The race card again…REALLY??? When are we going to hear people standing up and saying “I don’t feel guilty about acts of racism that did not involve me.” Maybe when we start feeling into our own experience and stop being led by the spinners, liars, lawyers and fast talking politicians who’s use of race to divide, blame and confuse is racist. How we relate to race is personal. I don’t mean it’s personal don’t talk about it. I mean it’s something that is to be experienced individually. To feel guilty and by proxy responsible for perceived inequality because your skin is one color is as real as arguing that the sky is falling. Calling a woman from the Phillipines a Phillipina does not mean I am insensitive to race. It is just a quick way to describe a friend to another friend who needs to find her in a crowd. To be afraid to say we don’t agree with someone for fear of being called racist is the fingerprint of racism disguised as political correctness. We truly know what we experience in our body. That is real. Who among us, if starving, is going to give a hoot about polluting. Not me. Oh, I can hear it now. “That’s the kind of thinking that gets us into trouble” Is it…REALLY?? Cause I think diverting our attention away from the now truth of an unbalanced budget towards the broad sweeping false belief that Republicans are racist and Democrats are for the people is the kind of thinking that gets us into trouble.
Flashback…1993 – California. I am in the backseat of a convertible mustang careering down the strand toward Imperial Beach. My companions are two beautiful young US Navy SEALS. One of the men is my soon to be husband. The other, one of his closest friends. We pull into the parking lot of the Far East Rock. They have to pick up something before we continue on to the dive shop. Let’s go they say. What they don’t realize, is that while I have appeared to be soaking in the sun behind my shades, singing a long with Sheryl Crowe, I have not missed a beat. Not in the song or the patterns of the palm trees as the wave our car throws off of them beats a tattoo on my eardrum. Not the innuendo or the winks. Not the obvious story they are attempting to create. The story where I see a side of life that my outward demeanor may indicate I am unaware of. OK…bring it on boys.
I don’t know exactly what will happen here. I know I am in no more danger than any one of us at any time in our life. I do know that the Far East Rock is an establishment that caters to Navy men. I do know that extra services can be had by those who know how to seek them. I do know that I love a good adventure and live a great story so… with my friends, I walk through the red curtain that serves as the front door today. In an instant the bright sun and lightness of a SoCal afternoon yields to the cloying shroud of vinegar, sweat and tobacco backed with hints of mildew, chemical cleaner and that weird odor of television. It is the smell of an empty bar in the afternoon. I feel my companions excitement at the victory they can taste. They have entered in front of me. As they part, God grants me a boon. The bartender looks up and yells “AMY!!!!”. I throw out my prayer of thanks to the mystery and with a smile and a wink respond “Hey baby how y’all doin’”. My companions do not ride the “wave” with me . With their mouths open they are tumbled to the shore stunned and confused at how a sure bet could have backfired.
Turned out the bartender that day was my friend. As soon as I saw her I remembered that she worked here sometimes. She was the one who had brought my attention to the bar in the first place. Before she came to America my friend had been a prostitute. Her family was poor. They brought her to a whore house to work. In time she met a Navy man who married her and brought her to San Diego. I knew her story. She knew mine too. Knowing her story did not create a sense of personal responsibility in me for her life up to that point. Neither did knowing my story create a sense of personal responsibility in her for my life up to that point. So, no talk of reparations or need to understand. No desire to enact change on a global scale. No middle class white woman guilt that my Phillipina sisters were suffering at the hand of the machine of corporate greed and corruption. Friendship though. The kind that would have compelled me to fight beside her if she was in immediate need. Friends because destiny crossed our paths together and in the intersection of our stories, the relationship, we found joy. We lifted weights together. We danced together. We laughed…a lot. If I needed to tell you how to find her in a room I would not say “she likes to dance” or “she is really funny”. While both of those are true it would be a silly way to attempt to locate her in a crowd. I would say “she is a pretty Phillipina who’s skirts are short and heels are high”. From there you would be able to get a lot closer to locating her in the crowd than if I didn’t use a reference to her race.
Race is beautiful. It is difference and it is not owned anymore than rhythm is owned. Some of us are comfortable with it and some of us aren’t. Some of us like graffiti and some of us don’t. Some of us are prostitutes and some of us complainers. Some of us are one race and some of us are a mix of many. Whatever. Enlightenment does not mean not seeing race. News flash y’all, one person’s or group of persons views cannot be more enlightened than another’s …at least not in the way they are implying these days. If you have eyes that work and you don’t see race you are lying.
So what does this all mean? Well…people are way too diverse to be usefully contained in the broad stroking definition of race the politicians would like you to believe. My whiteness did not mean I would be shocked by a bar operating differently than the bars depicted on Melrose Place. Race used as a tool of guilt and/or separation is a means of controlling. True that. Spinning is a means to create a story. Not a way to see the Truth. Politicians are elected by the votes of members of the “Republic for which [they] stand”. If we allow them to continue to divide us on the basis of race and gender they will continue to do it. And they will continue to shift focus away from the truth. We are Americans. We are blessed to be part of this country. We are Americans and we are broke. Straight up…WE ARE BROKE. Entitlement programs, arming rebels, policing the rest of the world, increased mental health screening, growing space programs….REALLY??? My grandparents taught me that when you are broke you tighten the belt. When I am broke I don’t print new money. I don’t reallocate my clothing budget to my vacation budget. I don’t blame my situation on the persecution of my gypsy ancestors in Europe. I don’t buy a new camera. And heaven knows I don’t even think about a Reaper Drone. Sure I may want a new camera…heck I’ve even wanted a Reaper Drone once or twice in my life. But I ain’t got one and I can’t afford one. I for one would much rather live with the future that will unfold from pulling in our belts and cleaning our own house than the one that is going to unfold from this place of division and over spending. This time when our opinions are informed by guilt rather than internal Truth. YELL “FIRE” WITH ME, SOMEONE, PLEASE.
One more thing …GOD, GOD, GOD GOD, GOD…that’s right, I said it. More on that later.
PS – Google Jared Marcum and….. “say WHAT?”