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
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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

Robert Celeste got some soul-searching to do

 

I don’t know Robert Celeste. I’m sure he’s like most of us, just trying to live his life with the best of intentions as possible. After all, he’s human. I wish him only good, but I have to take issue with some of the facts about his beliefs and practices.

There was an article about Mr. Celeste in the March 13, 2018 edition of the Portland Press Herald, which in my opinion, would’ve been better in the funny papers.
Celeste’s statements in the article, writing from the perspective of preacher, amateur scientist, expert cultural labeler, and as an Orchard Hills School Board member (until he resigned recently), are indeed hilarious, and on the edge of hysterical mania! They are so biased and “false-to-facts,” one doesn’t have to wonder much that Celeste’s way of thinking is one of the reasons we’ve got so much crazy-making stuff going on all around us. He’s a contributor.

He describes himself as a preacher, but he preaches his own interpretations, assumptions and opinions so illogically and non-factually, that’s as far as it goes.
Robert Celeste, as the preacher in charge of the Church for the American Christian Patriot (why did he have to make the name so long? most likely, he forgot that the website is just another example of a ‘White Supremacist Site” with a long name).
On the site, he recently posted a racist comment, but when asked about it, he denied it .

The article notes that “Celeste, 74, strongly denied that he’s a racist despite posting material calling for the defense of “the white race” (p.A1).

This is another moldy, old-school excuse to hide behind Christianity, when, internally, members believe, probably in the harsh “god of White Supremacy,” because that’s their real agenda.

It appears that Robert Celeste loves to play the blame-game. In his mind, everyone within his eyesight causes the problems he’s ranting about. Whatever he thinks, that well may be. I don’t know. This I do know: racism is systemic and effects our entire institutional identity.

I’ve always heard that when you’re pointing your finger at someone you’re blaming about something, there are three more fingers pointing back at you.
So, Mr. Celeste, you got some ‘splainin’ and some inner searching to do: make a deal with yourself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s one of the tried and true ways to begin to change and start learning. Don’t blink your eye thinking you and your issues are magically going away. They’ll be wherever you are.

Copyright: Christopher Bear-Beam March 13, 2018

Green Acre-Bahai School-Schedule for upcoming dialogue sessions

BAHAI-EVENING DIALOGUE SESSION Conversations On Race
Conversations On Equality of Men/Woman
How can we create spaces to about race in productive ways? March 6 March 8 Power Dynamics in the home
What are the patterns and dynamics of racism? March 13 March 15 Power dynamics in the workplace
NO SESSION March 20 March 22 Equality & world peace
How can we build something new together? March 27 March 29
Role of men integrating equality and what they have to gain
UNH-What’s the experience of people of color living in Seacoast? April 3 April 5 Role of women in bringing equality
Healing trauma and racism-Guest Speaker April 10 April 12 Women & men working together
Native American history in our region-Library April 17 April 19
How to effectively engage in discourse
How can solving racism lead to unity? April 24 April 26 Reflections
Planning for action May 1
Green Acre-Bahai Center of Learning 61 Green Acre Dr. Eliot,ME 03903 207-439-7200

Is It Time For A Change-A New Term for White Privilege?

Language changes as culture changes; language may find itself outmoded because it no longer fits our societal configuration of reality.

Words and language don’t have a private exemption from the brains of we people; they’re not static, unchangeable, or the carriers of conventional, cultural meanings.

‘Words don’t mean, people mean.’ People mean what they use words to try to explain, and give more meaning to the whole. But words, as the pen-drawn-quill-dispensing, chalk-on-a-chalkboard, a computer getting inked-you know the drill-they contain no inherent meaning, no tandem-energy, no universal abstraction,

So, let’s forget about words for a minute, and take a long dive into “meaning & genetic pool-of-life, with empty green-quartz buzzin'”-the fount of nature, what does your life mean to you, and what do you presently want to do? with its own insides arrive.

Well, here’s the deal-for many anti-racist activists, and advocates, facilitators, and students, we have “inside” the term White Privilege to describe the white manifesto of life: we are entitled, and advantaged more than others because of our white skin.

