Showing posts with label Gender. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gender. Show all posts

Monday, December 19, 2011

What your parents can’t tell you about interracial dating


The truth is interracial dating is a lot more like all other forms of dating than some people would like to admit.  And maintaining an interracial relationship is still about the same things that none interracial dating is about.  Two people deciding if they can commit to each other.  Everything else is media driven hype.  Personally I’m not completely for or against interracial relationships, gay relationships, or hetero relationships between members of the same ‘race’.  I am on the side of love and love being able to infuse tolerance in all relationships regardless of the over reaching societal implications to forming a relationship. 

I find it interesting that everyone is willing to admit that interracial relationships suffer more problems than a same race relationship.  The fascinating part is all the reasons that are stated as to why that is that have nothing to do with the REAL reason why.  During this litany of reasons people will list things like suffering from the discrimination of others and what you will put your poor children through.

Stats
Ask someone why they are against interracial relationships and they will probably tell you all the things ‘other’ people will put you through.  Seeing as most of these people offering this helpful advice have usually not been in interracial relationships I find myself believing that they are telling you what they have put other people through.  Trust me, once you are in only one interracial relationship the knowledge carried away makes the experience worth it. Only someone who has not had a true caring relationship with someone of another race can hold on to the idea that these should not be seen out.  And usually in their descriptors for the ills of interracial relationships they refuse to even admit the real reason.  There is only one, ignorance.  Ignorance breeds hate, confusion, lies and ultimately untested theories of truth.

Family
The truth is that if your family has lived in America for a certain number of years in certain locales you like I have interracial relationships to thank for your current existence.  Therefore I think the lowest and most villainous reason people will ever give you is the aspect that you are somehow hurting potential future children by being in an interracial relationship. This is the lowest form of manipulation because it takes advantage of the idea that people want to put their children in the best possible position to achieve and live a full life.  The truth is only useless people live uninteresting lives that have enabled them to never confront with any adversity.  Without conflict children cannot become strong enough to deal with the pangs of life.  They instead become people who don’t understand how to deal when life deals them a rough hand and they have a hard time recovering.  If nothing else being of a multiracial identity builds perseverance, self- reliance and a need to develop a strong self-identity.

Often enough people who have been in interracial relationships will cite one more thing.  This thing is the way the couple actually relates to race with each other. Because race exists as a social construct the members of the couple will often have ingrained ideas that are a reflection of their thoughts on race.  More often than not the person that is willing to date outside of their race is also the person least willing to deal with the implications of race in the world.  They will often ignore and admonish the other party for being too sensitive while that party will criticize and judge the other for not being sensitive enough.  The bigger issue with this is the fact that both are actually so sensitive to the race issue that they make what other people perceive the entire focus of the relationship.  When actually it should bare as much weight as choosing a place to have dinner. That is where maturity comes in.

I will be the first to admit interracial dating does have issues that same race relationships don’t have.  The number one issue is whether or not the participants are mature enough to deal with a society that isn’t mature enough for open none guilt laden interracial dating.  The most damning and hurtful aspect to this is finding out the truth about the people you love.  Because in the course of even contemplating this as a choice you will learn beyond a shadow of a doubt where the people you love stand.  It doesn’t matter how ‘open’ the bulk of your friends and family are, someone in your immediate life will have a problem with it.  The people involved have to determine from point jump if being with this person is worth the potential drama proposed by others outside of the relationship.  This branches out to friends, co-workers, and casual strangers.  Yes you will notice a difference in how people treat you.  And if that isn’t enough to make you understand how alive and well racism still is then you need to give it a shot just to see.  Take minute and understand the nature of your privilege.

Hands
The issue with race is that it somehow negates something that is always present in relationships. With human beings comes opinions and people will judge whom you are with regardless of what they bring or don’t bring to the table.  People find issues with class, gender, ableism, you name it.  Some people will even complain about television and music preferences.  The bottom line is that no matter who you are with, there is going to be someone in your life who doesn’t really like them or the fact that you are together.  Maturity determines how much you let that dictate who is right for you and who isn’t.  In the end all those other people aren’t there and can’t really determine what is best for you.  Only you can do that.

