Otherness


Hola! Here is a blog post I wrote for my Writing 323 class last term.We had to write about how one of the readings we chose made us think differently about concepts of otherness and difference.

Out of the four readings, I reacted most strongly to Richard Wright's "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical" because of the way he was so badly treated and how he was constantly in a double bind (a situation in which you are damned if you do and damned if you don't). I hated how he had "...to play that dual role which every Negro must play if he wants to eat and live."
One of the many moments that made me sick to my stomach was when Wright's boss and 21-year-old son beat up a black woman in front of a policeman. And the policeman did nothing! Instead, he just stood near"twirling his nightstick." That kills me! He should have intervened to see what the trouble was about, but nope, didn't do a thing because she was black. She was other. It didn't matter. When the boss later declares, "'Boy, that's what we do to niggers when they don't want to pay their bills,'" he makes the word "nigger" sound separate from the human race, which is exactly how whites treated blacks during this time, they dehumanized them.
Thankfully, times have changed, but I still think we have a fear of the other and I have a feeling that we always will, but it's how we deal with this fear that will ultimately define us. Recently, I've noticed that this other is someone crying in public. People don't like dealing with emotions. It's vulnerable and terrifying so we like to stay as far away from it as possible. 
Last summer I went to pick up some ceramics I had painted and the lady who worked there was crying as she wrapped up my ceramics. And I, unfortunately, said nothing, grabbed my paintings, and headed out the door. Where was my humanity in that moment? Why had I been so cold? Why hadn't I just asked the obvious question: Are you ok? Maybe because I already knew the answer and didn't want to deal with it. So, feeling guilty, I told my mom who was waiting outside for me in the car. She immediately went inside and asked what was wrong. The woman told us that she and her son were having a fight. Although there wasn't anything we could do, my mom was brilliant: she gave her a hug. It was so simple. So human.

This made me think about all the times during school when I'd cry due excruciating back pain and how even though no one could do anything about it it was the ones who said "I'm thinking about you" that made so much more of a difference to me compared to the ones who just ignored my suffering. Sometimes all we want in life is to be acknowledged and so do our emotions, especially the not so fun ones like pain. There's this great quote from The Fault in Our Stars that goes, "That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt." 
As I age I try to look at the other and seek out their humanness and in doing so discover my own humanity. 

Blog to you later! 
Love, 
Amanda 

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