Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘Prejudice’ Category

Light Filters

In creativity, Friends, Learning, Prejudice on February 23, 2018 at 3:13 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were talking about an artist who makes pieces in a wide variety of media. Someone said, “That’s just how she sees the world—as art and what she can make.
We all have our individual points of view, formed by our peculiar experiences, that determine how we interpret the world.
I tend to interpret things as potential blog posts.
My pastor sees something happening and says, “That sermon almost writes itself.”
One friend focuses on people she can help.
Another friend sees small business ideas wherever she looks.
An architect notices ways to make the world better through design.
A cartoonist wants to pick up our spirits with laughter.
A politician relates everything to votes.
Abraham Maslow said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
Nothing wrong with that. We have to use the tools we have at hand. Luckily, we are social animals who can access the gifts and tools of others because not everything is a nail. Variations of the expression, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are” have been repeated by many people.
While I know this, I tend to forget it in the heat of the moment dealing with someone with an opinion diametrically opposed to my own. I can’t promise to stop that, but I can vow to take a breath and wonder what life circumstances led them to their (wrong!) conclusions. And, of course, I can write about it.

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Blue Gene Baby

In Learning, Prejudice on November 2, 2017 at 9:02 am

I learned recently about a woman who wants to have her DNA done, but worries she might not be Italian. She knows her grandparents immigrated here from Italy and has done quite a lot of genealogical research into her family and has even made a name for herself in her hometown for teaching others how to investigate their own family backgrounds. A major part of her identity is pride in her Italian roots. Then she saw that ad for the DNA company where a man says he always thought he was German, but his DNA analysis said he was Scottish instead, so he traded in his lederhosen for a kilt. “What would I do,” she wonders, “if it turns out I’m not really Italian?”

This strikes me as an irrational fear and my answer to her question would be, “Get over yourself.” Maybe it would give her a new project to explore. In this country of immigrants, most of us have a mishmash of blood running through our veins. Who cares?

In my own meager genealogical searches, I’ve found Dutch, Scottish, English, French, and Norwegian ancestors, but no trace yet of the Irish my parents claimed and which, at any rate, I refuse to acknowledge because I think St. Patrick’s Day is stupid. Relatives tell me we have a strong German line there, too. If I had my DNA analyzed, I’d hope for a trace somewhere, however minuscule of something—anything–outside of northern Europe. A little spice of Native American, say, or Asian, or dare I hope, African? Anyway, my brother suggested I have it done and tell him the results. I told him to do the same thing.

The only people who really benefit from the DNA testing, in my humble opinion, are those whose ancestors were brought here as slaves or others like adoptees who know nothing about their background. My friend S was thrilled to get the results of her test because now she knows what part of Africa her relatives came from. It gives her a stronger sense of place in the world although she remains profoundly American.

I also love the tests that are proving some white nationalists aren’t as pure as they thought.

I understand that people in other countries have little interest in these things. That’s okay, too. Our preoccupation with this is probably harmless.

Unlike some of our other obsessions I could mention.

Things That Annoy Me

In Learning, Prejudice on October 26, 2017 at 7:19 am

Republicans.

Voicemail.

Books that don’t end as well as they start.

Fundamentalist Christians who won’t be happy until everyone has the same stupid, cruel, repressive beliefs they do.

Anyone who talks about their bucket list.

Cheerful, perky people when I’m not in the mood.

The fact that I never learned how to rollerskate backwards, throw a ball, or fly without a plane.

My procrastination.

The door handle that fell off my coat closet.

Diamonds.

People who abuse children or animals.

Bigots.

Minimalists.

People who prefer having over being.

Potholes.

Coffee and the culture that surrounds it.

Sweaty people who don’t wipe down the gym equipment after they use it.

People who think everybody has to travel just because they do.

Board games.

Golf.

People who think aging is something they have to hide, deny, or fix.

Some days almost everything annoys me.

As Water is to Fish

In Learning, Prejudice, Resistance on September 27, 2017 at 6:46 am

The painting shows a tiny black girl in a white dress walking resolutely to school, eyes straight ahead, surrounded by U.S. Marshalls. The wall behind her has the N-word scrawled in rusty, running paint. The famous Norman Rockwell painting is one enduring image of racism. What it doesn’t show is the gauntlet of white parents screaming and spitting and throwing things at the little girl.

In normal life, they were probably perfectly nice people who paid their bills and waited politely in line and helped their neighbors. The thought of an innocent little black girl attending their children’s school, however, turned them into snarling lunatics.

In 1960, Ruby Bridges became the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. It didn’t go well. Somebody had to be the first.

The other lasting impression of racism for me is the devastating song, Strange Fruit, by Billie Holiday.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin’ flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.”

You should listen to it.

