Posts Tagged ‘race’

Need a Reading List?

Posted: November 26, 2015 in Awake
Tags: , , ,

You’ve Read a Ta-Nehisi Coates book. Now What? – http://wp.me/p40Hhl-cj

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Fighting for change always brings about naysayers, distractions, and those who will tell you, with a straight face and loud voice, that your opinions on wanting changes that affect your life and the life of those you love who are being mistreated, is wrong.

Fuck them. Fuck that!

If something is wrong, fix it. If you can’t fix it right away, continue to fight day after day to fix it. Note: I’m not being incendiary. Fights come in many forms and flavors. Do I personally know or love any of the black men and women killed by police officers? No. Do I know people like them? Sadly, yes. Too many. Have I seen loved ones being searched and pulled over and not given a reason? Yes. Have I gone through it? Yes.

So what’s different about this fight from others who say that All Lives Matter? Systemic oppression. When you as a race of people, are continuously discriminated against, are ignored by the authorities when you need help, or when you are viewed as a thug in spite of being an upstanding, educated and highly sought after professional  because of the color of your skin by those who are in jobs to protect and serve, that is a problem.

When minorities riot, they’re called thugs and hooligans and niggas on social media outlets and the news networks. Are they right to riot? My opinion is no, they’re not. When white people riot, they’re called passionate and heartbroken. Are they right to riot? My opinion is no, they’re not.

Sure, I understand the frustration and anger at being fearful for your life when a political officer pulls you over – whether for a valid reason or not – and I understand how swallowing that fear and abuse can burn and swell in your belly to the point of one day vomiting up all that hate and embarrassment.

I’m sure some will say I’m wrong but I honestly have not seen many of my white friends and counterparts going through this for the years I’ve known them, nor have I seen them have to prove they belong in certain establishments, organizations, etc. And yes, I know this is all a part of the problem and not directly related to one cure. My goal here is to remind that one incident alone is not what’s causing such anger and such violent reactions.

Unaware of what’s happening? Here’s a recap from hawkers.com:
Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police from 99-14

This post is merely to help me cut through the cobwebs in my head, and to try and shake off my fear for those I love. Why? Because my life experiences, background, and my loved ones are the ones in fear of being killed. If you don’t understand how fear and oppression works, educate yourselves and let’s have a civil discussion. Till then, enjoy whatever privilege you have (real of perceived), because honestly, white skin in America is a visible privilege. You can choose to use it for the good of humankind or stick your head in the sand and say you don’t understand what “these people are doing or hoping to accomplish”. What you choose to do with your position of power is up to you.

Don’t believe a minority who says it? Maybe you’ll believe it coming from a popular white male, then, as he reminds you “get killed just for living in your American skin…”
Here’s a link to “41 Shots” by Bruce Springsteen:

41 Shots – Bruce Springsteen

Stay safe, friends.

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I identify as no particular race in my mind but have been asked and identified as many different races by many people over many years. Why? I was raised in a culture, in a family, on an island, where race or ethnic background does not matter. We identified as equal habitants of that country although I know race issues existed between a few folks. But really, we, meaning the people I know, thought of ourselves as an equal creed. Why do people ask? Maybe to find a connection, to be nosy or to just ask.

What does this have to do with now? Well, it’s black history month and while I identify with relatives and ancestry from a certain continent, I don’t appear to be of that group. Keep in mind I said “appear”. Yet, I’m not white. But I’m not really anything…

Hoestly, I don’t fit neatly into the American census bureau boxes. Until recently. I discovered by American standards and the good ole government’s criteria, I fit into three groups, none of which I can truly claim without feeling somewhat false, fake or like a liar. Does it matter? I don’t think so. But everyone who pegs me as something or the other seems to think so…

Race. It matters. Until it doesn’t. Even then, it seems to matter to others.

Tell it!

Tell it!

If I declare “Je suis Charlie” I’m popular* with those who are saddened and with the numerous people aware of the recent killings of satirists in France. And I may feel good about myself. If I declare that there’s long been anger and hatred between Algerians and the French and that it’s sad that all religions have fanatics wanting to kill in the name of said religion, I’m not so popular*. And I may or may not feel so good about myself.

If I declare that Boko Haram needs to be stopped from killing more innocent people in Nigeria, I’m popular*. But mostly with those concerned about humans in Africa and around the world. Sadly, many people in my social media network and from reports I’ve seen on several media outlets don’t seem to care. It also seems that not many people in first world countries see Boko Haram as a threat to humanity or their issue to address. However, I still feel good about myself.

If I declare that I’m against police brutality and the murder of innocent black men at the hands of police officers sworn to protect and serve, I’m popular*. If I say that the police officers who turned their backs on Mayor De Blasio when he spoke at a recent police officer’s funeral should be reprimanded and if they hate their city’s Mayor that much, they should find another job, I’m not quite as popular*. If I say that black on black crime chafes my hide but it’s a different problem that should be addressed separate from the police brutality/murder issue, I’m not so popular* again.

