Monday, May 12, 2008

Let's get Politically Incorrect!

Bored with the old layout, and I think it's time for an upgrade. Of course, my knowledge of CSS being what it is, and Blogger trying to make it all "easy" for me (without actually making anything easier at all, I'll probably not get any editing done on this that won't make it look awful. I noticed they've started commenting templates now (or at least the new one's commented where my old one wasn't) so that should help in figuring out what changes which aspect, but for as simple a thing as "I want to make the darn thing wider so my posts don't look so LONG!" I'll have to edit six or seven different pixel widths in various sections, and the method of 'change-preview-change-preview-change' seems like too much work for tonight.

My first summer class started today... "Health Aspects of Aging". It's a one-week seminar and we'll be doing very little actual work in the class if today was any indication. The entire body of the class except me (of course!) is there for an "easy A". I'm also the only female in the class and one of very few caucasians... It's strange to be a 'minority' for once after coming from classes which were predominantly white female students (Elementary education). I don't make this comment to be racist, but to show exactly how 'sheltered' I have been (still!) that it's a surprise to me when I walk into a classroom and don't see at least 1/2 the seats filled by preppy white kids. My expectations have obviously been crafted by years of repeated experience with walking into new classrooms, but that says something too. I know that IUP recruits a lot of students from the Pittsburgh area and I know that there is a pretty good-sized black population on campus... but I've rarely seen them in class! :/ Actually, it seems like many of them are sadly living up to the "ghetto" stereotypes that have been pushed at them by society and the media, and I wish a few more would - if you'll excuse my language - have the balls to actually follow any academic interest they might have, instead of caving to peer pressure and nearly failing classes just because being smart is "wrong" (and in some cases, it's "acting white" - a stereotype I strongly protest on behalf of all the supreme idiots who just happen to have white skin *coughcough*!).

I hear complaints at least once a month (which is as often as I bother looking for them via various media outlets) that "blacks" are still being segregated, looked down upon, not given the same opportunities as "white folk", etc. And all I have to say is that unless you're living in a very rural area, the opportunities are generally there for you and many people are willing to help you fight for your rights as a human being. In my experience, most people are so jaded to race that it's a non-issue until the ACLU starts another uproar about it. The main issue in my mind is that the black community in many areas has, just like other "minority" communities (never mind that there are almost equal numbers of blacks and whites), formed its own identity which it hates to let go of, which includes a lot of willful ignorance of the world and culture around them - and that identity is, unfortunately, partially the fault of the whites, yes. But it's also the fault of people who refuse to finish high school because they think it's useless or stupid, or worse, that it's for whites only. It's the fault of rappers who make living in the ghetto look glamorous and encourage violence in their songs, while a few struggle to tell kids that it's actually ok to get an education (and I am thrilled by the emerging black role models who can culture-switch... rapping to kids one minute and clearly articulating their thoughts to a reporter the next). It's the fault of teen girls who decide that they'd rather go get pregnant and live on welfare (because it's the easy way out) than struggle through perceived racism and sexism to get a better life for themselves and their kids. I'm sick of the "white guilt" BS. Some people might feel it and some people might deserve to, but it's time that throwing blame goes out the window and acceptance of history comes in. A lot of the things that have happened ARE history, and many of the "horrors" that blacks experienced haven't just been aimed at blacks. Many, many immigrants who came to America put up with the same kind of racist bigotry; even Mexican immigrants today in our 'enlightened' society have to put up with the KKK and their kin. Much of the "racism" I see and hear every day is created by the culture that the "victims" have accepted among themselves. I'm not blaming either side because it's a collaboration that goes beyond what either side would be capable of alone - if blame must be put, then I'm putting it on both sides.

I have not willingly oppressed any black person in my lifetime and I'm not going to feel guilty for a stereotype that, now that I am aware of it, I do my best not to perpetrate. I have an expectation that everyone around me should be working to better themselves and their community, or at least not to slide backwards... and that is indifferent of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, mental abilities (I expect you to work to the best of those, whether that means learning to tie your own shoes or solving world hunger), handicapped status, or any other "-ism" inducing mental or physical state. So when I say that the young black men in my class are living up to a stereotype and speak of them as though I were stereotyping them, it's not because I expect or require a stereotype. It's because I'm disappointed that a wonderful, intelligent girl I know who just happens to be southern, black, and Jewish can graduate WITH HONORS next to me, despite having had to deal with serious family issues and racism her entire life while these strong young men are often too scared to come out and admit that they are individuals and that something interests them in a classroom. She's not letting her racial identity get in the way of her personality, and I love her for it.

But back to actual class content analysis - Since I'm trying to get a job working with the elderly I'm glad to be taking this class. It will cover, in a week, conceptions and misconceptions about aging, terms used to talk about aging, ways to stay healthy and active as you age, and aging and sexuality. We're also scheduled to go out to an 'old folks' home' tomorrow to do some community service work, which seems mostly like landscaping but might also involve interacting with the patrons. I'm glad of the opportunity to go outside but I don't know if we'll get much done, or if the guys will decide to play it 'cool' and just stand around. It was also tossed up in class that since I am seemingly the only one with landscaping experience I would be a 'manager' of sorts... but I'd rather elect a committee to do the managing, or do things democratically than put myself in charge of a bunch of guys who I am admittedly uncomfortable talking to, if only because I feel I have nothing to say that might possibly interest them, or that I'll come off as a stereotypical "preppy white girl" myself. I'd say things would all be so much easier if people were the same shade of grey, but knowing that people enjoy pigeonholing, if we were all grey we'd probably start having issues with hairstyle-ism. >_<

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