Tag Archives: bigotry

When racism isn’t racism, bigotry isn’t bigotry

Hi readers.

Back during the bad old days of my hippy-dopesmokerism, during the throw-rocks-at-cops times, during the turbulence of the Vietnam War, this happened:

I was sitting on the steps of the University of Texas Student Union Building with two other Veterans Against the War, five self-proclaimed Black Panthers, two Viva La Raza types, and a handfull of white girlygirls not wearing bras.  Two of the girlygirls were paramours of a couple of the Panthers.  The subject of racism came up.

Keep in mind that all the Panthers and both Viva La Raza types were white-haters, though they indulged those two white guy among us by ignoring the fact we were white.  Indulged the girlygirls similarly.  And keep in mind the two Hispanics had no love for blacks, nor the blacks, any love for Hispanics.  Only the white girlygirls and we white Vets Against the War had felt no anti-black nor anti-Hispanic rage against the others of the group.

So tirades against whites became noisy, Hispanics and Panthers all in agreement, all making blanket statements proclaiming white bigotry.  Somewhere during that I asked, “You guys are lumping us all together because we’re white.  Isn’t that racism?  Is it different when you do it, as opposed to a white lumping you all together?”

Caused an uproar, general outrage and denial.  Universal even among the girlygirls, and one of the white guys.

Victims of racism can’t be racist!”  Repeated and re-phrased in numerous ways.  “Only whites can be racists because they have the power!”

Wellllllll.   Uhhhhh.

I suppose it’s probably consoling to a guy getting his ribs caved in by someone standing above him yelling, “You honky bastard!” to know he’s not the victim of bigotry and racism. 

Or my neighbor in Placitas, New Mexico, who, though an old unreconstructed hippy, couldn’t get the Hispanic guy who controlled irrigation water to open her gates to her orchard when her turn came because of his outspoken hatred of Anglos.  “My trees are dying because of what white-hating son of a bitch!”  Her old hippy too-much-sun face reddening.  “There’s nobody but other Hispanics I can appeal to!”

But at least it wasn’t racism.  At least it wasn’t bigotry she was a victim of.  Because bigotry and racism aren’t possible for people who don’t have the power.

Old Jules

The nightmares of acceptance

high water

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Probably I was four years old, must have been 1947, I was a kid with a recurring nightmare.  I was walking along a raised roadway with my mom, my granddad, and my two sisters.  A deep gravel pit reached alongside the road and my feet slipped, I fell and began sliding into the pit screaming for help.  None of them looked around, none paused, they all just kept walking and I kept sliding and screaming until I’d wake.

With all these decades of hindsight I find that dream of a four-year-old amazing.  I had no business knowing that much about people, about life, about my particular gene-pool at that age. 

At the time my mom was between marriages and we were living in Causey, New Mexico in a two-room shack with no running water, an outdoor toilet, maybe no electricity, though we might have had electricity.  I can’t recall.  My granddad’s presence in the area was the only thing to draw us there.  My mom was doing anything, seamstress work, pulling cotton, trying to operate a miniscule variety store in the house to earn a living. 

A deeply troubled young woman with three kids and almost certainly more nightmares of her own to keep her company than anyone purely needs.  Her financial woes gradually improved when she married again, but my thought is her mental processes turned concurrently to lies and manipulation.  Maybe they’d never been otherwise.

Such a woman!  I don’t believe my sisters ever recovered from the experience of having her for a mother, of always being caught in the vice of ‘love your mother’ and that mother being a destructive, master manipulative sociopath.  I believe I did recover, but it’s just me believing it.  I do know that when she died a couple of years back and I heard the news I felt nothing but a sense of deep relief, of peace.

I suppose it was the neighbor got me thinking of this.  He came down bringing a cup of expensive coffee before dusk.  As we sat he told me about some trial in Florida of a man who killed someone who was beating him up in a parking lot.  An angry tale of violence and racial politics and justice.

As he described it to me I remembered something else he’d told me a while back, off-hand and matter-of-fact, about how his father had murdered two, maybe three people he [the neighbor] knew of.  One a whiskey salesman who didn’t get his purchases for the bar he operated delivered.  Beat him to death on the sidewalk in front of his bar.  Another salesman he beat badly might have lived, might have died.  I can’t recall for certain because when I heard the story I was still digesting the first salesman.

