Posts Tagged ‘racism’
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 »
Growing up hearing “gentlemen preferred blondes,” it was easy to believe white girls with blonde hair were more attractive than girls like me, but I came to realize, blondes hadn’t cornered the market on attractiveness, or anything else.Which is why I was fuming recently, when I read an article in a local arts tabloid, in which the author, wrote about her daughter’s African-American hair, because as she wrote, “nobody likes black girls.”
This mother was tying hair to her perception of racial bias against black women. Through my eyes, it seemed the story of a woman passing her hang-ups about race, hair, and attractiveness to her daughter, then blaming others.
We all face prejudices and we all have them. Some exist because of what we have experienced, others are the result of views we haven’t tested. We may not be able to control how others view us, but we can’t blame others if the prejudices that hold us back are our own.
We all have things we’d like to change. Things like skin color, can’t be changed, but at least with hair we have some options. I won’t pretend to understand the hair troubles of black women, but I know how much hair can impact the way we look or feel. Even so, hair can only enhance our attractiveness in a superficial way.
On the heels of that story, came a slew of petty remarks about the hair of Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas–including a tweet from Gabby’s Olympic role model, n Dominique Dawes. In the blogosphere and on social media, her hair had become a topic of discussion. convincing me, there IS a bias surrounding Black women’s hair–at least among other African-American women.
My reaction, was the same as Gabby’s, when she said, “Are you kidding me?“
This charming young woman just awed the world with her gold medal performance, and people picking on her hair???
I shouldn’t be surprised. Though The Olympics were established to promote excellence, friendship and respect, it is a time, when we all enjoy critiquing people, doing things we can’t. It is a time when we are comfortable talking about the athletes of other nations, in a way we would never talk to people from those nations.
(Excuse me while I calculate what I could buy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a snarky remark about the sturdy women athletes of Eastern Europe.)
It’s probably more nationalism, than racism, but here at home, we were reminded of our own ideas of race, as the media focused on Gabby being the first African-American to bring home the All-Around Gold in her sport. She won a place in national and international history, but the focus at home was on her place in African-American history. This puzzles me. It isn’t as if we haven’t seen history-making athletic excellence from African-Americans before. It seemed like a bigger deal to the media than it did to her. When she was asked how it felt, she responded, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”
Is there something about her being African-American that made her win more remarkable or less likely? Is it more amazing for Gabby Douglas to raise the standard of athletic excellence, than it is when Michael Phelps does?
YES and NO.
Yes, we should be surprised. Gabby was never expected to outperform her teammates. Coach Bela Karolyi called her a “good average gymnast”. (Obviously that phrase means something different to him, than to the rest of us.) But more than that, she had the kinds of disadvantages, that make it difficult to dream as big as she did. She was an African-American female, being raised by a single mother of four, struggling to make ends meet, while living on disability. Her father was not a doctor or lawyer, in fact, he was away on military deployment. She wasn’t a child of privilege, but she believed she could rise above her circumstances.
When she moved to Iowa, to train, she was plunged into a predominantly white community, where folks preferred Country music, and didn’t understand the rap music she’d enjoyed. She had left her family and everything comfortingly familiar, because she was ready to make the sacrifices necessary to become a champion. If others harbored prejudice toward her for being black, her friendly smile, buoyant spirit, and relentless determination would soon win them over. Because of this, she came out of nowhere to surprise everyone without Affirmative Action.
So should we be surprised? Absolutely not. She is an amazing young American with the kind of drive and attitude it takes to be great. She is a girl who dared to dream, then busted her butt to see if she had the stuff to make her dream come true. My guess is that she cares about her hair as much as any other girl her age, but the vision in her head, was important than what was on it.
Undoubtedly, she will inspire other African-American girls, in the same way Dominique Dawes once inspired her. She will also inspire other athletes and other Olympic hopefuls at home and abroad, but equally important is what her success can teach the rest of us. She has shown what can happen when we rise above the prejudices of others, or our own self-doubts. More importantly Gabby Douglas reminds us we are more than our skin or hair. How attractive we are or what we can become isn’t about how we look or how others see us, it’s about what we have inside.
