So some funny stories about racism as it has happened to and around me.
Picture this. I am with this dude who is enormous, white, seriously tattooed and essentially looks like he eats glass. He was a friend of mine from the UK and whenever he passed through town on one of his adventures, we would have ourselves a good visit. So he and I went to a Denny's/Shari's/shitty diner type place. I believe it was a Shari's here in WA. So we go and get seated in the smoking section and start catching up with each other.
In walks equally giant dude with what looks like lots of Rebel Flag related paraphernalia about his person. Now contrary to what some people might think the sight of that particular image isn't one that will send me into an instant froth of rage. Anytime I'm met with "The South Will Rise Again" type rhetoric I will laugh in the persons face. Yeah, a.) not an issue b.) are you fucking serious? So yeah that bit didn't make me pee myself in righteous wrath, we giggled a little and kept on talking.
So my friend goes to the mens room and the Rebel Flag wearing, heavily inked guy is in there and speaks very loudly about race traitors, the mud people, what have you. My friend comes back looking really fucking confused. And big and bad as my friend looked he was quite adorable when he got that perplexed 6 year old expression on his face. A classic disapproving bunny kind of look. (also note here, random flickr is AWESOME). So I give my friend a quick explanation of the red neck, blowhard variety of racist and he snorts and replies, (I will seriously never forget this)
"Like a fuckin' skinhead with bad hair? Fuckin silly twat."
You have to imagine that said in a basso profundo very Cockney accent.
I was fine until he called the guy a twat then I got the giggles. There is something about a British accent and the words, twat, tit, tart etc that give me giggles on a massive and horrendous giggles. Like can't breath please say it again but don't say it again or I will wet myself kind of way.
So there I am snorting in laughter and Mr. Redneck blowhard starts in talking to the (I am quite certain) hard of hearing old man next to him at the counter. Old man doesn't say a word or even acknowledge him. So he's ranting away about the stupidness of the evil Mud People of doom and the shame of the British (my friend) and their race trading.
Then I swear to fluffy bunnies the dude turned around and just stared at us.
I have a certain personality flaw that makes me laugh at people. Not in a nice way but in a mean yes I am totally laughing at your stupid ass kind of way. I will dissolve in giggles and snortings. Which is exactly what I did. My friend wasn't laughing, it was just me.
Mr. Blowhard got really pissed and got that red faced look of rage because I was still laughing. Everytime I turned to look at him it started all over again. When I laugh that hard I make "eeeeee" noises, I might fart and I might fall on the floor. I finally got enough breath to point to his meaty forearm and say,
"Dude, White Pride has an E on the end man. That's spelled wrong"
At which point everyone in the immediate vicinity started laughing. Mr. Blowhard left in a huff probably to kick the shit out of some back alley tattooist.
I've said before that I will laugh in your face if I think you're stupid. It's kind of a fucked up mean thing to do but sometimes I really can't help myself. I'm actually kind of surprised I've never been beaten up or had my ass whooped. Although I think it surprises people enough that it kind of takes the wind out of their sails. Also quick tip, when someone is freaking out on you a dead stare does wonders. Then when they're finished say dead pan (bonus points for a cocked eyebrow) "feel better now?"
It's mean but it works.
My friends and I went to a show at the Showbox here in Seattle. I think it was Pretty Girls Make Graves, or maybe Voodoo Glow Skulls. I think it was the latter. So we're having a good time, drinking beer, dancing and I notice a kind of cute boy hovering around the edges of our wee group. As one of my friends pointed out he seemed kind of fixated on me.
After awhile we got kind of skeeved so we took off and as we were walking down First Avenue South in downtown another friend notices boy is following us. I am not the sort of lady to keep quiet if someone is bothering me so I turned around and asked him what he wanted.
He got this terrible stricken look on his face and I instantly felt bad but then he started blabbering (no really blabbering like on the verge of tears blabbering) about how he'd been in some neo-nazi youth thing when he was younger and how it'd been so terribly fucked up and then he apologized to me.
I was frankly shell shocked and just sort of stared at him for a little while but then I gave him a hug and invited him out with us for more beers. He turned out to be a really nice guy albeit a little over eager to repent his evil ways. But a sweet kid.
I've had some friends and family members be very alarmed at my ability to forgive reformed or trying to reform racists. Especially ones who have been members of whatever supremacy groups. It's actually not all that difficult because I understand how those things work.
You take a disenfranchised person, someone who feels like they have nothing and are nothing and you make them feel important. You make them feel loved, you give them responsibilities, you give them purpose. You give them someone to look at and say, "You did this to me" and if the person was beat enough at the outset you get one good goddamn soldier.
Any large group of people do it. Activists do it, religions do it, political groups do it. They all have a lot in common. There is the idea that their ideology is the best, that their ideology will be or is the saviour of the rest of us poor fuckers. Don't delude yourself into thinking that only wingnut rednecks get sucked in because that's not true.
Now someone might intervene. Deprogram people as it were. But the point is in order to best a foe you have to know them. You have to make yourself sit in their seat, understand what they are saying and why or you'll be at it forever and making no progress.
In that same vein I think it's vitally important to learn the skill of seeing through another persons eyes and into their experience. If that means reading a book by someone entirely different from you, do it. Until you can accept and really see that our experiences as human beings are as varied as our fingerprints, and learn that negating that experience can potentially be the most divisive thing in the world, I don't think human beings are going to get anywhere.
I personally (and have since childhood) make a serious effort to understand things that are out of my sphere of knowledge. Whether that means talking to someone in the religious right, or if that means asking a nice Muslimah about her life, or if that means taking in information I find repugnant I will do it. For my life to proceed I need knowledge, and knowledge doesn't just come from my surface impressions of anything.
Okay yeah I went serious anyway. Couldn't help it.
I'm in a mood today.
My main point here is that open communication between people I believe could actually solve a shitload of our problems as humans. If we learn the ability to apologize and mean it, if we learn how to listen without inserting our own anxieties into the conversation, if we learn to stop being such self righteous ego maniacs, maybe we're not all as fucked as it might seem.
Later on today a review of AromaLeigh (I think I'm in lurve) and PixiePotions tasty home made perfume in Tupelo Honey.
Also I just edited this bitch twice because I can't spell or make a proper link apparently.