Showing posts with label Race. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Race. Show all posts

Saturday, May 7, 2016

That thing about race from an excerpt of Shuttered Vision

They had actually spent most of the drive quiet.  Commenting on music and scenery.  Nothing truly substantial just comforting small talk to pass the time.  He would make a catty remark about a movie billboard. She would berate the art.  It was rather amusing how comfortable, how quickly each got at their end of it.  They were seated at one of the back tables in the restaurant and poor Colan was confused.
“I always get front and center.”
Fiona was looking at her menu. “You’re always with people they want you to be seen with,” she said without really thinking about it.
“If you knew the company I kept you wouldn’t say that.” He argued gravely thinking about his rendezvous with his Columbian backers. “Not everyone I’m here with is white.”
Fiona dropped the menu and looked at him dead on. “I told you it’s not just about that; it’s about class.” She gave him an odd look. “How much is everything you’re wearing?”
He looked down at himself. “Maybe a grand most likely 2.”
“Just in clothes?”
“Just in clothes.”
“This whole outfit cost $20 at the local mall.  I got the dress on clearance for $10, the shoes were on sale for $3 and the purse I got at a 75% discount for 8 bucks.” She showed him her wrists and gestured towards her neck.  “I don’t wear jewelry.”
“You don’t wear makeup. Your hair is as it grows out of your head and not coiffed into oblivion,” he finished.
She tilted her head at him. “Aw honey, you finally noticed.”
He smiled at her despite himself. “It was one of the first things I noticed,” he admitted.
“I’m not one of you guys.  I don’t have the finance. And,” she emphasized. “I’m the wrong color.”
He winced. “I’m really starting to not like it when you refer to color.”
She shook her head at him. “Why does it piss you off?” she said in a way that completely said that he had no right to be pissed off about it.
He picked up his menu. “Because I’d punch someone that said that to me about you.” He paused a slight sharp smile dancing on his lips. “I don’t hit women.”
She stared at him sideways, literally tilting her head the other way. “I don’t understand you,” she said softly.
He looked up at her. “Then we have more in common than I thought.”
The waitress came over finally. “Mr. Abrams, how can I help you?” She said tensely.
Without looking at the girl he said swiftly. “Ask the lady what she would like.”
The girl next door brunette plastered on a fake smile and looked over at Fiona. “Ma’am, what can I get you?”
Fiona returned the smile dripping with every ounce of fakeness the girl had given her. “Well,” she started in her most country accent forcing Colan to slowly pan his head up at her. “Ah think Ah migh’ star’ with a Pabst Light.”
The girl’s face dropped. “I ..” she stammered. “I don’t think. . . we carry that brand of,” she gestured loosely. “Beer?”
“Well Damn,” Fiona stopped. “How bout some OE.”
Colan was biting his lower lip watching the display as the waitress looked at the woman helplessly. “I don’t think we have that either.” She supplied.
“What the ell kinda bar’s this, awright, awright.” In perfect English she requested. “Actually I’d like a vodka dry martini Grey Goose, very very dirty. Please lace the rim with lemon.”
The girl stared and then finding a solution quickly said, “Method actress; I totally get it.” She turned to Colan.
“The same.” He barely got out.
The girl nodded and quickly ran away. Colan followed by bursting out in immediate loud arborous laughter. After about 30 seconds of this he used the napkin to wipe his eyes and just kept muttering, “Well played, Ms. Canters, well played.”
A mischevious light danced in his eyes as he looked at her and started, “You know I have this role—“
“Forget about it mister.”
Colan smiled at the immediate setdown. “What made you . . .”
Fiona shrugged. “Terrible habit I developed years ago.  Can’t make myself stop.  As soon as someone starts treating me a certain way I like to give it to them, and then show them how I really am.” She shook her head smiling to herself. “Man has it gotten me into trouble over the years.”
“In Texas. I’m sure it has.”
She looked at him in an accusing fashion. “You know a lot about the South, and when you got pissed at me earlier your accent got going.”
“Oklahoma,” he supplied. “Born and raised.”
She nodded. “Makes sense.” Then smirkingly asked. “Why doesn’t Texas fall into the ocean?”
Colan rolled his eyes. “Here we go. Cause Oklahoma sucks.” He fixed her with a look. “Why is Oklahoma so windy?”
Fiona laughed. “Cause Texas sucks and Kansas blows.”
She looked around the room. People were either in various stages of disgust, wonder, or overt self-involvement. “How in the hell did you end up here?” she wondered openly.
“Foolishly,” he supplied. “But I’ve made it work for me?”
Fiona picked up her menu. “Well I think we should be ready when she comes back.”
“I’d rather you take your time.”
“Well Cody and I have a flight to catch—“
“I’d be highly offended if you didn’t let me treat you to at least one night in Hollywood.”
“Really, we haven’t booked a room—“
“There is room at my place.”
“But the plane tickets—“
“I’ll refund, have Mic book you a new flight when we get back.”
“I don’t think—“
“Would you refuse my hospitality?” he let his accent slip as he said it.
Fiona opened her mouth, and her southern breeding took over closing it instantly.  “No sir, I wouldn’t dream of it.  One night.”
“Unless more is required.” He hinted.
“One night.” Fiona insisted.
He smiled, “I’ll try not to push my luck.”
“Ready.” The waitress returned with a much more genuine smile on her face as she placed the martinis on the table.  Colan looked over at Fiona to see if she noticed.  She still had her head buried in her menu.  This probably happened all over the place, and she just never paid attention; still trapped in her sea of distain.
“Fiona.”

