Saturday, December 24, 2016

Eat and Connect (monthly conversational gathering)

I started a new Boston Knapsack Anti-Racism Group meeting this December. Here is a link to it: Dec. 16 Eat & Connect (Framingham).

These gatherings at a restaurant are for building friendships and socializing with folks of various races....and for unpacking different topics each month together.

(Dec. topic) What is your understanding of privilege? What are your pre-judgements about other races? When have you noticed yourself acting out of a pre-judgement? How does racism impact all of us? 

(Jan. 2017 topic) Do we have any biases regarding what race we gravitate towards when making connections and friends...and if so, what are they and why do we think we have these biases?
(sign up here if you are interested: Jan. 20 Eat & Connect)

We want People of Color to feel welcome and as comfortable as possible so we will be keeping each monthly meal gathering to a maximum of 4 folks who identify as white (or 50% of the group). Each gathering has a max limit of 8 folks (including children) so we can all be part of one conversation.

Three other hosts are working with me on this, all are P.O.C.



"I trust you" video

Here is a video of a brave man making a statement and asking for support with a hug or a handshake. I found it very moving to watch. I am glad folks showed support.

Karim Sulayman - I trust you



Monday, December 12, 2016

Supporting Racism or Intentionally Working Against It

I have started a new book and I am really appreciating what the author has to say. Have you read "Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum?

She has a great metaphor about supporting racism (or not):

“I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt. The person engaged in active racist behavior has identified with the ideology of our White supremacist system and is moving with it. Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway. No overt effort is being made, but the conveyor belt moves the bystanders along to the same destination as those who are actively walking. But unless they are walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt – unless they are actively anti-racist – they will find themselves carried along with the others.”



Injustice Boycott

Shaun King started this boycott. I joined recently and got this email from Shaun:

"We just completed Week 1 of Phase 1 of the Injustice Boycott and you all really nailed it. I wanna take a second to highlight many of our successes and thank each of you for participating.

We launched on last Monday and grew our base to over 200,000 people in all 50 states and every major city in the country. Fast Company & Sojourners & Colorlines wrote strong pieces on the launch of the boycott.

On Tuesday, our first actions - simple online call outs - began. We demanded that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio fire NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo. #FirePantaleo trended in 10 different cities.

On Wednesday, we moved our actions to San Francisco, and demanded that District Attorney George Gascon charge the officers who shot and killed Mario Woods. #GasconDoUrJob trended all over the country. Now one year after his murder, we also made "Mario Woods" trend in many cities nationwide.

On Thursday, we raised $336,367 for infrastructure and capacity needs in Standing Rock. I am still blown away by your generosity. It's already being put to amazing use by local leaders there.

On Friday, we helped educate the nation on the fact that New York is 1 of only 2 states in the country that automatically prosecutes ALL 16 year olds as adults. We made #RaiseTheAge trend and also helped Governor Cuomo see and hear us very clearly.

On Saturday, we sent you a list of every organization in New York fighting to #RaiseTheAge with all of their Twitter & Facebook handles. You doubled the following of dozens of organizations in one afternoon. I've been receiving thank you notes for 48 hours straight from leaders who were just elated to find that you care about their cause.

On Sunday, we did as we will often do, and simply asked you to take a moment to educate yourself about the depths of injustice in a particular city. We highlighted injustice in San Francisco and how the mayor, Ed Lee, and others have all but ignored the very clear, reasonable reforms set forth by the Blue Ribbon Panel that was convened this year.

This is good work you've done. We are just getting started. We are building our team, building our base, and building momentum for what's ahead. People will attempt to distract us or rush us or tell us that if they were us they'd do A, B, & C differently. Our goal, though, is to build something that will make a measurable, lasting impact in the cities we target. We are also trying to build a model for change that we can duplicate in cities all over the country. This takes time and care.

Let's follow the plan!"

---Shaun



If you can support this by joining Injustice Boycott, great. You might get an email a day if you do. Don't let that deter you. Just do what you can. This is important to support.

If you use Twitter and will hashtag those highlighted hashtags above, great.

Here are some more for todays action:

Dear @MayorEdLee -
Why have you ignored the 84 recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Policing. #WalkTheWalk





Thursday, November 24, 2016

Presidential Election Results and Effects

I found it helpful to read this the morning after the president election this year, I was incredibly sad:
Our Unknown Country by Paul Krugman, read here: nytimes.com

Dealing with the election of Donald Trump by Nathan J. Robinson


This is video is powerful. It isn't directly about the election, but is directly about racism that Trump's behavior is bringing even more to light.
How do you Identify Racism? The Angry Eye with Jane Elliott


We need to be prepared for increased racial attacks as some folks are feeling empowered to show racist behaviors. Here is A Bystander’s Guide to Standing up Against Islamophobic Harassment (and Other Types of Harassment, Too) by Maddy Myers.

We had a "No Racism in Natick Rally" on Nov. 19, 2016. See more about this rally, and why we had it, here in a Boston Globe article. My handmade sign "No racism. Full stop." was quoted in the article.


On the Saturday after the election, Saturday Night Live had Dave Chappelle on as the guest host. This is his stand-up monologue. I don't usually catch this show, but I wanted to see what they would do with the election results. They didn't disappoint. I like various things Dave Chappelle said, including, "We've been here before." and about the wording of Black Lives Matter not being the best, but that "MacDonald's already took: You deserve a break today."  The last works are also really poignant.


Spoken Word Artist: Jonathan Mendoza

I wrote this in October:
I could have heard Jonathan Mendoza at the Natick "Old Souls" open mic last Friday. We didn't go because of a long drive with a bad travel jam on the way back home from a parent visit.
I found many videos of him sharing his art online and I regret that I didn't go. I hope I can see him again another time.

Update:
I got to see Jonathan live last weekend! He was at the Dylongso Awards sharing "Brown Boy, White Boy." It was powerful. I said "hi" to him afterwards and shared that I watched many of his videos online and regreted not seeing him in Natick in October.

