Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's a silly little flag. And the wrong one.

The "Confederate" Flag is such big news after a disturbed young man committed mass murder, there is just no way to ignore it.  Here in South Carolina, there are so many people wanting to keep the flag where it's at.  I'm not even sure why.  It's not the Confederate Flag.  It's the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, the unit of General Lee.  It's not the flag for South Carolina.  It's not the Battle Flag of the Army of South Carolina.  Of course, it's just a flag when it comes right down to it.  But as we all know, the flag of any country or state or ideal can take on a life of its own.  "Don't Tread on Me" is a flag that sparks all kinds of American pride and reminds us of our fight for our Independence.  The snake cut into 13 pieces representing the divided we fall and together we were tired of unfair treatment comes into many people's minds when they hear those words even if they don't know the history behind the it or even the details of the flag.  For many, the Virginia Battle Flag has become a symbol of heritage, but for many it has also become a dark reminder of the oppression of two centuries now gone by.  We don't need to debate either of those opinions.  That is what the opinions are.

First, as I pointed out, it is not South Carolina's Battle Flag, aka. The Sovereignty Flag or Succession Flag.  So using the Virginia flag to honor South Carolina Civil War veterans is kind of like honoring Army Airborne veterans with The Air Force Academy flag.  It's really not about heritage unless we're in Virginia, because the true heritage is represented by a totally different flag.  That being stated, it is a flag that the Ku Klux Klan used quite freely as a symbol of white authority and black oppression.  It is a symbol that has even been further embraced by the Neo-Nazis of the entire planet of white supremacy.  It's offensive to so many people.  It's not the flag's fault, but once that bell was rung, there is no unringing it.  When I have friends that insist it's about heritage, I cringe.  I know they think it is, but it isn't.  They've lived with that story most if not all of their lives.  It was a story that South Carolina perpetuated by writing their own history books for their schools.  I never quite understood why.  Of course, those school books were written when the Klan ruled.  They were still being used just a decade ago.  Everything before the Civil War was great; everything after was great.  And the Civil War was the War of Northern Aggression.  The Civil War was about States' Rights.  Well, yes, but it was about one single state right--slavery.  Of course, since only 10% of the whites owned slaves in the South and the same owned all the newspapers of the time, it's not hard to see how easily the actual slave owners could convince the masses otherwise.  There was no Virginia Battle Flag so prominently displayed initially after the War.  It wasn't until the 1920s that most of the Confederate memorials even displayed that particular flag.  South Carolina was even a little miffed during the 4 years of the Confederacy because they had been the first to succeed from the Union.  Why would Virginia's flag be on the Confederacy flag?   There were several iterations of the Confederacy Flag during those years and many of the suggested had the Virginia Battle Flag incorporated using Richmond as the justification.  South Carolina was appalled because they had been the first to succeed from the Union.  They were insulted, but all that history has been lost.  All that is left is a systemic attempt to intimidate and create a sub-culture of acceptance of white supremacy united under a flag that some people have just accepted as a Southern thing.

OK, so flag aside.  Racism is not a Southern thing.  I have very vivid memories growing up all over this country of racists all over the place.  Ohio, Michigan, California, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Florida.  I served in the United States Navy with people I would classify as racists from all those states and from Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, pretty much name the state.  The Ku Klux Klan may have held on to power in the South for the better portion of a century, but the original "million man" march was the organized and walked down the same road up to Capitol Hill in the 1920s.  Yes.  Klan was prevalent all over the United States then.  There were branches of the Klan all over this country and they were considered perfectly acceptable.  People didn't rent to "coloreds".  As I've said before, my grandparents rented exclusively to blacks.  My grandmother was often chastised by her friends.  She started calling them blacks because that was what she was told by one that they preferred.  Her friends chastised her for even caring.  White Northerners moved out of neighborhoods with just as much racism and hatred if a black family bought or rented there.  They made threatening phone calls and burned crosses.  There were race riots in the United States in the 1960s in Southern California, Detroit, Chicago, the Bay Area, not just the Deep South.  All the people pointing fingers at the little state of South Carolina need to take a long, and I mean LONG, look in the mirror of their own history.  My father and mother were threatened in Detroit and Toledo and in towns all along the Pennsylvania Turnpike when they would travel.  Those that think that they've come so far need only to see the race riots in Missouri recently to know that it is not a Deep South problem.  It is an all over the United States thing.

In no way am I advocating keeping the Virginia Battle Flag over any Confederate dead or memorials, unless veterans of the Northern Virginia Army during the Civil War.  I think it is a travesty that manipulative organizations or organization skewed the meaning of one flag to create a symbol of oppression.  And make no mistake, Robert E. Lee himself would be mortified.  He was the original general that Lincoln offered the position to lead the Union Army to get SC back in line.  He considered it, even after Virginia split over the whole thing--creating West Virginia even.  Finally, he responded that he could not in good conscience go against his state.  Would he have lead the Union Army if Virginia had chosen a different course of action?  We will never know.  If it had been the case, it would most likely be the South Carolina Battle Flag which would be a racist symbol today.  Of course, bless us, it is not.  It is truly an emblem of the men who died for a cause that they believed in whether it was or wasn't misguided.  It is the flag that should be flown over all SC Civil War memorials.  Those memorials should also include the United States flag.  Ultimately, the goal might have been to save the Union or leave the Union, but the secession proved two things:  A nation for the people by the people will not perish from the Earth and for all our differences we are all Americans.

As far as the racist question, the Virginia Battle Flag didn't choose to be the emblem it became, but ultimately, no emblem has ever chosen itself.  The ramifications that it was the chosen emblem are not its fault, but it has come to represent a bitter past that while it flies reminds us that too many people haven't learned from the past.  I remember pictures of lynchings that my grandmother had clipped.  That Virginia Battle Flag there.  The Civil War was over.  We had fought two World Wars that had really nothing to do with us for freedom.  The flag became the emblem of the quiet ugly war hidden behind sheets that was taking place day in and day out for some people in this country.  Not just in the Deep South.  EVERYWHERE.  The 1960s Civil Rights movement focused on the South because it was the place where the racist rhetoric was more out in the open, but I remember the blacks riding in the back of the bus in Ohio and California.  Not by choice, but because it was easier than arguing the point and eventually as some kind of badge of honor.  Regardless, it was everywhere.  Every state.  Point the finger at South Carolina all any of you like.  Look at how you view the areas in your own city or state that are a majority of minorities, a majority of blacks.  Look at how realtors still steer people in many areas to where they will be "socially acceptable".  These are real issues because some of you still look at anyone other than white moving into your neighborhood as a travesty or "there goes the neighborhood".

Sure that can be the case I guess, but it becomes the proverbial chicken and egg right?  Did the neighborhood go downhill because one black family moved in or because everyone that was living there bailed at a lower price before "there went the neighborhood":?  I don't know the answer.  I'm not researching it because I don't care.  I really don't.  I'm just as bad as other people saying I don't care and I'm not going to research it because I really don't care.  If a black engineer moves into my neighborhood with his middle class kids, I'm not going to care.  I'm going to completely freak out if it's a pregnant single woman with 5 kids  and 6 baby daddies collecting welfare, regardless of color.

