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LJ Idol X - Week [2] - Unexpected Help

Today was the weirdest day of my life. I wanted to say it was the worst but the main point is something seriously devastating happened.

It was supposed to be a day at Summit Trade with Hangnori. We were going there to apply for a special opportunity to get a whole new school wardrobe, everything and some extras, so we went to Belleview and Kipling to meet with the sponsors of the float to try to be the lucky recipients. We had planned this at least two thousand hours before and even arranged a performance for the judges. This was going to be solid and festive and Atlantis.

There were many other girls and even some boys in line when we arrived, and we were there at six hundred hours. We both thought that would be early enough to insure we would get in since that’s like two hours before standard class start. We saw that school of people and thought there was no way we would make it. So we got into line and decided to try anyway. But this is the strange part. A creature came in right after we did. He was the same height as me, but on all fours.

I tried to ignore him, even with the grumbly sound of the breathing and the snorts near my ankles. It was difficult until Killeen joined us a few minutes later. She didn’t realize she was supposed to bring a friend along to apply. Hangnori said we should let her be in our group. And I thought it would disqualify us. All the other groups were two. And our choreography was for two, not three!

I went to the bathroom while Hangnori and Killeen talked about it some more. Then when I returned, they took a break.

That’s when the weirdness happened. The creature behind got really close to my foot and licked my heel. I nearly jumped into space. I turned around and as I was about to crash down on him, he said:

“You know, your friend doesn’t like you.”

“You can talk?” I asked him.

“Yes. And I can listen. And I overheard your friend, the one with the dorsal fin hairstyle, say she hated you to the other one that just showed up.”

“That’s how we joke with each other, so you just didn’t understand and you shouldn’t be listening in on other people.”

“Oh yeah? Tell that to The State," He said, the last two words almost as a whisper. He looked past my leg towards the rest areas. "Well, she said she was going to poison you. She said they would go to a sushi restaurant after this, order you tuna and she would cover it in Mercury.”

“There’s just no way. You’re making this up.”

“Starfish, Do I look like someone who makes up stuff to discuss with random human women?”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“My name is Constantinople Roy” He bowed his head and saluted with a flipper.

“Why did you come here?”

“Up up...” he said.

Hangnori and Killeen returned to the line.

“Look at that thing behind you,” Hangnori said. “What is it doing here? Must have gotten lost on the way to some show aquarium!” she laughed.

“You know he can underst...” boom. A butt to my butt by the butt of his tail interrupted my sentence.

“Wow,” said Killeen. “That was either a nasty reflex or he was trying to stop you from talking.”

The three of us eyed at the creature for a moment and he honked and swung around.

“Maybe we should figure out what to do with the rest of the day,” Hangnori smiled. “Where should we go for lunch, Killeen?”

Killeen stared blankly for a moment, then looked away.

“What was that place you mentioned to me earlier?” Hangnori asked, “Namiko’s?”

Killeen nodded wordlessly.

“That’s a... that’s a sushi restaurant, isn’t it?”

“The Thunnini is to die for!”

“I have to go to the rest room.”

“You just got back before us!” Nangnori said. "You know you're only allowed three restroom breaks per cycle."

“I’m just not feeling quite right.” I said.

I walked as slowly as I could back to the rest area, trying to think what I could do and where I could go. I entered into the privacy hatch. I had no idea what to do, where to go or who to trust. Then the thought drifted in: "Why would someone like Hangnori make friends with a blue girl like me?"

I looked at my reflection in the mirror. Was that all I was, just a means to an end, a chance for a more popular girl in school to get her much deserved wardrobe and I guess mine too?

As I exited the door, there was Hangnori.

“I’ve got a little something for you,” she said then the next thing I knew, I was tied to something slick and slippery, almost flying through the air before plunging into the water. I couldn’t move but I was inside of an air bubble so I could breathe. What was happening?!

Whoosh! The next thing I knew, we were out of the waters of the Great Marston Sea. I was released from the bond and slid down to the ground. It was the creature. He had somehow roped me to his back and carried me away from the area.

“I hope you’re okay. I know this was a shock but I don’t like seeing people get hurt.”

“I’m okay, Constan...?”

“Constantinople Roy,” he nodded.

“Um, would you mind very much if we shortened that to Conroy?”

He blinked and pondered for a second “Yeah, that’s great. But what should I call you?”

“I’m Jailee.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you Jailee,” Conroy said. “I’ve got a lot of questions for you like why do you have friends that want to kill you?”

“I have a lot of questions for you like, how are you talking?”

“I think this means we need to get to know each other a little better,” he winked as he motioned for me to get on his back and we plunged into the Marston again.

And that’s when I went somewhere I never knew existed.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: That One Friend


Also, note: This is Jailee's seventh LJ Idol appearance. Her previous appearances include five during Season 9:

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23] and
Week [26]

and one other during Season X:

Week [1]

LJ Idol X - Week [1] - Small Change

Threats are motivators, Lou Bingham thought to himself as he breathed a sigh. The State was a threat, always watching, always suspicious, always expecting the worst. A government was supposed to work for the people, or so he believed. But he was from Arid Zone, an area that was one of the last bastions of both independent thought and dry land in the southwest region.

The girl was a threat too, and a much more direct one. She was smart, as smart as anyone he had ever met in his nearly sixty years. Beautiful, of course, but also very aware. Most people wander through their lives, occasionally having a moment of enjoyment, dejection or possibly even anger! Not this one. She of the blue skin, the bald head, the lithe body, she was full on passion. She nearly killed him for filming her while she slept!

