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Monday, February 15, 2016

~ Guess Who's Taking Their Country Back? (Hint: Me)

Fact:  I don't have a bucket list and I don't believe in goals.  I believe in wanting sumthin' and doin' what it takes (as long as it keeps within the bounds of being legal, ethical, moral and generally not bein' a dick to others) in order to get it, or conversely, relatively quickly giving up and moving the hell on.  Scads of factors go in to which route I ultimately choose.

For instance, on a company trip a million years ago we rented a SUV.  From the moment I sat up in that seat and mashed the go peddle I knew it was a must.  I saved my pennies and the following year I purchased one.  I've only owned SUVs since.  Sticktoit'dness.

On the other hand, I, for a brief moment assumed I'd be Mrs. Adam Ant.  By the time Billy Idol hit the scene I'd given that up.  Giveup'dness.

But one of my most steadfast desires is one I've held onto for more than a decade, which is, as someone so easily distracted by the shiny thing that just caught my eye, an actual eternity.  I want to gain admission into the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Of course I realize this sounds refuckingdiculous.  I mean, what are the odds that any American can legit trace their lineage to an ancestor active in the American Revolution*?  Let alone a brown one?  While I'm certain there are other brown girls in the DAR, my guess is there ain't many.  And.  I.  Want.  In. 

( * ...Yeah, I got curious too.  It's estimated the DAR has 180,000 members while the boy version, the Sons of the Revolution has 33,000 members.  Meanwhile there are 322 million Americans, you do the math.  Seriously.  I'm shit at math
[Obviously there are those who can trace their ties back to the literal birth of our nation who aren't aligned with any number trackin' organization, but listen,
I can't Google everything...)

I have pestered my genealogy doin' (and saintly) Mom for yeeeeeeears.  Now it's important to note the I have contributed zero in the quest to bring such a thing to fruition.  Other than pestering.  And that shit is time consuming and more complicated than one might imagine.  I'm not a great daughter.  But I am the only one she has sooooo... 

To be truthy, not only have I not helped, I have actively attempted to dissuade the efforts, mainly when several months ago Mom told me she was doing that genealogy DNA test and asked if I wanted to also?  Pragmatically Immediately I was all, "just because I haven't had to commit a crime and/or kill someone doesn't mean I won't have to in the future.  I don't know what tomorrow will bring." as naturally, one does.  Rightfully so she did not listen to me.  ...Or maybe at her age she feels confident that she probably won't have to do a murder...  I donno.  (shrug)  Regardless, and obviously to my chagrin, she spit on a q-tip and slapped a stamp on it.   (As if to double down on my terribleness I subsequently mocked her upon reading this)

As you may have come to realize by this point I really, reeeeeally want to be in the DAR.  A) (and I don't know this to be true, in fact, it's probably safe to say it's not) I just suspect there are crested blazers involved in the DAR.  I must have one of those blazers.  (I imagine they're blue.)  I want to wear it every day.  I want a t-shirt underneath that perhaps in sparkly letters says I Want My Country Back.  2) I want to laugh as peoples heads explode when they are forced to see a BBG (big brown girl) free ranging the world in that get up.  Is that wrong?   In the past several years I keep hearing over and over again about folks wantin' their country back.  And frankly, I feel left out and I want in on that too.

(Correction:  My t-shirt will actually read I want My Country
Back, Bitches'Cause I'm that girl.) 

Flash forward to two months ago.  I'm at her (Mom and her hubby's) abode (we call it Southfork), I don't know what we were discussing when out of the blue she says, "oh, there's something I've been meaning to show you" whilst whippin' out the iPad.  Before she can even get the sentence out I chime in with, "did you finally get me into the DAR?"  Super surprisingly Mom pulls up what, from a bit of a distance I recognize as the layout of a family tree.  She goes on to show me one the crazier turn of events I've had in my life.  Ya see, as sheer willpower fates would have it, and in an enormous shock to me, DNA links me up as being the descendant of an American patriot.  By the way, we're not talkin' the loose way 'patriot' gets tossed about these days.  Nope.  Not only are we talkin' a by-anyone's-measure, patriot, we're talkin' a drafter of the Declaration of Independence.  (suck it)  And a President of the United States of America.  (double suck it)   I am the 6x granddaughter of (drum roll) Thomas Jefferson.


As stoked as I am to discover this tie to the beginings of our nation I gotta admit it also fills me with, I guess for lack of a better word, sadness.  Sadness upon the recognition of how common place it is that I'm essentially 'other-ed' in my own land.

