Isms, White Privilege, & 1st World Problems

I recognize that I am happy to know that my white privilege keeps me, even in poverty, better off than others. I am so very glad that the bad things that have happened to me in my world have never been as bad as living in the Congo or other places dealing with genocide, female genital mutilation, child soldiers, daily air bombings like Syria, night raids when your family is taken away and women and children raped, or even in the American South where a black person gets gunned down simply for the color of their skin or anywhere in the USA Native American women go missing at high rates and it seems no one gives a damn.

Across the world women are still stoned for having healing skills or when THEY are the victims of rape and it’s said THEY bring shame to their family because of it. No, wait. That still happens right here in the US. So, too, do child marriages, it’s lawful to rape your wife in most states, and the police state in the US is being granted more and more leeway and freedom every day – including the right to beat and rape prisoners. That’s right. In most states it is lawful to rape a prisoner. That is, we know rape is illegal; however there is no law against NOT raping a prisoner.

Why write about it all? Why me? Simply because I AM white. People of color experience atrocities at profoundly high rates. It’s sickeningly ridiculous. What do we do? We continuously keep telling them to “get over it.” “Rwanda is history, slavery is history, the Indian schools is history, it’s all history, blah blah blah…” but it’s not history to their living parents, grandparents, and for some of them – living it now. We are living in times where icky “isms” of the past are coming alive again at raging rates worldwide. When those “old times” are starting to happen all over again how do we tell them to “get over it?”

That purely is white privilege speaking when telling them to get over it. Do these things not happen to white people? Of course they do, but that’s not the point. We know they happen to people of color at proportionately much higher rates. That is the point. They bring up “people conquer other peoples, that’s what history is about. The conquered people assimilate and you get over it.” Tell that to Ireland and Scotland, who are still fighting to be free countries and people who are still learning their old ancient languages. The same goes for Native tribes all over North and South America, Africa, Asia, and well virtually everywhere you find Native Tribes. I don’t think any place ever completely assimilates. The old hangs on.

The thing is, the old, they don’t have a voice. They are our memories. What happens is, many don’t want to let those memories go; memories of place, culture, peoples, and time. Whether or not those memories are good ones or not don’t matter to those who are doing the remembering. Some are remembering bad times and want revenge or justice. Some are remembering their culture and language and want to share. It is the children who grow up hearing the memories who are caught. Caught between hearing what actually was, and what is embellished upon by the rememberers, the children can also grow up with scars from the past.

When any person is asked where they are from they usually say a place. How many people answer, “I came from my loving parents,” or “I came from adoptive parents who took me in because my birth parents were killed in horrible…” due to whatever holy war or government war or war for oil or against slavery, etc, happened. How many people answer that they come from, and then go on to describe their culture instead of either a person or a place?

In the United States we don’t really have one culture to define us, unlike most countries. We have regions of culture. Each town or city may even have different areas or spots of culture. Is that good or bad? I think it is very good, yet now there are many who think the opposite. As a child growing up in the 1970’s I remember learning that the US was a “melting pot” and we were supposed to think of that as a good thing. That was supposed to be the American “culture.” The “American Dream” was supposed to be that everyone was to look forward to each generation living a bit better than the last. Yet another aspect of American culture. However, what that symbolic idealistic culture was hiding was the fact that our dreams were hiding behind white faces on the TV telling us about all this melting pot. The actual melting pot wasn’t actually meant to be seen or heard.

Governments lie, people are treated like shit. We know this. Viet Nam happened, Kennedy was killed, Martin Luther King was Killed, The 60’s tried to rebel and help and we go some new laws and thought the isms would start to die. The 70’s got lax and we celebrated the love we thought the 60’s had won – OK I’ll give ’em credit for protests. We started to go back and forth between Republican and Democrat parties defining themselves in new and profoundly worse ways every presidential election. Everyone in the parties getting farther and farther apart, separating our country. Our political parties have pushed so far apart until they are unrecognizable today and our government doesn’t recognize our people or the rights fought for back in those days.

Atrocities have happened here in the US. Yes We do horrible things to each other every day in the name of our politics, religion, beliefs, etc. We have terrible murderers, mass shootings, rapists, hell we even have ass-hats who think it’s OK to run people over with their cars simply because they are protesting something. Our near-past is full of lynching people for being black or gay, going to your house or place of worship to shoot you because you aren’t the same faith, and priests and rich college boys going free for rape. Our daily newspapers are full of horrendous and unspeakably gory crimes, yet if they are done by white people they get a lesser sentence and if they are done by a person of color – or heaven forbid – a person fleeing through our southern border, they suddenly are taking over our electronic devices and our lives.

Put it all into perspective though, would you? White people, please. Do any of the daily horrible things that you read or hear about actually affect you personally most of the time? Is your brother, sister, son, daughter, etc being  lynched or shot or followed through a store due to the color of their skin? Is your house or car fire-bombed or have a brick thrown through a window because you are gay, black, or called a witch? Yes? Ah, but how often? Now, if you were a person of color, these things would be happening to you multiple times over.

Now Americans as a whole should put it into modern perspective, too. Have we had the number of terrorist bombings here that France or other countries have had? Have we had to live through anything like a Rwandan genocide? I’m talking to white people here, because yes, our Native American brothers and sisters sure as hell have. Yes, the Indian Schools were still functioning in this last century. That’s not history. That’s modern. How about the barbarous actions in Syria? I am begging white Americans to stop whining about the trifles in their first world lives. Yes, even poor white Americans. Especially poor white Americans who keep voting for the Republicans who keep them poor. (Oops, my bad. That’s another post.)

There surely, honestly can’t be any white poor American who thinks they are worse off than a poor black person in Africa? A person living in the Syrian war? Anyone living in a cartel-ridden country in South America? If they do, then shame on them. Even if you live in a shack without running water in the South in America you can still find water to drink MOST of the time and you DO have that shack. Shit, I’m being one harsh bitch, right? I’m not stupid. I KNOW there is real abject poverty here in the USA that could be done away with if the richest 3 families in the US didn’t earn more than the bottom 50% of Americans. However, I also know that those poor families are not being bombed every day. They don’t have militia or cartels coming to their homes any time of day taking their food, or even worse, taking their family members away or raping them and then taking them or just killing them for fun.

I am part of poor America. I live below the poverty line. I am grateful that I am not being bombed, yet. With 45 in office, it’s an iffy subject. I have friends who don’t have running cars and sometimes go without running water or functioning heat. I also went to college and have a degree and a professional license. However, I became disabled and living on Social Security is not a living wage. Medicare is not a functioning health care insurance for my needs. I scrimp and save and go to food shelves.

I am so glad I don’t live in a war-torn country or anywhere else where crimes against humanity happen on a daily basis. Oh, I have to stop and laugh. I forgot who our current leader is for a moment. Sorry. No. Really. I AM happy to live here. We have SO many freedoms. I will fight tooth and nail to keep what so many in our country are trying to take away right now from so many in our beloved melting pot. I know it is my white privilege that allows me to live so freely in the US without fear. Having been a foster parent to several children of color I’ve seen the looks from the white folks. I’ve watched the managers of grocery stores follow my teen foster son for no reason. I’ve dealt with the school leaders giving harsher discipline to mine than others. There are different types and levels of fear.

I thought I knew fear. I know rape. I’ve seen the desire of a man to need to make his fist connect with my flesh, yet I held his eyes with mine in the moment of the dare and won. He may have had my body, but not the rest of my flesh. He had his moment. I wouldn’t give him more. I was able to fight back. That was but a moment in time. No, I don’t trivialize rape.  There is so much pain happening to so many people at any given moment. There are too many of the people willing to “walk on” through their days and do nothing. My white privilege allows me to get therapy and keep walking.  Can you all look into your soul and like what you see looking back? Have you looked at your isms and shaken them enough to know that you have them? Have you faced them? Do all the white people who are whining about their 1st world problems realize they are fearing what they fear in themselves?

Right now I fear I’ve rambled all over the place in this post.

Don’t Ask Me how I Am

 People don’t really want to know how you are when they see you and say, “Hi, how are you?” It is just a greeting. They really don’t want an answer. Not an honest one anyway. They don’t want to know how you are really feeling, or how your day has been. It is supposed to be met with another, “Hi, I’m fine. How are you?” Whether you are really fine or not. I must be very weird, because this has always bothered me. I never know how to answer. I can not just say the required, “fine.” In fact, I seethingly hate the greeting all together!

It requires a lie as an answer! No one is “fine” every day of the frickin’ year! I have a problem with lying. I just can’t do it, so I can not answer this greeting. I might reply, “Oh, Hi. How are you and ?’ and simply skip an answer altogether or just say, “the usual.” Let them guess. I try to not use the greeting when I run into friends I see.

I might ask “how is your day treating you so far today?” The difference is though, I actually mean it, and I do want you to answer. I like to take the time to know how my friends are doing, even if their answer might be negative or sad. Here in the U.S. of A. we are always in so much of a rush. “How are you,” is supposed to be used as a quickie greeting with a quick response so we can make a quick getaway. We could learn something from our Anishanabe neighbors about  slowing down a bit to find out how our friends and family are really doing, honestly really doing. Taking the time to stand on the street when we see them and really mean it when we say, “Hi, how are you today?”

I guess I also learned that from having a foreign exchange student in my home. Europeans take a lot of time around meal times to talk to each other and really check in with each other about how they’re doing, what’s going on in their lives. When they see a friend or family on the street it’s like a reunion! Hugs and kisses, then lots of talking, and then more hugs and kisses, even if they saw each other only days ago! I really miss Eleonore. We had a lot of great talks.

Well, when you see me at the mall, please, I’m not being angry or bitchy or rude when I don’t answer your, “how are you” as you quickly say “hi” as you continue to walk past, I just know you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to chat. I’ll smile and nod, but I am “the usual.”

My 2 cents on the state shutdown

No one wants to know, but here it is anyway, an opinion from someone who lives below the poverty line. My fixed income is $1,195.00 per month. I think it is rare to find someone these days who can live within their means. Yup, that’s only $14,340 a year folks, so I am tired of listening to those who who are middle class, get medical benefits and other stuff like 401K’s, have saving’s accounts and retirement accounts, and have accounts funds put away for their kid’s college funds.

Whine, whine, whine: “I can’t pay my bills since this shut down. My vacation to the state park was cancelled. I had to go fishing from a different place! Jeeze, my boat’s just sitting there waiting to be used.” Oh waaah! Boo hoo. If you’re making $40,000 on up and you don’t make contingency plans for emergencies that happen in life, then you deserve to not be able to pay your bills for a month or two.

It’s called planning ahead people. Budgeting. Us poor folk do it daily. Hour by hour sometimes. You need to learn how to handle money. Take a financial class or two. Everyone should always have at least a month worth’s of a cushion of dough in savings racked up, for emergencies, to pay the bills. But noooo, these days the middle class has boats, 4 wheelers, motorcycles, jet skiis, more than one vehicle in the driveway, more than 2 video game systems, at least 2 computers, at least 3 TV’s, THE most expensive cell phones, lawns that an airplane could land on if in the country, or huge houses in the city with 3 bathrooms, shop at expensive shops and stores and buy name-brand items and own CD’s, DVD’s, MP3’s and all the right gadgets.

Umm, people in poverty don’t. We shop at GoodWill and yard-sales for your stuff that you throw away. We go to the food shelf and try to smile while we feel embarrassed. We WISH we could shop at Harmony Co-Op for healthy non-processed food while we go to Walmart. My car’s brakes don’t work. I have no savings, no retirement or college funds. We go to a movie, out for fast food, or out anywhere maybe once every two months or so. Don’t own any boats or such toys, and my cell phone is a TracFone. I put a computer and an Xbox on a credit card because that is our entertainment, and it will take me until I’m in a nursing home to pay it off.

I worry every damn day about what my kid thinks of me and why we’re poor. He knows Mom is disabled and in pain due to our rare disease. He hates the disease and he’s in pain, too. I hate it when others see us in their clothes, or when they ask us to join them at “wherever” and we can’t go because it’s too expensive. I smile and keep my chin up for the sake of my son. I keep my home nice and I don’t “look” poor. I have a college degree and I don’t “sound” poor. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told, that poor has a sound. Well, guess I’ve hidden it well.