Lou placed his hand to his throat, as if he could heal himself by touch, the place where she nearly choked him with her bare hands. Of course he understood. If she was ever found to be a dreamer, and not just that but a Lucid Dreamer, The State would envelope her as they apparently did with a whole generation of young people with that ability. That is a threat that could motivate homicide.

There was an issue of trust. Neither he nor his female companion completely trusted each other, but they were all that they had. Well, that and The State, who they both knew could never be trusted. Still, the unease between them was something Lou was trying to resolve somehow. He hoped that by restoring her friend, that would prove he was both safe and loyal, even as he didn't understand her intentions and desires.

Threats are motivators, Lou reminded himself. They take you out of your comfort zone. They push you into action, doing something to stop it, or at the very least, avoid it. He wondered if The State knew what he was doing, despite all of his fail-safes. Could they already be aware of everything he knew and were just waiting for the right moment to...

"Conroy?" The girl stood at the incubation door, trying to peek through the opaque glass.

"Just place your hand on the pyramid" Lou called to her.

Jailee closed her eyes, took a breath and put the center of her palm on the tip of the sideways inverted red illuminated pyramid attached to the wall by the door. Her fingers gripped around it. The pyramid turned green and the door began to rise with a shush of cool air and a bit of water vapor.

Once the door had raised, the chamber became illuminated. There, inside a tank, was a baby seal. Jailee leaned in to have a better look.

The seal began flapping its flippers excitedly and seemed to smile at her. She turned away.

"What is this?"

"That's your friend. Or my closest approximation," Lou replied, walking towards the chamber.

"This is a baby."

"Well, for the moment he is. But we can age progress him."

Jailee turned back to the tank and watched Conroy doing aquatic somersaults and for the first time since she last saw him, she started to laugh.

"No," Jailee said, "He's perfect as is."

"Well, he seems to know you!" Lou nodded as he approached the tank. "How else can I help?"

"The person who... put that counter... on him." Jailee trembled.

"The counter that blew him into a million pieces?"

Jailee bit her lip. "We have to find him. All I know is that his name is Sam and he works in Local Sector. Can Conroy help?"

"I'm sort of new at all of this, but I would say it's fifty-fifty that he would remember anything related to any previously experienced trauma."

They both looked at the baby seal splashing at the top of the tank. He poked his head up, placing his front flippers on the shelf of the glass, opened and closed his mouth once, then again, looked directly at her, blinked and said "Hailee!"

She paused, then rushed over to hug him, so neither Lou nor Conroy could see her face.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt - "I need the struggle to feel alive."


Also, note: This is Jailee's sixth LJ Idol appearance. Her five previous appearances occurred during Season 9:

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23] and
Week [26]

Two-S-A

Since the results of the 2016 election, a meme has been floating around.





Basically, it’s a thumb your nose moment from conservatives stating that THEY hold the true values of the United States and that their way of thinking and voting is a much more accurate reflection of the way the country should be.

But, is it, really?

As we know, Hillary Clinton won the Popular Vote across the country, meaning that she was voted for by more Americans than her opponent. But, because of the configuration of where those votes were, the Electoral College stated that she did not win, and her opponent would assume the presidency.

There are two points that need to be made about this map to put it into context. The first is that the Electoral College seems to be a problem. But I have a couple of suggestions as to why we have issue with it. The first is that Electoral College vote distribution needed an update to properly reflect the population.

Here’s how it stands right now. The state with the smallest population, Wyoming, with just over a half million citizens, has been assigned three (3) Electoral Votes. South Dakota, a state that also has three (3) Electoral Votes, has a population of more than eight hundred fifty thousand, or roughly 350K more than Wyoming. It seems like it deserves at least one or two more Electoral Votes than Wyoming, doesn’t it? Compare that to California, the state with the most Electoral Votes: 55. With a population of over thirty-eight million (38 M) people, we should expect that Electoral Vote total to be closer to at least 130 and possibly a little more. I mean, if we're going to be fair and base this on where in the country people live, that only makes sense, right? Of course, we would have to change the number to win from two hundred seventy (270) to a higher total as well, but that’s easily done and again, in the name of creating a ballot that truly reflects the will of the people.

But, here’s an additional tweak that really should be brought to bear.

Even though the population determines the number of Electoral Votes any state receives, they get those votes whether their population votes or not.

That shouldn’t be the case.

We know that a bit more than forty-seven (47) percent of the population did not vote in the 2016 election. But their states still receive the same number of Electorates. How does THAT make sense? The number of “popular vote” ballots cast in each state should be reflected by the number of Electoral Votes permitted to vote on behalf of that state in the Electoral College.

Think about it. The point is in REPRESENTATION. If the number of Electoral Votes cast by any state remains the same no matter how many (or how few) people vote, that gives a completely inaccurate tally of the voice of the citizens of this country. Electoral Votes are being placed on behalf of people who did not vote. That is, in my view, the biggest overlooked problem with the Electoral College and the entire process of how it works and why people perceive it as completely unfair.

Tweaking the vote to base it on number of ballots received will also mean that everyone’s vote actually will count, and in a direct correlation way to how the results will be presented. Suddenly, a state like Colorado, with its nine (9) Electoral Votes could out vote Georgia’s fifteen (15), because they turned out the vote with many more ballots cast. Then it becomes a real battle to make sure every state has everyone voting so they can retain their Electoral Votes and will get their fullest representation. And this would have the added benefit of practically preventing voter suppression. In this configuration, no matter who the population of your state votes for, it relies on people who actually vote to determine if you get Electoral Votes.

How would the vote have gone if we weighted the Electoral College balloting based on actual number of voters per state? I’d have to do the math to figure it all out, but no matter what, I know it would be a more equitable result, based on who actually voted, and the results really would produce a case where you could truly say “If you didn’t vote, you can’t complain.”

But there’s another element about this map that I think is just as important and maybe goes a bit deeper into the psychology of our collective consciousness.

The bulk of the midsection of the country is conservative. The bulk of the south is conservative. And the only blue areas in those wide swaths of red are in or near larger cities. We also have more blue in places where liberal thought is welcome, like in Vermont and Washington.

Here’s the thing about that.

When you live in a rural area, the communities are homogeneous. It’s mostly all white people who have a fairly rigid sense of who they are, what they believe, how they think and where they want the country to go.

Meanwhile, in a city, you typically have people of many different sorts all sharing the same geographic space with you, sometimes in the same block, sometimes in the same building as where you live.

You have to be liberal to be in a city because you know and understand that you are sharing your home with a lot of other people who aren’t exactly like you! Everyone wants to have a chance to live the life that they want. So, what people in cities understand is that you have to leave space for everyone to do that. In a rural or even in a suburban area, that kind of thinking doesn’t enter because people who are different typically do not enter.

If the United States were a vehicle, liberals would be the accelerator, pushing to change things, moving us forward, taking us to a place where all of us can be open, free and able to have the American Dream. Conservatives would represent the brake, slowing or stopping any changes, sometimes even shifting us to reverse as far as where we are going collectively.

The problem is also reflected in the responses we have seen from these two camps.

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the basic response of conservatives was to close up shop. There was no protest, but there also was no support from that side. In fact, the brakes were in full effect as every program and bill that President Obama put forth was challenged and sometimes gutted to slow or block any progress.

Now, what we have is a case where the conservatives are shouting they have a mandate, that they are the best, and that liberals have to kowtow to what they want. It’s a difficult situation to negotiate, especially since the race, even by our unaltered standards, was basically a dead heat.

So, the problem really is, how do we connect these Two different iterations of the United States?

The answer is, quite simply, through communication.

Well, it's quite so simple, though. Have you ever tried to discuss political issues with a person who has an opposing view? Depending on the topic, it can get quite personal and emotional very quickly. It often dissolves into value judgments, insults and worse.

And yet, that is the ONLY way we can pull ourselves through this. We are going to get a little personal because these are elements of life that are dear to us. This will become a little emotional because we really do care about these points. But, and I know I’ll get some flack from some people about it, that leads us to the following truth:

Liberal thinking MUST rule the country.

See, you can always be conservative for yourself. If you feel like the direction of the country is too progressive for your tastes, that’s fine. You don’t have to change what you’re doing. Stay exactly like you are, as far as your personal life is concerned. But not allowing everyone else to move forward, simply because you don’t want to change, is not fair.

The problem is in thinking that we are trying to offend the sensibilities of people who don’t always agree with these changes. And that’s the thing that city people understand so much better than folks who live in the less populated areas of the USA. If I can put it in an agrarian way, we are constantly re-potting our plant, adjusting to allow growth. We can’t stay stagnant. That benefits no one. We have to continue to move forward.

Ultimately, we are a nation of many different kinds of people. If we are true to the tenets that the Founding Fathers wrote into those documents we cherish, the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States, we have to make space for our citizens, ALL of our citizens to live free, to not fear, to have the same opportunities to help themselves and to help their country. OUR country.

That’s the way to Make America Great Again.
I'd like for you to say hello to the new Commander in Chief, to the new leader of the Free World, to the new President of the United States. His name is Donald J. Trump.

I know a lot of you are happy to meet the new boss, and I know that some of you are wondering just how he got the position. Let's review.

We had a black man as president for the previous eight years. This did not sit well with certain members of the opposition party.

I know that there will be a call stating that the fact that Barack Obama was black has nothing to do with it; that it was his policies that were disliked and dismissed. But there really was a movement to discredit him for who he was, and one of the biggest mouthpieces of that movement was Donald Trump.

See, Trump constantly stated that he didn't believe that President Obama was a "natural born American," a requirement for anyone seeking the office of President, and he continued to make the claim that not only was POTUS not born in the US, but that he was Muslim as well. Clearly, a kind of wedge was being driven into the collective consciousness about who this man was. This point cannot be underestimated. If you readily claim the person who is leading the country has a massive stake in it failing, that suggests a content of character issue, not a failed policy maker.

Eventually, it was time to see who was willing to run for the office and Trump was one of the people who chose to enter the field on the Republican side, this though he was a registered Democrat. It was a very crowded group with people from various parts of the country, some old familiar names, some up and coming politicians, even a brain surgeon, if you can believe it.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was the most likely candidate. She had run and lost to Obama in 2008, then became his Secretary of State in 2012. Her problem was she had no competition and that made her both the prohibitive choice almost before she announced, but it meant that the GOP could start to prepare their approach for how they planned to attack and dismantle her.

Enter Bernie Sanders.

