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Shiny Hollow Things

I'm bored, once again.

I flip through boredom like a channel surfer resting on something they don't like. In other words, it comes, it goes, but lately, it comes a bit more. I did my first classes of Uni tutoring, and that looks like it'll keep me entertained. The University itself is like a long dull concrete stain, however, but maybe it's because I spend most of my time in an office. There appears to be people outside it, but you can never be sure about that. They could just be empty shells constructed by illegitimate powers and placed around me to give the illusion of population, when in truth, I'm it.

That'd be depressing.

At any rate, this post: rambling nonsensical shit.

I am currently reading Richard Dyer's White. Here's a quote: "White people have power and believe that they think, feel and act like and for all people; white people, unable to see their particularity, cannot take account of other people's; white people create the dominant images of the world and don't quite see that they thus construct the world in their own image; white people set standards of humanity by which they are bound to succeed and others bound to fail. Most of this is not done deliberately and maliciously."

This blog has readers from Peru and around the World. The main colour of the readership here, however, would be white. How many of you, then, think about that in your day?

Part of me wants to go and see The Island because it's a failure.

On the train yesterday, I watched a man pull out tobacco from a pouch. Instead of rolling a cigarette, he took the bristling brown threads and placed them at his nose, where he sniffed away. He was a jittery guy. Couldn't keep still. In case you're wondering, he was white. The Asian guy in front of him looked a little uncomfortable, truth to tell.

It's Thursday. I took the following photo last Thursday, standing on George Street, Spring starting to push its fingers through Winter like a surgeon with a scalpel through skin. Still waiting for Springtime Blood, but it'll be a while yet. For those outside Sydney, George Street is one of the main roads to travel along in the centre of the city, and I thought the Sparkle Girl poster spoke nicely to the slowly evolving multicultural face of the city.





"A white person is taught to believe that all that she or he does, good and ill, all that we achieve, is to be accounted for in terms of our individuality. It is intolerable to realise that we may get a job or a nice house, or a helpful response at school or in hospitals, because of our skin colour, not because of the unique achieving individual we must believe ourselves to be."

Comments

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bodhichitta0
Aug. 4th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC)
RE: White
I think everyone is blinded to some degree by the circumstances of their birth. I think the best we can do is realize that our experience isn't the only one and be at peace with the "good" and the "bad" of whatever our race (or gender) might be.

As for the second quote--there is no doubt I get perks for being a white woman driving a minivan in a nice middle class neighborhood. No doubt in my mind at all.
benpeek
Aug. 4th, 2005 03:13 am (UTC)
Re: White
i tend to think that being white requires you to be a bit more aware of it. from what i understand, if you're black or asian or indian or whatever in the western world, you're aware of this every day. flip on the telly, watch a movie, walk down the street, that sort of thing. if you realise the same things as a white person, it starts to take you out of the power position, and begins to alter perceptions, changes, and so forth.

it's simple to do it with fiction. for example: if you have a black character in a novel, it's often mentioned. but if you have a white character, their skin colour is not. it's as if their race doesn't exist within the book, but for someone of another ethnicity (or an otherness) it's almost like it's a characteristic.
bodhichitta0
Aug. 4th, 2005 12:27 pm (UTC)
Re: White
The "...to whom much is given is much expected" argument. A good one. I agree with it. I actually do think about my race at times. And I think about other's race when I first meet them--like it's registering with me. I especially hate it when I talk to someone on the phone and then I meet him/her and he/she is African American and I think "they didn't 'sound' black on the phone." I really hate that reaction--And I hate admitting to it. Especially since my brother in law is Latino, my niece/goddaughter is mixed race (white, Native American and African American), her boyfriend is Latino...

I like to think I'm not prejudice but if it still registers, and if I still have this misconception or assumption, I still work to do. It's very depressing.

I know part of this comes from my father--who I think the world of but of course is a product of his generation. My dad is a good guy, had an Army buddy who was black and they wouldn't go in bars and such that he couldn't go in. But back home there were the good "blacks" and the bad "blacks." The "good" blacks worked at the factory and took their paychecks home to their families and BBQ'd on the weekends and paid their taxes and their parents had followed MLK. And the "bad" blacks did drugs, killed people, were possibly following Malcolm X and in the Black Panthers and rioted.
benpeek
Aug. 4th, 2005 12:42 pm (UTC)
Re: White

i sometimes wonder if it's wrong to tell people that they should NOT register someones race. maybe we should register it, just as the same time we register being white. so instead of being ashamed of this we're something... i dunno, different? beats me. but i have the same reactions at times, just as you, and i hate them and feel self conscious about it, but maybe it's wrong to think that. people--ALL people--are different. maybe be ought to just celebrate that, instead?

(that's a poorly thought out argument, i am sure.)

we have the same good black, bad black thing there, except with aborigines. we don't much use the term black, however.
bodhichitta0
Aug. 4th, 2005 12:56 pm (UTC)
Re: White
I don't think I mind the registering of someone's race as much as I mind the "she didn't sound black" thought that creeps out. I *really* mind that part of myself. The registering part isn't a bad thing and it should be celebrated. It's just that race is loaded with so much stuff that it shouldn't be loaded with. I know it can be done too because I don't meet a Native American and assume they live on a reservation. I don't meet an Asian and think "they must be very smart." It's something about that initial meeting between black and white--I don't know if it's because we've had so many race problems in Michigan or the way I was raised or the culture of fear the Man :-p is trying to create or what.

