Flights of Faith

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It can't get any worse...can it?

Had a few incidents today.

Talked politics (ahh!)with someone on the tour. She defended our cultural imperialism with a simply "but what if we didn't." The constitutional rights violation was implicit, I guess.

That's not bad. It can't get any worse, right?

Talking about Westerns. "Now we can't make them because it's not politically correct." The last couple words were, of course, spat out. Representing all Native Americans as bloodthirsty savages suits your sensibilities? Excuse me.

But you know what, it's a different generation. Keep on walking.

Eritrean guy doing traditional dance at a group talent show. I'm appreciating it. Space Invader (because he, ya know, invades your space) comes up and says to me, "Got any rap music to dance to?" I blink then stare back at him. My dad awkwardly stands in between us.

Ok. That's definitely personal, but I can handle it. And, best of all, it cannot get worse than that.


Sitting with a Tulane student. After talking about how she bar crawls and parties for a good length of time, she broaches the subject of Katrina. Before I can even lay out my opinion on this issue after issuing her own she snaps, "And I hate when people say it's a racial issue. They had time to get out. Everyone knew. It wasn't black or white. There were people who looted Who stayed behind. They were dumb and stupid. It's not that America didn't care. It was their own fault."

Instead of just stopping there, she tirelessly took me through the welfare policy of the city, trying to say race didn't matter, weakly responding to my evidence of white family hero/black looter. She insisted the media was just trying to "start something." I just had to stare at her like she was crazy and shake my head slightly in disapproval. I wanted to shout at the woman that her class (which, of course, is racialized) made everything ok. The truth is, though, when you have a hurricane facing your home, food, and family down and the other option is leaving everything you have worked for and living in poverty thanks to no expendable income, well, you expect your city to take care of you. And New Orleans did not. A sign isn't good enough. It never has been for people on the margins. Unfortunately, the white space matters. Just ask the survivor.

I cannot deal. I need to escape. This is supposed to be about discovering the wonders of China, not an exercise in how to represent and perpetuate different forms of injustice. I sort of expected it all though. Hopefully, I can reclaim this expereince somehow. This is my problem. I make bad decisions and all I can do is reclaim poor choices. I need to start making better ones.

But, in ways, this decision was so right. I know it was. My father needed me here. I think this is a lesson for me. I really do. A dose of how blessed I am at Yale along with the reality check that this is what is waiting for me. Allies, let's get it together. We are in it for the long haul and every hour will test us. Escape is only the last frontier to freedom. Absolutely nothing else. It will be difficult, but we feel that it's right in our bones. Let's get to it.


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