Monday, December 05, 2011

all good things must end

I am sad to have my Diversity class ending.  I know that many of my classmates would think I was nuts with a capital N.  There have been a lot of late nights this semester, spent pouring over articles and studies about minority populations, and the discrimination that they face.

I have to admit that when I first learned that I had to take this class for my program (that I am not in yet, but I like to call it mine because it makes me feel hopeful) I was not very jazzed.  I heard the instructor was a ball-breaker.  I heard the homework load was crazy.  And why the heck did I need to learn about diversity?

I already liked people of all races.  I had at least five friends who belonged to a race other than mine.  I talked to two of them at least twice a year.  I voted for Barack Obama.  I would never put up with someone using the N word.  So there.  I was a full-fledged, card-carrying person with diverse views...and then I started this class, and my mind exploded.

Oh my gosh it felt good.

Like every pre-conceived notion I had about people of differing races and ethnicities and genders, and disabilities, and ages, and socio-economic groups, and citizenship statuses, and appearances packed in to a little spam container and launched off a building, exploding in to the absolute phoney baloney that it was.  And I was fine to witness the process...because the views weren't really mine.  I could part with them because they were all things that I had inherited...over the years...without confirming, or checking, or witnessing, or realizing.  I had just assumed.  And you know what they say about someone who assumes.

Cause I thought that I understood what it means to be "Asian".  I mean my Mom was born in Japan while her father was stationed in the Army there, so they probably had tons of Japanese friends.  And I have a kimono hanging on my wall, which I am sure the Japanese were really happy to part with because those things are a dime a dozen.  And I understand the food and cultures of all Asians because I like orange chicken at Panda Express.  And I love the guy who does my nails.  And my kids watch Pokemon.  So yeah, I am pretty much down with all Asians.  Plus they are so smart, and they work hard and none of them are poor, so I am always happy to see Asians around.

And I totally understood the Native Americans because I had seen Dances With Wolves, and I saw Indians at Walmart once in a while, and I am pretty much a Native American myself because my great, great, great, great-ish grandmother was a Cherokee Indian who was won in a poker game like a hundred years ago even though there is zero record of her existing.  Yes it's a fact- Because someone in my family says it is.  And so, I understand the Indians.  I have never been to a reservation.  I have never had a Native American friend.  I have never known what it was like to have to do my grocery shopping in a gas station because my reservation doesn't have a grocery store, so the only produce I can feed my kids comes in a can and is sweetened with corn syrup.  But I know that they can totally sleep in their trucks, because they all have one.  And they are really clever, so they can find plants and animals in the outdoors to eat.  I bet their reservations are just teaming with wild animals and plants.  I really love wearing native-looking stuff.  I am loving the feathers in my hair, and I just bought this jacket from Urban that has Indian looking designs all over it.  Except I can't wear it WITH the feathers because that would be WAY TOO MUCH Indian- you know what I mean!  Oh and Yes, I am a Ute so my mascot is an Indian. :)  Now if the Indians would only just convert to my religion, then life would start looking up for them.

I have always been cool with gays.  Oh my gosh...just the fact that I can say "gays" shows how down with them I am.  I am related to someone who is gay.  I post a rainbow as my facebook page on the day that it is gay day, or whatever that holiday is called.  I think it's totally cool to have gay fashionable friends.  I don't know any gay people with kids, but I am sure that they can be trusted to be around children for a little bit.  I am totally in favor of buying MAC lipstick that gives money to people who have AIDS (which a lot of gay people have which is really sad).  I watch Sex and The City reruns.  I even saw Broke Back Mountain, although I think that might have crossed a line.  Anyways, I just think that they are making a huge deal about all of the political stuff and I think it makes them way less fun and cute.  So they should just knock it off and come shopping with me!!!!...and just ignore the fact that kids are dropping like flies who are gay because they are so tormented by bullies, and the kids of gay parents are pretty much SOL when it comes to protections if their parents get sick or are in an accident.  And you better get Just Dance for your XBox because there's about a 50% chance that you are going to be violently attacked at a club if you go out in Utah.  But seriously, what's the big deal?  It's not like we're asking you to move to the back of the bus...we're just asking you to stop holding the person's hand next to you on the bus because it's grossing us out, even though the kids seated right beside you belong to the both of you.  Seriously, get a room already. And no, I was not in favor of Prop 8, because it was ANNOYING.  Sorry about that...hope it didn't hurt your feelings.  HUGS!!XOXOXOXO

So as you can see, obviously I was already WAY down with diversity, but it's been nice to have my mind opened just a little.

Really though, there have been a lot of days where I have wanted to burst out crying in class, learning about the injustices that people still suffer every day, and why the system that is in place is screwing them today, just like it always has.  The progress that I believed in...the "American Dream", is a myth.  There is no such thing.  Not unless you're White, and your ancestors descended from somewhere where it rained a lot and your country's royalty owned some far away colonies filled with people to work for you.  My rose colored glasses weren't glasses.  They were contacts that were glued to my eye balls.  Each group more marginalized than the next, but since I didn't live by them or see them, they didn't really exist.

And then today, in the last class, we were trained in how to verbalize our non-acceptance of discrimination around us...the covert, ignorant discriminations, often coming from those we know, those we love, those who we work for.  It was pretty humbling to hear the stories of those in the class, who were witnessing discrimination against their own families and friends.  It was pretty embarrassing to realize just how tongue-tied you can become when someone does or says something that is demeaning against another human being because of who they are.  It's a punch in the gut, that you have to be prepared for, and be ready to immediately react, regardless of how breathless you feel.

And here is my gorgeous professor...who is radiating love.  I mean seriously, she could be Jesus reincarnated.  This woman will not stand for any mistreatment of any human being.  And she insists on educating others so that they can be empowered to do the same.  I think that is why I respect her so...because I trust her.  I know that if I were to adopt a child who was black, or autistic, or blind, or intersex, or ANYTHING ELSE, she would treat that child as exactly what it was- WHOLE.

I will get a little bit more sleep after this week, and my dreams may not be as sleepless.  But I will miss this awakening journey I have been on, and my good companions.

1 comment:

Kati said...

Oh Ashley... I freaking love you.