Like Bill Maher or someone said, maybe we should all just interbreed and everyone eventually would become the same nice shade and we wouldn't have to worry about it. :-)
matociquala
Aug. 4th, 2005 03:11 am (UTC)
I've failed to get a job and/or a helpful response for the sin of being female. I've been in physical danger for the same reason, and been very aware that to somebody else I belonged to a category rather than being percieved as a person.

I think that quote needs the "shes" taken out of it and the word "heterosexual" added judiciously.

But I'm also in a mood today. So I may not be the ideal critic.
benpeek
Aug. 4th, 2005 03:18 am (UTC)
i've been asked in a job interview if i have a criminal record. it's the kind of white guy i look like.

but, personal experience aside, she doesn't need to be removed. heterosexual doesn't need to be added. see, you can be stereotyped and discriminated against if you're white. it happens to lots of people due to gender, income, education, and so forth. but when the discrimination happens, it doesn't happen because you're white. being white has nothing to do with your discrimination. you become a universal 'woman' or, in the case of homosexuals, 'gay man' or 'lesbian'. if you're black, you become a 'black woman' and a 'black gay man' and so forth.
shadowsandice
Aug. 4th, 2005 07:42 am (UTC)
I can pass for white, but I know I'm not. I walk around thinking 'i'm not white, and people will condemn me for this'. Because yes, white people assume a lot, and as said, it isn't out of malice.
benpeek
Aug. 4th, 2005 08:53 am (UTC)
yeah, the thing is that white people aren't taught to recognise their own race. look at a lot of novels and fiction written by white people--the main character is never described as white. it's just a given. which is kind of insulting to a whole range of people.

i might write a larger post about this tomorrow.

(incidently, i didn't think of you as white. doesn't mean a thing, i might add, just saying. i figured you were asian--though that said, it was the last name more than anything.)
shadowsandice
Aug. 4th, 2005 09:02 am (UTC)
I believe the politically incorrect term for someone like me is "banana": yellow on the outside, white on the inside.

benpeek
Aug. 4th, 2005 11:56 am (UTC)
yeah, i've heard the term before. girl in one of my classes last year used the term for herself.

on the inside, i just figure people are people. whole lot of different kinds. but then maybe i just say it cause, when given a term like banana, i can't help but think that it's being used in a negative way.
planeterry
Aug. 4th, 2005 11:16 am (UTC)
I couldn't ever pass for white (well, maybe on the internet), and yet I hardly ever think about it. I definitely don't expect to be condemned.

Possibly because of an intersection with 'male'? And probably also because of a bit of arrogance (which may also intersect with 'male').
benpeek
Aug. 4th, 2005 11:57 am (UTC)
for some reason, if i'd been asked, i would've said your username was for a female...
chrisbarnes
Aug. 4th, 2005 09:17 am (UTC)
That's a good photo. The perspective, the colours, and the giant Sparkle Girl looking down on it all like some unreadable deity. The traffic lights seem to be indicating "Turn aside now. Do not proceed closer to the Sparkle Girl."

I occasionally remember I'm white, and try to imagine what it's like to not be a white middle class male (unsuccessfully, I suspect). But I do try to remember how lucky I am to have been born into such a privileged position.
benpeek
Aug. 4th, 2005 12:03 pm (UTC)
the photo would have been better, i think, if'd been able to get into the middle of george street to take it. traffic was pretty busy, so i couldn't. i have, however, cropped the image a bit to put more emphasis of sparkle girl. in the original she was a bit lost in all the red flags.

i don't reckon you got to remember how lucky you are, personally. i think it's more about realising that you have a racial content. it's the first step--though for what kind of end, i've no real idea. but when you can sit down in a bus or watch the tv and you think, 'lot of white people here,' you're starting to be aware of things.

least that's my take.
ex_benpayne119
Aug. 4th, 2005 09:52 am (UTC)
it's interesting... i think the same is true of sexuality... characters are assumed to be straight unless identified otherwise...

some people would argue that "male" is the default too.... although I don't think male is ever an absent sign the way "white" and "straight" are... maybe just because of our language but I don't remember ever not knowing a character's gender... nor do I ever lose consciousness of my own maleness... i'm made "aware" of being male much more frequently than I'm "aware" of the fact that I'm white, or straight...

i wonder if that's a sign that women are more accepted... perhaps not... perhaps it's just a sign that women are to be oppressed but not ostrasised... you can imagine right-wingers quite happily sending all other races and homosexuals off in a spaceship quite happily... but there's never that sense with women... men want to control women but they always want them "here"...

benpeek
Aug. 4th, 2005 12:08 pm (UTC)
you know, i don't really register my whole maleness thing. i'm aware that i'm white and that i'm straight more than being male. i couldn't tell you why--perhaps there's just more stigma attached to being gay and ethnically 'other' these days. while there are still discriminations against women around, it's nothing like being told you can't have the same rights as a straight person because you're gay.

as for the right wingers... well, of course they wouldn't send the women off. that'd just leave a planet of men! and a planet of men is a planet of men who become gay, obviously. you need women in skimpy clothing to stop that.
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