It Needs to be Said

Many years ago I heard the worst racist comment passed off as a joke.   The so-called joke was hateful, and not even funny.

When I heard the so-called joke, I called it what it was: hateful, ugly, racist.  Yet later that same evening this joke was repeated, by the person I had this conversation with.  The so-called joke was repeated in a racially mixed crowd, a bachelor party.  The room grew quiet except for the person telling the so-called joke, who was laughing his head off to sell how funny it was, and another drunk.

Several of those who attended the bachelor party, did not attend the wedding.

Some people believe they can say any hateful, hurtful thing if it is a joke.  The rest of us are expected to play along.  “It was a joke!”  “I was just being sarcastic.”  “All this politically correct bullshit ruins everything.”

Is that true, or are you showing us what you really think?  If this is what you really think, and we laugh along, aren’t we showing what we really think?

Withdrawal

Watching the news has been disturbing during this season when we really want to believe in peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind.

Add to the bad news some ugly politics and I have lost my smile.  The grinchiness  and all its sourness is reaching across all aisles and is doing its best to ruin our holidays.

Analysis of the latest mass shooting continues with no solution and no resolution.  Radicalization brings violence around the world.  A leading politician calls for walls, roundups, and exclusion of those trying to escape the ISIS violence, as if just being a Muslim is the same thing as being radical.  All the hate spewed by this radical and racist position has boosted the pole numbers of the Most Radical candidate.  To me it looks like an ingredient for creating radicals.

I have seen reports of the Muslim community coming out against the violence, but it doesn’t get nearly the press that the violence itself gets, and many don’t even seem to be aware, as proved by discussions with those in my circle prove.  Muslim’s themselves are the major target of the ISIS violence.

My small voice doesn’t seem like much of a weapon against this hate.  My one vote doesn’t seem like it can make much difference.  Discussions with those in my circle don’t seem to change any minds and leave me feeling  ineffective.

A friend suggested I was letting terrorists (or maybe politicians) win by giving up on my blog.  I may withdraw at times, but I think I will try to hang in here.

 

 

 

Thoughts on Racism After Ferguson

 I write with apologies to Michael Brown’s family, and my heartfelt condolences, because it is his death and your loss that everything that has happened in Ferguson, Missouri stems from. 

I have been reluctant to tackle this topic.  I have less than 20 posts under my blogging belt, a tiny readership, and besides, what does a middle class suburban white woman know about racism anyway.  I know there is enough ugliness spread around that it is not hard to step into the muck, and I was not sure I am ready for that. 

Each day I go to social media I have been surprised at the silence on what has happened to your son and the demonstrations in Ferguson.  It is as if we are all holding our breath, until today.  Today, the more liberal among my friends posted a couple of posts to show that racism does still exit in America.  I was pretty sure already, but the post confirmed my suspicions.

Of interest is the lack of racist support I saw on social media. There were no comments in support of the policeman who shot Michael Brown, although I do know it exists.  There were no comments supporting police action during the rioting.   There were just no comments.  This may be because I have been actively “un-friended” by people as I have expressed my liberal inclusive attitudes in the past.  I have been “un-friended” by racist friends more than once in real life, face to face, situations also for finding value in cultural diversity.   

The racist always takes me by surprise.  While we are engaging in the activities of American life we don’t always know what the person standing or sitting next to us is thinking about the person on the other side of us.  Usually the slights and snubs are nothing direct, nothing you can point at and say, “That was deliberate.”  The subtleness and pervasiveness of rudeness, carelessness, neglect and distain is almost, but not quiet invisible.  It is subtle to the point of making you question if you observed what you really saw.  You question yourself, and in that questioning, the moment to say something, to take some action is lost. 

Or perhaps you might chose not to take action, because you don’t want to make a big fuss, and don’t want to be the one constantly fighting with people.  Maybe you feel if you are a white person it is not your fight.  Maybe you just don’t know how to fight racism as a white person, so I offer the following:

  • you hear a nasty, racist comment from someone and laughed as if it were a funny joke?  It takes you be surprise.  You need to be prepared.  How about saying something like this, “Excuse me.  Did I understand you?  Were you trying to be funny, because I didn’t think that was very funny.  If you were not trying to be funny, maybe you can explain what you meant.” 
  • you hear a nasty, racist comment in the banter of a newscast, radio or television show and let it go with a wince?  What if you wrote the station manager a letter complaining the next time you heard that happen, asking for an on air apology and strong disciplinary action, like a two week suspension.
  •  you hear someone at work say some nasty, racist comment and you just pretended you don’t hear.  What if you instead called attention to the fact that the comment was nasty, racist and has no place in a work environment, or anyplace else in the United States of America. 

Perhaps most important is to let others know that you are a witness.  That you will not stand by silently. 

 

Dedicated to the memory of my mother, Ardelia Dismukes Schapiro, who died one year ago today.

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