Tag Archives: Racism

A Different Kind of Freak Flag

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“Getting rid of a flag isn’t going to end racism.”

“A piece of cloth didn’t oppress people.”

“This is just a band-aid on a bigger wound.”

Well, no fucking shit. Thanks for the brilliant insight. Perhaps now you can explain to me how gravity works.

No, taking down the confederate flag will not end the institutional and deep seeded racism that is brewing like a smelly cauldron throughout our country. But ya know what? Leaving it up sure won’t help things, will it? Flying a flag – that for most, represents oppression, hate and slavery – condones the negativity it represents.

You want to get all historical on my ass and expound upon the flag’s origin and true meaning? You want to tell me that taking it away disrespects some kind of glorified narrative of the good ole days? Guess what? I don’t give a shit because I live in the here and now. Reflecting on the past is good for little more than learning from it’s mistakes – not celebrating those mistakes with some hooch and a cheek full of tobacco. I know the origins and it changes nothing about how I feel in regards to the flag. And quite frankly, I am surprised anyone would think that it would.

Also, if the removal of the flag is so insignificant to progress, why bother stomping feet over it? If you are THAT concerned about this being a “distraction” or a “band-aid” then I sure hope you are out there doing something that will make our society a better place. Because even though this may be a simplistic baby step in the forward direction, at least it is something. If you are poo-pooing the merit of such action – you better be creating some action of your own. Otherwise – shuttie.

I highly doubt there are tons of people who think that taking down this racist rag fixes any real problem. But if there are, please let me smack them upside their empty heads. If ANYONE thinks that this actually fixes the issue – then they truly have no idea the depths of racism that are oozing from every corner of society. This is a step. A little, baby, tiny, seemingly obvious step that should have been made many decades ago. We have a lot of catching up to do because the fact that this is even a thing – is embarrassing as fuck.

And for those of you who think waving this flag means you are a patriot…you are just a total moron. This flag AT BEST represents those who wanted to sussed from your beloved ‘Murica in order to continue to own slaves – feeding their economic growth with their field labor. Freeing slaves meant less profit. And they were all like – “Fuck that…let’s get us a new country with this here new flag.” Yea. Patriotic like a sonabitch.

In the years (50s-60s) to follow, it was adopted by many to show their opposition to equal rights and integration. And it soon became a symbol of the KKK. In recent years, I guess it was just a passive aggressive way to let others know just how proud one was to be the lighter version of American. Of course, some people just didn’t know better and wanted to pretend they were Luke Duke or some shit. But this whole thing about historical pride and patriotism – give me a damn break because that is some scripted ass bullshit.

Listen, no one is taking your flags – so, put the shotgun down, Cletus, and call off your dog. Keep your flag. It lets the rest of us know which neighbors we’d rather not talk to. The issue here is having such a gross symbol flying above government buildings. That’s it. If this brings to light the offensiveness of this flag – an offensiveness some may have not considered in the past – then great. Let them stop flying, selling, displaying the damn thing too. But this isn’t a freedom of speech issue. It is a decency issue. And you can fly any goddamn flag you want – on YOUR property.

I could be worried that *you* will think this is all about you and your comments on social media. And while you may have contributed to my recent reflections – know that everyone and their grandma is talking about this lately – so I have many different conversations and threads running through my consciousness at the moment. Ain’t all about you, darlin’. I just had something to say.

Stopping the Cycle of Ignorance – Patch

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I started writing yesterday afternoon in order to get a head start on this week’s articles. I was beginning to jot down thoughts regarding my 20-year high school reunion which took place this past weekend. Sadly, my attention was quickly diverted after hearing the tragic news out of Oak Creek. And while I stayed quiet after the recent Colorado bloodshed, it is simply not in my character to remain mute while watching a similar tragedy take place mere minutes from my home.

