Watson’s wandering war wound

October 31st, 2007 | Uncategorized

Thanks to LizD and Sir Real for pointing out my flub regarding Ginger’s religious upbringing in episode 514. She was indeed raised Catholic, not as a Jehovah’s Witness, and it’s inexcusable that I forgot. Maybe I really am burning out à la Britney, as tea and Aunt Soozie hinted. Though my cat does not appear to be in any immediate danger, last I checked.

cat in lap

I got an email from a reader recently who discovered another continuity mistake, though it was more minor and happened a long time ago. Maneesha Madan reports:

I was re-reading (for, like, the billionth time) “Spawn of Dykes to Watch Out For” last night while soaking in the bath. As Mo’s crush on Thea slowly built to its eventual fizzled conclusion, Mo complimented Thea on that scent she was wearing, to which Thea replied “Huh? Oh, you must smell the flea and tick shampoo I used to wash the dog this morning. Thanks, I’ll pass that along to Rex.” [Episode 162, “Apple Pie Order”]

A few episodes later, Lois finally spills the beans to Thea about Mo’s crush, but it turns out Thea already knows, saying “She reminds me ot Rex when he was a puppy. It’s kind of cute, isn’t it?” [Episode 169, “Crushed”]

Spin ahead (as I did last night, handily having my entire collection of DTWOF books by the tub) to episode 257, “The Ex Factor” in “Hot, Throbbing Dykes to Watch Out for”: Sydney arrives at Thea’s house to apologize for her heinous behaviour oh those many years ago. When Sydney asks if Thea’s partner is home, Thea replies “No, but my neighbor is, and she’ll be here in a second with her rottweiler if I start screaming.” There’s a fluffy cat in evidence on the couch, but no sign of Rex….

Dang. It’s a great honor but also a little frightening that anyone’s reading that closely. Rex is water under the bridge…but what to do about Ginger? I don’t think I can fix it…drawing her as a Catholic just wouldn’t be the same. So I guess it’s going on the record. Yet another blot on my copybook.

•Treacle, yeah, Mo’s “good german” comment was a riff on Wednesday Addams’ homicidal maniac costume.

•More evidence has emerged of zany cartoonist hijinks during my weekend with Paige Braddock and Hilary Price at the Ohio State Festival of Cartoon Art. On Paige’s blog, a video of me & her arm-wrestling. And here’s the cartoon version, in which Hilary has provided the sportscaster.

arm wrestling

79 Responses to “Watson’s wandering war wound”

  1. April says:

    we should have a whole channel of celebrity dykes arm-wrestling! what a hoot! what’s your dream match-up?

  2. Em says:

    I don’t think the Rex thing is necessarily an error- either Rex passed on before 1996, or else he’s one of those friendly to a fault dogs who avoids conflict. I know if I was in a bad situation I would warn someone about a rottweiller next door instead of relying on my tiny wheaton terrier, who’s primary mode of defense is winning people over with how goshdarn frikkin cute he is.

  3. April says:

    yeah my sweetie’s cats, while annoying to me, are trying to take over the world (a la butterstick) with their cuteness, one intruder at a time….

  4. rachel says:

    I just think it’s awesome to see the evidence of so many moleskine notebooks. 🙂

  5. Jen says:

    I like the idea that Ginger’s parents converted. One of my mum’s aunts converted from Catholocism to Mormonism and kept calling to get deets on my grandmother (long dead) so she could posthumously convert her too. Mum said “er, no” often. If only she’d thought of offering her aunt a watchtower she’d have stopped coming by…

  6. chicklet says:

    So, you’ll arm wrestle but you won’t go skinny dipping? I bet you’re easy to make blush.

  7. Raffi says:

    I think it’s an excuse to hold hands!! Go girls!!

  8. Ellen O. says:

    I wouldn’t take Ginger’s costume too literally. I simply see the Jehovah’s Witness outfit as Ginger taking her parent’s vision to the metaphoric extreme.

    As for Rex, maybe he was riding shot gun with Maxine when Sydney’s showed up.

    Easy as that, you are officially absolved and blot-free. You can go back to your graphic novel with a clean slate. As for me, I’m writing about Engelmann Spruces, which have male and female cones. Always something new…

  9. Fred says:

    I love the cartoon you made together. Any chance of you collaborating more in the future?