Race is an insidious thing because it is solely dependent on perception.  Most times as many online ‘identify the race’ simulations prove, you can’t really tell what ‘race’ someone is by their appearance alone.  The human genome project has ventured into a wide array of explanations regarding this and why assumptions about personality, work ethic, or morality cannot be judged by the color of a person’s skin.  All human life on earth right now can be traced to a male and female ancestor in Africa.  This is not theorized or presumed, this is science. This is fact.

We as people have different experiences that have shaped us.  Many of these experiences have racial overtones because of the country that we live in.  We are all shaped by only watching bad racial stereotypes in our media, by accepting casual racism as a fact of life, and by not speaking up when unfair discrimination is taking place.  Every time you look away in the guise of ‘this isn’t a big deal’ is when you let it win.  When you don’t take something seriously that has the potential to hinder another person’s liberties and civil rights then you let it win. Because you aren’t personally exposed to this treatment does not mean it doesn’t exist.  In case you haven’t noticed racial demographics change every day.  When does the day come that you are the one being visited with this treatment that you choose to ignore?  Stop ignoring it, deal with it, and be the change that we all need to see.

Stats courtesy of http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/legacy/68-interior.gif

Family Courtesy of http://www.thegrio.com/assets_c/2010/04/celebs_interracial_marriages_proves_grass_not_greener_on_other_side-thumb-400xauto-8484.jpg

Hands Courtesy of http://multiamerican.scpr.org/files/2011/03/hands-300x423.jpg

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Next American Revolution


We live in a time where perception is becoming law.  You see it everywhere; in the government, on television, and in personal interactions with others.  But this to some degree can be said about all stages of humanity in its current Homo Erectus form.  Like all things, perceptions are mutable because no two people can have the exact same one.  We are greater for this, and in some ways worse for this.  In the end, different is better because it opens the doors to possibility, maybe, and the impossible. Perception accomplishes all of this.  In our age of instant information, perceptions travel faster.  At the speed of light even, which has to a large degree accelerated our rate of development, and our ability to ascertain our individual perceptions.  So we can just a quickly modify them.

Movie Poster
This thought process comes from watching a fascinating movie this weekend called Ruby's Bucket of Blood.  It was the story of a 1950s black woman in Louisiana who ran her own juke joint.  For people that don't know what a juke joint is, it's a speakeasy, a bar with musical entertainment. They were established by blacks in light of Jim Crow laws that barred blacks from white establishments.  So blacks created their own clubs.

The movie did the basic things and I was impressed by all of the stones the story and direction left unturned. They talked about segregation, homosexuality, spousal abuse, class within races, extended families. The most interesting aspect was the commentary about the different ways that people of color can discriminate against each other, and the way whites can as well.  They also dealt with a mentality and attitude that still exists to this day. They referred to it as 'slave' mentality.

Historically it has been thought of as the mental byproduct an enslaved people have to reject upon release.  The thought was it would take as many centuries to breed out as it took to breed in. But it is more than just a degree of perceived ownership, and not being able to make decisions regarding yourself or your children. It is more about a degree of perceived allowances in society.  What is acceptable and what is not acceptable as a person of color in a white world and vice versa? What is acceptable for a white person in a white world or a white person in a person of color world?

As I watched this movie I was startled to realize that most people who are not of color probably would not understand what the primary elements of this movie talked about because of context.  Meaning that if you are not a person of color who has experienced levels of discrimination you would have no idea what the underlying message was behind the movie.  In direct contrast there were aspects of being white that were confronted that most people of color would not be able to understand because they have not experienced that degree of discrimination that whites place on each other at times in regards to how to deal with people of color. And I wondered about that and the issues with not just perception, but with perspective and how these populations could ever find it with one another in such a short period of time.

