Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oh yes eggs are sooo much better than spray paint

EthidiumBromide, I read your blog and you seem like a nice person so I really don't want to get in a pissing match, which I why I waited all night to respond to you comment. I was hoping that after some time I would not be as angry, but I am.

just because my parents went to college and I had original art in my home did NOT mean that I lead an idyllic little childhood

First - I am not so naive to think that money = idyllic childhood / life. Discrimination, abuse, death, tragedy and all other horrible things know no class or racial boundaries.
Why the hell are you approaching this in such a defensive manner? This post wasn't about you. But since you've made it about you, look around your lab, how many of your fellow graduate students come from blue collar families? I'm in my 3rd lab, 2nd university and I've worked in multiple buildings and science organizations. Do you know many students I've met whose parents are blue collar? One. My experiences are VASTLy different from yours. Thats a fact. Doesn't mean your life is perfect. I never said it was.
I never stated that I was poor either. I was going to do the privilage meme. I have had alot of those privilages. My parents always owned their own home, and paid for my undergrad. We went on family vacations. Despite going to a somewhat "troubled" high school and having some questionable parental experiences, I am lucky enough to know that I have parents that love me whole heartedly. They would do anything for me and have given me a good life. But those comments only really irk me.

What made me lose my shit was how you tried schooling me. You actually compared you're experience to mine! They are not comparable. AT ALL. Stating they are not comparable does not mean that your experience did not impact you or effect you. They did. They are no more or no less worse then what happened to me.

"The most humiliating part was that we couldn't even immediately change the garage doors, like you can wash off eggs -- we had to leave it up for days and days"

We can just wash off the eggs so its less humiliating? Its less hurtful? Its less violating?? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?
Let me explain to you how your experience is different.
You were not alone. You lived on a block of Jewish families, who could support and understand. Your family and community have money.Whether you recognize it or not, that brings power. Which is not to say that you did not feel violated. I know how much having others around make give you strength and power. When more Punjabi people moved into our community is when things started to change. When our community started having enough money to contribute to politics - literally buy power and votes, is when things changed.

Did your grandma freak out every Halloween because she was scared of what might happen?
Did your parents move because they felt unsafe in their home?
Did you have to watch and listen as your dad did yard work, while the neighbors kids called him a Hindu and their parent did NOTHING?
Did you have beer bottles thrown at your head as you're working on your family farm?

Don't come to this blog and try schooling me on discrimination. I know it exists. It crosses every color and class boundary. Nor did I ever state that having money = happiness. I specifically did NOT use the word idyllic.

Like I said, I don't want to get in a pissing match, but your comment was just not cool.


EthidiumBromide said...

If your post had nothing at all to do with privileges in relationship to discrimination, then I sincerely apologize. I thought that it did, which was why I responded the way I did.

I saw things like a title stating "Here's some privileges for you fuckers" and an opening statement of "Its great to see how many of you had parents that went to college, or had original art in your home. You had tons of books and generally appear to have a significant amount of privilage. Well except for microXX who was the only person I related too." To me, these words implied that you were relating your comments to privilege. I was implying that just because I came from a family that was considered to be PRIVILEGED did not mean that I was free from DISCRIMINATION.

If your actual post was solely about discrimination, and had nothing whatsoever to do with privilege, than I was totally off base, and obviously my comments were totally off context. I'm sorry I misread it as such; I did not intend to do so.

What you wrote came across to me as a statement that the privilege meme upset you because those who are privileged do not deal with discrimination, and it was my experience growing up that it clearly was not the case. When you say things "it's great to see how many of you had parents that went to college" it seemed accusatory to me that just because my parents went to college, and my family had money, I was free from any sort of discrimination. I was never trying to "school" you, and I do apologize for misreading you words -- exactly like you have just done to mine.

PhizzleDizzle said...

SM, I just want to pipe up and say I read your post the same way as EB did. With the title and opening paragraph, it really seemed like you were inversely correlating privilege and college-going parents with discrimination, which I also felt was not a strong correlation. It seemed like it was saying because i had college going parents or a largely bolded meme, i was a "fucker" (from the title) who had a lot of privilege and didn't have to go through anything like you mentioned. Which is why I left my comment. Based on this post I can see that's not what you meant.

Either way though, I'm sure we all agree that what happened in your past sucks; there's definitely no disagreement about that. It sucks and no one deserves that, especially not children or on holidays that are supposed to be fun. :( I am so sorry you went through that :(. I hope your grandmother was and is able to live to see a safer time for your family.

ScientistMother said...

