Category Archives: World Situation

In the Blink of an Eye

“Racial profiling is a longstanding and deeply troubling national problem despite claims that the United States has entered a “post-racial era.” It occurs every day, in cities and towns across the country, when law enforcement and private security target people of color for humiliating and often frightening detentions, interrogations, and searches without evidence of criminal activity and based on perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion.”

 

I read a blog sent out by ACLU that said just because police are afraid of an African-American man (or woman) that is no excuse to kill them.

It got me thinking about Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink.

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He says that we make decisions in the blink of an eye. Sometimes this is excellent. Some could call it intuition. But it often leads to the kinds of tragedies that are played out on the streets of big and small cities across America.

Police officers answering calls, especially domestic violence calls, are afraid for their lives. They know what has happened to other officers and that it could happen to them. They pull their guns fast and use them faster. If it’s a person of color it seems even faster. I’m not sure it’s because of racial hatred. It’s definitely racial profiling.

Ruminating about this, I started thinking about my own quick impressions of people. If I see a white older man in a suit, I think to myself: If that guy is a senator and a Republican he’s probably a Christian who only feels charity to other Christians. If he’s a “southern gentleman”, I throw in that he’s a racist bigot. I know it’s wrong to think that way. I’m trying to get over it.

Living in California there are many Hispanic people around me. Yesterday I got my car washed and sat next to two women speaking rapid fire Spanish. I’ve been working on my Spanish so I always eavesdrop to try to figure out what’s being said. As usual, I could pick out a few words here and there, but it was too quick for me. The men washing the cars, the man who took my information, the young woman who checked me out—they were all Hispanic. Should I generalize that all Hispanics are working class so how could they afford to get their car washed? A scene in the movie Beatrice At Dinner illustrates this well. When Beatrice, a guest, comes up to speak to Lithgow’s character, he asks her to refill his drink. He assumes she’s a servant. It’s not only because she’s wearing casual clothing; it’s because she’s Hispanic by birth. It’s a cringe-worthy moment.

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The ACLU blog got me thinking about how I feel if I see a black man. Do I immediately blink and feel fear? I don’t. I’m very happy to say that. I do not want to be a racist. I do not want to jump to conclusions about a person because of his or her race.

I was fortunate to grow up in Seattle and attend schools that were multi-racial and ethnic. I went back and taught in my junior high school and learned as much from my students as I taught them. So I avoided a lot of the scourge of racism. Not all, of course. But like Spanish, I keep working on it.

Besides being “white”, I am Jewish, which makes me a little schizophrenic in America, and always a little afraid.

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I don’t “look Jewish” so I can pass easily in society. Until someone spouts a Jewish slur. That’s why I announce early into a conversation with a new acquaintance that I’m Jewish. I don’t want to suffer again the embarrassment of hearing someone say: “Don’t Jew me down.”

I’ve never wanted to admit that America is not the land of the free and the home of the brave. I love that myth. I love the stories of the Pilgrims and the Indians sharing the first Thanksgiving.

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It’s so sad at 71 to be aware it was a mythology we were taught. My generation was raised on Westerns where homesteaders and cowboys were heroes.

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We never realized that the scalps being taken and the arrows being shot were from the knives and bows of the people the land belonged to.

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They were defending their property! We had no compassion whatsoever. It’s taken me a long time and perhaps the Donald Trump administration to pull the blinders fully from my rose colored eye-apparel.

I’m not saying I’m not proud to be an American. I am.

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I know how lucky I am that my grandparents had the courage to immigrate here, to a democratic capitalist nation. To a place where they had opportunity. I’m just acknowledging that the United States is not perfect. Nothing is. (Not even me.) But we can keep learning and growing.

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We don’t have to be a melting pot to create a fabulous America. We can be a mixed salad with innovative and flavorful ingredients. Remember the posters United WE Stand after 9/11? Let’s remember that is our greatness.

