Archives for November 2009

Running Internal Scripts

Racism permeated our childhood
A muddy stream constant through our lives
Crying out to our innocence with its painfulness
Interfering with our friendships
Seen clearly in our child-eyes as the wrong it was
Murdering the purity of our souls.

(Tyler, Humming on the High Wire, 30)
(Tyler, Dancing the Deep Hum, 62)

Last post, just as I was talking about the “script” we have that says people shouldn’t complain about being victimized; they should just ‘grow wings’, another old script came popping up out of the ether.

An article circulated through Facebook about a justice of the peace in Louisiana who refused to marry an interracial couple.  His excuse?  It would be hard on any children they might have.  “He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society.” (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33332436/ns/us_news-race_and_ethnicity/?ocid=twitter)

We all have scripts running in our head especially from things we heard as a child, but also from messages we’ve heard repeated over and over again on TV, in both ads and shows, in church, at schools, and in organizations we belong to.  This justice’s comment is one of those scripts I heard many times as a child and young adult.

One friend, who probably had not heard this script before, questioned whether or not this was really racist.  He felt the justice had thought it through and believed that he was doing the right thing for the children.

Of course, many racists believe that they are right, that “separation of the races” is the way things should be.

What makes this action racist is not that he believed he was right, but that he had motives that came as a result of an attitude that white and black “races” should be kept separate.

I’m sure this justice isn’t living totally isolated from what is going on in the rest of this country.  In the movies, on TV, in magazines and in the newspapers, interracial couples, and their offspring, abound.   Our own president is the offspring of an interracial couple.

All of these folks are, for the most part, accepted in both the black and white worlds, and indeed those worlds overlap far more than they did when I first heard this “script” back in the fifties.  The prevalence of interracial children has done a great deal to further this overlapping of societies.

So, in 2009, the argument doesn’t make any sense, if it ever really did.

When I first heard this script the social climate did sometimes make it hard for interracial couples and their children.  But because we rose up, black and white together, to fight against racism, the world changed, drastically.  So now the argument is just a “script” left running around in people’s heads.

How subtle, how hidden even from our own awareness are our reactions when judging others.  There are lots of scripts about other people hidden in our subconscious minds.  They pop randomly into our consciousness when we encounter people of different ethnic groups, different religions, with physical differences, etc.  Even though we don’t like to admit it, if we are truthful we all know it is true.

We didn’t create the scripts and we usually, dearly, don’t want them there, but we can’t erase them, only recognize them and reject them as they pop up, and, most importantly, refuse to perpetuate them by letting our children hear them.

I have learned when the script from some inane television ad for something that is not good for me pops into my head, to “just say no!” (A useful “script”!)  That’s because I recognize the ad script for what it is.

We have to learn to recognize the racist, elitist, stereotyping scripts that are around (and unfortunately “in”) us and say no, no, no to them, sometimes over and over again.

And in the case of the justice of the peace we need to go farther.  What he did is against the law.  We need to say, “No, no, no, you can no longer hold this office.”

Take a deep breath.  Let it out with a long sigh.  Shake one hand and then the other.  Shake your whole body.  Let my ideas dance in your head and through your body.  If they sit well, keep them.  If not, throw them out! (For more information on deep breaths, sighs, and shaking go to InterPlay.org)

You can find more about my experiences with racism in my book, Dancing the Deep Hum, One woman’s ideas on how to live in a dancing, singing universe! You can learn more about this book and my other writings at www.deephum.com.  You can purchase Dancing the Deep Hum online at Lulu.com, Amazon, or Powells, or order it from your local bookstore.