"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Friday, June 30, 2023

A quick short note

 Hey there, Peeps!

Just a quick note to tell you I'll be in Anaheim this Sunday, July 2nd, with my Big Booth o' Books. Look for me from 11-3 at the Ebell Club!

I hope to see you there!

Monday, June 19, 2023

Happy (and contemplative) Juneteenth!

These blog posts are usually done commando-style, as in I don't spend a lot of time crafting my words, so I'm hoping this turns into something coherent.

It's Juneteenth today and I'm thinking about it. Or maybe it's more like noodling (a step up from thinking) or even contemplating (exponentially increased thinking).

First of all, I'm looking forward to the day when the holiday has an official song and specific decorations and activities--I know these things are superficial and yet they give a holiday a "yes, this is an official established holiday" feel. Apparently, red food is featured for Juneteenth, so I'd love to see red velvet cakes and strawberry soda at the front display of my local grocery store. It's past time for national traditions and observances.

(As a complete side note, I used to enjoy strawberry soda and vanilla ice cream floats with my grandfather and now I want one.)

Second of all, I'm thinking about the meaning of "systemic" racism and why so many people bristle at the term and insist that America is no longer racist and everyone is born with the same chance at success and if anything, black people get more advantages because of Equal Opportunity laws and quotas and so forth.

I don't consider myself a scholar on the subject, I'm only an observer of what happens around me, and I see it (like everyone else) through the lens of my own experiences. Here's what I have experienced:

My parents were racially biased. They weren't white supremacists, they just discounted the abilities of black people. My mother was fond of saying, "It's not their fault, they can't help the way they are." So when I married Dale, they had opinions about my mixed-race marriage. But I know these people and know that they would not have had the same opinions if I had married an Asian man, or Hispanic, or Indigenous. That would have been seen as exotic and exotic is always welcomed.

At the time, I brushed it off as being hypocritical and didn't give it much more thought. We already had a contentious relationship and I had stopped looking for their approval. But lately I'm asking why? Why was a Japanese spouse okay and a black spouse not? If it was about race, why wasn't it about all races?

I think I know the answer: because historically black people were slaves and even though they were freed, it didn't alter the fact that they had been treated as less than human. Even though my parents were not alive during the Civil War, even though slavery was no more than words in history books, the idea persisted. Black people were property and property does not think or dream or feel, and "they can't help it."

Once I start going down this path, I begin thinking in bigger and broader terms about our various societal systems. Systemic means "fundamental to a predominant social, economic, or political system." The most important thing about it is that it's so ingrained in a society that no one recognizes it. My parents would never have seen the historical footprint in their biases. 

Think about Wall Street. The people who started businesses and built corporations and took them to the stock market originally were white European men, speaking English, playing golf, wearing structured suits and ties. Women breaking into that world had to wear structured skirt suits to be taken seriously (and forget golf--even when they could get into the country club, they have to hit from the women's tee). Men (and women) of color had to abandon the formal wear of their countries and put on suits, play our games, speak our language. We don't even think about this, we just accept that this is the uniform for doing business.

What else did we inherit from the patriarchy that we don't need anymore?

All because Juneteenth made me think and noodle and contemplate. I guess that's how I observed the holiday today.

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