Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Love lights the world...

You've probably already seen this, but if you haven't click below:

and then this one:

Great job, Honey Maid. Now I've got a lot of the same critiques of the first commercial as I did of the Cheerios commercial. Like, how much do you want to bet they had those paper rolling artists on standby, long before either of these went up? If you never read my Cheerios critique, click here.

But there are two things that Honey Maid did in the second commercial that Cheerios didn't. First, they gave a ratio of positive to negative comments. It is so easy to read the comment sections of blogs and think that the world is just filled with bloodthirsty, racist, homophobes. But the reality is, said comments are more likely to be written by a socially maladjusted 13-year-old than a federal judge. Not saying there aren't racist federal judges, just saying they don't spend their time writing youtube comments.

Second, and most importantly Honey Maid just basically gave a big F-you to the people that didn't agree with their point. Yes, they wrapped it in a nice little message about love and upcycling, but they doubled down on the TWO GAY DUDES CAN RAISE A BABY!! idea. Lots of people have a problem with that. However, instead of being a company that tries to be all things to all people in order to make as much money as humanly possible, Honey Maid is taking a stand.

Now, don't get me wrong--I don't have a problem with companies who want to stay out of everything because the only color they care about is green. That's called capitalism. I also don't have a problem with companies that take a stand even if it's something I don't personally agree with (See: Hobby Lobby).

What I do have a problem with is wishy washy corporations like A&E who suspend someone for a weekend until they do the calculations of all the money they're gonna lose if the whole Duck Dynasty family walks off the show, and then come up with some wack excuse about why they didn't cancel the show. See previous paragraph, if A&E had just kept their mouths shut, I could understand that. But I feel like what they did was the worst possible outcome, because it showed them to be lacking convictions while trying to appear as if they had some. Don't suspend the guy for a weekend, that's just offensive.

Got sidetracked for a bit there, forgive me.

So HoneyMaid is basically saying, You gotta problem with this?! Don't buy our cookies then!

I respect that, more than I respect the original commercial. The original commercial can be written off as a trend in multicultural advertising. The second one cannot. They burned some bridges with the follow up commercial and took a real risk.

Those of us who appreciate that should let them know by buying their products, and letting them know that we're buying (more of) their products because of this campaign.

Finally, I want to see a white family in a trailer park pitching me a product. Or anyone broke in general.* Because the whole point in advertising is to create a need. They make you think you can be like the people in the ad if you buy the product. Most of the time, the people in the ad are attractive and/or rich. In the HoneyMaid ad, they're saying buying their cookies will make you feel love. This is not true, and all savvy consumers should know that. But I want HoneyMaid (or some other corporation,) to show me that I might want to be like a white family in a trailer park, because they're happy and love each other. Show me that people that don't have a lot of money still have value and deserve to be put forth as some ideal on a tv screen. Because even more than race or sex or gender, the idea that you have to be of a certain economic class to be admired is an extremely pervasive idea in our culture.

*I know everyone that lives in a trailer park is not necessarily white nor broke. I'm just trying to make a point. If you were offended, let me know and we can talk about it.

Do you have any thoughts? If so, leave me a comment.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Playing with my money is like playing with my emotions...

Today I was reminded of something I blurted late one night about seven years ago after I had a few redbull and vodkas. I was out with my friend and we met some Jewish singles that were doing a pub crawl, and we decided to crawl with them to the last couple places they were going. That was only one of three nights that I've ever had Redbull and vodka, but I have decided that it is the best drink to have when you really want to party. You're welcome.

Anyway, I was walking with my new friends and I said, I hate going to the drycleaners!

I should mention that we were walking past a dry cleaner.

I then proceeded to explain to them that I actually hate going anywhere to purchase a good or service where the prices are not clearly posted. This is not something that I had really thought much about until I saw this Primetime Live story in high school. They had two guys white and black go different places, act and dress the same, and see what happened.

Through the magic of the internet, I was able to find the program. Feel free to watch if you want. Personally, I found it riveting:

And if you're a masochist, you can watch part II here.

If you don't have time, what you see is a whole bunch of racism. And at about 8 minutes into the first video, the black guy goes to a car dealership and is quoted a higher down payment and total cost for the exact same car from the exact same car salesman.

I can get kind of get past the other stuff, but when you start to mess with my money, I get angry. I mean seriously--DON'T MESS WITH MY MONEY!!! Unlike Big Worm, I think it's actually worse than playing with my emotions. Because I can do my own work to deal with my emotions. But money is an actual tangible, fungible, finite thing that I can use to pay off debt, save for retirement, or send my kids to college. And when your racist ass tries to make me pay $1500 more for a car...WTF? I'm going to stop, because I can feel myself getting less coherent because of my strong desire to punch that car salesman in the face.

So ever since I saw that I am very wary of doing business in places without posted prices/with negotiable prices. And today I decided to go the auto body shop to see how much it cost to fix some scrapes on my car. The guy (older white guy) was actually quite nice and gave me two quotes--one if we wanna just do a basic fix and one if we wanna go ultra with it. And the most expensive quote was actually several hundred dollars less than the quote my white husband got when he took the car to a different body shop. But because of that video, I can't help but wonder what price my husband would have been quoted if he'd brought it into that same shop.

If I may, allow me to preemptively respond to some comments from Anonymous.

That black salesmen ignored the black guy too!

I know, Anonymous. That's called internalized racism, and it sucks much like racism racism.

Women/ugly people/gay people/short people/whatever kind of other people get treated badly too!

Yes, I know--what is your point?

If you get ripped off on a car, that's your fault--it's your responsibility to be a savvy consumer.

Yeah, I can see where you're coming from with this one. At the same time, I don't want to live in a world where people are constantly trying to rip other people off, behaving illogically, and just generally being a-holes. If enough people decide that such behavior is unacceptable, it could be eliminated--or at least drastically reduced.

Wow, your blog is quite amazing! Your writing is smooth and wet. Please check out my blog [_insert hyperlink to some shady as hell website here_]

Damn you, Russian spammers! I took captchas off my blog in hopes more people would comment, and now I have to deal with getting all excited when I see I have a comment only to find this crap.

This video is really old--we have a black president now!

Both of those things are true. Readers, what do you think the outcome would be if they filmed this in 2014? I myself can't say, but if I had to guess I'd say you'd find similar results. The eternal optimist in me says perhaps the incidences of racism would be less frequent, not daily like they said in the video. But I think they would still occur, because this happened to me when Barack Obama had already been president for three years.

Stop complaining/get over it/you're being to sensitive/etc.,etc.etc.

Anonymous, 8 years in and I'm finally starting to get tired of your shit. Read this and then go away.

Ok, ok, ok, you don't have to go away...I was just letting my frustrations get the best of me. If you want to engage me in good faith, I'll continue to talk to you. Because I truly believe that we have to talk all this -ish out. Because like MLK said We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.

I suppose a third option would be brothers who finally decide they will never be able to get along and live in different parts of what used to be the United States but became several separate countries. Said brothers don't talk on the phone, aren't Facebook friends, and never see each other--not even on holidays...I'm thinking the first option is probably better.

Okay, I'm talking to all of you again.

Did you know MLK's name at birth was actually Michael? His father changed both their names when Junior was 6, to honor the father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther. I learned that when I did a report on him in 7th grade. How to be less racist #18: Encourage your kids to do reports on black people. In my 20 years of schooling, I can't recall a white classmate ever doing a report on a black person.

So dear readers...

What was your reaction to the video?
What were those shoe salesmen thinking? Don't shoe salesmen work on commission?
Answer these questions, or write about whatever else you want in the comments.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

How to Stop Being Racist: Numbers 16 and 17

[If you're new 'round these parts, and want to read #s 1-14, click here.
and number 15 is here]

I think I might be onto something with these suggestions. It's funny, because the idea of making a list like this is so antithetical to what I have learned in so much of my work around diversity. But I know am tired of yelling at white people for not doing anything, and then yelling at them again when they do do some thing, because that thing wasn't the thing they were supposed to do.

It's like, the power to make white people feel bad is not the type of Black Power I am looking for, ya feel me?

All right, let's get to the new additions...

16) Make a concerted effort to say and spell people's names correctly (even the difficult ones.)

Pretty self-explanatory. This is something that will not only make you less racist, but more generally a more considerate, less self-centered person. Dale Carnegie says in his classic best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People that a person's name is the sweetest, most important sound to them in the whole world.