  10. Tone says:

    I read the Jehovas witness-thing as Susanne explained it in the last thread: not litreal as her parents necessarily were Jehovas witnesses, but as a story of parents who were religious fundamentalists. Unfortunately many fundamentalists come without fun accessories and costume-friendly traits, but Jehovas witnesses at least have the Watchtower and some outstanding clothes. I think it should be up to us readers to find creative explanations for what might look like small discontinuities in the story. I have no doubt that the participants in this forum could come up with fabulous explanations for anything that could possibly happen in the strip.

  11. Jay Millz says:

    I also like the idea that Ginger’s parents converted (and dragged her along with them).

  12. J says:

    Well, if it helps at all, Ginger’s Watchtower has a big cross on the front. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in the cross (they think Jesus died on a stake, not a cross, and that the cross is a pagan symbol, etc), so her costume was a little off anyway. I was raised JW. Truthfully, it comforts me that your Witnesses are a little wonky.

  13. Cie says:

    I agree with Ellen and Tone, I just read Ginger as wearing a general ‘scary-religious-type’ costume – didn’t feel inconsistent to this recovering Catholic! And surely we’re all allowed a little boundary-blurring/exaggeration when it comes to Hallowe’en costumes.

  14. Alex K says:

    @J: Fact beats blur. Thanks for picking out the inauthentic detail in Ginger’s costume. I’d never have known; just said, Oh yeah, zeal of the convert (from Catholicism), and turned the page.

    Exhibit B: All these years I’ve been figuring that Thea’s partner was out walking Rex when Sydney showed up.

    More evidence that my “reality” is nothing but a set of confabulations.

    One of these days all those continuity gaps, in DTWOF and elsewhere, that I’ve papered over with Rex-rationalisations are going to close – and crush me.

    But with my track record of inattention, I probably won’t notice.

  15. jk says:

    That armwrestling cartoon is hilarious!

  16. Sarah says:

    I like the armwrestling cartoon. Would be kinda cool if there was a website for lesbian cartoonists and those who aspire to be ones themselves…kinda like paintchat, where we could all gather and do silly things, such as armwrestle each other’s characters.

  17. martinet says:

    I felt the same way about “basic zealot” costume as some others did, so it didn’t bother me. Weirdly enough, the thing that bothered me more was wondering how likely it really was that Ginger, as an African-American, was raised Catholic, because I wasn’t sure how dense the African-American Catholic population is in America. I went to a Catholic grade school and there were absolutely no black kids there (granted, it was a tiny school in a town with few black people in general). I know many black folk at my workplace and know that many are very Christian but few are Catholic. I’m off to Google African-American Catholic populations now and see how much of a rarity Ginger’s family was. As many here have said before me, God, I’m a geek.

  18. Nina says:

    Dear AB,
    I’ve always loved the many and varied war wounds of Watson! (Though not as much as his many and varied on/off marriages. Four? If I counted correctly.) I’ve always felt that knowing the story well enough to notice the small discontinuities was itself like sharing an intimate moment with the progression of the life of the characters. As though someone made a clever reference and ‘only we got it’.
    Hurrah for the return to the more frequent DTWOF fix!

  19. Nickel Joey says:

    L-ESPN! (Rhymes with “thespian,” perhaps?) That’s frigging hilarious. And a great way to start a November morning.

  20. oceans 111 says:

    Ellen O.: I thought all the pines and spruces had male and female cones: male up high, puffing away into poofs of pollen, and female down low, doubtless to draw in the decending DNA. THe females are tougher, in order to carry away the seeds, and form the cones some of us picker-upper types collect from the ground.

    I notice a sign in the background of the arm-wresting, on which the word “ripples” is discernable: clearly this was an ad posted for the arm wresting event, something along the lines of “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Come see the Monster Dykes with Rippling Arms of Steel in a Smack-down Competition the likes of which will Stun the Senses!”

  21. oceans 111 says:

    No idea hwo to fit the “original” into the above. I guess I”m not really an ad copy writer at heart.

  22. oceans 111 says:

    p.s. Alison – I wonder if you were accidentally associating Ginger’s upbringing with another strip. There was one, I think when Ginger was either starting her first teaching job or first spending a lot of time at Janis’s mom’s house (I slipped her name, sorry). Ginger comes back to the house, and they make fun of her by saying “Who is that, anyway? Some kind of really aggressive Jehovah’s Witness?”

