Tuesday, January 17, 2006


So I'm in this situation where it is Martin Luther King, Jr, day and I'm not enjoying the results of an email I sent the kids' school where I thought we'd do something at the school to honor this man. I was told by the administration that we'd have to "have a philosophical discussion about why we'd honor one great person in the world and exclude the others."

Instead, I'm feeling like I'm about to explode inside because of some intangible reason. (Could it be I'm a parent and society isn't set up so well for parents?) So we end up celebrating his birthday by going out for ice cream.

As they were eating, (I didn't--the vegan ice cream place was closed) I talked about Martin Luther King. I said he was the kind of guy who said something if something going on wasn't right. I said, "Just like you did Z, remember the night when Mom and Dad were fighting on the stairs and you said to me, 'Don't talk to dad that way!!' and then when Dad said (sort of tongue in cheek) 'Z call the police on mom' and you said, 'No!!'??" He's like yeah I remember. I said, "That's how Martin Luther King Jr was, he spoke up!

What I didn't say, goddam it, was that when somebody really rocks the boat they have a good chance of getting offed.

The other day I was talking on the phone to a friend and I said into the phone, "Bush, I'm nothing to ya!" It was echoing this funny echo. My son tells me that means absolutely nothing (21 yo) He's an engineer and physics nerd (plus a stupendous athlete) and he said, "Mom the technology is such today that you wouldn't hear it if it was tapped."

I can tell his phone has never been tapped.

I have some friends who flew from their homeland of Pakistan on September 11, 2001, to the US. Wow, they were in the air when news of the tragedy hit. Their plane landed early in San Francisco where they were interviewed by the newspapers. They were actually on their way to Portland. A week later their uncle drove down and picked them up. They were being put up in a nice hotel there. And this was all before the public was turned against middle easterners ...

What I'm getting at was these folks were terrified! They had no idea what was going on. But whenever I talk to them on the phone, it echoes really majorly. I think I know what a tapped phone sounds like.

A different friend of mine--African and Native heritage--who had converted to Islam had similar experiences with the echoing. Hmm. If you're a person of color with Islamic ties or a white person who wants to end racism you're being spied upon unconstitutionally? So I'm not sure about writing about this because I lose credibility when I speculate. But since I don't ordinarily do this I'm going to--in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr's would-be birthday.

I used to be solely an environmentalist--and not far beneath the surface was this contempt for all human beings--I'm not there anymore. We're at a place in history where we need as humans to reclaim our complete humanness. We need to rock the boat--together. But it begins with this listening process. If we don't really listen to our friends from Pakistan, if we don't listen to our African heritage friends, if we don't listen to our white friends' pain of the conditioning we received of numbness and feeling "better than" "smarter than"then it just sits there growing. When we listen to each other and stay close (that means not running away) we can heal and begin to see the truth.

Bush thinks he's smarter than and better than. He's received the exact same training that most white folks have middle-class on up. He's an example of what can go horribly wrong with any one of us without good information and the support of an aware listener--and I mean from early on, the first days of life.

So, the feeling of wanting to explode. Doesn't mean I'm a terrorist. I guess it's good that Google had an outline of Martin Luther King Jr on it's logo yesterday. But I'm thinking I wanted something more. Why? That's another blog forthcoming on why I, as a white woman, want to end racism. Why don't I just enjoy my priveledges and enjoy my life and forget about racism. This question was posed to me by an African American friend. Ha! Believe me I do enjoy it--as much as that is possible and even though I didn't choose it. I don't worry so much about getting pulled over and shot on a dime by a scared police officer. I don't get followed around stores. I don't get dirty looks or plain ignored as if I'm invisible in line wherever. I don't get treated "funny" by well-meaning white people who are trying to be cool white people but haven't really worked on their racism. I am not real concerned that my children will someday end up in jail if I don't "prepare them for the real world." (Etc.) Honestly, I do "enjoy" my white priveledge. But until we're all free none of us are, is more than a cliche. I'm glad I notice there's something remiss about all the priveledges I enjoy.

So we ate ice cream, some chocolate, some vanilla and one strawberry :-) and I don't feel guilty anymore about my priveledge (I get that out through the listening exchange process because it's not helpful in this struggle) but I do feel angry that I've been lied to all along about what it means to have different skin color. I've been set up, separated and sold a load of crap!! We all have. And what for? The same reason there's a war in Iraq---

As for the kids' school? Next year.

1 Comments:

Blogger OORANOS said...

Have a good time

9:32 AM PST  

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