White Privilege: Riots and Protests and Fears, Oh My!

Some people seem to think that when an issue stops making the front page that it has stopped being an issue–I’m looking at you white people. Black lives matter and you need to listen to what they are saying.

Why you? Because you’re blessed by white privilege. Because through no fault of your own you were lucky enough to be born to the majority. Only when you own your privilege can it be mitigated and the playing field leveled for all. Isn’t that fair? Isn’t that one of the first tenets of childhood–be fair.

And do not mistake the actions of rioters for those of protestors. Voices heard long after the moment of heightened rage are no less outraged, their tenor is clear–stop marginalizing the lives of young black men. That is just the start.

Disparity Limits Opportunity

So long as people (again…looking at you white folks) deny that institutional racism placed both Brown and Wilson where they were and are, societal mores stagnate. We’ll never progress past what separates us-anger and resentment. We get ever more defensive, take sides–which divides us even further. Stop digging in your heels as if the recognition of your privilege will cost you something sacred. Fairness is like love, unquantifiable, there’s more than enough to go around.

A little self-reflection may help. When what you “believe” denies others their reality, you are the oppressor. How it happened, and why it is happening still are the results and the consequences of our political system, educational system and the economic disparity that continues to divide and depress communities, people of color, and the poor–regardless of race but disproportionately to anyone not white.

Stop throwing blame back in the face of those oppressed. Looking at the bigger picture doesn’t abdicate personal responsibility, we own our actions, but recognizing the systems that created the inequalities are where we need to start in order to change them. Disparity limits opportunity.

These systems don’t operate in a vacuum. We are not meant to blindly believe in our political parties, or elected officials. We have the right to protest and demand fairness, equality, and the equitable distribution of power. It is our duty, especially when you are in the majority. We (wave your hand in the air with me pale faces) have the power and responsibility to vote to protect those our privilege of majority hurts. You have the power too my friends of all ethnicities (well, you know when congressional districts aren’t being redrawn to deny it).

Everyone must regard the process with respect and acknowledge that it can and should be the means with which we enact change. You do matter, your vote and voice matter. Protest are part of that process. Riots are not. Rich white men (looking at you Koch brothers, Wall Street and the GOP) you need to back the fuck off. Your interference is a form of looting and no less senseless and destructive to the fabric of our communities as riots. Clearly, money and politics do not mix. Voting money out of our system is the only way to ensure all voices are heard.

Start with a no-brainer–NO LOBBYING ALLOWED. Then, stop screwing around with voter rights GOP. Really? Come-on, suppression of voting rights should not be a political strategy. If you can’t win on the merits of your political policies, change them, not who gets to vote. And let’s set real term limits, and PACS, and contributions by companies…I could go on, and on here.

Ugh! Politics, I know, who wants to face that lot. No matter your agenda, liberal, conservative, moderate, be fair to all. Politician’s used to understand that the most important tool in their arsenal was compromise. Now, it seems to be derision, fear-mongering, and illusion.

We the People

Every life matters, Brown’s and Wilson’s. If you don’t work to better the lives of all members of our community the entire system will remain unbalanced and inherently unfair. This is not what our country stands for.

We the People? What a mixed message American culture has. What symbol stands uniquely for America more than the Statue of Liberty? Do you know what’s written on the brass plaque just inside our lovely lady liberty? A sonnet,  “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. The second half reads,

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Do you remember that? Remember when being the melting pot of the world was something we took pride in? Now we’re keeping families apart, building walls to keep them out instead of opening our arms to help them. Why? I think a lot has to do with how much has been taken away from us by the richest in our nation. That we feel the need to defend what little we have, even from each other, but especially from anyone new coming here. This the direct result of the financial crisis a majority of Americans find themselves in. Everyone is afraid of losing anymore ground.

True Colors

Like science deniers (do not get me started on that) many whites “believe,” there is no validity to white privilege. That they are not recipients of privilege by the very virtue of being white. They are truly color blind and not in an altruistic state some like to claim either.

Color-blindness is a deficiency of vision, an inability to see differences, a fault in development. Not seeing what others value of themselves is an insult. Color blindness is denial of anothers right to be seen on their own terms.

Of course we are different and we should be, culturally, ethnically, musically, athletically, and by every other defining facet to being human. That’s the fun stuff, our differences. It’s what makes us interesting and challenging.

Geez, I’m white, I can’t change that. What can you do?

Change the lens with which you view the world. Not to be blind to the differences but to see them more clearly, learn from them, be enriched by them. By focusing on our differences you bring attention to the contrasts, negative and positive.

