Here I Blog: Blog Your Illusion II

Prologue

Hello all five people who read this (lol). Welcome back to another lovely edition of Here I Blog. As some of the people in my personal life may know, I’m currently on a 13-day vacation from work (one of the perks of working at a preschool). I’ve decided to give myself a little challenge and make sure that I do something productive creatively every day for the 13 days. Today is Day 2, so as part of that I’m posting a new blog today. I wouldn’t be too surprised if I posted another entry before the 13 days are over. So, “what’s today’s topic going to be?” Well, last week, I talked about sexism/homophobia and how I’ve been on the wrong side of the battle for most of my life. Today, to follow in that same theme, I want to talk about racism. So, here’s Part 2 of “Blog Your Illusion.”


I am racist. Wow. How’s that for an opening sentence? You see, racism can manifest itself in any number of ways. Of course, there’s the obvious ways, like someone who outwardly uses hateful language (“nigger,” “cotton-picker,” “porchmonkey,” etc.), or someone who is openly against mixed-race relationships, or people who specifically follow Blacks and/or Latinos in stores because they assume they’re going to steal something. Those assholes are easy to spot. Those are the people that are going to be on the cover of Jackass Racist Asswipe Magazine.

Then, there are people are either don’t know they are racist or don’t consider themselves racist. I’m sure you all know these one of these people. You know, the person who hears an African-American speak eloquently and feels the need to compliment you on how “articulate” or “eloquent” they are, even though they never felt the need to pay the same “compliment” to a white person with the same vernacular. No? How about the person who asks you a million questions about what it’s like being with someone of color when they first see or meet your non-white significant other? Oh, and one of my favorites is when they hear that you have a college education and they ask if you’re the first of your family to go to college. That’s always a fun one. These folks will only get a small feature in the Subtle Racists for All blog or something like that.

There is one last group of people who can and should consider themselves racist. The people in this group do not appear to be racist at all, are against racism, and will sometimes even stand up against racism. On the surface they seem like good-hearted, open-minded, really nice people. They might date minorities, have kids with them, be friends with them, marry them, hang with them, etc. They may also find themselves calling a neighborhood “bad” or “dangerous” solely based on the demographic, without having any actual statistics or experiences to back it up. These people will see a group of men dressed in a certain way, and feel uneasy or unsafe, despite the fact that they probably have friends and/or family who look basically exactly the same. You see, that’s where I fall under. I’m one of these guys, and I am not proud.

Growing up in Gravesend, between the Marlboro Projects and Ave U, I’ve heard probably heard every racial slur slung both ways between black/Latinos and white people. I mean I’ve probably heard and seen it all. From “get off of our avenue you fuckin’ dirty nigga” to “yo, you lost, white boy?” to “yo mow my lawn, Pablo.” I’ve been chased out of the projects (that’s what happens when you’re a chubby light-skinned kid in a baseball uniform), called a “dumb fuckin’ spic” by white kids from the avenue, and almost got my knees taken out with a 2×4 by a Latino in the middle of a White vs. “Mexican” altercation where I was perceived to be white because, again, light skin (and I hung out with a lot of white kids in junior high).

I also happen to live in a country tainted with awful racism in its history that is still pumped through our mainstream media. I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been a day of my life where I did not see or hear some sort of racist portrayal of people of color. Whether it’s racist characterizations in TV and film or skewed news delivery or political bullshit, you can’t really escape racism and stereotyping. This becomes a major problem when these stereotypes are fed to us on a constant basis, which leads many people to accept these stereotypes as fact. During the recent racial tensions brought on by the Ferguson case and all of the protests and riots, a lot of people exposed themselves as being under this category in their opinions and their justifications. They didn’t realize just how racist having a lack of apathy can be, especially when racial stereotypes and clichés are used to back their arguments.

While I knew all of the racist stereotypes and bullshit was just that, I fell victim to it sometimes. Again, I am not some hateful asshole, I dated a Black woman for almost three years, and whatever else you all need to hear to understand the point I’m trying to make. However, I’d be lying if I said that there haven’t been times where I’ve walked by a group of three or more guys who were either black or Latino, and if they were dressed in a certain way, I’d feel a little worried about getting into some sort of altercation. I find myself feeling uncomfortable going into neighborhoods that are predominantly serve as homes to minorities, without having anything to base it on. Am I scarred by past experiences? Have I been brainwashed by my environment/media? No matter the reason, it’s no excuse. It’s terrible to ever try to assume anything, especially the worst, about someone based merely on their skin color or physical appearance.

It took me a while to realize that just because I dated a Black woman and had Black friends and listened to “Black” music and used slang in my vernacular, it doesn’t I still don’t have a bit of racism embedded in me. Fortunately, I saw it, noticed it, acknowledged it, and am willing to fight against it. This world has enough hate and poison in it. I live every day to try and bring more acceptance and love to this world, or at least I try to. It starts with myself, just like it starts with all of us.

Here I Blog: Blog Your Illusion I

Prologue

Wow. So I haven’t done this in a while. It’s been over six months since my last blog post in which I reviewed my trip to our nation’s capital. Unfortunately, my life got a little chaotic and I just never finished the rest of my review. Seeing as how that was way back in January, I think I’m just going to cut my losses and move on to something else. Nevertheless, my absence has been a long one so I apologize to anyone who actually gave a crap (I’m looking at you, Adele). In the last six months, my relationship of two years and eight months ended, I got accepted into graduate school at CUNY Brooklyn College, completed my third Poetry Month 30/30 in four years and have started recording with my bandmate, Dylan. Since January, there has been a lot that I’ve wanted to talk about: race issues, the riots in Baltimore, friendships, romantic relationships, Caitlyn Jenner, etc. While I’m sure I’ll write about one of those eventually, today, I’m gonna go in a different direction: sexism/homophobia.


As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m a Latino from Gravesend, Brooklyn, New York who mostly grew up in the ‘90s and ‘00s. As such, I was raised in a very macho/hyper-masculine environment where the tougher you were, the stronger you were, the more women you had sex with, the more you were an authoritarian, the cooler you were or you were more of a man. Because of that, for most of my life, I’ve heard and used two ordinary and completely normal things as major insults: homosexuality and being a woman/girl.

I sincerely can’t remember a time when I hadn’t heard words like “homo,” “faggot,” “queer,” “marica” (Spanish for “faggot”), “lady,” “little girl,” “bitch,” weren’t used as jabs at friends or enemies. I’ve done it, I’ve had it done to me, and I’ve even heard females do it. I have regularly heard women tell guys to “stop acting like such a little girl” or something along those lines. However, I don’t recall ever hearing a gay/bi person tell someone to “stop being such a faggot,” other than in a playful way to another gay/bi person.

If you look at the history of many countries and cultures around the world and how they treat women and those who are not heterosexual, it’s no surprise as to why they were used as insults. Here in the great ol’ U.S. of A., women were given the right to vote until 1919/1920 (passed in 1919, ratified in 1920), women get paid less to do the same job as men, and gay marriage is still illegal in over 10 of our states with most states only making same-sex marriage permissible within the last decade. These are two groups of people who have been treated as being inferior (I don’t wanna imagine how challenging it might be to be a gay black woman of any faith other than Christian).

Okay, so we know how women and non-heterosexual people have been treated in the past. It’s 2015 and we should be over this nonsense, right? Well, luckily, we’ve made great strides over the last few years and more women are being treated as equals and more individuals are viewing women as equals and acknowledging the discrimination and double standards that society has imposed on women. Things that were once deemed completely normal and accepted (such as harassing a woman on the street, pressuring women to wear makeup or adhere to a certain image, demeaning women who explore their sexuality as freely as men have been allowed to do) are now being ostracized by the greater majority.

Now, if you ask me, I very adamantly believe that using womanhood and sexuality as insults is a massive demonstration of insecurity by those who use them (particularly when used by straight men). I think people who use being a woman or being gay as a shot at somebody, are afraid of ever being called one of those groups or being thought of or being identified as one those groups. For a long time, I fell into that group.

Once, not too long ago, someone called me a girl or something like that and I got offended and insulted them in return. My girlfriend-at-the-time asked me “why do you care?” to which I responded with “because I’m not a girl.” She asked me what was wrong with being a girl. I told her nothing. She asked me why it bothered me then. At the time, I said “because I’m not a girl. There’s nothing wrong with being a girl, but I’m not one, and I don’t like being called something that I’m not.”

On some level, I think I meant that. However, when I think about it now, I ask myself, why did I get bothered? I know some of you might be thinking that I was offended because I secretly view women or gay people to be inferior to straight men, but you’d be wrong. I stand firm that I don’t and never have thought there was anything wrong with being a woman of being anything other than heterosexual. Shit, there have been times where I’ve envied women and questioned my sexuality. I’m secure enough in my sexuality and masculinity that I can say that without giving a flying fuck. Yet, I used to be offended. Why? The answer is so simple, so simple it’s dumb.

I was offended because I accepted those words as insults.

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

Words only mean what we want them to mean and they only have whatever effect we let them. While I didn’t and don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a woman or being gay or bi or transgender or whatever else, I accepted that those are insults and viewed those words in that context as such, allowing myself to be offended by something that I don’t actually find offensive at all. Even this past week, whenever I’ve been called a “lady” or a “faggot,” I would respond with just saying “whatever” or “fuck off” or something like that as to not defend something that need not be defended. But even that is the wrong approach. So, from now on, when someone calls me a “little girl” or “queer,” I’m just going to say “umm, okay?” or better yet, “okay, and you’re a shoe. What do I mean? I don’t know, I thought we were just calling each other random things.”

Whether you’re gay or bi or trans or asexual or however else you wanna identity yourself, you’re a person, not an insult. And women are awesome (when they’re not driving me insane or breaking my heart) because if nothing else, they give birth to us. That’s like an automatic trump card. “You’re a woman! You’re weak! I make more money than you!” “I GIVE LIFE! GOML!” Pft. Game. Just sayin.