Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

white privilege

150 Years in Yosemite: Those Who Kill

As we celebrate 150 years of protecting Yosemite National Park, we have to look closer at how it became ours in the first place.

The name itself — Yosemite — is a slur. It is a Miwok word that means “Those Who Kill.” Sometimes it’s translated as “Some of Them Are Killers,” and it refers to the Ahwanhee people who’d lived in the valley for centuries before the US government ordered its evacuation and later created a national recreation area under the Yosemite Grant Act. But the people who lived there weren’t killers. They just lived in a valley that our government wanted to use for entertaining dignitaries.

That is the untold story of Yosemite National Park.  

I Don’t Completely Get It

And I will never completely get it because I am a white, Conservative Jew.  Yes, I am a minority, but I am lucky enough that I can pretty much blend in whenever I want to.  Unless someone is particularly fanatical, lucky and has phenomenal Jewdar, they are not generally going to detect that I am Jewish.  I generally do not cover my head with a kippah in public except when I am going to, and coming home from, synagogue.  I eat vegetarian in non-kosher restaurants.  I am out and about on Saturdays.  I am proud of my Jewishness – it is part of the very core of my personal identity – but it is not something that is always readily discernible from purely visual observation.

Yes, I can see what happens and I can know what happens; I can learn about it, both from the history of our country and from the many different years and places of discrimination that Jews have been subjected to throughout our history.  Still, because I can easily blend in – because I possess white privilege – I will not really know it firsthand.  Because of this I will never have to worry about what President Obama spoke about this afternoon and what every African American goes through merely from living their everyday lives.

The Australian solution

In recent years Australia has seen a tremendous increase in what their politicians call ‘boat people’. Their refugees come from violence torn areas like Iran and Afghanistan as well as a number of other nations.

You know…brown people.

 photo boatpeople_zps34fc25a8.jpg

Starting to GET How Much I Don't "Get" It (UPDATED With My Decision)

Or “Wherein Sricki Fesses to a Shameful Level of Ignorance.”

Whatever title works for you. I’m good with either.

We’ve been talking a lot about race on the blogs lately. I freely admitted in a comment the other night that I totally don’t “get it” when it comes to understanding racism and oppression. But there’s so much I don’t get, and the more I learn, the more clueless and out of touch I feel. Am I about to embarrass myself trying to talk about race? Maybe, but I can’t say that my personal sense of humiliation and shame about all this makes it any less true or noteworthy.