An Emotional Return to Form

January 21, 2011

Note: This may not be my most polished writing, but you’ll understand why I left it that way after a little bit of reading.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Readership (those of you left)- I would like to ask you all a question:

Have you ever been called "emotional"?

Now, now – don’t be shy. Just raise your hands nice and high if that has been the case.

It’s okay – I’ve been called that, too, so I’m glad you brought it up. Oh – I brought it up. Right – I forgot myself a second, probably because I’m a bit emotional at the moment.

So the rest of you – come on, admit it. Let’s see those hands.

Ladies, I know this has happened to you before – probably a number of times. It’s okay. Just raise those hands up – yeah, that’s more like it. Yeah – you just actually said or showed how you felt about something, and suddenly you were all "emotional," right? Did it piss you off?

Speaking of which, all you darker-hued folks out there, y’all can’t deny that you’re called "emotional" pretty often. Maybe it sounds more like "angry" – but the idea’s the same. Oh, there you go. Yeah – you’ve been called "angry" plenty of times, yeah? Just semantics, my people. It’s still "emotional."

And I bet it made you even more emotional (or "angry" or whatever) when that happened, right? Which just "proved" the point of whoever said it in the first place. Am I getting somewhere?

Oh, now, now, all you folks that grew up with less than a "comfortable" amount of money in your family, don’t keep holding back . . . you know y’all have been called "emotional." Angry, probably. "Out of control," maybe? Yeah. Might have had something to do with the lack of sleep or not enough food on the table or real stress over just getting by, right? But that didn’t stop folks – not for a second – from letting you know how "emotional" you were getting, did it?

What about any non-dominant religious folks out there? LGBT? People with disabilities? Non-college-educated? Come on – is there an oppressed group out there that hasn’t been deemed "emotional" by the more-powerful? The status-quo enforcers? The "I like how it is, so I am damn well going to avoid changing things" folks?

I didn’t really think so.

So now the question is: why does that happen? What’s it all mean?

Well, I’m so glad you asked, because I happen to have an answer for that. It goes like this:

In the game of Oppression, there is one major rule that applies – if you’re part of the dominant majority (in a given situation), it behooves you to make "Them" (the less-than-dominant minority) less human than you. Because you can’t really justify the inequality and injustice of this world if you TRULY believe that "everybody is equal."

So how do we make folks "less-than-human"? There are a number of different ways, of course (and I will – or have – hit others at other times), but here’s a great one that all starts with the premise – humans are "higher" than the rest of the animal kingdom because of our ability to out-think them. We’re smarter than them.

In fact, we’re not just smarter – we’re more rational. We have brains that are so highly-evolved that we have full control over our lesser, more animal selves – i.e. our "emotional" selves. (*1) "Animals" are little more than emotional, instinct-driven machines. While human beings? We’re walking BRAINS.

So a fantastic psychological trick we like to play, as human beings oppressing another group, is to de-humanize the "other." To turn them into animals that are not only unequal, but undeserving of the same things "the rest of us" get.

So yeah – we think of the "others" as "emotional." Irrational.

What do men always say about women? Yup. Men are "better at science and math." Women have "motherly instincts" and "female intuition." They’re good at the social sciences. (*2) Just walking emotions, while we men have control over ourselves and the more-complex functions of the world. Riiight.

What do white folks say about people of color? They’re so damn ANGRY, right? They’re violent. They’re LOUD. Can’t control themselves like the "rest of us" and sit quietly, or lower their voices, or speak about something important without moving around all out-of-control.

Middle-to-upper-class about folks from poverty? Yeah – pretty much the same thing I just wrote above about people of color.

What does the American Christian world say about Muslims?

What do straight people (especially men) say about LGBT folks?

You get the picture? I’m not making this up. (*3)

Okay, CVT, that’s great and all – thanks for enlightening us – but what’s your point?

My point is that it’s time to start smashing on this particular tactic. My point is that this is simply a systemic mind-f*** that distorts reality and how things really work and SHOULD be to keep current oppressive systems in place.

Let me give you a personal example to show you where I’m coming from here:

So, today – I was having a conversation regarding some work I’m involved in (long-distance as I am) back in the States. This is with an organization that I have worked for for many years (and referenced numerous times on this blog).

Point being – apparently, I’m starting to get this reputation as "emotional." As in, I keep getting "emotional" about various things, and writing these "emotional" treatises on them to express my opinion on that. This last summer, I facilitated a part of a training where I expressed my hurt and frustration over some Asian-related ignorance, and I got tagged with the "angry" and "emotional" label on that one, too.

And so some well-meaning friends and loved ones have expressed to me a desire to "protect" me from that label. (*4) Because they don’t want people to "think I’m like that." Or to have people "take me less seriously," as a result.

Basically – they’ve told me I’ve got to "watch what I say" and act "professional" in order to truly "make it" in this world I’m living in. (*5) Assimilation, anybody? Oh my, oh my. Never ask "Them" to understand where you’re coming from, always make "Them" comfortable by sacrificing your own sense of self and expression.