Fun fact, this happens all the time--

- What are you?
- But where are you from?
- No, seriously, what are you?

The subtext being very clearly, 'because you're not white, I assume you are not a real American'  ...Which is awesome to have pointed out to you.  Constantly.  By complete strangers in the grocery store.  Or while clothes shopping.  Or when queuing up for a movie. 

...How's that for a routine affirmation that entire chunks of society have trouble even conceiving that the vaguely brown chick in line with ya is, in fact, what America is too?  One must admit that it's a shitty reality when skin hue is the seemingly sole litmus for determining what an American looks like.

But congratulations that's our culture.  We're strengthening it every time we nod our collective heads along with the growingly popular takin' my country back mantra.   It's the contrarian in me that leads me to want to co-opt I-want-MY-country-backness to mean a country where we actually do that everyone's equal stuff we've been having well meaning 'conversations' about since good ol' Grandpa Tom was still alive.  My version of wanting my country back is progressing to the point where America isn't just equal in 'theory', but equal in actual fuckin' practice. 

That's of course, not its traditional meaning.  The mainstream meaning of I-want-my-country-backness is something I've found interesting since it became a thing.

On the surface it's usually explained as; 'I want ol' time-y economics.  Or morals.  Or standards.  Or educational systems.  Or workplace settings.  Or.  Or.  Or...'  None of which off the cuff sound like nefarious notions.  (Completely unattainable and unreasonable?  Yes.  [Fact:  Progress, nay, evolution, has been stifled, held at bay and obstructed, but never has it been kept from actually proceeding.])  Easily palatable to large and nostalgic segments of the country.  Except to those who notice that the underbelly, and in-practice version of yearning for the good ol' days is that those were days that economics were often predicated on harsh conditions for the labor of the day.  Harsher still if you were a POC, whether it be the goin' backness of the 1950's or the 1850's.  Going back to the morals of the day logistically entails a longing for an era that it was either moral to own other (browner) people, or that it was morally acceptable to simply not hire, or serve, or worship with, or provide equal educational opportunities to, or live in close proximity to Americans who were non-caucasian, because, black.  ...Not to sound all, everything is black or white, but if history has taught us anything about how skin color impacts POC it's that with exception of the premise that white men can't jump and that black guys have monster cocks, being black in America has never, like ever, been anything other than a disadvantage.  Yes.  Oprah and President Obama exists.  But there are always outliers.  There are always exceptions to rules-- that's why we have that fuckin' cliché in the first place.  The fact that exceptions exists doesn't negate the fact that the rule is the actual norm most will experience.  And the norm for POC historically, and currently, is a state of disadvantage.  Not because it's my opinion.  Because of the actual evidence of disadvantages experienced by Americans based on the color of their skin, in um, everyfuckingthing*.

(Please Note:  *Not e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  Just employment opportunities, the ability to get a fair mortgage rate or car loans.  And;  the level of health care received from doctors, dining outemployment opportunities, housing options, treatment in the judicial system, employment opportunities, votingin education and appendicitis pain management.  Also;  if you may be in need of an ambulance, and whilst touring a college campus, and riding on a fraternity bus, and h.s. class photo days and when determining if a child is a child or an adult.  Or any of the literally hundreds of racial bias cases listed here that have taken place since 2003.)   


So, if you're keepin' track that's-- 
For contrast, I'll allow Tim Wise to detail some of the advantages of whiteness in America--  



So, no.  I'm not particularly interested in going back to any past era, no thank you.  Also the same reason I avoid plantations, and places with plantation in its name.  Just.  No.  Historically, folks who look like me haven't had a good time there and I'm not taking my chances.  My only interest is in moving forward and helping to create a country where melanin doesn't determine whether a person is randomly quizzed on their authenticity as an American, or used as a mechanism to put people at a disadvantage by the sheer fuckin' happenstance of being born with more of it than less. This?  This I want more than a blue crested blazer, ya hear me?  I.  Want.  MY.  Country.  Back.

* Even if they don't call 'em 'goals'.  (ahem)  True story.


 HAPPY PRESIDENTS DAY, y'all.



Things you can do right now to help create such a place:
     - Inform 'yo self.  (Here [source: The Ohio State University])
     - Watch this YouTube of White Like Me
     - Stop waiting for the change and start bein' the damn change
     - Take the Harvard University Implicit Bias Test


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