She still didn’t see it because she looked at him.  He said her name like a caress, like he cared for her.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Missing Love Stories

When I write it is often a plea or has a correlation to desires I possess in my day to day life. I write the world I'd like to see as opposed to the one I live in. Very simple method displacement. I take the reality that bothers me and I replace it with a viable beautiful one.  So of course my genre is romance. I find the world in my sight to be painfully devoid of true romance, honest passion and selfless love.  So I write about it. I pair up people and give them hell and let them figure out where they stand, what they want, and what they need.

Love Alchemy
A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to change the world. So I began mapping my Sci-Fi series which will be called loosely and subject to change Genesis 2020.  I'm giving humanity a spiritual reboot of sorts. This series features a changing of the guards as mortals will attain immortality in some instances, some will be the earth mothers and fathers of a new generation of humans, and many will be there to see to it all.

One of the books that I began features a couple that I feel like expresses the most conflicting dynamic in American culture. The male is a white, southern, high powered movie producer.  The woman a mixed race poor artist. I met Colan and Fiona in a dreamscape. They were hiding in a place that I seldom find myself in yet have made the most wonderful discoveries there. I call it my space of truth. They contacted me and wanted to tell me their story. It’s a good one, and they knew that someone like me would understand.

When you live life as an American, especially a dark female American from a poor southern family there are many aspects of life from your childhood that you were never included in or invited to. Somewhere along the way you have to either conform to low expectations or refuse the whole damn thing.  I chose the latter. To this day I cannot place my finger on how or why because I've never really seen much that was different than what is portrayed on television, in movies, or magazines like everyone else. I chalk it up to my mother's unending faith in me to be who I needed to be and not settle for who others wanted me to be.

Classic Romance Novel Cover
I say this because media is what it is. In my recollection the 80s where overrun by respectability politics and racial caricatures. But that was for everyone, white, black, red, yellow, male, female, teenagers, and children. Everyone had a prescribed formula. It wasn't till the late 90s early 2000s that characters became deeply complex people. All accept for women and minorities. So not even close to everyone. As a dark woman I've always taken those images with a grain of salt as I much preferred getting lost in a book as opposed to an unrealistic impersonation of who I was supposed to be. The irony is that you tell yourself it’s not that bad. You actually try to accept some of it as truth because the alternative is too much to bear, which is the evidence of others denying you and those like you the very basic staples of humanity.

One night I was shown how bad it was. I was dreaming with Colan.  He showed me a place that he would like for American film and cinema to get to now that he's head over heels for our lovely Fiona. You'll get to read the fit Fiona put him in for the first book of the 9 set series called Life Goes On sometime next year. It wasn't just a breaking in spiritual realization as much as it was an epiphany of a lifetime of strategic and collaborative brain washing.  As an artist Fiona forced Colan to see the things she could see and to replace the images he often associated with grace, beauty, love and valor with an image hardly ever associated with it in mainstream media. His open eyes became mine.

