Category Archives: personal testimony

history of personal belief and transformation

BACKLASH!

Humans react. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t survive. Reacting is the way all living things respond in the face of perceived threat. Most threat manifests in the form of change, and not all change is threatening but, since it can be, we react – self-protectively – to change.

So, what does all this mean, socially?

Society has evolved a way of reacting to changes perceived as a threat, either to stability of groups or to institutions upon which specific groups are founded. If one group changes a societal norm, any associated group which suspects a threat to its own relative perceived value will react. This collective reaction is called backlash.

For their collective lifetime, American social groups have endured many such changes. Given that the social class system was imposed by its founders, and carried out by its earliest settlers, as larger swaths of its endless plains were claimed certain among those pedigreed established and maintained power. First, Caucasians dominated its continental natives; then, the wealthiest among these brought their slave class, largely African, to serve agriculture and family structure. Thusly, racism became the order of not merely the day but the entire mentality of this new society.

But, while racism against the African class by the Caucasian landowners was ubiquitous, within this insidious system there was further suppression, against publicly unacknowledged subgroups. These were identified by their sexual preference. Significantly, since the prevailing religion of the time was Christian, such variance in sexual preference was openly condemned. Being outcasts, those whose preferences did not align with the Christian creed were pushed underground to form secret societies. Given the limits of transportation, the structure of these societies was loose and local, if managed at all by word of mouth or discreet, encoded post. The idea of open backlash likely never entered the mind of any, given that being exposed would bring about certain social abolishment and even death.

A couple centuries hence, social change has heaved its mighty hand. Contrary to the nation’s founding social attitudes, much backlash has ensued. Fiery, life threatening reaction on all fronts has periodically branded the landscape, leaving a continuing wake of destructive waste and fear.

So, what of social survival? Those suppressed by racism have banded together, spoken out, acted out, and moved with collective conviction demanding equal treatment, equal rights, equal status. Those with alternate sexual identity have, as well. This reactivity is felt, in some circles, daily. Gradually, inexplicably, the tide is turning; now, those of alternate sexual preference are publicly acknowledged by an increasing majority, and those of the heretofore subjected races have achieved social recognition, social opportunity and, while much is still unresolved and conflict persists, increasing social status.

But, while the tide turns, the threat of flood is still real.

Why?

Because, in the interests of immediate gratification, backlash has become the first order of business. And backlash, being reactive, presumes threat. But, the motive being fear, backlash cannot produce a sustainable symbiosis; rather, it is inherently destructive, further weakening any hope for true reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.

Additionally, of increasing concern is an encroaching variation on public backlash: subversion. Now, the technological revolution has produced a mode of reaction which takes place beneath public political scrutiny, behind the scenes, in unacknowledged behaviors known only to those who populate its groups. Subversive backlash has embodied entire movements, even reaching the professional and economic sector. Now, power is assumed through internal social networking within a corporate structure; indeed, entire commercial enterprises are populated nearly exclusively by members of a particular social group – to the veritable exclusion of those not identified within.

This further threatens social stability. More groups exist, each with their own inherent power, but said power wielded in exclusive interest rather than inclusive. Self-selectivity abounds; the rules of engagement made clear by the prior, suppressive class, now those who “fit” are predetermined by any number of specific criteria. Is this peaceful coexistence? Hardly. Rather, those who seek their own kind are now subject to any number of self- empowered monopolists, pushing and pulling and jostling for rank according to a set of priorities which can never align and which are intrinsically resistant to collective agreement.

Such collective agreement is the essence of a stable society. Without, any subgroup can at any point rise up and confront the other. Revolution from within may serve some, but history has left a flood of casualty in droves as proof of its power to dismantle rather than sustain.

Negotiation is the higher form of conflict resolution, but such dissonance must first be acknowledged at table. Refusal to make plain intent prevents any hope of such resolution. Subversive behavior effectively subverts the possibility!

If we are to ever return to the ideal of a stable society, we must first be open, up front, and fully disclosing with one another. If we must continue to react, let us do so with pause, recognition, confession, and a purpose which seeks the kind of coexistence which is borne of genuine, mutual respect.

What’s your reaction?

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© 9/5/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole, including translation permitted without written permission by the author. Thank you for your genuine respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The American Girl.

This is my story. I was, from birth, an American girl. Only in America can a girl tell such a story, and only here will her story be acceptably distinct from the next.

Initially published in the 1950’s, “AMERICAN GIRL” was a magazine intended to help lead the nubile female through adolescence – her self image soundly indoctrinated and properly refined. But, that was the 1950’s. I was born too soon.

Raised by a strict subculture, its roots in sectarian Fundamentalism, I was never a subscriber to “AMERICAN GIRL” or any magazine intended solely for female teens. And, that is only the beginning.

Though born in 1957, post – 911 profiling in the United States and abroad was no news to me. I had effectively known it my entire life. Rather than systemic racism or any of its tangents (prejudice, bias), what I knew was that the way I looked consistently misled nearly everyone.

