The reality is, in fact, the reverse of this.
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I've been binge watching the "new" Dr. Who. In general I'm a fan, the revival is great and in some ways better the the original (though the nostalgia I get from old episodes will never die.) Dr. Who had a big impact on me as a child he's always been a kind of fictional role model for what it means to be brave, curious and endlessly drivven to understand and explore the world around us. My love for the show also helped me to have a hero that got me through tough time in school for a geeky kid, it helped me to know that it good to be smart, even cool, even sexy.
Yet, as much as I've enjoyed seasons 1-4 (that's how far I've gotten so far) I find something a bit off about the treatment of black and female characters in the new show. To be honest, it's not much worse than what one sees in most media. (and it's, of course, much better than the old show) And so, I'm not talking about some kind of exceptional racism, really the show has some good points in the departments of race and gender and even sexuality... but it's still flawed. For me, painfully flawed. Others have felt the same way (notice this old post on the subject.)
It's disappointing to me, yet quite common that when I read commentary from people who don't care about racism in the way that I do they don't notice these things, they'll even go as far as to say the series is revolutionary for having diversity*. So, all of this criticism, to them, sounds "ungrateful." I guess depending on who we are, we may watch stories differently. When I watch Martha* in season 3 I identify with her, even more strongly than Rose, and not just because she's black but also because she smart and scientific like me. But yes, also because she's black that's part of who I am, a good part of who I am. But, as is typical of most mainstream fiction, the series is written so that all of the fantasy is most satisfying to those who can easily identify with the white male protagonist. (I do of course also identify with the doctor, but not as much as the female characters.) Most contemporary TV shows and movies must be so much more fun to watch if it is easy for you to see yourself as a white male. Part of the fun of fiction is pretending that you are there, that you are in the shoes of one of the characters, or that events happen in your life that mirror the fantasy world. What young woman has ever watched Dr. Who without fantasizing that the TARDIS might come and pick YOU up and that YOU might go on a great adventure with an amazing intelligent man!
Identity influences the way that we see fiction. When men watch Dr. Who their fantasy is (more likely) to be that they are a LORD OF TIME traveling with a whole series beautiful smart assistants (who adore them, weather they are interested or not) through time and space. That's a superior fantasy, isn't it? It gives you more opportunities to invent a fantasy self with agency, and a strong sense of love and self-confidence.
When I was a little girl my mother was disturbed by the fact that I identified very strongly with white male characters in the fiction and sci-fi I watched, and in history and fiction that I read. For Halloween or when playing dress-up from age 5-10 or so I dressed up as Dr. Who, Luke Skywalker, Isaac Newton, Einstein and so on ...almost always a white male. Mother did her best to offer up good black and/or female role models and some would stick (Nat Turner, Dorothy from the Wiz) But the majority of my childhood heroes where white men. My mom even started to wonder if I was gay I think since I'd insist on going by a boy's name often. But, I wasn't gay I just wanted to BEST fantasy, the greatest adventure, to be the HERO and I didn't mind ignoring or changing essential elements of who I am to get there. I wasn't really aware of those identities children are able to ignore them.
It never occurred to me to want to be an assistant to the hero, or a side character, until I got older. And until gender and race started to matter more.
I remember a conversation with my mother about Rainbowbrite. In Rainbowbrite (a girls cartoon) there was one sort of token black character I remember my mom bought me the doll of the black character. I liked her well enough (was here name "indigo"?) but I never pretended to *be* her when I played. Are you kidding me? I wanted to be Rainbowbrite of course... she was the one all of the stories were about! I didn't understand what wasgoing on until another girl at school asked how I could possibly be Rainbowbright if I didn't have blue eyes and blonde hair.
Well, she has the power of the rainbow now doesn't she? I'd think SHE could be any color she likes!
And I'd like to think the same were true of timelords!
But, on those days when men (boys) who stand on the corner make nasty comments, or make "nice" comments that feel nasty… then, the city shrinks. When one night a man chased me while running, just so he could hit on me, and I was so scared I could not say anything. Feeling so cornered and helpless the buildings seemed to grow taller and darker, the empty places between buildings and under stairs seemed like they could hold all kinds of scary people and things. The city became enormous, and I felt very small.
