No One Needs To Earn My Respect

Imagine this scenario: your with a group at a friend’s Citizenship Induction. After it’s over, your friend comes up to and says, in a mean, condescending manner, “You’ll have to earn my respect,” then turns and walks away. How do you think you’d feel then? Probably shocked. Then somewhat numb. Then anger, like “how dare she tell me that!-I’ve been here longer than her-in fact, I was born here.

Very similar to the message that Leon Pitts (Portland Press Herald, July 11, 2018, np#) got from a reader-a white man said, “Well, their all going to have to earn my respect!” This may be somewhat of a paraphrase, but it’s the essence of what he said.

The white reader was only using a code language that many folks of color understand all too well. Think. Why would a white person feel that a person of color (in this case an African-American) would have to do anything at all to gain this man’s respect? Where does that come from. Pitts wrote that it’s code for black=danger; of course, there are a lot of codes, but Pitts felt this one fit the best.

OK, if we’re about the job of changing codes or dismantling them or getting rid of them. So, for the white reader, did he mean blacks were dangerous because they’re criminals, gang members, dope users & dealers, violent, etc., etc., etc.?

To get more specific, we’d have to know about the above stereotypes, and, maybe the one (s) the white reader had in mind.

An even more fundamental and philosophical question: Can anyone “earn” another’s respect? If so, how can you do it, and what life skills could you use in the process?

The premise is based on meritocracy. ‘You better do this or you won’t earn your points.’ C’mon, work harder to get my respect. But, here, we’re not talking about earning respect because of the trade or business you’re in. We’re speaking directly about earning respect as a Human Being. In equality-nothing taken away or given.

In other words, this seems to indicate that a person could do something to “x” out her or his own humanity, in the eyes of, let’s say, a white person? No. What is, is. The first premise is an oppositional principle that is ineffective, and unworkable.

I can’t think of anyone I know who’d want to “x” out their humanity, and just be a dart on the board, that if thrown by a skilled dart-thrower, gets the bull’s eye, more points, more praise, more applause, and more merit. I suppose none of us can qualify as “human” unless we’re fantastic dark-throwers.

copyright:christopherbearbeam July 11, 2018

First Nations Youth Hockey Team/Object of Racialized Behavior

I hate bullying, because I was bullied as a kid (I’m also sure I can say I was a bully, too, on a number of occasions); I wasn’t a “street fighter” type, but was more quiet and intellectual, as well as being very afraid of pain, so I tried to avoid trouble when it rose its main.

That’s why I’m sick with anger when I hear stories like the one I read recently from Indian Country Today (Vincent Schilling, nd, First Nations Youth Hockey Team Racially Taunted at Tournament, Called Savages).

The story tells the narrative of a Canadian youth hockey that attended a tournament in Quebec City in Canada, and were called racist names & slurs by other, white hockey players.  Coach Tommy H.J. Neeposh, coach of the team that was bullied said, “The war cries (were) the worst. (They were) telling our boys that you guys don’t belong, your team sucks, Native kids can’t play hockey, they can’t skate” (p.1).

Is it just my fried brain, or is fact that so many athletes wear their sport as a uniform (a mask), but really are bullies at heart?  Coupled with the epidemic of bullying at schools, this appears to me to be exponential racism, done by those conditioned to be bottom-feeders.

Sports brings out the worst and the best in people-thankfully, this isn’t the MO for all athletes-but it’s still the playing out of that old notion ‘one rotten apple can spoil the whole bushel.’  It happens.

In this incident, one white parent yelled, “gang de sauvages” (gang of savages) at the players.  Coach Tommy Neeposh called this one of the worst, “in your face” kinds of racism he’d ever seen; additionally, the other team’s coach used these same words about the team in front of his own players.

Neeposh did a very wise thing: he took a forty-three minute video of the game, to use as evidence for a complaint he’s filing with their team’s league.

