Speak


As this Martin Luther King day approaches, I am compelled to contemplate (and write) about racism and bigotry in this country. With a president that feels he has the right to boast his hatred and utter his disregard for equality it is quite evident that some people still carry these sentiments most obviously.

But a book that I recently read: Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon to White America, By Michael Eric Dyson, made me look more deeply into the question of implicit racism. By definition found on the computer it means:  implicit racism includes unconscious biases, expectations, or tendencies that exist within an individual, regardless of ill-will or any self-aware prejudices.

He speaks to ‘whiteness’ in general, not in a way that is scolding, but in a way that most definitely made me look at my privileged life in this country as a white person. Of that there is NO doubt.

It is easy to notice things like what the president did and said: that this is racism/bigotry. But there are other signs that are less clear. The lines become blurred when looking at crime and how media portrays who commits them. Who do we feel as white folk are the criminals? Really, answer that question, then check the statistics. Or how do you feel when you walk down a dark street and people of color are near?

There are tests to see if you have implicit bias (or racism). The results may be surprising to you. I was scared when I took one, afraid that I might not be the person I thought I was or wanted to be. The result was fascinating actually. I guess it may depend on life experience and how much you really believe what you read and see on the news.

Dyson challenges white people in order to make this a world as Martin Luther King envisioned (and many others like him), then we must engage those who say racist things when we hear them. Sitting silent is as good as saying it ourselves. Let people know you won’t tolerate this kind of talk. Use it as a teaching moment if you hear folks spouting incorrect information about black people; let them know you know the truth.

This president is trying to worm his way out of the disgusting words he spoke recently and so will others. It is not being tolerated.

So in the words of MLK, speak up!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 

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One


Humans have so many peculiar traits. There are a myriad of cultural, ethnic and race oddities we humans have adopted that allude me. How far in the centuries do they go back and from where do they stem?

For instance: where does royalty come from? Watching The Crown last night, it struck me as, well, silly (no offense to anyone reading), that we as humans actually regard other humans as somehow superior. That their blood is somehow ‘royal’ and to be treated specially; that we should bow down and kiss their hands etc. It struck me as funny.

And then there is the black vs. white situation. We all know the horrors of that situation, not only in this country, but in South Africa too. How do humans come to a place that one race is more deserving than another? Where does this feeling begin?

In Germany, we have an idea where to trace the hatred of the Jews and subsequent extermination of them. But was it really just one man’s idea or is there an underlying theme among humans that somehow we are not all equal? I see a trend.

There are so many examples we can look to in history where one people feels different and better or somehow higher. In some cases, like with royalty, maybe these people are held in high esteem. But in most cases, it causes bad blood  among the groups.

I’m no scientist, but I do know that at our cellular level, and when you cut us all open, we all bleed them same. We all look the same on the inside. We all have a heart, two lungs, two kidneys and a brain, although some don’t use it as well as others. That’s why when you get right down to it, it’s all so foolish that we fight and kill, destroy and bomb, displace and denigrate folks we feel are others. Because really they are not.

They are really us, maybe with a different color paint, but filled with the same parts.

Beyond Our Borders 


Patriotism and the ability to have a deep sense that our lives encompass greater spheres are not mutually exclusive. They can reside within one person at the same time. 

We can appreciate many ideals that were the foundation of this nation and have drawn so many to its shores. These ideals are in the heart and soul of most of us; it’s what makes us American. 

But some of us can also can see beyond these ideals: the bigger picture if you will. The global picture, the human picture. And, to some, it seems this makes us less American. 

We could argue about it–and many do now sadly.  People can feel what they will. And many hold much anger these days.

For those of us, though, that are willing and able to be both a decent American and  to see beyond our borders–then if our only reward is that we remember to have gratitude and love, then I suppose we have won in the end. 

Saving Me


Many years ago I did something that most think was to help someone else, but it was really to help me. It was actually not a selfless move to save a part of the world, but to save a part of me.

