Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I love fish, you know . . .

I want to talk about racism and "trailer trash."  Oh, and being "pretty."

Let's start with racism.  I was talking to a female relative yesterday about the murder of the toddler in Georgia.  We were talking about what can be done as a society to make this better, to lessen the violence.  As I spoke of possibly removing children from the homes of convicted gang members and drug addicts, she told me that was racist.  That by saying that, I was being a racist, I was being prejudiced against Black Americans.  Even though she knows that my beef is with the ACTIONS, not the skin color.  That's why I don't think my sister-in-law, who is white, should have custody of her children--she's a drug addict with repeat arrests and an established history of exposing her children to drugs and "inappropriate" behaviors.

It wasn't until later I realized my relative's statement was, itself, racist.  She assumed that, when I said "drug addict" and "illiterate" and "gang member" I meant Black American.

Oooh.  How do we feel about that?  I don't like it at all.  Again, I'm after the behaviors, not the race.  I think we can safely assume that no one, regardless of race, thinks that poverty, illiteracy, drug addiction, and gang activity are good for our society.  And I think most of us can agree that children growing up surrounded by drugs and gangs are being damaged.  And that's not racial, that's absolutely behaviorally based.

On the subject of racism, I'm growing concerned with the increasing use of the term "trailer trash" and the growing disdain for poor white Americans.  We know that stereotyping the poor of other races is a no-no (which doesn't mean our society doesn't do it, just that we know it's not right), but poor white folks seem to be wide open and fair game.  Honey Boo Boo and har-de-har, aren't those "People of Walmart" so FUNNY?  Look how they dress, look at their teeth, look how sloppy and poor and fat they are!

We are so sick.  So broken.  Why is poverty, illiteracy, and poor access to medical care FUNNY to us?  Why is it okay to point at people who live in trailers or receive food stamps and call them names?  Cracker?  Hillbilly?  Redneck?  Shitkicker? How are those any better than the lousy names  used to degrade other races?

We need to stop.  We need to stop aiming our aggression and our frustrations at people who are struggling, at people who are poorer than we are.  I know, I know, I took Psych 101, too, I get the whole "feeling better about ourselves by downing or degrading another group we perceive as even weaker than we are."  Fine, there's a possible explanation--so what?  It needs to stop--if we feel powerless or degraded or downtrodden, we should look UP at whose boot is on our neck rather than DOWN at who we can make even MORE miserable than ourselves.


Had a video come across my news feed today.  Strangely, it didn't quite make me cry; probably because I'm all cried out over the poor dog.  But it did make me think, and more than that, it dredged up some not-so-good memories.  Memories of my Mom and how she responded to my sudden and drastic weight loss in tenth grade.

Did my mom freak out when her fat girl became her bony girl, losing 135 lbs in six months?  Sort of, if you consider dragging your starving, gums bleeding, hair thinning, hasn't had a period in months daughter to Nordstrom, The Bon, The Limited, and even (no kidding) to Vegas for a spin through Saks (yes, THAT Saks) "freaking out."  Oh, I became her special, wonderful girl, her clothes hanger, her PRETTY daughter.

The message was deep and devastating and so clear.  She loved me okay when I was her fat girl, but man, I was the BOMB when I was thin.  She was hauling me to work-related parties and dragging me along the floor to show me off to her coworkers.  Less of me to love, but what was left was obviously SO much more lovable.

I worry about this so much with my boy.  He could stand to lose 30 pounds in order to be a good, solid weight.  And he knows it, the doctor told him so.  It's such a fine line between encouraging him to eat better and work out more and HARPING on him or making him feel bad about his weight.  I dance that line every day, try to be matter-of-fact without being judgmental or in any way deriding.  My parents?  My dad ridiculed pretty sharply, hoping to shame me into weight loss. Problem was, the only foods we were served were incredibly fatty, sugary, salty, and breathtakingly calorie-laden.  And my Dad?  Would LOSE it on us if we didn't clear our plates.  Marvelously mixed message there.  And my Mom?  My Mom equates food with love.  If she loves you, she buys you one pound bags of M&Ms and dozens of sweet rolls and donuts and cheesecakes.  Of course, it's not all love there, either--there's the rewarding me for starving, the valuing me less when I'm heavy.  Again, seriously mixed messages.  So I KNOW how hurtful and how unproductive being mean or sarcastic about a child's weight can be.  I try to dream up meals both tasty and not over-the-top in calories or fat.  I make sure there is always a variety of fruit in the house.  

