Thursday, November 26, 2009

WTF!!! Black kids pick cotton while white kids watch

This is just too sad. This man owes those children an apology, whether he feels his actions were justified or not. He may have been attempting to be historically correct, but does that really justify singling out 10 and 11 year old children in order to do so? And really, what did he think he was accomplishing? These were children he was dealing with! I don't have children of my own, but even I know that there are some things children are just not able to grasp on a deeper level. Hell, there are some things even adults just can't grasp!

The fact is, the message he may have inadvertently sent to those kids was that Blacks are inferior to whites; enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas to serve whites, and some of those white kids were probably wondering why things aren't still that way. Some of them might have been thinking it would be cool to have one of their Black classmates as a servant, but not because these children are inherently racist, but because most children don't really understand what chattel slavery entails.

This incident reminds me of two incidents that happened to me in high school. The first took place during a rehearsal for a play we were going to do for Black history month. It was the first meeting, and the teacher in charge was assigning us roles. I was assigned the part of Harriet Tubman. By no accident, the role of the slaves was given to all the white students. The white students were instructed to crawl on the floor towards me, and look to me desperately as if I was their savior. I remember I found this to be incredibly funny because of the irony. Still though, it made me uncomfortable and in the subsequent weeks I decided to not participate in the assembly.

The teacher involved was known for being a tad racially prejudice. A friend of mine had her as a teacher for a class and was invited by her to join a dance project she was involved with. She told my friend to invite others to join, but made it clear that anyone not Black was unwelcome.

Needless to say, when the play was presented the part with the white slaves crawling on the floor to Harriett Tubman mysteriously wasn't included. What was included was a rather long speech about how wonderful Black people were, and how essentially useless everyone else was. I think it was great that she felt the need to highlight all the achievements Black people accomplished, but I don't think anyone else needed to be put down to do so! It was no surprise that the next year at the beginning of the assembly she had to make an apology for the assembly from the previous year.

The second incident I didn't find so funny. I had a law teacher who can only be described as a jackass. Indeed many students and teachers alike would have described him as such. One day in class, he decided to bring up Philippe Rushton as an example of how freedom of speech functioned. Now, I was already aware of who Philippe Rushton was, him being a professor at the University of Western Ontario (which is in the city I grew up in), and we had already covered him in another class. The difference between the way my law teacher covered the subject and the other teacher handled it though, was that he taught Rushton's theories as if they were fact.

I graduated in 2003, which was around the time the human genome project was completed. The biological hypothesis of race being a biological construct had pretty much been disqualified, which essentially made Ruston's research invalid. To be teaching Ruston's theories (which essentially state that Blacks have the lowest IQ's of all the races based on the fact that our skulls supposedly have the smallest circumferences, also that Blacks males have larger penises and have the lowest sexual restraint) as if they were true was a very bold move.

Even if he didn't know biological race was non existent, critics of Rushton had long ignored his findings because a) his sample sizes were too small to be representative of everyone b) it was unknown who he was sampling (was everyone he was asking well educated, slightly educated, not educated at all, illiterate? How much variance in education levels existed between racial groups, etc) and c) he was funded by openly racist organizations, so although he claimed to not be racist, it was no surprise that his findings would prove what his financiers wanted him to prove.

It was a bold move I didn't like, and countered with an even bolder move of walking out of his class. Later when he attempted to discuss the incident with me, I ended up losing my temper and screaming at him for a good 20 minutes. Bold, I admit for a 17 or 18 year old kid to be doing, but he just didn't understand why he was dead wrong for doing what he did. I guess he didn't notice that some of the white kids in class were nodding in agreement while he taught Ruston's theories.

Unfortunately the incident didn't end there. On the final exam for that class there was a question about how I was planning to kill him, and how somebody had overheard me telling someone else, and was I guilty of committing a crime by making such a statement. I didn't answer the question (which was a short answer question) but instead wrote a rather long essay about how inappropriate his behaviour was. I went into that exam with an 85%. My final grade was a 63%. The exam was only worth 15% of my final grade. It doesn't take a math major to realize something wasn't quite right with my final mark.

