Sunday, April 18, 2010

one honkey's perspective

(me being that honkey)

I would like to put forth my personal perspective on how this nation's deplorable history effects how I navigate through contemporary society. A visceral reminder of this history is hard to deny and escape. Not that an escape from it is even desirable, let alone possible. It is easy, plain as day to see our specific course of history which has led up to this very moment. Some obvious examples would be poverty and the disproportionate among those in poverty being black. It is also noticeable with, in certain locations, with the lack of a minority presence. This was the case in Alfred, N.Y., where I attended Graduate school. If I had to guess I would place the percentage of minorities in Alfred as less than ten percent. This absence was a reminder to me that in a small community where most of its inhabitants where there to participate in a "higher" educational experience, minorities could not finance such a privileged experience. The absence of poverty or of a struggling minority does not eradicate its existence in the minds of those who care and are compassionate. Out of sight is not out of mind in this case.

I live my life based on respect. Respect for other and myself. I'll be the first to admit that I fall short of these respect based goals more often than I would like to admit. None the less, we are all in the same privileged-to-be-alive/privileged-to-simply-exist boat and that indisputable fact demands an even playing field in terms of respect and opportunity.

I do not like the historical precedent that brought about the scenario where an elderly black man would call me a younger white boy, "Sir". He is "Sir", he earned "Sir"!! I do however appreciate and admire his level of respect for his fellow man but can not help but wonder if the respect is at face value or if a fear based courtesy has been installed into him and possibly his family.

I acknowledge that I find myself in this lifetime as in the (temporary) majority. I know that this will change, there is evidence of such change already. I welcome change of most sorts, this being one. I welcome this change because I hope that with it will come the change of a proportionate delegation of political representation and legislative policy making and fund allocation to the actual proportions of the populations, prioritizing those communities that need it the most.

We are one.

1 comment:

  1. myles19.4.10

    The term "sir" is an interesting one, (talking now in regards to a caucasian perspective, as I am embarrassingly ignorant of any other) as some people "demand" it, as a term of respect, that they feel they have earned, while others attempt to reject it, as if it is an indication that they have somehow gone out of style.

    I see this a lot with customers @ the hardware store. Being an employee of the company, we're supposed to treat each and every person who comes into the store (be it a 5 year old or a 95 year old) with the same respect. The general reaction of the "younger" crowd is one of amazement, or misunderstanding. It is often that they will walk away without realizing that I was addressing them.
    On the somewhat other end of the spectrum, the middle age customers will often react in mock horror at the referral of themselves as a sir, miss, or ma’am.
    So the obvious answer here is that it’s an age related thing, the young folks figure I can’t be talking to them because they’re not old enough to deserve the term “Sir” and the associated respect that comes with it. And the “older” folks don’t want to recognize the fact that they are older, and therefore are in a sort of public display of denial at the fact that they have earned the “title” of the term “sir, miss, or ma’am”.
    But I guess what I am more curious about is; if we are in a society that engrains us with mantras of (and maybe you disagree with me on this point….) practice what you preach, do unto others as you would have others do to you, and love thy neighbor, why is it that the term “sir” and the associated respect that comes with it is applicable only to those who have “earned it”?
    If we respect everyone shouldn’t we refer to everyone with a formal pretext? Which is more in line with the core of what you were talking about than the rest of my blurb… anyways, just throwing in my 2 cents.
    On somewhat of a tangent though, what are the societal criteria for distinguishing someone as a sir? As in, when you have an interaction with say, for the sake of this example, a complete stranger, what is it that triggers the use of the formal pretext sir? Sure most may say it is context based, and you have to look at the context to discern whether or not to use it, but I’m talking about that engrained societal reflex where did that come from? I guess more along the lines of where did the term originate, and what originally distinguished a “sir” as being such? Maybe I should stop yapping a do some research, if I have a chance and figure it out I’ll let you know…
    Very interesting concept you got going on here JB, I’m digging it.