Wednesday, March 15, 2006

rebuttal

Ah, Miss Fire, knew that I could count on you. I was just intending to make it a comment, but it was way too long. (Before you read this, check out the post below and attached comments. Read that? Good...here we go:)

- True, not every white person operates from a place of power. But, by and large, the people in control of things in this country aren't minorities.

- With this specific issue, I'm not talking about picking between two people of different races for one slot at a school. I'm talking about giving money to individuals already in the "accepted" pile. You don't just admit people of color just to hand out money - you make sure that they are qualified. Students can get scholarships for all sorts of things - gender, geographical location, economic status, membership in a club or group, religion - besides just race. And, no, I don't have a problem with any of those, either.

- I have no problems with going to community colleges - many of my friends and family members have. My parents couldn't afford to send me to college, either. That's why I worked my ass off to get scholarships. I applied for everything I could.

- The playing field is not level. I wish it were. You can't get into the game if you don't have the proper equipment, or the right footwear. And you certainly can't play if you can't find your way into the stadium - or if your way is blocked by others.

It sounds great to say that whites shouldn't be forced to suffer for decisions made by their ancestors. But guess what? Whites are still benefiting from decisions made by those ancestors. And minorities, particularly Afro-Americans and American Indians, still suffer from those same decisions. We've made some progress, specifically in how we treat people in public...but we're not there yet. Not by a long shot.

To answer your question (which was the only one that really got under my skin), no, I was not a "head count". I've worked twice as hard all my life just to get to where I'm at. Many of us do.

As far as my credentials...I don't want to brag, but I could have gotten into any school in the country, based on my grades and academic profile. I had one other full scholarship offer (from Penn State, based on my grades) and three other partial offers. I went to Boys' State and Boys' Nation. I played sports. I had a black belt in karate. I had a 4.5 GPA. I played an instrument and sang in the choir. I took several AP classes. I had leads in school plays and musicals. I was an officer in my church youth group. In short, I was probably the ideal high school student, regardless of race. Ask Melissa - she was there.

And yet, when it came time to find someone to take to prom, I had to go through three different girls just to get a date. Why? Because the white parents in my neighborhood didn't want their daughters to go to a dance with "the black kid". So, even after all I did in school, in my community, with my life, in these people's eyes, I was just another nigger.

I'll never forget that.

7 comments:

Miss Fire said...

I know, I know. I can't resist controversy. ;-)

I knew that question had a bite and I truly did not mean it as an insult. I asked the question because of my past expereience with a friend and I was curious to see if you felt the same way. She felt that the underlying question every time scholarship/aid is handed out to a minority is whether it was given to them because of all their accomplishments or because the school just needed to meet a quota. Back then, my response to that was who cares? Just take it! But my friend explained that she didn’t need or want a free ride because she was black – she wanted to be recognized for her hard work and accomplishments. She was better than all the rest, she didn’t want to be a token. I’m sure I just rolled my eyes…..

I understand you now, knowing that you meant giving money to the already accepted pile. And I will defer to you that the the playing field is not level in all cases. I just don’t think a team should be awarded a goal just because of their past losing record or the color of their jerseys. How far can we take the sports analogies here?

I really hate the fact that some people still can't see past color, despite accomplishments, on both sides of the spectrum. We all have difficulties, no matter what race/ethnicity we are.

I love to get your take on this – discrimination, prejudice, or not? After I was told that I wouldn’t get aid because I wasn’t a minority, my dad suggested I reapply as an Native American. I am 1/8 Cherokee – my great-grandmother was full-blooded. She married a white man and that was that – so long minority status. Of course, I got shafted on the looks, too. Blonde hair and blue eyes for me. The Devil. And although I didn’t grow up on a reservation, I know all about the white man’s injustices. The Trail of Tears? Yeah, that was my ancestors. So when I checked the Native American box on my FAFSA form, imagine the aid officer’s surprise when I walked through the door. They claim race/ethnicity isn’t a factor in determining financial aid – the boxes are on their for census purposes only. Bullshit – she had looked at the box to see what color I was before I had even walked through the door. “You ain’t no Indian,” said the large intimidating black woman behind the desk.

“Excuse me?” I replied.

“You checked the box for Indian – you ain’t no Indian.”

“Yes ma’am, I am. My great-grandmother was a member of the Cherokee Nation. I’ve got the paperwork to prove it.”

“Well, that was a long time ago, honey, and you ain’t gone get no money for that. You white.” And she changed the box. The bitch changed my box.

What I wanted to say to her, but didn’t, was “First of all, its not Indian, it’s Native American, ok Negro? And second, I don’t need a black woman who has probably used the slavery card a time or two to get a helping hand telling me I ain’t who I say I am.” Instead, FAFSA form in hand, this na├»ve average white girl from a struggling middle-class family walked out of that office with a lesson learned. Life. Isn’t. Fair. Not even if you're white.

