Health Care exchanges open today. If you don’t have insurance yet, now’s your chance.
Money is something that tends to not get talked about much in friendly conversation. Or maybe that’s just my friends/family. It’s a shame though, because all of us seem to have so much to learn about managing our personal finances. So this post is kind of just my attempt to get a little bit of a conversation started, since it’s something I still struggle with often. It’s really a shame they don’t teach basic personal finance in high school.
For a long time I’ve had the impression that a lot of non-black people think that black people are always complaining unnecessarily about racism. I have no idea if that’s true or not, it’s just a feeling I’ve gotten over the years, based on observing the reaction whenever a member of some small community says something or someone is racist.
It bothers me a little bit that people could have that impression, because it’s always struck me as so simplistic to say that black people think everything is racist. To me, one of the defining things about being black isn’t that you always think something happened because you’re black, it’s that you never really know if something happened because you’re black. You see no difference between what you’re doing and what everybody else is doing, so you assume the reason is due to the most obvious difference.
The essence of it is that you end up having to live your life with a small, but constant, level of uncertainty. Maybe you didn’t get invited to a certain party or gathering, or you didn’t get that job you thought you were qualified for. Maybe you felt like the security guard at that store in the mall just happened to be strolling down every. single. aisle. that you were looking at stuff in.
Walking around all the time and feeling like you’re getting treated differently from other people, but never really knowing why, can drive you a little bit crazy. I’m pretty used to being in different environments and around different kinds of people, but there are still lots of times when I have to consciously push those thoughts out of my head. No, it’s not because I’m black that this person was rude to me, maybe they just had a phone call where they got some bad news. No, it’s not because I’m black that I didn’t get invited to something, it’s because I’m basically a hermit and like to stay at home, so I wasn’t around when people were talking about it. No, it’s not because I’m black that I just got pulled over for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign (well, actually that one was probably because I’m black, but you get the idea). It’s like that, over and over again throughout every day.
I’ve been fortunate enough to go to good schools, so naturally I’ve always have to constantly endure discussions about affirmative action. Those kinds of kinds of discussions can be destructive if they start to chip away at someone’s confidence because, how can you really ever know whether or not you got in ahead of someone else that also deserved it. Some people can’t handle the weight of that doubt. I ignored the discussions because I knew how hard I’d been working, I never really lacked confidence in academic settings, and always felt like my grades could kill any remaining doubts as to whether or not I belonged. Besides, for anyone to be successful, it always entails a certain amount of luck or randomness, whether people want to admit that or not. (Always.) The idea of me not deserving to be somewhere doesn’t usually enter my mind, because I keep telling myself not to let it, and I haven’t yet met anyone that felt the need to try and show me I don’t deserve it.
Maybe I’m the only black person that feels that uncertainty in everyday life, maybe not. If you don’t then I’m probably a little jealous. I think my point is that you can’t control all of the things that happen to you, but you can control how you deal with it. It’s a choice you have to make. I know things are a lot different for the young black kids growing up now than when I was younger, but I feel like this still applies. Hopefully they grow to understand it and be able to deal with it in their own productive way.
Yesterday my wife and I went to the Art Institute to check out a couple of exhibits that we had been interested in hearing about. One of those exhibits was the collection of works from the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine empires. There was one piece in particular in that exhibit that struck me. It was a sculpture of the head of a noble woman, I think from the late Roman or early Byzantine period. The description talked about how the sculpture’s hair was done in a very traditional style that dated back to a much earlier period. Apparently noblewomen started doing their hair in that style as a way of expressing their longing for an earlier, simpler time. It was funny to me, because it just shows that there are always people reminiscing about past years when things were simpler and, implicitly, better.
Those people should be ignored. Keep moving forward
A long time ago, when my grandmother was still alive and I was much younger, there was never any question about what I’d be doing on election day. Even though I had the day off from school, that was still where I’d be going, because that’s where the voting booths were. Every election, I’d go with her to P.S. 80 in Queens, right near our house, and watch her while she voted. Rain or shine, local or national, my grandmother voted. No exceptions. Four years ago, even though she wasn’t in the best of health and was living in Panama with my mother, she still sent in her absentee ballot to vote for Barack Obama.
So, with my grandmother as my example, there has never really been a question about whether or not I would vote. The only question is who the candidates are. It was important to her, and she made it important for me as well. It was natural and expected that I vote. I’ve acted accordingly.
If you can vote, please go do it. Elections really do have consequences and make an impact on people’s lives. If you can’t vote, for whatever reason, go help someone else vote that otherwise may not be able to do so. If you need more suggestions, check out barackobama.com and see how else you can help out.