Desegregation Protesters
The United States has gone through a myriad of changes in a few short centuries that other countries have taken nearly a 1000 years to sort through when you compare histories.  There are still people alive who remember Jim Crow laws and why they had to be followed.  My grandmother and mother are two of them.  This is when perspective becomes so very interesting.  The idea that I, a 34 year old woman in America, and anyone of my age group, has immediate family members that know of and willfully participated in the act of segregation and deemed it acceptable is a mind-blowing perspective if you really think about it. And while segregation was declared illegal in the 50's, then again in the 60s, with a series of subsequent laws as people searched for and found loopholes, the South was able to maintain it well into the 70's which was when I was born. Many people maintain that it is still very prevalent today.  Doubt me, check state report cards that break down academic achievement by race and note the ones that don’t have enough of a certain race to even rate it.  Schools are still segregated due to real estate markets and housing discrimination; another loophole for continued segregation that litigation is still dealing with. However, I see that despite that fact, my surroundings are a far cry from the world my mother grew up in. And even further still from the society my grandmother grew up in.  I find myself wondering at how I would've raised children in my mother's time.  Would I have raised them to fight, or would I have been fearful and raised them to survive?

Let me paint a picture for you. Some of you are mothers so this should be easy for you.  For those who are not just imagine. Try being a mother who has to deal with raising children in a world where even though the law has forbidden treating you and those like you badly, the people have made sure that they can continue with little or no penalty. On many occasions you have seen others hurt, beaten, falsely jailed. You yourself have been the victim of being denied jobs, denied good housing, and denied adequate medical care.  You don't know how you are going to keep your children alive without better pay, better food, and better medicine. Secretly you suspect that the system you have to work in would prefer that your children died. There were times when you heard people say as much. When you try to fight the injustice, on several occasions you are told that if you balk at this, your fate will be worse because people either don't want things to change or they are too weak to rock the boat.  But they all say you should be grateful for the scraps you have been given.  The ones in charge say none of you are worth it anyway. Stay in your place, and be grateful I don't take that from you too. How fearful are you as a mother with a son or daughter?  You decide that you have to train them to think and act in a certain way to insure that they survive.  You see, in a climate like this achieving is the least of your concerns.  Survival is the most important because you know that you have it better than those before you, so there is a chance that your children, their children will have it even better. But they have to manage to grow up and carry on. Just survive. So what manner of child would this raise?  What would be their goals and inclinations?  See the many, many ways that they would not coincide with the new reality they have been given that is so different from yours.

American Dream
This analogy works for all discriminated against populations and their reluctant oppressors.  Just insert the classification, race, social class, gender. The crux of all discrimination is a powerful group of people dictating what other people deserve, who deserves to give it to them, and why.  It’s bullying for adults.  Last I checked that wasn't supposed to be the American way.  Remember the American Dream; achieve and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.  How do you manage that without boots I often wonder?  In this I mean food, shelter, medical care.  The basics. Despite that people have managed something. But how would you expect people to be who have been told that they can achieve, but only on the terms of others, and then blamed for their lack of achievement. It just becomes a fixed craps game where every roll is snake eyes because even if you somehow manage to 'do well' that was somehow given to you and not actually earned.


Even though it was called 'slave mentality' for blacks, the truth is other populations suffer and understand it so it isn't really a 'slave mentality', as it is a caste system mentality. And this caste mentality is felt by ALL in the society system. It is a series of ideas about health, lifestyle, culture, ideologies, wealth, success, meritocracy, class, race and gender that the American media and institution of government like to reinforce for population control. The importance of understanding this mentality is the key to a future America that can at least understand itself.  America right now is like an amnesiac schizophrenic.  It forgets all of its personalities as soon as it switches to another, and it can't recall the history of the one it's in.  It would be the highest of hypocrisy if the country knew what the word meant.

2010 Census Statistics
The truth is America is not equal, middle class blacks and Latinos still live in low income neighborhoods because they are barred from better ones fitting their income status.  America is not wealthy. There are wealthy people in America, about 10% to be exact.  America isn't mostly middle class; that is currently being wiped out by the greed of the wealthy.  America isn't democratic; states are currently putting in measures to prevent certain populations from voting.  America is not religiously tolerant.  Not a day goes by that someone on television isn't referring to or treating all Muslims like terrorists.  America is not peaceful. America has the most people incarcerated per capita than any country in the world (increased dramatically since the ‘war on drugs’ began in the early 80’s) and has been at war for the last 50 or so years on foreign shores.  America is not a melting pot or a salad bowl.  People are asserting their multicultural, multiracial status daily as more Americans are fitting under this distinction. Other global communities are reestablishing their communities in America. Populations are choosing to huddle together in distinct neighborhoods easily identified by their culture.