What saddens me most, is that this kind of bullying and white racism probably hits youth at a very deep, vulnerable place & times; some writers have used a term called Soul-Kill-it’s a fitting term for what it’s like to be targeted with this kind of racism.

Underlying this fact, is that it’s an abusive, oppressive and stinging micro-aggression of the juggler-cutting variety.  How will these types of incidents injure these player’s psyches? How might it make them strong? How will they feel about it?  How could it harm or help their inner beings? In whatever ways they can find, with support and help, they may try to integrate these negative experiences in healthy ways; they can see it for what it is-racist behavior.

copyright:christopherbearbeam June 7, 2018

The first, original Memorial Day

I’ve read about so many historical events that later proved to be attributed to the wrong, people, places, or things.  People tend to believe what they want to believe or are influenced by first impressions which may be wrong.

Sewell Chan wrote a piece for the New York Times, Race-Related Section, Saturday, May 26, 2018.  In his article, he describes that the official Memorial Day dates back to 1868; the idea came from something called Decoration Day, in which citizens and Vets would drape Vets’ graves with flowers.  Originally, a Union Major John A. Logan set the first date as May 30-the holidays initial commemoration took place at Arlington National Cemetery.

However, herstory is always changing and flexing (and is stranger than fiction) with new information.  David W. Blight, a Yale Historian, differs on the source and perceptions of history of Memorial Day. Blight asserts that Memorial Days origins have their source in “a series of commemorations that freed black Americans held in the spring of 1865,…” (Ibid., p.1).

This “series of events” included:

  • At a mass grave of Union soldiers, on May 1, 1865, black soldiers exhumed the bodies, gave them proper burials, erected a fence around the cemetery, and built an archway that had the words Martyrs of the Race Course over it.

*The next event was a protest by 10,000 African-Americans, followed by a procession of people in mourning, they sang “John Brown’s Body,” and black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths, and crosses.

  • “The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance & consecration, Dr. Blight wrote in a 2011 essay for the New York Times, the war, they had boldly announced had been about the triumph of the emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic.  They were themselves the true patriots (Ibid.,p.2).”


  • “The African-American origins of the holiday were later suppressed, Dr. Blight found, by white Southerners who reclaimed power after the end of Reconstruction and interpreted Memorial Day as a holiday of reconciliation, making sacrifices by white Americans (my emphasis)-on both sides.  Black Americans were largely marginalized in this narrative-my emphasis)” (Ibid.,p.2).

Without getting into “conspiracy theories” (which there’s no need to do, and wouldn’t even if I could), what strikes me about this issue is that the white narrative wins out as the real Memorial Day.  Um, I wonder why?

One thing I’ve learned about racism, is that the white-privileged leaders will do just about anything they can to stop persons-of-color in achieving or accessing the resources to further their goals, and getting the facts for their own, private affliction of white privilege.

Just as a human body can’t get well if any particular number of the parts of the body are sick.  Those who think they’re the heads are unwell with a disease called racism, and this affects the rest of the entire body, or in this case, society.

So, what does this tell us?  We must always get the facts; we must always listen; we must always observe; we must always use our critical thinking skills.

It’s not necessary to see a demon in every dark hallway-there’s plenty of the reality of racism to probably see it or interact with it every day, even when we don’t want to see it.  Unfortunately, it’s an embedded illness in our national culture; nothing short of a change of universal proportions in consciousness-raising, will bring any change in our racialized society.  It’s we who will radicalize society by Racial Justice.  And that’s the real deal!

copyright: christopherbearbeam May 27, 2018

Yellow Tulip Project Plants More Seed-Bulbs

The Yellow Tulip Project backed a facilitated workshop on Wednesday evening, May 9, 2018, and was venued at the Speedwell Projects’ office in a very close and warm-energy space.

What psyched me the most is that the participants were multi-generational, from high school aged peers on up to senior peers. This is the essence, in my way of thinking, of genuine community. Bravo!