The next homicide by his father he was sure of involved a Mexican [or at least a Hispanic] who did farm work.  Evidently screwed up a switch on an irrigation pump.  That night the neighbor says the father took his .22 pistol and went out somewhere.  The next day the Mexican farm worker was found dead on the railroad tracks shot nine times with a .22, then run over by a train.

The jokes around town proclaimed it to be the most elaborate suicide ever.

When he told me this story it didn’t include any value judgements, no overtones, no repudiation, no anger of the sort contained in the story of the trial in Florida.

I suppose an infinite number of monkeys pounding an infinite number of typewriters will indeed eventually write the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as someone claimed.  I’ve seen enough families and enough parenting this lifetime to accept that some families and some parenting must fall within the ‘normal’ part of the bell-shaped curve.

But to go a step further and suggest there’s enough ‘normal’ floating around among the father and mother components to celebrate seems to me to be a possible overstatement.  I count myself lucky my nightmares were only my own.  When Bobby Dylan’s song offered to let me be in his dream if I’d let him be in mine I was never tempted.  Still ain’t.

Old Jules

Philosophy by Limerick – Slammer Sensitivity Training

Aryan [alien] Nation
Inhibits their re-education
By Crips and by Bloods
And by Hispanic studs
For rehab and recreation.

Old Jules

Self-Doubt and Sincere Soul Searching [Eh?]

So what the hell was that all about?

I can see how Warren [or anyone else] might justifiably refer to me as an SOB.  I’ve no argument on that score.

But why a BIGOTED SOB? [The Mormon post comments]

Everything I said about Mormons was positive, and I could have said a lot of other positive things about them.  For instance, Howard Hughs trusted them, always hired Mormon bodyguards, caretakers and administrators.  Because they were honest, dedicated, hard working.

For that matter, Mormons also have legions of people researching and identifying their dead ancestors, baptizing them ex-post-facto to Mormonism so they won’t be doomed to hell.  PHDs in history could learn a lot from those uncredentialed Mormon researchers because they’re better and more accurate doing it than most PHDs I’ve ever come across.  When I’ve run up against a brick wall doing historical research I’ve frequently found help among Mormons doing genealogy.

Is that cool, or what?  When those researchers run out of relatives to be unknowingly baptized, likely someday one of them will find my name and make a Latter Day Saint of me without me having to do anything, even know it.  If they happen to be right, which I personally doubt, it’s still a win/win.  Cheap insurance. 

So Warren couldn’t possibly be calling me a bigot on behalf of Latter Day Saints.

Okay.  Maybe he was damning me because I said I didn’t trust Christians.  Or that I’d trust a Mormon more readily than I’d trust a Christian.  But the truth is, that opinion is just based on my personal experience. 

Some of my best friends have been Christians.  Sure, I dropped a lot of them off the list because they pestered me to death with their evangelizing, but I still thought of them as best friends.  And as such, I was able to recognize the human flaws they carried around with them, including a weakness for falsehood, many of them.  Along with a weakness for personal betrayal, abstractions over personal loyalty.  Doing things involving me ‘for my own good’. 

Maybe trusting members of one religion over another is lousy judgement, but I can’t see it as bigotry.

The only other thing in that post that might be construed as bigotry was my saying this king is a black white man.  But hell, that’s being said all over the web by black folks.  They’re calling him an ‘Oreo’ [black on the outside, white on the inside], an Uncle Tom.  All manner of things suggesting they don’t consider his decisions, demeanor, perspectives to be similar to their own.  Their self-stereotyping of their ethnic attitudes and opinions exclude his.  They believe he matches their stereotype of whites, more nearly.

So how can me calling him a black white man be a sign of bigotry?

Brings to mind the Hispanic wife of an Anglo friend of mine during the nineties.  They’d built a new house and were showing signs of affluence and the other Hispanic women of Socorro, New Mexico, whispered, shouted, sneered, snarled, “She’s trying to be white!”  “She’s pretending she’s white!”  Boycotted her beauty-shop business.

Crazy world we’re living in. 