Deb’s Note: My goal in writing it was to emphasize that we cannot be beautiful without self-acceptance. In this age of race-baiting, many are sensitive to any discussion of race. If anything in this article is misconstrued as being racist, this was not my intent. Racism is abhorrent, and its practice hurts us all.
Shoshona Hebshi is a–a 35-year old suburban housewife and an American. In this case “American” means half-Saudi, half Jewish. When she chose to fly on 9/11, she probably realized it was a day on which many were apprehensive, but she never expected what she experienced.
Seated between two men who appeared to be of Indian descent, the three strangers, became the object(s) of suspicion, after the gentlemen both used the lavatory. It is reported that the men both visited the bathroom (sequentially) and spent too much time there.
As the grounded plane was rolled to the far edge of the tarmac, fighter jets were scrambled. Shoshana wondered what was going on, as she watched a swat team, equipped with dogs and machine guns outside the plane window. Only when the armed men stormed the plane to handcuff and remove Shoshana and the two gentlemen, did she realize, she and those seated with her had been racially profiled.
Recently, I was out, when I got a call from my son. He wanted permission to ride bikes to a nearby store with his friend. At 12, he‘s very responsible, so I stifled my misgivings and gave consent, reminding him to be careful of traffic and cross with the lights.
I was convinced he was mature enough, but still I worried about possible mishaps. If he were to be struck by a car, I’d never forgive myself. My mind considered all the possible things that could happen, except the one which actually occurred, the thing that seemed least plausible.
The boys weren’t hit by a car. They weren’t approached by drug dealers or abducted by strangers, but as my son’s friend fumbled with the lock on his high-end bicycle, he was approached by a policeman. The policeman remarked on what a nice bike it was, then proceeded to ask where he got it, and who it belonged to. Meanwhile, the cop paid no attention to my son or his bicycle. This might be a good time to tell you my son‘s friend is sort of black and happens to own a very good bicycle. It might also be a appropriate to tell you, the nice bike my son was riding also belonged to his friend. In other words, the African-American was profiled.
Before you start thinking there was probably a good reason, let me describe this kid. He’s a nice boy, quiet, unassuming and always well-dressed–not in an attention-getting gangster way, but in the all-American kid-from-the-suburbs way. His Navy veteran parents have raised him to always say, “excuse me“ “please” and “thank you”. He’s a good student who would never address an adult without using the proper title of Miss, Mr. or Mrs.
Later, I retell the story to an associate and am appalled to hear them suggest it’s completely reasonable for a cop to stop a black kid on a good bike–after all, everyone knows how many crimes are committed by blacks.
Excuse me, but the only thing the boy was guilty of was revealing the prejudice of this particular police officer.
Shoshana Hebshi and I are both astounded by what appears to be little more than racial profiling. Profiling is illegal, but what is often overlooked is the responsibility of any officer charged with protecting others, to do his best to detect, anticipate and evaluate potential threats or suspects. So, while Californians are looking smugly down their noses at Arizona for the use of profiling to try to stem problems with illegal immigrants, TSA is lamely patting down grannies, afraid to be charged with racial profiling. It’s a no-win situation.
According to a paper written by Russ Leach, a Riverside County police manager, a common-sense definition of racial profiling is: “the use of race as the “sole” basis for a stop…the practice of detaining a suspect based on a broad set of criteria that casts suspicion on an entire class of people without any individualized suspicion of the particular person being stopped. “
By that definition, profiling is an abhorrent practice, but profiling has long played an integral part in good police work. Long before 9/11 and the debates over “profiling“, law enforcement officers have been trained and expected to develop and use their instincts. The best cops turn what they’ve learned from experience, into a database of reference material upon which they base their hunches. It’s a kind of “if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck” expertise, but problems arise when what appears to be a duck, turns out to be a goose or swan. What was once following one’s instincts, is now labeled “profiling”.
