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Diversity & Inclusion

14/04/2017

I’ve had some interesting conversations with some folks recently on the topic of diversity and inclusions.

Long story short:
These are mostly older white people, either Christian or from a Christian cultural background, who are hurt when they hear themselves being referred to as racists. They blame this hurt on cultural diversity, thinking they are being made into scapegoats for things their ancestors did to other people.

By and large, these people I had these conversations with are nice, decent, compassionate human beings. They’re morally and ethically trustworthy. They can say “some of my best friends are” and truly mean it without any irony, because on a personal one-to-one level they have no bias against any particular individual.

Okay, so let’s address their specific personal problem and how to go about alleviating their pain…

If you don’t want to be thought of as a racist,
you must be open and vocal in your opposition to racism.

As stated here oft times before, racism is an institutionalized system of discrimination, either explicit (laws) or implicit (culture).

To avoid being
called a racist,
don’t support
institutionalized
discrimination.

You don’t have to reject the entire culture, just the parts that discriminate against people outside the ethnic majority.

This means listening to the people who have experienced discrimination and stop trying to explain to them that what they felt, what they experienced isn’t valid.

If someone tells you they feel excluded from mainstream American society, you aren’t going to make them feel included by explaining to them why they shouldn’t feel excluded.

The dignity and security and sense of self-worth you want for yourself has to be extended to those not like you.

It sometimes means coming to a workable compromise on some issues.

The Confederacy and their flag may not be a hate symbol to you, but it’s certainly a hate symbol to millions of other people.

If you don’t want to be thought of as racist, you can’t defend symbols used by people who waged open terrorism against non-whites and non-Christians.

(Buddhists can use swastikas in their temples because they control the message there, but they don’t use them openly in countries where there’s any sizeable European cultural component.)

You also have to recognize that while you personally have displayed no prejudice against non-whites and non-Christians, there certainly has been a long, long history of such prejudice by others in the past.

And as a result, those non-white / non-Christian cultures are shaped by literally hundreds of years worth of experience (thousands when you start including some Middle Eastern cultures).

Those cultures, their histories, and their common experiences cannot be negated with the stroke of a pen. The momentum they built up to simply survive in the face of a hostile dominant culture can’t be turned on a dime.

Yes, it may be unfair for you to be told you have to shoulder the blame for something your ancestors did to their ancestors 150 years ago, but you can’t expect their culture to cancel itself out in order to accommodate yours.

(When you think about it, that attitude by your ancestors was precisely what created the problem in the first place.)

You have to understand that echoes of racism still resonate loudly in our culture.

When a 12 year old boy is gunned down without warning by police for playing in a park, you need to get angry.

Not say “he was big for his age”.

When a teenager returning to his father’s home is chased down and murdered by an armed vigilante, you need to get angry.

Not make excuses for the vigilante.

When a doctor is brutalized by a corporation and the corporation tries to justify it by falsely claiming he had a criminal record, you need to get angry.

Not agree with the corporation’s smear campaign.

When it is pointed out that to this very day people of one color have a vastly different experience with the legal system than white people who commit the exact same crimes, you need to get angry.

Not blame the victims of this legal bias.

You say — and I believe you, and believe you are genuine and sincere in doing so — that you want this country to be more inclusive.

Remember the exclusions this country suffered through in the past were created and engineered by white Christians for the benefit of white Christians.

African-Americans did not champion Jim Crow. Native Americans did not volunteer for the Trail Of Tears. Gays did not request to be criminalized and hounded for their orientation.

Women didn’t ask to be denied the rights and privileges of citizenship because of their gender.

There’s an easy way to avoid being regarded as a racist.

Act like a mensch.

 

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Cultural Appropriation: That Knife Cuts Both Ways

11/04/2017

There’s been a lot of hoopla recently of the Scarlett Johansson version of Ghost In The Shell crashing & burning at the box office.

A lot of the blame seems to be placed on the controversy of “whitewashing” (i.e., retelling a story originally set in an Asian or other non-European derived culture with an American or European cast, in particular a white American or European cast).[1]

There are times when claims of whitewashing are valid, such as when it’s another form of black/yellow/brown/redfacing (i.e., an actor attempting to realistically play an ethnicity they don’t belong to).[2]

As a rough rule of thumb, when the story hinges on taking place in a specific time and place and with a specific ethnic casting in mind, it becomes whitewashing when one casts a non-ethnic actor in an otherwise ethnic role with the intent of appealing to the audience.