Here is another great piece by Jonathan Mendoza:
"Eggs"




Harry Potter and White Privilege

Here is a podcast audio recording from chapter 12 of The Mirror of Erised: listen here

Casper ter Kuile and Vanessa Zoltan are talking about the Invisibility Cloak and how it is a metaphor for white privilege.



Black Lives Matter!

This article is from the huffingtonpost.com:

The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’ 

Dear fellow white people, let’s have an honest talk about why we say “All Lives Matter.” First of all, notice that no one was saying “All Lives Matter” before people started saying “Black Lives Matter.” So “All Lives Matter” is a response to “Black Lives Matter.” Apparently, something about the statement “Black Lives Matter” makes us uncomfortable. Why is that?

Now some white people might say that singling out Black people’s lives as mattering somehow means that white lives don’t matter. Of course, that’s silly. If you went to a Breast Cancer Awareness event, you wouldn’t think that they were saying that other types of cancer don’t matter. And you’d be shocked if someone showed up with a sign saying “Colon Cancer Matters” or chanting “All Cancer Patients Matter.” So clearly, something else is prompting people to say “All Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter.”

read the rest of the article here



Marijuana and Racial Bias

Massachusetts recently had a ballot question to legalize marijuana. I was torn on how to vote. I was learning from neighborhood meetings that marijuana is really bad for the developing and learning minds of children and youth...and the law as written had many flaws. But I also know that black and brown youth are disproportionately arrested and enslaved (put in jail) due the criminalization of marijuana.

Read this link is from ACLU.org:

THE WAR ON MARIJUANA IN BLACK AND WHITE
Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests
read article here

and read also a very well researched book: The New Jim Crow, for more info.




Monday, November 21, 2016

Supporting Indigenous Peoples in various ways

National Day of Mourning is coming up this Thursday. While others celebrate Thanksgiving, I will be recognizing this day instead. Learn more here: www.uaine.org

How you can still support the National Day of Mourning even if you can’t come to Plymouth


Indigenous Peoples Day: more info here: www.indigenouspeoplesdayma.org


Support efforts against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is the site I used to support the efforts of the protesters fighting for their sacred lands and fresh water. Water is life!: Sacred Stone Camp


How Non-Indigenous Activists Can Support Indigenous People by Kai Minosh: www.blackgirldangerous.org


Free Leonard Peltier. He has been unfairly imprisoned for 41+ years. Leonard Peltier needs to be released or get a fair trial. I just wrote to President Obama asking for this. Will you help? More info here on the website about freeing him: www.whoisleonardpeltier.info.
Here is the letter from Leonard Peltier for today's NDOM: Day of Mourning: Statement by Leonard Peltier. 24 Nov. 2016



Friday, September 30, 2016

Terence Crutcher shot by a police officer in Tulsa

Here is a link to a MoveOn.org petition. Here is more info.



Keith Lamont Scott shot by a police officer in Charlotte

Here is one link to info about the shooting and the protests.






Deciding Where to Care: racial justice poem 3 (TRUTH)

See my first poem for the history behind why I started writing "poetry." The theme for the September open mic in Medfield was truth. Below is what came to me. 

At the open mic, I started by asking if folks in the room would be willing to do a non-violent action and stand if they agree that black lives matter, and/or to join me in the chant at the end. (maybe 50 there?) It looked like everyone stood. I welcomed them to sit down during the reading of the poem if needed. No one did. The poem lasted around 5 minutes. 

I was appreciative and felt supported with that effort on their part. I also felt they might have been "in the game" at least a bit more that way...listening and feeling a part...not separate from me? It is my third time reading a racial justice poem there. That action helped me know who else was in the room...not just the visual awareness of lots of whiteness there. 

Deciding Where to Care

I am a white woman and 51.
          I am embarrassed to say that only after half a century
I finally woke up to the pains and struggles that other folks
          a less privileged group of folks
                    Black folks
          have gone through for hundreds of years.

Though old for them, it seems new to me
          immediate.
Not moved so much before
          when I learned of the history of slavery
now I feel empathy
          when I hear about
another black person shot to death
          by a cop
                    innocent or not
                    not given equal justice
or read about the whipping machine
          forced labor
          forced marching to a new owner
          families pulled apart.

What took me so long to see
          the struggles of these others are worthwhile for me
                    to know and care about?

I could have learned much earlier
          from others around me.
I wasn’t living in a white suburban bubble
          all of my life.

When I was a little girl
          my father worked with his friends
                    Black Panthers
          supporting them in their work
          bringing food to hungry school children.
When the home of 30 Black Panthers
          was bombed with plastics only available to cops
Dad joined a line with other pastors
          between his friends
          and the police
                    who were not trusted.
I was not hungry for food myself
                    nor
                    it seems
          hungry to learn what Dad was doing.

In Chicago’s West Side for my first years of school
          I was a scared white girl
          a minority in my classroom
                    and playground.
          I learned double-dutch
                    but not how my black friends
                    were at home
          or if they struggled to survive.

While in the North Side of Chicago
          as a junior high school student
I learned to type and sew and such.
I knew about the Gaylords and
          other gangs in my school and neighborhood.
My mostly white group of kids
          living together in a cult
          were seen as another gang so we were left alone.
Not there by choice
          I felt abandoned by my parents.
I didn’t care then
          to learn why they chose their gang.
Looking back
          I complain that I had to eat expired food
but I had enough
          I didn’t go hungry.
          Did they?

One of my younger sisters
          has been working for racial justice
          for more than 5 years.
Did I never pay attention to what she
          must of been
                    sharing with me?

Was I blind and deaf to all of this going on around me?
          I was asleep for sure.

I didn’t personally see a reason to care until
this little sister that I love
          did a dangerous
          unpopular
          and misunderstood protest.
She used her body with others.
          They blocked traffic on a major Boston highway.
Why would this wise woman
          risk being run over
          risk painful tear gas
          risk being locked up?
I had to question her.
          I had to ask
                    Why?
She answered
          in a fashion
          and gave me things to read.
I woke up while reading
          and while writing a letter to her DA
                    asking for a reduced sentence
          to match the crime
                    with less or no time.

