Thursday, December 21, 2017


Much of resentment at an individual level comes from "they never noticed me." I was the best fielder with the 2nd best OPS on the team...I was the girl who stood by you when everyone was blaming you...I was your best salesman 6 out of 8 years...I was the son who never got in trouble...

This plays out similarly at a group level, or even a national level.  The study of history used to be only the study of wars, boundaries, and succession. Religious and economic history were studied only as they related to those "more important" subjects.  Those who went unnoticed complained. The best of them did more than just complain and wrote up the missing parts of history. When we studied social history - food ways, marriage ways, attitudes toward death, parenting ways - the history of women just pops in on its own. When we started studying economic history, questions of trade, mobility, slavery, law, inheritance, agriculture, mining, and technology just came in on their own.

Canada resents us a bit, not because we treat them badly, but because we just don't notice them a whole lot of the time. Racial complaints about advertising, TV casting, and hiring did often refer to active ill-treatment.  Yet more often, the complaint behind the complaint is "you don't notice us." It may be the larger problem in America. The amount of active mistreatment of minorities is now small, whatever the advocates claim.  But the ignoring of minorities remains common.


Christopher B said...

But, please, isn't that what you asked us to do? To not notice you weren't white, or not a man?

Content of your character, not color of your skin?

No special treatment, just like the other guys?

It feels very bait-n-switch to be asked, rightly, to stop the negative attention and then be castigated for not noticing the thing you told us to ignore. Especially galling are the complaints that we don't notice itin the right way, at the right time, or the right person. And stop telling who should and should not be noticed by us. Nobody's stopping you from celebrating the people you want noticed.

RichardJohnson said...

But the ignoring of minorities remains common.
One issue of "ignoring" involves black adolescent females living in a place where there are no black male peers. They may get little attention from their nonblack male peers, which may lead them to doubt their attractiveness to the opposite sex. I heard tell of a black female adolescent living in such a place who got her spirits raised by a visit to a nearby big city. The catcalls she got from black males assured her that yes, she was attractive to the opposite sex.

That also points out that catcalls are not necessarily perceived as harassment.

Texan99 said...

Je vous connais, Milord
Vous ne m'avez jamais vue
Je ne suis qu'une fille du port
Une ombre de la rue

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well, that just elevated the cultural level of the group. I did not recognise it. My wife didn't either, but could translate it. I put a Bing on it and liked the song. One can really sense the desperate fun, the resignation that will not resign, reminiscent of Cabaret. A European more than American sentiment.

@ Christopher B, yes it is a contradiction, but I think it comes from many voices in the black community. For most African-Americans, at least of my generation I think it is the invisibility that stings. We also shop here. We also buy cars, and lawnmowers, and sweaters. Our children go to school here. We are not deeply oppressed, but you don't acknowledge us. Yet it is the noisy people everywhere, complaining about small or even imagined slights, who grab the news. I think it is a hard position for many older African-Americans, with a foot in both worlds.

Texan99 said...

Not a Piaf fan? That's an old, old classic torch song.

RichardJohnson said...

AVI: Well, that just elevated the cultural level of the group. I did not recognise it.
Texan99: Not a Piaf fan? That's an old, old classic torch song.

My reaction was similar to AVI. I took the lyrics to Google Translate, but made no more connection. After finding out out it was an Edith Piaf standard, I took the lyrics to YouTube. Milord - Edith Piaf on Ed Sullivan.

I know that song, and I suspect AVI does also. Not being a French speaker, I never bothered to learn the lyrics. But the melody is quite familiar. The only French I learned from Edith Piaf was Non, Je ne regrette rien. I learned little, but learned it well.

I am reminded of Amalia Rodrigues. If she were Brazilian, I could more or less understand her lyrics. But as she sings in Portuguese from Portugal, I can pick out maybe every fifth word. Which doesn't bother me,as her voice is so good. Tudo isto é fado. (Everything is fado.) With the lyrics dubbed in, I can follow.

james said...

Seconding Piaf.