  23. (Sir Real) says:

    I am flattered to be mentioned as a continuity reminder! But, as others pointed out, my example was itself fallacious. Oop. It was Sparrow, not Ginger, who encountered the former “Sister Mary Magdeline”. I do recall a drawing of Ginger in a Catholic School uniform, however, sneaking a peek at Ruby Fruit Jungle, I think… per the African-American Catholic question, I had speculated that Ginger’s family was of Caribbean or New Orleans area background, perhaps.

    Hmm, perhaps a representation of a proper Catholic woman would be (married and) pregnant, with a child or 5 in tow? In a confession booth? Or walking around on her knees as if on pilgrimage – yeah, not so easy to create a recognizable costume depiction.

  24. Suz says:

    But the most visible large family now is the Duggars, who are Baptist.

  25. oceans 111 says:

    p.p.s. (Sir Real) – someone may have covered this already, but why the parantheses?

  26. (Sir Real) says:

    Cause there’s a wierd bug that dumps posts under my usual tag into this blog’s Junk file, as I found out a while ago from Katie. Er, I’m hoping that that isn’t due to an intentional ban, so, this is a Kluge-y kind of work-around 🙂

  27. Katie says:

    Sir Real-
    I didn’t see any of your previous comment in the spamfilter- If you make a comment and it doesn’t appear, email me and I’ll go and mark it as “not Spam”. It’s possible that my response might be delayed, but I”ll work on it.

  28. Jeffster83 says:

    A few years ago the Orange County diocese had a week-long conference. They celebrated Mass in Anaheim Stadium and at several other venues. One of the features of the conference was an African-American Mass, with culturally appropriate music, kente-cloth vestments, and so on. Just so you don’t think this was tokenism, there was also a Vietnamese Mass, two or three Spanish ones, and I think they even got permission to hold one in Latin. A friend of mine was a seminarian at the time, and he told me most African-American Catholics in California are from Louisiana, or their ancestors are.

  29. Dr. Empirical says:

    Stan Lee was notoriously unable to remember his characters’ backstories. For a while, The Hulk’s alter ego was called Bruce or Bob Banner interchangeably. Eventually he explained that the full name is Robert Bruce Banner, but everyone calls him Bruce.

    So many people wrote in with corrections that Stan instituted the “No Prize”, awarded to anyone who caught a mistake AND came up with a clever explanation for why it wasn’t really a mistake.

    So whoever it was who proposed that Ginger was raised Catholic, but her parents later converted to J.W. would get a No Prize.

    If Alison awarded No Prizes.

  30. Kat says:

    There are a fair amount of African American Catholics around here…..

  31. Xena Fan says:

    Come on Alison, you can beat Paige!!!

  32. martinet says:

    OK, so, as of 2003, black Roman Catholics in the US numbered around 3 million, making them the third largest black Christian denomination. So, I’m wrong. Maybe my sense of their absence is more of a northeastern thing (that’s a good point about the Creole/Caribbean origin).

  33. Jennifer says:

    The Watchtower wasn’t the really scary part of Ginger’s costume. It was the hair. Yikes, she looks like the present corporate version of Aunt Jemima (http://www.tvacres.com/images/aunt_jemima.GIF).

  34. Feminista says:

    Hey,y’all–Check out Jane’s World online comix if you haven’t already. Jane is quite Mo-like in many ways: kvetches and rants,sometimes wears a striped shirt,has similar hair and glasses,hangs out with a family o’friends and even *gasp* blood family,is accident-prone and athletically-challenged,and still manages to be amusing.

  35. LizD says:

    Alison, don’t take it too hard that Ginger’s religion is not consistent. We really cannot expect you to be able to figure out these continuity things by yourself all the time.

    This type of mistake happens in long-running TV shows all the time. The writers don’t notice it because for them, the old episode was 2 weeks of work 8 years ago. Does anyone else remember what they wrote in a memo at work 8 years ago? No. We can’t expect you to remember all the details of 20+ years either. You have enough to do. (And the Ginger tidbit was was 13 years ago.)

    I think TV shows should hire obsessed fans to check new scripts for continuity mistakes. I’ve heard there are professionals who do this for movies–but they only have to watch the 2.5 hour film a few times. For serials, you really need someone who reads and rereads (or watches and rewatches) for their own pleasure. Who else would catch these things? Maybe we could all up our donations and you could hire an obsessed fan to spend a few hours a month checking your rough cuts for these types of inconsistencies.

