August 8th, 2012

Paul Neyron rose 2

reading and listening

I haven't been reading books in the last few days, but I've been reading online, as I do much of the time.  I re-read Biyuti's post about Blaine being bakla and Biyuti and Larkin's discussion about the gender presentations of the gay characters on Glee.  I haven't heard from Larkin in a while.  Presumably she's very busy with work and school.  I've read all of Biyuti's Just Biyuti posts, but haven't ever commented there.  I get a lot from many of the posts, though.

Some recent posts have been about "white-passing" people and light-skin privilege.  My ancestry is northern and Eastern European, and I am described as having an "English complexion."  I still have a general idea of the debates, though I would very much appreciate being corrected where I'm wrong.  What I'm more familiar with is the forms the discussions take and have historically taken among African-Americans.  There were those laws that said if a person had "one drop" of African "blood," they were African-American.  Well, the descriptors of the people were much less polite than "African-American."

Thanks to that rule, many people who were very fair-skinned were included in the black community.  It proved useful to certain investigators involved with race issues of the time, those who identified as part of the black community.  Walter F. White, a NAACP leader and civil rights activist (, did a number of investigations into conditions in the South in the early part of the twentieth century, looking at lynching and other hate crimes.  From what I gather, there were a number of situations where if he'd been known to be black, he would have been killed.

There's a storied tradition of white-passing individuals helping the community by exposing what the stories were in white-against-black crimes, especially lynchings and riots.  Some white-passing people choose to leave for better economic and social opportunities, though I think probably far less than in earlier decades.  Historically, they'd lose at least some contact with their families, and hear all kinds of racist language presumed to be "safe" to say to someone who appeared to be white.

Individuals now who have white skin and were raised in communities of color still hear all kinds of casually racist language when they're out and about among white people.  Light-skinned African-Americans may use African-American Vernacular English to clarify where they're coming from, at least at times.

Mostly when I hear outright racist statements, it's from Dad's veteran friends.  I'm pretty sure he doesn't challenge it.  They're men a generation or more older than I am, and I really don't like confrontation.  However, I need to challenge it when I hear it.  Most of them seem to have decided that the president wasn't born in the U.S.  When I discussed that with Mom, she said, "They're a bunch of racists!"

"Technically that was xenophobia," I said.  Not that that's any better.  Right-wing forces in the country have worked and worked to spread the belief among many people that the president was foreign-born (not true) and Muslim (he's Christian).  A startlingly high percentage of U.S. citizens believe those things now.

I have a responsibility to engage in discussion with other white people if they say racist things.  I'd rather do it one-on-one, and hopefully in a situation that's safe for me.  Perhaps I might enlighten a few people.  Then there's letting them know not to use that kind of language around me.  I did it when R.A.'s boyfriend M.G. used that other f-word.  Seriously, how could I look S. in the eyes if I let that kind of language go by?
Paul Neyron rose

Wednesday out

S.M. e-mailed and called to see if I wanted to go out to lunch.  Her treat, she said, because I was working on the garden club handbook.  She called around 12:45 p.m., and I met her at 1:30.  We went to a restaurant that serves Southern food.  I love Southern food.  The furthest south I've been in a car is to Virginia.  We went to Florida this February, but I'm not counting that as an encounter with Southern culture.  I'm in Maryland a lot, and that technically counts as the South, considering that you cross the Mason-Dixon line.  Virginia definitely counts.  I had a pulled pork sandwich, as did S.M.

We went to Trader Joe's next, cutting through Tredyffrin to get there from where we were.  S.M. has taken me on a few trips around the Main Line, and I had a time when I was going to Bryn Mawr pretty often, which is something of a drive.  I wonder if anyone bothers to triangulate my location, which I usually put as southeastern Pennsylvania.  I figure that "an hour from Philadelphia, an hour from Wilmington, Delaware, and two hours from Baltimore" still covers a fair area.  When I lived with R.A., the part of Philadelphia we were in wasn't all that far from Bala Cynwyd.

I got nuts and several kinds of dried fruit at Trader Joe's.  In the John the Lord Chamberlain books, one character is always eating dried fruit, and it gives me cravings for it.  I'll get back to those books this week.

I brought my camera with me so I could take pictures of S.M.'s garden.  I took pictures of the front, with the phlox and coleus, and of the barrel with the portulaca and tuberous begonia in it.  When we got back from our travels, I took pictures of the black-eyed Susan in back of the house.  I took more pictures of the portulaca.  The Japanese anenome wasn't in bloom yet.  I want to take pictures of it when it is. 
Paul Neyron rose 2

later Wednesday

I watched Captain America.  Most of it was an extended flashback, some of it even in sepia.  I knew some of the characters from the comic books.  The comics from the World War II era were long before my time, but I had seen some origins stories.  Bucky was a teenager in the comic books.  I knew about the Red Skull, Dr. Emil Zola, and Hydra.  I don't know what happened to the original Bucky in the comic books.  Some of Captain America's World War II squad looked more like characters from Nick Fury's Howling Commandos.  The army was segregated at the time, so I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have had African-American or Asian-American characters in the squad in the original comic books.  That was history rewritten to be more inclusive.  President Truman was the one to integrate the army, and that was later.

(Added: Biyuti posted about the history rewritten inclusion in an entry of theirs.  I think they were more for having truth in movies.)

The movie had Howard Stark in the flashback part and the modern movie Nick Fury in it at the end.  Agent Carter in the movie was a woman.  I don't know if an Agent Carter existed in the comic books.  If there was an Agent Carter, he most likely would have been male.  If I am remembering correctly, in the Thor comic books, the Warriors Three were all male.  They and Heimdall were all very white, too.  So the movies have made a number of changes towards inclusivity.  Some of the comic books written at the time that the original Captain America comic books were had what we'd now think of as wildly offensive depictions of characters of color.  Attitudes were very different in the 1940s.  Not that I expected the movies to have the massive prejudice of the comic books of the 1940s, but I didn't expect the races and genders of some of the heroes to change.  I was thinking inside the box.