(3) Sun Aug 21 2005 01:02 cross the line...: Today I had Fall Leadership training for Utah State. Fall leadership is a time where we make people stretch themselves, examine, and re-examine their values, beliefs, and attitudes, as they discover things about themselves and people around them. One game we have to do this with is called cross the line. It is one of my favorite activities becasue it reminds me what I have experienced/believe in, while teaching me how diverse Utah State really is, and that other people have had interesting/hard experiences in their lives too. WHat you do is all stand silently on one side of the room, and we will ask a question such as, "Do you have a family member, or friend who has used drugs/been exsposed to pornography/are you atheist or agnostic, etc...? Then if you have and you feel comfortable exposing that part of yourself, you cross the room, face everyone else and walk back. One question that was asked today was, "If you consider yourself a person of color, cross the line." Everyone in the room was White, and thus no one crossed the room. After we moved on to the next question, I was bothered because I wished I had crossed the room. I am not sure why I didn't cross the room. Maybe I was afraid that someone would be offended, or that when we play with the whole group and I crossed the line with the Latino's, Black's, Indian's... they would be offended. But I am not transparent. I have color too. So rightly I should be able to consider myself to be a person of color. I think culture, not color is what is really important anyway. When we do the activity as a large group next week, I think I just might cross the line when that question is asked. I don't know...I would be interested to hear others opinions on the matter...would you cross the line?
Posted by Sumana at Sun Aug 21 2005 17:23
I am ethnically Indian, and I've been exposed to porn, and I've used booze, and I've considered myself agnostic (although I don't right now), so I would end up pacing across the line for most of the exercise."But I am not transparent. I have color too. So rightly I should be able to consider myself to be a person of color."If you are going to read that label literally, then maybe no one is a person of color, since color is a quality of light and not of matter."Person of color" is a phrase that replaced "minorities" (after all, in California whites now comprise less than 50% of the population, and worldwide they always have). If you choose to use the meaning of the phrase instead of the literal meaning of each word, then most white people are not people of color, whether you measure their melanin in their skin or whether you choose the cultural standard.If you believe that culture is what matters, do you consider yourself culturally white? Do you primarily identify with the culture of some other race/ethnicity? On an everyday basis, do you actively renounce the privileges you get for being white?If you choose to cross the line in this exercise, and thus announce that you consider yourself a person of color, some people will probably think that you are cool for your active solidarity with the oppressed. And some will want you to explain your decision, and some won't give you a chance to explain.
Posted by Frances at Sun Aug 21 2005 20:00
I think Jill and I could both say we are "culturally Mormon." This begs entirely the question of skin color. The religion is where what culture we have comes from. I have a friend who is a "cultural Jew" who struggles with this definition. She isn't all that observant of the picky little rules, but her heritage is very meaningful to her and she objects to checking the "white" box on forms and surveys because it doesn't take into account who she really is.
Posted by Kristen at Tue Aug 23 2005 09:44
I think what Jill means is that the phrase "people of color" can mean exclusiveness, or another way to look at it is to be inclusive. We are all of some origin whether we are white, brown, black or whatever variation. We all have our own color. I think that sometimes the more minorities bring up the fact that they are "minorities" (which we established already that collectively they are not the minorities) they exclude themselves by their own doing. I mean I don't want to be around a person that keeps telling me something about themselves I can already observe, b/c it makes me feel like they are judging me by assuming that I didn't notice it on my own already. We are all human beings most importantly. The fact that some are on one side of the color spectrum doesn't mean that they are on that same other side of the human interest spectrum. So the whole exclusion of Jill not being able to be someone of color is a little hypocritical of the inclusiveness that minorities wish they had (or so I have been told as I have never experienced being someone other than white, although I have experienced being a minority for part of my life.) I don't think semantics are a big deal anyway. A person can be whatever they want to be by changing their perspective.
Sorry about being sloppy and going off on tangents, I know what I was saying is a little confusing.