    You could make it a competition, with a quiz people can take to compete for the position, and then you interview the top 3. Good candidates would be the ones who did well on the other quizzes–such as the “which episode is this frame from” quizzes I’ve seen.

  36. LondonBoy says:

    Maybe I’ve missed a wagon in marshalling this train to enlightenment, but doesn’t Ginger have two parents ? This gives us two religion slots to fill, and we currently have two religions. Each could have tried to raise Ginger in the tenets of their preferred faith. The only problem is then to allocate one parent to each; I leave this as an exercise for the interested reader.

    Or is there some sort of rule that says that catholics and JWs are like matter and anti-matter, and explode on contact ?

    Personally I feel it’s time to revive the religion of Bomweegianism…

  37. DeLandDeLakes says:

    I’m happy to hear of the homage to Wednesday Adams. I probably shouldn’t disclose severely dorky information about myself at the rate that I do, but _Adams Family Values_ gave me a wonderful outlet for all the homicidal rage I acquired as a pathetic geek of a middle school kid. I literally used to bounce up and down on the couch at the part where Wednesday is about to burn the blond girl at the stake. 🙂

  38. April says:

    Real girl scout cookies…yum!

  39. LondonBoy says:

    If oatmeal cookies contain oatmeal, and chocolate chip cookies contain chocolate chips, then girl scout cookies… are probably rather cruel…

  40. April says:

    What about hummingbird cake? Refrigerator cookies? Gasp, baby rusks???

  41. oceans 111 says:

    Hummingbird cake? Is this a regional delicacy? I’ve never heard of this… Perhaps we should take it to the Maoist Orange Cake site…

  42. April says:

    Um, it’s a honey cream with choc sprinkles thing, layered like a torte. I don’t *think* that it has real hummingbird in it, but stranger things have happened.

    I wish I was smart enough to develop a class critique of hummingbird cake. sigh.

  43. April says:

    oops my bad, got it mixed up with a Beesting. Hummingbird cake is actually just like carrot cake with banana instead of grated carrot. Now my semiformed class critique is flawed…

  44. Aunt Soozie says:

    Girl Scout cookies? I missed something.

    I have to tell you…my kid looked at the photo of Alison, Hilary and Paige on the last blog entry and said, “does Alison really LIKE them? She doesn’t look happy. She looks really tired.” I told her I think Alison really DOES like THEM but she may have been traveling and/or really tired and/or up drawing pictures and making arm wrestling videos and being silly as girls are wont to do at conferences and slumber parties.

    The kitty does look like she’s sitting a bit precariously on your lap Alison. I don’t think any state yet requires cat restraint systems in non-vehicle situations. Though the carryings on with your colleagues are a bit raucous. So, don’t get too cocky. You know how it goes…first the kiss at the awards ceremony, next a mix up with Ginger’s religious background, then you on the tabloid covers with your head shaved, en route to rehab and speculation that you’re a…a…lesbian!

  45. Maggie Jochild says:

    Carrot, entrenched in Northern European ascendancy, does not lend itself to blending or even token dematerialization and must be “grated” in order to mingle with the masses. Its chief attribute — ability to survive harsh winters without deteriorization — is emblematic of Capitalism, which rises to exploitation of profit no matter which culture allows its spores to take root. Whereas Banana, a supremely nutritious staple of the tropics, must be seized in its window of ripeness, engendering interdependency between geography, weather and the people who have it as part of their diet. Further, Banana will puree and impart both its flavor and its vitamin content to all it encounters, like the cheerful Will of the People. In the same manner, hummingbirds perform the endless work of pollinization as efficiently as bees but without demanding subservience of the worker to a crushingly class-based hierarchy.

  46. April says:

    Thankyou Maggie I knew I could rely on you! Furthermore, the rhizomatous nature of the banana allows it to propagate parthenogenetically, without the need for oppressive cultural constructs of gender hierarchy based on gamete transfer!
    While the hummingbird ranges far, spreading its beauty throughout many zones, its constant flight prevents the stagnating decadence of Capitalist corruption, and breaks the local monopoly of the bees, thus engaging citizens in envisioning alternative modes of community symbiosis and mutual aid.
    So with the spontaneous individualism of the hummingbird and the community cohesion of the banana, there is nothing we cannot achieve, my sisters! And honorary sisters! And companion animals! And great apes and sentient aquatic mammals! And swarm intelligences!
    Let us eat cake!

