Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘race’

Several weeks ago, I was asked if my kids could participate in a photo shoot for Krispy Kreme donuts.  I of course said yes, because my kids are cute.  The pay was also good, we received 8 coupons for a free dozen donuts.  That’s a lot of donuts!  As we were preparing for the shoot, the photographer informed me that I needed to be there by a certain time.  She insinuated that “I” needed to be there.  Of course I needed to be there, I can’t just leave my minors alone with photographers.  No, meaning that I was going to be in the pictures as well.  Well, that just seemed crazy to me.  My kids are cute, me, not so much, at least not national photo shoot cute.  It turns out the shoot was meant for Father’s Day, hence the request for my presence.  I just assumed they had fake dads for that, but I digress.  I don’t know if Krispy Kreme will actually use the photos taken, but if they do, I will provide a link.

(I began this blog long ago, but never finished it. Since that time, I have discovered that Krispy Kreme did post a pix from that shoot. It was for Father’s Day. They did not post a pix with my daughter, which is ridiculous, as she is the cutest of us.)

Well, if I am going to have my picture taken, and those photos may end up nationally available, I needed to get my head right.  I needed a hair cut, more importantly, I needed a barber shop (roll credits), specifically, a black barber shop.

Now, you may or not be aware, but black folks have different type of hair compared to other races.  Of course, there are races with similar hair challenges, but if we just stick with the ever popular black/white dichotomy, black folks have different hair from white folks.

One day while driving to the grocery store, I thought I saw a black person leave a barber shop.  I thought, cool, a barber near my house.  So, before the photo shoot I stepped into the shop.  It was a very hot day and the blinds of the barber shop were closed.  I could not see into the place, even though I tried really hard.  The last thing I wanted was to enter into an unknown situation and embarrass myself.  (Can you guess what happens next?)

I took a deep breath, open the door and walked in.  A wave of cold air hits my face, both literally and metaphorically.  The white barber and the white customers stopped what they were doing and stared at me for what seemed like an eternity.  This type of event has happened to me before.  I always envision the old Wild West and band players playing their Wild West tunes.  A stranger walks into the bar, and the music stops and everyone in the tavern looks at the incoming man, as if to say, telepathically, in unison, “You don’t belong here.”  The closest I have ever come to this in real life, was at a pizza parlor in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  A bunch of bikers were eating and drinking and I felt so out of place, I ended up leaving.  A friend who was their and stayed, later told me that the group of bikers ended up ordering sodas and laughing a lot.  Never judge a book …

So, the white barber asks me, “Can I help you?”  Luckily for me, I think very quickly.  “Um, I thought you guys would be black.  My bad.”  This story would probably be funnier if I actually said that, but I was having a clever day.  What I actually said was, “I’m sorry.  I think I am in the wrong place.  A friend of mine said he was going to meet me at the barber shop, but I think I have the wrong one.  Because he’s obviously not here.”  The barber than asked a very appropriate question, “What’s the name of the barber shop?” I replied, “That is a very good question.”  No, not really, I said, “I can’t remember.”  The barber preceded to give me directions to a barber just down the road.  And said maybe I’d find my friend there.

I turned on my heels as quickly as I could and headed to the next barber shop.  I don’t THINK I turn red when I blush, but if I do, I was a strawberry in that place.  Once again, the inside of the next barber shop could not be seen, so I took a deep breath and entered.  The cool black breeze wafted over me like Lando Calrissian (come on! that’s funny).  I had found my barber shop.

Now, here is the real punch line to this blog.  White folks were getting their hair cut there.  What!?!  When did this happen?  I remember going to the barber as a kid.  It was like a secret society.  A place where black folks could let their hair down (insert rimshot).  Music in the background.  Barbers asking after your family.  People being loud.  Someone telling a story that someone else thinks is hilarious.  And always the one barber that had nothing to do, because everyone knew he was going to mess your fade up!

Is the opposite true?  Outside of Super Cuts, or Sport Clips (and no matter what they tell you, they do not know how to cut a black person’s hair) are black people going to white barbers?  I think not!  The stealing of black culture stops here!  White folks, you don’t need to be going to black barbers.  You just don’t need it!  You know what?  I blame Trump for this.  That’s right, I said it.