Some people are already offended by the term “ignorant” which is being thrown around by the media and those interviewed by them. We do not yet know the motivation of the shooter. We do know he clearly pursued a particular group of people to attack. He did not choose a McDonalds, a shopping mall or a movie theatre. There is little doubt in my mind that the race and/or religion of the worshipers were a clear factor in choosing on whom to release this wicked assault.

Ignorance is not necessarily something of which to be ashamed. While we, as Americans, and, as humans, should strive to reduce the amount of ignorance in our society – it will always be a part of our culture and a part of the human experience. We are all ignorant to something whether it is religion, abuse, mental illness, war, nationality or any number of things. What is shameful is prideful ignorance and it seems we have a growing abundance of that lately.

The Sikh community is often a target for those who misunderstand the differences between their religion and Muslim beliefs. We have also witnessed the unjust hatred for Muslims; especially since 9/11. This crime would have not been any less tragic had it taken place in a Mosque. I think (hope) most reasonable people recognize that. However, an education about world religions and cultures would be a first step toward healing what is at the heart of much of what ails us.

To be perfectly honest, most of the people I know really do not have much insight regarding the cultures of our neighbors. We simply are not taught those things in school. We live in a socio-centric society. We are taught that America is better than all other countries. We are taught that we are better, more worthy…that our beliefs are right while theirs are wrong. These teachings are the first step towards intolerance, racism and fear.

We can teach our children that our differences are interesting, rich and a beautiful part of what makes this world so fascinating. We can teach our children that contrast and diversity are not to be ignored or feared; but embraced and provide an opportunity for a growing experience. We can teach our children that it is the responsibility of each of us to end apathy, indifference and intolerance. And the absolute cornerstone of that must be knowledge, education and empathy.

WTMJ-4 has been interviewing the son of the Temple’s President, Satwant Kaleka, who was a victim of the shooting. Amardeep Kaleka has been an impressive representative of the members of the Temple and of the Sikh community. His calm, forgiving tone as he describes his desire for equality and benevolence has been a true asset to the reporting of this horrendous crime. His interviews have moved me and brought me to tears while he has been able to remain composed, articulate and seemingly display an amazing presence of peace.

Most of us with an ounce of compassion are grieving to some capacity as we watch this tragedy unfold. When things like this happen, especially so close to home, we tend to wake up from our apathetic slumber and are able to see beyond our own backyard. Sadly, this typically does not last long after the cameras find a new story to cover.

I have not been quiet about my dislike of guns. I have spoken about the need for a greater understanding of mental illness and the obvious need to treat those who have been left behind. And I have been strong in my stance that our soldiers do not get the help they need as they return from combat. All of these aspects may likely play a role in this and similar events. But, we do not know enough at this time to apply these issues to the Temple shooting.

What we do know is: a specific group of people were the target of a mass shooting committed by a man who was a member of a band with white supremacist ties. He was discharged from the Army, and he recently broke up with his girlfriend. There are several variables in place here.

But there is no question that our deep-seeded ignorance does, indeed, come into play when we are faced with these types of violence. And we should all be held accountable if we do not work to grow with an honest and true desire to make things better.

Let’s help break this cycle by teaching our children differently than we were taught. Let’s stop isolating ourselves in this cloak of superiority. America is great. But we can do better and we need to recognize we are not the end all be all of this planet.

 

http://mountpleasant.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/stopping-the-cycle-of-ignorance

Perpetuated Fears Brought to You by the NRA (Patch)

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The recent shootings of Bo Morrison of West Bend, WI and of Sanford, FL have certainly sparked all kinds of outrage and are bringing about some much needed conversation. Morrison, 20, and Martin, 17 were both African American boys who were legally shot to death according to state laws.

One factor many are focusing on is race. Were these shootings racially motivated? Were these hate crimes shrouded by right winged laws? Were the shooters innately racist? Most of us will never truly know the answers to these questions. The people who know the shooters, Adam Kind and George Zimmerman, may have a better idea of the men’s true intentions. But right now, allwe can do is speculate.