Peggy MacIntosh was the first to use the term white privilege, and it’s use grew from that time forward. Today, it’s well-used, and hopefully more folks would understand what it’s driving at.

White privilege is the basis for the entire overarching, systemic earmarkings of white racism. It’s the implicit “designed blindness,” designed by we whites to pull the wool over other white’s eyes, to blind them to the truth of the system, and the denial of its very reality.

I raise this issue because within the last three months or so, I’ve heard stories and sayings about how much resistance happens when whites put out this term to say, “I’m not privileged. Are you kidding me?”

If we’re going to critique ourselves and creatively look for other ways to indicate the same thing, perhaps we can do so, but in a way that isn’t off-putting or pedantic.
People who’re put off with the word “privilege” usually are people who grew up white, but poor or disadvantaged. They may also see themselves as “middle class.” They don’t see themselves getting all kinds of advantages, because they’re white; to them, perhaps “privilege” has the baggage of aristocratic or elite wealth, which they aren’t.

This stereotype is a self-protective one, that we use on ourselves to prove something to our culture, or to other people whose qualities we desire.

What they perhaps may not yet see is that white privilege is also a sub-system, on whose crankcase are a cause perpetrating it’s own way in the world.

Consider: what other words have a similar meaning as “privilege?” Why not treat this as a gift of flexibility in the art of naming? So, then, what’s white? What’s privilege?

I think this is a very important issue, because it’s important to respect all views in this conversation. The views of those whites who feel dissed by the term white privilege must be respected as much as anyone else.

My suggestion would tentatively be the term White Advantage. This removes the difficulty of the word “privilege” and still encompasses what the term means. Of course, an alternative would be The Play Nice Syndrome, but this sounds too much like a mental health diagnosis, so I don’t think it’ll flow, you know? Another suggestion might be De-Centered Whiteness, that carries with it, a centering of all people of color, not whiteness.

Let’s see if we can start a conversation about this. How ’bout it?

copyright:christopherbearbeam March 2, 2018

2018 Creative Arts Festival Held at Togus Maine

The Creative Arts Festival was held on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at Togus, Maine. Sponsors were the Recreational Therapy Services & the American Legion Auxilliary.  Each VA region participates (if they choose to), and then the finalists at lower levels go onto the national level. Several of the participants, within the Togus group, received Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for their previous creative endeavors.

The organizers of the event, Elizabeth Marrone and Courtney Oliver (Recreational Therapists at Togus), said that this year, the twelfth year of the event, produced the most new participants in comparison with others. They were “psyched” as were the participants; it shows that the Creative Arts Festival is becoming more well-known, and that Maine is one of its focal points.

Many thanks to Elizabeth, Courtney, and all the other staff and volunteers who made the Festival such a great place to try out their Art on others within the VA.
Words of welcome were given by Dan Ducker, HCS Associate Director, and Debra Ann Mar, American Legion Auxilliary Past President, and Fr. Jacob George gave the Invocation.

There were forty-seven performance acts, with a wide & eclectic variety of music and art, from Country, Folk and Bluegrass, Patriotic Poetry, Inspirational Poetry, Humorous Poetry, Instrumental and Lyrical Solos, Short Stories, Solo Dramatic Prose, Rhythm & Blues, Instrumental Solo Jazz, and an awesome Multimedia Drama of the pain and inspiration of the Wall in DC.

At this post-Festival time, the organizers are compiling the judge’s results and will be communicating to all participants. Please help continue to make the Creative Arts Festival a positive activity for all. If you have friends or relatives of Vets, why not invite them to participate next year!

If you have feedback you’d like to give or have other questions, contact Elizabeth Marrone (elizabeth.marrone@va.gov) or Courtney Oliver (courtney.oliver@va.gov).

copyright:christopherbearbeam March 5, 2018

 

The Winds of Slavery- Still Felt On the Neck

In the U.S. slavery officially ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, even though it took three years later for it to be considered “law” in Texas.

 

Over 90% of our time in existence as a nation has been spent under the brutal-boot of both slavery and Jim Crow; this time period, of course, came to a culmination and finale with the Civil Rights Movement, and the passage of laws to equally protect the rights of all citizens of the U.S.

