RACISM & HEALING THE RACIAL DIVIDE

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WHITE PRIVILEGE: Anyone born in the dominant culture or perceived as white has white privilege. Even if you were poor or had a hard life, if you grew up white you have white privilege.   The BLACK LIVES MATTER movement elevates the systemic ways our culture keeps black and brown people down. The don’t start the race of life at the same place that white people do.  Don’t bury your head in the sand and dismiss this by saying All Lives Matter, of course they do. If you care about other people, PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELF TO WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP.

Claudia Rankin: “They’ll anxiously insist, “I’m not racist.” Well, yes, you are. We all have biases—only I don’t have power behind mine. If we can understand that racism is an active force, we can figure out how we got here. Think about sexism. Until some men could admit that it existed, men and women couldn’t have a dialogue about it.”

Erikka Knuti, a political strategist, said, “Part of white privilege has been the ability to not know that your privilege exists. If you benefit from racism, do you really want to know that?” I can see where it would be uncomfortable for people to admit that their lives are shaped by unearned advantages, especially in an environment where those advantages may be beginning to slip away, but the blindness itself is a part of the problem. White people have duties as part of the American community. They must be honest with themselves and their co-citizens and admit that white privilege shapes a lot of life in this country. They must understand that the truly pernicious, life-defining sort of racism is not interpersonal, it’s institutional. The systems that shape who lives where, who gets educated, who gets jobs, who gets arrested, and so on, these things shape lives, and they are all heavily weighted in white people’s favor. To ignore all of that is to misunderstand America. If white people admit those things, it will be plain that they are not, in any way, victims”

How is our culture “white skewed” by supporting white supremacy and white privilege? Our society is white skewed because of population demographics, the legal system, our educational institutions, the healthcare system and our real estate and tax systems, to name a few.

Tim Wise, anti-racist educator says, “When you’ve had the luxury of presuming yourself to be the norm, the prototype of an American, any change in the demographic and cultural realities in your society will strike you as outsized attacks on your status. You’ve been the king of the hill and never had to share shit with anyone, what is really just an adjustment to a more representative, pluralistic, shared society seems like discrimination. When you’re used to 90 percent or more of the pie, having to settle for only 75 or 70 percent? Oh my God, it’s like the end of the world.”

 Be respectful:  Should you say, “Do I say Black people or  Afro- American”? 

Emmanuel Acho: …. “The simplest and short answer Is black. Because it’s not only most accurate, it’s also least offensive.  Keep in mind not all black people in America are African.  there are Jamaicans, there are Cubans, but, also there are some black people that don’t identify as African because that heritage got stripped from them during slavery.  So, just a quick short answer, I know so many of y’all ask that question.”  From Conversations with a Black Man Episode 2. 

 Great social change awaits us, but it will only come at a great cost and will require a great effort. This will mean having uncomfortable, heartfelt conversations to understand the lives of others and the suffering caused by white privilege, racism and “othering”.

I believe that if human beings are willing to see each other in the fullness of their humanity, we can live in harmony. What does that mean? It means listening, looking at each other in full acceptance by being vulnerable, empathetic and compassionate. This belief or value does not deny, excuse or devalue the cultural differences between races, religions or classes.

IF YOU WOULD RATHER HEAR A LECTURE ON THIS PLEASE CLICK HERE AND START AT 44 MINUTES:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND2I41FJm50

Through understanding we can heal the racial divide. Try to understand the depth of our country’s racism: 

The 2016 US election was a wakeup call. Trump’s rhetoric has unleashed the simmering hatred of racism hiding just below the surface of civility in this country. White Supremacy and white privilege are alive and well in the United States. The shock waves of this election have emboldened White Supremacists and exposed great divides among citizens racially, economically and socially. It has become acceptable to incite violence and spew hatred. In just the 2 years from 2014 to 2016, Hate Groups have increased by 14.5% (from the Southern Poverty Law Centers Hate Map- see Bibliography).  In 2019, there were 940 hate groups in the US.

President Trump exacerbates the situation with racists groups by seeming to approve their actions and encouraging harm against Black Lives Matter protestors.  In Spring, 2020 amid wide spread community protests against the death of George Floyd and other unarmed black Americans, President Trump took to Twitter on May 29, 2020, calling protesters “thugs” and warning, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”  There have been reports of groups such as “The Boogaloo movement ….The boog is not the people vs the people, the boog is the people vs the government. It’s a revolution, not a civil war,” a member wrote on their Facebook Page.    Right-wing extremists have previously responded to Trump’s  calls with violence and have already responded favorably to his tweets threatening “shooting,” raising fears that some may act amid the violence and tension surrounding public health closures amid the ongoing global pandemic.

 How is our culture “white skewed” by supporting white supremacy and white privilege? Our society is white skewed because of population demographics, the legal system, our educational institutions and our economic and tax systems, to name a few.

I believe that if human beings are willing to see each other in the fullness of their humanity, we can live in harmony. What does that mean? It means listening, looking at each other in full acceptance by being vulnerable, empathetic and compassionate. This belief or value does not deny, excuse or devalue the cultural differences between races, religions or classes. I fervently believe that being vulnerable to each other and reaching for a bond of understanding rooted in equality will heal the racial divide. We need to start with this openness of belief. This I believe.  WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?   

