I did it again.

I read the comments.

Again I was struck by the intensity of reaction vs the lack of vitriol. I mean, the tone was definitely combative and the “troll” was less of a troll as much and more of a “true believer.”

In grammar.

I get it. I seriously GET. IT. I really do. I mean, I couldn’t finish reading a published author’s post when there were two errors within a paragraph of each other and the second one was using “fourth” where “forth” should’ve been used.

I cringed, then moved on. I didn’t feel the need to publicly point out the misuse of the word.

As a writer, I believe that good grammar, proper spelling, and word usage matters. Of course it does.

That being said, a person’s worth and value doesn’t rest on whether they use “is” vs “are” correctly. Which is where we begin our tale.

It starred a meme on FB. What else could it have been?

Yeah. That was it. Cringe worthy, but, ultimately, not a big deal. Right?

“Disney is*”

Aaaand we’re off.

The initial discussion was whether Disney was a group (There is a legal, singular entity, The Disney Group International, Inc.) and if there was a group, should it be referred to in the plural.

Then it got interesting.

The initial person who made the comment was called classist. The debate shifted as she got defensive.

That interaction made me remember some recent conversations I’ve had with people regarding language, how it’s used and how that usage is perceived.

I have been accused of “talking down” to someone because I often use large or complicated words and phrases where clear, easily understood ones exist. For example, a much more natural way for me to have written that would have been: I have a tendency to use large, multisyllabic, and obscure words and phrases where clear, easily understood words exist.

Why? And why did the woman who had been a former foster child feel the need to publicly use her hard earned education to correct the grammar in a meme?

Because Classism.

For those of us who come from a background of poverty, education is very, very important.

It’s a way to prove to ourselves and to the world that “we’re better than that” and can “make something of ourselves” by “rising above” our origins among the underprivileged, ignorant masses.

Apparently, it’s also important to those of wealth and privilege, as well. Otherwise, several, high-profile celebrities wouldn’t have been caught buying expensive, elite educations for their offspring.

In other words, having a college or University education is, not only a key to higher income, it’s a piece of evidence that we can function on the level of a higher class of people.

Why else would some POC get accused of “acting White” for speaking in certain ways? Why else are people with proven experience and ability passed over for jobs and promotions in favor of less experienced, often younger, college graduates? Why else do all the other prejudices and “isms” exist?

Because Classism.

So, I finally felt compelled to enter the fray.

“A) The Disney Group is a collective of other corporations. It is a singular entity which encompasses other entities.

B) Classism isn’t about whether or not those of us who have worked for or earned a specific degree of education come from a position of wealth or privilege (I most certainly do not). It is an attitude and assumption of stigma toward those who aren’t educated and socialized in a specific manner which is acceptable to navigate in a classist, elitist society. It’s systemic as much as it is attached to personal privilege.

Therefore, it is possible to come from an underprivileged background and still be classist.”

I doubt there’s much to be done about Classism, other than to be aware and recognize its existence, in its various forms, then check our own assumptions, beliefs, attitudes, and language.

At least, that’s where we start.


Special Needs

Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to have disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled. ~ Wikipedia

I made the mistake of reading comments on an Instagram post in favor of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They were mostly positive. But, there was one naysayer who stood out for his initial lack of vitriol. He was just mildly snarky. But, it was like he had committed some heinous sin, instead of posting a disagreement rooted in ignorance.

He was immediately under attack. Mostly the responses remained as snarky comebacks. However, one of them made me cringe.

It sounds like your boss is good at hiring people with special needs.

I couldn’t scroll past without addressing it.

Back in the day, the insult used was, “retard,” frequently accompanied by a physically mocking action. Much like 45’s mocking actions regarding a reporter who experiences a physical disability.

Another one is, “riding the short bus.”

However you frame it, it’s showing a prejudice toward people with disabilities, especially intellectual ones.

How about how mental health challenges are referred to?

What are you, crazy?

Man, that was INSANE!

She’s so bipolar.

That one’s not right in the head.

Or the fact that so many movies and TV shows portray mental health patients as dangerous killers and all the shootings being reported as someone with mental illness, before an evaluation can be done?