And while we cannot say it is certain that these young men lost their lives due to their skin color, there is no doubt that in our culture, white people are taught to fear black men. These stories would likely be quite different had the race of the victims and the shooters been different. Right or wrong, the media coverage would be non-existent. And what kind of outrage would there be if a black man shot a young white boy? Would the gun toters be just as defensive?

I am not going to write about the race aspect of these cases. We all know that racism exists and has been seeping from the woodwork more and more as extremists are becoming normalized in our communities.

While I cannot positively say that these shooters were racist or acted in a way that displayed their possibly subconscious fear of black men; I can say that our gun laws have gotten out of hand and are aiming in the very opposite direction of where they should be headed.

Since the passing of Concealed Carry in Wisconsin, I have never in my life seen so many people wearing their weapons as some kind of prideful crest. I never imagined people getting outrageously excited and thrilled to be carrying a piece of metal with the ability to purposefully end one’s life. Yes, a car can end lives too, but that is not its sole purpose.

The passing of the Castle Doctrine gives further protections to homeowners who shoot to kill whenever they may “feel” threatened. And how subjective is that?! There are two men. And one is dead. All authorities can do is simply accept the testimony of the shooter stating he felt in harm’s way. Are we just supposed to trust that what these people say is the truth? And where does it stop? Killing a person for breaking into a car perhaps? Is a life equal to an inanimate object? REALLY? I know several people who in their youth did plenty of really stupid things. They now are respectable, responsible fathers, mothers, and mentors. If those things happened today – they could be dead with little questions asked.

. The risks far outweigh the benefits and we need FEWER guns in the hands of people – not more!!

In the case of Trayvon Martin and this ridiculous “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida. Stand your ground, really?? Has it honestly come to that kind of chest beating pissing contest where we have such little value for life that retreating is considered such a bad thing? Whether Zimmerman was a racist or not, he followed that boy. And yeah, perhaps they did scuffle. Maybe Martin was standing HIS ground – but doing so with fists instead of a gun! How would you feel if a man almost double your size was following you holding a weapon? Give me a break!!

There are too many people in this country who are disturbed, drunk, racist, hating, fearful, abusive, angry, violent … I could go on and on. How can anyone think that adding less-restrictive gun laws to this cocktail of crazy would be beneficial to our society?

Trayvon was armed with nothing more than a bag of Skittles and an Iced Tea. Bo was hiding after being kicked out of a drinking party (I seem to remember plenty of parties ending in this fashion back in the day) and was also unarmed. If Kind and Zimmerman had not been packin’ – two people would still be alive today and all of the people in this subsequent agony would have been spared.

My husband works for the phone company. He works after dark and often has to go into backyards. He has come across some pretty strange people to say the least. What is to stop one of these people (after an evening of throwing back a few brews) from acting out his Mortal Combat avatar and deciding to take a shot at my husband? He can easily say he felt threatened or fearful because of my husband’s disguising, company-mandated hoodie which he does wear over his head in the rain, much like Trayvon.

I suggest you read THIS article and learn exactly why these laws are creeping up all over the country. Learn why fear is being intentionally spread through legislation and our media. It isn’t coincidence and it isn’t an accident. This is purposeful, this is manipulating greed and this is just one part of an absolute takeover by extremist powers that we are allowing to infiltrate every branch of our government.

Original story HERE

Does My Sense of Humor Make Me a Racist? (Patch)

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Usually when I write a commentary, I have a pretty definitive opinion or particular stance on a topic. I attempt to convey that position and offer reasons for my views. Today, however, I am merely expressing an internal conundrum as I try to reconcile a duality in my beliefs.

I am a huge fan of comedy, specifically standup comedy. Some of my favorite performers are also some of the most “offensive” or “inappropriate” artists. Lisa LampenelliDaniel ToshChelsea HandlerSarah SilvermanKathy Griffin – the list goes on. It started many years ago when I was a child and would sneak into our den and listen to my parents’ comedy albums featuring Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and George Carlin. Many of the comedians I enjoy often use humor which some might consider racist, sexist or homophobic. And these are the jokes that typically get the most laughs.

