As you may have noticed — or you would have noticed if you’d guessed that it was at all relevant — I don’t spend much time talking about race on this blog. It’s not that I have no thoughts on the subject. At one point in my life, I had enough thoughts on the subject to write a 300+ page transcript about it. But it has never been a topic that I have allowed to run my life.
It’s kind of difficult to describe my attitude about it.
I’m neither angry nor bitter. I have never in my life made any decision about anything with the thought in my head that I can’t do something because they won’t let me. I have never let my race interfere with anything that I decided I wanted to do. It is a fact of my appearance of which I am aware, in much the same way that I am aware that my eyes are brown and that I am 5’5″ tall.
But don’t mistake me. None of this means that I am unaware of the deeply embedded racism that is pervasive in the society in which I live. I don’t get angry when that racism rears its head in particularly spectacular ways (Dylan Root comes to mind) because I have developed a profound cynicism about it over the years of my life. I am no longer surprised or terribly disillusioned by anything I hear because I have never believed that mainstream America has made any real strides toward obliterating racism at all in the 45 years or so since I started paying attention.
In spite of that, on a day-to-day basis, I spend zero time pondering my blackness, or considering my blackness, or thinking about it in any way. For me, it’s just there. The only time it attaches itself to me as a viscerally felt part of my identity is when somebody else makes it a thing.
Sometimes, things don’t go the way you want them to … and it really sucks. Things have not been going the way I wanted them to in my life pretty much all month.
Possibly you will remember all that stuff I was waiting for so impatiently last month? Well, a bunch of it came down the pike but things didn’t play out anything like the way I wanted them to and now I get to pick up the pieces.
My plans to move out of the state have been temporarily stymied. That is the biggest of the big deals.
For starters, I didn’t get into graduate school. I have been told that I had a very competitive application but, thanks to a combination of the (poor) luck of the draw and the sort of political bureaucratic waltzing that happens in academia, I got passed over. I have gotten some very good feedback from a couple of sources, which makes me feel a little better, and I am prepared to give this one more shot before I decide that my life dream is destined to be a dud.
I will admit that it’s hard not to get really down and depressed by this turn of events — which is the main reason why you haven’t heard from me for most of the month. In light of the kind of winter we’ve been having, I had been looking forward to moving south but that’s not going to happen either. And that has to do with the money.
As Kimmie recently pointed out to me, the number one way that Americans celebrate everything is to eat.
Other countries have interesting and often beautiful or whimsical rituals and ceremonies to celebrate or commemorate all sort of things, from the spring celebrations of Imbolc (Ireland) and Kanamara Matsuri (Japan) to the winter festivals of Bodhi (Buddhist) and Hogmanay (Scottish).
Sometimes there are special meals or special foods at regular meals. That’s one thing. But here, among us Americans, it’s something else.
We celebrate Valentine’s Day and Halloween with candy. We celebrate Thanksgiving with a big meal (and football), of course. Christmas is gift giving and then a big meal. And what do we do for New Year’s? Food and drink (alcoholic where appropriate) and … um … more football.
We celebrate Memorial Day and Independence Day and Labor Day with picnics and barbecues … oh, and parades. Although, even though a lot of American skip the parades, I would bet that fewer of them skip the barbecue.
I would guess that’s one of the reasons why we don’t really celebrate Veterans Day anymore: too cold in November to have a barbecue.