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The power of ordinary people has always been under-recognize, particularly by those who classify themselves as “elites” – think that they’re better than everyone else. Nowhere is this more evident than in the bizarre contempt elements of the so-called “privileged” class show towards ordinary folks.

I will never forget that feeling I got when my aunt, who is living the United States for the last 18 years told me off an instance where she was approached by a women who asked her “Did someone paint your skin?” Giving no response my aunt simply walked away. For many years I’ve tried to come up with the best logical explanation – maybe the woman at the time had never seen a coloured person before or was ignorant to the fact that black people skin pigment is different of that of white people.

This absurdity continues to this day, for while these hypocrites discriminate against regular folks, they depend on them for almost everything, including food. While they mock and scorn their culture and heritage, they dance to the rhythm and beat of their music. While they mock their intellect, they glow in the magnificence of their stardom. And while they exploit and marginalise them, they depend on their labour to build their wealth.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I love listening to the stories of ordinary people – everyday people – who wake up early to go to work and retire late at night just to provide food and better education for their children. It is easy to identify with their cause, feel their pain, and understand their troubles, because I too watch my mom – a single parent with 5 children who had to work two jobs just to make sure we always had food on the table and an opportunity to get a good education. That’s why I’m always fascinated by the details of their struggles and the joy that escorts their successes, however tiny.

To me, these are the real people. In them reside great reservoirs of determination (at 52 years my mom graduated from college), an unquenchable thirst for greatness, an indomitable spirit to triumph and an extraordinary capacity to achieve their rightful place in life. But there is something even more special about ordinary folks: it is their enduring faith and boundless patience that compel them to rise every day to face the trials and tribulation of a world in which all are created by the same God, but not treated equally – I love you Mom…always!

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6 Comments »

Comment by Dan
2008-09-02 10:16:00

When I was a boy I had a friend whose mother immigrated to the US from rural Norway. She had never seen a person who was not white or even a photograph of a non-white person. She was a child of about 10 at the time. She was frightened by the first black American she saw.

Also, when I was a boy my mother deliberately took me to become a patient of the first and for a long time the only black medical doctor in our town. I was about four. I am told that when he introduced me to his children, I later told my mother that they had beautiful skin. For a long time my family were his only white patients. He delivered my sister and the photo of her amid those of other children who were his delivery patients on his waiting room wall really stood out.

Never consider what a person IS (race, where born, gender) in evaluating that person; consider only character.

 
Comment by Suki Subscribed to comments via email
2008-09-02 11:45:44

Good day Chris,

I imagine it must appear I have time on my hands and while I do have time to pursue my various interests, it is my habit of rising early to accomplish as much as possible that gives me the opportunity to read and respond to the posts. That being said, I disagree with you here on several points. You say,

“The power of ordinary people has always been under-recognize, particularly by those who classify themselves as “elites” – think that they’re better than everyone else.”

Who is ordinary and who is elite? The definitions are going to depend on the perspective of the individual invoking those words. If I live in a nice neighborhood on the golf course, I will probably consider myself to be “normal” while I would consider those who live in million dollar neighborhoods to be “elite”. A person who lives in one of the many housing projects we have here in the US might consider themselves to be “normal” and they would consider me to be “elite”. It is all a matter of perspective.

You say,

“I will never forget that feeling I got when my aunt, who is living the United States for the last 18 years told me off an instance where she was approached by a women who asked her “Did someone paint your skin?” Giving no response my aunt simply walked away. For many years I’ve tried to come up with the best logical explanation – maybe the woman at the time had never seen a coloured person before or was ignorant to the fact that black people skin pigment is different of that of white people.”

So what? That was one ignorant person at best or maybe racist (and I don’t know if I would go that far), that has nothing to do with whether someone is “normal” or not. In addition, as you well know Chris, “black” people have a wide range of pigmentation in their skin making some “black” people rather “white” and others rather dark – blanket statements about pigmentation are not accurate. Asian people from India also have pigmentation in their skin and as a result a dark Indian man or woman might have heard the same question from the woman in question. Again, I say, so what?

Then you go on to say,

“This absurdity continues to this day, for while these hypocrites discriminate against regular folks, they depend on them for almost everything, including food. While they mock and scorn their culture and heritage, they dance to the rhythm and beat of their music. While they mock their intellect, they glow in the magnificence of their stardom. And while they exploit and marginalise them, they depend on their labour to build their wealth.”