Sanders was a surprise and a force that, like Trump, came from outside of the typical political channels. He was an independent who joined the Democrats and started to travel to get his message out there, one of inclusion, of thought, of caring.

Sanders made a point not to attack Clinton through the bulk of the primary season. But he got a movement going, a groundswell for the Democratic "outsider" view, similarly as the GOP started to support Trump with his campaign. But everyone on the Republican side attacked the policies of Obama and Clinton, presenting at least that common thought for all of the baker's dozen of candidates. They united to pound Hillary for anything and everything they could think of, whether it was accurate or not.

The problem is in politics as usual and in the concept that politicians are, for the most part, corrupt. Both Sanders and Trump carried that message along with them as their popularity grew. This did no favors for Hillary Clinton, who was still dealing with the question of how she used her private server for what were potentially classified emails, possibly putting the country at risk for allowing secrets to fall into the hands of our enemies.

Never mind that Trump continually said and did things that would have taken down any other candidate. Never mind that Trump constantly made statements that contradicted himself. Never mind that Trump never actually stated anything he would do as President. Yes, he said he would build a wall on the Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it. But 1) there already is a wall on the Mexican/US border. And 2) that isn't a policy that the president can actually enact. And that was typical of everything Trump said during the run up to the Republican National Convention. He literally gave no one any information about what a Trump presidency would look like, what it would focus on, how it would function, and what it would be about.

"It'll be great" or "Watch and see" were typical phrases he would shout at reporters when they asked about these points. Why no one focused on the fact that Trump said nothing real or realistic about his concept of what the office was about is clearly an issue that was overlooked by the media. I don't recall hearing anyone say that they didn't feel Trump understood what the Executive branch was actually about. Instead, focus was on the fistfights and the anger at his rallies, the constant mantra of "Let's Make America Great Again," and zoomed in close on the next outrageous comment from the candidate's mouth, be it against a physically challenged journalist, a female opponent's face, or some media outlet or business he felt slighted him. It truly was the definition of the term "political circus."

Come election night, with the polls showing Hillary having a 3 point lead, the voting did not go that way, with Trump winning pretty much the entirety of the center of the country and the south, Hillary winning the West Coast and the Northeast with a few other states included. Too close to call was the official term, but everything seemed to tilt toward The Donald.

What does this mean? There is a new shift in how America sees itself and how it plans to move forward on the world stage. Diplomacy will become a meaningless word. Women's rights, both in the bedroom and in the military, will likely be stripped away, as Trump stated he is pro-life and anti-women in military positions. The Affordable Health Care act will likely be destroyed, with nothing to replace it for more than 20 million Americans. And with the help of the Republican Congress and the Republican leaning Supreme Court, we could see a repeal of the equality of marriage laws, permitting gay people their basic human rights to love and wed who they choose.

Clearly this was a "take back the country" message being sent from people who felt minorities, women, the LGBTQ community, and anyone with little or no power to do anything in this land, were getting a little bit out of control, a little bit too cozy and comfortable. Time to put you all back in your place. There will be no more images of the White House bathed in a rainbow. There will be no more entertaining the thought that climate change might be a thing. This is the end of tolerance. This is the rise of political incorrectness.

Meet the new boss... nothing like the old boss.

This thinkpost was written for LJ Idol X, using the prompt "Introduction"

LJ Idol, Yet Again...

It has become clear to me that if I intend to actually use LiveJournal as an active and important part of my life, and I do want it to remain an active and important part of my life, it will have to be in its use as a testing ground for writing or something related to writing.

I have been on a month long excursion which allowed me an opportunity to get a new perspective on both myself and my direction. I got to do some workshops related to writing. I understand some elements that would make my writing that much more sharp. Now, can I incorporate what I have learned into telling a good story?

One way to find out is by once again, attempting therealljidol, the weekly competition that pits those people foolhardy enough to attempt the wrath of clauderainsrm and each other, in order to be crowned the champion of the El Jay.

So, this is my verbose way of saying, I'm doing LJ Idol again.

Apologies in advance.

Seattle sunny days and Jenga

Dean and I have been trying to pinpoint the time frame that he and I added each other on Livejournal. He found a post from 2003 and I am still positive that it was sometime in 2001. For close to 15 years we have followed each other's lives and cheered each other on through jobs and relationships.. ups and downs. Through loss and expectations, our own and other peoples..

We are still here. We are older and we have smile lines and life under our belt. And we are here.

I remember the fantastical birthday posts that he used to write and I still remember the first one that he did for me. Seattle made me feel very alone. But Livejournal was this balm that made everything that was hard just a little easier. You had this social safety net that you could pour your heart out to and they helped get you through.

Dean was one of those people for me. I am thankful for his friendship and for his continued part in my life.

I am very thankful that I got to hug this person today that has been a part of my life for so very long.

** Note: This entry was written by theda for my blog! It's a science experiment!

Bookmark This! Ispot.tv

I used to do a few little recurring features here and one of those things was finding an interesting website I thought was worth a mention. I get to revive that today with a note about one of my new favorites: Ispot.tv

I know that on the internet, most people are trying their hardest to avoid ads. They get in the way, interrupt your reading or viewing and generally are too loud, too obnoxious and too much to handle. But Ispot.tv is about commercials, typically seen on that quaint old-fashioned device: television. This is the first time I've promoted a "designed for" commercial site since that very unusual attempt at turning the old MTV style "VJ" format was created by firebrand.com specifically for TV ads, and another failed website that was supposed to be a shopping/entertainment website: honeyshed.com.

