Saturday Errands

The FBQ is out running around doing all of the things I couldn’t get to during the week. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about: Pick up suits from the Dry Cleaners; get some Bok Choy from Whole Foods; buy condo–…errr…well…you get the idea.

But I couldn’t leave you Miss Things without something to think, talk and laugh about during our Saturday chores.

Funny and Fabulous

Some friends and I were just talking about marriage equality, and I ran across these protest signs on the web. I guffawed more than a couple of times, so I thought I’d share the site (happyplace.com) and the signs in case you needed a couple of guffaws too.

This may get the Queen skinned by the Miss Things…

In reading about George Zimmerman’s bond hearing in the case of Trayvon Martin’s shooting, the Queen had a small epiphany. Upon first hearing about this incident in which a white man shot a black boy, I was taken aback when I saw Zimmerman for the first time. My initial response was “He’s not white…he’s Latino!” And while I was frustrated by my inability to look past my limited view of ethnicity, I also couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t the only person who made the same assumption. It got me to wondering if maybe this perception offered some possible insight into why the incident happened in the first place.

While it is obvious that Mr. Zimmerman self-identifies as White, it is hard for me to believe that at some point in his life he hasn’t had the experience of being followed around a store by a security guard, or have difficulty hailing a cab in certain settings. The Queen began to wonder whether his vigilantism was an unconscious attempt to further see himself as a part of mainstream American society? In other words, to see himself as White. The Queen understands that mindset. It took me many many years to get past the unconscious belief that Black is Wack and White is Right.

Of course, even if this does happen to be the case, it in no way excuses or condones Zimmerman’s actions. And it further emphasizes the ridiculousness of “Stand Your Ground” in the face of our individual and collective dysfunction. But it would further expose how race still affects the American Psyche. We are both the victims and perpetrators of of our collective beliefs around color and ethnicity. And it continues to fill me with rage and personal regret that yet another young person had to die in order for us to have this discussion.


Purse Perceptions

The Queen has toted a bag of some kind since his college days at NYU, trekking a huge duffle containing all that I needed for the day. Now, the daily paraphernalia has been consolidated to fit in a laptop knapsack. In my shopping I have run into several FABULOUS containers that have caught my gay eye. However my Old School Sexist perceptions keep kicking me in my ample arse. No matter how I try calling them “man bags” or “satchels” or “carry alls”–it’s still a purse.

And purses are for girls.

I’m sure we are all in agreement that I need to get over my bigoted beliefs. That’s a no-brainer. But do you Miss Things see a guy walking down the street and think: “He’s carrying a Man Bag.” or do you think “The dude’s got a purse.”?

Let the ragging commence.

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22 thoughts on “Saturday Errands

      • If Usher will carry me, you can have the bodyguard… 😉

        Oh, and I was going to mention, as a person who works in the sciences (I know that Starbucks you were sitting in today!-I work at NASA in Greenbelt and am regularly at New Carrolton as well), I work with a lot of Europeans and South Americans, and have traveled to Europe. All the foreign men carry bags.

      • @algaechick

        It is indeed a small world. My dad was a Systems Analyst at Goddard. My formative years were spent there. That was back when they had Mainframe Computers and my dad would bring me home these huge tape spool containers to put my treasures in. I can still see the globe that sat in the front lobby. Ahhh, the old days.

  1. Totally off-topic, just thought I’d check in. Who knew Amtrak now has free Wifi, and so I get my daily dose of FBQ while traveling? Just passed BWI, on the way to see family, especially my aunt I mentioned sometime back who is not doing well. Real quick turnaround, but if I’m a no-show for Sunday brunch, you’ll know that it’s because my mother doesn’t have Internet. Love the Liza poster, have to think about how Zimmerman’s ethnicity drives him, and Man Bag v. Purse — eh, I guess it depends on size and styling. If it’s large enough to hold a laptop, then I tend to think of it as a laptop bag. But then laptops are getting smaller and smaller.

    Ooh, New Carrolton already. Time to start disconnecting and start packing up.

    • I knew I felt a positive disturbance in the Force! At this moment I am sitting in a Starbucks about a quarter mile from the New Carrollton station killing a few hours before heading up to NYC. Hope your visit with your aunt and your family is fruitful and healing. We’ll miss you at Sunday Brunch–but we’ll totally understand why.