Maybe this is good, maybe it’s not, but it was one of the last places of segregation that I thought everyone was still amazingly OK with, but I guess I was wrong.  Yeah, I know, this blog has taken a weird turn, but it just surprised me is all.  Maybe next time I need a hair cut, I’ll head to that first white barber.  And once again, he’ll ask, “Can I help you?” And I’ll say, “Yeah you can help me.  I got next! ¡Viva la Revolución!”

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

A friend of my mine called me up and asked if I had time to talk.  I didn’t, but he was a close friend, so I said sure.  My friend begins the conversation with, “What do you think about this implicit bias bull shit?”  I laughed, and we began what ended up being a 20 minute conversation about politics, black lives matter, racism, and implicit bias.  All while four kids ran around me like chickens with their heads cut off doing various tasks and getting ready for homework, bed time, or snacking.  Here is the punch line:  My friend ended the conversation with, “You know what?  That makes sense.  You should write a book.”  My friend is white.

At work, I had lunch with a colleague/friend.  As we were talking, I said to her, “I don’t have time for nuance, so, if you don’t mind, I’m going to be blunt.  I have a six-year-old daughter.  Why is it so wrong that I don’t want her to share a bathroom with a person with a penis?”  She smiled, and it began a 30 minute conversation about North Carolina’s HB2 law, trans genders, Charlotte, NC and evidence for and against the repeal of HB2.  My friend used to be my student, and after the conversation I thought to myself, “I just got schooled by a former student.  How cool is that?”  My friend is black and lesbian.

Several weeks ago, I had an awesome conversation with a police officer.  I posted this brief story on Facebook at the time.  The amount of information I learned about police procedures and police/public interactions was enlightening.  I am fairly confident that if I had questions about police shootings, which unfortunately have been prominently displayed in the news in the past year, he would talk to me and answer just about any question I had.  And I am confident, the conversation could be messy, but illuminating.  I consider him a new friend.  He is a police officer and white.

Shouldn’t conversations like these happen everywhere and with everyone?  Are they happening?  Or are people just shouting across the aisle doing drive by politics on Facebook?  Facebook has turned into the virtual equivalent of guy on a street corner with a sign that reads, “You’re going to Hell! or Save the Whales!”  And then you get your dopamine rush when you get all the likes to your declarative, useless generalized statement.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy posts of varying opinions.  I especially enjoy it when someone provides a link to an article or provides their own personal insight to something they read or saw on TV.  I despise the name calling. And I could do without general statements that have no meaning or provide zero context.  Context is everything.

When I was in college, I lived in a co-op in Berkeley, CA.  Co-ops where cheap because they were run by the tenants, very socialist.  Anyhoo, there was talk of creating an African-American co-op.  I was interviewed by the newspaper on the topic.  The next day as I walked through the halls, I got evil looks from every black person I walked by.  Finally, I said to my roommate, “Is it me, or is every black person giving me the evil eye today?”  His response was, “Didn’t you read the newspaper?”  I found a paper and saw my quote.  To this day, I don’t remember the quote, but I do remember that the sentences before it and after it were not quoted in the paper, changing the meaning of the sentence entirely.  I spent the rest of the day talking to every black person in the co-op explaining my quote and the missing context.  Context is everything, but who has time to understand the full story?  Everyone should, or at least entertain the possibility that they may be missing something, but who’s got time for that?

I guess my point is that I am thankful for the friends, both past and present, that are able to fill the gaps in my knowledge on a variety of different topics.  What do you do for that?  Is your friend circle as diverse as mine?  I mean at the end of the day, isn’t this the true value of diversity?  I can’t even imagine how you grow as a human being without diverse people in your life, both culturally, spiritually, and intellectually.  I can’t force the melting pot, but this is why I am against being a separatist.  I love learning and growing through the sometimes uncomfortable conversations with people of differing opinions.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Look across the aisle and ask the simple question, “Why do they believe what they do?”  Heck, ask yourself, “Why do I believe what I do?”  You might be surprised at what you find out about other people and yourself.  A big thanks to my diverse friends, for keeping me honest, stretching me in countless ways, and challenging me to not always accept the status quo of my beliefs.  I am a better person for it.  So, ask yourself, what’s in your wallet? (roll credits).
————————————————
This happen today.  A student waiting in the hall just outside my office was talking to another student about their classes.  He proceeded to tell the other student about a paper he had to write in his class, Animal Physiology (my class).  He hated the fact that the professor (me) forced the students to go the Writing Center before turning in their final paper.  He than admitted it would likely make his paper better, but didn’t like it.  I had to stifle an outburst of laughter.  College students are like five-year-olds that make a butt load of noise to construct their tower of chairs to reach the cookie jar and are surprised when you catch them with their hand in the cookie jar.  What?  Sound travels?  Really?

