Boomers and Blogging

President Obama is a Boomer. Let that sink in young, ageist death-wish folks. Yesterday on Twitter a journalist wrote something about his shock at the ageism that’s emerged from the COVID-19 virus fear. The resulting thread was full of “death to boomers.” Then some politician from Texas said he was sure that every 80 year old grandmother would be willing to die so her grandchildren could have a good economy. What?

The virus has brought some dark reality to the fore. In Spain and Italy there are not enough ventilators for all the desperately ill people so they’ve had to decide to ventilate younger people and the the elders die (or not). I see the logic, but I also think that has got to be excruciating for doctors who’ve vowed to preserve life. But such decisions are not new to human existence.

Narayama: Death Mountain — fantastic film, but harrowing

As a result of this, I’m going to attempt a social media “diet” as it’s called. I’m not optimistic of success, but I’m going to give it a shot. The main challenge is that I’m kind of hooked. I thank WP for that and a contest I found myself entered in (it was an honor). You might have noticed a “badge” on my page, “Annual Blogger Bash Nominated Blog 2018 — Best Overall Blog.”

It was the strangest thing. I was (as always) minding my own business and I got a notification that I’d been nominated for this award. What? If you won you got a prize and you could take yourself to a party in England. It was very cool because it had come out of nowhere. So, I followed them on Facebook and did all the other things I was supposed to. The contest was very active on Twitter so I became more active on Twitter, a strange, nasty, evil place — but addictive. I followed some blogs, voted for some blogs, and NEVER found whoever it was had nominated me. In the process I “met” two women I like very much. Erin who writes Unbound Roots and Shannon of Must Hike, Must Eat.

I learned a lot from the experience. I didn’t win, but it was fun being nominated. The next year I was contacted about participating, but the contest had changed. The blogs were separated into categories — cooking, the outdoors, child-raising — stuff like that. My blog doesn’t fit any category (that I can see).

As for Boomers — where I live Boomers keep everything going. There’s not much work here, so many young people (who aren’t farming) have to leave. There would be no food bank, no after-school programs, no museums if retired people didn’t step up to do those things. If the 80 year old who runs the Rio Grande County museum weren’t there, there would be no internship for the high school kid who LOVES history, the museum, and the chance to set up exhibits. What training that 17 year old is getting! The local food bank is begging for volunteers right now because it doesn’t think that the elderly people who do 90% of the work should be working now because of the danger of all that public contact. The quilt guilds (we have them here) have mobilized to sew masks and they are, yep, run by boomers.

The niche filled by boomers in my little world is very important yet delicate.
Many boomers are raising their grandkids. Some are substitute teaching. All over the place, they’re stepping in where someone needs it. Maybe we should all be sitting in our rockers on our porches, but we’re not. Well I am, but I figure after 35 yers teaching 10,000 people to write and think, helping save 5800 acres of chaparral wilderness from developers, working to raise funds for a mental health facility for Asian refugees, etc. it’s OK for me to savor the passing parade. My life has been — and is — so far from the stereotype as are the lives of most of the “Boomers” I know.

Featured photo: me walking down a hill at Penetente Canyon, 2017


Today as I was pursuing a social life, I got into a tiff with a young woman over the JLo Shakira issue. She is a young white woman who speaks Spanish well. She is also of the generation that has been brainwashed by people from MY generation in school. Her immediate reaction to me was NOT to listen to what I had to say but to jump to the conclusion that because I’m older, white and presumably well-off I must share the same objections with which “other” well-off white women of my age have flooded social media.

I learned about this apparently pretty hot dispute when a friend (Hispanic) shared an article written by a a Latina lambasting rich, white women who (in their turn) had lambasted Shakira and JLo for their “obscene” display at the Super Bowl. I reacted vehemently against the assumptions laid out in that article. ANY-hoo, that’s what the minor “set-to” was about today.

I have seen the performance. It’s just not my thing, though one part of it did upset me. Not because of its sexual implications but because, to me, it alluded to violence against women. HOWEVER what I tried to explain to this young woman was that the conclusion to which she’d leapt was wrong, that my big objection is to the over-generalization of any population of people.