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There’s No Flu Like An Old Flu

 

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I’m not done moaning about my virus. I still don’t feel good enough to do anything constructive so I’m filling in my time… I found that watching the news was too heartbreaking. I love the London Bridge. I love London. I love Nice, actually. But we’ll never feel safe there again. Now I know why they have those cement blocks in front of airports and on certain streets.
I turned off the television and went to sleep for awhile. My dreams were crazy but then I woke up to the reality of a world gone crazy. In so many ways. I fear the Salem Witch Trials can’t be far from restarting. One little word, and they cut off your head. (THAT’S A JOKE!! A QUASI PUN. Actually, most of this post should strike you as humorous. I feel I need to point that out in today’s world were context isn’t given any value. )
My head started spinning as I tried to keep track of everything. I just couldn’t so I went to sit outside. My dog sat next to me and I began wondering if he was seeing what I was seeing. I mean, do dogs do that? Is their eyesight the same as ours’? Then I began to wonder if I couldn’t get well because I’m in my seventies. Maybe I had something worse going on in my lungs??????? I told myself “to calm down”, “be happy,” “don’t worry”. I sat back and tried to take deep breaths. The smell of the jasmine was so sweet…that it started a coughing spell so I had to go inside.
Then our grandson stopped by to show us how handsome he was in his tux for prom. We even took a picture, which you’ll never see. Take my word for it, he is gorgeous and I look like death on a low burner.

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Just before I started writing this, I realized I had been on Facebook for at least a half hour. (Hour?)I was reading every post carefully and playing every video presented.

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Trevor Noah, the puppeteer on America Has Talent, the Canada Salute, the giraffes on the high dive, Animals on Twitter. You name it, I watched it today.

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I even started reading some tweets. I didn’t post anything but I did reply to a Joe Scarborough post.
OK. So you get the picture and it ain’t pretty. The Tylenol, antibiotics and Codeine Covfefe medicine better start working better or I’m toast. And Facebook will own my soul.

Boiling Point Revisited

What’s that saying, “the more things are different, the more they are the same?” This morning while looking through my files, I came upon something I’d written in 2009. I copied it and pasted it below. The Taliban are still around. Putin is still puttering on the world stage. All I need to do is change a few names and you’d think I wrote it today. Kim Jong Il becomes Kim Jong Un.  Obama becomes Trump. Throw in a little ISIS, Syria and Russia and you have the same recipe for nuclear winter.

Here’s what I wrote in 2009:

I’m beginning to get that creepy Cold War feeling. Growing up during that era meant there was always a chill in the air. The specter of nuclear winter loomed over us, raising goose bumps on the hardiest of Americans. News reports and civil defense drills stoked our collective anxiety. Books like “On the Beach” fueled our fears further, but that was fiction. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought it all into focus.

It was October 1962. The Soviet Union was building nuclear reactors in Cuba, and the United States was not going to stand for it. President Kennedy demanded they cease and desist, but the Soviet Union ignored the blockade and the threats.

On October 28, so full of trepidation we were unable to concentrate on our high school newspaper assignments, four of us hunkered around the transistor radio on the editor’s desk. Our advisor was off somewhere drinking coffee, or perhaps it was whiskey, so we had free rein to do whatever we wished. We were thirsty for news of the U.S./Soviet confrontation so when regular scheduled broadcasting was interrupted for a news flash, we leaned closer.

“Khrushchev has just announced that all weapons will be dismantled,” the announcer said. “There will be complete cessation of further work at the existing nuclear missile sites.” The four of us hugged. We had just been drawn back from the brink of nuclear war. We were going to be okay.

In the intervening years, we’ve endured events we could never foresee. But when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, we entered a time when you could worry more about whether you were keeping up with the Jones’ newest electronic devices instead of wondering if you were going to be blown to smithereens.

Now, with daily insta-reporting from the Koreas, Irans, and Afghanastans of the world, I’m beginning to feel again that nuclear destruction of the planet is right around the corner. Then I tell myself it’s the over reporting that’s making me anxious. After all, it was pretty hairy in 1962, and we survived. Perhaps Kim Jong IL is just testing Obama’s resolve? Perhaps Iran and Israel will make peace? Perhaps it will be snow tomorrow.

In 2017, I want to say, “Look how worried we were in 1962 and in 2009. Things turned out just fine. See, we’ll be all right.”  Anyway, that’s what I tell my grandkids.

