What Defines New Mexico? (Trigger Warning)

This post is going to make the New Mexico Tourism Board cry. As Nymph runs off after startling me because she jumped up into my lap and I laugh, my brain still turns and mulls over what created me as I am. As a person born in New Mexico, a person that has never left this dusty state except to go over the border into Mexico for a mile (it all looked the same, I got lost and it doesn’t count if I don’t know I left the country on purpose) I have a perspective on New Mexico that can be broken down as follows..

1. Education
2. Poverty
3 Religion
4. Healthcare

These four things combine to make New Mexico an unpleasant place to live. I hear so often how nice it is to visit my state, how beautiful it is, and how neat it is that all of the natives sell their homemade crafts at the various squares for thousands of dollars. That’s the tourism factor. New Mexico has great places to visit, places I enjoy. I love so much of the history and lore here. I revel in reading about Billy the Kid, in knowing that I have been in places that this young man had.

New Mexico has yet to stop being the wild west. The same mentality that created the gun fighter out of the ex soldier (That would be the James Gang lead by Jesse and his brother) on through the modern gangster there is an element of hopelessness in this state. It may have been here before the Civil War, but New Mexico is not a place that is nice to live.

When you are a tourist it is easy to avoid the areas where people actually live and work outside of the glossy tourist shops. It is easy to see the big expansive sky, the glorious mountains, and even our gun fighter reenactments that happen every weekend in Old Town. It is easy to be sucked up by the dust and the wind, to feel for a moment you are somewhere else. Tourists are guided to specific areas JUST for this effect. Every city and place does this so that their dirty laundry is not aired.

New Mexico is not accessible for wheelchair users. When you visit in a chair you will find that downtown has great curbcuts and… that is it. A small section of the sidewalk is accessible, if you leave the Tourist Safe Zone you will be stuck. Even there you will be treated like garbage by the mindless peons of this state. They are educated to hate you, tourist, regardless of disability or no.

New Mexico has a long history of religious intolerance. This started back when Cortez rode through and spread disease looking for Eldorado. When you come and look at our history reveling in the ruins of churches, you are reveling in the murders of people. With that conquest came racism. The people of this state who claim they are Mexican are actually descendants of the first European rape marriages of the native daughters. This was done not out of love, no one married out of love before the Victorian period, but out of power. If you take their wives and daughters, you exterminate them. The devout Catholics could be practicing a variety of earth based religions, but most of their culture was beaten away or burned away. The chiefs and medicine men were killed over and over again. The image we have of the indigenous people also known as Indians, Native Americans, or first nations, this image is a construct by the first conquerors. This image is what tourists come to see.

Through the school system that we have currently, the children are taught to worship the conqueror. Those that can read will read books that talk about how impressive it was that these men brought horses, guns, and that yes a few of the First Nations died because of disease but Cortez didn’t really mean it, so that makes it okay. It was just an accident. The germs may have been accidental but pretending to be a deity was not. That was a conscious choice. Turning on the people that embraced these European WHITE men because of their difference? That was an act of hatred.

When you come to New Mexico as a tourist and are frustrated with your potentially not white counter clerk’s inability to count out your change properly or their not really smiling or enjoying their menial labour? You are feeding off of a centuries old hate crime. New Mexicans of color (Hispanics, Blacks, First Nations, etc) are given a poorer education. There are schools for the white children such as Saint Prius where if you can pay for the education or are smart enough you get in. in the Cities the education is better, but with a state that is made up of rural regions most of the people who come to the city as adults are not well educated or are from out of state taking advantage of the economic opportunity presented to them by the lack of local applicants that are qualified to do this job.

In the rural areas, especially Estancia (The worst school district in a state that is chronically the worst in the nation educationally) the teachers are often not certified. I haven’t checked since I escaped that school, but since a lot of the same teachers are there as when I went? You can BET that the teachers are either not caring, not qualified, or are the exception to the rule. There are a few of them and these people can make a difference in the education of a few students, but the majority in that area never learn to read, the focus is just on sports (though despite Brian Urlacker who is from Albuquerque not Estancia, this has never quite worked out for any of them). No one who leaves this small town returns. I did for a few months and that was under the guise of visiting and I got out again. The town is stagnant. The people never change. A few may come from outside, like my mother, but their children enter a society that is backwards. Anyone who was not born there is not accepted.

