June 1, 2010

Another day, another park

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:05 pm by Iain

I would have been spending some more quality time with Marv and his bench today, but ’twas not to be. Today was Memorial Day and Memorial Days in Cedar Falls tend to transform even the most pleasant of parks into an amorphous blob of sentient Iowan flesh. I don’t particularly relish amorphous blobs, let alone those of the pasty, gelatinous variety. Hence, Washington Park for the day.

Unfortunately, this right here is a picture of the abusive piece of shit that decided to take his son to Washington Park on his Memorial Day. Rather than something reasonable like, I don’t know, actually loving his son, this asshole came to the park to verbally abuse his kid while playing baseball.  It was all clear-cut power dynamic bullshit, like “CUT IT OUT, QUITE PLAYING LIKE SUCH A PANSY,”  “WOULD YOU BE WALKING IF THIS WAS A REAL GAME?” or “I’VE HAD IT WITH YOUR LAZY ASS, GET GOING” and finally “I SWEAR TO GOD, IF YOU SAY ANOTHER FUCKING WORD YOU’RE GOING HOME.”

First, what do you even do in a situation like that? Not just as an observer, but as a member of a relationship that could easily slip into violence with the slightest of changes? And second, gosh, what is it about this power dynamic that seems so familiar, especially in the context of Cedar Falls? A white guy in a position of uncompromising power, belittling another human being with no respect for that person’s dignity. Hmm, I wonder what it could be…

Oh yeah! Racism! That interaction reminded me of all the racism in Cedar Falls!*

Just look at the composition of Cedar Falls and you’ll see what I mean. It’s overwhelmingly well-off, it has a college and it’s 95% white, and most importantly, no one seems to notice any of this. In great part due to the fact that Cedar Falls has uniquely positioned itself as the white-flight sub-city of the larger nearby town of Waterloo. As is the case with most hierarchical relationships like this, Cedar Falls is seen as the nice, respectable, white city, while Waterloo is the more dangerous town, full of gangs, degradation, and most of all, black people. To put it simply, the very identity of Cedar Falls is fixed around the idea that it is not Waterloo.

Welcome to white privilege.

The abusive father in Washington Park represents a variation on a recent incarnation of this dynamic that has recently become extremely popular on a national scale. It’s the same hierarchical relationship that I explained above with CF/Waterloo, but this time the (white) person at the top has started to become defensive, even a little bit worried. And eventually this person becomes so consumed by the feeling that his power is threatened in some way that he resolves to himself to triumph over that feeling at any human cost.

It’s this type of racism that makes Cedar Falls, Cedar Falls and UNI, UNI. It’s great! I mean, it’s not like hate crimes have been an unforgettable part of the ’09-10 academic year. It’s not like you can’t go a week without overhearing specific students complain about how loud the black people in the Union are, or how the minorities are always taking up space in the Rod Library computer lab, of all those darkies “playing the race card” and pretending like they got their feelings hurt. It’s not like one of the history professors who moved here two years ago has already been the victim of weekly hate crimes for the last year, or that your Latino classmates don’t feel safe walking home at night, or that you are surrounded by a town populated by racist people wholeheartedly dedicated to keeping their privilege no matter what the cost. No, it’s nothing like that.

In fact, I should be the first person to tell you that the University of Northern Iowa is actually the safest place for minorities to be. Unlike certain other depraved universities, the University of Northern Iowa has not had a certifiable hate crime for some time.

And I, for one, am proud to be an alum. GO PANTHERS

*Obviously this guy’s interaction with his son could mean any number of things. And clearly his brazen display of abuse and inadequacy isn’t directly comparable to what Cedar Falls is like. Nevertheless, his particular use of power in this situation is.

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