Category Archives: Ethnicity

When Black Becomes White

Every time I hear a report of an egregious crime, I cringe. All crime is bad, but crimes against humanity get my attention.  Cruelty, violence, and social injustice fuel my curiously.  I’m not the only one.  These are the ingredients for most television crime dramas.  But the reality sets in when a public figure, celebrity, or ANY person I may have held in high regard has been alleged.  


Social injustice though?  This is an interesting twist. Who commits these crimes?  And who are the victims. Crimes against humanity have  numerous victims. The punishment never fits the crime.  The damage is immeasurable and confidence is lost. 

Active shooters and serial rapists trump fraud and imbezzlement (which are also crimes against humanity).  How many Americans will truly recover from preditory loans, pension scandals, retirement fund fraud?  But these are not juicy enough to hold our attention unless it becomes a personal loss.  There’s this old adage:  if it bleeds it leads!  The first 10 minutes of the nightly news proves this.  Politics encompasses the second third of the news, leaving the final portion to public interest “feel good” stories for which no one stays tuned.  

We are driven by fear.  Our culture feeds on the angst.  We are anxious for everything.  And    we panic over a lot of what we digest from the news.  But the news is spoon-fed to us based on our steady diet of sensationalism.  They sell what we are buying.  


We are offered few choices.  We have liberal news or conservative politics.  The truth is slanted and the viewing public doesn’t ask enough questions.  There’s no major media outlet for the conspiracy theorists, leaving the an entire market ripe for the picking.  Underground reporting, research, and responses to legitimate concerns are only slowly surfacing.  YouTube and Facebook are the primary source for so many Americans only because the information flows at a steady stream (and the palm-held technology is already providing an endless timeline of informal content).  

“Snopes” and other fact checking sources are no more reliable than Asking Geeves (ask.com).  Our search for information is abbreviated the moment Google tells us just how quickly it gathered 2 million results on any given topic.  

Sensationalism

There are certain types of criminal events that recurr, however.  And we rarely question their validity.  Human interests in a socially sensitive climate, race-related and gender bias stories lead.  I don’t think I’m lending a bias when I suggest that our socio-political climate lends itself to crimes against humanity.  The abrasive comments that the political leaders, presidential candidates, and their media correspondents spews are the biggest crimes committed in the past 8 months.  These are the train wrecks that we can’t look away from.  

There’s another crime against humanity that holds our attention just a tad longer.  It’s sad really because this type of social behavior has no solution and yet ties up our judicial system and challenges our community resources far greater than any (ignorable) election.  


Cruelty Through Violence

Rape, molestation, serial crimes…  Are these crimes more rampant or are they simply reported more frequently?  The perpetrators are looking less and less familiar.  Or are they?  A certain demographic seems to be the audience for these news events. 

The New Jim Crow suggests that for decades a systematic injustice has been perpetuated to jail black men.  The war on drugs has yielded prison over-crowding and a renewed fear of the black community. And these manipulations and untruths have perpetuated a mistrust of law enforcement in many “ethnic communities.”

Now through mass media, we are learning about crimes that are committed by ethnic minorities.  When allegations are made against black celebrities like Bill Cosby or Michael Jackson, America cringes. We begin to accept that no one is above the law.

We’ve witnessed that a nation of oppressed minorities can become a powerful force that can seize authority and change the cultural landscape–politically, socially, and economically. Conversely, powerplays can expose white America to a new kind of hatred and fear of anything non-white. The tables have turned, and the word minority no longer has the same meaning.  Term such as “urban” and “economically disadvantaged” were coined to disguise a demographic that was once black, but is now simply poor.  When we speak less of race and more of class, what we are really talking about is wealth and power. 


And what we are learning is that although the wealthy and the popular have the means to escape penalties, no amount of celebrity can cloak public opinion.  Our society condemns more now than it ever did during the conservative “good old days”.  There’s no escape.  

Will we see more bankers, CEOs and corporate managers go to jail for their misdeeds?  Not likely.  Celebrities however are more likely to endure the wrath of the justice system.  Wesley Snipes or Martha Stewart–neither could escape.  Juicier crimes like sexual molestation, sexual assault, or murder will offer the viewing public the opportunity to play judge AND jury. 

When the public reacts to tabloid journalism, we can not at all be surprised that we have a presidential candidate whose former career was in business fraud and reality television.  


