Thursday, November 16, 2006

dreamin' my life away

You know how one of the most boring things in the world is to listen to a person drone on about a dream they had? How they leverage in unnecessary details that have no bearing on the actual story, and at the end you have wasted 10 minutes listening to something irrelevant to your life, the whole time wanting to poke yourself -- or the other person -- in the eye with a fork?

Well, because I'm incredibly self-absorbed I thought you might want to hear about my dream last night...

Outside after a fashion show, one of the models -- a tall, thin (imagine that) young black woman -- gave me a doll to hold.

A car approached, and somehow removing the doll's hair was what was necessary in order to open a gate to let the car through.

Then it turned out that by removing the doll's hair, I had removed the model's actual real hair. It was long and thick and shiny and I was stressing out. If you tried to come up with a person less likely to be happy about me messing with her hair, a young black woman (and a model!) is probably as far as you can go in that direction. Unless maybe it's Wolverine.

So while I'm trying to figure out how to tell the girl what I've done, the hair started turning into a dead boa constrictor in my hands.

Then I woke up.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this means I'm ready for the white jacket with extra-long sleeves. But if I have to go, at least I'll go talking about myself...

23 Comments:

At Thu Nov 16, 03:25:00 PM PST, Blogger Happy Mask Saleswoman said...

Hugh Jackman is not nearly hairy enough to accurately portray the original comic book Wolverine.

 
At Thu Nov 16, 03:32:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

So why is a young black woman most likely to be upset about you messing with her hair?

 
At Thu Nov 16, 03:40:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is not a generalization, right? :)

 
At Thu Nov 16, 04:35:00 PM PST, Blogger blogball said...

Just don’t call her lazy and we’ll all be fine.
Sorry to be part of the gang up Bryan but I couldn’t resist.
Just having a little fun.

 
At Fri Nov 17, 07:50:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep, I checked my diagnosis manual and you're definitely certifiably nuts. :)

 
At Fri Nov 17, 08:01:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

:-)
Ganging up is fine, I prefer to be on the less popular side in discussions.

Speaking in broad generalities (ie, stereotypes), I believe black women often spend significant time/effort/money on hair relative to white women.

As well, there are issues of racial identity & pride tied up* in it.

As one person said to me, "hair is often a big deal to sisters."

Curly hair is a different shape in cross-section and typically coarser than straight hair.

I'm not an expert, but I understand curly hair requires more work or special skill to style/cut/color.

There's a whole discussion about hair, and potentially offensive stereotyping associated with old practice of calling straighter hair "good hair", etc. I think some of it's a little dated now, but AFAIC, there's still a fair amt to learn about if one is interested.

http://racerelations.about.com/od/parentingrace/f/hairhelp.htm

http://www.afro.com/bnw/straight.html

http://archives.thedaily.washington.edu/1996/110796/hair110796.html

http://alpha.dickinson.edu/departments/amos/mosaic01steel/je/hair.html

http://www.amazon.com/Hair-Story-Untangling-Roots-America/dp/0312283229/ref=pd_sim_b_4/104-8664827-7535104


*sorry

 
At Fri Nov 17, 06:49:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

I like the way you've tried to divert the discussion regarding your possible racial stereotyping to the good-hair--bad hair thing. From what I can gather, the stereotyping rules as tacitly formulated by Bryan are: 1) it's ok to racially stereotype if the quality you're attributing to the race is neutral (hair fixing, e.g.) and possibly, 2) the stereotype is confirmed or otherwise validated by a member of the race being stereotyped. So if I described part of my dream by including the statement that "If you tried to come up with a person less likely to be happy about me messing with his basketball sneakers, a young black man is probably as far as you can go in that direction...As one person said to me, "sneakers are often a big deal to brothers." -- that would be OK, correct?

 
At Sat Nov 18, 08:50:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

I just re-read my comment and I think I came off pretty snotty. Didn't mean to. Sorry

 
At Sat Nov 18, 09:52:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

Almost right.
Part #2 should be:
The stereotype is generally accepted as non-offensive and as having some measure of legitimacy by the majority of the group in question.
Not sure the sneaker example would fit for a couple of reasons, including: that the hair thing could apply to a fairly wide age range of women, whereas sneakers are a young-guy thing, and there's a fair amt of history about black men being denied a legitimate place in society, being limited to sports figure, entertainment figure, "boy", or "uncle", etc.

 
At Sun Nov 19, 08:14:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

PS. i didn't take your post as snotty; hopefully mine doesn't sound that way either...

 
At Sun Nov 19, 04:13:00 PM PST, Blogger si said...

don't mean to sound snotty myself, but "the hair-thing", tho recognized over a broader age group, still is a stereotype if it sounds like "black hair" has to be DEALT with (connotation that black hair if left alone is NOT "good enough" -- which you do refer to various links in one of your comments). IMO, generalizations *generally* (heh) should be used with caution, even if said generalizations are considered "neutral" or even "good". particularly if one is not of that race/ethnic background.

for example, "asians are good at math" -- being good at math/smart is not necessarily a bad thing but it does connotate/facilitate the sterotype of geekiness. (i've used this generalization myself in a joking/self-mocking way*.) i, who cannot keep a plant alive, was told by an older woman that i SHOULD be good at gardening because it's in my genes. now again, being a good gardener is in and of itself inoffensive but as a generalizing comment, it does not sound/feel good. especially coming as a serious statement from a non-asian. it's the lumping of a group as completely homogenous that i have trouble with: specific race = _____. same race = same person.

does the above sound militant? i don't mean to. and i'm less sensitive than i used to be (tho, not sure if you believe me). i've lightened up about most generalizations directed at me, especially if seemingly told tongue-in-cheek. (being around you, i have to say, one cannot be hyper-sensitive. i mean this in the best possible way... :))

*it's similar to the saga that you can disparage your own family but you don't let anyone else do it.

 
At Sun Nov 19, 09:38:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

si,
i absolutely recognize that -- as you point out -- #1 (neutral/positive) is not enough to excuse a stereotype. lotsa folks think they're being nice, when, as you say, they're merely highlighting a view of someone as a [member of group] rather than a person.
and again, context is huge. there are different rules for strangers than for friends...

 
At Mon Nov 20, 06:39:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Mon Nov 20, 06:42:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

All of these posts point to the fragile nature of any discussion on race and the uncertainty of exactly what the "rules" are. I can say with confidence that if Bryan were to describe his dream using his orgianl language ("If you tried to come up with a person ...")in a formal or informal University setting, mouths would drop, he would probably be "spoken to," and maybe even be made to go to some kind of sensitivity training.

 
At Mon Nov 20, 10:53:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

unca,
no doubt you're right. i think it highlights your point in our other discussion about voting, which is that success in academics in no way guarantees clarity of thinking. (but which i, of course, have in abundance.)
not sure if you agree, but it's hard for me to think of another context in which holier-than-thou is so rampant on this subject than academia.

besides context, another tricky thing about stereotypes or generalizations is that they can be perfectly valid when talking about a group as a whole (eg, People of Color usually have dark brown hair, Mexicans eat a lot of tortillas). Prejudging a group member by the stereotype is usually where the practice becomes most offensive.

one other tricky thing about positive stereotypes is that you'll always find a fair number of the group members themselves accepting and repeating them, at least in some form. doesn't mean they're legit, and certainly doesn't mean it wouldn't be offensive if a non-group-member used them.

all of which you all already knew...

 
At Mon Nov 20, 02:08:00 PM PST, Blogger si said...

re 2 of your comments:

there are different rules for strangers than for friends... so, i guess it's a good thing we're not strangers. :)

and certainly doesn't mean it wouldn't be offensive if a non-group-member used them. yeah, what i said...

my 1 cent worth on the add'l thread: IMO, i think *sometimes* academia is or may purport to be utopia -- the ideal world; where everything/one strives to be fair, correct, and lives in constrained philosophies. real life is not fair nor correct and doesn't conform to said philosophies. again, just my limited opinion on the possibly non-real world that academics may live in. (no offense, unca -- please LMK if i did.)

 
At Mon Nov 20, 02:39:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

Si-
If I understand you correctly, I agree with you. I hope you didn’t think I was implying that the imaginary treatment of Bryan by this group was something I favored. I was implying the very opposite. Many academicians may like to think that they are governed by “higher principles” than are others, when in fact they’re just as back-stabbing, jealous, and yes, even as prejudiced as the rest of the world (though their targets may be different). Isn’t this pretty much what you were saying?

 
At Mon Nov 20, 04:57:00 PM PST, Blogger si said...

i *think* i was saying that. :)

meant that high ideals/principles are living large in their minds w/o considering the real world doesn't live like that. and i don't necessarily mean just academicians -- students fall into this category (and why shouldn't they if they're subjected to this without experiencing the world?).

i haven't had personal experience with academia per se other than being a student. i'm sure the politics behind the scenes can be truly ugly.

btw, hi bryan.

 
At Sun Nov 26, 10:44:00 PM PST, Blogger SoozeSchmooze said...

So about the dream!!!! What does it mean??? We sort of got off topic if you ask me in these comments...allthough the new topic was very interesting...and informative for sure...and definitely needed to be addressed..
So what I get from this crazy dream(as most dreams tend to be) is that things are not always what they seem...maybe things we think are important will not last?? I don't know...but I think there is a deep meaning here if we all look at it....what do others think??

 
At Mon Nov 27, 08:28:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

My theory of dreams is that, for the most part, they don't mean anything. I don't mean they don't have any connection to our everyday lives (I have lots of anxiety dreams relating to getting lost, not knowing where a class is, etc.) but the idea that modern day dreams can be "interpreted" with various elements and characters symbolizing things is not valid. Freud was laregly responsible for making dream interpretation respectable but like his other theories, this one deserves to be discarded. So there.

 
At Tue Nov 28, 09:01:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

sooze,
i think like unca -- dreams are a jumble of desires, fears, past experiences, and random synapse firings that have little relevance to real life.
the only benefit i can see in analyzing them is that they *might* put us in touch with feelings we didn't realize we had.

unca,
re freud: do you think the concept of a subconscious has merit? i don't know that much about it, but what i do know seems to support the idea that we sometimes do things for reasons we're not consciously aware of...
your thoughts invited.

 
At Tue Nov 28, 06:23:00 PM PST, Blogger SoozeSchmooze said...

well to add to the dream comments..
more often than not we don't even recall our dreams...if one (as bizarre as it may sound) is remembered I think it is worth looking at as a way of evaluating our emotional state and balance..often the most effect a dream may have is to make us feel good or make us feel bad...maybe that is all that is important about them... that is my additional two cents!!!

 
At Wed Nov 29, 09:06:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

Re: "what i do know seems to support the idea that we sometimes do things for reasons we're not consciously aware of...
your thoughts invited."
I agree with this as far as you've described it. Freud, of course, took the notion to extremes and posited all kinds of untested and untestable theories that seem outlandish to me.

 

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