Know Thyself

If you have ever read this blog at all, you can tell immediately that I am not a political or social commentator. This is not one of those clever blogs that calls people on their baloney or points out inconsistencies in news media coverage. Truth be told, I don’t think that much. Not all the time, anyway.  It’s not because I don’t CARE about the rest of humanity and the nonsense they have to endure, but because I am a small scale thinker. I do not worry much about what injustices are being visited upon a demographic on a small Philipino island, or the pollution being caused by rampant industry in China. I can’t. If I worried about Every Evil Thing everywhere (or even in California)…I’d blow a fuse.

Like I said, I am a small scale thinker. Concerns don’t stretch much beyond my immediate community- the place where I can have the most influence.

Sometimes, tho, something will capture my attention and make me go WOAH.

A little while ago I read a book called Elephant Girl. That was a WOAH event. It caused thinking about stuff in a whole different way.  Read the write-up about it. Having been raised in a solidly middle class white relatively well put together family, the story (autobiography) caused a shift in my thinking about people who don’t “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”- an ethic I was raised with, and I was also taught to feel contempt for people like that (the ones who didn’t pull themselves up).  The book changed my thinking significantly.

Last weekend we watched the movie “Red Tails”, about the Tuskegee Airmen of World War 2. Now, I’d known the historical data of the TA, read a few books, etc. The movie, however, especially the opening sentence (that I cannot remember exactly, so I am paraphrasing) that said something like “Colored people are mentally inferior thus incapable of serving effectively in the armed forces” that came directly from the 1925 War College manual.  At the opening of the movie I saw that and though “what? Oh, it was 1925.”  Then the movie very effectively shows the frustrations that the TA had with being consistently underestimated and undervalued, and I felt very frustrated *for* them.  I also came to understand WHY this entire demographic has a systemic mistrust of whites and an apparent undervaluing of themselves…I mean, why try when no one will accept them as equals anyway. And, also…who WOULDN’T be angry at a societal and cultural acceptance of this assumption of inferiority, especially when they know in their own hearts that it is patently false?  Then, because this is how I roll (small scale), I thought about the Blacks (African-Americans? I never know exactly what to say there) that I know personally- all intelligent, well educated people with a solid work ethic who…due to physical characteristics like hair type and skin pigmentation, have to work harder for the same recognition…that’s nuts, people.

Ok…there is this one line in Red Tails that made me laugh.  The TA pilots have just been recognized as excellent escorts for the bombers (flown by whites). Until then, they were refused entrance into the Officer’s Club, but now they are invited in and accepted. They are all standing around having drinks. One of the TA pilots said to a bomber pilot,”Ok. When you get mad, you turn red. When you’re sick or jealous you turn green. When you’re scared you turn yellow. And you have the nerve to call US colored!”

And honestly…humanity has issues, no matter what the ethnicity or upbringing or culture.  White folks can look back at the 1940’s and ’50’s with this nostalgic fondness for housewives and pot roasts and The Good Old Days, while black folks look back and see separate lines and no choice in elected officials and extremely limited choices in careers and the constant systemic oppression…not exactly nostalgia inducing, y’know. It’s no small wonder the people who gave them hope are revered.

I also honestly believe that it is something that, unless you have actually lived it, you can only marginally understand it.

And another thing…Jesus Christ (my favorite!!) , (I know, we don’t have photos, but somewhere in there it says he looked like “an ordinary man”) probably looked much more like a black man than a white one.  There weren’t that many fine featured blue eyed men with light brown hair in Galilee, back in the day.  Time to get over it, White People.

 

 

 

 

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About rootietoot

I do what I can.
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7 Responses to Know Thyself

  1. Bella Rum says:

    I get overwhelmed with so much information. It’s too much and it’s literally paralyzing. I think we can make a difference locally, or even choose one cause that may go beyond our own region. But trying to think about all of it hurts my head and heart.

    I sometimes think about that “pulling yourself up by you bootstrap” philosophy. I was raised with that attitude, too. I understand it, but I also think about opportunity. It’s a lot easier to pull yourself up by your bootstrap if you have access to opportunity, education, nutrition, water, shelter, etc. I also think about how random life is and how much access to opportunity depends on fickle events like where you’re born and when you’re born and who your parents are and what color your skin is.

  2. xena says:

    As a nonXtian, inspirational stories like this one are about the closest thing I have to a bible. This is one of my alltime favourites:

    http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Literature/Douglass/Autobiography/

    I read it when ever I’m feeling morose and hopeless, just to remind myself that people overcome far worse obstacles. By comparison, I don’t really have much of an excuse to complain.

    I’ll check out Elephant Girl and Red Tails. They may end up on my list of faves, too.

    • rootietoot says:

      Oh I love inspirational biographies like that- not just religiously inclined ones, but any sort of someone overcoming extreme circumstances.
      I also like Stephen King novels, because those people really have it worse than anyone.

  3. xena says:

    It’s tough to actually do something about such a huge problem, tho. The best I can do as an individual is to treat everybody I meet with the highest level of human courtesy I can manage, even if that means some crazy racist will (or has–believe me, one already has) point a gun at my head for my troubles.

    We can still make a difference in people’s lives by treating them like the human beings they are, one person at a time, whether anybody else does, or not. For every callous and prejudiced person I’ve met, I can recall at least one random stranger who showed me unusual kindness after the fact. People remember kind strangers for longer than they remember hatemongerers. Kindness and courtesy will often change a person’s worldview for life.

  4. Have the T-shirt says:

    I download EG to my Kindle and will read it as soon as my friend returns my Kindle!

    Great post!

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