Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘Prejudice’ Category

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.

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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.”

Both Sides Now

In Learning, Prejudice, Resistance on August 16, 2017 at 5:55 am

So it’s come to this, an American president defending Nazis, calling them fine people. We tried to warn you. It was obvious this man was unhinged, undisciplined, unfit, but you refused to listen. “He speaks his mind and says what he thinks,” you said. Now you know what he thinks. Now we all know.

If you still support him, we know what you think, too.

He thinks both sides are equally at fault for the violence in Charlottesville. One side came with torches in the night, shields and weapons and Nazi slogans in the day. The other side said, No. They are not equal. White supremacy is evil. Nazis are evil. The KKK is evil. You can’t side with them and pretend to be Christian, or a good person, or an American. This is over. Whose side are you on?

You thought he would shake things up, and he has certainly done that. His ignorance and recklessness will destroy us as a country if we let him continue; he has already destroyed our reputation and leadership role with the rest of the world.

What we need now is a show of true patriotism and courage from both sides of congress. We need you to admit that this can’t go on. We need you to Stand up for your country and take him down.

We need both sides to work together.

Both Sides.

Now.

The History Train

In Learning, Prejudice, Resistance on August 15, 2017 at 7:31 am

We’ve had a busy few days since Charlottesville, and the fallout continues. Some have called it a breaking point when America can no longer deny what our racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, ignorant, lying so-called president has wrought. I sure hope they’re right. It would be nice to think we have finally turned the corner on this dark period.
Meanwhile, this happened:
Forty-eight hours after the violence Trump finally said “racism is evil” and denounced neo-Nazis and the KKK in a statement considered weak and cowardly in the mainstream media and celebrated by white supremacists.
Three CEOs have resigned from the White House manufacturing council in protest of Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence.
TIKI Brand, the company responsible for creating tiki torches, issued a statement separating themselves from the neo-Nazis who used their products at the rally.
The mayor of Lexington KY announced plans to remove two confederate statues from the courthouse.
Officials in several states, including Florida and Maryland have also called for the removal of confederate statues.
Protesters in Durham NC didn’t wait for official action. Chanting “No KKK no fascist USA,” they pulled down a statue of a confederate soldier.
Social media sites are working to identify participants in the Charlottesville rally. So far, one man lost his job, another was disowned by his family, and a third may be expelled from college.
Those who beat up Deandre Harris have been identified and police are searching and will arrest them.
The man who drove his car into a crowd killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others is in jail without bond.
Go Daddy canceled the domain name for a white supremacist website. When they registered the site with Google, that company also canceled it.
Texas A&M canceled a white supremacist rally scheduled for 9/11.
And so it continues.
In 1971, Paul Simon wrote Peace Like a River, containing these words, “Misinformation followed us like a plague” and “You can’t outrun the history train” that seem curiously prophetic today.
I know I’d like some peace like a river, even if only for a day or two.

A Little Light

In Church, Learning, Prejudice on August 14, 2017 at 6:19 am

A Little Light
What can I say in 300 words about the white supremacists in Charlottesville and everywhere else, including the White House? I despise you more than words can express and I hope you die an agonizing death–soon–and spend eternity writhing in hell. That just about sums it up in only 43 words. Not very Christian, I’m afraid.

I spent Saturday weepy, clicking through channels and scrolling through Facebook to find information about Charlottesville. The news stations focused on Trump’s threats of war against North Korea and Venezuela and ignored the white supremacists threatening us here in America.

Later, after the man in the White House gave his mealy-mouthed response to the violence in Virginia and refused to call out domestic terrorists, I saw a meme that said, “Not many presidents could make threatening nuclear war the second worst thing he did in a week.”

Sunday morning couldn’t come soon enough. Our movie this week was Wonder Woman and I was afraid Pastor Brad would say something about how we had to love even the terrorists. I knew I couldn’t do that.

Instead, he used Diana Prince’s words, “I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat.”

He talked about light defeating darkness and was surprised to get choked up talking about Wonder Woman. I was weepy again through the whole sermon as were several other people. When it gets posted on the website, I’ll let you know. I need to listen to it again.

We closed the service by singing This Little Light of Mine, just like the stalwart clergy in Charlottesville. That will be my lasting impression of Saturday’s events. Not the Nazi slogans or the killer ramming his car into a crowd of protesters. When I think of Charlottesville, I’ll think of the line of clergy of all denominations and races and ages, male and female, locking arms to surround the forces of evil and singing This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine.
I’ll give the last word to Hillary Clinton, “If this is not who we are as Americans, let’s prove it.”

I’m with her.