Now I have my eyes
          my mind
          my heart
                    open.

Other white folks need to join us who are woke
for racial justice to be available
          for all.

I understand not getting emotionally caught up in
          the deaths and misfortunes of all others.
I can’t open my heart to care deeply about
          innocents in each and every
                    terrorist attack
                    war overseas
                    bombing of buildings and
                              racers of a Marathon
          each and every
                    truck crashing through crowds
                    shooting in nightclubs
          or all death and destruction from natural events.

I have to decide
          how to feel for others
          who I don’t personally know
                    and love.

I have decided to open my heart
to a group of folks who in our history were
          sold
          traded
          wrenched away from family members
          raped
          whipped
          lynched
          made to live and learn
          drink and sit
                    in broken buildings and schools
                    from dirty fountains
                    on backs of buses
                    on the most dangerous front rail cars.

Their forced labor in cotton fields
          made this country rich and powerful.

That was the past
          you might say.
But the problems for Black folks are not only
          in the past.
There is now
          mass incarceration
          a school to prison pathway
          prejudice
          racial profiling
          killing of innocent folks
          ongoing stress syndrome
          neighborhood gentrification
                    forcing folks to move
          daily fear
                    even in “safe” suburban towns.

Will we wait
          until one of these modern injustices
          touches us
                    us white folks
          before we feel deeply enough to act?

I read as much as I can
          and meet with others
                    to support
                    to learn more
                    to learn how to best
                              act.

Black lives matter.

Black lives want
a live affirming future too.

I march
and wear my heart
          on my bracelets:
                    Black Lives Matter!
                    Black Lives Matter!
                    Black Lives Matter!

© Deb G., September, 2016 
Read at a Medfield Open Mic Coffee House

I was challenged last time, by a black author who usually goes to the open mics there, to stay in a place of power and not cry during the reading...that it make folks feel sorry for me...I practiced and tried really hard not to cry. I did not succeed. During practicing, I was breaking up during the last part, but last night at the event, that isn't where I choked up, it is was earlier about risks my sister took.





Cats and Dogs: racial justice poem 2

See my first poem for the history behind why I started writing racial justice "poetry." This one uses cats and dogs because that was the theme for the August open mic in Medfield.

Cats and Dogs

My thoughts and concerns these days
are with a topic not so sweet and cuddly
          as the pets of this poem.
I am concerned about the inequality
          between races 
what happens differently for
          black folks than for white folks
in our society where often seen
          white is right.

When comparing pets with people
          we know
cats and dogs are not the same species
but white folks and black folks are
          but you wouldn’t guess it
          from how they have been treated.
Both are human
          all are folks
          with feelings.

Race is not real
          but it causes real pain.
The difference between cats and dogs is real
          not only fur-deep.

If you think about who is on top
          among each group
one might say “man’s best friend” over
          often aloof cats
but if you have seen them living together
          you know that cats are the boss.
In this country
          scales tip toward white
          when it comes to power
          and privilege.
Yes, there are a few
          rare cases
where black folks
          against all odds
          with extraordinary strength and perseverance
          have mountain-climbed to the top.
One man now
          at the very tip top
is still not trusted and is attacked
          led by a white man’s biting words
cat clawing at our black leader’s place in power.

All equally special
both furry:
          cats and dogs
and skin-covered:
          folks of different colors
can get along
          can coexist.
But cats and dogs
          can’t have children together
as folks of different colors can
          and what a wonderful thing that they do.

With more and more mixing
of black with white in
          homes
          neighborhoods
          work places
          schools
          government
          and police departments
maybe some day
there won’t be such hurtful differences in
          neighborhoods
          work places
          schools
          opportunities
          and criminal justice.

From my experience with my cats:
          striped Tigger and shoulder-clinging Macaroni
with neighborhood and family dogs:
          loyal Acadia, obedient Rudy, and sweet Ranger
I see that cats and dogs
          are cared for and treated similarly
by their owners who love for them
          by vets and animal control.
Why can we do this for our pets 
          but not for folks of all colors?

I have dreams at night
          of the past with my cats
and day dreams for the future
          where racial differences are simply
          something to celebrate.

© Deb G., August, 2016 
Read at a Medfield Open Mic Coffee House and Old Souls Open Mic (Natick)



Let’s Talk about Race: 1st racial justice poem presented at an open mic in the 'burbs

In June, I was invited to an open mic in Medfield, MA. It was a nicely attended event with talented folks telling stories, reading poems and singing/playing music. I was struck by amount of whiteness in the room. I decided to write a poem about racial justice and read it at the next event in July. Below is what I presented.

I also read it in Natick at "No Racism in Natick Rally" on Nov. 19, 2016. See more about this rally here in a Boston Globe article. My handmade sign "No racism. Full stop." was quoted in the article.

Note: I am a visual artist. I wrote this poem, and later more, to read at public events where white folks go, where they are not expecting to hear about racial issues. I am trying to get more white folks in the game...willing to act with us.


Let’s Talk about Race

I learned lately that I am white. And what comes with being white.
         I learned I live in a society that supports me
a society that works to keep black and brown folks separate and not equal.

Now I know I have work to do
          to undo this society that supports me
the society that works to keep black and brown folks separate and not equal.

What race do you identify with?

If you are a Person of Color, I invite you to tell me how you identify
          so I don’t erase this one
                     and only one 
part of your identity.

Are you white too? If so, say it. Face it. That is an important first step.

For us white folks, there is an overwhelming amount to learn
          about history and current events
          about police that support us
but keep black and brown folks separate and not equal
          out of fear or anger or lack of understanding
or because they were taught like we were taught
          that white was right.

