Susan Bewley: A rebuttal to talking about ‘Real People’
It is simplistic when you divide all of humanity into “Real People” and “Excluded,” as Robert Chrisman did in his recent Other Voices column.
In doing so, you fail to acknowledge the complexity of human beings. People do not fit well into boxes. A person might be a brilliant physicist and a horrible parent. Another may be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. And then there are those mixed marriages, you know, Republican and Democrat. Who can figure that one out?
Your disparaging of “intellectuals” is interesting. I believe that “intellectuals” are smart people who have studied and thought long and hard about a given subject or problem. They are the inventors who improve millions of lives. They are the Gutenbergs, the Einsteins, the Pasteurs, the Founding Fathers and Mothers. They are the people who will discover a vaccination for the coronavirus. Why would one denigrate smart people?
Now let’s turn to reality. Every day on the news there are medical providers decrying the lack of Personal Protective Equipment. This has been going on for six months. There was a shortage of ventilators. Now it’s testing supplies. Do you think that these thousands of nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists are all lying? And how about the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths? The numbers are similar whether they are reported on Fox News or MSNBC or CNN or ABC or CBS or PBS. This is a pandemic that is out of control, and our president says it will magically disappear. He doesn’t enact the Defense Production Act to fix the shortages. He also says that the scientists should take a look at injecting disinfectant as a possible cure.
Continuing with the subject of realty, you may be too young to have witnessed housing and employment discrimination. In 1964, I worked in an Oakland office of about 40 people, none of them persons of color. When my husband and I bought our first house in 1972 in the San Francisco Bay Area, there was a racially restrictive covenant clause in the deed of trust which Congress outlawed in 1968.
And have you heard of red-lining? These things were reality in the not-so-distant past and have had long-term repercussions hampering African-Americans from accumulating wealth. White privilege is real, and you are not dealing with reality if you don’t believe it. I recently saw a photo of a little African-American girl holding a sign at a Black Lives Matter protest. As close as I can remember, it said:
“We say Black Lives Matter
We never said white lives don’t matter
We know all lives matter
We just need your help
for Black Lives are in danger.”
Two quick points because words do matter. When one uses the word “regulation,” it has a negative connotation. If you substitute my preferred wording which is “labor and environmental protections,” it becomes clearer why it is important to have them. Another emotion packed term is “politically correct.” I admit that I am politically correct in my choice of words, because I want to be courteous and sensitive to other people’s feelings.
In closing, let me say that the polls were not wrong in 2016. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular vote count by 3 million votes. It was our odd Electoral College, in place since 1787 to appease the small southern states, which gave the presidency to Trump. The candidate who gets the most votes should win, but alas that is not our system.
But it can be changed. We women can vote now, you know.
Susan Bewley lives in Nevada City.
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Is that how I wanted to spend my birthday? Yes and no. The original plan was to take a weekend trip to the coast for a few days of relaxation.