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/

 

I recently came across this food blogger who is addresses racism in a much better way than I ever could. You know, without hitting you over the head with her opinion like I do. People are much more likely to hear you if you aren’t screaming at them about what jerks they are for not thinking the way you do.

So, for an excellent discussion on race (and bonus! delicious recipes and lovely photos) check out the eloquent Julie Ruble at Willow Bird Baking.

 

 

 

Do You Really Trust GOP Conservatives?

I have to ask—do you really trust GOP Conservatives with the well-being of our nation? Especially, the desperate to please the 1%, current candidates Romney and Ryan.

Their platform is more about controlling the rights of others and forcing all American’s to conform to their personal views of morality and values, rather than protecting the general well-being of all Americans and protecting our right to live by our own moral compass. And their values as seen from my perspective are pretty dubious.

Individuality is a hallmark trait of Americans stemming from our fierce independence streak, but we are a diverse and generous people who usually temper our staunch “If it’s to be it’s up to me” mentality with an understanding that we don’t all start out life at the top of the mountain and need to rely on one another to survive. Or it used to be that way. Republican don’t seem to be embracing the American ideals these day nor are they our parent’s Republicans of yore.

This new breed of Republican comes with a troubling lack of self-awareness, and humility coupled with a widespread irrational belief that they know better than we how to live our lives. They demonize the poor, immigrants, and unemployed, disparage the working class for not working hard enough, and battle imaginary threats to their religion and wealth. Led of course by those nefarious Liberals.

These Republicans who’ve been born into luck by being a certain race or gender, raised in affluence, in the right town, able to attend the right college, or marrying into the right family— they who deny that these attributes are not privileges everyone has at their disposal—have blinders on.

They are blind to the plight of most of Americans because they don’t like them, don’t want to be them, don’t want to see them, or help them. They want money, power, and to live unchallenged. And evidently they will lie, steal and back-stab the American people to get what they want, striding over our Constitutional rights as if those rights are not worth the paper they are written on.

They deny claims of privilege as if they’ve had to work as hard, and struggle as much as the 47% Romney denigrated. They deny advantage available only to them have anything to do with their success.That all anyone has to do to get where they are, is to work harder and smarter and to do so without accept or expect help from the government—because they judge everyone as if there is a level playing field.

I don’t begrudge anyone their lot in life. It is not an issue of fairness, just happenstance. Deserve is never a quality when it comes to life’s advantages or disadvantages. Being privy to all the advantages in life is not a guarantee of ones success or happiness. And this is not an indictment of the 1% whose world view is bigger than their ego, or their bank account. I admire people who work hard despite their privileges and work to elevate those round them. Qualities that are not tied income levels.

These people know life’s steep grade is infinitely more scalable when you start out closer to the peak with handholds, and a rope tethered to you than it is to scrabble-up from the bottom without any safety equipment, without anyone ahead of you reaching back to give you hand. They know what any military personnel will tell you—it is easier to ascend obstacles with help of those who’ve gone before you, and you don’t leave people behind.

The GOP-Conservatives-the Religious Right-those 1% who try to buy elections to further their personal agendas, seem to have acquired a complex.

…feel persecuted or oppressed whenever they find someone that doesn’t share their particular worldview…whose claims of persecution are better explained as annoyance at the removal of privilege or the curtailment of their ability to force their views on to others. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Persecution_complex

Their world view is myopic, misanthropical segregation. They embody the very definition of Persecution Complex—

People that suffer from persecution complex tend to believe that others are out to get or hurt them in some way. Their fears are utterly unfounded in reality and at times exaggerated paranoia and it reflects a belief that everyone has it in for them. Symptoms of persecution complex may be seen when the person interacts in normal ways and then over-reacts to perceived wrongs.

These are not the people I want to entrust with your future, our government, the environment, diplomacy, taxes, health care, education, etc, etc, etc. We deserve better than Romney and Ryan.

G.O.P. Claim Rights God-Given?

Let’s examine the first line of the second section of the G.O.P. Platform, We The People: A Restoration of Constitutional Government.

“We are the party of the Constitution, the solemn compact which confirms our God-given individual rights and assures that all Americans stand equal before the law.”

Whoa! When did they find that page of the bible? That statement alone offends and goes against the first clause of the First Amendment.

“The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion,”

I hate to break it to the Republican Party but our individual rights were assured us by the Constitution and its amendments which is most assuredly NOT a religious document, not written or endorsed by any god.

It was, and is based on ideology deliberately separate from religion so that no religion, or religious leaders could  interfere with the governing of our society. Thereby assuring all citizens individual rights. It was so important they made it the first clause, of the First Amendment. How could the G.O.P. get this important point so wrong?

I have no problem with debating issues of economy, jobs, military, energy, environment, no matter how far apart our ideas. I can respect that there are other ways of doing things, other lenses in which one can view these issues, and that compromise is how we solve these differences.

But I can not respect the incredulous statements made in much of this section of the G.O.P.’s platform. Most of which is about controlling the private lives of others, governing other people’s moral choices and/or values. They’ve made issues of things that they have no right to make part of their political agenda. It goes against everything America stands for.

I find it incredibly tiresome to hear the Republican Party’s claims that there has been war declared on religion.  They are the warmongers who have necessitated a push back against using religious influence to control, and manipulate the populace.  It is the corrupting influence of power that degrades religion and hurts our society by pitting us against one another.

This fostering of all or nothing outcomes has become the G.O.P. modus operandi, declaring war on those who don’t agree with them because “If you aren’t with us, you’re against us.”

Instead of bringing us together, respecting our differences, the G.O.P. continues to divide us with their insistence that they know better than anyone else how to live a responsible life guided by values and morals.

Thanks G.O.P. but I’ll make those decision for myself.