Archive | September 2015

SCAPEGOAT

Ever since 911, in my estimation, politicians, academics, people in general, have branded Muslims as scapegoats. In our popular usage in this culture a scapegoat is a person or a group that is blamed as a whole, for social, communal reasons, issues & problems.

Now, with Republican candidate Ben Carson’s (his statement that he wouldn’t want a Muslim to be President) throwing in the scapegoat card into the Republican race. At another speaking engagement (after his first comment) remarked that Muslims, or any other group that doesn’t respect the values, the culture, American principles of life, & lifestyle shouldn’t be chosen to be the leader of this nation, i.e., President.

Carson appears not to understand the dynamics of a White Supremacist System (here I’m not alluding to an extremist group, but to the overall systemic structure that fuels our nation). What he put into words is already being played out in our society today. For example, the White Supremacist System has always been about the enrichment of White Americans, and it’s always been about assimilation. Why? So they can do the work we don’t want to do.

Isn’t there even a slight possibility that people arriving from other cultures would like to participate in an open & free culture (on paper, that is), while continuing to preserve their own culture’s customs, ways of celebration & food, ways of noting important & significant time-milestones, music, dress, affinity with others who’ve arrived in the U.S., language, academics, trades, employment, potentializing their own prosperity for themselves & their families?

When the politics of racism, along with the rising rigidity, lack of tolerance & acceptance on the social scene, we have more of the politics of exclusivism, extremism & a more emotional & biased baseline than on a basis of facts, fewer statistics (don’t forget, you can still lie with statistics!) & political policies that often inhibit the wellness (in social, healthcare, & psychological dimensions) of the nation and immigrants who come here for a more improved life for themselves & families.
In light of a comparison with a more accurate picture of how the White Supremacist System functions, Carson’s political statements bring us down the river to unexpected twists, turns & derailments. So, we now have an African American presidential candidate, albeit, in his political discourse & simply arrogant claims (his statements merge into an image of ‘we’re the best culture & country in the world;’ thus, every person running for President across the board to the “average American,” is a representative of ‘our beautiful union).’ Ah, perfection is a many splendored thing!

In effect, Carson justifies a back-stepping by all those who love justice. He’s putting a kind of frosting on the cake that helps bring a Patriarchal Hierarchy (with a new set of clothes) back into our views & practices.

He’s thrown in his hand with the political agenda that will perpetuate the politics of fear, intimidation & imperialism. The motivation for this is spawned from the ready pool of those who feel superior to those of another ethnicity other than White, or those who feel internalized inferior due to the workings of the White Supremacist System. In other words, keeping ourselves on top while others are kept down.

My guess is that Ben Carson has forgotten much of what he knew about being an African American living in a racist culture. Elitism also plays a part here—don’t forget that he is a surgeon, a sometimes elite & professional role in work & the community; therefore, he seems to lack the graciousness & clear-thinking needed by any candidate for the presidency.

Another conjecture is that he knows he’s pandering to those who believe that all of our problems are due to Muslims, the scapegoats. Anecdotally, after he made these statements about Muslims, he bragged to the world, that his political coffers were filled—so he must figure this is one way to finance his campaign.

A good lesson for any politician is the recognition that people tend to throw money at problems. If you can’t fix it, try to buy it off, try some new project. When it comes to growing a racially-sound consciousness, we’re talking about something much deeper than buying raffle tickets.

And here’s the thing: for those who buy into these old school notions of cultural competency, and want to throw money or ridicule at people, they become commiserates & colluders with the White Supremacist System. Even silence is an assent to the system; it’s easier & more comfortable to jump in a river and let the current take you away, than to engage in political resistance. The latter takes consciousness, commitment & compassion. It’s not a day in the park, but a day in a kind of “bootcamp.”

Interestingly enough, September 22, 2015 was the Day of Atonement for folks of the Jewish religion. The day is based on the Judaic tradition, where once a year the High Priest would select a goat to carry the sins of the nation. A man took the goat out to the Judean desert. This was, for them, a ritualistic practice for reconciliation with God for all.

The man took the goat out to the desert & tried to push the goat down the side of a mountain to its sure demise; however, if the goat escaped from the goatly avalanche, got away, it was considered an evil omen.

After this, the man would take the broken bones & the carcass of the goat back to the High Priest, and they would begin the liturgical sacrifice.

