I have this problem with following, as in, for some reason I am completely unable to do it. One of my middle school teachers put it this way: \”Cassandra is a born leader; not a follower, although who she is leading is anyone else\’s guess.\”
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In the aftermath of recent events — particularly Hurricane Katrina — there\’s been an onslaught of people, particularly politicians, pundits, talk show callers and the like, using words such as \”they,\” \”our,\” \”those\” people, \”the\” people… it really makes me angry to hear people ranting, as usual, about other people. About the injustices done to other people. And what \”we\” need to do to help \”those\” people.
But so very, very rarely do we ever get to hear the word \’we\’ — we don\’t get to hear \”we are angry at the way we have been treated and the injustices that have been done to us.\” And \”What can be done to help us? What can we do to bring about change?\”
It\’s always about the other guy: feeling angry for him, sorry for him, helping him… it\’s not that people do not need help, but I get so upset… that after the years of struggle that I\’ve been through in my life [poor little white girl] that the most hlep I have received have been the words of pity — or sympathy, or empathy, however you want to put it — hot fucking air, from big talkers… not change.
I\’d like to hear from other people who can use \”we,\” who can say \”I,\” who can say \”I am angry–I am one of those people who is effected by these things, who does not have anything to fall back on when things go wrong. Who does not have any options, who does not have… a security net. Whose life, by the standards of the people who really like to use the word \”they,\” is not a life at all, and is barely even an existence, and is something to get worked up about and to get in front of a microphone and say \”We need to help \’those\’ people!\”…
\”We\” people have names, obviously. And we can speak for ourselves… (when [and if] you let us).
Media and academia and anything else ending with an -ia — anything else that begins with a degree and ends with a salary that is more than four figures, which is something I will probably never see in my life — those are the sorts of things that like to give people like me names, names for \”our\” type of people: \”the underclass,\” \”the invisible class,\” \”the downtrodden,\” \”the working poor,\” \”the disabled.\” You know, as in \”there\’s a disabled car on the outer lane of the Beltway blocking traffic;\” that\’s how I feel when people use the word \”disabled\”: like I\’m getting in the way of everything else because \”I\’m the disabled one,\” and the whole world is just waiting for the right mechanic to come along and fix me to get me out of everyone else\’s way.
If people who come up with these words could realize how marginalizing these words make people feel and how \”sticks and stones…\” is so untrue — to go anywhere, to look in a newspaper, to turn on the news, to be interviewed or talk to a researcher or commentator… to take a class, read a book: to do anything — and have… these words… which are morale-abusing, to say the least, trampling over your self-esteem at every turn… is it any wonder we are the \”chronically downtrodden\”? Unable to get ahead when the vocabulary is \”those\” people, \”them,\” \”different,\” \”the others,\” and \”less than\” being constantly hammered into our heads.
Our heads. Us.
Don\’t speak for me. I have a voice and I\’m not going to shut-up just because you won\’t listen.