Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is This Wrong Of Me?

Add one more thing to my list of the top recent events that demonstrate white racism is alive and well: the Jena Six situation.

But, for a change, I don't want to write about how blacks are the victims of whites. I want to write about how blacks often victimize others, particularly other blacks.

After I left Chicago for the summer, I came back to my home town. I didn't want to for several reasons, initially starting with the fact that I was enjoying Chicago so much, closely followed by the fact that where I grew up is one of the most boring places on the face of the earth. I grew up in a suburb that even some people not from the state knew as (relatively) wealthy whenever I told people where I was from (Southern wealth, especially in non-ATL-like places, means nothing in comparison to the rest of the country. They are cheap as hell, and you can work a "regular" job and afford one of these "wealthy" neighborhoods, which is essentially what my parents had done). Not long after I got here, I remembered another reason why I hate coming back here now and can't wait for the day when I won't ever have to come back--crime.

I don't think anybody is bragging about or impressed about being from my area anymore--not the suburb or any other suburb around here, and definitely not the city. It's to the point where nowhere is "safe" here, not that anywhere ever truly was when you're realistic about it. Unfortunately, being realistic tends not to be many of our fortes, not when it comes to where to live. We don't understand that crime can happen anywhere. Still, I wouldn't mind having just ONE neighborhood or suburb where I grew up that provided the illusion of safety. Without question, no such place exists any longer around here. This is one place where moving to the suburbs undoubtedly makes no difference if you're attempting to run from crime.

Even when I didn't live in the suburbs and lived in the city, I never once had the experience of sitting in my house in the daytime worried about someone breaking in any minute, or trying to go somewhere boring like Wal-Mart and wishing my mother would hurry the hell up in walking from the car to the building before something happens. But for the past few years, I have felt safer everywhere else I've been than in my own hometown, even in cities I was visiting for the first time like when I went to Boston. Hell, even on the Southside of Chicago and in Detroit, I felt better than I do when I'm home. I probably hear police sirens every day when I'm here. And unlike other places I've lived, almost every day the top news story is a murder, rape, robbery or break-in. If not that, then it's a carjacking or something relating to residents getting screwed over in some way by people who are supposed to help us, whether by a politician, police officer or a company.

I know this is something people don't like to admit because it seems racist, but sometimes it's just true: Where I'm from, the overwhelming majority of people who do these things around here, who have essentially destroyed the city and its surrounding suburbs, who have terrorized everyone around here so much that it's not just white people running or wanting to run, who are in office and don't have the slightest clue what they're doing, and so on...are black males. You know it's true. Oftentimes, where there's a high volume of crime, black males aren't far away.

I don't think it's wrong to admit this, and I do think we need to face this as a nation. I think it's wrong to say it and just leave it at that, or to say it in an accusatory, superiority or reverse-racism way. As a black female, it's not as if I haven't thought about and don't have some understanding of why black males seem to be more violent than everyone else. And as a black female, I know it's not all black men, which is a point I will discuss more in a bit. I think I get why black males commit so many crimes. It just pisses me off because 1) as someone who is black, I know I have a greater chance of being victimized by a black male than a white, Asian or Latino person does, and 2) black women experience many of the same issues and existence as black men do--and then some--and, yet, we find better ways to handle our rage than black men do--I wish black men would do the same.

I know the issue is complicated. It's not just simply a matter of "black men are violent" or "black men just commit more crimes." I know it's not just about discrimination. It's also about how black parents tend to have these double standards that still manage to work out in the black female's favor and to the black male's detriment, even though he is treated like the more valued child, the one who can stay out later, the one who can have sex, the one who just has to get a high school diploma and so on. In the meantime, black women are learning morals and values, and developing a good work ethic. Naturally, not every black female, but more black females than black males.

It's also that black men are still men, and the black community encourages chauvinistic ideals in many ways. To me, black men are spoiled brats, in a way, just like white men are. Many black men seem to think that, because they are men and because white men get handed some things in life, black men should, too. When some black men realize this is not how society works for them, they lose it. Black men suffer from a sense of entitlement almost as much as white men do. That's a lot of why, I think, black men disparage, devalue, degrade, physically harm, and so on, black women. Black men can't for the life of them understand how black women are doing better than they are in society. Couldn't be anything but the white man. It's a conspiracy theory. Uh, no. I mean, look around--white men don't have to do squat to hurt blacks anymore. Black men have got that one down pat. The funny thing about that is I know a black male who had a note left by the KKK on his car saying essentially the same thing.

I know that systemic racism exists. I know that white people do do things to try to hurt blacks, particularly black men. But I don't think there's a scheme out there that's aimed at bringing black men down, other than, perhaps, police brutality. Honestly, there's simply no need for it for two main reasons: black men take care of bringing black men down themselves, and black people don't fight discrimination anymore; we just let it happen now. So, like I wrote in my last post, if a black is being used as an example while plenty of whites get away with similar crimes, or if a black person is falsely accused and convicted...we might call into radio stations or get on message boards and blogs and whine, but we're not going to do like blacks did in the 60s. We take a lot of sh!t now, and, no matter how much white people complain that we complain too much, they know that, which is why they feel gutsy once again to try and pull off stuff like the Jena Six situation, the slow response to Hurricane Katrina, and allowing people like Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern to remain on the air and make racist comments.

Think about this one--there is not another culture, at least in the US and probably not in all of western culture, in which the women are doing better than the men except black American culture. Why would that make any sense? Although race is the most important thing in the US, sex and gender still matter a lot, too. If black men really wanted to be ahead of black women, they could be because they are still men and that still counts. But it's that entitlement thing again. I can't tell you how many black men barely have any sort of education and then exclaim that they won't do a certain job because it doesn't pay enough, choosing instead not to work at all...or they think a black woman is supposed to give up school or make other sacrifices so that they can have their way or get ahead. If she doesn't, then that's another thing that makes her an undesirable bitch who "doesn't support black men."

But many black women simply get over the hand they're dealt in life and push ahead. We don't just complain, and we don't expect handouts because we have no reason to expect any because we have no advantageous identity whatsoever, unlike black men. We know that as black people America owes us, but we know we're not going to just get it without hard work and doing some things we don't particularly care to do. That doesn't make us go out and victimize fellow black people--because victimizing a white person, the object of black anger, would land a black person on deathrow, even for the dumbest thing, whereas no one cares about blacks being victimized--that makes us go out and go to college. We're not hanging out at the public library or Walgreens (yes, black males use these places as hangouts where I'm from nowadays) with our pants hanging down below our butts, harassing men the way black men tend to harass women, or just walking around the neighborhood with absolutely nothing to do when we should be working a job or studying.

I'm not saying all this to insult black men or point out how much better black women are. I'm doing this because I'm pissed, and I'm tired of feeling like I'm going to be victimized any second now. I believe that I should be able to come home--be it my hometown or my house--and feel pretty safe. And while I understand that the craziest crimes are committed by white men, I still resent the hell out of black men for the things that only some black men do. I hate going out around town and seeing several groups of them walking around. I'm sitting there fully understanding what non-blacks feel and think when they see black men, because I'm feeling it and thinking it, too. I'm immediately looking to my right to check that the car door is locked. I'm carrying my money in my pockets rather than in a purse just so that it will seem like I don't have any money with me. It's getting to the point where the only time I don't think negatively when I see black males is if I'm at school on campus. I am fine with a neighborhood that has some blacks, but I don't like that I have come back to where I grew up and almost everyone I see is now a black male. If I saw black females walking around here looking stereotypical, I wouldn't like it but I'd still feel safe. But the undeniable increase in crime is also undeniably correlated with black males now being everywhere here, I'm sorry to say.