What I care about is that the wounds that torment this country and how we get viewed by other countries.  We are so young in the grand scheme of things, just over a couple centuries.  How we react to this symbol, regardless of what we would like to think of it representing, speaks volumes about who we are, how far we have come and far how we have to go.  I'm praying that our country starts acknowledging that every state still has issues and that this emblem is the least of the problem.  I'm also hoping that South Carolinians lead this charge.  The Virginia Battle Flag is not representative of the men who fought for South Carolina.  It is very representative of a silent war against minorities.  While its removal from any place is only a tiny gesture compared to the bigger problem, it is taking off the tip of the iceberg and putting the focus back on the real problem.  We still have some racial issues to overcome.  A silly flag that the men of South Carolina did not fight for should not be one of them.

Monday, June 22, 2015

"Be polite, but you don't have to make conversation."

Over the years, I've noticed that some people will lie about the most mundane things.  Not that it's my business or anyone else's business if someone wants to maintain their privacy.  If it's not hurting anyone, the privacy one keeps should be defined by them.  Not everyone compartmentalizes like I do.  I simply only allow what I feel comfortable with out.  I'll tell you all kinds of things about myself that seem like I'm an open book.  Yet, those that know me really well know that there is a lot of stuff I hold back.  When I had surgery, I didn't really tell anyone.  Not even my boys.  I just don't like the idea of worrying a lot of people.  I didn't tell anyone that knew about it too much either.  I honestly preferred not to think about it too much.  What little I did tell was usually minimizing it because I preferred to think of it as small rather than large.  Still, even if I thought it was none of someone's business, aka. I didn't think my business is any of their business, I was as gracious as could be and gave a generic answer that was still truthful.

When someone lies, if it's not hurting anyone, then it is arguably acceptable.  I'm not a proponent of this argument.  If someone lies, they are still lying and most probably in a black and white world, liars.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not advocating lying about anything.  Personally, I think telling someone to mind their own business is far more effective in getting someone to mind their own business.  While they might bitch that you were rude to them, the truth is they will never ask you again.  You will not have to answer their prying questions where you didn't want them going in the first place.  However, not everyone has enough self confidence to tell another person to mind their own business.  I had a friend once say she didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by telling them it was none of their business.  That was about 20 years ago.  Now, if it's none of their business, she'll tell them quite readily.  It's probably a female thing to some degree.  Men don't talk about "uncomfortable" things normally, and they don't generally ask other men about how they are feeling.  Men generally allow other men to "share" only at their own comfort level.  Women, though, have a tendency to be a little more nosey and thereby create the "need" (let's call it that) to lie.  At that point, it's kind of like the proverbial chicken and egg.  Who initiated the lie?  The person who kept asking more than the other person wanted to share or the person who just gave an answer that they thought would be easier than saying "mind your own business"?  While I'll admit over the years, "mind your own business" hasn't always made me a favorite of the busy bodies; it has definitely spared me having to be their "best buddy".  Busy bodies always want to know someone else's business.  The less they know the better.  But from my humble observations, the people that lie and just give answers to provide answers, while being politer, end up with the busy body gossiping about them behind their back, wittingly and unwittingly spreading inaccuracies, and of course, coming back for more and more.  I'm not advocating my way of just telling them it's not their business.  They'll barely talk to me.  Not a bad thing though from my point of view.  Saves a lot of wasted breath.  If you want to lie to those types, don't complain that they come back and bug you for more information.  That's what they're going to do, and by lying to appease them, you simply feed them and they're need to be where they are not wanted.

Compartmentalizing is something a lot of people do.  Mostly men.  Men have many faces that they let show depending upon the situation.  If you're a woman, watch them if you don't believe me.  Men are different with their group of friends, with the people they work with, with people they like and don't like, with family and with you.  It would seem very incongruent, but since most men are this way, we simply dub it as being male.  Women used to be told that we were to portray the same person all the time.  The forced congeniality forced women to make concessions on how we approach each other and the world.  It also put us in the position where some felt like they had to be nice at all costs--they make movies like "Mean Girls" because to some degree we are groomed to stab the crap out of each other all while smiling to each other's faces.  Generally, men don't bother with this.  There is a rigidity when men don't like each other but have to interact.  It's not that they like everyone of the guys they know.  It's that they will just shrug it off without bothering to say anything.  Often, women that hate each other appear to be the best of friends even when everyone in the room knows they can't stand each other.  There's a clear separation for men of friends and acquaintances although these look the same in some situations.  Men do not spur an acquaintance as long as there is no reason to do so.  Women can be cold and callous to an acquaintance because we tend to be leary of anyone who has not proven themselves.  Why?  Because we often tell too much about ourselves because we feel the need to respond to someone who we genuinely feel it's not their business but we provide answers anyway.  The natural reflex then is to  be on guard whenever anyone new surfaces.  Men, the majority anyway, have this one right.  Don't share your business with anyone unless you're comfortable with it.  They shouldn't be asking unless you're sharing in the first place, and there's no reason to lie to them or share if you don't want to.  Tell them you'd rather not talk about it.  Voila.  It may seem rude, but in reality it's rude that anyone should cross boundaries that they do not share that comradary with you.  Telling them to mind their own business in a nice way is not rude just because you're a woman.  It's not rude if you're a man.  It's reminding someone to respect your boundaries.  It is defining those compartments of who you share what with.  It's your life and no one should cross those boundaries without your approval.  You shouldn't have to lie because they don't respect boundaries.  

Frankly, those people that don't respect boundaries tend to be the most annoying of all.  I used to have a friend that would say she was "fine" and then be upset behind your back that you weren't more worried about her.  Oh for God's sake, say what you mean and mean what you say.  If someone asks you how you are doing, you lie because you don't want them in your business, then you give the same answer to your friends.  How are your friends supposed to know the difference?  The problem with this woman was everything was a lie most of the time.  Manipulation.  She didn't want even her own friends to be friends.  Control.  Amazingly, she thought she was super smart, a well rounded smart.  Her lies though once your got to know her, even if you didn't know her if you were intelligent enough to recognize it, were extremely transparent.  This same woman accused me of being a liar, once.  It was quite humorous, because guys that I had known for some amount of time, put her in her place.  As anyone that knows me even fairly well will tell you, I might be too honest sometimes.  I've been working on that.  I don't see honesty as a bad thing, and too honest is pretty much a compliment.  However, some people are not worth the breath that you would waste calling them on their bullsh*t.  Not that men cannot be liars.  But men tend to be simpler about what they lie about.  Women, prestige and money.  They will lie about having any of those three and they will lie to get those three if they happen to be the type to lie in the first place.  That's it.  Prestige can be power and control.  Some will backstab a coworker if it means saving their own neck or a promotion.  Some will lie about women that spurned them or how many women they've had.  They'll pretend to have more money than they actually have.  But in general, the men that are liars tend to lie about things that are related to those 3 things and the rest of the men have little to no respect for them.  Yet, they'll be polite--not nice, but polite.  People that will lie about other people's boundaries, ie. a man who lies about how many women he's slept with, has no boundaries themselves--or very, very little.  Boundaries are what set us apart from animals.  We don't need a fence to keep us from chasing cars or to be fixed in order to not act like a Tom Cat going after any female cat in heat.  We set our boundaries for ourselves, and in many cases, have only ourselves to blame when other people cross them.

