I’m puzzled by all the vitriol in the media, particularly social media, right now that’s gotten conflated with the election. I don’t want to drag us off into the weeds talking politics, because this blog is about entertainment, but I do want to share some things I’ve learned from Diversity Training in corporate America, as well as from the University of California, Irvine, from “back in the day.”
In case we weren’t aware, it’s 2016. We shouldn’t have to fight the same battles that we were fighting in the 60’s, but apparently the fight never ended because there was never a victory. There’s still a need for a fight. That makes me sad. In 1990, I was a student at U.C. Irvine and there was a racist incident in my dorm. Not just on my campus, but in my actual dorm. Some painted a racial epithet in vivid black paint, complete with paint runs, on the wall of our living room. It’s too awful to repeat verbatim here, but it was the popular slogan from the race wars, “N…, go home.” It made me want to vomit. We had ONE, count it, one, student of African American heritage in our dorm, so to say she felt singled-out is a gross understatement. She told me that when she was in high school, growing up in Beverly Hills, a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles, California, she got stopped more than once for “being in the wrong neighborhood.” Or, as my Black friends say, “walking while Black. I’m sure we all have similar stories, depending where we fall on the racial color wheel, either as observers or as survivors. (I’m not going to say “victims,” because she was in no way a victim. She was an empowered, intelligent, American who someone was trying to disempower and scare.)
It caused us to have some tough conversations on campus. African American students numbered just 3% (!) of the student body at that time, which numbered around 22,000 in total. Whites were not much of a majority, as I recall; Asians made up a nearly equal percentage, followed by Latin-, Central- and Mexican-American students. I don’t know what the percentages of UCI are today, but Orange County was, at the time, pretty monochromatic. It was also the most conservative county in the country – you read that right – and locals called it “living behind the Orange Curtain.”
What I find incredible about 2016 is that I lived to see a mixed-race President elected to the White House. I lived to see gay marriage legalized. I lived to see horrors, too, and setbacks. But I still believe, as I did in that dorm common room in 1990, that we are stronger together than we are apart. My father’s family came here in the 1880’s when it wasn’t okay to be Irish, when businesses had signs out front, “No Irish,” and when Irish people couldn’t get housing. My mother’s family, on the other hand, traces their roots on both my maternal and paternal grandparents’ sides all the way back to the American Revolution. The McMillan House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, belonged to my great-grandparents. During the Civil War, the barn was used as a hospital when, in a monumental war-time mistake, two armies passed too close to each other and caused a battle neither side wanted and that resulted in the deaths of over thirty thousand people. They say the screams of the wounded from that three day period were deafening.
Let’s remember our history, Dear Reader, and remember that our diversity makes us stronger. I adore Mexican food, I have Chinese delivery on Christmas, and I’ve been to celebrate a Passover Seder at friends’ houses. I love hummus, and cinnamon, and silk, and enjoy wearing the salwar kameez, or Pakistani daywear for women. I’ve studied Middle Eastern bellydance, and the bowed psaltery – which is an instrument mentioned in the bible! – and live next door to people from Romania, Indonesia, Poland, and Germany. On my block alone, there are seventeen different languages spoken and after Katrina, one of the displaced families stayed next door to use for a time. The father of that family told me that what he missed most was the jerked chicken from back home, because he couldn’t find the jerk spices up here.
Remember, Dear Reader: our humanity is what we have in common. The rest, we can learn. Together.
Thank you for joining us for the A-Z Blog Challenge. If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave us a link so I can come visit you too. If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:
The theme at Noony’s blog, Explore the Worlds of A. Catherine Noon, is The A To Z of the Zoo. Join her as she explores Brookfield Zoo and finds animals, birds, and insects from A to Z.
Noony’s theme on Knoontime Knitting – One Writer’s Journey Into 3-D craft blog is Letterforms In Nature and the Built Environment.
The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year. Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports. Join the conversation!
The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from Noon & Wilder; the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland. Check it out!
Our friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and we’ll add you!):
Write on, and Happy Blogging!