If you know me, you know that I despise racism, sexism and homophobia. I am loud about my beliefs for equality and always have been. In 11th grade, I was sent to the principal’s office for arguing (MAY have used an expletive…oops) with a history teacher when he announced to the class that being gay was wrong and a choice. I have no problem defending what I believe.

I have tickets to see Daniel Tosh in April. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be A LOT of gasp-inducing jokes about slutty, fat women or black gang members. There is also little doubt that I will leave there with side stitches. So how do I reconcile my moral side with my humor side?

I think a lot of it has to do with intention, delivery and the comedians themselves.

When a performer is telling jokes he or she is doing so not out of malice, anger or fear. They are bringing to light topics which most people feel uncomfortable speaking about. They are showing us the ridiculousness of our own ignorances and prejudices. They are playing a character and do not truly believe the things they are saying. If your drunk neighbor is ranting on with similar words in his garage after looking over his shoulder…that displays a different intent.

Many of these comedians have long ago cultivated a persona – a caricature if you will. They use this persona on stage to bring up subject matter that most of us are taught from which to stay far, far away. They may bring up the most popular generalizations or things people think but never say or topics so far out there that they shock the audience with the “No way!!” effect.

I think another aspect important to consider is the idea of ‘equal opportunity offenders.’ Meaning, the comedian doesn’t ONLY make fun of gay people or Mexicans. They make fun of EVERYONE. No one group should leave feeling singled out or left out. From dumb blondes to Irish red heads – every offendable base is usually covered when a successful comedian of this kind performs.

And the most important thing – it has to be funny. You can recognize when a joke is made out of hate. And if you are not a funny comedian, you should probably shut it. This is why some celebrities get in trouble. They are not funny, they are not comedians and they picked on one particular group of people. So Michael Richards’ rant about black people was just that – a rant. Not a comedy routine.

I guess I have always been such a fan of comedy and humor that I could never really pick a topic in which I would consider always and completely off limits. The right time, the right audience, the right performer, the right context…if everything falls into place, I don’t think there is anything that cannot be made into something funny at some point. At least I don’t exclude it from possibility.

So, while I am laughing at these jokes – many times through a hand covered mouth– I cannot help but wonder, “Should I be laughing at this?” “Am I a racist?” But right or wrong, I usually answer myself with, “Relax. It’s funny. Now, where’s my wine and Milk Duds?”

What makes you laugh? What do you think should be off limits? Who are some of your favorite comedians?

(Note: links provided aren’t favorites of mine, but it was very difficult to find examples of the humor I am describing and at the same time does not contain copious amounts of swearing)

Original story HERE

The Power of the De-Friend

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Yesterday, at the grocery store, I heard someone say, “Hey, Miss Opinion.” It was someone I hadn’t seen in a couple of decades so I didn’t realize who it was at first. It was said in fun and I laughed. I mean, it’s not like it isn’t true, right?

You’d think someone who yaks as much as I do and who IS as opinionated as I am – I would have an easier time explaining myself. But there are instances when it is difficult to verbally reconcile the dichotomies wrestling in my muddy mind. But that is what I am about to attempt today.

There are two Facebook conversations that are lingering about in my thoughts this morning. And they kind of tie into one another.

The first was a post I made yesterday regarding the Paula Deen story. I should preface this by saying I do not know every detail of this case, of the deposition nor do I know what really happened or when. I do know that she is being accused of having used racially insensitive words and comments in her past. How often or how long ago, I do not know. I do know she has admitted to some things and has been on a media rampage apologizing her chicken fried head off.

