Monday, September 21, 2015

White Silence

I heard about White Silence for the first time last night. Here are some links and things I found just now when researching this online to learn more:

This is an excerpt from The University of Vermont:

White silence is experienced by members of the White culture who, during discussions of racial issues, experience negative emotions including guilt and anger. When these feelings are not addressed, Whites begin to resist certain content areas. This resistance takes on the form of White silence.

I feel called to examine and make sense of White silence because as a White woman I have used my own silence as a mask for my inner thoughts. In addition to observing my own silence, I have become aware of the silence of White colleagues. In these settings our collective silence has created “white [sic] racial bonding” which then emphasizes racial boundaries or we-they boundaries (Sleeter, 1996, p. 261). What part do I play in creating the boundaries and how does this affect those not involved in the bonding? As a student affairs professional I am concerned with my ability to act as a true ally and role model for students when I am silenced by my own prejudices. Also, I cannot challenge my White peers to shed their shield of silence until I have removed my own. (read more here:

Below is and excerpt from an article called:
White Privilege and the Deadly Effect of Silence from the, by Linda Louden, 5/11/15:

When it comes to race, White Americans perform a peculiar, if not predictable dance. You know the steps: A race-related event triggers outrage. We dive into analyzing the fall out. We search for who we can blame, identify the systems we can declare broken, and dissect the participants' lives. We cast our vote for the most-likely-to-blame, and after passing judgement many of us sigh with relief and think, "I'm not like that person; I'm not a racist." Others instead declare, "That wasn't about race. We should quit making everything about color." With the issue resolved in our minds, most of our White American conversation about racism falls silent.

But racism doesn't fall silent. It screams in the latest headlines time after time. And it won't stop screaming until we, as Whites, make our next move in the dance a move toward advancing the national conversation about racism. To do that, Whites need to look past headlines and into ourselves and the near panic that comes over most of us when race becomes the topic of conversation. What many White Americans don't realize is White silence and refusal to closely examine ourselves are two of the most insidious elements that foster the racism that persists in the fabric of our country. We need to make the connection between our silence and its more obvious and often deadly consequences -- the disproportionate incarceration of Black men, the killing of unarmed Black men by police.

For folks like myself, silence on racial issues is a luxury, a privilege and a choice. I am a White, heterosexual, highly educated, upper middle class professional woman. I have more privileges than these, but you get the idea. In my circles, when I talk, people tend to listen. When it comes to social justice issues, I can handpick which issues ignite my passion. I can pick up them up and put them down at my convenience if I decide they aren't mine to live because I have the privileged choice to be silent.  
There are few conversations that elicit more uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure than those about race in this country. White silence shields us from risk by avoiding conflict with our White peers and with others with different racial backgrounds. Silence hides our guilt (or lack of guilt), conceals our racist biases against those who are not like us, and masks our habit of automatically crossing the street when a Black man approaches. Silence insulates us from our fear of being shamed for offending someone. Silence also keeps us from being overwhelmed by how helpless we feel to make a difference. Silence allows us to be blissfully distracted by our privileged day-to-day, and perpetuates our ignorance. With enough days in a row of silence, we can disappear so far behind our choices to keep our mouths tightly shut that we forget how good we've got it in our bubble.
(read more here:

Below is an excerpt from called White Silence Kills 9 in Charleston by Jamilah Lemieux who says it's time to stop acting like Black people can end racism (6/19/15):

White people, know this: your silence is consent. Your silence is complicity. Your silence is violence. 
If White Americans by and large wanted to end racism, they would. Period. Complacency may stymie some (I would imagine it’s hard to sum up the passion to do social justice work on behalf of Black liberation if the only Black people you ever encounter are on a television set); agreement is the culprit for others. But it’s time to acknowledge that White folks have to be the one to stop the future White-supremacist terrorists of the world, because the folks who hate us will never care about our tears.
(read more here:

Why this Blog?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dominant White Culture Behaviors

I am reading a helpful book called Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. Below are excerpts from that book. I recommend you read it to get the full context of these points. -DG

The list of dominant white culture behaviors that hold racial barriers in place:
  • conflict avoidance
  • valuing formal education over life experience
  • right to comfort/entitlement
  • sense of urgency
  • competitiveness
  • emotional restraint
  • judgmentalness
  • either/or thinking
  • belief in one right way
  • defensiveness
  • being status oriented
Understanding each is essential if I am to relate to people outside my own culture. The more conscious I become of my cultural adaptations, the more I'm able to choose when they are and are not appropriate. one was saying all white people act this way all the time....or only white people act this way.
...there is no single white culture any more than there is one Asian culture or one black culture.
(excerpts from pages 194, 196)

Why this Blog?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Judge Withdraws Arrest Warrants in Ferguson

This is another sign of hope...of more on, read all or listen

Here are excerpts:

The issue with the Municipal Court in Ferguson was that it was being used to generate money for the city by charging people for all sorts of minor offenses, from driving with a broken headlight or letting the grass grow too long in the front yard. And when poor people couldn't or didn't pay the fines which were usually hundreds of dollars, the money they owed went up. And if they still didn't pay, a warrant was issued for their arrest.