 

Inauguration Day Realites, Please

 

Please don’t tell me I shouldn’t be dressed in black because I’m in mourning on this 20th day of January 2017.

Please don’t read this if it will disturb your Trump sensibilities.

Please don’t tell me that I’m un-American if I don’t consider this man my President.

Please don’t tell me to rejoice in the peaceful transfer of power. Sorry, the transfer of power was powered by Russian hacks and unscrupulous people who created lies to denigrate Hillary Clinton. Fake news became a new industry fueled by the Internet. Outright lies were made up and spread around, bringing an income to these lowlifes. Peaceful transfer of power means nothing when it is tainted.

Please don’t tell me Kellyanne Conway should be admired. She is a model for a propaganda robot, effective but not admirable. She can be programmed to spin anything.

Please don’t tell me Trump was America’s choice. Almost 66 million people voted for Clinton compared to 63 million for him.

Please don’t tell me my dream of a united America working together is just that, a pipe dream. I don’t believe you.

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Please don’t tell me Trump has the good of the country at heart.

Please don’t tell me Trump’s rhetoric didn’t unleash bigots to perpetrate acts of hate.

Please don’t tell me not to worry.

Please don’t tell me that gun rights are more important than lives.

Please don’t tell me I shouldn’t be suspicious when I can’t get on the Internet. I’m sure there is tracking of dissidents, which now has a broader definition. I’m sure my Google history can be traced.

Please don’t tell me I shouldn’t have lain awake half the night until I took a tranquilizer so I could get some sleep.

Please don’t tell me I’m stupid that I cried when I woke up here at 7:15 and knew that in Washington, D.C., Trump had been sworn in.

Please don’t tell me to put a smile on my face.

Please don’t tell me I shouldn’t feel as if I’m seeing the beginning of train wreck and that I’m powerless to do anything but watch.

Please don’t tell me that women in the land of the free shouldn’t have dominion over their own bodies.

Please don’t tell me that I shouldn’t be disturbed that the Republicans blocked Obama’s Supreme Court nomination.

Please don’t tell me the country hasn’t be hijacked by the conservative Republicans who believe they should be able to tell private citizens what they are allowed to do. States’ rights? B.S. And if you’re old? Forget it. Before the election, you were respected. Now, you’re on the way to being disenfranchised.

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Please don’t tell me I should be feeling proud of America today. Sixty-three million voted for a man who felt it was okay to grab a woman’s genitals. They voted for a man who discarded beautiful wife, number one, for beautiful younger wife, number two, etc.

Please don’t try to make me drink the Cool Aid. I’m not swallowing the lies and mistruths no matter what. Business is booming and unemployment is down.

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Please don’t re-write history and tell me things that are not true. I remember when George W Bush left office. America was teetering on the edge of disaster. Unemployment was so high. Banks closed their doors. The auto industry was in the pits. Friends lost their entire life savings at a time they thought they’d retire. Others went out of business or lost their homes. We took money out the bank and hid it under the mattress. Some people survived, others’ didn’t. Fact: Obama leaves a booming economy and low unemployment behind.

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Please don’t tell me the majority of Americans voted for a man who’s proven he doesn’t keep his word. He’s a man who believes the world can be flimflammed as he’s done time and again in his business practices. But he lost by 3 million votes.

Please don’t laugh in my face and call me a stupid liberal who doesn’t get it. I am one of the 65, 844, 954 who voted for Hillary.

Please don’t tell me the group Black Lives Matter is misguided. They, I should say we, as I am a member, were just ahead of the curve. Black lives don’t matter and neither do Jewish, Muslim, Latino, LGBT or any life that doesn’t fit the narrow picture outlined by Richard Spencer, the alt right leader and his friends, the Tea Partiers. Oh, there I go being silly again. Unborn lives of any hue do matter to them. But let them got born—forget about it!

Please don’t tell me I’m ridiculous to want all Americans to have health care and a full belly.

Please don’t tell me not to worry about my grandchildren. If the hyperbole leads to war, two of them are at an age where they could be drafted. Also, all my grandchildren go to Public Schools and are receiving excellent educations. It looks like this could be in the past as one of the basics of American life is being threatened.

