Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’
Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.–Dr. Martin Luther King
Change is hard.
It’s hard to change others. It’s hard to change ourselves.
Every now and then, something or somebody comes along with the power to change us. Maybe it changes how we think. Maybe it changes how we act. Every now and then, there comes a person, whose leadership is so powerful, their words alone are enough to change us.
Dr. Martin Luther King was one such man. His thoughts, deeds and convictions, had the power to change a nation. Using neither anger, nor force, he changed America. He made our country a better place, by helping a nation think differently. He made individuals want to do better.
We live in an era of compromise. We allow ourselves to be shaped by the opinions of others. Those who represent us, make deals for political favors. Journalists, who once relished the opportunity to expose the truth, now avoid controversy. Like adolescents seeking approval from their peers, very few of us are willing to risk becoming outsiders. Read the rest of this entry »
Men and women are not the same. One needn’t look further than the way we speak for evidence. When a woman communicates, she is conveying feelings she wants understood. Women rarely communicate as succinctly or as plainly as men, but to a women every unnecessary word is necessary. Because of this, you can be reasonably sure if a women hurls an insult your way, she means it–at least in that moment. Of course, women are apt to change their moods & minds, at which point, most will regret having said unkind things. It’s a girl thing…we don’t like to be perceived as mean, so we do our best not to insult people–unless they really deserve it.
Men don’t measure their words as carefully as women, and are therefore more apt to say things they don’t mean. (This is especially true of men dealing with difficult women.) Men think nothing of exchanging insults. Male jesting is a sport–a kind of jousting to determine who is most manly. Men can swear at each other, call each other vile names, impugn each others’ masculinity, then laugh it off over beers.
This is not true of women. A woman who has been insulted, will likely spend the next week stewing. She may feel compelled to share her tale of woe with anyone who will listen. Not every woman is as sensitive, but if a woman is hurt by a careless remark, it has the potential to ruin the relationship.
I didn’t fully understand this, until after I became a parent. Watching the way girls and boys play with each other, I’ve learned how differently males & females use words. In a game, if a girl misses her friends are there to encourage her, but a boy misses and his friends will have a hearty laugh at his expense. They will call him any number of names–a disproportionate number of which, will suggest he is a lesser male or even a homosexual. Contrast that with women, by trying to remember the last time you heard women call each other “butch” or “dyke”.
This inherent tendency of men to want to remind other men, of their position in the pecking order, which has given us the currently running Ad Council campaign admonishing people too stop using the term “gay” as a derogatory term.
Thanks to this public service announcement, we now know trash-talking is fine, as long as we use the right words. Clearly, it is okay to take cheap shots, as long as we don’t use any term, which could be offensive to those not being addressed. The message is clear, political correctness is more important than civility or good sportsmanship. As an avid NBA fan, let me be the first to thank pro-athletes for schooling the rest of us in proper decorum.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the message, but the label” gay” is one chosen by gays for gays to replace other more derogatory terms. The n-word is far more offensive, because it has never had positive connotations. Which makes one wonder why it has been popularized by those, it was most intended to insult. Then there’s the word “retarded, the popular use of “retarded” as an insult, is certainly as offensive as carelessly using the g-word or the n-word. Can we expect the Ad Council to develop a campaign to stop people from using the word which is clearly insensitive to the developmentally delayed?
Whether it’s the a-word, the b-word, the c-word, the d-word,or any other, what offends us, is largely a result of who we are and where we’ve been. With the exception of the frequent and thoughtless use of the n-word, which I always find offensive, I pay more attention to what people are saying, than the words they use. English has an abundance of offensive words, but polite words can be just as insulting.
For instance, there’s this guy I always see on TV. There are plenty of people who suggest that he’s gay or bi- or something. I don’t buy into those rumors, but he strikes me as the quintessentially ineffectual male. He used to be against gay marriage, but recently, he changed his mind. Now he supports gay marriage. Whether you support or oppose gay marriage, it is likely you feel strongly about it, but I get the impression this guy doesn‘t care one way or the other. In other words, I think he’s being spineless. (If I say spineless, does that insult others who don’t hold the courage of their convictions? Is it insensitive to mollusks and other invertebrates?)
This guy has been in The White House for almost a full term and NOW he‘s coming out with this new stance? A while back he had support of both houses of congress, and NOW he‘s for gay marriage? It seems clear he has no intention of promoting gay marriage, in fact, he’s clearly stated this is for the states to decide–which is especially ironic coming from a man who has shown he doesn’t particularly respect the sovereignty of the states.