Try to understand the depth of our country’s racism:  

THE POPULATION DEMOGRAPHICS support WHITE SUPREMACY: According to the 2014 Census projections: Whites are the supreme/ dominant race in the United States, being the largest portion of the population at  76.9%, although some percentage of white people are  also considered Hispanic which is 15.9%.   Hispanics are the largest minority at 17.8%, African Americans are 13.3%, and Asians are 5.7%, American Indians/ Alaska Native 1.3%, native Hawaiians .2%.

On a personal note, I apologize for the simplistic nature of this essay. I think it’s important to disclose my fundamental beliefs and biases. First, I believe that we all have some degree of racism. For most whites it is unconscious white privilege.  For people of color it could be anger at white and generalizing that all white people are bad. My intent is to help to bring embedded, unconscious racism to  consciousness, so that people can watch, and hopefully temper their own racial biases. I hope that essay  this will open the door to the hard conversations that may stir thinking and problem solving along the road to friendship, respect, collaboration and change in how our society treats people of color.   I admit that I have said some of the quotes on the Racism Scale below.  The Scale helped me to assess where I am and where I have to grow.

raRacism Scale

THE LEGAL SYSTEM:  The basis of our legal system is the Constitution that was written by white slave owners. The Constitution and our first laws were written to uphold the plantation system, which was dependent upon slave labor. In 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and ended the plantation way of life in the south. It states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” 152 years after the passage of the 13th Amendment, the United States still supports an unconscious social and cultural system called racism.

 SLAVERY IN THE PRISONS: Slavery is still allowed in prisons and benefits corporations.  “At least thirty-seven states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more…. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month… Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.”  We are perpetuating a whole new sub-class of working poor who cannot support their families and are not learning valuable skills for when they return to society.

Slavery is the worst form of “othering”. In order to buy/sell, beat, kill, breed human beings, slaves had to be dehumanized. Slave owners needed slaves to work the southern plantations. Somewhat the same happened with indentured servitude in Hawaii with the sugar plantations, but under the guise of corporate domination, where the sugar plantation owners paid wages, but deducted money for housing, things bought at the country store etc. “Othering” means that they are not one of us, they are not like us.

PARENTS PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN AND THE POLICE:  As a white kid growing up in an all-white middle to upper middle-class neighborhood, my parents told me, “If you ever need help or you’re lost find a policeman, he will help you.” I thought every kid would do this, which is the perfect example OF WHITE PRIVILEGE!

HERE’S WHAT BLACK PARENTS TELL THEIR KIDS ABOUT POLICE: From YouTube’s clip of Gray’s Anatomy: Bailey and Ben talk to their son about what to do if the police stop you-  “Put your hands on your head. They always need to know where your hands are, or they’ll think you’re going for a gun or knife. “Always say, what you’re doing before you do it. Be in control of your emotions, be polite, and be respectful. Don’t fight back, do not talk back, and do not make any sudden movements. Remember your only goal is to get home safely. If you get detained, don’t sign anything, don’t write anything. Wait for a parent before you talk. If your white friends are saying things or mouthing off, know that you cannot. You can’t go climbing through windows, play with toy guns, and throw rocks. And you cannot run away from them, no matter how afraid you are. Never, never, never run.”   Season 14 Episode 10 of Gray’s Anatomy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkaByBZbTCo

From my Asbury Park High School (NJ) classmate Ida, who is African American: “I have a son and 2 daughters…talked to them for years about just this issue…took them to Dr Kings memorials and taught them black history…APHS was integrated but every summer we drove south to Georgia…my cousins went to segregated schools in the 60s…60s they were building highway 95 as blacks we were not permitted to stay in hotels or eat in restaurant…if you went to Washington DC in 8th grade we stayed outside of Wash DC…because DC was segregated…here in America we have a long way to go…in the 90s Virginia elected a black governor…we went to Busch gardens…we were told to stick to the main highway95…not to drive back roads…so sad.”

YOUR KIDS ARE NOT TO YOUNG TO TALK ABOUT RACE https://www.prettygooddesign.org/blog/Blog%20Post%20Title%20One-5new4?fbclid=IwAR2Ng8bo5oLzNHPfA53HXiuUKZpRe0xv0j_ZCE5UZcTCLQJHcLjxHltSxmM

The RACIAL DIVIDE IN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM: Education is one route out of from poverty. As the Brooking Institute study states: “The color line divides us still. In recent years, the most visible evidence of this in the public policy arena has been the persistent attack on affirmative action in higher education and employment. From the perspective of many Americans who believe that the vestiges of discrimination have disappeared, affirmative action now provides an unfair advantage to minorities. From the perspective of others who daily experience the consequences of ongoing discrimination, affirmative action is needed to protect opportunities likely to evaporate if an affirmative obligation to act fairly does not exist. And for Americans of all backgrounds, the allocation of opportunity in a society that is becoming ever more dependent on knowledge and education is a source of great anxiety and concern.”