When other white people tell me they don’t believe in white privilege or institutional racism, I think of the meme that says, “Racism is to white Americans as water is to fish.” And I think of Ruby Bridges and Billie Holiday.

We have to stop this. We white Americans have to stop this. The first step is acknowledging that it isn’t somebody else’s problem. It’s our problem. We’re the problem and we have to fix it.

Far Out, Man

In creativity, Learning, music, Prejudice, Resistance, spirituality on September 26, 2017 at 9:40 am

Peace, love, and rock ‘n roll is how I like to remember the 60s, and I expect envy from younger generations when those of us now mostly in our sixties wax nostalgic.

Of course, we didn’t really have peace although we demonstrated against the war in Vietnam endlessly in protests that remind me of the repeated protests today. We did have the peace sign.

Love? Yes and no. Free love was never on my agenda, and that was about sex anyway, not love.

Rock ‘n roll, yes indeed. Not only did we have the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Janice Joplin, and Aretha Franklin, we also had the early 60s girl groups and doo-wop and Motown. We had the best music.

Peace, love, and rock ‘n roll were always set against a backdrop of neverending war, vicious racism, and unchecked violence.

It’s why, when a friend asked me to go to the exhibit titled 1968 at History Colorado a year or so ago, I said, “No thank you.” I remembered the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy and thought, “I can’t go through that again.”

It’s why I won’t watch the current PBS series, “The Vietnam War.” The creator, Ken Burns, is a genius, and I’ve enjoyed many of his previous documentaries. Not this one. People tell me it’s wonderful and they’re learning so much that they didn’t know when it happened. Many can only watch it in small chunks without feeling overwhelmed. I had to watch it on the news the first time around. I don’t want to go there again.

For me, the quintessential song about the war is Country Joe and the Fish “Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die Rag.”  “Be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box.”

Maybe I’m sticking my head in the sand (or a box, if you prefer) when I choose to remember the good times and forget the bad. I’d rather listen to Give Peace a Chance than the Eve of Destruction. And I have to wonder, in fifty years, what we’ll (well, you’ll) remember about 2017.

Knee Replacement

In Learning, Prejudice, Resistance on September 25, 2017 at 7:03 am

If you know anything about me, you know I support the athletes and others who are taking a knee to protest racial discrimination and violence against African Americans, especially by the police. I hate that the national conversation, if we can call it that, is about whether or not the action disrespects the flag, or the military, or the man in the White House.

It’s not about the flag.

That flag should symbolize respect for all Americans. As long as police across the country continue to kill innocent, unarmed black people in record numbers, we absolutely must protest. Law enforcement officials have killed at least 223 black Americans since Colin Kaepernick first began to protest. Is that okay with you?

My two favorite quotes about this come from an actor, Jeffrey Wright, who said, “If a knee in Freddy Gray’s back upset you as much as a knee on the ground, this would all be over” and a 97-year-old WWII vet who took a knee and said, “those kids have every right to protest.”

What I hate is that the stupid arguments over whether or not the protests disrespect the flag have deflected attention away from the injustice against African Americans that they are protesting. If this administration is good at anything, it’s deflecting attention away from real issues, including the very real danger that the idiot in the White House will start a nuclear war with North Korea, or that Congress will take health care away from tens of millions of people, or victims of disaster that need our help, or the investigation into 45’s collusion with the Russians to steal the election. Etcetera.

While the DC dotard calls Nazis and the KKK “very fine people” and peacefully protesting athletes “sons of bitches,” I have no doubt that history will call Colin Kaepernick the new Rosa Parks.

We should take a cue from Stevie Wonder and all be on our knees praying for America.

Dream On

In Friends, Prejudice, Resistance on September 7, 2017 at 10:53 am

Every single one of us is the descendant of a go-getter. Of dreamers and of believers.” That’s one of the few things Marco Rubio has ever said that I agree with. The dream crusher in the White House must have realized how unpopular his decision would be because didn’t have the huevos to announce the end of DACA himself. Instead he sent well-known racist and KKK sympathizer Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to do the dirty deed, serving up a whole batch of lies to justify the action.

For the record, DACA did not grant legal status to recipients. Instead, it gave them a temporary reprieve.

It did not contribute to the surge of unaccompanied minors at the southern border.

It did not allow recipients participation in Social Security.

It did not deny jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing illegal aliens to take those jobs.

The facts show that dreamers cannot vote, receive any federal benefits, like social security, food stamps or college financial aid, or receive amnesty.

The backlash was swift and widespread, coming from business and religious leaders in addition to elected officials from his own party. More than 70% of Americans think dreamers should be allowed to stay.

The criticism even seemed to penetrate 45’s obliviousness. Initially, he passed the buck to Congress, and later tweeted that if they couldn’t reach an agreement, he would revisit the subject. He also tweeted that he would take no action against dreamers for six months. Both of these statements would be welcome if anybody actually believed anything he says (or tweets).

