This post is only one of a number of posts regarding the white middle class in the U.S.A. The reality of social justice can only happen if we white people understand the where, how, when and why our privilege came about. I have recently had it shoved in my face (by someone I went to school with, and therefore they had the same information taught to them) that many of our white population’s understanding of history is literally “alternative fact” based.
Unless we white people understand our history and our European ethnic history, in particular, we white people — in general — will never understand how both institutional privilege and personal privilege have developed into what we have today.
Too many of us white people only EVER look at our personal and individual current conditions, ignoring that very important history. The “minorities” who live side by side with us cannot ever ignore white history.
I will try to post this at the top of every post I write in this series. I will attempt to keep each post to a summary, as re-teaching history to the US’s white population is a monumental task. I can only hope that my summaries will encourage my fellow white people to look deeper into our culture’s history and learn a thing or two.
To understand privilege, we need to go all the way back to ancient history to what is often arrogantly called “Western Civilization.” More often than not, “Western Civilization” is primarily the history of Europe and its colonies. “Eastern Civilization,” on the other hand, isn’t defined by a specific people or type of people. It is defined as essentially anything that is not European nor Europe’s particular colonies (in schools in the U.S.A. we attempt to separate ourselves out from being a “European colony” but…as adults we should face facts…our founding WAS as sets of a number of different European countries’ colonies.
OK, so back to what has been considered the history of “Western Civilization.” This “starts” with the Roman and Greek cultures, because our European ancestors glorified those cultures over any other culture that was alive, thriving and more technologically advanced. In fact, the Assyrian Empire, the Egyptian Empire (being ruled from Nubia at the time — yes, Nubia…the same country that our people of color refer to), Ancient China and Ancient India were ALL quite active and each had more advanced technology than what the Greeks had. One of the reasons Europe glorified the Greeks is simply the person of Alexander the Great. His tactics are still studied in many “Western civilizations.” The claim is that India and China made no impact on European culture, therefore they were just never “important enough.”
While I work on a post that requires a hell of a lot of research, I ask you to be patient, just like you have been patient for most of this year because of my health issues. But here’s a quicky to keep you going.
7% of all American adults (that’s 16.4 million) people believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.
How is this surprising to absolutely ANYONE who has a couple brain cells to rub together?
We have the person who called in to the KanKakee Daily Journal’s Speakout line (seen to the right) who may or may not have been a joke. Sadly, I have met SOME people who do actually believe that the meat in the grocery stores are in no way related to actual living animals.
Then we have Donna, “the Deer Lady,”. The audio clip from Y94 Playhouse Fargo, ND radio station states that the “Deer Crossing signs” should be moved to lower traffic areas so the deer know to avoid the higher traffic areas. Now, there is a follow-up phone call in which she admits to not knowing that the signs for people not deer. But she also claims to have been raised in a small, rural North Dakota town.
I didn’t know a lot about rural towns before moving to one, but I can tell you that there is NO person of driving age in this town that doesn’t know road signs are for PEOPLE. It takes a special kind of stupid to grow up in a rural town and not have a good basis in the facts of living in an area where you are likely to have to deal with wild animals when driving. Not counting the 2 deer or the one raccoon I’ve hit in the last 25 years of visiting my sister up here, I have also almost had an accident by a coyote crossing the rural highway (with no signs about it — but I know damned well deer are not the only animal to cross roads and I’ve primarily lived in urban spaces).
I was rewatching Halle Berry’s Catwoman tonite, and it got me thinking. I know that Wonder Woman is supposed to be this great re-visioning of what it means to be a strong, independent woman. I know many people looked at Catwoman as a complete and utter failure because of any number of excuses.
But what struck me is that what the movie does is reveals that women can only be free when they choose to define themselves, when they choose their identity and are true to it. It’s not about being “good” or being “bad,” but being who they are at their core.
For some women, being like Sharon Stone (Laurel Hadere) or Alex Borstein (Patience’s friend Sally) is who they want to be. They want to fit in with the world and build power and freedom within the limitations of what our society thinks is appropriate behavior for a woman.
They think if they can somehow attain that power (through their relative “attractiveness” or how closely to the supposed feminine ideal they can be) then they will be accorded the freedom to be themselves. The problem is, by the time that they attain that height, they have become something completely at odds with who they really are. Sadly, if they choose to try to reflect that inner truth, all of that so-called “power” or “freedom” disappears like a burst soap bubble.
The “living marble” that Laurel has become is a wonderful metaphor for this false self. We choose to try to conform as a way to keep from being hurt. We become who our family wants, who our husband or partner wants, who their children or friend group wants us to be — or who WE think they want us to be.
Sorry it has been so long, ladies and gentlemen. But my health takes first priority to everything else. Self-care has not been my forte, but I’m working hard to make it so.
It’s not the obvious rapists or misogynists that scare me. Why? Because I know how to fight that kind of obvious violence and hatred.
It’s the charmers, the manipulators — the true women-haters who turn a woman’s strength against herself. And this kind of person isn’t just some men. It’s often exactly how society has programmed both men and women. Yes, women can be this kind of perpetrator, and men can be victims too.
Many of us — myself included — give pieces of ourselves away because that’s what someone who is in love does. In the beginning, it’s only little pieces. It’s not that someone else is violently ripping apart our souls, it’s that we offer them up to be devoured.
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