Friday, September 15, 2017

How 9/11 Effected US War, Laws & Culture

On September 11, the US remembers its fallen citizens, murdered in the worst terrorist attack since the Oklahoma City bombing. In unison, they #neverforget the 3,000 people who were murdered that day. But, people have forgotten so much — or have never known — 16 years later, how 9/11 has effected US war, culture, and law.

US citizens did what its founder, Ben Franklin, warned never to do — exchange freedom for security.


9/11 was followed by an intense national campaign to expand Presidential military powers, in order to protect the US from terrorism. The Iraq war, which started with an alarming pre-emptive carpet bombing, under false pretenses, was one of the immediate consequences.

Pre-emptive war is considered illegal under international law, but became a US strategy after 9/11, threatening other countries since, like Iran and North Korea.

The US was infamously willing to ‘go it alone’ in Iraq, against the international community. Today, echoes of US isolationism remain, with frequent challenges to the UN and NATO as legitimate factors in US policies.

After 9/11, the US used torture, and unmanned drones, under seemingly endless executive military power. These tactics plague the US’s image, and erode US moral authority around the globe.

Collectively, changes in ways in which the US runs its war efforts after 9/11/2001 have greatly expanded executive powers to unilaterally, and aggressively, carry out its military agenda, under a constant impending threat of terrorism.

Civilian deaths in the US’s Wars on Terror have ballooned to over 1 million, according to a report authored in partnership with Physicians for Social Responsibility, and show no signs of stopping.


Several post 9/11 laws have enabled the executive branch to, not only target foreigners with overarching new powers, but also the American people.

Since 2001, law authorized under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), specifically the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), has given the executive branch its expanded military powers to target anyone, or anything, it can connect to ‘terrorism.’

Subtitle D of the NDAA allows for indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of connections with terrorism, without due process.

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (US Patriot Act), passed with remarkable speed after 9/11. It gave the executive branch confidence to use broad powers to interpret who or what it might label a ‘terrorist,’ foreign or domestic.

The Patriot Act is aided by the FISA Amendment Act of 2008, which gave immunity to companies that comply with government requests for the people’s information.

The USA Freedom Act, passed in 2015, reigned in some of the abuses, but there is still a long way to go to restore legal integrity of US citizen’s constitutional rights, according to civil liberty groups like the EFF and ACLU.

Laws enacted as emergency responses to 9/11 have significantly eroded 1st and 4th amendment rights to free speech, freedom of association, privacy, and due process.


None of these changes could have taken place without a significant change in culture. Fear was not just a natural phenomenon, as a response to the unimaginable sight of the Twin Towers cascading in free fall in the middle of New York City. It was sustained by the Bush Administration, which vilified dissent, reminded US citizens of their insecurity daily, and instituted a super-patriotism that pulses through America still.

“If you’re not with us, you’re against us” became America’s new slogan. It did not only apply to foreigners, it applied to anyone who criticized the Bush administration, and specifically, the War on Terror. Those who criticized the Bush administration were increasing called ‘un-American’ and ‘with the terrorists,’ climaxing in Michelle Bachman’s calls, in 2008, for an inquiry into ‘liberal’ congress members who might hold ‘un-American’ views.

If you were politically aware around 2001, you might remember American flags everywhere, from the new FOX News logo, to its ubiquitous use in advertising. It was the visual precursor to the chants of “USA! USA!” we hear in populist crowds all over the country.

Muslims have taken the brunt of abuses from overarching government authority and shifting cultural views of what it means to be American, and who the ‘enemy’ is. Widespread acceptance of Islamaphobia made it easy to target others — liberals, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants, and yes, this game has circled back to target conservatives.
It’s no wonder Americans of all sorts feel threatened, and a need for protection against some ‘enemy.’ But, who is the ‘enemy’? Islamic terrorists who hate freedom, or fellow citizens willing to sacrifice freedom for protection?

Whose freedoms are being sacrificed? Protection against what? The answers are not clear.