Don't get me wrong.  The boundaries we set should not keep people out.  Talking about ourselves is how we emotionally connect ourselves to others, but there are golden rules that really help us to connect with others.  One is open up to people where we can.  Honest, straight forward, truth.  I had a friend who after her mother died complained they had never been that close.  Over the years, she would lament that they didn't have a "close" relationship.  Of course, she lied to her mother regularly.  Lying to someone creates distance.  It's one more thing that each time we lie that we are hiding about ourselves.  I had a friend that was gay when I was in college.  At family holidays, I was often his "date".  His father was completely adverse to homosexuality.  Eventually, he told his family and had no contact with his parents and siblings for decades.  Yet, he admitted that he felt a huge weight lifted off of him and he became more accepting of his father.  It didn't matter that it wasn't returned.  What mattered was his mind was clear.  He had been honest regardless of the consequences.  "The truth shall set you free."  It was that way with my friend who's mother died.  Her biggest lament eventually was that it was too late to just tell her mother the truth.  She'll never know now how her mother would have reacted to the truths that she hid, but she will also never part with that weight.  There's part of it she carries with her to this day.  Honesty may not get the result we want.  But carrying a weight on ourselves without trusting others is crushing.  Which brings me to two.  Often we lie to others because we want others to accept us.  We are dishonest with ourselves.  Looking at the mirror every day and pretending who we are or aren't isn't changing who we actually are or aren't.  I'm sure that Caitlyn Jenner felt that way for over 50 years, but most of us aren't lying to such an extremity.  I don't know if most people think about it, but often the lies that we tell ourselves are the worst of all.  Finally, the only other thing that I can advise is listen.  I've noticed that because I can talk a lot some people assume that means I'm not listening.  Yet, when I'm silent and listening they don't notice.  I used to assume that was because of my strong voice--it resonates and carries.  Then I started to notice how often people would say to me that they couldn't remember telling me something or even that I remembered them telling me.  Of course, I remember.  If someone opens up to you with honesty, they may only be thinking of you as a sounding board, but that gift, even from a complete stranger, is priceless.  There aren't many people that a lot of people are honest with.  I seem to always get the most honest deep felt words that people share about themselves.  But it took me a long time to realize why.  I don't repeat what they tell me.  That's the final golden word.  Even when someone shares with you, it doesn't mean it is yours to share.  It means be appreciative that they shared a piece of themselves with you at all.  I know people that always share with me because they know I'm not sharing with someone else.  While some of them, I could do without because the 4 golden rules that I express here are not their rules.  They will gossip about anything I would share with them, but what they tell me is theirs not mine, even though they would not respect the same boundary.  Honest expression is a gift in both directions.  While it may be a little frustrating at times to realize those that share with you are not those that you should share with, appreciate when someone is honest.  It's a breath of very fresh air in world muddied with more lies, mostly lies.  When's the last time you believed anything a politician said?

The world is full of dishonesty.  It's almost become a completely acceptable behavior.  We almost expect everyone to be lying and the liars, a dead giveaway that they are liars, is they tell you someone is lying about something that you know is true.  We're not talking about inaccuracies.  Not everyone remembers every minute detail.  We're talking about straight up dishonesty.  There are so many lies that we listen to everyday, politicians, the media, et cetera, that are half or less truths meant to manipulate us into thinking one way or another, that we don't even second guess it anymore in a lot of cases.  The sad repercussion of this?  That everyday people that lie to manipulate and control us often get a pass too.  We've become inoculated to the behavior.  All because it was not nice enough to simply ask someone to mind their own business.  Winston Churchill said "A lie will travel around the world twice while the truth is still getting its boots on."  Every lie that we allow someone to tell or even tell ourselves rather than giving prying noses a quick closed door takes on a life of its own.  And, we have no one to blame but ourselves in those cases.  I'm not saying that they need to be cussed out every time you catch one.  I'm simply advocating telling them only truths and telling them when it's none of their business.  And if you catch them, call them on it if it's about someone else or even yourself.  Grams used to say "Be polite, but you don't have to make conversation."  You can still be gracious or even just ignore them when suitable without having to pretend to like or even enjoy their company.  Jealous people will pretend to be polite and curse you behind your back.  Why even try to talk to people like that?  They are being dishonest with others and themselves and they didn't respect your boundaries.  Politicians that you catch in lies don't respect boundaries.  But we define those boundaries.  Stand up for yourself with a little old fashioned honesty.  A little honesty here and there could eventually make the world a more honest place.  Even politicians.  It's time to try a little trickle up theory.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Don't live in a box...

"Call me Caitlyn," the former Olympic gold medalist, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, told Vanity Fair.  Honestly, I know it brought up a lot of discussion, but it really is his generation, the Baby Boomers, and a tad of my own, GenX, that has even given a rat's buttocks.  The thing that amazes me is how much we allow our older generations dictate behavior today.  I know there's a lot of fear in the African American community about "bad" cops.  Based on a lot of things that have occurred over the years, even the last 10-20 years, I understand my generation's angst.  I already wrote about that study that I found a bit sad.  Most Caucasian Americans, aka, "white", don't have a whole lot of anything other than other "whites" as friends.  Of course, I have a lot of middle class friends that are all different backgrounds who are all the same, and by same I mean pay their bills, pay their taxes, gripe about their taxes, not having enough money, work, have hopes for their kids, have plans for their retirements, and just struggling to live the American Dream.  Doesn't seem to matter what skin color, what education level, how much money they are making, they are all looking at the world and wondering who could restore and preserve the American Dream for the next generations.  Yet, Caitlyn Jenner got a lot of our attentions.  The mob mentality that took over Ferguson mesmerized us.  Why?  Because the Baby Boomers and GenX are still trying to answer questions that we technically already answered by instilling new attitudes into our children.

First, to be clear, the Baby Boomers changed the world more than any of us since.  More than any before them.  One generation a century probably makes such drastic changes to the world.  The Baby Boomers were it in the 20th century.  Race and sex determined a lot before them.  What job we could have, what education we could receive, what neighborhood we could live in, what kind of money we could make, who our friends could be according to society, and even what bathroom we could use.  Some in the Silent Generation had those dreams and quietly laid the ground work for the opportunity for it to happen.  But the Silent Generation was busy surviving, saving freedom around the world from World War I through the Cold War, and to be blunt, they were not ready for the changes that they were quietly, albeit to some degree unknowingly, instilling into their children.  Freedom for all, freedom from oppression, equal rights, the end of Fascism, the end of Communism, and perpetuating the coveted American Dream.  What did their children do with what they observed growing up?  The Sexual Revolution, the ultimate Civil Rights movement, acceptance for Sexual Orientation, the ultimate Freedom to be true to ourselves.