We can’t relax and trust him to take care of things. We have to make this happen. These young people grew up here and are just as American as any of us. We need them as much as they need us. Right now, we’re all dreamers.

Sing with me now. Dream on until your dreams come true.

Sweet dreams are made of this.

The Color of Fear

In Books, Prejudice on August 29, 2017 at 6:21 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An elderly Indian man is attacked, beaten, and left to die on the streets of San Francisco the week before Christmas in Marcia Muller’s 32nd Sharon McCone mystery, The Color of Fear. A passerby reports it and an ambulance takes the old man to the hospital. There police find a business card of prominent private investigator Sharon McCone in his pocket. When they contact her, they are astonished to find that the man they thought was homeless is instead her father.
Was it a random, racially motivated crime or the work of a disgruntled client of McCone’s agency? She puts her whole agency to work to find out while her father remains in a coma. At the same time, she has to cope with both her birth and adoptive families, a hacker clever enough to bypass sophisticated security at her house, and a shadowy, racist hate group.
McCone has grown older and more comfortable in her wealth and success and begins to question whether or not she wants to continue putting her life and the lives of those she loves in danger. The hate group theme makes the book oddly prescient in today’s political climate given that it was written at least a year or two ago.
Having followed this series from the beginning, I enjoyed the character development throughout the series, even as it seems time to move on to a newer, edgier protagonist. Muller is at the height of her writing powers, but these characters need to retire.

High Wire Act

In Learning, Prejudice, women on August 23, 2017 at 6:11 am

When I moved from my house to my condo, I got rid of a lot of stuff. My brother, bless him, helped by taking carloads of boxes and bags to charity. When it came to larger pieces, like a solid oak desk, he questioned why I would just give it away when I could easily sell it on Craigslist.
“I’m a woman living alone,” I explained. “I can’t have strangers coming to my house.”
It’s something most women would instinctively understand and most men would never consider.
Women do dozens of things to stay safe that would never occur to men. We don’t walk or run in the dark or enter an elevator with a single male occupant or open the door to someone we aren’t expecting or leave a drink unattended. We stay aware of our surroundings, avoid eye contact, carry pepper spray, and park near lightposts.
Still, women face danger every day, frequently from the men who supposedly love them.
Think about this: The number of women (11,766) killed in “domestic violence homicides between 9/11 and 2012 exceeds the number of deaths of victims on that day and all American soldiers killed in the ‘war on terror.’” That’s from Rebecca Solnit’s grim 2014 book, Men Explain Things to Me. She presents evidence that the biggest predictor of violence is gender.
Men commit 90% of all murders.
“Women worldwide ages 15-44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined.”
Spousal murder is one of the main causes of death for pregnant women in the U.S.
“We have more than 87,000 rapes in this country every year.”
She points out that “kindness and gentleness never had a gender, and neither did empathy.” Most men are nonviolent, caring people.
That doesn’t change the fact that being female can be risky business. We walk a tightrope that requires constant vigilance. All it takes is one misstep, one momentary lapse of judgment.

Darkness, Darkness

In Learning, Prejudice, Resistance on August 21, 2017 at 5:40 am

Can’t say I’m excited about the eclipse. We’ve had too many dark days this year. A friend gave me a pair of the glasses, so I’ll probably put them on and go out to look at the sun for a few minutes. I’ll also keep off the roads because if people will be looking at the sky while driving, it just seems like a good time to stay home. I did have fun yesterday afternoon putting together an eclipse-themed playlist.
You may have seen the mock letter “Dear God, If you want us to impeach Trump, give us a sign. Like, blot out the sun… Anytime in the next week. Thanks, Americans.” Actually, I think God has already given us plenty of signs, if only we (and by we I mean Republicans) were smart enough to recognize them.
Trump’s appalling defense of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK last week was a tipping point for many people. On Saturday I attended a Call to Action for White Allies workshop. Organized at the last minute by Indivisible Denver, they expected about 40 people to attend. Instead, nearly 1,000 showed up.
Of course, racism is hardly a new problem in America. You might argue that it’s one of the foundations the country was built on. I have a hard time separating racism from sexism, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia and other prejudices. They are all phenomenally stupid and cruel, and I and millions of other people are simply fed up.
Another popular online meme says, “The good old days, when women and black people knew their places – and queer was just the dirty family secret nobody talked about are over. Welcome to the 21st century.”
Astrologers tell us that eclipses tend to usher in sweeping change. Like most rational people, I think astrology is nonsense. This time, however, I hope they’re right. I want to believe that a couple hours of darkness will cause people to renounce their bigotry.
Against all logic and experience, I long for them to simply wake up and proclaim,
“Now, I see the light.”