Three TEDx videos: acknowledge your biases

America works overtime to create a colorblind society, but does this colorblindness perpetuate, rather than resolve, racism?

biasesFriends of mine, a couple at my church, have shown, just in the relatively few years I’ve known them, how amazingly aware they are of cultural biases. It was they who led the adult education discussion at church about Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race and other discussions about white privilege.

There are few discussions more dreadful than black people discussing white privilege. No matter how sensitively presented, hackles are almost always raised. But when white people talk about white privilege, it can be a very different conversation.

Did I mention this couple was white? They moved from a very nice suburban home to a lot in the “inner city” of Albany, where they built a very nice house. When asked about that, they waved it away saying it was no big deal. They’re wrong, but they’re so right about other things, I let it pass.

They had been attending some workshop recently and emailed these three TEDx videos. The first two were cued to a specific point in the presentations, but you should listen to all of them in toto as your time permits.

The Exceptional Negro: Fighting to be Seen in a Colorblind World – Traci Ellis

America works overtime to create a colorblind society, but does this colorblindness perpetuate, rather than resolve, racism? Despite a growing racial divide, attorney, activist and author Traci Ellis says the time is now to have the courageous conversation about the damage done in the name of colorblindness.

Is My Skin Brown Because I Drank Chocolate Milk? – Beverly Daniel Tatum

When her 3-year-old son told her that a classmate told him that his skin was brown because he drank chocolate milk, Dr. Tatum, former president of Spelman College and a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service, was surprised. As a clinical psychologist, she knew that preschool children often have questions about racial difference, but she had not anticipated such a question.

How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them – Verna Myers

Our biases can be dangerous, even deadly — as we’ve seen in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, in Staten Island, New York. Diversity advocate Verna Myers looks closely at some of the subconscious attitudes we hold toward out-groups. She makes a plea to all people: Acknowledge your biases. Then move toward, not away from, the groups that make you uncomfortable.

January Rambling #1: Of Oz The Wizard

This is what happens when you reply to spam email.

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Gordon Parks’ Jim Crow photos still resonate, alas.

David Brooks of the NY Times: The Brutalism of Ted Cruz.

The father of a boy killed at Sandy Hook gets death threats from people who say the shooting was a hoax.

Amy Biancolli: Not alone at being alone.

Affluenza and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Continue reading “January Rambling #1: Of Oz The Wizard”

July Rambling: Weird Al, and the moon walk

I REALLY want to see the movie Life Itself, about Roger Ebert.

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Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell. To that end, Bible Stories for Newly Formed and Young Corporations and Congratulations: It’s a corporation.

An answer to the child immigrant problem at the US-Mexican border? I note that the Biblical Jesus was a refugee, his parents fleeing Herod’s wrath. Yet so many people who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ “are so uncaring and hateful about hungry children trying to get to a better, safer place to live.”

In the non-surprise category: Stand Your Ground Laws Lead To More Homicides, Don’t Deter Crime.

Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda.

Yiddish Professor Miriam Isaacs has dug in a previously unknown treasure of over a thousand unknowns Yiddish songs recorded of Holocaust survivors; the text is in Swedish but can be translated. Miriam was my old racquetball buddy decades ago.

The Creation Myth of 20th Century Fundamentalism by Jeff Sharlet, who I also knew long ago.

Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe came out as gay. Arthur explains why it STILL matters. Also: I Can Be Christian, and Gay, and Live in Alabama.

Portraits of people in 7 days’ worth of their own garbage.

These next several feel of a piece, about understanding life and each other:
Amy B says This is not a bucket list.
It’s Not as Simple as it Seems: Neal Hagberg at TEDx Gustavus Adolphus College.
Technology has taken much away much.
I Dare You To Watch This Entire Video.
*She Sent All Her Text Messages in Calligraphy for a Week.

Our church, First Presbyterian Albany, hosted a work camp in the city the week leading to the 4th of July. Homes were repaired/painted throughout the city; 400+ youth and adults, from several states, including Hawaii, plus folks from Ontario, Canada, were hosted at Myers Middle School; 75+ First Pres folks volunteered to make it all happen. We received some media coverage, including one of the radio stations, WFLY present on opening day. Here’s the web link to the Times Union article. Plus nice coverage from a local public radio station.

The Importance of Eating Together.

Sinful, Scandalous C.S. Lewis, Joy, and the Incarnation.

Interview with Marion Meade, Dorothy Parker biographer.

Jaquandor, via George RR Martin, on writing. While he writes just one word at a time, I write five or six, accidentally leaving one out.

Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With.

Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless.

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Melanie plays with toys. So does Chuck Miller.

GayProf’s life continues at 40.

Is Dustbury, “prolific” as the inevitable consequence of a desire to maximize his output before the time comes when he cannot put out anything? And, I wondered, am I?

I realize that the 45th anniversary of the moon landing depressed me. Here’s part of the reason. Another part is that, despite disliking violence, I understand why Buzz Aldrin punched Bart Sibrel after being harassed by him suggesting that the July 1969 moonwalk was faked.

