So what? Your genitals are still lined up.

I’m home from my mini-vacation, sans laptop.  I accidentally left it in security when a bag search interrupted me while on auto-pilot.  Fortunately, it was located in the lost and found and will be shipped back soon.  Whew!  I didn’t even notice it was gone until several minutes after we were in the air.  I used the remainder of the flight to freak out.  I was given sympathy and reassurance from the woman seated beside me.  She was so kind I almost started ugly crying.  The relief I’ll feel when it’s back in my hands will be worth every almost-tear.  Okay, I did bawl my head off when I got home, but it was in the shower, so it doesn’t count. 😛

I’m getting back into my rhythm with The Resistance.  I noticed a response thread about Bill Mahr using the N word.  Someone stated they didn’t mind his using it once in comparison to Snoop Dog using it several times a minute.  They first stated they were “Afro-American.”  It’s not a term I’ve heard in ages.  It gave me pause, but only because it was unusual terminology for today.  I didn’t draw any certainties from it.  I’m apparently the only one, out of the hundreds who jumped in to inform him they thought his choice of words proved he was white.  Initially, someone merely stated it’s an outdated term, and the use made them suspicious.  Then came the flood.

At first, it was hilarious.  Lots of memes and witty statements demonstrating a white person pretending to be a black person. It started getting ugly when the comments started coming from those who were taking a little too much pleasure in tearing someone down.  It wasn’t funny anymore.  It was an accusation.  People were literally stating he couldn’t be black based solely on his word choices.  Before long, I was also accused of pretending to be black by some Caucasian woman.   Blocked.  This is another symptom of institutional racism.  The belief one’s behavior dictates the pigmentation level of their skin is ridiculous and astonishingly ignorant.  It’s saying stereotypes have the same efficacy as DNA.

It’s a sore point for me in particular.  I’ve faced this abuse too often in the past by other blacks who deny my membership because of my language, clothing, and/or who I hang out with.  I speak proper Midwestern English, just like every other educated person who grew up here.  I’m aware of slang from hip-hop and rap culture, but don’t think it’s the cultural language of any race other than human.  There are people from everywhere who live the culture.  Their skin is irrelevant.  This isn’t rocket science.  I can imitate an inner-city accent, but not with a straight face while being phony.  I’m a black woman from the upper midwestern US.  This is called a fact.

I’ve traveled enough to notice language and cultural variations in different regions of the US.  I like diversity.  It’s fascinating.  I’m comfortable being myself and am mature enough to laugh at things like peer pressure and pettiness within my own race.  My own sister used to give me shit about being openly Midwestern.  All I heard was, “Hi, I’m a hypocrite so feel free to ignore me.”  Being raised in the Midwest would have sufficed, but on top of that, I was adopted by a Caucasian family.  Guess what?  It influenced my language and culture.  Of course, I don’t speak like someone who grew up in LA or NYC!  Please explain the thought process that led to this being surprising information, because I can’t find it.

I don’t filter my world by things so petty as variations in physical traits.  This is my life, and I intend to continue living the shit out of it.  I’ll continue doing my best to avoid stepping on others out of default decency.  I also won’t tolerate anyone stepping on me.  I’m too busy chasing fascination to waste time conforming to stereotypes.  I’m too free and happy for petty bullshit.  While I sincerely think many who joined in to be silly on Twitter over this had no malice behind their memes, the point that matters is this:  If you honestly believe language and culture can qualify or disqualify a person from a particular race, you believe a lie, which is ignorance defined.

Once Upon a Time

It’s officially Thanksgiving Day here.  I don’t celebrate holidays.  I’ve learned too much truth since becoming an adult.  This particular holiday is the worst one in my opinion.  Today marks the day that the genocide of humans with brown skin began.  Starting with the spread of disease to the Natives in America during the festive feast day.  We’ll never know how many were killed in the initial onslaught of smallpox, and the like.  That, of course, was followed up with war, massacre, and the systematic stripping of all Native heritage, which was forcibly replaced with Christianity.  We took their lives, their land, their pride, and their livelihood.  But that wasn’t enough.  We even went after their spirituality.  And when we were done, we forced them to live in poverty on reservations of land we didn’t want.

Of course, there were a few times that the land turned out to have value, such as gold or oil.  Then we took it back, and told them to move.  I can’t think of a single atrocity that wasn’t committed against the Native peoples of this continent.  If I left one out, I don’t want to know about it.  I can’t sleep as it is.  I feel the weight of the evil perpetrated on the Native Americans.  I feel guilty.  I didn’t exist at the time, and had no voice to object to these actions.  But I have always lived on their land.  When I discovered how we acquired these lands in graphic detail and photos, I didn’t run away in horror.  I stayed and continued living my life.  I didn’t know where to go or how to get there when I was a child.

