Tuesday, April 26, 2011

German Shepards and African Americans

German Shepards and African Americans. French Bulldogs and Asian Americans. Disclaimer: By no means am I comparing humans to dogs. Just hear me out...

German Shepards don't understand German (unless you train them in German). African Americans don't speak "African" languages unless they are taught. French Bulldogs do not sip lattes at outdoor cafes...I mean, right?

Breeds of dogs are given distinct names and labels based on their physical attributes and bloodline. The temperment of a Lab is going to be much different from that of a Poodle. The energy level of a Vizsla (my dog, by the way), is going to be SO much higher than that of a Pug. Regardless of where the dog is born or raised, the characteristics of each breed, for the most part, are going to stay relatively consistant.

When it comes to people, this concept goes against everything we are taught. We are all created "equal"-the same. No "race" has an advantage when it comes to intellectual capacity, for example. This is what we are taught and encouraged to believe, anyway. We label dogs because, well, they are dogs. Imagine if someone asked you, "what kind of dog do you have?". "Oh, I have a Beagle named Charlie". How often would you say, "I have a very nice yellow dog". Probably never, I mean right? You give your dog special food that caters to the specific needs of that breed. You identify with other dog lovers that own the same breed. "Oh! You are a Boxer person? I love Boxers!" Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to different illnesses, just like people. "African Americans" are more prone to heart diease. But, what if you are "white", born in Africa, and now live in the US. You are, by definition, an "African American", are you not? You WERE born in Africa, right? Does that mean you are at a higher risk of heart diesase? No. If you are black, regardless of your nationality, you ARE at higher risk.

I have several black friends and all of them were born in the United States. They are no more "African" than I am "French". Actually, I am probably more French than they are African because of where my Great Grandpa was born. (which was French Canada, which technically isn't really even French). I have several Asian friends, too. (wow-aren't I cultured?). Some are "Chinese", one is "Japanense", and another is "Vietnamese", yet most of them will just say, "Asian". Really? You are okay with that? If someone asks about my heritage, I'm not going to say "European"...there's like 100 countries in Europe (or something). I mean, right?

Look, people...if you want to continue down this road of CRAZY labels and being politically correct, and holding hands, and saving the world, etc. Cool-you have fun with that. Just note, the more we label ourselves...the more we TRY to be "individualistic", the less understanding we will have with one another. If you were born in Royal Oak, Michigan guess what? YOU ARE AMERICAN! Yes, even if you are black, purple, or green. You are AMERICAN! If you are white and born in Cambodia, guess what? YOU ARE CAMBODIAN! Isn't this a CRAZY concept?

Don't even start to tell how it's a "cultural" thing, because it's not. Asian American, like I mentioned above, can speak to MANY different countries and cultures. Japanese food is VERY different from Chinese. The language is different. The customs are different. It's a different country! So if it's not a cultural thing, is it a physical thing? If you are black, you are actually "African American". That's the PC term, right? So what if you are black and were born in France? Are you "African American French?" Are you "African French". No. You are simply French.

I am American. There, I said it. Sure I have TONS of family in Quebec, and like a thousand second cousins in Austria and Romania, but I learned how to ride my bike in my driveway in Troy. I was born at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. I get ripped off when I'm in Europe. Dude, I'm American! (I said "Dude", dude). So what's with the labels? Is anyone else completely over treating people like data charts? When is the last time you filled out a job application? "Ethnicity: African American, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Native American, WHITE". I always wanted to ask someone in HR...excuse me, I don't see "my" label on here. Am I just, "white"?

Actually, yeah. Well, I'm usually a bit flushed. So, you could say I'm like medium? My Bobby Brown (not the rapper) concealer says I'm "Sand Natural". Sand? Okay, I like the beach. That's cool. I mean, right?

If someone asks for your nationality: if you were born in the US, you say "AMERICAN". If someone asks your ethnicity: you can call out your lineage. Your "breed". If someone asks what color you are, you say what color you are: black, brown, white, tan, pink, green (you may want to see a doctor), etc. I'm just over people looking at me weird when I say, "he was black", instead of "he was African American". I don't know that he is...he may have been born in Royal Oak, just like me. I know he's more than a color, though.

I mean, right?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

3 Days Left

There are many trends that I have fought hard to avoid in the past but eventually gave into, and in some cases, embraced. A few are listed below:

1. Uggs: The best thing to come from Down Under since Keith Urban. I made fun of them until I tried a pair on. I now have five styles. (In China, I slept in one pair for a whole week because my hotel was so cold).

2. Jeggings: For the record, I believe I was the first person in Michigan to own a pair. I bought them in Cambridge back in spring 2008...however, I didn't really wear them out until they became "cool".

3. DMB: I thought most people that listened to Dave Matthews were REALLY annoying (I went to high school with a lot of them). You know, the "Birmingham Hippies": drive BMW's, wear $200 jeans, but intentionally don't bathe or wash their hair in order to feel more connected with homeless people. Well, freshmen year of college changed all of that-I was exposed to The Lilywhite Sessions. Bonfires-drinking games-snowboarding...good times. I love DMB. There, I said it.

4. Skinny Jeans: Don't knock them until you try on a pair. I'm just sorry I waited so long. I didn't want to wear them when I was actually "skinny", and now...well...(sigh).

5. Fancy Coffee Drinks: This has been a recent thing for me. I could not STAND coffee until I had no choice while I was on the road. Literally a few hundred dollars later, I'm HOOKED on lattes. Hooked. Actually, I want one right now....I've been a user for only 2 months. Please tell me this gets easier. I mean, right?

Though I have given into a lot of trends in the past, there is one current technology that I absolutely refuse to use: electronic books. I was recently in Indy for NCAA Women's Final Four Basketball. There was a Borders Bookstore that was in it's last days of business (last 3 days, to be exact). For 3 days, I walked in front of the tall glass windows that exposed the empty shelves and displayed over-sized yellow posters that reminded readers, "3 Days Left!" I looked away, sad. I was witnessing the death of books-the experience of reading as we know it. Are we 'okay' with this?, I thought to myself.

By no means would I classify myself as an "avid" reader, but I still enjoy the "experience": thumbing through the pages, folding the front cover behind the back, reading the corny dedications, and the subtle smell of the ink and paper. Hell, I'll even take the paper cuts if it means not losing one of the most important objects in the history of civilization.

We will wake up one day and say, "Remember way back when, when books were on paper? When we didn't have to charge them over night in order to read them in the morning while eating breakfast? When we didn't have to "turn them off" during take off and landing on our flight from DTW to LGA? When we could put old books in a box and donate them to a local school or lend a book to a neighbor or friend? When bookshelves actually housed, well, books? When glares didn't matter, and neither did available storage space.

Nah-I think I will pass on all of that. You can find me at Caribou Coffee, sipping a sugar-free pumpkin spice latte with skim milk and light whip. I'll be chillin' in my Uggs, skinny jeans, and listening to DMB on my iPod...flipping through the pages of the latest issue of The Week.