Archive for February, 2011

My own mom was bi-racial (black-white). 

We Never knew it.  We Never thought of it.  It Never mattered in my culture.  She was just…mom. 

…and I remember witnessing dogs play with cats, pigs teasing dogs, and rats harassing cats.  You see this all the time on America’s Favorite Video.  They were all in the same family – learning each other as siblings.  

So it would seem that “difference is only realized when similarity is learned.”   In other words, “if difference is learned as safe, and safe is learned as normal, then difference is learned as normal.”

Difference = Safe.            Safe = Normal.         Then  Difference = Normal.  

Conversely –

If Difference = Unsafe.             And   Safe = Normal.         Then Difference cannot be Normal.

So my wife has East Indian in her family. 

So my wife has Latino in her family. 

So my wife has Chinese in her family. 

So when we get together what you perceive as “different” is actually “normal” for us.

So a little White child (3 – 5) from a White family will see a Black as different, where different = unsafe.  That Black person is unsafe.  That is not racist!!! 

That is Similar = Normal where Normal = Safe.   Therefore Similar = Safe.

That will hold true until that child is offered an expansion of experiences.  An expansion of experiences offers us an opportunity to widen our world…widen our concept of Difference = Safe.   Just opportunities.  Some of us will choose them.  Some of us will anger why we don’t.  

So here is a true story.  I knew this girl.  She was a teacher.  She was biracial (black – white).  Her mom was Black.  The story goes that all through primary school, her mom was her mom.  When she hit 7th grade and really started to align herself with the concept of beauty and friendship grouping and socialization, she did not want to be perceived as “different.”  So she told her friends that her mom was her maid.  All through high school, her friends thought that her mom was her maid.  She made her mom her maid. 

She was 26 before she ever truly began to regret that.  She was so angry at her mom for being her mom – for being Black…for being different…for causing her to lose friends…for causing her to disown her mom.

 Think of what Dr. Bow shared with us.  Comment in that context.

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The original piece can be found at: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/18/133848837/segregation-in-america-dragging-on-and-on.  Please read.  Below is my response.  I invite your response.

There are a number of reasons for what you observe. (1.) Early immigrants naturally seek out others-like-self (comfort, familiarity, etc). (2.) A high percentage of early immigrants, unless in college or university, fall within the lower socio-economic strata. They move to areas that they can afford in order to satisfy those primary needs. (3.) As they become more solvent they move into more middle-class neighborhoods. (4.) As their children become more acculturated, they move into more middle-class neighborhoods. (5.) Whereas many immigrants. from diverse cultures, enter the U.S. at a zero or negative 3 on the Emotional Perception scale, African Americans (as a group) sit at -8. There is less emotional willingness, within the larger “power” population, to allow African Americans the freedom of integration. There are many reasons for this – not to be discussed here. However, this is clearly evidenced where one Black with a foreign accent is afforded greater freedom of engagement, even after controlling for education, than an American Black. …or when a lighter-skin Latino or Black is still perceived as “safer” and hence more able to negotiate and navigate a variety of cultural environments. It is truly not just this one.

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This blog challenges you guys to really think about all that we’ve done and worked on to this moment – issues of diversity, race, the effect of media on self-identity, the disparity in incarceration rates, readings from The House on Mongo Street, and difficulties that the mentally and physically challenged face on a daily basis – and mix it into what’s going on at this very moment at our State Capitol…then place it in the context of Locus of Control. 

Take what you’ve learned, take what you’ve read, throw in what’s going on right now at the Capitol – – – and frame it within the context of Locus of Control.

Now, I’ll explain the concept “Locus of Control.”

Locus of Control is a psychological concept that “refers to an individual’s (or group’s) generalized expectation concerning where control over subsequent (life) events reside. In other words, who or what is responsible for what happens (to me).”   

Do I believe that I ultimately have control over my life – or – can a cop, judge, district attorney, professor, politician, priest decide my future?  That future may be arguing a grade (fairness), going to jail (freedom), getting in to a building (Delta just got fined 2.4 million), shooting me without regard or consequence (life), taking away my job and/or health care and/or benefits (future), or deciding who is more worthy than whom. 

Locus of Control may be internal (I have control over my own future) or external (I can yell as loudly as I want – they will do with me as they wish).

Let’s see some deep thoughtful discussion about this.  Please respond to and add to each other’s comments.

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Okay ~ so have you heard this one?  It just cracks me up.

A District Attorney (DA), a lawyer and a Social Scientist (SS) walk into a bar.  They pull up to the bar and each sits on a stool.  The DA sits on a stool in the middle of the two ladies. The SS is to his right.  The DA leans forward and orders a beer.  The SS calls for a whiskey on the rocks.  The lawyer’s wants a rum and coke.

Anyway, so the DA looks at the SS through the mirror at the back of the bar and says, “So what do you want me to do?  They commit the crime, they do the time! My DAs don’t come in to work every day saying – I wonder how many Black people I’m going to lock up today!  That’s not how it works people!  My job is to keep the public safe of these criminals.  I don’t want to be locking up people.  This is not something I like, but I have a job to do.  You lock them up and keep the public safe.  What they need is education. You can’t expect to get a job or hold a job with a sixth-grade education.  Fix the damn education system.  That’ll keep half of them out the system.”