Read Full Post »

When it comes to race and race issues, I believe a lot of people would rather not talk about it.  It’s better than it used to be, so why can’t we move on.  I think one of the problems is the lack of experience with racial issues.  Yes, this is another blog about race.  It’s OK, it won’t make you feel bad, but might enlighten you to something that happens on a regular basis.

I’m writing this blog from a hotel.  I got upgraded to a suite.  My suite is not relevant to the blog, I just wanted to say, “my suite”.  The reason I am at a hotel is because I was invited to lead a day long workshop on inclusiveness in the classroom.  A group of professors are interested in making sure that their classroom is a safe learning environment for all students, especially students of color.  I give the university credit.  They looked at the data, and found that the students that were unsuccessful, especially in the science classes, were disproportionately underrepresented minority students.  Faced with this data, they chose to do something about it, but did not know what to do, so they called me.  That last sentences was a bit hyperbole.  I’m not a Ghostbuster, but I think I have a few good things to say on the subject.

I hope the workshop went well, but that is not the point of this blog.  The point of this blog is what happened over lunch.  Our group broke for lunch.  We ate at the institution’s cafeteria.  A group of PhDs, all white, except for me.  While ordering my food, a person behind the counter asked for my ID.  I told her I didn’t have one and I was a guest of the university.  She proceeded to ask for more information and a contact that she could call to get the appropriate account to pay for my meal.  I said I didn’t know the account, but here is the name of the person that is hosting me.  She gave me my food and I went to sit with the rest of the group.

During lunch, I asked if anyone else got “carded”.  Everyone said, no, they did not.  As one of the professors pointed out later, “You are a PhD and still being accused of stealing lunch.”  Yup.

During the second half of the workshop, this began our conversation.  If I, as a 45-year-old professor can’t get lunch without being harassed, how will your students feel in that environment.  But was I “harassed”?  Was it really that big of a deal?  You might be reading this, and think that it was a small, innocent mistake.  Maybe it was a small, innocent mistake, but it might be the 500th time that small, innocent mistake has happened to me.  To me, one of the biggest disconnects between people is their lack of experience with these types of events.  For the professors in that room, they got to experience this little incident indirectly through me, possibly for the first time.  But this has happened to me so many times, it has become my new normal.  If something small like that has happened to me hundreds of times, would you blame me if I lost it on the 501st time?  It would make sense to you to think I was overreacting, but not when you realize how often stuff like that happens.

I was happy on how affected the other professors were by this event.  One professor asked, “What do I do if instead of you it was my student?  And that student was spending the first 20 minutes of my class thinking about the harassment they just received?”  Exactly.

My workshop may have been useless, who knows, but getting to “experience” what it is like to be a minority in a predominantly white institution probably taught more lessons than I could have ever given.  Perspective and experience, we need more of it.


Insert bad transition here …

I have so many blogs that I need to get to, but there is not enough time in my day.  At some point I am going to blog about several questions I have about people.  For example, how common is it to pee in the shower?  Do only guys do it?  This question and more, I would love answers to.  Until next time.

Read Full Post »

If you are an owner or proponent of guns, please read this blog.  I have a question for you, but it’s not till the end.  We now return you to your regular scheduled program.

This is not a blog about race, but race is going to come up, and come up quickly.  I was talking with a friend about Black Lives Matter, the recent acts of violence of police against black people, and various people that have gone on air to share their opinions about the matter.  For example, our own, David A Clarke Jr.’s “controversial” comments on CNN.  I place the word controversial in quotes, because I didn’t think what he said was all that controversial.  I disagreed with the tone of his words, but I couldn’t disagree with the facts of his statements.  However, yeah, what he said was true, but irrelevant (roll credits).  I introduce to you one of my biggest pet peeves regarding arguments/discussions about serious topics:  Person A makes a point with Comment Z, and Person B counters their point by tying Topic X and makes a claim that it is connected and refutes Person A’s comment Z, even though they are no connected at all.  Confused?  Let me help.