So, the GOP can take all their cuts to the budget and go to hell. I need all the help I can get and it’s not my fault I was born this way, with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or that a man ran a red light and further disabled my body. I certainly am a discriminating little shit aren’t I? I discriminate against people with money. Especially those who don’t know how to use it correctly.

So, in any election I will vote for anyone who will be for making taxes fair and make the rich pay more. They are greedy and many are needy because of no fault of their own.

Spending Time Wisely

Time to think. I had some recently. Maybe that wasn’t such a good thing, in retrospect.

I came up with a few thoughts that disturb me. As I sat, actually relaxing for a change, at an SCA event (that’s the Society for Creative Anachronism for you Mundanes) I realized that I spent money to attend a camping event to sit around a campfire and watch rogues and wenches get sloppy drunk. OK, so I enjoy this stuff. It’s what I do in my oh so much spare time. Ha ha, that was a joke. Get it? All the spare time we all have?

Anyway, in the morning, as I watched a guy walk by in his undies, to the actual set up we had of an outdoor hot shower they’d rigged up, I realized SCA folks spend a LOT of good money on these events. I felt guilty. Now, while I am certainly not one of the richest SCA members, possibly I number among the poorest for sure, how do I condone spending ANY of my money on this game? This hobby? For Pete’s sake I have a good friend who doesn’t even have a usable sewer system in her own home in the Real World! She can’t use her own Biffy or take a cold shower and here we are bragging about our hot shower system at a hobby event we do in our spare time!

I felt ashamed.

I spent $100 to purchase linoleum that was on clearance. Believe me, I reallllllly needed it. When I pulled up my living room carpet, oh boy was it disgusting! But cruising through pieces of used wood to try to find anything that would work to create an outhouse for my friend, I mean ANYTHING, THE definition of recycling here, again I felt ashamed for having purchased new flooring.

I’ve been spending my time going back and forth between my friend’s house to help her build things out of recycled things, and my house pulling up floor staples and sanding the subfloor. I am not even supposed to be doing these physical things. If social security disability found out I was doing these physical activities they would take away my disability. BUT these things need done and there’s no one to help.

Yup. I said it out loud. NO ONE to help. It is two physically and medically disabled women doing the jobs of several men, albeit over the span of several weeks/months at times, to get things done.  We do ask for help. Do we get it? Obviously not. So we help each other. We do what needs done. We rest when we can and take pain medication. We cry in our pain and cry in our thankfulness for each other. I mean geeze, the woman NEEDS her sewer lines snaked or something done, ANYTHING, so she can use her sinks, shower, and toilet but no one will go out there and help her. WE live in poverty, she and I, but neither our family or others are willing to help us for free. No one wants to donate their time anymore.

Spending time wisely, to me, means helping friends and family any time any place any where for any reason. For free. Not for a favor in return, or an IOU, or out of guilt, but just because it’s what you should do.

There’s some websites about selling items for less than new prices, some freecycle site, bartering sites, and stuff like that.  Many folks don’t seem to understand the concept. Just don’t get it. Bartering means trading for something you want with something you already have, but folks on the site are going out to purchase baking items or gift cards to barter for items they want. They don’t get it. People are putting items on these sites that are used yet they want exorbitant priced barters in return, for example a used $20 baby stroller would sell at a yard sale for maybe $4 but on the barter site wanted to barter for their car washed and cleaned and vacuumed on the inside. Ah, that costs from $50 to $100 or more at a detail shop plus uses water that increases your city water bill and uses electricity increasing that bill. I offered my skills, my time, I got no replies. I offered to cook, bake, baby sit, pull weeds. I got nothin’.

Apparently my time is worthless to the vast majority.

Alas, I will just go about my days offering to spend my time wisely to those who deem my time worthy.

How to Live Frugally

I caught site of an article on MSN today about how to survive/live on ONLY $40,000 a year!

I laughed. Blinked a few times. Had a moment of anger. Then I remembered the rest of the nation really believes most people think $40,000 is poor.

So, I thought about it. I wondered how many people the article thought were supposed to live on that for a year. Was it supposed to be for a single person? If so, that person had better be living like a freakin’ king/queen!  If it was supposed to be for a married couple with that being the sole income, still they should be living well. A small apartment or home with a small mortgage would work. Even if two cars were needed they shouldn’t NEED anything expensive. Two people wouldn’t use a lot of utilities, so there should be a lot left over for food and necessities. Now, IF that $40,000 was for a family with children that would be pushing it, since kids can suck up money, but still, with a good food plan and payment schedules this family would still be able to order out take-out and go to movies and have a social life and be involved in school activities and in the community. It’s all about budgeting and not buying what you don’t need.

Of course I’m talking from a skewed point of view since my son and I live on an annual income of around $14,000 a year.

We get McDonald’s once every few months or so. We go to an actual movie theater maybe 2 or 3 times a year, maybe. We don’t have cable TV. We don’t have a real cell phone. We have TracFones, and they don’t have cameras. I try not to drive unless I have to, so I only need to fill the gas tank once every 2 weeks. I buy generic clothes and food and items on sale. I think I could tell those people who can’t live on $40,000/year how to do it.

It just really bothered me that there even exists an article, a how-to, about how to live on that much money. If they can’t live on it, I’ll take it!

Does it do any good?

Stood at another protest today. Protesting Wall Street and how money seems to be running the country instead of people. Protesting how money runs health programs and who gets medical treatment and how, when, and where and IF you can get medical insurance or not. Protesting how corporations are running politics instead of politicians doing what the people who voted for them wanted them to do. Protesting how even money runs churches and religion instead of how your spirituality is supposed to be within you and from you. Protesting how the wealthy few % of this country are running the country while the rest can’t afford health care, education, or even food.

As I stood there though, I did too much thinking. Isn’t that an oxymoron of some sort? Is it possible to do too much thinking? While standing next to a man with a protest sign that reads: Think.

And I did a lot of listening. I listened to the wizened voices of those around me who have been to protests before, years and years of protests. The new-age college-comers who want to be heard and have the enthusiasm of the young, and the hardened hippies that have been fighting the freedom call from money’s persecution adding lines around their eyes. Anger, lots of anger, but many ideas too. Lessons to be remembered from history that our current politicians and bankers seem to have forgotten.

Is it, are we, really headed toward some sort of national rebellion or uprising on the levels of the Russian or French Revolutions? Is that what it’s really going to take for our leaders to sit up and listen? Will the bankers and corporations ever back down? Power is the root of evil they say, and money is power. They won’t give it up willingly. Wall Street is paved with power and  money. Wall Street runs this country, not the White House or Congress. Anyone who thinks it’s only Republicans who enjoy that power is an idiot. A politician is a politician. Sorry to my Dem. friends, but it takes money to back your bills. At least how things are currently being run.

Honestly, are any of YOU politicians and wealthy folks willing to give up your SUVs and 2 car garage homes? Don’t you know you really should be paying the same for health care and insurance that the rest of us do? Just because you are/were once a politician that does NOT give you the right to vote yourself the right to better or free ins. for life. You should NOT get to pay any less taxes either or have better schools just because you have money. But I know you won’t listen to me, cuz I’m not one of you. I haven’t been corrupted by that greed.

Standing on that corner today I saw the want of greed. Beltrami county is supposed to be one of the poorest counties in MN, but you can’t tell by looking at our cars. There are an awful lot of nice cars driving by. The “Joneses” must be debt deep in loans and credit to pay for all those nice cars, trucks, and SUVs going by, but we all “look” like we’re living pretty well if you go by what we’re driving. An awful lot of those folks were honking in solidarity with us, but they weren’t coming to the sidewalk to stand with us.

I don’t go out there to stand with friends like some club or social time. It’s not a time for me to say “oh hey look at me doing my thing!” I really believe in what I’m out there for and don’t want to be taken for some martyr standing in the cold wind. I just really wonder if it does any good at all. Does anyone see us out there and think about why we’re there? Do the bankers or politicians give a shit or are they laughing? I think one person can make a difference, then I think oh hell this is just Bemidji.

That’s not all I do though. I sign petitions. I make phone calls. I send emails. I write letters. I speak in person to politicians. Not just local and state political stuff, but federal, the White House and the President. I belong to many websites. I’m sure I’m on FBI watch lists. I don’t just talk, I walk my walk. I advocate. I DO. I AM. I don’t just have a liberal reputation. I have a character and morals that I live by.

I guess all that matters is how and what you do in the End.