Posts Tagged ‘culture’

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White Male (WM): “There are more important things in the world and we’re worried about our graphics not being representative enough of all?”

Me: “It’s important to see everyone reflected in our endeavors so no one is left out. Let’s make the people a different color and not have all of the men in the imag shown as the boss because we have several female leaders in this organization. Maybe let’s just use another image altogether instead of people?”

WM: “Yeah, more important things in the world like the Freddie Gray trial, and people dying than caring if we’re universally liked or not, but yeah this is important.”

While I agree that there are many important things in the world to worry about and to remedy, and that they should be addressed, I can’t help but think about how seemingly small details create issues where those who not represented, not heard, not included, rage against the machine and those in positions of authority.

When you do not see anyone in positions of aithority who looks like you or sounds like you, or when you’re in a community that feels neglected and worse, when your community is recognized, but only it’s only for negative aspects, it can be disheartening. It also leads many to feel as if no matter how far they get or how hard they try, the system is against them.

Take for example, your church or your school system. These are life-altering and life-shaping organizations. When your teachers, principals, priests, pastors and other religious leaders do not reflect you as a human or those similar to you – from the physical appearance, to the way you speak, laugh, live, etc. – will you feel included or neglected? Will you truly believe that by being yourself, looking, speaking, laughing, and living as yourself, you will be accepted and able to step onto that path to becoming a successful member of society and the world as a whole?

Of couse many have thrived in environments where they are neglected because they are determined and they fought hard to beat the odds. However, when you feel welcomed, cherished and appreciated for who you are, that’s immeasurable, not to mention, makes life a little more pleasant. When you see others like you who may have had similar experiences, you may believe that if that person can do it, so can you. See, it’s all about creating stronger and healthier humans.

Don’t believe me? Ask minorities how they felt to see the first Black President of the United States elected and sworn in to office. 

P.S. Of course, not everyone who looks like, and sounds like us, are for us. But those turncoats, haters and Uncle Ruckuses will be discussed in a separate post. This post is about being seen, being represented and knowing that we all have a shot at greatness.

I identify as no particular race in my mind but have been asked and identified as many different races by many people over many years. Why? I was raised in a culture, in a family, on an island, where race or ethnic background does not matter. We identified as equal habitants of that country although I know race issues existed between a few folks. But really, we, meaning the people I know, thought of ourselves as an equal creed. Why do people ask? Maybe to find a connection, to be nosy or to just ask.

What does this have to do with now? Well, it’s black history month and while I identify with relatives and ancestry from a certain continent, I don’t appear to be of that group. Keep in mind I said “appear”. Yet, I’m not white. But I’m not really anything…

Hoestly, I don’t fit neatly into the American census bureau boxes. Until recently. I discovered by American standards and the good ole government’s criteria, I fit into three groups, none of which I can truly claim without feeling somewhat false, fake or like a liar. Does it matter? I don’t think so. But everyone who pegs me as something or the other seems to think so…

Race. It matters. Until it doesn’t. Even then, it seems to matter to others.

I‘ve been in a reflective mood this week that at times, brings on homesickness and nostalgia. It happens every year around this time. Why? April 13th is the official day of my relocating to the U.S. Some of you may know that many crazy moons ago, I went from just being a visitor, to living in the U.S. and while this post will not not share all of the details regarding the move, I’ll just say that it was a bit mysterious and different in that I could only bring a few things with me, and had to leave everything I knew and loved, including relatives, my two dogs that I had wonderful adventures with, a cat who was my partner in crime against the dogs 🙂 and my friends. So, over the years, this week has become a time of reflecting on my life – how it’s been, the directions, twists and turns taken, my guilt, my happiness, my goals, etc. Several of my friends tried to help by saying, “take it to God”, “let Him take charge of your heart”, and other similar phrases. While I appreciate them wanting to help, I don’t share the same belief system that they do. This post is also not going to be about my beliefs, lack thereof, etc. or about religions – that’s for another post – but I will say that one thing has been constant in helping my moods to go from questionable to better and that thing is MUSIC! Writing about my thoughts, new poems, and reading always help as well but something about music just takes my mind to a different place immediately, kind of like a scent does, and for that, this post will discuss my music madness this week!

Anywho, as I was feeling nostalgic and whatnot, I started streaming older music that may have been oozing out and through my thoughts and ears thanks to my subconscious spirit side, which apparently, has a sense of humor. Below, I’ll list some of the songs I’ve played this week (with links to youtube videos if you’re curious or want to give ’em a listen) and share the association in my mind for some of them.  Oh, and if you’ll allow me one digression, I will add that when I listened to some of these songs this week, I was reminded of a recent comment that mirrors so many I have heard time and time again while growing up which is, “God you’re being white today”, or “Why do you listen to a lot of white music?”, etc. As an adult, I know that these comments are crazy, prejudiced and asked only by ignorant closed minded people. And yes, it still surprises me that people still say shit like this. But, in true “me” form, my response is equally mature. How so? Here’s a brief digression illustration before the music list:

– Ignoramus Donkey: You listen to a lot of white music!

– Mature Me: I listen to whatever I feel like and you’re ugly. (every now and again I’d mix it up and say, “I like what I like and you’re stupid.”)

…See? Equally mature! So while this may prompt another blog post about “whiteness”, “blackness” and whatever elseness”, let’s let’s get back to my mad music samples. Listed below are several songs that have danced across the sensitive hairs in my ears (heh). They’re in no particular order. I’ll update the list based on what else gets blasted through my headphones and in the car this week! Happy listening and don’t side eye, blank stare, face palm, or judge me!

  •  Abba:
    • Dancing Queen
    • Knowing Me, Knowing You
      (my mom listened to them a lot so they stuck on me)
  • Al Green:
    • Let’s Stay Together
    • How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
      (My very first concert that my parents took me to…yes, really!)
  • The Melodians:
    • Rivers of Babylon
      (my neighbor in Trinidad was a DJ and this was one record – yes, a real vinyl record – he played often that I loved as far back as I can remember. It was like my anthem when I was first moved out of the country).
  • Bob Marley:
    • Redemption Song
    • No Woman No Cry
    • Buffalo Soldier
      (it’s Bob Marley. We all listened to him growing up, as did many other people around the world so not much to say here…)
  • Jim Reeves:
    • He’ll Have to Go
      (no, I don’t really like country music but this just reminds me of what my dad listened to randomly. Wait, IS this country music?? Hmm, I’ll have to google this!)
  • Ricky Valance:
    • Tell Laura I Lover Her
      (see above for country music statement)
  • Diana Ross:
    • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
  • The Beatles:
    • I Wanna Hold Your Hand
    • Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
    • Yesterday
    • Hey Jude
      (another of my mother’s faves. At first I thought they were kinda scratchy sounding and okay but then I really listened to them and love some of their music now. Plus, John Lennon and I share the SAME birthdaaay!!)
  • Mighty Sparrow:
    • Jean and Dinah Medley
    • Congo Man
      (no true Trini can ever leave Mr. Slinger Francisco, the Mighty Sparrow of his/her list of fave songs!)
  • Lord Kitchener:
    • Sugar Bum Bum
      (all ah need is ah bottle ah rum fuh this and de mighty sparrow one, boy!!)
  • David Rudder:
    • Bahia Girl
    • The Hammer
    • Bacchanal Lady
      (Soca. Nuff said.)
  • Janis Joplin:
    • Piece of My Heart
      (who doesn’t love Janis?!?)
  • Carole King:
    • It’s Too Late
    • I Feel the Earth Move
  • Marvin Gaye:
    • Mercy, Mercy Me
    • What’s Going On
  • Naughty By Nature:
    • OPP
    • Hip Hop Hooray
  • Queen Latifah:
    • Ladies First (ft. Monie Love)
    • Bad as a Mutha
    • Latifah’s Had It Up To Here
  • REO Speedwagon:
    • Keep On Loving You
    • Take It On The Run
  • Journey:
    • Don’t Stop Believing
    • Faithfully
    • Open Arms
      (ah, 80s cheese pop!)
  • Bee Gees:
    • How Deep Is Your Love
    • How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
    • Words
  • Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton:
    • Islands in the Stream
    • The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)
    • Jolene (Dolly Parton)
  • Patsy Cline:
    • Crazy
      (this is just a throwback for the mood. I don’t really like this song LOL)
  • Jimi Hendrix
    • Purple Haze
    • Voodoo Child
      (made me at least appreciate all of those fragga-knackle gahdammitted guitar lessons I had to take. Every. Early. Sunday. Morning.)
  • Pink Floyd
    • Another Brick in the Wall
      (made it cool to love rock).
  • Earth, Wind and Fire
    • September
    • Reasons
  • Sade
    • Sweetest Taboo

Care to share any guilty pleasure songs or similar experiences? Am I crazy? Wait…don’t answer that because I already know that I am and damn proud of it!