 Afrika Bambaataa Victims will tell their story. The media will exploit them. Hip Hop music will get a black eye (no pun intended); and the news-makers will suggest that if “they” could do it, no one is beyond reproach.  
Put on your seatbelt America!  As African Americans embrace the kingdom that was always denied them, there will be a recognizable force that will shine a spotlight on the indecency of our actions (while demonstrating indifference to its own injustices). 

But don’t believe me. Click here for more.

We Are The Revolutionaries!

“Stand up and fight back!”  No matter what side of the political isle you call home, you are going to experience a significant change in the socio-economic climate in the WORLD.  What we are witnessing now is not merely an American condition.

As Canada prepares for American refugees, and Mexico shakes it’s head in disgust, there’s a burning sensation to revolt against the true neo-fascist.  The political infrastructure for decades to come will be built on the decisions we are making in 2016.

Every conservative AND every liberal has a position on all of these issues:

Decent living-wage.  Some defend the status quo because they’ve “earned” their place in life building a skill set based on hard work and opportunity.  Others are demanding a better working condition as they watch their managers and handlers profit from their hard work.  They call it oppression.

Disenfranchisement. The good ol’ boy network has evolved to include a new demographic, but it maintains the same elitist restrictions.  The club is now comprised of both “old money” and new wealth, but a general disgust for anyone looking to evenly distribute the opportunity.  If there’s a way to hamper the positive change on the other end of a registered voter, it will be exploited.  Selma exists in every region of our nation via gerrymandering, pole taxes, residency requirements, and basic literacy expectations. What would result if every ex-con, homeless citizen, naturalized immigrant, college freshman, or disenfranchised senior actually were guaranteed their human right to choose their destiny?

Social Justice. The same injustices that the “privileged” dismiss as delusions of grandeur are the badges of courage for every man, woman, or child who dare wear a hooded sweatsuit while grasping a bag of skittles.    Martyrs are created from the innocent and under-privileged. Civil disparities prompt prejudice and bigotry based on skin color, gender, and creed (with a twist of poverty).  The ultimate sacrifice is minimized and summarized into sound bites and hashtags.  And a cry to go back to a “better time” is embraced by anyone with good credit, a stable job, and…outstanding student loan balances.  The advocates for change are the same folks who have been denied access to the very freedoms for which they’ve paid!  The protectors of those freedoms are the very ones who’ve enjoyed them for generations.

Criminal Justice.  A system that has incarcerated more minorities per capita than any nation in the world is founded on the premise that anti-social is pro-criminal.  But systematically, who is enforcing these norms? There are inmates serving prison sentences for crimes that have been repealed; for peddling drugs that are now legal; while while celebrities glamorize these same norms  and exploit the very same legal system.



Economics.
Profits would be generated on all of this except for the fact that the top one percent has their banks off-shore (and they’re not spending any of that fleeced wealth). Our government can no longer generate revenue from (foreclosed) property, (unearned) income, or (unsold) merchandise.  The money that was spent on industrialized prison complexes, charter schools, and weapons of war…has long-since been directed away from law enforcement, public education, and social services.

“We can do much better!”  This is the new freedom cry, but it’s almost too late.

We are the new revolutionaries!  

But the freedoms for which we are fighting have already been given away.

My Anger Knows No Color

My anger knows no color! 

I grow more and more angry with every passing day. I recognize the anger, but I’m proud to announce that it never manifests into something destructive. Instead, it translates into a general disappointment in the way that I perceive the world.

After all, there can’t be anything wrong with the world! Everyone else who shares this world seems to be just fine with the way things are going. 

So it must just be me…

I’ll set my sarcasm aside for just one moment. Besides the zealots who either want to destroy the world or emphatically lobby for positive change, no one else seems to give a damn. We argue poverty versus wealth; lower-class versus upper-class–even race-baiting;  We fight a disgusting war that no one is likely to win.

  
My anger knows no color!

I repeatedly convince myself that I am dissapointed in this world (and angry with myself) for believing those things that the world is presenting as true. My intermediate gauge of discernment is all I can rely on now. 

None of this makes sense!

So please don’t be surprised when I don’t believe you. It’s not even a matter of trust anymore. Offering trust on the front end of any relationship (business, personal, or professional) is dangerous. I don’t trust my politicians, my leaders, or my neighbors. I barely trust my “friends.”

