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; 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.
Continue reading “July Rambling: Weird Al, and the moon walk”

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 weeks earlier.

From a description of the book: Continue reading “Black History Month and Segregation Denialism”