Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Preferences/Racism

French actresses Romane Bohringer and Aïssa Ma...
Who are you more attracted to? Why? Image via Wikipedia

While I usually write about things that I have my mind made up about, I would like to rather start this post with the purpose of trying to spark discussion and questions.

When it comes to choosing a partner, can you clearly define the line between “having a preference” and “being racist”?

For example: it is well-known amongst my friends that I just “don’t like white guys.” I wouldn’t say that I have never been attracted to a white guy, because, when I was very young, I did have an affinity for white boys. However, as I got older and gained more experience with all persons, I started becoming more attracted to “anything-but”. I tend to blame this on my interactions with white guys in my church’s youth group (obviously not too positive) and started to characterize white guys in general as having a gross feeling of entitlement over white women, as though, by virtue of our shared skin color and their penis-having, that I should feel attracted to them.

Things get more complicated, however, when I consider my “attraction” versus “those who I want to pursue.” I have only ever dated men who have at least one parent from Mexico, and tend to date men who are full-blooded Mexican. However, I have been attracted to a plethora of different kind of people, and tend to find men and women of all skin-colors (except Caucasian, of course) very attractive, regardless of whether that attraction reaches the level of sexual-attraction. I, in fact, often find that persons with the darkest of skin tones are the most attractive. I find that the people who I want to date have more qualities that I look for in a mate, and that the Mexican culture is something that I find attractive for my life.

(Full disclosure, however: in regards to finding people attractive based on their personalities, I found Ryan Gosling terribly, terribly attractive in “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” but not until he started being attracted to Emma Stone. Terribly attractive. Wanted to cry and tear my hair out, he was that attractive. Definitely not even in conjecture with his “Photoshopped” abs.)

I’m sure that psychologists, sociologists, etc. would have a field day with this information. But I’m more interested in the reactions of other people- is my distaste for white men racism, given that it is based on personality/actions of the general population? Or is it purely preference, as I have, in small doses, been attracted to white men? How are you attracted to people? Etc.

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The myth of “freedom of opportunity”

I grew up in an area that many people deem to be, quote, “ghetto as fuck.” My high school was right across the street from a park notorious for drug deals, my freshman class’ count was over 1,000 while less than 600 of us made it to graduation day, etc. I have always noted post-High School that I was lucky to have the teachers that I did have; while none of them said it out loud, it was quite clear that they were training us to succeed based on our hard work, talent and intelligence because, after all, very few of us had been born into any chances and even fewer would be able to get by on their looks.

While in high school, I was introduced to the idea of “freedom of opportunity.” Supposedly, this was an “American value,” the idea that everybody deserves the same chances in life, and that what they do with said chances determines their future success. In this way, the onus falls onto the government to provide the opportunity, and the people to use the opportunity.

It’s a lovely idea. And it’s bullshit.

I don’t claim that this is bullshit based on personal experience, which would be easy enough to qualify but does not carry enough weight. No, I’m calling bullshit based on facts and figures.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce recently published their findings regarding the amount of money an American makes over their lifetime from their employment. The following is a chart detailing pay gap:

From http://kaysteiger.com/

The obvious implications are that, as we have known, men make more than women. While this obviously makes my feminist heart sink, it is the rest of the study that makes me even more angry.

According to these findings, “[African Americans and Latinos] make close to a million dollars less [than Whites]” over their lifetime, even when working the same amount of time and the same position as their white counterpart.

These charts show the results of people from all walks of education, from those who never completed high school to those who have completed post-doctoral, professional degrees. Even those women and people of any other race or ethnicity than “Caucasian” who reached the top are earning far less than their white, cis-gendered male counterparts.

This doesn’t even take into account this simple fact: while women have, technically, surpassed men in numbers of recent college graduates, people of color are statistically less likely to reach a higher education level than a high school diploma. While being Caucasian at my high school technically put me into a racial/ethnic minority within that pool of students, there were far more Caucasian teachers and staff at my high school than there were teachers and staff of color. The reason why “freedom of opportunity” can never be a reality is because, for many cultures, family trumps education. Statistically, many families of color cannot afford to send a son or daughter to college when the family needs money at that moment. Many high-school students, graduated or not, find it much easier to take over the family trade and help their parents rather than to make the immediately-“selfish” decision to further their education. And the trend continues.

Perhaps we should call it what it is: we don’t have “freedom of opportunity,” we have “freedom of white people to make themselves feel better by pretending that offering specialized scholarship opportunities is the same thing as making a culture in which everyone has the same opportunity to succeed.”