For specific ways in which whites can become allies in the fight to end racism…

Try these resources:

http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/08/ferguson_how_white_people_can_be_allies.html

http://mic.com/articles/97900/10-simple-rules-for-being-a-non-racist-white-person

http://www.tolerance.org/supplement/white-anti-racism-living-legacy

http://bmoreantiracist.org/white-people/29-stupid-things-white-people-do-and-what-we-can-do-instead/

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Preparedness

It’s NaNoWriMo preparedness time!

November kind of sneaks up on you, so fair warning, as of today Oct 4th, NaNoWriMo is a mere 4 weeks away.

For you local writers seeking a state of preparedness that might stave off panic come November 1st, we have pre-NaNo write-ins three weekends in October.  Use them to plot, develop ideas, or characters, bounce questions off the group, get website or book recommendations, pretty much anything having to do with novel writing-you ask we’ll do our best to answer. The full schedule can be seen here.

For my web-based writer friends I recommend these resources to help you prepare. Check out the WriNoShore website, Wednesday Woo posts for even more writing links.

Obvious, but chock full of helpful information to get you started is NaNoWriMo’s own website,

http://nanowrimo.org/forums/writing-101

Chuck Wendig’s books and blog are a favorite, be forewarned he is loose with the crude language, and I love him for it.

http://terribleminds.com/

http://www.livewritethrive.com/

An interesting search engine I’ve just started exploring,

http://hiveword.com/wkb/search?q=plotting

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/novel-in-30-days-2011

 

Are you new to NaNoWriMo?

The WriNoShores are a regional writing group that germinated and grew from our NaNoWriMo experience. While we have a distinct identity from NaNoWriMo for the month of November  we are devoted to participating in NaNoWriMo as the North Shore region of Massachusetts.  We’ve discovered over the years that each region has their own way of doing things, though the basics are the same.

The ML (Municipal Liaison) arranges for places to hold write-ins during the month of November, ours has NaNo Prep Write-Ins several weekends in October to help one another with plot ideas and familiarize newbies with the process. We have a variety of write-ins held in libraries, coffee shop, tea shops, and private homes and attended by anywhere between 2 to 20+ writers.

I can’t stress enough how productive our write-ins are. We are very dedicated to helping you reach you word counts which we do by holding word sprints. Word sprints are 20 minute focused writing sessions, often back-to-back with fifteen minute breaks between sets. It is amazing how the energy of all those writers pounding out the words helps you concentrate. It is rare that someone doesn’t find this event works for them, truly, most are pleasantly surprised.

As anyone in our group will attest, we are convivial, but serious minded, kind, accepting, and helpful. We strive to be productive, yet balance that with copious amounts of tea, coffee, and chocolate, administered as necessary.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask, here or on our NaNoWriMo regional forum.

 

 

Online: Be Yourself not Anonymous

I don’t know about you, but when I see a comment by “Anonymous” I automatically discount its worth. If you don’t value your time and words enough to put your name to them then why bother? Be yourself online, not anonymous is what I’ve always believed, until I began thinking in earnest about marketing.

I believe to achieve online equanimity, one’s words need the check of accountability provided by owning up to your true identity. While this is true in theory, it doesn’t hold up when viewed under the lens of marketing scrutiny. Whether you’re selling a product or yourself—for what is our online community now but one big concession stand–does anonymity hurt or help sales?

What began as a reflection on the troubling vileness of comments left by incognito voices, has now morphed into a marketing inquiry. If you’ve read any of my political posts you know I don’t shy away from expressing my opinion. Surely this could potentially costs me readers, but will it cost me customers as well as I seek to publish? Should I be more mindful of how my personal views could influence the buying power of the public whenever I blog, tweet or post to tumblr?

Doesn’t transparency makes for better discussions? My want for openness is not a call for any person’s voice to be muted but rather a plea for clarity, civility and consciousness. Sure, being yourself online is hard, but if it can cure what infects the comment sections allover the internet, wouldn’t it be worth it? While (evidently) it may not keep me you from embarrassing myself yourself, I believe it does more to keep one honest and reflective than hiding behind the mask of anonymity.

Consider this—isn’t it equally important to be yourself when you are your own brand and proprietor of your own company? You can’t market YOU anonymously, can you? Or should you be a fictitious, more marketable you? How much of yourself can you reveal before you risk repelling clients, customers, or readers with your personal views? What about when those views have nothing to do with your product?