Like Shoshana, I am not happy about he the racial aspect of the incident, but race isn‘t the only thing at play in either event. The passengers on her flight reported that both men visited the plane’s bathroom, one for more than ten minutes. On the anniversary of the single worst terrorist act in American history, this made passengers nervous. With TSA’s ad campaign, admonishing air travelers with the slogan, “If you see something, say something” those passengers believed they were doing their civic duty by reporting what seemed suspicious to them.
So somebody has to make the call…whether to risk the safety of a plane full of passengers or to risk targeting someone who hasn’t done anything.
In the bicycle incident, there are any number of circumstances that would have legitimized the cop’s actions…a report of two high-end bicycles reported stolen; a description of a dark-skinned 14-year old, suspected of stealing bicycle; provocative behavior by one or both of the boys, or maybe just seeing a kid who seems to be struggling to get a bike off a rack.
I’m not happy about what seems to have been mostly a “race” thing, but I believe citizens, as well as every single individual entrusted with enforcing laws, must use common sense to figure out who the good guys are.
Read Shoshana Hebshi’s story on her blog:
No matter how flawed humanity is, I remain a huge fan. I see our quirky individualism as part of The Divine tapestry. Because of this, I respect the opinions & morality of people whose views may oppose my own, and though I have standards by which I try to live, I don’t like to impose my standard on others with different values or beliefs. This declaration is necessary, because today’s topic requires me to tread lightly. In the news is the issue of whether or not the government should cut funding to Planned Parenthood.
It must be acknowledged that talking about Planned Parenthood, is talking about sexual & reproductive issues. If you are faithful reader of de blog, you may have guessed I’m not uptight about sex, nevertheless, because anything related to sex is colored by our morality, it can be a highly sensitive issue to others.
NEWS FLASH: People have sex!
They have since the beginning of time, they will continue until the end of time. Planned Parenthood serves some of those people, but unfortunately, within their client base are a large number of people who would be better off not having sex. That‘s not a moral judgment, it’s an observation.
A long time ago, in a lesser zip code of Oakland, CA, I worked at a home for unwed mothers. I’ve seen girls as young as 11 struggling with the decision of whether or not to become mothers. I’ve seen pregnancies that were tragic from their conception. I’ve seen the stereotypical unwed black teen, but I’ve also seen girls from respected families hiding until their pregnancy was brought to term. I’ve seen girls pregnant by family members. My earliest roots were Catholic, but after seeing hard reality, I became convinced of the need for alternatives to pregnancy.
Before Planned Parenthood, teens had unprotected sex in the back of the barn, the backseat of a vehicle, or any other place they could find. Back in the day, an unwed mother was sent away until the baby was born. The baby was put up for adoption or sometimes raised by its grandparents.
Teens still have sex behind barns and in backseats. Even with readily available birth control, girls still get pregnant. We no longer send those girls away, and many of their babies are mostly raised by grandparents. That’s not the worst thing, as anyone who has been a parent, is better suited to raising a child, than someone who still is one. Though Planned Parenthood has made birth control and abortions readily available, they haven’t succeeded in significantly changing the outcome of the situation.
What has changed is society’s attitude toward unwed mothers. Americans may not be crazy about the regularity of young girls getting pregnant, before they are ready to be parents. We don’t rejoice for teens who inadvertently trade the carefree years of their youth, for the unrelenting responsibility of parenthood, but it would seem that even those who aren’t ready to become grandparents are reluctant to have their grandchildren aborted. Whether pro-choice or pro-life, most of us are pro-family when the issue comes home.
In the rhetoric of why we mustn’t cut funding to Planned Parenthood, is the projection it will result in something like a half million more abortions a year. These projections are estimates, substantiated only by speculation, but one must wonder why the nation’s largest promoter and provider of abortions is opposed to seeing more of them. After all, weren’t a woman’s right to choose and population control the foundation of Planned Parenthood’s doctrine? Perhaps it has more to do with market share, than the welfare of women. Abortion is a very lucrative business, Planned Parenthood, a federally subsidized “non-profit” agency made more than $100 million in profits last year.