She was fired from The Food Network – the company that made her famous and very, very rich. She was also dropped by Walmart. She is taking some major financial and social hits. And her world has got to feel like it is crumbling. Having been the object of accusations, I know to some extent how this feels. And when I was in the worst of it, I seriously contemplated suicide. So, it is difficult NOT to feel some sort of empathy for her.

However, that does not mean that I am certain her actions did not warrant these consequences.

I said this on Facebook yesterday:

So all of this Paula Deen coverage has me wondering some things. I wonder if she really did just make some stupid mistakes many years ago and has since recognized her errors. I wonder if her entire career should be ruined for said mistakes. I wonder if perhaps she still deep down doesn’t think she did anything wrong.

Most of this we really can’t know for sure. But I sincerely hope I am not judged now by the really dumb-ass shit I did long ago.

Here is an older piece I wrote on the topic:

My Name is Heather and I May Be a Racist

And here is the follow-up (they kind of go hand in hand):

Racism: Alive and Well in Wisconsin

There are a lot of people who are coming to Paula’s defense and are angry about the reactions to her words. They think people need to mind their own business, give her a break and stop being so politically correct.

However, I wanted to make it clear that my uncertainty about her level of guilt or about what her “punishment” should be by no means condones what she has already admitted to saying. Whether it is using the N-word or planning a plantation-themed party including “slaves” – it is wrong wrong wrong.

I do hate the sensitivity level to which we have risen when it comes to political correctness. I have said in the past that the one thing that often stands in my way of being a true “liberal” is my love of inappropriate comedy. With the right audience, the right tone, and the right intention…I think it is possible to find humor in just about anything.

But this does not mean I think it is okay to say whatever you want at the expense of a person’s dignity or spirit. Legally, yes, you can say whatever you wish. And being a writer, an over-sharer and a lover of comedy (and not to mention being insanely opinionated) – I appreciate the 1st amendment like nobody’s business. So – sure. It is a “free country” and anyone CAN say whatever they please. But there will be reaction and there will be consequence. I have paid plenty for my words and I am sure that I will again.

Do I think Paula should have her entire world destroyed? Probably not. From what I DO know about the case…these things happened a long time ago. And none of us live lives free of stupid ass mistakes. NONE of us. But that doesn’t mean it is okay or that she is completely undeserving of public reaction. I find it to be sad and I do hope she is able to do something good with this and pull herself out of it while learning AND teaching a lesson.

The other above mentioned conversation had to do with the recent DOMA ruling. A friend on Facebook posted an update because she was disappointed with how some of her anti-gay marriage acquaintances were reacting to the ruling – saying it is a sin…yada yada. She is a lesbian but also quite religious so she appears to have considerable tolerance to this type of talk. Yet, seemingly, her feelings were hurt, which anyone could understand.

My comment to her was this:

Girl I don’t know how you could allow that toxic bullshit into your life. You’re a bigger person than me because those people would be axed from my list toot sweet. That is one of the things I cannot tolerate. 

And just MHO….I don’t believe in the concept of sin. Instead of sin is a sin is a sin…I say life is life. We’re all just human trying to make our way through 🙂

A following commenter and mutual Facebook friend mentioned that he was surprised I would delete someone for their opinion…most likely because I have so many opinions of my own. I can see why the initial confusion. But it really does make sense to me.

I DO completely support anyone’s right to their own thoughts, feelings and views. I would never say that someone should not be allowed these things. I mean, that would be ridiculous. BUT on my own Facebook wall…in my own personal world…I do not live under a Constitution. I can make up my own rights and regulations. And I do.

If I see someone on Facebook spouting racial slurs – DELETE. If I see someone bashing or even regurgitating hateful ignorance – DELETE. If something really pisses me off, I see no reason to keep that bullshit in my view. And honestly, any REAL friend I would have wouldn’t say those things anyway. So why keep them around? Fuck that.