Unlike those sites, this one has no special gimmicks. Even though it's pretty straightforward, it maybe needs a bit of explanation. Ispot is designed to give statistical info re: who is watching an ad, and other useful stats for both advertisers and broadcasters. So it's not really meant for the general public in its designed form. But regular people are encouraged to come and find ads and view them there in HD quality, of course.

I think it's worth a a bookmark because they typically have every currently running commercial from a national campaign, and the bulk of regional commercials as well. It's kind of fun to see ads for things you wouldn't normally see in your market.

Additionally, if you register, you can make comments or ask questions, find out the name of a actor or a song featured in a commercial. Or you can just read the message boards of people who have signed up, if you want to stay anon.

The site is designed nicely, laying out the commercials by product type as you browse. And I'm sure there's probably some matrix that lets advertisers see who is viewing their ads on this site as well.

Give it a try!
The 2016 Olympics, the XXXI Summer Olympiad has now reached its conclusion in Rio de Janiero. What a games it has been. Despite the initial fear of disease, we saw a really competitive, really terrific Olympics, and the United States did an amazing eighteen medals better than they did in London just four years ago.

But within these games, there were a couple of notable incidents that occurred, via social media and standard journalism, that had nothing to do with the competition.



The first involved...Collapse )
This is the Closing Ceremony for our look at Jona Olsson's Detour Spotting. The conclusion is, in fact, the beginning. Here is Ms. Olsson's final statement:

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

Once identified, behaviors like those above are possible to change. The patterns are repeated less often. We re-educate and re-tool ourselves to take more potent anti-racist action. Each anti-racist action we take brings new challenges and learning, propels us forward smarter, more confident, better prepared and most importantly, more effective. Every experience takes us deeper into new territory and the complexities of racism, expanding our vision of the possibilities of a future without racism. Each turn brings us face to face with another set of potential detours and reversals. Like traveling unmarked roads, staying on the right track demands constant attention and intention.

Racism oppresses and exploits people of color. While it grants white people undeniable advantages and benefits, racism also robs each of us of our full humanity. We didn’t construct racism; we inherited it. But the unchallenged perpetuation of racism is our responsibility. Racism continues in the name of all white people.

People of color will continue to demand their rights, opportunities and full personhood. But racism in North America won’t end because people of color demand it. Racism will only end when a significant number of white people of conscience, the

people who can wield systemic privilege and power with integrity, find the will and take the action to dismantle it. That won’t happen until white people find racism in our daily consciousness as often as people of color do. For now we have to drag racism into our consciousness intentionally, for unlike our sisters and brothers of color, the most present daily manifestation of our white privilege is the possibility of forgetting about racism.

We cannot.

While there is nothing about racism to celebrate, there is much to celebrate in a life lived in the pursuit of justice. It is the work of a lifetime.


Here is what we need to remember always: we are all human beings. We deserve a certain level of respect when we talk with each other. We need to listen to each other, to really hear what is being said, not what we think we heard. And we need to back off of ego, to not react to the statements out of our personal desire to be right or to claim harm, but to comprehend the truth of what is said.

Racism is more than just hating someone because of how they look. We have seen how the socioeconomic elements have what could be a devastating impact on the choices people make when it comes to race in America. We always have to keep in mind that this is a lot more complex than it is usually characterized. We are all trying to live good lives. Racism clearly is having an impact on a segment of the population and has created a lot of the issues we are seeing. Justice is severely lacking.

Helping to support all of our citizens rather than criticizing them for what they do, based on the limited choices they have, is just one aspect of this. And it's through helping that we can improve things. It is reliant on those with power to step up and help those without. So, just as we shouldn't kick someone when they are down, we also shouldn't ridicule someone for not succeeding. We need to help them succeed because that benefits ourselves, our country and our world.

As we have stated, a big stumbling block are those white people who aren't economically well off. They are more likely to be the perpetrators of (or the victims of) the thoughts that People of Color are the reason why they aren't successful. As long as those beliefs are held, we will continue on the path of no progress. Breaking that mindset and helping people reach an understanding is crucial as we move forward.

But this demonstrates just how complicated this situation is. It's psychological. It's sociologicial. It's moral. It's personal. It involves the things we were taught as children to the myths we were given by the media. It incorporates all of the elements we think of as facts. We are not always so quick to release what our parents and grandparents told us was true. We aren't always willing to deny a story when it's from a news source we trust.

We need to stay focused. But we can't be too patient, not anymore. 2019 will mark the four-hundredth anniversary of slaves arriving in North America. The fact that we are still dealing with racism in America, almost four centuries after this hideous and heinous crime was perpetrated against humanity on this soil proves that patience has nearly run out. We need to resolve this before we get very far into the fifth century, for our collective sake.



Previous thinkposts in this series:


1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
21. Day 21 - White on White
22. Day 22 - Smoke and Mirrors
23. Day 23 - Personal Work
24. Day 24 - Whites Only
25. Day 25 - The Accountant
26. Day 26 - Innocence
27. Day 27 - Silence
28. Day 28 - Exhaustion
It has truly been a marathon going through Jona Olsson's essay, Detour Spotting. Personally, I feel like I have learned some important elements of the circumstances we collectively have to face when looking at race in America, and I hope they will help me when I talk about these issues again, either here on this blog, or elsewhere. It's important that we stay positive, try not to personally blame people, but work to give them an understanding of racism from the perspective of people who experience it and to hope that they will care, and will help as well.

