Thinking About Isms and Ignorance

I read this tweet and the following comments by the person who posted it and it reminded me of a thing I read some time ago about how trans women and people raised as boys eventually learn and see the institutionalized sexism that happens to women all the time. 

I kind of get it though, not noticing or not thinking about something as critically as you could until you experience it, and for a second I lamented there's no way this could be done for race. I can't think of a "this could happen to me" type of 'ah ha' moment that can happen to make racism better understood. I see instances of racism, modern and historic and I'm not surprised. 

I'm not surprised at proud white people posed beside a dead, lynched black person. Not in 18-whatever, not in 1957. It's like seeing groups of white people with shit eating grins in black face, I'm not surprised, just saddened each and every time that people aren't better. Seeing a color, instagram photo of dumbass white people in black, yellow, red face and other colored-face makes me angry but also sad that there's no way these people can ever really feel compassion for the people they're mocking and insulting. 

The closest is if we make it about them and that's not the same. 

I mean, I've heard people get so snitty and so pissed because someone's wearing a band shirt and they're "not a real fan" or about the concept of "fake geek girls" and "fake gamer girls". Titles of being a geek, a gamer, a fan of something are things you willingly put on and add to what you already were. And people get so defensive of the perceived "wrong person" giving themself attributes of something they like. But these selfsame people can't understand that when you dress up like something that a person can't change about themself and you're being insulting about it that it actually is harmful. 

I think I was also thinking about this because of that shitty Time article from this weekend when a college freshman went on and on about how he won't apologize for white privilege. He said some truly ignorant things but mostly addressed the hardships his grandparents had to overcome but never really addressed the aspects of his life that he had easy. His grandparents escaped Nazi-fied Europe and made it in America, made a business and started a family. His father worked too many hours and was barely around to see him as he grew up and he's not white privileged to be able to go to Princeton. I look at that and think about the loans his family was able to take out easier and with lower interest than what naturalized black Americans would have had access to. I look at the fact that he had both parents in the home and never made any mention of how much or little he saw his mother. Not that single parentness is a POC issue, but there'd be a different situation if there weren't a parent in the home when the other was at work. I also wonder how often he was a shitty kid in school and was never punished and what he himself accomplished with his own two hands and his brain to get into Princeton. I wonder if he was ever told "you speak good English" by people in his community, as if he shouldn't be able to. How often people ask and assume he's from a specific location because of his race and how he presents himself. He has lived a privileged life and it's disrespectful to just ignore it, it's disrespectful for the hell his grandparents lived through if he doesn't acknowledge that when they got to America they were playing the Game of Life with different handicaps than they had been playing with in Europe.

Crossdressers, trans people and I think even fe/male impersonators fall into a different category, they're not ridiculing and they can change who they are to a certain degree. You can't change your genetics or what ever biologic sex based medical diseases you may get. I don't know what it's like but I'm sure we need more trans positive doctors to help with pre-change health conditions that someone is still susceptible to. 

It's just maddening how difficult it is to educate someone who has never had to think about how complex the life of an Other is. Sex based discrimination can be seen and learned when someone changes who they are outwardly and society acts in kind. Race can't be learned as simply. Even going to a different country won't be the same because of old colonialism and Western domination. 

Spock is Kind of a Magical Black Dude Without Actually Being Black

I've been watching the original Star Trek with William Shatner, Deforest Kelly and Leonard Nimoy and I've spent a lot of time wondering why is Bones such a dick to Spock, because he is. I think for him it kind of amounts to Bones being racist - or speciest - against all non-humans. But seeing how Spock is treated by the other characters, he gets more shit for being part Vulcan than Uhura gets for being black. The way the character talk about Spock is reminiscent of how mixed race black/white people would be referred to. 