Another argument, against cutting funding is Planned Parenthood provides many services besides birth control and abortion, services for males, such as screening for testicular cancer and testing for STD‘s. I’d like to see the statistics, because I’ve been to Planned Parenthood, the waiting rooms are mostly full of young women. When guys are there, they are usually holding the hand of a girl who looks frightened. Their waiting rooms are not full of guys lining up for testicular cancer screen tests. Guys do go there for STD testing, usually only after a girlfriend has told them it might be prudent.
Perhaps the biggest loss if Planned Parenthood’s funding is decreased would be the easy accessibility to birth control. If this is our priority, it would be more economically efficient to subsidize contraceptives, than agencies which supply them. Those who oppose funding cuts say this would increase the number of unwanted pregnancies among members of the lower socio-economic classes and within minority populations, because traditionally Planned Parenthood has served these populations. That might seem noble, but to those familiar with Planned Parenthood’s roots, it reeks of racism.
Early leader of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger believed that babies born to minorities should be slowly eliminated to decrease the blight of racial impurity on America. Are the children of poor minority mothers less valid than those born to others? She believed in population control and a form of eugenics–which favored the distillation and purification of race. She believed Hitler had it right. She was involved with the shameful chapter in American history, known as The Negro Project. Sanger and her cohorts, thought they knew best which births most needed control.
Though Planned Parenthood has tried to distance itself from it’s hideous racist roots, the agency still targets minorities and the impoverished. Defenders of the agency, say that cutting funding will hurt women. Which women? There is nothing noble or benevolent about an agency which makes the greatest share of its income from those who can least afford it.
No matter our views on sex, birth control or abortion, we have the freedom to choose. We each choose what we believe is right for us. Even without being subsidized, there will always be clinics that provide birth control, testing for STD’s, reproductive health services and abortions. We know about Planned Parenthood because it’s the largest abortion provider in the United States, but there are many others. Cutting funding to this agency will not eliminate it.
As I see it, this planet has nothing worthwhile without the people of all kinds who populate it. Babies were meant to be born–even those that don’t come with a silver spoon in their mouths. Race and economics aside, every child deserves a future, because greatness is not born of race, wealth or status. We will never know what genius, creativity or social contributions we missed because of those who went unborn. Perhaps, the economic genius, who would have had the brilliance to solve some of our current economic issues, went unborn. If Americans continue to attempt funding everything because of high ideals, while disregarding the reality of economics, none of our children will face a bright future. It is time to cut funding not just to Planned Parenthood, but to every program that no longer makes sense.
The inability to see colors, known as color-blindness is a disability, but the politically correct want me to have it. The enlightened people have lead me to believe seeing color is bad. They want me to be color-blind.
I was raised without prejudice toward any race. The relatives I was nearest to were Mexican. They looked like me. The people in my community were mostly white. They looked like my father. My parents were married in the age when it wasn’t common to marry someone who didn’t look more or less like you. My parents were an exception to an unspoken rule.
Our friends didn’t look like each other. Some of them were Mexican. Some were white, some were Asian and some were black. Our Mexican friends & relatives weren’t “Hispanics”, they were just Mexicans. We didn’t call our Asian friends Asians. We were allowed to refer to their nationality, because back then it was okay to call someone whose family had actually come from China, “Chinese“. We didn’t have a term for whites. We didn’t have a term for blacks–mostly we just called everyone by their names.
The community we grew up in was more-or-less integrated. Most of my relatives lived in a Mexican neighborhood. They weren’t confined there, they chose to live there. They lived near to people they were related to and people with whom they had things in common. My grandmother’s children built their houses near their mother. Their children tended to do the same. It was a pocket of people who felt comfortable living among each other–a neighborhood of people who shared common language, culture, religion and values. If “then” had been “now“, maybe someone would have tried to make the world a better place by busing my cousins to a school in a whiter neighborhood. Thank God we were too primitive for that back then.
