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Speaking up against racism

 
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Beth Johnson wrote:

john mcginnis wrote:I was born in Florida. I am also old enough to remember segregated bathrooms, drinking fountains and dining areas.



My father as well (except for the Florida part). He and his brother were boy scouts and were on a trip with other troops. The bus stopped at a restaurant in Texas, and he and his brother were forced to eat in the kitchen while white scouts ate in the dining room portion of the restaurant. Racist treatment of that sort turned what was a good time for them getting to know scouts in other troops into a defining moment in their lives. My father and uncle were publicly humiliated, and they had to get back on that bus with the other scouts.

The police stop my father when he is driving in his neighborhood because he doesn't look like he belongs there. He has to sit patiently while part of him dies inside every time he is stopped. He cannot not say anything or do anything that could possibly be construed as uppity. He doesn't even ask why he has been pulled over. White people threw bricks at him when he walked to high school. This is in Pennsylvania.

No one is throwing bricks at my father, but the police are still pulling him over. As a human being, both are dangerous to his physical and mental health. Knowing that these things and others have happened because he is black has scarred him for what remains of his life.

If my son looks sideways at a police officer who has stopped him and wants to search my son's book bag, his life could be in danger if he declines to allow the officer to do so even though it is within my son's Constitutional rights to refuse to acquiesce unless they have a search warrant. The police are peace officers. They have a duty to protect and serve. My child has another good 60 years left to live. He has another 60 years to be afraid of the police unless we do something now. I have another good 30 years to be afraid for my son. This is about more than toilets and water fountains. It's about life. It's about liberty. It's about the pursuit of happiness, the ideals that our foundational document, The Declaration of Independence, says all share. That all men are created equal. We're not there yet. I'm hopeful that we will be soon. I'm hopeful that I will not have to see another video of another man dying in the street calling out, "Momma! Momma! I can't breathe."



Never mind if a white person starts a fight with your son. Your son will be the one arrested. In our younger days when white guys would try to start fights with my husband I would always tell him, let me be the one punched. They punch a pretty white girl and they're going DOWN. They punch you and you're going to jail. That is just not right.

I am so sorry for your family and your experiences!!! I am sorry anyone has to have these experiences.
 
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I would like to add a resource that I have found very valuable to me in trying to be more sensitive of other people and racism.
Sometimes we don't see the problems other people face because.... we're not them.
I have experienced ridiculous privilege, even though I come from very poor people, and immigrants, because of how I look. The idea is not to flagellate myself to feel bad about the privilege I have: it is to understand the experience of the people who do not have this privilege, which leads to empathy. After all, for centuries (maybe even longer) different groups have been pitted against each other to focus on infighting and distrust instead of banding together for more strength and to change things.

This resource, called "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" is available with commentary here. I

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
7. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person's voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
16. I can be pretty sure that my children's teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others' attitudes toward their race.
17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the "person in charge", I will be facing a person of my race.
25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.
26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children's magazines featuring people of my race.
27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.
29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.
30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn't a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.
32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.
33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.
37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.
43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.
44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.
45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.
46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.
47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.
48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.
49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.
50. I will feel welcomed and "normal" in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.*

The idea is that if you agree with these statements, the next step is to understand that these privileges do not extend to all people. Again, not to browbeat myself or to feel guilty about this, but to understand that this is the status quo.


*by Peggy McIntosh: associate director of the Wellesley Collage Center for Research on Women. This essay is excerpted from Working Paper 189. "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women's Studies" (1988), by Peggy McIntosh; available for $4.00 from the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, Wellesley MA 02181. The working paper contains a longer list of privileges. This excerpted essay is reprinted from the Winter 1990 issue of Independent School.
 
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Tereza Okava...THANK YOU!  

Oh, and I have blatantly stolen and reposted this (sans your name and personal comments) as far and wide as I can.
 
