Monthly Archives: July 2001

i heard a fabulous broadcast on NPR this morning on my way to work about the black identity in the USA. it peeked my ears because the first thing that was asked was what does it mean to have a black identity, now that there is a goal to not associate it with class. the respondent immediately stated “memory and history” as his factors for the black identity.. he was talking about how black people in the US share a history and that the role of their color in this history constantly affects day-to-day interaction today.. the moderator took this as a tangent into reparations, but my mind wandered into a different place. identity as shared experience and history. i really like that. i am always playing with how identities are formed and why and i really like the placement of it within the concepts of experience and ancestory. i am always bothered by the idea that a person exists without a context and that context is built through experience, even beyond one’s life.. anyhow, was definitely a good bite to chew on.

when i zoned back in (after picking up my perfectly folded laundry which scared me to pieces), there was a discussion about how middle and upper class black people who work in white sectors in the US are constantly having to switch their identities. at home, they have one dialect, performance and set of behaviors, to fit into the black community. at work, in the white community, they have another, in order to be taken seriously. one woman was speaking to how this was tremendously problematic for her and created constant struggle. a call-in from germany talked about how nice it was to come to germany where she was no longer “black” but “american” and how embracing this new primary identity really allowed her to step back, consider and resolve what having a black identity meant. i thought about how this related to the gay men in britain who have 2 sim cards – one for their “straight” identity, which was primarily for work, and one for their personal “gay” identity. depending on which sim card was in, they answered with a different dialect and manner. or how people who transcend class are constantly battling over going home, readjusting their speech, clothing and mannerisms and never fitting in on either side (think dorothy allison). or my own struggles as my identity feels constantly mutilated by the space i am in and the people that surround me. on a personal front, i can feel the constant confusion and perpetual “outsiderness” no matter where i am.. that feeling that i don’t have “a community.”

anyhow, the conversation made me really think about the meanings of “outsider” identities and how they are not that very different.. these are the conversations of similar experiences that should be shared, rather than the constant fighting over differences in oppression that are always divided. and it made me think about how this type of approach – discussions of “outsiderness” would be a really good way to frame conversations with those who are so frustrated by being labled the “victimizer” because of their privileged characteristics. this makes me think about the gutteral importance of a shared community.. of why people with similar experiences of race, class, gender, … are drawn to one another for support and so as to not have to constantly feel that they are changing their faces. now, this is not the answer to ending -isms, but it makes it really visceral..

shit. i should be working.

anyhow, need to think more about how to unite people, particularly when the current hatred creates a need for people to create groups of similarity in order to not have to be constantly struggling. particularly, because these segregated groupings that allow for emotional healing and building often aggrevate tensions, which results in magnified bi-directional prejudices, which only cycles into more problems. i mean, anger and frustration can be both beneficial, by allowing for the necessary strength to fight hatred. but it can also create hatred, which only furthers problems.

again, i think to my consant confusion about how helpful extremist politics and beliefs are and how they affect things… at my gut, i still believe that the only way to solve hatred is through open lines of communication, to systematically work through historical and personal battles and understand one another. but i don’t know how to do it. on one hand, you have the master’s tools; on the other hand, you have separationalism. it’s a really polarized world.

speaking of which, must really stop thinking and help build the master’s house. grumble grumble grumble.

so i have been playing with a really interesting concept in the last couple of weeks. the NRA. now, at my core, i am pretty anti the NRA. it’s not the freedom to have guns that i inherently oppose, but the NRA that i have problems with. now, i have never actually been so in disagreement with them that i have sought to protest or fight against them. and i actually had to agree with them over columbine. but, i am also not going to support them. but a friend of mine said to me a few weeks ago when i was generally spieling about my political beliefs that being anti-NRA is contradictory with belief in freedoms and how could i fight for ideas of freedom of speech, anti-violence, anti-hatred laws when i wanted to stop the NRA. this set me aback and i didn’t really have a response. but, he still succeeded in making me think, and i know that was his goal anyways..

i had another conversation about the NRA tonite and so now i am thinking about it some more and wanting to write some of those thoughts down, although they are still not 100% resolved.

first, i get annoyed at the NRA because they start (even on their website) by inaccurately quoting the second ammendment. ok, so they are not inaccurately doing so, but only using a portion of it, and we know that “taken out of context, it must seem so strange.” so, they always use “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” when in reality, the full clause is “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” ok.. so we are talking about a need for a militia. this makes me wonder what it means to have a milita. do you have to be a part of a militia to have the right to bear arms? i am not sure. is every gun owner hir own militia? is this OK? i am not sure…

so i posed my confusion and contemplation to my roommate. oh perfect memory herself, she rattled off different readings of this clause over time and then started down the lines of it doesn’t matter. so, i am trying to remember and capture some of the hilites of this discussion (mostly her points with mine thrown in there as this was a conversation). note, i am probably still failing to accurately and fully capture her ideas, but so it goes…