See how gorgeous we all are: http://humanae.tumblr.com/
For years I thought the portrayals of dark skinned people both men and women where as fair as possible and this instance destroyed that thought. I told myself it would be nearly impossible to reproduce the vivid imagery of that understanding in the written word. How can I show what I saw? The scene was resplendent. A scene of love and courage, the beauty of it pouring from the two souls. The scene was shot close, mostly faces of the man and the woman. They were exchanged plateaus of love and affection. She glowed in the scene.  Her lovely brown skin showing all the colors hidden there within. No brown is just brown, it’s a sea of shades of yellow, red, bronze, beige, slightly bruised peaches and chocolate milk. Papaya and carrots, beets and butternut squash.  His skin reflecting a myriad of colors as well. They stared into each other's eyes intently with purpose and grace. Love pouring true. She was going to leave, trying to leave because it’s what she thought he needed. The heroine, constantly by his side and pulling him though his darkness. He's grateful, complete and fulfilled from the journey. Through shared pain and shared grace they had found that point, that moment of divine grace within each other.

Up!
At no time did the scene reposition to show her breasts. The language used was vernacular English, no so called 'black' speak.  The man and woman were on equal footing. The lighting just so to give the ethereal nature of the connection. No body shots at all, this was an intellectual meeting of the minds and a stunning interaction of the soul. It was saying nothing but everything in Lost in Translation, it was the unveiling of the art room in 50 First Dates, it was "Thanks for the Adventure" in Up.  It was every instance of pure beautiful perfect love I've ever seen that made me cry and yearn for a love like that which now I saw, never had previously contained a single dark face.

Black Love
When I woke the image of it blazed brightly in my mind. Complete, perfect and beautiful and I knew in that moment that I had never seen it.  It wasn't part of my lexicon as a lover of romance. There was not a single movie I could recall where the scene had been built so painstakingly and so beautifully. Never for someone who was dark. Our love is always relegated to giving in and giving up like Jason's Lyric, or Love Jones. Sent to the seediest place, over sexualized, over stimulated and then tainted with tragedy.  Calm acceptance in the face of insurmountable odds like Monster's Ball. Happy endings need not apply because they are happy enough.  But not only that, those moments of true blissful acceptance and love are lost, never viewed or portrayed as something you would die for. Our moments of triumph always involve being given the opportunity to excel, still not quite human, but good enough in some matters of social change and of course feats of athletic excellence. But a love story. A true story of love between people of color that involves nothing more than a heartfelt desire to create the most perfect moment even if all others are lost is beyond us. Not seen, built and not given. Those stories of true love are found as standalone testimonies of dark women learning to accept and love themselves, implying that the rest of the world is not capable. We are too foreign, too unrecognizable as lovable beings to hope for anything more.

Romantic Movies
The loss I felt at that realization was one of the most profound moments in my life. As a woman who is encased and dependent on love, it never struck me that the reason why it always seemed like such an unsolvable mysterious fairytale was more than just inexperience. It’s an internalized attitude of love not being an available commodity for those like me. Love was contingent to acceptance, something that is usually not a part of the American experience for anyone regardless of background, yet even more so for those of the other variety. So the outliners of love became obvious points of acceptance. Perhaps love can overcome the racial issues in a relationship, the cultural calamities, even the religious bias. But love, for the sake of love was not a possibility. As a person of color you must be exemplary and perhaps someone will forgive your background enough to develop a passing acceptance and affection for you and this includes other people of color.


How it Can Feel
The stunning truth of what I had been shown all my life crippled me for hours. I cried as if everything beautiful and precious in this world had been stolen from me.  I cried as if all faith and hope was lost. I cried for the crime committed to so many like me. I cried for my femininity which suffers blows of lack of love constantly as I blame my figure, my not so perfect face, my hair length for lack of love. I cried for my darkness that rendered me unlovable for more of the population than I would like to know. Mostly I cried for my humanity because of all the things lost with the realization that love was not something portrayed as something I was fully capable of that was the one that denied me all I've ever wanted in life.

Love, the ability to feel it, give it and receive it is an inalienable human concept. Personhood of other animals is usually determined by the ability to attain complex thought and love. You will find that they are not mutually exclusive as we equate complex thought without emotion as an inanimate function. Emotions, and not just any emotions, but love specifically is the high bar for being human. Being willing to risk all for love, to survive for love, to overcome for love. In many ways none is more human than romantic love. The inexplicable pull and tug to a complete stranger for no comprehensible reason shows the extraordinary capacity of humanity and life. To be denied that, in any form is tantamount to death. Stolen then are the chances to redeem the glory of all life holds that is sublime and precious.