Judge Donald McCullin, a retired St. Louis County Circuit Court judge who, in June, became the new municipal court judge in Ferguson said, "What we'd like to do is alleviate the fear of people coming to court because some people fear coming to court because they fear they're going to be arrested and also to give people a fresh start....We have withdrawn close to 10,000 warrants."

That means people who haven't paid up past fines are not at risk - at least for now - of being arrested and taken to jail. But they still need to come to court and ask that their fines be lowered and pay them or ask for community service instead or to prove that they have no money and that the fines should be dismissed.

Thomas Harvey is an attorney at ArchCity Defenders, which represents the poor and homeless. He's filed a federal lawsuit against Ferguson over these warrants. He praises what the court did yesterday but says it doesn't go far enough. more on, read all or listen

see more signs of hope, a previous post

Why this Blog?

Boston Knapsack Anti-Racism Group

The excerpt below is from this site:

This is a meetup group for folks who see racism as a white problem and/or are interested in learning about the systemic role of whiteness in our society. You'll have the opportunity to peruse the largest collection of anti-racist literature in New England (not to mention, you'll meet some great folks). Sometimes we'll have a reading, a talk, a movie and sometimes, we'll just put up our feet and rest or roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.

I learned about this meet-up group a while ago (from my sister). But I just this week went to two events, and just today joined the meet-up group to participate in future ones.

Participating in the events this week was meet others who care about this topic, share ideas and experiences, and to learn about ways to be more involved.

I took the train from Riverside. If you would like to go with me to some event...or if you have questions about it...let me know.

Why this Blog?

Minority - Why to Stop Using this Word

I used the word "minority" in my Why this Blog? post and heard from a sister that it isn't the best term to use. The article below was helpful to me to read and learn from. I am glad I now understand the distinction between this word, and other, more informative words. -DG

Isn’t it time to stop using the term “minority” to describe all individuals, racial and ethnic groups who are not White?
by Barry Cross, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, Elsie Y. Cross Associates, 2009

link to the full article

Here are some excerpts:

Using the term “minority,” and even Hispanic, paints a picture with too broad a brush. This terminology does not distinguish the textures of culture, ethnicity and race, nor does it notice or attempt to understand different experiences, realities and perspectives by social group identity. For example, if we use the term “minority” to describe everyone who is not White, we miss the differences between Arabs, Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.
This is not about being politically correct. This is about respecting people for who they are and making an effort to acknowledge their heritage, ethnicity, culture, race, and/or experience. Calling everyone who is non–White a “minority” is disrespectful and lazy. Think about it, we don’t call White people the “majority.” Most White people don’t consider themselves a group, however, they experience others as “minority” groups.
The more appropriate way to describe someone or a group when you don’t know their ethnicity, nationality, or race would be as a Person of Color for individuals or People of Color at the group level or for mixed groups. However, if you do know their heritage, it is always best to use that. I would say the same is true for the terms Hispanic and Asian. Both terms cover a wide range of cultures and nationalities. So again, if you do not know that person’s ethnicity then it would more appropriate to be curious and ask what race or ethnicity best represents the person who you are describing. Accept how they self-identify.

While the term “minority” is commonly used by the media, human rights groups and in various government documents and policies, it subordinates groups, places a negative label on people and racializes the term. Let’s move away from creating an “us and them” two-group mentality and get to know who we really are by our social group identity and see, acknowledge, and accept our differences and similarities. Reducing everyone who is not White to a “minority” continues to make individuals and groups invisible.

Why this Blog?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Race Video

This is a video by comedian, Chescaleigh in response to her hearing people complain:

"Just Stop Talking About Race!!"

Why this Blog?

Reverse Racism

This is a link to a video called: Here's Why "Reverse Racism" Isn't Real

Why this Blog?

Highway Action - Petition to Sign

This excerpt is from this site with an easy to use online petition that needs to be signed before 9/24/15:

Take action now to stand with the #Somerville18 and push back against the criminalization of demonstrations in Boston and beyond. Tell DA Ryan that 90 days jail time, 18 months probation, and $14,580 in restitution fine are unreasonable punishments for demonstrations. DA Ryan's hostile punishments set a dangerous precedent that restricts civic participation and violates First Amendment rights. Tell DA Ryan to drop the charges now!

