Rural Girl

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. 2,500 people live there.

About 2,470 of those people are white.

My brother, sister, and two Korean adoptees were the only minorities in my high school.

Me? I didn’t even know I was anything other than white until I turned sixteen. I look very, very  white. My skin is so pale I burn after ten minutes in the sun. My eyes are light, and my natural hair colour is a dark reddish blonde. I had no idea that I had Cherokee ancestry.

It wasn’t so easy for my brother, sister, and those two Korean adoptees to forget about their heritages. They were marked with it. My brother and sister had an easier time of it than the KAD’s, I think. My small town is so small that during the time I was in middle and high school, most people in my high school had never even seen a black person. Truly. They thought my little brother was black! Ahahahahahaha. As you can clearly see in the picture, he is most definitely Indian. Because of the near godlike status of hip-hop culture, and thus, black people, my siblings were considered “cool.”

This didn’t shield them from racists, though. They still got hissed at in town. Especially after 9/11, the words “terrorist,” and “sand-nigger” were frequently heard.

I didn’t mean for this to be a blog about the issues surrounding trans-racial adoption, however. That is an upcoming post, and I’m kind of jumping the gun early here.

What I meant to post about is the fact that I was raised in a very isolated, racist, homophobic, and sexist part of the United States.

I mean, they still prayed at my public school! Teachers were openly homophobic and sexist.  I was often shoved in hallways, with words like “Dyke” and “Fag” hissed in my direction.

I was raised in the most conservative of Lutheran sects, the Missouri Synod. This sect is so backwards that women are not allowed any positions of authority in the church, especially not as clergy. Sunday school teacher is about the most a woman can aspire to within the church. This church was particularly repressive due to the minister. The minister was asked to give a prayer at my school’s multi-faith program (a joke, I think…”multi-faith” means Lutheran, Catholic, and Methodist). Instead, he gave a tirade about how gays had brought AIDs into the world! What a disgrace. The worst part is, no one booed! People were nodding their heads in agreement!

I was raised to automatically sneer and say, “Eww” whenever homosexuality was brought up.

I was raised to believe that women belong at home, at their husband’s beck and call. My father often proudly boasted about being “head of the household”. He forced my mom to give up a very part time job at a grocery store because he thought she wasn’t home enough.  My behaviour as an outspoken, ambitious girl often infuriated him.

I was raised to believe everyone from Mexico is dirty and uneducated. Everyone from Asia is either a nice Korean adoptee or one of those dog-eating Hmongs.

I was raised to hate everything different from white, Christian, Midwestern, and rural values. In doing so, I learned to hate myself.

I began to question my family’s beliefs around middle school. It started with finding a book on evolution in my school’s library. Before that, I had honestly believed that the earth was only about 10,000 years old. I believed that dinosaurs and people co-existed. I have books from that era that tell me that, that show pictures of people and dinosaurs together! Pseudo-science bullshit was pounded into me unrelentlessly. I have relatives today who believe global warming doesn’t exist, who believe the theory of evolution is sending people to Hell.

I grew up terrified that God was going to strike me down. I was a bad girl who wanted to learn about science, who read too many books (“books will suffocate you slowly” my father used to say), who was not content to grow up and become a housewife. Stay-at-hom mom wasn’t enough, you know. I was expected to stay home at all times, even before I had children. My future husband was supposed to be my keeper, because as a woman, I was obviously unable to make decisions on my own.

My parents still call Asians “Orientals,” even in front of my Asian husband. I correct them, but I’m nothing but a stupid woman! Who cares what I say! My aunt still calls black people “Negros.”

My other relatives have even more ignorant names to call minorities. I truly believe that a lot of them didn’t come to my wedding because they were horrified I married an Asian man. It seemed to comfort my parents greatly that my husband’s mother is white. I don’t think they would have accepted us at all had all my in-law’s been Asian.

It has taken years of reading, years of learning to get where I am today. I strive to be anti-racist. I struggle with those years of brain-washing.

That is why I wanted to put this out there. If I offend any of you inadvertedly by being un-PC, I am sorry. Please, please correct me. I honestly don’t know any better. I am only 21, and was raised in a very conservative, white-bread family. I am trying to break out of any ignorance.  I worry that I say the wrong things.

WTF Dude works perfectly, as does “Shut the hell up!” and “Ummm…. it’s something other than that”.


1 Response to “Rural Girl”

  1. 1 Bethany August 6, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Yeah, there’s a more conservative synod than the Missouri: the WI. We can talk about it some day.

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