As a child, all I needed do was enter a room to be visually assessed. At maternal family gatherings, I didn’t look like any of the other cousins. While bearing inherently many of their traits – talkativeness, musical aptitude, a bit of clamoring – I would never have been named as among them by most outsiders unless one looked past the obvious.

The obvious was that my skin was a degree of brown. In those days, the term was “olive”. Neither the warm tones of the American southwest nor the African cafe au lait, it was a cooler hue given to darkening quickly under the sun’s rays and sallowing in winter.

The reason for my immediately distinct appearance was, at that time, simple; my mother’s side populated the extended gatherings, and hers was a mix of paternal Anglo-Saxon and maternal Danish/German. My father not having been raised by either parents or relations, his Napolitan/Sicilian people were never represented in my sphere. We visited them once, when I was five.

When I was just a toddler, mum would braid my long, nearly black hair. Having already borne a brilliant male child and birthed another soon after me, she might have argued too busy to dote upon her daughter with the expected buttons and bows; rather, corduroy overalls and sunsuits were the order of my apparel, mixing into the boys laundry with practical propriety given one, single exception: Sunday dress. Here, Mum’s premiere dressmaking skill shone, every even seam topstitched with rick-rack, every smock uniformly tooled, each elastic, cap sleeve unbearably scratchy with only occasional, stiffly starched lace. Perhaps for this reason alone I would grow to dread going to Meeting, what for the sheer lack of physical comfort being costumed afforded.

Once grown, I would carry a structure of frame and face that distinguished me from all who knew me well. But, those who did might have missed its significance.

Our northwestern Pennsylvania community having been founded first by Irish port fishermen and, a bit later, German machinists, its ultimately large Italian population would take claim on the city’s west side; however, my father having hailed from Boston, none of the Italians on that side of town resembled him or, more importantly, called him family. They were mostly Sicilian or Calabrese, hair black, faces round, skin not as dark, many with blue eyes. To every Italian who lived either there or on our east side, dad was “swarthy” – bearing the aquiline nose and angular jawline less familiar to their ilk.

I would inherit these features. Interestingly, Mum’s father’s nose was also regally aquiline – but, his parents being from the Cornwall coast of England, their heritage was Roman influenced. None the matter; strangers increasingly thought me a pure Italian, even first generation Rome, and nearly every one of them was sure I had been raised Catholic on the west side.

Nobody ever saw the W.A.S.P, though the revelation would sting many with surprise. My behavior never fit the image I bore. Only expressing the occasional Italianate gesticulation, my Puritanical, closed off social limits left many scratching their heads. I carried a Bible. I shunned dances, and parties, and anything likely to tempt the average teen. Mine was a life of Godly fear, and compliance was the order of my carriage.

Of natural course, college education at a nearby New York institution offered me welcome respite; there, blending remarkably well with those from “the city” or “the island” I no longer appeared odd, resembling many. And, higher learning on one of the country’s most liberal, secular campuses meant that none were judged by appearance alone. I flexed my stunted wings, learning far more than the arts and sciences, and grew to both relish and celebrate every aspect of my heretofore anomalous self.

In my case, childhood may have been one of mistaken identity; in adulthood, I now proudly represent the culmination of nature and nurture informed by as random a set of features as the melting pot will bear.

And, for that, no magazine is required.

Who is the American Girl? Allow me to introduce you. Properly.

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© 8/25/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole or by translation, permitted without written permission of the author. Thank you for your respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

To Really Walk Away.

Epiphanies have been coming, fast and furiously, lately. Maybe it’s that Neowise comet — a rush of cosmic energy. Or, the newly introduced blend of acetyl-carnitine and citicoline. Whatever.

But, here’s another. Lean in.

I rarely walk away.

Having suction cups for intentions, tenacity for a middle name, and persistence as a driver, I’m pretty much hopeless when it comes to letting go.

To my mind – and, apparently, constitution – holding on is a soul purpose. Holding on equates with staying alive.

Perhaps it’s an ingrained fear of the water. I can remember in childhood feeling frantic the first time the sandy lake bottom escaped my feet. Large motor coordination a profound deficit, not knowing how to float let alone swim, and the pain in my arched neck as suffocating droplets teased my nose and gasping, gaping mouth…..then, somebody bigger, stronger, reaching out with a large, hairy arm or a smooth, slimy preserver……”Hold on! Just hold on! I’ve got ya!”

Water is life. Without it, we die. Except for when it finds its way into the places where we can’t let it go.

So, I’m a tenacious little bitch. I’m the barnacle on your back, the bug in your ear, the text(s) on your phone, the car in your driveway.

I’m there, just one more time, with just one more breath, one more pocket of air.

Take it, while you can. It’s you, or me.

Wear a mask.

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© 7/24/2020  Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   All rights those of the author, your worst nightmare. Please respect original material; no copying, in whole or part, including translation, permitted without permission. Thanks, again.

littlebarefeetblog.com