Today's topic is more than appropriate as we head towards the end of this series of thinkposts.

28) Exhaustion and Despair - Sound the Retreat

“I’m exhausted. I’m only one person. I can stop and rest for a while.” or “Racism is so pervasive and entrenched, there just isn’t any hope.”


Reality Check and Consequence

Despair is a real enemy of anti-racists. If our commitment is a lifelong one, we must find ways to mitigate the effects. Neither burn-out nor desertion are of any use to the struggle. We can remember men who jumped on a “Take Back the Night” bandwagon, challenging violence against women - for a while. Until the attention on them as good men waned. Until the “glamour” of the issue faded. One of the historical, repeated failures of “liberals” in social justice movements has been their short-term and inconsistent commitment to the “issue du jour.

If we quit, for any reason, we are engaging our “default option.” (5) As white people, we can rest, back off, and take a break from the frustration and despair of anti-racism work. There will be no significant consequence to us for this retreat. White people will not think less of us. Racism doesn’t allow such a respite for people of color. One of the elemental privileges of being white is my freedom to retreat from the issue of racism. If things get too tough I can always take a break. And our work against racism doesn’t get done.


Ms. Olsson raises the point that really is crucial when it comes to white anti-racists: they can just take a break. Really, white people don't have to do any work toward changing attitudes or beliefs at all. In fact some would likely think that trying to help minorities might do damage to their status and cause them to be in a worse position because of it.

This is the common problem involved in trying to eliminate the institution of racism: there is a segment of people that completely believe it is beneficial. But really, even if you are the person shooting and killing someone, I presume you have to realize that you took the life of another human being, assuming you think of black people as humans, and that might weigh on your mind occasionally. So, yes, drinking from the fountain of racism might quench your thirst, but there's obviously lead in that water.

It's tough for most people to ignore the scenario that was painted all these years. It's much more easy to fall into the established patterns and behaviors. It actually takes work to get out of this sewer we've been in all this while. And, most of the time, nobody is going to work very hard to try to break the routine. So, that leaves the heavy lifting to the people who are committed, and most of those people are brown, because they're the ones being impacted by all of this.

We really need more white anti racists who understand that preventing racism will benefit everyone in our society. We need people who are willing to work with those that don't understand these points and could benefit from a clearer explanation. We have to communicate with each other, stay in touch with each other, continue to tell our truths and demand justice.

It's tough to fight a system that is as well-established and as carefully streamlined as racism is in the United States. It's understandable that even people who are completely on board with this concept might not always be there to do that work. The situation evolves; we all have our own personal problems and life issues to deal with on a daily basis.

But the world takes its sociological cues from the USA, and we need to be the standard bearers in demonstrating that we value every person. We have to value every person. Because nobody knows who each person will become. And we want every person to become the best they can possibly be. Just imagine helping each person become their ultimate selves. What sort of country NO! What sort of planet would that be?

I firmly believe that if we ever hope to achieve world peace, this is how it will begin. Because if we cannot communicate with, listen to, and work to help everyone within the borders of our own country, there is no chance that we could do the same with people we call "foreigners." To me, that would be reason enough for all of us to start working to correct racism. We can't get tired out now.




Previous thinkposts in this series:


1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
21. Day 21 - White on White
22. Day 22 - Smoke and Mirrors
23. Day 23 - Personal Work
24. Day 24 - Whites Only
25. Day 25 - The Accountant
26. Day 26 - Innocence
27. Day 27 - Silence
We're into the home stretch of exploring the many ways we have avoided discussing race in America with Jona Olsson's essay, Detour Spotting. The topics we have covered have been varied and challenging But today's topic is one of the biggest and most deafening.

27) Silence

We stay silent.


Reality Check and Consequence

Our silence may be a product our guilt or fear of making people of color or white people angry with us or disappointed in us. We may be silent because our guilt stops us from disagreeing with people of color. We may be afraid that speaking out could result in losing some of our privilege. We may be silenced by fear of violence. The reasons for our silence are many, but each time we are silent we miss an opportunity to interrupt racism, or to act as an ally or to interact genuinely with people of color or other white people. And no anti-racist action is taken as long as we are silent.


Silence is an enabler. Saying nothing is like not saying no, which, as every opportunist understands, means yes. If you say nothing, that means you are not being critical of the words and behaviors you are witnessing. And that only serves to encourage the person acting. Silence allows everything to happen. It doesn't contradict. It doesn't criticize. It doesn't stop.

As Ms. Olsson suggests, silence may allow someone stating racist thoughts or committing racist acts to continue, or it could permit a person of color who has a concept that may not sit well with your own opinion free reign. If there is any hope of understanding, of working through this, of ever resolving racism, it will rely on communication. Silence assures that we will not be talking, which is why it could be our greatest enemy in any hope of resolving this.

Ms. Olsson adds an important footnote about this topic:

[A note about silence: Silence is a complicated matter. There are times when faced with a potential intervention situation that we may choose not to interrupt - for reasons of good sense or strategy. Anti-racists need courage, but taking foolish risks makes little sense. When the choice is between intervening in this moment, alone, or gathering allies to speak out later in a more strategic way, the latter may prove more effective. Though the fact remains: the racist incident in that moment was not interrupted.]