The other truth is that the only constant in life is change.  We are a country that has been divided by many issues.  Race, wealth and religion being the big three in my opinion. Race is a condition that is fixing itself if the rising production of mixed race children is any indication. Hopefully soon all children will be just what they are . . American children. No disclaimer, no classification. Wealth, another problem weeding itself out as the middle class vanishes and the opulence of the wealthy is being uncovered.  Soon they will be brought to task for the systematic stealing of money and resources from the American public. Because when the wealthy can no longer squeeze money out of us, they will turn on each other.  Their greed demands more. Someone wealthy enough to have power over this will stop them as they reach for their wealth. And religion, in light of recent events we see clearly how criminalized none Christians are in the media, while Christians are treated as 'lone gunmen' that don't represent all of Christianity.  Amazing that this isn't the case for Muslims. We define politicians citing religious right as the future of this country as lunatics. 

Human
What the media and government seems to not understand is that despite their careful cultivation of these issues to try and panic people into a frenzy, America has been giving them its own answer the entire time.  We need change, and whether they like it or not, we will have it. Even if we have to create it ourselves.




American Dream courtesy of http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-BoWTok3w1s0/TZCgx45BlPI/AAAAAAAAADg/lMsL07ezjzo/s1600/20081123_barack_obama_comic_01.gif


Human courtesy of http://www.mixedracestudies.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/MultiracialIdentityMovie.jpg

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stereotype Tree

Multicultural image
I think the importance of stereotypes and their existence become greatly undervalued.  If you ask someone why a stereotype is bad your general response would be something along the lines of 'Well it isn't polite, or nice."  Which of course opens the doorway of using them when you intentionally want to be mean or seen as bad.  It becomes a matter of opinion on civility instead of a matter of fact in regards to inequality systems.  Make no mistake about it; stereotypes have very little to do with civility and a whole lot more to do with the maintaining of inequality systems.

Inequality systems are an interesting thing.  In the current text I am reading "The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality" there is an analogy that is given by Marilyn Frye that I find to be very appropriate:

"Consider a birdcage. If you look very closely at just one wire in the cage, you cannot see the other wires.” When the cage is observed so closely, it’s unclear why a bird—eager to escape—wouldn’t just fly around the wire. It’s necessary to step back and look at the entire cage. “It is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of which could be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the walls of a dungeon” (Ore, 2003)

The interesting aspect of inequality systems is that people have a tendency to deny their existence.  The common perceptions among average Americans are that if a certain sector of the population is not successful it is through their own lack of desire, initiative, and drive.  According to the most privileged Americans, the playing field is level.  This is just the idea that the inequality maintenance system needs to survive. This perception of falsified equality. Yet in language, media, and legislation inequality thrives, and has convinced some that the perceptions given are the truth of the tale. Stereotypes then become even more invasive than these other influences because stereotypes are what a person is involved with on a psychic level and it becomes condoned and supported by these things.  This causes an invalidated truth to take root and be accepted as a validated truth.

Stereotypes are formed because we as people need to isolate things; assemble patterns. That's what we do, and how we learn. Just in case no one has noticed, humanity is in a heap of trouble. We have compounding problems from our environment to our economy. The issue is that likeminded groups stick together. We form these pockets of humanity, and these pockets only like to allow other likeminded individuals in them. We all do it.  However, like minded individuals are what got us into this situation in the first place. Diversity is the only answer now. Different heads need to be thinking about our issues from different perspectives of thought. No individual group is going to come up with an adequate solution. They can't. The only people they bounce ideas off of are just like them, and they see things too similarly. If they had a viable answer we wouldn't be in such a quandary.