  47. April says:

    haha “entrenched” very good Maggie

  48. Maggie Jochild says:

    “So with the spontaneous individualism of the hummingbird and the community cohesion of the banana, there is nothing we cannot achieve, my sisters! And honorary sisters! And companion animals! And great apes and sentient aquatic mammals! And swarm intelligences!”

    I want to see this on banners.

  49. April says:

    long banner

  50. indigirl says:

    Does hummingbird cake also have pineapple in it? Sometimes?

  51. April says:

    yes that’s right! and pineapples are self-reproducing too…

  52. April says:

    sorry posting too much today

  53. Kat says:

    Martinet, here in the bay area, the catholic schools seem to have lots of African American students. The daughter of a family friend is at a catholic girls high school that is at least 50% african american. I don’t know if that’s representative of Catholic parishes in the area or not, though…

  54. Jeffster83 says:

    A fairly large number of African-American students at inner city Catholic schools are not themselves Catholic. African-American families who wish to escape the public schools, but who cannot afford private schools, find a solution in nearby parochial schools, which are usually much less expensive than secular or evangelical private schools. Catholic schools do discriminate, though only on academic ability. Non-Catholic private schools are often thought to discriminate for economic or … um … other reasons.

  55. martinet says:

    Good point, Jeffster. Actually, I’m not African-American OR Catholic–but I ended up doing the eight-year stint in Catholic school because my family was living in East St. Louis at the time, there was no way they were going to send me to public school (see Jonathan Kozol’s “Savage Inequalities, first chapter!), and there really weren’t any other private school options in the area. My parents are both atheists, and school was the first time I encountered religious practice of any sort. Talk about culture shock.

  56. mk says:

    My Catholic high school in the Greater Cleveland area had a substantial amount of non Catholic students. Cleveland schools were pretty bad in the 80s so many of the girls in my school, including a lot of the African American girls, were not Catholic, just wanted a good education. Non Catholic girls had to go to mass when the school had mass and attend catholic religion class but our classes often included discussions of differnt teachings of different faiths, so it was often quite lively. The order teaching our school was quite progressive (several of the nuns had been arrested for blockading nuclear arms sites in the 80s).

  57. April says:

    gotta love people who live their faith. beats pontificators any day. go radical nuns!

  58. mysticriver says:

    Re: African-American Catholic populations – perhaps not as visible in middle America, but pretty decent sized in cities, even in the Northeast. The roots go back pretty far…the first African-American bishop was ordained about a decade before the Emancipation Proclamation.

    But re: consistency for Ginger’s story, the idea of her folks sending her to a Catholic school certainly works! Maybe she converted to Catholicism herself in spite of her parents being Jehovah’s witnesses because she wanted to fit in with her school friends. (I had several friends who grew up in Jehovah’s witness households, and leaving the religion was a pretty in-your-face method of rebellion.) And later when she came out she left the Catholic faith, too…Oh, the back stories we could come up with!

  59. mysticriver says:

    Oh, re: Rex…I always figured he was an off-panel Cocker Spaniel or something less menacing than a rottweiler.

    We’re your loyal readers, I think a lot of us have either come up with a rationale for any (very few) inconsistencies, or if we do point it out, it’s more like, “Oh, why is that?” than “J’accuse!”

    But if we get too out of hand, you can pull a William Shatner and yell, “Get a life!” 🙂

  60. Sherry says:

    Eh Alison, not to worry about the slip. I think that it would be cool if you incorporated a few more of them in future strips – just to keep your fans on their toes!

    I had no idea about the JW and the stake! Are there still only 144,000 souls going to heaven? I’d better upgrade that portable air conditioner!

  61. friend of bean says:

    Oh, for heaven’s sake. As if Catholics do not hand out booklets when they go door to door (and if they don’t go door to door where you live, they do it where I live).

    Free pamphlets and books from the Knights of Columbus: http://www.kofc.org/un/eb/en/publications/cis/index.html

    It’s a simple fix, but really–does it matter? Maybe Ginger just happened to have a Watchtower lying around because she politely took it and couldn’t find a KoC to give out. All this says is that she isn’t OCD and wouldn’t drive all around town to get the appropriate booklet type.

