I’m a 61-year-old white woman. When I applied for law school, law schools were actively soliciting female applicants, so I had a leg up. I benefited from women before me who had to fight tooth and nail to even attend a law school, let alone practice law. And most could never hope to gain a partnership in a major firm.
As a female high-school graduate, certain “professions” were closed to me. At that time, women were not allowed to “work the streets” as cops. Women couldn’t fly fighter planes in the Air Force, women’s roles in the military were severely limited. Women didn’t fly commercial airplanes with the major carriers.
Women are still underpaid vis-a-vis their male counterparts.
We still deal with our Phyllis Schafly’s who would advise us that God prefers us to stick pretty close to either the kitchen or the bedroom. A whole host of male ministers would tell us that we are to be subservient to our “head” –meaning our husbands.
So I know a little bit about being a second-class person. But only a little. I can’t say that I have been denied much of anything I really wanted. I had whiteness to thank for that.
As a white person, I had the American Dream pretty much intact for the asking. It’s a birthright we receive just by being. Pretty nifty when you think of it. It’s like being 30 yards ahead in a 100 yard dash when the gun goes off. It’s like being born in America. It’s just a big head start.
I am a Christian, which generally speaking, whatever all the hoopla one hears about “being discriminated against”, is a safety net of sorts. Nobody calls me names except those who risk being called more names: non-believers. In a country that is overwhelmingly Christian, it’s the “right” faith.
So, my life and my world is defined by all this entitlement. I take it as normal. I take it as the way things are. It is the natural environment through which I move, not thinking about it any more than thinking about the air that I breathe that makes my life possible.
Yet, a host of folks in this country are not so privileged. They are gay, black, brown, Muslim. Oddly, Asian has not yet become suspect–at least as to Asian Americans. But given the economic up-turn going on in Asia, it seems likely to in the future.
If you are at all like me, (and most of you are smart, thinking folks), then you are reading a lot on the Internet. You are watching the news, reading papers and magazines, and listening to the radio. And tons of the stuff every day, involves all these “others” among us.
Bryan Fischer and those of his ilk, remind us daily how awful it is to be gay. To choose to be gay, as they claim. They engender fear in some of us about the safety of our children. They warn of God’s wrath. They assure us that civilization itself is on the precipice of destruction should we ever allow “marriage” between other than A man and A woman.
Race has taken on a new twist in this “post-Obama” era. Race had become the quiet, but still insidious disease of our country. The election of Obama and the need for racists to find a way to attack him without “looking racist” became paramount.
So we discovered to our shock that he was a “socialist” “communist” “fascist” “dictator” “Muslim” “member of the Muslim Brotherhood” “activator of the New World Order, “anti-Christ” and “Kenyan citizen”.
We learned that if you find three sycophant house negroes to champion your position of Obama hatred, gay hatred, Muslim and immigration hatred, you could be absolved of that charge, and in fact call liberals racist and the other 99% of all black people racists. Not a bad trade-off.
Stoked by the right-wing media machine which captures its audience by a mixture of fear and pointing the finger at all NOT WHITE, NOT CHRISTIAN elements in the country, Muslims were the next target. Because a few deluded idealogues financed by a few more rich deluded ideologues chose to cause great hurt and destruction upon US soil, all Muslims are now suspect. Best they just go away. And it is most of all best that they all be looked upon with great suspicion.
Don’t have a job? Taking a pay cut? Losing your benefits? Or just stuck in a dead-end job with no real hope of moving up that ladder to the “good life?” Why that same Foxy media and its traveling fellowship will explain to you that it’s because of this country being flooded with “illegals” who are “taking your jobs.”
I remember a time when we had a lot of sympathy for Mexicans in this country. We knew that many of them were migrant workers. And we knew they were underpaid and often poorly used by their employers. We worked to better their lives.
They take our jobs, use our emergency wards, don’t pay taxes, get free schooling for their kids, and have the nasty habit of dropping “anchor babies” to attach themselves to this country and it’s wealth.
No matter than nearly all of this is untrue. It fits the needs of both the offerers: (the right-wing power and media) and the offerees: (those who are hurtin’ and wanna blame somebody).
And while we are at it, let’s blame all the smarty-pants folks who got educated and tell us we are wrong. We aren’t, they are just “elitists”.
This is America today. And I stop and think sometimes. What must it be like to be gay? Or Black? Or Brown? or Muslim? What is it like to be talked about as if you are something bad? Something dangerous? SomeTHING as opposed to someONE?
What must it be like to be fearful that those eyes that look upon you at Wal-Mart and look so mean might be ready and willing to do more than give you that dirty look? What must it be like to endure those barely under the breath remarks? What must it be like to be asked to step out of line and be singled out for a “more thorough” search? What must it be like to have to “prove” one’s right to be on the highway?
I try to imagine. I cannot. But it hurts to think that others suffer because they ARE.
The closest I can come is this. Have you ever been accused of something that you did not do, but could not prove other than by your word? Remember the frustration and anger you felt, at being unfairly accused. Is it anything like this?
What must it be like?