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> husband never says anything about this. He doesn't point it out or complain. This is NORMAL for him. I'm the angry one

Elle. More power to you. But, please, keep your lucky charm on you at all times... And act to win - which usually means letting go anger in order to pay attention fully and respond as ruthlessly and craftily as possible.  But you can never know the whole situation - it all goes to chaos with the first move. Understand that. Be OK with it. I think your husband knows this - he sounds like a survivor. Maybe take his smarts into account a little more. (gotta stick up for us guys <g>).

I got myself into some really dangerous physical situations as a kid and young man. One reason I survived, I believe, is that when I finally realized just how bad it was, I dropped everything from my mind but awareness of the instant moment. I could not afford to be scared, to even think, or it was over - just to respond fully. Sometimes we must drop our feelings, our own self, in favor of being one unified purpose. So don't hold onto your anger. Bring online your  full awareness and purpose when the situation requires.



Cheers,
Rufus


 
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I think it's pretty normal to make projections from the people you meet to the larger group.  If I've only met 5 redheads, and all 5 were wonderful, I will be disposed positively towards redheads.  If they were all awful people, I will be negatively biased.  I will probably not even be aware of this.  If I meet 4 ok people and 1 enormous A-Hole, my experiance may be disproportionately effected by the jerk.  If I meet many, many redheads, the individual effects will tend to balance out towards the average for redheads, which will probably be about neutral.  People who live in homogeneous areas may have few exposures to other groups, therefore those exposures matter.  Media becomes more important then.  I think the Cosby show (back before he was outed as a creeper) probably did more to shift white attitudes than any amount of rioting, because it gave a picture of good people who happened to be another color.  I had a friend that told me he was 12 before he saw a white person in real life.  His attitude was formed partly from what he saw on TV.  When he talked it was apparent his vision of white people had them all living in large houses with cool jobs, no money worries and usually a maid.  (Not anywhere near how any of the people I knew lived).  

I have prejudices.  I am aware of some of them.  I am biased towards some people  and against some others.
Deciding I'm not going to be prejudiced against people is about as effective as deciding I won't like ice cream.  I can quit eating ice cream, i can say I hate ice cream, but I still like it.  If I'm around ice cream, someone might see that I am drawn to it.  I can try to not show prejudiced behavior, but it will still probably sneak out around the edges.  

I have a niece who has had some terrible experiences with cops.  She really dislikes cops.  I can't blame her, but isn't that also a prejudice?  Based on her experience, they are jerks, but is every cop a jerk?
 
Mick Fisch
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Everyone has categories in their head for identifying things around them.  It's how we organize the world.  We also do that with people.  Whether it's good or bad, I think it's how we do things.  When I was young I lived on a big reservation.  Not everyone there like white guys, and they sometimes made it known.  One day I was walking through a store and there was an older man walking towards me.  When he notice me he got the stone face.  As we approached I heard 'Daddy" and one of my kids ran past the man, up to me.  The stone face instantly went away and the man smiled.  Thinking about it, I realized the approach of my kid shifted me in his head from "white guy"  to "family man".  

I've noticed in myself, the big difference in my reactions to people of other groups depends largely in what 'group' I drop them into in my head.  I do this automatically, within probably less than a second, without realizing it.  I have a 'military' category, a 'redneck' category, a 'yuppy' category, a 'black guy' category, a 'church person' category, that actually has several categories under that, including an 'Amish' category.  I've had good and bad experiences with people in the various categories and I automatically view them with a certain slant, positive or negative.  If I can move them to a different category, they automatically shift points.  Sometimes this happens by accident. I see a guy who otherwise might drop into a more negative category with his little kid and he shifts into the 'daddy' category.  Sometimes I 'trick' myself by purposely noticing something that will shift the person.  I'm married and faithful to my wife.  I find, when I meet an attractive gal I can conciously shift her from the 'good looking gal' category her into some other category that she could also fit into.  It's a weird mental trick, but it actually changes how I see them.
 
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Mick Fisch, your story made me think of my crazy life.

When i was a wild young Hugo, i was in a big bar discotheque, some skinny tall black man had kicked me from behind, the girl i was with had said it i shouldn't mind, he was a great guy and it was because he was jealous i was with her. She lured me away from the bar, she could see trouble coming.
Another night when i was there he came to me and started accusing me i was racist with an absolutely angry face. I declined, he insisted,i declined stronger, he insisted more, until it got ridiculous. Then he suddenly smiled really wide, loving and brotherly at me and said " Of course you are racist, we are ALL racist!"
He bought me drinks and explained he was a prince from somewhere in Africa and we all categorize people, the first thing we notice is sex/colour/rich/poor ,act according to our experience, and that that is racist/sexist etc and that agnoliging this fact is the first step towards being non racist. And his father was the only truly non racist person he met. It opens a lot of doors when you think like that combined with lots of alcohol and wild women.
We had a great night, got completely hammered and learned lots of his "crazy" sounding theories.

I took it for gospel for a while at the time to the horror of my liberal white fellow human beings.

Although crazy there certainly is a certainly a deeper truth in it. I do not believe for a second this PC culture is going to lead to anything good, being too focused on white guild and white guild only. The story of slavery is much more complex. There were black African slave traders selling enemy tribes men , Arab slave traders were vicious, white Europeans at the time were poor as street dogs in general, "free" as wage slaves with many, many children to feed.

It's not as black and white as "intelligent"university people are telling us, and the mass media is rubbing in our faces.
I'd love these priviliged upper middle class university kids to come and meet the African prince. Hope he is still alive and kicking people.
 
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elle sagenev wrote:
Racism is when a new Mom has her infant son at the mall and a woman comes over and asks to see the baby. I have 13 nieces and nephews so this scenario is one I've been a part of for years but this, this is my baby and I couldn't be prouder of how beautiful he is. She looks and is shocked. She looked straight up at me and asked me how I got a colored baby. Her exact words, "How did you get a colored baby?" That's what she thought when she saw my beautiful infant son. That's racism. It's racism when I sign my children up for school and put "white" under their race. They are white. I'm white and I'm half of them. Plus, to be honest, it kind of amused me to put them as white.



Elle, I am appalled at what happened to you at the Mall.
But I might even be more shocked that there are still forms where you have to put in a race (the incidence in the Mall was one stupid woman, but the other thing comes from an official institution) I remember this from immigration paperwork I had to fill out in the plane on my first trip to the US in 1987 and I shook my head then. How is it even legal to classify people, be it for school registration, credit at a bank, purchase of a home or other things? I know that even here in Germany there are "secret" rankings where companies and banks collect all data about your credit ranking, based on your address, shopping behaviour and similar, maybe they also use your last name (could the person have an immigration background?). But "race" does not figure anywhere ever.

I was a bit reluctant to post as a German because unlike John McGinnis I think there can be a thing like collective guilt. Or maybe call it responsibilty and obligation to know what has happened, why it has happened and what should be done to prevent something similar to ever happen again.

BTW, even if the Germans have learnt their lesson (in the majority) there is a new rise of racism that is not (or not just) based on skin colour but rather origin, religious beliefs and ethnicity. German people of colour do experience racism. But we also had big demonstrations in the last days for BLM. I am optimistic as I have seen that jokes or remarks directed against ethnicities, sexual orientation, beliefs etc. are being shunned more and more. Things I heard in my youth would not be acceptable anymore.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Anita: It never occurred to me that everywhere does NOT include "race" on institutional forms...here we are JUST getting more than M/F for "sex", some forms now offer "other", but I'm yet again embarrassed to say it never crossed my mind to query how race is relevant (yeah, funding etc., but WHY?). Thank you for making me aware that this is simply not asked elsewhere.