THE RACIAL DIVIDE IN OUR SCHOOLS:

  • Upper class white children frequently attend private school, which leads to less integration in public schools and less understanding of racial differences.
  • Affirmative Action allows people of color more opportunities for college admission.  There has been mixed support in the courts for affirmative action at state universities.
    • Affirmative Action has been voted out in the state of Michigan in 2014. This was affirmed by the US Supreme Court. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a 75- page dissenting opinion: “This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination,” she said, “As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society,” she added.
    • In Fisher v. the University of Texas in April of 2016- The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said courts must give universities substantial but not total leeway in designing their admissions programs. “A university is in large part defined by those intangible ‘qualities which are incapable of objective measurement, but which make for greatness,’” Justice Kennedy wrote, quoting from a landmark case re: desegregation.“Considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission. But still,” Justice Kennedy added, “it remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.”
  • The current Secretary of Education, Betsey de Vos is focused on establishing a voucher system for schools that will further dismantle funding for public schools.
  • Less money for schools means fewer and lower-quality books, less labs, fewer computers, larger classes, less qualified and less experienced teachers can be hired and less new and innovative teaching systems. Few science courses and art courses are available.
  • Student engagement and achievement suffer in overcrowded classrooms with lower quality teachers and less enriching materials. Computers are especially important in lower-income areas because families may not have them at home.
  • Nutritional school lunches are important to boost students learning: From a study of all California public schools over a five-year period by the National Bureau of Economic Research: “Students at schools that contract with a healthy school lunch vendor score higher on CA state achievement tests, with larger test score increases for students who are eligible for reduced price or free school lunches.”
  • Applying for admissions to our colleges and universities is daunting for bilingual or poorly educated people. On the positive side many community colleges require remedial classes to raise student’s knowledge to levels that can help them to be more successful in college. The question is “Why weren’t core competencies stressed in high school?” I think if you look at funding issues, you will see why there is such a wide disparity.

INEQUALITY IN REAL ESTATE that causes an EDUCATIONAL DISADVANTAGE :

Owning your own home is one of the best ways for anyone to build wealth. All white people have an experience or know of a friend or relative who has greatly profited by real estate investment. This avenue is not open to renters.  People of Color were omitted from this path to wealth by Redlining and also Deed Restrictions.  This means that most people of color live in rental areas with less property taxes to pay for a quality education, good teachers and better facilities.   Many people take out a 2nd mortgage to fund a child’s education.

REDLINING OF NEIGHBORHOODS: Redlining is defined in Merriam Webster Law Dictionary as: “the illegal practice of refusing to offer credit or insurance in a particular community on a discriminatory basis (as because of the race or ethnicity of its residents).”  Which means that families of color could not get mortgages. This was done by the US Government assisted by real estate agents and appraisers. Ta-Nehisi Coates talked about redlining in his “Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic. “Neighborhoods where black people lived were rated “D” and were usually considered ineligible for FHA backing,” he wrote. “Black people were viewed as a contagion. Redlining went beyond FHA-backed loans and spread to the entire mortgage industry, which was already rife with racism, excluding black people from most legitimate means of obtaining a mortgage.” Without access to FHA-insured mortgages, he writes, black families who sought homeownership were forced to turn to predatory and abusive lenders.”

DEED RESTRICTIONS were very common in the 1920s – 1940s. These restrictions that “ run with the land” and are recorded with the Deed and govern who can own the property. They were known to say “Whites Only” or Negroes not allowed. “Racial restrictive covenants became common practice in cities across the county, dozens of cities in the North, the South, the West,” Seattle Historian Gregory says. “For, you know, a quarter of a century, this was the thing to do.” Sometimes the deeds read “whites only.” In Seattle, Gregory says Asian restrictions were common, while Hispanics were the target in Los Angeles. In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not enforce the racial restrictions. In 1968, Congress outlawed them altogether. But Gregory says their impact endures.”  from NPR: Hidden in Old Home Deeds.

COVID 19 points to HEALTHCARE DISPARITY for PEOPLE of COLOR
QUESTION? Why are infection and death rates so high in black and Latino communities due to Covid-19?
ANSWER: The HEALTH CARE DISPARITY BETWEEN PEOPLE OF COLOR AND WHITES.
Across the country, African American and Hispanic or Latino communities have been hit much harder than white communities.
As of June 2, 2020- In Louisiana, black people make up less than 33 percent of the population but account for 56 percent of deaths from COVID-19. In Chicago’s black residents make up 30 percent of the population but account for 48.7 percent of deaths.

“COVID-19 is taking the gaps we know exist in health care, from an ethnic and socioeconomic standpoint, and not just amplifying them but making them scream out,” says Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “These outcomes are the result of decades of institutional racism,” Galiatsatos says. “Can we come together and commit to overcoming these health disparities in the future? I’m hesitant. If there is a silver lining later, we should take it, but it’s going to come at a disproportionate cost of life for very specific populations.”

“If the ultimate analyses confirm that blacks are six times more likely to die, then we have reached an incredibly important pause moment,” Yancy says. “I’ve been looking at health care disparities for a long time. It’s not frequently that we discover differences of this magnitude. This is a 600 percent more likely association with death. That is a halting comment. It may be the numbers settle out at less, but even if it’s twofold or greater, that will be so much more substantial than any other health difference we’ve seen as a function of race. We will be compelled to act.”

“There isn’t anything per se about race, as in black or African American, or ethnicity, like Hispanic or Latino, that would necessarily put one at a higher risk for infection,” says Clyde W. Yancy, M.D., chief of cardiology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “It is the living circumstances in which these populations reside,” he says, that is responsible for the elevated infection and mortality rates.