The stigma and prejudices against people with physical, developmental, and mental disabilities is real and insidious. Just as we need to recognize, call out, and address racism, in all its forms, sexism, genderism, and sizism, we need to call out ableism.

It isn’t about political correctness, it’s about human rights.

For more on my perspective on ableism, go here.

The 4th of U Lie…say what?

Ten days ago was the celebration of America’s fight for independence from British rule.  A lot of people did their darndest to make it about a whole bunch of other things, and were successful . . . a bit like the celebration of Christmas has become, politically speaking.

Luna and I were by ourselves, without plans, a place to go or people to go with. Honestly, I was pretty ok with that. I don’t like crowds and neither Luna or I do well with loud noise. The day before, I’d had an encounter with a fellow human, which seemed to be a God ordained appointment and a reason to expand my thinking and concerns to be about more than just me getting though and getting by.  So, I’d set a meeting with his daughter for about 1 pm at a local park where I could let Luna run and play.  I figured if something happened and the meeting fell through, at least Luna and I would be out of doors and away from the television.

Upon arriving, I was confronted with facts I had failed to consider: 4th of July + public park = people gathering and eating food and hanging out with family and friends.  I’d been under some misguided assumption that everyone would be celebrating at their homes or various destinations where they could settle in and prepare for fireworks to be seen.  Without really ever thinking about it, an expectation of relative solitude and isolation had been formed. So, I was caught a bit off-guard to see a large (to me at least) gathering of people in the main picnic area and salivating a bit at the smell of the meat grilling off to the side.  There were smatterings of other groups throughout the park and a significant number of children and their parents utilizing the playground.  It wasn’t crowded by any means and it was nice that Luna had other children to engage with. It was a good thing.

It turned out that I had made a good choice in planning the meeting to happen there, since the person I had arranged to meet was a no show.  I had considered that would happen, so it was no big deal.  I did what I tend to do and struck up conversation with various other parents.  I may have difficulty forming lasting and significant relationships and struggle against myself to be around folks who have known me a while, but I’ve seldom ever met a person I couldn’t strike up conversation with and establish rapport and common ground with. I enjoy meeting and learning about new people and their lives.  I just have difficulty dealing with people after they get to know me well and I them, go figure.

One couple was from the other side of the city and had come to this park because a family member would be performing at an event happening in another part of the park.  They invited Luna and me, along with  another family to come over to hear the vocal and creative talents of their loved one and their reason for us having met them in this place, at this time.  Sure, why not?

It turned out that it was a kind of rally.  An alternative event for those who have experienced social injustice throughout the generations due to things like racism, sexism, and the oppression of and by the powers that be . . . typically white men of money and means.  American Independence and Liberation cannot be celebrated by those who are still experiencing the generational effects of injustices visited on their forebears by America’s forefathers, especially when it is clear and apparent that while progress has been made in significant and constructive ways, there are trends and patterns which indicate the oppression has become more subtle and subjective and much less obvious to the naked eye.

Initially, I was smirking inside of myself; internally shaking my head and thinking to myself, “Seriously? Whatever.” The speaker was powerful: Assured, Assertive, and Absolute in his certainty and mission.  The rhetoric was questionable, but plausible and more than possible.  I began to listen and hear. The message that came through to me, loud and clear was:

  1. If even one person in our community is experiencing social injustice, then we are all experiencing it.
  2. If we allow our personal distaste for style of presentation or disagreement on one or two points to be our excuse for not seeking solutions and engaging within our communities for growth and change, we are perpetuating the problems.
  3. We can agree to disagree on some of the details and still find ways to effectively work together for the good of all.
  4. Everyone has something, regardless of how big or small, to contribute and offer: time, talent, influence, encouragement it’s just a matter of willingness to believe what we have to offer can make a difference.
  5. We need to be open to the reality that regardless of politics, agendas, beliefs, and traditions, we may have come a long way as a country, but there is still farther to go in making the ideals of Life, Liberty, and Justice for ALL a possibility for future generations.

Hearing all of this, affirmed the initial reason why I wound up at this rally and I realized that even if the reason I thought I was there didn’t happen, there was still a reason for me being in that place, at that time.  I have mixed feelings about what I heard that day, but I’m certain of one thing, even when my plans and purpose seem to go awry, there is a plan and a purpose beyond what I believe it to be.