Who Love is For
When people are cut out of stunning and moving instances it not only cripples the people who are not being portrayed. It equally cripples the people who are, who are being told that love comes in shades of beige, blonde, maybe redhead or brunette. That love has a certain figure and form. Being told that love exists within confined spaces determined by socioeconomic and religious guidelines. Those being told that what they may feel for someone who is not of this character mold must not be real because its outside of the lines where love lives.


I came to the understanding years ago as my marriage fell apart and birthed my path as an author that I was, still am, and will always be a love based creature. As love left my life I had to create new ways to pull it back in. I cannot live without love. I craft for joy and I create for passion. I reach out for love, always reaching out for love. I will always write of love and the beauty it brings to this place. I'll write of the lives it has changed.  I'll write of the healing it has done. And I will write it with faces that we never get to see experiencing these amazing events with hope in my heart that those days will end one day and love will be truly available and visible for all.

Love Alchemy from http://www.tellurideinside.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/osho-wake-up-dangerous-love.jpg

Classic Romance Novel Cover from http://www.respiring-thoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/lady-of-winter-_bg_042.jpg

Up! from http://fictioncalling.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/up__married_life_by_symphonikaa-d59vz42.jpg

Who Love is For from http://www.quotes-for-love.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/401886_530695336968353_341075957_n.jpg

How It Can Feel from http://www.christineduvivier.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/website-24.jpg

Thursday, May 24, 2012

More Minorities, Is That Really The Case?


In the past week or so there has been tons of articles about the racial make-up in America changing.  I don't know what other stories have had such a wide array of coverage by such a wide array of media outlets.  When I see things like this I think of how ridiculous it all is.  This is for a number of reasons.  The ones most pertinent are race is strictly a social concept, people will eventually evolve to being the color their environment dictates, personality notwithstanding, and why on earth is the one drop rule still applying.
Breakdown

Race is strictly a social concept, and it’s a bad one.  One that was developed for the purpose of creating a subservient class in what was perceived as the most efficient fashion.  It is a pattern that has historically always shown up because of our seeming inability to associate people that have even the minuet amount of difference from us as people like us.  Ask any blonde, brunette, or redhead.  Stereotypes exist for everything from eye color, height to shoe size. It is no shock that skin color is no different. 

Thought Lynch was a coincidence?
The biggest issue with this however is the end characterization of people with different skin colors.  No one believes that blondes are lazy and more prone to crime.  No one has lovingly instilled that brunette's are dirty and should not be trusted with meaningful careers or power. These damning assumptions are cast on skin color and persist because we as adults won't take responsibility for being part of the problem and teaching our children, peers, and family otherwise by our own actions.  Instead we laugh at racist jokes that aren't funny.  We agree with family by not bringing that person of another race home to meet.  We let the inaction in our lives carry racism into new generations so that the lessons of Willie Lynch are never forgotten. (Willie Lynch Speech) While it has been proven that the accounts of said Lynch are fictitious, the parable for American life is relatively valid when trying to understand the mentality that still persists in America. If you don't know the story, I don't have the time to tell you.  You should start your change into an active participant of the future of this society by looking him up and understanding the basis of this characterization, acknowledging the aspects of it that still exist.

The truth is in a few hundred years all generations in this continent would began to assume another shade anyway.  Its called evolution and for the religious zealots that can't understand that it exists and life isn't unchanging religious magic I ask that you recite the Serenity prayer to yourself and excuse yourself from this blog. Pay special attention to the part that asks God to let you accept the things you cannot change.  Evolution is a thing that cannot change because it IS change. 

Babies Don't See It
I find it amazing that because of the Bible it seems that some people cannot get around certain ideas.  I find it ironic because that strikes me as love of a false idol.  Bear with me for a moment.  No one has ever promised us anything in life accept growth, change, and death.  That is all.  Yet people need to believe so very much in a text that claims to recite the word of God, sometimes in spite of what life is showing them.

I feel like I have a very evolved relationship with God.  I do believe which is why I believe that the complexity of life cannot be summed up in a book.  I think this book gives us tales of other human beings and how they fell due to lust, vanity, envy, pride and many other human vices.  I consider these stories warnings and parables for what life could put us through penned by people who wanted to make sure that we as the next phase of humanity could learn from their mistakes.  And through this the wisest of us may develop a hint of an understanding of what God's plan is for us.  If you ask a theologian, and I have, they will relate something similar. 

So Many Religions
As a woman of mixed religious thoughts and ideas I have searched this earth for even a hint of what the Father needs and wants of me.  I have researched ancient religions and modern ones.  I have studied the tenets of Buddhism, the Tao, Shinto, the Koran, the Torah. I have read every book of the Bible as best I could, searched for lost versions, original translations from the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves, Calvinism, Puritans, even the Shakers.  I have tried to decipher ancient Egyptian, Sumerian.  I have delved into Shamanism, witchcraft and just about everything else short of Satanism.  And I see the same pattern in them all.  One book, one set of rules that all claim the same thing.  We have all the answers.  This tells me plain as day, no one does.  But as humans we must have faith in something and everyone has the right to believe what they believe.  What they don't have the right to do is try to make everyone else believe it too.

In light of this I propose another alternative.  I propose a deity that is capable of such advanced thought that evolution was always a part of the design. I propose that our sight is so limited that we cannot phantom what magnetism, gravity, the primordial forces of this Universe are actually capable of or what they even are. That we cannot see the big picture no matter how hard we look.  We have functions in our bodies that only the highest of evolved earthbound entities have found a way to master.  The rest of us accept our involuntary responses and our weakness as simple, limited, finite beasts.  And that is the only true honor any of us can give the glory of God, living the life He gave us as He leads us.  Dropping arrogance, judgment, and cruelty.  What Christians claim as being of that faith to embody.

Stepping off my religious soapbox I confront the silliest of the whole thing.  Its' this idea that the race of being white is somehow defaulted to impurity if a single other 'race' is mixed with it.  It’s this idea that as soon as a 'nonwhite' gene pool is introduced to a white one all of a sudden the person resulting cannot in any form or fashion be considered white.  I find this the stupidest because I can't tell you how many times a 'white' person has looked at me and claimed to be (insert fraction here) of Cherokee, or Navajo, or some other none European culture YET still claims to be white. Because by aforementioned rules, they should not be. However, if the mixture is with an exceedingly undesirable (read not ostracized from the American Dream in a reservation fashion) race such as Latino, Chicano, Hispanic, Black, Caribbean (tropical black), Aboriginal (Australian black), or (insert various Polynesian, Asian mixes here including Maori and Inuit), then they are then 'spoiled' and apart of that undesirable race grouping.  If white were so damned superior you would think it would trump the other, yet not so much. 
So. . .

The truth is children from these unions are actually both because they carry the genes of BOTH parents.  One is not superior in DNA matching.  DNA just sees dominant and recessive strands and it matches them together to create new and more amazing patterns.  The more you give it to work with the more amazing pattern it creates.  Another marvel of creation we are not evolved enough to understand.  The simple fact is this; God has already done the math.  There is a reason why you don't see certain crossbreeds out in the world.  Think about it.  You really believe God would be so forgetful as to not put one in place for us if certain creatures shouldn't exist.  The last I checked, creatures that shouldn't exist. . .DON'T!  It is the sincerest form of heresy and blasphemy to damn what God has deemed to live.

So that's my say.  Please pick up one of my lovely multicultural, multiracial, usually interracial romance novels and celebrate love.  If we all do it together maybe we can get the world ready to accept some of these amazing new patterns God is creating in America.





Thought Lynch was a Coincidence? Courtesy of http://www.finalcall.com/artman/uploads/1/willie-lynch_gr1_1.jpg


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

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Of Games and Men


suspects
One of my favorite movie lines in the history of movies is the one from "The Usual Suspects."  "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."(Suspects)  I think that is applicable to a lot of things in American society.  Has media convinced us that some things that do exist don't? What is the most damaging? 

In my estimation the thing that has been the most interesting is the perception of achievement and the acceptance of class as a racial, gender, sexual orientation, and ableist identifier. How often are people of color depicted as affluent and deserving of it when it is not related to sports or entertainment?  How often are women portrayed in the same way? And citizens with disabilities, are they even depicted at all? Gays and lesbians aren't left out.  If anything they suffer the most as all populations no matter how abused can hold their sexuality over them in addition to all the other social classifications. Think of seeing any of these populations being referenced in regards to technological advancement and technical proficiency. The images just don't come readily to mind do they? However when a negative connotation can be added, all parties are displayed to a sensationalistic degree.

