Time after time

Time is weird. It crawls when you’re doing something you don’t want to do (especially if it’s something you have to do, like register your car at the revenue office). When you’re doing something you enjoy (like playing with a cute critter), it zips by.

Time absolutely zooms past me when I’m with this cutie.

Then there are the times you’re so involved in an odious task that you don’t realize how much time has gone by until you look up and realize you’ve spent half the day on this, and it makes you angry because not only are you hungry because you missed lunch, but time is only supposed to fly when you’re having fun (soooo not fair).

That’s the thing about time. The only constant is that it changes, but not because of us; as much as we want to believe in Time Lords (and I really, really do, and I want my own TARDIS) and time machines, it’s not happening. We can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube after it’s been squeezed, or make a day longer by changing the clock (or as the probably apocryphal remark by a Native American posits, you can’t make a blanket longer by cutting a foot off the top and adding it to the bottom).

I mean, if you’re seriously going to lobby for one time year-round, don’t make it Daylight Saving (no “s” on the end unless you want to tick off an editor) Time … unless you like the idea of sunrise at 8:30 a.m. in the winter and having to switch to later openings for schools, businesses, etc., for safety, then back once sunrise is again at a reasonable time (just think of the expense!). Standard time is more in tune both with sunlight and our bodies, so is healthier anyway.

He’s not distracted. He’s contemplating string theory. Image found on Rub Mint.

We certainly can’t go around taking rights from people who fought for them. That doesn’t mean some people aren’t trying their darnedest to do just that in legislatures across the country (Second Amendment absolutists, this is akin to your “cold, dead hands” spiel, except that people actually are trying to take away rights to vote, to make your own health-care decisions, etc.; your guns are safe).

Those eye-rolls you see when someone says “Make America great again” aren’t necessarily because of distaste for the person who brought that chestnut from out of the past (shocking, I know, that it wasn’t original to Donald Trump, but there ya go), but because we know it’s not possible to turn back time.

Many of us would love to go back to when those we love most are still alive and when things seemed simpler. However, with the passage of time, you learn, and knowledge is power.

You learn that while things might have seemed simple for you, they weren’t for other people of different races, religions, genders and sexual orientation. You learn that issues aren’t all that simple and straightforward, but have nuance (abortion, for one, which government doesn’t need to stick its nose into).

Critical race theory isn’t being taught in primary and secondary schools (unless you listen to people like Christopher Rufo who define it as anything that makes whites look bad), but that hasn’t stopped these people, who insist that history textbooks downplay slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, the civil rights movement, etc. Editorial cartoon by David G. Brown, David G. Brown Studio.

Once you learn some things, there’s no way to go back. Before, you could ignore something like discrimination because you were born a white heterosexual Christian male who never had to deal with it, but once you see it and understand—like that just because someone was born a woman, she shouldn’t have to fight to be able to vote, or because someone was born gay (yes, born) it doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals—you can’t not see it anymore.

That stuff was going on all around you the whole time. You might have been wrapped up in your own life and just trying to survive, so oblivious to what didn’t directly affect you, or you might have been conditioned to ignore it or accept it as normal (segregation), likely by those whose interests were best served by people not noticing it or, worse, not caring.

There are an awful lot of people who’d like to go back to when some people were seen and not heard—women, people of color, people of religions other than Christianity (as well as some non-standard Christian denominations)—and others were hidden altogether (anyone who was queer), the better to keep up the illusion that everything is happy and uncomplicated.

She must be thinking of Republican Jesus. Editorial cartoon by Dave Whamond, Cagle.com.

But time has brought things out of the dark. As time passed, knowledge was added, language evolved, and so did people. People became angry because they—and not because of their knowledge, talent, skills or anything else—didn’t have the same rights others did. The rights that some have had from birth, women, people of color and others have fought for and, in time, won. And we still lag in many areas, such as salary and representation in elected office.

