I would like to preface this by explaining that my ideas are nothing more than a series of honest thoughts. I am not putting anyone down, including myself, nor am I coming from a place or resentment or hostility. Instead, I am simply pointing out an observation. This is something I see. And I’m open to the ideas of different perceptions. However, in my search to find personal understanding, I found that honest assessments and observations are helpful if for no other reason than to teach me how not to be. But nevertheless, here I go . . .
I can say that yes, I have come from the breeding grounds. I have been here from the sandbox to the playground, to the gyms and to the bathrooms where kids smoked cigarettes and bullies beat up the freshman. I have been in the fields behind the school, and above this; I have come from the breeding grounds of social construction and seen the difference between the desirables and the uninvited. I have seen the split between the crowds. I’ve met with the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the pretty, and of course, let’s not forget the unattractive. I have met the rich who were poor and the poor who were wealthy. I have seen the different divisions of popularity and what happens to the underlings or to those who swim in the underbelly of the social beasts. They are the bottom feeders and the refused, not included, and the unwelcomed.
I often hear things, which make me think. I hear words that make me shake my head, which is not to say that I don’t believe in the words per se; it’s just that—well, I’m not sure if we see both sides of our terms. I’m not so sure that we see how our arguments implode because of our own hypocrisy. I try not to do this, but do you know what?
I’m human, which means I have some growing to do.
For example, I have seen signs that read, “We are stigma free!” and I think to myself, “Are we?” I think about the people who misuse the word diversity or the ideas of their so-called “Inclusion,” and to me, I laugh because this is often used in exclusionary terms. To me, it seems the fact that we have to actually practice these words are as mind-blowing to me as the fact that we have to literally remind people to wash their hands.
I mean, come on people.
Did it really take a pandemic to learn that we should always wash our hands?
Because in this case; hey, I’ve been washing my hands since before it was cool.
I think about our uniform, which is us, and yet this is so much more. I think about the categories we place people in like doctors, lawyers, accountants, gas station attendants and ditch diggers. As a matter of fact, I was told that at best, I would have to aspire to be a gas station attendant or a ditch digger. I was told this by a teacher, who in fairness was quite miserable. Maybe he was tired of the kids. Maybe he hated his job or his life (or his wife) or maybe he was pissed off because after all the years he spent on his own education, perhaps he thought he was grossly under paid.
And maybe he was. By the way, as for ditch diggers, I can say that I know a few of them. I can also say that their salary is considerably more than that of a teacher—but hey, we’re stigma free.
No judgment here. We practice diversity, equity and inclusion.
Okay then. I’ll play along.
Here we are in our uniforms, which are us in our own skin. I am me and you are you and yet, we are still compartmentalized by color, race and separated by gender and identity. I am me, which means I am a list of descriptions. And you are you, which means the same thing. We define each other by name, rank and serial number, which is amazing to me. We assign opinions due to occupations or job titles. I think about the executives and the way they walk into the office spaces and how everyone turns to offer a friendly hello. I think about me or some of the other lower-level employees—and I wonder where all the friendly greetings have gone.
I think about some of the people I would see in the jail systems. I wonder who else they could be? Who are you if not an inmate or prisoner #965307? Or, what about the so-called drunks or the junkies; who else could they be?
Are any of them so much worse than some of the members in the executive boardroom?
Years back, I worked in an engineering crew that was under investigation. Apparently, someone was stealing from the executive floors. I was interviewed by a security executive without concern. They swore it was one of the lower-level workers. It had to be. Of course, it did. This had to be one of the poor unfortunates because otherwise, who else could it be? Was it one of the nighttime building cleaners? No, it wasn’t them or anyone in the engineering staff. It was actually one of the so-called “Suit and tie” executives who had a little bit of a cocaine habit.
The words I heard were, “What a surprise! He was such an educated guy.”
I found this amazing.
I have seen the remnants of stigma, bullying and social shaming; and I’ve seen how this has influenced our biases. I have come from the breeding grounds that date back to my early childhood and this has led me up until now. I have been by the water coolers and the copy machines. I’ve been in break rooms and in boardrooms. I’ve been on both sides of the collar in the white and the blue—and to be clear, rest assured the gossip mills and rumor factories are always at work on either side and they’re always looking for something to chew on.
I can say that yes, I have come from the breeding grounds.
And not much has changed. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have hope.
Ever sit in a waiting room?
Did you ever have that feeling while waiting outside of an office for a job interview? Meanwhile, the people inside are already on the inside. They have the job. And there we are, sitting on the outside, hoping for a semblance of acceptance—or at minimum, at least we’d like to be invited in.
“Come in Mr. Kimmel. We are ready to see you now.”
It’s about time, I say to myself.
But now what?
Have you ever had one of those moments?
Either way, the sun is up now.
It’s time to put my uniform on
and go . . .