Let's just eliminate all the bullshit, shall we?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"I'm NOT Racist!"

Even the mention of the word 'racism' brings about a
twitchy, nervous reaction in most Americans.

Doesn't even matter on which (of those infamous 'many')
sides you fall on in the equation, either.

Conservative, liberal, middle-of-the-road, or unconcerned...

Possessed of dark skin, light skin, or orange skin...

Upper class, middle class, the ever-increasing lower class...

We all share a history of not only having witnessed the way
that People of Color have been treated , but what gets said 
when those same folks are not present--the American
tradition of a schizoid approach to the matter.

We are all racist, to some extent. All white-skinned people
have had it ingrained in them--consciously, subconsciously, and 
all points in-between. We saw it. We were influenced by the words 
and actions of our parents and guardians, the police, neighbors,
family, classmates, movies, television, and every other form
of experience we went through in our formative years.

Invisibility and being side-lined are also aspects of the overall
issue, so every time we were alone in a room for a special
purpose and there were no faces that looked 'different from us,'
there was some kind of subliminal acknowledgement that "Oh,
I guess this isn't something black folks can/want to do," however
subtlety it may have etched itself on our consciousness.

Everything we do has impact on our understanding of the world,
regardless of whether we're interpreting it correctly. Exclusion
by proxy or by default is still exclusion, and our minds are used
to 'filling in the blanks' and playing detective as to how and why
things are the way they are. (This 'figuring stuff out on our own'
business is how most intentional racists get where they are; They 
did some bad work 'filling in the blanks' for themselves.)

But guess what? While all of us who are not 'People of Color'--
or at least not obviously so--are experiencing the big and small
indoctrination of race-preference in our upbringing, folks who are
black and brown are also experiencing it.

And regardless of whether or not you're actively on the receiving 
end of the lesson, you still get exposed to the gist of it. Black folks
get schooled just like the rest of us as to how they're supposed to 
feel about black folks. And that ends up being internalized as 
both self-hate (and low self-esteem, and depression, and illness,
etc.) as well as dislike of one's fellows.

When I was a teaching assistant at an elementary school in 
southwest Georgia (where I still live,) I saw all kinds of horrific
examples of teachers and staff sending very clear messages of 
racism to kids all day long. Not overt. Not actionable, usually.
Just definite preferential treatment of one race (take a guess!) 
over another, and a superlative knack for giving serious attitude 
(micro aggressions) to deliver the point home to the 'unwanted'

Children are, as anyone who's read a psychology or parenting 
book knows, highly impressionable and absorptive little creatures.
You don't have to beat them over the head with directness, like, say
a 'NO COLORED ALLOWED' sign at a bathroom door. You can
raise an eyebrow or turn your lip up in disgust and send a very
clear message as to your opinion of them. 

Children, ever-ready to adapt and please their care-givers, will 
respond. And they're too young to know when they're being 
groomed by a malicious spirit who isn't concerned for their welfare.

So, when people readily defend their honor by screeching the
phrase "I'M NOT RACIST!!!" we have to look beyond that reaction.

First off: Of course you are! You really can't help but be if you 
were raised in this still-new, angry, scared little place we call
America. It's just the way it has been for so long, there's no escaping
it. (That's not defeatism: Of course we have to struggle to engage
in 'doing better.' But we have to deal with The Reality of 'how 
things are' before we can hope to change them.)

Second: We are all guilty of having passive, subconscious actions
which can be racist without even being aware of it. Looks we give,
comments we innocently make, bad ideas we have never reexamined
since childhood that we cling to still. It's instilled in us. It's a sleeping
beast, and even if we don't mean to, we are all at some time or
another, guilty of sleeping in its cave.

Friday, July 28, 2017

REALITY TV Makeover Edition

If we must continue to suffer the existence of 'reality TV,'
can we not at least infuse the damning experience with
some substance or value?

What about a premise of implementing social reform,
or developing progressive policies that give back to our
communities, as the basis for the competition?

It's still a competition, it's still about winning that money,
it's still horrible people that America loves to obsess over.

Only now, the weekly challenges have not only a positive,
but a potentially lasting effect on the world.

One week, the wanna-be celebs have to create a viable
market plan for a halfway house that assists people being
released from prison transition back into the working world.
The next, working with battered women at a domestic
abuse shelter to determine solutions for their specific needs,
and so on.

Not only would the issues be given airtime, but the idea
of the importance of volunteerism and support for various
projects can be promoted, and actual work and monies are
being funneled into these programs by the contestants' ideas
and fund-raising efforts.

Would it really be so unheard of to better the world while
creating otherwise mindless entertainment?