Now, I have a personal (I so hope this does not offend...) question, which I will preface with the following: In no way do I equate Germany of today with Germany 80 years ago; BUT I have been known to compare a German leader from that Era to others who may be currently in power...

My question, is that considered prejudice, by Germans?  In Germany, would that be offensive?   I do Not want to be offensive, and will adjust that thought if need be. Thank you.
 
Anita Martin
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Anita: It never occurred to me that everywhere does NOT include "race" on institutional forms...here we are JUST getting more than M/F for "sex", some forms now offer "other", but I'm yet again embarrassed to say it never crossed my mind to query how race is relevant (yeah, funding etc., but WHY?). Thank you for making me aware that this is simply not asked elsewhere.

Now, I have a personal (I so hope this does not offend...) question, which I will preface with the following: In no way do I equate Germany of today with Germany 80 years ago; BUT I have been known to compare a German leader from that Era to others who may be currently in power...

My question, is that considered prejudice, by Germans?  In Germany, would that be offensive?   I do Not want to be offensive, and will adjust that thought if need be. Thank you.


I am not sure if I understand you correctly: Do you mean if it is prejudice to compare that one German leader to modern time leaders on let's say your continent?
Or would it be offensive?

Maybe the latter, but only if you make dumb comparisons. You can compare ways and methods of today's politicians to certain methods that were used by Hitler and his regime and you can discuss this on an intellectual level.

But if you compare some current incidences and practices with "Nazi-something" you have to be very careful.
For one, because most people think the Nazi atrocities were so unique that to compare other deeds with them kind of belittles the original Nazi crimes.
And secondly, because most Germans are very sensitive when it comes to jokingly calling something Nazi (like Grammar Nazi), Hitler-something etc. and it is considered not only as downplaying but also as being dumb and history-blind.

Now let me know if this was your question or if I misunderstood you.




 
Lorinne Anderson
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Anita: you interpreted correctly, I was referencing the tactics involved in the rise of certain leaders, and the manipulative methods (media, propaganda, divisiveness etc.) used to subvert the truth.  

But, on the same hand, it did NOT occur to me that the comparison could be offensive for belittling or downplaying what happened; so thank you for raising that awareness in me, that would never be my intent.

Thank you!
 
Anita Martin
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Lorinne, good to know. But remember you may bring up comparisons if they are founded, it is not a taboo to talk about the past.
For anyone interested, I found this TED talk interesting where an US American talks about the way modern Germany set to practice the lessons from the past: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtV5ev6813I
 
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Anita: It never occurred to me that everywhere does NOT include "race" on institutional forms...here we are JUST getting more than M/F for "sex", some forms now offer "other", but I'm yet again embarrassed to say it never crossed my mind to query how race is relevant (yeah, funding etc., but WHY?). Thank you for making me aware that this is simply not asked elsewhere.



Now that you guys mention it, yeah. Japan asks for country of citizenship, and I didn't notice there hasn't been a race box all this time. But for most applications a photo is usually required, so they would know from your photo I guess.

I always thought the race boxes on forms in the US were for "demographics data collection" and optional except for medical stuff.
 
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Rufus Laggren wrote:> husband never says anything about this. He doesn't point it out or complain. This is NORMAL for him. I'm the angry one

Elle. More power to you. But, please, keep your lucky charm on you at all times... And act to win - which usually means letting go anger in order to pay attention fully and respond as ruthlessly and craftily as possible.  But you can never know the whole situation - it all goes to chaos with the first move. Understand that. Be OK with it. I think your husband knows this - he sounds like a survivor. Maybe take his smarts into account a little more. (gotta stick up for us guys <g>).

I got myself into some really dangerous physical situations as a kid and young man. One reason I survived, I believe, is that when I finally realized just how bad it was, I dropped everything from my mind but awareness of the instant moment. I could not afford to be scared, to even think, or it was over - just to respond fully. Sometimes we must drop our feelings, our own self, in favor of being one unified purpose. So don't hold onto your anger. Bring online your  full awareness and purpose when the situation requires.