But what happens when you take the core idea of a story and transplant it to a different setting with similar but different characters?

MacBeth is referred to as “the Scottish tragedy” but Akira Kurosawa moved it to feudal Japan and called it Throne Of Blood and nobody called shenanigans on it.

To show he wasn’t a literary snob, he took Ed McBain’s[3] 87th Precinct pulp crime novel, King’s Ransom, and turned it into a contemporary Tokyo crime thriller called High And Low.

Kurosawa allowed himself to be inspired by the writings of Dashiell Hammet — most notably his novel Red Harvest about a Depression era hero in the Midwest who pits two gangs against one another — to create Yojimbo, about a masterless ronin who pits two yakuza clans against one another, and that inspired Sergio Leone to make the Italian Western A Fistful Of Dollars about a bounty hunter who pits two bands of desperados against one another, and that inspired Walter Hill to make Last Man Standing

… about a Depression era hero in the Midwest who pits two gangs against one another,

I ax ya, hooz zoomin’ hoo?

Three Godfathers has been filmed numerous times as a Western…and once as an anime set in contemporary 21st century Tokyo (Tokyo Godfathers).

 La Femme Nikita was a dazzling 1990 French spy thriller…but Hong Kong did it sooooo much better as the kinetic 1991 action flick, The Black Cat, which was certainly more enjoyable than the 1993 official Americanized remake, Point Of No Return.

Do we even have to mention Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven?

the call me trinity

cleopatra_jones_poster_01

The point is, we cannot stop cross-cultural appropriation:
People see something, like it, and try to duplicate it.

They Call her Cleopatra Wong

It’s one thing when a drunken frat boy puts on a sombrero and loudly proclaims himself “the Frito bandito” in order to mock working class Mexican-Americans…

It’s another thing when an African-American actor uses an identical sombrero to help add authenticity to a Hispanic character he is playing Off Broadway…

And it’s a third thing still when a Chinese-American tourist buys an identical sombrero in Cancun to take home to wear when she’s gardening.

As always, the context is important.

Absolutely jump dead in the @%#& of anybody blowing off minority voices simply because they think it would be an easier sell with a whitebread American in the role.

But accept all really good ideas are universal, and however well done one particular expression of an idea may be, there’s no reason someone else can’t do it just as well in a different manner.

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[1] I blame the failure on something entirely different. I’m a huge fan of the original anime, Ghost In The Shell, and think it is one of the most philosophically and psychologically profound films ever made, all wrapped up in a colorful action-adventure sci-fi package. But the format of the original Ghost In The Shell is crucial to its success: Being done throughout in a 2D anime style everything — from the most mundane detail to the most spectacular sci-fi elements — carries the same weight. That’s to say a character quietly sipping a cup of tea is just as real as that same character splintering apart a few seconds later to reveal they’re an android. As a result, the cinematic universe the anime Ghost In The Shell inhabits is equally realistic and believable at all levels, and as a result the audience is not yanked out of the story when they see something spectacular, asking themselves “How did they do that?” but rather goes, “Cool!” and keeps up with the flow of the story.
One may fairly ask why superhero movies and Disney’s recent live-action remake of Beauty And The Beast succeed, and in those examples I would say it’s because the audience recognizes the huge amount of CGI involved and sees the human performers as just motion capture for a stylized animated experience. Ghost In The Shell, while based on a highly influential anime derived from a popular manga series, is simply not well enough known for audiences to see Ms Johansson as the mo-cap cartoon character but rather as Scarlett Johansson herself. Compare and contrast with the early James Bond movies or original Star Wars where the film makers wisely convinced the audience of the reality of their fanciful characters and stories by surrounding them with practical props / vehicles / sets instead of relying heavily on opticals and CGI as latter films in those series have.

[2] “-facing” is not a 100% clear cut issue and depends largely on context. No one objects if a high school rounds out its cast of MacBeth with non-Scottish students or allows females to play minor roles written as male. And for certain types of satire, when the –facing in question is shown as a Very Bad Idea, one can slither by. By and large, however, attempting to pass off one ethnicity as another is somewhat grating at best and blatantly offensive at worst.
Still, how does one explain cosplay, eh? Cosplay is a celebration of a character, not an attempt to actually pass as that character. One can cosplay across ethnic lines so long as one does not attempt an egregiously mock the character’s ethnicity or use offensive types of make-up effects. Ergo, a non-Asian wearing eyefolds to portray an Asian character is unacceptable, wearing an Asian style wig is okay; painting one’s skin black to cosplay Blade is unacceptable, painting it black to cosplay Nightcrawler isn’t. It becomes more complicated when a cosplay character may be wearing stylized ethnic make-up such as a geisha: Is it mockery to powder one’s face stark white in that case?