Anyone who has lived or worked in a group setting knows, you can put people together, but there is no guarantee they’ll get along. In fact, the more people you try to homogenize, the more quickly social stratification will occur. Remember high school? Jocks with cheerleaders, academic nerds with others who kept good chemistry notes–it is as much our similarities bringing us together, as it is our differences keeping us apart.
As people we all have stuff in common with other people. As individuals we have differences. We won’t get along with everybody. It isn’t a matter of race. It’s human nature. It’s easy to get along with people who are like us. It takes longer to figure out how to get along with people who aren’t. But even given a long time to get to know each other, there would still be people we didn’t like. They’d probably be white, or black, or Hispanic, or Asian, or something else. Sometimes it’s about them, sometimes it’s about us.
It is unlikely that there will come a day when we all get along. Sorry to disappoint those who work toward world peace, but it’s never going to happen. The realization of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, is a desirable and reasonable possibility. The realization of Rodney King’s dream is not.
“Can’t we all just get along?”
Maybe, but probably not.
I’m guessing 8O% would be a reasonable goal.
That’s not bad–considering there are a lot of bad people most of us wouldn’t want as friends.
Despite the illogical idealism of the politically correct policies and terms I’ve been trained to use, it’s not working. I’m not color-blind anymore than I’m nonsense-blind. Maybe if I applied myself more to what the enlightened future-thinking anti-racists wanted me to learn, I wouldn’t realize that my friends weren’t all white. Maybe I’m just not getting it, but I know my brown friends are brown and my black friends are black. I see their skin color. I know I’m not supposed to, but I do. That’s not all I see.
It’s a racial stereotype that Mexicans like Chihuahuas, but a disproportionately high number of them really do. I’ve noticed that a disproportionately high number of Hollywood ingenues like chihuahuas too. So while it is okay to laugh at Paris Hilton for having one, if I laugh at my buddy Sanchez for having one, I’m a racist.
Mexicans are sometimes called “beaners”. Eating beans is one of those things that is supposed to make those of us “beaners” feel bad about ourselves, but I notice Mexican restaurants put beans on every plate and white people eat them too.
Black-eyed peas are beans, but most Mexicans don’t eat many of those. So if I ask my friend Sanchez, who cooks almost everything, if he has a good recipe for the black-eyed pea dish called Hoppin’ John, I‘m probably wasting my time, but if I ask a black friend who actually has one, I’m a racist.
We aren’t all alike. Thank the one who created us for that. We are the multi-colored embellishment of the tapestry of a great country. The colors, flavors and traditions of our respective cultures make this land like no other.
People’s faces provide clues of where they have come from. I like knowing that behind every face is someone who isn’t exactly like me. Frankly, I’ve seen my own face nearly every day of my life. At times, I’ve wished for different lips, eyes or hair. If I get bored with my own face, I can hardly imagine the dullness of living in a world where everyone looked like me.
More than what’s visible outside, I like the differences inside too. I learn from other people. You can’t learn much from people who only know what you know or think as you do. I don’t think I’d ever have an original thought if I surrounded myself with people just like me, because other peoples ideas inspire and challenge me. I’m glad the world isn’t filled with people exactly like me.
If seeing race & color makes me a racist, I’m proud to be one. I love that there are many and I’m not going to pretend I haven’t noticed.
Deb’s Note: This is my third post related to race–in the short life of de blog, that’s quite a few. Lest my readers think that I’m obsessed with race, A DISCLAIMER: Arizona’s recent controversial immigration bill has me thinking about race again–especially in how it has played a part in building this great country. This piece was previously published, but I chose to run it again as a preliminary to one that will appear on Cinco de Mayo. I’m on this topic right now, but I won’t be forever.