Life is very very short, people. And when I have the chance to choose who I can let into my life, I will do so. There is a reason I don’t have 1000 Facebook friends. I discriminate in my own way. There are so few chances in life where we CAN control what and who we allow in to our worlds. There are not many instances when we can choose to keep the toxicity at bay. So when I do have an opportunity to do that – you bet your ass I will.

Do they have the right to say and think what they want? Sure as shit do. But I don’t gotta see it. The power to delete, to erase, to walk in another direction is a power that can definitely improve one’s life. And I certainly won’t apologize for using that power.

So, does that make any sense?? Words mean something. And whether if it is something Paula Deen said 30 years ago or something some dickhead says on Facebook…we are allowed our reactions just as much as they are allowed their words. And while I think Paula’s whole life being grilled to death may be a bit too much, there is still consequence for what we say and one of those consequences may be as simple as being de-friended on Facebook.

My Name is Heather and I May Be a Racist – Patch

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On Opening Night at the Wisconsin State Fair, a large group – some say hundreds – of African American boys and girls physically attacked random, white, fair-goers. This was a full on riot clearly fueled by race. It is scary, sick and intolerable. These kids need to be brought up on hate crime charges and their parents need to be held equally as responsible.

What else is scary, sick and intolerable is the verbiage that has exploded all over the internet within the past 24 hours, even here on our Patch. It is as though there has been this entire section of people who have been just waiting for something like this to happen so they could jump up and scream “See!! I told ya so!!” There seems to be a huge percentage of our population who suddenly feel a sense of relief as their racist views are now – in their mind – justified not only to others, but more importantly, to themselves.

I will admit that I am not sure if I would sweat it more if a group of black men were walking in my direction as opposed to a group of white men. I am not certain that I wouldn’t picture a black woman when someone speaks of a welfare mom on Jacato. What I do know is that I hold stereotypes and prejudices within me. It is not something that is easy to realize or admit. But I believe that is exactly what we need to start doing. Because until you recognize and validate that an issue exists, only then can you help create change.

Since the election of President Obama, I have seen a new wave of racism online. And I believe it is primarily isolated to the internet due to the simple safety of anonymity. The whole birther nonsense was a glaring example of that, yet that group denied having an ounce of racial motivation. Maybe they are not consciously aware of it.

Those voicing their opinions on the State Fair insanity are using language reminiscent of 1960s Birmingham. And I often hear the argument that black people should “get over” slavery already. But have white people gotten over it? Some times it seems we have progressed very little.

When I was in 6th and 7th grade I often walked home by myself. I was usually the only white girl in sight. I was called many “whitey” like names, as well as other insults. I was hit, kicked, had things thrown at me. It was torture to go to school sometimes knowing what was waiting for me. I would try to tell the teachers and principals, but they often seemed too afraid to take action. This was in the 80s.

At the end of 8th grade, there was an incident I will never forget. There was a group of Hispanic boys speaking Spanish. We were in a large group at a local restaurant after our 8th grade graduation dance. The boys seemed to be taunting in some way and laughing, but we could not understand them. I was a little drunk on playing adult for the night and must have thought I was pretty smart. I yelled over to the boys something I remember my father saying when I was little, “You got off the boat, now speak the language.” I think when I said it I knew it was wrong, but didn’t really understand why.

When I think back to that moment, I still cannot be at ease with myself knowing I acted so ignorantly, embarrassingly and disrespectfully. I was a bigot. And getting picked on and tormented those years walking home was no excuse for what I said that night. Part of the reason, maybe, but not an excuse. What happened to me made it no more acceptable.

We live in this society of perpetual hate. With this political climate, it is only getting thicker. And until we admit to ourselves that race is indeed playing a role in this – the hate will eventually be our downfall. The attacks at the State Fair were spurred by hate, and the talk today is spurred by that very same hate.

How many black families live in Wind Point? How many white families live on Jacato? Poverty is a significant cause for the gap. Poverty breeds crime, lack of education, drug and alcohol use, unwanted pregnancies and it is that proverbial cycle over and over and over …

We cannot claim to understand something we have never lived. Take a kid who grew up with maybe one meal a day, one parent who was never around, went to school at a young age always feeling less than. We cannot tell that kid, “Hey, get over it and move on.” Many of us consider it a hardship to have only one family car or no air conditioning. People stricken with poverty – REAL poverty – is not something many of us truly understand. And climbing out of that hole is certainly not something about which we should lecture.

So why are so many African Americans beneath the poverty level? Can it really be coincidence? No. There is a systematic pathology which exists and creates this level of being beat down from birth. And that creates anger and hate which climbs up through the generations. And while we are indeed progressing, becoming more accepting of one another, opening our minds and hearts, we are still tainted with that which has seeped into who we are. All of us. Black and white.

I do not forgive or condone terrorism. But I also recognize that perhaps if we didn’t bomb every other country, we may not be as hated. The Wisconsin State Fair was basically the site of a terrorist attack – fueled by hate and without regard for consequence. Disgusting and inexcusable. But just because there isn’t an excuse doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason. There is always a reason.

So what you have is a sub section of the African American community whose parents have given up for whatever reason. They have grown up with anger and hate and the need to be hard as nails. And we have a sub section of the Caucasian community who act as if they are tolerant and color blind. Yet at family picnics or anonymously online they show their true embedded feelings. I am not talking about extremists like the KKK or skin heads. I am talking about your neighbor, your brother … you.

Of course everything is fluid. Meaning, there are many white people who don’t have a single thought toward race; it’s never a consideration in their mind. And of course there are many black people who are not angry, did not grow up in a difficult life and who do not blame white people. These are not the people who need to fix this. It is the other 90% of the population.

It is time we start to become honest about these prejudicial flaws that many of us carry with us and use to make our choices in life. I think only then can we begin a dialogue, begin an understanding and begin to dissolve some of the ignorance-based decisions, verbiage, anger, hate, blame and fears.

This is probably my most commented piece on Patch yet. 83 comments thus far. For story and comments, see HERE

Racism: Alive and Well in Wisconsin – Patch

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I spent a large part of last weekend reading the responses to my commentary regarding the tragic events which took place at the State Fair and the subsequent racist reactions. A large group of young black boys and girls randomly attacked white fair goers on August 4. It was defined as a mob attack and, in all essence, created a riot. It was clearly racially motivated and a very inexcusable crime.

It was then, and is now, my belief that these youth need to be charged and punished for not only their attacks but also for hate crimes.

I feel that the assaults themselves left little room for debate since the acts were provable and witnessed by many. What happened was wrong, criminal and awful. That wasn’t up for argument.

What developed after the attacks, however, did leave me questioning and disappointed in those not involved with the occurrences that day. From monkey jokes on Facebook to slavery comments on various blogs, it became apparent to me that racism was not a left over residual remaining only with skin heads and red necks. Racism exists in most of us and permeates much deeper than I thought.

Most of the highly offensive comments were promptly deleted by Patch Editors. Thank goodness. But many of us were still able to see them at the time they were posted. There were those who suggested we go back to the days of slavery. There were some who claimed that African Americans had less intelligent genetics. And there were others who couldn’t wait to unholster their guns and let loose on anyone giving the mere appearance of a threat. Many of the messages displayed on that editorial made my stomach churn. And while the black community may be embarrassed and disgusted by the events at the State Fair – I am embarrassed and disgusted by the words of my white neighbors.

Woven throughout the extremist responses and level headed dialogue were questions which I believe many people may have but are too afraid to ask.

Why do these youth stomp on everything their ancestors worked so hard to achieve?

Why, in a country which claims to promote equality, do we have segregated groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus, National Association of Black Journalists or black fraternities and sororities?

If poverty is a cause for these behaviors and statistics, why is it not as prevalent in other poor communities around the world?

Where are the parents and why are they not parenting?

I am not educated in this field and, as a white woman, I do not have the experience to answer these questions. So I called Sarah Park, Manager of UW-Parkside‘s Diversity Program, hoping she could shed some light on this complicated dynamic.

“Poverty clearly plays a role. But poverty is so complex & multi- dimensional in and of itself. And then to add all the dimensions of racism on top of that is very complicated and do not end with a right or wrong answer,” Sarah shares her personal thoughts on the matter.

Of course, there are so many factors that come into play when delving into these social issues. Life for a single, African American, middle aged, healthy woman will be vastly different from a married, Asian, unhealthy and elderly man. Point being, even if I was equipped to answer the above questions, doing so in a single article would be impossible.

What I can say with all certainty is that honesty must be the absolute first step in making things better. Until we can be completely honest with one another – and feel safe doing so – we will not be able to have a true dialogue and without that, no progress will truly be made.

“Know thyself. Being aware of one’s own attitudes, beliefs, cultural values, and biases is important in understanding the complexities of systemic and institutional biases and discrimination,” Park added.

Park’s father was shot, the victim of a hate crime. She decided at a young age that she would make it her goal to be a part of the solution, overcoming a bad experience by turning the hate into something positive. She believes we – each individual citizen – can all play a role and take action for the safety of one another. After witnessing the events surrounding her father’s shooting, she knew she would do what she could to keep this from happening to other young people and families, which is how she ended up being an educator.

As a white person, I need to recognize white privilege in our society. I have always known that white people simply have it easier. But I never before gave much thought or notice to the little details of this paradigm in every day life.

Peggy McIntosh, author of Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, takes a good look at how white privilege plays a role in just about every aspect of life.

“I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious,” she writes. “White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks.”

When we buy a box of flesh colored band-aids, the packaging doesn’t state “caucasian flesh.” Studies on race tell of children who overwhelmingly and subconsciously pick the white doll over the black doll. There are deep-seeded beliefs and norms we all have stored away and never considered.

These are the kinds of things I need to think about when I wonder why statistics are the way they are, why stereotypes are the way they are and why it doesn’t seem to change. I also need to ask myself, “What am I doing to improve society?”

The message I am trying to deliver to you today with this followup isn’t a single stamped idea. It is a request for those who recognize certain behaviors and thoughts to become honest with themselves and others. It is a realization that there are simply some people in this world, state and community whose minds cannot be changed. It is a declaration of my hope that one day we can freely speak to those unlike ourselves without fear. It is a warning that until things start to change, we may be facing a new wave of hate that will soon be dangerous for everyone.

I don’t know it all. You don’t know it all. And we don’t know it all. But that shouldn’t stop us from learning from each other. Reflection, honesty, dialogue, acceptance, empathy and peace. In that order. It is up to me. It is up to you.

See article and comments HERE

The D.C. Muslim Trials…Contemporary Witch Hunt

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From PolitiFact.com:  

A Time magazine poll also released last week found even more — 24 percent — said he (President Obama) was a Muslim.  

 Really, people? What is going on??!! I really fear we are entering a hole which will create a racial cave-in. Are these people inwardly – maybe even subconsciously – racist? Or is it even more than that? Perhaps these people absolutely hate President Obama SO much that they are grasping at whatever ridiculous straw they can reach. And even above that – it is based completely and solely on lies. Proven over and over again and these brainwashed asshats STILL cannot see the truth.  

Below is a video from The Today Show (August 30, 2010) with an excerpt of a President Obama interview with Brian Williams. The president says basically that he has more important things to worry about than the baseless bullshit spewed from boneheads. Talk about turning into a “May I see your papers” state. What is honestly wrong with these people? I just don’t get it.  

Vodpod videos no longer available.
 
HERE is an op/ed written in the NY Times which I think is insighful and has many points which should truly be considered. I honestly hope America can rise above this witch hunt mentality. Rise abclose-mindedseminded racism that is even more prevalent than I once realized. But each day my doubts grow deeper.

  

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