Whether or not he’s saying what you wanted to hear is inconsequential. He has waited until he won’t be can’t be held accountable. If he’s reelected, his rhetoric is likely to be as meaningless as any other politician’s campaign promises. It’s lame duck politics. (If I say lame, does that insult the crippled?)
Talk is cheap. His words are meaningless, because they don’t reflect his intent.
Nothing has changed. Those who oppose gay marriage can breathe a big sigh of relief and those who support gay marriage should breathe a big sigh of contempt.
No matter how you feel about the issue, you should be insulted, because this is little more than a poorly veiled attempt to win votes. It is insulting, because it makes no difference whether those votes come from gays, lesbians, blacks, Hispanics, women, the poor, or any other disenfranchised group. He doesn’t care about these groups, he only cares how they vote.
(If I call him a pansy, does that insult flowers?)
I have a college degree and some other educational credentials. They are mostly useless, but I have them. I have yet to apply for a job where it mattered whether or not I had anything other than a college degree, yet the two least prestigious pieces of parchment I hold are the most significant to me. They are my high school diploma and my certificate in mariachi music.
A few years ago, a college in my area became the first in the United States (and I believe the world) to offer an accredited program in the study of Mariachi. I had been dabbling in mariachi for some time and made it my goal to be the first person to receive that degree. A friend of mine beat me to the pole position, but I was still able to become the first woman to ever receive this degree in a genre of music which was once exclusively the domain of men.
This might lead you to believe I’m an accomplished or scholarly musician. I am not. In fact, compared to my peers, I’m a hack. I suppose, if I were highly motivated I could parlay what I’ve learned into some kind of lucrative livelihood. Certainly my rudimentary knowledge of mariachi music, history and instruments would qualify me to teach, and while that might be a good fallback, it wasn‘t my motivation. To me, this degree is indicative of what it means to be an American.
I was born in America, taught to salute the flag and pledge allegiance to it. I was taught the principles of The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States. I was born in the time before being a celebrity meant having a platform for expressing contempt for America. In fact, when I was young, being anti-American could still get stars black-listed in Hollywood.
I was taught The Pilgrims were decent folk who came here seeking religious freedom. Now, school children are taught that the pilgrims represent the ruination of Native America. My ancestors were pilgrims, but not the Mayflower kind. As your ancestors probably were, they were just pilgrims seeking a better life for their families.
One side of my family came from Europe, the other from Mexico. Both came to The United States, because this country offered freedom, education, economic opportunity and a life free of government hostility. You’ve heard it all before, but the opportunities and freedoms unique to this country have given many the chance to build a better life. It was certainly true for my family.
In my grandmother’s country, she didn’t go to school. From the time she was very young until her death, she worked.
There are still countries in the world where children work, instead of going to school.
My mother’s life in this country meant she learned a new language and was able to go to school.
There are still countries where girls are not allowed to go to school.
When my mother left home, she set her sights on becoming a nurse.
There are still countries where governments decide what you will become.
She met my father, and married him two weeks later.
There are still countries where younger daughters must wait for older daughters to be married and husbands are selected by parents.
In just a few years, she had gone from living in a poor two-room house to living The American Dream in a home with bedrooms, heat and indoor plumbing.
What might take generations in many other countries, can be achieved here in decades.
I am grateful for having been allowed to go to school free of political indoctrination. I am glad to have been able to decide for myself where I would live, what I would do, and who I would marry. I am glad to have been able to work beside men, choose my own religious beliefs and receive a paycheck in return for my work. Surrounded by nice cars, appliances, and electronics, it is easy for Americans to take things for granted.
Our clothes, our shoes, our abundance of food, our books, our medicines would be luxuries in many other countries.
I am thankful for my high school diploma, because in those years, I learned something many schools no longer teach. I learned to be proud of this country. I am proud of the degree in mariachi. because it reminds me people of any race can come here, without sacrificing their cultural pride.
In other parts of the world, being a different race means being a target of genocide.
This country isn’t perfect. Our history is rife with mistakes. The politics of our country may leave us discouraged or disgusted, but individuals have the right to expose the flaws of our government.
In some countries, governments control access to information.
We can speak out against our leaders, without fear of retaliation. Men and women are allowed a vote.
In many countries, the citizens have neither a voice, nor a vote.
If I had been educated today, I might be ashamed of America. While there are certainly many shameful and regrettable things in our past, like slavery, our treatment of Native Americans, the bombing of Hiroshima, segregation, our economic policies, or some of our other military actions; this nation has done it’s best to respect the worth of the individual. We haven’t always gotten it right, but no other country in the world has demonstrated a greater commitment to freedom and democracy for all people.
America isn’t done making mistakes, but there isn’t a place I’d rather live. It is no small thing to be a woman who has opportunities and the right to make her own decisions in regards to her body, her family, and her future. Each time I drive past the plot of land where my mother once lived, I am moved. I am thankful for the opportunities America has given to me and to so many others. For being a woman born in America, I am as grateful as those pilgrims were on that first Thanksgiving.
May God bless and preserve all the best things about America.
Like all who drive this way, I see them each day. Some prefer not to see them, they avert their eyes as they pass. Others stare with contempt, because they are the illegals–the wetbacks. When I see them, I am reminded of all who believe America to be a land of achievable dreams. It is likely that these men will bring with them the next generation of Americans. Like millions before them, they have come here in search of a better life. They are intrepid individuals who have taken great risks, leaving the familiar for the unknown.
If we have contempt for the men of our own nation who refuse to support their families; how then can we then also have contempt for these men who risk everything to support theirs? They are fathers, sons and brothers doing whatever they can to provide money for their families at home.
We as smug Americans, seem to have forgotten our own stories. If we do not recognize the dignity of these men, it is because we have forgotten who we are. Waiting on a street corner, they have lost their identities. They are simply “illegals”, but each has a name and a story. Among their stories, you might remember your own.
When I see these men, I am reminded of my own immigrant ancestors. They came from many nations. Some came from Europe, others from Mexico. My grandfather would have been disdained as a “wetback”. He came to The United States fleeing the unrest of his country during The Mexican Revolution. I wonder what would have been said of him if he’d been standing on a corner hoping to earn a day’s wage.
His clothes were probably shabby, for he’d crossed states the size of Texas to enter this country. He, with his young bride and small child walked with all their belongings for days in hopes of finding a new life. His clothes would have given no clues to his identity. In his new town, he was just another “wetback”.
He probably wore a hat–one could hardly cross a harsh desert without a decent hat. In Mexico, he’d once owned a fine hat with his name in letters of pure silver. Seeing it, others thought perhaps he was a bandit to have a hat of such quality, but in fact it had been a gift to him from his boss at the silver mines. As a young man he had went to the mines seeking work, but because he was educated and industrious, he soon became a foreman. Even in that fine hat, he would have looked like a foreigner, it is unlikely anyone would have thought him worthy of esteem. He probably sold the hat to get money for the long trip north, because in his new home he wore no such hat.
Standing on a street corner, would have anyone have been able to know his morals or his values? In his church he was a deacon–a man devoted to religious study and prayer. In his community, he was known to be a fair and judicious man, for after leaving the mine, he was appointed a justice in his city. I suppose, if any had seen him on the street corner, they would have seen nothing more than a lawbreaker.
Coming to America did not mean an end to his struggles. He soon discovered the promised land sometimes has trouble making good on its’ promises. His quest for a better life in American yielded discrimination and poverty. He died before he was able to enjoy a better life–but he had not failed in making a better life for his family. In America his children were educated. They would grow up without fear of government oppression or civil unrest. In their lifetimes, they were able to achieve better lives than my grandfather could have ever hoped for.
For all his hardships, the generations that followed have reaped the benefits. This humbles me because I have gained all he never had. His story fills me with respect and admiration for any individual who sacrifices his wellbeing for the benefit of others. On the street corners where the men gather seeking work, others may see “wetbacks”, I see everything that is great about this country.
Deb’s Note: Our country faces a very controversial issue, because our state and federal governments have not succeeded in controlling our borders. Arizona has taken a measure to try to better deal with the problem that has caused its own citizens to be outraged by the implications. I believe in the sovereignty of this country, including our laws and borders. I also believe in the need for REAL law enforcement. I take no issue with Arizona’s policy nor the people who oppose it, but with immigration at the forefront of our political discussions, it is important we remember the dignity of some of the individuals in the mix.
My former home state has a bill on the table that has become a hot point of controversy. Intended to give authorities more power to enforce immigration laws, it gives law enforcement the right to use race as a reason to question one’s immigration status. In essence, it legitimizes racial profiling.