I ain’t ‘trying to pretend to be black’, ain’t trying to ‘pretend to be a Mormon’, ain’t trying to ‘pretend to be a Christian’

Maybe that’s the problem.  I wonder which one Warren was trying to pretend to be.

Old Jules

So Long, and Thanks for all the Valentines

During the early 1990s I had a lady friend with whom I was close enough to
exclusively share a few years of my life.  Interior decorator lady who grew up in the same town and entirely different social strata than I did.

I first remember noticing her in the fifth grade, and from then until the time I left that burg as a high-schooler, I don’t believe she ever spoke to me.  She was upper crust and I was somewhere down there below the lower crust.

Anyway, 30-35 years later we spent a few years together seeing one another every day and night.  She had a lot of strong points, beautiful woman, smart, and well-intentioned.  I’d mentioned to her once that it used to really hurt my feelings in school on Valentine’s Day.  I hated it, all those kids getting valentines from one another and I didn’t get any.

Valentine’s Day, maybe 1993, ’94, I headed down to her house after work.  Came in the door and fell over.   She’d decorated the house with valentines, fed me a piece of cake shaped like a valentine, and handed me a box shaped like a valentine wrapped. Made me open it.

Crazy woman had filled that box with old-timey valentines like were around when we were kids…… full, chock full, that box was, with valentines claiming to be from kids we went to school with, all addressed to the kid I used to be …… the lower-class scum of yesteryear. Crazy stuff.

I’ve cried maybe twice during my adulthood, but for some reason I was having to hold back tears on that one. But that isn’t why I’m writing this blog entry.  I just wanted to preface the next thing with that one, so you’d understand she wasn’t a bad person underneath everything.

Anyway, she had two habits I found particularly irritating, aside from being miserable and liking to spread it around, toward the end of our relationship. She pronounced the “G” in guacamole. “Gwakamohlee.”  Drove me nuts.  Knew better, but maybe couldn’t remember, maybe didn’t care.

Secondly, she had this thing I figure came from being upper- crust as a kid.

“You find someone to work on the roof?” I might ask.

“Oh yes,” she might warble. ” Hired this little Mexican man.”

When I see the guy, he ain’t little.  He’s 240 pounds.  But he is Hispanic.

“Oh!” she might say.  “I hired this little Indian woman to do some bead work for me.”  Turned out the little Indian woman was taller than she was and weighed in heavier than the roof repair man.

You get the picture. Non-Anglo-Saxons were little, particularly if they were hired to do something.

No, the lady wasn’t a bigot, precisely.  She wouldn’t sit still for racial slurs unless they were subtle, oblique, or less so, but about Navajo folks, whom she generally disliked.  She conveyed the impression instead, that she found little men who did repairs to the plumbing so cute, so lovable, so adorable and quaint.  Something akin to looking through the big end of a telescope at them standing there so tiny doing their assigned jobs.

When we parted company after a few years it wasn’t pleasant, but I learned a lot about myself from her, once she began explaining what all was wrong with me.  It was worth a lengthy listen because she probably knew me as well as anyone ever has.

After I decided it was over I continued talking to her every night on the telephone for about a month, an hour-or-so per night, determined to listen carefully and consider everything ugly she could think of to say about me without any argument.  She mightn’t be right, or she might be right but about something I didn’t want to change, or she might be right and I might want to change it.

But we don’t get many opportunities in this life to have someone who knows us well go into loving detail explaining every flaw and wart, everything we haven’t noticed  about ourselves.  There aren’t any little people a person could hire to do that.

Eventually I came to realize she was enjoying those protracted nightly diatribes more than was possibly good for her.  She’d begun repeating herself, also.  So I told her it was over.

I mostly remember her for the valentine side.  The going up big was worth the coming down little.

Old Jules

P.S.  For you bloggers, a note from Jeanne (Admin):

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P.P.S. Another note from Jeanne (Admin):
We’re getting a few new readers from the contest site who are probably confused about my linking  to some old guy’s blog… so I wanted to mention that I’m a background partner on this blog and no, I didn’t write most of these posts!  I didn’t really understand the submission forms, so the blog is listed under “Jeanne Kasten”. I don’t know why. Sorry for any confusion!

Paul Simon– Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes