Are We Lying To Ourselves About Race?

So, this thought came to me last week, and it looks somewhat different to me this week (or does it?), for obvious reasons.

innocent, pure, peace, equality

Not Racist

The thought was that subtle racism, like institutional racism, and even some more overt examples of racism, are coming from people who don’t seem to realize that their thoughts are racist.

Now you and I might say, no way, but it’s true. What seems obvious to one person is not obvious to another.

I was listening to an interview on NPR recently of a former white supremacist, Derek Black, who’s father was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who’s godfather was David Duke and who was being groomed to become the next grand wizard. He met an orthodox jew at college (his first time out in the world after being home schooled) who invited him repeatedly to Friday night dinners (which was exhaustingly painful for them to go through week after week) and just let Black get to know him and his friends. Over a period of time, it changed his mind and made him question all that he had been taught and all that he thought he knew.

honesty, truth, eyes open

See yourself clearly and honestly. It’s a start.

This man is profoundly changed and clearly upset by what he previously believed and how what he at one time declared in public, had manifested itself into violence executed toward others. You can hear it in his voice. He’s still working through thoughts and feelings and it must have been a radical melting away of his reality. I can’t imagine how disconcerting it must be for your world to change so dramatically.

The thing that sticks with me the most is that he says none of them thought of themselves as racist or that, in reality, they had convinced themselves of this point.

I’m guessing that most people who have strong beliefs on race (other than that all races are equal or that race is a social construct, as it is) have managed to convince themselves of this exact conclusion.

Anyone who has put some serious thought into this subject has found themselves to be suspect in one way or another regarding race as we have all grown up immersed in an institutionally racist society and can’t help our brainwashed thoughts….right? See, that’s the crux. Once we do take a look into that abyss, we can’t go back. You can’t unsee it. Seeing the disease is the cure.

Do We Want the Continuing Legacy of the Ugly American?

Who do we want to be?

evil, unkind, unfriendly, mean

Not a good look

Things are moving so fast these days, and accelerating so quickly, that I don’t think anyone is slowing down enough to ask this important question.

Who do you, personally, want to be?

Is it more meaningful for you to be on the right side, correct over others, or a good & kind person?

This is an important distinction to make because I feel as if we’re losing grip on this.

I heard a blog guest say recently, “Remember that political adversaries are people first and opinions second”. This is often difficult to remember because everyone thinks they have a good reason for what they think and feel and that others do not, but of course they think the same thing. People who are racist honestly don’t think they are racist because they don’t really know what racism is. They were either brought up with it as normalized behavior in their households or as commonplace in our institutionalized racist society. It’s like being angry at a kid for kicking the dog after he’s seen the dog kicked by his father for years and no one said anything. See what I’m saying?

So, this leads me to what I really want to talk about today, and that is the behavior I’ve been witnessing in society lately.

I live in a very blue state and it’s critical for us to realize that we are degenerating just as fast as the rest of the country is with our behavior.

I went to an advanced film screening the other night and was warned to get there early. Invites are given out for these far and wide and at this time of year it’s first come gets in – period – no guarantees.

I felt the crowd’s tension the minute I got there. In addition, there was something else going on in relation to this screening and people were coming who were preregistered and checking in at a table inside. We, on the other hand, were standing in a long line outside and it was COLD (not just cold). Entry was looking pretty sketchy for the majority of us. The company that was organizing the screening (if that’s what you want to call it) was handling it badly, treating the outside line as if they were pawns in this game (which we were) and wasn’t communicating what was going on to anyone.

kindness, understanding, openness, listening

The future will be different – but better or worse?

I understand that this was rude on the company’s part, no doubt, but everyone there in line was there voluntarily and it said right there on our invitations that we might not get in.

So, do we deserve everything in our lives to be perfect? Do we actually think that people are obligated to give us free things? What do we suppose is their motivation in giving us something for free (if you actually believe that anything is actually free)? Most importantly, is it in our best interests to be an awful human being in the pursuit of receiving something for free?

What I witnessed was an ugly conglomeration of examples of entitlement, which I believe are representative of our ‘downfall of the Roman Empire’ issues.

Can you see it around us everywhere….the ugly American? Can we do better? I know so. And with the effort can come a better future.

Have You Tried Being Selfish with Kindness?

Have you ever had a bad day where you weren’t sure why it was bad, or just felt grumpy, or even had an actual reason for it to be bad…and

generosity, kindness, selfishness

A sunrise in Iceland from 2014. It’s so beautiful that I thought it was kind to share it with you.😀

then….something moves you do something nice for another person – a random act of kindness – and all of a sudden you feel so much better…as if your day was reset?

This is what we need right now!

