Make sure love trumps hate

By RecycledStarDust [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Love vs. Hate By RecycledStarDust [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I feel simultaneously comatose and an ever-changing variety of emotions. I remember feeling empty on Tuesday night when I watched Trump’s numbers rise. My 10 year-old daughter said she was worried. I told her it was still early. I was slightly comforted by the polls and his declining favorability, but, I admit, my resolve was eroding. I was worried about a Trump victory.

There are any number of factors that affected the election outcome: ignorance, not voting, the FBI, Comey, fake news stories, etc. Would as much of this happened had Hillary been a man? I bet not. Many men feel threatened by a strong woman. It’s very familiar seeing how hard Hillary worked and how overly qualified she is, yet an under-qualified, inexperienced man gets the job anyway. This is a familiar story to everyone not in the majority. Still Trump perpetuated the old rhetoric about women being weaker (saying Hillary “doesn’t have the stamina” to be president).

This country does not have the stamina for a Trump presidency. Here’s why:

Donald Trump fits the mold of a demagogue. Donald Trump’s hate speech was taken as a call to action by his supporters. There are people out there like Paul Ramsey (his interview on the Takeaway and his posted, unedited version) and they’re emblazoned by this hate speech. They are acting on such rhetoric, assaulting people who have caused them no harm or ill will. They view gay marriage, Muslims, and not being white, among other things, as personal affronts to their well-being.

What a Donald Trump presidency means for all of us is yet to be found out. What his campaign and election means for us is playing out before us right now. Day 1 in Trump’s America looks like this: women wearing hijabs are being openly assaulted on campus and in the market. Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise. Racist and homophobic incidents are occurring around the country.

 

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Day 2: someone in my own town was sexually assaulted in the parking lot of a grocery store. A man walked up to her, grabbed her crotch, and ran off yelling, “Courtesy of President Trump!” Asian Americans sharing their stories of harassment since Donald Trump’s victory. A student from Saudi Arabia is killed in Wisconsin. And there’s more. This is the result of the normalization of unconscionable behavior this campaign caused.

Controversy in politics and during the campaign season is nothing new. Mitt Romney in the 2012 election cycle mentioned putting his dog on the roof of his car during family trips.


That, my friends, drew more concern from the American people than the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump. It is a shame that the American people value what happened nearly 30 years ago to a now deceased Irish Setter over the lives and experiences of women who are still today alive.

Then there’s the argument that Bill Clinton did the same things when he was in office. One issue there:

Bill Clinton is not running for President of the United States.

His wife is.

The repeated valuation of women exclusively by the actions of their husbands is oppressive.

Now let’s talk about God. I overheard a proud mom tell a story of her daughter Wednesday night while at my daughter’s activity. The mom said of her daughter: “She said, ‘Mommy, I’m glad Donald Trump won because he believes in God.'” The mom was overjoyed. It is the actions of the person that make them good. Just believing in God or claiming to believe in God does not make a person a good person.

Good people respect other people and do not boast about sexually assaulting anyone.

“When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy.”

-President-Elect Donald Trump in 2005

The above quote is from Donald Trump in 2005. This video is not edited. When the video came out in October 2016, he admitted to saying these words. He dismissed them as “locker room banter” and redirected the attention away from his actions by bringing up Bill Clinton’s transgressions. That was a diversion. These words are the words of a man who feels through power he can get away with anything. It’s the diminishing of evidence like this that has allowed our country to fall into the hands of a con-artist.

He abuses his power. He is accused of sexually assaulting women, dismissing the allegations and further diminishing them by insulting the way they look. Women have always been diminished by the way they look. To Trump, women are just livestock. At least NBC felt differently, and fired Billy Bush from his position as a co-host on the Today Show for his role in the 2005 comments. Yet the person who started the 2005 conversation is our President-Elect.

People question why these accusers didn’t come forward earlier. How would that have gone? Traditionally our society values the beliefs, views, and assertions of men over women. Women have historically been accused of provoking the sexual assault or being emotional and not remembering correctly. The rationalization of this lewd behavior – it’s what men do to make people feel small and what chance do you have at winning a lawsuit against someone so powerful?

People suggested these women wanted attention by bringing forward the lawsuits. And what do the women win even if they do win the case? They win reliving their experiences repeatedly for everyone to witness. They win strangers scrutinizing their private lives. They win sexist remarks such as, “Did you lead him on?” or my favorite, “What were you wearing at the time of the assault?” Now, the harassment continues online with death threats and doxing. With sexual assault cases, it is a zero sum game where justice is hard fought, and rarely won.

Don’t let this presidency be a zero-sum game. Raise the expectations. Hold each other accountable. Be an ally.

“The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.”

-Louis C.K.

Donald Trump may be our next president, but do not let his behavior set the tone for our country. Reject hate and show love. Do not discount the experiences of the assaulted, harassed, and victimized. Stand as an ally to those who might be put at risk. Be the good that Trump and so many others desperately need to learn.  Do not forget your privilege, as that is the consistent downfall of our country. Remember:

United we stand, divided we fall.