I'm really glad we're having this discussion.

L. Britt said...

Another long post, AFKA K Lance.

Part of this issue has to do with the notion of who has the "right" to cry foul. Even though there are more white people on the welfare rolls than any other race and even though the percentage of people of color who go to college is increasing more than whites, it is still perceived that whites are on top of the totem pole. Whether or not that perception is true, I guess depends on where you're standing and the color of your glasses.

So no matter what your experiences are, miss fire, you are blond and blue-eyed. Good luck expecting empathy in regards to your race status. I'm not defending the actions of that FA officer, however. No one has the right to treat you that way.

It's tricky because on one hand, saying something like "the playing field is level now," though a completely asinine statement, is great because it's no longer victimizing the black race. On the other, it also blames the victim for not being as successful as the victimizers. Which road to choose?

Racism has become bigger than the "my ancestors/your ancestors" fight. Racism is ingrained into our society. It is inextricibly tied to class. It is part of what creates economic, health care, education, environmental, you name it policies. It is in the American air, built into the bricks of homes and concrete of sidewalks. That's how entrenched it is. That's why special programs and scholarships need to exist. These are tangible attempts to fight an intangible problem.

Miss Fire said...

Fantastic points, L, all around, but the playing field comment really resonated with me. I guess I would want to choose the road that didn't victimize anyone. But yeah, when you do that, it undermines past struggles, which certainly wasn't my intent...which road indeed.

I guess I'm too idealistic in this regard. I can't imagine why ANYBODY would discrimnate against you and k simply because of the color of your skin. That just INFURIATES me. It's so blatantly fallacious, it's as if I refuse to recognize it.

I hadn't been to Joseph Phillip's site in a while, and today when I visited, lo and behold, there's a thread about white privilege. After reading some of the posts, I get it. I never really saw the perceivable benefits of it, or I'm just blind to it, and therefore never acknowledged it. Yikes. What a wake up call.

If you want to read:
http://forum.josephcphillips.com/viewtopic.php?t=7088&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

Melissa said...

K Lance - you were the perfect kid in HS. You're also a damn fine MAN. I'd like to be 14 again for one reason and one alone - to look into the faces of the people who would have said nasty things if we'd have actually dated and tell them to eat my shit. And then have a frank discussion of racism and humanity of course, but the shit eating needs to be first.

As I'll say 'til the day I die - I never knew what it was to be discriminated against until I moved to Miami. And now I know. I really know.

Truth: education and income are defining factors in crime and "class". Truth: the only place I've ever been called a "stupid white bitch" is in a low income, low education, black area - where I live. Truth: when it comes to the ghetto, I don't have any white neighbors.

I don't want someone to get into a school because of the way they look, but if there's funding available (once admitted) for students whose looks have historically held them back, then I'm all for it. Indefinitely? No. Now and for the foreseeable future? Yes. I wouldn't have said that before Miami. It's amazing what location can do for your perspective. I know my neighbors aren't all bad folks - but the ones who have the brains and drive to not just get out of here, but change things, will need some help doing so.

Bright-Eyes said...

I tried really hard to resist, but I just can't.

Many things that L Britt said convey my thoughts on this matter as well.

However,

I will ask, Miss Fire, if you would knew that you need an ID number to even be recognized? You need to be recognized by your tribe, you can't just walk into somewhere and claim you have Indian blood. Fact. It is to prevent people from just trying to benefit from whatever "perks" the government thinks it gave minorities. It is particularly strict regarding Native blood because of the laws regarding soveriegn nations. Sorta sounds like that rule is there to prevent exactly what you did from hapening.

As far as pulling the slavery card, I don't know that woman, you don't know that women. Period. It sucks that she made you feel so bad. But did she really insult your culture? Be honest here.
Were you even raised as Native? Do you even know abything about what it means to be a Cherokee? Customs? Or are you a white girl until you need something?

Bright-Eyes said...

ps-
After re-reading your post I see you "have the paperwork". My apologies.

But you said you are 1/8 Indian, your great grandmother is full blooded Cherokee. So that means you qualify for a census number. So you have that?

Anyway, they can't legally change your box even if you are self-identified...so if you let them that makes me wonder where your conviction is.

Also, white women have benefited far more from anti-discriminatory laws than any other group. You probably don't even realize it. There are plenty of minority scholarships for women.

bellacara said...

my daughter has had a few boyfriends...anglo/saxon, african american, hispanic

my rule

they just need to be good guys...

email me offline if you want to see a picture of a beautiful mixed couple