On my bicycle, the city becomes easy and friendly again. I can get to work, to restaurants and to the grocery store. The big city is a tiny model of the whole world where everything is within reach. I can ride for just a few minuets and find every exotic fruit, every spice, perfumes and colorful clothes that would put the mythical bazaar of the Arabian nights to shame! And there are parks and and playgrounds, museums of art and of science, every artifact of human achievement and all I need are my two legs and this bicycle and it is just a moment away.
But, on those days that motorists honk without reason or yell things I can't even understand from their windows, when I nearly get hit in the head, by some jerk who's too important to throw his big gulp cup in the trash like a normal human. So, he tosses it on the sidewalk from his car window outside of my home. Or at me, it was hard to tell. When the cars won't let me cross the street rolling along like circus elephants tail to snout, not letting me in because I guess I'm not a "real vehicle…" I guess I don't matter! Then the city loses some of it's magic and I'd just rather stay home.
In my kayak, the city is unified, those fearful waterways are suddenly open doors, rivers don't block my passage, they guide it. I can see that the little city, that friendly close city filled with beautiful people and things, is really just an island and I can, by my own power, circle right round it. I can run circles around New York form the water!
Nothing, of course, could make the Hudson river seem small. But it's still my mile of water, and New Jersey isn't so far away if you have a paddle in your hand.
But, on those days when the rain water flushed the cigarette butts, the gum wrappers, the paper and trash down through the sewers and out in to the river, I'm scared to touch the water. Who knows what's in it or where it has been? The drunken wealthy powerboat drivers can't see such a small boat as mine anyway. (I'd be nothing but a speed bump if they felt me at all. ) The rivers seem too big for a small boat like mine, the seem streets too long and too dark to run all alone, the traffic is too fast and loud to manage on a fragile little bicycle. I have felt all of this. So, don't think for a moment that I'm fearless.
I just won't let fear keep me from that city that I have discovered, waiting for me, when I am open enough to leave those fears behind.
Normally, I'd be forced to make an arduous trip to a specialty fru-fru "organic" grocery on some tony neighborhood far from my South Bronx home to get this wonderful food, but, a few months ago, when my local grocer started carrying "cream top" from Stonyfield I was in a kind of yogurt-lover's HEAVEN! I introduced this wonderful treat to a few of my neighbors and, since our grocer never stocked enough, we'd end up cleaning the shelves within a day of the shipment... only to wait a long two weeks for the yogurt truck to return... I always wished that my grocer would stock more... but, even this small joy was not to last. About a month ago Stonyfield switched their yogurt from "cream top" to homogenized, and gone forever was that fine sweet layer of cream-- the yogurt now had the texture of the many boring "fat free" brands that cluttered the shelf.
I'm not the only one who's annoyed by this. Witness this blog.
Nor will I take this lying down! Witness, also... the Sternly Worded Letter (tm)!!!
Dear Stonyfield Dairy,
My local grocer here in the South Bronx used to carry "cream top" yougurt, it was very very popular and it would sell out within a day or two of being on the self, (I'd time my trips to the store just so I could get some) but now he says it is no longer available. It seems only Brown Cow makes "cream top", and that means I must take a $4 subway ride to the wholefoods on the Upper-west Side to buy good yogurt. Not very reasonable.
I recently discovered that you have aquired Brown Cow... does this mean that my local grocer will be able to get Brown Cow brand "cream top" yogurts with ease from the same distributor?
Or should I buy a bulk yogurt maker and start making yogurt for me and all of my neighbors who have stopped buying your yogurts since the "cream top" was taken off of the shelf?
Respectfully, and hoping for a good response,
HA!!! HA HA!!
That'll shown 'em!!
Ah-hem. ... None of these things are of major importance I realize, but I do think it is indicative of a larger trend, when small companies are taken over by larger ones, much like the milk, they become homogenized. It's just easier to produce products with less character, most consumers don't notice, so, while one might save a few pennies as they trim the kinks and curves from their production lines, we end up losing all of the quirks and details that make life a little more interesting, a little bit richer, a little less... homogenized.
