Archive | September 2017

That Beautiful, Laughing, Young Woman From Brazil

She throws her long, straight-brown hair back, laughing loudly at the jokes & spontaneous-combustible chemistries in the room. It’s a joy to know we are all from one tree-we are the earth beneath our feet, and the house is rooted deep inside Mama Earth.
Ana’s happy. She’s engaged with life; she speaks of her country and ours-when she first arrived in the U.S., just over three months ago-it was like walking into a surreal, unreal movie to her/people in Brazil, she said, look at the U.S. in that way-America is Nirvana on earth! Could it be that this response is internalized oppression, after being conquered by ‘the whites from Europe & North America?’

She came to a country historically divided by race, particularly in black & white relations, since the prior time of even becoming a nation. Some have called Racism, ‘our original sin.’ Perhaps we can also say it’s our most virulent dis-ease. In the area of solid, whole relationships, we’re sadly off-balance and off-the-chain when it comes to racism.
She relates that in her country, people aren’t obsessing over and constantly saying, “Are you (they) black or white?” whereas in our country, this is so often the bottom line. In a way, we’re almost obsessed by the issue.

For example, in her family her dad makes jokes about how the people-of-color-in-Brazil talk or act, then laughs about it. Maybe he thinks this isn’t racist, yet his comments are based on stereotypical images.

In Brazil, Ana’s country, the “given-ness” is that of a mixed-race-culture. Brazil’s first colonizers were the Spaniards\many were blond-haired and blue-eyed; then, there followed interracial liaisons and marriages with the various indigenous peoples of the her land. One thing is that Brazil is about colors. Colores del Galore!

Again, Ana laughs at the absurdity of our addiction to physiological traits & characteristics (this despite the Genome Experiment showing that there’s more diversity within a people group than between people groups), tosses her head back with the light sprinting off of her sparkling white teeth.

I like Ana, and I think she likes me; she’s vivacious and full of spirit in her Latin, female body-mind. I’ll laugh with you any time, Ana, because I like to laugh, have fun, and laughter makes me feel better in the long run most of the time.

Copyright: Christopher Bear-Beam September 19, 2017

Maine’s Governors Statements on Mainers in the Confederacy

Even prior to moving to Texas a year ago, Maine’s Governor LePage had already really gotten my attention due to his outrageous, and often factless or fact-twisted, racist statements & behaviors.

His current embroglio is over the statements about the number of Mainers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. I can forgive simple amnesia over historical fact, but for simply not thinking and expressing historical facts, patently untrue, is a little harder.

David Zimring, author of To Live and Die in Dixie: Native Northerners who Fought for the Confederacy, wrote a column in the Opinion Page of the August 29, 2017 issue of the Portland Press Herald, reporting that LePage just didn’t get it right on his statements about Mainers serving in the Civil War.

During a radio interview, the Governor was quoted as having said that 7600 Mainers fought for the Southern Supremacy to preserve property rights, abandoning their homes & families, to scrap with friends & neighbors. But this 1/2 truth, says Zimring, “betrays the legacy of the state he claims to cherish” (David Zimring, Maine’s contribution to the Confederacy was not what Gov. LePage says. Portland Press Herald, August 29, 2017, p. A4).

These numbers above were still in relative contrast with the seventy-thousand Mainers who fought with the Union. Of course, again, emphasizing the much smaller amount of Mainers in the Confederacy with the much larger numbers of those who fought for the Union and Abolition of Slavery, does an injustice to these ‘sons & daughters of Maine,’ many of whom gave their lives for the cause.

For the writer of this article, David Zimring, the most bothersome point is that all these Mainers had left for other southern states, prior to the War’s commencement. So, this is in contrast, to LePage’s statements.

As an historian, David Zimring, wants people to know that all of the Mainers who signed up for the Confederacy, lived in Confederate-leaning states before the Civil War; they and their families adopted the state into which they moved, thus, fought for the South. They fought in the Confederacy to maintain their allegiance to the state that gave them residency.

When the war ended, most of these Maine transplants remained in their adoptive states that they now considered their home; contrary to LePage’s statements, they didn’t fight for the Grays, with the mission of property rights.

Zimring concludes his article by writing, “Trying to manipulate the past to make a political point does a disservice to those who fought and those who remember. History is power and must be handled with utmost care” (Ibid.)