If I say to some black people in the U.S. who want people from the Islands and other countries to claim “black” as their race are wrong, I’m not popular*. When I explain that everyone has a right to be labeled whatever they consider themselves, I’m still on the not-so-popular side of things. If I say, “passing as…” or “lying to self…” etc., is a separate subject, I’m still not in the popular* club.

If I say that both white AND black people can be racist, I’m definitely not popular*! We’re all human though, and based on our life experiences, thoughts, sometimes backgrounds and conditioning, etc., we have biases. Granted, many of us move past those to live peaceful and accepting lives among other humans. Some…not so much. But the nerve to say that someone is racist, especially if they don’t believe it, although they exhibit traits and actions proving it, makes me very unpopular*.

What’s all of this have to do with anything? It doesn’t matter how many Facebook “likes” and social media shares, thumbs ups, RTs, responses, etc. I get. If an opinion or thought is truly my own, I will stand behind it when it is popular and when it is less popular or considered downright wrong. Parroting someone else’s agenda and opinions makes you a parrot, a sheep, a meek moron. Who cares if you’re not popular? Stand your ground. But maybe not in Florida.

Recently I was reminded that although we try to ignore race, culture, backgrounds, etc., there are some times when we truly are very different as a people.
Let me start by saying that I am sure I’m not the most politically correct person at all times nor am I always astute when it comes to the customs and habits of people from all parts of the world. There’s still a lot to learn and I am trying. However, I am fortunate that my workplaces and life experiences have led me to various parts of the United States and to several countries, all of which have proven to be good life lessons and exposure to those who not only look different than me, but have different belief systems, values, and sometimes, drastically different options and ways of life. I love that about my workplaces and travels! I feel this life road map helps open eyes to not only what’s physically different between us humans; it opens my eyes and ears to what makes people tick.
Recently though, I’ve been experiencing and witnessing some seemingly basic situations that turn awkward very quickly because some of the players involved in the real life skit don’t realize that they’re offending others, and in some cases, they may realize it but demand that others do and think what they do instead of considering why they’re not the same.
Even those who are somewhat well-traveled sometimes fail to understand some of the seemingly basic (IMO basic…) ways to interact with people of different cultures and races. Of course I don’t expect us to all be experts on every cultural aspect for every race, religion, way of life, and background. However, I do have some standards that as a human, to which I’d like to adhere and hope others would as well.
Observations
 
Let me reiterate, before sharing my observations, that I am not an expert on culture, religion, etc. However, I try to read body language, pay attention to verbal cues, and try like hell to not be insensitive to other people especially when they’re exhibiting awkward behavior, stilted responses or downright nasty glares when we talk or interact. I’ll use actual examples so as not to bore with the rhetoric or just share abstract and vague offenses.
I witnessed someone being verbally pummeled  by questions about pending nuptials repeatedly because it seemed so “foreign”, “cool but crazy” but [I wish you] “good luck with that!” (direct quotes) to enter into an arranged marriage. Mind you, the person asking has been married two times already and is planning on a third venture into the joining of two people within the next year. This led me to believe that based on just this scenario and comments that no arrangement or plan is perfect. It just depends on the people, their intent, goals, and who knows…maybe even love. However, it seemed to make the person who was about to get into the arranged marriage a bit sad and confused. Admittedly it made me sad but angry that someone would be that rude.
Another observation involved a work event at lunch time. Included in the list of attendees were vegans, vegetarians and your good ole meatatarians (self included!). Mind you, folks were vegan and vegetarian for years so this wasn’t something that crept up after the event was planned. The host decided that veggie hot dogs and burgers would be fine along with the sides, salads, fruit and an assortment of desserts ranging from cookies to cakes and pies. However he noticed that the vegans ate only the salad and raw fruit but no dessert, and the vegetarians ate only the sides of macaroni, potato, beet and green leafy salads and fruit. The only people who ate the veggie burgers and hot dogs were the meat eaters (when we ran out of meat). The host was upset. He had spent “soooo much time and effort” (he emphasized the word “so”) to find these quality “non-cardboard-like” items and was offended when they weren’t eaten by the target attendees.
Later, when I asked a friend why he didn’t eat the veggie “meat”, he said it looked too much like a real hot dog or burger and he couldn’t bring himself to try it but more importantly, he can’t eat gluten (and some other product that I forget the name of now) that is commonly found in one of the fake burger types due to a food allergy. But here’s the thing – he was very happy with the other food choices and thought the event was a success and was happy that the host went through such trouble to make the meal enjoyable. Meanwhile the host was busy being offended and had voiced to several people in a loud and grumpy manner that it was the last time he’d host a lunch event with “those Indians and damn hippie vegans”. If only the host asked before making the following assumptions: *sigh*
That:
A: Only the people from India were vegetarians (they weren’t)
B: All vegans are hippies and therefore dismissible as somehow flighty or flaky and are following some fad (they’re not)
C: That his choice of food would fit all palettes (he didn’t ask the invited attendees if fake meat was something they’d like even though he knew them for awhile).
 