 

Yet, even today, slavery continues in our contemporary times, only wearing different uniforms, in different places. Sex slavery, Abusive slavery by psychopaths, sociopaths, and kidnappers, drug slavery (personal & systemic), Imperialism slavery, i.e.,the U.S.’s power base to occupy and wage-war, for the purpose “of saving the world for Democracy,” (bull-shit on that!). Then there’s slavery so thieves can steal body parts or organs to sell, etc., etc., etc. The list is as long as your arm.

 

Although slavery was abolished in 1980, it didn’t become a crime Mauritania in 2007; legal-chattel-slavery was allowed in Mauritania-so that nomadic families, the “higher-up” relatives, would enslave their own kin! This became illegal only in 2007! That’s just eleven years ago. And even though it’s now illegal there are still slaves in Mauritania.
Mauritania’s slavery is one of the main factors that ecllipses change there; slave families have no right to land (which, of course, hapenned to many African-American slaves in our own country). It should be-as a form of reparations.

 

Is it just me, or do you ever scratch your head, when you hear about archaic, inhumane treatment in this new age of consciousness? It’s like so dramatic-emphasizing how old thought processes can easily be brushed off and used in new ways in new contexts. It’s sorta like a time machine gone awry, and then returning to life.

 

This happens everywhere it seems. When I lived in Rogers Park, a small locale in Chicago, I’d watch the elders, mainly women from Eastern European countries, sit on the long, wooden benches that overlooked Lake Michigan\most of them wearing babushkas, talking together in strange dialects, and watching babies, always the babies!

 

In a way, it’s the same kind of way that people lived in Mauritania-up until 2007 that is, and may continue to be. Living in a lifeless coffin of “old brained” cultural benchmarks.
While slaves aren’t physically chained, the “colonization of the mind” is a deep, psychological wound and scar on people who’ve lived the experience. Many also consider that their enslavement is due to the ‘will of God.’

 

Some also describe it as a caste system-today’s slaves are descendants of darker-skinned ancestors made slaves centuries ago by the lighter-skinned White Moors, so this contributes to the tensions around slavery in this society. Slavery began in Mauritania as an “intra-racial” conflict due to the early presence of whites in the mix.

 

One young, Mauritanian girl, Haby, was raped countless times by one of her masters, they sent her to work with the herds, from early morning to late at night, then she was also responsible for the cooking and clean-up for everyone’s meals, only to collapse into a stress-ripened sleep at the end of her day.

 

Hurt people hurt people. It’s the law of the jungle. The masters, most likely, had been slaves once before-also oppressed-next, they became the feared, cruel masters, and their self-driven-deep-down pain still drove them to hurt their own slave-kin-Oh, Beloved, that’s gotta be a sin or shortcoming!

 

The cycle of shame, must be declaimed for what it is-an endemic plague on the houses of all humanity. Was it the slaves fault that they self-sabotaged their own lives? No, absolutely not! It was not! Rather, it was a “slavish system” that aimed the atrocities at them,

 

yet one thing will not change: trauma turned in on someone will take a healing of memories, a healing of consciousness, a healing from the false methods that may have been used to heal, that only really harmed, a cleansing of images in the mind that stoke the fires of dis-ease.

 

In the poorer countries, apparently there may be no therapy available for post-rape or post-trauma incidents, and so the pains of slavery are transferred to the unconscious, ever-directing a victim to the need for therapeutic methods to assist in the healing process. If there’s no help of this sort, the trauma’s effects will get pushed down, without contact, and ways of coping are unseen or not understood.

 

The wrong or right, just or unjust, just don’t really matter here-it’s the pain from the original trauma that’s the “realest” object to trust, therapy and sharing with others is a “must” with those who care: the communal-healing-system-round-table, will enable transformation to arrive in your heart’s fruitful hive.

 

One young girl, Essatim, while a slave was raped constantly, and was severally bruised by the sexual abuse. She, as well, had no therapeutic means of healing; yet, the bravery and resiliency of the slaves is an amazing attribute to them as human beings trying to survive, under the harshest of conditions.

 

copyright:christopherbearbeam February 25, 2018