Response to Rachel's "poet-tree-pedia"

Okay, I promise I'm not prejudiced (sp?) when it comes to what I'm about to write on (after a friend read the coming post, a disclaimer was suggested. Just in case.)

First, go here (the Poet Tree, on Ning) and read the "poet-tree-pedia" post at the top of the page.

UPDATE 10/15: I feel like I should explain that I PURPOSEFULLY took the line I've written about out of the context of the poem. The wording of the line alone is what got me. NOT how it works in the poem.

Rachel's post for the 'pedia hit me. I think the whole piece is beautiful. Certainly encouraging and creates a sense of confindence and power. One line (and the title) poke me between the eyes.

I'm a woman with color.

In particular, that prepositional phrase got me --"with color." In this day and age, we don't hear that phrase in particular. Usually, it's "of color." That always ...irks me.The people who tend to use it are, by and large, not caucasian. (This is where I might start offending some people.) I understand that the history of our, well, world has always created a sense of "us" and "them" with "them" being anyone who doesn't fit into the color scheme that is either predominant in the local society or happens to be the scheme in postions of authority. Generally, "us" tends to be made of caucasian skin. As a caucasian individual, I'm neither taking responsibility for that, nor am I apologizing. I didn't have anything to do with that particular turn of events nor do I advocate them.

However, I think that those using the phrase "of color" are denying something incredibly important. I, too, am of color. Sure it's "white" (maybe more than some), but it's still a color. And, honestly, a color doesn't make one person anymore special or important than another person. Let me make this clear--I've never believed color has anything to do with a person deserving respect. I've ALWAYS believed the person inside has EVERYTHING to do with this. I never see color when considering the character of a person--I see his behavior, his personality, the mind stuff, not the skin stuff.

And that's how it should be. I care more about the person you are than the person you look like. Does everyone? Of course not. That's why we still have race problems in a place that proclaimed itself to be a 'melting pot.'

As an aside, my first year working in a high school setting, I sent some girls to the office for rather obviously disrepectful behavior--not just disrepectful to me, but also to others in the room. The principal asked me to join them in his office, where the girls proceeded to accuse me of being "racial" because they all happened to be black. I told them that me being racial was just about as silly a notion as I could think of--they could have been "white, brown, black, or purple with pink polka dots" and I still would've written them up for being disrespectful. I believe the term I used, trying to diffuse the situation a bit, was that I'm an "equal opportunity hater, I hate on everyone equally." Seems to me that if you believe that your race is a factor in everything that ever happens in your life, than maybe you're the racist. (I didn't say that last part, but I sure thought it.)

So..what I'm finally getting around to, is that Rachel's phrase "I'm a woman with color" is telling when you consider it separately from her whole piece. All of us, all women (and heck, all men if you edit the line a bit *grin*), are individuals with color. Just as the colors of our physical appearances mark us as unique, our color within does the same thing. It's up to us to decide which one we think is most important to celebrate and share with the world.
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1 Response to "Response to Rachel's "poet-tree-pedia""

  1. Anonymous Says:
    Oct 14, 2007, 4:09:00 PM

    Perhaps Rachel didn't mean to be exclusive in her "colorful" way. I think she was just trying to affirm herself. I could be wrong though. Maybe she'll clarify it for us. By the way I'm a Southern white, born and raised in Mississippi. Intolerance doesn't have a color. It has misunderstanding and lack of effort at it's root. I'm certainly not ashamed of myself in having been born where I was and having the genetic heritage that I do. However, when I was younger, I had very little self-esteem for other reasons. It has taken me nearly 60 years to begin to not only give myself credence, but allow in myself a modicum of tolerance of others, even when they might label me in ungracious terms! It is difficult work and sometimes I'd rather turn my back than do that work, but my need to grow pushes me to try one more time. It's a hard world.

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