Category Archives: segregation

Here’s My Point

The weekend before last, my husband and I spent the evening upstate with our parents. My mom made Roti, a traditional West Indian dish for my husbands mom, my dad, my husband and me. My mom is from Trinidad, my dad from Savanah, Georgia and my husband parents are both from Haiti.

At the dinner table just listening to then talk, I discovered that both my mom and mom in law came to America in the June in the late 1960s. My dad made his first ever train trip to New York around the same time. He told me that his mom packed him a shoebox lunch because Blacks were not allowed to go the dining car. My father would not have been welcome in the dinner car of the train he paid the fare to travel on. But he said he was fine. His dinner was great. Chicken, pound cake, classic homemade Southern cooking. I may not be able to imagine a time when I could have been killed for drinking from the same fountain as a white person but my parents came up during the end of segregation and they all agreed that segregation was not the problem.

Life as I Know it says it best.

“When the subordinate culture integrates with the dominant culture the subordinate culture ALWAYS conforms to the dominant cultures ideals and values.”

In fact, in her post, she highlights my point, unpopular though it may be, perfectly.

Is race a quality?

I’m still not sure how to answer that question although I told Abbey I thought it was. I think I was trying to draw a definite line in the sand to ensure she would never cross it to try and occupy a space in my life she could never even begin to understand.

If race is a quality than it is systematic racism as implemented by the White race, which has made it so because it ascribes the worst of qualities to anyone with Black or Brown skin and the best to those who identify as White. But since all of those ascriptions are obviously lies, the truth keeps bringing White people back around to the same tactics. Slavery, Segregation, genocide profiling, incarceration.

It’s not my fault that Abbey and I would never be close friends but the fault of those who, like her, identify as White and never question the reason for their privilege, yet want to play hopscotch around the boundaries of race like it’s an amusement park.

Integration should create beneficial change, uplift and opportunity for all involved, not only the dominant culture. Integration was never integration. It is assimilation, homogenization, appropriation by the dominant culture.

Lies.

My favorite definition of integration in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary referes to organisms:

b : the process by which the different parts of an organism are made a functional and structural whole.

I believe that human beings can be classified as very complex organisms with boundless untapped potential. But as long as I’ve been alive I’ve have rarely ever experienced the kind of integration described above in the ways in which is was allegedly meant to function. Would we even be able to recognize the true definition of integration among the races in action if we saw it?

Sometimes I worry we’ve become too comfortable with the lies or worse, that those who suffer predominantly at the hands of these lies don’t even understand that they are lies.

And I didn’t come here to lie to you.

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When we think of Segregation

TD_College_BlackSorority3_1

So this morning I googled the word segregation and of course the first few links that came up were around racial segregation in America.  Jim Crow, Brown VS Board of Ed, a story about a return to segregated schools in America on PBS.org.  In fact when we think about segregation, racial segregation as originally instituted by racist whites in America is the first thing that comes to mind. At least it does to mine.  I’m not even going to insult your intelligence by asking if you know the answer to the question I asked yesterday. We’re all smart people here. There is only one group of people who benefit from segregation and racism both at the time it was implemented and to this very day.  Let’s just get to my point and talk about how segregated experiences work right now and how it could have worked then. And when I say work, I mean succeeded. What you have to keep in mind though, is that in so many ways, the sickness and self-hating psychology of white racism which is essentially racism itself, the same way that segregation is essentially defined as racial is such that any attempt to organize separate services, resources, job opportunities, education and cultural institutes more based on the needs of people of color which are vastly difference from those of us who identify as white is always classified by whites as “reverse racism.”

Let me be clear on my position here.

REVERSE RACISM DOES NOT EXIST

BLACK PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE THE POWER TO BE RACIST

Bard College, circa 1990s. I was a part of the Black Bard Student Organization there and friends with the Vice President of the organization. I’ll call him Malcolm which was incidentally the name of the president of the organization. I was also friends with a Jewish girl who was incessantly clingy with me because she thought my “Blackness” was so cool. I have to say that she didn’t know from “Blackness” if I was her example. The Black people I hung out with had no love for her or any of the other white people I hung out with.  Because of my upbringing, I’ve always had crossover appeal but I never tried to get my Black friend and white friends in a Kumbaya circle because I knew that shit was just not realistic. That is what College Campus student organizations are for. That’s why Black colleges, Fraternities and Sororities exist.

You cannot take a person of color who has been in the “minority” all their lives and who has been taught the history of White America, and if they are lucky some post Slavery Black history, is flooded with media which posits that the only standard of beauty, femininity, intelligence, masculinity, self-worth and love is represented ideally by white faces and throw them together with White people and think everything is going to be lovely. People of color continue to be lied to and kept from the truth about the richness, wealth, brilliance and beauty of their vast culture. White racism has made that a certainty.  The sad truth we all know is that there is very little in American Culture that is actually American. The majority of it was stolen. But back to Bard College and BBSO.

So my Black obsessed Jewish friend doesn’t understand why she can’t be a part of the Black Bard Student Organization and I have to say she was not the only White person who felt this way. There were several other white students who thought their saggy pants, backwards baseball caps and appropriated slang and socialization with people of color (some for the first time ever) should give them access to this world because they weren’t “White like that.” But according to “Dear White People”  Whites already have a club. It’s called Mass Media.  But I wasn’t so racially minded in those days. I actually never did think so much about race until I was at Bard College and a minority in a school for the first time in my life.  Even then I was more of a “we are all human first” kind of gal.

