Sunday, June 29, 2008

Soul Searching

Click picture for larger version.

The business I worked for closed their doors June 1, a victim of the foreclosure crisis. They were an environmental inspection firm. Their clients were some really big names - none of whom can now get financing for any of their buying or building projects - the residential foreclosure crisis is still in full sway and it's also hitting the commercial real estate industry almost as hard.

It's funny. We've known about this for a while now. All of us have been looking for other jobs, working together and working around each other for interviews and such, free to come and go as need be, trying to hold up the ship while it sinks until the last person is off. I've found another harbor but I can't say I like it very much. And so I'm taking a suggestion from George Bush and going back to school for "retraining". I'm taking up Multi-media and Web Design (MWeb) at Cincinnati state. I started classes last week.

It's very interesting working full time and going to school on what they call 3/4 time which is really just one credit hour shy of full time. But honestly, one more credit hour might have just tipped me over the brink from extremely busy to complete insanity. I've finished my first few assignments but I see it's going to be a relentless round of work for ten weeks at time, every term.

All that being said, I'm taking donations for the cause. I'd be most appreciative if you'd donate a dollar or two to what I'm calling the Deb-Lite Re-Education Project. I've never solicited donations on the site before but I've never gone back to school before. If you feel so inclined, please do. You will not find me ungrateful. You'll have to drop me a line for my name and student ID# to donate at this link under Guest Deposit.

A few posts ago, I wrote a blog post called White People, Wake the F*ck Up. I wasn't so much angry when I wrote it as exasperated by the non-issue of Rev. Isiah Wright in relation to Barack Obama's campaign to be the Democratic nominee.

I was also tired of what, Obama calls in his book The Audacity of Hope, "the petty slights" that white people inflict from time to time. Tired of grinning in the face of white folks to prove I'm "safe". Tired of getting followed by cops three days in a row on my way to school for over a mile, knowing they're running my plates and helpless to do anything about it in a supposedly "free" society. Tired of biting my tongue to bleeding and refraining from choking the hell out of the lady in the cubicle next to me who, when talking about her daughter's tanning fetish, turns to me and says, "You already have a pretty tan. You don't have to worry about that do you?" as if my skin color is a prerogative. I was tired, tired, tired and it ended up in kind of rant, that I'm not sure I’m completely sorry for, but one I’m definitely embarrassed about.

Obama has since clinched the nomination and what I thought then has truly come to pass. The eye had not seen nor the ear heard the length, width, and breadth of backhanded racism to come from FOX News, Karl Rove, John McCain himself and even the entire state of West Virginia.

The latest being that Karl Rove says Obama is "arrogant" and McCain says "Obama's word cannot be trusted" which, as the nearest black person can tell you is barely politically correct rhetoric for calling Obama a lying uppity negro.

Yet and still, now that I've started school, I encounter white people every day who encounter black people every day. This is very different from the white people I work with every day, some of whom, I'm the only black person they see on a regular basis. First there's not the "shock and awe" factor. White people who aren't expecting to encounter black people go through some of the most interesting and downright amusing facial and body language contortions I've ever seen. I try to be understanding and furthermore, I try not to laugh but it's very hard. Why should it be so much harder to meet me or any other black person?

Secondly, white people who encounter black people every day know that they don't have to censor every little thing they say. Or they've already worked out and have enough practice with "what not to say to black people". They tend to strike just the right note of casual or better yet, truly don't give a damn and just treat you like a fellow human being.

And there are more and more of these people, every day. More and more white people are waking up. Many that have been awake and are truly making an effort.

So I take issue with myself for saying that "I just don't see white folks working that hard to get along with blacks. I don't see white folks doing more than paying lip service and counting how many of their best friends are black."

It's simply not true and I was wrong. And for this I apologize. Because although there's still a lot of bigotry and racism left to conquer - I still can't get over the fact that I was ashamed to give my blog card to a very nice young woman who shared her book with me in class and asked for my phone number to be study buddies. When people ask for my number, I usually just scribble it on the back of a blog card, thus giving out my information all at once and possibly gaining another reader.

But I didn't want her to see what I'd written and so, I wrote it out on a piece of notebook paper instead. The implications of that were unmistakable, so I'm changing it.

For the first time in three years of blogging, I'm taking a blog post down. I'm acknowledging it here and Google cache will keep it for longer than I'll ever want to remember. I'm going to go the additional penance of emailing the post to anyone who requests it. There is some truth there even if it is tinged with emotionalism and bigotry of my own.

No excuses, just an apology and and acknowledgment that I'm still learning, still growing, very human and prone to mistakes.

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