Clearly, and as his track record shows, Gov. LePage practices white supremacy in his words, stereotypes, and his behaviors; this is enough to disqualify him, in my opinion, from being the “titular, sovereign, and bellicose” leader of the state of Maine. Perhaps he is or isn’t proud of his educational background, I have no idea, but he should make diligent effort to get the facts correct, if not for himself, at least for all Mainers who believe in fact, accurate history, & Civil Rights.

Copyright: Christopher Bear-Beam September 18, 2017

Maine’s Governors Statements on Mainers in the Confederacy

Even pryor to moving to Texas a year ago, Maine’s Governor LePage had already really gotten my attention due to his outrageous, and often factless or fact-twisted, racist statements & behaviors.

His current imbroglio is over the statements about the number of Mainers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. I can forgive simple amnesia over historical fact, but for simply not thinking and expressing historical facts, patently untrue, is a little harder.

David Zimring, author of To Live and Die in Dixie: Native Northerners who Fought for the Confederacy, wrote a column in the Opinion Page of the August 29, 2017 issue of the Portland Press Herald, reporting that LePage just didn’t get it right on his statements about Mainers serving in the Civil War.

During a radio interview, the Governor was quoted as having said that 7600 Mainers fought for the Southern Supremacy to preserve property rights, abandoning their homes & families, to scrap with friends & neighbors. But this 1/2 truth, says Zimring, “betrays the legacy of the state he claims to cherish” (David Zimring, Maine’s contribution to the Confederacy was not what Gov. LePage says. Portland Press Herald, August 29, 2017, p. A4).

These numbers above were still in relative contrast with the seventy-thousand Mainers who fought with the Union. Of course, again, emphasizing the much smaller amount of Mainers in the Confederacy with the much larger numbers of those who fought for the Union and Abolition of Slavery, does an injustice to these ‘sons & daughters of Maine,’ many of whom gave their lives for the cause.

For the writer of this article, David Zimring, the most bothersome point is that all these Mainers had left for other southern states, pryor to the War’s commencement. So, this is in contrast, to LePage’s statements.

As an historian, David Zimring, wants people to know that all of the Mainers who signed up for the Confederacy, lived in Confederate-leaning states before the Civil War; they and their families adopted the state into which they moved, thus, fought for the South. They fought in the Confederacy to maintain their allegiance to the state that gave them residency.

When the war ended, most of these Maine transplants remained in their adoptive states that they now considered their home; contrary to LePage’s statements, they didn’t fight for the Grays, over property rights.

Zimring concludes his article by writing, “Trying to manipulate the past to make a political point does a disservice to those who fought and those who remember. History is power and must be handled with utmost care” (Ibid.)

Clearly, and as his track record shows, Gov. LePage practices white supremacy in his words, stereotypes, and his behaviors; this is enough to disqualify him, in my opinion, from being the “titular, sovereign, and bellicose” leader of the state of Maine. Perhaps he is or isn’t proud of his educational background, I have no idea, but he should make dilligent effort to get the facts correct, if not for himself, at least for all Mainers who believe in fact, accurate history, & Civil Rights.

Copyright: Christopher Bear-Beam September 18, 2017

Seacoast Peace Academy and The Truth-Telling Project Presentation-September 16, 2017

The Seacoast Peace Academy and the Truth-Telling Project teamed-up to hold a workshop presentation on how our stories around oppression need to be shared with others-this is where a healing process may start, and from there may be sustained to be a ‘moral imperative’ in our collective narrative around racism and “other-ism.”

The Seacoast Peace Academy, co-founded by Melinda Salazar, has as its mission the creation of an “online consciousness” that is as close at your fingertips, and may be an educational & supportive adjunctive to those seeking conflict resolution support and a way to express their traumatic experiences check out: www.seacoastpeaceacademy.org.

Although, there is concern that re-telling our stories may trigger retraumatization to the tellers, the benefits of this social media revolution appear to outweigh the possible risks.

We’ve got the model of Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa in dealing with the after-affects of Apartheid, but this isn’t a “cookie-cutter” process where one size fits all.  As Dr. David Ragland pointed out, our culture probably wouldn’t be the best to initiate a Truth & Reconciliation process.  Each situation needs to be aligned with the appropriate approach for the specific culture in mind.  We’ve got to pick up the narrative where & when others take us through their stories.

