I look outside of myself and I see some of the worst aspects of our society being glorified. My family has been involved in various criminal activities for as long as I can remember. Growing up, it was summers at Papa’s and being regaled of the various aspects of cock fighting until I was old enough to work the farm. Then it was feed the chickens, water the chickens, muck the pens, lay newspaper, gather the eggs, manage the incubation hut, sharpen the blades, catch that fucker, tie these glove sumbitches on his spurs there, and throw him at thother on.
Once we had to actually leave the farm it was pretty damned dangerous. I’d have to drive sometimes – I was only 10 years old. We would travel out to a cornfield outside of Stockton, California and then my grandfather, crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, would hurl ethnic slurs across the ring at anyone who brought a contender that wasn’t White. Usually he had a .38 revolver in his sweat pants – his crippled hands barely able to work it but it was there.
The White people he’d usually accuse of impotence and incompetence in the most foul mouthed way you could imagine. No one escaped his abuse but he particularly delighted in racial insults. Papa Ken had a very regimented view of how the various races broke down in levels of varied intelligence, athleticism, and overall superiority based on whatever load of eugenics bullshit he swallowed up from his childhood in the Arkansas hills. He moved to Northern California as a young man and served in the Army during the Korean War but only made it to Alaska for ski trooper training.
White Passing = Privilege
I would be told repeatedly how fortunate I was that my father, a White passing Chicano, looked I-talian. How blessed I was to have blue eyes. How lucky I was to pass for White instead of looking like my Spic grandfather. How I won the lotto that my phenotype was like his – ruddy brown hair with blonde highlights, freckles, blue eyes, and pale skin. Ignore the Choctaw and Seminole in our blood – a young man has to go fuck him a squaw to be a real man and if you fall in love oh well.
My Chicano father left because he couldn’t deal with my mom’s family. Her side had few male role models and none of them were good. Other than her father there was almost no one around so middle aged White male members from our church were often used as surrogate family members. I guess my mother hoped I could see a better example. None of this was really effective while still perpetuating all the bizarre patterns of abuse with the new Jesus excuse.
One uncle died of AIDS when I was 5. The other was a cokehead IT guy who got locked up when I was 13. My great uncle was locked up when I was about 10 and became the shot caller in San Quentin yard. My cokehead uncle told me he was locked in solitary for starting a 200 man prison riot – about half a dozen guards died so they shipped him up north and threw away the key. It is so bizarre knowing incredibly well that by sheer luck my appearance has given me this ridiculous privilege.
Seeing It Daily
When I moved from Stockton, California to Gilbert, Arizona in 2002 I lived with my friend who was half Black and his mom who was Black. She was one of the best influences on my life and my grades shaped up almost instantly. I was in honors classes and was finally eating amazing food for dinner. I learned what a mom could be like – a mom with expectations and consequences, with a firm voice and no abuse when the time came to enforce. While all of this positive change was going on I was a fish out of water dealing with racial discrimination, for the first time living in a place that was not as diverse as Stockton.
White people in Safeway would approach me and ask if I was OK or safe when they’d see me walking with a Black family. They would usually wait until I was a few steps away to quietly assess the situation. I would also see it at Higley High School where the Superstition Springs or SS White supremacist group was growing quickly. A Vietnamese classmate of mine was chased around the campus and repeatedly called, “Toad Girl.” I recall seeing her running away, books clutched to her chest, head down. I stopped the kid who was harassing her, Gilbert kids are still soft.
I’ve had to do no small amount of work within myself. I’ve had to remove that old man from a place of amusement and authority – trying to get along with him and just laughing at his terrible jokes was a survival tactic with such an abusive bastard. Living in a PTSD ridden family where a singular person was the source of such severe childhood abuse to so many people is an incredible point to start. Taking down these abuse patterns, expectations, anxieties, and dissolving them has been a major part of my journey and I’m still working on it.
Stupid Spic – Not Ashkenazi
Normally my Germanic appearance leads to accusations and severe questioning of my roots and possibly being Ashkenazi by White supremacist assholes. My friend’s older brother from church youth group got back from Afghanistan an Army Ranger paratrooper veteran completely convinced I was Jewish and corrupting his brother. I’ve had fists shaken in my face by people convinced my curly hair and thick beard were a sign of Semitic ancestry.
I recently had the first accurate ethnic insult of my life hurled at me at the age of 34 by a former coworker. He was obviously stressed and the most surprising part was that he is an Asian-American person of color himself. I guess us Spics are lower on his hierarchy of racial bullshit. I’ve been working so hard to remove all racially tied criticisms in my own thoughts and speech that seeing someone who has done so little work that that’s the first thing they draw upon was shocking.
Black Lives Matter
So what am I doing with this experience? I speak up when I see friends succumbing to far right ideology. I speak up when I see people that are oblivious to White supremacist dog whistling. I speak up when people try to include me in their racist narratives or insults. I am crying for those young people and their families for these people murdered for no reason. Om Sri Shanaishwarayha swaha ahhhhhhhhhh breathe out. I am also trying to offer as much compassion into the world as I can. Om mani padme hum
I hope to see you guys in class. If you’re struggling financially let me know – we can work something out. This is a tough time for many so please understand that we need to eat as well here at Dragon and Garuda Yoga so please support the cause. Also if you want to connect to some awesome artwork out there in the Phoenix, Arizona area I highly recommend Renaissance the Poet.