 

Let’s talk about blackface

It’s that time of year again: the time where people will choose costumes that are not racist and those that are. Ok, some of you reading this are thinking: “WHOA! Costumes are not racist!” You, my dear friend, need to read this.

Always like clockwork, someone shows up on the Internet or at a party wearing blackface. Sadly, it seems to happen a little more frequently in the region where I am. I get it, maybe no one has broken it down enough for you to understand and the Internet says: “No, just no, not ever!” but you are a person who will do something unless you know precisely why. This is your come to Jesus party, my friend. I am writing this to break it down into something that might make sense for you.

Some people are still confused about why and how blackface is offensive. Let me put this simply:

What is it that drew you to your Halloween costume?

Let’s take Beyonce, because, really, who wouldn’t want to channel Queen Bey for a night!?

What do you like about Beyonce? Her amazing talent? Her incredible dance moves? That she’s a strong woman? That she grew up kicking stereotypes in their teeth?

How could you dress like Beyonce? A wicked body suit with jewels? Some fishnets or shimmery stockings? A fiercely sexy yet empowered outfit? Or if you’re funny, a tiara and a bee costume.

You can dress up in any of these outfits and be an amazing Beyonce!

Are you thinking, “But, wait! No one will know who I am!” Is what makes Beyonce ‘Beyonce’ her skin color? It’s part of her identity, but not her single identity, and that part of her identity you should not imitate. It is hers. You cannot borrow it. This is the part where the Internet said, “No, just no, not ever!”

Blackface has a history in the theater. It was used to wrongfully imitate and demean a group of people, not a particular person in most instances. This meant perpetuating stereotypes while wearing burnt cork, dark paint, or shoe polish to darken the wearer’s skin, as if their racism was not evident enough. This practice only has once place: in history. Please do not continue to perpetuate these stereotypes. And, yes, my friend, stereotypes are racist.

By wearing blackface, it sends the message that all you see about people with skin different than yours is their skin color. You only see and care about the caricature you imagine of them. People are human beings, and their culture and identity are not for sale. Let me also bring up that history piece. Stereotypes are harmful. Maybe history wasn’t your thing in school, but it is important. Do some soul searching with Google and Wikipedia. They can help.

This year, and forevermore, just say no to blackface. Really, would you want to insult your pal Bey in that way? I sure hope not.

Now that you know why you say no to blackface, it’s your job to go inform others. You might see someone wearing blackface at a Halloween party or in costume around the neighborhood. Take them into the bathroom, wash their face, and give them a much needed lesson on history and racism. Some people need an education and sadly had no one in their lives challenged their beliefs. Be that amazing person for them. It’s a tough conversation, but a necessary one.

Now go have a safe, and smart, Halloween!

Stop “whiting-out” racism

Wednesday I was listening to a discussion about white privilege. When presenters would bring up situations where they hurt suomeonewit racist actions or remarks, they called the situations “mistakes.”

The conversation did not make me feel uncomfortable in the way it should have to provoke my development, but the continued use of the word “mistakes” and discussion of “whiteness” as it affects white people made me very uncomfortable. (Note: the whiteness of white people affects all people who are not white. That’s who best understands whiteness. We white people are products of our white privilege but do not get to “woe is me and my ignorant state of whiteness”). This proves we white people have to learn how to respond and properly classify situations when we allow our privilege to interfere with our civilized behavior.

When you are racist, you hurt someone. You perpetuate by example what you did, which is racism.

Let’s pause here. Note I said, “When you are racist…” This does not mean you have to have ill-intent or identify as a racist to be racist. You could be completely ignorant of the situation or how your actions are racist, but this does not give you a pass.

When you are called out on your racism, do not be defensive. Take a breath. This person is telling you how you were hurtful to them or someone else. They don’t want an apology, but a simple, “I am sorry for (racist behavior) and should be a better example” is a good start. It is a good start. You need to work with the individual(s) you hurt to repair that relationship.

If you are called out in a group setting, own up to your  behavior, ask the person if you could talk further after the session, and move on. Maybe you did not mean to be hurtful, but you need to know how to avoid being hurtful to people in the future.

These are not “mistakes” they are situations in which you hurt another human being by insulting their identity. Call them for what they are, stop calling them “mistakes,” and understand what to do when you are called out.

 

 

My friends are scared

This is wrong. My friends are scared. They fear for their safety. They worry about raising kids in this world. Their kids are terrified they won’t come home each night.

Who do they call if they need help? They have no one. Worse than that, they are the hunted.

In this crazy, upside-down world, victims are turned into the villains. Children are growing up without dads, moms, aunts, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins. Because of hate. Hundreds of years of falsely reaffirmed hate.

I have not stopped crying about the deaths of black people this week. It can’t be real. Why hasn’t this stopped already? Why can’t I wake up? But this isn’t about me. And it’s real.

It’s about my friends who are scared. Those who I do not know who are scared. My beautiful friends. The beautiful people I do not know. Who loves them? Who protects them?

