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The following Featured Post comes from Relationship Group 3, Thread 10.

33. For ethie'sgirl
Wed, Sep 22, 1999 - 3:10 PM/EST
gwendolyn

What is race anyway? Can anyone tell me?
Gwendolyn

34. I'm glad you're back Gwendolyn...
Wed, Sep 22, 1999 - 4:18 PM/EST
bethanie

I've missed having you around to 'talk' to. What is race??? Do you want us to write a book or something? How many different perspectives can their be on this question. I've often thought of what would happen to us if we were all completely blind.--of course that isn't reality, but I think it's at least worth bringing up. There's a great story by Dr. Suess (sue me, I've got a toddler here, I occasionally quote Dr. Suess) anyway, it's called The Sneetches and kind of talks about what would happen if the boundaries between people were somehow blurred. It's an interesting, if somewhat idealistic perspective on life, but it really struck at something in me the first time I read it...I know i'm blabbering here, but just wanted to mention that.

Anyway, more than anything, I'm glad you've returned.

B

36. For bethanie
Thu, Sep 23, 1999 - 4:56 PM/EST
gwendolyn

My computer would not allow me to make a connection and I really felted that I was missing a lot and I did. So to better re-frame my question which should have been something like "How do we define race, what does race look like." The reason I am posing this is when I speak with Euro Americans, they refer to themselves as not belonging to a race, now with Black/African American (I belong to this group) we define ourselves using many term; Black, Afro American, African Americans and the list goes on.

So I think we need to define the term and see where we go from there. I like the concept of all of us being blind, than no matter what we won't see the "color" of those who we try and interact with. I would like for the day to come where people I meet in the stores, or the security guards who follow me in Mall, who seem to think I am steeling, will just see me as a Black woman of African descent who is shopping. No stereotypes attached to being Black. The forever optimistic Gwendolyn

37. Amazing...
Thu, Sep 23, 1999 - 6:03 PM/EST
bethanie

That I was just thinking on this very topic. What I'm wondering is how much of our 'eyesight' is effected by the barrage of media images that we are subjected to on a daily basis...We've kind of evolved into a very visual society, where the images we see everywhere really define the way we see other people. This, as you know, has really done a lot of harm to women in general. And also probably even more so to the Black male. When we see people, how much of what we see is based on what we've been spoonfed for ages?

Now, on to your question. No, I've never felt any particular identity in being White. That's why the uproar that has spread over Cicely is such a kind of shock to me. However, I'm not totally naive. In this country, amoung the black culture, there has always been streingth in numbers. That is, if you were by yourself, there was very often a much greater chance of you being caused some sort of physical harm. I think that's how the African American identity has developed into such a strong one. And you do see this on other races as well...a very strong cultural identity based on a safety in numbers point of view.

One of my best friends is Mexican, and when I lived with her in Monterey for a year, I think it was the first time I saw the cultural difference in a big way. She missed the Mexican family she had had in Nebraska where she was from. I don't mean just her family, but her community as well. I have never felt this kind of cultural identity. I think partially because my father moved us around a lot when we were young, and we never put down 'roots' anywhere. But also just because it was never important for me to. In school, i never NEEDED to make alliances with other white children in order that the mistreatment would be more bearable.

I have more to say, so I will continue this...

38. cotd...
Thu, Sep 23, 1999 - 6:10 PM/EST
bethanie

Then there was the segregation issue. With Blacks, I have a feeling this has a lot to do with the strong identity as well. Black people have historically been kind of forced into this sort of close communion with on another.

Growing up I always knew where the different segments of my family orriginated from.. Ican still quote those ancestorial roots, though they mean very little to me...Let's see...I'm French, German, Irish, Native American, Dutch and Austrian. What does that mean to the person that I am? Absolutely zilch. I mean, I am happy to know where I came from. But I have always identified myself as just me. I will be alive on the earth for a while, I'll do some things, and then I'll die. The things I do while I'm here are pretty important to me...that's what makes up most of my identity...my passions for living, my writing, my family...etc. My race? I don't care that much about it...but then, I have always had the luxury of not having to.

I suppose that's all I have to say on the subject. Can't wait to hear your feedback.

