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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.

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For Now . . .

January 6, 2011

Since I’m just not going to be able to muster the mental energy to properly write on this blog regularly, I’ll start posting links to articles I find interesting. Like this one:

How secondhand media exposure negatively affects our kids: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110106144743.htm

Hopefully, getting back in gear in this minor way will inspire me to start rallying my brain and writing a bit more . . . wish me luck!

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Comments and Posts and All That

December 8, 2010

So I’ve been reading the comments and responding regularly.

Or at least I thought I was responding regularly. But obviously not. See – I can’t access my own blog from China, so I always post and track things through e-mail – but that, apparently, hasn’t been working so well lately. So I have been reading your comments – and thinking on them, and trying to respond. But my responses haven’t been posted. So I apologize to those of you who directly asked me questions and thought I was just blowing you off.

As for posting, I’ll be honest – right now, I’m in the middle of some craziness. All the good kind (the kind of work that takes up a lot of my passion and leaves me little for blogging), but enough of it (think 6-day work-weeks and averaging 9-hour-plus days) that posting regularly just isn’t going to happen. I keep trying to get going again . . . but I just don’t have enough energy left at the end of the day to get back in front of a computer screen and really use my brain.

So, for now, the posts are going to continue to be infrequent. I don’t want to stop, entirely – and I won’t – but just want to be honest with y’all.

I apologize to those who were reading and checking regularly – just trust that, if you like what I write, you would be more than happy with what I’m working on out here (although it’s still sort of "top secret" for now). With a little bit of luck and a couple years’ time, the CVT’s work may be entering many more households than just a bit of blogging allows . . .

So. Thank you all for sticking with me. Sorry to those who thought I wasn’t sticking with you – and please continue to read and comment on my (albeit infrequent) posts. I’ll be following along from home, and if I don’t comment – I blame the internet.

Yours,
The CVT

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Brain-break?

November 11, 2010

http://tv.disney.go.com/playhouse/choochoosoul/ccs_video.html

Um . . . not a full post coming on this one, but I’m not really sure what to make of it. On one hand, if you look into the background of the two adults, you realize this was their idea, which then makes it kind of cool. And the music is pretty damn catchy. But then you look around the rest of the site and see what Disney’s got on tap . . .

The accented Latino character is a handyman . . . the Asian kids are extra-intelligent, do-gooder "safety inspectors . . . and there’s Choo Choo Soul . . .

A lot of other characters of color pop up around the site, which is nice. But it’s a little disturbing that the only head-liners fall into such blatant stereotypes like this . . . Win? Lose? You all have a take on this?

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The CVT’s Keys to Checking Your Privilege When Trying to “Help”

November 9, 2010

I keep saying I’m going to post this (as a response to comments to my last post), and then I just haven’t quite done it. I’ve written it a couple times, trying to be all well-spoken and clever, and that just hasn’t panned out. End result – I have way too much going on now to hold over enough brainpower to make this one of my better posts. However, I need to just get it out there, so here’s the quick and dirty version:

So. I am currently living abroad (in China).

But I’m a U.S. citizen. English is my first language. Half of me is white. Uh-oh, right? This has all the makings of one more privileged missionary trying to push his cultural beliefs and ideals on the "unenlightened savages." I know better because I’m "American." "Those people" need my help because they’re incapable of helping themselves, right?

Um. No. The answer to that is no.

But the real question (and less obvious answer) is – what the Hell am I doing here, and how can I make sure that my work out here doesn’t just reinforce all the same imperialist notions that have crippled so many non-white-dominated countries? Now there’s a question, yeah?

Luckily, I’ve been down this road before. In fact, I’ve been down it a few times (on both sides). I lived in Tanzania and worked for an American NGO that pretty much did all of the privileged, obnoxious, damaging things I listed above right out of college. End result? I finally figured it out – and more or less got fired from a "volunteer" job because I "took sides too much" with the local teachers and families. (*1) Um. Wasn’t that supposed to be the whole point?

Later, I worked for a series of white, middle-class-dominated non-profits that claimed to help "empower" "at-risk youth" (i.e. poor or dark-skinned kids). Had my white bosses tell me what it was like to be a Person of Color, and what I had to do to make things more equal for myself.

And now I’m here. In China. Doing a job that is hoping to contribute positively to the well-being of Chinese citizens (through educational means). Wait? Did I say that already?