Anyone who has earned my trust has been around long enough to know how easily trust can be lost.
Believe me…
My lack of trust has nothing to do with the way you look. It has nothing to do with your demographic… Or your race… Or you’re standing in the community.  It has everything to do with your character. 

And so if you want me to be on board with you, you better be about more than mere words. I’m watching closely. When the actions don’t match the words, there will be a problem. I will not proceed with anyone with whom I cannot trust.

My anger knows no color!

And I don’t think I’m alone on this.  

  

Tolerate WHAT?!?

White America, no more! 
That race card is a very particular thing. White people don’t like it when black people play the race card because there’s no defense for that. Some people complain that the race card is used too often. 

But the reality is that every time a black person doesn’t get the job (but a white person does get the job because of nepotism, relationships, referrals, or the color of his skin), someone is going to call it racism. However, it cuts both ways. 

Racism was a problem (it still is).  Affirmative action (dubiously referred to as reverse racism) was nothing more than reverse discrimination. Never intended to oppress, affirmative action was implemented to eliminate (not reverse, not reduce) discrimination.  

The people who are most angry with the current state of racism are either the ones who had convinced themselves that it no longer exists OR the people who are tired of being oppressed.  

It never ceases to exist. We, as a nation, just developed a high tolerance for hate, misunderstand, and ignorance. And now we have politicians who are exploiting these facts. Bring America back? Back to what? Ignorance? High tolerance masking low tolerance (for anyone different than the powerful)?

There is a double meaning behind teaching tolerance. Some days we want be tolerant of the things worth tolerating. Other days we just can’t ignore blatant acts of oppression, disrespect or injustice.  

What is your personal level of tolerance?

Do you agree with this perspective?  If so, share.  Engage.  Continue the conversation. 

My Worth Has Yet To Be Determined…

I can not speak for you.  I can only speak for myself this morning.  But I am certain that as I scribe what I ponder, you and I may find some common ground.

I am writing this on the Eve of Valentine’s Day 2016.  Once every 7 years V-Day falls on a Sunday.  There’s no doubt that my pastor will offer a lesson tomorrow about how God’s love for us was so great that he offed his only begotten son (John 3:16).  This infrequent event occurs even less frequently than Leap Year, which also occurs this month.

But I am not penning this about love, life, or the Lord.  As I sit at my kitchen table and gaze out the window, I see the thin layer of snow across the field, the bare branches swaying in the wind, and silence of the morning sunrise.  My thoughts are running rampant.  I am inspired by the slightest movement.  Yet I am motivated to do nothing.  I merely reflect.

Last night, I made a spontaneous decision to have coffee with a friend.  The drive was long, and the night was cold and dark.  The snow began to fall, and I had to wonder why.  Why are things happening the way that they are?  Why are things not running in a more practical manner?  Why is common sense not prevailing?  And does good ever truly win? I’d like to think that I know the answer to some of theses inquiries. But I don’t.

I arrived in time to catch my friend fulfill a home furnishing transaction at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  I made witty jokes as she pilled things that she didn’t need into the cart.  With each discounted item she’d declare “I don’t really need this, but it’s a great value!” She was buying it just in case.  I momentarily halted my sarcasm.  “Just in case.”

I am no longer planning.  I am no longer waiting.  I am surrendering…all.  For me, there is no “just in case.”

My ears were wide open, not because of an epiphany of how I should change.  No!  I am realizing that I should stay the same.   Forty plus years of experience (although infancy really shouldn’t count) has brought me to this very moment.

And I survived.

I’ve survived playing on the railroad tracks as a kid, not eating my Wheaties, and talking back to elders. I conquered waiting to the last minute to complete dead-lined tasks and NOT studying for tests.  Low SAT scores, and beating the odds!  I proved wrong the stereotypes and graduated despite the statistics.  I married outside my race–to a woman who didn’t even question my race until she met my family.  I’ve raised children through a divorce, and we survived the aftermath.  And now my “I‘s” start to become “we‘s”.

We have…overcome.  We haven’t always enjoyed the journey, and at times we’ve given up the fight.  But many dreams have been fulfilled.  The fact that we are raising up a nation of entitlement is still debatable–because it’s a fluid term subject to interpretation.  The rich believe that they are entitled to be continue gaining wealth.  The poor’s thrive to survive is dependent solely on scrounging for the resources to resume the fight.  And the middle class (working class poor) haven’t quite decided which line to take.