Now this is going too far – in reading this (and please correct me if I am mistaken) it would seem that the “hypocrites” are “white” and “elite” and the “regular folks” are “black”. “They” would seem to be the “white” and “elite”. Please tell me this is not so. I tend to believe that those who believe that others feel superior to them actually believe they are inferior. As I have said in other posts, people are much more complex than that. I am more than my skin color, ethnic history, educational or financial status, that is one reason I make every effort not to describe myself in that way – that allows me to avoid judging people in that way as well. This argument, I believe, is a continuation of the destructive “us” against “them” mentality. “We” can all respect the achievements of all members of our human race.

You say,

“I don’t know about anyone else, but I love listening to the stories of ordinary people – everyday people – who wake up early to go to work and retire late at night just to provide food and better education for their children. It is easy to identify with their cause, feel their pain, and understand their troubles…To me, these are the real people.

An individual is not less “ordinary” or “normal” if they wake up late and enjoy a nice walk in the park. An individual is not less “normal” if they find work to be a joy rather than a burden. An individual is not less “normal” if they do not have to struggle to provide food and a better education for their children. Their “cause” of enjoying life is not less “normal”. Their lack of pain does not make them less of a “real person”. The struggle does not make a person more “real” or “normal” or less interested in contributing significantly to their fellow human. We send such a mixed message to the youth, on the one hand, we tell them that we do not want them to have to struggle, want them to be happy in their pursuits and yet we turn around and call them “elite” when they have achieved what we said we wanted them to. The suggestion is that there is something wrong with living or growing up in a life that does not involve struggle. Why is that?

Suki K Tranqille

Comment by Chris
2008-09-03 05:52:46

Suki

After allowing myself some time reflect – it’s clear to see that I wrote this post on my own personal impulse, and I allowed my personal experiences to overshadow my judgment. Suki, my mom raise me to love everyone in despite of their race, colour or beliefs. We believe in One love, so please don’t take my words literally – I’m not saying that whites are hypocrites nor I’m saying blacks are hypocrites.

To me the hypocrites are the people who believe that they’re better that everyone else and that world revolves around them.

Suki, I can’t help myself from getting too personal with my literary expressions – so I’m going to stop here.

Again my apologies.

Comment by Suki Subscribed to comments via email
2008-09-03 07:36:51

No need to apologize, your personal purpose may have been served by allowing you to take a step back and grow. It is a rare person that can expand their point of view and recognize where their feelings may stem from. I too responded from a personal conviction, it is very difficult not to judge and I recognized in my first year of college that I was a very judgmental person. This was a direct result of my upbringing based on my parents cultural values, I had to take a step back from myself and recognize that their biases did not have to be my own. As no one is perfect, I falter at times. It is difficult sometimes for me to view someone who I perceive to be able bodied not working to contribute to themselves or society without passing some sort of judgment. (I’m working on it 🙂 ) I think my own response to you is not without some judgment as well so I do want to thank you for helping me to grow. On a lighter note, congratulations on your mom, it is a proud moment and a source of inspiration to see someone who has clearly committed themselves to continue to learn in life. I am sure that her best years are yet to come. 🙂

Suki K Tranqille

 
 
 
Comment by Joel Halfwassen Subscribed to comments via email
2008-09-03 01:56:23

Chris –

I have some questions. 1) Is that your mother in the photo? 2) Which school is it she graduated from. Curiosity more then anything.

I have to say that from a literary perspective I am disappointed in this posting today . While I understand what it is you are trying to say, and to some degree agree with you, I found that this particular ‘Ramblings’ was not up to your normal quality of work. You express yourself on a topic that is obviously very personal and close to your heart. A topic that I think most of your regular readers would find truly fascinating. Unfortunately, you do not express your feelings in your normal clear toned manner. I have to point out that Suki’s argument holds up quite well against what you have proposed. The difference is that I think if you had expanded on your thoughts a little more and provided a little more analysis (like your normally do) the tone of this piece would be such that there would be more agreement with what you are saying and less your readers feeling like they are witnessing an attack.

On a more personal note…are you okay? Would you be willing to tell us what brought on this particular posting? Despite the literary quality there is power in your words…and an anger. Can we, your readers, help in some way? Maybe just listening?

Comment by Chris
2008-09-03 06:34:38

Joel

1) Yes..that’s my mom in the picture. 2) she graduated from the Dominica State College with a degree in Tourism and Hospitality.

After reading the post over and over again, I’ve to agree with you Joel – there is a maybe strong chance I’ve scared away all my readers. 😥

My expression on the topic is definitely to personal and a bit aversive on my part which reflects in my writing.

Joel I appreciate your concern…I’m OK. Maybe sometime in the future I will let you guys know exactly what made me wrote this particular ill-mannered post – but for now the bruises are still fresh, and writing about it will only compound the way I feel presently.

Please accept my apologies.

 
 
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