The topic of discussion was stigma around Mental Illness. I know this because with my mental illness diagnosis, I have also experienced this type of stigma-so, it’s a subject close to me, and in my life and mind. In one job, my supervisor refused to let me attend therapy sessions during work hours (the only time the therapy facility was open was during weekly work hours)-for me, this was stigmatization-the irony of it all, is that it appeared to me that my supervisor had her own mental illness issues. Later, this supervisor, was the prime factor in my termination from the job I had at the time. So, in actuality, this had some very powerful, long-term effects on my Mental Illness.

The group dialogued & brainstormed areas where participants had experienced stigma around mental illness: we talked directly and plainly about how stigma wounds so many in our culture of un-understanding of Mental Health, who’re already struggling with day-to-day issues of mental illness.

Dr. Anne Hallward, MD, a practicing psychiatrist and the host of Safe Place Radio (check out The Safe Space program is a medium of sharing the hard stories; it encourages “courageous conversations” about tough subjects like mental illness, addiction, race, and sexuality; expression of our “experiencings” in life (Dr. Hallward) can lead to healing the hurts around stigma. “Safe Space Radio is a form of public health psychiatry” (Safe Space Brochure).

The Yellow Tulip Project, Suzzane Fox (a YTP associate) told me, develops and models ways to have conversations around stigma in the public schools, and a group of these students attended the workshop; I observed a solid understanding, on their part, of how mental illness has effected them, and they are discovering more ways to use them as coping mechanisms.

It started by planting tulip bulbs, and the hope around the consequential appearance of tulips-a metaphor for the hope of healing stigma due to Mental Illness. When seed turns to flower, time to get busy!

There was a high-energy desire that formulated into a highly-motivated group among the peers/students who participated in this workshop.

Dr. Hallward led the group through a final piece, when she asked us to think about one way we each wanted to blast stigma off into the parts of some outlier galaxy. The group’s suggestions connected with some of the more general areas in prior discussions, areas in life where people had observed stigmatization. Systems where we can intervene.

We then shared what our action steps had imagined:a personal engagement with a de-stigmatization focus and method. There were so many good, tangible ideas!

If each one of us were to follow through with our action steps, in committed action, even in this smaller, more incremental way, we can impact and impinge the systems in which we live, and they can shift, depending on the depths of change one is looking for. A shift in one part of a system can shift the entire system.

Many thanks to all the folks who’ve supported this resilient & powerful-working group, and given their resources to prevent stigma. Kudos to the Yellow
Tulip Project, and all of its participants, to Safe Space Radio, and Dr. Anne Hallward for this beautiful work!

Yellow Tulip Project’s How to Create a Hope Garden:

Order Yellow Tulip bulbs in the spring or summer.
Identify a location for your Hope Garden.
Select a planting date in the fall: Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct 5-9),
or World Mental Health Day (Oct 10).
Gather a community to plant the garden.
Provide a place for posting/gathering hopeful messages.
Plant the bulbs together.
Gather for speeches, memories and/or wishes of hope
Take photos and videos of your Hope Garden and share with the community

copyright:christopherbearbeam May 10, 2018

Professor Christine DeLucia Speaks On Slavery & Bondage in the Dawn Land of Colonial New England

Christine DeLucia, professor at Holyoke College, gave a lecture on April 26, 2018, sponsored by the South Berwick Historical Society; it was entitled Landscapes of Bondage, Refugee: Revisiting Enslavement, Resistance and Memory in the Native Colonial New England & Atlantic World.

DeLucia began by saying that she wanted to take a look at historical places in the region and how these places have been contested at various times in New England history.

One of DeLucia’s contemporaries (whose name I forgot) made reference to another ethos at play: “The opposite of bondage-being in a state of self-governance, safety and care.” This is one of those antagonistic symbols re and towards white, colonial, “take-over” mentality.

