Archive | December 2015

SOUTHERN STATES APPEAR TO WANT JIM CROW ACCORDING TO JUSTICE SCALIA

I like it when people say we’ve made many strides in Civil Rights, especially in the southland, where only recently, a number of states, have pulled down & de-legitimized the Confederate flag. Yes, the vestiges now going through removal, but I wonder about the heart that seeks to learn the ways of Anti-Racism; and those who have bigoted & prejudicial hearts, and continue the same general storyline about race, will keep perpetuating & using the old, tired stereotypes of African-Americans & other persons of color, too.
A racist is someone who won’t listen to life & culture as it shifts around him or her. They live in a fake, distant bubble, isolated often from other people (other ethnicities than White), and are usually dis-connected from the hardships & adversities of others who have a different color hue than the usual European-American.

Why? Because, in our nation, Whites have White Privilege—privileges, access to other services, enrichment, and a clear lack of what it may be like living, or working near a person of color in a White-dominated culture & society.

I’ve been reading Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, and from what I hear, this latest release is the ‘real back story,’ and To Kill a Mockingbird was the “don’t rock the boat” story about Monroeville, Alabama and its racial issues. This is because the newest book really breaks open a sort of southern unaware racism—most formidably displayed in Atticus, and her uncle, Jack; at the conclusion of the book, Jean Louise, has had her expectations & reality crushed, says she’ll never come back to Monroeville again; her iconic heroes—her father & uncle—live now as hypocrites and unjust judges, and for that she can’t forgive them, yes, doesn’t ever want to visit them, or speak to them again. For her, this is the end of her relationship with this small town in Alabama, so she packs up & leaves with bits of gravel in her mouth. Monroeville is history!

In this final “good-bye” section, first she interacts with her dad, Atticus. He says this about “the Negroes”:

“Then let’s put this on a practical basis right now. Do you want
Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters?
Do you want them in our world?”
“They’re people, aren’t they? We were quite willing to import them when they made money for us.”
“Do you want your children going to a school that’s been dragged down to accommodate Negro children?”
“The scholastic level of that school down the street, Atticus, couldn’t be any lower and you know it. They’re entitled to the same opportunities anyone else has, they’re entitled to the same chance—“(p. 301).

“Let’s look at this way,” said her father. “You realize our Negro population is backward, don’t you? You will concede that? You realize the full implications of the word ‘backward,’ don’t you?”
“Yes sir.”
“You realize that the vast majority of them here in the South are unable to share to share fully in the responsibilities of citizenship, and why?”
“Yes sir.”
But you want them to have all its privileges?”

“God damn it, you’re twisting it up!” (p.297)
“Yes sir. Give ‘em a chance.”
“The Negroes? You don’t think they have a chance?”
“Why, no sir.”
“What’s to prevent any Negro from going where he pleases in this country and finding what he wants?”…”Her father picked up a pencil and tapped it on his desk. “Jean Louise,” he said. “Have you ever considered that you can’t have a set of backward people living among people advanced in one kind of civilization and have a social Arcadia? (A real or imagined place offering peace & security)” (p.296).

The main protagonists of Go Set a Watchman, are Atticus, Jean Louise’s dad, and her uncle Jack. In the final scene, they express
their racialized statements to her, and she tries debating both of them, and tell how things display the long-held traditions of Jim Crow, what’s really
happening in Monroeville, and how she feels about her loved one’s biased thinking & acting. In short, this is an earth-shattering realization for herself.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slammed Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Thursday after he suggested African-American students do better in “less-advanced schools.”

“These ideas that he pronounced yesterday are racist in application if not intent,” the Democratic leader said. “I don’t know about his intent but it is deeply disturbing to hear a Supreme Court justice endorse racist ideas from the bench of the nation’s highest court.”

Reid’s comments come after Scalia said on Wednesday that “there are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into The University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”

So, the first case of racism played out in Go Set a Watchman, involving Atticus, Uncle Jack & Jean Louise tends to include the same arguments, of why “Negroes” are behind Whites, and that it naturally follows that African-Americans and other non-whites should be happier to attend schools that are of a “lower” academic quality. After all, it might make a better fit. Has anyone asked African-American and other non-white students what they would prefer? Did Justice Scalia lead some focus groups to get at the facts?
This statement by Scalia sounds like he hasn’t left the Supreme Court in quite a few years. How do people who express such ignorance, bias and Unaware Racism get to the rank of a Justice on the Supreme Court? How is it possible to sit on the nation’s highest court, and spout off racial statements that sound like they come from the Jim Crow era?
I’m beginning to think that all public servants & elected officials need to first go through a thorough & complete course on Racism & Cultural Competency. It could become like a background check for future employment. Many, many law enforcement professionals & police departments need this kind of training as well. Options would show a consistent type of Anti-Racism training model that has a track record of effectiveness, and would allow the freedom to choose the program that one wants; departments may want to choose a more customized kind of training, so alternatives would also be important.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama has produced training content & methods for Law Enforcement Personnel. There has been a notable increase in lone wolf hate crimes, so the SPLC has put together videos & other training materials, and will present it to police departments if they request it.

Comparing Harper Lee’s book, Go Set a Watchman with Justice Scalia’s racialized comments tells us we are still living in the Modern Racism Era. Perhaps Atticus & Uncle Jack’s comments seem to be a harmless form of Racism (even when they had been privy to blatant racism, such as the KKK), yet really this kind of Racism is much more insidious & dangerous, because it’s often hard to see, to observe, & to document the situation. Usually, it comes through “institutionalism,” whose essence is formality, tradition, rule-based lifestyle, instances of legalism, rigidity, usually little access to these institutions for communities of color, and many possibilities for individuals to override the barriers of Institutional Racism. Many folks file discrimination claims against employers for their bias & unfairness in the workplace that also includes sexual harassment.