But with old age and wisdom doesn't always come a view of the world as it has changed.  Not at all.  My Daddy had no concept of how the world had changed between 1973 and 2003 when he asked me to talk to my brother about what it was like to be half Asian as a kid, what it was like for my father and mother, so that my brother would understand what he might be getting himself, his girlfriend, and his possible future children in.  I thank God that I was old enough, or wise enough, to not argue this moot point with Daddy.  I just told him that I would speak to my brother.  What I told my brother was the exact opposite of what Daddy thought I would.  Life has changed in 30 years and Daddy's experience 30 years ago was totally different that what my brother's would be.  Someone had to fall in love and risk everything eventually.  Daddy had to be one of them.  Not everyone is the Baby Boomer generation was willing to risk it all.  In 2003, no one needed to break that ground.  GenX had already started putting mixed racial relationships into full acceptance in the 1990s.  That clock wasn't turning back.  Daddy's experience would not be anything like my brother's.  Not even close.  I did remember my mother telling my Grams about Daddy having to defend himself and my mother once.  The couple of guys were no match for him.  Daddy hadn't had a scratch on him.  My mother's brother had been super impressed.  I didn't tell my brother that.  The worst thing he would have to deal with was maybe taunts, if even that.  I just told him the world had changed and Daddy was still living the in the fears of a generation gone by.  His fears were unwarranted, and even if they were, well, love is about our hearts not societal demands.

GenX and GenY have just moved us further and further from what the world was like prior to the 1960s.  Each decade we have seen movement.  I cannot even compare the 1980s to the 20-teens.  Gay was unspeakable until the 1980s, and as it became a "speakable" term, bigots, ignorant bigots, continued to perpetuate all kinds of horrible stereotypes.  Gay isn't something that most people wanted to believe was natural.  Yet, it was around all along.  One of the most famous heartthrobs of the Silent generation, Rock Hudson, was gay.  He pretended to be something he was not so well that he was considered one of the sexiest, OK back then--handsomest, men in the world.  Women swooned over him, even my Grams and my aunts just thought he was meow, meow, meow mix.  Yet the man lived in a closet with only his closest and most endeared friends knowing.  George Takei, Sulu from the original Star Trek, is gay.  In the 1960s, he tells people everyone knew, but that William Shatner simply ignored it like he didn't have an understanding.  Perhaps Bill didn't.  It just wasn't acceptable and if anyone insisted on acting like it was the responses were from pretending it wasn't there to brutal retaliation to imagined rules of society.  GenX scoffed at the "big" news of Rock Hudson.  We didn't care.  Really.  Most of us just didn't find being gay newsworthy, because well, some of our favorite music was coming from gay men.  Boy George and Culture Club were one of the signs of the 80s and our generation was just not going to care as much as generations before us.
So, Bruce, I mean, Caitlyn Jenner is 65 years old and finally comes out of the closet.  I can't imagine.  Over the years, being a girl brought up near obsessed with football and hockey, cars and motorcycles, let alone turning around and joining the military, has gotten me some accusations of being gay.  Ironically, I believe being female and gay has been and still is slightly easier than being a male gay.  I'm straight and honestly I get a little upchuck feeling at the idea of being with a woman.  Just not my cup of tea.  Yet, the stereotypes that people ran around with of what is or isn't acceptable behavior for a man or a woman are rules that I never completely abided by.  Why should I?  My Granddaddy used to tell me I could do anything a boy could do.  Picture having a blonde haired, blue eyed, 6'5" Granddaddy telling you that all the time. My Grams made me dress up in cute clothes and be all girly girl.  Between the pair of them, I am what I am.  When someone, generally male, has tried to tell me where I belong, it's not Grams' or my mother I hear.  I hear Granddaddy saying, "Stand up for yourself.  Don't take that."  I do.  I am equal.  I don't care if who is telling me I'm not whether they believe that or not.  It's not about them.  It's about me.  I know I'm not better or worse than anyone else, because it was instilled in me at a very young age.  But Bruce Jenner grew up in a different world.  It was not acceptable to be who he was.  It was important to be who they thought he was--unlike lucky me, who got told to be true to myself.  Much like Rock Hudson, Bruce Jenner was extremely good at covering up who he was, and I imagine to some degree eventually trapped in his mind because of how good he had covered himself, who he was, up.  I cannot imagine being like that.  My Grams' sister Gertrude was put in an asylum for wanting to wear pants, refusing to wear skirts or dresses, after reaching 14 years of age.  It was a big societal NO-NO.  There was nothing wrong with Gertrude.  She was a highly intelligent, thoughtful human being, who by the time society didn't have a problem with her wearing slacks had lived over half her life in an asylum.  When released, she couldn't survive in the world and begged to go back.  She died in an asylum, by her own choice because society had forsaken her for being different.  At 14 she refused to comply with society and was punished.  Rock Hudson, Bruce Jenner, probably thousands and thousands of others over the years, if not millions, have chosen to live in a pretend world.  Wake up every morning looking at themselves in the mirror and not barely recognize themselves.  Is that their fault or society's?

We could easily blame them.  But the failure is not theirs.  It was not Aunt Gertrude's.  It was not Rock Hudson's.  It was not Caitlyn Jenner's.  It was OUR fault.  We as a society and we need to own up to the fact that we did this to other people.  We do it to our children--be this or that.  It's expected in some way for us to provide that guidance.  Yet, it is not our right to tell them after they are adults.   We tell ourselves it's weird, but what we should be telling ourselves and others is that being true to yourself, ourselves, is more important than whether you were born a male or female.  Motorcycles are a great love to me, and it used to be pretty much an oddity to see women riding.  Yet, study after study (like 3 now) show that women that ride express being happier with themselves and their lives, more confident and more importantly express that they enjoy their lives.  None of that would ever happen if the world and society doesn't grow and accept us for who we are.  I bet my Great Aunt Gertrude would have loved motorcycles if society had let her be her.  Since I believe in reincarnation, I hope she's somewhere riding today and living the life that God meant for her to live rather than one that a less progressive society put her away in a box because she wouldn't put herself there.

Decide to support Caitlyn Jenner, not because you understand it or you would do it, but because you wouldn't want to live in that box.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Get out!!!

Welcome to the United States of America.  Now, get out!!!  