Her purpose for also observing the Atlantic World, is to connect bondage to enslavement. For example, in 15th Century Iberia (after Columbus’ first saw the multi-racial composition of the people he intiated contact with on his voyage), probably gave him a sense of legitimacy to rationalize slavery and bondage as a religious duty at the “point of origin” story, that’s completely the opposite of what you could find in textbooks.

Herstorically speaking, there was also a commingling of African slave-trade in tandem with Indigenous bondge.

Many factors most likely caused the cultural shift from slavery to bondage, but certainly the effects of European-birthed strains of diseases were huge. This was also possibly one of the reasons that, in the case of the Abernaki Tribe, led a semi-nomadic existence for the need to find relatives who may have already settled in other places; their treks were to find them to live in community & family.

It’s obvious as well, that another factor in this lifestyle, were the wars, battles, and military conflicts in which they found themselves in; this in addition to attacks by local whites.

At a certain point in this colonialization process, the lines between slavery & bondage began to blur; it’s the story of the unfolding/evolution of Dawn Land (from the Abernaki language with its residency name in the colonial New England region).

DeLucia also wishes to make us aware of something else that we may be unaware of presently: that “white-colonial” contact was “slow, halting, and coast-based process” (DeLucia’s Power Point); it’s a process, which has no limitations in a white, western worldview, that tends to view “events” and other linear-defined points, on a line moving forward in time, instead of a more Native American cosmology, which is more cyclical, guided by the earth, sky, and seasons, ever-changing & fluid.

What do the forces of “white industry,” and “white privilege” think about the captives who were taken away in bondage? Answers appear to be fairly close; “the powers that be” incarcerated/interred Native Americans to Deer Island in 1675, under the covering mists, with only what they needed to live, under all weather conditions, while most of what they promised went unreceived. As DeLucia noted, it was an act of murder, a mini-genocide to try to kill them.

Later, a sewage plant was erected on this Native American site of remembrance, as Christine DeLucia puts it, it was a “conscience site.” This gives you a little comparison to European-American values.

This gets me to thinking of white shame. There’s certainly a type of toxic shame, that one can get hooked into, that becomes a never-ending litany of complaints and grievances-OK, I agree, this is an unhealthy kind of shame. Yet, I also think that shame is an emotion (neutral not good or bad) that’s probably in most of us, and, if we’re aware of it, it helps us to change and become better human beings-it acting as a healthy force.

As I listened to Christine DeLucia speak (and afterwards), I felt shame, shame for what my white ancestors did to Colonial New England Native Americans (whether my actual ancestors lived in New England region or not-doesn’t matter, it simply was somewhere else), and to the succeeding generations of Native Americans who would come into being in time.

Yes, shame for being a white whose ancestors are bonded as Native Americans for their own egos’ purposes, for their skewed, religious ideologies, for fear, for “Manifest Destiny,” etc. These were only some of the agenda items used as a play book against, how they may term, “Injuns,” in order to beat them good-what? To show ’em who’s boss?

Sorry, my bad, but that’s just bull shit!

Hearing Professor DeLucia speak of “memory lands,” I, as a European-American male, can make that into some kind of “Hollywoodized,” sanitized view of past, present, and future, when it’s the stories of the People of the Land that tie so many of the “meta-threads” together.

Place is also extremely necessary for formation of one’s identity. When a normal sense of place is disrupted or disappears, when dislocation, death and oppression occurs, then the results of trauma are always more readily seen.

It’s my hope that there are Mental Health services for Native Americans (I’m a relatively “young” Mainer of only a year and some months) and their children’s generations who bare the brunt of trauma, even as it has been assimilated by their descendants, who weren’t living at the time the trauma happened. If there aren’t enough services and facilities for some sort of PTSD therapy, then a dissenting, protesting, and holistic move ought to be started (maybe it already has), where this may be made a reality.

copyright: christopherbearbeam April 26, 2018

Wells’ Maine’s “Porch Monkey”

If you’re a Wells resident, as I am, I don’t know if you’ve seen the curious sight that I’m about to tell you about. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to, and I’m going to give you a few reasons why.