The journey began when I decided I wanted to adopt a baby. I am adopted as some of you may recall. It was not an easy journey, as I had criteria that made constraints that other people adopting might not have through their paths. It was my goal to stay within the US and to maintain birth order (my husband at the time and I had a 3-year-old), so when approaching an adoption agency, they showed us the ‘blue book’ of the “waiting children”–it appeared as though this might be impossible. Either we would have to take on siblings of 4 or teenagers. Neither of these situations seemed fair to my daughter.

But then the social worker mentioned foster care: the backdoor to adoption. At that time, 51% of foster children got adopted by their foster parents. It seemed like a reasonable plan to me, especially since I was a stay at home Mom anyway.

I won’t go through it all, because this is not what this post is about. Suffice to say, we became foster parents, eventually to a 2-year-old girl: mentally challenged, but high functioning, emotionally rocked by her first 2 years and HIV positive.

That toddler is now my 25-year-old daughter and she just had my first grandchild today–a little boy.

It has been a rocky road all along. My 3-year-old (now almost 28) has had a rough relationship with her, which has worsened as an adult. The birth daughter that came after her, has a distant, but OK relationship. And this daughter’s life has been one challenge after another. While her health is way better than anyone would have predicted (they figured she wouldn’t live past 9 years old), she has met with prejudice, job losses, school bullies and lots of tears.

She has been with her partner for many years, a young man who is also mentally challenged, more so than she. When she announced her pregnancy, we were all pretty upset. They are poor, with no jobs, living in abject poverty. While we help, there is only so much you can help those who often do not believe they need it.There was great concern for the welfare of a baby coming into these circumstances.

But she was determined, and her determination has always been one of her greatest (and sometimes most frustrating) attributes.
So today he was born. The doctors have taken every precaution, and so has she, that this baby be born HIV free. My daughter has tried very hard to take care of herself and many around her have been helping to get her hooked up with the proper services so there will be the best possible outcome down the road.

It is so easy to be negative, but success can’t happen unless we believe it is possible. Sometimes I think that she never thought much about her HIV and just figured she would live a normal life, so she has. And I understand her desire for baby, someone who belongs to her through genes, looks like her and comes from her. I get it when no-one else in my family may understand this–because we both have that connection, that mutual disconnect from our birth heritage.

So on this day, I will celebrate her decision and her new baby, my grand-baby. Because her adoption wasn’t about fixing her, it was to rescue a part of me.

Poem: Grounded 


Thought I’d hitch a ride 

I did not feel like flying 

Stay out of the sky

I stand quietly 

Showing solidarity 

Grounded against guns 

(Note:  Prayers sent to those victims and their families, the witnesses and responders at the most recent shooting today in Florida’s airport. May there someday be an end….)

Things I Would Like Soon


Today, twice, I heard mention of lists. The first was on NPR and it was in reference to songs–that some songs are done in the style of a list. A song like our favorite Christmas carol: Five golden Rings is an example of a ‘list’ song. The second mention of lists was at church today when the minister mentioned how this time of year was made up particularly of list making. We make lists of whom to send cards to, who to give gifts to, where to buy what, what needs to be baked..well, you get the idea.

To me, when events happen like this, it’s not random. It seems very serendipitous to me that these two events occurred. Maybe they are telling me it’s time for me to make a list too! And so I shall.

Things I would like soon:

To be more like my dog, resting and being peaceful whenever I’m not eating, going to the bathroom, playing or loving those around me.

I would like go to work and keep the attitude of patience I leave the house with despite becoming frustrated with all the things that come at me during the day.

Remembering my daughters when they were young and loving and keep that in my heart when they are disappointing and forget me on important days or even on not so important days.

To continue to give and be kind to those close to me even when they may not do the same back because it is always better to give than to receive anyway.

Never forget to keep my heart open to new opportunities for love, work, people and places because it may be just around the corner that the miracle may occur.

To stay committed to the environment even when it’s easy to be lazy and consider new ways to help more than I do now.

Keep focusing on my health, my body, my soul, my intellect even when others challenge me and try to make me feel my way of thinking is odd or not main stream.

Work harder on standing up and speaking out for justice, prejudice, equality, freedom, poverty and try to actively DO MORE!

And to dive into my heart and spread laughter, kindness, friendship and always walk within my beliefs, ethics and moral standards that all people deserve to live in peace and happiness.

These things I would like soon