A police officer kills a black man.  In the court of public opinion (which is where we are right now and it should not be forgotten that the court of public opinion is not in fact the court of law) the killing of the man was unjustified.  The cry of outrage is “Why is the system against black people?”  In other words, black lives matter too.  The white person’s response might be, “How dare you!  How dare you say that the police are racists!  If you are so mad, why aren’t you mad at the fact that more black people are killed by black people?  Huh?  What about that?”  Mic drop, and they walk away victorious.  Really?  Really?  Yeah, it’s true, more black people are killed by black people than by white people, but it’s irrelevant to this discussion.  Now before you get all mad, let me explain.

I’m against domestic violence.  There, I said it.  Husbands should never beat their wives.  But don’t you realize that there is more violence between single people than married people?  Oh, and by the way, sometimes the wife beats the husband.  What about that?

I’m against child abuse.  Wow, I’m really going out on a limb in this blog.  But the fact is, kids are more likely to be hit by other kids than their parents.  Why aren’t we outraged by that?  Why are we spending so much time on stopping child abuse?

They’re not the same.  I hope you see that.  But let’s pretend for the sake of argument that you are unable to distinguish the differences in the various topics.  Then why can’t you be mad at all of it?  Be outraged by white on black violence AND black on black violence.  But you know the real reason Person B is trying to counter your argument?  It simple.  They want to win.  They want to win the argument, and more importantly, not change a damn thing about how they live their life.  “Guess what angry black man, I win, and I don’t have to change a damn thing about who I am, how I think, or how I act.  How do you like them apples?”

Recently I read a posted article on Facebook where a man with a gun foiled an armed robbery of a restaurant.  It came with a snide comment by the poster (which I don’t remember what it was exactly), but I interpreted it as, “See, this is why everyone should be allowed to own guns.” (mic drop)  Really?  This one example is why Americans should keep their guns?  This is similar to my original pet peeve, or at least in the same family.  This is, “Let me give you one true event to prove my point” guy.  I don’t care who you are, you have used this one at some point in your life.  Whether you are uplifting the one black person in your life that agrees with your points (people do this with Charles Barkley ALL the time).  Guess what Mr. “Famous black person said something I agree with that proves my point” guy?  Mr. Barkley does not speak for me.  Or, you see a one time event, and say, “See, I told you it was true.”

Someone in my life never wears a seatbelt.  His argument is, people don’t know what they are talking about.  As kids, no one cared about seatbelts.  You see, they don’t know what they are talking about.  Opinions keep changing.  You see, it’s all the same.  We don’t use facts to inform our decisions, we use facts to confirm our decisions.  (I may be tooting my own horn, but I like that previous sentence.  I like it so much, I’m going to write it again.  Toot toot!)

We don’t use facts to inform our decisions, we use facts to confirm our decisions.  So, as I continue to blog from my very high horse and attempt to make the world just a little bit better.  I challenge my readers.  Don’t attempt to be discussion stoppers.  The examples above, in my opinion stop discussion.  If you care about making yourself better, and you are the only one you truly have control over, try to stay in the conversation and think, in what ways could I make this situation better?  Which leads me to the quasi end of my blog.  I want to ask a question.  And it is a question to all gun owners and proponents of guns.

Imagine a scenario by which a new strict gun control law was created, and you lost your right to own a gun as a result.  Because of this new law, America gun violence is reduced by 50% or more for the rest of time.  Would you support this law?

If you don’t understand what this question has to do with this blog, than I’m sad.  You missed the point of the blog.  I’ll do better next time.


I usually go in a different direction for this section, but this time I’m going to stay on topic.  Many of us want our police to be “above the law”.  They have jobs that most of us could not do.  They deserve our respect for what they do.  They are getting their hands dirty on a regular basis, where we are keeping our hands clean within the safe walls of our home that they protect.  I am both scared and super happy of the existence of the police force.  You may not get that, but it is true.  But the reality is, our police can’t be above the law.  They are human and will make mistakes.  When mistakes are made, things should be corrected.  I don’t want to be in a society that has a special group dressed in black that handles all of our dirty work for us and is given carte blanche as long as they get the job done.  It is a reflection of who we are, who we want to be as a society.  So, I will leave you with one of the greatest movie scenes of all time and amazingly relevant to this discussion.

