Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A "Sarah Palin" Enlightenment

Sarah Palin scares me.

She wears really high heels and has high hair. She asks Joe Biden if she can call him Joe at the VP debates. She uses terms like "Joe six-pack." She "rrrrrr"s a lot. If you vote ferrr me and Senaterrr McCain... Maverrricks... But she has enlightened me with a perspective I refused to believe about The United States of America. Seeing her on television has made me want to try to see the part of America I refuse to acknowledge. Well, at least her minute of fame wasn't a TOTAL waste.

Growing up in the huge metropolis of Chicago, I've seen some shit as a Korean American. It isn't much compared the those of my students from the south or west side, but it hurt and it sucked and you always felt either silent, silenced, oppressed, misunderstood, angry, hurt, blah blah. But we were city folks you know? Most of the chink comments I received were from either Mexicans or Polish kids and we went right back at them with spic and polak. Whatever!

The only time I ever experienced Sarah Palin's "Real Virginia" or "Real Americans," that middle, working class America, was at my first job teaching high school English and drama in a small town in Illinois called Rantoul ("Rantucky"). People were really, really nice. I'm not hatin'. I loved Mr. Fitz (I think that was his name) who was this huge white man with a formidible mustache and once, although he seldom spoke without being addressed, asked my friend Adelaide (I convinced her to work there; I was tired of being the one Asian around) and me whether or not we watched M*A*S*H. Uh, yeah, sometimes. My brother really likes that show.

Mr. Fitz: Well, I was watching MASH the other night, and they were digging and they found this old clay jar filled with fermented cabbage. Do you know what I'm talking about?

I actually found this endearing. Aw, Mr. Fitz. He's so cute. He's trying to reach out. Connect to these Asian girls who make him feel like he has daughters. It's called kimchi, Mr. Fitz. They ferment it in refrigerators now. We now buy it at the Asian grocery.

Never mind all the racial tension at the school: white farmer kids versus black kids from Chicago who were sent to live with their aunties away from gangs versus kids of Mexican migrant workers who only stay for 3 months at a time versus half-asian and half-white/half-black kids (Rantoul used to have an airforce base)... Race was never addressed, even when the farmer kids started driving their pickups to school with little nooses hanging on the rearview. No diversity programs. International night was a joke.

I went to a bridal shower in a nearby town, Paxon. I was getting out of the passenger side and my friend was still in the car. A very nice, middle-American family approaches me and says, Arrre y'all open? I look at them. Blink slowly. Look extremely discombobulated. Follow their eyes up to the sign behind me: MING'S CHINESE KITCHEN. Yes, folks. I'm wearing a sleeveless shirt with slacks and heels, carrying a Coach bag and a frilly bridal shower gift, and I am also ready to fry your rice. Let me strap on my apron and pull out grade D pork. As my friend Cindy would say, "BING BANG BOOOOONNNNG..."

I say all this to prep for what I'm about to say.

While in Rantoul, I couldn't wait to return to Chicago, where people were "normal." I mean, I made some very good friendships at the school, and I am not ripping on them at all. There were many kind people in the town that made me feel like a good person and a professional and went through hardship and existential angst, just like the rest of us. So what if they all voted for Bush. Twice. But I still wanted to get the hellouttathere.

I'm pretty sure the Rantuckites voted for McCain, but I still have a hard time believing that there are THAT many people in the United States that could relate to Sarah Palin. How can the Republican party actually believe that there are enough voters or organizations or lobbying groups that she could reach? Couldn't they see what a caricature she is/was, and that the American public would see that?

Oh. That scares me.

I got into a silly argument with my boyfriend who teased me for overacting innocence, but I am genuinely incredulous about certain things in our country. I have a hard time really believing that when my old Rantoul co-workers send me forwards about Obama hating the troops or when I hear that a decent percentage of the U.S. thinks he is Muslim, that these "opinion holders" are actually human. This is a problem. If people say things that are outrageous or irrational to me, I "cartoonize" them and tuck them away into a brain-file folder. I think, No way. These Paliners don't really exist. Who knew? Chicago is a bubble. After all, we let Bill Ayers help shape the public school systems.

So basically, the Paliners don't believe people like me and those who live in big cities are really human, and I don't believe they are either.

Sarah Palin, tell us what to do! RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

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