Prejudice Poison Clinging to Our Collective Soul

Recently I have been getting to the point that I don’t like opinion pieces. All too often, opinion pieces are used as an alternate to real news. They make claims that aren’t backed up by fact, are completely tainted by ideology, and serve only to try to persuade people to substitute propaganda for reality.

I am making an exception to my hatred of opinion for this piece from the New York Times. This piece, while labeled as opinion, is based on an interview and the events that followed. It serves to shine a spotlight on some of the most basic problems with race relations in the United States. As such, You should read it in an attempt to understand the problems that the United States faces as well as some fundamental strategies that we can all use to move forward.

“I speak for a lot of unspoken people,” he told me. “Maybe millions of white people who are afraid to admit” their racial fears and prejudices. “They’re not bad people. They just don’t know how to behave and how to interact” with people of different races.

It is difficult to admit that we are prejudice, that we are either afraid or unknowledgeable of how to interact with people who differ from us by their skin color. Oh, sure; it isn’t too difficult if ‘they’ go through all the trouble to act like ‘us’, but when ‘they’ don’t change to emulate our expectations, we often have no tools to bridge the gap between us.

I have admitted that I am prejudice a long time ago. Being prejudice isn’t something to be ashamed of in-and-of itself. What we choose to do about it determines whether we should be ashamed of ourselves of not.

Many of us can’t help being prejudice. We were born into a system that was prejudice. We were taught the system before we had the tools to evaluate it. It wasn’t just that we considered the system ‘normal,’ it was the only system that we knew existed. We were surrounded by the system. It was presented to us on television, on the playground at school, around our holiday tables, and reflected in our friendships. No, we didn’t do this to ourselves, it was done to us.

After our childhood was spent processing prejudice as ‘normal,’ we carried it with us like an irrational fear of the dark that we just can’t quite shake no matter how rational we try to be about it.

With Mr. Trump headed to the White House, my now-friendship with the “racist caller” on C-Span seems like a glimpse of a path not taken. Garry makes me believe that even though a man endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan won the majority of white support, people can change. He told me he now notices his own stereotypes and is eager to replace them with something more generous and true about his fellow Americans.

We need conversations like mine and Garry’s to happen across the country, outside of politics. Societies that have been through traumas have embarked on racial reconciliation processes; South Africa’s is the most famous, but there are dozens more. There’s no reason we can’t do that here.

Not only is there no reason why we can’t do that here, it is incumbent on each and every one of us to do the work necessary to see that the system that instilled racism in us isn’t perpetuated. We owe it to people of color that still struggle to be seen as humans instead of stereotypes. We owe it to the white people who have been coerced and polluted by a damaging ideology, and we owe it to our children to save them through the unnecessary torments that we all must suffer through regardless of our race. After all, we are all victims of the same corrupt system. Some of us have suffered more under that corrupt system, but we are all suffering.

This man terrifies me

The man in this video terrifies me. He is relatively young, strong, and wears his prejudice on his sleeve for the entire world to see. I fear that he is the kind of man that is always on the edge of violence. In this video, he is targeting protesters while saving special disdain for the black person operating the camera.



But it isn’t just the fact that he is letting his racism show, it is also the fact that he is also acting like so many people that I know here in Oklahoma. It leaves me asking myself how we are ever going to get past the prejudice that permeates society.

For one, my answer starts by standing with all the people that have been, and continue to be, victims of prejudice. I will grant that I fail to live up to my ideals, but the best that I can do is to continue to try.

I want a better world than the one that we have now, and returning to the prejudice of the past isn’t the way to achieve it.

Colors of people – version 1.1

There was a lot that I liked about naming colors for different skin tones. I have learned a lot about skin color as well as learning some new things about myself. While it is true that I don’t want to spend an excessive amount of time trying to come up with skin colors, I also can’t leave them completely alone.

I have been disabused of the idea that this will be the final list. It seems like there will always be some other color or shade that sounds like a better description. With that in mind, here is my current list of skin colors:

Type

Also called

Sunburning

Tanning behavior

Color

I Light, pale white Often Occasionally Frosted ivory
II White, fair Usually Sometimes Moonlit tusk
III Medium, white to light brown Rarely Usually Satin rawhide
IV Olive, moderate brown Rarely Often Umber bronze
V Brown, dark brown Very rarely Sometimes darkens Velvet onyx
VI Very dark brown to black Extremely rarely Naturally black-brown skin Polished jet

One of the things that I learned is that I gave considerable more time to coming up with just the right name for my skin type. Like it or not, I see that skin type every day when I look in the mirror. I could tell that the descriptions weren’t all that accurate. What I didn’t worry about was whether the other colors assigned to skin types reflected the color of their skin accurately. Part of the problem can be seen in the chart itself.

Arguably, type 1, 2, and 3 would be grouped into a “white” category while type 4, 5, and 6 would be grouped into people of color. There would also be some debate whether the darker type 3 people should be considered people of color or whether the lighter type 4 people should be considered “white”. The reality is that there is no clear distinction and accurate color for individual groups of people. We are all just a point on a continuous smear or color ranging from an almost complete lack of melanin to skin so saturated with melanin that color descriptions are almost meaningless.

Race is a concept created by humans, but it doesn’t map very well to the reality of the natural world. Still, if trying to get the color of my own skin right was so important to me, I can only imagine that it must be as important to the groups that rarely – if ever – get to see themselves represented in stories. I can only hope that this list will allow people who read my story to see themselves represented. But more than seeing themselves represented by any particular color, I hope that my readers won’t find any part of the story that excludes them.

The Dehumanization of Black Children

We know these things are true. Anyone that looks into race relations knows that people of color are treated as inferior. Their lives are considered as less valuable than the lives of white people. How can we know this and do nothing about it?

The general criminalization of Black children [extend] … into the minds of many Americans. In our nation’s classrooms, where children spend most of their time, teachers subjectively interpret misbehavior based on racial stereotypes and are more likely to “label Black students as troublemakers.” Based on these stereotypes, Black students are more likely to be disciplined harshly by teachers and administrators. These stereotypes endanger Black children in many settings, be it the classroom where they encounter harsh discipline, the judicial system where they are cruelly and unusually sentenced, as they play with toy guns in public parks, or as they attend suburban pool parties where they are aggressively mistreated by officers of the law and civilians alike.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7581404

LGBT and black: a lethal combination

While overall crime against LGBT people is down, violence against black LGBT and trans people is still rising.

Of the 20 LGBT people killed nationwide in anti-LGBT bias attacks last year, 16 were people of color and 11 were transgender women of color.

And unfortunately, this represents only a fraction of the crimes since many go unreported or incorrectly classified.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/report-anti-lgbt-violence-overall-down-but-homicides-up-in-2#.woVR1VEW8