self-preservation

I’ve learned how
to avoid absorbing
the world’s pain
so it’s possible to
go through days without
being emotionally drained
& exhausted from events
that didn’t happen to me —
key to self-preservation.

Advertisements

thirteen things no one tells you (& you learn for yourself)

1. you should strive to be good, not unique. (contrary to their name, special snowflakes are everywhere. genuine people aren’t.)
2. once you discover that home is a feeling, not a location, your restlessness dissipates. (you won’t find a reason to plan your next escape.)
3. when you fall in love, your badass armor will crumble. (you will embrace your softness.)
4. it is okay that your parents like you less as each day passes. (they hate everything about you that doesn’t fit their idea of who you should be.)
5. trust your first impressions of everyone you meet. (your bullshit detector gets better as you get older.)
6. do not let people bend your empathetic ear if they can’t reciprocate. (you’re no one’s crutch.)
7. you will tire of the friends who lament about missing you on social media yet don’t keep in touch. (letting them go is easier than you thought.)
8. when someone insults others in order to compliment you, you’re right to be disgusted. (& to decline the intended compliment.)
9. happiness isn’t a constant state. (even the best days have comparatively low points.)
10. your weekend ritual of binge drinking will get boring. (if it doesn’t, your abysmal hangover recovery time will deter you from continuing the tradition.)
11. everything turns out the way it should. (though you won’t see the reason immediately.)
12. you are resilient. (you will bounce back from disappointments quickly because you can’t afford to waste time dwelling.)
13. when you hold yourself (solely) to your own expectations, you will like the person you become. (you may even love her.)

the downside to (complete) empathy

the downside to (complete) empathy
is that when you have it,
you will never be
a rational observer
who doesn’t get involved
in others’ affairs.
if a friend vents about a horrible day
& you rage with her —
the burden rolls off her shoulders
& onto to yours.
there is nothing cathartic
about reading a tragic novel —
your eyes swell shut from bawling
because of the characters’ misfortunes.
you give up watching the news
because seeing widespread injustice
depletes (what little) hope for humanity
you have left.
the upside to (complete) empathy
is that when you have it,
you will never be
an oblivious bystander
who can’t be bothered
to help someone else.

A broken system: the perpetuity of racism, ignorance, & lack of empathy

There have been countless articulate responses to the verdict from the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case that people have posted already, but I wanted to collect my thoughts (and not repeat what many have already said) before contributing my opinion.

There aren’t words to properly express the simultaneous outrage and incredulity that I felt when Zimmerman was found not guilty of all charges. The American court system has proven to be ineffective in other cases, but this is the most recent case that showed justice doesn’t exist for everyone. There are legal and political reasons for the system being broken, but I think it comes down to the perpetuity of racism, ignorance (and harmful stereotypes), as well as a lack of empathy.

My coworkers are mostly middle-aged (or older) white men. While the trial was going on, they would make comments like:

“What if Trayvon was a thug and Zimmerman was just protecting himself?”

or,

“Trayvon sounded like he was acting suspicious and could’ve provoked Zimmerman to shoot.”

and my all-time favorite,

“I don’t think this is about race.”

There are too many white people who don’t have empathy. They’ve been insulated from prejudices and stereotypes that are inherently working against people of color. They believe that people deserve whatever their lot in life is, not that the system is designed to work against certain people. They can’t see outside their white privilege, because they don’t acknowledge that it exists.

A white young man doesn’t have to worry that if he’s wearing a hoodie and walking by himself, that he’ll get shot down by a neighborhood vigilante. He will not be pulled over by a policeman for driving “too nice” of a car. Or be followed around a store, if he’s just browsing. A white young woman wouldn’t be labeled as a hoodrat if she used slang or had long nails with intricate nail art.  A white young woman wouldn’t be presumptuously asked if she has a baby daddy. (Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” video is proof of this, but that’s another rant for another time.)

There are too many white people who don’t recognize these are things they have never dealt with, which people of color deal with everyday. The fact that Zimmerman’s attorneys tried to defame Trayvon’s character, by attempting to prove that he was a thug implies that “he deserved to be shot.” That Zimmerman was protecting himself from an eminent threat — an African-American teenage boy.

It’s not enough for people to claim that they’re not racist because they don’t use the n word. It’s not enough for people to have one token friend who’s a person of color. It’s not enough for people to be outraged at this court ruling, or others like it. People have to change their way of thinking. Neighborhoods that are mostly comprised of minority families shouldn’t be considered sketchy, just because of its residents. Poverty shouldn’t define a person’s life trajectory, nor should there be a stigma attached to one’s socioeconomic status.

This should be a wake-up call. It’s 2013 and the U.S. is still dealing with institutionalized racism. Change needs to happen.