first you must go read Jason‘s post. make sure to read the link to his own ‘black with a small b’ rant too. i was going to just comment but it got way, way too intense for that.
views from the white side? i am an adopted mongrel mutt white something-or-other, and i can trace my lineage back exactly nowhere. i call myself irish because my last name is kelly but that was a father who adopted me, left my mom, and i saw two times in my life after that, both to get money from him. he sent a fluffy blanket when my daughter was born in ’82. i don’t know if he’s alive or dead. oh, and my born name was caroline jean rucker. whether or not that was a made-up thing on the adoption papers i dug out of my mom’s closet while being a snoopy latchkey child. so Jason, my fruit has no root either.
around kindergarten age i had to stay with my grandparents because my mom was a working divorcee in the mid-sixties. bastard kid with a divorced mom being taken care of by my grandparents in oakland, california when the black folk started moving in. can you say socially awkward outcast? fat little kid with a shirley temple perm that hung out with mostly old people?
my grandpa was a racist in every sense of the word. think archie bunker only a hell of a lot worse. he had names for everybody. spics, wops, micks, n-words, chinks, you name it. he hated everybody. last name of buttener, what’s that english? anyway, he hated everybody else (he was gramma’s second hubby, the first one was named kelly, hence my name. he was a ‘mick’, heh). it’s confusing.
so there i am in kindergarten in oakland in ’66. grandparents panicked about the resale value of their homes, because ‘they’ were moving in. my grandpa, for all his prejudice, doted on me, his only grandchild, and he put up with the fact that pretty much my only friends were two (black) boys that moved in down the street, named Nathan and Lionel. their parents could barely afford to live there, and i was spoiled, so i often had them over to my house to have goodies from the easy bake oven or ice cream from that soda fountain toy. we’d play with my extensive lego collection and my impressive set of hot wheels. i loved to share my toys and goodies with them, and they were the only neighborhood kids that would hang out with me. because i was then, and am to this day, rather inept socially and in posession of an impressive collection of complexes.
i never had the issue of race against me, but that didn’t make it easy for me to assimilate into society, whatever color. i grew up with conservative parents, watching the news and identifying with hippies and radicals and freaks.
i can’t claim to know what it’s like to be discriminated against on the basis of race. i always made my own barriers. i know it’s not even *close* to the struggles that others have faced. i know there is this ‘white privilege’ thing, but trust me i’ve personally sabotaged any privilege i was given. i went from confusing middle class roots to rebellion to white trash, and am headed back towards middle class, though i have come to accept i’ll always occupy the ‘lower’ echelon of the class.
so here i am, whoever that is. and i wish there were no stigma attached to race. but there is, there still is — i work with racists. they don’t even think they’re racists. they just think they’re defending themselves, or something, i can’t figure it out, because they don’t make a whole lot of sense. i argue with them as if it helps. maybe someday it will. in the meantime, my performance reviews will always have low marks for ‘cooperates with others’. it’s that social disorder i have.