From the Movie:  A Few Good Men (1992)

Judge Randolph: *Consider yourself in Contempt!*

Kaffee: *Colonel Jessep, did you order the Code Red?*

Judge Randolph: You *don’t* have to answer that question!

Col. Jessep: I’ll answer the question!

[to Kaffee]

Col. Jessep: You want answers?

Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to.

Col. Jessep: *You want answers?*

Kaffee: *I want the truth!*

Col. Jessep: *You can’t handle the truth!*

[pauses]

Col. Jessep: Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

 

Colonel Jessup went to jail.

Thanks for reading.

Read Full Post »

Welcome to the third installment of the racist trilogy.  It’s Return of the Racist and I promise no Ewoks, which were racist as hell.  I don’t have time to get into that right now, but trust me, raaaaaciiiist (said sing songy).  Despite the titles of episode one and two, OK, you actually are racist (roll credits).  You are not only racist, but your racism can be scored.  Do you know your Race Credit Score (RCS)?  This blog and the URL home of this blog were inspired by a friend of mine.  She was concerned that asking me questions about race and race relations would be offensive and cast her in a negative light.  I informed her that she had a very high RCS with me and like Experian, she would have to do a lot of negative things to significantly lower her race credit rating.  Then it got me thinking, what if you could find out your RCS, kind of like on a website called racecreditkarma.com (roll credits).  Thanks to her and others, a blog is born.  Or in my case, reborn.

So, how would it work?  I would love audience participation on this one.  If you have ideas, please feel free to comment.  But, I’ll go first.  Similar to a credit in real life, most adults have some sort of credit rating.  So, everyone has an RCS, meaning everyone has a level of racism.  For those of you that don’t see color, you don’t have a score at all, and just like in real life, having no credit is worse than bad credit.  My first thought is how long have you gone without making a racist joke or snide comment?  This would be similar to on-time payments and would have a major impact on your RCS.  How many accounts do you have?  Or how many friends do you have on the color spectrum?  Are they accounts that you never use, or do you have a history with any of your more colorful cards?  Any bankruptcies in your past, such as usage of the N-word.  And of course, the myriad of minor impacts on your RCS, such as calling someone by the wrong name because you thought they were the “other black guy”, going up to a minority and saying, “Do you work here?”, showing the not-so-veiled look of surprise when you find out that the black woman you are talking to is a doctor, and the ever popular, “Do you know the other minority that I met a year ago because you all belong to the same network?” question.

The reality is that many of us care to know just how racist we really are.  And perhaps an even greater reality, many of us don’t care to know how racist we are.  It is kind of like the millions of Americans that don’t care to know their credit score.  They just want to live life as if everything is OK and then become surprised when they can’t get a loan to buy that house.  What?  Me?  That can’t be true?  But I have 10 credit cards and I’ve only been late on them a few times.  Well, guess what?  You’re racist.  Whaaaaaaat!?!  As I mentioned in the previous blog, we all have biases in some form or another, but what we don’t realize is these biases make us racists.

We are a society of lines.  We encourage each other to get as close to the line as possible.  We tell stories of near death experiences, and times when we almost asked that fat girl if she was pregnant and we love these stories.  These stories keep us at the edge of our seats.  But when we cross the line, we get crushed.  No one gets mad at a great tackle, but we balk when someone gets hurt.  What did you think was going to happen?  You can’t be negative, biased, tell the “harmless” race joke, or discount someone’s worth because of the color of their skin and expect to escape the racist designation.  Time and time again people behave in such a way that makes certain groups feel lesser and become offended when called a racist.  Really?  So what do we do?  I’m sorry, I like the analogy.  You need to know your Race Credit Score.  Are goal should NOT be how close we can get to the racist line, but our goal should be to be as far away from being racist as possible.  This might mean that you can’t tell that joke that you think is sooooooo funny, because we are going to start caring about how others feel.  I know it’s scary baby birds, but Daddy is going to chew it up and spit in your mouth to make it go down easier (How do you like that image?  I love it!)