Can y’all imagine how I might feel about that?

After spending my whole LIFE keeping my mouth shut about what matters to me, because other people deem it inappropriate? After biting my tongue in culturally-incompetent organization after culturally-incompetent organization, so that I could work my way up a bit and better work with the kids I love to work with?

This has happened to me so much that I had to build a freaking ALTER-EGO (aka "The CVT") to express these "emotions" on stage and on this blog, because I’ve worried what my REAL perspectives on the world would do to future job opportunities.

It’s such a beautiful Catch-22, as well. Shut my mouth and put up with it, and I get deemed "professional," but I’m slowly dying inside, and probably will erupt in some sort of violent fit for lack of expressing real feeling (and then "They" win because I’m called "crazy" or thrown in jail and out of the system’s way). In conjunction with that, I’m supporting an unjust system and allowing cultural incompetence and a complete inability to communicate with "others" to further oppress the kids (and their families) that I’ve committed myself to.

OR – say my piece, be shown to be just one more "emotional" brown-ish guy with no "professionalism," and lose MORE power, and the possible ability to finally do it MY WAY some day in the far away future.

That’s how it is. No two ways about it. Right, everybody?

But no . . . no. Today, I remembered something. Today, getting all frustrated and a little bit "emotional" about this conversation happening all over again did something to me. For me.

It set me back on FIRE.

That’s right. I’ve been completely MIA from the anti-oppression political blogosphere for too long. My music and lyrics have taken a hit. My work has lost some of that POWER it used to carry with it.

Why? Because I wasn’t being "emotional" enough.

You see, NOW I’m remembering – it’s my FIRE that motivates me. My PASSION. My EMOTIONS. All my best writing has come when I was all fired up and a little bit irritated. My best music and lyrics have been products of this channeled-frustration. My best PROFESSIONAL WORK – with kids and adults – has consistently come when my emotions have been firing on all cylinders. I have been able to accomplish the things that have earned me true, honest RESPECT in my field exactly BECAUSE of my tendency to run with my "emotions."

Because you know what makes us all truly human? It’s our emotions, people. It’s tapping into that power, that juice, that fire – as it courses through our veins and lights us UP. THAT’S beauty.

When we agree with people, we call them "passionate." Successful people are "passionate." Everybody else? "Emotional."

That’s the problem. We all buy into these status-quo-retaining "rules" that say we (whoever "we" happen to be at the moment – but somebody oppressed in some way) can’t express our "emotions" to be taken seriously. That it’s unprofessional. In the way. An impediment. Inhuman.

But guess what all of "Them" are doing? They’re patting each other on the back for being so "inspiring" and "excited" and "passionate" about what they’re into. And then they turn around and call us too "emotional" when we start relating how we REALLY feel about the systems in place that keep us IN "our place." And we freaking BUY IT! We kick ourselves for "letting our emotions get the best of us" (*6) and go back into hiding all over again.

But I didn’t get where I am today – didn’t become WHO I am today – by doing things like "They" say. I don’t tend to follow those kinds of rules, and I’m not about to start now.

I needed this. I needed that fire. I’m so glad that this happened – that I was called "emotional." And I’m proud of it.

This riled me up, and now I’m back for real. It’s like I just woke up from a coma. My juices are flowing. This blog is back ON. Get ready for a whole lot of "emotional" writings from the CVT. (*7)

Consider this a call to action. My people – all of you – feel free to get emotional. Go ahead and be all fired up. Because it’s only RIGHT to get pissed off about things that are wrong – if you don’t, you’re a robot. It’s RIGHT to say that something bothers you when it DOES. Handle the actual problems professionally, with respect and care, think things through – but don’t you ever let yourself feel like you have to "tone it down."

It’s time to get all rowdy and emotional and do some constructive damage to this oppressive status quo. Don’t do as "They" say, do as you FEEL you SHOULD do . . .

And me? I feel like I need to continue to be "emotional."

(*1) Of course, modern science finds more and more evidence to show that we actually have very LITTLE control over our "emotions" and "instincts," but not a lot of folks like to roll with that.

(*2) Again, need I say that this is actually completely false and has been proven to be so time and again by "rational" science?

(*3) Needless to say, we also do it in ANY situation regarding "Us" vs. "Them." I do that all the time when I’m talking about USC fans.

(*4) I’ve actually had this conversation with a couple people who came to me expressly to talk about it.

(*5) Let me be clear that these are people I love and respect (and who love and respect ME) telling me this. They’re not saying it with malice, but the best of intentions. And that’s the scariest thing about these systems – they’re so damn insidious that they get us all to buy into it and go around convincing EACH OTHER to accept it, so that the "They" at the top don’t actually have to do any of it, themselves.

(*6) How many times have I done that? A LOT.

(*7) And . . . within the next six months, get ready for the CVT to stop being a mask to hide my "raw" emotions behind as I integrate ALL of myself into my upcoming website: www.choptensils.com.



  1. I love it! Stay “raw” and continue to inspire not only yourself but others around you, otherwise growth/changes can never occur.

  2. te estaba extrañando!

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