So, let’s say our reference point is the Wells Exit or Entrance off the Maine Turnpike. If you exit there, and want to head into Wells proper, you’d go left at the exit light by the Turnpike.

Go left, and you’ll go down a hill (train overpass), but keep your eyes peeled to the left. You’ll see a big log cabin home up on a hill to your left; about half-way up that small knoll you’ll see a small, sculptured porch monkey-who knows, maybe the only one you’d see in Wells, Maine.

A porch monkey on someone’s lawn, and is much like yelling the “N” word in a crowded theater!

Look, I grew up in both the North and the South most of my earlier life. I’ve seen these “racial” harbingers in both places. If you think Northerners haven’t a racist bone in their body-WRONG! If you think Southerners were and are the evil spawners of racism-WRONG! The U.S. is one nation that’s been very unjust due to slavery and Jim Crow Laws, and it has nothing to do with the region of the country you grew up in or still live in.

Albert Einstein, when he first arrived in this country, spoke out many times against racism, and he called it a “white people’s disease.” So, if there’s a perp here, let’s just get honest and call whites the perps when it comes to racism. Why? Because whites have privilege + power=racism. This is one of the most common definition of racism in our culture.

The term porch monkey may not be one you hear all the time, but it got into the news during the Bush Administration. Ever heard of Charles W. Williams? Well, brother Williams, 57, was appointed by George Dubya to oversee Texas’ law enforcement training. Now this appointment came a year after Williams said – in a sworn deposition, mind you – that words like “porch monkey” are not necessarily racial slurs.

He also said that calling my forbears “niggers” 50 years ago was no big deal and, in fact, black folks didn’t mind white people calling them “nigger” in those days.
“I was born and raised with blacks, and back then we had Nigger Charlie and Nigger Sam, Nigger Joe, and we regarded those people with all the respect in the world. That was their name,” explained the south-central Oklahoma native. “It just depends on how (‘nigger’) is used and who it’s used toward,” Williams tried to explain last week. (Reported by Sean Gonsalves Published on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 in the Cape Cod Times).

The point of all of this, even though we’re already separated by years of anti-racism education and legislation, is that the sculpture of an African American (maybe a slave) “porch monkey,” as it’s called, is an objective, material symbol of racism’s main tenet: we are white, we are superior, and you, because you’re not white, but non-white, you’re inferior, therefore, it doesn’t matter what kind a porch monkey you got, it explains and telegraphs the symbolic meaning of racism. “Keep the other folks down, while we keep ourselves up.” That’s why you be hangin’ out on porches all the time!

My hope is that this blog will help explain a small piece of racism of which not many are yet aware. Do some more research yourself, so you can raise your consciousness on the topic. Think critically, and think for yourself. Avoid thinking as only a group of “white peers.” Remember, racism isn’t just a North or South thing-it’s our thing as a culture. So, what’s your responsibility? Do what you feel you can, but please don’t do nothing. Do something to insure that racial healing will take place here in this country. Be open and grow! Help your kids to understand racism, too.

copyright:christopherbearbeam April 20, 2018

Willow Green’s Warm Talk-The Seen and Unseen

(A poem story has elements of both prose, poetry, and may include other different genres; it tells a story but does its best to do so in some lyrical form, but in the end, it doesn’t matter-it is what it is)
In the effort of outreaching to diverse cultures, the Tuesday Night Racial Justice Dialogue, sponsored by the Green Acres Bahai International School, was honored this past Tuesday, April 16, 2018, to hear from noted, Native American storyteller, Willow Green. Willow has shared her stories all over New England, Canada, and ‘parts beyond.’

Willow Green, an elder from the the Abenaki Tribe in Maine, seemed to me to match her name; as I listened to her speak and tell her stories (the one she told was very deep, showing the callousness & hate of humans, and the pain they bring that may especially impact children of color and other marginalized persons. It’s the story of the “people of the land.” No, it’s the traumatic memory of the indigenous peoples who’ve been “genocided” since whites arrived.