Homogenized milk became popular in the 1950s since you didn't need to shake it (less work) and becuase it is easier to tell visually if the milk is fresh. In homogenized milk separation is a sign of spoilage. In non-homogenized milk you must use smell. Since refrigerators on the 50s were not yet ubiquitous or as reliable as they are today, homogenization along with pasteurization (the process of heating milk to kill organisms that can hasten spoilage) were probably both positive for people who had far too many unpleasant experiences with milk going bad in the ere of the ice box and un-refrigerated milk truck. It mush have seemed like a wonderful miracle to have milk of uniform consistency that didn't spoil as quickly.
But today, refrigeration is superior, and milk is shipped cold from the dairy to your fridge. The relative cost of milk compared to income has fallen and better packaging has made spoilage less of an issue. Hence, non-homogenized milk products, with their superior taste and texture should be more readily available. Unpasteurized milks should be there, for those who want it, as well-- but a market built on companies always merging in to larger and larger entities does not often lead to diversity on the grocery shelf.
I expect as more people experience the difference this may change, but this small shift in yogurts that I have described, has nothing to do with consumer satisfaction and everything to do with Stonyfield being able to use cheaper homogenized milk to make their product. Their bet is that no one will care.
My bet is that my homemade yogurt will be even better that what I used to get in those little plastic cups.
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Image by Dawn Okoro
It would be amazing to be beautiful. Not just pretty, or "put-together" but truly, really, beautiful. To have long graceful limbs and smooth perfect skin and large arresting eyes. Being beautiful would mean waking up each morning in a beautiful body. A body that feels young and strong. It would mean having beautiful hands and fingers, beautiful feet and beautiful slender ankles. Each day, while putting on shoes, it would mean seeing those ankles, those legs: legs that would fit in to pretty little pants. Legs that would look good in raggedy clothes. (A truly beautiful person can look good in anything.)
Being beautiful would mean seeing a beautiful face while brushing one's teeth, or catching a beautiful reflection in the train window on the way to work.
And even when beauty grows old, it's clear enough, that there was once young beauty (and now there there's older beauty.) It's not like being one of the many people who were never beautiful, not in youth or in old age.
People say that beauty is only skin deep. Any child who's told this old canard can see it isn't really true. Everything in life is more rewarding if one is beautiful while doing it and beautiful while experiencing it.
It's a shame that everyone can't be beautiful. One day the 4 train stopped at 59th street and a gaggle of models, both men and women got on. They were in a group on their way to some event. They were all much more beautiful that anyone else on the train, but even in the group of models, even there, was one women who was more beautiful than all them. Where one was a bit too tall ora bit too short... she was balanced. But, mostly it was her face that made her stand out. (All of the models seemed to have the same body-type anyway.) Her face was like a mask since the overwhelming symmetry, the balance, the deep even texture of the skin, made it impossible to really see her. All that could be seen was her blinding beauty.
A young women who struggled to make it as a model once said "Being beautiful makes me feel invisible sometimes. No one knows the real me." I think it is hard to feel sorry for her, even if she is right. To see someone who is beautiful is to see a world that is inaccessible and endlessly tantalizing. So, every person is lost in either greed or envy.
The other models on the train were lost in envy of the one girl who was the most beautiful of them all. They were thinking, it seemed: It would be amazing to be beautiful. Not just pretty, or "put-together" but truly, really, beautiful.
The tunnel! I think I know what it is! Its for PEOPLE! It's so that people could get down to the ferry after watching the horse races on the speedway! It makes so much sense... OMG I'm so excited! What if we brought it back!? What if we had boats there!!
It's just a theory....but there are remnants of a pier down there... below the hole-- and where did the boats dock? It's a pedestrian tunnel-- I know it!!
These are not my photos... they are from here: http://www.marielorenz.com/inprogress/?p=1
Marie Lorenz and Steve Duncan have been helping me find out more about this tunnel...
Can you imagine, people in the 1900s women with bustles and men with big moustaches trotting through this tunnel to their ferry ride back to the city after a flush day at the races? The sound of drunken voices ringing on the walls!
It has been bricked up, but there are other passages like this for people in the park. It's too big for water. I think it is an underpass for the speedway (now Harlem River Drive) It's just the right length... We should open it back up again!
It could be a Kayak dock and provide access for runners to the greenway! this is a revolution!
I want to return to visit the other building. It's just another part of the city one can discover by boat. I love the water.
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