Anyway, the point is that I’ve had a lot of experiences that have forced me to think about the common dynamic of: person with privilege decides they have the solution for people with less privilege, without actually asking those other people, nor truly understanding the situation. And through all of these experiences (and my writing on this blog, the work I do), I’ve accumulated enough experience that I finally feel able to address this. (*2)

So? This is my self-created checklist that I run myself through every time I am in a situation where I hold some sort of privilege over folks I am working with (*3):

1. Do they have the majority of power over me (money, position, and choice)?
This is all about flipping the power-dynamic that makes these situations so f—ed up, normally. If the people I’m trying to "help" can fire me, ignore my opinions, and use their money however they want whether or not I like it, then my "privileged" foreigner status is largely negated. There are still psychological aspects of that privilege still in tact, but – in the end – if I don’t know what I’m talking about, they can easily keep that from being a problem – by ignoring me or getting rid of me. However, if I have the money or higher status, then my stupid ideas have to be just taken, and we know what that entails . . .

2. Is what I’m doing their idea? Did they ask me to do this?
This – again – flips the usual dynamic. If the solutions being enacted didn’t come from the same people who are supposed to benefit from the solutions, then there’s something wrong. Because no outsider (however that term might apply) can know the true situation better than the people who live it. Ever. So – unless I was asked to do this work, or – better yet – I just got brought on (as lower-status personnel) to help them do whatever they have decided needs to be done, then it’s that whole "I know better" and "they’re incapable" mentality . . .

3. Is my "out" (whatever has me not doing this work, etc.) mostly negative for me? Would me getting "out" mean losing more than just a job, losing access to things I care about, etc.?
This addresses the last major function of privilege – the ability to quit on the people we’re "helping" with little to no repercussions. If I go to some other country and screw everything up, I have nothing to lose, because – at worst – I just go back to my country and feel a little bad about it. So blindly just experimenting on a less-privileged people holds no risk for me, which is going to make me so much more likely to do things without thinking them through very carefully and getting a lot of second opinions. Same thing with all these non-profits in the States. Teachers, administrators, and other "do-gooders" can just roll in for a year or two (often straight out of college) and do a terrible job with little repercussion. When it’s all over, they just get some other job and move on, while the real people affected by that terrible job are left to deal.
So – there’s got to be risk and some pretty major negative consequences for me to reduce the "reckless, thoughtless work and leave" phenomenon. Getting fired is one thing, but it’s not enough. I’ve got to lose something really key to my own soul by bailing on this kind of work, or else I’m just going to treat it like a risk-less gamble.

And there you have it. Nice and simple. A three-pronged checklist to determine if I should even consider doing work that has me (as an outsider) attempting to contribute positively towards people over whom I hold privilege, on their turf (by the way – all answers should be "yes").

So – to finally answer Maloy’s (implied) question:

Trust me, I’ve thought this through, and my role out here is not as an imperialist. I’ve still got my personal beliefs and causes, and I’m not going to just toss them aside (same way that I wouldn’t back in the States), but I’ve checked my privilege as much as I can to make sure that my causes cannot be made to be their causes, unless they actually want that to be the case. Just to further clarify:

1. I’m the only person with non-Chinese blood in the company. It’s a Chinese (PRC) company. And I’m not at the top, by any means. Plenty of Chinese folks (native-born, non-English speakers) are above me to tell me to shut my mouth or fire me if I’m not doing what they want me to do.

2. The whole idea for this company and what we’re trying to do comes from a native Chinese guy trying to address problems he sees as he’s raising his kid in this school system. It’s all about problems millions of Chinese parents are very consciously trying to find solutions to. The angle is fully Chinese-bred. I came in long after the "brainstorming" phase to help him (and the other founders) best implement the solutions they came up with.

3. I didn’t choose exactly choose a profession in which there is a guaranteed position for me in the future, but losing this job wouldn’t kill me, either. However, I have family tied into this company. Family out here in China. This falling through won’t destroy me, by any means, but there are pieces of me tied to this personal enough that I’m not really going to get into it on this blog. Just trust me on this one.

So. I still will not deny that I hold privilege. I always will – that’s the way of things. But in terms of the work I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and the possible benefits (or costs) for the people of this country I currently live in? I’m not your typical "Westerner" working in a foreign country . . .

That said, I can never let myself be too sure of that fact – I must always question it and be open to being questioned about it. Because if I stop doing that? Then I am exactly like all the other imperialists. So I thank Maloy, specifically, for bringing this up, and for your spot-on commentary about it all. And I hope my readers continue to challenge me and make me better. (*4)

(*1) I got living expenses paid, but out there, that’s pretty much nothing.

