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Marilee J. Layman

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09:13 pm: Unusual Assistance Animals and My Reflexive Racism
Let's take the last first -- I was reading an old WashPost last night and my eye caught on a concert by the Blind Boys of Alabama at DAR Constitution Hall. My reflexive thought was that the Daughters of the American Revolution must not have known the Blind Boys were also black men. And then I realized that the DAR admitted black women in 1984. When Marian Anderson's manager tried to book her in the Hall in 1939, she was not allowed (and sang standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial) and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, plus thousands of others, quit the DAR. The DAR didn't officially change their whites-only policy for performers until 1952. So it was a long time, and even if I qualified, I wouldn't want to join, but they do allow not only black, but Hispanic and Native Americans, as long as their lineage meets the qualifications. Still, my mind thinks of them as racist, which is racist in itself.

This is the blog of a writer who has a very interesting NYT article (linked in the blog) about unusual assistance animals. Guide horses (miniature), a parrot that helps keep a guy from being psychotic, and a monkey that lets an agoraphobic woman go outside, for example. She has some additional video and pictures in the blog post that are as interesting as the NYT article.

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Comments

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From:guppiecat
Date:January 4th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)
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It seems to me that any group that limits membership based on factors out of your control is part of the same overall group that contains racism and sexism. While they have a right to be who they are, I still think that I wouldn't want to associate with them.
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From:dd_b
Date:January 4th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
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This is a group that *used to* have clearly racist policies. It's often hard to prove or disprove the theory that they still have the basic attitude, and have just learned to cloak it to gain mainstream acceptance.
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From:guppiecat
Date:January 4th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
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Ah, but you cannot join DAR with out proof of "good lineage". Since my family did not come over on the Mayflower and isn't so established, I couldn't join even if I wanted to. That form of exclusion, to me, is just as bad as racism and sexism, for the same meta-reasons. It's just that they don't use a currently disapproved method to filter people out. Seems to me that the attitude is there and going strong, not even masked.
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From:mjlayman
Date:January 4th, 2009 04:07 am (UTC)
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Besides, my ancestor in the Revolutionary War was a Prussian mercenary working for the Brits! His descendants have often been American military men, but he was on the wrong side, and stayed. No, I just grew up and spent time as an adult acknowledging that they were racist and now, technically, they aren't.
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From:serge_lj
Date:January 4th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
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My wife chose not to become a DAR, but she could have joined as she goes all the way back to George Washington himself, and to his cousin Benedict Arnold. A bit more than a decade before, Benny got wounded in the foot when he and others tried to invade my hometown.
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From:dd_b
Date:January 4th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)
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Well, prejudice against a group like the DAR isn't "racism" that I can see; but it's some other form of bigotry, at least.

Then again, I have a definite disrespect for Nazis, and I'm not sure I want to categorize it as "bigotry". Voluntary association groups with a philosophical position can, it seems to me, be disliked / despised / hated quite appropriately and properly.

The DAR, like Christianity, is an interesting borderline case. It's a voluntary association, so the members can reasonably be blamed (or praised) for their association. I don't know that the DAR has many official political positions these days; and Christianity covers such a huge range that it's fairly useless as a predictor of anything.
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From:mjlayman
Date:January 4th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
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We hear about them a lot more in the DC area, and even black high schools hold graduations there now, so I should be able to at least get rid of the automatic response of racism.
From:ext_132637
Date:January 4th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)

DAR

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My family has been here long enough that I could join the DAR. IIRC, my first ancestor to come to America was also the first teacher here. I think we even found a reference to him in my husband's "Forgotten English" calendar, but I forgot to have Chris save it, which is too bad... it would amuse my Dad.

But, why would I want to join them? I'm not sure that I understand the appeal of a club which apparently says "We've been here a long time. Go us!" What do they talk about? Clubs should really be about shared interests.

Now, alternative guide animals, that interests me! I always smile when I see a guide dog in a store, and a guide miniature horse would just make my day. The guide parrot looks like she's in an acrylic enclosure, which seems very sanitary. People should like that even more than guide dogs.
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From:mjlayman
Date:January 4th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC)

Re: DAR

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Well, they sponsor a lot of things in DC and have a museum, so it's more than just a group of women, but there is that bit of having an ancestor in the right place, and being able to prove it.
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