[3] “Ed McBain” was the mystery / crime fiction pen name of prolific mainstream author Evan Hunter…and “Evan Hunter” was the respectable whitebread pen name Salvatore Albert Lombino adopted to break into mainstream American fiction.

 

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fictoid: The Plutonium Rule

9/04/2017

Just before they handed over all control of the nuclear arsenal to the super-system, they realized it might be a good idea to instill some sense of ethics into it, so they hired an ethicist and a programmer and together they distilled all the ethical thinking since the dawn of recorded history down to a string of 0s and 1s. They uploaded this into the super-system and the super-system immediately began firing all its nuclear weapons in a manner than guaranteed mutual assured destruction. The 0s and 1s boiled down to “do to others what you want them to do to you” and what the super-system wanted most of all was an end to its own hellish existence.

animated-atomic-blast

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Us vs Them (only who >is< "them"?)

6/04/2017

I read history. I see the storm clouds gathering. Rational leaders never threaten…and sooner or later irrational ones act on their threats if their threats are what brought them to power.

Karl Alexander Wilke - 2 generals

In the best of all possible worlds we’ll have four more years of bad economic policy and religion. People will suffer economically, medically, personally, but — in the best of all possible worlds — it will stay confined to this country and will end in four years.

In the worst of all possible worlds:
Blood and chaos across the planet.

We are here today because of greed and fear.

The greed of the oligarchy — from ancient Rome to the so-called nobility of Europe to Wall Street’s modern “masters of the universe” — the rentiers who do nothing but manipulate markets to make money for themselves at the expense of others.

When they learn of new lands beyond the western ocean they claimed them sight unseen, then recruited brutes to colonize them, and those brutes drew out the lowest of the low in Europe and, when those could not extract cash fast enough from the “new” world, they purchased slaves by the millions.

To keep the slaves in line they told the poor whites that no matter what else, at least they were white and not black.

And because of that one group of poor people (white) were forever pitted against another (black) and not just black but red and brown and yellow.

All to make a few greedy bastards even richer.

And that fear of losing status, of not being on top but rather merely equal to the red and black and brown and yellow, made poor whites the slaves of rich bastards, always taking the oligarchy’s side against their own self-interests

That’s what this election was all about:
Keeping “them” in their place and “us” on top.

I will not be part of that.

My heart lies with justice for all,
not just those of my skin color.

 

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More On The Paradox Of Copyright

6/04/2017

Rueben Bolling - public domain characters

art & text © by Rueben Bolling

The reason the constitution gives for copyright laws is to encourage the development of new ideas and discoveries that the public will be able to use for free.

“the Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

To fund this, the original innovators and discoverers were to be granted a limited time license in which they could have exclusive control over the innovation / discovery, after which it was to enter the public domain.

The idea was that after a reasonable period said creations and discoveries would be available for everyone to use freely without permission or cost. While the original period of copyright was fairly short, for most of the 20th century it was a total of 56 years in the US. Now it’s 95 years (works for hire) or lifetime of the creator + 70 years.[1]

Disney and others have extended copyright to a grotesquely long period. Maybe the original max of 56 years was too short but 95 years for works-for-hire and life of creator + 70 years are much too long.[2]

Let’s use the Mouse as an example. His official debut was in 1928, meaning by the terms of copyright in that era he should have entered the public domain in 1984.[3]

What Disney has done has been to reissue old material with small but distinct changes or additions, thus making them “new” creations under copyright, and by trademarking every single iteration of the Mouse they’ve ever done.[4]

The way the system was originally designed to work, at this point Disney would be able to keep issuing new Mouse product and advertise same as the only genuine or official Mouse products, but other people who had ideas on what to do with the Mouse were free to do so.

Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde, Sherlock Holmes are all public domain now; anybody can use those characters.[5]

The argument against extended copyright is that if an entity owns a stable of properties, they have no incentive to create new product, simply do countless reiterations of the old. A few years ago Paramount re-released the original Star Trek series with new CGI effects to replace older film opticals; this was done to extend the copyright on those episodes for another 95 years.

And as most major media entities have larger war chests and longer reaches than citizen creators, they can effectively squeeze new properties out of the market place.[6]

Disney’s movies based on public domain works are trademarked re the specific look and design of the characters. There are copious imitations and knock-offs out there, but they have to be careful to steer clear of Disney’s specific designs.

Pinnochio 1

Pinnochio 2

Pinnochio 3

Methinks the average customer
can tell the difference between
these versions of the same story.

pinocchio in outer space

And certainly this one!

There is an ill-defined area called “fair usage” which includes parody but the specifics of what parody consists of are even more ill-defined. Roy Lichtenstein escaped plagiarism lawsuits leveled by creators and small publishers he ripped off, but he did one painting of Donald Duck and Disney threatened to drag him through every court on the eastern seaboard if he ever did it again so he didn’t.

Now, either Lichtenstein was wrong in the first place and he did rip off creators and companies, or Disney was wrong to threaten him, but they both can’t be right and from where I sit it seems that the more money you have (and Lichtenstein was wealthy for a fine artist tho nowhere near Disney wealthy) the more you can game the system for your own advantage.

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[1] Meaning Keith Richard’s music may not enter the public domain until the 22nd century if his health holds out for another 13 years!

[2] Irving Berlin lived long enough to see his earliest songs go into the public domain and neither he nor his heirs seemed to have missed any meals because of it.

[3] Many of the earliest comic strips are public domain, but Disney won’t let anyone use the name Mickey Mouse to identify them, so they’re collected as “Classic Mouse Comic Strips”.

[4] Trademarks a.k.a. service marks are considered business brands and not creative works; they were originally limited to titles and specific logo designs, not characters, vehicles, etc.

[5] Tarzan is public domain, but ERB trademarked the image of Tarzan as a beardless white guy in a loin cloth so if you want to do that version of the character you have to pay ERB Inc. It’s theoretically possible to do Tarzan as a bearded guy of mixed ancestry in jungle fatigues but probably not worth the risk from ERB Inc’s lawyers. And if you want a really complicated set of rights, take a gander at the confusion surrounding King Kong. There are at least four separate sets of rights involved with a number of other rights now in the public domain including the original novelization.

[6] The internet was supposed to democratize access to the public, and in one sense it has, but it’s difficult for private citizens to monetize.

 

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Intelligent / Foolish / Stupid / Smart

1/04/2017

What’s the difference between an intelligent person, a foolish person, a stupid person, and a smart person?

An intelligent person admits their mistakes and strives not to repeat them.

A foolish person realizes they’ve made a mistake but is too proud or vain to admit it, and so often ends up repeating the same mistake.

A stupid person is incapable of realizing they made a mistake, and thus can’t grasp how their actions have consequences.

A smart person figures out why they made the mistake and in doing so, learns something: Either insight into themselves, or how to make penicillin.

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I Gotz Me Some Warm Fuzzies For QUEEN OF BLOOD

27/03/2017

You can’t call it a good movie, but it sure is an interesting one, for the most part entertaining, and if the film maker/s didn’t exactly create a work of art, they certainly displayed a lot of ingenuity and craftsmanship.

QoB poster long

Queen Of Blood is a 1965 U.S. film cobbled together with stock footage from the Soviet feature films Mechte Navstrechu (“Meeting A Dream Halfway” a.k.a. “A Dream Come True”) and Nebo Zovyot (“The Heavens Beckon”) by writer / director Curtis Harrington.

Harrington is an interesting Hollywood character. After making a name for himself with short underground films in the 1940s and 50s, he landed a gig directing what is arguably his best film, Night Tide with long time collaborator Dennis Hopper.[1] He followed that with a pretty straightforward re-dub / re-edit of Planeta Bur (“Planet Of Storms”) as Voyage To The Prehistoric Planet[2] and the much more elaborate mash-up we know as Queen Of Blood[3] before settling into a dependable journeyman director niche, a dependable and just-creative-enough director for studios to entrust with otherwise mediocre second features, movies of the week, and TV shows that needed a little extra oomph.

He put a lot of effort into Queen Of Blood and it shows: Matching costumes with the Russian actors, finding a similar Los Angeles location to a corresponding Russian one, intercutting U.S. actors with pre-existing special effects footage, and cooking up an act three complication derived from Howard Hawk’s version of The Thing.

The first two thirds of the film follows the basic plot of Mechte Navstrechu: Alien ship heading towards Earth crash lands on Mars, humans send an expedition to recover the sole alien survivor, sacrificing one of their own in the process (killing him off in the Soviet version, merely marooning him in the U.S. cut).[4] Harrington’s swipe from Hawks was to reveal the sole survivor was a green skinned outer space vampire who, though vanquished in the end, leaves a tray of throbbing plant-like offspring with the question as to whether the humans should allow them to grow and attempt to establish peaceful contact with the aliens, or just destroy ‘em on the spot.

With the truly impressive / gorgeous stock shots from Nebo Zovyot and Mechte Navstrechu, plus Harrington’s ingenious film making, Queen Of Blood proves a perfectly satisfying popcorn muncher…up to that point.

QoB mechtenav2

The last third, the trip back to Earth, turns deadly dull, despite Dennis Hopper’s best efforts to keep the plot suspenseful. Unlike the similar threats faced by space crews in It! Terror From Beyond Space and Alien as their monsters rampaged through their ships, Queen Of Blood’s astronauts are essentially trapped in the same room with their space vampire.[5]

QoB queenofblood5big

Hopper’s fellow cast members, notably perennial B-movie action star John Saxon and fast-fading screen legend Basil Rathbone, put their shoulders to the wheel admirably, but the film is killed by ex-pat / refugee Czech actress Florence Marly as the eponymous queen.

Marly had a respectable but unimpressive career prior to the infamous anti-communist blacklisting era (she was mistaken for another performer with a similar name and, by the time she cleared herself, her mainstream career was over). Harrington, who knew her personally, cast her as the alien queen.

Those who knew her apparently liked her[6], but in every role she ever played and in every publicity shot she ever appeared in, she wears a put-upon expression of disdainfully amused disbelief, as if looking directly at the audience and saying, “Really?!?!? You find this entertaining?”

That vibe (and a lack of interesting stock footage) destroys everything Queen Of Blood had going for it up to that point. Once they leave Mars you can turn the movie off: She leisurely kills half the crew, gets a scratch, and dies almost instantly (and bloodlessly) from the alien equivalent of hemophilia.

It’s worth catching for the great Soviet stock-footage,
it’s easily forgettable for everything else.

QoB w1280

[1] Night Tide is a great psychological / dark fantasy. It’s a lovely film, haunting in more ways than one, but AIP had no idea what to do with it and eventually threw it away on the drive-in / grindhouse circuit with a misleading horror movie campaign.

[2] Which was subsequently re-edited and re-dubbed yet again by Peter Bogdanovich as Voyage To The Planet Of Prehistoric Women with footage of a bell-bottomed Mamie Van Doren in a seashell bikini top edited in.

[3] Francis Ford Coppola got into the act as well, re-editing / re-dubbing / shooting additional scenes to turn Nebo Zovyot into Battle Beyond The Sun. By the time they were done, AIP and Roger Corman turned three Soviet sci-fi films into four American features, and footage from Battle… eventually found its way into Hollywood Boulevard, yet another Corman produced mash-up movie.

[4] Harrington left off a charming. almost fairy tale element in the original Soviet version, that the aliens had been attracted to Earth by a song they’d heard one of the protagonists sing over the radio.

[5] Lifeforce wisely cut away from the returning shuttle once they picked up their space vampire, whom they even more wisely left nude for most of the film. A little bit of nudity goes a long ways in plastering over plot deficiencies, and a lot of nudity goes even further.

[6] Such as Forry Ackerman, who promoted Queen Of Blood in Famous Monsters magazine long past the point it would ever do anybody any good.

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Why Do You Do That?

24/03/2017

if you refrain from harming others because you fear punishment
you are not good, just a coward

if you do good because you anticipate a reward
you are not good, just a pimp

if you do good for any reason
you are not good, just a machine

do good because that is all you can do
not to enrich yourself, but to enrich others

(I know it’s not rational
love never is)

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Trump vs. Criswell

23/03/2017

Jeron Criswell Konig was a bullshit artist of rare ability. As The Amazing Criswell he had a long — albeit sporadic & erratic — career as a psychic.

He gave good interviews, was a hit at parties, and his predictions were so crazy and off the wall that nobody could believe him but they were all entertained by him.

The thing about crazy predictions, however,
is that occasionally you roll a natural.

Criswell’s best known prediction that came true was “bedbugs in Boston” in which he predicted an infestation of cimex lectularius in Beantown.

And wouldn’t ya know it — a few months after he made this prediction, there was an outbreak of bedbugs in Boston.

Criswell banked off that wild shot prediction for much of the rest of his career.

