Joy (cithra) wrote,

as promised: close to the wire,

somewhat disjointed, and a good deal shorter than planned, my contribution to the Blog Against Racism effort.

I spent a couple of years living on the borders of the Central District - local folks may share my amusement that depending on who was talking, where I lived was either First Hill, Capital Hill, or the CD proper, but it was essentially where the three neighborhoods overlap. It was the first time I had lived somewhere where my northern european mongrel ancestry put me in the minority, and it took a bit of getting used to for me.

I was perhaps a little better armed than some, being an anthropologist by both training and habit, so I at least had some framework to examine the differences in. If I'm honest I have to confess I wasn't always impressed with my initial reactions. A lot of things made me uncomfortable that I'm not certain would have elsewhere, from conversational volume on the bus to groups of people socializing outside on the streets. Once I got used to the differences, though, I felt just as safe if not safer walking around after dark as in any of the other places I've lived in town.

I think what surprised me most in a personal sense was the dichotomy between my thoughts and emotions. Intellectually I've always believed human is human, and that humans deserve to be treated with respect. That didn't change, and still hasn't. Emotionally though I found a lot of the bullshit and disinformation I grew up with surfacing, and that I had absorbed a good deal of my father's casual racism - which was almost certainly in part a reflection of the tacit (and at times overt) racism of my family's religion. He's dead, and I probably couldn't ask him even if he wasn't, and either way I don't really want to make excuses for him, since the disrespectful terms he used to describe his coworkers, for example, are the ugly residents now in my own head.

I hate that. Enculturation and being a product of his times are reasons, sure - but they are not excuses, damn it. Some lame-ass interpretation of the "mark of Cain" out of the KJB is even stupider, and I hate that too - although thank the stars that particular piece of nonsense wasn't part of the religious asshattery that lodged in my brain growing up.

Humans are tribal critters, that's pretty much hard-wired in, as history and biology will both show on study. But the criteria as to who is a member of the tribe? That is more than clearly not hard-wired, by reference to the same.

Just treat people with respect, eh? What the hell else needs to be said?

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