a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: November 2018

Sunday, November 04, 2018

I Am A Member of a Persecuted Minority

SUMMARY: And it hurts, and has hurt as long as I can remember. Please stop it.

In today's climate of increasing racial disparagement in our country, I have something to say. Whether deliberate or unconscious, the biases that come from long exposure to the idea that, because some group is different from us, they are therefore inferior causes pain and harm.

I can't claim to be in one of the groups who suffers the most (although, as a woman, I've encountered my share of men who think I'm therefore inferior). But, still, I am in a minority in this country, and two words are used against me over and over and over . I have argued against it when people say it in my presence. People just laugh. I believe that the prevalence of this two-word phrase has likely cost me and millions of others the ability to be taken seriously in work, activities, and life.

Don't tell me it's just a joke. Words hurt. And I hate hate hate this. Why do people think I'm joking when I say this?

Only about 5% of Americans fall into my group.

There is a similarly classified 5% of Americans who are not stereotyped and denigrated in the same way.

Can you guess? Here I am throughout my life.

If that isn't enough info, here I am with family and friends. I'm wearing the brown jacket.

Yes, I'm blonde. I have never dyed or bleached my hair. It has darkened as I've aged, and now it depends on how much time I spend outside without a hat (not so much any more) and on how the light hits it. But, blonde.

Try a quick google search for these phrases:
  • "Dumb redhead" or "dumb ginger": Redheads make up about the same percentage of the population, but for them: 15,000. (They're stereotyped, too, but not for being dumb.)
  • "Dumb brunette": About 80,000 occurrences. 
  • "Dumb blonde": Over 3,000,000. That's 40 times more often than for brunettes. 
It hurts. I'm not dumb. None of the blondes I've ever known have been any dumber than anyone else, and I feel that sometimes we have to be smarter than everyone else simply to be accepted as "maybe not dumb".

It hurts. It angers me. It has a real effect on people's lives. Read this.

I wish that people understood that other people are also -- people.  The way they look has No. Damn. Relevance. To that fact.   Makes me sad. And angry. And very afraid at the turn this country has taken. Every little step in the right direction can help to take us out of this. And dismissing my feelings and experiences, or dismissing those of any other group, is not a step in the right direction.

Think. Listen. Speak up.