Wednesday, May 30, 2012

101 things you can do to stop being racist.

[Added 01.24.13: Hey there, if you found this post after googling something like how to stop being racist You should also click here and read a follow-up post I wrote.]

What's up people? You know how I feel about excuses, but let me take a second to discuss my absence. We moved. Not across the country, just across town. But you must admit that's a pretty good reason to explain my lack of bloggage.

So let's get to it.

Recently, I have realized that I haven't talked very much about what to do to help counteract the effects of racism and inequality. I have talked about things that have annoyed the heck out of me (i.e. what not to do,) but I have never said, "Hey readers--go do ______ to make a positive change in the world." And if you look at my sidebar, it says that my goal is to get people thinking, get people talking, and most importantly, to eventually get people doing things that will help us make real progress when it comes to the subjects of race and inequality in America.

Why the lack of focus on the doing? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

First, you'll notice that I said eventually get people doing things. The word eventually was a really important word. I think it is critical for people to be able to understand a problem well before they start to try to fix it. Especially when you are dealing with something as emotionally charged as race. Because when people are emotional and uninformed--they can end up doing more harm than good. Have you noticed how so many conversations about race end with people yelling and/or crying? That's all the baggage that the parties are bringing to the table. And if they don't even have their facts straight? That's not gonna help either.

So, if I just jumped right in and called this blog 101 things you can do to stop being racist, two things would happen.

1) A bunch of people wouldn't read it because they would say, "Hey, I'm not racist! She must have written that for KKK members. Anyways, I wonder what Miley Cyrus is up to?"

2) A bunch of people would read it because they think that solving our race problem is just as simple as doing some things on an arbitrary list.

[Sidenote: I just changed the title of this blog post, because I think this new title will get me more hits that my old boring title. Think Megan Fox Nude Pictures. Also, if you fall in the #2 category, hey what's up? You should like my blog on facebook or follow me on twitter so we can stay in touch (: ]

I don't think it's wise to just go out and start combating racism. Especially when you are talking about interacting with other people. It's like the rappers say, You gotta get your mind right. You've gotta try to deal with at least some of your own -ish before you start getting other people involved. That's why I have made my focus here the thinking and the talking.

Here's the ugly truth: Combating the different forms of inequality is something that is going to take a measurable part of the rest of your life. That's just the reality of the situation. Your interest and/or willingness to do things may ebb and flow, but the way the status quo is setup--things are only going to change if people actively, consciously work for them to change. In the past, I have compared it to that scene from The Matrix with the two pills.

Other sidenote: I just watched that scene again for the first time since seeing it in the theatre , and damn is it relevant--just listen to the dialogue!

Another reason that I haven't made the doing the focus is because I think the doing has to be a highly personalized experience. What I do as me and what you do as you are going to be different, because we're different people; we've had different experiences, have different interests, and different baggage.

The final reason I haven't focused on the doing is because once I start giving ideas other people can start telling me why those ideas suck. And no one likes to be told why things that they think of suck. But having this blog for 6 years has made me a little more thick-skinned, so if you really don't like the idea I'm about to share--that's fine.

How was that for a looooong build up?

Stamps. That's my idea. Buy stamps that highlight people from marginalized groups. They can be your own group or others. Like the last stamps I bought were:

this one:



and this one:

The reason I like this idea is because it's very easy. It may have a relatively low impact, but it also requires a relatively low effort. When you buy stamps like these, you can read the blurb on the back and learn about the people pictured. Like, I had never heard of Romare Bearden before, but I got to learn about a black artist that made cool paintings. Also, it's possible that one of the people that sees your letter/bill in the course of mailing will be inspired to learn more about them too. Or maybe you'll be talking on the phone to your grandma and she'll say, "Why did you put that stamp of the Mexican lady with the fruit hat on the birthday card you sent me?" And then you'll say "Actually, grandma she's not Mexican, she's Portuguese..." and then you and your grandma get into a stimulating conversation about race and ethnicity.

If you already occasionally buy stamps like these, you can push yourself and only buy stamps like these. And if you never buy stamps like these, you can start by buying a couple.

I was going to write more about the popularity of these stamps and why they exist, but I will save that for another post, because I think this one is getting long. But I just want to clarify one more thing before I go.

It might appear to some that I am talking exclusively to white people, or talking exclusively about racism in this post. I'm not. People of color can add the word internalized before racism anywhere here and the message will still apply. And that clip from The Matrix ? Morpheus could be talking about sexism, classism, heightism, homophobia--you name it. The points are all the same.

If you have thoughts, you know I'd love to hear them. leave me a comment.

Monday, May 07, 2012

El lunes de musica

Today's music has kind of an interesting story. I was watching a video on youtube and I saw the video below in the sidebar. The reason that I clicked on it is because a couple of years ago, I got a Starbucks free download of the week by the same artist. That song didn't leave that much of an impression on me, but I remembered the artist's name. So I decided to press play, listened and realized it would be a great song to feature on my blog!

So that's a little lesson in how being open to new experiences can lead you to unexpected good things later on.

Ok, watch the video:

Pretty obvious why I picked it, yeah? Positive, uplifting and all that jazz.

If I had one critique of the video it would be this: I wish they would have left the main words from the first t-shirts and associated them with the words from the second t-shirts.

Like fat and fabulous,
black man and successful,
little and capable.

By leaving the main identifiers off of the second t-shirts, Ledisi is subtly reinforcing the idea that those identifiers are inherently bad. This is why people say things like, I don't see you as black and expect you to take it as a compliment. [Sidenote: I understand that people may also mean "This physical characteristic of yours is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think about you," so don't freak out if you have ever said the sentence above to someone--it's possible that they still like you. But the interpretation I offered is another way to perceive the statement, so if they gave you the side eye--that's probably why ;)]

So give yourself a round of applause for being you, and leave me a comment if you'd like. Happy Monday (: