Posts Tagged ‘oppression’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few social media discussions have made me think long and hard (in a positive way) about “our story” – our place as a particular group of humans, in the world. These stories can usually be grouped into categories related to race, culture, religion, or status. Why? Because that’s how most humans are grouped. Why are they even grouped? Ah, that’s an age old question. I suppose it’s because most want to be around people who are similar or like themselves in some way, shape or form. It also may be as a result of how our living arrangements are set up – we may be raised in communities surrounded only by those who look and sound and appear to be just like us physically. But I digress…

So what does “our story” have to do with integrity? Some people who watch historical programs such as documentaries and movie adaptations have been asking, “Is it done with integrity?” Or, it the integrity of the storytelling and recounting complete, in that it doesn’t remove the negative aspects of a story? To which I have been responding in messages and thinking here, now…”Is there ever truly, integrity?”. When your oppressors and those responsible for systemic oppression for decades and generations are the narrators of say, American history, in school textbooks and in historical accounts, is there integrity in that? Why is there so much need for one hundred percent accuracy and integrity when a minority group tells their story?

Of course, bold faced lies are to be avoided when recounting history. However, that’s not the case in many historical texts in many countries. The bad somehow gets prettied up to become more palatable for those telling it and reading it. Why are those texts throughout history not taken to task for lacking integrity? One example of a book recently taken to task for being inaccurate in the U.S. was A Birthday Cake for George Washington. There are more, but sadly, not that many.

One that is awesomely and most spectacularly timed though, is this recent social media debate and many google searches asked whether Alexander Hamilton was black. The color kerfluffle stems from the grammy win for the Best Musical Theater Album, in which the main character, Alexander Hamilton, of the hit Broadway play, “Hamilton” is not white.

Many accounts pegged Hamilton as the son of a mixed race woman. However, most of these accounts agreed that he was ashamed, or at least hid well, his heritage. Of course, as with any award show, and especially one with ignorant people wanting to remind of their white history, many they lit up the twittersphere and booko’face-land with tweets and posts criticizing the cast of the musical and arguing that no one knew for sure that Alexander Hamilton was of black lineage. Why? The historical accounts and narrators of official textbook Hamilton stories omitted that piece of information.

So all of this talk of “integrity” makes me wonder: Does omitting a piece of a historical story mean the story lacks integrity?

I guess that depends on how integral to the story or how the premise of the re-telling was shaped. Is that determination subjective in nature so that even that simple sounding statement becomes a more complex question?

Maybe that old saying is true – History  belongs to the narrator – whomever is lucky enough to write it or tell it. Everyone else just has to trust that what they’re reading and being told is accurate. Or take everything with that proverbial grain of salt. Yeah, I think that’ll be my approach. A grain of salt, or several…on the rim of a glass…filled with tequila!

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A guy told me that I “shouldn’t dress in a masculine manner”. I assured him that I tied my neckwear, pulled on my pants, and buttoned my shirt with nothing but dainty feminine movements. As with many people who do not understand my humor (read: and are stupid), he didn’t even realize I was making fun of his comment.

Another male said to me that girls talking about a menstrual period in public is “icky”. I responded with the word, “thump” every time he said “icky”. He didn’t get it. Oh, and my crime? I asked a friend for some pain relivers because I was having cramps that felt like Satan himself organized a flash mob in my lower back.

Another dude repeatedly made snide remarks about a woman who has to use a private office, with the door closed, to pump milk for her baby since she’s breastfeeding. He said that no man wants to know what boobs are being used for if they’re not for motorboating. So my convo went as follows:

Me: You ever consider it?
Him: Motorboating?
Me: No, breastfeeding.
Him: I’m a man!
Me: Oh okay. Those 36 Cs with the rigid nips fooled me.
Him: *blank stare and stomped away*

Mansplaining? Misogyny?

Maybe…

Either way, while I’m not perfect, I’m learning to accept my body and myself.

Disclaimer: Oh, and I know many men who do not feel this way. To these men, I applaud and appreciate you for loving women and fighting for their rights.

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People who aren’t systemically oppressed and abused aren’t scared of authorities or those who skew events in their favor. Why would they be? They haven’t lived through a fear so overpowering that it takes your breath away. So overpowering that it makes you fearful to speak. So overpowering that you CAN’T speak because the words will not come out.

These people have never been stopped and frisked for no reason. For many, they cannot begin to imagine the shame of sitting on a sidewalk as cars drive by with passengers wondering, “what that person do?” as cell phone photos of the “thug” are circulated on social media.

These people have lived a privileged life. Oh, and privilege does not mean only money or power. Sometimes privilege comes with skin color. Sometimes privilege is blind to privilege.

Today I encountered many who may okay with systemic oppression by virtue of not being able to recognize it and who refuse to acknowledge its existence. I’ve also encountered those who can’t move past it to try, and some of whom are unable to pave positive paths. I’ve also encountered some who are trying oh so hard to make life better and to  understand why good things happen to bad people and why bad things happen to good people. Good luck with that question. No one knows the answer.

Look, I and many others will never be on the “right”.side of history books when they’re written by my oppressor but I wasn’t supposed to be. I refuse to stop trying to make a difference. I refuse to back down when those who do not fight the same fight, forget what it means to stop and empathize or find it easy to sit back in their comfy lazyboy chairs, watching tv and pointing fingers.

I need you to know what oppression feels like. To know what it tastes like. Like dirt and asphalt and pigeon shit. I need you to know that while west fight for differemtt rights, they’re all civil rights.

I’ve met and have much respect for those who care about civil rights more than their personal comfort. To these people, I know who you are and I know your skin color.  I appreciate and respect you.

Baltimore matters. Black Lives Matter. Anger and frustration over the death of Freddie Gary, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and so many others are understandable. This is a countrywide matter and not just a Florida, Ferguson, NY, etc. matter. This is a civil rights issue, not just a black issue. And don’t think for one second, that if you’re a model black person you won’t get stopped or shot. If you do, you don’t understand why some are angry.

How many of you will share this? Speak on it? How many of you will just remain silent?