Cheers,
Rufus




I disagree with all of the advice regarding "letting go of anger." (That advice is not limited to the quotes I selected, but it was simply easier for me to choose these.)

Righteous indignation should not be denied or stifled. Ignoring this emotion is harmful to those feeling it, and it's always going to come out in some way.

You can't wish away injustice, and if I understand elle correctly, she continues to be not only baffled but horrified by her partner's treatment. Not only that, but she sees how he has adjusted to this treatment because it is so common, and for him to do otherwise could cost him his life.

I think people who are telling us to have happy thoughts think injustice can be wished away. If it could, it would have stopped by now. Imagine how many people have wished and prayed (if prayer is part of their lives), that this injustice would end. And yet it's here.

No. Righteous indignation is important. It requires that we recognize and vocalize that what is happening is unjust, and it can make us act to rectify the wrongs.

@elle: I'm with you.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Beth

From what you said, it sounds like you like anger. Is that true?  I don't know where you're coming from so it's hard to know what to say here. But I'm dumb enough to give it a try.

I didn't say or mean not to be angry.

"Let go" does not mean deny or bury or whatever. Not the same words, not the same meaning. Please reread, perhaps my post will look a little different on review?

Or I can try again: I did indeed mean something like "don't let anger make your decisions or run your show. Don't let it distract you or interfere with your thinking and awareness --- AT ALL". We NEED our thinking and awareness fully online. Maybe you call "thinking" by some other name, intuition? 6th sense? Again, I don't know where you come from, what words you use. Sorry.

Have you ever gone off on anybody and shortly afterward found you did serious damage to the wrong person? I have.  More than once.  Anger in the driver's seat is a loose cannon, a live grenade rolling around the floor, 3 seconds and counting. It destroys anything within range and doesn't care who or how or why. It can enable, but it's no source of direction, safety, success or _anything_ except maybe a burst of no-inhibition energy. That energy doesn't care what it does.

Hugo has given us a great example of his girl getting in the way of his angry reaction and giving the situation that few seconds needed to flip totally for the better. Anger makes a really shitty lodestone. I say don't use it or allow it to carry on like that. I do NOT say pretend to be nice.

In the history of boxing it has always (as far as I know) been said that the fighter who fights in anger loses - always. That is a lot of history and wisdom mined from ugly, bloody, painful circumstance. But very real, living circumstance - those fighters would not hoard and pass on such advice if they did not feel they had to - they want to _win_. We should not dismiss what they have learned with their blood and pain: Don't fight driven by anger. You will lose.

I would prefer that Elle win. I like what she says and I respect her thoughts and feelings. And I have decided: I would prefer that Elle wins her battles, unscathed.


Regards,
Rufus
 
Mick Fisch
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Elle said,

Minorities look for organizations where they can share their experiences and try to collectively bring about change. Without getting my post flagged I'd wager to say it's unlikely a lot of the white people in the world have needed that. When white people want change, they just do it because they're in power.

.  White people and white men, just like everyone else find themselves in vastly different situations in life.  A few have power, most don't.  To group them all together is an example of exactly the kind of thinking this discussion is about.  

I worked with a guy a while back.  He also had a vastly overrated opinion of a 'power' of a working class or poor white person.  One day he remarked "If I was a white, I would be president of this country."  He made more money than me, he had a higher position than me.  My thought, although I didn't say it to him because I liked him and didn't want to hurt his feelings was "you're kind of an idiot, being white wouldn't change that".  The very rich are the ones with all the power.  Most of the very rich in this country are white, although by no means are they all anglo.  As a white man, that does me no more good than if I tried to draw money out of their bank account.  If you think they are looking out for my benefit, your wrong.  If anything, a lot of time their so busy pandering to the various other groups, they forget or ignore working class whites.