Stereotypes are the root of all perspective evil because they incorporate assumptions about a whole that is usually only applicable to a few. However with this assumption in place, the perspective of the person is set and fixed to find evidence of this assumption in everything. It's our ability to create patterns used against us. Even if the stereotype is obviously not true in a person, we are actively looking for it to the point that another unrelated aspect of them seems to reinforce the stereotype. It's us typecasting each other, building that pattern.

Amazing Tree
Stereotype Tree

ROOTS
Roots of stereotypes come from culture, life experiences, and media. These are the things that shape us that were in place before we are even conscious of what we are or who we are going to be. The surrounding infrastructure that facilitated your birth. We would all be different people had we been born in the early 1800s instead of now.

Culture
Culture is the thing your family instilled in you and your beliefs. This includes religion, location, racial identity, socioeconomic status, acceptable behaviors and rewarded ideas. These are all the factors that those before you put into place. My foundation was set by a mother who raised me to believe that as a general rule people considered 'white' would always look down on me, but this was should not be the case.  They are no different than us, but they will always act like they are. Already I have a cultural perspective that says this type of person is always going to look down on me, but they are foolish for it. There is no difference between them and me.  This colors all interactions I have with people that are considered 'white'.  Does this person disapprove of what I am doing because as a woman who is 'not white' I should not be doing this because it implies equality?

This is the first step, so try to really dig into this concept and formulate what was presented to you as far as ethnic, class, financial, gender, and sexuality based expectations.  What were these mostly unspoken rules of what your family and friends expected from you at the very beginning of your life?  What was fair and what was based solely on stereotypes and uninformed assumptions?

Life Experiences
With the example set by your culture you have a certain perspective of the world. You see it with lenses colored by your culture. Situations that would seem one way to one person is actually completely different for someone else. When I was accused of cheating on my aptitude test in elementary school the teacher probably noticed me looking around because I do, a lot, always have. I didn't look for answers. I was just looking at the other kids because I was new and trying to figure out my new environment. When the scores came in, she confronted my mother about this. I felt guilty because my understanding was ‘looking around was bad’. When my mother found out and the teacher tried to explain, my mother got angry just like she does when she complains about white people, and tells me that I won't be attending that school anymore. This reinforces the stereotype that my mother has ingrained in me. This is an example of a life experience that can be seen from that cultural perspective.  Now I have an instance where it can be perceived that a ‘white’ authority figure has in fact 'looked down' on me because of my 'non-white' status as she openly questioned whether I was capable of achieving this aptitude score.

Media
Media is a growing issue for stereotyping because it is so ingrained in our lives now. The messages that are being generated by advertisers and media outlets is shameful because the generation that was raised by television is now letting their children be raised by the internet. Should advertisers and content creators be more discriminating, yes, will they, no. They aren't trying to raise your kid right; they're trying to raise your kid to buy what they're selling. Question any and all media no matter what is being said and no matter who is saying it. All media can be traced to 6 corporations.  http://www.newint.org/magazine/ni333-media.pdf  With that small amount of diversity, everything is being reported from a very limited and specific social perspective.

TRUNK
The trunk is what the roots feed, it's the person you are, and how you react and respond to others in day to day activities. The areas this effects are social, professional, and private aspects of you. In some situations this branches out to virtual versions of you. So think of it as the social you, for friends and group settings; the professional you for the sake of your career or livelihood, and the private you which are the aspects that only close personal people know or no one at all including you even understand. Then there is the advent of this virtual you. The person you project yourself as in cyberspace.

Social
You choose to be in certain areas. Certain groups of people make you feel comfortable or uncomfortable. People create hives and groups based on affinity and relation. Usually these are dens of like-mindedness where ideas are identical and mirrored. These mirrored ideas reinforce stereotypes because they are never challenged.

Professional
While your job can create pockets of diversity, the understanding is that this is a ‘working you’, and not truly who you are. At work we respond sometimes as we must to fulfill the job expectations denying personal concerns. Most businesses are not expansive enough to need varying degrees of ability and talent with the exception of some high end performance and technology fields. Business autonomy sometimes makes it unnecessary for these different parts to fully interact. Working day to day while having certain stereotypes in mind causes you to see co-workers in a certain light as well. What is just playful banter can be misconstrued as an insult because of this. Stereotypes may be jarred a bit, but never disavowed because everyone is at work, and the actual face of who they are is not visible. Some fields are so devoid of diversity that even if people interacted with everyone they would see very little difference in ideologies. People who like to do certain work, or have to do certain jobs, have similar ideas and perspectives.