(*2) The thing is – I never intended to get involved like this when I moved out here. I came to China for purely selfish reasons. This was about seeing where my family was from, meeting family that lived out here, getting a bit of a stronger connection to this side of my "roots." That was it. I kept telling people that I wouldn’t stay that long because I needed (long-term) to feel like my work was meaningful, and I couldn’t see how I could have "meaningful" work out here in a country that has no need for me (because I wasn’t willing to walk down that path mentioned above).

(*3) I think I’ve got it boiled down to the keys, but I’m definitely open to suggestion if I’m missing some major points here.

(*4) I also hope you continue to exist, in spite of my ridiculously infrequent posts as of late. Some day, some day I will get consistent again, I swear . . .

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This Was Nice to See

October 22, 2010

So. My time has been pretty filled up with my current job here in Shanghai, so I haven’t had a whole lot of time or leftover brainpower to write any posts worth reading (although I do have a music-related podcast in the – slow – works). I’m working on it, I swear. I’ll write again.

In the meantime, however, I will just put up this image of an online educational game I found while doing some "research" at work. (*1) I would hope I don’t need to comment on why this was nice to see in the wide world of online games (which are primarily geared towards U.S. citizens). When I played the game, I found that this was the ONLY princess . . . no tokenism here. It’s just her. Siiighhh . . .

And I’m sure this is where I will now get pilloried for supporting a game that draws clear "gender-roles" distinctions, but I have to say, I will take that, as it’s been a long time when something from the mass media made for child consumption broke the messaging that kids of color usually get (especially regarding beauty ideals). (*2) Would it be nice if this was a PRINCE of color dress-up game (or a curvier princess/prince)? Sure. But in this screwy world, 1 of 2 ain’t bad . . .

(*1) My current job has me designing curriculum and concepts for educational computer games for young (Chinese) kids.

(*2) And it’s an uphill battle, but I swear I’m taking advantage of my role in this company to fight against "genderizing" our games (i.e. designating them "for girls" or "for boys"). The (mostly men, all Chinese) I’m working with don’t quite get it, but I’ve been slowly changing minds on that matter. Any other input on how I can do this (or what to focus on) would be very much appreciated (and applied).

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A Good Night’s Sleep

October 10, 2010

Yesterday I found this article that stuck with me.  In a nutshell, it made the (obvious) point that poor sleep adversely affects kids, especially those in poverty.  (*1)  My first thought was, “Well, of course.  Did they really need to do all sorts of research and write a scientific paper to “prove” this?”

Sadly, my second thought was, “the answer is “yes.”  Absolutely.”

Because this is the thing: this information is somehow not obvious to many folks out in the world.  Mostly I’m speaking about the more-privileged folks who do not believe that they are  situationally-effected by everything that goes on around them.  Those that think to themselves, “I wouldn’t have all these problems that the poor/PoC/other oppressed peoples have if I was in their shoes.”  Just pull yourself up by the freaking bootstraps, right?

Aiyaaaa.

So I’m writing this for them.  People who just don’t have experiences that help them understand how environmental stressors and situations  change things.  Those who think that there are simple solutions to the problems of education, poverty, racial inequality, etc. in the world, based on their own particular set of experiences.

Now, I know there isn’t a whole lot of experience that compares, so it’s not your fault that this doesn’t make sense to you.  However, I think this article gave me something we all can understand and jump off from.

Here we go:

So.  Remember that last time you didn’t sleep well and had to do something important the next day?  Yeah – that time.   Maybe you got only 3 hours of sleep.  Or you kept waking up throughout the night.  Maybe you were sick.  Whatever.  But you just slept like sh–, right?

Okay.  Now think about how you felt at that time.  You woke up, feeling awful, wishing you could just go back to bed.  But you couldn’t.  Because you had something important to do.  So you rallied, pulled yourself out from under the covers, and began your day.

Chances are, when you got to where you were heading (let’s pretend it was work right now), you weren’t fully there.  Like some of your mind was missing.  You tried to caffeinate.  Drank a bunch of coffee, maybe.  But that just kind of made you antsy, with little help to your tired mind.

You were kind of irritated, right?  To the point where, when that semi-annoying co-worker – who always asks you the same stupid questions, or tells the same stupid joke, or whatever – came up to you, you just didn’t have the capacity to be cool about it.  You couldn’t smile and nod.  So you just kind of pushed them out of the way or said something rude.

