Monday, March 09, 2009

We're through being cool.

My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my "Blackness" than ever before. I have found that at Princeton no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my White professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong. Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with Whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be Black first and a student second.



from Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama's Princeton Thesis

Just think: in this passage the very august institution of Princeton is impugned for Michelle's perception of how she was perceived by others. How can anyone combat such idiocy? There's a saying that if you realized how little time others spend thinking about you, then you'd care a lot less what they think. Honestly, I think more often about Michelle Obama than I'd prefer, but I seriously doubt the whole of the university was a cabal orchestrated for the purpose of keeping her down. (what? they gave her a degree? Surely not! They mis-perceived her! She was not welcome!) Sooner or later, pretty much everyone will find themselves feeling out of place somewhere they have to be on a daily basis. It's handy to have something to blame it on, though, other than just the general angst of the transition to adulthood, or whatever.


You know, it's funny that some of her classmates and professors tried to embrace Michelle and make her feel welcome. Golly, I wish that happened to me at college, but at the time I sort of got the idea that I needed to suck it up and deal with life and make my way through the whole process on my own. I really don't think my "Whiteness" opened any doors. I also got the idea that college was meant to be a transition from the micro-managey handholding of the elementary and secondary schools, that I had to take responsibility for the course of my studies and ultimately, for whatever career to which my efforts might lead. Perhaps there were very groups of people who cringed at the sight of me, but I rather doubt it, and even if they did, it matters not at all. In any case, when I turned in my work to glazed-over professors who probably wouldn't have distinguished me from any other pupil even if I'd had skin a lovely green color, my grades were issued based on the accuracy of my responses, the quality of my writing and in some cases, whether or not I happened to fill in the right bubble on the sheet.

Then again, I attended a lowly state university, so what do I know of how they do things at Princeton, a degree from which probably guarantees an extra zero at the end of one's annual earnings total? Oh, no. My lot is that of the mere human person, left little excuse for my failings or success, save my own efforts or lack thereof.

Or maybe it's because I'm female?

Michelle needs to watch Revenge of the Nerds. I know she's busy, though, so I'll just put up the last bit.


12 comments:

Ranger Tom said...

I'm a nerd too!

Miz Minka said...

I'm a nerd and proud of it!

phlegmfatale said...

I like you just as you are, Tom!

Miz Minka - I'm proud of you, too! :P

J.R.Shirley said...

Reminds me of an essay I wrote last year...

Jon said...

A thousand thoughts race through my mind and always end up on how much I can't stand the arrogance. She can be the victim, the martyr and the hero, while never accepting she craps through a meat ass like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Gee, it's tough being a pioneer.

drjim said...

I was a nerd before the term was invented!
Still am one, too.....

myron said...

I don't know about that everybody being uncomfortable thing. In all my glorious 71 years I can't think of ever being somewhere that I felt uncomfortable because of how I may have been treated or thought I was perceived. Maybe it's because I was taught early in life what Jon said. About the meat thing. Being scared shitless doesn't count does it? 'Cause that happened several times on the way from boydom to old phartedom.

Ranger Tom said...

And I like you just the way you are also!

By the way, Michelle's husband called me a Cracker over the weekend!

phlegmfatale said...

JR Shirley - good one - i remembered that!

Jon - eloquently stated.

leazwell - indeedy! Nice to see you, btw!

drjim - Thanks for inventing nerditude, in that case. I'm picturing you as a caveman with a pocket-protector

myron - well, you're tougher than the average bear, but the meat thing is something everyone oughta learn, probably.

RangerTom - Thanks! Tsk! Tsk! I thought racism was over? When will the healing begin?

Old NFO said...

Most of us are nerds, and it's probably a damn good thing... Otherwise, we would not be where we are! Both Jon and JR are correct in their analysis of the situations. At the current rates of propagation, we (WASPs) will be the minority by the next generation...

Working for the government in ANY capacity, one sees black, hispanic, asian, women, et al weeks and recognition, but NEVER white male recognition...

DirtCrashr said...

There's that whole thing about, people treat you the way you treat yourself, going on with her, "I will always be Black first and a student second."