There is a need for safety and certainly going with one or two people to a KKK Meeting in a rural area would not be a prudent move. Still, her note here states it clearly: not talking is permissive and we need to work on what we allow against our fellow humans.

How do we break the silence?

The first thing we really need is some mutual respect. Far too often, when we attempt to discuss race in America, people are emotionally charged. This is likely due to the obvious point that we don't really discuss this issue with each other until some event happens: a shooting or a protest or a riot. Why we can't discuss race when there is no horrific element on that front is part of the problem. But if we don't have a sense of decorum and kindness for the other person in this discussion, we aren't going to get very far.

We have to be willing to listen. This isn't a case of one person talking and the other just remaining quiet. We have to share information. And the fact is, the views from these perspectives are so very different, we need to really pay attention to get an understanding about our discussion.

And we should work toward the understanding that we are all humans, that we have the same needs and many of the same wants, and that helping each other can help us achieve more success than fighting or ignoring each other. We should approach this, knowing that something here is wrong, that we can start resolving those issues and that we are capable of achieving a better world if we do.

If we can approach the conversation with a positive attitude, try to keep ego out, understand that we are telling our version of the truth and find some common ground, we can at least get things started.

Let's get things started.



Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
21. Day 21 - White on White
22. Day 22 - Smoke and Mirrors
23. Day 23 - Personal Work
24. Day 24 - Whites Only
25. Day 25 - The Accountant
26. Day 26 - Innocence
Detour-Spotting is a challenge. Jona Olsson's essay requires everyone to face the facts that even when we intend to accomplish positive movement in the fight to end racism, we may not actually be making any progress at all. Today's topic is one I promised I would get back to examine on the very first day of this series of thinkposts.

26) The “Certificate of Innocence”

Some times we seek or expect from people of color some public or private recognition and appreciation for our anti-racism. Other times we are looking for a “certificate of innocence” telling us we are one of the good white people.


Reality Check and Consequence

If our ally commitment depends on positive reinforcement from people of color, we set ourselves up for sure failure. The first time a person of color is displeased with our actions, we could respond, “Well, if the very people I’m doing all this for don’t want my help, then why bother?” Clearly, we’re challenging racism for “them” not for us. We have not identified our self-interest, as a white person, for fighting racism. Until we do, we will not be able to sustain this lifelong journey.


When I began this examination of Ms. Olsson's essay, we had a lot of ground to cover, as we examined her personal history with racism and with the first topic of discussion. But in the midst of all that, I wanted to make one clear point. I said:

good work on avoiding racism really doesn't DESERVE praise from people who would otherwise suffer from it. This is a trap that many anti-racists fall into: the expectation of reward for not being racist.

While we discussed the concept of expecting some sort of "fair trade" concept for white people who offer support to minorities in yesterday's topic, that thought is somewhat related to this concept of looking for constant praise, rewards and ego stroking to encourage anti racists to continue to move forward.

Again, that's wrong.

If you see racism as an "opportunity" to do a little self-aggrandizing, you really don't understand any of this.

But this takes us back to the point of how white people perceive racism and what they think it is, based on their own limited perspective rather than listening to what those that experience it are saying about it. If your view of racism is just something "annoying" that you can "get over" in a day or two, it would make sense that you perceive it as something like a game.

Reflecting on today's point, we should remember that our culture has been one of instant gratification for decades: that somehow there needs to be a treat for everything we do that isn't in our comfort zone. That could spell trouble because there won't always be a direct reward for every white person's selfless act against racism as we work to clear these problems. If rewards must continually be doled out for every step forward, there is going to be disappointment, at best.

Again, we must look at middle and lower class white people who are the ones who likely feel disenfranchised, afraid or even angry over any attention given to minorities when it comes to this. It really does make sense that this is the sticking point. If there is success, there is no need to view other people as a cause of failure. But if there is a struggle, if things are not as easy or as pleasant as one would hope, there is a need to place blame. So, it's within that framework that we are attempting to have a conversation about race in America, when there is a whole group of people who are perpetuating it because they feel like this is benefiting them somehow, that they are doing something right, that they are doing this for their own survival and have no choice in the matter.

So, even if poor or lower/middle class white people do step up and support minorities, their efforts could be muted by family and friends who see that as going against their best interests. But this is the continuing problem: when people are in a desperate situation, you can't use logic, common sense or reasonable arguments to help them see what's going on, and that is a big reason why we aren't making any progress. It's how superstition, tradition and standard practice work to assure that no work gets accomplished in stopping racism for that segment of our population, and that can bleed into other areas as well, where people outside of the group focused on the oppression of minorities might get caught up in the machinery too.

How do we fix that mindset, when there are so many mechanisms that are there to make sure it stays in place? That it validates and informs people of what they should be doing? That it causes people to think that they are "giving up" their "rights" when all they are doing is treating their fellow citizens like the humans that they are?





Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
21. Day 21 - White on White
22. Day 22 - Smoke and Mirrors
23. Day 23 - Personal Work
24. Day 24 - Whites Only
25. Day 25 - The Accountant
If you've been following the course of this series of thinkposts re: racism, then you have seen how varied, creative, challenging and difficult the excuses in why we haven't dealt with the simple problem of treating all of our citizens equally and fairly has been. Detour-Spotting, Jona Olsson's essay, which has been the template for this series, lays out all these excuses and challenges us to do better. Here's today's topic.