I am for change. I can not go back to living in the bliss of the not-knowing
          about my society that supports me
a society that works to keep black and brown folks separate and not equal.

If you are for change too
          for racial justice
          and just getting started
here is a way to build your stamina:
          talk about race with white friends and family
                    and strangers even 
make it as common and easy as talking about the weather and sports.

But don’t ask the Person of Color you work with to teach you
          about history and current events
          about police that don't support them
or to speak for their race
          like they can speak for their race.
Respect their space
          as they need it more than we can even imagine.

We can listen
          simply listen
                    without defending any good intentions
                    that might have had an opposite impact
and watch youtube
and read words
          from People of Color who are willing to share with us what they know
          about their history and current events.

We can talk with white folks who are willing to pass on what little we have learned
          with others who are white
                    white folks willing to lean into discomfort
making mistakes as we learn, supporting each other.

Let’s build a new society full of bridges
          that can be taken by People of Color to join white when wanted.

Let’s build a society that supports all of us
          a society where all folks can be equal
          and together.

© Deb G., July 30, 2016
Read at a Medfield Open Mic Coffee House and Old Souls Open Mic (Natick) 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

protesting and activism

I feel it is important to stand with others in protest now. To make it known we are not fine with the way things are going in this country!  I have never done protests before. So it is (and was) scary and emotional to get started. But I will get stronger and it will not be as difficult in the future. Building stamina! 
Here are the ones I participated in recently, including activism that is a form of protest too:

  • Ashland Farmers Market anti-racism education & activity on June 25, 2016. Even if we believe in racial equality and diversity, we might not talk about it much. No racial healing or justice will happen with silence. Go to this link for more info. Here are fill-in-the-blank pages I collected before the tabling event at the market, these are the ones collected during the market.  Here we are at the market:


  • I went to the Black Out Trump rally on June 29, 2016. I am deeply concerned about Trump's racist talk and fearful it will further divide this country and make the white dominate culture we live in more divided, and even more difficult and dangerous for People of Color. Here is the Boston.com video of the rally. I was asked some questions. If you want to skip ahead to it, my interview starts around 17.2.
    In the video, my signs look reversed due to the rear-facing camera the interviewer was using. This is what my signs looked like:

  • I joined 1000 or more protesters in Boston on July 13, 2016... listening to folks share their experiences with racial injustice in Boston, marching and chanting together through the streets near Ruggles T station...against police brutality. Yes, even Boston has issues that need to be addressed.
  • Went to my first SURJ monthly meeting., Showing Up for Racial Justice on July 21, 2016. An unprecedented amount of folks came for the first time too...over 400! Besides learning about what this group does, and who they are affiliated with, and ways to get engaged, we also did various actions together that evening, including reading together, in unison while we were filmed, a letter about Just Cause Eviction for sending to Marty Walsh.

  • Upcoming at Framingham Concert on the Green, July 29, 2016. Join us!


links for further education

These are articles and essays I have read or want to read to further inform me about racial justice (some are audio or video clips). I know this is a lot to take in at once...so don't. Read over time. But know the list is here to come back to. They are listed in no particular order...numbered for easier referencing. -Deb

1. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

2. Death in Black and White

3. Criminalizing the hustle: Policing poor people’s survival strategies from Eric Garner to Alton Sterling

4. Things Your City Can Do Right Now to End Police Brutality

5. Crime, Bias and Statistics

6. Wake up, fellow white people. Time to get to work.

7. If Anyone Ever Questioned How White Privilege Manifested Itself in America This Is The Perfect Illustration

8. Reflecting On Police Shootings, Author Kwame Alexander Focuses On Next Generation

9. all houses matter: the extended cut

10. Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston

11. Nothing to add: A Challenge to White Silence in Racial Discussions

12. Here's what Obama tells his daughters about civil rights

13. Read the Full Transcript of Jesse Williams’ Powerful Speech on Race at the BET Awards (see v3 below for the video version)

14. Talking to Kids About Racism and Justice: a list for parents, caregivers & educators

15. Five Concrete Things You Can Do to Make Black Lives Matter

16. 5 Valuable Ways to Use Your White Privilege to Fight Anti-Black Racism

17. 6 things I wish people understood about being biracial

18. 11 Things White People Can Do to Be Real Anti-Racist Allies

19. Be Less Racist: 12 Tips for White Dudes, by A White Dude

20. Here's What Native American Designers Want You to Know About Cultural Appropriation

21. An open letter to my white coworkers on days like today

22. 23 Everyday Actions Punishable by Death if You're Black in America


Resource:
The Counted, People killed by police in the US


Videos:
v1. Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools By Dr. Howard C. Stevenson

v2. MIT Community Dialogue Closing Remarks: DiOnetta Jones Crayton

v3. Jesse Williams' fiery BET Awards speech (see 13 above for the text version)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

White Boy Privilege, a slam poem by a 14 year old boy

Royce Mann talks about his "White Boy Privilege" here on youtube

This is amazing. Youth have a lot to teach us.
-Deb


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Shootings of Alton Sterling & Philando Castile, and more

I am deeply saddened by these new deaths of black men in the hands of police officers.

Alton Sterling was killed on Tuesday while selling CDs.
"Alton Sterling shooting: Second video of deadly encounter emerges" on cnn.com.

Philando Castile was killed at a traffic light yesterday.
"Minn. governor says race played role in fatal police shooting during traffic stop" on washingtonpost.com

This is helpful reading from www.justinccohen.com:
Advice for White Folks in the Wake of the Police Murder of a Black Person

This is a colorofchange.org petition for justice for Alton Sterling.

BATON ROUGE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
From the site: "Since Friday, July 8, more than 200 people have been arrested in protests against the killing of Alton Sterling. This fund will cover all aspects of legal support for arrestees--most urgently, their bail and court fees."
Please help if you can, Deb


Monday, June 20, 2016

Being an Active Bystander (Upstander)

From the training I went to on Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
at the Arlington Center for the Arts, 41 Foster St. Arlington, MA,
with True Story Theater

· say “I will act when help is needed”…2x more likely to act
· speak up, project
· power of enlisting more folks, make specific requests of other bystanders
· be persistent, “many times as you need it”
· redirect attention/take energy away from group or time
· be present/listen/bold posture, etc.
· “Can I help?”, ask a question
· support the target
· “I feel uncomfortable with what you are saying.”
· interrupt (“Stop!”… “Please stop.”)
· name or acknowledge an offense
· empathize with person who was targeted (but keep to self, no words…?)
· encourage dialogue
· call for help
· empathetic listening


maturation of a white ally

The text below is from this link: The Maturation of a White Ally:

White people on an anti-racist path need allies of color who can support our journey – people who will talk to us honestly, tell us like it is, while also encouraging us and believing in us. Mushim Ikeda is one of these people. As an American of Japanese descent growing up in rural Ohio, the threads of oppression, assimilation, and resistance are intertwined in Mushim’s life history. A Buddhist teacher, writer, and multicultural community activist, Mushim is widely known for her down-to-earth, humorous, and penetrating approach to Dharma and social transformation. 

In this piece, created explicitly for White Awake, Mushim points out that while our anti-racist intentions might feel good, how we relate to our privileged status is where the rubber meets the road. It’s risky, yet rewarding, this commitment to true racial equity, and collective liberation.

I found the article on the link above helpful to read.
-Deb


more great resources and things to read

This link to Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston has so much good stuff to watch and read.

On that extensive site, I found these two links that I want to make convenient for friends and family to find and read: Be Less Racist: 12 Tips for White Dudes, by A White Dude

6 things I wish people understood about being biracial

I want to read this one still:
11 Things White People Can Do to Be Real Anti-Racist Allies

It goes on. I will add more suggestions as I read more. Post below the ones you see that I should be sure to see.

-Deb

anti-racism education and activity

We will be in Ashland on 6/15/16 with a fill-in-the-blank activity to get engagment...and be there with favorite books for educating those of us who need it and are interested.

See more here: Knapsack site page about this event

Also, we will be at the Framingham Concert on the Green on 7/29/16 from 6:30-8ish.
Doing the same thing and there with a petition to keep racial justice on the agenda for our Representative in this area.

See more here: Knapsack site page about this event

Please join us to participate and talk with us, if you can.
- Deb

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

David Copperfield show - Racial Issue I Observed

I went to see a David Copperfield magic show recently, on 4/19/16 at 7pm in Vegas. I tried to find a way to email him feedback on the show, but couldn’t. I asked my sister to post my letter to him for me as I don’t have a FB account: 

David Copperfield,
I was distracted from enjoying your show because of your rude and disrespectful treatment of the Asian man you picked from the audience.

1. You didn't honor his request to not participate…he apparently didn't speak any English and was clearly uncomfortable.

2. You asked him a crass private question “When did you last get busy?” and other equally rude versions of this. This was asked of a man who most likely comes from a culture where sex would never be discussed publicly, let alone in front of hundreds of strangers. It was completely inappropriate culturally.

3. You mocked the Chinese language multiple times. Chinese might sound funny to you, but really, it is just different from English. How would you like it if you went to a show in China and your differently sounding language was made fun of in a large, public space...while you stood on stage?

4. You made an assumption, it looked that way from where I sat anyway, that he was from China. Was this based on a stereotype or did someone tell you he was Chinese?

In all the points above, you came across not as funny (your intent I think) but instead as rude and disrespectful. Your act is strong enough without this; you don’t need to act superior. Just because this country has a tradition of white supremacy (and superiority) doesn’t mean that is right and that it should be perpetuated.

I don't know for a fact that you embarrassed and hurt the feelings of that man, but it bothered me, a white woman. And I bet it bothered others who care about racial healing too.

You used “INSPIRE” in your act… I hope you will not do this kind of thing again. Please be respectful of all races, languages, and nationalities in your show…and inspire others to do the same.

Sincerely,
DG

Later:
A woman responded:
I think it's a plant. Same Asian guy for the same trick every show? EVERY show?

I have no idea if it is every show. I have only been to one. But if he does that every show, it is even worse! -DG


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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

More Helpful Tips

Ten Things White People Need To Quit Saying:
This article from The World Post was shared with me by my neighbor and friend, Colleen.

It talks about the words: exotic, ethnic, reverse racism, those people, and more.
Short and to the point. Helpful remembers and gut wrenching...if you are empathic like I am.


6 Words And Phrases You Didn’t Know Were Rooted In Racism:
This video by Franchesca Ramsey, on The Huffington Post, was also from Colleen.

It talks about: the peanut gallery, no can do, long time no see, sold down the river, hip hip hooray, g*yppd/g*psy (this last still offends Romani today).
Watch the video to learn why these are all racial slurs with negative history.


Here's What Native American Designers Want You to Know About Cultural Appropriation:
This article from style.mic was shared with me by my Lakota friend, Mahtowin.

It talks about Native Fashion and Cultural Appropriation. Mahtowin and I went to see the Native Fashion Now show at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Some of the fashion in the article are pictures of items in that show. The fashion displayed there was beautiful and sometimes unexpected.


Here is another educational video by Franchesca Ramsey (I have posted her videos in the past too): 10 Excuses Used To Deny Racism DEBUNKED!
These are either new or good reminders for all of us (white people).


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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Internalized Racial Oppression vs. Authenticity

I also learned about this at the Undoing Racism workshop I mentioned on the previous 2 posts.

Internalized Racial Oppression is the toxic impact of living in a racialized society.

The first part of this, Inferiority, was led by a black man and a Latina. They allowed only the People of Color to respond; the white people could listen and learn, but not talk. This was very informative for me to hear. I took notes and wrote below in the voice of the leaders.

The second part of this, Superiority, was led by two white women. They allowed only the white people to respond; the People of Color could listen and learn, but not talk.

Inferiority
(Commit to being authentic instead of participating in below.)
Denial - brain buying time to deal
Distancing - brain trying to solve a problem that isn't a problem...skin color; pulling self away from those like you to be accepted; not speaking the language of parents, etc.
Mimicking - imitating white people (talking, straightening hair...)
Colorism - lighter skin POC get white benefits while darker skin less benefits/worse health, family distancing, socialized to disrespect
Protectionism - trained to protect white people so closer can get to benefits, protects status as token
Exaggerated Visibility - talking loudly, low pants, "see me, if like it or not!", F you
Ethnocentrism - only one POC to represent in a business
Anger - due to being inauthentic, to lie is not natural
Rage

Stop struggling with selves to gain acceptance.
Be yourself. Be authentic.
Stop trying to make white people comfortable.

Superiority
(How we as white people absorb and perpetuate racism.)
Individualism - we don't remember how we benefited, we say: "we can do it, why can't POC?"
Competition - who is going to be best (even this: the best anti-racist!), it separates us, it traps us in our minds, we need to do internal work
Perfectionism - we think we have to be to compete, works against who we are as people, it is a crock, poisons education system, compliance and rule following, a culture of politeness
Meritocracy - we think we get our advancements from merit...not aware of what really got us where we are now, or who we "stepped on" (genocide, enslavement) to get where we are
Entitlement - we think we deserve it
Normalizing - pushing the white way of doing things, "white is right"
Defensiveness - I didn't mean that!
Written Word ...valued over people's experiences
Paternalism - male hierarchy

These are systemic and we continue them...STOP!!!
Pay attention.
Think: where we learned them and how do we perpetuate them?
They are unconscious within us.


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The Definition of Racism and Race

At the Undoing Racism workshop that I mentioned on this post: Contract for Building Power and Relationships, I got a clear, modern definition of RACISM.
Here it is:

RACE PREJUDICE
+ POWER
RACISM

(RACE PREJUDICE plus POWER equals RACISM)

ISMs are a belief system, an idiology, systemic
Prejudice is pre judge(ment)
All people have racial prejudice.

Only while people have power (that is, we have institutions and systems backing us).
So all white people can be, and are racist.
At different levels...it doesn't mean we are all "bad", or "evil"; we have more power due to the systems and institutions set up in favor of white people.
Yes, this might be painful to see, or admit. We were reminded at the workshop to get our feelings out of it. Learn from this so we use our power to make changes to the current, white-favoring, institutions and systems.

 An empowered community holds institutions accountable.

RACE: 
A specious (false) classification of human beings created by Europeans (people who became "white")...that assigns human worth and social status using "white" as a model of humanity and the height of human achievement for the purpose of establishing privilege and power.


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Contract for Building Power and Relationships

I went to an Undoing Racism workshop in Amherst, MA last weekend. It as tough work and I learned a lot. I will share some of that on this blog. It was led by Annie and Mahdi from Peoples Institute of Survival and Beyond, a New Orleans-based Civil Rights group.

They started by telling us about the Contract, a tool for building relationships and power. Here it is with some notes:

1. Meaning does not translate
-don't assume what you think words mean, is what another person thinks they mean
-don't presume that your way of thinking is the only/right way

2. Respect
-for example, ask "what would you like" instead of giving everyone the same thing

3. Listen
-the biggest potential muscle of communication
-the most important thing for a voice, is to be heard
-a vibration comes with listening, folks feel it when you are/aren't
-it takes work...like it does to be human =not racist
-nothing will cause you to miss out more in your life than to not listen
-when you find your mind wandering, recast your "line" and "reel it in"
-listen especially to your own inner voice

4. Honesty
-telling the truth about yourself (you can't tell anybody else's truth)
-you can feel vulnerable
-only when we are honest do we give folks a chance to really be with us
-the universe takes all we communicate as literal no matter when and who we say it to (and even if we don't say it out loud)

5. Growing Edge (realms)
-stretching beyond your edge of knowing
a. know you know
b. know you don't know
c. things we think we know but are wrong
-trying to be something for other people...the ego panics when we get to this 3rd realm
-learn to be uncomfortable but safe
d. what you don't know you don't know
e. something you know intuitively that you don't know (aka enlightenment)
-only can get this from yourself...when you get a sense of your power

6. Participation

7. Racism
-our power conversation
-an imbalance of power, not prejudice

8. Safety vs. Comfort

9. No Quick Fix

10. Struggle together

11. Confidentiality

12. Non-hierarchy process

13. Compassion

14. Impact


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Thursday, February 25, 2016

call to support sentencing alternatives

SUPPORT HB 1382: An Act to Provide Community-based Sentencing Alternatives to for Primary Caregivers of Dependent Children Convicted of Non-violent Offenses

Please call before 3/16/16. Below is from: facebook.com/events/425795017618914

Right now in Massachusetts we have a unique opportunity to reduce the trauma and suffering prison causes families in the Commonwealth - in particular on mothers and their children.

Sixty-five percent of women in prison are mothers of children under the age of eighteen. Mass incarceration most brutally effects Black and Brown people, who are more likely to face imprisonment and receive harsher sentences for the same offenses as whites. Black women are the fastest growing population of prisoners, often convicted of nonviolent drug offenses and poverty crimes. Because of these staggering racial disparities in the criminal justice system, one in nine Black children have had a parent in prison.

House Bill 1382, an Act to provide community-based sentencing alternatives for primary caregivers of dependent children, would allow parents convicted of nonviolent offenses to continue caring for their children while they complete an alternative sentence like job training, counseling, or drug treatment. It would require that judges consider a person’s caregiver status before sentencing them. The bill was crafted by formerly incarcerated women who know the pain of being separated from their children; it is a policy rooted in love and what’s best for all of our families.

The Judiciary Committee must take action on HB 1382 before March 16 or this critical legislation will die in committee. Please call the members of the Judiciary Committee and urge them to support House bill 1382 by issuing a favorable report on the bill, and recommending it for a floor vote.

Let your legislators know you support alternatives to incarceration that will make Massachusetts safer and our communities stronger by reducing recidivism, decreasing excessive spending on prisons, and ensuring that parents can keep caring for their kids.

Call today and invite your friends to do the same!

Districts and phone numbers of committee members are on this link:
docs.google.com/spreadsheets

Even though my town wasn't on the list of districts with committee members, I still called my state Senator to ask her to support it however she could. You could do the same: www.wheredoivotema.com.

Thanks for your help with this important legislation, Deb


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uncomfortable conversations and gentrification

A friend sent me this link: Awkward, uncomfortable conversations about racism worth it from USAtoday.com.

It reminds of the Knapsack group agreement: lean into discomfort. We still meet to talk, even when it isn't easy.

We discussed diversity in our neighborhoods during the 4th Anti-Racism in the ‘Burbs meeting last Sunday. It was not easy. I got a headache and it lasted all evening. Because this work is not easy...and I care so much and don't know how much we are helping the fight for equality among the races with our conversations. The link I posted above says that the conversations matter. Others tell me that too.

One of the things we discussed during the meeting was that it was easy to say we support diversity in our neighborhood.  

But, it was asked, how do People of Color (POC) benefit when white people move in to neighborhoods POC are the majority of? This can lead to gentrification, which is not so good for POC. We did a reading from Colonize This! about the gentrification of the Mission District in San Francisco. It was informative. I recommend reading this book, or at least that chapter if you are interested in learning about gentrification from the perspective of someone who didn't benefit when white people took over a neighborhood.

And, it was asked, what are we willing to give up so that people who generally have less privilege can have equal rights and opportunity? I would give up: comfort, time, privileges, money...

I want to hear your responses to this. Please comment below.


Our next Anti-Racism in the ‘Burbs meeting is Sunday, March 20, 2016 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM (held in Medfield, MA). Use the link above to meetup.com to learn more and sign up.  The March meeting topic is covert and overt racism, micro aggressions (sharing our personal experiences). It probably won't be an easy conversation, but it will matter.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

"What was once overt and thought to be right is now thought to be wrong but has become covert." ― Frank H. Wu, Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White


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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Charleston church shooting - 9 killed

Below is from Wikipedia:

"The Charleston church shooting (also known as the Charleston church massacre) was a mass shooting that took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States, on the evening of June 17, 2015. During a prayer service, nine people were killed by a gunman, including the senior pastor, state senator Clementa C. Pinckney; a tenth victim survived. The morning after the attack, police arrested a suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, in Shelby, North Carolina. Roof later confessed that he committed the shooting in hopes of igniting a race war."


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a simple list for what some POC want

I talked about this article by Peggy McIntosh before: 
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack: Knapsack.pdf 

I heard from some People of Color that they could not relate to anything on Peggy's list. They said they never experience they have any of those privileges. 

They said they wanted these 5 things:

  • give me the benefit of the doubt!
  • let there be a presumption of innocence
  • they live in a field of judgement and doubt
  • they would like not to have to worry...they want that freedom that white people have
  • they would like to not have to wonder, "Is it my race?" why people say and do the things they do with them


I went back over the list of 50 items on the list by Peggy, and found that all of them can fall under those 5 freedoms. So that is simple enough right? Can't we give People of Color, and everyone including Muslims, those 5 freedoms?

-DG

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Walter Scott shooting

This is from Wikipedia:

"The shooting of Walter Scott occurred on April 4, 2015, in North Charleston, South Carolina, following a daytime traffic stop for a non-functioning brake light. Scott, a black man, was fatally shot by Michael Slager, a white North Charleston police officer. Slager was charged with murder after a video surfaced contradicting his police report. The video showed him shooting the unarmed Scott from behind while Scott was fleeing."
  
It looks like this police officer might be brought to justice, but he is out on bail, able to be free for 10 months before trial in Oct. 2016. That doesn't seem just.
 
-DG


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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Resolve to Do Your Part to Dismantle White Supremacy

This blog post is by Monica Raye Simpson from huffingtonpost.com:

A Challenge to White Allies in the New Year: Resolve to Do Your Part to Dismantle White Supremacy 

  • White allies need to get uncomfortable. 
  • Be willing to talk to the people around you. 
  • Take action in the spaces around you. 
  • Don't wait for another life to be lost or for a tragedy to speak out.

This post was helpful to read and be reminded of.  It gives us some specific actions to take. Link to her post above for more details about above and why

-DG


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non-racist vs. anti-racist (video)

This is from this link: The Guardian: Are you racist? 'No' isn't a good enough answer: by Marlon James

"Most of us, says Marlon James, are non-racist. While that leaves us with a clear conscience, he argues, it does nothing to help fight injustice in the world. In fact, we can pull off being non-racist by being asleep in bed while black men are killed by police. We need to stop being non-racist, and start being anti-racist."

The link to the 2 minute video is above. 

-DG

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Voting Rights Act: petition to sign

This is from CREDO Action:

"It’s time to fix the Voting Rights Act.

"In 2013, the right-wing ideologues on the Supreme Court handed down a shameful decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act, ending decades of protection for minorities against discriminatory and unfair attempts to limit voting on the basis of race."

read more and sign the petition here


I mentioned this in a November 2015 post: Selma and voting rights because I heard about it in Selma. I signed the petition. I hope you will too.

-DG

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Muslims: support and education

I got a sign in my inbox from Showing Up for Racial Justice:

I put it on my front door. I do it to be public with my support of my Muslim "neighbors" in my community, my state, my country, and the 50 countries around the world where the Muslim faith is worshiped by the majority of people there. This is in response to a particularly rude and dangerous white man running for presidency of the United States. It is apparent he is a xenophobe.

Just because there are a some Muslim terrorists, extremists and murderers, doesn't mean all Muslims want to do harm to those of us who aren't Muslims. I have a new friend who is smart, kind, an active leader in my Knapsack Antiracism group, and a Muslim. She has read this post and given me some information I will share with you here. (C: her comments are noted below with this)

Here is a link that I appreciated watching: I’m Muslim, But I’m Not... I just watched it again. It brings tears to my eyes. Why is this not obvious to all of us that Muslims are like all of us...they just practice a different religion!

I went to a job training last week and learned about Muslims.
Here are some of my learnings (if you are Muslim and want to add or correct any of this, please do!):
  • 23.4% of the world are Muslim, the largest population for a country is in Indonesia
  • 1% of the U.S. are Muslim, 3.3 million Muslims live here (2016 data)
  • Their God, who they call Allah, is the same God/Lord that Christians and Jewish people worship. C: Allah is just the Arabic word for God.
  • Islam is the religion
  • Muslim is the person who follows that religion
  • Islamic is an adjective for anything that is based on the Islam faith: ie. Islamic dress, calendar, practice, greetings, prayer...but not Islamic culture
  • Muslims pray 5 times a day
  • The Islamic calendar is also 12 months but is based on the moon so it is 11 days shorter each year than the calendar I am familiar with... in Ramadan, the 10th month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset (no eating, drinking of anything at all, smoking or having sexual relations). At the end of Ramadan, Muslims feast which is called Eid. We can say: "Happy Eid."
    • C: Eid al-Fitr is the breaking of the fast (not to be confused with Eid al-Adha, our only other 'holiday'). Also, it's not exactly sunrise, it is dawn which comes before sunrise.
  • An Imam is an Islamic priest (Wikipedia says: an Islamic leadership position. It is most commonly in the context of a worship leader of a mosque and Muslim community by Sunni Muslims). Their words don't need to be followed exactly. Each Muslim can decide what to follow...following their own heart based on their relationship to Allah. Some countries/cultures require some practices; in the U.S. they have more choices.
    • C: This point is really hard to address because it seems to devalue the word of the imam. The imam is a religious leader (and has a sense of religious authority) that people can go to for questions about the faith/struggles they have/etc. It is true that a person does not have to follow the words of the imam though.
  • I was curious about the name of the head scarf/Islamic dress that my Muslim friend wears (I learned it is a hijab) and ones that cover more, and less than that.  This is a link that shows some information about different countries: How people in Muslim countries prefer women to dress in public. A hijab is #4 in the picture. I learned that a hijab covers all but face and hands in public and that this amount of covering is what the Quran (Koran) says to do. Anything more is required by the government and authority, and is cultural, not Islamic. Anything less is a choice in this country anyway, but is not a problem for those wearing more.
    • Some governments of countries (Afghanistan?, etc.) require all the women there to wear a nekab (see #1 and #2 in the link above)...including Christian and Jewish women too. A nekab covers either all of the body including eyes, or all but the eyes.
  • A Muslim man cannot touch women except to shake hands and visa versa (outside family members, I think).   
    • C: This is not true exactly. As Muslims, touching a person of the opposite gender who isn't related to you (mother/father, wife/husband, sister/brother, daughter/son, etc) is not permissible, this includes hand shaking. This isn't the easiest thing to follow especially in countries like the United States. There are some Muslims comfortable with shaking hands, and others who really try to stay away from doing so. 
  • We can express our openness to learn about Muslims; it is okay to ask questions, but don't insist on hearing an answer in the way we would like as sometimes the answer is complicated and too personal or hard to express (especially if there is a language barrier). 
  • If we are friendly and help Muslims feel welcome and accepted, we offer HOPE. Hope can prevent disengagement and extremism. I personally don't want to add to stereotype threat. I want Muslims to feel they belong here in my society. 
  • What we can do: show your support by your actions, it's ok to say “hello” and make small talk, spread the word, and visit a mosque. 
  • C: Muslims greet each other with salaam alaikum (which means peace be upon you). I learned a while ago that the reply to this is alaikum salaam.
  • My friend also shared this link with me from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding Dalia Mogahed weighs in on how the media talks about terrorism. (6:12) 
    • I like how Dalia Mogahed responded to the misguided beliefs that "all terrorists are Muslim," and reminded us that fear mongering normalizes bigotry so we need to stand up against it. She helped me understand more about wearing the hijab: it is an act of devotion and it privatizes a woman's sexuality.
-DG

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Antiracism Meetings in Medfield

The next (4th) meeting (called: Antiracism in the 'Burbs)
will be Sunday: 2/21/16 2-4 p.m, location: Medfield, MA
(talk to me, or join www.meetup.com/Antiracists for location details -DG)

“Equality cannot be achieved under conditions of nearly complete separation...The primary goal must be a single society, in which every citizen will be free to live and work according to his capabilities and desires, not his color.” (from The Kerner Report, 1967)

This February meeting's topic:
Deeper exploration of anti-racism in the suburbs:

*What are some examples of covert and overt racism (in our own suburban communities)?

*What can we do on an individual and community level to oppose these ongoing problems that inhibit our community’s diversity and integration?

*How can we engage our neighbors in acting against some of the micro and macro forms of racism and oppression that continue today? What are barriers to doing this?

*Discuss a goal and plan for a nonviolent action/event we want to do as a group. We started this discussion during our January 2016 meeting.

Please feel free to read this article from The Atlantic: White Flight Never Ended
...and/or post additional ideas/articles that come to mind regarding racism in the suburbs, especially any recent current events.

***

The third meeting was: Sunday 1/17, 2-4 p.m., same location

Martin Luther King Jr. said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

This January meeting's topic was: Nonviolent Actions...
and Martin Luther King Jr., the movie Selma, the link below, other nonviolent activists and actions, our nonviolent actions, our barriers to participating in them, and does talking about this together motivate us to participate in them more?

Here is an online article that could be read (in addition to or instead of watching Selma) about the The Almost Forgotten Selma March.

-DG

More about this discussion series: the second meeting (I share my important learning from the People of Color who came as we discussed White Privilege), the first meeting about dominate white culture behaviors

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