Grape Soda, Fried Chicken, and Mayonnaise

If there’s one thing that really, really just grinds my gears, it’s when people split my ethnicity up as if my genes are “half black” and “half white”.

That’s . . .

I . . .

Genes don’t do that. They don’t split up and say, well, the left side of her body will be black, the right side of her body will be white, and we’ll make her feet a little Cherokee.

So when I found a new hip hop artist who happened to be “half” Cherokee who I liked, I was happy and exclaimed this fact to my boyfriend. His response was a frown and a “you know you’re not full native american, right?”

Totally killed my vibe, bro.

I know I’m not “full” Native American, does it look like I was born on a reservation or anywhere near any tribes? I’m especially not Native American by government standards (why should that matter?). And I know a lot of Native Americans now get frustrated when there are people who aren’t full Native American claiming scholarships and claiming Native American blood and getting recognized by the government but I agree with the Apache man I quoted a while ago “are you free people or will you let a government tell you who you are?”

I think you should need a card if your family came from Europe. Yeah, get a card and a blood test that tells you your family is from Poland. I’d have to get half of one, my mother’s side is full Polish.

Anyway, I don’t claim to be a Native going to Pow-Wow’s and drinking Acorn soup. But I respect their ways, I respect their writings, I respect their culture, and I respect my ancestors who went through hell so that I could be alive at this computer right now. I don’t practice any Native American practices or know any tribal phrases, but I love their connection to each other, to the earth, to themselves, and to the rest of the universe. It’s something I admire and it’s a part of my ancestry that I have the opportunity to embrace and learn more about.

So no shit I’m not “full” Native American. By those shallow standards, I’m not full Polish, or Danish, or Irish, or African American. If you keep splitting me up into parts, there’s not going to be any me left. What am I supposed to be? What would make you fucking people happy? If my entire family was descended from one little town in England for the last two hundred years? You want me to have Hemophilia or some shit? You want my entire family to come from Nigeria so I’m fucking BLACK ENOUGH for you? You want my entire family to be Cherokee? Then I probably wouldn’t fucking exist. My would-be mom would have been secretly sterilized before I could be conceived.

I’m so sorry my mixed “race” is so offensive. Let me just put on some black-face and make everyone a little more comfortable.

Fuck off with that shit.

Discrimination doesn’t have to be “get out of here blacky, before you steal my bike” or “stop being such a cracka, Bob, you’re making all white people look bad”. It can be subtle, so subtle the person doing it might not even realize the amount of offense in their language. It’s not easy being mixed race, especially in a town where the majority population is Hispanic. They all have their families and their cultures and traditions. Both my boyfriend’s parents are Mexican, so by those shallow standards he’s “full” Mexican. He doesn’t understand when you’re of mixed race, you have to struggle to find your identity and which culture of your family you prefer to identify as. You have to struggle when people say “What, you’re black? You don’t look black. You look Mexican. You only have an accent when you’re angry.” Or “Ha, you’re white-washed”.

Fuck off with that shit.

On top of that,  I’m also the not black enough, kind of southern-accented when I’m angry (the “black/Cherokee half” of my family is from Mississippi) but white-washed quiet girl who whispers to herself in the middle of class but can’t speak when she needs to.

There are a lot of campaigns going around now to bring attention to stigma against those of us that struggle with our mental health. You know, people taking selfies with their medication (Big Pharma thanks you for your advertisement) and people writing things like #StepFoward on their hands.

Sorry to burst your bubble ya’ll, but writing on your hands and taking pictures of your anxiety medication isn’t helping anyone. I think social media is one of the most powerful ways to bring forth a movement. However, it needs to be done correctly and that is not the correct way. What does writing on your hands tell people? It doesn’t give you websites to support, campaigns to support, it doesn’t even tell you why people are stepping forward. Just #StepForward.

Okay, I just took a step. I stepped from my desk to my fan. Does . . . what do I get? Do I get a prize?

Sure, there’s meaning behind the hash-tag but not everyone knows the severity of that meaning. It’s like reading a book in a literature class. You can read the words, you know what happens in the story, but do you understand the depths of motifs? Do you understand why there was foreshadowing? Do you understand how syntax of particular scenes represents a particular feeling? Do you even know what Motif, foreshadowing, and syntax is?

Hashtags and medication pictures don’t talk about what we as a society don’t talk about. It puts mental health in the back of everyone’s mind but there’s a lot of junk in the back of people’s minds today, I’m pretty sure mental health is buried underneath all that other shit. In this article, this woman in New Zealand explains her own reasons for why #StepForward and other such campaigns might not be doing what it intends to do.

I can’t speak for New Zealand, but here in America I would apply her same points. Campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter I hesitate to consider useless, only because the subject of Race has been a topic in American society since . . .well, the settlers. We’re not “open” about racial discrimination like we should be, we don’t talk about why it still exists in our society. At least we (Well, most of us) recognize that it does. We don’t talk about the fact that “Race” itself is a social construction; it changes with time. For example, Hispanic didn’t used to be a race. I remember when it wasn’t. I remember when all the state standardized tests in my area had “White, African American, Asian , and ‘other’ ” as your “race” options. I always put other, ever since first grade. Fuck your categories, California. Fuck off with that shit. Then they made a separate column for “Hispanic” or “Not Hispanic”. Now it’s a government-recognized race. We made it that way.

So our discrimination tactic is based upon something we made up.

Seems like it would be easier to see how dumb it is if people realized “black” or “white” could eventually change to “fried-chicken people” and “Mayonnaise people” and it would all be the same.

Just like the people who want to change “Schizophrenia” to something else. We stigmatize the behavior and the symptoms. You could call that disorder “Happy-Fucking-Sunshine-rainbows-and-Unicorn” disorder and you know what? As soon as people learn what the disorder entails, they’ll go right back to discriminating. And as soon as they read “Happy-fucking-sunshine-rainbows-and-unicorn disorder, otherwise known as Schizophrenia” then they’ll go right back to discriminating.

Yes, our language needs to change. But we created language. We created the words we use today and therefore those words describe our understanding of the world and how we view others. As long as we continue to misunderstand severe mental disorders, as long as we as a society fail to recognize the issues in our past that have created the issues of our present, we will continually call people “Crackas”, we’ll continually say all black people love fried chicken and grape soda (Grape soda tastes like straight up ass to me. But then again, I‘m not “full black”, am I?), we’ll continually say people with schizophrenia are dangerous, and we’ll continually use “race” to describe a person’s appearance before anything else.

Our language will change with our understanding, our compassion, and our realization that we’ve created the mess we’re in.

Facts are facts.