*Sidebar:  There aren’t nearly as many rich republicans as there are poor democrats, but the rich can buy political policy, whereas the poor struggle to meet the residency requirements to vote.

tupac

And so as my mind wakens and I flip up the laptop, brew my tea, and the world wide web begins to glow in front of me, I see a post in my news feed. I read, and begin to climb on my soap box.

Open Letters to political endorsers are nothing new.  However, we now have the ability to approach our leaders virtually as well as directly.  Their handlers will prevent contact, but we have the ability to shame them when they speak out of line.  Interesting times. Freedom of speech amplified and exponentially more effective.  To the targets of such reproach, we are considered bullies.  But we don’t see it that way.  We are finding new ways to get our points across, to be heard, and to demand accountability.

If only Malcolm X or Dr. Martin Luther King had the power of social media.  It was their public persona that got them killed.   It was the establishment that had them martyred. But martyrdom came at a price. We look back at their struggles and watch their accomplishments rise up from the ashes.  If for one moment you don’t think that the Civil Rights Movement has re-established itself, have a look at the past five years of senseless killings of blacks and the riots that have followed.  The spotlights is on injustice.The governing bodies and it’s officials only attend the funerals to save face and to make statements of HOPE and FAITH, but do nothing to change the direction of our justice system.

We have power beyond our ability to harness it.  We have the ability to create change.  We have SO much ability now that even learning to wield its awesomeness is clumsy and ruthless.  We haven’t even conceived how we will proceed.

And as for me, I haven’t even begun to decide which path I will travel.  The path less traveled is a lonely one, but the path of least resistance has not been infiltrated.  On either side change will occur and it will be a magnificent spectacle.  The next twelve months are going to be game changers.

As my focus shifts from the current events back to the wintery stillness outside my window, my thoughts begin to slow.  I don’t know where I will be tomorrow.  I don’t know for certain my role in all of this.  I am not watching the signs as much as I am waiting on a feeling.  Something doesn’t feel right.  I am listening.  I am watching.  I am waiting.

My worth is yet to be determined…

 

 

Stop Normalizing Bigotry

Just like we shouldn’t have to wait for New Years to make a resolution; and we don’t have to be born again to have a new life; and we don’t have to wait until tomorrow to give up hate.

It’s a misconception to believe that absolutes are the basis for misunderstanding. Nor are misunderstandings the foundation for hatred. For some, their hatred is directly connected to a personal experience that plays over and over in their mind.  The fear and inability to predict what is to come;  the angst and the anxiety…

There are so many catalyst, there can be no absolutes.

Sexuality, race, culture, creed.  No matter where we are in the world there is someone willing to hate us because we are not like them.

Sadly there’s no amount of education, exposure, or assimilation that will remedy all of the bigotry.

The way things were and the way things are and the way things will be

There will always be someone or some circumstance that separates us.  And instead of erasing the barriers or removing the walls or pretending that the differences do not exist, let’s do something different.

Starting today let’s stop normalizing bigotry. Although it will never go away, let’s not make excuses.  Although it will never go away, it’s not ok.  Although the other norms of the world like the rising sun or the freezing cold can be respectively inevitable and predictable, let us not embrace bigotry.

Let’s not justify it or rationalize it.  There are forces in this world that capitalize and actually exploit it.  Let’s not excuse it, it’s not ok, let’s not embrace it. Let’s stop normalizing bigotry.

Truth In Our History Books

While sitting on a “race matters” panel at a local town meeting, the panelist were asked by a member of the community: what can WE do to change the curriculum? As a parent (and a non-educator) her voice resounded the frustration of so many of us. There is a resistance to “rewrite” our American history. But the TRUTH has not be told in its entirety.     
Aside from the racist tendencies to omit the truth from our most recently published textbooks, we urge our school board members across the nation to mandate a change in the way we teach social studies. During this election season, we encourage voters to demand that board candidates take this matter seriously! And we pray that the district curriculum writers be mindful of our united responsibility to our children.
  

Changing the way we perceive social studies instruction: https://medium.com/@Ocelot74/truth-in-our-history-books-264ab90d1eb6