I think that there is a woman at work who hates me because I’m young, white, college-educated, and her boss.
more intelligent than everyone else
I have never walked into a room without acting under the assumption that “I am more intelligent than everyone else unless proven otherwise.”
too nonconformist to pay rent
I volunteer with radicals and anarchists, socialists and new wave hippies. Every week I spend a full day cooking, and hanging out with them. We do good work, we feed the homeless, we utilize society’s waste and make it into something great. We give out information, we protest.
But sometimes I absolutely hate them. These fucking worthless anarchist squatting pieces of shit, doing nothing for anyone but their own high moral code, helping people only as a by product of their agenda. Dirty hippies, coming to my house where I pay bills and do work so they can eat my food, shower in my shower, and use my internet because they’re too nonconformist to pay rent and get a job like a normal productive member of society.
But I will never say these things.
Coming from a family of academics and teachers, I was instilled from birth with the importance of education. I never really thought I was biased against people without formal education though, because if you had asked me I would readily acknowledge that many people missed out on the opportunities I took for granted through no fault of their own. I happened to be living overseas in 2003, when then President George W. Bush started the war in Iraq. It was hard to explain his rationale to the local people I knew, given the worldwide protests, my own sense of his ignorance and arrogance, and the conflicting reasons offered by his administration. Most of my co-workers had already constructed their own explanations of America’s foreign policy and predictions of the outcome based on their perceptions of U.S. military force and Middle East politics, but the best comment I heard came from my babysitter, who said, “All that will come of this is some American mother crying over her son and some Iraqi mother crying over her son.” When I repeated this to a group of fellow Americans, I added that in my opinion the best analysis came from my babysitter who hadn’t even graduated from high school, as if that mattered. I hadn’t planned to frame it that way, but an unconscious prejudice surfaced spontaneously.
the other day i was at my work – i am a public librarian – and a guy came to pick up the stuff he had reserved – he has downs syndrome and has a hard time communicating and he reserves audiobooks – anyway he was picking up a few things and one of the things with his name on it was anna karenina. so of course i thought well, this is a mistake but it turns out he likes lots of different things and he had reserved anna karenina in addition to other things. how did i know what he would get out of the library just becaause he has downs syndrome?
we live in scotland now and i am american and it is a very interesting experience to be at the receiving end of stereotypes – americans do this, americans like that, aren’t you a typical american…. quite strange and actually at times really hurtful. there are 300 million of us, how can you know anything about me at all? also tapping into the stereotypes here is an eye-opener – everything is anti-English for the Scots. in any case, the US is so culturally prominent that they don’t ever stop talking about us. the BBC is very US-focussed. all the cheesy gossip about the US makes the news, Britney Spears, Jennifer Aniston etc. they follow US politics SO closely. weird! i thought i was in europe.
This past weekend in New York, the beloved son of my close friends was wheeling my suitcase as the whole family and I were on our way to brunch. Another friend was leaving, there were goodbyes and hugs on the sidewalk, when the son’s mother saw our bus leaving the bus stop ahead of us… we only partly paid attention, when suddenly a strange man grabbed my suitcase and the son and started moving quickly away from us. I yelled, HEY! HEY!!!! thinking he was kidnapping the boy and stealing all my stuff. He turned and I saw it was my good friend, the son’s father.
A challenging rut in my brain: a man moving with intent is somehow aggressive, scary, or bad.