Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How it feels

More Oregonian newspaper reactions, this time to an opinion piece published by a black woman living in Oregon and feeling alone and misunderstood. It was called 'What it feels like to be Black in Oregon".

Race is on my mind with Obama's race speech so recently given.

I was hoping that her words would give me some insight but instead they reminding me, yet again, that its all so particular and subject to the 'eyes of the beholder'.

It didn't help that the piece was all about feeling and not hung on specific details. However, I do admire the writer for giving voice to her reactions to us white Oregonians.

We white Oregonians have to be odd to watch. When I was growing up, Oregon had very few African Americans, I remember when my entirely white, and fairly upper-income, high school was integrated. The black kids that were bused to our school where very different then I was expecting. I was expecting white people with black skin. I though the only difference would be the skin color.

Well they were quite different at least in the superficial ways that high schoolers notice. They were poorer and tougher than we were. I can't say I connected with any of them and it was a shock. Now looking back, I can't imagine what a shock it must have been to them.

I am a little more sophisticated now. I live in a multicultural neighborhood and for a while I flirted with the idea that racism was basically over. I saw how common and matter of fact my kids were around people of other ethnic backgrounds. They didn't ignore race but it was no big deal. Racism is over, the kids will make it go away, I thought. Plus the sheer number of different races was diluting the intensity of Black and White interaction. It isn't all about that old history of slavery I thought.

But I had an epiphany at church brought on by a story from an older white woman. She stood up and told about getting on a bus in Washington DC during world war II and having the bus driver order some black kids off the bus. They wouldn't sit in the back.

It hit my liberal phantasy about the end of racism, pretty hard. This woman is still alive and she has this memory of active institutional racism. These stories are still in peoples heads, in their memories. Even the young ones have heard the stories. And unfortunately, they probably have a few of their own.

I do believe it is better. I do believe that the young ones are the way. But it isn't going away in a generation. Maybe not in two, three or four. Racism is real if you have seen it or your father or grandfather have felt it. Its not a paranoid fantasy of black people. It should not be treated as such.

Whiny Women

Guys aren't the only humans who don't like the whiny women.

Marie Cocco just had a column in the Oregonian that is a classic example of why you will sometimes find women running, screaming holding their ears when a full-on feminist starts to wind it up.

I am a feminist and proud of it, so my complaint is more about the style rather than the substance of Marie's argument.

Is there something to what Marie Cocco says -- that Hilary Clinton is being asked to be a 'good women' and bow out of the democratic race by the men of the party. There might be.

I wonder though if it does any good to point it out especially in that plaintive angry tone. The accusation is so far inside the territory of unconscious bias that one would have to be a scientist with a probe in your brain to know if the request was sincere or just a ploy. It certainly is an easy one to deny.

It also reminds me that any president is going to have to deal with more than a little gender bias. How about wrong headedness, veniality, psychopathology, hyperpartisanship and plain, old common-as-dirt-stupidity. He or she had better be ready for these and more. If she is not, if she is going to get all whiney about it -- I really don't want her to be my president --because she will be whining all of the time!

Being asked to be high-minded and step down for the good of the party is an almost charming, rather old fashioned, piece of bias. The very idea that women are better than men and more interested in the common welfare! Only in America is this an insult. Only in America are women eager to disprove it.

Seriously though, when should feminists complain? I think those idiots yelling 'clean my shirts' at her rally's are over the line and should be chucked out of any venue they attend. In a just world they would be cleaning her shirts.

I was offended when Hilary was accused of 'pimping' her daughter out because Chelsea was campaigning for her. I was glad that provoked outrage and backlash.

There are enough real instances of bias and prejudice that we don't need to drag out the maybe its bias arguement.