Act of Rebellion

There is a movie in theaters now “The Big Sick“. Short summary brown man and white woman fall in love and deal with cultural conflict.  I wasn’t interested in seeing it as the previews made it seem awful and racist.  However, while driving back from a road trip I got to hear part of an interview with the pseudo-autobiographical co-screenwriter  Kumail Nanjiani.  I felt connected to his story as he was talking about growing up the child of immigrants. Nanjiani spoke of how he hadn’t given his parents enough credit in their evolving and understanding of his culture, different from theirs.
Then the interviewer Terry Gross, asked pseudo-autobiographical co-screenwriter Emily V. Gordon (spouse of Nanjiani) what her family thought of her being with Nanjiani.  Gordon responded that her parents were used to her acts of rebellion they were just happy she found someone who was good to her.

I immediately cringed at Grdon’s gaze of Nanjiani as one of her acts of rebellion and that dreadful phrase “good to her”. Nanjiani then took over the conversation and spoke about how a “rebellious phase” was culturally very American but I was stuck on what Gordon had said.

I don’t ever want to be someone’s tool for rebellion.  Which in terms of gender in hetero relationships, as a Latina I am not a tool for rebellion but I have experienced exoticisation, fetishization, for temporary fun, just as a man of color is used as the act of rebellion in temporary fun.  I don’t think Gordon thought of this with any maliciousness when she spoke of her family being accustomed to her rebellion. That is part of the privilege for a white woman, that her perspective can be the conflict of dating a brown man as a temporary taboo.

Moving on to the phrase “good to her”– I ignorantly thought this wasn’t something that was regularly used as coded language but something that only I had experienced. I have been told before multiple times that phrase “I just hoped you would be with someone who is good to you”, “I wish you were with someone who could provide for you better”.  The racism and sexism were there and what they really wanted to ask was  “Why couldn’t I just date someone who was white man who’d take care of a girl?”  Recently, a Black man told me that he’d been with non-Black women who had been told “I really was hoping you’d be with someone who was better to you” I was dumbfounded at my naïvety  at thinking other people never heard the same things I did.  Again, I don’t think this is what Gordon was getting at with saying acts of rebellion and as long as he’s good to me, but her intent and the reality of how many of us experience interracial relationships as an attack on us and those we love–well both perspectives overlapped but not in understanding.

I wonder does Gordon spend her time worrying about Nanjiani when he flies that he will be harmed or arrested? Have people told Gordon that the person she loves isn’t as good as any other white guy? Has she wondered what her presence says when she is next to him? What risks she puts him in by being with her?  Hearing Gordon’s perspective only affirmed my desire not to see this movie.

Good Sunday

This morning I participated in The Broke Man’s Half Marathon with Sandra. We signed up for the 1/2 Marathon but because of missing a turn we only ran 10 miles—which I was happy for because that meant I could make it on time to brunch with lovely ladies of color from graduate school—none in my program.  I ordered two breakfasts and a bloody mary because yes.  Went home constructed some furniture for a neighbor.  Then headed to an hour and a half relaxation yoga class with Neil.  It was a good, wonderful, Sunday to be concluded with some reading of Memorias de Mamá Blanca.

competitions

It has been awhile since I posted and this is mostly so I can keep slight track of what I’ve been doing (I was much better about blogging and keeping a nice spreadsheet of my meets/times before—I’ll need to get back on that for 2015).

OSU 4 miler

OSU 4 miler

OSU 4 Miler  Sept. 21 2014:    Lordy, this race was difficult.  Not because of the distance or weather but because I did it with one of my students.  She was not used to running and it became more of a Fartlek training where she would sprint as hard as she could for about 20 seconds then come to a dead stop, wait until she felt completely normal and then sprint has hard as she could for another 20 seconds—we did this for all 4 miles and it took us nearly an hour to finish.  I think I have felt less tired after Olympic distance triathlons then I did after this race.

Broke Man’s 1/2 Marathon  October 5th:  I loved this race!  It was a no-thrills race–I think it was a $10 entry, and I took it easy.  I did it with my friends Jessica B. and Sandra E.  I  walked a lot of it, enjoying the day and did it in about 3 hours (there was no timing).

Buckeye Barbell Club Push-Pull competition  October 26th:  This was my first power-lifting competition and was lots of fun!  I had great encouragement from strangers and friends, Amber, John, Norm, and Suzanne.  I had no idea how much I could actually lift and had never practiced.  My buddy John didn’t tell me what he put down on my third deadlift and just told me to get out there and try…and I lifted it…later finding out it was 185lbs.  I’d like to lift 200+ by the end of 2014.  Video (elenamary deadlift) was taken by Amber doing the 185 deadlift.  Warning I say a vulgarity.

Amish 1/2 Marathon November 29th:  By the time I finished the race I hadn’t slept in 30+ hours, I had driven to the race straight from work and only when I arrived there did I realize I also hadn’t eaten since the previous day.  I remembered I had a slice of Hounddogs Pizza (i should get them to sponsor me) in my gym bag.  I stood surrounded by competitors waiting for the race to begin while eating my slice.  There were tons of hills, I was exhausted and hallucinated an ocean.  I had hoped to finish at about 2 hours…I finished in 2:53.

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou’s

Phenomenal Woman

Many women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Columbus World Naked Bike Ride

Four years ago I rode in Columbus’ first World Naked Bike Ride.  We started at the bike co-op.  Unlike later years Pedal Instead wasn’t there to valet our bikes, we didn’t have a real planned path, or too much planned anything. Having not felt comfortable being nude on High Street, I wore a bathing suit bottom and sports bra, and had body paint around my abdomen and back that was supposed to look like animal print.   It rained while we rode and was invigorating. I came home high on adrenaline.

This year, I’ve struggled with whether to go or not.  I talked to my friend and journalist Aaron Cynic who covered the Chicago World Naked Bike Ride last weekend.   I sought advice from him as he enjoyed the ride and kept a journalistic arms length distance.  I love the World Naked Bike Rides but here in Columbus they have become associated with a group  that I fear has encouraged gentrification with all the negative connotations.  A group that participates in both institutionalized and overt class warfare.

Here in Columbus the ride is starting and ending at the same site that held the paint yourself as an Indian with small pox and drink whiskey at a “thanksgiving” party a few years ago.  My objections to the party never gained apologies I was only ostracized as the dick who takes things too seriously.  These same people throw up their arms in protest in “a hey can’t we just have fun” argument?  Hells yeah we can have fun, but can we not do it at the cost of ousting a community or at least maybe have a discussion about it?  Trust me I want to ride in the streets in my swimsuit and enjoy the carnival attitude of it all, but I can’t do it when it is hosted by a group of people who are racists.  By racists I mean people who have done racist things, been called out on it, and continue to do it.

After much deliberation, I’ll reluctantly be bowing out from this year’s ride.  Maybe you all need a talk with Andrew Ti.

Continue reading

mini revolutions

This is the piece I read at the recent blogtitlan feminista gathering in Chicago.  This piece I felt was apropos for the event in that it was about Chicago, and about me finding my independence in the Windy City.  I didn’t want to post it here until I’d read it and until my companion on my mini-revolutions had heard it as well.  It is long but I hope you find yourself laughing and picturing me fierce with emotion.  (The other two pieces I read were Why I, and maybe we, blog   and ay no se que hacer..)

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I like walking down the street with him, holding hands enjoying our contradictions. We are opposites here. The city is his; he is comfortable in its clamorous chaos, while I weasel and fake my way into the big city, leaving my insecurities as the small cow-town corn field, naïve girl behind.   I feel like a grown-up, but you know, the kind that is free? The kind that isn’t concerned about where they need to be, or who they need to be answering to.  I am free; I am a big city woman, not a little girl from Ohio.   I am a woman in Chicago!

We walk into the bank alcove and our hands let go, as he fumbles with his papers to make the atm deposit.  Still in the alcove of the bank, he fixated on his banking, in complete oblivion to the revolution I’m about to instigate.  I am about to start the kind of revolution Michele Serros of Chicana Falsa fame would incite.  You know the story, where she grabs the “Hispanic Vegetables” from the frozen food section and asks why they are cut up so small? Is it because we are smaller? We are less of a people?  She unites the shoppers of the grocery store and they walk out united in the revolution against chopped up frozen food labeled “Hispanic vegetables”.  THIS is the kind of revolution I’m about to start!  Oh, if he only knew about the revolution and wasn’t so concerned with his deposit.

I’m staring into the bank, glaring at six picture frames, and in each frame is a head shot with a name beneath it.  Each frame holds a picture of a white man, named either Mike or Michael.  They are the branch manager, the loan manager, the small business manager etc.

I stare fiercely at the frames; the revolution is boiling within me and it makes me laugh out loud.  Inside the tellers have caught on to my staring.  Mind you again, he is still oblivious to my revolution…he is doing his banking.   I can see the three tellers discussing what it possible is I could be staring at, belly laughing at, and it is decided one of them must approach me and ask.

The lone woman teller walks towards me opens the glass door that separates us, and inquires “Is there something I may help you with?”  I smile, that revolutionary smile, the smile that will get you a chanclaso from your mother, and I respond “Oh no, I am just laughing at the fact that all six of your managers are white guys named Michael”

It is at this moment he comes out of his banking distractions and realizes I am up to something.  The teller, a middle aged plump white lady, looks at me and says “Yeah, we really can’t help how they are named”.  I chuckle again “Yeah, you really can’t help it either that the only people who know how to manage well, are white men”.  It is now her turn to stare, albeit at me, and she is completely dumbfounded.

He of course, has understood that this isn’t going to be a normal banking day.  He pops his hoodie up and with the utmost haste begins to walk out.  I follow him, glowing in the fact that I have started a revolution!

With my head swimming in thoughts of the revolution, he affectionately jests “That’s one more place in Chicago I can’t go because of you.”  I quip “Don’t worry, at the bank, all you black men look alike, they won’t be able to tell the difference and next time, don’t try to be inconspicuous by throwing your hoodie up and quickly walking away.  I hear that doesn’t work well for black men”.

He non-verbally mends the situation by restoring our clasped hands, and I begin to think of all the places he says he can’t go back to because of my many one woman mini-revolutions: the Wicker Park Walgreens, the Logan Square Chicago Deli, all three Sultans, the stop where the blue and orange line connect, and now the bank.  Maybe I have created my independent Chicago woman persona; I’m a revolucionaria without a cause.