I’ve never been the smartest person in the classroom, the most eloquent or the most influential. I’ve always found myself taking a little bit longer than others to at times comprehend theories that I’m reading, literature that I’m perusing, or equations that I’m calculating. I’m a slow reader in that I usually have to re-read texts a few times over to actually take in what I’m reading. I don’t consider myself to be a natural learner, since my traits as a dreamer typically override my attention span in lecture halls or classroom discussions. However, when people scoff at the notion of textbooks, academic readings, or institutional learning, it truly frustrates me because I feel like people are blinded to one of the most wonderful and powerful truths that lie within the air of knowledge: the beauty of new knowledge.
It is human nature to make fun of things we don’t understand, to laugh and poke at things that somehow don’t lie within our understanding of ‘normal’. I’ve been made fun most of my life for various reasons: from the age of 8 through to my early twenties I was a strong tomboy, wearing my brother’s hand-me-downs proudly and a sweet ball cap on my head; I don’t drink or do drugs, never have beyond a sip of wine when I was a child, and it goes without saying that this is neither ‘cool’ in highschool (or in my adult years, oddly enough) nor part of the social norm; I’m a third culture kid, meaning not only are my parents from two different continents raising me and my siblings in a third first-generation country, but also I am mixed race born to a British-Caucasian mother and a Chinese father. I have been ridiculed, poked at, mocked, and intentionally hurt out of humour not by people who are necessarily cruel, but who are socially and culturally intolerant. They are intolerant of something or someone outside of what their current mindset is capable of understanding. If you were brought up in a predominantly Caucasian setting, the onset of an immigrant family is easy to mock – their accent, their inability to pronounce the English language, their clothes, their skin tone. It’s easier as the observer to laugh and mock than it is to recognize and respect. A joke with the acknowledgment of mutual respect is one thing – laughter and light-heartedness is not wrong, but mockery with the lack of civility and comprehension is bullying.
Not by any means stating that the formal institution of academia is a place for everyone or that it is the only place that one can learn, but for me it is a place where people can broaden their minds to allow previous comprehension to expand to new measures. Although you may not read a philosophical text and use it (or understand it) for exactly what the classroom is requiring of you, but you may grasp onto a concept which allows you to think outside of your traditional thought patterns; it allows your mind to associate certain social happenings with analogies from a variant of sources.
People who have ridiculed me, belittled me, bullied me, undermined me, disrespected me, racially dehumanized me, and critically devalued me have all ranged from smarty-pants to the generalized uneducated. And so intellect isn’t what I’m getting at here, because the one thing all of these individuals have in common has nothing to do with the intellectual size of their brain but rather their incapability to utilize said mass.
I am 29-years-old and to this day am made fun of for my cultural descent, my appearance, my nationality, my [fill in the blank]. I have a pretty awesome sense of humour, if I do say so myself, and I’m not a ‘stick in the mud’. But no offense, if my eyes are a funny ‘squinty’ shape to you, or my Chinese familial names are so funny because you know, they’re Asian sounding, or my kind of people can’t pronounce English without an accent – the only people laughing with you are those who hold the same profound stupidity as you.
Words do hurt me. They’ve hurt me for many years and they will continue to hurt me, but rather than me hide my emotions from your verbal actions, I can’t and I won’t. I’m perhaps ‘overly sensitive’ to the mockery of my various joke-worthy traits that make up my identity, but only because you – the incapable of using your brains – have poked the bear for most of my life. I’ve done nothing wrong. And if it takes the same discomfort that you’ve pinned on me for me to fully use my brain and pin on you in explaining why I’m pissed off, then I’m happy to do so. And maybe it will take the same discomfort that you’ve made me feel for so long for your brains to open up to new knowledge…
And make you realize that you’re kind of an ignoramus douche.
Peace & love,
Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo