Tag Archives: equality

When we Think of Segregation Part 2

So at some point I was hanging out in the Stevenson Library at Bard College with my White Jewish friend, I’ll call her Abbey, who loved the way I used Ebonic vernacular and was very excited about playing RUN-DMC for me in her car. She convinced me to ask the vice president of the BBSO if she could join and in my ignorant, “We are the World”, “Hands Across America” glow I floated off to another floor where he was sitting at his Senior desk doing important Senior work.  I consider myself very lucky that he didn’t curse me out because he would have had every right to. When I look back on it now, I realize that he was very patient with me when he said in so many words and in no uncertain terms that there was no way he would accept my friend into BBSO.  He was very unwavering in his ideas about race relations, at least with regards to racism on the Bard College Campus. He was always butting heads with white Dorm monitors and seeking out all the events that supported people of color on campus. He was a proactive organizer when it came to supporting these events and I really admired him for it.

Me. I had other things on my mind and couldn’t see that I was a Black girl in a microcosmic, hippified utopia. I would not have even understood what that meant. I did know that sought to connect with any Black or Brown face I saw not that I was in the “minority.” I had fled what I felt was oppression from my own people in High School  for not being “Black” enough and ran right into a situation where I was often the first Black person that many white students had ever met. It was culture shock for sure. But nothing was more unsettling than the conversation I had with Abbey one day, also at the Stevenson Library where she asked me to compare my friendship with her to the close friendship I had with my Black High School BFF, Janet.

I talked about Janet a lot as was normal for many of us to do about close friends at home, particularly when feeling homesick and longing for something or someone familiar to relate to. Janet and I share a very tight bond to this day and until this talk with Abbey, I had never thought of the part race might play in it. I mean I knew we were both Black but I I never thought of myself as someone who formed relationships based on race. Oh I was in a bubble.

“Do you think that you and I could ever be as close as you and Janet?” Abbey asked.

First of all, I was very wary of the fact that she was even asking the question. I registered this as a sign of very low confidence on her end and I found it unattractive. I told her that that she and Janet were two different people and that there was no way I could be close to both of them in the same ways. This is when Abbey started to get emotional. She started crying. UGH! What was happening?

“Do you think of being Black as a quality?” She asked

What? Who asks a question like that? I was stumped. I had never thought about it. And whenever I think back to that conversation, I realize what an important question it is despite the fact that she was baiting me indirectly. Is race a quality?

In that moment of pause I was aware of a couple of things. I would never be as close to Abbey as she wanted me to be because although I wasn’t sure if I thought Blackness was a quality, it was quite obvious that she did. And I couldn’t be close to anyone who tokenized my race unconsciously or otherwise. She also engaged with her body (She was a plus size girl who was not happy about it) in a negative way and was uncomfortably envious of my stick thin physique at the time so nothing about this relationship was promising to me as having potential for deeper bonding. It all turned me off.

“Yes,” I said. “I think race is a quality.

Tears. Audible sobbing, gushing tears. In the library,

UGH! What the hell man?

Advertisements

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