In a world filled with negativity, frustration and struggle, random acts of kindness are accessible to us in abundance and can get us out of our self-oriented funk. And don’t get me wrong, the acts don’t have to be selfless, in fact to the contrary, they can be completely self serving. In fact, if they are completely self serving they will make my conclusion more on point because, let’s face it, we all want to feel a bit better about the world these days and we are getting desperate in our desire to feel this to some degree. Wouldn’t we all make random acts of kindness a regular appointment on our calendars if we knew it would work?

It will work!

Us humans are hard wired for generosity. Our reward for doing something kind for someone else is a bit of an endorphin rush to the brain. It feels good!

generous, benevolence, good will

Kind, networking work environment.

There’s a reason why this is the foundation of the job seeking, networking world right now (well, really always was but it’s on steroids now). This process so easily sorts out who to trust and who not to – it’s really a win/win, right?

It’s also ironic that this networking world is getting more pronounced and people are isolating more and more, losing their social skills at the same time. The world is so fantastically balanced in so many ways, if you pay attention.

And here is my last thought to all of you (you are there, aren’t you?) – people are humans first, and opinions second.

That is all.

Totalitarianism Anyone? ☠️

I saw an interview on TV this week with Masha Gessen, a writer being interviewed about her newest book called, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, the winner of the 2017 National Book Award for non-fiction. Now, is that the coolest title, or what? Just think about that for a minute. It has so many implications and directions to it. And she was wearing the coolest jacket I think I’ve ever seen….but I digress……as I do….

Gessen is a staff writer for the New Yorker is originally from Russia and, man, is she fascinating and brilliant!

fear, extremism, loss of direction

Trauma Psychology = Totalitarianism

So, there are many directions I could go off from here but I want to focus on one in particular. Masha mentioned a term called “trauma psychology” which she connected and equaled to Totalitarian thinking, which she said went hand in hand – and a light bulb went off in my head.

My father was a far right Republican who listened to Rush Limbaugh regularly. This scared me back in the day but it’s so, so much worse now (he died two years ago and was pretty out of it for the two before that). My father was also a Holocaust survivor and from as far back as I can remember, I always equated his views with fear from his experiences being hated and hunted. I thought that it must make him feel safe to be on the louder and more aggressive (ie: winning) side that he couldn’t be on when he was a child. Later I learned about Rush Limbaugh’s fear and damage as he fought his pill addiction and figured this idea I had was a thing. Well, it was a huge revelation to me to discover that not only is it a thing but it even has a name.

Numbness, desolation, indifference

Fear ➡️ Lack of Empathy Toward Our Fellow People (courtesy of impending Halloween)

What’s going on now makes so much more sense when you take into consideration the number of people who experience major trauma (survivors of everything from sexual assault, parental abuse of all kinds to severe bullying) and additionally have the predisposition to go negative with a little self hatred mixed in – with no therapy or self help of any kind. This is a certain percentage of the population and the result is a President who mocks a sexual assault survivor in public and has a room full of followers who think it’s acceptable to laugh and taunt at her along with him – because they have no empathy for themselves, why would they have empathy for anyone else (no winners here, unfortunately)?

Luckily, it seems as though there are more of us who may or may not have trauma but don’t live in the trauma psychology world, thank goodness.

My instincts were right, which came from a desire to understand the seemingly illogical behavior of someone I loved and looked up to – that’s where understanding  begins and healing starts….

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? ❤️

It’s officially fall, time to rope things in, settle down and move on.

friendly, talk, share, connect

Snowshoe Neighbors

Or maybe it’s time to settle in and learn more….

Who are we? What do we really believe in? Do we only believe in it until it’s inconvenient for us or puts us out in some way?

I guess it depends who we’re talking about but, generally, Americans aren’t thought of as resolute and dependable. Our past, and present, has shown us to be, more often, insincere and self-motivated.

I, for one, would like to see that change. My thought on this is for each person to take one action in the direction of national healing. This is just a small action that everyone can take toward the goal of healing and it’s non-political, non-partisan and only asks that each person overcomes their fear of talking to one another, and their perceived impressions, for a moment in time.

This does not have to be a “love at first sight” venture. In fact, “love at first sight” is a rarely seen, if ever, in life reality. The quality of an idea and/or relationship needs to be nurtured and grown through time and trust.

So, here’s what I’m proposing…. that we all get to know our neighbors a bit better. Starting slow and deliberately… say “hello” if you don’t normally do that. Just make that a regular thing.

Talk, converse, meet, learn

Tunnel Neighbors

If you already say “hello” regularly, then say something that will help you to know something more about your neighbor. Ask how their day is going or how they survived the big storm or what they plan on doing for the holiday or whatever seems like an obvious question about them. The point is, be interested in them…don’t talk about yourself (unless they ask), just make it about them. It’s a start.

Oh, and this doesn’t have to only be about the people who live next to you. It can also be about your cubicle neighbor, or your treadmill neighbor, or your yoga neighbor, or your sidewalk neighbor – you know, be creative.