A Nation of Fear

Immediately after 9/11, 60% of Americans in a Pew Research poll were OK with trading civil liberties for security, under the threat of terrorism. That number bounces up and down dependent largely on how fearful the public is:
Public's shifting concerns on security and civil liberties

America has been a culture of fear since 9/11. In such a whirlwind -- trying to protect itself against an always imminent, un-American terror -- that delineating ‘who is us and who is them,’ and ‘what is American,‘ has proved illusive.

If you ponder how we got here, take a closer look at how 9/11 has changed US war, laws, and culture. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Checking 17 Themes From Black America Rising

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Racism, Part 5: ...more solutions

Racism is everywhere, it is historical, structural, implicit, explicit, assumed and projected.

White people and black people have their roles to play to solve our black/white problem. I am focusing on black vs. white because I think the relationship is unique and a great starting place to  shift our consciousness about racism in general.

The white/black relationship is historical and ugly. I see the relationship as abusive and co-dependent, resulting in identity crisis for individuals as well as our nation as a whole.

Now is the time to free ourselves from this snare of our history, change our actions and move forward toward an even more perfect union.




We need to stand on the cliff of remembering and reflection and muster up the courage to jump. I promise, we will land and be able to see more clearly for it. 


Recognize the brutal ways that black Americans have been treated; from slavery to lynchings, hostile antagonizations, openly derogatory remarks, hazing of our friends and family members to join in the hate and hate crimes of prejudice, institutional lockout and erasure of black American history from our school books and national life.

...through: education- making a national effort through school and media to explore the true contributions and trials of black Americans to the USA, and insuring that ALL schools receive equal funding for their children; also reparations, just as other members of our citizenry have been granted. My idea for reparations is land grants, funding for community building and community organization training, capital programs for business start-ups for those with solid business plans, and education grants.Reparations would go to those who can prove that their heritage is a certain percentage of slave descent.

National Celebrations of Diversity 


Our nation is build on the ideals of equality, justice and liberty for ALL humans. It started with men and others have fought for their rights along our short 200 year journey to what we have in the USA today...not perfect, but certainly more perfect than where we started not too long ago. We can still be a light for the world, if we live up to the challenge.

What holidays are truly meaningful to US citizens, and grounded in truth? The only one I can think of is Independence Day. Though, if we do not have a common idea of what it means to be a US citizen, how can we even properly celebrate Independence day?

 (edit in MLK Day. Obama asked US citizens to make this day a day of service. It is a great American holiday, one on which we can reflect on our journey as Americans, and celebrate the value of diversity, in MLK's name)

Our country is young, and it is time to actively build on the vision of our founding fathers to create a country where people are free to choose their paths. A country where the people treat each other with respect, dignity and civility as we travel our separate paths together under a flag of freedom


When our country started, not too long ago, the path to freedom for women and non whites was blocked. The USA still has ghosts in the closet, but it is time to let go of those ghosts. It is time for the us to reflect on who we are, our assets and what we want to build together. 


Diversity certainly is, and has been, our greatest asset, along with tolerance, and triumph of people of good character fighting and winning steps toward justice for all. So where are our national holidays enshrining these truths, values, and accomplishments? We need national recognition and celebration of our true history that takes us along the path worn by people of good character toward freedom for all. 


If you could create a USA holiday, what would it be? Mine would be National Cake Day. A day where every community has a contest to see who can create a delicious cake that represents the most elements of our nation's diverse cultures. Of course, the day would be full of food stands and music that also celebrate the diversity of our nation. Local winners would move to regional, state and national competitions. Yum.


More solutions can be found in earlier posts in this series, but the most important step we can take as a nation, is to not fear looking ourselves in the mirror, and going through the old trunks that will reveal our true past. 


It feels scary, like jumping off a cliff, but there is no cliff, just a fog of ghosts and blinding humility. Once we make the courageous choice to take a good look at ourselves, we will better understand who we are and where we are going. 


Make a great day!