Seacoast Peace Academy saw the direct educational benefits through an organization like The Truth-Telling Project.  A very unique part of this program is that it can be used in community & personal settings by going online to www.truthtellingproject.org and showing the storied videos and expressions of pain due to racism.  This is an ideal model for small group meetings where a computer can be used to run the stories.

Our White Privilege needs to be excavated, explored, acknowledged and worked with on a continuous, ongoing way.  As Jack Kornfield, a well-known Buddhist teacher, writes:

If you think of happiness only as gaining one pleasurable experience after another—a great dinner, a good bottle of wine, a night of sex followed by a morning where you have a successful jog and a delicious latte, or you hop on a plane to Bali—it’s exhausting! These material things can’t feed the heart. These things are lovely, and they’re a part of the life that people of privilege can have. But I’ve met people in the poorest refugee camps around the world who have an incredibly joyful spirit. You also can have tremendous privilege and wealth and still be miserable. (unknown source).

Now, that’s a “true that” statement, if I’ve ever heard one!

white supremacy culture

by Tema Okun . dRworks . http://www.dismantlingracism.org

■ I dedicate this piece to the late Kenneth Jones, a long-time colleague, mentor, and

friend who helped me become wise about many things and kept me honest about

everything else. I love you and miss you beyond words.

■ These sections are based on the work of Daniel Buford, a lead trainer with the People’s Institute.  These sections are based on the work of Daniel Buford, a lead trainer with the People’s Institute .  This piece on white supremacy culture builds on the work of many people, including (but not limited to) Andrea Ayvazian, Bree Carlson, Beverly Daniel Tatum, M.E. Dueker, Nancy Emond, Kenneth Jones, Jonn Lunsford, Sharon Martinas, Joan Olsson, David Rogers, James Williams, Sally Yee, as well as the work of Grassroots Leadership, Equity Institute Inc, the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, the Challenging White Supremacy workshop, the Lillie Allen Institute, the Western States Center, and the contributions of hundreds of participants in the DR process.

This is a list of characteristics of white supremacy culture that show up in our organizations. Culture is powerful precisely because it is so present and at the same time so very difficult to name or identify. The characteristics listed below are damaging because they are used as norms and standards without being proactively named or chosen by the group. They are damaging because they promote white supremacy thinking. Because we all live in a white supremacy culture, these characteristics show up in the attitudes and behaviors of all of us –people of color and white people. Therefore, these attitudes and behaviors can show up in any group or organization, whether it is white-led or predominantly white or people of color-led or predominantly people of color.

  • perfectionism

 

  • sense of urgency

 

 

  • worship of the written word

 

 

  • only one right way

 

 

  • paternalism

 

 

  • power hoarding

 

 

  • i’m the only one

 

  • the belief that there is such a thing as being objective or ‘neutral’
  • the belief that emotions are inherently destructive, irrational, and should not play a role in decision-making or group process

 

  • right to comfort
  • _______________________________________________________________________________________

 

I enjoyed the easy flow of the gathering; it was so cool to be a part of a Racial Healing group, where there was a common understanding to dismantle racism, and diverse ways of how to do it.  My sincere compliments to the organizers of the event.  Thanks for giving us more accurate information to “do this work.”

Contact Info:

David Ragland is a co-director of The Truth Telling Project of Ferguson. He is also a visiting professor at Pacifica Graduate Institute in the Community Liberation and Ecopsychology program, and serves on the National Council for the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Reach him on Twitter @davidragland1.

Cori Bush is a co-director of The Truth Telling Project of Ferguson. She is a nurse, pastor, mother of two, and candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the First Congressional District of Missouri. Follow her on Twitter @CoriBush.

Melinda Salazar is a co-director of The Truth Telling Project of Ferguson. She is also the co-founder of the Seacoast Peace Academy. Reach her at mesala9@gmail.com.

Copyright: Christopher Bear-Beam September 17, 2017

An upcoming event in Portsmouth, NH: going deeper in our conversation on race

“The ultimate goal of peace education is the formation of responsible, committed, and caring citizens who have integrated the values into everyday life and acquired the skills to advocate for them.” (Dr. Betty Reardon, scholar, writer, activist and founder the Peace Education Center and Peace Education at Teacher’s College, International Institute for Peace Education).