Please don’t tell me Trump wants to be a President for all Americans. Just his Cabinet picks point to the opposite.

Please don’t tell me that everything is going to be all right. I want to believe it, but I need some proof.

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Please don’t tell me to give him a chance. I’ve been doing that. I haven’t seen him reach out to the four corners of America. I haven’t seen him surround himself with statesmen who are skilled in working with the system. His advisors are liars and bigots and ill prepared for the crucial work ahead.

Please don’t tell me to get a life and move on.

Please don’t tell me my nightmares are ridiculous.

And please, don’t mess with me today. For your own sake.

 

 

Getting into the Spirit of Things

I’m hoping to get into the spirit of things. Of anything. Right now I’m so worn down by life and Life that I need to go back to bed, pull the covers up to my nose and stay there.

 

This is actually an attempt to get myself back into writing. I haven’t been able to write since the election, when I wrote with such hope and naivete that Americans stood together. It hurts me to look at that post. I despair at the divisions in our country. I believe a rift in our population was revealed and will stand irrevocably. I think of Rodney King a lot. “Why can’t we all just get along?”

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Rodney King.

 

 

“We have to get on with things”, my cousin said. And I thought, she’s right. The sky is not falling no matter what is happening in this country I once thought I knew. Even though Donald Trump will be president. Even though we won’t have the expert and wise guidance of Hillary Clinton. Even though the ADL and Southern Poverty Law Center are reporting unprecedented acts of hate. Even though Richard Spencer, leader of the Alt-Right, is gaining a platform in this country. Even though Trump won’t make a statement against these acts.

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Even though hate won. Even though my dream of a pluralistic society has proved to be an illusion–the sky is not falling. The sun did rise and it did set. And the sky is not so polluted yet that I could even see it.

I meant to get into the spirit of Thanksgiving.I truly did. It’s my favorite holiday.

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I did make our traditional dinner and decorated the house. I looked forward to our family being together, all five grandchildren, our children and nephew sitting around the table. We always hold hands and say what we’re thankful for. There’s always a lot of laughter and love and gratefulness. This year, though, our daughter got so sick she was hospitalized. She and her family couldn’t make the trip down to California. Instead, I needed to go up to Seattle to help her. So my husband’s cancer treatment and the side effects of radiation and hormone therapy got placed on my back burner.

Someone texted me asking if I felt like Job. “No,” I wrote back. “The Perils of Pauline.”

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Certainly life should not be so melodramatic. But then, on a dark and rainy night, I had the car accident with my four-year-old granddaughter in the car. My worst nightmare. With that, I lost my sense of perspective. (I’d already lost my senses of humor and hope on November 9.) It seemed that life was perilous without relief. I couldn’t take a breath or unhunch my shoulders. I was in high alert for the next assault.

Today, my spirits are finally up, a bit. Austria didn’t vote in the far right leader, Norbert Hofer!

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And the Army Corp of Engineers will not immediately grant the Dakota Access Pipeline the right to cross the Missouri River next to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation!

My husband is almost done with his treatments and our daughter is much better. And I could write a blog. So see, good things can still happen.

And if you really don’t agree with what I had to say today, please keep it to yourself. I’m a bit tired and not my usual tolerant, feisty self. Since this is still a free country, you can always unfollow me. Feel free.

Volunteering

It’s Saturday morning. I have had a full week, being the support person for my husband who is going through Proton radiation at Loma Linda. That’s another story, which I’m about ready to share. I could have stayed in bed this morning, getting some rest. I don’t sleep well in Loma Linda and it’s a blessing to be in my own bed.

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But I’m at a phone bank for Hillary Clinton. For me, this election is that important.The phone bank isn’t anything like I pictured. It’s not official looking in any way. We’re all volunteers.

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We’re at someone’s house a couple of miles away from where I live. Women and men, young and old, every color and ethnic group, we’ve brought our charged cell phone or laptop. Some people work through their laptops. Others of us spread out and begin to call. I hear one man speaking in Spanish.

