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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Government Shutdown

I know how to get the politician back to doing their jobs and end the government shutdown. A complete media blackout.

Lock the doors, takeaway their cell phones and no potty breaks or food until they slip an agreement under the door the president will sign.

No more blaming each other in the media. No more grandstanding and trying to manipulate the voters–we already voted.

You’ve got the job, just do it. You don’t need to be in our faces with the details. You don’t need to incite the citizens to petition for or against what we’ve already made clear. You are supposed to work together, offer compromises, not threats.

Since the Affordable Care Act is what’s holding us up, let it fail or succeed on its own merit.

Stop acting like you don’t know affordable healthcare is necessary and that the major reason it is being opposed is the fear of its success. All the issues of it’s implementation will be worked out as need be.

Stop calling the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare as if it is something different. And stop pretending that isn’t purposefully used to inflame bigotry, and racism in those so inclined. It’s pretty sad and telling when polls show people support the ACA but not Obamacare.

Stop trying to sneak in the personal pet issues that small factions of your constitutes–those with the biggest pockets at election time-favor. Especially when they deal with the very specific details, like contraception. Big hint Senators: this falls into the smaller government role you so desperately say is needed. Stop trying to legislate healthcare decisions.

I really wish the senators would agree to not talk to the press until the government shutdown is over and we’re back to being fully operational, but since that goes against their nature, I stand by the idea to have the media completely blackball them.

I, for one, will not be listening to anything any one of them has to say until they come to a resolution.

 

 

Did the Republicans Learn Anything?

Day one after the election and time to reflect: Did the Republicans Learn Anything? Here’s what I think are the top eight lessons they should have learned.

1. Do not speak of rape—ever, unless it is to vilify the perpetrator, not the victim.

2. Do not confuse biology with  ideology-or any other -ology such as climatology, or ecology, etc.

3. Obstructing Constitutional Rights should not be the aim of your candidacy.

4. You are not my doctor, spouse, family member or friend, stay out of my vagina, medical decisions, marriage, and bedroom.

5. Women are not lesser than.

6. Do not blame the media for reporting on your blatant lies, and distortions of facts. Integrity matters, eventually.

7. As a nation, we do not want to be divided, stop fueling our differences.

8. God is not your running mate.

Now that the election is over I hope both parties will recognize that compromise is the backbone of politics and what the citizenry wants and needs to see is our leaders coming together for the benefit of all.

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.