Elijah Wood as Frodo in Peter Jackson's live-a...
Frodo is judging me - Image via Wikipedia

What was actually written:

“while Glorfindel was able to ease the severity of Frodo‘s cursed wound through mere physical contact and urge his white elf-horse on at high speed with words in his tongue (Noro lim, noro lim, Asfalof!).”

What I read:

“while Glorfindel was able to ease the severity of Frodo’s cursed wound through mere physical contact with his tongue (Noro lim, noro lim, Asfalof!).”

My thoughts:

“I’ve never read THAT particular fanfiction before…”

This isn’t a democracy, it’s a cheerocracy.

Since a significant portion of my recent traffic and commenting numbers have been from people who vehemently disagree with me, I had to enact a commenting policy (this can be seen in the navigation). I don’t want people to think that I will be editing out their comments based on my dislike for their content. Everybody will be given many chances, unless they put personal information of somebody else in their comments or if they are posting anything defamatory or bigoted. I am not out to censor people and their thoughts, but if their opinions are outright hateful and demeaning towards a group of people then they can share that elsewhere, but definitely not here.

So if you have any questions, go ahead and take a look at the commenting policy to see what shit does not fly here.

My privilege is showing.

What I am about to write is important to me, and I think it’s very important to my blog for me to take note of my biases, my privileges, my experiences. I live with scientists, and have been posing the question to them recently: does your personal experience, your bias, your privileges, your experience, do these things factor into how you interpret or accept new data?” This is important to the field of science. And, turning it inwards, I note: this is important to life.

My background is not very interesting, nor is it very significant. I am a white female, born into an almost-middle-class, Southern Baptist family. The first year that my class was administered governmental standardized end-of-year tests (first grade, I believe?) I was the only student to score in the 99-percentile range (all of my scores were in the 99-percentile range). From this point on, I was treated as an intelligent child, which cushioned me from many of the hardships that children face from struggling with academics and being chastised for it. I was never treated as less capable (especially in math) because of my sex-chromosomes, though I did witness this happening often to other cis-females in the class. In fact, I was often asked to give private, after class tutoring to other girls who were struggling in math (never the boys, however). While I lived in very close proximity to a low-income city until I left for college, I actually lived in a city which is considered to be much safer, more quiet, more calm than its adjacent, surrounding neighbors. The most opposition I ever faced was some light bullying from older girls in Elementary School (stopped when my sister bravely stood up to them for me) and then again when I was teased for dressing like a boy in Junior High (from the same girl from before, again stopped when I mentioned that my same sister was currently serving time in a juvenile corrections facility. Apparently this implied threat of her eventual presence was more than enough). My own mind is what gave me more opposition in my life than any other person.

While I have faced incidences of relative injustice in my life (all very light, all very small) I have to admit that I have been very, well, privileged. I was born without fear of racism or racial discrimination, I was born without and have never experienced physical handicap, I was insulated from much gender discrimination by virtue of being considered “smart” (something with implications that is infuriating, of course), I was born outside of and have never lived in poverty, and my relative heterosexuality (I’m very queer and much more than incidentally attracted to women, though most people don’t know this because I have never acted on it) has insulated me from personally experiencing homophobia. Honestly, the only aspect of myself that puts me into a minority of any kind is the fact that I am an atheist, and it’s not like puts me at any threat of bodily harm, generally. Also, while I have faced some instances of being discriminated against due to mental-health-related issues, this has had very little effect on me.

I don’t even need to say that my life has been easy, relatively- it has been easy, and that’s that. Obviously I have faced difficulties in my life, but any sort of discrimination is not something that I come face-to-face with on a daily basis.

The fights and battles that I am interested in fighting are, largely, not my own. I fight for reproductive rights, because I believe that, without adequate reproductive rights, the people who are hurt the most are people who are of color, live in poverty, and have fully-functioning vaginae and uteri. I fight for queer rights, because there is no reason to discriminate against somebody based on their sexual/gender identity, their sexuality, or anything else that makes them supposedly “other.” I fight for people of color, not because they need a white person on their side, but because the inequalities have not been erased, because we still live in a society and a judiciary system that still perpetuates the problems and the stereotypes that give people of color more to fight against. I fight for disability rights and against ableism, because everybody should have equality of opportunity, and because the need is still there. I fight against poverty, nationally and globally, because it is a travesty on the part of the human race, and because it is connected to everything. I fight for education, because I think that it is the key to change and to progress.

I fight because I care. I fight because I am a humanist. I fight because it’s moral and ethical and true to my values.

But I have to understand- though I am willing to fight, I first have to listen.

So I invite people to share their stories. Their own experiences, the prejudice they have faced, their own privileges. I meant it when I said that education is the key to change and to progress, and it starts here.