Knowing how different the milieus were, from that time until now, we can see, the goat wasn’t really a scapegoat, but was a symbol for getting rid of sins, and reconciliation. The goat’s role was to do just what it did.

When we use the word scapegoat, those who have a ‘risen consciousness’ can see that this is a diabolical illusion. One person or group being the blame for everyone’s problems? What we don’t often think of is this: do I take my personal responsibility for trying to live a good life? I think I’m doing OK, so why not simply place it on someone else’s head?

When we listen to political rhetoric we have to use our critical thinking skills to ask ourselves a few questions:

1).  What is the source of information that the politician uses for his/her claims?
2).  Are their statements facts-based, or are they just personal opinions, fancies, stereotypical thinking, or inferences made, that become the politician’s story line?
3).  Politicians use political rhetoric that is laced with self-generated bravado about their own ideas; political rhetoric is generally filled with “glittering generalities” and doesn’t talk much about the less abstract, incremental pieces of their platform.

Sadly, give me some of that old “American Spirit,” is a form of exceptionalism (the idea of an America in superiority to others, and that there is some “divine plan” that White, European Americans were chosen to fulfill over other peoples who inhabit earth). Better think twice on that one!

WILL SOMEONE PLEASE TURN OFF THE STEREO?

There are three roles in this piece: Mohammed, Bear, & Rachel. PJ Rainbow Poet will play the role of Mohammed & Rachel. Someone once told me that the antidote to oppression, depression, compression, repression, & suppression was EXPRESSION…so let the healing begin!

MOHAMMED:
I’m tired of the stares & denials
Being a Black man in my own country
After building up the economy
Of the U.S. by our slave-labor
With little or no access to the wealth
And resources of this teeming nation

We built up the South, and the DC
Capital Building, as well,
But today I can’t get no job
I feel like I’m goin’ to hell

I think of our Black folk’s souls
Standing a far distance back
While Whites lynched another Black
In the atmosphere of celebration
Where little Black children were called
“Pick-a-ninnies,” a code word for the
Festivities of picking out families
Framing it in the families having a picnic with
African Americans giving the ghost by a noose. ,
Where did our status of human dignity
Go, to what hiding place did it run,
Up the Underground Railroad, to Boston
Where Frederick Douglas once escaped

Debating and writing polemics
In the Abolition War, pro against con?
The White Supremacist clon has done
Their con through rules & regulations
Just another phrase for bias & discrimination

Bear:
Now, hold on just a minute
Ahmed…I mean Mohammed
I say this was a modicum of dread
My ancestors crossed the seas
Came from the Continent of Trees
To the Continent of Cotton, it was
Free for the taking

My Scotch-Irish people pulled
Themselves up by their bootstraps
Said ‘we can do it on our own!’
If only we can get those slaves on loan
Then soon they’ll be ours, living in our home

We were rugged individualists,
Free in this new, raw-boned land
We bought your ancestors fair & square
To dig our dirt, plant our seeds, making
Our plantations wealthy on a dare

So, Mohammed, what’s up with your words?
You’re bitterness in anger, I see, is flying up
In the sky just like the freewheelin’ gulls & birds
Into a freedom of the Third Mill, most of you gotta
Place to stay, a job, and equal opportunity
In the courts of law, you got immunity,
Just like us Whites!
If you do what’s right
It’ll be clean outta sight,
We promise to be your allies, day & night

Rachel:
Now, hold on brother from another mother,
Stop being an ass, my euro-friend, you freakin’ jerk,
You got nothing on me, and that’s real clear
I’m the “mixed up one,” they call me Pilipino,
Latina, Wetback, or Oreo, but if we were
Born here–aren’t we all Americans? The verbal
Separation rides the horse, we get the spur!

Do you know what it’s like, Mr. Bear?
Trying to ‘simulate into whiteness, but never be
Accepted by your ethnic in-laws & out-laws?
I guess I’m a half-breed, and a woman, too,
That puts me at the bottom of the Oppression Ladder,
And makes me eat, out of emotional
Necessity, since I have no universal ethnicity

Speaking of women, oh, let me tell you a thing
Or three, let me speak my truth to be free.
Women are paid less in the market place;
Most women still don’t have no place
To call their own in larger society
Because the males got the power & leadership
And few of us got a badge that reads, “I ride
The person ship.”

And, you, Mohammed, you still collude with the
General Male System, keeping your own women down
On the ground, like downtown, seeking a place to lie
our head, on the lowdown, you want us to play & pay!