I've had real conversations with a few people about this phenomenon, i.e. feeling threatened by almost all black men. You'll find that a lot of black people understand where non-blacks are coming from, even though they kind of feel like sh!t because they kind of agree with them and because they associate those thoughts and feelings with racism. That's why I'm asking if I'm wrong.

Well, I'll leave you with two noteworthy opinions, one from a black female and one from a white female, about feeling threatened by black males:

My mother said not too long ago that she hasn't really spent much time around a lot of black when she sees them, she doesn't think positively about them. And at that point, I knew what was coming next: She said that if she thinks like that, imagine how white people think. And it's true, because white people don't typically spend much time around black males, either. But then I thought about it a few days ago. And I realized that I've been in schools with black boys...and I've met and seen more black males who have given me reasons to lack positive thoughts about black males than ones who have given me reasons not to. In grades k-12, they were always the ones disrupting class and giving the teacher a hard time; always. And the only reason why I know they were the problem in high school is from the few standard classes I my honors and AP classes, black teenaged males were almost completely absent. In undergraduate school, there was a similar ridiculously small amount of black males, and law school is the same way. Although these guys acted/act decent in class, I don't spend enough time around them outside of class to know how they act. I do know that they aren't intimidating black males--not in a dangerous way, anyway.

My white friend said something similar. She said two things I absolutely agree with--the way a black male is dressed matters a lot, and in classes black women seem more together while black males goof off more. With her, I think the opinion about black males disrupting class by being loud, acting silly, etc, actually came almost entirely from college. My college experience brought less classes with black males than probably either high school or law school have, plus I attended an Ivy-Like school...coulda made a difference. As far as the clothing--this is a big part of why the black guys in college and law school have not inspired similar responses from me as black males in my hometown do. Not only that, but hair, grooming, speech, manners, body movement, body art and so on all are indicators...which, to me, is the difference between being racist towards black males and merely being overprotective of yourself. If you see a black male, period, and you're freaked, without having tried to figure out whether this is a black male to realistically've got issues.

Which reminds me of another point my white friend had, and that's that sometimes she sees white guys who are freaky because of their appearance. This is definitely true, as well. And, to go back to location, I've noticed that I mainly hate to see and feel threatened by black males in my hometown only. I was fine in black areas of Chicago, and I was fine in Detroit. It's being in my hometown that is making me stereotype all black men. The funny thing about where I'm from is people refuse to believe it's more dangerous than either of those places, which our city has been found to be one of the most dangerous in the country. But I don't know why people look down on the Southside of Chicago so much. I heard less about crime there than I do in my hometown, and I think that's correlated with my level of fear depending on where I am. My mother has no idea why I'm terrified of our area, and she insists that places like Chicago and NYC have got to have more crime. Numbers-wise, sure, since they are bigger cities with more people; percentage-wise, no. Plus, crime depends a lot more on the area, at least with Chicago, whereas--as I said before--there's just nowhere to go to get away from it in my hometown.

But back to what my friend said about certain kinds of whites being threatening...I feel threatened by white people all the time, regardless of what kind they look like they are. When I was in Boston, I was in a white area, and that made me uncomfortable. Today, I ate at a restaurant that was nothing but white, and I kinda wanted to leave. In Chicago, I encountered odd white males all the time and worried about that because I know white men, if crazy, are crazier than any black man. I've seen white guys who have looked like serial killers or child molestors or racist rednecks. With white people, though, there's almost always the sense that I could end up hanging from a tree, especially in the South but don't count anywhere else out, and especially if it's an environment in which everyone is that restaurant.

Essentially, if someone is a black person like me--super-suspicious of white people, scared of black men--you never get a chance to really relax. You never feel safe. Another luxury of life for many whites...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Animal Rights Activists Are Racist?

I don't know who Michael Vick is, and I don't care. I mean--I do know. He's some black athlete. But I didn't even know that until all this dogfighting crap happened, though.

First, let me say--what a stupid thing to end up in serious trouble over. I'd rather be caught downloading and selling pirated music/movies, and threatened with prison time over that, than something like dogfighting and killing dogs. Music and movies are understandable pleasures in life. Dogfighting and dog-killing...???? While I don't necessarily think anything related to animals should be punishable crimes...I just don't know why you would even do anything harmful to animals in the first place. That's not out of a sense of compassion, either. Personally, I don't understand why anyone pays any attention to animals either way in the first place.

I don't care at all about animals. That's just me. Some of us are passionate about the environment. Some of us are passionate about social issues. There are those people who seem to think animals are equivalent to human beings, treat them as such and fight for them as if they are such. We all have our differences, our issues that matter to us that don't matter to other people.

What I can't understand is why it's okay to value animals the same as or above humans, to the point where you can do as much--or more--time for crimes against them as/than some crimes against people. Honestly, I think there are only some humans animals are valued the same as or above. If Michael Vick were white, let's say, I don't know how this situation would be playing out. But I do know that since he's black, he's going down...because, apparently, white people care more about animals and animal rights than they do about blacks and civil rights.

See, it is (merely) my theory that the majority of black people are with me in their view of animals, at least to some degree. Many blacks have--and love their--pets, don't get me wrong. I would never have one, and that's a difference among blacks. I think animals, particularly dogs, are scary and can be dangerous. I do think a lot of us think Vick is in serious trouble over something he shouldn't have done in the first place and should not exactly be in serious trouble for, considering that there is supposed to be some kind of hierarchy in which humans come before animals. I also think that, unlike many white people, we can have pets and still not be all that into animal rights. After all, being black, we kind of have problems that rank higher, to us.

You know what I've noticed about white people, which is one reason why many minorities tend to think that whites just don't have any serious problems in life (as I wrote in one of my last posts)? They spend a lot of time fighting battles that seem relatively meaningless to others, or battles that don't relate to them or relate indirectly to them. It's like they have so much free time and privilege on their hands that they just pick something that is a "problem" in the world and dedicate themselves to making it all better. Seldom is it something like racial issues, such as Rachel Sullivan's interest over at Rachel's Tavern, though. Not to say Rachel doesn't have serious problems or that she just picked something to care about. But that's just how it seems sometimes with white people. For many white people, it'd be gay rights before race, even if they are heterosexual.

Still, either are good causes that actually could serve to benefit your fellow man (or woman), not to mention the country, in general. And although I don't quite get it or care personally, I do see some value in arguing that we need to make changes in the way we live our lives in order to save our environment or give our time/money to help people living in poverty and other unbelievable conditions in other nations (of course, my preference would be to give of yourself to help people in your nation, but whatever...). Although it irritates me sometimes, I understand arguing for equality for women, the poor and immigrants or American-born individuals with immigrant parents--and it irritates me only because people tend to equivocate these conditions to being black or say they are worse than being black. Even on a good day, I can begrudgingly admit that I see some value in arguing for prisoner's rights, i.e. people who have been in jail who wish to obtain a job, want to vote and just generally want to become functioning citizens of society again, or people who are in prison experiencing terrible conditions or grave danger.

And I do see value in animal rights. I do. I don't think killing animals is okay. I don't think beating animals is okay. I don't even know what to say about dogfighting--it just makes absolutely no sense. But what I really don't think is okay is caring more about what happens to animals than what happens to other people. And there are people out there who do care more about animals than people. Those people, my friends, tend to be know...those people who have less problems than everybody else. And yet, it'd seem many of them don't really care what everybody else is going through. No, no--why fight for fair treatment of other people when you can fight for the fair treatment of dogs? Nevermind that there are more people in the US suffering than people who are not, in some way...from some kind of hatred and/or inequality. Nope--we're throwing the book at you over a damn dog, but when it comes to white supremacist killings let's take 20+ years to punish the bastards, when they have gotten to fully live life and are just about on their deathbeds.