A sentiment that has gained a lot of support in the last decade.  Not one of our finest moments.  I'm sick of seeing it and have been told multiple times that since I'm obviously not (visually ambiguous enough I guess) that I can leave.  I served my country.  I have family with roots back to the 1820s.  I also am the daughter of a naturalized citizen.  My father came to this country from a British colony and relinquished his British citizenship because he loved this country that much.  My mother's father has roots in both the Deep South and the farm country along one of the Great Lakes.  I had family that fought on both sides during the Civil War, were decorated in the Great War (World War I) and have served myself.  I have family that came over at the turn of the last century, illegally if truth be told, because they had the money to come from Poland via Canada.  Yes, Polish.  Surprisingly, this country was not really happy to see the Poles, the Italians or the Irish immigrants who were fleeing Germans or starvation or societal unrest or just fleeing to a new country that was and still is young in ideas and fresh in its concepts.  The concepts of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, even the Right to Bear Arms.  These are no concepts accepted everywhere in the world, and more importantly, they are not concepts accepted as a whole in the world.  You will not bare arms in Europe.  You will not speak freely in China or Russia.  You will not worship freely whichever religion you choose in a third of this world.  You will not have true elections in almost half of this world and therefore, you will not be represented.  The concept, the dream, to be American is so often now, as it was years ago, still an immigrant thing.  Yes.  Somehow, those of us born and raised here have such little appreciation for our Great Nation that we feel it's ours exclusively.  

When someone sees this shit (yes, I'm not asterisking that out for this blog) and chooses to share it, have they considered who are the children of immigrants?  I am descendant of homegrown American blood--second or more generation.  I am also descendant of an immigrant.  I served this Great Nation.  I'm offended.  What's more important is:  Why are they not?!?!  Have they considered who actually has been descendant of immigrants in the past?  Consider that unless we have Native American blood in our lines, we are ALL descendant of immigrants.  At the longest stretch of this "get out" sentiment is every single American--white, black, yellow, brown--European, Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian.  None of us, zero, zilch, nada are not ourselves descendant of immigrants.  Legal?  At the bare minimum, most of the oldest families here from European roots were fleeing religious persecution, where worshiping what they worshiped was considered heresy.   When any of us look at any of our neighbors, look at our parents, look in the mirror, there is not a single one of us other than the Native Americans that can honestly claim they were not of immigrants.  Amazing that anyone would even let those words "get out" come to their minds, let alone leave their mouths.  Michelle Bachmann herself should not utter the words.  

Can we shut down immigration?  Close the borders?  It's kind of the same thing as herding cats.  Money will still allow those who want to come here to come, much like my Grams' family.  However, except for wartime or drastic atrocities, people with money do not need to flee their current circumstances.  I'm sure that Russians with money and power could care less that the majority of the masses of the Russian people are suffering.  Religious persecution?  Means nothing to those with money in this world.  They just jut across to Western Europe and enjoy French wine and the Italian countryside.  Religious persecution hasn't changed in thousands of years much.  Religion itself might be the root of all evil.  It erects barriers between people, gifts the most loyal and faithful of it with a sense of entitlement and superiority over others, and very often becomes a point of contention where the beliefs divide.  Mormons are of Christian faith and yet most Christians are still leery of the Mormon branch of their faith.  These differences, these concepts of one being less than another, even the concept of forcing others to practice no faith as communism of old had, is horrible.  Of course, as anyone of true faith can tell you, no one needs to attend a church to maintain their faith, but that doesn't change that it isn't right.  Yet, that is what goes on in the Middle East, in Russia, in China.  Mexico is not safe for Americans to visit anymore.  Imagine living there?  It's not really safe for most that live there either.  I can't imagine anyone fleeing a country where drug dealers and corrupt government officials are still rampant.  (Feel the sarcasm?)  People for decades, have hopped on dingy boats, barely river or lake worthy let alone sea worthy, to come to the USA from Cuba.  The draw of Freedom is huge.  We are not the only country.  Italy is rescuing people fleeing the Middle East and Africa by droves as they do the same thing over the Mediterranean Sea.  We as Americans cannot figure out how to "fix" this border "problem", because frankly, we cannot imagine what the hell they are fleeing from.  It's all words to us, because our parents, grandparents, heck great great great great great grandparents had that same dream and wanted nothing less than for us to never know what the hell they went through...what these people go through every day of their lives.  

Most amusing to me is people who claim that America, that we have a "culture".  An American culture.  Is there such a thing?  In the sense that they are talking about?  Probably not.  Family gatherings where people cook a feast outside and celebrate various holidays are not exclusively American.  Pig roasts over a rotisserie is not exclusively American--actually it is rooted in European roots.  Cooking a pig in the ground is a Native American and Pacific Islands thing originally.  Even apple pie is actually a cross between French and German and Irish cooking.  Macaroni and cheese is a mix between English and Italian.  It's all Americanized but it's roots are not actually full blown American.  Soda pop?  While various flavors are, root beer and ginger ale have European roots and therefore, so does all soda pop.  What is ours then?  What is American?  Freedom is our culture.  The one thing that we held supreme from day one.  Freedom to vote and be represented.  Freedom to not pay a King.  Freedom to speak and worship and protect ourselves.  These are no longer exclusively American, but ironically, we are the only ones that still have them all.  In Europe, the governments own cameras, in some places on every street corner, their private lives only private in their own homes, and even then, not to the level of our privacy.  Our culture varies depending upon our family lineage, how long our ancestry has been part of the great Melting Pot's fabric, and of course, how we have interpreted and combined the two over the years.  In Downtown Greenville, SC, this weekend is a Greek Festival.  There are few places in the world that we celebrate all the various cultures in the world as we do in the United States.  We celebrate these other "cultures" because each and every single one of them has added to the fabric that makes us American.  

While so many in this country are so sure that one semester of high school US Government and a year of US History makes them experts in what is or isn't American, there is so much more than what we were taught, let alone what we forgot.  Think about it.  Most can barely remember how to calculate the angle of an isosceles triangle or the 6th President of the United States.  All stuff we learned then, but will still boldly claim that they "know" what it is to be American.  Yes....and sadly, no.  Ask yourself if you know the answers to these questions:  

1.  Who's 4th in line to the President?  Most people do not remember #3, let alone know #4.  
2.  Who set the precedent of only serving 2 terms as President of the United States?
3.  Who made the Louisiana Purchase?
4.  In what order did the first 13 colonies become States?
5.  What year did the State you went to high school in actually become a member of the United States?
6.  What States remained "neutral" in the Civil War?
7.  Where is the Mason Dixon line?
8.  What was the Missouri Compromise?  Who wrote it?  (Back when our leadership actually wrote their own legislation, if you even knew that.)
9.  What President served in the US Senate after his Presidency?
10.  How many Presidents have been impeached?
11.  What are the methods that an Amendment can be added to the Constitution?  
12.  What are the requirements to serve in the United States House of Representatives? 

Amazingly, most Americans cannot answer all of those questions correctly.  Yet, we learned them.  All part of those books that we received in high school, all required curricula, and more importantly, all part of the standardized testing even back to the 1970s.  Every adult reading this should know as long as they graduated high school.  What we forgot is far more than what we actually remember.  

My final argument that I wish people would consider is who the immigrants of the past are that they would tell "get out" now...what children they may have had that have contributed to the American fabric. 

The following people were born of parents that were not "American":

1.  George Washington and all of the Founding Fathers.  Yes, there was no America and all of their families were not technically of American origin or citizenry prior to forming this Nation.
2.  Lawrence Welk.  An every Sunday evening entertainment for so many.  He was born in the Dakotas of German parents. 
3.  Joan Rivers.  Russian parents.  
4.  Michelle Kwan.  US Gold Medalist.  Chinese parents.
5.  Larry King.  Russian and Austrian parents.
6.  Colin Powell.  Jamaican parents.  
7.  Alex Rodriguez.  Dominican parents.