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Today some people are calling Ohio, reminding people to vote, talking about Clinton’s policies. I’m helping to check people in, and also with the calling in our area, asking for volunteers for the coming week. We don’t know each other. What we have in common is a love for our country and a belief that Hillary is the person running for President who is qualified to lead us. It’s truly grassroots.

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I talk to an 86-year-old woman who is upset about the FBI Director’s statement. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” she says. “Now we’re not focusing on the issues anymore.”

It’s not a large group yet as its early. Six people walk in, asking to volunteer. Later in the day, more volunteers are signed up and will call. By the end of the week and Election Day, the house will be packed.

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There’s nothing phony here, no political axes being ground. But it’s all very organized and there’s attention to detail. I think that’s the kind of government we would have under Hillary. She’s willing to work hard and she’s willing to learn. She’s surrounded by people who work to solve the problems we’re facing. 2016-10-29-10-23-51

Facing Terrorism

When I opened my computer today I saw the following headline:

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-10-36-33-am“Oh, boy,” I said aloud. “The Muslim community must be going crazy.”

I hadn’t read the article yet. Didn’t know that Ahmad Khan Rahami had been radicalized. Didn’t know he was 28 and that his family lived in New Jersey. I just saw the name and guessed he was Muslim.

It reminded me of when I first read about Madoff. “That’s not a Jewish name, is it?” I asked my husband.

I was hoping that uber-scoundrel was not Jewish—not of my tribe. I knew that if one of us does something wrong, the rest of us gets painted by the same guilty brush. Even if we are completely innocent.

I was afraid of a backlash and that was before the recent resurgence of anti Semitism that is plaguing our country and our world.

I can only imagine what the law abiding Muslims across America are thinking right now. Gone was their hope that their names wouldn’t be linked with the identity of this terrorist. But the truth is that Ahmad Khan Rahami did this. Not a whole group.

When I opened the article I learned that Ahmad Khan Rahami shot the first officer who approached him in the stomach. He injured another. His intent was to injure and kill as many innocent citizens of New Jersey and New York as he could. He was going after civilians enjoying the last days of summer, just as all of us are in our own hometowns. The bombs were loaded to inflict huge damage to flesh and bone. No wonder he is called a terrorist. His actions are terrifying.

So what do we do? What is our course of action? Do we stay indoors and hide? Do we say that all Muslims are terrifying? Do we give into the terrorists’ acts?
I say no. Let’s stay on a steady course. Let’s not be afraid to live our lives. Let’s not forget the acts of bravery by the police and fire departments. Let’s use reason and rational judgment before we act. Let’s be intelligent about how we analyze what has happened and how we should react. Let’s be guided by wisdom and actual facts.

 

Leaving Yad Va Shem

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Though in the background the shadow people linger,
six million and more of them,
Here we stand, three generations:
the present moving toward the future.

Evil did not triumph.
The Third Reich turned to dust.
Their empire in ashes,
As were their victims.

Goodness prevailed
Though the cost was beyond measure.
Who can comprehend the savage brutality?

Who can deny that it happened?
What is in a hand?
What is in a name?
The fingerprint of humanity.
The identity of a soul.

Quest, Part Two

I haven’t written for awhile–the reason I’ll go into on another day. Let’s just say for now, I passed my written Driver’s License test and I can finally go forward in life.

The other day when I looked up from studying the DMV manual, I was astonished to see a world transformed by nature’s paintbrush. Here I’d been traveling coast-to-coast to see the autumn leaves, and what do you know–the trees in all their glory are right in my backyard.

 

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I have to admit that even in the grip of anxiety about the test, I had seen one crimsoned tree, which took my breath away.

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But I had no idea of the treat I had in store. Where ever I go, there is more beauty to see.IMG_7425

I’m always searching for wisdom and I love when the world presents a metaphor for what is true in life. The truth is that you don’t need to go far from home to find your heart’s desire. With patience and the ability to see what’s right in front of your eyes, you’ll find all that is most meaningful is at your fingertips. We need to slow down enough to see it. We need to be grateful enough for what we have instead of seeking far and wide for what we think we want.