They have power.  I don't.  I have one vote, just like every other person.  


 
Amy Arnett
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Circling back to the original post for a second.

elle sagenev wrote: I warn my husband before he goes out with his friends, who are all white, and discuss with his friends what to do if my husband is approached by the police. I am petrified for my son, who has no idea he's different from his million white cousins.



Yes, the precaution I had never thought about until my husband, who is Japanese with skin that gets pretty dark in the summer, and I came to live in the states for a few years and he got his US drivers license. I had "the talk" with him.

If anyone is thinking, "why did he need to know about sex to drive in the US?", I'm glad you haven't had to worry. "The talk" in this context is the conversation about how to behave when pulled over or stopped by the police while being a minority.

https://www.npr.org/local/309/2019/08/27/754459083/having-the-talk-expert-guidance-on-preparing-kids-for-police-interactions
 
There is even a children's book: https://www.amazon.com/Something-Happened-Our-Town-Injustice/dp/1433828545




Thankfully my husband is an adult so it was easier to talk with him frankly and not worry so much about his feelings. English is his second language, so we went over police vocab. What the police usually say, the commands they use. That he can ask to call me to translate, but only go for the phone after they say ok and after you tell them where it is and where your hand is going. And wait for the ok to move. Don't block their view of your hand. Hands on the wheel the rest of the time. Always check you have your license and your green card. We watched youtube videos of practice pullovers.

I think a pamphlet should be handed out with immigration paperwork for people visiting the US. I've heard in some countries it's polite to get out of your car and go the the police officer's window when you are pulled over. Do not do this in the US.

I never received a talk about this from my parents. I learned how to deal with police from all the times they were pulled over for speeding and got a warning after sassing back.

A video showing kind of what it's like for black families having the talk with their kids. 

 

It must be exhausting living in fear for your family without any end in sight. We were fortunate to be in an area of the US where I didn't fear for my husband's life really. I was just nervous he might be mistreated, injured, or whisked off by immigration. Being nervous of police and immigration wasn't the main reason we decided to come back to Japan, but it's a relief to have one less thing to worry about.

Talking about not being on guard all the time. Keep in mind when they're saying what they don't worry about in Japan, it means it was a daily worry for them in their home country.

  

If we could start having the talk with all our kids also and make them aware of the disproportionate consequences for people of color, they might think harder before calling the cops for minor stuff like a counterfeit bill or whatever it was.
 
Beth Johnson
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Rufus Laggren wrote:Beth

From what you said, it sounds like you like anger. Is that true?



Are you asking me if I'm an angry black woman?
 
Amy Arnett
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Beth Johnson wrote:

Rufus Laggren wrote:Beth

From what you said, it sounds like you like anger. Is that true?



Are you asking me if I'm an angry black woman?



Wow, this is actually a good example of why we need to have more conversations like this so we can learn each other's different experiences, sensitivities, and the different meanings we can associate with words. And having only the written word to go on in a forum like this can lead to further misinterpretation.

Harassing a person until they become angry and snap causing them to commit a crime or act "sufficiently threatening" to warrant arrest, is a common tactic used by police. Police then blame the person, "well you shouldn't've gotten angry, learn to control yourself, etc." So I would think advice about controlling anger could be triggering. 

Anger, and any emotion, is valid and healthy to feel. Being in control of your reaction to the emotion and following behavior is an important skill that is learned. If this skill is not learned in childhood, you have adults that can't control their behavior when they feel an overwhelming emotion such as anger. 

This seems to be common in men raised in the US, who in general are culturally only allowed to express anger and trained to suppress any other emotions. Anyone interested in this topic, I recommend "The mask you live in" on Netflix.
  

It sounds like Rufus has had some experience with rage blackouts and is trying to caution against them? And Beth (and myself) are wondering how anyone could not be angry about and motivated to action by what's going on?

I think it's possible to be angry and at the same time fully aware and in control. 