Bear:
After hearing you two dudes talk, I’m gonna balk,
At saying I’m the same as you, because I’m not.
You have told me the truth, the truth with
Skin on, the real deal, the uncut accuracy of
Ethno-fact; you’re my mirror I hold up
And look back to what my ancestors did to
You and your indigenous cousins in family

I’ll never again, stand against you, just to be
Seen the same as my Euro-family,
I’ll speak the truth of what I heard today.
Now I know there’s a subtle, devious aversion
By my Anglo friends who unconsciously
Create the diversion by ignorance
And within themselves denied avoidance

Mohammed:
I came here today, an angry Black dude with plenty
Of pissed off attitude, but what you’ve told me,
Bear, is your vulnerability & courage,
To listen to truth, maybe save some of our youth.
Sounds like today you got it, and I’ll be your
Ally, supporting your lonely heart—so go tell
It on the mountain to those who look like you

Rachel:
When I met you today, I thought it would be
Another stupid conversation with Mad Black
And White Male Sad Sack, but what I see,
I’m happy to be the third leg of the stool
In our common, diverse trinity

What I want to leave you with is my
Loyalty to diversity, for all people are
Created free—black, red, yellow, brown
White & queer, is that clear?
If we don’t struggle for justice for all the
Above, then how can we claim that we really
Got love indivisibly?!

UNISON: ALL PEOPLE STRUGGLE TO BE FREE!
LET’S DO IT TOGETHER!

The inner work of Anti-Racism

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, goes the old adage.

The de-construction of an ‘’ism’’ that’s been barricaded in your basement on lock down for a long time: this has been my tendentious journey the last almost twenty years of my life.  Over the years, I’ve made acquaintance with my own biases, prejudices, and racialized thinking/behavior.

First, comes the unlearning of old social conditioning patterns, self-introspected stuck points.  Next comes the relearning of accurate information on race that you can be sure you trust enough to put it into your brain—this needs to be comprehended first before it can be digested & assimilated into your consciousness.

But the most arduous part of this journey has been the day-to-day actions & behaviors, thought patterns, revisiting belief systems,attitudes, stereotypical thinking, feelings, biases, and unaware pieces of unconscious ‘’isms’’ that float up from the base of our unconscious into conscious awareness.

By now, I’m sure you can see that many ‘’isms’’ operate by the same dynamics as any form of oppression would.

The acronym from the field of General Semantics (GS) has been called W.I.G.O., meaning ‘’What is going on out there, and what’s going on inside me, inside my Central Nervous System & other brain chemistry effects?’’  How do we evaluate what is fact and what is a ‘sincere fiction.’

Acting mindfully is growing in awareness of how our bag of skin, bones, flesh, blood, organs, synapses, Central Nervous System respond inwardly, to incomings (incoming stimuli).

Using this GS principle of mindful awareness to see my ‘’isms’’ has helped me to stay in touch with all parts of myself (my selves) and the communal world around me.

So, if I’m having a conversation about race with another person and we hit a ‘’touchy’’ area that I guard like dudes who work for  Brinks guard their loot, then I get squirmy & defensive; however, if I’m aware that the part o mybody that is my shock absorber is my stomach.  I’m having a felt body sensation towards some piece of what we’ve been conversating about.

When we really think about it, as has been said elsewhere, ‘The body knows.’

Wounds often get stuck in the body somewhere, in some specific part of our body, and they cause unconscious and automatic changes in our bodies & brain chemistry.

So this is a good place to start this self-contemplative tool of mindful awareness, i.e., being with our body.

I don’t mean while we’re sitting on a meditation pillow; I mean where we go out in the world, interacting with the larger, and maybe louder, more distracting world that surrounds us all.

Why not use the One (or whatever you prefer to call your Higher Power) to help you remain open & natural to the spaciousness of all the world’s objects & beings.  Remain open, and through mindful awareness, whenever you encounter stimuli in the form of ‘’race talk;’’ race talk invariably will bring out our ignorance, our blindness, & our guardedness, when asked to be a part of honest conversations.  Essentially, there are three ‘’cliched’’ (but true) questions we can use as a kind of self-inquiry:

Ø       ” What do you mean when you tell me that my verbal & non-verbal communication is incongruent?

Ø     ‘’When I look at a person with darker-hued skin tone than me, I don’t see color.’’

Ø     ‘’I’m not racist, but . . .’’

©Christopher Bear-Beam September 11, 2015