guilty elitism?

September 4, 2007

i know that, for the most part, my personal tastes have been acquired and developed through various influences in my life. among those playing a significant role include: cultural, educational, social, economical and commercial factors. just as these progress, regress, morph,… of course, my preferences change as well.

trends in my likes and dislikes do exist though. for instance, i’ve rarely paid full price for any item to be found at a mall. in fact, i tend to like the items that not enough people liked and thus its relocation to the back of the store on the sale rack. conversely, given versions of the nearly the same item, i often prefer the item with most expensive manufacturer’s suggested retail price without seeing it, or the brand logo. in terms of cleaning products, for household or hygiene, i won’t stock up during sales; but if i find a clothing item that i love, i will buy a couple, even at full-price. if something appears to be made personally by the vendor, i’m much more inclined to shell out and rarely ever haggle.

lately, i want items that will last tangibly or memorably. since the latter is subject to terribly forgetful habits, the former most often comprise what is acquired, or rather that which i acceptingly spend larger amounts.

no, i’m not living outside my means and i’d like to believe that i’m quite practical about my purchases (except a few maybe).

anyhow, the point of all this rambling (and demonstrative of my point) is that i feel the need to justify my spending.

so, i bought a shirt at a price you paid for 11 shirts…i like mine and you like them. what makes it ok for you to judge me when i – in a socially acceptably way* – cannot comment on your seemingly frugal lifestyle.

HOWEVER, I can’t help this one little, teensy, weensy word-to-the-wise (perhaps you’ve heard it b/c i sure as heck am not the first to say it):

QUANTITY DOES NOT EQUAL QUALITY.

*yes, i am quite aware of what Bourdieu had to say about taste and not only do i agree, i have been intimately involved in the process of shaping “personal preferences”.

being white…

November 7, 2006

posted to previous blog on April 07, 2006
being white…
Reading a new book: Being WHITE: Stories of Race and Racism, 2005 – Karyn D. McKinney.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself (only now on the 11th page), but I think this one could be a launching pad for future endeavours. Similar to any research paper, the first section deals with research methodology. Siince its format allows, the preliminary thought process, background, history, participants, etc. are explicated in depth. Now normally, I would have skipped this ‘Introduction of unnecessary particulars’, but here, I am entrenched. All the while that I have read lines (and footnotes!) within these 11 pages, I have been stopping, starting, going back, getting stuck:
a) dreaming about all the social phenomena for which I would apply similar methods to study them, and,
b) considering some of my friends’ reactions.
…I find myself snickering to myself and thinking… when did this happen – that I became such a dork?

When did i begin to engender difference? Maybe it was when ‘little town, in Canada’ wasn’t good enough when asked “where are you from?” or “uh, i mean where were you born?” or “no no! your parents… where are they from?”. Or maybe it started when they said “Your English is so good, you don’t even have an accent!” hmmm… Thanks. Or perhaps it was latter, when you referred to me as “the Chinese girl” or when you approached me with the hot-line, “i just got back from Korea, I just LOOOOVE asian girls”

“Being WHITE” is essentially a compilation of autobiographies by white students in the U.S. about, you got it… being white. The author considers these individuals’ stories/experiences and their broader political meaning.

Perhaps it’s too early to say, but judging from the table of contents, I wish some of my friends would also read this book. Chapters include: “I could tell my life story without mentioning my race” (thank you rachelle for forgetting mine so many years ago); “being born in the US to white parents is almost boring” (oh jaret, i apologize for my eyeball rolling – that you never even noticed in your heartfelt plea); and “i feel ‘whiteness’ when i hear people blaming whites” (wtf do you mean that racial profiling doesn’t exist! – you know).

Yes, it’s too early to say what my favorite message from this book will be. But there is something I wish some of my friends would consider: having grown up “not noticing” race (being “colour blind”) is often equated with being antiracist…IT’S NOT.

I don’t have the guts or the strength to say this to many of you (instead, you may accidentally read this rant). WIth some of you, I’ve tried previously – but now I’m nervous. Somehow, I can stand on a soapbox at school and at work, where I get dirty looks from my entirely white cohort/faculty and test the nerves of an all white board of directors… at times risking my education and career. I can handle that. But when it comes to you, I shy away… lest I say something “offensive” (again).