Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Conversations about Race: Talk Back #1

“One would think everyone would enjoy the same rights by 2015, sadly we seem further away than before.” ~ Joan Raymond

“It seems to me, not only a race issue but "respect for life" in general.” ~ Shari Clutter-Wick

“Where exactly to start, well, could be anywhere, but I would choose workers’ rights to fair wages, meaning actual living wages.” ~ Gil Gia

My heart bursting with gratitude, I read the blog comments, emails, and Facebook posts as people began responding to the conversation about race. This was exactly what I wanted -- folks sharing their experiences, their questions, their takes on race and social issues. This is how we’re going to grow and begin to know how to even talk about race. So, this post will be a “Talk Back” to share and respond to some of the ideas brought forth.

White privilege is the phenomenon that because a person was born white, he or she is afforded a certain status and receives benefits by virtue of being a part of that group. These advantages are withheld from other groups, usually people of color, just because they are not white.  A good explanation of White Privilege is presented by Gina Crosley-Corcoran

My friend Rose posted on Facebook: “unfortunately, white privilege has some people very blinded to some facts that i have read. facts around how young black boys are viewed as older and more threatening, to them getting into trouble for things that their white friends would not.”

Blog comment from friend Joan Kerr: At a multicultural institute, “. . . I was told that I was racist simply by virtue of being part of the privileged class . .  I guess hearing that helped in terms of being more aware of what it means to NOT have to think about race. . . . Are ALL white people part of the problem just because they were born white? (To read Joan’s full text, see the Comments section.)

That doesn’t make a White person a racist in my book. What does make a White person racist is if they hate based on skin color or ethnicity, if they use their privilege to keep other groups down, if they perpetuate inequities. Gary Howard says Whites don’t have to continue the pattern, that there are different ways of being White. There is “. . . a choice as White people to become champions of justice and social healing.” 

Skin too light. Skin too dark. Hair too “good.” Trying to “act white.” Talking too “proper.” These are some of the words, insults, thrown at many young Blacks attempting to grow up and find/make their places in the world. Those who dare to step out of the perceived norm are often seen as disrespecting their group, being an “Uncle Tom.”

My friend Sylvia said, “I was consistently asked by my peers why I talked and acted "so White". I grew up being ostracized more by my own race than least openly and as far as I knew.” (see Sylvia’s full text in the Comments section.)

Our experiences mirror each others’. Sylvia wrote a book about it. I wrote a poem.


What kinda talk is that
My mother's moon-wide hazel eyes shone
harsh light on my non-standard grammar

We don't say ain't in this house
It's     That's not right
And    I don't have any

I yearned to please
Learned the code
Knew when not to say Ain't got no

And when to talk proper
Learned double negatives negate
Tacked on the i-n-g's

Precise, equalizing speech
a life-long saleable commodity
Cash language

She talk white
Like a col-lidge gurrl
She think she bettah den us

Join the conversation. If you send an email, please let me know if it’s okay to quote you in a future blog post.

Thanks. Peace. Love.

~ xoA ~

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Conversations about Race: It’s a Start

I’ve led an extraordinary life. I’ve felt loved and secure and had the opportunity to grow up unconcerned about my safety. There was no question that I would get my education and have a career. In my lifetime, I’ve been in countless situations in which I was the only Black person, or one of the few enough to count, in the room. That’s never been a problem for me. My experience, or any one person’s, is not everyone’s reality.

Today I feel the anguish, devastation, frustration, and horror of being Black in America. I worry about what might befall my young nephews, sons of friends, any black youth. And, nowadays, I fear for any Black person who is stopped by law enforcement or encounters armed citizens bent on brandishing their weapons.

This past year, we’ve been inundated with the images of Black people -- men, women, and kids -- thrown to the ground, screamed at as if they are inhuman, shot and killed, or dying in police custody. The reaction of far too many Americans that this is “okay” shows a need for real dialog that creates more questions and opportunities for each of us to share our thoughts, feelings, and dreams -- a chance to create understanding.

A safe place for conversation, people talking and people listening. That’s communicating in a rational way. With understanding comes change. There may be emotion. There may be tears and frustration. The opportunity for growth, understanding and peace are limited only by our openness and by our willingness to step outside our comfort zones.

Today’s blog post is my attempt to begin a conversation. It’s a start. No one has all the answers -- I sure don’t -- but we can begin. Questions and thoughtful, respectful comments and dialog are welcomed.  Communicate with me and others through the blog. Share a post with someone else as a conversation starter. The aim is to create the possibility for insight and perspective. And understanding. We ARE all in this together.
~ xoA ~