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Thursday, May 15, 2008

the suburban suspicion of the city

So I was having a casual conversation with a salesperson the other day, just to pass the time as we waited for some paperwork to be completed. She asked me what I do for a living and once she got the gist of it, started talking about her experience with the Power & Light District in downtown. In fact it was her friend that got car jacked in the parking garage downtown (of course, I have heard this same personal relationship explanation from at least 3 other people. I know this is a small place, but come on.). She gave me the knowing look, ie. "you know...." that downtown just wasn't safe. I never challenge people on these types of comments, I just let them take the string out as far as they want to see where it leads. This commentary meandered around to the homeless downtown, who are hanging around just steps from the P&L District area. Well at least there is security checking ID at the entry points, but then if they get in, they can buy drinks! I guess we don't want drunken homeless people spoiling it for the rest of us.

Anyway, the conversation turned to the Plaza, which she admitted without any prompting from me, was not that safe either, but at least they have private security and more of it. Because once again, if you leave the P&L District, there are no security people there to save you in downtown. At least in the Plaza, there are agents everywhere. At the end of the discussion, however, she told me how satisfied she was to live near Town Center and get everything she needs there. I didn't say it, but thought to myself, how sad that you require so little of your life.

I thought of this conversation in a couple of different ways. One is that this person who I do not know at all, was so freely sharing her ill-informed sentiments and biases. She had no inkling that I would have a completely different point of view. I think this helps confirm the "same race" theory - that people of the same race automatically assume there is a kindred position about race issues between them. Maybe it was a "same gender" theory - that women will share the same assumptions about which places are safe and what constitutes danger. I never agreed with anything she said, but neither did I take exception to her positions or challenge them. Sometimes I just like to listen to get a sense of just how entrenched these feelings and positions are held.

The commentary on the news today is that whites in West Virginia will never vote for a black presidential candidate. That is certainly the point that Hillary is making as a means to sell herself as the "best" candidate. Hey, the Dems can't win without the bigots, so we might as well cater to them. Hmmm. I'm not feeling that strategy.

So what is the appropriate response to someone who says illogical and unfounded things that are steeped in entrenched racial bigotry and they don't even know it? It's not my place to run around "schooling" people and telling them the error of their ways. I don't need my clock cleaned on a daily basis. If someone is being an arse about it, I'll gladly get in their face. But the innocuous ones, I let go.

I got a healthy, meaty comment to a previous post on this blog that I think in part stems from a misunderstanding of something I wrote. I think my previous paragraph could be easily misconstrued. So here are a few boundary markers to help interpret what I write:
1. I feel everyone has to take personal responsibility for themselves. For some, that means you have to suck up a whole lot more than another, but that is life.
2. Life is not fair. Get used to it.
3. Take responsibility for that which you contribute to, even if you don't realize it. Ignorance of your responsibility is no excuse to ignore it.
4. Guilt is useless, action is valuable.
5. We make the world an unbearable, competitive, mean-spirited place. We can undo that.

I realize that people will disagree with me, will criticize my outlook, and think I am full of nonsense. Isn't that what makes the blog world so great?


Transformers said...

Robyn, I really liked your blog and your last set of boundaries or living guidelines. franny

emawkc said...

"I didn't say it, but thought to myself, how sad that you require so little of your life."

Okay. But waitaminute. Isn't this criticism of the Town Center Plaza the same kind of bias as your acquaintance's criticism of the Country Club Plaza? At least is sounds just as condescending to me.