WHY INFECTION RATES ARE HIGHER:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “the places where people live, learn, work and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.”
1. Housing density. in lower-income urban populations, a distance of 6 feet and social distancing is impossible when multiple generations live together and share rooms.  Why the density?   Most blacks earn way less than whites and the minimum wage is so low.
2. “ Health disparity”-the difference in access to medical care (doctors and drugs) , quality foods, exercise and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
• Lack of quality food. Poor diet can compromise immune system function and raise health risks. Caused by:
• “Food deserts,” or regions that lack retailers offering healthy food; People making inexpensive, unhealthy choices like simple carbohydrates and junk food even when healthy fare is accessible.
NOTE: School and senior center feeding programs help, but during a pandemic those facilities are not open.
3. Jobs. Many black and Latino people are unable to self-quarantine or telecommute because they are often essential workers in health care and public transit. They often can’t afford to stay at home and not go to work. Galiatsatos puts it bluntly: “Quarantine is a privilege.”

“COVID-19 is taking the gaps we know exist in health care, from an ethnic and socioeconomic standpoint, and not just amplifying them but making them scream out.” Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., Johns Hopkins Medicine

WHY DEATH RATES ARE HIGHER:
Underlying health issues (comorbidities) can cause worse outcomes, more severe symptoms, and complications specific to COVID-19 such as a toxic immune response (cytokine storm) that can cause respiratory distress. Underlying health issues could be diabetes (due to poor diet and lack of exercise), high blood pressure, excessive blood clotting, kidney failure and heart failure. Age and decreased immune function due to stress caused by racism and fear decrease the body’s ability to fight the disease.
• Obesity. Being overweight makes people more vulnerable and harder to treat. Black and Hispanic populations have higher obesity rates in general (38.4 percent of black adults and 32.6 percent of Hispanic adults are obese compared with 28.6 percent of white adults, per the CDC).
• High blood pressure has historically been more prevalent in African Americans — It affects 40 percent of black adults compared with 28 percent of white and Hispanic adults — and the condition appears to be linked to poor COVID-19 outcomes. About 57 percent of people hospitalized in the New York City area had hypertension.
• Lack of health insurance and limited testing- many people remain uninsured despite the Affordable Care Act. In many cases, getting tested for COVID-19 requires a primary care physician’s recommendation and transportation to a testing site. The lack of these critical needs may be suppressing official case numbers in black and Hispanic communities, experts say.

“A lot of urban communities have limited access to testing,” Glanz says. “Some testing sites are drive-through, and a lot of people don’t have a car.”

Galiatsatos takes it further. “If people have symptoms but aren’t bad enough for hospitalization, we tell them to go for testing. Well, they can’t take public transportation because that’s a violation of public health policy. I can’t ask them to ride with a friend because that puts the friend at risk. So, what we do is ask them to keep us posted on how they’re doing. If they get worse, we may have to call 911. But the testing numbers are so low for these communities because the only way they can come for testing is if they’re hospitalized.” This leaves untold numbers of likely COVID-positive people unquarantined and unable to prevent the spread of the disease.
Most of this information came from AARP Mike Zimmerman is a health journalist and author of the 14-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet. https://www.aarp.org/…/in…/race-coronavirus-disparities.html the chart is from Forbes.

This chart is from Forbes:

Covid and black communities

 ECONOMICS, the STOCK MARKET and TAX SYSTEM:    

There are frequent legislative battles at the state level overpaying a living wage. Currently, 29 states and D.C. have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Low paid workers can barely make ends meet. They see no path to the “American Dream” and they see nothing changing soon. This leads to hopelessness, frustration and anger. Many people are one paycheck from homelessness.

Paying a living wage is better for our country because:

  • Fewer people would be on welfare.
  • Fewer people would need food stamps.
  • Better nutrition means better health and lower health care costs.
  • Fewer people would need assistance with health insurance, care costs and drugs.
  • Higher wages means more people would be contributing to Social Security.
  • More people would be paying income taxes, increasing l federal and state revenues.
  • More money in the national budget would mean more money for other things like infrastructure and education.
  • More people could afford to buy big-ticket items: appliances, cars and homes to stimulate the economy.
  • Since more people would have more buying power there would be more sales taxes paid for local governments.

What is the downside of having a living wage? A Big Mac or a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts might cost more?  The federal minimum wage in the United States is currently $7.25 an hour (before taxes). Which is  about $6.26 after taxes.

Australia has the highest minimum wage with $9.54 after taxes, then Luxemburg with $9.25 after taxes, then Belgium with $8.57 after taxes.

IRS AND THE TAX SYSTEM: The tax breaks in the current tax system are not understandable to most Americans without hiring a tax professional. Only people who are in the middle to upper classes can afford to hire Certified Public Accountants to navigate the tax system, so they can benefit from tax shelters.  The middle class and lower class may miss out on tax breaks without expert advice.

THE STOCK MARKET: The stock market is confusing to even the most educated people . This avenue of investment is not open to most people. As of April 2016, stock ownership has fallen to 52% of Americans from a high of 60% in 1998.

 

Have you ever seen Flesh colored crayons in this many colors?

THE IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING OTHER RACES and CULTURES  THE UNCONSCIOUSNESS OF “OTHERING” or MARGINALIZING and WHITE BIAS: Whites are somewhat unconscious of this “othering”. We need to understand how this works. Most people had the experience of “othering” during middle school or high school,  when there were cliques or the in-crowd.  Most kids were just  trying to fit in. It might have happened because you are female, when your mother said, “Boys don’t like girls who are too smart”, or possibly your father said, “ You don’t need an education, you’re just going to get married and have kids.”

