Sunday, June 12, 2011

This week in -isms

For a while I've been meaning to keep a journal of the isms I encounter on a regular basis.  Not the isms that I encounter in media or news blogs or anything, but the everyday casual isms that real life people let fly in meat space.   So this week I attempted to make an effort listen for and wrie down the ones I encountered on my way to and from work. 

To make it easier and less obvious to do, I kept a log in my cell phone by just texting myself.   However, with Mr. Laplain's birthday and having to cover for a couple of missed shifts at work,  I kept forgetting to pay attention and so I don't have as many as I thought I would. 

Again keep in mind I ever only go two places anyway.... to the bus (or taxi queue) to work.  And to the bus (or taxi queue) back home.  I live in the "nice" part of downtown in my city,  and work near a pretty swanky area... which skews the demographics of the people I encounter a bit. 

This week I mostly took the bus.   I am fully reminded as to why I hate taking the bus.


"...and I don't think they should be teaching the Quran in schools anyway.  It's bad enough they can't teach the Bible anymore, but now they want to force all this Muslim stuff on us."
-Overheard at the bus stop waiting to go to work.  Gray haired white man talking to somebody on his cell.  He was gripping the phone so hard I could see his knuckles going white.

"I'm glad they hired the Asian Guy.  We need to keep our competitve edge if we're going to keep up."
- Guy from the IT dept at work.  Like seriously.  He said this.

"So bring  that  one black girl you went with then?"
"What black girl?"
"The one I saw you with at REI"
"Purvi??  She's Indian!! She isn't black! Gross!"
"Oh man, sorry.  I thought she was black.  But bring her along yeah..."
"Naw man, she's got a boyfriend."
-Two teenaged looking White guys. Overheard while waiting outside the bus stop after work.


"Well, he's certainly qualified  for the job but I'm worried that he seemed a bit ...moody."
"Yes,  I got a pretty negative vibe from him too.  But do you think he was sensitive to the low office morale in general, tho?
"Yes, Jane he did seem a little bit effeminate, didn't he?"
- VP interjecting while the C.O.O and I discussed the most recent applicant we had  just interviewed.


"Ken that was totally Lame, dude."
"Yeah dude way lame."
"Like Christopher Reeves, Lame."
"LOL Like The March of Dimes Lame!"
-Group of 20somethings Overheard on the bus going back home.

"I don't know what her problem is, she's bipolar or something but that's no excuse for being a bitch..."
-Some white woman walking into a restaurant  while in converation with her brown skinned female friend.


"I can't stand that fat fuck!"
-Some white guy coming out of the same restaurant, talking on his cell.


It bothered me that I was way more sensitive to the racist things I'd overheard than I was to anything else.  I kept dwelling on those things long after they happened, even tho everything listed above was objectionable. 

It bothers me because I want everyone to feel the same amount of outrage I do about racism, cissexism and homophobia and transphobia in particular.  I want them to feel an emotional connection to the slight.  But the disableist comments didn't impact me in the same way.  In fact it took me a second to remember I should write them down. So how can I expect everyone to have an emotional connection to MY oppressions, regardless of whether or not they experience them too, when I can't reciprocate?

Another thing I  learned this week is that "Lame" really IS a slam against the disabled.  I had once been of the opinion that the word had lost its original meaning and shouldn't be considered a slur... that nobody uses it to indicate an inability to walk anymore.  But these taunts clearly demand that interpretation.   OOPS. Well... no longer will I just let that word slide unchallenged.

I will try this experiment again this week.  Again I was really disorganized this week and kept forgetting to tune in to my environment.  I'd be lying to say that I'm looking forward to hearing even more BS like this tho.

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