Supremacist- I do not think it means what you think it means. Or, when you can’t stop laughing when someone else falls down

southern strategy eternal flame
The Southern Strategy and the Eternal Flame

A quote from the very White Princess Bride

Supremacy is getting a semantic rap that is not helping one bit with the dialog we need to have and the issues we need to face.

I say unequivocally and many of my dear ones don’t want to hear it, and I will keep saying it.

This is a supremacist culture. I am not the first person to say it and I hope I won’t be the last because, can we tawk?

Supremacist does not (usually) mean you are out there waving a Nazi flag or gunning down Black Lives Matter types. It doesn’t even mean you believe you personally are better than someone else. Most Americans, at heart, would be revolted by the idea that they are better, more deserving, than someone else due to ethnicity, size, financial or educational attainment, gender, orientation, age, wellness.

So here’s a non racial example of how it DOES work.

Have you ever thought about wellness culture? We are bombarded with weight loss options, supplements, the good life with yoga, mindfulness, fitness.

If we are not doing our first triathlon, climbing mountains, looking super hot and fit and badass at 40, 50, 60, happy, happy, HAPPY all the time, we are less than. And corporations are making millions off of the resolutions we make, and then fail, over, and over, and over.

Come on. You know it’s true. If we are aging, aching, tired, sad, injured, traumatized, addicted, have bad hair or a belly, curvy or worse dear God OBESE… we are less than, and it is our fault, and we add it to the list of reasons to feel bad about ourselves and resolve to do better. And people scoot away from us on the bench, just like in Alice’s restaurant. And we are divided, and down on ourselves. And divided is good business, big money, for somebody. Follow the money, my mama says.

And this narrative carries over into every broad aspect of how we identify- our gender, our ethnicity, how much money we have or don’t, who we love, our career and educational attainment, our geographic region. You know good and well it does.

And if we are born with certain genetics – we simply CANNOT do better. We have no choice but to just eat the ration of you know what that this culture hands us daily, for a lifetime. If we are lucky, we get the chance to examine the narrative about our genetics and work smarter given that reality. And we will have varying levels of success- but it will always be work at best. And for many it will be a constant and unavoidable fight that we did not provoke.

What supremacy DOES mean is that we have internalized the idea that something is better than something else.  We turn that supremacist thought on ourselves, to our detriment. And on others, consciously or unconsciously, harming ourselves, our children, our society. It’s like hating the right half of our body, cutting it off.

And we with privilege benefit unconsciously from massive systemic oppression based on that premise. It’s Stockholm syndrome, right? As Dave Chappelle recently said – paraphrasing –  in his sidewise explanation of why he left Hollywood behind, from the book Pimp… “First you beat her with a coat hanger. Then you run her a bath and give her some pills. She will love you so much for fixing what you did to her in the first place.”

My young one recently got into a terrible dustup – I am sad to say, most of it simple misunderstanding – with one of her dearest friends about ‘gallows’ or ‘ironic’ (I don’t think that word means what you think it means, either) humor. We like to display that we are ‘in the know’ about injustice by making a joke that shows we get it, or that is ‘so funny because it is wrong.’  You can do your own research on that – Google ‘why aren’t these jokes funny? I learned from my child. No gallows humor if your neck is not in that noose.

And these jokes are like the laugh we can’t hide when someone falls down. Why do we always laugh? Google that, too. I think it’s relief. It could be us, but it isn’t. Just like any cultural or medical or other group to which we do not belong…  we are free use them for a punchline.

So here’s the thing. I can make fun of myself when I fall down- as I absolutely did on Monday night. I took a fast and direct trip, hahaha, from about five – no, eight. let’s call it eight steps up, better drama-  onto the hard cold tile floor of the local opera house. I can still see those tiles up close in my mind. Which is amazing cause I was UP SO FAST- I could have broken both legs and an arm and I would still be UP.

The security guard held my arms and looked in my eyes and said ARE YOU OKAY? Sure she has liability and all to think about, but I saw empathy too. I said I was fine, embarrassed only. She said no need for embarrassment.

I am sure she was thinking, why did I tell that lady she could take her drink upstairs? Anyhoo.

When I fall down, it is funny. I promise you. 99.5% of the time. So far.

When someone else falls down – it isn’t funny. It isn’t funny til we find out what lasting effects they suffer from the fall. And it isn’t funny until they tell us it is. Inquire as to their wellbeing first. You can laugh later. IF they say it is funny.

This post brought to you by so many thinkers and writers- Halle Berry on sexism, and the brilliant Sick Woman Theory by Johanna Hedva, coverage of Lena Dunham’s hipster racism, for starters.


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