Cat Islands.

Louis Zamperini Was More Than A Hero.

Paul Mazursky wrote and directed Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), An Unmarried Woman (1978). But I saw (or heard) him in a number of TV shows and movies.

James Garner’s legacy: A commitment to civil rights and political activism.

Why I want to see the movie Life Itself, about Roger Ebert.

Check out this interview Rebecca Jade, my first niece, did recently through Voices of La Jolla. Click on the microphone/link on the upper right-hand corner to listen to the podcast.

Watching the new Weird Al Yankovic videos, especially Word Crimes. Weird Al is a marketing machine.

Did I mention that Paul McCartney came to Albany, NY? And Omaha, Nebraska? Who performed the mysterious ‘train song’ from the Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’? The George Harrison Memorial Tree killed … by beetles.

Some of SamuraiFrog’s favorite Marvel stories; nice reveal in Fantastic Four #21. Also, for round 15 of ABC Wednesday – YOU can still join! – Mr. Frog will “highlight a different Muppet for each letter, hopefully, some of the lesser-known Muppets and milestones in Muppet history.” So far, A is for Arnold, who you WILL recognize; B is for Bobo the bear.

Superman and the Bible.

For the rest of the summer, absolutely everything new that’s published in the New Yorker will be unlocked. “Then, in the fall… an easier-to-use, logical, metered paywall.”

Renting Liechtenstein.

Could “The Big Bang Theory” get canceled? I’ve watched the show maybe thrice, but I find TV machinations interesting.

Mark Evanier wrote about The Battle of the Network Stars, some cheesy TV competition c. 1977. What struck me is that I knew every actor and the associated show from CBS, all but one from ABC, but had serious trouble with the NBC stars. Even I knew of the actor, say, Jane Seymour, I had no idea what show she was representing.

GOOGLE ALERTS (me)

Arthur responds to my TWO posts on Hobby Lobby.

Dustbury cites my Instant Runoff Voting post and my TMI post.

Mr. Frog tackles #1 Songs on My Birthday, which some of the rest of you regular bloggers – you know who you are – might consider.

(not me)
Alison Green, M.D. will join Green Family Practice Clinic on August 1st as the newest family practice doctor in Newport. “Alison joins the practice established by her father, Dr. Roger Green, continuing a rich family heritage of healthcare providers.”

(image from http://teachr.co/1oik2Qr )

Black History Month and Segregation Denialism

“America struggles with ‘denialism,’ i.e., a refusal to face its grim past of racial crimes and human rights violations. ‘Other countries that have tried to recover from severe human rights problems that have lasted for decades…have always recognized that you have to commit yourself to truth and reconciliation: South Africa, Rwanda. In the United States we never did that. We had legal reforms that were imposed on some populations against their will and then we just carried on.’…

Every year for the past several, I have become the point person for the Black History Month celebration at my church. It is not a position I’ve ever sought, but it has obviously sought me. I had called a meeting of potentially interested parties in early December so that I might offload some of the responsibility. But I was so sick, not only did I not go to church, I had forgotten that I had called the meeting until after the fact. Opportunity missed; so it goes.

At the end of the first adult education hour, which featured a guest speaker, I recommended that people view Slavery by Another Name, a new PBS documentary based on Douglas A. Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, narrated by Laurence Fishburne (pictured) before the following session. Some folks did watch, and it is interesting to note that it was a piece of American history that most in the room were oblivious to. My wife and I had seen the film at an advanced showing at UAlbany a couple of weeks earlier.

From a description of the book:
Tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible ‘debts,’ prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries, and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude.

As it turns out prison officials in Alabama have “banned inmate Mark Melvin from reading” the book, as they, “says attorney Bryan Stevenson, felt it was ‘too provocative, they didn’t like the title, they didn’t like the idea that the title conveyed.'”

Stevenson made some cogent points as he filed suit. “America struggles with ‘denialism,’ i.e., a refusal to face its grim past of racial crimes and human rights violations. ‘Other countries that have tried to recover from severe human rights problems that have lasted for decades…have always recognized that you have to commit yourself to truth and reconciliation: South Africa, Rwanda. In the United States, we never did that. We had legal reforms that were imposed on some populations against their will and then we just carried on.’…

“Stevenson feels it’s ‘just a matter of time’ before the nation begins to minimize ‘what segregation really was,’ like a black version of Holocaust denial. That’s already happening. In 2010, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour claimed integration in his state was ‘a very pleasant experience.’ Actually, integration in his state was marked by, among other atrocities, a firebombing, a fatal riot, the assassination of Medgar Evers, and the murders of three voting rights workers.

“The only effective weapon against such lies is to learn the truth and tell it, shout it in the face of untruth, equivocation, and denial. Bear witness.”

I also addressed issues of popular culture. I wanted to show a TEDx video by Jay Smooth, but it proved to be too technologically daunting. So I suggested that people look at his …Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race, and its predecessor, on my Times Union blog. Ah, a good use for it.