We’ve seen what can happen to companies that support political candidates or issues that don’t comply with social mores. Calls of boycotts, twitter blitzes, even in-store protests have made headlines. Much to their credit, JCPenney stood firm in its support of choosing Ellen Degeneres, an openly gay woman, as its spokesperson despite some hater’s protests, and then there were the protests and counter support of Chick-Fil-A when it funded anti-gay groups.

Recently the stink is hitting Hobby Lobby for purporting to hold it’s anti-abortion, anti-contraception ideals as religious rights sacred enough to take to the Supreme Court, when if fact they are heavily invested in those products through their company financial holdings, and made a lot money doing so. Hypocrites with a capital H.. When do the values you promote personally, or as a private company, matter to customers enough to effect your bottom line or reputation? Even more recent is how this effects it’s employees and potentially all employees with bosses who think they can rule over your personal life.

Do you as a consumer consider a company or individuals politics, values, or religion before making a purchase? Do you have a list of companies you won’t do business with because of their carbon foot print or quality of life standards for workers don’t met your expectations? Do you make a purchase if  your wants or needs of a product countermand your convictions against the companies policies?

Does a company like Chick-fil-A, whose religious agenda is clearly and proudly part of their companies purpose statement— “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.” —risk losing customers that don’t support their views? Or do people just not care when it comes to filling their bellies?

What does this mean for me, a blogger, sole proprietor, a writer who one day hopes to sell a few novels? Or you, the account exec who secretly writes a popular romance series of novels, or middle school teacher who is a skilled erotica poet and earns half her salary in affiliated links?

Apples and oranges isn’t it? A secret identity to sell your wares in some instances is commonsense. A secret identity to be ugly, repressive, and argumentative is not. Hiding your identity to promote an agenda that is counter to your public face-uh, no.

Anonymity does nothing but give one a false sense of entitlement to say whatever one wants. Aside from the few instances when this is a necessity to protect yourself from harm, it seems to me that we’d be better off without the ability to hide from ourselves or others.

Like the rules we set for our children when teaching them personal responsibility online “Never say online what you wouldn’t say to someones face or their mother.” That’s what I taught my children, and I’m determined to adhere to this maxim myself.

I never comment online under another name. I am always me, and I believe it keeps me from saying much of what needn’t be said, out loud, to anyone. Though I do not shy away from expressing my opinion, I’m learning to temper it with an understanding of how it reflects on me.

That’s why I promise to always be me online. When I find my message or responses becoming vitriolic I know I need to step back and let my anger abate. If the message is still something I need to express, if the anger is justified and makes sense after I’ve cooled, then I’m prepared to stand behind my words, but I intend to be responsible for what I say and I hope you’ll hold me accountable for it too.

Freedom of speech is not freedom from accountability. You should have to own up to what you say, write or preach. whether you are an individual or corporation.

Addendum: I’ve been working with this post off and on for months. Many news items of late feel like prescient warning of the impact our words have. Given the results of Donald Sterling’s deservedly quick and complete ousting from NBA, the Hobby Lobby court case, and pretty much every misogynistic statement the Republican party makes, our words will matter to someone-how many someones, and how much an impact their response has remains to be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

Haverhill High Class of 2014

That title appears innocuous enough but it is my eighteen-year-old daughter’s graduating class and today is her last official day of high school. For me it is fraught with emotions.

I’ve thought of little else the last few weeks as she’s prepared her last essay, attended her last HHS production, and spent many hours on Facebook getting to know those who will become her new classmates at college.

It is hard not to reflect on the good and bad things that have happened to her, events that are significant in that they helped shaped how she responds to the world.

She recently shared two such event at poetry reading explaining how she had been bullied in fifth grade and turned to poetry to cope and express her feelings. Then, how the kindness of an entire class gave her the strength and confidence to read that poetry in public.

She’s experienced the worst and the best in people, and transformed those interactions into stepping stones to become the out-spoken, eloquent and poised woman she is today.

It is with great pride and confidence that I send her out into the world. Please be kind to her.

I know she will be to you.

Boston Strong: Couple Run Marathon Again

It’s an honor and privilege to know these wonderful people. Please support the Milligans as they race to benefit the people and hospital who helped them through a very difficult time.

Watch to learn about them and their story as they explain why they are running again.

Tohonortheirkids,coupledecidestorunBostonMarathonagain-CBSNews.

Please Donate To Our Haverhill Strong Family

Elizabeth Milligan

Peter Milligan