Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

THE GOOD:

Washington D.C. becomes the 6th place in the nation where same-sex marriages can be performed and legally recognized! Hallelujha! Hallelujha! Shout outs to Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont (Oh California, why aren't you on this list???!!!).

Let me just quote from this New York Times article, because it really says so much about why same-sex marriages are critical for so many:

“I became a naturalized U.S. citizen in mid-’90s,” said Cuc Vu, a native of Vietnam who held the third position in line with her partner of 20 years, Gwen Migita. “But this is really the first time that I feel like I have the full rights and benefits of citizenship.”


THE BAD:

Please check out Tami's excellent rant at What Tami Said about the annoying verbal tics that non-African Americans insert into their conversations with black Americans (you know, the "Girlfriends!" and "No she didn't!" and "Holla!" type comments that the interlocutor somehow mistakenly believes make him/her hip and down with black vernacular culture. FAIL!)


THE UGLY:

For professional reasons (remember, I'm pre-tenure) I can't divulge the specifics of this scenario, but I can say that the following interaction happened at the end of a talk recently and was made by an Older White Woman (OWW) who is not affiliated with any university. At a certain point in the Q&A I had brought up a topic that lead me to talk about institutional racism and the ways in which eugenics were used as a means of perpetuating biological racism against non-white poeple, specifically black people, in this country. I had also, at a different point in this talk, self-disclosed that I had grown up in California.

OWW (to me after the talk is over):
"You know when you teach your eugenics class you should tell your students who the REAL racists are: people from New York and CALIFORNIA! (she looks pointedly at me)

Me: (speechless) WTF???!!!!

OK, I didn't really say WTF, but I think I expressed it with my eyes and with the brush off I gave her by turning away from her and speaking over her head (she was kinda short) to an undergraduate standing behind her. After all, when someone has just called you a racist because you are from California, what are you supposed to say? The woman was in her 70s--it's not a fair fight. Better to just ignore her, I thought, then to create a scene in which I am accused of elder-bashing.

8 comments:

david said...

That woman sounds ignorant, a little stupid, and really random. Where did that accusation come from? Maybe she doesn't like people from the coasts. I know that regionalism is very strong. If she said to me I probably would've not been so polite. Good thing at handling the situation though.

Jennifer said...

Thanks david--it was bizarre really. And while I can't flesh out the context to show that it wasn't as random as it might seem at first glance, the truth is, the comment itself is so WEIRD that there's no real context I could give that would justify or explain why on earth someone would say that at all, let alone directly TO someone from California???!!!

macon d said...

Seems to me that her reaction could very well be defensive. Whatever she heard may have gotten to some part of her as the truth, and so another part of her struck back, in a kind of self-defense, as well as (given what she said) a kind of denial.

saraspeaking said...

First of all, I heart you for making me snort out loud at the label for this post.

And, well, California tends to be regarded as a bastion for pinko commie bleeding-heart liberals - so I'd assume that her comment was a direct accusation of reverse racism, or something like that. It's the kind of thing my grandmother would say, except that she lives in California, so instead she laments about how downhill the place has gone (since she moved here from Chicago) "all these immigrants started coming in," presumably excluding my maternal grandfather but who knows, she probably means him too.

In other news: go DC go!

Moi said...

That OWW is an idiot.

Btw, I'm really diggin' how you handled her. It was very "F@%$ you", if I say so myself.

Jennifer said...

macon d,
I think you're right--I pushed her buttons--a BIG button and she lashed out at me. What strikes me as being particularly interesting in this context is how she did it. She came up to me, grabbed my arm (wasn't she told that she shouldn't touch people and should keep her hands to herself) and it wasn't a light grip and then she said what she said to me.

Earlier she had made a comment about there being no such thing as institutional racism--so I think I was clearly pushing her buttons in a lot of way, and what I wanted to say to her but didn't think was worth my time at the moment was that what she demonstrated by grabbing my arm and making that comment was that this was white privilege in action. I mean, in a million years I would never have done that to someone else, let alone thought it'd be OK for me as a younger woman of color to grab the arm and speak in a spiteful way to an older white woman. (sigh)

sara speaking

yes, California is the land of bleeding heart liberals and tons of brown people--and NYC is the mecca of immigrants and (gasp!) Jewish people (because honestly, and again I can't go into the details, every time she said people from NY I heard "You Jewish people").

But I'm glad I got you to chuckle and yes GO DC GO!

Moi,
I was raised to respect my elders but honestly, if you say stupid crap to me, what am I supposed to do? I think ignoring her was the best way to say FY!

Thanks everyone for stopping by and leaving a comment!

thelady said...

I can't believe she put her hands on you!

Jennifer said...

thelady,

Yes, the woman was crazy on many levels, and one way she clearly demonstrated her white privilege was in TOUCHING ME, which didn't feel warm and fuzzy but rather invasive and coercive since she GRABBED MY ARM and then kind of spat out her words at me. Incredible, I know, but again, I think she just felt, well entitled.