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Nature’s beauty is also a balm to our hearts as we watch the horrible deeds of terrorists worldwide. My heart is filled with sadness and fear, but observing the cycles of the earth, I get some balance. I can believe that evil will not triumph–that the murders of innocent people will not go unanswered.

This Thanksgiving, we will gather our family close–we will rejoice in being together, but we won’t forget those whose lives have been torn apart.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

 

Unconscious Racism: Let’s Move Forward

When Barack Obama was elected President I thought it was a signal that racism was dead. I thought so much had been accomplished but that’s because my rose colored glasses were firmly in place. It’s taken cell phones with cameras to uncover the truth about how Blacks are treated by police in this country. But it’s not only police brutality at play here. After several months, I’m beginning to understand that our societal core is racist.

Let me see if I can start to explain white privilege.  It’s so integral in American society that we don’t even perceive it. It is not overt—I don’t think it is even conscious. Let’s begin with the color of our skin.

 

Natural Nude?

Natural Nude?

Last night I was on a website that sells clothing. I was looking at underwear. Because I’m writing about the years I taught at Meany and about race in our country, I’ve become more cognizant of what is “natural” in America. And here on the website was a fine example: I had only one choice of color for my sports bra: “natural nude”. It is a beige or light tan color. In other words, if your skin is not of that color, you are unnatural? In one sweep of the language, all people of color are excluded from the societal norm when buying this product.

This is only one way people of color are marginalized in our society, and you may say that it’s not that important. But the constant bombardment of such messages takes a toll. I can relate somewhat during the Christmas season. As a Jew, I am not part of the celebration. When the “National Christmas Tree” is lighted, I feel that even though my grandparents all immigrated to the United States over 100 years ago, perhaps I am not a real American.

 

The 88th Annual National Tree Lighting, sponsored by UL, stays safe and bright with over 750 lights and 500 ornaments on this year's tree.  Photo courtesy of Charlie Samuels/UL.

The 88th Annual National Tree Lighting, sponsored by UL, stays safe and bright with over 750 lights and 500 ornaments on this year’s tree.

Jennifer Holladay, in her book, White Anti-Racism Activism, says: “White skin privilege is not something that white people necessarily do, create or enjoy on purpose….White people receive all kinds of perks as a function of their skin privilege.”

She then gives some examples.

“• When I cut my finger and go to my school or office’s first aid kit, the flesh-colored band-aid generally matches my skin tone.

  • When I stay in a hotel, the complimentary shampoo generally works with the texture of my hair.
  • When I run to the store to buy pantyhose at the last minute, the ‘nude’ color generally appears nude on my legs.
  • When I buy hair care products in a grocery store or drug store, my shampoos and conditioners are in the aisle and section labeled ‘hair care’ and not in a separate section for ‘ethnic products.’
  • I can purchase travel size bottles of my hair care products at most grocery or drug stores.”

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Many years ago, I’d figured out that the pinkish beige color, FLESH, in the crayon box, was racially exclusive. Same for FLESH-COLORED bandages that were beige. I’d never thought about hair products before, although I’ve noticed the special section for people of color. (I’m always so focused on finding a product that will give me volume that I don’t have time to think of anything else in the hair aisle.)

Flesh-colored?

Flesh-colored?

 

Once you become aware of this inaccurate color description, you begin to see it everywhere. In an article, “White Privlege: Flesh Colored” in The Society Pages, Lisa Wade gives more examples. One of the most ironic and outrageous is the description of First Lady Michelle Obama’s ball gown:

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Flesh-colored? It didn’t match the flesh of the beautiful  first lady!

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As well meaning whites continue to awaken from our long sleep of oblivion, there are attempts to right this basic wrong. Here is an example:

 

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When I taught middle school in the Eighties, I tried to raise the consciousness of my students. One exercise I learned in a Graduate School multi-cultures class was this: You are sitting on a park bench and an American walks past you. Describe the American. The descriptions written offered a fascinating look into the American psyche. Most of the “Americans” were white and male, sort of like all our Presidents until Barack Obama came along.

 

 

Normal skin? Is that what an American has?

Normal skin? Is that what an American has?