      And we’ve GOT to stop meeting like this.

      • Whoa! Now that’s just freaky.

        The visit was fruitful and healing, and sad. My aunt’s not at the point of being completely bedridden yet, but she’s on so much morphine that she’s not quite…there. We all were sitting out on the deck enjoying the gorgeous weather, and she would pipe up and say, “Oh, yes, absolutely,” every once in a while, covering for the fact that so many of our words were just clouds floating around her head. But she was very happy to see me, which is what counts.

        Anyway, I’m back in NY, catching up on work. So did we pass each other again along the Northeast Corridor?

  2. I have to say that I found this blog last night by typing “what happened to scottyf tomandlorenzo” into google. I am happy to have found you here. You’ve been added to my google reader, and I look forward to reading your musings once again (: and as far as the man bags go, I am a big fan of the first one. Real men wear man bags, imho 😉

  3. Love the Liza poster and I completely agree regarding Zimmerman. Those who have been abused very often become abusers themselves, and many times those who have suffered from bigotry and prejudice become bigoted and prejudiced as well. For example, in the 1800’s Irish and Italian immigrants were blocked from working anything more than menial jobs, and were called derogatory names, (“mick”, “wop”, “guinea”, etc.). As they worked their way up into “acceptable” status, many of them did the same thing to blacks, who they saw as a threat to their livelihoods–completely oblivious to the fact that they were perpetuating the same ignorance that they had themselves been subjected to. It wouldn’t surprise me if Zimmerman was doing the same thing.

    As for the “man-bags”, I like #2 better than #1 because of all the lovely pockets (what good is any bag if you can’t fit anything in it or find it once it’s in there?). I always thought the more successful man-bags were the ones that resemble laptop cases, because then you can say it’s a case and not a purse. It’s too bad the designers of either bag didn’t turn them to the side (long side horizontal), the bags would look less purse-y.

    • “For example, in the 1800′s Irish and Italian immigrants were blocked from working anything more than menial jobs, and were called derogatory names, (“mick”, “wop”, “guinea”, etc.).”

      It’s ironic that you should mention that. As I was typing this post, in my head I was hearing the song “Coalhouse Demands” from the musical Ragtime in which Irish Fire Chief Will Conklin says:

      He can’t take a joke, now can he
      Sensitive, ain’t he?
      Does he think only niggers get shit?
      We Irish had to get used to it!

      I guess it’s just human ego. Both as individuals and as groups we have the need to feel valued–even if it means putting someone below us to do it.

  4. To be honest, I just think, “Oh, that guy has a messenger bag.”

    It’s just a bag. People need to carry their stuff! I wish to god my boyfriend would get one, because I get a little sick of putting his junk in MY purse, lol.

    I think of style for what defines a “purse”. If a girl is carrying a messenger bag, it’s still a messenger bag. But if a guy is carrying a Coach mini barrel bag… that’s a purse. Whether he’s carrying it himself or holding on to it for someone else, that’s still a purse.

    Carry that bag with pride. Man bag, messenger bag, man purse… it’s just a container to haul your fabulous-ness.

    In regards to Mr. Zimmerman… I hate our country’s mentality. A white man (or one who self identifies as white) can kill one black child and it is a tragedy worthy of national attention. But SIX black people can kill two while people and it’s never mentioned on ANY national media.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murders_of_Channon_Christian_and_Christopher_Newsom

    ANY murder, of ANY person, by ANY person, is a tragedy. The six people responsible for killing that young couple deserve everything they get. And Mr. Zimmerman deserves the same. Their race matters not.

    Although I must say, the lack of media attention may have worked out better for the families. Those six are vile, disgusting examples of humanity, but their reasoning for keeping it under wraps might be sound. Every defense attorney involved would be singing about racism and they all might have received lesser sentences based on those grounds. So why isn’t it the same with Mr. Zimmerman? I might hazard a guess that because he IS white, and his victim was black, he will be deemed “worse”, because not only is he a murderer, he is a RACIST murderer.

    I may get hung up and dried over this comment, so I’ll preface it with: I’M NOT RACIST.

    I’m not sure why anyone who isn’t white, can’t be a racist. Have you ever heard someone call a latino person racist? Or a black person? Or asian? No. Apparently racism is a white only prejudice.