From Othering 101: “By “othering”, we mean any action by which an individual or group becomes mentally classified in somebody’s mind as “not one of us. Rather than always remembering that every person is a complex bundle of emotions, ideas, motivations, reflexes, priorities, and many other subtle aspects, it’s sometimes easier to dismiss them as being in some way less human, and less worthy of respect and dignity, than we are.”   Human beings are a tribe. There are many human tribes. Race and culture divide people into tribes. It is necessary for survival and emotional thriving to belong.

“White privilege is the right of whites, and only whites, to be judged as individuals, to be treated as a unique self, possessed of all the rights and protections of citizenship. I am not a race, I am the unmarked subject. I am simply man, whereas you might be a black man, an Asian woman, a disabled native man, a homosexual Latina woman, and on and on the qualifiers of identification go. With each keyword added, so too does the burden of representation grow…But white men are just people. Normal. Basic Humanity. We carry the absent mark, which grants us the invisible power of white privilege. Everyone else gets some form of discrimination.” (From the Problem of Othering or Belonging).   White people rarely discuss race. My black friends told me they discuss race every day. They are discussing the “othering” that occurs in our “white skewed” society. They were shocked that whites don’t discuss race. Whites are the baseline, the standard.

Let’s apply this to racism. I’m ashamed to admit that I used to say, “I’m colorblind” and “I have black friends” which means, I’m not a racist. I would say, “ All lives matter.” This is “othering”, not honoring. This perpetuates the “not seeing” of others that live differently and have different circumstances. It denies and dismisses the existence and problems of privilege. That is why the “Black Lives Matter” Movement is so important; it elevates the systemic differences and problems of the culture.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, black poet Claudia Rankin, sums it up very well:

“ Oprah: Why whiteness?
Claudia Rankine: Every sphere of life—housing, healthcare, education, the justice system—is in part defined along racial lines. White-dominated institutions draw those lines, so if you’re white, they’re probably invisible to you. You’re not thinking, my child’s school has a library because of my skin color. The idea of whiteness as the standard runs so deep. Just do a Google image search for “boys being boys” or “beautiful women,” and see how many white people come up versus people of color. We can’t talk about race without talking about what our culture privileges.
O: Does the term whiteness make white people defensive?
CR: They’ll anxiously insist, “I’m not racist.” Well, yes, you are. We all have biases—only I don’t have power behind mine. If we can understand that racism is an active force, we can figure out how we got here. Think about sexism. Until some men could admit that it existed, men and women couldn’t have a dialogue about it.”

  From White People Explain why they feel oppressed by Toure on Vice:  What is Racism? “Erikka Knuti, a political strategist, said, “Part of white privilege has been the ability to not know that your privilege exists. If you benefit from racism, do you really want to know that?” I can see where it would be uncomfortable for people to admit that their lives are shaped by unearned advantages, especially in an environment where those advantages may be beginning to slip away, but the blindness itself is a part of the problem. White people have duties as part of the American community. They must be honest with themselves and their co-citizens and admit that white privilege shapes a lot of life in this country. They must understand that the truly pernicious, life-defining sort of racism is not interpersonal, it’s institutional. The systems that shape who lives where, who gets educated, who gets jobs, who gets arrested, and so on, these things shape lives, and they are all heavily weighted in white people’s favor. To ignore all of that is to misunderstand America. If white people admit those things, it will be plain that they are not, in any way, victims”

In the midst of a national policing crisis, the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to will into existence a sense of value for black bodies and some white people respond, “Why are they so anti-white?” That’s dumbfounding to me. I wonder, how could they be so clueless? When white people question why blacks get to say certain words or make certain jokes that whites can’t or when white people ask where White History Month is or when white people question why they have to pay for the racism of their ancestors, it’s offensive and infuriating and it’s also confounding.

In Ta-Nehisi Coates’s astounding new book, Between the World and Me, he refers to white people, as “dreamers” to evoke the sense of them being not fully awake, like sleepwalkers. I’m not sure if white people are like sleepwalkers, or more like ostriches, consciously burying their heads in the sand, hiding from reality. And that’s exactly what vexes me the most about white people: their reluctance, or unwillingness, to recognize the vast impact their race has on their lives and on the lives of all those around them

Modern white Americans are one of the most powerful groups of people to ever exist on this planet and yet those very people—or, if you’re white, you people—staunchly believe that the primary victims of modern racism are whites. We see this in poll after poll. A recent one by the Public Religion Research Institute found 52 percent of whites agreed, “Today discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.” A 2011 study led by a Harvard Business School professor went deeper to find that “whites see race as a zero sum game they are losing.” That was even the name of the study. It showed that over the last five decades both blacks and whites think racism against Blacks has been slowly declining, but white people think racism against whites is growing at a fast rate. White people are increasingly certain that they’re being persecuted. The study also notes, “by any metric—employment, police treatment, loan rates, education—stats indicate drastically poorer outcomes for black than white Americans.” White perception and the reality are completely at odds

Tim Wise, anti-racist educator says, “When you’ve had the luxury of presuming yourself to be the norm, the prototype of an American, any change in the demographic and cultural realities in your society will strike you as outsized attacks on your status. You’ve been the king of the hill and never had to share shit with anyone, what is really just an adjustment to a more representative, pluralistic, shared society seems like discrimination. When you’re used to 90 percent or more of the pie, having to settle for only 75 or 70 percent? Oh my God, it’s like the end of the world.”