After I got my drivers license and a car, I drove to the nearest reservation and asked to speak with the chief.  An old man came and talked to me.  I don’t know if he was the chief, or if they even had one.  I knew nothing of tribal government at that time.  I apologized for living on their lands.  He didn’t say anything to that.  He didn’t forgive me, or tell me to burn in hell.  Just silence.  I took his non-response to mean, “Live with this knowledge.”  It wasn’t a friendly chit chat by any stretch.  Some questions I asked, he ignored.  After the silence went on for a while, I’d ask a different question.  I didn’t know how to tell if someone was angry or bitter at that time.  I’m pretty sure I still don’t.  So I don’t know how he felt about my showing up with questions out of the blue.

Part of me expected him to impart some wisdom on me, and tell me that they recognized my brown skin as a commonality among us, along with the struggle it causes.  Instead, he told me that most of them didn’t like black people.  It hurt my feelings, and made me feel a little bit unsafe.  He went on to say that he didn’t hate black people.  He said we’re all niggers to the white man.  The Natives are prairie niggers, and I was just a regular nigger.  It was my first time hearing the term prairie nigger.  Not my last.  The entire exchange showed me that I was ignorant of their culture, even though I felt like I was part of it because of my Native foster siblings.  It was a hard day.  I was 14 at that time.  I went back several times after that with more questions.

The east river tribes are Oglala.  They have it better than the west river folks on Pine Ridge reservation.  My Mom refused to accept foster babies from Pine Ridge.  I never got an answer out of her as to why this was the case.  I figured it was too far away.  It’s about a 5-7 hour drive, depending on whether or not you’re afraid of highway patrolman.  It’s flat and you can see for miles in all directions.  You can drive for an hour without seeing a single other vehicle.  So if you want to drive 90 MPH, and your car is in good repair, go for it.  Just slow down if you see a patrol car in the median.  I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket, and I drive 90 when I go west.  And south.  I did get pulled over in Nebraska or Iowa.  I just got a warning.  I was doing 85 MPH in a 75 MPH zone.  Like it matters at that point.

I went to a few Powwows.  I liked seeing them fully dressed in headdresses and the rest of the garb.  They dance and sing and beat on drums.  The things I noticed that are differences are that the Lakota people speak with an accent that is very distinct to my ears.  And their urine smells different than African and Caucasian urine.  It’s sweeter smelling.  I know that’s a strange thing to observe, but when you consider how I helped my Mom with the foster babies, it’s easier to understand.  My Mom used cloth diapers, and safety pins with plastic protectors on them.  I never changed a single diaper.  I didn’t have the dexterity and strength in my hands to safely replace the pins.  My Mom would have me stand beside the changing table and make sure the baby stayed on it while she answered the phone sometimes, though.

I’m sensitive to odors.  In my last apartment, the teenaged girl who lived above me spilled her nail polish remover on the kitchen counter, and I smelled it in my apartment.  When I asked her about it, she thought it was amazing that I could smell it.  Amazing is not the word I would have chosen.  Sensitivity to odors is a curse.  Try running in formation while several guys around you are sweating out Tequila from the night before.  They weren’t the only ones sprinting to the curb periodically to vomit.  But I’d rather run with that all day than get in an elevator with a guy who bought into those Axe commercials.

I know a lot of people who have no idea that Native Americans still exist.  They live their entire lives without thinking about them a single time.  It’s a hidden problem.  Most stay on or near the reservations.  Many join the military, but are often thought of as Latinos.  I don’t fault them for the misidentification.  It’s purely ignorance, not malice.  So many people grow up without ever being exposed to people of color.  They see us on TV or in movies, but that’s the extent of their knowledge.  And TV and movies are fantasy.  You can’t rely on the information, and should probably assume it’s wrong until you have a chance to do your own research.

I grew up in a city that was named, The Whitest City In America, by U.S. News and World Report magazine.  I wasn’t surprised.  I was the only black kid in my school district at times.  Heather was a year behind me, so each time I advanced to a new school, I had to be the only black kid all over again until my Junior year in High School.  Then a few black families moved into town.  I hated school until university.  I did well on the Iowa Basics, PSAT, and SAT.  I made the honor role each time.  I also had the record for most days missed.  I skipped a lot.  My Mom got tired of fighting to get me to go.  My last semester was at Augustana University as a compromise to my desire to drop out.  I liked that much better.  I lost my High School Diploma after only looking at it once.  It probably ended up with Heather.  After she died, my sister, Greta, went through her things.  I was too stunned to be of any assistance at that time.  I don’t communicate with Greta.  She’s a sociopath, and tried to kill me when I was an infant.