How about famous naturalized citizens (by the way, naturalized citizens are required to be able to answer those 12 questions above):

1.  Albert Einstein.
2.  Van Morrison.
3.  Andrew Carnegie.
4.  My personal hero.  Nikola Tesla.  
5.  Alex Trebek.
6.  Eddie Van Halen.  
7.  Cary Grant.  
8.  Bat Masterson.  Yes, the famous cowboy and lawman of the Wild West.
9.  Joseph Pulitzer, as in Pulitzer Prize.  

I was a bit mortified and saddened as I tried to choose people for these lists that were artists, authors, political and religious activists who fled their countries in fear of imprisonment or death.  As Americans, even ones that might fear our own police, we can have no idea what it is like to be in fear where the behavior to be ostracized is not only sanctioned but encouraged, where our lives mean so little that no one will rise up and speak on our behalves if the state has decided to kill or imprison us.  Just because of our religion, our art, our writings or just because who our family happens to be.  Can you imagine?  I cannot, nor would I. 

I will not even entertain that any one of us has the right to tell another American, born and raised, to "get out".  Bluntly, we do not.  I won't tell the Americans telling others to "get out" to get out, other than to say, if you feel that strongly in favor of fascism, perhaps our Great Nation isn't really the right nation for you.  Any one of you telling anyone to "get out" might want to invest $30 in Ancestry.com.  You'll probably be in for a rude awakening.  You came from immigrants.  They were not welcome when they came, and any one of us could be told to get out based on that way of thinking.  This Nation was founded on Freedom.  So much that we fought two World Wars that had zero to do with us in Europe for that grand concept of Freedom.  We fought ourselves over it.  We send our sons and daughters to fight for it all over the world even today.  Get out?  Other than your freedom to say it, how does that represent the Freedom of this Great Nation?  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hello? Is this thing on????

Some of the things that some people say or think never cease to amaze me.  A few months back, someone said to me that politicians don't affect our everyday life and therefore they didn't care if they voted or not.  Since they were sharing their opinion of the politicians, I replied that they had no reason to have an opinion then.  You might have one if you don't vote, but since you don't voice your opinion in the one way that it matters, it is as worthless as the paper it is written on, I told them.  So what is it that makes anyone think that vote doesn't count?  Sheer stupidity.  Yes, I will be so bold.  In a fascist regime, your vote would not count but you would be required to vote like it mattered.  Your voice would simply mimick whatever you were told to believe and if you spoke your true opinion, assuming that you had one, you would be arrested at minimum.  Murdered possibly, with the sanction of the government that you spoke out against.  Our government affects our everyday life.  In this new global world, with the Information Age in full blown force, minutes to hear of what happened halfway around the world versus weeks or months, every government on this planet can affect and impact our lives.  It is naive to believe otherwise, or wishful thinking at best.

First, ask yourself if you are working.  Is your health insurance better than it was 6 years ago?  Are your paying more for it?  What happened to increase your costs and reduce your benefits?  President Obama happened.  Obamacare happened.  And no matter what the Republicans may try to do to reverse it, the only organizations that benefited from Obamacare are the insurance companies--higher premiums and lower benefits.  More in and less out...any corporation's dream come true.  If you think the Republicans can or even want to unring that bell, well, I'm guessing you still believe in the tooth fairy too.  The impact one President had.

Ask anyone in the private jet industry.  Within six months of President Obama running his mouth about an industry that has been virtually untouched in decades by any recessions, they were struggling to keep even one fifth of the people that worked in their industry.  As a primary contributor to the United States GNP (Gross National Product), you would think that the President of the United States, who was supposedly trying desperately to save the American Economy, would have known  that before he opened his pie hole.  But of course, we are talking about someone who was appointed to the Illinois State Senate, then re-elected as an incumbent (another words not elected initially on his own), then 1/3 of a term as a US Senator and decided to run for President of the United States.  When this man started mulling over the possibility of running for President of the United States, one of the most powerful people in the world and one who's decisions potentially could impact everyone on the planet, he barely had over 5 years of political experience.  He had zero management experience.  No useful training for the illustrious position, the power of the position that is the President of the United States.  Yet, somehow managed to get up there by sheer lip service.

Now, he wishes to give away the farm to Iran.  Let's review Iran, shall we?  Iran hostages in the 1970s?  Ringing any bells?  Threatened, over and over regardless of their leadership, to destroy America.  You know America, the United States of America to be exact, the infidels?  Us.  Who do you think initially coined the term infidels to refer to America and Americans, in general?  Ah, yes, technically Iran.  Iran continues to finance global terrorism.  Thus why all the trade sanctions.  We don't want to help grow an economy that could use the money to finance more American and European and Asian allies deaths.  So, our illustrious idiot would like to lift sanctions and even more intelligently (feel the sarcasm) allow Iran to obtain nuclear ore.

Okay, let's say you think so what?  How does that affect me?  Doesn't affect me.  Not one bit.

After World War I, Richard Chamberlain, Prime Minister of England, gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler to appease him.  No one wanted war and no one wanted to make Hitler leave Poland.  So Prime Minister Chamberlain led the charge to appease potential German advances with territory and lifting of sanctions.  How did that work out for the world?  World War II proved to take more American lives than any war before or since.  Hitler marched his happy butt right into France.  Bombing of England day in and day out.  The Holocaust.  Do we really want to hand over ore that we have successfully prevented Iran from getting their hands on for decades?  Do we want to hand over the ability for Iran to level Rome, London, Paris, Hamburg, or even New York City?  Have we already forgotten the Twin Towers?  Are we so ignorant to history, that we will allow nuclear capability to be handed over to Iran with a smile, a handshake and a wink from a President who lives in his own little la-la land?  While I love the sound of the dream world he lives it, it is not the world that we actually live in.

President Obama has two more years in office, but the impact of handing over nuclear capability to Iran is forever.  It is a permanent decision that affects every person in every country, free or not, on this planet.  Call your Congressmen, call your Senators, email, snail mail...Call the White House.  While President Obama's blunders so far are costing us money in our pockets, this blunder could eventually lead to a nuclear attack on one of our cities.  New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco.  Imagine a nuclear wasteland on Long Island or where the Golden Gate used to stand.  No one, not even in other countries, ever imagined that someone would fly planes into the World Trade Centers.  I'm pretty sure none of us are so naive anymore as to assume that could never happen now.  Imagine if just one of those planes had a nuclear weapon on it.  Are you sure that you want to turn a blind eye as the President now hands that capability over willingly to those that have swore death to all Infidels, to all Americans?  Hello?!?!?  Wake up America.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bad advice or something of that nature...

