Monday, August 25, 2014

Racism, the US, and a reaction: Day 1,503

Some of you know that one of my main methods of communicating with friends both in the US and all over the world is via Facebook.  As I was catching up on what everyone has been up to tonight, I saw that a college friend of mine had posted an article.  (Please take a moment to click on that link as the rest of this will all make a lot more sense if you at least know what the article is about.)  My first response to her link was "I'm not average," but I was.

When I lived in the US--4 years ago--all of my friends were white.  I had one black friend from college.  I had one half-Latino friendly acquaintance. My only Asian "friends" were my adopted cousins.  And, via marriage, my family is a little more diverse than some.

Today, my "first language" is Spanish.  It's the language I draft my speeches in.  It's the language I assume everything is in when there is little context.  (I was playing a game with animals in it the other day and the mouse-over tag for one animal was "llama."  My brain processed the word as though it was Spanish.)  It's often the language I speak to my pets in.  It's pretty much the only language my fiance and his family speak.  It's the language my neighbors speak.  And it's pretty much the only language I'll respond to on the matter how many times the men yell at me "Good morning, my love!" as I walk past.

Today, the majority of the friends I interact with on a daily basis are Hispanic.  Most of my neighbors are Hispanic.  The only white people I typically interact with are an interesting group of "I'm here until I'm not" kind of people.  The short-termers--people here for a couple months--and the retirees are folks who I don't hang out with because I have essentially nothing in common with them (see article).

The conversation on my friend's Facebook page then turned to people of mixed race and how they feel/see the world.  I'm not mixed race, but I do consider myself to be bicultural at this point and I recognize that my children will be mixed race.  Which is when I started typing the following response and realized all of it would make a better blog post:

I also think that it is very different for people such as myself--which is why I stated that I'm not average, but I was before I came here--who have spent substantial time in a foreign (and non-white) country.  If I were to return to the US, I might make a decision to live in a Latino neighborhood.  But, then again, I might not.  The fact is that my neighbors here understand that there is no "white neighborhood."  (Okay, there is a white city.  I lived there for 6 months.  I hated it.  I worked too hard to pay the rent and too little on the reasons I'm down here.  In the town I now live in, there's no white neighborhood.)  My neighbors accept that I do things their way because that's the way things are done here.  I feel that if I moved to a "Latino neighborhood" in Michigan (somewhere in Pontiac or Detroit?) that my neighbors wouldn't be as accepting of me...even with my (future) Latino spouse because, let's face it, la gringuita tiene muchas opciones; no tiene que estar aqui mostrando sus 'riquezas' ("The little white girl has lots of options; she doesn't have to be here showing off her 'wealth.'") or so they'd probably think.

To be quite honest, if I were in the US, I'd rather be a poor, white girl in a white neighborhood than I would a poor white girl in a non-white neighborhood.  It's a race thing that I've encountered a lot down here, especially when I was living in the "white city" or even when I go there now.  Non-white people assume that white people have money.  White people don't assume that about white people; although they do assume that most non-white people don't (except for Asians and Jews).  So, if I were to live in the US, I would prefer to live among people who don't assume anything about my wealth or lack thereof...which would lead to increased potential for white friendships and decrease potential for non-white friendships.

Which actually leads me briefly to the topic of "reverse racism."  First of all, the definition of racism is as follows: "The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races" (Oxford Dictionary).  So, really, in my mind, "reverse racism" should take that definition and put a "not" in it.  "White people are rich" is a racist statement.  Guess what?  I don't have extra income.  I eat meat maybe once per month because I don't have money to buy it otherwise.  And, sure, I have a "Mommy/Daddy/Brother, get me out of here" button--something my neighbors don't have--that I can press whenever I want, but it's a one-way trip to a life I don't want to have, a life I wasn't called to, a life I would probably detest.

I recently read something that said that women's brains are like wires: everything is connected to everything else.  I guess that's sort of how this post reads as well...

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