  62. Tera says:

    I always re-read my collection of DTWOF in the bath too : )

  63. mlk says:

    I don’t have a count on the number of African American Catholics in Columbus, but some friends/acquaintances of mine found an African American Catholic church when they adopted their kids. They’re Catholic and white, and wanted their children (who are African American) to grow up in an African American community.

    I hope I can bring this up in a way that conveys my confusion and concern rather than general whininess . . . when asked, I’ve had some African American people tell me they they consider themselves “Black,” and I get the impression that they consider “African American” to be one of those politically correct labels that they didn’t choose for themselves and prefer not to use. yet, more recently, I’ve had some . . . well, a couple of African Americans, who are more middle class and educated . . . tell me that “Black” is a color, not a race. I sometimes get kinda touchy when the norms are unclear, I’m attempting to be respectful, and I get what seems to be criticism. maybe we can have a civil discussion about this?

    the question of how “white” people identify ourselves is equally important to me. am I Caucasian? or European American? do we really want to be called “white?” maybe so, because it’s easy, we’re in the majority, and we don’t want to think about who/what we are. I think many would take it amiss if we were labeled “European Oppressors” or some such thing.

    finally — dare I ask about people who are “off white,” ie: “white” people who are looked at askance because they aren’t white enough (Jews, sometimes Italians)? I guess I’m moving in the direction where I don’t feel comfortable identifying people by color.

    any thoughts about this?

    oh, and as a final observation, my experience has been that “Native Americans” prefer to be called “American Indians” and this is the term I currently use. anyone out there with different experience or point of view?

  64. Jeffster83 says:

    MLK, where do you live that Italians and European Jews aren’t considered white? I thought the Lower East side of 1907 was long gone.

    The only whites that I know of who think about being white are the supremacists, and the guilt-ridden liberals. They are both distasteful.

    I’ve never heard anyone use the phrase “not white enough,” and it’s difficult even to think about what it might mean. “Not black enough” seems to mean “didn’t grow up in the ghetto,” so does “not white enough” mean “didn’t grow up as a barefoot sharecropper while distilling moonshine in the Ozarks and having a divorced sister-wife who converted her trailer into a meth lab in Riverside County?”

  65. April says:

    heh heh… sisterwife’s labtrailer go boom….

  66. Maggie Jochild says:

    Thinking about being white, about the conditioning behind it and the way it is considered to be the “default” race, is something all of the anti-racist progressives of European ancestry that I know are doing. You can’t undo something if you don’t know what it is. It’s not guilt, it’s called not assuming others (i.e., folks of color) will do your work for you.

    MLK, how people refer to themselves racially is not cut and dried. Find out the term preferred by whoever you’re in relationship with and use that with them — don’t assume it’s monolithic, because it’s clearly not. It’s a simple question, and when asked respectfully, it’s the same as asking someone what gender term they prefer or what class background they claim.

    I prefer to use white for myself if it’s just a matter of claiming I’m non-target for oppression around race, because white is the only “normal” race in that binary. I use European-American or of European ancestry when ethnicity is involved, or Southern (often with a class modifier) when regionality is at issue. I never use Caucasian and I often interrupt its usage because it originated in a horribly racist old theory that there were three racial categories in the world — Negroid, Mongoloid, and Caucasian. Perhaps my ancestors 10,000 years ago lived in the Caucasus Mountains, but it’s not a meaningful geographic distinction now and it tends to be used as a prettied-up term for white or European.

    Sidestepping the extremely vicious Southern and class stereotyping of the previous comment about “not white enough” meaning trailer trash (which is how I was raised, and it’s just not funny to descend to that kind of bashing, do you think it’s okay to make fat jokes too?), yes, there are lots of people writing and thinking about race and ethnicity who make a distinction between descended from Northern European whites and descended from Southern European or Jewish “whites”. The latter group, brilliantly called “olive-skinned people” by Giovanna Capone in her ground-breaking essay in Sinister Wisdom #41, the Italian-American Women’s issue, are folks who are from Mediterrean, Spanish, Portugese, and many Semitic backgrounds who do experience racial prejudice on a daily basis, in urban settings as well as rural.

