Relief. I am so happy that I came home early today. This has been a busy week, and it's only Wednesday. I worked late on Monday and Tuesday... and the way it looks, it seems that I shall be working late tomorrow too. That three day job of JP Morgan last week looks like it heading to be a week-long job for me this week. We're meeting with the client tomorrow evening to go through changes in the look and feel for the application and the databases are to be delivered on Friday. Cutting it close to the deadline. Here is Mike and I at the train station. He was exhausted: he had an interview and job fair in the city which is why we are coming home together. Yes, he's still looking for a job. I don't mind it anymore: it seems that he's getting reasonably steady consulting work and it gives him a great deal of self-confidence. He makes enough for us to support each other when we have our own place. That should make my parents happy. I don't mind if he's more home than I am: it would be nice to be the one coming home to something. Plus, it would be nice to not have to cook.
Being exhausted, he didn't really engage me in conversation.. which was actually quite a good thing because my mind was wandering quite a bit. I thought about something that crossed my mind today... and I am not proud of it. As a matter of fact, I hate it. Do you ever have thoughts that cross your mind that you're disgusted to even think? Well, that's what happened to me today.
Being really busy, I didn't have time to read much mail, nor respond to it. I keep my email open and whenever a new message comes into my box, my computer gives a nearly imperceptible click, like an insect. I always quickly flip over and check who wrote the message and what it was about. If it is interesting and I am due for a stretch or break, I will read it. Most of the time, I just let the mail collect until lunch. I will get an impression by the person mentioned in the email. Some people I admire and whenever I see a post by them, I will make an extra special note to read them. A flash feeling goes through my brain. Most of the time, it's indifference. Today, something ugly reared its head.
I don't remember the exact name anymore. It was definitely a spanish-sounding name (like mine). I see the poster every once in a while on one of the journal-related lists I'm on (either ScribeTribe or journals-l or diary-l) and I don't care much for what this person writes. Most of it is self-promotion or making not-particularly insightful statements. I saw the name in my inbox and my brain flashed.
Oh not again. This person is just so... inane. Probably didn't get a particularly good education or something. (And here's the worst part...) Poor hispanic kid.
I stopped there. I was stunned. I couldn't believe I thought that. I couldn't believe that I judged a person so quickly and easily on the basis of their name and assumed an entire life history for them. I felt dirty. Oh my. Oh my. How could I have thought such a thing? Instead of quickly jumping back to Notes and work, I just sat there unmoving. It has been a very long time since I looked at a person in that awful, judgmental way. It scared me how naturally the thought came to me. How unforced the idea was.
When I was brought up, I was taught that I should avoid blacks and hispanics. My hometown of Nutley is a predominantly Italian town without much racial diversity, especially compared to surrounding towns. There were very few non-Italians when I was growing up, and only a few of those were non-caucasian (and of those, a majority are asian). I remember being told that crime was predominantly committed by blacks and hispanics (the justification being that a higher percentage of their population is in the jails compared to caucasians).
I don't believe that anymore, but when I was younger, I used to. I really believe that one is taught to discriminate and become prejudiced. This is different from having a personal attraction preference. I am naturally attracted to men of the German/Eastern European persuasion. I find large noses, brown hair and light eyes very sexy. This is different from disliking a group of people. Prejudice is negative, not positive: the act of disliking a group of people. I was told that blacks and hispanics are people not to be trusted. I was told that it was blacks and hispanics that cause crime and should be avoided and be suspicious of.
I fought those beliefs as I got older. But it was hard to put down something that had become a habit... and discrimination and prejudice is a habit that really dies hard. It's an uphill struggle. I thought I was beyond all of that. I thought that I had grown enough as a person to not have to judge people in that manner. I thought that I was adult enough that such childhood foolish thoughts would not invade my mind again.
I was wrong.
Catching myself thinking these judgmental thoughts makes me feel grimy. It makes me feel dirty and disgusting. When people vocalize these thoughts, the feelings I have for these people border pity and hatred. I can't say that I hate these people. I feel sorry that they can't open their eyes and see how wrong their thinking is. I want to grab them and show them what I see: a sad, ignorant person that is missing out on meeting some great people because of their prejudices. To know these thoughts are going through my head makes me point my inner finger towards myself. I can imagine my doppelganger wagging a disgusted finger at me. I am ashamed. There is a part of me that I despise. If I could cut it out of me, I would. But it is so hard, Constant Reader.
I fight this learned discrimination that I have. I try to be acutely aware of it and I refuse to let it cloud my professional judgment. I thought that I was over these feelings: I have not had such thoughts in a number of years. No. I sat there at work, exasperated. Near tears. Tears for myself that I wasn't over this. I came to the realization that this will be a lifelong struggle for me. I want to think of myself as a person who is growing and always improving and something like this makes me feel like I've taken several steps back and I didn't even notice.
I don't blame you if you're angry at me, Constant Reader. I am angry at myself. I want to change, so desperately... and I thought I had until these thoughts came into my head. They are illogical. Irrational. Two things that I dislike immensely. I think that I have to accept this as part of who I am (at this point in my life) and I can strive to change it, strive to always be aware that it exists so that this shock will never happen again. Hopefully I will end up cutting it out of my life. This facet of me will fade and be gone. But I think the shadow of it will always be there, waiting for me to drop my guard.
The beast within is sometimes the hardest to defeat.