Thursday's Child- Don't Be Ugly

If you are someone who grew up below the Mason-Dixon line of the United States, you've heard the term, "Don't be ugly." There isn't a southern mother I know who didn't say this to her children. Being ugly didn't have anything to do with your looks; it had everything to do with your behavior, particularly when it came to how you treated others.

If you and your sister were fighting, your mother told you both not to be ugly to one another. If you were being unkind to a waiter, you were told in an overly nice tone (because we southerners do not air our dirty laundry in public), "Now, don't be ugly," and you can be sure we were severely punished for that public parental embarrassment when we got home. This also applied to using proper table manners, writing thank-you notes to obscure relatives, and generally any behavior thought to be less than genteel.

In today's society, we don't necessarily adhere to Emily Post anymore. If you don't know who she was, then you have proven my point. She wrote columns and books on manners and etiquette, and both me and my peers growing up had to read and understand her. Some of us were even forced into going to classes on this, so when I say this was a thing, it really was. It was a southern culture thing, and a source of pride for every parent who received compliments on their children's behavior.

Yesterday, I encountered some ugliness from an online acquaintance. She shared a meme making fun of white people who don't get  american black culture's inside jokes and codes. When I asked her if she really thought that this was funny, she was shocked that I didn't. She immediately moved to a position of, "Oh, you don't get the joke. That's okay- you're not supposed to."

I was well-aware of the lingo used, as the meaning of the 'code' and the insult being cast on women who share my skin color and culture. If I had posted something like that toward black women, I'd have been immediately called out as a racist, and rightfully so- it was ugly behavior. After discussing it, I moved on. Sometimes, you have no choice but to walk away from people who are toxic, even if they can't or won't see it for themselves.

When you feel the need to put down others in order to feel good about yourself, you're being ugly. When you exclude others with secret codes, language that is meant only for your insider group, when you minimize the culture and intellect of other people, you're being ugly. It doesn't matter what excuse you use, painting lipstick on a pig is a ridiculous and wasted endeavor. I've seen it happen both by whites and blacks, and it's ugly no matter what the the pigment of the lipstick.

Right now, we live in a world where racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny are rampant. When we see the world through these eyes, it's a very ugly place indeed. We're making it that way through our behavior, and what we tolerate.  In the United States, we're moving into a much more volatile place with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee-apparent. One thing he has accomplished is to expose the deep-seated racism among the adult, white, republican voters in this country. The more we seek hate, the more it will find us.

We can choose differently. We can protest and fight for equality without having to endure repulsive behavior cloaked in the excuses of "otherness". We can fully appreciate each other's culture without insults and derision.

We can choose the power of love and the beauty of unity instead.  They may become our survival tools in the very near future.


Thursday's Child is a series of articles where the author expresses her opinions on topical matters, whether Witchcraft-related or not. The title is inspired by the poem, and that the author was born on a Thursday.

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