Private
In the deep dark parts of ourselves we know what we truly believe. We believe what we've been shown through media, culture, and life experiences. Patterns develop that lead to who we are and manifest as the decisions and actions taken in our personal time. This is where stereotypes truly fester because our time can be spent in any way we would like. We guide ourselves inside of our own heads; this manifests in habits, likes and dislikes; our dreams. Our minds are our own, and they can either be cultivated or left barren.

Virtual
The interesting thing about being virtual is the assumption that it creates anonymity. As a programmer I'm here to tell you it doesn’t. Web bots know you're IP address, with that they can find anything and everything they need to know about you. Just hope that no one wants to find you because it isn't difficult if you know how to look.

Online combines aspects of you and content creation. Media intermixes with self and amplifies self. In no other venue will you find more stereotypes being generated, accepted, and passed about freely as if they are actual facts than online. Then the issue becomes that a consensus has been formed, and together through another broader form of socialized communication, a body of evidence has been built and seems airtight. However if you apply all that came before this step, you can see why it works out like that. Now the stereotyped are accepting the labels, the typecasting, and are in fact living to make the stereotypes as real as possible, like some odd form of nihilistic approval seeking.

BRANCHES
The result of the roots and the trunk are the branches. This is the active part that the person themselves take in creating the stereotype and regenerating it over and over again. This is the truth of what you believe in habits and nuances that are influencing other people, and reinforcing a certain perspective of an issue adjusting how you respond to them in the real world. You don't have to be a politician or someone in power for this to be effective. Just another person and it's done. This is where social expectations change the course of your actions when you are placed in stereotype forming or breaking situations. Here is when your need to act or fear of acting becomes a crucial determination of your true stance on the issue and ultimately your role.  This is where the company you keep sets an example. As human beings we are either reinforcing stereotypes or we are breaking them. There is no passive in-between.  Fence sitting is just the same as reinforcing them. People can ascertain your ability to accept others by the things you do, and the things you don't. Limitations, drawbacks, and misunderstandings are created by rating things in quality by untested assumptions. 

LEAVES
The idea is that these stereotypes should become leaves if you do a thorough analysis of your thoughts, ideas, and behaviors. They should grow, be tested, and fall away so that new ones can form, because unfortunately that is part of the human experience. There will always be stereotypes. It is the individual's choice if they would like to be a stereotype rock or a tree, always growing, always changing, always adapting.

Ore, Tracy E., ed. 2003. The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. New York: McGraw-Hill.


Multicultural image courtesy of  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Super Hero Theorem


I love all stories about super heroes.  I always have.  I realized that this fascination came from Saturday morning cartoons.  Let's just say when you are a little black girl growing up poor in Texas you have very little to believe in. Religion was taken from me by a Sunday school teacher that found it offensive that I wanted to be like Jesus. Needless to say I recall so clearly watching the X-Men, and thinking no one cares that Storm is black. She's just a mutant, and thus one of them. It was a really revolutionary thought for me. If you find the group that is the most like what you are at your core level, it won't matter what race, age, or religion you are.  In the eyes of the world you are all the same, and deserve the same treatment. What a concept.

I'm older now, and I still love super hero rhetoric.  I find the readings sometimes refreshing and more tolerant than anything I can find in any other form of media. The lines are sometimes very simple.  There is good, and there is evil. Upon occasion some of the contemporary classics have featured graying between the two.  Some such as DC's award winning Identity Crisis and Marvel's House of M sequence that leads to Civil War blurred the lines with a ruthless aggression that made the stories all the more human.  However these stories are about defining the lines between good and evil. Very rarely do the good ones even mention such uninteresting incidentals as race, class, religion, and gender. These are instead visual descriptors that have nothing to do with whether or not the character is good or evil.  Their actions and the reasons behind their actions determine this.  If only the world in general followed suit. With that said, DC's The New Frontier was a stunning entry that did account for race, class, and gender within the time period while being very honest about the world we do live in.