1) americans have this funny feeling that freedoms are the most important thing and the NRA and ACLU always return to that whenever they feel restricted. the US does not actually guarantee freedom, nor does it actually secure that. there is no actual thing as the freedom of the press or the freedom of the people to do whatever they want. laws are a balance of what is good for the people and what is good for the state (and thus, we must also consider capitalism). for example, there are seatbelt and traffic laws. these are affected by a wide variety of issues, including capitalism. it is better for the nation (economically as well as safety-wise) if people wear seatbelts. so there is a law meaning that you don’t have the freedom to choose whether or not you can wear a seatbelt.

2) we create laws to protect people from actions that should seem obvious. when domestic abuse was first outlawed in the states, there was a lot of outcry. why should the state determine what people could and could not do in their homes? and didn’t people know better anyhow? history has shown that people don’t know better. when the laws were first put on the books, many police officers didn’t want to enforce them because they didn’t believe in them themselves. eventually, culture and law collided and now domestic abuse is considered horrid by almost everyone.

3) the states has a funny notion regarding the relationship between morality and law. due to a theoretical (yet nonexistant) separation of church and state, there is a feeling that law cannot be related to morals. yet, every legal move is directly tied to morality and in the case of the states, this means christian morality. the state has to determine what is good for the people and in doing so, they regulate their moral beliefs.

4) there are more guns per capita in the states than ever before in history. there is an explicit law saying exactly how and why guns should be kept. guns are made legal for the very purpose of keeping a militia. very few of them are being kept as such. the NRA and political organizations rallying around freedom of guns tie together issues of sport, of freedom and of political organizing. historically speaking, justices who are charged with interpreting that amendment constantly disagree. legislatures, who make the laws are affected by the political lobbying of the NRA, and it is not their responsibility to accurately intepret the constitution. those opposed to the NRA read the constitution in a way differing from those who support it, which is why the NRA is such a controversial organization. it must be remembered how laws are made in the US whereby anything not explicitly put into law by the legislature is up to intepretation of the states. any law that infringes on constitutional rights should be considered by the courts. because of this, gun control is a constitutional issue while abortion is a legislative issue.

hmm.. she had a lot more to say that i am forgetting.. but these are some of the hilites that i want to continue to chew on… it’s funny because i think that this all began over abortion… it’s funny to have core beliefs that sat dormant and unchallenged or considered for a long time because i realize that i forgot how they evolved.

like, as a kid, i always believed in the death penalty, but as an adult, i don’t. as a child, i thought that such a penalty was good for the country because it meant that criminals who were a threat to society were removed from society. my views changed when i realized that the death penalty is 1) not fair and evenly applied, particularly due to social prejudices and morals (and it is a federal crime to unevenly apply laws); 2) is not an effective deterent or a humane way for the state to treat its constituents; 3) fails to recognize the absurdity of justified killing.

mmm.. haven’t thought about politics in a long while.. mmm..

would somebody please tell me what i have done to the computer gods to make them despise me with this level of venom? it just never stops. ever. they absolutely positively despise me.

ok.. so my computer is relatively cleanly installed. given, it’s a sony vaio, but it was just shipped back for a new harddrive 2 months ago. installed ms office (an illegal copy, but nonetheless). excel works, word works, power point works.. but outlook – outlook won’t even start. auto-segfault. and of course, can’t get company’s software installed on here to dial in so i can’t check email. of course.

this just amazes me. why does this happen?

i think something is rather wrong with my body. ok, i know that i am a bit of a hypochondriac but still.. i just don’t think things are quite right.

i remember when i used to pass out for no good reason in the 6/7/8th grades. or when i just started puking uncontrollably in the middle of math class junior year in college and after a day and a half of tests in the hospital, they had no idea what could be causing it. or college in general. i always wrote that off to abuse of my body (in terms of intake, sleep and stress).

but then there was grad school. i remember being so sick in the spring, and after tons of prodding, i broke down and went to the medical center and they had no idea.. tons of possibilities but no concrete ideas. although i slept 8-10 hours a nite for a year, i participated in economic anorexia (whereby i stopped eating when i didn’t have money even though i would charge books to my credit card). now, my eating habits are not much better now, but they are better. i really am not stressed and i not only sleep 8 hours a nite, but i sleep the “right” 8 hours.. i am exercising and relaxing in large doses. so why the hell do i still feel like shit?

i have moved beyond the feeling that my body just needs time to adjust because it just should have adjusted by now. why does it not like me? and why oh why do i just feel aweful so frequently? uggh.. i am still waiting for that full body transplant.