Salix's Shiny Things

A magpie blog.

More about hatred: Racism and White Privilege edition. (warning: explicit language is used.) November 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 3:35 pm
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Last night my sweetie told me some disturbing things.  Things that had happened to him, personally.  Hateful acts and words and objects thrown at him because he isn’t white.

And how much he wants to go see his daughter graduate, but how much he can’t tolerate that kind of behavior from anyone anymore, and is worried that such bullshit will happen again if he goes to the southern state where his daughter is graduating.

I’ve been harassed verbally, I’ve had my but pinched and slapped by random guys just walking down the street.  But I’ve never been threatened with death, never had an object aimed at me and thrown from a speeding vehicle at lethal speed.  Been called “Bitch” and worse names for my gender, but never the “N” word.  Because I am white.

I was really upset by what he told me.  Really sickened by the cowardice and hatefulness of those threatened him.  But also I was upset by his trepidation, letting his fear of acts that probably won’t actually occur make him even think about missing one of his daughter’s most important life events.  And I was immediately upset with myself for thinking that.

I felt bright hatred for the fucking assholes who tried to off him from their car.  And all the fucking bastards that ever called him the “N” word.  I wanted to hurt them, make them pay.

But just momentarily.

I want to protect him, but how?  with my as-yet-nonexistent martial arts skills?  with a gun?  with superpowers that take their words, their weapons, transform them into thoughts of understanding and empathy, and bounce them back, right into their brains, transforming them into good, kind, non-racist people?

Then I thought about how he may never be able to come home with me, to my home state.  Which is another Bible-Belt Southern state, 90% white.

And I cried.

I went to the bathroom so he wouldn’t see me crying.  I didn’t want him to see how upset I was, how torn up I was.  I wanted to show him how I’m strong and supportive.  But I also knew that I was crying because I was being selfish.  I have dreamed about him coming home with me, seeing the place where I grew up, exploring its hills, valleys, trees, streams.  The first dream I ever had with him in it involved us driving down a one-lane road, surrounded by huge, shady, lush, green trees.  I cherish that dream.  We were both so happy in it, having the time of our lives.

I needed to sort out my feelings before I talked to him, but I didn’t accomplish that last night, much to my shame.

I just kept feeling selfish, somehow.  And I didn’t want my feelings, my anger, my sadness, to take over his narrative, his experience.  I’m familiar with how the privileged person’s righteous anger can overwhelm and distract from the non-privileged person’s sharing their experiences.  My ex did that quite frequently.  As if her liberal white anger needed the spotlight.

So I kept quiet.  I listened as best as I could, but didn’t press for details, and didn’t tell him what I was feeling.

When he fell asleep, I cried a little more, ashamed that I couldn’t figure out a way to talk to him about it, and angry at the world, angry at the stupidity of humans.

So I write about it here.  Seeking catharsis.  Wanting to understand my white privilege better.  Hoping to be able to be a good partner to him, a good listener, but unsure of how to help.  How do I mitigate the suffering of my beloved?  How can I help transform the world to remove the hate that causes so much suffering?


Hating suffering? October 31, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 11:48 am
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From my parenting blog… thoughts on love and hate.

Z is for Zener

Hate is an incredibly powerful word.  The feelings encompassed by the word are sharp and full of pain, anger, anguish.  It’s oppositional and defiant.  And it gets thrown at us parents by our children at times when they resent the parenting we have to do, the discipline and the consequences that we mete out when necessary.  It’s a momentary thing, an expression of anger and resentment.  But as adults, with a knowledge of history and the wisdom of experience on our sides, the word “hate” can fill us with fear – hate is, after all, what fuels genocides, wars, riots – painful, awful death and destruction.

It clearly isn’t something anyone with a conscience would want to cultivate.