EXAMPLES OF RACISM: Here’s what I  have learned: In Hawaii I was meeting with community groups all over the Big Island to increase support for a 2% Land Fund ballot measure that would purchase and preserve open space and parklands in perpetuity.  I often met with mixed race groups where I was the minority if not the only white person. Remember that the Hawaiian Islands were taken over in the late 1800s by the US Marines to secure (take) the land for the sugar plantations. Their Queen was imprisoned. They call white people haoles, which is a derogatory term for white foreigner. They want their land returned. At one meeting a Native Hawaiian man stood up and shouted at me, “Who you think you are f*^cking haole, trying to buy our land?” I had never encountered that vehemence against the Land Fund; at first I had no idea of what to say. We talked for a while and they ended up supporting it because we all realized the County needed to buy the land so it would be kept the land in its natural state. Think about this chart as you read: Here’s my challenge to you. As you read the examples of Racism below, think about your habits and your assumptions. The experiences can be subtle if not passive aggressive or they can be obvious. If you are white, I hope you will see examples that you never even thought about. This is embedded, unconscious racism. I also hope that you will be much more aware of how you look at how we treat others in our society. Think about this chart as you read, closely watch your reactions and see what you need to learn. I hope this will open the door to a new awareness and appreciation of other races and cultures. I challenge you to be curious like you would if you were visiting another country. Think of the inequalities in this country and what you can do to make it better!

I'm human

HOW RACIAL SLURS WIDEN THE RACIAL DIVIDE:

“You’re really pretty for a black girl.”

“ You look just like a china doll.”

“Don’t sit next to her, she probably smells like rice.”

“Don’t try to Jew me down on the price.”

In the 60s my friend’s mother took us both to the opening of McDonald’s.   My mother said, “Oh will she pick you up in the Jew canoe (a Cadillac)?”

If someone said this to you, how would you feel?  We all make jokes at the expense of others. Sarcasm is especially harmful because it puts someone down for a laugh. These statements hurt, degrade and belittle people and attempt to reduce their importance in the world.  This is “othering”. I believe that we must start to identify and exorcise our unconscious privilege, which presents as racial slurs and microagressions.  Imagine if we were curious about other people, their families, values, thoughts, feelings and cultures and religions. Imagine what we would learn about the cultures within our society if we celebrated differences and practiced inclusiveness. THE GREAT CHALLENGE IS HOW TO HEAL THE RACIAL DIVIDE IN OUR COUNTRY.

A racial slur is also called a microagression, which is a statement, action, or incident  of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.  Research shows that we all inherit and learn the racial, gender, and sexual orientation biases of our homes and cultures.  Racist, sexist and heterosexist attitudes, beliefs and behaviors have indoctrinated us. Most of these behaviors are unconscious. We must all take responsibility for what we say and the affect it has on other human beings.

As I read the statements by minority students below, I felt gut punched.  I found myself cringing.  I felt ashamed as I recognized things I had said. These are examples of the unconsciousness of our society and the unconsciousness of privilege. If you heard these comments on a daily basis, you would start to view yourself as a second-class person, someone who is not “good enough”, who doesn’t measure up? These are examples of “othering” and marginalizing of our fellow human beings.

Statements to Black Students:

  • When people think it’s weird that I listen to Carrie Underwood.
  • So what does your hair look like today? She said as she pulled off my hat without my permission.
  • You don’t act like a normal black person ya know?
  • Courtney I never see you as a black girl. Answer: You don’t act like a normal black person ya know?
  • The limited representation of my race in your classroom does not make me the voice of all Black People.
  • When standing next to my Mom: Why is your daughter so white?
  • You’re really pretty for a dark skin girl.
  • Why do you sound white?

Statements to Asian students:

  • you’re Chinese right?
  • You’re not really Asian.
  • So, what do you guys speak in Japan? Asian?
  • Not your fucking china doll.
  • Statement overheard by an Asian student: This girl sitting next to me move, to sit closer to someone she’s talking to, and the white guy whispers loudly that she moved because she smells like rice.
  • Can you read this? He showed me a Japanese character on his phone.
  • Can you see as much as white people? You know, because of your eyes?

Statements to mixed race students:

  • Question: What are you? Answer: HUMAN. Being bi-racial doesn’t make me a “what’.
  • So, like, what are you?
  • You don’t speak Spanish?
  • Statement to student of mixed race who looks white: No, you’re white.

Statements by a  Hispanic student:

  • Just because I’m Mexican I shouldn’t be the 1stchoice for the role of Dora the Explorer in a high school skit.
  • When I gave a speech about racism, the emcee introduced me as Jaime Garcia. My name is Jaime Rodriguez. Not all Latinos have the last name Garcia.

Look at pictures of the students holding placards quoting microagressions. Notice how their expressions increase the impact of the microagression:  From Kiyun Kim, Racial Microaggressions, December 2103  http://nortonism.tumblr.com/

RACIAL SLURS AS ACTIONS: Actions  can marginalize, degrade and belittle people. Microagressions can be racial, gender, religion and sexual orientation  actions.   Many of these comments or actions appear to be innocent, but taken as everyday occurrence they can impact marginalized groups and  affect their standard of living by creating inequities in health care, police treatment, aspirations for young adults, education, housing and employment opportunities.