Here are some factors to help you determine your RCS (I don’t have time to rank them, I wish I did, but I neither have the time nor the energy to give them their respective point values, but once again, I welcome your input on this list):

  1. Eye contact – When you address a mixed group (various races and genders) do you give everyone equal eye contact?  You have no idea how many times I have been in a group setting, the only black person in the group, and the only person not receiving eye contact from the speaker.  Or conversely, receiving ALL the eye contact.
  2. Assumption of Power – When given the opportunity to choose a person of power, in other words, who among this group is either most likely to know the answer to my question or the leader of this organization.  You assume the minority is not in a position of power.
  3. Mistaken Identity – Do you believe, or by your action prove, that we all look alike.
  4. Relationships – Are you likely to shy away from interracial friendships.  I also include talking to a black person because you are overly trying to be their friend.  Trust me, this is not good for anyone.
  5. Negative/Dismissive Language of Any Kind – <You don’t care about other people’s lives.  They are blowing it out of proportion.  They don’t know me, I’m not racist.  It’s just a joke.  Why can’t they just let it go.  Maybe it’s their fault, did you ever consider that.  It’s not everyone, and it’s certainly not me.  I wish they would just shut up about all of this. Why are they so angry?> Have any of the above phrases crossed your mind or come out of your lips?
  6. A Lack of Desire to Be a Part of the Solution – Do you want to help, or do you just want to be proven right?

I could go on and on, but this blog is getting long.  If you struggle with any or all the above, your score has taken a hit.  So, how can you raise your RCS?  I could go on and on about this as well, but I have chosen to sum it up in one, hopefully, great sentence.  I’m even going to capitalize it for emphasis:

ANY BEHAVIOR BY WORD OR DEED THAT YOU ENGAGE IN THAT AT IT’S HEART IS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE OTHER GROUP’S PERSPECTIVE WILL RAISE YOUR RACE CREDIT SCORE.

I am not asking you to be black , Mexican or Asian.  You don’t need to start wearing a dashiki to work.  I just want you try to understand my and others’ perspectives.  If you interact with me in a way that shows your true desire to know where I’m coming from, than there’s not a mistake you could make that would make me lose respect for you.  We would grow together, and both of us would come out better people.  Don’t ignore your racism.  Look at it.  Examine it.  Get to know it.  Then, and only then, can you know how to be truly far away from it.


Insert bad transition here …

I lost a Pikachu the other day, and I can’t let it go.  I mean, I can’t let go the fact I lost a Pikachu.  I had a lure and incense going.  I was at the local library.  It showed up and I was soooo excited.  I tried two Pokeballs and it kept getting out.  I used a raspberry and on my third try it was in the Pokeball forever and ever, and ever… and as I anticipated the “Gotcha”, it became clear to me that the program froze.  Denied.  I still haven’t let it go.  I have a problem.

Read Full Post »

Welcome to Part 2 of my “I have no idea how may part” series on racism.  I know you are concerned about being a racist, and I am here to say that you are not racist.  No, seriously, you’re not racist.  However, you are biased.  As a matter of fact, we are all biased.  Whew, now don’t you feel better?  Well, you shouldn’t, because being biased can be just as damaging and in many ways, worse than being racist.

The problem with being biased is that it is pervasive and infects literally everything that we say and do.  The worse part is, we generally are not aware of our biases.  Actually, the worse, worse part is that we often don’t care about our biases and therefore make zero actions to improve our biases.  If you are reading this and thinking, I have no idea what you are talking about, then let me explain.  I mean, that’s why I am here.

It’s midnight, and you just left a friend’s house after a marathon game of Parcheesi (Google it).  You are walking down the street towards your car and you see three white kids sitting on the hood of your car.  They are looking at their phones and clearly playing Pokémon Go.  What do you do?  I am sure there are a variety of answers to this question, but I am sure most of you would respond in some form of “get them off my car and go home”.  If it were me, I would approach the car, and say, “Hey guys, this is my car.  You mind?”  And then I foresee that they would get off my car, I would get in, and drive home.  Simple.

Alternative:  It’s midnight, and you just left a friend’s house after a marathon game of Parcheesi (did you Google it yet?).  You are walking down the street towards your car and you see three black kids sitting on the hood of your car.  They are talking, loudly, and look like they just got done playing basketball.  You see that one of the kids has a basketball in his hands.  What do you do?