Monday, December 22, 2014

Racism, Part 4: Why I'm Giving Up White Guilt

Without going down the rabbit hole of the psychology of guilt, let me say that I am giving up guilt for my own good, and for yours.

(the rabbit hole: step, step, step, step, step, step, step,)

Giving up guilt is a way to empower myself and others. It is drawing the lines around what is mine and what is not mine. Drawing lines works as well in a personal relationship as it does in matters of culture, community, and racism.

As in all relationships guilt has a mirror function and a feedback loop.

"Guilt extremely powerful tool which can be used to manipulate someone’s behavior, and is something that is strongly interlinked with the need for external approval."

Racism and White Guilt

First, in the case of racism (the distorted distribution of power, opportunity, education, wealth and resources toward some racial group) it is important for me, as a white person, to recognize that there is a reason to have guilt.

The first challenge is to recognize the guilt at all, then to identify why I have the guilt. Once I identify why, I understand better who I am, where my feelings are coming from and what I can do to change actions that make me feel guilty, thus letting go of my guilt. The result is empowerment, for me and for anyone else caught in my dance of guilt.

Having awareness of how one effects others, and employing a sense of empathy can bring about understanding. A common understanding about power distribution, justice, history, and responsibility, is definitely what we need to address feelings of white guilt in the US.

Psychology Today explains the good and bad side of Guilt,

"Guilt and its handmaiden, shame, can paralyze––or catalyze one into action. Appropriate guilt can function as social glue, spurring one to make reparations for wrongs. Excessive rumination about one's failures, however, is a surefire recipe for resentment and depression."

Guilt is a response to disapproval, from oneself, or from others: we learn what to feel guilty about by the norms set by our environment.

White guilt may effect different people in different ways depending on ones experience. A person may feel guilty because they are: raised racist, deliberately acting racist, thinking they might have acted racist, or even because they are simply aware of racism.

Maybe there is such a thing as black guilt...not being 'black enough' not wanting to accuse white people, even though one feels harmed...I dont know.

Without awareness, there is ignorance, and denial. Denial may make one act indignantly or angrily, or project distorted emotions, at someone or something that reminds them of their guilt.

Defining ones boundaries can help anchor ones identity, help one own the responsibility that is theirs, and direct people back to their own rightful boundaries. Identifying ones own boundaries reduces the criticism one accepts from outside sources and compels us to analyze our behavior against our own, or sacred, values.

Let's face it, there is a distinct dysfunctional relationship between black America and white America. It is an old relationship with much history. A history (which lives on in some families/communities) where 'white people' are guilty, and in denial; and a present where some or many people feel guilty, but have done nothing explicitly wrong.

Some project that denial in deliberate and sometimes angry accusations; rigid authoritarianism (forceful ignorance and unwillingness to change); constant second guessing, or anxiety; or acting as a rescuer, which may lead one to become a victim or abuser.

In my case, I felt guilt because I was aware of cultural racism. I have experienced people in my area being racist. Adding to this layer of awareness, I am also aware that the demographics of my area are changing to include a greater number of non-white citizens. I have already seen how non-white people in rural PA are treated by individuals, by the school and police system, and even by the community municipalities in community planning.

I often become paralyzed with guilt, making my presence an uncomfortable one, and quite often overcompensate by making eye contact and smiling at non-white persons, or by engaging them in conversation, almost always hinting at how uncomfortable it must be to live in such a white, intolerant, area.

My guilt was making other people the victim. Whether the person I encountered felt like a victim or not, once they met with me, they probably did.This is a part of the process of the convoluted guilt feedback loop. In fact, I was creating the environment for an abusive relationship by creating a victim, acting as the rescuer, and in the end, committing a racist act as an abuser.

What was even more disturbing about my realization that my white guilt was causing me to be racist was why I was acting that way. In fact, because I felt the other the victim, it gave me power.

