Ms. I.AM. Somebody, Ph.D.

I have put off a day of writing because I have been sooo tired. I assume that my soul has already made the journey to America before my body has because in my classes I have looked at my teacher as if she was speaking Chinese to me. Oh wait, I am learning Chinese. Okay, bad joke. But seriously, I have hit that wall of learning. I can’t do it any more. I want to go back to see what is going on. What the gossip is, and to check out who this Osmora chick everyone hates. Generally, I have ideas and things to write but I am at a loss as to how to put my words today. I guess just spittin’ it out there would make it the best way.

Maya Angelou, who also spent many years abroad, has a saying that she picked up when she lived in Africa. Blow bite and blow. I first heard this term used when she was explaining something to Oprah and how to handle the negative press. The concept is that there are people in your life who will not come right out and attack. Rather they will “blow, then bite and then blow” which lessens the degree of impact of their negativity. I have encountered this behavior recently. Giving a ride to a classmate, she comments that she felt “guilty for me becoming her personal chauffer”. I began mocking her and her comment by acting like I was in the movie driving “Ms. Daisy”. The classmate, whom I have been spending a lot of time with, is some one to be admired. Self made, brilliant thinker and resilient to what horrendous obstacles life has thrown her way. Yet, her views of me continue to reinforce that higher education doesn’t produce greater minds.

During the course of our acquaintance, she has made reactionary comments that seemed to be the result of a stereotypical upbringing. What is assertive to me is hostility to her. What is me being direct is confrontational to her. Why this all occurs to me is profound on two levels. When I first lived in Japan, I was so concerned with racism. While it does it exists, I began to realize it is not as intuitional in the world as it is in America. The Japanese do not have the political nor social history of dealing with Blacks as White Americans do, therefore their perception of Blacks and their actions or way of being is completely different. What is of the norm at home completely means something else or nothing at all overseas. You begin to see, if you are open to it, that there is no “correct” perception.

The second level of this experience is that she will be going on to study for a Master’s at an Ivy League college. Having been raised in a household where both parents held PhD’s and being surrounded by people who held the same stature I began to see a common theme. You can have a higher education, but that doesn’t mean your own personal views will necessarily be of a higher level. I am not opposed at all to advanced education, I am amazed at how many I have encountered that have entrenched views that are racists, sexist, etc in tone. I must have a naive way of thinking because I believe that as one’s education progressed, that one would be more tolerant and open to different ideologies and characteristics. Yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems that the higher you are on the education level the more you have a sort of lobotomy on the emphatic section of your brain.

I have concluded that my associate is not intentionally trying to hurt or insult me. That she is not very aware of the impact her beliefs are having. Having encounter tremendous amounts of obstacles in her youth, she has believed that being highly educated will some how absolve her from being deemed less than worthy. And this is not just symptomatic of her. It’s the old story of trying to regain a sense of self thru what is deemed of value in a society. And being that African Americans are not deemed to be of worth in America, it is understandable that she would have such reactions toward my behaviors.

I am not an angel by any means, and have had to struggle for years with my own sense of self worth. Yet, her perception only solidifies the realization that our self value can only be set by us and nothing outside of you can alter that.


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This entry was posted on May 18, 2004 by in Uncategorized.
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