Let’s get out of our own heads and be about others for a little while. K?

A Little Less Judgy Judge, Maybe…Please?

Ok, so went to see a sneak preview of a new film last night, Life Itself more on that in a bit, but as I waited in line to enter the film my eye locked in

Burberry, expensive, privilege

The bag in question….

on the woman waiting ahead of me. She wore a plain, long, black winter coat filled with something (never mind that it was only a slightly cooler day, maybe in the mid-60’s, in September) but I couldn’t help but notice her purse. I noticed it because it was a Burberry bag that I had coveted in a magazine ad several years ago, or one similar anyway. Mind you, this was not a bag that I ever dreamt of owning – ok, yes, I dreamt of owning it but was certain it would never happen. We’re talking a bag that went for around $1700 when it came out. This amount is significantly higher than my monthly mortgage and I’m not stupid. Unless some fictitious fairy godmother had appeared (and I would have assumed that someone had slipped me LSD anyway) and plopped the bag in my lap, that bag would never have been in my possession (barring all of the illicit options, of course 😁).

So, the track of thoughts in my mind were as follows – pretty average shoes and coat but crazy expensive bag – why is she in line for a free film preview? Owning that bag means that she can pay for a movie, right? And on I went…judge, judge, judge….

I caught myself though. It is not a far reach to imagine that someone gave her that bag. There are plenty of wealthy parents out there buying their kids things that help them misunderstand the value of money – and boy oh boy does that purse accomplish that!

She didn’t seem snobbish or affected as she waited ahead of me in line for 20 minutes or so. Those things are pretty easy to suss out if you pay attention. As she worked away on her phone she slowly listed into one of the upcoming movie displays, which was ginormous, and the third of it she leaned into started to fall forward but she was very careful to replace it just as it was originally standing.

So the lesson we’ve learned here today? Try not to be so judgy. This is a very judgy society we live in and everyone thinks they’re smarter and better than everyone else. The absolute truth is – we really don’t know shit. Let’s just admit that now and get it over with, right?

A little more understanding and brotherly/sisterly love, please? Ok, let’s just start with less judging and move on from there.

film, promo, plug

Life Itself Movie

 

Life Itself, was a really interesting film. From the outset you aren’t really sure what is going on, mostly because it’s one of those films where you really don’t get the whole picture until it’s tied into a knot for you at the end (I really don’t want to give anything away here just in case…). I like that style and though there were some elemental points in the film that I thought needed more explanation or wouldn’t really happen in real life, it made its points, which were bigger than the loose ends. It tried to accomplish a lot while making you see life and the world a little differently than you probably are thinking about it these days, which I appreciate in any art form. It did it’s job as an art form in a mostly enjoyable way. Bravo!

Where Is the Understanding of Our Fellow Man/Woman?

So the thing that is frustrating me the most these days is the knee-jerk responses, and even those not as much in the knee-jerk category, to people

brave, protest, bold, inspiring

Colin Kaepernick

who believe that they are doing the right thing. What they are doing may or may not be the right thing for you and I, but they believe it is the right thing for them. And the instances that I’m thinking about are not only the right thing for them, but are also mind-blowingly brave and admirable.

Yes, I’m thinking of Colin Kaepernick, who as you all know unless you’ve been trapped under a large rock, began to kneel during the National Anthem last year. He has so eloquently explained his stance and why he’s doing it, here’s an example, and people continue to ignore that, as if he’s never explained himself, and insist that this is about only insulting a symbol of our country – the flag. I have seen so many service people and ex-service people stand up and support what Kaepernick is doing and say that they fought for his right to do what it.

So, my question is….are these people saying they want him silenced and, accordingly, see our country go down the road toward authoritarianism and fascism? Is this what we fought two world wars for?

I find this guy so inspiring. He knew what this might mean for his career and prepared himself for it because he can’t look at himself in the mirror each morning knowing that he’s got a well paying job and, at the same time, there are people who are being shot and assaulted everyday because they have skin in a shade similar to his. And, anyway, when IS the right time for black people to protest against they way they are being treated? Me thinks this question would fall on silent times if one of these objectors were asked it.

And if you haven’t seen the Nike ad featuring Kaepernick yet, here you go…. It’s inspiring as hell and made me cry.

I am happy to see that Nike’s sales are up 30%. 😀

copy, safe agreement, copycat

Piggyback

There are many more instances but the other immediate one that comes to mind this week is Olivia Munn, the actress who has been doing promotion alone for the new remake of the film The Predator, because she was being rejected by the rest of the (male) cast after she called out the director when he brought a documented child predator onto the set to do a scene for the movie. Munn was successful in her protest but was then left alone to promote the film – read here. She was not told who she would be working with before filming began.