Well, by this time the drinks arrive.  The DA takes a gulp of his beer.  He’s got foam all around his moustache.  He is pissed.  He swallows hard.  The SS dips her finger into her whiskey drowning one of the blocks of ice.  She is contemplative.  The lawyer draws hard on her straw.

One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand… You could feel the dead, tense air drawn into your nostril. 

The lawyer pulls the straw from her pursed lips, looks aimlessly straight ahead and says, “All I know is that we should be ashamed.  We look at this disparity in our jails, and we should be ashamed.  I am fed up with placing it on someone else.  It’s the parents.  It’s the children.  Where is your culpability?  How can you just sit there and defend this crap?  How can you do nothing?  This is painfully embarrassing.  We must be embarrassed! Every one of us should be embarrassed into action!”

The DA does not shift.  He looks into his drink and takes another gulp.  He looks down the counter at the bartender and knocks his half-emptied glass calling for a refill.  “I’ve got a job to do” he says under his breath.  “Give me an option.  I let them out, they hurt somebody…then what?”

Silence.   Deathly silence.

The SS holds her drink with both hands on the counter, turns toward the DA and says with the sweetest of tones.  She clearly wants to acknowledge his pain…if only having to sit between these two. She leans in, arms touching lightly and says; “You know, that’s actually not what the data says.  Honestly, if you control for education level…if you take education completely out of the mix, there is still a disproportional number of Blacks in jail.  It comes down only slightly, but it is a significant difference.  So there is something else happening here.”

The DA empties his glass and hands it over to be refilled.  The SS touches his arm ever so lightly.  He shudders. He doesn’t want to be touched – not now…not by her – not by either of them.

She continues; “And the way we’re doing it right now is not making the public safer either!  Which is weird.  You think you lock ‘em up and it’s all good, but it’s quite the reverse.  You lock ‘em up, there are three kids with no adult running around potentially getting in trouble.  All it does is ensure that the cycle is maintained.  It is actually the inverse. So public safety is not served at all.”

She pauses and continues:”Now – Building jails is good business.  You build jails and you fill them, you keep a lot of people employed and a lot of people disenfranchised. The jail system is a really good stock to invest in.”

Not another word is spoken.  The women finish their drinks, step down from their stools and exit the bar leaving the DA to warm his beer and cold his palms – angry.  Pissed off!  Determined! 



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What our brain takes in is very much determined by our environment.  The smells that we find favorable and unfavorable are determined by our environment.  The foods we find acceptable and flavorful, unacceptable and gross are very much determined by our environment.  Friend, foe, safe, unsafe…are taught to each of us by our environment. The cerebellum, to the hippocampus, to the cingulated cortex.  It gets locked in.  

What people don’t acknowledge is that this is all of us.  These learnings affect all of us.  It’s just what’s put in front of our plates and how it’s introduced to each of us. 

An example:  I was brought in a cultural environment where dogs are for protection…not for petting, and certainly not to be in your house!  Family and friends who visit are quite put-off, initially, when they see a beagle greet them at the front door.  The discomfort, the fear, the anxiety are palpable.  By the end of their 2-week visit, they are petting my dog.  They understand that this beagle is part of my family structure.  Do not, for one moment, think that they are going back home with a newly discovered urge to see dogs differently!  They are not.  But they are more open to the concept of a different way to see dogs.  There are different realities – and more so, these different realities exist in certain environments.  What does that mean?  It means that if they come to America and visit your home, they will ask you if your dog is friendly.  If they never had the experience of difference, they will never know difference.

Now let’s go back to our discussion.     

So let’s see – – – What have we been collectively taught about this population that we call Blacks?  What are these popular images? Do remember that these are images that bathe all of us!!!  No one is immune.

  1. We have the Black athlete.
  2. We have the Black as comedic relief…the fool…the jester.
  3. We have the Black as the over-do…the one that helps us to amplify and laugh at his own.
  4. Black as the pimp…the overly sexual Black.  The well-hung.  
  5. The Black as the entertainer.
  6. Oh!  How can we forget the Black as the criminal.
  7. The Black as the slave. 
  8. The Black as the distressed, the poor, the destitute.
  9. The Black as the thug.
  10. The Black as the lazy, can’t read, doesn’t read.
  11. And finally, there is the Black as the buffoon…the Black that, because he needs to be friends with Whites to be accepted, will play the buffoon.
  12. One more ~ the Black as the Brown Egg! 

The intellectual, the academic, the scientist, the entrepreneur, the tender, the engaging, the CEO – are rarely seen. 

What’s sad is that, many times, these roles (1 – 11) become the roles of ascendancy. 

You want to get ahead in life?  Play this role. 

You want to get paid?  Play this role. 

You want to be part of my social group?  Play this role.

You want to feed your family or live in this fancy house?  Play this role. 

Discuss this blog in light of everything we’ve seen and experienced and interpreted in our limited lives to this point.  

Let’s have a wonderful discussion.

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There are lies and exaggerations to what we have learned about Blacks.  But that also means, that there are truths.  How do we decipher the one from the other? What if we are wrong?  How do we get a more rounded, even-handed picture?
There are lies and exaggerations to what we have learned about Whites.  But that also means that there are truths.  How do we decipher the one from the other?  What if we are wrong?  How de we get a more rounded even-handed picture?
What happens if only one group gets to tell all the stories???   Then they decide what’s right, what’s wrong, who’s right, who’s wrong, what stories to tell, and what stories not to tell.  Interesting?  NO?????

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