Racial Microaggression:
• A White man or woman clutches their purse or checks their wallet as a Black or Latino man approaches or passes them. (Hidden message: You and your group are criminals.).
• An Asian American, born and raised in the United States, is complimented for speaking “good English.” (Hidden message: You are not a true American. You are a perpetual foreigner in your own country.)
• A Black couple is seated at a table in the restaurant next to the kitchen despite there being other empty and more desirable tables located at the front. (Hidden message: You are a second-class citizen and undeserving of first-class treatment.)

Gender Microaggressions:
• an assertive female manager is labeled as a “bitch,” while her male counterpart is described as “a forceful leader.” (Hidden message: Women should be passive and allow men to be the decision makers.)
• A female physician wearing a stethoscope is mistaken as a nurse. (Hidden message: Women should occupy nurturing and not decision-making roles. Women are less capable than men).
• Whistles or catcalls are heard from men as a woman walks down the street. (Hidden message: Your body/appearance is for the enjoyment of men. You are a sex object.)

Sexual Orientation Microaggressions:
• A Young person uses the term “gay” to describe a movie that she didn’t like. (Hidden message: Being gay is associated with negative and undesirable characteristics.)
• A lesbian client in therapy reluctantly discloses her sexual orientation to a straight therapist by stating she is “into women.” The therapist indicates he is not shocked by the disclosure because he once had a client who was “into dogs.” (Hidden message: Same-sex attraction is abnormal and deviant.)
• Two gay men hold hands in public and are told not to flaunt their sexuality. (Hidden message: Same-sex displays of affection are abnormal and offensive. Keep it private and to yourselves.)

Religion, disability, and social class may also be reflected as behavioral microagressions:

  • When bargaining over the price of an item, a storeowner says to a customer, “Don’t try to Jew me down.” (Hidden message: Jews are stingy and money-grubbing.)
    A blind man reports that people often raise their voices when speaking to him. He responds by saying, “Please don’t raise your voice; I can hear you perfectly well.” (Hidden message: A person with a disability is defined as lesser in all aspects of physical and mental functioning).
    • The outfit worn by a TV reality-show mom is described as “classless and trashy.” (Hidden message: Lower-class people are tasteless and unsophisticated.)

What can you do?  Don’t expect this to be comfortable.  It’s important work!  Growth seldom is comfortable and this is a growing process. Notice your microagressions. Read people’s faces when you are speaking, in order to gauge their reactions. Speak up and ask for clarification about what they think or feel. Reach for understanding and empathy. Challenge the hurtful statements of others and start the difficult conversations to heal the racial divide. It’s up to each of us to create a more civil society with social justice for everyone. See the full article at:

https://debbiehecht.com/2018/02/03/our-not-so-civil-society-how-racial-slurs-widen-the-racial-divide/

Wake up to your degree of Privilege:  -SCORE YOURSELF:  Add a POINT for each POINT of PRIVILEGE and subtract a point:

  • If your ancestors were forced to come to the USA not by choice, take one step back.
  • If your primary ethnic identity is “American,” take one step forward.
  • If you were ever called names because of your race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If there were people who worked for your family as servants, gardeners, nannies, etc. take one step forward.
  • If you were ever ashamed or embarrassed of your clothes, house, car, etc. take one step back.
  • If one or both of your parents were “white collar” professionals:  doctors, lawyers, etc. take one step forward.
  • If you were raised in an area where there was prostitution, drug activity, etc., take one step back.
  • If you ever tried to change your appearance, mannerisms, or behavior to avoid being judged or ridiculed, take one step back.
  • If you studied the culture of your ancestors in elementary school, take one step forward.
  • If you went to school speaking a language other than English, take one step back.
  • If there were more than 50 books in your house when you grew up, take one step forward.
  • If you ever had to skip a meal or were hungry because there was not enough money to buy food when you were growing up, take one step back.
  • If you were taken to art galleries or plays by your parents, take one step forward.
  • If one of your parents was unemployed or laid off, not by choice, take one step back.
  • If you have health insurance take one step forward.
  • If you attended private school or summer camp, take one step forward.
  • If your family ever had to move because they could not afford the rent, take one step back.
  • If you were told that you were beautiful, smart and capable by your parents, take one step forward.
  • If you were ever discouraged from academics or jobs because of race, class, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you were encouraged to attend college by your parents, take one step forward.
  • If you have a disability take one step backward.
  • If you were raised in a single parent household, take one step back.
  • If your family owned the house where you grew up, take one step forward.
  • If you saw members of your race, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation portrayed on television in degrading roles, take one step back.
  • If you own a car take one step forward.
  • If you were ever offered a good job because of your association with a friend or family member, take one step forward.
  • If you were ever denied employment because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you were paid less, treated less fairly because of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you were ever accused of cheating or lying because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you ever inherited money or property, take one step forward.
  • If you had to rely primarily on public transportation, take one step back.
  • If you attended private school at any point in your life take one step forward.
  • If you were ever stopped or questioned by the police because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you were ever afraid of violence because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If your parents own their own business take one step forward.
  • If you were generally able to avoid places that were dangerous, take one step forward.
  • If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke related to your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back.
  • If you use a TDD Phone system take one step backward.
  • If you were ever the victim of violence related to your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • Imagine you are in a relationship, if you can get married in the State of ___ take one step forward
  • If your parents did not grow up in the United States, take one step back.
  • If your parents attended college take one step forward.
  • If your parents told you that you could be anything you wanted to be, take one step forward.
  • If you are able to take a step forward or backward take two steps forward.