See, black people have to fight for themselves. We don't have a choice. White people "have" to fight for dogs. They do have a choice. No offense to white people who happen to be women, poor, gay or anything else that's not as privileged as being a straight rich white male, perhaps. But you still have a kind of privilege, a kind of easiness, in life that blacks never will have. A privilege and easiness that is more important and will take one farther in life than any other.

What's next, white people--insects? To be sure, it will be anything but blacks. According to my mother, white people are having a field day writing racist nonsense in their blogs about Michael Vick, and for what? Maybe it's not so much that animal rights activists are racist as it is that white people are just racist. I mean, anytime a black person does the slightest thing, whites are all over it, making a big deal out of it. When Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a white female, there were racist comments all over the internet about Bryant and, especially, interracial relationships and sex. But let a white guy rape a white woman, or even a black woman, and see what happens.

White people completely lost it when Janet Jackson had that little Superbowl accident, and they are damn-near doing the same thing with Beyonce's wardrobe mishap (claiming she did it as a publicity stunt,, note to Whitey: Beyonce's career has never...been...better. She doesn't need a publicity stunt!) Yet, Britney flashes her oonie, and these other dumb white girls keep getting caught in sex tapes--sure, it's news. But Janet's career was just about finished after the Superbowl, whereas Paris Hilton's career was born from her sex tape. To me, nothing demonstrates that white Americans are still racist pieces of sh!t like the Michael Vick response and the handling of Hurricane Katrina.

I'll leave you with another comment about something I noticed--and whoever said watching reality television was a waste of time:

Out of all the crazy things I've seen on "Rock of Love With Bret Michaels," I will never forget the showdown between Cracey (i.e. Crazy) Lacey and Dallas. Not only because it was funny how Rodeo "manhandled" Cracey Lacey. But also because...Dallas kind of had a point when she noted to Cracey that Bret Michaels "wore animals," too. I mean, for those of you who don't watch the shows, here's what went down:

Cracey Lacey is this white chick who is over-the-top about animals and animal rights. And, yet, she terrorizes just about every other chick on the show, with the exception of this stripper white girl named Heather with whom she is in ca-hoots to get other girls eliminated from the show. But there was no one she terrorized more than, for a while, the lone black chick in Bret's house, Dallas. True, Dallas was the only one who flat-out said that she eats and wears animals. To this day, CL hasn't hated any chick in the house more than Dallas. And, to be sure, it was obvious that at least half the other chicks in the house agreed with Dallas, at least about eating meat, and were on her side. Even Bret said at one point that he grew up eating meat and, I think, even hunting. But CL had no problems with Bret. She has problems with the other chicks, but not because of eating and wearing animals, but because she has made them hate her with her psycho ways. Rather, she went after the black girl only. Physically. It reminds me of how white gays are always trying to play the victim and point to blacks as being their main nemesis, worked really hard to take Isaiah Washington down and said "See? See? I told you those niggers are such homophobes," when plenty of other cultures hate gays just the same (eh-hemLatinoseh-hem).

Enough is enough with making blacks the "example" all the time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Age Ain't Nuthin' But A Number?

Well, no...I don't believe that. However, I'm rethinking my standards regarding dating and age. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think dating older women would be best for someone like me. I don't like games, relate to people my age or act like most people my age. People my age have, pretty much, always irritated me.

I read an article last week, I think it was, that basically said that the 20s are the new teens. People in their 20s are delaying relationships and careers, and are engaging in more reckless behavior than before. Translation: the trend of taking longer and longer to mature continues. After all, there was a time when teenagers would get married and have families...and that was expected of them.

Now, I'm not always the most mature cat in the cradle. But one of the bonding points between my most arrogant friend and I--and I'm arrogant, as well--is feeling superior to people our age because we don't act or think like them. We even had shirts printed that say so. I like young people for their sense of fun, but those young people nowadays tend to be in elementary school. Kids think the simplest things are fun whereas teens and 20-somethings seem to think the only ways to have fun are alcohol and sex--both things that can be pretty, even. And, really, how wrong can it be to feel superior to some of these people when they include idiots like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie? No, non-celebrity 20-somethings might not be quite that bad, but it's not really from lack of trying, I don't think.

I have never related to people my age. I was the youngest in my family, and my closest sibling was approximately 6 years older than I was. Plus, I had one of those "popular" families, i.e. everyone in my family was popular in school, and my parents were known and respected where I grew up. I wasn't like this--I was picked on, at least prior to high school. It set the stage for how I feel about my peers today, especially women, but I also know that I was picked on because I wasn't like other kids, ever. So, because my sisters were popular and because they always had friends around, I spent more time with these older people than I did with kids my age. In high school, I could have real conversations with teachers about things they never should have been talking to me about. And now my mother and I talk about things that most parents don't talk to their kids about. In fact, whenever she needs advice she usually asks me. And this is someone who is over 30 years older than I am.

So, I don't know why I never thought about this before. I have always been deadset against dating older people. This is despite the facts that they have always been the ones I've had the easiest time talking to and the ones I've always liked talking to the most. And while I'm still not all that keen on the idea of dating an older man...I'm definitely starting to change my mind about older women. And the more I talk to older people, the more irritated I become when I have conversations with people in my age range, such as my naive friend Nikki. There's just a difference in the substance. I get so tired of talking to Nikki about guys, jobs, people at school and hating law school--or talking about school, period. There's life out there.

I think other kinds of differences exist when you start something with someone who is significantly older or younger, and that has always been the issue I was stuck on. And I still can see that these two people are almost bound to be in very different places in life. I still think that matters. But what also matters is just like with any other relationship--the fit between you and the individual, the comfort, the common interests and the compatibility. And I now see that those things can exist between an older person and a younger person. It just depends on the two. Certainly not every younger person could date someone older and vice versa. I used to be one of those people who would look at couples with age differences and say "What do they have to talk about?" How could I ever have done that when all my life I've had plenty to talk to older people about?

In all honesty, it's an insult to the younger person, because we tend to think younger people can't carry on a conversation of any substance or importance. And then we insult the older person by wondering why a younger person would value aging over youth. Why want someone who is 40 when you can have someone who is 25?

But here's what my friend Angel has taught me without even knowing it:

An older woman has a totally different appeal than a younger woman. Both have something to offer--they are just different things. An older woman can be hot--and I'm not just talking about physically. And part of her appeal can be that she is older. This is not always the case, but there is just something classy and sophisticated about some older women. Younger women generally just can't give you that. They don't want to play the games that younger women tend to. They are established in their careers, and they know who they are. They've accomplished/done cool, impressive things. They're not going to just talk to you about hair, makeup, outfits and other shallow things. They make you behave better because you're worried that they might be a bit out of your league.

So, there's more of a "wow" factor there, and it's sexy. If you can get a woman with all that, plus you two feel comfortable with each other, have good conversations, are able to treat each other as if you're on the same level, you have things in common and where you both are in life lends itself to a relationship with each other...well, at least the younger person could be getting a much better deal than with dating someone their age.

Two things for me that are still problematic, though: my family and the uncertainty surrounding my career. I would feel a lot better dating someone older if they had their career established and I had mine established, as well. Otherwise, I really would feel she was out of my league, and I definitely would feel that much younger in comparison, that much more immature and unequal. I guess maybe I understand men now who don't like making less money than the women they date? The family thing...ugh, I can hear it now. I don't know what would go worse: coming out, or bringing someone older home. The one thing I really hate that my family does to me is treats me like I'm stupid sometimes, and this would so be one of those times. The older woman would be "taking advantage of" me, as if I didn't have the brain cells to resist someone because they are older. Furthermore, I wouldn't want her to be thought of in that kind of way, either.

