What Lies Beneath
November 23, 2011, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Human Potential | Tags: , , , , ,

I woke up today feeling alright, but I had to go to the mall for something. I hate going to the mall. It’s so classist, especially in the store I had to go to. (I’m sure not all Ann Taylor stores are as unfriendly, or even all the sales clerks at the store I went to.) The last time I went there, a store clerk stared me up and down. I was expecting someone to stare. I was totally self-conscious, wearing washed-out black yoga pants, and my uncombed fro, which I call “homeless hair.” My visit was uneventful today; I wore courduroys and a tee, and perhaps appeared as if I had an income, or a job.

Anyway, I still came home feeling totally crappy, not unusual for me, until I wrote about what I feel is present when I go out into the world, or even watch T.V. I’m considered crazy for seeing America’s racial, and socio-economic separateness as a problem. (“I don’t see what harm it does,” my sister said to me once.) It doesn’t help that I hear voices and am diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Here are some beliefs that seem to separate me from other people, people from each other, and people from themselves. People seem to follow these beliefs without question, as I used to follow the voices in my head:

1) People are supposed to marry by 30, or before getting “too old.” 2) It’s preferable to marry someone of the same race. 3) Black people are inferior, or at least, they are usually poor, and black women often wear strange, sometimes stiff, hair styles and wigs that are highly inferior to white, Asian, Latino, Indian, etc. hair.

4) The strange hair styles and rampant poverty of black women is why they’re gross, monstrous, and generally unattractive to any men other than black men, and why even black men choose women of other races as often as they can. (This last one is not really a belief; it’s something I assume encourages the marginalization of black women in movies, ads, and morning news show segments about shapely butts being attractive only now that Pippa showed off hers.)

5) Another rule/belief is that blacks can escape some of the ugliness of being black in America by making a lot of money and living near and acting like wealthy white people. Often black women who make a lot of money wear their hair in softer styles that look more like white women’s styles.

6) Sometimes black women, rich and poor, might wear their hair as it is naturally, which, from far away, looks like the texture of cotton. Black women might cut their fuzzy hair short, or wear it in locks or twists, but this is less popular among black women than chemically-straightened hair that resembles that of white women. 7) Among blacks, hair that is less tightly coiled, and naturally straighter as a non-black person’s hair, is called “good hair.”

8.) Rappers often sing about wanting mixed-race women and “redbone” women, redbone meaning light-skinned. I’m okay with this and love rap music and Kanye West; the problem is that people pretend black women aren’t fighting a battle for self worth against all these entities who imply she’s less than in the beauty department. Beauty is important, especially because we’re hard-wired to find a desirable sex and life partner.

These preferences are not considered racism and are generally not discussed by anyone. People who are hurt by these rules, such as me, may feel like they’re haunted by ghosts no one else can see because no one ever talks about or acknowledges these beliefs. Those hurt may also feel like they have no voice and automatically sound like the stereotypical angry black women when they complain because pretty much everyone is a stereotype in America. (Sorry, but dream unachieved, Martin: If marital status speaks volumes about how good a person is, not character, race is just as important.)

Because of their silence, people seem willing to endure the pain this causes indefinitely, as if it only affects black people. Of course, it’s impossible for a societal belief system to hurt only one group of people. It’s like rewriting the play “Wicked,” which I haven’t seen, so that only the bad witch is hurt when society starts calling one witch bad and the other good.

That hypothetically rewritten play would lack something good art can’t exist without: harmony. Harmony, i.e. balance, is the nature of life and cannot be effed with: Hurt others and hurt yourself (by disrespecting your innate goodness). Live by the gun, die by the gun (pesticides hurt us, too). Send selfishness into the world, get selfishness back (school bullying, and armed robbery are symptoms of what ails ALL Americans, as is suicide).

To ignore the pain our preferences cause, we have to ignore our hearts, which hurt when others are hurt. The result of ignoring our hearts is an entirely superficial world, where people are “just lucky to have a job,” and people kill themselves because their money has run out. It’s a world separated from and avoidant of people’s true feelings and desires, which are a HUGE part of a human being’s character.

So much is avoided in discussion in America, people are left discussing the weather, or politics, or date night (which is total bull). And that’s just life for most people: avoidance. But it’s not at all real or true. The truth, what lies beneath my employment or marital status, is what connects us.


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