That was my first mistake.

Lessons in Non-Equality and Why Segregation Often Works: Part 2

-Colored-_drinking_fountain_from_mid-20th_century_with_african-american_drinking

Merriam Webster gives the following definitions for the words Equity and Equality

Equity:

1:fairness or justice in the way people are treated.

Equality:

1:the quality or state of being equal

I do wish that Merriam Webster would go into detail about exactly how the state of being equal is defined but since it doesn’t I will venture to come up with my own definitions of equality as I have come to understand them.

I believe that in nature, no two things are ever created equally. I believe there are scientific studies which have posited this opinion. To me it makes sense. Not even identical twins are actually the same in all ways. They can look the same in appearance right down to their DNA strands but they are still not equal. They’re not the same person. Twins are two different people but they need the same things as any other human being in order to survive and thrive. Family, friends, community, education, spiritual guidance, opportunity, livable wages, etc.

The sexes no matter how it is you understand the construct of gender are not equal. Men and women are different and no amount of masterful renditions and reiterations of the song “Anything I can do” can change that fact. Men and women are not the same and if we were, what would be the point of our evolution and development? How would we serve one another or learn about who we are? In order to be in relationship or learn from relationships, we have to have something or someone outside of ourselves to relate with. Differences are necessary to that end; differences in species of plants, animals, atoms, stars. We are all made up of a unique combination of similar concentrations of energy. Differences are necessary in my opinion because ultimately they can be used to discover and reveal similarities and the benefits of balancing both as a way of navigating life harmoniously without a system of evaluation which quantifies or categorizes one experience as being worse or better than another.

Tulips don’t wish to be dandelions. Fish don’t wish to be horse. They are what they are and they stay the course. They know what environment, what food sources and what systems of regeneration, socialization and development serve them best. But that is nature, not humanity. Humanity is the branch of nature blessed with free will.

I’m going to make a huge leap here.

Racism

: poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race

: the belief that some races of people are better than others

:  a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

Now who would go and create something like racism? Who would actually think to create, institute and perpetuate a system which says that one form of life based on the concentration of pigment should be treated inhumanely, beaten , tortured, raped, lynched, castrated, bought, sold, mentally and emotionally traumatized, stereotyped, stigmatized, followed around in public suspiciously, incarcerated for life in massive numbers with no hope for rehabilitation, treated like animals in the country his ancestors built, laid the foundation for, died for, bleed for? Who would do that? Who would create a system of laws which segregates one form of life based on a color, not so that they can create and build a community for the education, socialization and spiritual, cultural re-connection that is necessary for any life form which is uprooted, stolen, bred for slaves, torn apart and had its family structure obliterated but simply to say, “we brought you here against your will to serve us but you do not deserve to be given what you need to survive.”

Who the fuck does some fucked up, sick, dysfunctional, barbaric, unnatural shit like that? In other words who created a system of horrific inequity among those within it’s own species that are equal in biological category?

Still with me?

Next: When We Think of Segregation

Lessons in Non-equality and Why Segregation Often Works: Part 1

Earth Life

Have I lost you already?

Well if not just bear with me. It’s going to take me a few entries to work up to my point here (and I do have one) and when discussing touchy subjects like segregation and “equality I’m a fan of starting out with relatively simple examples that are easy to grasp and that most of us would agree are typically universal truths.

Let’s start with life forms and eco systems. Most of us can agree that different life forms, plants, animals, trees, reptiles, insects require different sources of energy and environmental sustenance to survive and thrive. Right? There are some plants and animals that have been imported and breed in non-native regions so we also know it’s possible to see life which had its genesis in one region, say South America growing and thriving in another region of America.

When you visit most any major Botanical Garden in America you will see the hot climate desert plants in the greenhouse where the environment is kept arid and moist. Domestic Cacti plants are perhaps the easiest plants to take care of because they need very little water. You over water a cactus and you could kill it. On the opposite spectrum are those plants that have very specific needs. It may not be enough to just water them every day or twice a day and leave them in the sun. The Phalaenopsis Orchid is such a life form. It’s rumored to be the easiest orchid to care for but you do have to pay considerably more attention to caring for it than you would a small domesticated cactus plant.

Now let’s consider a root vegetable like the Beetroot. Root vegetables rely very heavily on nutrients that come from the earth so it can be naturally assumed that the soil they live in is treated differently than the soil in which Orchids and Cacti or generally grown.

Years ago, when I lived with my family in the Bronx, we had a nice sized plot of earth in the back yard in which we planted tomatoes and peppers and squash among other things. And I remember that because we did not plant the squash far enough away their long tangled vines choked out a lot of the tomatoes we had planted. We weren’t experts and hadn’t anticipated it. Squash needs a lot of space. Certain varieties have vines with fine and curly creeping tendrils. It’s not like they mean to suffocate other plants. It’s just the nature of the way they grow.

Now, those examples being given, can we agree that Orchids, Cacti and Beetroots are not equal? Yes, they are all plant life forms, but they require very different nutrients, amounts of light, water and food to survive.  I’m certain that any skilled botanist and or farmer would not advise planting cacti, orchids and Beetroot side by side either. But! They could probably survive under the same roof.

Okay, I’m going to give you the rest of the day to let all this sink in and then return tomorrow with part two.

You might be thinking: Is this chick really going to compare people to plant life?

Maybe…Stop jumping ahead!