Sunday, May 14, 2006

It just doesn't end.

I have this friend. We used to date a loooooong time ago, before I met my husband. It was a VERY brief relationship, I wouldn't even refer to him as an ex-boyfriend. We stayed friends after we came to the mutual decision that we were so not a couple. As a matter of fact, he was the one who gave me away at my wedding, because I don't have a father that was able to do it.

Well, something happened, and he kinda started avoiding me. I figured I must have said something or he had a bug up his rear, and he'd eventually get over it. No biggie. I know that when I get to the point where I am irritated with someone, I just steer clear until I have dealt with it on my own. No need for drama, so I decided to give him his space.

Well, in conversation with another friend, I discovered exactly why he was upset. Somehow, he got the idea that I said that the only thing I regretted about my wedding was letting him give me away. Now, I never said any such thing. I never felt that way about it at all. Honestly, the biggest regret about my wedding was not hiring a professional photographer! That's it!

I knew that it was up to me to make things right, because he was the one who had been offended. In my mind, if you have a relationship with someone that you value, you do what you need to do to keep it safe. I would NEVER want to hurt anyone I consider a friend, whether on purpose or by accident, and if I do, and I realize it, then by golly I am going to do what I can to fix the situation.

Now, if the other person decides not to forgive me, then there is nothing I can do. Also, if no one lets me know there is a problem in the first place, there is also nothing I can do. Sometimes you hurt someone and don't realize it, because it was unintentional. But you do have to try to fix it if you know about it, at least that's what I believe. That's the difference between mere acquaintances and true friends.

Luckily for me, we got back together and talked about things and came to an understanding about the misunderstanding. I am happy for that.

Well, now I am in the same situation again, only with a different "friend" (using the term loosely at this moment) and I am the one who has been hurt.

You know, I made it through most of my life without my race being an issue for me. I never really suffered any incidents of racism, with the exception of the guy I dated whose mom threatned to kill herself if he didn't break up with "that Mexican". I never really thought that I would be in the place that I am because of someone who I've long thought of as a friend.

See, I've kinda painted myself into a corner. I don't have any friends who are Mexican like me. All my friends are white. It wasn't on purpose that I chose to surround myself that way. To my thinking, I was only supposed to be a person. I picked people to hangout with who shared similar interests and values as I did. I met most of them through work, or through other friends. I never even noticed it until someone pointed it out to me a few years ago.

My race isnt' supposed to matter. I'm just supposed to be a person. I've tried hard in my life to balance being a person rather than defining too much of my identity with my race. I felt that if I discriminated against myself that I was allowing the door to be opened to others to also discriminate against me.

My husband went to a party last night for the "friend" who was involved in the incident at the bowling alley last month. I didn't really feel like I could deal with seeing her yet, so I chose to stay home. Well, turns out she talked to my husband about me, and more specifically, my blog.

Previously, I didn't realize that any of my friends read my blog with the exception of the one who is my neighbor. I know I mentioned it here and there in conversation, but no one ever asked for the URL and I never volunteered it. It turns out that after the night in question, they wanted to know why I left the bowling alley so abruptly. They followed the link on my one friend's blog to mine, and they read what I posted about that night.

Here's the thing that gets me:

This means that she has KNOWN about how upset I was since right after the incident, more than a month ago, and yet she made the conscious decision to not do a damn thing about it. That's right. She knew I was so hurt and so offended that I could no longer enjoy myself, and she knew that I barely held back the tears as I left the building, and she knew that I cried all the way home, and she knew that she had a part in me feeling that way, yet she chose to not to a damn thing to make things better.

That, my friends, is what they call a deal breaker.

My husband contends that she is not a racist. She contends that she is not a racist. Hell, they both pulled the "she can't be because she's friends with YOU" and the "but she didn't mean YOU" cards. We seriously had a big old fight about this last night, because he insisted that I was wrong to label her that way. Finally I said look. What if she wasn't your friend, and she was just some person you didn't know, and the same things were said? Would that person be a racist then? He said yes, that person would definitely be a racist, but she's his friend, so she can't be. Duh, I thought. That's the same as she can't be racist because she's friends with me. I told him that I thought that the real issue was that he didn't want to admit to himself that he could possibly be able to be friends with a racist. he said that maybe I had a point.

See, here's the thing. In polite, educated mainstream society, being a racist is a totally taboo thing. No one wants to be one, and those who are, but don't realize it will deny it to their dying day. Take my mother for instance. She'll tell you she is not a racist. She likes black people and native american people and Mexican people, and has friends and acquaintances in all those groups. But let me tell you about how many times I have heard her spew hate and racial slurs toward Asian people. She's a racist. Plain and simple. Just because you have some friends who are not white (like my mom) doesn't give you immunity.

This is where I stand with that person. Sorry, you can't say "those people" but not me because I am your friend. It doesn't work that way. I am one of those people, and your hate and ignorance affects me too, whether you like it or not.