Do something. Racism exists. It isn’t over. Read the comments on articles and you’ll see it. Look around and you’ll see it. Listen to your black friends and you’ll hear the scars left by racism.

We all need to make a change. Be the change and be the good.

What are you willing to give up?

We’re fickle. Something catches our attention and our attention is fleeting. The important issues we need to keep alive. For me, those are gun violence and equality.

I was listening to the newest Macklemore and Ryan Lewis album this weekend. A couple weeks ago I heard Macklemore on NPR discussing his collaboration with Jamila Woods, “White Privilege II.”

About a year ago now I watched our favorite young tribute, and fiercely smart young woman, Amandla Stenberg speak about how white people appropriate whatever they want from black culture, and usually with no appreciation for the black people and their experiences in their everyday lives.


How many white people do you see actually doing something about this inequality? Just tweeting about it doesn’t count. It’s good, but you can’t just tweet and change the world.

I really relate to the Macklemore and Jamila Woods song. I worry that being white that I wouldn’t be welcome protesting or speaking out. I don’t know all of the discrimination black people face, but I know some. And what I hear about is bullshit. No, it’s not the responsibility of the black people to educate us white people about it. But some of this stuff I hear is so unbelievable that some other person would do to another person – my mind just doesn’t go there. I just cannot image a person hating another person so much. But it happens.

Read about Structural Inequality.

I keep hearing the question, “What are we willing to give up for equality?” ‘Giving up’ is a funny phrase to use here. I don’t think of equality like this. I’d be gaining colleagues, friends, neighbors, students. I’d lose seeing suffering. I’d lose the sadness I feel for people being treated unfairly. I’d lose what I feel because I know just being born black means a whole other set of hurdles to mount. You think separate but equal went away with Brown v. Board of Education? We are still separate. We never were equal. And just because of what?

Stupidity. Ignorance. Silence.

A bystander is just as guilty as the perpetrator. If you don’t believe in inequality, don’t let inequality happen. Stand up for your friend. Stand up for your neighbor. Stand up for your fellow human.

Critical Thinking from NPR

Note:  Although these stories were on NPR on Friday, this post was a process over a few days due to one evil sinus infection. 🙂

The first news item that struck me was about a Spanish Lake documentary.  A former resident was making a documentary about Spanish Lake.  The main focus was about race and why St. Louis remains so divided. Here is a KETC piece on Spanish Lake from a few years ago.

Last month even I saw a BBC Story about St. Louis Divided.  BBC.  The BBC is writing about our small city and our racial division. We’ve made the news, folks, but not in a good way.

Spending much of my life in St. Louis, the division is evident.  The inequality is there. I have had close family friends of non-white heritage harassed for driving through upper-class neighborhoods. It’s heartbreaking and embarrassing.

How in St. Louis are we going to get beyond this stigma?  It’s not this or that race moving into the neighborhood.  There are people who do crime in all races.

Let’s focus on crime.  What motivates crime? Is this person angry, greedy, or maybe just hungry? Needs to pay the rent? We need to look further into what motivates individuals to do crime; was this crime just because or maybe because of family needs.  Crime might be more prevalent in one particular race because the majority works hard to put them there.  We work hard at our prejudice in St. Louis to be sure fewer African Americans and other minority races have fewer good paying jobs.  Fewer housing opportunities. Less educational opportunities because there are fewer tax dollars to pay to schools, parents are always working and not able to focus on homework help, students might have to eventually work too shifting focus away from school. Etc. Etc.

This is a cycle.  If we keep doing what we’re doing or do nothing, this will continue.  It might get worse, but certainly it will not get better.

Second item to catch my attention was about bullying and even a new documentary about bullying.  The one way other students can combat bullying is to not give the bully an audience and even advocate for the student being bullied.  It is difficult to be the one to speak out, but sometimes it can make a huge difference.

I am glad schools are taking bullying more seriously now than they did when I was in school.  Many times administrators and teachers would turn the other cheek to me being bullied, physically and verbally, and then I’d get in trouble for standing up to the bullies, physically and verbally, while they got away with it.

I even took up a habit of standing up for other students who were being bullied.  The bullies backed off. The students acted like I’d done something amazing.  Why shouldn’t we stand up for others?

To me, bullying was dumb.  Why not just be friends? Was that so strange of a concept?

My daughter is now in kindergarten and experiencing the first tastes of bullying.  Is she the bully? No. The victim? No. She’s the advocate.  I am so proud of my outspoken, stubborn little 6 year-old for standing up for those other girls and asking the bully why she says mean things.  I was so happy the day she came home from school frustrated because a girl who said “not nice things” to other girls wanted to be Kari’s friend, and Kari just wasn’t comfortable with that on account of her actions.  No, not happy because she didn’t know how to navigate the social waters even we struggle with in adulthood, but because she at 6 years-old knew what was right, recognized the wrong, and wanted to stand up for the other person.  This is what will change bullying.  Teaching advocacy and that it’s ok to say you’re not ok with the behaviors of others.