Americans have an over ridding belief system in place that declares loudly that whatever station a person finds themselves in they only have themselves to blame.  People of color just don't work hard enough to get promotions.  Women should've made different choices to avoid being abused. And somehow a disability is a slight from the Almighty Himself marking someone as unfit.  Why do gays and lesbians CHOOSE to be that way?

The implication is always that a position in life is a matter of will and choice, and not a desired result of an unseen, unspoken structure put into place for American society by the privileged class. No one looks to the other end.  Why do equally qualified applicants of color get over looked for promotions?  Why does that man feel the need to abuse women? The person with the disability is here so that God can teach us tolerance not avoidance. Why is it not ok that they are gay or lesbian? To some extent these populations are aware of their undeserved designations and understand that sometimes through no fault of their own opportunities just aren't available.  

The most interesting victim of the system is the privileged man who is aware, sees this inequity, and is rendered powerless to change it for fear of repercussions from the class he finds himself in.  What a tragic figure indeed as the bounds of their masculinity is defined by their ability to dominate and subjugate others. Constantly they are asked to continue the structure causing a little bit of their humanity to be eaten away each time.

All it builds is a sea of anger and self-hate for all.  The result is a need for violent behavior and overt aggression against those who would try and unseat the ruling class by just existing.  The goal becomes this process of blind self absolution where everyone is aware that admitting that this structure exists would be admitting their guilt in maintaining it. No one wants to be found guilty of such a horrible crime against the bulk of humanity.  Think of all the victims, millions of men, women, and children.  It would practically make you a Nazi.

With this in mind I recall my game design classes and sitting with my classmates as we had a discussion about our field, and the issues inherent with being a game designer in the modern world. Believe it or not game designers have a slew of social issues they have to navigate. The main stays are violence in games, the depiction of women and ethnicities in games, and the lack of diversity in game development companies.

Game Designers Image 1
While I often referred to them fondly as 'my video game boys', I was mostly an outcast during my educational stint.  The teachers appreciated me because I was a good student, but my classmates always treated me with a passing sense of discomfort.  I understood why. I was in fact a white elephant for them.  There is a reason why most game design companies have issues with depictions of women, minorities, and the propagation of violence. That is because in most game design classes you'll find a very prevalent self-fulfilling stereotype.  Young middle to upper class privileged white males who have no idea that they are any of the above however instinctively maintain the structure.  Most do not acknowledge privilege at all.  In fact most would imply in class and outside of it that privilege is a lie.  When confronted directly a few will tell you that there is no such thing as white male privilege. The playing field is even, and anyone who has a desire to create video games has the same opportunities as they do. 

I would sit quiet for a time and then ask the question that was to me as obvious as a 1 ton gorilla.  Then why is it that I'm the only person like me in this classroom? Usually the room grows quiet and people look nervously from one to the other seemingly trying to understand the question. On their face's accusation as if asking this question is picking a fight. Why I would ask such a thing their looks say. And yet the best they can come up with is, "Certain people just aren't interested in creating games."

In a lot of ways I feel like this inefficient answer is the only one that my classmates feel they can actually say.  The underpinnings are there, and can be felt seething beneath the surface. Minorities aren't intelligent enough; women aren't intelligent enough to create video games citing me as the oddity that sustains the rule.  Women don't enjoy things like games.  Non-whites are lazy and don't want to work hard enough to compete in a career like this.  They want things to be given to them, and won't work as hard as I do and people like me do.

Game Designers Socialize
These are still not viable answers simply because they aren’t true.  It is a result of the victim blaming society that American culture has fostered. What I’m after is the real reason why is it that at most I have usually seen a handful of none-white male students since I've begun my 4 years of education, and even less female students? Is it possible that only white males have a desire to use technology to create video games?  Considering how 'cool' everyone thinks it is that I'm trained to do this, I sincerely doubt it.  So what is the REAL cause of this disparity?