Raising boys over the years has been a bit of a challenge.  I never imagined it was because they were boys though.  It was simpler than that.  Single mother and three children.  As anyone can attest to, having one is a big change, two seems like a piece of cake and for some reason adding a third can seriously change the balance.  Of course, we all know that I was raised with the concept that I could do anything a boy could do and well, that included raising responsible young men.  My oldest, as every oldest does, got a bit of the short end of the stick because every child rearing mistake was always on him.  Of course, he also got the long end of the stick too.  There are more pictures of him than my younger boys.  Lots more.  People always wanted to give me advice on how to raise them.  Some good.  Some not so good.  A lot of people always want to give you advice on this or that.  And having boys, well, I've noticed that some men give the worst advice.  Don't get me wrong, but egocentricity tends to play a big part in giving bad advice whether it's coming from a man or a woman.  But men tend to keep their opinions to themselves more than women.  So generally when one is insisting on giving advice it can be a complete disaster to listen to. 

My favorite worst advice I ever heard from a man was that idiot that used to have the dating guru show.  You might remember him from the 90s.  A goofy velvet top hat in purple who taught classes on how to pick up women, then turned it into a show on some cable network.  His famous line was something along the lines of "treat a lady like a whore and a whore like a lady".  I think quite a few men bought into this back then and a good portion of them just can't understand why they constantly end up with skeezy women.  Well, here's the real advice guys.  Treat a whore like a lady and she will still be a whore, but she'll come back over and over to suck you dry eventually of anything and everything you have.  A lady will get fed up being treated like a whore and move on, leaving you in a lurch wondering why she bothered.  Worst advice ever.  In comparison, I told my boys a simple one liner.  "I don't care who you date, white, black, purple or green or any shade in between, but you bring home any trash and I will throw it out."  No matter how hard you try, you will never turn a whore into a lady.  There's even a song to that effect.  I've seen wonderful ladies get ragged from being mistreated and not be so lady-like.  But a good woman will always revert back to being a good woman. 

My ex-husband used to have this song he liked to ramble on to.  "If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, make an ugly woman your wife."  Ok.  Seriously, this probably really applies to a lot of men, but not so much to women.  Any guy will tell you, and I've observed it to be true, good looking men can get lots and lots of whores.  There are just a lot more opportunities for a good looking man and for some reason that makes being with a good looking man more risky.  But women, we are really on the opposite spectrum.  Of the women I know that are horribly whore-ish, they're all dogs and not just physically unappetizing but ugly to the bone.  Weight has nothing to do with it.  Personality is fake.  They'll run around and stalk your new girlfriend's Facebook page waiting to call you the minute your girlfriend takes your picture down.  They'll pretend to be your friend.  Can men and women be friends?  Yes, of course.  But that friendship is under a true respect for each other.  Since whores don't actually respect themselves, they are definitely not respecting you.  I've told my boys cover it up, because you'll never know what you've gotten with unless she's a stripper.  Odds are really good then that she's been way around the block. 

Besides that we kind of are ingrained by society to be with someone that is equal in appearance.  There was a fascinating study I saw about 5 years ago.  The men and women in the study couldn't see each other, but each were numbered with 1 to 10.  They were told to find the person that they thought they would be interested in dating.  The twenty wandered talking and even though they had no idea what each other actually looked like, the 10 ended up with the 10.  The 9 with the 9.  The 8 with the 8.  Yes, all the way down to 1.  We might have no clue how we look but we still end up with someone that other markers tell us who we should be with.  Yes, it's not just looks.  It's our own perception of ourselves from others and then our own perception based on that helps us choose who we would or would not prospectively be with. 

My oldest son is a chicky wicky magnet.  He's way too intelligent for a chicky wicky and over the years I've told him to find a smart girl, one smart enough that he can have conversations with.  Nothing sucks more than talking with someone day in, day out that hasn't got the same intellectual level.  Don't get me wrong.  In spurts, a date here or there.  Four hours to 12 hours a week.  Sure.  But 14 to 24 hours a day?  No one can be around someone all the time like that unless they have the ability to converse.  The trick is to find someone on the same level as you, I've told him.  It is a trick, right?  I mean I met an utterly amazing looking man that was so dumb I was pretty sure he had to get his driver's license out to spell his name.  I'd have been bored stiff with someone like that.  Don't get me wrong.  A chicky wicky shouldn't want my son either.  He'd annoy her with his over-intellect.  Heck, he annoys me sometime with it.  Smart aleck meets a high IQ that is a sponge for information who is independent enough to form his own opinion.  Really I have no idea where he gets it from...(yea, ok, bull).  I raised him to respect a woman's opinion, so a woman who is just going to agree with him all the time and not form her own opinion is going to drive him nuts.  Look for who meets your mind.

Of course, my advice over the years has been based on the fact my Granddaddy, two of my uncles and my Daddy all told me I was equal to a boy and some of my best friends have been guys.  While this has not benefited me relationship-wise over the years, I think God thought it would benefit my boys and eventually whoever they're in relationships with.  One of my less favorite aunts told me once that God didn't give me a girl because the world wasn't ready for a girl raised by me.  In hindsight, she's right that God didn't give me a girl for a reason.  She was just way off base why.  Men instill confidence in their daughters.  Women instill respect in their sons.  Men will always mimic their male role models, so it's their mothers make them into someone lovable.  Women will always instill the sugar and the spice that makes girls women.  But the confidence of a woman to stand equal, well, speaking from experience, when a man has tried to put me in my "place", it isn't my mother's or grandmothers' voices that I hear.  I hear my Granddaddy, "don't ever take that from a man or anyone for that matter.  Respect yourself enough to stand up for yourself."  So why did God give me boys?  Because we've forgotten to teach our sons to respect.  As we've taught our daughters to stand up for themselves, we forgot the boys need to learn valuable softening lessons.  My boys were raised old school--not treat a lady like a whore and a whore like a lady.  Open the door, pull out her chair, pay.  A lady doesn't go dutch and trust me when my youngest went out with his girlfriend, he paid...well, I paid.  I didn't have a girl because I couldn't teach her anything as valuable.  I could teach her to be a lady, but the world is still full of ladies.  The world is starting to fall short of gentlemen. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What do you mean I'm racist?

Oh I'm sure the title alone got your attention.  A recent poll says that 38.4% of all Americans do not have friends of other races.  But that says all.  Guess what the averages are by race?  Well, according to the study that sparked the poll, African Americans have friends of other races about 65% of the time.  Hispanic Americans hit an all-time high at over 93% of them have friends of other races.  So why's the study say only 38.4% total have friends of another race?  Sounds like that number should be much higher.  White Americans, Caucasian of European decent, guess what?  They report that they as a whole, no kidding, only 25% of them have any friends outside of their own race.  Are you one of those white people?  Do you only have other white friends?  Think about it.  You live in a community or neighborhood.  How many other races are represented?  I lived in a fantastic neighborhood, upper middle class in Kansas.  The whole neighborhood was white, except me and one other family.  The other family was Chinese.  I'm part Chinese.  Asian Americans were not reported.  We tended to be represented in every facet though with African Americans reporting an average of 3 of us as friends.  White America tended to report 1 of us if they were part of the 25% that actually have other races represented.  But yea, White America is 75% totally white.  No other influences.  