    Likewise, although a lot of government reporting agencies do not have a separate category for Hispanic or Latino/a, lumping them in with white, the reality is that anti-Hispanic racism is on an unprecedented rise and is the secret code in the platforms of most Republican candidates these days. That and anti-Muslim hatred are fueling the 25% who support the Bush regime MUCH more than anti-gay or woman-hating/gender-role-reinforcing memes. In those settings, you will hear the term “not white enough” used in quite a different way. And no, those settings are not limited to the Ozarks — the strongest Klan, Nazi and Minutemen supporting groups are in California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Midwest, including Pennsylvania. Check out Orcinus blog at http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/ for regular check-ins on the anti-racism movement, its inextricable relationship with anti-classism work, and what’s going on Out There.

    Racism is seldom discussed enough, and I applaud you for asking questions. Of course it conveys your “whiteness” — ignorance and confusion are always a sign that you’ve been lied to as a member of a group not target for oppression — but being white is not a negative. (Nor it is a positive, it just is who you are.) Being white and stupid, or arrogant, or resistant to learning — yeah, that’s a problem.

    As white people, we have economic and social advantages no matter what we do, everywhere we go. The question is, do we stay in our comfort zone (including among progressives) or do we cross boundaries and use our extra for the good of all? And, more to the point, can we recognize that racism (and classism) are soul-destroying constructs that have been present in this country since its founding, that living with it is no longer a survival option, and choose to speak up in every situation about being committed to ending it in every manifestation, because it is our lives at stake?

    For a great resource, you might check out Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” at http://www.amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html. I personally don’t use the term privilege because I think it obscures the fact that targeting people for oppression makes us ALL wretched (though of course not equally) and playing victim/oppressor or guilt scenarios have never been effective in creating social change.

  67. mysticriver says:

    Jeffster83 – you’d be surprised, 1907 is long from over in some circles. It may not be thought of as “not white enough” but there is definitely a “not our sort” thing that, when you dig deep, turns out to have nothing to do with money, class, education, or even actual skin color. I’ve encountered it from both bluebloods and backwoods types alike. It always makes me think, “Do you people still exist?” but after hearing enough, “…you people…” or “…those ethnic types…” sorts of comments I’ve realized that a remarkably significant section of the population isn’t seeing the world through 2007 lenses.

    If you haven’t seen “The Good Shepherd”, there’s a line in there that sums it up well, something like, “We have the United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting.”

  68. Deena in OR says:

    I’m told that the KKK still has active members about 10 miles from where I live. It wouldn’t surprise me…I’m told that there were *several* active chapters in my geographic area in the 30’s. It wasn’t so long ago that my hometown had sundown laws for African-Americans, I’m embarrassed to say.

  69. Metal Prophet says:

    Well, Jews are certainly not welcome all over America. My brother went to college in rural Ohio and he met people there who used jew as a verb.

  70. liza from pine street art works says:

    I don’t feel particularly welcome as a Jew in Vermont either, by the way.

    And I heard Jew as a verb in Connecticut and New York growing up. As in “I’m going to Jew you down” which means, I’m going to negotiate with you until you lower the price, because we all know that’s what Jews are best at. Or maybe something worse, I shudder to think.

  71. Chris (in Massachusetts) says:

    I think this one comment thread is the Platinum-Iridium ISO example of what makes this weblog so wonderful.

    Thank you, ladies, gents, (fill in the blank) for a truly entertaining and educational 15 minutes of reading.

    liza, it not just being Jewish. I lived in Rutland for nine years, taking care of my elderly, Alzheimer’s afflicted mother.

    Even though I was born in New England (Connecticut) and lived in New England all my life, I was still just another “damned flatlander”.

    There were some pretty damned creepy and unpleasant people in Rutland.

    Some fine and noble people too. One of the fond memories I do have is every summer, the buses from New York would arrive at the park at the intersection of Rts 7 and 4, bringing the Fresh Air Fund kids for their two weeks or so away from the city. The memory of seeing all those happy people, kids and adults, still makes me smile, almost 13 years after I moved from Rutland.

  72. Jana C.H. says:

    I have long wondered when the grand convocation of black people was held in this country at which they all voted to become African Americans. An unexpected win, to my mind: seven syllables, compound, Latinate and pompous, winning out over short, vivid, and punchy. Was it a simple majority vote? Two-thirds? Did Jesse Jackson’s vote count more than the votes of other people?

    I know there was never any grand convocation of white people in which we decided to become European-Americans– eight syllables, by Woden!– instead of simple and direct “white”. At least I never got my invitation. Maybe it got lost in the mail, but I certainly know how I would have voted.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Messers Strunk and White: Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able.