The culture here socially is also one of teen pregnancy. Abstinence only education as well as the idea that a penis will give you Aids (Not a lie but not a truth in how it is taught) lead many young women to being mothers. In Estancia every single girl in my graduating class was pregnant when I was 17 except for myself. Every single student is encouraged by the social culture to be sexually active. In a state wide experience as I have lived all over, I can tell you that girls are encouraged to become housewives and mothers. I suspect some of this is a national occurrence (This is according to an annual survey, the details of which have not changed enough to matter int he last few years. If anything the rate has increased). The system is set up so that it is almost impossible to become independent from these systems. With Welfare you are to hungry and tired from trying to work with your parents to learn. Every family dependent on Welfare that I know of is actually working to escape the need for assistance but with the set up that if you earn you lose the needed income so you can keep earning and eat, therefore it becomes a matter of starve or get off of welfare.

No one chooses poverty. No one chooses hunger. The image of the Welfare Queen of New Mexico interchanges one stereotype for another, and yet the one exception I know of to this rule is not a person of color but is a white person that feels entitled to not work. Parents with children struggle to better their education but this takes resources that we do not have. Each year education is cut, and each year it is the children who lose out. There are several remedial colleges in the area that help you learn the basics from elementary on through High school so you can get a degree, but this costs money and time. Not everyone has the time or money and many people here cannot qualify for federal aide because they do not have the knowledge to fill out the application.

This sends the locals flooding back to their churches. This state is stunted in many ways, and is so dependent on guidance from privileged white men or men who have fallen into the line of the Patriarchy and this leads to actions such as murder based on appearance, ability, sexuality and gender. This leads to people who may be declared a witch to actually be burned at the stake. Religion is used to prevent thought. When I was excommunicated from the Church, it was for asking questions to try and understand what I am being fed. This action is against the church and without education to encourage thought more people will not question. Questioning also takes energy and is a luxury in this state as if you are worked to the bone and exhausted there is no time to think. Church becomes a solace then, a place where you can dream of a heaven taht may or may not exist, where you can barter your soul on the chance that if you are a good enough person and suffer enough now you will not suffer when you are dead but oh you could be wrong.

This culture of underpaid labour is not at all threatened by immigration, when the children here are not educated enough to know their own legal rights when it comes to working. This means that there is a higher incidence of sexual harassment, dangerous working conditions, and those that speak up are more likely to be fired because they have no resources with which to fight back. In this culture that you visit and say is so wonderful, the people who are selling mass produced silverwork at a high price are doing this because this is all that is expected of them, and for many this is all they can do. Some do make their own jewelry but most of the merchants buy those works at a pittance of what you pay. There are some sellers that are reputable and will price their works fairly, but they often are told by you white tourists that this piece of jewelry must not be as good as the same one that costs YOU more at another store, you reveling in your privilege and showing your own lack of thought.

In New Mexico in these tourist areas people are often run down, because the worker there is not seen as a person but merely a prop to bring in your money to our state. People die because you choose to run them down out of the claim of being so tired from walking all over our cities on through you just not giving a damn. Yes sometimes it is a local driver that has mowed down a pedestrian but it is such a common occurrence that many people don’t notice anymore. The closer I am to a tourist spot the more likely I am to be killed.

With the movie industry coming to New Mexico there is another form of financial gain and another element of tourism. Our open spaces are now inundated constantly with the cameras. I fall prey at times to the excitement but now I am noticing that a large number of smart young people are choosing to try to get discovered instead of working or furthering their education. Hollywood is a shining element of fools gold showing a way out, that is another form of a trap. Such a low number of people actually become famous or rich, that this is creating another strain on the resources of the state. In order to not starve prospective actors and actresses turn to food stamps and state assistance or unemployment between gigs as extras. I consider periodically trying out for a space myself but it is always a choice between their privilege or my dignity. So I choose my dignity.

With so much hunger and often governmentally enforced squalor (Looking at you Denish and Richardson) where the funding is sent away from the programs that need it most and into cronies pockets the healthcare system is irrevocably broken. I am lucky enough that my insurance which often refuses me basic needs like medication forcing me into the hospital is here. Most New Mexicans will not recieve medical insurance until after the Obamacare plan has been enacted at it’s fullest. Then it is a matter of this plan being enforced, as enforcement is something you rarely see here unless it is law enforcement using their power to oppress a minority. The hospital connected to our University is never empty, the emergency room is always so full of the crushed and downtrodden humanity that people bleed to death in the emergency room before they are given care. People are dying there needlessly as there are only so many hands and many of them are simply students trying to learn the trade of medicine.