But what about hating the bad stuff, like suffering?  What about hating that which causes suffering?  Opposing suffering is good, of course it is – who wouldn’t want to end hunger? homelessness?…

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Suffering, pain, joy, peace. August 8, 2014

Today I hurt.  Physically.  Mentally, I feel joy.  I’ve started an exercise routine and I’m sore all over.  And, for the first time in a very long time, I love the feeling of physical pain earned from good, hard work.  It feels good to ache, deeply good.

I’ve known for a very long time that physical activity is good for the mind as well as the body, that it can help depression and anxiety, and I have tried to get into an exercise routine, but it only went so far.  The exercise (mainly walking 2 miles to the store and back) was a good thing, it was helpful, but it seemed to have only superficial impact.

And now I’m beginning to understand why exercise hasn’t felt as good as it should, or as I remembered it feeling in college when I was on the fencing team (NCAA athlete!  Yes I was!) or in school when I was doing serious amounts of dance (ballet, mostly).

The bruises from my years of emotional abuse went deep.  My mental pain made me super-sensitive to any kind of pain, and it was overwhelming.  Therefore, I avoided all other pain as best I could.  The psychological pain turned me into a walking bruise, and everything hurt.  I could not find much joy or pleasure in exercise because it was mostly like pain on top of pain with no relief.

My mental and emotional and spiritual suffering was like a fog that made everything around me into more sources of suffering.

It has taken a lot of work and time to get to the point of truly recognizing that fact, and being able to do something to change it.

Beginning a formal meditation routine has been key, but what inspired me to begin meditating?  Those roots begin in the decision to get my son into Karate.  Then, being the nerd that I am, I decided to check out what the library had on karate, and martial arts in general.  That lead me to the connection between the martial arts of Asia and Buddhism, as the martial arts were said to have started at the Shaolin Buddhist monastery as a way to help the monks endure the rigors of meditation.

So a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to meditate for real, waking up early and getting down to it first thing (even before coffee!).  I can’t say that I’ve been perfect in keeping my schedule, there have been slip-ups, but more often than not, I’ve practiced meditation.

Meditation has allowed me some space, some freedom of mind, to be able to face myself and realize that I don’t need to suffer all the time.  I can find peace.  Maybe not every day, maybe not every minute, but peace and joy can be found.  And that’s enough.  Even a small opening can let light into a dark room and illuminate it.

My son and I have also been exploring martial arts movies, and have discovered that they can be real sources of inspiration to him.  Learning karate or sinawali is not easy, and it takes courage to persevere.  Martial arts movies, especially anything with Jackie Chan, whose characters my son can relate to, inspire that courage in my son.

And also in me, as it happens.  Watching the classic Jackie Chan movies from the start of his career, I find myself remembering how much I love that kind of physical activity – the stylized fights are not unlike dance.  And fencing as well – facing your opponent, knowing that he or she is probably going to hurt you at some point in the bout, but launching into it anyway, using your training and reflexes to parry blows and deliver ripostes.

A real turning point happened a couple of weeks ago (July 25, actually, as I posted the event to Facebook).  I had a dream in which I had been transformed into Jackie Chan, and it made me so happy.  Not just in the dream, but throughout the day, I was happy.  I have been carrying that happiness and cultivating it since then.

I am realizing that, to be whole, I need to recover that joyful fierceness, that part of me that loves a good fight, the scrappy me, the me that likes to dish it out as well as take it.  I think I’ve been afraid of that, of my “fight”, because, for one thing, it connects me in uncomfortable ways with my ex, who was quick to anger, and quick to lash out, and wanted to fight to put others in their place, who punched cars because she was angry at their drivers who were driving or parking in ways she thought were bad (mainly, getting in her way).

But that’s not my kind of “fight”.  I fight to defend, to dance with an equal, to compete, to challenge myself, to grow, to understand my abilities and my weaknesses, to overcome those weaknesses.    I fight for myself, not to punish others.  I fight because there can be joy in the dance.

Thank you, Jackie Chan, for showing me the way.

Jackie Chan, Legend of the Drunken Master

Jackie Chan, Legend of the Drunken Master

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