The last time we spoke, she told me that my Mom should never have adopted us. (Me, Heather, and Steve).  It was creepy.  She doesn’t communicate with any of my remaining siblings.  My Mom had a strained relationship with her.  She came to visit once, and stayed with my brother, Guy.  While he was at work, she snooped through every inch of his house.  I don’t remember how he found out, but he vowed to never allow her in his home again.  The older, birth kids were not close.  There’s a lot of history that I probably won’t get into much.  My oldest brother, Gary, was forced to get shock treatments when he was a teenager.  I think it had something to do with depression and drug use.  I wasn’t alive yet.  I overheard that he never forgave my Mom for putting him through that.

I only saw him a few times in my life.  My impression was that he was my coolest brother.  I was completely fascinated by him, and loved him immediately.  He was soft spoken, and quiet, but when he did speak, it was deep and wise to me.  He even looks gentle.  I’m glad I got to meet him, even if it was just those few times.  I never met Skip.  He was my Dads oldest son from his previous marriage.  Skip moved to Canada during the Vietnam war and never came back for obvious reasons.  The 60’s had a clear impact on my older siblings.  I have mental images of how they dressed, and the music they favored when I was young.  Bell bottom corduroy pants in a burnt sienna brown that made a swoosh noise when my brother walked.  But I don’t remember which brother, or any other part of the clothing.  Weird.

I should be sleeping as it’s the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.  I couldn’t sleep knowing today will be celebrated by millions of oblivious or callous Americans by stuffing themselves with food, watching football, and the like.  I doubt the vast majority will think about the Natives at all.  And if they do, they will think of them as Indians, even though it’s an incredibly ignorant way of thinking.  It blows my mind that it’s 2015, and most people still refer to Natives as Indians.  There is even a school debate topic titled Indian Country, that was drafted here in South Dakota, within a few miles of a reservation.  When I told them how astonished I was that it was being used, they told me that it was okay, because the Indians are okay with it.  Unfuckingbelievable.

Reality is more like, they asked 1 Native about it, and he or she didn’t care either way, and just wanted to go about his or her business.  They became the spokesperson for all Natives on the issue, and validated the ignorance yet again.  Obviously, it wasn’t going to get changed no matter what the Native they asked thought about it.  If 100 Natives gathered outside the building where this decision was made, and peacefully protested to show their disgust at the ignorance, it wouldn’t have made any difference.  They do what the fuck they want to do, and we have no right to feel offended by it.  America.  Where you can buy absolute power in order to practice absolute corruption.  The peasant majority doesn’t know they are the peasants yet.  Denial is strong.  White people are not used to being subjugated by other white people on this scale, and have a hard time recognizing when it’s happening.

So we peasants, in our denial, fight against one another, causing the corruptors to gain even more power. Until finally, many band together in order to kill off the rest of us with brown skin.  And then we all lived happily ever after.  The End.  Sigh.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I watched the news a bit ago.  It showed footage of Muslim men in Paris holding up signs that said they were accused of being terrorists, and that they of course were not.  They said they trusted the people of Paris, and asked them to show that they trust them too by giving them a hug.  One was a Syrian refugee who was smiling as people lined up to hug him.  Another was just 17, and he eagerly ran up to people who opened their arms to him so he could hug them.  Another was blindfolded to show his trust.  It was beautiful.  It made me cry.

I knew there were genuinely good people on this planet.  It’s still touching to watch them express their kindheartedness publicly.  Especially after such a tragic day less than a week ago.  I sent a tweet to my state senator, as he was going on about halting the Syrian refugees from entering our state.  I basically told him that if he operates from fear rather than compassion, he has no business representing my state.  If the people in Paris can shed their fear to make room for their compassion, then so can a senator from South Dakota.  I have no tolerance for adults in representative leadership positions who behave like a toddler watching Mufasa die in a stampede.

The news about Charlie Sheen was unfortunate.  I’m not sure he’ll make a good poster boy for HIV, but at least he’s had an impact on the general public.  Apparently lots of people got tested after his interview.  That’s a good thing.  Of course, Jenny McCarthy had to jump into the spotlight to play victim once again.  She’s already far more dangerous than a person with HIV and a sociopathic enmity.  Her loud ignorance regarding vaccinations led to a lot of parents not immunizing their children, even though it’s been scientifically proven not to have any link to autism.  Unvaccinated children can collectively rejuvenate long-dormant diseases and trigger lethal epidemics.  I don’t think parents should be allowed to pass on vaccinations and remain in the country.  No vaccinations, no citizenship.

With privilege comes responsibility.  It’s a privilege to live in America.  People who have never left it don’t realize how awesome it is in comparison to many other countries.  They’ve never seen real poverty, so they think it means people who can’t afford cable TV.  Privilege.  Those who abuse the privilege by refusing to take basic measures to protect themselves and everyone else should get the fuck out.  However, it wouldn’t generate any money, so the government does nothing.  Capitalist socialism sucks.