Between the countless malpractices, of which I am a victim, and misdiagnosis you will find mothers with screaming and sick children, people with a simple cold, and people that are dubbed homeless, pushed into a warm space by the lack of appropriate and accessible shelters. Between the dying are those who truly need a primary physician but they can get medical care in the ER and they cannot do so with a regular doctor because the fees are so high. If someone has the state’s Molina insurance they are forced into this system, and they may wait months before seeing a doctor. It is better to spend 48 hours in the ER than a month without care.

There are other hospitals, which I personally use but they often face the same problem. The overflow of emergency into their wards and those who want to try and avoid the crush of humanity at University of New Mexico Hospital enter these halls, it is the same. Long wait times, mass suffering, and the dying who would not be dying if they could just see a doctor on a regular basis. I am told there is no need for socialized medicine by you and those who can afford to travel, which denotes immediate privilege. I am told as you go to the nicest ER if something occurs on your trip that things surely are not this bad but this is my version of a happy tail for New Mexico.

The people are suffering, they are oppressed, and pushed down. The children do not know the benefits of education and are taught often with physical violence that questioning anything is wrong. It creates a mindless hive that is then sold to the consumer as an authentic culture. The authentic culture of the people here has been murdered long ago. Each time you come and consume us, you add into this even more. I know no one will stop coming after this, and yet there are things in this state beyond the borders of your safe tourism friendly areas that are fantastic and interesting. There are people here that are taught beliefs and educationally things that you see as archaic. You could explore the world of living anachronisms.

The people can be wonderful, sweet, charming, and amazing. The conversations you can have with some of the children and elders in my state about it’s history may disenchant you a bit, but isn’t this better than a ghost story that was manufactured for your fifty dollars? Wouldn’t it be better to hear about why the James Gang and Billy the Kid were seen as heroes from the descendants that still feel attacked, and rightfully so by the government?

What defines New Mexico is not the beautiful skies and wide open spaces that are nice to visit but instead is the massive amount of oppression, appropriation, and torture forced upon those born here. I have not spoken of the domestic violence culture that you are supporting by visiting… but it is a nice place to visit, so I hear. It would be better if it were a nice place to live.

Tracey Ullman Fail

So called comedians often use minorities for their humor. I never find this funny, and usually question why I bother trying to watch comedy shows after a certain point. Today I noticed the on-demand section for ShowTime had the “Tracey Ullman’s United States” section added. I started the first program, and right off the script starts with bashing illegal immigrants, Tracey Ullman, a white woman, in black face. It moves on to her mocking the Indian Culture, Islam, and Italians. She also mocks the very real medical ailment of Restless Leg Syndrome. It may sound funny, but, your legs burning all the time, unable to keep them still? Very problematic.

Instead of funny this show seems to show her hate. She makes fun of mostly ethnic groups, minorities, but makes fun of just enough white people to get away with her bigotry by the standards of those blind to their privilege. She makes fun of those from the south. She makes fun of everyone.

Hold up a mirror Tracey. Hold up a mirror to yourself and see just how sad you are. She goes with victim blaming, rape jokes, and does she see what this does to people? This isn’t funny. It is aggressively disgusting.

This may be old news, but, maybe someone will read this and will take notice. It is never funny to demean someone. It is never appropriate to put on black face. That was never funny. Ever. It is not appropriate to have your Indian Woman character sing her sentences in a mock Bollywood production while her life is threatened. It isn’t funny to play out acts of Xenophobia.

This show was supposed to be about America. Why then does any non white person have a thick accent that is usually unintelligible? Racism. Bigotry. Crap.

Not only is this show anti female, it is anti human. I will never watch another Tracey Ullman special. I can’t stand the stench of her tastelessness.

I am sure somewhere online you can find justifications for how she creates her characters to mock bigots. If the effect is more mocking of the minority, you have fail.

I felt this after one episode, I am trying a second.