The post did have to do with privilege and discrimination. Did the the meme upset me? Not because I did not have some of those privilages, I did. My mom went university, she has a masters in economics but that means nothing since she gave up all that to come to this country to clean toilets. If I filled it out, I would bold alot too.
Its about the shit WAS NOT on the meme. How many people can high light all those things, but then were sexully abused? Beat or whatever? When it comes to discrimination, it crosses all class boundaries, but do you know who the majority of the power holders are in my country and yours. Christian white dudes.
The post was about the culture of the power groups - the majority class which you are not a part of 100% (you're white, well-off but you're not christian). And yeah I was angry because that poor kid in Ontario is dealing with shit he shouldn't have to. Because of all the muslim boys and girls are going to have to deal with shit because of the politics in the world.
Like I said, whether you recognize it or not you had power. You have a strong community around you. When your house was targeted, you lived on a block of Jewish families. That provides a sense of security in that you know your neighbors didn't do it. We were the only brown family on the block? How do you trust your neighbors again? Your community has political power. Don't underestimate what that does. Which not to say that what happened to you didn't effect you or hurt. Like I said, it is no more or no less.

Unfortunately I think you're in the minority, because most of the power power holders are christian white folk. While I was growing up, the middle and upper class was all christian white folk.

Nicky said...

I once heard someone describe Tony Tether as the kind of guy who would have twins just so that he could keep one of them locked in the basement as a control. Which made me both hate DARPA, and kinda want to have twins.

I mention it for this reason: I think that we all agree on why that particular meme was really stupid. Yes, all else being equal, people with lots of things "bolded" on that list might be better off. But everything else is never equal. There's never a good control, so any comparisons or conclusions you might want to draw from it are always going to falter.

Having said that... I read your original post the same way EB and PD did. There was a lot of anger and defensiveness there. But what you intended your main point to be, I think, is that without a good control, the definition of privilege is way too vague to be summed up in thirty bullet points.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Phizzle said: "It seemed like it was saying because i had college going parents or a largely bolded meme, i was a "fucker" (from the title) who had a lot of privilege"That's how I read it too. Plus that people in that situation hadn't given their advantages any thought. I scanned this post briefly before I commented on the last one, when obviously I should have read this one much more carefully first :(

Sorry about that

Becca said...

SM- I got the impression the meme upset you because you could bold off items.
Now, we all know that having a few items bolded doesn't mean you automatically had an idyllic life.
However, a number of responses to this meme that I've seen floating around the blogosphere struck me as defensive about privilege.
I think this stems from the fact that many of us take legitimate pride in viewing ourselves as someone who has overcome obstacles (as you obviously have). Possibly a cultural value placed on the "self-made" woman intensifies this. If doing everything yourself is a character strength, the converse is that having things handed to you makes you weaker (we know logically this isn't necessarily true, but I like this explanation better than the possibility some responses were pure pissing-contest for who had the most miserable childhood).

Based on anti-oppression workshops I've attended which used some similar methods of examining privilege, I think it's hard to get maximum benefit out of the exercise as long as you feel defensive.
As I see it, the point of the exercise is to take some time to appreciate things that you've taken for granted/seen as 'normal'. Or, alternatively, to get outraged that these things aren't 'normal'.
This list is certainly not a comprehensive list of privilege; it may not even be a particularly informative measurement for socioeconomic status; but the list can be a good opportunity to look at things a bit differently.

By the way- becoming defensive is also my knee-jerk reaction to some comments about my own privilege; I'm not saying it's easy to get over the defensiveness.
For example: when you said "Your family and community have money"- it made me feel defensive. Possibly because it reminds me of a particualarly ludicrous form of antisematic paranoia [dependent on the assumption that OMG The-Jews Control The-Money The-Banks The-Media and EVERYTHING! Oh NOES!]. Now I don't know if by "community" you meant EtBr's actual neighborhood, but if we were to look at average income among Punjabi Canadians and US Jews, I think we'd find them pretty comparable.
But anyway, the point is, the meme should be about comparing privilege only inasmuch as it helps us empathize with and understand each other... it isn't useful to form value judgements based on some mythical quantitative privilege quotient.

ScientistMother said...

Nicky - the original post was NOT in response to the meme. It was in response to what is happening to the Korean Boy in Ontario. Of course there is anger in it, of course there defensiveness in it. Why wouldn't there be? I won't apologize for that. What I didn't realize is that people like PD, ED or even you and cath would think I was referring to you with fuckers. I wasn't.

Cath - don't apologize for your other comment. It was well-written and thoughtful. Plus the question about whether I though you are "a fucker" made me realize that some readers thought I was referring to those that actually did the meme. that was not my intention.