I have always been concerned about racism, because it is wrong, unjust and hurts people, but the way I went about trying to address it- by approaching and talking to black people about racism, was a projection of my guilt, which resulted in a racist act

What else, but power, could make me believe that I can; invade someones space, even from far away, as soon as I think I see a non-white person; engage that person in a personal way, basically invading now, their personal space; expect them to accept my intrusion; expect them to see me as a nice, helpful person; expect them to befriend me and share their most personal feelings.

Not only was my approach disrespectful, it was ignorant- a clear sign that I had issues. Why was I approaching non-white people about racism, when it is white people's racism that I am so worried about? Wouldn't it be more sane to talk to white people about it?

I wanted something from the non-white person I engaged with about racism- I wanted forgiveness.

Indeed, going through the process of recognizing my guilt, and the role my guilt plays in the wider societal horror of cultural racism empowered me. It helped me see that I was projecting victimhood on non-white people, forcing them into a role where I could play rescuer, so that I could feel better about myself.

My attempts to address racism this way were futile. Non-whites did not want to engage with me in this manner, and their rejection caused me to feel even more guilty, and clueless.

Recognizing and analyzing my guilt has allowed me to face what I was hiding from- white people's racism. Getting to know my white guilt has empowered me to face my white peers and engage them in discussions about race.

I am lifting my soul off of non-white people I encounter, seeing them not as victims, but as whole, empowered humans who are capable of leading their own battles without me. Instead of taking their power from them as a source of consolation for me, my goal is to keep my gut empowered and in its place, while acknowledging the power in others.

It is not OK or healthy to take up the sword for someone else when the very act dis-empowers them, and creates a cycle of dominance and dependency.

It is always more effective for people to stand up for themselves, to fight for their own dignity- even though, as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens, we need to support each other in our journey toward a more perfect union, where justice prevails equally for all.

I drew the lines: this is mine/this is yours, and those lines reorder power relations between me and non-white people. Me letting up on their space allows them the freedom to be without me acting as an oppressive power figure, and it allows me to be free to focus on and try to 'fix' what is really mine- the legacy of white supremacy in my own world.

Make a great day!

Next time... the value of leadership 

More food for thought on white guilt. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Racism, Part 3: False Racism


You know that feeling when you walk down the street and see someone that is not like you, and you get a little uncomfortable? ...this is the origin of what I call False Racism. 
I am white, and I live in a pretty white area, but demographics are changing, especially in the closest town, where I use community services like the Y and the library.

When I go through the grocery, or walk down the street and see a non white person, I get uncomfortable sometimes because I am affected by white guilt (the overwhelming feeling that people who are different, especially people with different complexions, are treated badly). Now, white guilt is a function of white supremacy, as I stated in an earlier post.

It is not just white guilt though. It could be a disabled person, an old person with Kyphosis, a very large person or just any very different person.

Uncomfortableness is a natural reaction to me trying to fit this experience into my neural-networks. It is me trying to place my identity in reference or relevance to this new experience. I am not sure how I will do this, until...

I make eye contact. I smile.

Then the situation is usually diffused and I feel accepted, the same, good to engage in whatever situation may come up, even if it is just, "Hi! How's it goin'"

And then, what happens if the 'other' person is feeling uncertain too (or just having a bad day and has a sour face)? I look at them uncertain, they look at me uncertain, one or each may become paralyzed with fear, or mistake the uncomfortableness of uncertainty (or general state of unhappiness) with smiles...we project and take the other persons feelings as a validation of our fears...and then we react with hate or indignation or offense.

Still, the people may be sharing the same feelings, but misconstrued. They feel like they are being judged. Bad human feelings that lead to misunderstanding, fear, hate and at the extreme-violence.

One facet of racism is just one big messy downward spiral of societal projection.

This is not racism...this is natural human behavior that can be conquered with a sense of respect and civility and community. See my post on The Process of Liberty.

We are naturally biased toward what we know, what we think is normal, or what we feel more comfortable with. This starts at birth, and continues through our journey to 'find ourselves' and 'our place in the world.'

'Finding our place' happens on a personal level, with ourselves- with our family- our community- and our national identities. It is a source of much conflict in each of those areas, from schizophrenia to civil war.

Read this article from Parent Map, it explains much. 

This is why I think it is really important for a place like the US, with so much diversity, to recognize our multiracial heritage and to have national celebrations around our real heritage- so that we can make those neural-connections and place ourselves comfortably in reference to all the 'others' who are our that we may have a national identity.

Having a cohesive, healthy national identity can help solve issues from schizophrenia to civil war.


Humans characterize what we don't know for the same 'identifying' make some sort of sense out of things we don't understand...the Black witch doctor from the swamps, the cowboy, the mystic Arabian, or the terrorist Palestinian, or the snobby Britt, whatever... deep sea creatures and aliens... things we do not have personal experience with, we try to characterize to fit into some frame of reference for ourselves.

Sometimes characterizations are bad and sometimes they are good. After WWII, much of the world had a good characterization of the USA; or bad, like media portrayal of black people as violent criminals, gang members and drug dealers.

Characterization most often paints an inaccurate picture, but becomes a conditioning of our neural networks, even though the relation is wrong. This may be called implicit bias and may lead to explicit bias. For instance, seeing black people as criminals on TV can make one bias against black people, and fear them, subconsciously; or a person can take this cultural characterization as fact and consciously report their bias explicitly.

I would qualify that implicit and explicit beliefs can be true, but the word bias, refers to an unreasoned, skewed, or unfair judgment.
These False Assumptions of the 'other' are what I am calling False Racism...and should be able to be 'fixed' by proper recognition through history education, cultural intelligence, and a general sense of respect and civility in society.

These misunderstandings are internalized in our culture, and then acted out as if spokes of reality, when, in fact, we are creating problems by projecting a false reality. Per the examples above about the characterization of the USA after WWII and the characterization of Black Americans now through media...many in the USA internalized that good characterization and took that on as an identity, just as many Black Americans may internalize the images they see and take those false images on as an identity...thus perpetuating the false images.

This is why lying is bad people! And why being able to discern fact from fiction is really important (it is sad that at this time in history, these points are particularly poignant).

In a diverse society, such as our own, let us seek true understanding of each other through quality relationships, proper recognition, respect, and civility. It can heal our us as individuals and as a nation.

Make a great day!

Next time...Why I'm Giving Up White Guilt.

I am linking Jesse Jacksons 1997 interview with Frontline on this post as well, in case you missed it. The interview has a perspective on black american culture that was new to me, and touches on constructing identity.

How misinformation creates false memories

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Racism, Part 2: Deconstructing White Supremacy

Racism is everywhere.

In Part 1 of this series, I said that different places are different. My step dad conformed to a racist culture when we moved from southern CA to central PA, but where I lived in CA was not the most diverse place either, and I distinctly remember there being skinheads around.

I found this article from 2013 chronicling the rise of the white supremacy movement 'down the hill' from the mountain top I grew up on. Here is an excerpt:
"...the number of militia or patriot groups are an indicator for other extreme groups such as neo-Nazis. He reports that militia groups peaked in the mid-'90s with 858 groups and then plunged. By the millennium, there were 150 such groups. That number stayed the same through 2008. Then it rocketed from 149 to 1,274 in three years."
The author if this piece, which is part of a series chronicling the rise of white supremacist groups in southern CA, got an interview with a member of a white racist gang. Why the rise in hate groups, the author asks,

"Very clearly," he says, "the main driver of the growth of these groups is the changing demographics of the United States as personified by a black guy in the White House."

So, there you have it...very clearly.

Also, of note in this article, is the naming of hotspots of white hate groups in the country:  Idaho's northern panhandle, northwest Arkansas, southeast Missouri, southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina.

Racism is hard to talk about and hard to deconstruct. There are many 'ways' leading to racist acts.