More black face. More racial cliches. Showing a woman of color as toothless, uneducated, and irresponsible is NOT Funny. Mocking the Veterans of the Iraq war? Wrong. We need to support our soldiers even if we do not support the War itself. These individuals signed up with the intent to protect us.

Making fun of erectile dysfunction I can let pass, but wait… for many non elderly men Viagra has been an aid in achieving some of life’s more pleasurable aspects. It can help the disabled male perform, which can be psychologically freeing. Stating that elderly men who use Viagra will use it to sleep with whores is disrespectful to both sex workers and the elderly. Who has the right to judge the partner of another? Not me. Not you. Not Tracey Ullman.

Making fun of Poverty is inappropriate. Saying that a kid is “Shit at Math” is inappropriate. It doesn’t matter if parents say this all the time, a kid will believe it and will stop trying. It is important to encourage children, way to reinforce negatives.

Making fun of hard working individuals, those who have disabilities, making fun of those who are more naive about the world at large. None of this is funny. Doing this two episodes in a row? Mocking religion, not okay. No matter what religion it is. No matter how controversial you want to be, being a bigot is just not funny.

There is plenty of comedy without oppressing people. When the “funniest” stuff you do is antihuman, which this crap is… you are failing. When the non racist bits aren’t funny how do you get called a comedian?

I therefore give the elusive and rare Corkscrew of Justice to Tracey Ullman. You. FAIL.

Beauty

I am tired of the stereotype of beauty. I grew up being told that a girl should like men who look like Brad Pitt. I like women with soft lush curves, big and strong ones too. Many would consider my past conquests masculine, or overly thin, or fat. No one type fits what I like. I too have “strange” preferences for the men I have dated and these too tend towards those with meat on their bones, they have body hair, they are dark skinned, fair skinned, or really just alive.

Most of them, but not all, are tall. With either sex I tend to reach out for the taller people, though tall has changed in meaning since the wheelchair entered my life. I can’t look up at my baby brother without hurting my neck. He sits down for me, and still towers above. He is about seven feet tall. I love height because my family is full of tall people, except my own biological father. I associate height with safety. What does this mean about the other standards of beauty? Are we all programmed to like certain things?

Yes!

A huge part of my persecution in this life has been based on facets of my physical appearance. I have red hair, very pale skin that burns the instant sun touches it, soft full lips, and I have always had curves. My smallest size is a fourteen. I was barely eating to maintain that. My body needs meat on it. I am simply a curvaceous woman. I do have an ample bosom as well, and all of these things have been picked at.

I grew up being told I should be blonde. Blonde meant perfection. I hardly find blondes attractive as a result. I am aware that most of my siblings and my own mother are all blonde, and this factors in too. I think Blue Eyes are the best, though any shade is lovely to me. Blue eyes were mocked, because they are pale. Being a minority as a white person is very rare in any part of the world, the patriarchal structure still dominates and is usually white, even in countries where white is the minority. I have always been told my pale skin makes me wealthy. Whiteness in my state is a status symbol.

In India women who are by nature in the darker end of the spectrum are considered harder to marry off, they have less value based on something as simple as their genetic make up. The lighter you are, the more respect you can gain. This is White Privilege. It has defaced an entire culture, this love of all things white has poisoned us. You see whiteness in media, dominantly with able bodied super muscular WHITE men. You see their blonde perfection everywhere. I think back to the Nazi Propaganda studies group I was a member of in High School, and that is what I see. Reflections of past propaganda, continued, accepted, and fully realized.

Curly hair is considered disheveled. Girls with curly hair wake up at odd hours to iron their hair out. I think it is lovely, and my standard of beauty includes the use of a curling iron to add curls to my hair. This is rare, the era of the Super Perm died out at the end of the Eighties, except for a few hold outs.

I am told I must wear make up to seem presentable. I do, at times like to wear make up but I do it when it feels good. Usually I will also hide some of my facial scars under make up, if I cannot shake my feelings of Paranoia. I do not allow myself to wear make up on days when my self worth is being questioned, or when my confidence would hinge only on sultry red lips.

As I write this I am watching a movie that has what I consider the equivalent of Black Face. Sophia Loren is the Millionairess, Peter Sellers is the Indian Doctor who teaches her how to be more than a spoiled snob. This movie is full of propaganda that is anti woman, anti persons of color. I was enjoying it until I realized the fallacy that a white man is playing an Indian, with hardly any alteration of skin color and a very cliched accent.

I also note that the famed figure of Sophia Lauren seems to be aided via a corset. I might be wrong, but the extremes to her figure seem to need assistance. It doesn’t feel natural to me, though it does fit the “standard of beauty”. Her hair is lightened a bit, and of course she is always shown in posh and polished appeal during this film.

I do not think Brad Pitt is handsome. I think he is mediocre. This is all about looks, not his acting. I will not malign someone for having a career. I will however state that I do not understand the requirement to find him attractive. If you want to know who I find attractive in Hollywood, you will have to dig deep. There are few people that strike me as gorgeous or stunning, especially since we have entered the Anorexia Age of Hollyweird. Health is beautiful. That inner glow of self acceptance can make anyone gorgeous.

Since my blossoming into awareness about privilege I have seen more beauty in the world. This side effect shocked me. I like to compliment people when I find them attractive, and I have had the urge to tell the entire world how beautiful it is. The beauty I see is nothing like what is in the Movies or on Television. I live in a world of diversity. The people I see daily are of mixed race, from other countries, and their voices alone are a rhythmic song.

I am not beautiful by the overly BMI oriented modern sensibilities. I never will be. I’d have to break my bones, cut my body apart, inject myself with dye, and lose my sense of self. (This statement does not mean that those who naturally fit this standard are not beautiful, it is merely a rejection of the expectation to alter myself to be just like them) I reject the need to starve myself to fit a rare body type. I reject the fashion industry’s expectation that “fat” women do not like Fashion. I LOVE clothes shopping, and am discovering that I could easily spend a million dollars on cute shoes. These are cliches about womanhood, and yet you will find I only have four pairs of shoes, two for winter, two for summer. My clothing is all rather sensible, black, and boring.

I am pigeon holed by my lack of thinness. I am trapped by the need for others to stigmatize those who are not identical to them. I am not a Stepford Cripple, I am not anything but a person. I am flesh, I am bone, and I have soul. You are beautiful. My friend who is an immigrant is beautiful. I love listening to her voice, the way that she sings while she speaks entrances me. My friend who is the son of immigrants is beautiful. He cannot see that because his world is full of hatred, hatred of the Other.

I discuss privilege with my friends. It is an unavoidable conversation now. Eventually it is addressed either by discussion of politics, feminism, or simply the venting of frustration. I no longer hide my beliefs, to survive until the next day. I am free to speak them. Most of the time these conversations hold a similar impact, someone learns something. We all do really. My friends are all shapes and sizes. I have friends who are thin, blonde, and blue eyed. I have friends who are extraordinarily fat, but give hugs that are so soft. I have friends of every shape, size, mental capacity, and ability. My friends are all beautiful. You are beautiful.

Stop stigmatizing people for not being clones. Clones are scary, according to the media pundits and science fiction. Every time the word cloning is mentioned on TV it is with the hush of fear. Disability also has that hush of fear. Stop being afraid. Fear stops you from living life. This doesn’t mean you should ignore some fears, such as the fear of hunger or the fear of a snake bite. Stop fearing things that are different. If you do not understand something, educate yourself. Don’t fear it. Don’t shun it.

This includes fine art, not so fine art, but most especially people. Children are people. Women are people. I see often abuse launched at those who are different. I experience it every time I go out. I was reminded however, of the power of kindness and decorum.

I write often about the importance of gentle resistance, passive resistance, and not striking back. I admit I fail this way at times but, every so often I am given the reminder I need, the proof that I am right. I had transferred out of my chair at Sam’s Club, into the van and rolled down the window. Beside me a harried mother of two beautiful children, her disabled mother, and a cart of groceries struggled. I watched in silence, until they were about to leave, calling out to the woman that her mother had forgotten her cane.

Her son looked up as she thanked me, glad to not have to spend another twenty five dollars on a cane, and said, “Mommy, that’s the lady from the Walmart with the kitty!” His mother paused and said, “She was on TV too.” We talked then, and I complimented her for handling the stress. I could see she was frazzled, and I let her kids talk to Sprite while she settled them in. No petting of course, but, I told her how beautiful her family is. Three words. “You have a beautiful family.” Okay, five. I never was good with numbers.