Thinking about my family is enough to make me happy that Angel is not a viable romantic option for me, because I would not want to subject someone like her to dealing with my family. Angel is one of the best people I've ever met, and I really can't stand the thought of anyone thinking or saying anything bad about her. And no matter what Angel has done and will do for me, my family would forget it all in a second if I brought her home. They are critical and suspicious people, and there are too many surface differences between us...such as age and race...and then there'd be the sexuality issue, too. Yet, it's kind of funny that whenever I meet someone that I'm constantly like "ME TOO!" with, it's always a non-black person--usually white--and often an older person. I've started thinking maybe I should ask Angel what are the white surnames in her family to see if we could be related!

Furthermore, I've always felt that I should have been born around the year Angel was, long before I met her. I think I should have grown up in the 80s. I love that decade, particularly musically. I should have been able to fully experience that time, rather than have been in elementary school. When I think of the fact that Angel was a teenager in the 80s, that's just another "wow" factor, like, "Oh, man! I wish I could have been a teenager then, too!" But it's also a bit creepy, like I've become really good friends with--and am crushing on--someone who was graduating high school when I was starting elementary school. Hmmm. I mean, we're both adults now, but it's still an odd thought...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gayness Equals Whiteness?

I had been meaning to write a post on something I read over at Keith Boykin's blog months ago. His post seemed almost like he was countering me directly--I'm not bigheaded enough to think that he was--but I'm sure a lot of blacks have made similar points as I have regarding blacks vs gays.

I can't remember the exact post, but it was something about how a lot of blacks aren't interested in helping or siding with gays because the majority of gays are white or (white) gays seem more privileged than blacks, and they don't give a f*ck about blacks...something like that. And I understand this. Then Boykin goes on to make a good point--what about the black gays who need help?

Here's the (unfortunate) thing:

Nobody thinks about these people. Black gays are utterly left out, both by hetero blacks and homo whites/Asians/Latinos. Hetero blacks would like to believe one of two things about these people: they don't exist, or they exist but only because they have been entirely too influenced by white people. See, gayness is another "white thing." Black people would never be gay, at least not on their own, not if it weren't for white people bringing that "shit" here. If you're black and gay, then, by default, you couldn't possibly be "black enough." You've left the "black community."

White gays keep this idea up by mainly depicting white gays or depicting black gays only hanging out with white people (see "The L Word"). We had "Noah's Arc" and we (I think) now have "Don't Go." But "Don't Go" is not just about blacks, and "Noah's Arc" was hopelessly shallow. The only thing gay about the show was the characters...oh, and that one time Noah got gay-bashed...which led to absolutely nothing but his falling in bed with his ex. I mean, change, like, 3 or 4 of the dudes to females, and you'd have a show that is absolutely no different than any other show out there, i.e. hetero shows.

So, you see--white people will be white people, regardless of sexual orientation. But black people? Since when do black people stick together? You think we're going to stick together just because a queer brotha or sista needs it? We, apparently, won't even stick together when a hetero brotha or sista needs it. Sometimes not even when a blood brotha or sista needs it.

I like to think of myself as one of the queer black casualties in all of this, too, but I'm merely being my realistic self. The white gays are self-centered as hell, to the point that I--as a gay person--don't even really care whether or not they are victorious in anything. Yes, it's an us vs them thing, to me--not even gays are united. As far as other black gays...okay, I suppose I could find, like, a "black gays" group or something and try to help "one of my own"...but, am I going to help a queer black? I haven't been the beneficiary of that kind of assistance, so it's not like I know the first thing about how to help a queer black person deal with, say, telling their homophobic black parents that they are gay or how to find a queer mate. Plus, I find that "newbie" gays usually want to speak to someone who is more experienced than I am. On the socioeconomic and legal tip, I'm there. Housing discrimination--or no housing at all--AIDS/HIV, and so on. Of course, white gays would have to get the same assistance from me. I mean, I would start a legal practice or organization that only attempted to reach out to blacks and/or minorities who are gay...but, with as much as white gays love to complain, I suspect I would find a discrimination suit on my hands.

I would come out with a decent black GLBT webshow if I could, because I think, despite my lack of personal knowledge, that I could do a better job than all the GLBT shows that have ever come across the TV screen. Hmmm, but writing's more my speed, so I've seriously thought about writing a book.

A good question is why is gayness whiteness? Perhaps it's because, being a black person, you wouldn't choose one more burden that you didn't have to deal with. This, of course, is the idea that homosexuality is a choice, which I do think a lot of heterosexual blacks believe. Along those lines, I think there's a fear of "converting" other blacks. Maybe there's a bit of "the black community doesn't need another 'issue' to deal with--we have too many already." However, this doesn't seem to stop blacks from pointing out and talking (and blogging) incessantly about "black issues" that aren't really black issues, such as the media's portrayal of black women (which I consider a sex/gender issue since other races of women--particularly white women--look ridiculous in the media, as well).

And what about stereotypes of whites? A lot of people aren't aware, but blacks stereotype the hell out of white people. One of those stereotypes relates to white people being too sexual, to the point of being willing to do things sexually that are crazy. So for a black person to do those things, too...they're trying to be white or are acting like white people. This might actually be the answer. Especially since, seemingly, every time you turn around, there's some white female taking a dare to kiss another white female...or, hell, there doesn't even have to be a dare--she'll kiss another white female. Black women? Eh, not so much. I think it's also more common to hear hetero white women comment on the hotness of another woman and/or say she'll do another woman than to hear this coming out of a straight black chick's mouth.

Bottom line, white people are more sexual, in a lot of black people's minds. I've had black guys talk about the things white women will do sexually that black women won't do when explaining why they like or prefer white women. I remember the "Flavor of Love: Charm School" reunion show on which one of the white contestants, Brooke, rather correctly pointed out that black women tend to be more conservative sexually than white women. Comedian Mo'Nique had expelled Brooke from Charm School because she acted like a "whore" at the school prom, and Brooke fervently disagreed that she acted like a whore. At the reunion, she essentially was explaining that white women and black women think differently when it comes to proper sexual behavior...and I definitely agree with that.

I had some more examples, but I forgot--anyways, you should get the point. My thing is, we've been influenced by whites in so many other negative ways as blacks. Why is sexual orientation, for those who seriously think that's where homosexuality in blacks comes from, the breaking point?

Poll: Whites Happier Than Minorities

Check this out, from the newspaper today:

Whites happier than minorities
AP, MTV find disparities in races

By Larry McShane and Trevor TompsonAssociated PressTuesday, August 21, 2007

NEW YORK -- From their relationships to their jobs to their money -- even from they time they first roll out of bed -- young white Americans are happier with life than their minority counterparts.
According to an extensive survey of 1,280 people ages 13-24 by The Associated Press and MTV, 72 percent of whites say they are happy with life in general, compared with 51 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of blacks.