Before I continue, do me a favor.  Take a moment to think about the image of the two scenarios above.  How are they different?  How are they the same?  What is your reaction to the two scenarios above?

Here is my first honest truth of the blog; it never entered my head to write the two scenarios of BOTH sets of kids playing Pokémon Go.  I just can’t see three black kids playing Pokémon Go at midnight.  That’s my bias.  What’s yours?  In your mental image of the two scenarios, were both sets of kids the same age?  I bet they weren’t.  I bet the white kids were younger, maybe even in junior high.  I know, you think I biased you by making them playing Pokémon Go, but I also said it was midnight.  If young kids can play Pokémon Go at midnight, why can’t young kids play basketball at midnight?  What were the kids wearing?  Any wife beater t-shirts (Google it) in either scenario?  Or Nike gear?  Plaid shirts?  Welcome to the Brett Bias Show.  And finally, what about your reaction to the two scenarios?  Are you responding to both situations the same?  Here is my reaction, and it’s not the same:  “Hey fellas.  How’s it going?  Who won the game?  Cool.  I gotta run, you can come, but the ride might be bumpy from the hood of my car.  Thanks guys.”  I have no need to talk to the white kids, but I very much want to talk to the black kids.  It’s my bias.  It’s like I want to defuse a situation.  Or maybe I want to make sure the black kids know that I have nothing against them.  Or maybe I have a stronger desire to make a connection with the black kids.  I think any of the above reasons may be true, but it proves one thing, I have a bias in my reaction to the two scenarios.  What is your bias?

I know you might think this is silly, but I would guess that in many of your scenarios, your reaction to the black kids was more negative, more aggressive, or had more fear in its response.  At minimum, your image of the two scenarios was different based on your inherent bias.  What does this mean?  Well, it means that if you are a black kid, you have been reacted to in a certain way for most of your life.  And depending on how negative those reactions were will determine your attitude about life and how others perceive you.  I’m 45 years old and have a PhD, and my life experiences have shaped an image of myself that is not worthy of a PhD.  I attempt to shake it often, but it reveals itself more often than you would realize.

For example, several weeks ago, my wife, son and I went house hunting with our realtor.  While in a house, I heard a noise upstairs.  I was convinced that someone was in the house.  I assumed it was one of the owners that had not left the house before our arrival.  I asked our white female realtor to go upstairs to investigate.  I was not scared.  I was not trying to push her towards an intruder.  I was concerned that if whoever was upstairs ran into me, a big black man, the reaction would not be good.  It turned out to be the daughter of the owners who got her times wrong on the visit.  I stand by my decision of sending the realtor.  Let’s pretend our group had males and females, blacks and whites.  Here is the order I would have selected to go up those stairs, from least likely to most likely to scare the bejeesus of whoever was up there.  1.  Little white girl  2. Little black boy (because black boys are cute). 3 Little white boy 4. Little black girl  5. Adult white female. 6. Adult black female 7. Adult white male 8. Adult black male.  Do you agree with my order?  It’s based on bias and bias is real.  Bias determines whether you are more likely to call me Dr. Woods (which is my appropriate designation), whether or not I’m more likely to be pulled over by a policeman, or if you will be surprised when you find out what I do for a living.  Do you have any idea of what it feels like to be considered “lesser” by so many people on a regular basis for over 40 years?  Bias is a hell of a drug.

I was going to end it here, but than I had lunch with a friend.  She told me this story of how she has been grabbed by men so many times in her life that she has lost count.  It became so regular in her life, that if it happened during the day, when she got home, she saw no need to tell her husband.  This was not the first time I heard a story like this from a female.  Can you imagine, living your life in such a way that people grabbing you was so common place that you internalize it as normal?  You see, biases are so common place, that they make people believe things that they should never believe.  If you are reading this and you still don’t get it, then here is my advice:  Examine your actions and try to identify your own behaviors that might be adjusted because of who you are interacting with, males, females, black or white.  If that doesn’t help, ask your wife, or friend what biases you have, because they WILL know.


Insert bad transition here …

I dropped my kids off at daycare this morning.  The two high school? college? kids that were in “charge” could not have had a more disinterested look on their faces if they tried.  If they were in a corner smoking cigarettes, I would not have been surprised.  If there was an electric fence around the perimeter, I would not have been surprised.  They didn’t even try to look engaged upon my arrival.  Sheesh!  Oh well, my kids are safe and out of my hair.  Yeah, I’m disgusted with my self too.  Maybe I’ll catch Pikachu today.  That’ll make me feel better.  Ugh!

 

Read Full Post »

It is the year 2016 and we still can’t talk race in a productive way.

Hi!  I’m Brett, and this is my new blog.  I used to have a more random blog, and trust me, this blog will be plenty random at times, but I have decided to discuss a little more about serious issues in this blog.  I hope it to be civil, thought provoking, and maybe, just maybe, an avenue to make a few lives better.

I welcome all opinions, as long as they are written with intelligence and forethought.  No offensive language please.  I am sure I will get some bad posts, but I will do my best to ignore the ignorable.

And here we go …

If you are reading this blog, you might fall into two camps:  1.  I’m not racist and I’m sick of all this talk about race.  Let’s just move on.  2.  I’m not racist and I’m sick of all the racist people in the world.  We can’t move on till we deal with all the racists.  Or maybe there is a third category.  3.  Am I racist?  I want to move on, but I feel like I shouldn’t.  Those people seem really mad.  Maybe it is me, but how can that be?  I don’t FEEL racist.

I believe one of the biggest issues with race relations is our inability to discuss race relations.  I believe ‘white privilege’ exists, but some of you hear that term and get defensive and you want to yell, “I’m not racist!”  I mention the organization, “Black Lives Matter” and some of you get defensive, “NOW those guys are racists!”  It is starting to feel like sports.  “My team is better than your team!”  Go blacks!  Go Whites” Go “I don’t see color, I just want everyone to win!” – Don’t be that guy.  But seriously, how do we discuss a serious topic such as “race relations” without admitting that there is a nugget of truth to everyone’s side.  There is no winning team, as long as we insist on dividing by teams.

We need to get to a point where the loss of life, the unnecessary loss of life bothers us all.  But we can’t do that until we realize that there are biases in ALL of us.  Here is the part of this blog that none of you may like:  When we become defensive, we are doing so because we are defending that part of ourselves.

You become defensive when you think about Black Lives Matter?  Maybe it’s because a piece of you doesn’t value black lives as much as others?

But blacks are killed by blacks more than they are killed by whites.  True, but are you outraged by this, or just trying to defend your position?  If so, see above.

But famous black person said that the people of Black Lives Matter are racist and don’t care about the lives of the police officers and the media is race mongering and blowing this up all out of proportion.  I would argue both, true and false, but again, what is your point?

A non-race example:  It’s not the guys fault that she was so drunk.  I could blog all day about this statement alone.  It is a tough thing to face the thoughts that enter our heads with different situations of life.  Only if we could talk about our thoughts in a safe and enlightening environment.  Oh, but we cant, because …

this is how the conversation ends.  I’m right and you’re wrong.  Do you even care about why I feel the way I do?  Or is it more important to allow you the comfort of “knowing” that you aren’t racist and there is an explanation for all this that completely disregards my and others’ feelings about the situation?  I am asking you to consider both sides.  And if you don’t have information on the other side, than please ask someone, preferably a friend and not a stranger (that would be weird).  If you don’t have a friend of a different race (If you live in Wisconsin, I’ll give you a pass, not many here), maybe consider, just maybe, your ability to understand the plight of others is compromised.  And, you might have some biases.  Scratch that, you DO have biases.  You don’t understand, because you don’t understand.

Many bad things have happened over the last couple of weeks.  Many bad things.  Are we going to continue to say, “Go Team!” or does every side have value?  Murder is wrong, I believe that.  But what drives a person to feel as if killing another human being is their best and only option?  Ohhh, I want to talk about that, because until we answer that question, this will be a problem that our kids, and their kids, and their kids will be dealing with, possibly until the end of time.

Talk, share, and communicate.  You just might find that the other team should win a little too.


Insert Bad Transition Here …

I Pokémon hunt.  I’m not ashamed to admit it.  But every time I go to our local Pokestop I see people that don’t quite look each other in the eyes.  It’s like we’re all looking at porn.  We know what each other is doing, but we don’t want to acknowledge that we know what each other is doing.  “Nothing to see here folks.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »