Monday, June 29, 2015

One Filmmaker's Point of View on Racism

Over the weekend I attended a movie entitled, “I’m not Racist ... Am I?” by Catherine Wigginton Greene.  

Here’s the summary that got me interested in seeing this movie: “What if this next generation could transcend racism? One year, 12 teens, on a remarkable journey to face racism and white privilege, and to have the conversations most of us are too afraid to have. Once they push through naivete, guilt and tears, what they learn may change us all.”

These teens did not face or openly discuss racism.  They were guided to discuss racism by proponents of unusual black Point Of View.  Basically, Ms. Greene extrapolates from the indisputable fact that the power system in the US favors white people. She explains, via a male spokesperson, that because all white people have benefited from this system, all white people are by definition racist.  And no colored people can be racist. If they are racially prejudiced, they are bigots, not racists.  

I see no value in redefining well-known vocabulary. In fact, I would say that one reason I was not allowed (by my African American city council person) to purchase city property in his district is that I am not African American.  In Philadelphia, the power structure benefits the non-whites.   

The movie also states that addressing a person of a different race or ethnic origin as an equal is wrong.  That all our interactions must take into account our differing ethnic heritages.  I, personally, see nothing wrong with having a business deal with somebody and not asking anything about their ethnic culture, but then again, I'm white, so I clearly "don't get it."

The moderator, who guided these teens’ discussions, also said, “if we get an image in our minds (such as skin color) when we hear the word "nigger" that whether or not we use that word, we are part of the problem.”  He also said we must NOT use the word "halfies" because that is insulting.   He had to explain that "halfies" means biracial.  I'd never heard the term before.

At the end of the movie, when the teens were allowed to say what they’d been thinking but that had not been discussed, what came out was more of a personality conflict between a white female and a couple of African American males.  I think these teens would have disliked each other if they were the same race.

During the year, the teens played games designed to show how the system helps white people.  The moderator read statements and if the teen felt it applied to him or her, s/he took a step forward. If not, s/he didn’t move.  One statement was “I see people of my race on television program presenting good examples.”  

As a white person, I don’t think most people on television, of any race, present good examples.  They all do things that hurt each other and society. They all argue about trivia.  Another statement was, “I can be accepted into a good school, and nobody will ask if I was helped by affirmative action.”  Just the phrasing singles out white students, who can’t get affirmative action.  The game was rigged.

At the end of the movie, the teens in the movie said they’d learned a lot.  But as a viewer, I didn’t see that they’d learned anything, or changed in any way, except perhaps that they had memorized the filmmaker’s point of view.

After the movie, many people in the audience talked about how moving it was.  I was not moved. The main point seemed to be that the movie maker thinks that talking about racism from her point of view is a good thing.  We’re all entitled to our opinions.  I just don’t see how her opinion is going to help improve race relations.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Repeating Conversations in My Head

I have a bad habit of repeating conversations in my head.  Or, sometimes, I use past conversations as a model for future conversations and play them in my head.  Either way, I’m having conversations with someone who isn’t there – which I freely admit is insane.

I have sat or walked or tried to go to sleep while these crazy conversations play in my head.  I know exactly how they will go before they finish, but I continue to play the whole thing, hating every second of it.  I didn’t know how to turn it off.

Poking around on the web, I stumbled into this site:

The author is a brit who talks about the “nutter” in my head.  That feels right – I know these conversations are crazy.  But it never occurred to me that the conversant was a subpersonality of sorts.  The next time one of these recordings started playing, I found my self thinking, “That’s just my nutter.”  It stopped!

It tried again in about half an hour.  And again, I thought, “That’s just my nutter.”  It stopped again.  It keep trying.  Different conversations – it must have stored up thousands.  Some are briefly interesting, but then I remember how they go.  That’s just my nutter. I don’t have to listen do this nonsense.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Trying to give stuff away - free

I’m reorganizing my house and giving away stuff I don’t need.

I had a comfy couch – not new, but certainly presentable.  Habitat for Humanity said they’d take it if it was on the 1st floor.  I hired some guys to move it to the 1st floor.  Then Habitat said they couldn’t get it for a month.  It was now occupying my living room, and I wanted it gone.  Habitat suggested I call Uhuru, which is a charitable furniture store.  Uhuru had me send them a photo. Then they had me fill out a questionnaire.  Then they said it wasn’t new enough for them.

I listed it on my neighborhood newsletter.  One man came over with his wife and said he’d bring a truck by the next day.  The next day came and went. I called him.  He no longer wanted it.  My husband listed it for $50 on Craig’s List.  It was gone in an hour.

I also had an old portable typewriter.  I have an emotional attachment to this toy.  I bought it with my first paycheck in 1965.  It took my entire paycheck of $40.  I wanted it to go to a good home, or be used as a theater prop.  I listed it free on the theater group I belong to.  One woman emailed me that she was interested.  She couldn’t come over that day because she was prepping for a colonoscopy.  She couldn’t come over the next day because she was having the colonoscopy.  She said she’d try to get by during the next week to come look at it, and she had a a bunch of questions about the ribbon, as if she’d never used a typewriter in her life.

In my experience, most of the people who email intently about a freebie never come over. Or if they do, it doesn’t meet their approval. And since she had not requested an appointment to see it, I wasn’t counting on her.  It’s a freebie.  First come is first served.

A friend wanted it.  I notified the theater group woman that it had been taken.  She says she’s now suing me in small claims court. She had put in her request first so she should have had first grab.  

When this woman saw my listing for the couch, she wrote me a nasty email that I had better not do the same thing with this couch.  I told her it was already gone.  She wrote “see you in court.” 

Does nobody sane want free stuff?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Weird Conversation at the Airport

I was at the device charging station, keeping m mouth shut while a fellow charger ranted loudly about how Obamacare is worse than having no insurance at all.  I figured anybody who could say that was not interested in, or capable of, a conversation about health insurance.

Then he switched the topic.  He was suddenly angry about Cain killing Abel in Genesis. Cain must have been a truly evil person, and God should have destroyed him.  The rant continued.  This time, I thought – I’ll defend Cain.

So, I said, “How was Cain supposed to know that death was even possible?”

The man said that he was sure God had explained everything. Then he said, “It’s our job to learn what God wants and not God’s job to explain anyway.”

I tried asking – how would you explain death to someone who had never seen death?  

He said, “What did Cain expect if he hit Abel on the head?”

“A headache?” I ventured? “Being sore?”

But my fellow charger was unconvinced.  And I don’t know how to explain ignorance to someone who has never thought about it.