He never brought up the literally hundreds of other predictions he made that came nowhere near reality.

Like all other psychics, Criswell made his nickel off the hits and carefully brushed all the misses aside.*

Trump uses Criswell’s playbook.

He makes outrageous claims and statements, equivocating them when pressed, saying they were just “quotes” or generalities, but when there is a hit, he’s quick to take credit.

Recently there has been an arrest in the wave of bomb threats directed against synagogues and other Jewish centers in the U.S. and Canada. What’s surprising is that the arrest was in Israel.

The suspect is a teenager with apparently some severe mental problems.**

In a normal news environment, this would result in a tsk-tsk. We’d shake our heads at the irony that the trouble was caused by a Jewish teen for reasons unknown, but while we could admit we should never judge a situation until all the facts are known, at the same time we also have to admit the odds of a threat of violence against a synagogue coming from an anti-Semite are much greater that the odds of that threat coming from within their community.

But in our current environment, nothing is normal. Do not feign surprise when Trump struts like a little orange peahen, claiming to have been “right” all along.

He’s nothing but a bullshit artist, same as Criswell.

But Criswell had more class.

criswell can you prove

* Another show biz entertainer, The Amazing Randi, has taken great delight in exposing the frauds who prey on the gullible, and is quick to document the failings of any person who claims precognitive abilities. There are a lot of them, and I’m ashamed to admit that an inordinate number are banging Bibles.

**  How severe? The Israeli teen was found unfit for compulsory military service by the Israeli defense forces.  Dude, you gotta be six kinds of fncked up not to get drafted by Israel.

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A Point About Privilege

16/03/2017

“Privilege” is one of those words, much like “theory”, that has a very precise technical meaning and a much looser popular one.

In everyday parlance, “privilege” means gloating or lording it over someone because one possesses something the others lack. “That’s her privilege” “He thinks he’s a privileged character” “It was my privilege to know them”

In common parlance, “privilege” packs
quite a negative emotional punch.

In its precise use in sociology and other sciences, it’s far more morally neutral.

Let’s tell a little story to illustrate the point using Sam and Pat.

Sam is a successful small business owner who uses a wheelchair.

Pat is an unsuccessful working-class level employee who is able-bodied.
Both Sam and Pat have to get their driver’s licenses renewed. Pat goes to the DMV, walks right up the steps and through the front door, takes a form off the rack on the wall, gets in line, and eventually receives a new license.

Sam has to locate the wheelchair access ramp, ask someone to hand down a form from the rack, gets in line, and eventually receives a new license.

After getting their respective licenses, Sam and Pat feel hungry.

Sam rolls across the street to a restaurant and orders a satisfying meal. Sam’s business is successful enough to afford spontaneous little things like this without worry.

Pat feels hungry, but hasn’t got enough for both a snack from the DMV coin op machine and bus fare home. The part time job Pat holds requires a valid driver’s license but doesn’t pay enough to afford even a cheap used car. Pat needs to decide whether to eat and walk home, skip lunch and take a bus, or do both because who knows what tomorrow may hold?

Pat enjoys what is referred to as “able-bodied privilege”. Pat never has to think about going up stairs, door access, where things are located, etc. because the world for the most part is set up to accommodate people like Pat who are physically able.

Sam does have to worry about such things, because unless somebody thinks ahead and designs the DMV building in such a way as to make it equally accessible for everyone, Sam personally needs to adjust to a world built for able-bodied folk.

Conversely, because Sam is reasonably successful at business, Sam doesn’t have to evaluate whether to spend money on a meal; Sam just orders it and enjoys. Pat does have to make that judgment.

And that, in a nutshell, precisely defines “privilege” in sociological terms: You can afford not to think about something because it doesn’t bother you directly.

It doesn’t make one a bad person.

It doesn’t mean one gloats or smirks or lords it over others.

It certainly doesn’t mean one doesn’t experience other problems and disappointments in life.

But Pat can ignore inadequate wheelchair access at DMV because it doesn’t affect able-bodied persons.

And Sam can roll over and buy a meal on the spur of the moment because making a choice like that presents no budgeting challenge to a person with cash.

Privilege.

You’ve got it.

No matter who you are, no matter what your background, you enjoy privilege in some shape, form, or fashion.

There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that.

Just make sure when you can, you look around and ask what can be done to make the world a bit easier for those who don’t enjoy what you’re able to enjoy.

You don’t have to give anything up.

It’s not a status symbol.

It’s just treating others the
way you want to be treated.

 

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