Believing in this mission, the Seacoast Peace Academy, wants to serve up a plate of “‘living room'” conversations about systemic racism and its local manifestation to Portsmouth’s neighborhoods and beyond” (Seacoast Sunday, September 3, 2017, A ‘deeper conversation’ on race, p. A3). Another way of putting it, this is a communal meal where people share conversations on systemic racism. Once our “inner conversations” can be moved into more “outer conversations” with the surrounding culture, we become more empowered.

The Seacoast Peace Academy began when three social studies & English teachers (Melinda Salazar, Alex Herlihy and Kay Morgan) met and started their own conversation. All of them had left the educational field, but they wanted to implement the ideas they’d started in the community. What could they do? They collaborated with some other nonprofits, all having the same common goal of energizing real-time and meaningful dialogues around Social Justice Issues.

Salazar said, “We wanted to serve as a catalyst to bring communities of learning together to have deeper conversations about violence and conditions for peace. That link between peace building and race has always been a pretty big gap, both in communities of color, academically and in areas (predominantly white)” (Ibid.) She went onto to say that in our time of extreme stress, political chaos, and social regression, this is often very difficult to accomplish, because all of the stimuli tends to make it hard for people to get to the real conversations, such as race, racism or any other “ism.”

All three staff members mentioned above, from the Seacoast Peace Academy “want to use the Seacoast Peace Academy as a vehicle to bring workshops for teachers regarding race and diversity issues, as well as a peacebuilding curriculum” (Ibid.).

After the dialogue, participants will break into small groups to dialogue about how in their organizations, schools and other settings, truth-telling can be employed as a method for promoting social justice.

Summing up: Alex Herlihy said, “Facing history, facing ourselves, it’s liberating and it’s healing.” Isn’t this the end result we’d all like to see? Though sometimes traumatic, it’s possible to heal, both as perpetrators and those oppressed, from system racism and its effects.

The upcoming event will be held at the Portsmouth Public Library, Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 1:00-4:00 PM, and is a collaboration with the Truth Telling Project, that will be launching an Online Learning Commons, with this dialogue. For more information on these two organizations, as well as the event, check out: www.seacoastpeaceacademy.org and www.thetruthtellingproject.org.

Copyright: Christopher Bear-Beam September 4, 2017

 

Teen’s “White Boy Privilege” slam poetry goes viral

By Karen Yuan and Lucy Price, CNN
Updated 7:35 AM ET, Thu July 14, 2016

8th grader royce mann white privilege poem intv_00035828
racial segregation american youth taylor cnni nr intv_00003826.jpg

New York (CNN)A young boy takes the stage. In a shaky voice, he says, “My name is Royce. My poem is titled, ‘White Boy Privilege.'”

The video of the 14-year-old student’s slam poem at his school has gone viral in the midst of heated national discussions regarding race and privilege.

Performed at a slam poetry competition in May at The Paideia School in Atlanta, Royce Mann’s winning poem offers a reflection on the privilege he feels he has been automatically awarded as a result of his being white and male.

Teen slam poet apologizes for white privilege
Teen slam poet apologizes for white privilege 09:23

His piece begins with a lamentation: “Dear women, I’m sorry. Dear black people, I’m sorry. Dear Asian-Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who came here seeking a better life, I’m sorry. Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I’m sorry. I have started life on the top of the ladder while you were born on the first rung.”

As Royce continues, he acknowledges the barriers that those of other genders, races and classes must confront that he is fortunate enough to avoid: “Because of my race, I can eat at a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me to steal the silverware. Thanks to my parents’ salary I go to a school that brings my dreams closer instead of pushing them away.”

Royce concedes that, if given the choice, he would not choose to trade places with anyone else because “to be privileged is awesome.”
As he reads his poem, his voice grows louder and more impassioned. “It is embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person’s character by the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes they have.”
Race, class, gender

“It is embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they wear and how short they must cut their hair. But most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this. That we claim to live in an equal country, an equal world.”

His poem has captured the attention of many who applauded him for being “woke,” or conscious of the ways in which racism, sexism and classism affect society. Among those is “Empire” star Taraji P Henson, who tweeted, “#TheTRUTH GOD BLESS THIS LITTLE BRAVE ANGEL!!!”