It would follow then that hearing your name mispronounced, while not the worst thing in the world, is annoying. And if it happens frequently because your name is unusual, it's more annoying.

If I may go off on a tangent for a bit, this is one of the reasons I think Starbucks needs to get rid of names on cups. There was never really a problem with people taking the wrong drink before, which was the supposed reasoning behind it. Names on cups also promotes a false sense of intimacy, because before you were supposed to learn your customer's names by actually getting to know them. Finally, names on cups raises the chances with uncommon names (which is probably a disproportionate number of people of color,) will have that irritating experience of having their name mangled early in the morning before they've had their caffeine... and that's just cruel.

So when you meet someone with a name you've never heard before, work to learn it. Break it down into syllables, use visual cues to help you remember, ask them to repeat it, ask them if you said it right when you say it back, and don't ask them if you can call them some shortened or Americanized version. And if they have an extra y or an apostrophe or an umlaut, remember those too. I bet they'll appreciate it.

17) Donate to causes that advocate for groups that you have biases against.

No, I'm not talking about the KKK.

Let me give you an example from my own life: Like most people living in this society, I have a bias against people with intellectual disabilities. I don't know if it is more, less, or the same amount of bias that most people have. And you know what? It really doesn't matter. Because like I said here, using what other people do or don't do when it comes to bias can often be a hella low bar by which to judge yourself. I think it's better to go off of your own understanding of where you'd like to be in regards to racism and other -isms, and do the work necessary to get there. There is always going to be someone more closed-minded than you; that is not an excuse to get complacent.

So yeah, I have this bias. One of the things that I do counteract it is donate our uneeded clothing and household items to an organization that works with and advocates for people with intellectual disabilities. There is another organization that is closer to me. They also take donations, and they work with at-risk youth trying to get them to stay in school and learn job skills. At-risk youth learning job skills is so much more up my alley. And that's exactly why I donate to the first place.

They sell my items, and make money for programs that help the clients they serve. They also help come up with things like the r-word campaign that help educate those of us without intellectual disabilities about the things that we do without thinking (privilege!) that help make the world a worse place.

Here is a link to an article entitled, What Does Modern Prejudice Look Like?. It's a thought-provoking read, and asks "the good people" to take a look at how their actions allow institutional -isms to continue.

All right, my husband's home now and I haven't seen him all day, so I gotta go. You know I loooove your comments, so leave me one if you feel so inclined.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Motivational music monday

I don't know about you, but I need some happy music. The mistrial in the Michael Dunn case, Juror #8, unrest in Ukraine and Syria--and lets not forget about Jonathan Ferrell and Trayvon Martin.

It's easy to feel down. So here is a song you can listen to that will help you keep on keepin' on. It's family-friendly, and if you would like to read the lyrics you can click here.

Some of my favorite lines:

I'm a gladiator like Russell Crowe

Your job is what you get paid to do, your calling's what you're made to do

Instead of talking about how stressed you are, should be talking about how blessed you are

I also like how he says, I've got faith in you, you gon' make it through--even though he has no idea who he's talking to. This reminds me of counseling, because a good therapist is going to believe in his or her client's ability to make positive change regardless of the current circumstances.

And at 3:21 when he starts talking about how to respond to racism, I noticed a lot of parallels between what he said, and what I said to that guy outside of the restaurant. I hadn't heard this song at that point, but I am glad to see overlap in the messages. It just reminds me that even people that I don't know are doing the same work that I am doing, and trying to make the world a better place. cheese. forgive me.

I liked the shoutsout to the political prisoners at the end. It's also nice to see that Troy Davis has not been forgotten.

So my friends, remember to keep moving forward. If things are bad, there is still good to be found. And you have always have power (however limited it may seem,) to make things better.

If you've got comments, you know I want to hear them! So leave me one, if you'd like.

Happy Monday (:

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Thursday, February 06, 2014

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...

Those of you that know me in real life probably know that I had a birthday recently. I'm 35 now--don't be jealous ;).

What you probably don't know, is that I witnessed an act of blatant racism at my birthday celebration, which really put a damper on the whole evening. Let me explain...

One thing I love is crab. Another thing I love is the concept of all-you-can-eat. Put those two together and you have all you can eat crab, or as I like to call it--a crabstravaganza.