I realize that my inability to socialize with my classmates was multi fold.  For one instance as a woman I was already embarking on hallowed 'male' ground by even trying to become a game designer.  This was something that I realized my teachers loved that the male students came to resent.  Then of course there was the race issue which became a point of contention that the few female students came to resent.  Video game design is a very competitive industry.  Professionals in game design will tell you that it is an industry deeply entrenched in 'who you know'.  So while I was trying to create a social network to secure my future as a game designer, my classmates were taking it for granted that somehow my status as an African American female would guarantee me a job.  Furthermore they viewed me as someone who was in this industry specifically for that purpose.  Otherwise known as 'not really a game designer' despite my graduating Cum Laude status. What my classmates saw due to media portrayals of affirmative action was a free job pass, and this lead them to not actually taking the time to view me as a peer that could one day help them attain a job.  Instead I was an obstacle to be overcome, ignored, and hopefully passed over.  Some one that would bring down the quality of something they loved.

The third and seemingly most damning factor was my age.  My average classmate was in the early to mid 20s range.  As an adult student I had already had a career as a graphic designer and was redirecting myself for game design.  This final nail in my coffin of being a 30 something student solidified their thoughts about me.  Clearly, by their estimation, I was not a peer at all.  It was a perspective that negated anything of a social fashion.  In general I felt like an outcast.  When I did endeavor to try and become involved in the social aspects of their lives it was readily apparent that this was to be avoided.  The thought was that my presence would somehow alter how they themselves would and could act with one another. There was this irrational 'angry black woman' fear that seemed to stand as a deterrent.  The thought being that at any time something none offensive from their eyes would happen and I would somehow revert into this media hyped beast known as the 'angry black woman' officially ruining the evening for all involved from my inability to take a joke. 

Of course the lack of socialization with me was chalked up to 'not having interests in common'.  This was a fallacy as I shared many of the same interests that my classmates shared that provided moments of bonding between them. The only things I did not share were sex, race, and age.  Which has proven to be the only interests that most of them felt needed to be shared.  And then I think back to that question with a few more facts.  Why was I virtually the only person like me in that program?  Keep in mind that I live in Baltimore, MD which is one of the cities in the US where the African American population is actually the majority. Baltimore also has approximately 12% more women than men. In an actually equitable system the ratio I've seen should not be the case.

A casual game that features a woman of color
People need support from others when they venture into a field such as this.  My age was perhaps the quality that I carried that made me persevere despite the feelings of being odd woman out.  That and my constant desire to buck the system regardless of what obstacles are placed in my path. But not all people are as engaging in self torture as I am, and they moved on to programs that offered more emotional support. Of the people of color and women I had classes with, only a select few of those made it to the end of the program.  Most vanished early in my training unless they came equipped with a social network that was in this program as well.  My assumptions that I would find peers in an industry that I loved was proven false as I had little support from other students to fall back on when I needed that type of assistance.  For me group work was always difficult because despite my work ethic, no one wanted to form a group with me. I was seen as an undesirable partner.  I do have peers from my time at school but they are few and share either race and/or age with me.  Ironically I was not able to establish peers among other females in my program.

So to answer the question why was I such an oddity in game design, I have come to the conclusion that this is an industry that has not endeavored to change its perception of itself mostly because the main participants in the industry have negated all responsibility for making their industry more diverse.  Instead people like me find themselves removed from the inclusive boundaries of this specialized group.  A boundary erected so high that not even the commonality of sex can overcome it.  Game design has in fact Keyser Soze'd itself out of the need to diversify.  It has convinced itself that the devil of its inclusive nature does not exist, and therefore does not need adjustment. 

I fear for this industry because the world around it is changing, and people are building games for more than just play.  Game design is being used to influence, to teach, and to inform.  The truth is games are a very impactful form of media.  Almost more so than television, radio, or film because of the interactive nature of this media.  People have to become involved to play a game.  It is not a passive activity. So the way they are built and by whom they are built has to become a less passive activity. Right now stereotypes rule game design as the so called 'geeks' and 'nerds' who run the industry with repressed rage at being mocked by others and treated as outcasts now visit this onto other populations.  I don't believe this is malicious. I just believe they are like most Americans and are just uninformed of the realities of American life for other populations that are not considered white and male. All sides have their cross to bear as I've mentioned, but if the ones that can influence the most reinforce instead of influence, how is the world ever to recover from the injustices that are being committed for the sake of social status.


http://grumpychimp.pictureninja.com/quotes/usual-suspects-quotes.php


Game Designers Image 1 courtesy of: http://www.gamesetwatch.com/NGJ08-1.jpg



Suspects image courtesy of: http://www.icompositions.com/music/uploads/530/103011Conlige_Suspectos_Sempe_round_up_the_usual_suspects.png

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