Women have run households for centuries, as well as nations in other places, but in the U.S., they’ve only had the vote for a little over 100 years (which makes Jeanette Rankin’s election in 1916 to the U.S. House of Representatives all the more remarkable since it would be four more years before women could vote). Blacks have had the right to vote for longer than women, but had to deal with poll taxes and literacy tests and other means including violence (such as the 1898 Wilmington Massacre) if they tried to exercise that right.

The Klan was never a good sign for Black men who tried to vote. Image found on Smithsonian Magazine.

But time, like I said before, is weird. Its passage makes the past not as clear, and we forget the things we should remember, so we do the same things over and over despite learning that they aren’t fair or wise. Uncomfortable history is still history, and all of it should be taught. We forget our history at our own peril, which is why there are things like Black History Month and Women’s History Month so we’ll remember those who won those rights for us.

It’s also why some people lost their minds when NPR tweeted that Michelle Yeoh was the “first person who identifies as Asian” to win the Best Actress Oscar, forgetting that while past nominee Merle Oberon was part Asian, she hid her heritage to avoid discrimination in Hollywood. Oberon was the first Asian (she was Anglo-Indian) actress to be nominated for Best Actress (she didn’t win), but pretended and passed for white, even lying about where she was born (India rather than Tasmania).

We went through this when Yeoh was nominated, but apparently they weren’t paying attention. Or they just want to whine. Screenshot from Twitter.

From Maureen Lee Lenker in Entertainment Weekly:

“Merle was in a very different Hollywood,” says Halley Bondy, who researched and guest-narrated the You Must Remember This podcast episode Passing for White: Merle Oberon. “Merle was in a Hollywood where you had to be white in order to be accepted, in order to win awards, in order to get prestigious roles.”

“The tragic history of the first Asian woman nominated for Best Actress, over 85 years before Michelle Yeoh,” Entertainment Weekly, March 8, 2023.

Yeoh, on the other hand, looks obviously Asian (as opposed to, say, Keanu Reeves, whose Chinese Hawaiian lineage is less pronounced in his appearance than his Anglo heritage; he’s proud of his Asian ancestry, though), so the “identifies as Asian” bit got some all het up because they were sure it was more evidence that NPR was “woke” (Lord, I hate that word when used as a slur), regardless of the fact that it was accurate, though it lacked context and used extremely clumsy wording. Context is important, and way too easy to overlook on social media. Plus, social media thrives on conflict, sooo …

Merle Oberon was born in Mumbai in 1911 to a Sri Lankan-Maori mother (she was raised as her sister) and a white father. She kept her background secret to all but a few who helped her keep up the charade. Image found on BBC.

Times have changed enough that casting in films and TV is closer to reality, but race is still a touchy subject, especially when white actors are cast in ethnic roles.

While we can’t judge people of other times based on the mores of today, we can judge actions, especially if they persist long after it’s accepted that they’re wrong. We now know, among other things, that slavery is wrong, women are capable of more than taking care of the home and family, and our friends of different races, religions, sexual orientations, etc., are the same as us, and should be treated the same.

The time when they weren’t should remain in the past.

And people want to go back to this? Seriously? Image found on Business Insider.

11 thoughts on “Time after time

  1. If anyone asks you if you are woke, I think the best response would be, “What do you mean by woke?” I doubt an anti-woke person could give a meaningful definition. They just know it’s bad. Ironically, as your Jesus cartoon suggests, all Christians should be woke, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I found it gratifying to see that Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary has a good deal to say about “woke”. The digital format allows for better definitions and even examples of word-
    coinage by prominent people.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Changing or burning history books, pulling down statues, etc., does nothing to change history. It only helps/allows people to forget history — something we must never do. Like it or not, it happened. And if we don’t remember it, we will most certainly repeat it. People can’t be “woke” if they don’t know what they are “woke” from.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am not surprised to read that Donald Trump stole the saying “Make America Great Again” because he seems to have stolen–or “borrowed”–almost everything he claims to own.


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