I find myself wondering how comics have been able to mature the way that they have, and I can only come up with one answer.  Stan Lee. Then I have to acknowledge that Stan Lee is a social genius.  He found a way to deal with very sensitive issues at a very sensitive time of our nation's development.  The first issue of The Uncanny X-men was released in September of 1963.  Please keep in mind that initial desegregation had only occurred in 1954, and supplementary legal actions occurred well into the late 1960's as states were resistant. This version of the X-men by all accounts was socially acceptable accept for the fact that they possessed mutant powers.  A gene anomaly that made them capable of doing things normal people could not do. They were outsiders, and an almost perfect simulation of ethnic and racial profiling and inequality.  Mutants were treated badly, looked down upon, and shunned.  Mutants were subject to being lynched and physically harmed. Some had mutations so radical that it changed the way they appeared making them not resemble a normal man or woman at all. This addendum is a precursor to people who are not able to disengage from their ethnic designations.

Let me flesh out this concept.  During this time period there were several ethnic groups that were being discriminated against.  The irony is that most are now considered 'white', and can choose to be viewed as their ethnic group or as census classified 'white' which is most people of European descent.  Other ethnic groups cannot 'blend' in, and pretend to not be a mutant. .  I mean a minority : )

This within itself was rather groundbreaking; however in the 70s this comic series took another brave step and began to introduce nontraditional characters of many ethnicities and nationalities. Now the X-men were international with differing political, religious, and social beliefs.  Yet despite this they were bound to each other by the overwhelming blanket of what they are.  To the world they were not even human, but a mutant first and always.  Any other differences from each other they may have has paled in comparison. It's so funny because I am one of those people who believes that despite humanity's best efforts, in the end Adrian Veidt from the Watchmen comic is absolutely right.  In many situations we do need a greater cause to make us forget our differences, and be reminded of our similarities.

As I find myself delving deeper into readings concerning race, class, gender, and religion I find myself being reminded of simple truths that I feel like I have always known that media is slowly trying to drown out.  My personal project for this summer is to prototype a game that will aid in teaching these concepts related to issues in sociology.  The ones that Stan Lee managed to endear so gracefully so many years ago.  I wonder if he planned it from the beginning.  If he intentionally made the first set of X-men the way they were to broaden the impact of the ones that came later or if it was just a blessed accident?

What my research has shown is that people are adaptable to certain forms of stimulation.  They will take in the information given and apply it to everyday life as a means to be a more socially acceptable creature.  However there has to be an entry point of familiarity.  To some degree they have to be able to relate to one concept in order to discover another. We are a pattern making species, and even if the pattern is perceived incorrectly, the die is usually cast. 

The brilliance of the way Stan Lee did this is that the original X-men looked exactly like the bourgeoisie at the time.  This was an epic point of relatability as they were concerned for the safety of those they loved and conducted rather normal lives.  They weren't fugitives; they were students trying to do what was best for an ignorant and intolerant world. With this identity of the X-Men firmly established you introduce new elements that will become relatable because the label has not changed.  The tenets and the belief system are not different, just the packaging.

So as I look at the fringes of society and the 'geek' and 'nerd' groups that enjoy eccentric entertainments I wonder if they have somehow been changed by their exposure to things like the Uncanny X-men as I have?  It is a fact that most people who read graphic novels and comics have a rather pronounced sense of detachment from mainstream society. Especially if they are an adult reader as 'mainstream' socialization tells people that a certain age is 'too old' to enjoy this type of entertainment. Yet it thrives as movies and television shows have tried to emulate these teachings about equality and the far reaching hand of justice. Even those who do not participate anymore in the reading feel a kinship towards the stories and are eager to engage childish sensibilities once again.  But the most telling is the fact that these sub-cultures of society exist and thrive outside of the machine so to speak.  It is an indication that it is possible.

For all change there has to be an entry way.  There must be those who dare, and those who succeed.  I’m just hoping that I have just enough Stan Lee in me to make a difference.