On the one hand it is reasonable. On the other it is unconscionable. For people of color it is terrifying.
Race is a big issue to me. I think it should be for every American. The people of our country have come from many nations, but we are one nation and we should not indulge racism in any form. Yet is seems we are never able to get away from race and racial issues.
The matter or race is so confusing, When I fill out forms which require me to check a box for race, I never know which one to choose…I am of mixed European descent, which would make me Caucasian, I am also descended from Mexicans, that would make me Hispanic. I was born and have lived in this country for my entire life, that would make me American, but there is never a box for that.
If I showed you the results from my DNA test, I could check half the boxes on the form. I might as well close my eyes and chose a box.
I only need the box for Human Race.
If I can barely determine my own race, I understand why others are afraid to let someone who doesn’t know them try to determine theirs. Over the years, I’ve been mistaken for many races of which I’m not a member, as have some of my family members. My brother was nearly run off a road, by someone who mistook him for Middle-Eastern, just after 9-11. My mother was once treated shamefully bad by someone who assumed she was Navajo, in a town where Navajos are not highly esteemed.
My favorite story in this category is when my mother tried to board one of those buses, we used to have in this country during our own DARK AGES. You know, the ones where “coloreds” had to sit in the back. The bus driver couldn’t figure out if she was colored or not, he had to ask her if she was “colored” so he could figure out where she should sit. Think about that one.
The story amuses me because it illustrates how meaningless skin color is.
Makes me wish I’d been the blackest person ever, right behind her in that line. I would have told the bus driver I wasn’t “colored” either. Then I would have proceeded to sit in the seat directly behind him, and in front of all the other not “colored” people.
Incidents like those above provide illustration why a bill that makes one’s appearance, “just-cause” for being questioned or detained, can’t avoid going wrong.
Fortunately, even having grown up in mostly-white Arizona, I’ve rarely been subjected to prejudice, but I’ve seen enough to know, the ignorance of pre-judging people based on assumptions, is always unfortunate.
I don’t want to live in any state or country that limits me for any reason. If I did, I could have left the U.S. for any of many countries, where being the wrong race, the wrong religion or the wrong gender would strip me of opportunity. If I did want that, it would be hard, there are so many to choose from. Nor do I want to live in a country with real racial hatred or genocide, but there are many of those to choose from too.
Makes me wonder about the people who see policies like this one to be emblematic of America’s racism. I wonder if they’ve ever left their cloisters to see what the real world is really like. I wonder if they realize that this country is like an overindulgent parent, in what it is willing to provide each and every person who lives here.
This is particularly true now. Our president is advocating for blanket amnesty for all the people who have come to this country illegally. To many living in this country illegally, he is a benevolent savior, though it is doubtful that their well-being is his motivation. It would be great to give a free pass to all the wonderful & hard working people who have come here for the same reasons your immigrant family may have, but doing so would also be giving citizenship to many who have come here with agendas that nobody can embrace. Living in an area where many non-citizens are connected to organized crime or drug cartels, I get this.
Do I want my my Mexican girlfriend’s family to be able to escape the crime and poverty of her barrio in Tijuana, so that she can raise her son with the same kind of safety and opportunity my son takes for granted? Absolutely! Do I want kidnappers, car-jackers, drug dealers, sex traffickers and the kind of neighbors who have automatic weapons in their cars in case something goes down? Not so much. Under the blanket of amnesty, they are one and the same–just non-citizens living and making a living here–but they are not the same at all.
I would love to share my stance on immigration, but the truth is I can’t take one. There are two sides. They are both valid. Economically, this great country doesn’t have enough teats to feed the whole world. That’s not racism, that’s simple math. Many of our state governments are economically collapsing. As ridiculous as an adolescent who had never been weaned from his mother’s breast, many of our citizens have become economically stunted by being attached to the teats too long.
They have grown dependent & unable to care for themselves. The land of milk & honey WILL run out of milk, if we cannot enforce our own immigration laws or if we allow people to live without being responsible for their choices. This bill may be all kinds of wrong, but the ability to control who lives and works here is important to the welfare of all. Uncontrolled immigration will decrease economic opportunity for those who deserve it. Giving criminals the same rights as decent folks, will increase crime and decrease safety. Preventing ourselves from being able to enforce our own laws will result in the kind of lawlessness that many have come here to escape.
It is not a simple issue. Only the simple-minded think it is.