Hope I interpreted everyone's words as they were intended, please correct if I did not. 
 
Tereza Okava
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Thanks for sharing these resources, Amy. Especially the BEJ video. That is definitely worth watching (and the people I knew in Japan felt the same way).
 
Rufus Laggren
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   Rufus Laggren wrote:
   Beth

   From what you said, it sounds like you like anger. Is that true?



Are you asking me if I'm an angry black woman?




No. It looks to me clear that you _are_ angry and I'd guess (w/out looking back through your posts this brief morning) that you're Black.

I am saying don't let anger run your show. Don't become what you hate. Keep your wits about you, act on your beliefs, not your rage.

Men regularly get knocked down by "superiors" ( a whole 'nother discussion) at work, leaving real anger and bruises, sometimes well deserved, sometimes not. At least half the time they go home in a foul mood and take it out on their wife and children. That's an example of letting anger run your show.

> rage black outs...

I know it can be hard. When I broke off a long relationship, I had a few hours, maybe a day when I could view the situation honestly (human framing has a time lag - why it's so important to apologize immediate when one can) and be aware that it was at least as much my problem as hers. After that, I found myself pillaring her as an evil bitch and  I came up with all sorts of "reasons" and justifications. I really and totally lost the ability to see reality because I got hurt so bad and my id defenses took over. It's a good thing I did not meet her in person again for several years - she would have been in real danger. And we _really_ cared for each other and tried to make it work to the extreme. Yes, I do have some idea what the psych does.

But that's not exactly what I was referring to. More of the "Dad coming home pissed" stuff that's allowed to run the show.

IAC. I am not saying "don't be  yourself" or "don't feel anger". I am not trying to attack or dismiss your feelings. If it seems that way, I am sorry. I apologize.

I _am_ saying "act smart". And if that's impossible, like it was for me for some years after my breakup, even "knowing" the truth, then maybe it's better to avoid triggering situations if at all possible. One simple, common bit of advice for anger is "count to 10". Doubt that particular trick would work here, but that's the concept. It doesn't make you less angry. Not saying that. It hopefully gives a moment to let the whole picture come into focus before doing things that don't help but cause more damage.

Beth, I'm real sure I don't know what it's like to walk in your shoes.  I don't know if I anything I say means what _I_ mean when you hear it. Makes it hard to communicate when people simple are not on the same page. Please consider that I'm a person, too. I didn't get here w/out experience at least a _few_ things. But not what you have.


Regards,
Rufus
 
elle sagenev
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Mick Fisch wrote:Elle said,

Minorities look for organizations where they can share their experiences and try to collectively bring about change. Without getting my post flagged I'd wager to say it's unlikely a lot of the white people in the world have needed that. When white people want change, they just do it because they're in power.

.  White people and white men, just like everyone else find themselves in vastly different situations in life.  A few have power, most don't.  To group them all together is an example of exactly the kind of thinking this discussion is about.  

I worked with a guy a while back.  He also had a vastly overrated opinion of a 'power' of a working class or poor white person.  One day he remarked "If I was a white, I would be president of this country."  He made more money than me, he had a higher position than me.  My thought, although I didn't say it to him because I liked him and didn't want to hurt his feelings was "you're kind of an idiot, being white wouldn't change that".  The very rich are the ones with all the power.  Most of the very rich in this country are white, although by no means are they all anglo.  As a white man, that does me no more good than if I tried to draw money out of their bank account.  If you think they are looking out for my benefit, your wrong.  If anything, a lot of time their so busy pandering to the various other groups, they forget or ignore working class whites.

They have power.  I don't.  I have one vote, just like every other person.  



Just remember that I am white. So when something happens I don't like I do do something about it and people listen to me. It's why I'm the face of our relationship. Double billed by the hospital, he can't go in and talk to them but I sure can go in and get it fixed. We had an electronics recycling plant move to our section of land and I was talking to people left and right petitioning for it to be shut down. It's unlikely they would have listened to my husband. I like to take up causes so I could go on with examples of things I've taken up and pushed for.  

