OK. Through some encouragement I will now vent about the issue that is starting to enrage and inspire me to action.

Most of you are well aware that this blue eyed, light olive skinned, curly headed(“good haired”), chick you know as Tatyanna is an “other”. Mind, body and spirit I am African American(father), Irish(mother), French(mother) and Powhatan Indian(father). I was raised by my “white” parent. Her parents were not prejudice in the least but her grandmother(paternal) disowned her. She was first generation Irish. Very racist.

All my life my mother and every role model and mentor has ensured that I am aware of and immersed in ALL of my racial/ethnic heritage. Although I identify as a black woman who has white and native American heritage, I have blue eyes and I am acutely aware of the skin color privilege that I am afforded in this lifetime. I have long been an advocate for racial/ethnic understanding and acceptance. Tolerance is NOT enough!

So, with that micro-history of who I am racially/ethnically and what my philosophical background is, I will proceed to vent about racial and other prejudice, NOT to be confused with Racism. I will NOT go into a discussion of the difference. Ya’ll are educated folks.

What prompted my venting:

I left the Oasis that is my home this morning. I took a left onto Burbank Blvd. and into the right lane. AT the next light a semi was in front of me. I needed to get into the left lane but the semi truck was crawling along. So, I looked to my left and the wall of cars in that lane looked foreboding. But, this pick up was about 30 ft. back and I put my signal on and waiting what I thought was a sufficient amount of time for the gentleman(*cough*) to see the signal and slow up a bit. He did not and it was getting closer to the left turn lane I needed to be in. btw: When I put my signal on we were a good 1500-2000ft. from the left turn lane. So, I pressed the gas hard and pulled over with plenty of room between us, unless he would decide to floor it all of the sudden.

He pulled next to me with dirty looks. Mostly because I raised my hands in exasperation at his discourteous ignoring of my request to pull into “his” lane. I was annoyed and smiled at him and said, “Thank you”, in a sarcastic way. He did not know what to do with my gesture.

As I sat waiting to turn left I thought of the various comments I had recently heard from friends and acquaintances regarding how “those people drive” and “those people are just that way” “you know how their kind are”. Etc… I immediately thought of what someone said to me yesterday about a certain ethnic group and the way they drive.

Truth be told, that guy was inconsiderate because he was a macho(he grunted at me), selfish(he ignored my signal, jerk(he gave me dirty looks. It has nothing to do with his ethnicity. In fact I get cut off or almost rammed into everyday by every single ethnic group out there. It is the individual, not the ethnic group.

The traffic incident made me hyper aware of any prejudice that I saw around me so far today. By 1PM there was a landslide of prejudicial comments, actions and people everywhere I looked. It is hard to give examples as some on my friends list may be implicated.

Here’s one: A couple of months ago, a woman that works in the building I work in said something that knocked me off the tracks. You must understand, that I like her a lot. We are friends on a surface level. She is a great person. There is an ESL class here. The students are from several Latin American countries and some European. She commented that the bathroom was very dirty when she got in and that someone had left a mess in one of the stalls. Her next comment floored me. She said, “Well, you know that in their country they don’t have toilets. They squat over holes, so what can you expect.”

*crickets* *sound of jaws dropping*

Yep! she said it!

My gripe is this: When people of any ethnic group say things about another that generalize about that group or be-little that group it enrages me. I have witnessed people from nearly every ethnic group do it, but when black folks do it I am totally tweaked because it seems outrageous due to the hundreds of years of oppression and prejudice they have suffered. Does that suffering and experience not make us more sensitive to differing cultures? Does that experience not make us more aware of how our words can be toxic?

before you berate me, I am not naive about the remnants of slavery and oppression and the fear and anger that “post traumatic slave syndrome” has left on our people. But, where does it end? Whose responsibility is it to stop the perpetual hatred? Where do we draw the line without all becoming politically correct?

The next time I hear someone i know say something like, ” I went to the grocery store and one of those people, you know the ethnicity I am speaking of, was rude to me. Racist bi&^%!”, I will speak up. Maybe the woman was just rude. Ever consider that? Maybe the “victim”was predisposed to react to her that way due to your own prejudice? In fact, that person stated she can’t even walk in her old neighborhood because they are everywhere like cockroaches. You be the judge…

We need to start looking at our own prejudice. Exploring it. Taking responsibility for it. Healing the wounds that caused it.

I have spoken up in the past but remained silent lately. Today my tolerance level for it spilled over.

If we continue to succumb to our fears without checking ourselves and swallow the media’s view and right wing’s desire for black and brown folk’s hatred of each other to fester, then we become part of the problem and institutional racism will continue to flourish while prejudice eats away at our souls.

Speak up! Take action! Change the world. I know I will be.

btw: I tagged those of you who encouraged me to vent and/or would join the discussion.

P.S. This goes for prejudice based on gender, sexual reference and all other things that make someone “different”.

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1 Comment on Prejudice Spilling Over: Venting

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