Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dumbassism

Every once in a while I come face to face with a form of racism that's like a benign tumor. It's painful and annoying, but not life threatening. You want to pop it like a giant zit, but it just isn't that easy. This racism comes mostly from those who either don’t know any better, or those who have a sense of entitlement that apparently comes with their skin color. Let's just call it Dumbassism.

For the past three years I have been judging vocal contests in town. What I like about these contests is that they’re an opportunity to introduce people to different types of music. This is important to me because I consider music to be the one language we all can share. What I have found is that most participants come out of this not only having improved themselves vocally, but also having acquired a new appreciation for music. Much like the American Idol format, this is done by having the participants learn a song from a different genre every week. It challenges people to sing things they never thought they could sing.

This week the genre was R&B. Everyone knows what R&B is, right? Wrong. Wrong as wrong can be. More wrong than a spam daiquiri. More wrong than a poopcicle. More wrong than Ray Comfort’s relationship with bananas. Here are a few shudder worthy examples of questions I was asked:

· Does R&B stand for Rap & Boy Bands?

· Is it true that Michael Jackson invented R&B?

· I don’t know any R&B. Can I just sing some Whitney Houston?

I’d go on, but it’s too painful. The people who asked me these questions honestly did not know what R&B was, just like they don’t know who Beethoven is. I took the opportunity to give a music history lesson, and to my great surprise, found that most people knew more than they thought they knew. They just didn’t know they knew. Well, now they know – ya know?

I suppose what surprised me the most was the fact that the people running the contest, who are professional DJs, knew even less about R&B than the contestants did. And to my dismay, did nothing to learn about it. How can one be a DJ and not know about different genres of music? How can they not want to learn? I have been working along side these people for three years now and until last night, I had no idea they thought this way. I tried to shrug off the thought because how could I be friends with them and not realize this until now? I was left with a feeling that, sadly, I knew all too well.

At the end of the evening the DJs were making a list of awards for the finale and asked my opinion. The first thing I did was correct a horrible grammar error before it made it to the engraver. I explained the mistake and was told, “I can’t believe a Puerto Rican is correcting MY English. I mean someone who speaks Spanish is correcting ME.” I’ll give you a moment to digest this, because it took me a moment as well………3, 2, 1. “Yes. I speak two languages fluently. I can communicate effectively in two others. You, however, can barely speak one.”

What angers me most is the fact that for them it was a normal reaction. They had no problem referring to me as a lesser human being simply because that’s how they’re used to thinking and they don’t see anything wrong with that. I can only conclude that the reason they didn’t bother to learn anything about R&B was racism. I would love for someone to prove me wrong.

I'm at a loss. I can usually tell within five minutes of meeting someone if they're an asshole or not. These are people who I welcomed into my home, people who my husband and I have helped time and again without reservation. How is it that all of a sudden my ethnicity is a problem? If my leg worked better I'd kick myself.

Ah... Wait. "I'm having one of those things.... A headache with pictures!"(Phillip J. Fry) Of course. Sigh.... As long as I'm giving critiques to other people, everything is honky dory. The second I criticize or correct them, yes.... that's it. Nice. I must have a weakness somewhere in my defense shields. I'll get right on that.

Not that this is my first foray into Dumbassism. I have spent my whole life dealing with it. From dumbass childhood school mates to teachers who discouraged me from furthering my education because, “Puerto Rican girls end up pregnant anyway. Why bother applying to a university?” to grown up bit... uh... women my own age who upon learning that I am Hispanic ask me to clean their homes. I have an education. I gave 21 years of my life to the military. I help people whenever possible. But it doesn’t matter what I have accomplished in my life. I am three of the hardest things to be in this country: a woman of color, a person with a disability, and an Atheist. I am so sick of this shit! Look, racist assholes, learn to play with others! Dumbasses!

The most important thing that I am is a Human Being. This is what we all are. Why is it so hard to look at people and see the Humanity? Why do we constantly have to treat people as if they have less value than others? I feel like I’m walking in mud. I’m incensed. There’s only one week left in this contest. I’m going to see it through, but unless minds are somehow opened, I don’t think I’ll be judging the next one.

Also, I discovered that certain vitamins make you poop different colors. J

8 comments:

  1. thank you, again, for this post! i love you, sisteren!

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  2. You are all kinds of rock! Although I do have to confess ignorance on R&B to a certain extent… but then, I'm generally musically retarded… sorry…

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  3. One thing is to be ignorant about a subject or, in your case, musically retarded lol - another is to dismiss it because of its origin. You're so silly. *hugs*

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  4. You're awesome and those people are dumb asses.

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  5. You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.............................................

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