Becca - You raise numerous interesting point that I can't address right now, as the monkey would like to get out of the bath. I did want to say that I fully realized what the impression could be when I wrote that "your family and community have money". I did not want to ignite the stupid jewish stereotypes of controlling the money or being "the" power brokers. Which is why I stated that once we had (now have) a larger community we were / are able to gain some power to change things. There is power in numbers. Yes NOW the mean income level would be the same between Jews and Punjabi families. Even maybe it would be the same back then. But I was still the ONLY one, not living in an actually community of like.

PhizzleDizzle said...

The state of American media is such that they really don't report on a lot of stuff that happens in other countries, so I just looked up this case you mentioned - I had no idea that was the root of these posts. I think that was probably a huge missing piece of context for many of us American readers who misread your intent.

If others are interested, this is what I found:


ScientistMother said...

PD - its interesting that no one realized that since I specifically stated that and linked to the story. I was wondering about. I hope others realize that the incidents that i've described happened EITHER to me or mr.sm

Arlenna said...

Here's the thing that gave me a glimmer of hope in that article, SM:

"400 of his fellow students walked out of class this week to denounce the racist bullying that preceded the punch"

So while the school system is handling it in a disgusting way, this student's peers were willing to stand up for him en masse to get the attention of the higher-ups. It's a start.

ScientistMother said...

Arlenna- I was really glad to see how many kids came to support him and how the media is behind him. Its just so frustrating that the administration who are the power holders, are being so ignorant. It frustrates me that although the masses may have moved foward, the power brokers have not and until that happens I am still going to be trying to break through the glass ceiling of my gender and my color

chall said...

I missed that link in the first post... probably thought it was another link to a blogger...

I must say though that I find it interesting to know if the bully got suspended too if they now are looking at it as "a consensual fight". Completely fucked up imho.

Not to mention that it is the annoying thing as he could defend himself and therefore hurt the person who started the whole thing.

It really sounds like the small town is a small town and that there are more things to it. Not to mention "why would you be mad about being called Chinease". I would so love to ask the vp if he lived in, say for example India, and someone called him "fucking american". yeah... not so much me thinks.

that said, I must admit that the racial slurs I have encountered have more than doubled since I moved to the US south - being a white girl in my town is minority. Then again, since the slurs were close to none when I grew up it doesn't say much apart from this - it is very interesting to be the "person standing out in a crowd" even if I'm not doing anything. It is truly an eye opener and something I think everyone should experience since if nothing else you realize how absolutely alone/pointed at you feel at times.

(and i am not saying this to get "poor you" I am simply stating that it is very different here where i live right now from where i grew up and it has broadened my experiences a lot.)

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Thanks mate!

Juniper Shoemaker said...

Honestly, SM? I identified with the anger and defensiveness with which you originally responded to the Privilege Meme. I will preface this by saying that I know my feelings aren't wholly fair. They don't even fully represent what I actually think. But, feelings-wise, I am fucking sick and tired of people with money whose parents went to college (and who can pass for "white" any time they please) acting like they had the same hard time as people like you have. They haven't. They had people to show them how to play the game. They aren't dark-skinned, and they don't get (positively or negatively) treated as such. Being a dark-skinned minority is an entirely different experience in a population where dark skin is associated with ugliness, stupidity, ignorance, powerlessness, crudeness, failure, and poverty, and where many people aren't even conscious of their manifested acceptance of these stereotypes.

I'm gonna get flamed. I know. And I know this isn't the most thoughtful comment in the world. But it's the truth. That's how I feel. I'm entitled to tell the truth about my feelings. I aired them to let you know you weren't alone.

P.S. on other thread: When total strangers (black and white and Asian alike) keep making a big fucking deal about what race you are on a daily fucking basis because you're mixed and they don't understand how rude it is to out of the blue ask you dumb-ass questions like, "So which one of your parents' cultures do you identify with the most?" (ahahahahahaha!! I floored one person with, "Actually, I'm pretty culturally white," which is true) you wind up thinking about your racial identity every single day. I write about it because it's always on my mind.

I've tried to keep it off my blog . . . the only reason why I decided to start off my blog by posting my photo and making clear my "brownness" is because I knew everyone would assume I was white otherwise. And that's not who I am, and that's not how I get treated in "real life", so I wasn't going to blog that way. And when people-- particularly white people-- tell me to "stop being defensive" or to "stop talking about it", as if I'm in total control of my racial identity, and as if I constructed it entirely on my own, is one of the fastest ways to piss me off. Especially since all I want at this point is to tell my side of the story the way I see fit. You should feel entitled to do this, too.