Music heals. At least it’s healing my nostalgia and curbing my desire to call people “ugly”…a little! 😉

Treble_a

 

Recently I was reminded that although we try to ignore race, culture, backgrounds, etc., there are some times when we truly are very different as a people.
Let me start by saying that I am sure I’m not the most politically correct person at all times nor am I always astute when it comes to the customs and habits of people from all parts of the world. There’s still a lot to learn and I am trying. However, I am fortunate that my workplaces and life experiences have led me to various parts of the United States and to several countries, all of which have proven to be good life lessons and exposure to those who not only look different than me, but have different belief systems, values, and sometimes, drastically different options and ways of life. I love that about my workplaces and travels! I feel this life road map helps open eyes to not only what’s physically different between us humans; it opens my eyes and ears to what makes people tick.
Recently though, I’ve been experiencing and witnessing some seemingly basic situations that turn awkward very quickly because some of the players involved in the real life skit don’t realize that they’re offending others, and in some cases, they may realize it but demand that others do and think what they do instead of considering why they’re not the same.
Even those who are somewhat well-traveled sometimes fail to understand some of the seemingly basic (IMO basic…) ways to interact with people of different cultures and races. Of course I don’t expect us to all be experts on every cultural aspect for every race, religion, way of life, and background. However, I do have some standards that as a human, to which I’d like to adhere and hope others would as well.
Observations
 
Let me reiterate, before sharing my observations, that I am not an expert on culture, religion, etc. However, I try to read body language, pay attention to verbal cues, and try like hell to not be insensitive to other people especially when they’re exhibiting awkward behavior, stilted responses or downright nasty glares when we talk or interact. I’ll use actual examples so as not to bore with the rhetoric or just share abstract and vague offenses.
I witnessed someone being verbally pummeled  by questions about pending nuptials repeatedly because it seemed so “foreign”, “cool but crazy” but [I wish you] “good luck with that!” (direct quotes) to enter into an arranged marriage. Mind you, the person asking has been married two times already and is planning on a third venture into the joining of two people within the next year. This led me to believe that based on just this scenario and comments that no arrangement or plan is perfect. It just depends on the people, their intent, goals, and who knows…maybe even love. However, it seemed to make the person who was about to get into the arranged marriage a bit sad and confused. Admittedly it made me sad but angry that someone would be that rude.
Another observation involved a work event at lunch time. Included in the list of attendees were vegans, vegetarians and your good ole meatatarians (self included!). Mind you, folks were vegan and vegetarian for years so this wasn’t something that crept up after the event was planned. The host decided that veggie hot dogs and burgers would be fine along with the sides, salads, fruit and an assortment of desserts ranging from cookies to cakes and pies. However he noticed that the vegans ate only the salad and raw fruit but no dessert, and the vegetarians ate only the sides of macaroni, potato, beet and green leafy salads and fruit. The only people who ate the veggie burgers and hot dogs were the meat eaters (when we ran out of meat). The host was upset. He had spent “soooo much time and effort” (he emphasized the word “so”) to find these quality “non-cardboard-like” items and was offended when they weren’t eaten by the target attendees.
Later, when I asked a friend why he didn’t eat the veggie “meat”, he said it looked too much like a real hot dog or burger and he couldn’t bring himself to try it but more importantly, he can’t eat gluten (and some other product that I forget the name of now) that is commonly found in one of the fake burger types due to a food allergy. But here’s the thing – he was very happy with the other food choices and thought the event was a success and was happy that the host went through such trouble to make the meal enjoyable. Meanwhile the host was busy being offended and had voiced to several people in a loud and grumpy manner that it was the last time he’d host a lunch event with “those Indians and damn hippie vegans”. If only the host asked before making the following assumptions: *sigh*
That:
A: Only the people from India were vegetarians (they weren’t)
B: All vegans are hippies and therefore dismissible as somehow flighty or flaky and are following some fad (they’re not)
C: That his choice of food would fit all palettes (he didn’t ask the invited attendees if fake meat was something they’d like even though he knew them for awhile).
 