Spock refers to himself more often as being Vulcan and and how he was raised like a Vulcan. Other characters react to his Vulcan-ness as a negative. Vulcans are critical of his humanity, which isn't visible and seems to be known to everyone everywhere. The humans on the Enterprise refer to his Vulcanity as a horrible negative, except for Kirk but bros. It makes me think of how in at least America if not other western cultures, if a white person and non-white person have a child the resulting mixed race child seems to more often being referred as being a member of the race that 'sullied' the white race. It's up there with the need to call black people 'black American' or 'African-American' and that white Americans are rarely defined as being anything other than American. It's not English-American or French-American, just American. Spock is often referred to as being just half Vulcan and half human and there's often a coda added if anyone says he may be just one. 

In this fashion It's easy to see him as being a "black dude" because what he is has to be known. It can't just be accepted that he exists and has some of each. Also, if he's ever insulted by humans they say 'Vulcan' as if it's a bad thing. Multiple episodes bring up how 'devil-like' his ears are and how evil he is or seems. Other aliens including the Vulcans, Romulans, and Klingons have brought up his human side as being the negative more often, but those species generally have a thing about disliking humans. 

But what makes him magical? The Vulcan talents. Mind-reading, mind-meld and the trained nerve-pinch. Spock has been able to survive toxins and has a moderately different biological make up but conveniently looks like a white dude. I personally add him to the magical-black-character trope because while he's not black he is often treated in a similar fashion to regular MBDs. He's wise even though he's young, he has a special way with animals (sometimes) but the regulated normal human characters treat him as an Other while relying on him to save them time and time again. Spock is relegated as a valuable character because of the services he can perform for the other characters (namely Kirk, McCoy and Scotty) unlike Uhura, Chekov and Sulu who are just accepted as 'normal' and their racial differences are never brought up as a negative. Chekov has Russia-pride up the wazu, but the other characters don't turn to him to figure something out because he's Russian. What he is isn't used as the basis to his function, unlike the MBD who is useful by existing in the narrative. 

And this brings me back to Bones being racist, because in EVERY situation that's emotional he tries to crack wise about Spock not being affected by is because he's Vulcan. Bones seeks to cut and hack at Spock at every opportunity, to dismiss him and then fight him decide that his 'emotionless' Vulcaness will lead to the collective team's downfall. Time and time again Spock calmly reminds them that he's part-human and ought to be treated like the rest, but also that he cares he just doens't express it. Spock takes shit and has the presence to dismiss it, forgive it and be the better character. He doggedly follows and chases Kirk, is fiercely loyal to him, and puts up with everything McCoy says with passive disinterest.

Sometimes it just seems like Spock was written as being subservient to everyone else just because he's different. But in the Star Trek universe, class is made up on levels of humanity (especially Caucasoid humanity in The Original Series), then through humanoid life forms and non-humanoid lifeforms (which there are minimal). It's like the black character being written into a movie and they're great at dancing, was possibly a thug as a youth, and is a star athlete (if they're male), but they have experience and wisdom to help the white character succeed. And he's the token character, he's the only alien consistently in the show.

I might be stretching this a little, but there are parallels to how Spock is treated and with how black characters in media are (but especially were) often treated. I did mention Uhura and Sulu, and it's interesting that they're the only consistent non-white humans, and once Chekov was added he went off on more expeditions than Sulu had or Uhura had and he was the newest crew addition. But in terms of being discriminated against, with Sulu and Uhura it's never because of their race, with Spock it's always because of his race.

Is it fair for me to be this critical of old media, in a way yes. I know there are more seasons and newer Star Treks that have greater racial diversity and less black-face, but seeing how a character is singled out as being Other because of their species can still happen. I've seen the two new movies and I did wonder why there were so few other aliens presented. I think I wrote somewhere that with Into Darkness, it's Spock, we see one Klingon for a moment, the dude that hangs out with Scotty, a tribble and I think there were one or two shoved into the background.  If this is supposed to be about and take place in a species-integrated future, where are the varieties, other than painting white chicks green? (Not really counting Khan because he's a race of super-humans from how ST:TOS described him - and he was just another white dude.) Tokenism can still happen and it happening with species and not race doesn't make it better.