    There are tons of black only and latino only sororities and fraternities at almost every university. But if someone started a white only fraternity, suddenly the media would be all over it, it would be disbanded and every single person in it labeled a racist for the rest of their lives. How exactly is this fair?

    It isn’t. Because I can say, as someone who is white, I am afraid of saying something wrong ALL THE TIME in fear that I will end up offending someone who is not of my race and be branded as racist.

    I grew up in the Southwest, and subsequently grew up around mostly latino kids. I was never in my entire 20 years of living there called a racist. I moved to Detroit about a year ago and I’ve already been called racist more times than I can count, usually by customers at my job. When telling someone they can’t return something, it’s a corporate policy, not mine. But if that customer happens to be black, suddenly I’m racist.

    I once made a joke with my boyfriend and his family (who are all white) that it is called soda, not pop. They all said, “It’s pop!” and I said, jokingly, “No it’s not! What’s wrong with you people?!” And every single smile dropped off their faces. My boyfriend gravely told me, “Don’t ever say that here. Don’t ever say “you people”, even if you’re joking. People will jump all over you for being racist.”

    So now, I rethink everything I say, everywhere.

    This has gotten fairly long winded and I’ve probably gotten off topic, but my point is… race shouldn’t be a determining factor on how a person is judged for their crime or what crimes deserve media attention. But it is and that is a sad, sad truth about our country.

    • Hi Marzi, (can i call you Marzi?)

      First, let me say, from Chicago, Welcome to Detroit!. I moved away for grad school over a year ago and while I love it here, I miss my city dearly. Do visit D’Mongo’s Speakeasy and have a drink for me.

      Now, I agree with you that any murder is a tragedy. But from my perspective the reason race is important in the Martin case is because there is a belief that without the issue of race there wouldn’t be case because there wouldn’t have been a murder. In other words, there are those who believe, present company included, that if Trayvon Martin had been white, Zimmerman would not have perceived him as suspicious and pursued him. The case for someone to be a “racist murderer” as you put it, is not that they killed someone of a different race, but that without the victim being of that race, they would not have been targeted.

      Before I continue, I’d like to say that I believe you are coming from a good place, so take everything that follows in that vein. I think on some issues, you are missing a few key cultural and historical points that are important to consider when raising the questions that you’re raising.

      First, yes some minorities are prejudiced and do and say ignorant things. Hell, until a few years ago my dad would tell you straight up that he was racist, my uncle too. While I didn’t agree with it, I understood it. My dad was born in Alabama in 1946 and moved to Detroit with his family when he was nine. When his father tried to buy a house, he was blocked from doing so because that neighborhood was not open to blacks. When my father left home, he went to serve in a racist army and came home to a racist country. My uncle had to be snuck out of Arkansas to avoid the lynch mob who’s wrath he incurred by drinking out of a white’s only fountain. Is there racism completely justified? No. That house that my grandparents tried to buy, they ended up getting it because my grandfather’s boss (a white man) found out what was going on and bought it for the sole purpose of selling it to my grandparents. For my dad and my uncle however, those negative experiences were deeply embedded and took a long time to deal with.

      To add to Scotty’s eloquent response below about blacks-only fraternities and sororities and expand on the idea of self-segregation. I graduated from Michigan State University in 2006. During my time there, I dealt with instructors asking me for the “black perspective”, swastikas drawn on flyers for MLK Jr. marches and white-students insistent on using the “n-word” in conversation. I went to a racially mixed high-school, but honestly, some days after dealing with all of that, I just wanted to be around some black folks.

      Last, and I’m saying this with complete love. Maybe look at things a little differently. Instead of complaining about how you have to avoid saying something wrong, think about what past experiences you might unknowingly be bringing up. In that sense, isn’t it worth it? The fact of the matter is, the little bit I’ve learned about adulthood is that we don’t get to say everything we think all the time. And yeah it’s unfair, but you know what? So is everything that happened before now that created a situation where you have to remove “you people” from your lexicon. The world is changing. And I hope it’s changing to one where we are more sensitive to each other than less so.

      p.s. The people at your job are most likely jerks and that sucks. Take comfort in knowing that some customers everywhere of every creed and color are jerks, they just express it in different ways.

      As always, Ta–Nehisi Coates and Louis C.K. said it better:

      http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/a-muscular-empathy/249984/

    • “There are tons of black only and latino only sororities and fraternities at almost every university. But if someone started a white only fraternity, suddenly the media would be all over it, it would be disbanded and every single person in it labeled a racist for the rest of their lives. How exactly is this fair?.”

      Before I put in my 2 cents, I want to say that I’m coming at this from the perspective of a queer white woman, so my perspective is about minorities in general rather than race in particular. That said, I think the reason white-only frats and sororities aren’t considered acceptable whereas non-white ones are is that white people don’t need them or, at least, are percieved as not needing them. Part of being in a minority is the constant feeling of being excluded from certain groups or places. It can be subtle, or not subtle, or not even present, but we tend to be conditioned to be on edge and wary, just in case. Maybe it’s not fair to those in the majority, but there it is. So in that situation it makes sense to want our own spaces where we know we’ll be safe. People not in that minority — in this case white people — don’t need that kind of space because their safety isn’t being threatened. Basically, a lot of the time the _world_ feels like a whites-only frat/sorority (or straight/sexual-only, in my case).

      Sorry if I didn’t articulate that particularly well. I’m big into xgroup-only spaces because I know how valuable they can be, but part of the reason they’re so valuable is that the groups in question don’t have many other spaces to discuss issues particular to their group. Members of the majority in power do have those spaces because the society is structured to address their issues whether or not they realize it.

    • As a mostly racially ambiguous person I find that when everything is said and done, each group feels slighted. If we just realize the media is controlling what we see to put ad $ in their pockets we would recognize the need to search deeper. Don’t forget to live your life and love your people because what CNN and Fox news got you focused on.

  5. Marzirocks

    I cannot tell you how much I respect your courage, honesty and candor. The fact that you would feel comfortable posting on this subject is not only a testament to you, but to the folks who regularly comment on the blog. Thank you for continuing this dialogue.

    I hope others comment on this. I’ll start the ball rolling by giving you my perceptions on some of your thoughts and queries.

    “I’m not sure why anyone who isn’t white, can’t be a racist.”

    Non-white people can most certainly be racist. However there is a collective belief by many, that inherent in the definition of racism is an assumption of power to implement your belief structure. In other words some people believe that racism isn’t simply thinking that your race is superior, but being able to enact that belief by making sure jobs, services, rights, etc. are not available to any “inferior” race. I still struggle with that definition. However I know for certain that everyone of any race can have racist thoughts.

    “There are tons of black only and latino only sororities and fraternities at almost every university. But if someone started a white only fraternity, suddenly the media would be all over it, it would be disbanded and every single person in it labeled a racist for the rest of their lives. How exactly is this fair?.”

    I most definitely agree with you. It is not fair. But not everything in life is–which is why many of these organizations were started. Remember that not long ago the law of the land was “Separate, but Equal.” Which meant that it was still okay to keep the races apart–as long as each race had the use of similar resources and services. Now this rarely happened, but at least on paper it seemed to put a Band-Aid on the issue of race. However even when segregation became illegal, most collegiate fraternities and sororities didn’t exactly welcome students of color with open arms. So the students created their own organizations. And now we tend to self-segregate. It could be said that most fraternities, sororities and student unions on campuses today that don’t directly identify themselves as belonging to a specific race or ethnicitiy ARE, by default, white organizations–even if that’s not what they call themselves.

    “…I can say, as someone who is white, I am afraid of saying something wrong ALL THE TIME in fear that I will end up offending someone who is not of my race and be branded as racist.”

    I know that this is hard. And i know that this is unfair. Unfortunately we have this legacy of Slavery that tipped the balance of racial understanding and acceptance. I know a lot of people want to wipe the slate clean. We elected a Black President, didn’t we? So that MUST mean that we all look at race the same way, right? I honestly wanted to believe this. However there is a overt level of anger and unrest regarding race that I haven’t seen since childhood. And the Zimmerman/Martin case is a perfect example. I agree with you: there should be liberty and justice for ALL. However one look at the number of missing cases that involve pretty blonde white girls, versus the cases that involve Black, Latina and Asian girls which make the national news unfortunately render it difficult for me to begrudge the attention given to Trayvon.