Mis-prosecuting hemp is a big thing in our state right now. White hemp producers are getting the government to listen and support fixing this issue. Would a black or hispanic person had had the same impact? Unlikely.

I understand what you are saying. The little guy does not have a lot of power and I know that. However, a little white guy likely has way more power than someone who isn't white.






Oh man I never told ya'll about the time our daughter was sick. She was pretty darn sick and I was home with her. The Dr. called her in some antibiotics and my husband went to pick them up. They would not give them to him. Treated him like some filthy drug dealer. He was really upset and I was livid. Not only did they treat him like crap but I had to drive into town with my sick baby to pick them up. You should have seen the reaction I got when I got up to the pharmacy counter. Instant regret.  Needless to say I took immediate action and he's no longer a pharmacist. Would anyone have believed my husband had he been the one to report the treatment? I'd like to think they would but I rather doubt it. See, people have this thing where they don't believe it. Even my own mother has said that. That I like to cry racism. It can't possibly be true. This can't really be a thing. I'd likely agree with them all except I live with my beautiful man so I see it and I know it's happening.
 
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On acting in anger.  Several years ago I got a pretty bad concussion from getting hit by a tree.  I was pretty squirrely for at least 6 months.  (My wife said I was hilarious, because every guy has a monkey and an old man in his head.  The monkey was running the show for several months.)

I knew I wasn't really in my right mind and I had a bit of a temper.  I was very concerned about damaging relationships with my wife and kids, so l made it a point to stop and consider for a few seconds before acting.  I did this consistantly for months and it became something of a habit.  I'd stop and think "is this going to help, is it a proper response".

I had heard the count to ten thing for years but had really never tried it until my injury kind of forced it on me.  It is hard initially, bu it works!  It doesn't keep me from acting, but it helps me to act on my higher self and avoid doing the stupid things my inner monkey sometimes urges

As a side note,my older kids say I got more lenient and spoiled the younger ones, although I think every older kid thinks the younger ones have it easy.  (The sibling equivalent of walking 10 miles to school each day, uphill!  Both ways!)  My wife says I have become calmer.  (If you spouse is hot headed, I don't advocate hitting them with a tree, but.....)
 
Rufus Laggren
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Beth

I'm thinking my experiences don't make for much that is relevant to you right now. I'm happy to carry on "discussion" and all that stuff; just hard to figure what matters. What to say to very strong feelings? I have not been where you have. What I say springs from a different world. And I'm not going to experience your world. If we were _doing_ something together, soup kitchen, filling sand bags in a flood, taking the same bus every morning we'd have at least a toe in the same world and thus a way to talk because we'd have a common experience and thus some basis for knowing the other person.

I doubt "theory" does much for anybody when we're "deep into it" - didn't for me, really, those times I was having it hard.  Just seems Yah-di-yah.  

Hope you find a good way for you and yours.


Rufus
 
Amy Arnett
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Saw this today and think it is relevant to this thread. Straightforward answers to common questions we are too uncomfortable to ask with spot on analogies that anyone can relate too! Looking forward to more episodes.

 
elle sagenev
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So I'm still trying to do what I do. Had someone post that putting a color before "lives matter" is what makes you a racist. I made a nice, logical argument that no matter what people of color want they don't get to be just "Americans". Society puts another word in front of their name. I used the school changing my kids ethnicity as an example. The response, "Playing devil's advocate, it was probably just a typing mistake".

So, things are going well. lol
 
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Thanks for the rich discussion.  

If we assume that permaculture can completely dissolve racism in America, what does that look like?
 
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something to think about.
I have read that in just a few more years, people who have family history originating from Spain will be the majority of American citizens. White people who's families originally came from other European countries will be a minority in the US.
 
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