B

39. For bethanie
Thu, Sep 23, 1999 - 7:21 PM/EST
gwendolyn

I would say that the media effects all of our "eyesight". Look at who is on TV these days. No Blacks of African descent, Chicano/Latino, Asians or Native Americans are in prime time TV. People of color are seen in only one or two commercials and they, the commercials, involves cleaning something. When was the last time you saw a person of size on prime time TV? TV does reflect the real world, but TV effects the real world in a very big way.

I see no one on TV that looks like me, however when I happen to surf through some of those cop shows and the news, I see people who look like me being taken away in handcuffs or worse. So the barrage of media/images that America sees on a daily basis is what society sees when people who look like me or other people of color go out to the Malls or the movies. America's image of Blacks of African descent, they steel, lazy, have to many children, on welfare, drive a big car down the street playing "Rap" and the white women are not safe if we are out on the streets.

My girlfriend lives in Oakland, I've noticed when I leave Santa Cruz driving up to Oakland, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my back. Reason: driving through San Jose to Oakland, there are lots of people who look like me and the city of Oakland has a large people of color population. My girlfriend lives in an ethnically mixed neighborhood of working people and its so nice to be back among people of color-I feel I am just one of the group, not the target that I sometimes feel living in this community. So I understand your friend missing her family, cultural and ethnic heritage. On my campus we have caucus groups and these groups are important for the cultural and ethnic connections they bring, but they are important source of support. There is a saying "power in numbers." I don't know how much longer I will live in this community, the city is calling me for what it can offer and I am looking at the various jobs that are available.

40. continued bethanie
Thu, Sep 23, 1999 - 7:25 PM/EST
gwendolyn

Privilege is such a simple word-but it packs a lot of meaning. Privilege means having a special advantaged. European Americans in America have had the "special advantage" of not caring because they have always had privilege. You mentioned that you "don't care much about your race." I am sorry you feel that way, for me it's the "root" of who I am. No one looking at me will say oh she's Gay, no they say she's Black. Being Black in this country has given me strength to be out, because there is nothing worse than being Black in America. Nothing!

Please don't think I am bitter or angry, I am not, I am just stating what I have lived through for the last 56 years. I wish I knew where my ancestors come from, it would certainly help me understand the future. And that is what this dialogue is all about talking about the past so that we, you and I, can understand the future, so that our children will have a future.
Gwendolyn

41. Deep breath...
Fri, Sep 24, 1999 - 1:21 AM/EST
bethanie

Your posts have kind of left me feeling out of breath. I've kind of been thinking over this whole topic of my own identity today. How much of it connects to my racial make-up. I just keep coming back to the same thing though. i have to be honest about this. I have always lived on the fringe of society. I have never felt particularly accepted, or part of any group. Even in my own family i have for a long time felt just somehow 'different.' Since I was VERY young. The first time I have felt any real acceptance has been in the past few years, in developing adult freindships with people since leaving the Army. Finding a kind of niche where I felt I could belong. That niche still sits on the outskirts of the 'masses.' But I'm happy here. For the first time I feel a real acceptance and people not always telling me how to live and who to love. Surprisingly I've found this partially at least in the Black community, with my husband and his family.

I don't know how I can explain this better. I feel i'm not quite making clear what I want to say, or how this relates to our discussion. But I've never felt particularly priveledged--I think invisible--that's how I grew up. Poor and invisible. But that's the thing. As a poor white American, that's all you are, just totally invisible. As a poor Black American--or really any Black American, you can never be invisible..not that you would want to be. Now I feel priveledged. Does that make sense? In having acceptance from my 'family'--and in finally finding a 'place' to be, I feel blessed. So I kind of get what you're saying about moving to the city. and I think it will be a wonderful experience for you.

B

44. To bethanie
Fri, Sep 24, 1999 - 1:54 PM/EST
gwendolyn

You know this type of dialogue have been a wonderful experience for me and I hope for you as well. We are taking the first step--talking to each other and if we don't agree on some issue, its all right, because we are talking and that is what is important.

Read more featured posts here or continue reading thread 10 from Relationship Group 3.





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