And you didn’t feel good about it.  You saw their hurt look.  But you just didn’t have it in you today, right?  You were too tired.

So we skip ahead a bit.  The day goes by.  You’re just doing all you can to dodge social contact, just make it through the day.  Your work is sloppy, if you do it at all.  You keep nodding off.  You’re short with your co-workers, kind of snotty, maybe.  When you have to give that report that you’ve been prepping your ass off – well, you kind of f— it up, because you lost track in the middle.  Your boss gives you ish about it, which pisses you off further, so when that annoying co-worker bothers you again?

Riiiight.

Whatever.  You make it through the day.  You didn’t get fired or anything.  You’re just tired, irritated, and ready to get the Hell home.

When you do, your roommate (or partner, or family, whoever) starts nit-picking you about the freaking dishes or the mail or the garbage or something else stupid that just doesn’t matter, so why don’t they just shut the f— up and leave you alone!?

Oops.  Did we just say that out loud?  Sorry, you’re just really tired, you know?  You didn’t mean it.  Bla bla bla.

End thought-experiment.

Okay.  So we’ve all had a day like this.  Probably more than one.  Maybe a week like it.  Or more.  Some time when simply being tired changed us.  Made us less able to handle out sh–.  Less patient.  Less careful.  Didn’t do our best work . . .

It happens to all of us from time to time.

Except . . . sometimes it happens to folks ALL the time.  Like that single parent we’re always talking about – who has to work a ton and take care of a kid with no time for her/himself.  Or that kid who has to try to sleep while dad’s drunk, or they’re worrying about their cousin getting shot, or . . . whatever.

And this particular example is just about sleep.  I’m not even talking about anxiety and stress.  I’m not talking about when your sympathetic nervous system (think “fight” or “flight”) is on constantly because you live in a literal or figurative war-zone and your body really does believe it’s about to die or at least be hurt at any second.  Y’all really bringing your best when that is going on?  (*2)

Yeah, right.

And yeah – this is all so very obvious.  Except for when it’s not.

This is life for the majority of the world.  When the “just pick yourself up” and “just work harder” slogans just aren’t enough.  How much harder can I work when I work two jobs for no money and I never sleep or stop being stressed about my two jobs and no money?  Really, though?  “Just work harder?”

And yes – some people are freaking super-human and able to be completely amazing individuals in spite of all of that . . . but this is a numbers game here, and the current system (what with such high numbers of people being oppressed by it) just doesn’t allow for any large quantities of people to battle through all that.

If I take a room full of people and cut off their legs, some of them will still make it out of the room before the fire I lit in the corner takes them.  But most of them won’t.  Not without some help.  Especially not when the firemen are slow in coming because they were getting a kitty out of a tree somewhere out in suburbia . . .

It’s just common sense.  Why are “they” so angry?  Why are “they” so quick to get into fights or take offense?  Really?

Give me a full night’s sleep and everything else is great, and I’ll smile and push through it when I’m watching the 8th-straight movie with no protagonists that look like me in it.  I’ll even sort of laugh off the fact that the only person that slightly looks like me is the badguy, again.  Or a drug dealer.  Or an offensive stereotype.  Or whatever.

But add in a couple stressors?  Like the environment around me makes it difficult to sleep?  Or I’m worried about money?  Or I know that if I don‘t keep smiling through it all I’m going to lose my job or at least get called out by my boss?

I’m beating a dead horse here, I know.  But the sad thing is that – in spite of that – folks still won’t get it.   Oppression is all about piling-on.  Piling-on of stressors.  Daily, minute-by-minute new slights and degradations.  All these “little things” that just don’t matter if you live in a world where the “little things” are an occurrence that you can isolate in your memory – as in “that one time.”

Each bit of privilege counts to better enable us to handle it.  Let’s us “grin and bear it.”

But for those folks who never sleep?  It’s going to take a little bit more than pep-talks and tax-free deductions to truly make things equal.

So let’s stop being lazy and treating oppression as moments of isolation and get moving towards some real conversations and solutions.

Why?

Because I haven’t been sleeping well, lately, and I don’t have the patience to hold your hand through it.

(*1) See the article HERE.

(*2)  When I think about this kind of stuff, it makes me even that more inspired by the kids I work with (back in the States).  So many reasons not to be their best, and yet – their “not-best”?  So far beyond anything I could ever pull off.