Line of Questioning Observations
 
Some Americans, mostly non-minority from my observations (but I’m wondering if it’s just an american thing in general…) will ask colleagues and even strangers that they’ve just met, some very personal questions about their lives. What I’ve felt, is that the questions may not be meant to be invasive or accusatory, but the reactions of colleagues and even strangers, is that it’s uncomfortable to be thrown such personal rapid fire questions and some react as if it were indeed, invasive. Honestly, there are lots of times I feel the same and I cringe internally when I witness it. Why? Well I don’t think it’s my boss’ business, or my colleagues beeswax what my significant other does for a living, earns, drives, etc. Nor do I think it’s any of my beeswax to know theirs. The only valid time I can see is if it’s an employee personnel issue such as, who to call in case of an emergency. Even then, that information should be treated as private and sensitive information that is not to be shared.
I figure if someone wants to share their personal lives and personal information with others, they will. No reason to go prying or worse yet, share news about someone’s personal life with another member of the office or as a random side story to incite shock and awe or the like. Want shock and awe?
Go do something that’s shocking or awe-inspiring!Are our lives so boring and uneventful that we need details on other people’s lives to fill the void?

Where does it come from?
 
I believe some of the bad behavior (IMO) comes from things said and done by our parents, society’s rules and suggestions, our environment and from our life experiences. However, I think some people are just less observant about other people’s behavior or preferences and just march right on into that direct line of rapid fire questions without regard for how someone may feel.
Here’s one example of how generalizations and stereotypes are propagated. Just a day or two ago I perused the NCLEX book (Preparation for nurses about to take the state board test to become an RN or other certificated professional) which contained some high level (some good and some a little laughable) details about various races and cultures. This included notes about “Asians revering silence” and to paraphrase, wouldn’t raise their voices or may say yes when they mean no, with “Blacks deeming direct prolonged eye contact as aggressive” and are more likely to be late and be loud talkers while “Whites deem eye contact as sincere (or maybe it was trustworthy?)” and will be more likely to be on time.
While a handful of Asian, Black and White people may very well have these traits and think this way, I find it interesting and a little sad that a textbook contains these “nuggets of information” for those who may become your caretaker. There wasn’t, as far as I recall seeing, a statement that says something like, “Take the following with a grain of salt” or anything to allude that they were generalizations based on stereotypes. Nope, they were listed as fact. Stone cold hard facts about people who look a certain way and have certain physical features.
Well I’m assuming that based on these “rules”, I, and many others who stem from multiple cultural and racial backgrounds would have some serious problems figuring out which “rules” to follow and how to deal with the contradictory behaviors that are supposedly innate to our genetic makeup. I bet my Asian (according to the book’s definition of what and who makes up the Asian population), silence loving, eye-contact avoiding self may detest the African descendant’s loud-talking blabbermouth habits while the white ancestors are screaming, “For God’s sake, you’re 30 minutes late and have the nerve to show up all loud and then glare when asked why you’re late! All I had to eat were these damn cardboard-tasting veggie bean dogs and some vegan dessert that doesn’t even taste like cake!”
Sigh. Can’t we all just get along?

“No Comment”

Posted: November 11, 2009 in Pushing my buttons!
Tags: , , ,

I was told I can’t comment about assimilation by Mexicans because the subject was about foreign labor and assimilation patterns and since I’m not Mexican, I can’t understand. I was later told I can’t relate to oppression and feelings of resentment by black americans because I’m not seen as black and I wasn’t born here. I have also been told I wouldn’t understand privilege because I’m not rich, nor am I white.

Well hell dangit on a stick! How and WHAT am I supposed to understand or feel when these topics are broached? Should I walk away and be quiet? Why then, isn’t President Obama walking away from topics that pertain to the Chinese? By this flawed logic, even the POTUS wouldn’t understand Chinese lifestyles.

Yes, I am angry. I think it’s a cop-out to hide your ignorance or pending disagreement with my opinion if it doesn’t mesh with yours so when people say, “how would *you* know?” Or “who do *you* think you are to say that?”…what they’re really saying is “I don’t agree, so I’ll resort to being the *only* subject matter based on race/culture”, etc.

Yes, I dare say it. Sue me. Oh yeah, you can’t due to the First Amendment and all. I have the right to think whatever I want about whomever I want, whenever I want. Sound like a rebellious teen? So what? I will wholeheartedly write and think what I want. Want to know why?

I’ll tell you a little secret about the Island I’m from and my background. I am a blend of at least four groups of people who descended from various continents. I am more african in terms of lineage and culture in which I was raised than some black americans. I have creole blood and may or may not secretly wish I know Voodoo. I have the Mayan blood line mixed up with those of Turks and a line of ancestry from India. Sure that may seem almost impossible to understand but my point is simple – take your proverbial heads out of orifices that hold them tight and warm and snuggly and please stop judging books by their covers. Take the time to listen with an open mind and let us share thoughts, ideas and opinions. That’s the only way we’ll survive and evolve…as humans.

Peace,
Natasha