Somerville 18 Court Support
See this site about court support  for either the Somerville 18 or the Quincy blockaders on Thursday, September 24, 2015.

read my first post that talks about this action

Why this Blog?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Ban the Box - Petition to Sign

I got the email below today from ColorOfChange.  
I signed the petition.  Will you too? -DG

President Obama has yet to take meaningful executive action against the illegal employment discrimination that formerly incarcerated individuals face after they have served their time. Federal agencies and the companies they contract with still require job applicants with a criminal record to check a box indicating that they have been convicted. This kind of question on a job application leads to illegal job discrimination by eliminating qualified individuals from jobs that have nothing to do with the crimes they committed in the past. Even the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission has called this employment discrimination. (see 1 below)

Now, thanks to the courage of Black organizers across the country, our national leaders are paying more attention to criminal justice issues than they have in years. People from both sides of the aisle are working towards criminal justice reform, and the President has made it clear that he wants to spend his last years in office working to undo the damage of mass incarceration. Now is the time to escalate on President Obama. (petition link)

Tell President Obama to end the federal government's employment discrimination against formerly incarcerated people. Hiring questions about criminal records harm Black communities the most because of the disproportionately higher rates of arrests and convictions that Black people face. (see 2 below) Even before they have a chance to apply for jobs, people returning to their communities from jail or prison face a range of legalized discrimination that keeps them cut off from mainstream society and the economy. They are denied access to housing assistance, student aid, SNAP benefits and voting. And after experiencing structural racism at every turn within and outside of the criminal justice system, individuals with arrest and conviction records are still stripped of an opportunity to work. Coupled with the employment discrimination that Black job seekers face even without a criminal record, these hiring policies create an insurmountable obstacle for returning citizens.

Laws to “ban the box” asking about criminal history on employment applications are sweeping the country. Currently, 18 states have passed laws or enacted policy to provide a fair chance at employment for formerly incarcerated job seekers. (see 3 below) And these policies don’t just apply to state and local government as employers; nearly half of those states include policies that bar private businesses from asking about a job applicant’s prior arrest or conviction history. Big-box retailers Wal-Mart and Target have adopted an official Ban the Box policy, too. (see 4 below) Even as President Obama talks about reforming the criminal justice system, and giving ex-offenders a second chance, the White House literally stigmatizes these individuals. Visitors to the White House with a conviction are sometimes turned away at the door or given a personal escort. These actions are not consistent with the message that the president is sending on criminal justice reform--that everyone deserves a second chance.

There is a crescendo of calls to ban the box everywhere. Despite the progress at the state level and with private corporations, the current presidential administration has not used its authority to ensure a fair chance at employment for every job seeker. A federal-level Ban the Box policy would create a groundswell of support for enacting this policy everywhere. President Obama can and should take the lead on this by announcing an executive action to Ban the Box on all applications for employment with federal government agencies and the companies it contracts with. Tell the President: Make sure federal agencies Ban the Box.

Will you stand with us to demand action?

Thanks and Peace,
-Rashad, Arisha, Brandi, Brittaney and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.

1. “Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, 4-25-2012 

2. "U.S. Push on Illegal Bias Against Hiring Those With Criminal Records," New York Times, 6-20-12

3. “Ban The Box: U.S. Cities, Counties, And States Adopt Fair Hiring Policies,” National Employment Law Project, 7-1-2015

4. “'Ban the Box’ Movement Spreads Nationwide,” Prison Legal News, 10-10-2014.

(petition link)

Why this Blog?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Why "Black" Lives Matter, not: "All" Lives Matter

Previously in my blog, I wanted to say "all lives matter" instead of black lives matter. I didn't GET why not all?

I recently read an article sent to me by my mother called Why ‘Black lives matter’ resonates that helped to explain that distinction to me. The article is by Leonard Pitts, Jr. from the Miami Herald, August 22, 2015.

Leonard Pitts, Jr. explained the distinction by using a metaphor about somebody going to the emergency room to get help for a very painful wrist. The doctor wanted to examine all the bones, even though only the left wrist hurt, saying "Hey, all bones matter." 

That would very wrong, right?

"All lives matter" is the same. It's not about "elevating some lives" any more than it would be about elevating some bones. Rather, it's about treating where it hurts. (excerpt from the article)

Leonard Pitts, Jr. goes on to say:
...while police abuse is not unknown in other lives, it is disproportionate in black lives.

Later in the article, he said that seeing white protesters in Charleston "chanting "Black lives matter! Black lives matter!" was a soul-filling reminder that at least some of us still realize we all have access to each other's pain and joy by simple virtue of the fact that we all are human...they did not sink guiltily from that connection. Instead, they ran bravely to it." (excerpt from the article)


Why this Blog?