The most fertile source is:

White Supremacy

I break this category up into four outcomes that were birthed from the historical idea that white people are better, smarter, cleaner, handier, holier etc. We are caught in the snares of this history, and I have found four distinct outcomes of it:

1.) Continued deliberate belief that white people really are better.  
a. example above- the skinheads, kkk etc.
b. this can be replicated in offspring, and whether or not the offspring believe in white supremacy or not they will be subject to the ghost in the nursery. People who do not want to be racist, may simply be as part of a deep grove that was worn in them by experiencing racist patterns over and over from their parents/family/community.

There is a choice- stop the pattern or continue the pattern. If the pattern is recognized, one can seek help to stop the pattern, lest one ends up actually repeating the words/actions of their parents out of HABIT. What a failure of conscience that would be.

2.) Institutionalized racism, or white privilege
A most stubborn specter of white supremacy in history, and especially in politics (the power to distribute wealth and resources), is institutionalized racism or white privilege.The accumulation of millennia of acts to keep power in white hands, even to the point of inviting and dis-inviting people with non white complexions to be 'part of the club' at different times in history depending on potential benefits to those in power.

It may seem strange to people in the USA now, who have grown up with a sense of democracy and the ringing words of 'equality' and 'justice,' but democracy, equality and justice for the people is historically a rare thing. Nations are new, and the ability of people to hold power instead of the wealthy or elite is...dubious...even for the US. "Constant vigilance!" is the only way, and we have not proven we can do that...even men, or white people, or anyone who is not placed in powerful positions politically.

Now, white friends, if these ideals of freedom, equality and justice are dubious for you, what of those who came to the US as slaves?

I am happy to have come across the organization, The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond and their program for Undoing Racism (TM). Their principles teach the history of how, where and why institutional racism and white privilege came to be. Knowledge is 90% of the battle, just recognizing that these forms of racism exist is, in the words of some participants, 'shocking' and 'life changing'; and in the words of one cop who took the program, potentially life saving. 

3. White Guilt
My second epiphany on race was that I have committed acts of racism because of white guilt. I was on the diversity committee in college. It was a pretty pathetic committee anyway- basically a room full of people epitomizing the power relations on campus, the only rule being, the leader could not be a white male. Our greatest accomplishment was an anonymous survey on how 'comfortable' people felt on campus...and we had to bribe people to 'voluntarily' take the survey with prizes...

In any case, I approached the Black Student Association to see if they wanted to have a panel discussion on racism. They were not interested. They pretty much just looked at me funny and ignored me. I did talk to some random other people in the lobbies and halls on campus, but I didn't approach any organization, like the Ag Club, or Student Union or Democrat or Republican, just the Black Student Association. Looking back, I feel ashamed that I felt so comfortable going to a club that is definitely not for me and asking them to let me in and tell me all about them...all their secrets and handshakes. I would never do that to any other club, or any other group of people.

Why do I keep trying to talk to black people about racism? They are not racist! ...ah, that brings us to my first epiphany on racism lately...I should be talking to white people about racism, cause...I'm white and problem is that white people are racist.

I was seeking comfort, forgiveness, because I felt guilty. Gah! There are few moments in life when one wants to hide under a rock in humility, but, yeah, when I realized this, that is what I felt like...I still kind of do, but more on that in the next post.

4. White Ignorance
White ignorance is denying all of the above things to remain comfortable and avoid the 'I am so ashamed I feel like hiding under a rock' feeling. 
I also found this interview with Jesse Jackson very enlightening, because he talks about black American culture in ways I did not know, explaining where the sagging pants and unlaced shoes come from; how black communities are kept at the margins of society by design and really kept out. A quote from The People's Institute brought this home for me: "People of color have been historically locked out of participating in key community institutions, leading to dependency, instead of empowerment."

Make a great day!

Next time: Why I'm Giving Up White Guilt and other solutions. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

What This White Girl Has Learned About Racism Part 1

Injustice has always bothered me. 

Call it Jesus, or my grandma's switch, but from an early age I was taught that justice should always prevail...that where there is injustice there is no love, and a place without love is where the darkness starts.

I was taught that love is not mine, it is G-ds, and it comes through me.  Do I want to be a place where the darkness enters this world? Will I stand by and watch it enter this world?

Not with my grandma and a good tree branch around.

You should all thank my grandma right now, her name is Golda, she's in heaven.

Different areas are different.

I grew up in Southern California, in Crestline. Not the most diverse place, but not central Pennsylvania, where I live now. My mom moved us here when I was 10, with my step dad, who grew up here.

My step dad was a different man in CA than he was in PA, I mean really different. In CA my step dad talked like a Californian, you know, normal; he was a gymnast; we had crazy, diverse hippie friends- it was a different place. I don't remember him ever saying anything racist.

When we moved to PA, he started talking differently, like, you know, some might say, like a hick. The first thing I remember was him scolding us and jokingly saying he was gonna "fro us in the ficket," as in down in the ditch. He was a hunter, which I appreciate now- but I didn't talk to him for a week the first time I saw a dead deer strung up on the peach tree in the yard. Our family friends were fun, but distinctly conservative.

Many years passed before I heard him say something racist. I checked him, and he said, "I'm not racist."
My little brother and sister grew up hearing him talk more like a Pennsylvanian that a Californian.

My dad has a really good heart, I think. He loves nature and family, but he grew up in a hard family, and a racist area...which he conformed to when we moved back to his hometown.

I have kids now, 2 and 4, and they have only met him twice. 

In School

Moving to PA was a culture shock. People went to school in pantyhose and skirts, or dockers and tucked in dress shirts, I mean, everyone tucked their shirts in. This was the 80's, I had rainbow stonewashed jeans with tears in the knees. I was different, that was bad, but I wasn't as bad as ugly people, or fat people, or black people, or brown people.

I remember, in high school, a black girl (I can't remember more than 3 black kids in our school of about 800) getting jumped in gym class by three other girls. The three girls who attacked her were bullies to everyone. One girl jumped on her as if on a piggy back ride, while the other two grabbed her at the sides, pulling her hair and screaming racist remarks. They got from the halfline to the baseline before the teacher stepped in to help. Once, a boy moved to our district from Africa, he was beaten after school, and everyone blamed the victim. His family moved back out of our small town. This was the late 1990's.

In college, my history teacher was racist (he was a bully too, in every way). He always yelled at the black kids in class to stop talking...even though they were not talking. I said something every time, but the teacher ignored and the kids moved farther and farther to the back. One day we covered 'The White Man's Burden' and on the next page was, 'The Black Man's Burden.' We skipped the latter. I spoke up, "What about the Black Man's Burden?" I asked. What about it, he said. We skipped it, I said.

"I don't know what the page will say, we skipped it." I said. Really, compared to a good switch, this mans bellows were nothing.


The Iraq war for one. How bout slavery?

This was 2005. Our cafeteria was self segregated at this campus.

Standing up for what is right

Like I suggest, maybe it was my grandma's switch, or maybe it is just my reverence for Jesus, but I don't think it is hard to stand up for what is right. Speaking up has never been hard for me. Then, I like talking...very much. I find being scared a challenge, and I like to face my fears.

But, what is so hard or scary about saying, "Hey! Stop that!"

Is it easier or more secure to live in an unjust world?

No, it isn't.

I've spoken up, I've been on diversity committees, I've sung songs and screamed in crowded cafeterias to address racism and other injustices...but my efforts have been somewhere between futile and crazy because...

No one can fight for another if the one being wronged does not fight for themselves; and it seems impossible for one voice to change a system, though, as I quoted in another post,

"Just because it seems impossible, does not mean it is."

I am happy and thankful that the black community of Ferguson took up a civil rights battle, and that it sparked a worldwide movement.

May the movement not be co-opted by any other issue or goal besides addressing racism.

Addressing racism will change police culture, will deligitimize the new right, will invigorate public virtue and the US ideal of justice and equality. But just focusing on the police or any larger social justice movement will probably not effectively address racism.

Next: Part 2: My Hypothesis on why there is racism as I've experienced it, and new action steps.