Well obviously, being the outspoken person I am I complained and my mark was fixed and the law teacher was instructed to apologize. He never did apologize. I still would smile at him in the hall though; it sure did make him nervous as hell when I did that. I later found out he made a habit of harassing his Black students. One girl I worked with had her mark tampered with too. Unfortunately he made it a lot lower than my 63%, but she never spoke up. When I told her about my experience, she was sorry she hadn't. I'm sure though after the incident with me he thought twice about harassing other Black students. We may have been inferior in his eyes, but some of us had the audacity to stand up for ourselves.

My biggest issue with this incident is the fact that unlike my situations that happened in high school, these were elementary school children. Most of these kids are too young to know that it would have been okay to refuse to participate in such an atrocious display. The tour guide needs a reality check IMO. This is the present. Although it may have been historically accurate and okay to degrade Black people in the past, today in the present its not. The fact that he is Black makes this situation all the more shameful. It just proves that some Black people still don't realize that we are not inferior to whites.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When I look in the mirror...

(I came across this video via Naturally Leslie. I wish I could say that I found the video shocking, but unfortunately I can't. Its no secret Black people, and many other POC struggle to accept themselves with the features that they were born with. Warning: the video is extremely graphic in nature. If you have a weak stomach or squirm at the sight of blood, you may want to close your eyes like I did at certain parts.)

I had a very interesting conversation with my roommate the other night. It would seem she is not entirely secure with her Japanese features. I've noticed other quirks about her, which I chalked up to differing cultural aesthetics: the whitening face scrub sitting in the shower being one of those said quirks (looking at it every time I shower makes me somehow very uncomfortable, despite the fact its none of my business). However, pale skin was not what we discussed, rather it was her "too small" eyes. She felt Asian eyes were not as attractive because they weren't big enough. She even went on to discuss how some people (other than herself) even sometimes have eyes which are monolid (stating this fact as if it were proof of the inferiority of the Asian eye).

To be honest, I had thought her eyes were monolid, but apparently they're not. Hell, my eyes are damn near close to being monolid, but I think my eyes are fantastic! Her statement reminded me of this dude I dated awhile back. I must have accidentally called him dark skinned, which he promptly corrected by informing me that he was actually brown skinned. He was pretty much the exact same colour as I am. I guess I can accept that my skin tone could be considered brown, but I'm sure as hell not going to be offended if someone refers to me as dark. Needless to say, the relationship went nowhere, probably because obvious displays of insecurity are a complete turn off (that and I found out he was lying to his friends about getting in my panties - something he was only ever able to dream about).

To be fair, I actually love my roommate, and think that she is a fairly down-to-earth and grounded individual, plus I definitely have my own insecurities. I have nose issues. I go through periods of time when I despise it. I obsess about it, if it looks to big or broad in a picture. I have even considered getting it done, but have come to the resolve that the idea of having a nose I wasn't born with is just obscene and incredibly arrogant, so plastic surgery could never be a thought I could seriously entertain for very long before coming to my senses. I'm also very critical of other peoples noses, which is stupid, and incredibly shallow and insecure on my part but sometimes I just can't help it.

It probably started when I was 13, at least I don't remember having issues with my nose before than. A group of older white boys felt compelled to harass me one day after school. I had recently shaved my head (I was a rebellious kid, what can I say) and I can only guess that my rejection of a stereotypical female appearance encouraged them to beat on me, and berate me with epithets, including pointing out how big my nose was.

As painful as this memory should be, surprisingly it isn't. In fact, I only remembered it having watched the video. All the people profiled had a history of being teased, or harassed in their (sometimes not so) distant past. It was obvious this was what contributed to their overly damaged self-esteem. So why did it seemingly destroy them, but not me, or for that matter my roommate?

Its sad, because at one point during the film, Jet (she actually goes by the full name Jet her. The woman has far more issues than whats mentioned in the video) actually comes to her senses for a brief moment after her surgery. She expresses regret for having gotten her nose done. Of course the next day she seems to be over it, but I wonder if that regret ever really went away.

I think loving yourself is one of the greatest gifts one can give to themselves. It isn't always easy, but in the end it is worth it. Wearing my hair naturally has contributed immensely to my well being. I've never felt so beautiful just being myself. I have days when I don't like the reflection staring back at me in the mirror, but I have more days when I do.

People go through all sorts of bullshit in life. Changing the superficial is such a band-aid fix. I can't help but think had the individuals in the documentary stopped and really considered their dilemmas for a moment longer, they would have seen that plastic surgery was not what was going to make them happy. The beauty ideal is so narrow, is there really anything wrong with being a different brand of beautiful?