Breathe Easy, You've Found Me ((HUGS))

People will wonder why this blog is needed, why minority midwifery student? It's very simple actually; I was looking for this blog...but I couldn't find it...so I created it. We all have unique experiences, and every experience, every story, can help someone else. I am a black girl from the hood at an ivy league professional school. That, alone, is reason enough to write. Somebody was looking for this blog. Someone wanted proof that what I'm doing can be done - even when you come from where we come from.

To that person especially, WELCOME.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mixing and Mingling With My Peers

Moving on.

My patience is wearing thin lately. I notice it with the man, with my classmates, and with myself. A few posts ago, I said "maybe I'll come out and play, and maybe I won't." I think I'm done playing for a while. I agreed to do a group activity that's happening next week...how perfect would it be to just lay low from now until then? A kind of self-imposed hibernation for all things unmandatory.

There's this pesky blessing of the hands taking place this week. I had to send out an email about my disagreeing with it being so "religious." It went from a simple ceremony where we read a passage while pouring water over their hands (which are suspended over a bowl we each made/bought for our big sib that has a tea light candle in it) to an all out religious/spiritual (not saying those are the same - they aren't...only putting in writing the fact that people keep confusing religion with spirituality in this group!) affair, complete with a "shaman," blessing of the space that is to be kept "sacred," and the presenting of Tibetan scarves. Um. NO. I had to send an email. Firstly, because our group of big sibs expressly stated that they didn't want this kind of ceremony when they asked that we not do the whole "chanting" thing...they expressly asked for a PAR-TAY including immeasurable amounts of booze and dancing...and the very simple blessing of the hands that is tradition at our school - namely the reading of the passage, the fire (candle), and the water. I thought we all understood this. But apparently not. Second, having a shaman preside over the ceremony is inappropriate. Later this woman who was named as shaman refused, saying that she never agreed to this. I'm glad she spoke up, cause I don't think this is anything to be messed with. I am not trying to knowingly be in any room that has been blessed by someone/for something that I don't even understand, nor am I trying to be blessed with anything like holy water, sage brush, or anything else that, again, I don't understand (not saying these practices are done by shamans, saying that this is the feeling that was evoked). AND, I'm not trying to give worship to somebody's god for whom I have no understanding of, and if you participate in such rituals, aren't doing just that? Third, where the hell did Tibetan scarves from. I said, "please tell me *somebody* is Tibetan" in our group and that's why we're doing this...otherwise, especially as you've explained the significance of the scarves, I don't see how our cutting up some cloth is appropriate, not to mention the complete co-opt of someone else's culture to be used as we see fit. Um, NO. In my mind, this is Disrespectful with a capitol D. Lastly, how do we maintain a "sacred space" where talking and everything else is supposed to be discouraged...but then turn around and pass the booze in same said place? I understand that in some religions this is acceptable...but is it appropriate for Tibetans? Shamans? I don't know, and neither do they, and that's my point.

I bought an IKEA bowl for my big sib, and covered it with rub-on quotes of encouragement, perseverance, and words like miracle, cherish birth, beginnings, etc. Then I wrote our names in silver and red paint. It's beautiful and creative, yet simple. I also purchased a leather bound measuring tape as a gift to her. I liked my big sib, she was very supportive during my first year, and went above and beyond the call of duty. It will be my honor to participate in the blessing of her hands. And to pass the bourbon, Bacardi, or beer as long as she can take it because that's what she wants, and it is, after all, their ceremony.

And while I'm ranting...a while back labor payne said this in her comment to a post by Sage Femme:

"There is an unrelenting psychic weight to being surrounded by members of other classes and cultures who may assume that you don't measure up, aren't as smart, aren't even as attractive, aren't there on the same merit as them"

I want to add this: "And you feel that weight in a million different ways, even when you least expect it...like when you go to the potluck and everything is so. friggin. weird. (to you) that you're paralyzed by it." Sometimes I just stand there for a minute and look, trying to figure out what the hell I do want. Sometimes, rarely, I'm in that, "great! let's try new stuff" mood...other times I'm wishing that there's more than just salad that I recognize. Thinking how different it would be if the tables were always filled with food I eat on a regular basis? What if it were collard greens, fried okra, catfish, yams, hell....STEAK! Instead of tofu, hummus, edmame, and brie? Don't be confused, not all black people eat these foods, and the foods that fill the tables at our potlucks are not the domain of solely white folk. But, I'm saying, as for me and my house...ya know? I'm saying there's some stuff going on for me there, when I'm supposed to be relaxing, like you. I'm saying there's something wrong with the fact that because vegetarians "can't" eat meat, but meat eaters "can" eat foods that are vegetarian, everything on the table (except what I brought :o) is meatless. All of this to say, I am bringing a real dish (instead of an appetizer) to the ceremony. This dish will have meat. Lot's of it. And it will be RED meat. And PORK. Uh oh, double whammy! For once, I will make a heaping plate, and go back for seconds, like everyone else. And I will be full like every one else.

And my liqueur will be soaked up, like everyone else.

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