Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Love Day

Despite the naysayers who choose to hate this holiday because of how Hallmark and chocolate companies and every other corporate entity in this country has co-opted it for their own commercial gain, I love Valentine's Day. I've written about it on this blog before, here and here, but don't think I've ever revealed that this day is also special to me because, not only do I celebrate the love of my friends on this day, but H. and I have chosen to celebrate our anniversary on this date as well. Six years and counting.

So happy love day to all of you out there, and thanks for continuing to check-in on me and my funny little life. Have a beautiful, heart-filled day!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Meme on Privilege: The Old, Tired "Class v. Race" Debate

One of the blogs that I saw this on posted this with the title 'Has Class Trumped Race?" Or something to that effect. This question and quiz, and the tired comment I got from a fundraising colleague a little while back, has prompted me to respond. (I got this from Claire Light's blog, by the way). I'll do the quiz / privilege exercise in a minute, but just need to get this whole class/race thing off my chest first with a few organized points. Call them my informal race v. class rebuttal points:

1. Yes, Class is just as important as Race
2. Big BUT, however, is that Class is often (obviously not always) based somewhat on Race
3. If you look at the proportion of people of color in this country who are poor, you will find that more people of color are poor as a percentage of their total population in the US than white people.
4. So then, which is 'more' important--class or race? I ask you, especially you middle- to upper-class white people and people of color who either feel guilty about your privelege or can't deal with the fact that you have it to examine the information annd to answer that question for yourselves.
5. My answer? Neither is more important, but class in this country is NOT separate from race a lot of the time. I'm not saying it's totally dependent on race, but I don't think you can have a progressive, let alone radical, discussion about shifting power or the economic/class system in this country if you don't talk about how racism impacts the economic opportunities of communities of color as well as encourages poor white people to work AGAINST their own self-interests.
6. And to my white 'allies' out there who insist that Class is 'the real issue' and not 'Race', I ask you to really look at yourselves, and to check your shit and start actually listening to people of color and what we have to offer in this conversation instead of talking to us and trying to tell us what to do.
7. There, I got it off my chest. Now for the privilege quiz! (The 'bolded' items are the things that apply to me; I guess the more bolded items you have, the more privilege you have. The questions in terms of range and topic are interesting--e.g. the 'heating bill' question I thought was really good. Try it yourself!)

When you were in college:
If your father went to college.
If your father finished college
If your mother went to college
If your mother finished college
If you have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
If you were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
If you had a computer at home
If you had your own computer at home
If you had more than 50 books at home (counting Encyclopedia Brittanica, right?)
If you had more than 500 books at home
If were read children’s books by a parent
If you ever had lessons of any kind
If you had more than two kinds of lessons
If the people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
If you had a credit card with your name on it
If you have less than $5000 in student loans
If you have no student loans
If you went to a private high school
If you went to summer camp
If you had a private tutor
If you have been to Europe
If your family vacations involved staying at hotels
If all of your clothing has been new and bought at the mall
If your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
If there was original art in your house
If you had a phone in your room
If you lived in a single family house
If your parent own their own house or apartment
If you had your own room
If you participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
If you had your own cell phone in High School
If you had your own TV in your room in High School
If you opened a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
If you have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airline
If you ever went on a cruise with your family
If your parents took you to museums and art galleries
If you were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

I have to say, doing this kind of depresses me, because it brings me back to my high school and college days when I had friends (partially because I went to private school with kids that were richer than me, although because of scholarships--which I didn't have in high school--I also went to high school and college with kids that were much poorer than my family was) who actually got to go to Europe on their parents' dime or take really cool unpaid internships while I worked at Macy's all summer or who got to go on family vacation and shit and I didn't get to do much of that stuff at all. I know that I still have a lot more privilege than many people in this country and most people in this world--especially since I'm college-educated--but I also know there are a lot more people out there who have WAY more privilege than I do and who just take it for granted, and are also WAY less aware of their privilege than I am. Kinda depressing, but then again it's all about how you look at it. I have to say that the time in my life when I was 'poorest' economically also happened to be when I was happiest as a child, and the people in my life that are the most 'working class' are probably the most easy people to get along with for me. It's all relative I guess.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Disappointed in Berkeley

I can't believe Tom Bates is backing down from Berkeley's very cool, very radical anti-military recruitment stance that their City Council recently decided on. Even in Berkeley, let's be real, most of the military recruitment is targeted towards poor people, people of color, who have few other options to pursue to 'get ahead'. I admired Berkeley's stance on military recruitment (I believe they recently kicked out military recruiters from public high school campuses) and I'm disappointed that the Republican-sponsored blackmail of the city--'we'll cut your federal funding if you go through with this'--actually worked to intimidate the city and the mayor. Sounds like even radical Berkeley is no longer even symbolically leading the charge against our imperialist, war-mongering times. Fitting, given that Obama, the so-called 'progressive' Presidential candidate has recently turned pro-Zionist and pro-war by advocating for the invasion of Afghanistan.