In an interview with HLN, Royce and his mother, Sheri Mann Stewart, explained that he was staying focused on getting his message spread.

Royce said that he knew about white and male privilege for most of his life, but never knew how prevalent it was in society until he attended a class called “Race, Class and Gender” that opened his eyes.

But he refused praise, claiming, “I’m not the hero of this movement or anything. There are definitely a lot of people who’ve done a lot more than me. I’m just trying to do my part.”

Royce named Alton Sterling’s son, who recently called for protests to be nonviolent after the shooting of his father and subsequent ambush of law enforcement in Dallas, a source of inspiration.

‘His thing’

“Alton Sterling’s son was really inspiring. This soon after losing his father to police brutality that definitely shouldn’t have happened, to tell protesters to act in a nonviolent way.”

But Royce has also faced backlash, to which he said, “There are definitely people who do deny that white privilege and male privilege exist.”

“Some people feel that I’m ashamed of my race. … In reality, I’m not ashamed at all. Nobody should be ashamed of their race because that’s an uncontrollable thing. I was born this way and nobody should be ashamed of that.”

He said he wanted “to reach the people who are ready to have an open dialogue about this. … If they say, I disagree with you and here’s why, I would be more than willing to discuss it with them.”

Royce’s mother said she didn’t help him with his poem at all. “It was totally his thing. I thought he might get some mixed reaction … but never wanted to discourage him from doing it.”

The video shows Royce receiving rousing applause after he called in the poem for change and more equality: “I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be. Hey white boys: It’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear. It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.”

The teenager told HLN he thought the day will come when that ladder will turn into a bridge.

“It will be a long time, but I think within my lifetime, we’ll see a lot of progress.”
Watch YouTube video of Royce performing his poem (Note: Video contains profanity)

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF POEM

Dear women, I’m sorry.
Dear black people, I’m sorry.
Dear Asian-Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who come here seeking a better life, I’m sorry.

Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I’m sorry.
I have started life in the top of the ladder while you were born on the first rung.
I say now that I would change places with you in an instant, but if given the opportunity, would I?

Probably not.

Because to be honest, being privileged is awesome. I’m not saying that you and me on different rungs of the ladder is how I want it to stay.

I’m not saying that any part of me has for a moment even liked it that way.
I’m just saying that I f—— love being privileged and I’m not ready to give that away. I love it because I can say ‘f——‘ and not one of you is attributing that to the fact that everyone with my skin color has a dirty mouth.

I love it because I don’t have to spend an hour every morning putting on makeup to meet other people’s standards.

I love it because I can worry about what kind of food is on my plate instead of whether or not there will be food on my plate.

I love it because when I see a police officer I see someone who’s on my side.
To be honest I’m scared of what it would be like if i wasn’t on the top rung if the tables were turned and I didn’t have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me.
If I lived a life lit by what I lack, not what I have, if I lived a life in which when I failed, the world would say, ‘Told you so.’

If I lived the life that you live.
When I was born I had a success story already written for me.
You — you were given a pen and no paper.

I’ve always felt that that’s unfair but I’ve never dared to speak up because I’ve been too scared.

Well now I realize that there’s enough blankie to be shared. Everyone should have the privileges I have.

In fact they should be rights instead.

Everyone’s story should be written, so all they have to do is get it read.
Enough said.
No, not enough said.

It is embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person’s character by of the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes they have.

It is embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they wear and how short they must cut their hair.

But most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this. That we claim to live in an equal country and an equal world.

We say that women can vote. Well guess what: They can run a country, own a company, and throw a nasty curve ball as well. We just don’t give them the chance to.

I know it wasn’t us 8th-grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day.

We don’t notice these privileges though, because they don’t come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.

Because of my gender, I can watch any sport on TV, and feel like that could be me one day.

Because of my race I can eat at a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me to steal the silverware.

Thanks to my parents’ salary I go to a school that brings my dreams closer instead of pushing them away.

Dear white boys: I’m not sorry.
I don’t care if you think the feminists are taking over the world, that the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten a little too strong, because that’s bulls—.

I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be.

Hey white boys: It’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear.

It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.
Update: This post has been updated with a commentary from Royce Mann.