Line of Questioning Observations
 
Some Americans, mostly non-minority from my observations (but I’m wondering if it’s just an american thing in general…) will ask colleagues and even strangers that they’ve just met, some very personal questions about their lives. What I’ve felt, is that the questions may not be meant to be invasive or accusatory, but the reactions of colleagues and even strangers, is that it’s uncomfortable to be thrown such personal rapid fire questions and some react as if it were indeed, invasive. Honestly, there are lots of times I feel the same and I cringe internally when I witness it. Why? Well I don’t think it’s my boss’ business, or my colleagues beeswax what my significant other does for a living, earns, drives, etc. Nor do I think it’s any of my beeswax to know theirs. The only valid time I can see is if it’s an employee personnel issue such as, who to call in case of an emergency. Even then, that information should be treated as private and sensitive information that is not to be shared.
I figure if someone wants to share their personal lives and personal information with others, they will. No reason to go prying or worse yet, share news about someone’s personal life with another member of the office or as a random side story to incite shock and awe or the like. Want shock and awe?
Go do something that’s shocking or awe-inspiring!Are our lives so boring and uneventful that we need details on other people’s lives to fill the void?

Where does it come from?
 
I believe some of the bad behavior (IMO) comes from things said and done by our parents, society’s rules and suggestions, our environment and from our life experiences. However, I think some people are just less observant about other people’s behavior or preferences and just march right on into that direct line of rapid fire questions without regard for how someone may feel.
Here’s one example of how generalizations and stereotypes are propagated. Just a day or two ago I perused the NCLEX book (Preparation for nurses about to take the state board test to become an RN or other certificated professional) which contained some high level (some good and some a little laughable) details about various races and cultures. This included notes about “Asians revering silence” and to paraphrase, wouldn’t raise their voices or may say yes when they mean no, with “Blacks deeming direct prolonged eye contact as aggressive” and are more likely to be late and be loud talkers while “Whites deem eye contact as sincere (or maybe it was trustworthy?)” and will be more likely to be on time.
While a handful of Asian, Black and White people may very well have these traits and think this way, I find it interesting and a little sad that a textbook contains these “nuggets of information” for those who may become your caretaker. There wasn’t, as far as I recall seeing, a statement that says something like, “Take the following with a grain of salt” or anything to allude that they were generalizations based on stereotypes. Nope, they were listed as fact. Stone cold hard facts about people who look a certain way and have certain physical features.
Well I’m assuming that based on these “rules”, I, and many others who stem from multiple cultural and racial backgrounds would have some serious problems figuring out which “rules” to follow and how to deal with the contradictory behaviors that are supposedly innate to our genetic makeup. I bet my Asian (according to the book’s definition of what and who makes up the Asian population), silence loving, eye-contact avoiding self may detest the African descendant’s loud-talking blabbermouth habits while the white ancestors are screaming, “For God’s sake, you’re 30 minutes late and have the nerve to show up all loud and then glare when asked why you’re late! All I had to eat were these damn cardboard-tasting veggie bean dogs and some vegan dessert that doesn’t even taste like cake!”
Sigh. Can’t we all just get along?

“No Comment”

Posted: November 11, 2009 in Pushing my buttons!
Tags: , , ,

I was told I can’t comment about assimilation by Mexicans because the subject was about foreign labor and assimilation patterns and since I’m not Mexican, I can’t understand. I was later told I can’t relate to oppression and feelings of resentment by black americans because I’m not seen as black and I wasn’t born here. I have also been told I wouldn’t understand privilege because I’m not rich, nor am I white.

Well hell dangit on a stick! How and WHAT am I supposed to understand or feel when these topics are broached? Should I walk away and be quiet? Why then, isn’t President Obama walking away from topics that pertain to the Chinese? By this flawed logic, even the POTUS wouldn’t understand Chinese lifestyles.

Yes, I am angry. I think it’s a cop-out to hide your ignorance or pending disagreement with my opinion if it doesn’t mesh with yours so when people say, “how would *you* know?” Or “who do *you* think you are to say that?”…what they’re really saying is “I don’t agree, so I’ll resort to being the *only* subject matter based on race/culture”, etc.

Yes, I dare say it. Sue me. Oh yeah, you can’t due to the First Amendment and all. I have the right to think whatever I want about whomever I want, whenever I want. Sound like a rebellious teen? So what? I will wholeheartedly write and think what I want. Want to know why?

I’ll tell you a little secret about the Island I’m from and my background. I am a blend of at least four groups of people who descended from various continents. I am more african in terms of lineage and culture in which I was raised than some black americans. I have creole blood and may or may not secretly wish I know Voodoo. I have the Mayan blood line mixed up with those of Turks and a line of ancestry from India. Sure that may seem almost impossible to understand but my point is simple – take your proverbial heads out of orifices that hold them tight and warm and snuggly and please stop judging books by their covers. Take the time to listen with an open mind and let us share thoughts, ideas and opinions. That’s the only way we’ll survive and evolve…as humans.

Peace,
Natasha