Does this mean that I feel like the borders should be open and anyone can be here willy nilly? NO. Emphatically no. I agree that people who come to this country to try to make lives for themselves should have to learn English. I'll tell you what, if I moved to Germany or India, no one is gonna bend over backwards for me and try to do stuff in English. I agree that people who are in this country illegally who commit crimes where jail time is required should be deported. I agree that people should have to make the effort to gain citizenship through the proper channels. I agree that changing the words to our national anthem to a Spanish version was wrong. It was written the way it was and adapted the way it was for a reason. Changing the language is tantamount to changing the lyrics or changing the music.

Do I believe that everyone who is here and doesn't have a job should be sent back? NO. This will leave a lot of women/children/elderly people stranded. Do I believe that the children of illegal immigrants should be denied an education? NO. Don't punish the child for the decisions of the parents. They had nothing to do with it. Let them learn in their native language when possible, while still introducing them to English.

If you talk about illegal immigrants, and you refer to illegal immigrants from EVERYWHERE, whether it be Canada, Europe, the Middle East, or Mexico, I don't have a problem with your opinions on the matter. It's when people start to narrow the issue down to just "THOSE PEOPLE" and they are referring to Mexican people only.

They say illegal immigrants are the gang members. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I grew up in an area of Phoenix where gangs were VERY prominent. I knew many many gang members, most from before they were even in the gang, when we were just little kids. NOT ONE was an illegal immigrant. All of the ones I encountered were citizens, born in this country. Does that mean that I think no illegal immigrants are gang members? No, that would be ignorant of me. I'm sure that many are. But not all gang members are illegal immigrants, and that is the difference.

They say illegal immigrants are drains on the system. Do you know how hard it is to get welfare, or AFDC, or ACCHCS? Hell, have you ever been on any of those programs, or know anyone who has? It's hard. You need documentation. Paperwork. Things these people don't have, and have to way to obtain. Sure, there are those who manage to buy illegal or forged documents, but I assure you, those are few. Let's look instead at all the welfare mommas in the trailer parks in the middle states who just stay at home and watch talk shows and smoke pot all day. Oh wait, I just described MY MOTHER. Guess what? She's a citizen. I will have you know that the true "drains" on the welfare system are not the illegal immigrants.

They say illegal immigrants don't pay taxes, so they don't contribute to our society. True, they don't pay income taxes. It's not possible if they are being paid under the table and have no Social Security number with which to file. But they do pay taxes. It's called the tax on your housing, the tax on the clothes you buy, the food you eat, the gas you put in your car... taxes are all around my friends. Besides, if they did pay income taxes, the amount would be so small because of the tiny, usually even less than minimum wage (which isn't enough to live on these days), amount that they actually earn. Let's look instead of all the white fat cats who make hundreds of thousands of dollars every year and only pay a pittance of a percentage in income taxes in comparison to what the rest of us do.

They say illegal immigrants are filling up our jails and committing crimes. I challenge anyone to compare the ratio of illegal immigrants in our jails to the citizens of this country, and you get back to me, okay?

I am sorry, but when a person gets faced with the choice of sneaking into another country to find work to be able to feed their family, or go hungry or maybe even start stealing, and risk being incarcerated so that they can't provide at all, well, I know which one I would do. I am thankful that I was born in this country where I don't have to make that choice though, and I think that some people, like my "friend" take that gift for granted.

So maybe I distanced myself for a while because of the whole racism thing, and I was truly hurt by it. But knowing that I know that she was aware of how her words affected me, and that she didn't care enough to call me or hell, even email me or post a comment on my blog, that was the deal breaker.

I'm sad that on this day, I've lost a friend.


Blogger Sexy Bitch said...

It's OK! I still love ya! You can come with me to counseling and we can be two crazy bitches!

10:26 PM  
Anonymous wendy said...

Well said, my dear. Very well said.

HUGS to you. I've always felt that being discriminated against (b/c of race, gender, societal stature, work, etc..) is about one of the most emotionally painful experiences - b/c it leaves you feeling so powerless. There is nothing, and can be nothing, you will ever do that can change it. People who think that way tend to be very emphatic and unshakable in their beliefs, regardless of the pain it causes. it tends to be "your" problem - and not theirs. Being "different" and therefore "acceptable" is cold comfort. Actually, it is NO comfort at all. I am sorry for your pain.

Take good care, my dear. I hope things ease up with DH...


3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Miss M! said...

What did I say about anonymous comments? Sheesh. Name cowards, NAME!!! Own it!

8:53 PM  
Blogger Miss M! said...

Sexy Bitch said:

"It's OK! I still love ya! You can come with me to counseling and we can be two crazy bitches! "

Um, I've already gone to counseling. Can we go get Gelato instead?

8:54 PM  

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