It looks like that situation is now working itself out but Munn was pretty upset about the whole situation and her lack of cast support when she was doing the hard duty (as it always is) of doing what she thought was right. In this particular situation, it looks like they all now agree that it was the right thing to do.

Why does doing the right thing have to be made to be so hard? It’s hard enough to do in the first place…..

Close Your Eyes and Imagine This…. 😦

So, I’ve heard some comments in the news lately regarding racism and white supremacy as being “on the rise” in our country.

racism, learning, empathy, immigration

Living on a slow learning curve in America

I understand that maybe they more precisely mean that the people who have chosen to think this way have been spurred on, and have been made to feel welcome to be wide open in their views, by our federal government but they are wildly mistaken if they mean that the level of racism and white supremacy wasn’t always at the level it’s at now. The question is hidden or deployed?

It becomes more clear to me every day how few white people understand, with any kind of empathy, what its like to be a person of color, an immigrant or even to experience religious persecution in this country (and I’m even talking about the people who’s families, just a generation ago, experienced religious or immigrant related persecution – and in some cases, they are even the immigrants themselves!) – I attach today’s related news story from Politico (thanks Tilden!).

Let’s do an exercise…. Let’s close our eyes for a minute and imagine we want to buy a house in a nice suburban

Institutional racism, housing descrimination

Dream House or Nightmare Scenario?

neighborhood, maybe even the very house we live in now. We drive around this lovely neighborhood and see a “FOR SALE” sign in front of the house of our dreams. We call the phone number on the sign and ask to see the house. The realtor says to come over to the office and they will discuss that house and some others that are similar in price in the area. We go to the realtor’s office, walk in the door, meet the realtor and suddenly all of the properties are now sold or otherwise unavailable.

Every other realtor in the neighborhood is now saying the same thing, even though through the coming week that sign you originally saw is still sitting on the front lawn of the house you fell in love with. How would you feel?

This is one of several stories I’ve been told by black and brown friends. Think it’s not an institutional practice? I dare you to ask any person of color if they have a similar story.

Next question….do you have any friends of color to ask?

 

Can You Be Auto-Corrected By A Smart Composer?

So I read an article this week about how Google is working to get closer and closer to anticipating what we will be thinking of next – kind of like auto-correct for everything. Am I the only one who’s creeped out by this?

jail, control, choice, freedom

Trapped inside a Google mind

I like my free will.

Let’s say you have a frustrating and busy day (like most days) and you think that you’d like to listen to your favorite band and your favorite song by your favorite band, but you haven’t listened to it in eons. Google will anticipate what it thinks you want to listen to at that moment and if it’s just a little bit more difficult for it to find something or it keeps insisting that what you want to hear is something else you may not put the extra effort into finding what you’d really want. Rinse, repeat, expand.

At what point will we allow our computers to auto complete our lives, because it’s just easier?

The article begins with the writer, who is generally a stickler for words, being prompted to begin emails with “Hi” from “Hey”. Seems harmless enough, right? Except that he would have never used “Hi” previously and was changed by an algorithm.

I guess I’m worried about our existing inclinations as a human race to believe whatever people tell us and our softness to become brainwashed so easily already. Am I off base?

I’m also afraid that I like my free will a bit more than most people. You?

White Privilege Lives Right Here. Can You Hear It?

So, an interesting thing happened on Facebook a few days ago.

subway, trains, victorian

Old Boston T Station at Downtown Crossing

No, I don’t mean any of the usual dreck that goes on on there.

I posted a photo of a very old T stop entrance (Boston shortened name for the MBTA subway) that I happened upon on a street leading to the Park Street station. It was a beautiful entrance and obviously one of the originals.

I was amazed that after all of these years I could still find something like this that I had missed. And for a moment, Boston was new to me again.

Anyway, after I posted the photo an old friend on Facebook wrote, “Back when there was order in the world.” Now this comment smacked of white privilege to me in such an institutional way. I replied, “Yes, but the order only worked for us white people. It didn’t work so well if you were black or brown.” I think I stunned her a bit as I know she didn’t mean any harm. She replied that she hadn’t said anything about race.

This was an example of institutional racism at its most classic. The only way to make the statement she made is to only see things from your own perspective. There is no way anyone of any minority group would themselves say that the world order was better back then here in this country. But just as importantly, the comment was made without any intention of malice or harm.

I feel it’s important to mention these things in as kind and non-aggressive a way as possible because people will stay in the fog that we’ve been trained to stay in if not. Being made to see the reality of how the world looks through other’s eyes is the only way to continue the change.

Weirdly, when I went to write this blog piece and went to look up the interchange again, all of the comments were gone. It’s so bizarre! The original likes are gone too. Just a few new ones. Facebook really is creeping me out these days…

Got any good stories of Facebook creepiness?