July 06, 2004

Interview #13

I know it's been awhile, but I've got a very special interview today. It's my friend Jeanine and we used to work together at the American Nurses Association. She, Michelle and I were the cultural diversity squad at ANA. So, let's get the interview going.

KC: Tell me your worst nightmare.

JWG: It's a toss-up between drowning or dying from fire.

KC: Why those two things?

JWG: Because I'm a good swimmer and I've always thought how could you not swim away if you're in trouble, and I worked for a lawyer once who worked on an arson case and I saw pictures of the people killed in the fire and I thought just shoot me but don't let me fry like that.

KC: What has been your impression of the Midwest on this visit?

JWG: The intellectual midwest I just saw or what I think of South Bend and Mishawaka. Ha, ha, ha. No really, it strikes me as being so southern in many ways in that everyone is nice and the pace is so slow--probably out of fear--and finally she said isn't the weather so nice. But, it just strikes me as the outskirts of Savannah and you can see these people with their denim and dixieland flags. But it's funny because it doesn't seem like Notre Dame belongs here because you walk around and it's nice and sunny but you feel like people are talking about more than how high the corn is growing.

KC: I should give our viewers some background information on you. Jeanine is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College. She received her degree in Politics because at Mount Holyoke they believe it's an art as well as a science. She currently works in Northern Virginia a communications professional. Also, she's very funny and she's from Savannah, GA. So she's a Georgia Peach.

What's been the weirdest thing about being married in your opinion?

JWG: I think the absolute weirdest thing is people calling me Mrs. (Name). I still haven't gotten used to that.

KC: Who are you voting for?

JWG: Not a Bush fan, but I'm also not a Kerry fan. So, I'm just waiting for someone to surprise me or make me feel good about them before it's time to vote, I believe this is the first year where I cannot honestly say, "Yeah, that's the one." Neither one does it for me.

KC: What is the most dangerous aspect of people's silent racism in America today?

JWG: Well, it's hard to fight something that you can't see so in many instances the person who is silent may be the very person you desperately want something from or need something from. But if they're racist, you can't get it and you're doing what you can to make yourself the best candidate for a job, making a bid on a house, getting an approval for a loan. And it's incredible the many ways racism can affect your life. But of course you don't have to succumb to that.

KC: What's been the most disturbing thing that ever happened to you because of your race?

JWG: I think the most disturbing thing is the first thing I can ever remember happening and that was riding down the street on my bike with my girlfriend--who was white--and having these teenage boys call me nigger.

KC: How old were you?

JWG: We were in second grade. And it's almost like when you've never been called a name like that before, the impact is so great when someone actually opens their lips to call you that because you're just in shock. In some ways, I'm glad it happened in second grade because it prepared me for life. I'm sure there are worse things people could do than call me a name, but it sets you up to be prepared for the next thing.

KC: What did do? Did you just tell your parents? Did you say anything to the boys?

JWG: No. Actually, I just kept on riding and I never said a word to the boys or my parents. In fact, I don't even remember talking about it with my friend.

KC: Was it out of shame that you kept quiet?

JWG: Possibly. I never really thought about why I never said anything. Living in my neighborhood wasn't easy. Going to my school wasn't easy. I was litterally one of a handful of black people. I didn't want to make it harder on my parents to live there. If they knew people were calling me names, they would've moved. Probably ego had something to do with it because I thought you can't just make me leave by calling me a name.

KC: I think it's interesting to see the level of racism that exists just within the black community itself. I suppose it exists somewhat within white cultre but is seems really pervasive among African-Americans in terms of light-skinned vs. dark-skinned. What's that all about?

JWG: I'm sure it's not any more pervasive in African-American communities as other communities. I once knew a guy who was half Italian and half Brazillan or Portugese, and he's mother was devasted that he'd never marry a full-blooded Italian because she had made him so dark since she was from another culture.

KC: Why would she care if he married a full-blooded Italian.

JWG: I don't know. Her husband was full Italian and they lived in a full Italian town. It was the craziest thing I ever heard. But I do think that in this country, I mean there is such a stigma about being dark over things like where your ancestor worked, whether it was in the big house or outside. And also if you wanted to succeed in America if you were a very light-skinned person you could do that by just denying your African heritage and marrying a white person and fil into the main culture, which gives you access to so many things.

KC: But to continue in that line of thinking doesn't even seem logical anymore.

JWG: True, but it's only been less than two hundred years. To us that sounds like a long time but it's not in the whole scheme of things.

KC: OK, now that you've read some of my past interviews, you're going to have to give up something nasty from your past.

JWG: No way. I am a very prim and proper woman and I don't have anything nasty in my past, At least I'm not dumb enough to let you put it on your blog. I don't have any crazy stuff. I should have hung out with Michael. I kidnapped a man once.

KC: What?1?

JWG: It's not that exciting a story.

KC: It's story, though, right?

JWG: Let me see, I kidnapped someone...I can't tell you about Chris and the gay people, he'll kill me. Dating the three guys, that wasn't that exciting. I'm just boring. I'm everyone's goody-two-shoes friend. Everyone has kids now, I'm still trying to live it up.

KC: I want to know about Chris and the gay people.

JWG: I can't reveal that unless we're divorced.

KC: Pleeeeease. (I'm looking with puppy-dog eyes.)

JWG: I can't.

KC: OK, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with the kidnapping story.

JWG: No, I'm going to think of a really good story and do it via e-mail. (Starts laughing really hard.) My girlfriend Kim and I used to drive by Chris'
house and pretend we're were mailing stuff, just so we could look at his house. Only Kim will find this funny.

KC: OK, I'll take your word on that.

JWG: I guess I'll have to start a blog just so I can interview you.

KC: OK, we're going to cut out now because Jeanine is hooked by the blog bug and we're going to get her started with her own. See you later.

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