July 20th, 2006

valleygirl

Blog Against Racism Week

It's International Blog Against Racism Week! So, if you're white, black, brown, yellow, red, orange, blue, green, or whatever color...get involved!
Here are the instructions:
1. Announce the week in your blog.
2. If you have an livejournal account you can switch your default icon to either an official IBAS icon, or one which you feel is appropriate. To get an official IBAS icon, you can make up of your own or go visit Oyceter's blog and pick up one of the general-use ones she’s put up. (As I did)
3. Post about race and/or racism: in media, in life, in the news, personal experiences, writing characters of a race that isn’t yours, portrayals of race in fiction, review a book on the subject, etc.

Edited to add Leroy's link!

(I didn't have time to get the icon, but here's my story.)

When I was ten we moved to southern California.

Eighteen years later I fled the smog, the heat, the traffic, and the out-of-control real estate market. Even though my husband and I both worked, it looked like we would never be able to afford a house of our own.

Oh, and I wasn’t sure how long I was going to live. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in L.A.

Nine months after I finished chemo - in the time it took to gestate the plan - we left the City of Angels for the City of Roses.

I may not have loved living there as an adult, but I’m always glad I grew up there. I am so thankful that I attended a melting pot of a high school, where my friends and teachers covered the full spectrum of skin color, and no one gave it a second thought.

There was Mr. M, the drama teacher - Latino, and Ms. M, my beloved dance/yoga teacher, one of the most beautiful and gracious African American women it has been my privilege to know. I counted among my best friends:

S, who was Japanese, but to me was just S who liked to date jocks;

C, half-Japanese and half-Hawaiian, famous for her belches;

V, Phillippine, with waist-length black hair and turned-out toes, the school’s most talented dancer;

N, African-America, outgoing and funny cheerleader;

Two Puerto Rican brothers, L and E - one of them with black skin and one of them with white skin - from their interracial parents. I learned to love opera from knowing them - L went on to perform dinner theatre at some of L.A.’s best restaurants while he was attending USC, then became a real opera singer after college; See him here: http://www.cami.com/?webid=528

E, Mexican-American, moody and sharp, but with the softest, plushest lips;

P, the gorgeous Mexican-American who played Lola in our school’s production of “Damn Yankees,” and who would let me cut school with her sometimes, even though she was a cool senior and I was a dorky tenth-greader.

And many others.

Back then, we really didn’t see each other’s ethnicities. In fact, I remember once saying to N, the cheerleader, “I don’t even think of you as black.”

Errrghh.

I still cringe more than twenty years later.

She made a pained expression and said, “But don’t you understand ... that’s part of who I am. I don’t want you to not see it.”

We grew up and moved away, and fell out of each other’s lives. Out of all of them, I only keep in touch with C and E. I don’t have any African-American friends here in Portland. That concept bothers me, but it’s not like you can walk up to someone and say, “You know, I see you every day on the elevator at work and you seem really cool and nice, and I was wondering if we could hang out, because I hate that I don’t have any black friends here in town.”

I could ramble on and on with this subject, but it’s time to get ready for work.

I just wanted to add my voice.