Willow grew up in New England, and lived in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Basically, she grew up as a white person, and lived in a small town in the same house for five generations.

She told her stories, talking about herself, her family and her community, her mannerisms and communication-both verbal and non-verbal aspects, all seemed congruent. In my heart, I felt an easy and natural emergence of love & compassion exuded by Willow’s spirit.

The other part of her name, her last name, is Green; for me, the color green represents the earth and all life that is. Most Native American spiritualities that I’ve studied have understood the nature of oneness that all humans have with the Beloved-green, brown, red, black earth; we’ve got all the same cells & energies, so it makes sense. It all goes back to the Primeval Fireball.

As Willow Green grew older, she came to identify with her Native American people. She came to see that most whites in New England saw Native Americans as a “non-people” because no one really could see them-they were dead stories in history books. They didn’t exist. Her story elucidates the unseen aspect of culture, the indignities of living as “other” in white society. The story goes on to highlight the seen part of her culture-her indigenous, native roots and the struggle for human equality, her own creative identity, and the freedom to be who she was created to be.

Willow’s story tonight was about her grandson, Tyrus; he was twelve when the problems he was having reached their greatest intensity and stress-laden-point-what the good people of this world have suffered at the hands of oppression, bias, and discrimination throughout herstory. Bullies at school would call him a woman because he had long hair as many other Native American boys did; they called him “squaw” and tried to also call him “Pochohantas” too.

People of color receive daily “micro-aggressions” such as racist remarks, euphemisms, put-downs, off-color jokes and stories, bully & violent-wrapped tactics, etc. These occurred each day in school for Tyrus. I personally find it inconceivable to understand how Tyrus took all this venom thrown at him everyday, and kept going with his own childhood.

With these school problems, Willow began to inform all of her Native friends, Native organizations, and others, so a lot of people knew what was going on with her grandson.

Additionally, she filed a complaint against the School Board, the District and its Superintendent, regarding bullying policies, and the need for corrective action. Willow’s letter to all of them also contained her thoughts, to improve the learning environment, so that stress and trauma wouldn’t find it so easy to disrupt and objectify in the school atmosphere, because all of us whites understand that they’re “noble savages, don’t we?” and were thought by many whites to have a spirituality that gave them peace & virtue.

However, if they had really thought about this ‘noble savage’ idea, why did whites allow their own fears and biases to be a motivator to interr Native Peoples on reservations? What were they afraid of, and what was it they wanted to control? Probably they wanted to do their “white creation” job only with “civilized” Indians. “Just follow our lead-we’ll get it done!”

Eventually, Willow’s activism got the City Council and School Board to bend a little,so ordinances were initiated to stop the bullying. As usual, people’s minds were focused on bullying, and over time, they forgot the new policies. Out of sight, out of mind. So, long story short, the bullying continued, and Tyrus experienced it all the way through high school.

If you like dramatic endings, think of this one as being 100% real and genuine! Remember, that I’d mentioned that there were two main bullies, in Tyrus’s life; well, in high school one was no longer in the picture, so, in the one remaining dude’s life, there came a time when Tyrus had the other dude over a barrel, and he cleaned his clock. He nailed the dude with a punch!

I feel somewhat guilty & conflicted over this as a white. Over the years, his family told him not to use violence, and to turn the other cheek. When he turned about eighteen, this was no longer going to get it, and he got the guy back. I don’t believe in violence, as any kind of general rule, but in instances such as this, to defend oneself usually gets the bullies to stop; so, like any other “judgment call” this one isn’t easy, but you have to make a definite decision to use it or not. I would respect anyone’s choices considering what methods they choose to use. I may not always agree with them, but I’ll support your need to empower yoself and do what you think you got to do.

copyright:christopherbearbeam April 17, 2018