Sigh. What's the world coming to? And really, can't groups like Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Foundation (one of the nonprofits in Berkeley that would lose its federal funding under the Republicans' attack) raise its own $250,000 without taxpayer money? As a fundraiser, I know this is possible, and I'm a little appalled at how quickly Berkeley balked at this one. Sad and disappointing indeed.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy New Year!

I decided this year that I would follow (at least partially) the traditions of the Chinese and many other older, non-Western cultures and take two days off for the lunar new year. It seemed a bit strange for me, especially since I'm marrying into a Chinese family (albeit a fairly non-traditional one at that), to have almost three weeks off for Christmas and Gregorian calendar new year, and no days off for the Lunar New Year (which most non-modern cultures celebrated or still celebrate). So here I am, at home at 10am on a Thursday morning, blogging and checking email (personal, not work!) and Facebook.

It's been interesting learning more about Chinese and lunar (no, they aren't they same) new year over the years from friends and from H.'s family. The family dinner thing, the red decorations and flowers/plants, the firecrackers, the different Chinese astrological signs (I'm a pig, myself, which I love being) and how non-Chinese people also celebrate the holiday. For the first time ever, I think, H. and I actually cleaned up a bit last night (Chinese believe you're not supposed to clean at all on this special day, because you'll be washing away all your good luck), and today we'll both be wearing red. We had our own version of a New Year's Even dinner last night at Golden Lotus in downtown Oakland, a completely vegan, faux meat joint that would most likely displease our Asian relatives for a special occasion meal (no meat! That's not a real meal!), but worked out fine for me and H.

I'm going to blog a bit more on the wedding blog about tradition, culture, and how bringing our two families and individual ways of doing things has been a both joyous and difficult process for me and the fiance.

But in the meantime, let me just say, 'Gong Xi Fa Cai!' (pronounced, roughly 'GONG-shee-FAH-chai) which is the traditional Mandarin greeting for 'Happy New Year!' May the Year of the Rat bring us all peace, prosperity, health and happiness.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

What's Up

Been a bit sick lately, sick enough to stay home for about three days total (two half-days from work, one full day from work, and then one weekend day, ugh). Besides my cough, body aches/chills, fatigue and general icky-feelingness, the rainy, cold weather hasn't been much motivation to get up out the house, and neither has my recent plugging into the Facebook craze. I see why people get addicted to this social networking stuff. I have to say, since I've been at home sick a lot it's been a nice way to still feel somewhat connected to the rest of the world and to the various social networks that I flit in and out of. The interactive, sort of video-game-like quality of all the 'apps' in Facebook are also very addictive, but at least I can do things like "Send Good Karma" and "hug" and leave messages for friends instead of just virtually 'slay' them in some simulated parallel universe. Although I have also added the 'Heroes' app which allows you to use your superhero powers (my current power is 'Telekinesis') to 'fight' your friends with other kinds of powers. Cool.

Other than that, I've been making and eating a lot of arroz caldo, a yummy jook-like chicken and rice porridge that I love to make and eat when I'm sick. I make it gingery and with lots of lemon juice, so it really clears up congestion and makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. I've also been making a little bit of headway on wedding reception venue-searching, and am getting some help from two of my friends who are logistics and event-coordinating geeks like myself, so that should be fun. More on that on my wedding blog, which hasn't seen any comment-activity yet, but hopefully will soon since I finally figured out how to enable comments again.

One of the things I haven't been doing much of is writing (fiction or even in my journal). I've done a few blog posts in the last couple weeks, which is good, but I've really let the rest of my writing commitments slip. No guilt-tripping, but just acknowledging it. It'll come back when it needs to. I've realized that I can be really hard on myself when I'm not doing a million and one things that I think I should be doing for one reason or another, and that that alone is a big reason why I stay (or at least feel) stuck in a rut with my writing or other things in my life. The reality is that I'm getting a lot of shit done, between work, my social life, my writing and the wedding planning, and I have a lot to pat myself on the back about!

That's about it. Hope you're all staying dry/warm/safe/healthy/happy during these last few days before the first day of the Chinese New Year of the Rat!.