She froze, looked at her kids, and then smiled. “I wish everyone could see that.” The thing I have not mentioned is this. Her children are Triracial. They are of Asian, African, and Caucasian Descent. I wanted to take them home with me, their sweetness gave me a rare pang of desire for Motherhood. It went away before we were out of the parking lot, but not the reminder that everything you do has a lasting impression. Every word, Every laugh, Every shout, every time you teach someone something. There is impact.

What draws me to people is never what they look like. It is instead their personality, the joy they have for life, and sometimes the hope that I can grow up to be like them. I may never grow up. I am always surprised when I realize for a moment I am not a child anymore. It fades, but, that too reminds me to be innocent.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is not what media tells us it should be. Beauty is merely in the existence of life. Flowers, Puppies, kittens, children, lovers. All beautiful. Be you a Homosexual, Transgendered, A person of non Caucasian ethnicity, red haired, blonde haired, black haired, green haired, or even a strange shade of orange. You are beautiful.

Racism and Comics

I see it everywhere now, White Privilege. Comic books are extremely guilty of demonizing women and people of color. The Golden Age of Comics, overlapping the Second World War, had a bevy of white heroes. I cannot name any non white heroes off the top of my head, and the only female for those early years is of course the example of perfection and bondage, Wonder Woman.

I picked up a title without seeing the cover, I do this often, and I thought I had picked up another chapter of the Captain Marvel series with DC comics. Instead, I had picked up the Blue Marvel with Marvel comics. This short series deals with Jim Crow laws, racism, and the fears of white people. It does not justify for them, and although there are serious flaws, denials of privilege are actually addressed.

The Legend of the Blue Marvel introduces a super hero who uses Anti-Matter as the base of his power source, he is shadowed with a white man who was his friend, and becomes insane after gaining the same power, he wants equality so badly and cannot handle or cope with the challenges he sees his friend face. He decides genocide is the answer.

Genocide and Eugenics are a common theme in Marvel comics, the Xmen race allegory is even used just as that, with a pointed tip stabbing into the reader’s mind. The art is also beautiful. The Demonization of characters is given with an almost heavy hand to the white people, yet only as much as was with in the realm of reality. The Government commits shadowy acts, crimes against the Blue Marvel, out of fear of his skin color.

The comic spans time from the Sixties up until our current time, it references cultural change, and leaves a gaping awareness too in the change that is still needed. I was surprised with this title, and finished the five chapter series rapidly. The ending too leaves room for the Blue Marvel to either obtain his own Book or to return.

Rarely are guest characters in comics so well rounded, so human, and yet so superbly granted power. The most powerful man in the Marvel Verse is a man who was not born white. I see this as a huge change. Comic books are almost 100 years old, and although they have been wonderful additions to my life courtesy of my Sensei, there has been a lack in them.

I noticed it as a child, and even asked my Sensei why the men who looked kind of like him were always scary in the stories. He explained to me the concept of hate in a new way. “Sometimes, Little Lotus, people are afraid of difference. Difference is not bad, and hating it is. You must fight against being taught that I am bad because my eyes do not appear the same as yours. The world is a very bad place, but it is harder for those not born with white skin.”

Years later, I still grapple with the concepts that he taught me. I found out his name today. My mother was hospitalized for Pnumonia, and she will be fine, but going to visit her we began to talk. None of the topics were light, however, I learned that my Sensei’s name was Ben Chang. A part of me mourns that his name is Americanized, yet, I also understand the quest for acceptance in a country that is boiling with racism.

Comic books, just as the real world, have a long way to go. Change always needed, yet, now they are trying. The writers of The Blue Marvel Miniseries, Kevin Grevioux, has written many things I have read. I enjoyed Underworld, which too inspected race relations. He is an actor, and has even worked as a stunt man. I would expect that his personal relationship with prejudice, something he was born into by not being given white privilege, has inspired some of his amazing writing.

I am not certain how old the comic is, my copy has no dates on it, but it is also altered to help me surmount my visual disability. I will write more about that soon. Find a copy. I hope that the people at Marvel Comics put this out as a Trade Paperback soon. This creation is one of the best that has come under their umbrella since the inception of the company. Who knows, maybe they will  steal some of my loyalty from DC if they keep learning, educating, and of course the undeniable quality.

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