No surprise
"It doesn't surprise me," said Martin Carpenter, 21, a black New Jersey resident. "There's a lot of issues out there for African-American young adults. You can still go to certain places and feel uncomfortable, like you don't belong there."
Race hurts, helps: Martin's feeling about racism, real or perceived, was echoed in the survey: 28 percent of minorities believe race will hurt them in the quest for a better life. Among whites, 20 percent feel their race will help in getting ahead.
Names too: Destiny Brown, 17, a black Virginia high school student, said she has friends who were already passed over for work simply because their names sounded different: "I know sometimes your name -- people will give you a hard time when you try to get a job."
The numbers

Consistent: The difference in levels of happiness is not always stark, but it's consistent. Among whites, 67 percent usually wake up happy in the morning; for minorities, the figure is 61 percent.
Those numbers extend into all aspects of life:
Parents: Sixty-six percent of minorities are happy with their relationships with mom and dad, compared with 79 percent of whites.
Sex: Sixty percent of white youths are happy with their sex lives, compared with 46 percent of minorities. Both groups are about equal on the sexual activity scale.
Friends: Eighty-one percent of minorities are happy with their relationships with friends, compared with 88 percent of whites.
Jobs: Fifty-one percent of minorities are happy with their jobs, compared with 64 percent of whites.
Money: Forty-four percent of minorities are unhappy with the money they have, compared with 35 percent of whites.
Grades: Sixty-three percent of minorities are happy with their school grades, while 73 percent of whites are satisfied with their marks. Barely half of the minority respondents say school makes them happy, contrasted with 60 percent of the whites.
Secrets to happiness
The study also found a split in how the races perceive the keys to happiness.
Money, family: Among minorities, the most important factor was lack of financial worries, chosen by one in four respondents. For whites, one in five people chose a good family.
Carpenter, one of the survey participants, spoke for the majority of minority youths who feel their race will not cause problems later in life.
"I don't think so," he said. "I'm thinking on a smaller scale. In my community, it's not that big a deal."

The AP-MTV poll was conducted by Knowledge Networks Inc. from April 16 to 23. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

I must say that this is a stupid poll/article. I mean, I am sure minorities are not as happy as white people are. And why not? Why wouldn't white people be happier?

Just a few things, though.

One, the poll is a bit misleading, since--although it tells you in the article that people ages 13-24 are polled--the title makes a sweeping generalization about blacks and whites on the whole based on a poll of, essentially, kids.

Speaking of, there's a big difference between being 13 and 24. Why would you include so many ages, with approximately two entirely different age ranges? And, not to be disrespectful towards people who are about 13-18 or 19 years old, but...they are just not the people to poll on an issue like this. If they had seriously wanted to find significant differences between minorities and whites while being able to draw a legitimate conclusion about the races and happiness, they would have polled people in their 20s and up.

I was actually thinking before I read this article about how my attitude towards race, whites and other non-blacks, as well as my view towards life in general, has changed a lot since before college. I'm definitely more unhappy than I was back then and [probably because I] am a lot more racially aware, and I think that's part of the reason why--and this is my third issue with the article/poll--the percentage differences they quote aren't even all that significant. When you're talking about a difference such as 61% vs 67%...big whoop. It's like they're being nitpicky, just trying to find a difference between whites and minorities.

I've been thinking about this lately, somewhat, because I've been reading this online forum discussion about whether or not white men like black women...which, even after reading many of the responses, I still believe the answer generally is no. I think many white guys see black women whom they think are attractive. I think the ones who actually would approach, let alone seriously date or marry a black woman, are in the minority. Seeing someone you think is attractive is a bit different from liking them, and I get this from something I've figured out about myself. I think there are so many attractive white males. If I'm being honest, I probably find white men more physically attractive than black men. Of course, I probably find Asians and Latinos even more attractive than white men. That's just my personal taste.

However...with white men, it's everything else that ruins it for me. And I think this has a lot to do with why so many white men wouldn't even think of trying something with a black woman, even if he thinks she's pretty. It's the stereotypes. So I thought about it, and I think that I could get serious with someone from every race and ethnicity except white American males. We've all got stereotypes of just about every group, and the ideas I associate with white men would just ruin an interracial relationship with one of them for me, no matter how he has proved--or has tried to prove--to me that he's not "like that." I can't stop associating arrogant, overprivileged/spoiled brat, evil, racist, serial killing, sexually perverted...and on and on...with these guys, as wrong as it may be...and I have found that I have a harder time seeing white males as individuals than I do seeing people from any other group as such. I think that's very much the same problem a lot of whites, Asians, Latinos and, yes, even some blacks, have with black people. Yes, I know white guys who do seem to go against the stereotypical image I have of white men, and, yet, they just haven't put a dent in changing that mindset I have.

How does this relate to the poll? Well, back to the "with age comes wisdom" point. I have not always thought of white men this way, and I wasn't taught to think of white men this way. I discovered one day, just from ranting and raving to my mother on the phone about my perception of white males as arrogant and thinking they're smarter and better than everyone else after having done enough time in law school (and, yes, I mean "doing time") around these kinds of guys, that she basically agrees. But she'd never said anything like that as I was growing up. However, up until about the 11th grade or so, I had a preference for white males. I was open to dating everyone, though, because the first three people I dated were Asian.

Still, the older I got, the more my mind closed. Why? Learning history and realizing all the different ways in which race is still an issue in society. I'm not sure if I've written about this in my blog yet, but, like I said, white guys were my preference, I was open to everyone...most of my good friends were white until I took AP History and AP European History. After that, for a while, I felt as if I didn't want to have anything to do with white people. I didn't have a close white friend again until the end of 2001 (and this wouldn't even have happened had we met in person rather than on the internet, discussing working together on some music--I told her just a few months ago that, as a white, blue-eyed, blonde-haired female, she and I probably wouldn't have been friends any other way); I took those history courses in, oh, about the 1997-1998 school year. My friends, after those courses, tended to be black or Asian, and I actually had those Asian boyfriends and the Asian girlfriend around and after the time of those courses. I didn't feel comfortable around white people anymore, whereas I used to feel very comfortable. I don't think I've ever felt comfortable around white people since then.

And don't get me wrong--the comment about age and wisdom doesn't mean that I think that letting knowledge of history affect how you think about certain races or growing less receptive to certain racial groups are wise. I think it's hard to help it sometimes, and learning more about race--past and present--and the stereotypes I have a hard time letting go of about white men really make me feel helpless. But in referring to wisdom, I do mean getting real about what's going on in the world and getting beyond thinking about race in terms of history vs now. Legal segregation was only about 40 years ago--why would we think that racism is gone now when we have people alive who lived through it and are passing down stories about Mississippi marches, like my mother does? Not only that, if those people are still alive, then why wouldn't anti-integregationists who gassed blacks and burned crosses on their lawns still be alive, passing down what they think? Why wouldn't we still be dealing with racism?

So, of course minorities aren't as happy as whites. And if you ask those of us who are old enough to have really thought about and/or experienced why not, you'd get a higher percentage of minorities who think race hurts in the quest for a better life and a lower percentage of minorities who are happy with the jobs they have. I mean, where could a 16-year old be working that is really all that bad? Is he or she seriously being kept from climbing the McDonalds corporate ladder? Silly.

One more thing about the happiness...anyone ever watched that show "Black Men Revealed" on TVOne? On the episode about black men dating white women, this one guy commented that white women are more pleasant when men approach them than black women are. I believe this, generally. Okay, now, anyone remember my complaining about the other female I worked with this summer? I realized near the end of my job why she bugged me so much, aside from being too "perfect." She was too cheerful, at least for me. I mentioned this to my mother, and she said, "You're just not a morning person."

Yes, I do like to be left alone in the mornings. I don't particularly feel like making myself smile and greet everyone I see. If I could have, I would have gone directly to a room and locked myself in it by myself. Better yet, I would have come in every day at about noon or 1pm. So, I began to notice that she would have a big smile on her face every morning, would greet me in this annoyingly cheerful (borderline airhead-ish) voice and would sometimes want to carry on a conversation. And, eventually, I would just find myself thinking, "Dude, what the hell...? It's too early to be this damn happy!" And then, it was, "Geez, why are white women so damn perky?!" Then I thought..."This is one of the reasons black men like them more" because I remembered that show. Then I thought, "Of course they're perky...they're white. What the hell do they have to be damn unhappy about?"