Earth and hands photo

“Education, love and exemplary black people will not deliver America from racism, Kendi says. Racist ideas grow out of discriminatory policies, he argues, not the other way around. And if his new center can help identify and dismantle those policies in the U.S. and around the world, he believes we can start to eliminate racism. At least that’s the goal.”  Ibram Kendi

My Wish, my HOPE:

IMAGINE by John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Ah-ah-aah-ah

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
You

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one

I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
You-uh-uuh-uh

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

 

 WHITE SUPREMACY, WHITE PRIVILEGE AND RACISM BIBLIOGRAPHY:  

  1. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map of 940 Hate Groups in the US as of 2019 and increase from 457 in 1999. https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map
  2. From YouTube’s clip of Grey’s Anatomy: Bailey and Ben talk to their son about what to do if the police stop you- Season 14 Episode 10  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McDeTvh9sbU
  3. “Othering 101” https://therearenoothers.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/othering-101-what-is-othering/ .
  4. The Privilege Walk (Adapted from the Penn State classroom version cited below) http://edge.psu.edu/workshops/mc/power/privilegewalk.shtml
  5. US Census Bureau Population statistics 2016: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US#viewtop
  6. The Prison System in the US: Big Business or a new form of Slavery? https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-prison-industry-in-the-united-states-big-business-or-a-new-form-of-slavery/8289
  7. The Problem of Othering: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging http://www.otheringandbelonging.org/the-problem-of-othering/
  8. Brookings institute: Linda Darling- Hammond: Unequal Opportunity: Race and Education https://www.brookings.edu/articles/unequal-opportunity-race-and-education/
  9. Supreme Court Upholds Michigan’s Ban on Affirmative Action: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/04/22/305850221/supreme-court-affirms-ban-on-race-conscious-college-admissions
  10. Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/24/us/politics/supreme-court-affirmative-action-university-of-texas.html?mcubz=1&_r=0President Obama hailed the decision. “I’m pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the basic notion that diversity is an important value in our society,” he told reporters at the White House. “We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everybody.”
  11. How the Quality of School lunch affects student’s academic performance: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2017/05/03/how-the-quality-of-school-lunch-affects-students-academic-performance/
  12. National Bureau of Economic Research: School Lunch Quality and Academic Research: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23218
  13. Minimum Wage Around the World: https://www.attn.com/stories/5493/minimum-wage-in-other-countries
  14. National Conference of State Legislatures: State Minimum Wages 2017 http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/state-minimum-wage-chart.aspx
  15. Gallup Poll: Just over half of Americans Own Stock: http://news.gallup.com/poll/190883/half-americans-own-stocks-matching-record-low.aspx 
  16. Interactive Redlining Map Zooms In On America’s History Of Discrimination http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/10/19/498536077/interactive-redlining-map-zooms-in-on-americas-history-of-discrimination
  17. The Case for Reparations by Coates in the Atlantic Magazine: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
  18. Hidden in Old Deeds: A Segregationist Past: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122484215
  19. There are no others: Othering 101: https://therearenoothers.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/othering-101-what-is-othering/
  20. The Problem of Othering and Belonging: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging http://www.otheringandbelonging.org/the-problem-of-othering/
  21. What one Poet is Doing to be Seen: Claudia Rankine from Oprah Magazinehttp://www.oprah.com/inspiration/claudia-rankin-racial-imagery-institute-of-new-york
  22. White People Explain Why They Feel Oppressed by Toure on Vice: https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/qbxzpv/white-people-told-me-why-they-feel-they-oppressed-456
  23. Brene Brown: We need to keep talking about Charolottesville. https://www.facebook.com/brenebrown/videos/1778878652127236/
  24. Racism Scale: http://racismscale.weebly.com/  
  25. Waking Up White by Debbie Irving
  26. Harvard Quiz to Discover your Implicit Bias for Race https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/Study?tid=-1
  27. Sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Church of San Dieguito by Reverend Meghan Cefalu and A.L.G. McLeod: http://uufsd.org/2017/04/30/april-30-service-white-supremacy-the-waters-we-swim-in/
  28. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Episode 1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8jUA7JBkF4
  29. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Episode 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwiY4i8xWIc
  30. Ethnicity and immunity- Why some communities of color have been hit so much harder by COVID-19 Mike Zimmerman in AARP Bulletin June 2020 https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/race-coronavirus-disparities.html  
  31. IBRAM KENDI, ONE OF THE NATION’S LEADING SCHOLARS OF RACISM, SAYS EDUCATION AND LOVE ARE NOT THE ANSWER  Founder of new anti-racism center at American University sees impact of policy, culture on black athletes https://theundefeated.com/features/ibram-kendi-leading-scholar-of-racism-says-education-and-love-are-not-the-answer/
  32. YOUR KIDS ARE NOT TO YOUNG TO TALK ABOUT RACE https://www.prettygooddesign.org/blog/Blog%20Post%20Title%20One-5new4?fbclid=IwAR2Ng8bo5oLzNHPfA53HXiuUKZpRe0xv0j_ZCE5UZcTCLQJHcLjxHltSxmM

 

 

 

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