And yeah, I've taken to rewarding him for going to the gym.  He goes to the gym and gives it a good effort, he gets an hour of video game time on a school night.  "Good effort"  means aerobic and weights.  

I don't want him to ever feel that my love or my respect for him is rooted in his weight or his appearance.  I've felt like that my entire life, and I almost certainly always will.  I have friends coming to visit next week, people I've known online for . . . gosh, 15 years?  But we've never met. And I'm not excited, I'm not thrilled, I'm not anything but mortified because of my weight.  I don't want my boy to ever feel that way.


So, discussing the Supreme Court, DOMA, and marriage equality on Facebook.  A friend comes in and tells me that it can be decided by the states because ALL states will abide by another state's ruling, i.e., if you're married in Vermont, Utah will recognize that marriage, should you move there (or just be passing through, I guess).  That, of course, is utter bull.  Ohio has flat out stated it will not recognize marriages between same-sex partners.  Period.  And I said so, copied and pasted from the Ohio State Bar Association on the matter.  Another friend came in and said, "It's called full faith and credit, it's in the Constitution.  Look it up."

Oh.  Oh, gosh.  Have I just been schooled?  I'm honestly not sure.  The tone seems sharp, but maybe I'm misinterpreting it, right?  I mean, it's not like him to do something like that, so I'm probably seeing it wrong.  For the record, while I'm no Constitutional scholar, fact is I actually took law courses in college, including Constitutional Law.  I am, in fact, familiar with the "full faith and credit" clause.  I'm also familiar with how little practical impact it has in modern matters.  

So, I don't know if I was just "dissed" or not, so I guess I'm going to let it go.  

*****UPDATE***** I was seeing it wrong.  Glad I asked.

HUGE dinner tonight--baked cod, baked red potato (with just a tiny bit of Kerry Irish butter), carrots and onions, green beans and almonds, AND a salad!  I know, sounds like a lot, but I'm totally under on calories, carbs, salt, and fat, and over on potassium and fiber.  It's been a long time since I memorized which fish are okay and which are environmental disasters.  This is Pacific Cod.  I seem to remember Atlantic cod not being okay.  Time to go do my homework again, before our next shopping trip.

Okay, looks like my memory was right--Atlantic Cod is out, Pacific Cod is okay (though a couple sites said there may be mercury or PCB issues if eaten too often).  

Here, this is a Pacific Cod (thank you, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife):  

And that's about it.  Rode that stationary recumbent for 50+ minutes tonight, and I am superbly tired.  Doctor's appointments day after tomorrow.  Gosh, I can hardly wait, lemme tell ya.

Oh, and one last thing, because I'm on the right side of history here.  Hope you are, too.

Do not reprint without permission. © KAQ

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you 100%. On the poverty shaming/racism thing, I think we could make great strides if the negative attitudes against education and knowledge and SCIENCE were better in this country. It is just getting worse. I don't remember knowledge and religion being opposing forces when I was growing up. Oh sure, I know that knowledge kills religion in my mind, but I went to church for years and was never made to feel that I shouldn't learn about the world, or told that science was bad. Anyway, more education does mean less violence, less drug use, less gang activity. More tolerance for different ideas, and all that.
    Keep exercising, even if you can only manage a little bit. Try not to feel ashamed of your size, the only time you should feel bad about it is if you've given up and aren't at least trying to eat somewhat healthily. Nothing extreme, and allow yourself some treats. I know that is what you do, and that's healthy. You don't have to fit a certain mold. And that is the best possible example for your boy. You're raising him to like himself, but also to live well. Now, I need to take my own advice. ;)