This is, of course, a play on the idea that white people have no serious problems, which is, of course, not true all the time...just more true for them than us, I believe...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sharpening The Ole Gaydar

Here's another spin off a Chicago Redeye article (I love Chicago so much--can't you tell?):

I don't know how true this is for all other races of women, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not how you spot a black lesbian.

About, say, 10 years ago, I had virtually no gaydar. None. Just being queer doesn't equip you with gaydar, to me. No, I think gaydar is something that is learned for most people. It's a skill that can be acquired, sharpened...and maybe for some, even perfected.

This summer, I worked on just that without really even meaning to. Since I rode the train (the 'L') daily while I was in Chicago--and since I didn't live all that close to my job, which meant I would be on the train for a long time--there were two things that were simply inevitable: the increasing importance of the mp3 player in my life, and more opportunities to analyze people. So, by the end of the summer, person after person could step on the train and, instantly, it was like, "GAY." In other words, I could tell a gay person within seconds. I was so proud of myself. This was something that I simply couldn't do even just a few years ago.

How did I do it? And, what's more, how could I be so sure those people entering the train were all gay?

Well, there's no being sure, but I was pretty sure. Even without carrying anything with a rainbow on it, a copy of "The Advocate" (which I saw several people do this summer), wearing a fauxhawk (saw this, too), eating hummus on the train or blasting Ani DiFranco through their mp3 players for the rest of the train to hear...there were men and women who just screamed it in other ways...ways that a lot of people who hadn't spent much time observing gays would totally miss. But, for me, they were instant signs.

Let me see if I can put some of this into words for how I can instantly spot some lesbians--and trust that some of these signs for me will sound insane but they do seem to work, at least for me. First of all, let me address, what I call, this "white" list from the Redeye. If that list were put to me to figure out if I were a lesbian by another woman, she would fail miserably. I don't fit any of those signs on her lesbian-meter list, and I don't think many black women would. Softball is just not "our" sport. Basketball is more of a sign of lesbianism if you're looking at a black woman, I would say--a lot of black lesbians I've known of have been basketball players at some point. And I actually do fit this one, because I loved basketball as a kid, was really good at it and tried to play. And Ani DiFranco? Try rap music. And I mean the offensive, degrading-to-women kind. I've never heard an Ani DiFranco song, and that's something I've always been proud of.

Keep in mind that I'm not all that knowledgeable about being gay for someone who actually is gay. But I think that, with a few exceptions, the things I look for when I'm observing women are more universal than Ani DiFranco, softball, hummus, rainbow stuff, fauxhawks and lesbian friends. Here it is:

-The rap music thing in more detail (and this is really just about black women):
A lot of women like rap music, okay? But there are some women who essentially merely listen to it, and then others who more so embrace the culture. The latter are the ones who scream "lesbian" to me. This is closely related to...

-The way she carries herself
I saw black women all summer who looked like guys, and it wasn't just their hair (or lack thereof) or body build, though these things play essential parts in identifying a lesbian. These women reminded me of black males from the hip hop culture, from the way they walked and sometimes the way they talked to the way they dressed. More universal for all women are other factors related to the way a woman carries herself, which, for other women, can also involve the way she walks, speaks, wears her hair, dresses and so on. But for other races of women, it's generally not going to be in the hip hop vein. That's where you start scoping for things like the fauxhawk, which is more rock culture, or the "dyke" cuts, the stereotypical flannel and so on.

Be careful with this one, though. For white women, sure, it can be softball. Tennis is a good one, too, for white women. For black women, yup, basketball might be a good indicator. But there are a lot of women who just like sports. Nowadays, I'm not really into sports at all in terms of wanting to play any. And I only love college football because, hey, my law school is part of a university that has one of the best college football teams ever, and you might actually run into several hetero women there, consequently, who look at you as if you're nuts if you're not all into our school's team. Heck, I did when I first started law school, and now I understand these women better because I am them now. Before that, I really couldn't have given a sh!t about football. Honestly, I would say that unless a woman has an excuse such as she attended XYZ university or her family members/husband/boyfriend are so psycho about a sport that she's into it now, too...that's a sign. Even the family members thing didn't work on me--everyone in my family is really into watching basketball and football--only my law school got me into football.

-Body build
This is actually a pretty huge clue, for me. Obviously, there are some really feminine, perfect-bodied women who are lesbians. However, the women who are not like this are easier to spot if you're looking for a lesbian. The one thing I've noticed in a lot of lesbians is us queer girls tend to have really awkward, non-stereotypically feminine bodies. Many of us couldn't look the picture of femininity even if we tried because of this. And this is hard to explain. But I do have an example.

Has anyone noticed how Ellen DeGeneres kinda has big knockers? Okay. And I think big boobs are associated with femininity. However. There's a point in which boobs are too big, even for men, or they are less appealing because they don't really blend in with the woman's body. I think this is what helps create the "Duh, she's a lesbian" look for Ellen--her big boobs don't exactly fit with the rest of her body, which is actually kind of boyish. So, her boobs, for me, really stand out because they look weird on her frame. I've seen this in many other lesbians, too, and this is a problem I actually kind of have. Some queer girls just seem to have gotten a huge dose of boobage, and it just doesn't look right on our frames.

Then there are those women who essentially don't have knockers at all, which, oftentimes with the rest of their body build, highlights their boyishness. I'm talking people like Katherine Moening, i.e. Shane, from "The L Word." And then there are women like the ones who look hip hop or are muscular, who are just built like men. They are the opposite of the Shanes--their figures are a little more manly than boyish. The bottom line is, we don't have traditionally feminine bodies with "perfect" measurements--we're either given too much or not enough, and some of us could fool people into thinking we're guys just from our builds alone.

-A black woman's hair
I don't know what the deal is, but I have noticed that a lot of black lesbians have "natural" hairdos. They don't do that perm stuff. Obviously, I'm an "exception." I think this might be closely related to...

Not just with black lesbians, but a lot of us queer girls are not--how shall I say it--as interested in how we look as hetero girls. This is not to say there's anything wrong with or lesser about a black woman having natural hairstyles. I'm really referring to what some women have said about how much easier it is to have natural hair. So, then, I'm referring to a lack of interest in upkeep in terms of physical appearance. We're not trying to spend two hours in front of a mirror, dealing with makeup, hair products--or 8 hours in a beauty salon--just so we can go look awesome at the Walmart that is, like, right down the street and from where I need about three quick items (and I say it like that because I do know hetero women who do this--my mother is one of them). That's not to say we're going out looking homeless. We're just not into knocking ourselves out or dressing uncomfortably to look hot, especially when we're going somewhere that's not essential and/or will be around people we don't know or care about.

Clearly, there are lesbians who are like this, also, and there are straight women who are not all that high maintenance. I'd still say chances are good if you're seeing a chick that doesn't look like she's into going the extra mile to look excellent that you've got a queer one on your hands. And I think I fool people with this one, because the one thing I, at least, look like I do spend time on is my hair. Depending on the situation, my clothes look as if I've given thought to them, as well. I put it like that because "look" is the key word--I pretty much never sweat my clothes or hair. In addition, I smell "girly," even though that's also the result of swiftness rather than attentiveness, and naturally have nice nails, eyelashes and crap like that. I can't tell you how many times hetero women have asked me how I've gotten my XYZ like "that," usually hair or my fingernails.

-Facial features
There really is just no explaining this one, but there are people I can look dead in the face and see they are gay or lesbian. It doesn't matter what they're wearing, how their hair is, what their body type is like. There is just something about their face that makes them "look gay" to me. Oftentimes, they look similar to other people I've known who were gay or lesbian, i.e. they have some features in common. For example, there's just something about Chad Allen and Neil Patrick Harris--something about the way they look is similar enough to make me completely unsurprised that they are gay males. White gay males sometimes just seem to have this snobby, pseudo-sophisticated look to them that screams "homo" to me, and that leads me to...

We all know the stereotypes of how gay men speak, walk, do their hands, etc. But there is more than one way to identify, at least, a gay male by how he speaks, i.e. gay men tend to sound more intelligent and sensitive than hetero men, to me. And I feel like I'm drifting from the point of this, which is really to discuss how to spot lesbians. However, I actually think it's easier to spot gay males. I haven't exactly noticed or nailed down for sure anything similar in lesbians in terms of speech the way I have with gay men, although I do have a vague notion that these kinds of things exist for lesbians. I just haven't finished drawing the conclusion that lesbians speak or act like X.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What's With Men And...

...lesbian sex?

Whatever it is, this article sure doesn't answer that question.

In fact, I've never gotten a real answer from any man I've asked that question. In that aforementioned article, the guy's answer seems to amount to "we're just wired that way." That doesn't help.

When a man is asked that question, what we--or, at least, I--want to know is...why is the thought of two women a turn-on? What are you thinking when you see it? Is it just "more for me," i.e. the thought that you can somehow be included and these women are not really off-limits to you? And that's interesting, if that's the answer, because I noticed how this guy's article wasn't truly about lesbians. Sometimes, I think men don't really believe there's such a thing. And, from what I've seen, when a man realizes a woman truly is a lesbian and doesn't have anything sexually to do with a man...he goes from turned-on to angry.

But the women he wrote about weren't that way. Angelina Jolie might have had a thing with a woman, but she's with Brad Pitt...and who can forget how utterly disgusting she was when she was with Billy Bob Thornton? They seemed to always be all over each other. And his female friends who openly admit women are attractive or that they would get it on with a woman...honestly, that's just how women are. He's right. Women are better able to openly admire other women than men are with men. I know plenty of heterosexual women who do, and I noticed the Angelina Jolie phenomenon (although I've never understood it) a long time ago. I also think there are more heterosexual women who are curious about same-sex sex than hetero men. However...that doesn't make these women lesbians or "so-called straight women." It's difficult to say what does make a woman a lesbian, but I think most women who really are lesbians would say those things don't make a woman one. Having sex with a woman once in your life doesn't make you a lesbian, and talking about maybe wanting to do that certainly doesn't.

And, as always, bisexuality is ignored. Sexuality is not an "either you are or you aren't" deal. Angelina could very well be bisexual with a preference for men. Or she could be, what I call, a "trysexual." A lot of these hit-it-and-quit-it girls--kind of what this guy's friends sound like they want to be--are trysexuals. Trysexuals have sex with people of their sex for the experience or for "fun," but they would never have a real relationship with or real feelings for someone of their sex. Or they might have the relationship, but it'd be, again, just for experience or "fun." They are the kind of chicks that real lesbians want to choke, because they play games with lesbian hearts and add to the societal notion that people "choose" to be gay.

I wonder, is there a real answer out there to the question of why men seem to be so fascinated with girl-girl action?

The Problem With Privilege

This summer, I was invited to a reception to meet "alumni of color" who had graduated from my law school. Frankly, I looked at the names of the listed alumni and thought the event would be a waste of my time. Many of the surnames were Latino, and--before learning my lesson for good that the people who are willing to be there for you often won't be the ones who belong to your "group"--I was interested in meeting black alumni, not "we are the world" or "fake minorities" aka "we will hire everyone but blacks" alumni. But I weighed the options--skip out on work and be bored at a reception, stay at work and be bored at work. Even the day of the reception, I went back and forth.

I attended the reception. There were very few students from my school there when I got there, but we were all minorities. There was me. There was this Asian girl who, during the school years, never seemed to me to understand that she was Asian and had never bothered to acknowledge my existence until we were in this small room in which it was a bit harder to ignore each other. Then there were the gay guys, one of whom I'd thought was hot the whole time he was at my school (he has graduated). He seemed to be there mainly to try his best to either get drunk or get a jumpstart on getting drunk. He'd never bothered to acknowledge me before, either, but he seemed to remember seeing me around. More students started trickling in, but we were still all minorities. It was great this way, because the gathering was small and you could easily get around the room and meet alumni and have good conversations and exchange contact info.

Somewhere along the way, I look around the room and notice more and more whites pouring in. The first few whites, I thought it was weird but it was no big deal. But eventually, the room was packed with white students from my school outnumbering all of the minorities from various minority groups put together. You couldn't hear anybody you tried to talk to. You couldn't move around. The point of the event, which was for minority students at my school to network with minority alumni from my school, became pointless and unfeasible. The whites just came in as if they had been invited (I don't know if this was true, but the formal invite indicated that it was only for students of color, basically--I don't know if someone else did invite them) and as if the event was supposed to be some sort of Chicago get-together rather than something for a group of people who never get opportunities like the one our school attempted to give us that day--opportunities white kids get all the time, whether they realize it or not. And, just like that, that opportunity for us was essentially gone all because these white students took over without a care.

You can't even begin to imagine how pissed I was. And I wondered if I was justified. But I couldn't understand how I wouldn't be. The legal field is really not easy for minorities, from getting into law school to getting to the top of the profession--nothing is easy about it for us. And one of the things that we really have the hardest time with is finding people who are right where we want to be in that field willing to give us the time of day, be friendly to us, offer advice and mentorship, guide us, etc. As I said, oftentimes, the minorities act like they don't give a damn about the minorities coming up. That's just how, especially, black people get when they "make it." As I wrote in my last entry, these are the same blacks who, in college and law school, were running around campus talking about who was "black enough" and who wasn't "black enough."

I'm not saying it's easy for white law students. I am saying it's easier, though. One of the reasons why I think racism is never going away is because we are just not going to be able to erase the inclination to--and the harmlessness people see in the inclination to--flock to people we think are "like me." This inclination, though, manifests itself in many things, from friendship and dating to hiring and helpfulness. We look at the shallow things, like skin color and sex, to say, initially, who is similar to us. A small-scale example is how one of my "clients" this summer kept commenting how women like shoes in a "you know" kind of way to me and one of my bosses--and I don't know how my boss interpreted the comment, but I kind of sat there like, "Why is she assuming--and insisting--that we understand her love for shoes just because we're all women?" I like shoes and everything, but they're not "to die for" in my life and I definitely don't love to shop. Sex is, and has never been, a bonding point for me. If you read my blog, clearly race and sexual orientation haven't exactly been bonding points for me with other people, either. However, these things are bonding points for the average person in the US.

As I said, this manifests itself in hiring and helpfulness. This means it's harder for minorities to get jobs when you have one of these average people doing the hiring, and it's harder for minorities to find people on the job and/or in their field to take them by the hand, show them the ropes, tell them all the important little secrets of success and ins and outs, etc--in other words, be your friend, be your big sister or brother, be your mentor. White people get these things more often, and they take these things for granted because...well, they're white. They don't know other people aren't getting treated the same way. They don't think it's about race, but about something else, such as how you click with the people on the job or in that field. They don't realize that whether or not you click with anyone on the job/field may very well, at least on one person's side, relate to race, just as many other things in our society do. Obviously, people who belong to groups that are less privileged, such as women, understand that a little better.

The thing was, though, that a lot of these white people who barged into this reception--if not, all of them--were white women. And they acted like this event was for them, too, like it was an event for anyone from our school to come and just have a good time, eat and drink alcohol. I really had to hold myself back from writing either my career counselor or the students themselves who showed up about how disrespectful and naive I found this. I mean, these were white women who consider themselves "liberals," "good white people" and so on. But I feel like, even if they were invited, a white person who really has the first inkling about what an event like that one meant just wouldn't have come. These are people who are less aware than they think they are.

The problem with privilege, see, is people who are privileged often don't realize they are. And I suffer from this, too, from time to time. I have to remind myself that I'm not poor, that I'm from a nation that is considered a Superpower, that I'm not a gay black male or transgendered or transsexual. I do have some privilege. And just as it's annoying for me to hear/see/listen to white women complain about how unfairly they are treated or hear/see/listen to white gays do the same, being a queer black female, I'm sure it's similarly annoying for people from other nations, people who could never even begin to think of attending law school and others to hear/see/listen to me complain. I started a blog initially intended to be mainly about my problems as someone who is not out, someone who cannot define her sexual orientation...and I talk about being ignored as a black person and alienated as someone who isn't anything "enough." And, yet, transgendered and transsexual people and their issues are ignored, or lumped under gay and lesbian issues but not really adequately addressed or acknowledged as separate and different. That's one example.

I have to always remember my place in the world. I'm down on the bottom rungs, sure, but there are people on lower rungs. I've created a joke about it, even, though it's truly not a joke. The joke is that even if I do realize that I was really meant to be man, I wouldn't dare have a sex-change operation because I wouldn't want to be a gay black man in this country. That's to remind me that I'm "better" than that as I stand right now, even if I realize that I'm a black lesbian. Being a lesbian isn't as repulsive to people as being gay is, and throw black in the mix and...well, you've got nearly the worst thing you can be in America, only second in my mind to being obviously/openly transgendered/transsexual...which is something that even if a person can accept homosexuality, many still have a much harder time accepting transsexuality. I know people who are like this--they are nearly 100% fine with lesbianism, they think being gay is gross, and they don't even want to think about being trans. Not only guys, but many women, too, have this problem.

Part of me feels as if an education for these white kids who ruined the reception is in order. Another part of me feels like, "What's the point?" It's done, for one thing. For two, even with "liberal" whites, when you point out to whites that they've wronged someone racially, they really can't take it. They'd rather their image in their heads as always the good guys and not like the "others" and that America is not like that anymore stay in tact. You're making up stuff. Or you're "sensitive."

All is not lost for me, because I was lucky enough to meet a lawyer this summer who has had my back since the day we met. I've mentioned her in the past few entries I've written--I think I need to give her a name, because I will probably write about her more. Let's see here...hehe, okay, so I'm going to call her what my mother said this woman is to me when I told my mother about her--Angel. Angel is one of the bosses I had at work this summer, the one who is white and Asian and is, admittedly, my new crush. How could I not have a crush on her--someone who meets you and decides to be there for you for absolutely no reason. Aside from that, she's gorgeous, brilliant, great personality, talented, easy to talk to and we have lots in common...I just don't understand why I can't find queer women like her. But I think it was really just realizing how there she's been for me and how there she's willing to be for me that has really made me fall like a ton of bricks. I can't help but smile when I think about it. Nobody other than family members has ever been there for me the way she has. I don't get it, but I really am grateful and am definitely lucky to have someone so awesome take an interest in making sure I succeed.

And she's not black. But she knows what I'm talking about in terms of how hard it is in the legal field for those lacking some privilege--which might be why she wants to help me so much--because she's been there. She hasn't really been there as a racial minority--she has a white surname and looks white, although if you look at her you can see that she's not just white. She's been there as a woman, though.

Still, my mother just had to ask, "Is she a sista?"

Nope, but I should have said, "She's my sister."

Friday, August 3, 2007

Summer's Almost Over

My summer in Chicago is almost over, and I've been thinking about all the things I wanted to do this summer that I haven't gotten to do. Now that I'm sick, I doubt I will be able to do those things since this weekend is my last free one in Chicago. Interestingly enough, I have been to a job I don't really like every day, despite feeling like dying at least one of those days, but I can't get up and go somewhere that might be fun.

Many of the things I wanted to do this summer involved GLBT events and places. Every weekend, I always thought I had plenty of time left to do those things. As it turns out, 2 & 1/2 months really isn't a lot of time. Even so, time goes fast. I can still remember everything I went through during the last month or so of my last semester at school. On one hand, it feels so close. I still think about it, pretty much every day. I don't think I'm over it. On the other hand, it feels so far away, as if it happened so long ago. It hasn't totally registered that I have to go back to school.

Either way, this summer hasn't really gone as planned. I won't be coming away from it any closer to the GLBT community than I was before, and I won't be leaving with any GLBT friends or love interests. In fact, I've decided that I absolutely cannot deal with women in any sort of romantic capacity any time soon. But I won't leave with nothing. Even though I hated my job this summer, I've gotten a few things from it that have made it worth it.

I think I vaguely remember writing about one of the women I worked for this summer. I guess I kind of had a crush at the beginning of the summer. I probably still do. I can't imagine anything more than that, so that's not an issue. She's just a great person. Over the summer, I've probably had more real and interesting conversations with her than anyone else. And I think that talking to her and getting to know her confirmed a few things. One, we do click. Two, we click in a good-friends sort of way. Three, the more things someone has in common with me the more I lose interest in them, in the romantic sense. Four, the relationships you maintain in life should have nothing to do with surface identities, such as race, age or sexual orientation.

So, I did come to Chicago this summer and make a really good friend. She's older. She's white and Asian. And she's married--to a man. She's straight. Yes, another straight friend for me. But what matters is when I'm around her, I feel comfortable. It's easy to talk to each other. I get the same feeling about her as I get about my other best friends, which is why I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes another one of my best friends. It's like a safespace. It's weird, but whenever I meet people that I feel safe with and don't ever have to question what kind of person they are, what they want/expect from me or what their intentions towards me are, they're always heterosexual.

I don't know if I'm the only person who gets like this with people they meet, but it's one of the reasons why I have very few close friends. There are people I meet who I get really strong good vibes from...and then there's everyone else. Not that those others aren't good people. They're just not the people who have the potential to turn out to be your "TV friends," i.e. true friends...which I call "TV friends" because I never knew such kinds of friends existed in "real life" until sometime in the new millenium. This woman at work reminds me a lot of my best friend at law school, i.e. someone who will have my back whether I ask them to or not. And knowing how I am, most of the time I will not have asked for it.

I want to write more about her, but I'm going to wait until I'm finished with the job. In the meantime, here's what I'm really trying to say:

Maybe some things would be easier if I could find a gay friend to be to me what I have several straight friends who are to me. But I'm still lucky just to keep finding the right kind of people, regardless of sexual orientation or anything else that we let separate us from others on a regular basis. I don't have to have gay friends to have community, feel accepted or get a helping hand. People in your life don't always have to be "like" you. What's more, sometimes people can seem like they aren't like you on the outside and it turns out that you were practically separated at birth once you start talking. My best friends are all like this. We either have very little in common, or we look like we're not the same but really are eerily similar.

After spending the summer working with the people who hired me, I finally understand why I got the job. And this might be the secret to getting hired. After knowing these people, I would bet that they looked at my resume and saw significant pieces of themselves in me. If that's the trick, then it's weird...meaning that it would be weird for a job applicant to try to figure out a prospective employer like that. But it all goes back to how legal employers tend to say they're looking for "a good fit," which I always took as code for, "We're looking for a white male." Maybe it really is code...with law firms.

Anyway, I will probably regret staying up past 2am to write in my blog when I have to wake up at 7am to prepare for work. Oh, least it's Friday!