There is strength in numbers—what we need is socially-conscious White People who aren’t afraid to look into the face of the lion, and who are willing to do the work of Anti-Racism as a fully, committed partner. As Whites increase their “racism quotient” (what they know about Racism), perhaps momentum and authenticity will result in changing the system into one of cooperation, not competition.

©Christopher Bear-Bear December 28, 2015

FOR-GIVE-NESS

The November 23, 2015 issue of Time has an article on the survivors, family members, & friends shot by a racist young man, Dylann Roof, in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015; the date is to be noted due to a six-month anniversary of those killed at Emanuel AME Church, coming up in December, 2015. Our prayers go out for the community of Charleston as well as Emanuel Church and the survivors.

Two weeks after this horrible massacre occurred, there was a Bond Hearing for the defendant; two of the survivor families told the judge that they had forgiven the shooter–soon, as news usually expands, the media had us thinking they all wanted to forgive the killer.

Then, you have to ask: what were the consequences going to be for Dylan Roof? Others expressed that they felt a life-sentence in prison would give him the time & space to think about his actions, and what to do about it. Sadly, Dylann Roof is only twenty-one years old. In this situation, maybe his young age will give him the time to seek some kind of transformation; we also offer compassionate prayers for him & his family.

The mention of forgiving Dylann Roof, helped swirl a controversy within the church community, & among the survivors. Was it really the right time to offer forgiveness before even the trial and legalities surrounding it had begun? Forgiveness–now? Can we forgive now if we know nothing about any remorse shown by Dylann Roof? In other words, does the “forgiveness process” work in some sort of natural way?

People often say, “Forgive & forget.” Yet having forgiveness for someone, or even receiving forgiveness for ourselves, doesn’t negate or void out “forgetting.” Having the ability to recollect or recall someone or an event is actually a kind (Pema Chodron calls it “the soft spot”) of “being” in the moment of time, where we can “fact check our actions & thoughts,” giving us a “chronos” moment where we can see the potentiallity of this process.

Forgiveness often finds the denotative definition found in the dictionary, and people use this definition in reconciliation; forgiveness is not always an earth-shaking event, epiphany, sort of like a piercing crack of thunder in the sky. Forgiveness, on the other hand, appears to demonstrate that forgiveness is a process, not an event.

It’s the “how,” the connection with how we offer forgiveness that is uniquely singular in its expression. There’s another view of forgiveness, and this is widely extant. That when we gain forgiveness or when we forgive another, this will provide closure for the entire incident or situation.

If we think this way, it means that we negate the fact of our humanity and our need to be holistically healed, and to function within an environment(s) (this definition used by General Semanticists).

Recognizing that everything is in process, this may lead to less anxiety for us; the Earth is in the Gaia process, a living organism. This is why we need to develop the closeness to the One; a process means that lives & beings cycle on because the initial experience happened in a “time-space” context. So, there doesn’t appear to be any genuine, “transcendental” closure–all of the Universe is in flux, changing, adapting and “being.” We may also may get some consolation that everything in our world is impermanent, no ending, no beginning, and every single seeker will hopefully find the radiance of love. +

“I don’t forgive someone until they admit their guilt.” Forgiveness generates & nudges our hearts–it’s our personal responsibility to release someone from the debt. Interestingly enough, Webster’s Dictionary defines the prefix “for” as meaning “away, apart, off.” When we accept someone’s forgiveness or when we forgive, what has been impeding our relationship is given away, the need for forgiveness (even the hardest & meanest of people can receive or give forgiveness); we put off what harms our reconciliation with ourselves & others. Forgiveness & compassion are twins at work in this process.

+ Someone (and many do) say, “What if I can’t forgive myself?” Why not? What holds you back? This is your work to do. You, as precious & priceless as anyone who lives on this earth; our priority now is to awaken and shed The Light outwards to others–it may turn out to be “our apocalypse.” No action or thought is so vile that it can’t be forgiven by the “Beloved.”

Attempt to focus on the act of separating a past, previous image in your head from this “in the present moment,” where you and I exist right now! This is our present, emotional/spiritual reality. Below, find something to consider: + Why this person, place or thing is so difficult to forgive? Secondly, what specific emotions come up in tandem with the past experience one has gone through due to your prevailing social conditioning?

All of the faith traditions teach & practice forgiveness fueled by compassion. How about us getting down, wild & wooly (this can help us in the winter!) about forgiveness, that has its source in love. Out of Buddha’s many experiences, there resides a story of compassionate forgiveness. Pardon me, if I don’t have some of the details correct in the story. Once a mass-murderer went to see the Buddha; the murderer implored the Buddha to free him of his sins of killing & bloodshed, and to allow him to be Buddha’s disciple.

Buddha warmly, with his jolly smile and rolling belly, invited the ex-murderer to come inside the monastery and follow his teachings. Not only had the former murderer started practicing mindfulness, he was aware of the severity & heinousness of his actions & crimes, but he was also willing to give his life up in service to the Buddha; so by loving Buddha, clearly he demonstrated his love for the “Beloved,” and all people who suffer just like us. So go and give your “green forgiveness” away bringing life to others!

Here’s what Andrew Harvey writes about forgiveness in his book, entitled “The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi:” “We all should be practicing this alchemy of forgiveness by reaching out to the torturers, the killers, the maniacs, the bankers, and to all those inside ourselves, perpetual hands of unconditional love. That is the only force that can swerve them now” (p. 201). Perhaps forgiveness will be the force that saves the planet! Copywrite: Christopher Bear-Beam December 2, 2015