)?

    What she said still sounds really bad, and Mack is probably a good judge of her intent, but there is a way to reason this out so that it isn’t necessarily hateful.

  12. Mm, indifferent… I think this is kind of like that judge thread we had here before. The one about how men just wanted to have sex with young women? There are a lot of mental gymnastics a person could go through in order to make a statement like that come out right. The person might even have meant it relatively benignly. But the fact that you have to think yourself into a pretzel to make them sound less hateful is a pretty strong indication that no, they meant exactly what they said. Occam and all that.

  13. I don’t think that most uninsured drivers hitting insured drivers’ cars in Tennessee are Mexicans or drunk. At least, I’d like to see some figures on that. Certainly the “we’re the rock bottom insurance to get if you have no insurance” commercials on TV don’t seem to be aimed at Mexican-Americans of any legal status, and one would think that the people who make them know who their potential customers are.

    Of course, I’m biased, since the uninsured driver who totalled our car a year ago was an oblivious white native English speaker who thought that continuing to repeat “I never saw you” somehow made it all OK.

  14. And, of course, it goes without saying (well, it went without saying by me, just now) that no matter what on earth that woman thought she meant, ewww.

    I keep thinking along the “things do get better over time” stuff that Mack said at his own blog, and remember a post of Ginger’s from a while back about how Nashville ought to look at Miami for guidance on how to be a truly multiethnic city. And I keep wishing that we transplants from NYC and Miami and other places where Hispanic immigration got started a couple of generations ago ought to be able to tell people here all about how 10 years from now all the people who can’t speak English today will be speaking it, and their kids going to school with native English speakers will introduce a new wrinkle into the local accent, and there will also be more recent immigrants who don’t know English yet, some from the same places and others from evern farther off, but then in 10 years after that … so anyway, just take a deep breath and wait and things will turn out in ways almost everyone likes. But then I think, no! why should people need special reassurance to treat others well right now? So I’m bummed, too.

  15. I don’t think that most uninsured drivers hitting insured drivers’ cars in Tennessee are Mexicans or drunk.

    nm, I feel sure you’re correct. I’d pretty much bet a paycheck on the majority of uninsured drivers in Tennessee either being black or white, American citizens, and probably not drunk or under any other influence. And I’d guess there’s probably a pretty good chance the majority are white. The uninsured driver who hit me and totaled my car last week was as WASP or more so than I am.

    Another point should probably be made that back when most of the uninsured motorist coverage STARTED getting regulated so heavily (at least in this part of the country), you really didn’t have a heck of a lot of people living in the Mid-South that weren’t either white or black. Some, yes, but that percentage just couldn’t have been very high at all.

    I’m no expert or have numbers, of course, but I’m pretty sure those responsible for all the uninsured motorist stuff in the first place (at least, again, in this part of the country) were mainly white and black folk that just didn’t want to fork out the cash, or couldn’t, to pay for insurance, and even though the Mid-South’s demographics have changed a great deal in the 25 years I’ve been driving and our immigration ratio has certainly increased, I’m just not sure the reason’s changed all that much.

  16. I should be clear here that back when the Insurance Company incident happened, Tennessee still issued driving certificates to undocumented people. It was a great idea that did not survive this poisonous political climate, so now they will be forced to drive without insurance. Anyway, Indifferent, she wasn’t trying to be hurtful to me, because she didn’t know I was Mexicano, she was just being ignorant and spreading dangerous stereotypes. I believe most could arrive at that conclusion without breaking a sweat.

  17. Pingback: Say what? Colorblind, part II. « Feline Formal Shorts

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