Now what's that mean?  Well, I started thinking about my friends and who they socialize with.  Most of my friends are, well, white.  I have quite a few black friends, a couple Hispanic friends, a couple of Native American decent, but mostly white.  And by white, they don't have any other non-white friends other than me.  I'm that in percentage.  I'm the Asian friend and guess what?  I'm not full on Asian.  Is that their fault?  I don't know.  I know people that give Native Americans and Asian Americans a different status than African Americans and/or Latino Americans.  Stereotypes maybe?  I mean we are still a society of stereotyping and profiling and most of us know absolutely nothing about profiling yet we love to judge a book by the cover.  Most of my "white" friends claim to not be racist.  Honestly, and if you're one of them reading this and recognize this as you, well, yes, then I am probably using you as one of the gauge here, but I'd say that half of them are sort of.  

Sort of?  What's "sort of"?  They don't have any friends outside of white other than me.  They make snipe comments when they see people of other races where they think they don't belong.  Don't get me wrong.  They don't see it as racist at all.  But, yes, to a lot of people it is.  Pretty much anyone of "color" (I hate that term) would probably find it racist or at least naive at best.  I've been called a racist before.  The statement made me confused and I really did quite a bit of "soul searching".  Am I racist?  I have a good friend, like a sister to me, who I introduce that way, who just happens to be black.  If she needed anything, if her kids needed anything, I wouldn't hesitate to help her.  She's a great woman, good job, works hard, owns her own home, taken care of her 3 kids on her own and honestly probably 10 times the mother I have ever been.  She's like family to me.  In another life she damn well might have been.  God knows that most Southerners, white or not, probably have some Native or other in the mix somewhere.  Plenty of "high yellow" blacks would relocate themselves where no one would know them and passed themselves off as white back 100 years ago.  It was the nature of the beast then.  I'd like to think it's not anymore, but well, yes, it still is...sort of.  

How do you seriously go through life, where your race is no longer even the predominant race in the country, hasn't been for the last decade, and have no friends of other races?  I'm blown away.  Then I thought about it.  I went to high school in a white community.  I think we had one black family in the whole school.   We had several Hispanic from a small town on the outskirts of the county.  I was friends with none of them.  All my friends were "white" and because of the fact that I have a Germanic last name, there was a lot of Hungarian decent families in the community, well, no one ever questioned whether I was white or not.  I had to be white.  I looked just like most of the Hungarians.  In fact, I was a little fairer skinned than most of them being Chinese which is one of the more pale of the Asians.  My first black friend was in college.  I had become a friend of a Delta who shared my enthusiasm for billiards and both being in sororities we had a kind of kindred mindset.  One of the guys we all hung out with was a black football player.  He had been one of my first sweethearts best friends.  They had gone to Catholic school together, played ball together, and the friendship extended to college.  His family bent over backwards for him to go to a predominantly white school for the "opportunities", but one time he and I had talked about why he didn't date much.  Most of his friends of course were white.  Now here's the kicker.  His grandmother told him she would disown him, heck even his parents said it, if he ever dated a "white girl".  Can you imagine?  

My grandparents were the same on my mother's side.  Black was never an option.  Not that was ever a problem.  I had a thing for blue eyes from a very young age.  Probably because my Granddaddy had the biggest blue eyes you have ever seen and he was my world when I was little.  I made him proud as a peacock.   A feeling like that, having someone who loves you so unconditionally like that, well that will ingrain certain attractions.  Yet, in their day and age, they were considered really progressive.  Grams only rented to "good black families" because she didn't want the "trash" ruining their properties.  She considered it very progressive to use the word "black" since that was what the black community wanted to be called back then when many of her generation were refusing to call them anything but "colored".  Of course, they, my grandparents were born at the turn of the last century and no matter what anyone says, yes, we've come a long way, baby.  

Perhaps not as far as we had hoped.  But who's fault is that?  I still have mostly "white" friends.  I have a lot of friends of every race though.  Perhaps that is the challenge though for those that have made no effort to ever be friends with anyone other than their immediate circles.  "All we are is all we know", and a lot of us, regardless of race or otherwise, simply refuse to expand our experiences.  Over 80% of all Americans live within 50 miles of the hospital they were born in.  Fifty miles at the turn of the last century was a day long plus ride on a good horse.  In a carriage it was an overnight trip.  Now a lot of us will drive 50 miles a day just to and from work.  A twenty to thirty minute drive to work is nothing.  Yet in ways, we still live in those sad shadows of almost a century gone by.  We live in the hovels that life laid out for us by the parents we happened to be given, and apparently if that was two white parents, it means we only have a 25% chance of expanding our views outside of that hovel.  

Not sure how I feel about it.  I don't know very many Asians that don't have other friends, that haven't mixed ourselves into American society, white, black, purple or orange.  But is it that "white" America still views the other races as some sort of lower class?  I mean I told my boys when they were growing up, "I don't care what girl you bring home, white, black, purple, green or orange, but you bring home any trash, I will throw it out."  Is a lot of "white" America still treating the certain races, even if it's only subconciously, like lower class citizens?  I don't know.  I've experienced racism.  I had a very fancy "white" woman looking me up and down once and at first in the politest tone she could muster (sarcasm) ask me if I was "Indian".  No.  Then a pause, "Are yeeeewwww Mexxxxican?"  No.  She looked me up and down.  The amount of disgust increasing with each up and down.  As she was about to open her mouth, I shot her a look.  She fumbled through her fancy Prada purse, tapping her fancy Prada shoe, after I flashed my military ID to the cashier.  This woman had more money at her disposal for her entire outfit than I made a year.  It was a rude awakening to me.  Some people are racist and don't even know it.  Even as they open their mouths, they don't realize it.  And I've had black woman tell me that I need to come back to my race after she had seen me at a party that aforementioned friend had and this woman happened to see me out with my "white" boyfriend a week later.  Later she even told my friend to "have a conversation" with me, who promptly explained that I wasn't actually "black".  I suppose being ambiguous looking has always been a positive overall, but it also has afforded me the unique opportunity to see that racism isn't exclusively "white".  

The only thing that I can say, no matter what our race opinion is, put us in the military and a comrade's life at risk, we see no color.  We might fall back into our racial pitfalls when we're home, but when those Twin Towers came down, no American, black, white, purple or orange, gave a crap what color were the dead.  We are American.  If we happen to be "white" American, then it might be a good idea to expand ourselves a little.  Not because white America is now the minority, but because it's a little weird that the rest of the races have friends of other races at rates of 65% or more and only 25% of white America does.  It's just such a stark contrast it screams something is still wrong in America.  If you happen to look around you and realize you are one of those 75% of white America, take that pilates class with the non-white instructor or say hello to that non-white co-worker.  I don't know.  Strike up a conversation with them.  You're probably going to find out that they are just like you, afterall they're hanging out doing the same things you do.  They're human, they're American most likely, and you just might expand not just who you know but who you are.  All we will ever be is only that which we allow ourselves to know.