Friday, October 15, 2010

Attack the target until it changes shape

Last night at dinner, Girlie Bear related a couple of stories from school that disturbed us. 

First, her best friend was told to "Get out of line, white girl" at lunch.

Then, Girlie Bear was told to "Hurry it up, white bitch" on the stairs between classes.

She also told about a few kids who were ganged up on by some of the other kids and beaten up.

Irish Woman and I told her, again, about the need for knowing where she was and who was around her at all times (situational awareness), and her need to not take verbal bait and start a fight when someone insults or threatens her.

Then I told her that if someone hits her, she is to defend herself until either the other person stops resisting or a teacher pulls her off of the offender.  Little did I know how far apart my wife and I were on this point.

Irish Woman objected strenuously.  Her point was that if Girlie Bear fought with one of the melanin enhanced members of her school, she was likely to either be beaten up by a bunch of her attacker's brethren, or will be jumped at a time and place of their choosing. This rocked me back a bit.  Irish Woman is a no-kidding, don't mess with me, firebrand of a woman.  I've seen her face off with a man twice her size, and the bruiser backed down before her redheaded onslaught.

But for the past 30+ years, she's had it pounded into her head that a Caucasian has no business fighting back against a minority assailant.  She grew up going to pretty segregated private Catholic schools.  The only time she had exposure to desegregated public schools was when her older cousins were bussed to a predominantly black high school and had a lot of problems.  She sincerely believes, due to those experiences and the multiple episodes in Louisville where a Caucasian has fought back and got in trouble for doing it, that Girlie Bear should just take the beating because the consequences of fighting back are worse.  In her opinion, Girlie Bear should take a pounding until she can escape, and then run to a teacher or other adult.

I also come from a pretty vanilla-ish background.  Let's face it, there were no significant population of African Americans or Latinos in the Dakota's in the 1970's and 1980's.  There were some, but they were usually Air Force transplants who came and went.  If you'd asked what minorities I knew prior to high school, I'd have said Finns and maybe a few Polish.
And then I moved to the edge of the Bay Area in California. 

I was the big, dumb hick who didn't know the social queues.  Within days of me arriving, I had my first fight when I "disrespected" some dumb ass.  Since I learned to fight by having my head handed to me by my older country cousins, I beat him up pretty quickly and barely started breathing hard.  Within a few days, a few of his friends and cousins decided to square off with me and teach me my place.  I took a beating, but I gave as good as I got.  My shirt was bloody, but more than half of it wasn't mine.  In the end, all of us basically agreed that the fight was over, with no-one laying on the ground bleeding.  Well, almost no-one.  One guy had to be helped away because I'd kicked him square in the kneecap while wearing  a pair of work boots, but he wasn't outwardly bleeding.  I limped a little, but I could at least walk on my own.  After that, I wasn't messed with too badly.  My reputation for fighting dirty seemed to keep all but the most aggressive away for the next two years until graduation, plus I became better at knowing which groups to stay away from and how to not inadvertently invite conflict by crossing the local social mores.

I eventually was able to talk to Girlie Bear and tell her my philosophy on fights. 

  • Always have good situational awareness.  Know where you are, who's around you, and what they're doing as much as you can.
  • There are no such things as "Fighting Words".
  • Don't start fights.  Don't be sucked in by someone's trash talking into a situation that becomes a physical confrontation. 
  • If confronted, walk away.  If you're in a place where you can't walk away, take the verbal abuse silently.
  • If attacked, fight as dirty as possible.  Bite, kick, stomp, club, whatever.  No body part is off limits for injuring.  No handy implement is off limits for use as a club.
  • Fight until they stop resisting, or until a teacher pulls you off.
  • Don't ever throw the first punch, but always try to throw the last punch.

I didn't tell her this last one, and I hope I never have to.  Girlie Bear is still very much an innocent on a lot of the ugly things that life contains, and I hope to keep her that way as long as possible.

  • Be a peaceful person, but if someone raises a hand to you, take their arm off.


Old NFO said...

Concur with all, especially if you HAVE to fight, fight dirty... ups the odds that you will survive.

Julie said...

tough situation to be in - hope Girlie Bear manages to avoid having to use your 'fight dirty' advice!

DaddyBear said...

I think it's harder for her because all her life, we've been telling her that since she was bigger than the other kids, she wasn't supposed to be rough with the other kids. Now, I'm trying to teach her that if someone harms her, it's OK to harm them.

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