Being the great guy that he is, my husband made reservations for us at a local seafood place that has all you can eat king crab legs on Thursdays. I personally wouldn't describe it as fancy, but they have tablecloths on the tables. And it's seafood for a landlocked state, so it wasn't cheap.

Anyhoo, we're there and we are enjoying ourselves talking. We had already paid the bill and were just kind of sitting there when all of a sudden we start to hear this commotion. All of a sudden, I hear someone say,

"GHETTO?! Something something something FUCKING GHETTO."

So, I turn to look and I see a youngish black man yelling. There are a few white people around him, I'm assuming trying to get him to stop. He starts to leave the restaurant and his date/girlfriend (who is white,) goes with him. I quickly got my coat and started to follow him out of the restaurant. As I get to the door, I hear someone talking on the phone saying, "He's leaving right now." I make two assumptions here: 1) That person is the manager and 2) The manager is talking to the police. I acknowledge that both of those things could be false.

So I'm trying to catch up with him and he is outside, still agitated, and now being followed by a cook at the restaurant. So I get to him and calmly say, "What happened?"

He tells us that he came in, was talking with his server and asked a question about the menu. Someone near him (he didn't know who,) said,

"Go back to the ghetto."


Now, some of you might be wondering...Well, what did he ask the server?


Those same some of yous may also be wondering, Well, what was he wearing?


The white cook listened for awhile and then said, "Well, if that happened, I'm sorry." They shook hands and the cook went back inside.

So then he and I talked for a few minutes more. I told him that I was sorry that that happened to him, and that the person who did it was wrong. I told him that he should just keep doing the positive things that he was doing in his life. He had basically told me his whole life story in the few minutes that I was talking to him. I honestly think that what had just occurred was so jarring, that he was just still trying to comprehend what happened, so he was talking a mile a minute.

At the end of our conversation, he asked me if he could give me a hug. I was glad that he asked, because I wanted to give him one, but didn't want to offer. Then we all got in our respective cars and left.

I wish I had done two things differently:

1.) I wish I had given him a better hug, because I am an awesome hug-giver.

2.) I wish I had said, "Keep your head up." That exact phrase, because a stranger said it to me several years ago, and it had a profound impact on my life. It was random, but I guess the stars were all aligned that day or something.

My husband and I talked quite a bit about what happened, and like the title says, I did cry about it. I can already tell you that Anonymous doesn't like that, but you know what--I don't care. I am a sensitive person, and seeing people be cruel to one another makes me sad.

One of the things that we talked about was how the person that made the comment is probably feeling quite satisfied with himself, because he sees the outburst that happened as proof that his feelings were justified. Completely forgetting the fact that he is the one that started the whole pathetic scene by being a complete a-hole.

I mean, really--is it too much to ask that a person be free to go to whatever restaurant they'd like without wondering if some other random diner is going to try to insult him? I don't think so.

Then I wondered what all the other white diners did, after we left. I know other people heard what was said, how did they react?

Some suggestions from my id:

What the f-ck did you just say!? also,
You're an embarrassment to white people.

Some better ideas:

That was uncalled for. I know you think everyone agrees with you, but I don't.
From the manager: Please leave.

But who knows what happened? I don't.

I honestly believe that incidents like this are part of the reason that black people's life expectancy is 4 years shorter than white people's. Experiences like this raise your blood pressure. And even if they don't happen, wondering if they are going to happen when you're with unfamiliar people has to have an impact on your stress level.

I also thought about what allowed me to go out and talk to him, really without even thinking about it. I decided it was love.

Because it was my birthday, I had been showered with love that day from my friends and my family. People I've known since elementary school, new friends I've recently made, people I've never met except on the computer, people I only met once but thought were cool and made be my friend on Facebook--these people took time out of their day to show me that they cared about me. I was also blessed to grow up in a house where I felt valued and appreciated. I had just finished a dinner with a man that loves and respects me. All that love pushed me out the door to try and bring comfort to someone who needed it.

So, like I said in my status update the next day--try to spread love into the world. I think the guy who made the comment needed some more love in his life.Even if you're scared, just do what you know is right, and don't let fear hold you back. When you don't live your values, you let yourself down. That is worse than any likely negative repercussion you would face from speaking up.

I could say more, but I'll end it here. If you're thinking/feeling something--let me know in the comments.

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