    And I guarantee that the world is changing. And having the courage to take a deep breath and suppress the very natural reaction to your boyfriend’s statement is key. Yes, it means the discomfort of walking on eggshells for a while. But eventually I truly believe we’re all gonna get an omelet out of it. 😀

    Again, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you for continuing this conversation. Thank you.

  6. Man bags? Well, if it’s rectilinear, unencumbered by excessive decorative gee gaws, and big enough to carry a 15″ laptop, I think of it as a computer bag, tote, shoulder bag, briefcase, satchel or messenger bag, without specific gender-affiliation, and I may envy it.

    I only think of fairly small bags as man bags and I will often take a second look because to see a man with one is still out of the ordinary. I would only think of one as a purse if it had the stereotypical appearance of a woman’s bag – short handles rather than a shoulder strap and/or decorative detailing.

    I have a boat load of feelings on race and racial identity that I don’t have time for right now. I’m sure I’ll post more later. I married into a multi-racial latino family and let me tell you, varied self-identification, self-delusion, and cognitive dissonance abounds.

    As the whitest of white folk, and the recipient of a fair amount of comfortable middle class privilege, I’ve spent plenty of time feeling that I was “walking on eggs” and trying to keep up with the least offensive way to express my thoughts. (Gotta admit that one thing I find very comfortable about this forum is that it’s okay to call us black & white folk, which is the way I still think – it was the “correct” terminology during the formative years of my life.)

    I do have to say that having grown up mostly in the South at a time and in a place that the non-black or non-white portion of the community clocked in at probably less than 2% (roughly 63% white and 36% black if I recall correctly), Mr. Zimmerman would have been derided (or pitied) as delusional by both black & white until AT LEAST the late 70s had he called himself anything but black. We (especially the older folk) knew no Latino/Hispanic. He may self-identify as white, but plenty of people have treated him as non-white and therefore suspect in his life.

  7. I’ve started hearing/seeing a general comment pop up re: the Zimmerman/Martin case. “why didn’t case get the same attention”? “why doesn’t ‘black-on-black’ crime spark the same outrage in the community”? The cases so far that I’ve seen people mention either 1. had no suspect or 2. someone was arrested. I think the outrage here, if you take away race completely, was not merely about the murder itself, it was that it was committed, it was known who did it, and George Zimmerman wasn’t charged- based on his word that it was self defense. The family didn’t immediately turn to the media. IMHO, Zimmerman would never have been charged if not for the national spotlight.

  8. Ahahaa, that “hilarious protest signs” is still posting that awesome picture of my friend with the “Don’t Mind My Loudmouth Boyfriend” sign from the Portland gay marriage days. Awesome.

    I saw a blog post once about how “white” in this country seems to be defined more as “in opposition to black people” rather than as an ethnicity of similar traits. And therefore, other minorities can get absorbed into “white”, but black people are going to find themselves on the outside. Depressing if true, and I hope we don’t have that happen–for one thing, I don’t like being part of The Blob (or The Borg, I suppose) and for another, it speaks to a really ugly future tribalism. Eyuch.

    But as for racism in the present–and white person commenting above, if you’re going around looking for “equivalent crimes” to post about, maybe you want to look at that in your heart?–the issue with Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin is less the shooting, which was a tragedy, and more the way Zimmerman was handled, which was an injustice. We’re in a world where a lot of people see Zimmerman shooting a young black man with almost no provocation, and they’re okay with that–where they see BART cops holding down a young man and shooting him in the back of the head, and they buy their excuses–where cops shoot and beat men and women with mental illnesses, and it’s deemed “excusable” because “how should they know they looked threatening”… that is a world I want to change. I want to change the way that power has corrupted, and one of the ways to do that is to shine the white-hot light of media attention on injustice. I grieve for tragedy; I get angry at what happened to Trayvon Martin, and all the rest.

  9. Bags are so fashionable. The ones you posted are very nice and understated. When I lived in Korea, all the guys carried bags. Now that I’m back in NC, I don’t see many guys carrying them so mine are all sitting in the closet (lol). Let them bags out, they’re a fabulous accessory!

    • Oooh Child!

      I don’t know where you are in NC, but I lived in Charlotte for a while. Pretty city, which on the whole was rather progressive. I could see carrying a bag there. But any place outside the city limits I would probably put any bag I was carrying FAR away until I got back! 😀 Thanks for the post!

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