“India is not a poor country. It is a rich country with a large number of very poor people.” -Indian minister
The Weather Channel website, of all places, had a sidebar link titled “Some Things Worth Trying in the Bedroom.” Of course I clicked, hoping against hope that I was going to be taken to an article about positions like “Cum-derstorms Likely” and “Partly Cloudy with Chance of Golden Showers”.
It was not to be. But thank you, Weather Channel ad folks, for that brief moment of possibility.
To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”
To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.
Today, I watched a grown man in a business suit pick his nose and eat it. I also had my first brush with institutionalized corruption in Africa. Thanks, Ghanaian embassy!
Yesterday, the Red Sox lost. Also, some dude (cat)called me “healthy”. I do not take this as a compliment.
Also yesterday, I made a decision to stop letting things begin when I already know how they’ll end. I’ve had the same conversation too many times, and disappointed too many people. It’s not worth it anymore.
Onward, upward, overward, throughward, other-preposition-ward. No more apologies for the things that I want (or, more accurately, don’t want). It’s the season of leaves and rosy cheeks and hockey and tromping through the woods and actually being able to buy a good apple at the bodega, and I’m so happy to be here. That’s enough, more than enough…the rest will come.
Monkey Photo Fails to Fool Los Angeles Court
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California man is headed back to court after trying to use a photo of his pet monkey alongside a Mexican newspaper to fool a court commissioner into believing the animal had been sent south of the border.
David Grigorian had been ordered to surrender his marmoset Cheeta because he did not have a permit for the animal.
Authorities say the 43-year-old Van Nuys man was in court this week to show that the monkey was gone.
His proof: a photo of Cheeta beside a recently dated Mexican newspaper. Red, white and green decorations filled the background.
But Commissioner Thomas Grodin wasn’t buying it and Grigorian eventually admitted that Cheeta was in downtown Los Angeles.
He’s agreed to hand Cheeta over to Fish and Game officials.
All of my friends are white.
That’s not to say that I don’t have acquaintances, co-workers, teammates, etc of different ethnicities, and that I’m not friendly with them. But friends, close friends that I call up to hang out or talk…all white. Lily, lily white. And not only white, but generally middle to upper-middle class. (I’m pretty sure that my family is the least well-off of all my friends’ families, though I couldn’t swear to it.)
To some extent, this is to be expected. I grew up in Vermont, the second whitest state in the country. And I went to Davidson, which at first seemed to me like a hotbed of multiculturalism— but a little more time revealed that to be emphatically not the case. But now? I live in New York, and in Harlem no less. My workplace is definitely racially mixed— there has been a vigorous effort to make diversity a priority here, and I think it’s been successful. So why am I still so surrounded by people just like me?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I don’t really like the conclusions that I’ve been coming to. With the election, there’s been a spate of articles about secret prejudices, unconscious racism, and the like. Much as I would like to say that none of it applies to me, I’m forced to admit that it does. With my liberal guilt, I fight it strenuously, but there’s no way around the fact that I connect more easily with people of the same race. I don’t know why— it’s not like I’ve ever consciously thought to myself “Gee, I’d get along with this chick a lot better if she were white.” But the facts speak for themselves. In 24 years, I have not formed a single close, lasting friendship with any non-white person. It’s foolish, wishful thinking to imagine that I bear no responsibility for that fact.
It may be that it’s less a question of race than it is a question of willingness to bridge social gaps of all varieties. Transitioning into public school as a 7th grader definitely left me with some deep-rooted fears of pushing in where I’m not wanted. (Eespecially with groups of girls, oh, God. Put me in a group of girls who are all already friends, and watch me forget how to talk. But I digress.) But I’ve gotten past that successfully, in most situations. So the fact that I’m still hesitant to bridge this particular gap implies that on some level, it makes me uncomfortable in a way that other social trials do not. And that’s not a pretty thought.
All this weirdness and discomfort around race translates, for me, into a hyperawareness of anything that might possibly be derogatory. (See above, re: strenuous fight.) On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Tita, whose casual pronouncements about racial groups often leave me dumbfounded. She would (and does) say that she’s not being racist, she’s just going by experience (and then she starts singing this to me). According to her, when she gets a table full of black people, 9 times out of 10 they don’t tip well. That sentence gives me the creepy crawlies even to type, it just feels so so so wrong. But would I have the same reaction if she said that 9 times out of 10, a table full of women won’t tip well? Absolutely not. I’d probably agree.
Why is that? Gender and race are both biological givens, beyond any individual control. They both have been used as justification to oppress one group or another— and they both contribute to a kind of shared experience. By that, I mean that being a woman is something that is different from being a man, and the experience of growing up male or female will shape an individual in different ways. Ditto for race. Growing up black is different experience from growing up white. It just is. So why the discomfort around admitting that? Why does Tita’s first statement strike me as unacceptable? Is it because I’m female, but not black? I’ve heard the “black people don’t tip” thing from (gasp!) Actual Black People— was it OK from them? I’m inclined to think not, but in that case I have some serious explaining to do when it comes to the sweeping statements I’ve been known to make about girls. Statements that would infuriate me if I heard them from a man.
You could say that none of these statements are OK- it’s unfair to generalize groups based on the behaviour of individuals. And you would be right, but you would also be flying in the face of reality. Generalizing is what people do— if our ancestors decided not to judge every sabre-toothed tiger based on the behavior of that one that happened to eat their neighbor, we’d be dead. Or invertabrates, or something.
I don’t know what’s worse, my guilty liberal hypersensitivity or Tita’s astounding disregard for the social context of race. I don’t really like either option, and I think they’re both rooted in ignorance. All I can say is that when I have kids, I’m going to make damn sure that they’re in a racially diverse environment at some point before they’re 22 years old. And in the meantime, I’m going to go entertain myself with the kind of racism we can all get behind.
It’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again
I feel like I’ve been awfully negative lately. For balance and my sanity, a list of good things from my week. Doing this Scattergories style, as I have to leave to catch a train in 3 minutes….starting, NOW:
- New rain boots
- The fact that slime mold can apparently solve puzzles
- Palin’s total assery. Seriously, I don’t care that she “exceeded expectations”. A pile of graham cracker crumbs would exceed expectations at this point. She was awful, and that has to be good for the Dems.
- There was a picture of a baby fox. I’m not going to link to it, because I’d like to preserve a teeny tiny bit of self respect. But it was sent to me, and it was cute, and I felt gooey. So there.
- Molly. Back on top of the world, and actually using the phrase “divas of my soul”. Welcome back, my love. We’ve missed you.
And, time. I’m Montauk-bound!