  73. bean says:

    maggie jochild, thanks for that!

    i grooved with it all, but especially the part where you said,

    “Find out the term preferred by whoever you’re in relationship with and use that with them — don’t assume it’s monolithic, because it’s clearly not. It’s a simple question, and when asked respectfully, it’s the same as asking someone what gender term they prefer or what class background they claim.”

    i don’t know why white people make such a big deal about it, or act like it’s such a burden to use respectful language.

    and, no, i’ve never identified with the caucasus mountains either, and if there’s ever a Back To Eastern Europe movement, for the sake of returning this god forsaken piece of real estate to the variety of natives (small “n”) who inhabited it and the Africans, Mexicans, and Chinese who built it, then i’m on board.

    who’s hoping to tour the jewish quarters of budapest, vienna, and prague this summer.

  74. mlk says:

    thanks for your response, Maggie. I hardly know what to say except that I’m looking for places (preferably online) where people *do* talk about racism. I’m generally fighting my defensiveness when it comes up, because it *only* comes up in conversation with Blacks/African Americans and, of course, I’m part of the oppressive group. at the very least, I have to remind myself that what’s being related is true, even though it doesn’t fit with my experience.

    if you ask people of color, they’ll say that racism is alive and well. and I believe most of us are somehow out of touch with the current reality. things aren’t as bad as they were 50 years ago, but aren’t as good as those who haven’t experienced racism believe it to be.

    to be honest, I’m not quite sure where we stand right now — I sometimes think that some of the hurt folks feel today is a carry over from past events that happened in an earlier generation, or results from the practices that are in place because of those past events. even if this is so, denying or invalidating the hurt only reinforces it. I know this from personal experience . . .

    my take on “white guilt”: it’s useful so long as it doesn’t result in feelings of resentment and helplessness, ie: why am I being held responsible for things I didn’t personally do, and what can I do about them anyway? it reminds me that my experience *is* different from others with a different background, and my interpretation of events isn’t automatically more valid than theirs.

    of course, theirs isn’t automatically more valid than mine — and that understanding doesn’t seem to be shared equally by everyone that I meet.

  75. mlk says:

    oh, and I was corrected when I refered to “Blacks” in conversation, not when I addressed an individual. maybe that’s just one of the stings that must be endured when talking with people of different backgrounds? it seems like there are so many!!

    but that’s just whining . . .

  76. Pam I says:

    In the UK most black people I know call themselves black,(not even capitalised)or Black British, that’s become the norm. We have this awful portmanteau term BlackandEthnicMinority which of course means not-white. There’s a neat govt-decreed ticklist which appears on every application form, it now has about twenty choices. Plus, Other….

  77. Pam I says:

    Re-reading that, it’s not quite true – i was thinking of second-or-more generation UK dwellers. Their elders are more likely to call themselves by country of origin. My mindset is affected by too much time among 16-year-olds.

  78. mlk says:

    I like the country of origin idea myself, guess that’s my penchant for details. I’m not proficient in distinguishing Japanese from Korean and Chinese persons, and it seems kinda silly to call them all “Asian,” especially when I see demographics that break out Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc. when asking about ethnicity. I’m thinking about self identification in conversation more than demographics on paperwork here.

    yes, I can always ask . . . and sometimes I do. still, I’d prefer to live in a country where people don’t feel that they have to hide their origins, especially if they’re recent immigrants.

    in the U.S. I believe people whose origins are Jewish or Arabic are considered “white” for demographics, and yet I doubt that many Americans of European ancestry want to be identified with people who’re Arabic. I’m not even sure how folks from India and Pakistan are supposed to declare themselves, but believe it’s “Asian.”

    seems to me that we need to update the demographic checklist. some folks out there would disagree, because the thought of labeling and being labeled is so repugnant. still, I find some labeling useful to examine trends (so long as individuals are permitted to choose their own label and use more than one label) and prefer that labels represent the current reality. to me, it’s like providing bandaids of different hues because people have different complexions.

    of course, one can make perfectly good arguments for bandaids with Dyke to Watch For characters on them, or dog breeds, or ice cream cones, or . . .

  79. mlk says:

    I seem to have had the last word here == not what I had in mind! the thread may have just run itself dry, but I still want to offer an apology if I’ve dominated or offended.

    am still working out the finer points of when to speak and when to keep my mouth closed . . . and, when speaking, when to stop!!