In our racially charged world, white people are pretty much lumped into one pile by people of color. Not individuals who know each other, but the broad categories exist. I know this because I spent a good part of my adult life living in a racially mixed, lower-class neighborhood and teaching students who were most often Latino, Filipino or African/American. Just one example, one evening in an English class at an inner-city college in San Diego my students were loudly objecting to the way white stereotype blacks. I said, “Hold on a minute. Do you stereotype whites?” Their reaction was surprise. They had never thought of that. I said, “Stereotype me. I was in my early 40s.

“You drive a Mercedes,” said one young man.

“No. A Volvo station wagon because of soccer,” said another.

“You live in La Jolla,” said a young woman. “Your husband is a doctor.”

They went on in this fashion for a few minutes. They were not joking and they were sure they were correct. Then I asked, “If that’s my life, why am I here teaching night school at City College?”

“Oh you want to help minorities,” said one girl. “You might feel guilty or something.” Others nodded.

First I was surprised that they saw THEMSELVES collectively as “minorities” and me as part of a dominant class. They had fucking conferred “white privilege” on me that I didn’t even know about or claim! THEN having lived where I was part of a VERY small minority, surrounded by people who did not look like me, I’d kind of lost the ability to actively notice skin color. While in China, I’d even forgotten my own. Sure, in my class I could SEE they were all black people, but I saw them as assorted individuals with names and purposes and abilities. The group of 20 students included two Jamaicans, a woman from Nigeria and a young man from Somalia.

Mostly I was stunned that all of their conjectures were so far from the truth. It was like they had an equation, “If white, then rich.”

I said, “Ok, well, here’s my drivers license.” The address was a “barrio” not far from the college.

“You live down the street from ME?” said one guy.

“I don’t know. Do I?” He handed me his drivers license and yes, I did.

“What do you drive?” asked a girl.

“I have a used Ford Escort station wagon,” I answered.

The class broke open. We talked about how we really don’t know that much about other people and maybe stereotypes keep us from finding out about them.

That was the point I wanted to make in the imbroglio today. It’s not JUST that we have opinions. Sometimes there are reasons behind someone’s opinions that are NOT what we think they are. It was a mere coincidence that I happen to be white and objected to something related to that Super Bowl show. My most serious objection was being lumped into the category of “upset white women.” The second was that I spent most of my teaching career instructing and counseling students from Mexico and other Latin American countries. I spent a years helping my Latino students — male and female, but mostly female — contend with the challenges placed on them by their culture and the numerous ways it confounded their dreams and tore at their hearts.

The third has to do with the fact that I have been in physically abusive relationships. As far as the performance, I objected to Shakira dancing with a rope because of all the Latinas I taught who had to fight their fathers for the right to go to college, fathers who said, “You don’t need that. You’re a girl.” I objected on behalf of all the (again, Latinas, mostly) girls I taught who had abusive fathers, boyfriends or husbands, girls who came to class with their upper arms bruised, with black eyes, or swollen lips. I objected for the sake of all the Latina single mothers who worked two jobs and attended college because their husband left them, or they left their husbands for their own safety and that of their children.

I would never, ever say that Latino cultures are more violent than other cultures; I don’t think they are, but I do know that it is still difficult for Latina women to break away from the stereotype of their cultural identity, not because of white people but because of the culture itself. The word “Macho” is Spanish. Again, not to say that I think all or even most Latino men are brutes. I was physically abused in my first marriage and race was not a question.

Many of the girls and women I taught came from lower economic classes and from countries in which education was only for the privileged. Their parents weren’t educated. That alone is a challenge for the children who want an education. Many of my students had to fight for the chance to go to college, but generally the girls had to fight harder.

JLo and Shakira’s dancing was just a Super Bowl spectacle. Those women were sexy, skillful, physically strong, beautiful. I didn’t find it “obscene” or “pornographic” as my young adversary today seems to have thought I did, but what they did was not an expression of the “strength and freedom of Latina women” or any women. It was a show, nothing more.

This speech, however, is an expression of the “strength and freedom of Latina women,”