25) The Accountant

We keep a tally sheet. If we perform some “feat of anti-racism,” we expect reciprocity from an individual or group of color, usually with some prestige or power that can serve our interests.


Reality Check and Consequence

“I scratch your back, you scratch mine is NOT justice seeking nor ally behavior. It serves only to reduce justice work to some kind of power brokering currency.


The problems we have when dealing with race in America stem primarily from the fact that this system is already working to support white people and oppress minorities. So, to have any white person who claims to want to help balance this ledger suggesting that there has to be some sort of return favor for them as a part of their work only adds to the legacy of injustice we have seen throughout the centuries of this issue.

The point that Ms. Olsson is making here is clearly that Quid Pro Quo is a no-go, and rightly so. Things are already so far skewed to the benefit of white people that anything expected back, short of a thank you for not being racist, really is asking too much.

Now, the problem we must consider here are the thoughts and feelings of the group that feels completely overlooked throughout all of this discussion: lower and middle class white people.

So, we have black people who are, no matter what their stature, their status, their success or income, likely to experience some form of racism which may range from being an inconvenience to being something that ends their life. That's no exaggeration. People like Oprah Winfrey, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Even The President of The United States has dealt with issues of racism in a personal way. No minority person is immune to suffering through racist behaviors.

But if you are poor and white in America, what do you do? You can't claim the system is working against you. And you probably don't want to think that you just aren't good enough to achieve.

The answer is clear! Blame the brown people!

Here's where racism is perpetuated to the highest extent and a serious reason why we can't completely root it out. If minorities are the cause of the problem, then there is a scapegoat, there is a reason why not all white people have reached the one percent! So hate groups can be formed, minorities can be killed, any number of atrocities can be done and it's accepted because that is punishment for all of the wrong.

If we could somehow get those same people, interested in trying to destroy any minorities in our society, to understand that working with them, not against them would benefit everyone (even those in the one percent, actually), maybe we could make some progress.

But is that realistic? Is that even possible?



Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
21. Day 21 - White on White
22. Day 22 - Smoke and Mirrors
23. Day 23 - Personal Work
24. Day 24 - Whites Only
If you intend to be an anti-racist, and I hope you do, you have to understand that we are dealing with issues that are hundreds of years old, that they are being supported by a system that conditions people to behave and react in specific ways that perpetuate that system, that even when you are trying to do the right thing, it might go wrong or it might be wrong, and that ego could sometimes cause personal embarrassment, guilt or even make you want to give up and walk away.

That's all by design.

The system of racism has so many checks and balances, it makes getting a bill through Congress seem like an Executive Order.

Nothing here is an accident. This is a system, designed to make certain that a particular group is on top and stays on top, and that there is a group or groups always beneath. While that seems beneficial to the over group, what we see happening is that there is fear, there is hatred, there is a clear lack of understanding, there is arbitrary reward and punishment for people who deserve neither, in short we see a lot of injustice. And, as Americans, I hope we can agree that we want to eliminate injustice for our citizens.

That's why I'm going through Jona Olsson's essay, Detour-Spotting point by point and looking at all the ways we have been ignoring the issue of racism. Today's topic is another one that is a bit more complex than you might imagine at first blush.

24) Whites Only

I have no connection with or accountability to people of color. I do all my anti-racism with whites only. I am accountable only to other white people.


Reality Check and Consequence

While it is vitally important for white anti-racists to work with other white people, this detour results in white people again controlling the direction and focus of anti-racism work.

Learning to follow the leadership of, and taking direction from people of color, while being accountable to them are all vital components of our ally-ship.


One of the problems we face when it comes to trying to discuss race in America is a basic concept: white people don't know about racism.

I've pointed this out before: White people have never previously, do not currently and likely will never experience racism in the United States or in any of the current "whitecentric" nations, worldwide. We've been through the false equivalent of racism, usually involving some sort of physical harm perpetrated by a minority citizen against a white person, or a series of epithets being said by a black person to a white person. That actually isn't racism. It can be prejudice, discrimination or bias, for certain. But racism, if we are looking honestly at it, is a lot more wide ranging, deeper, more insidious and much more powerful than hurt feelings over an insult. Racism harms people physically, psychologically, emotionally, politically, morally, and that's just what it does to the perpetrators of it.

The problem comes when white people want to focus on the injustices that they face, so they can claim they suffer in a similar way to those that are living with racism. It's another method of derailing the conversation we need to have about race in America.

As the USA is a White Supremacist country, white people tend to both expect to be the experts in everything and to discount the opinions of anyone else. Sadly, that holds true even when it comes to topics they know nothing about, like racism.

A brief example... many years ago, there were studies that suggested that the muscle groups of black people and white people were different physically: black people were particularly good at sprinting short distances, which is why they did well in the hundred meter dash, but white people were better at the more elegant longer races like marathons. It had something to do with processing oxygen or getting rid of lactic acid or the length of tendons... some sort of "scientific proof" that "explained" this.

Not only don't you hear those sorts of comments anymore, nobody ever came along to refute them after they were proven wrong.

And, in a way, that relates back to how white people don't want to listen to black people about racism. They still want to be the experts in the situation and maintain control of the conversation. It's a method of preventing guilt. It's a way of protecting feelings. It helps assure that we never go into areas that might make white people "uncomfortable."

I hope we can agree that talking about a subject is not as "uncomfortable" as having some of your family members, friends, neighbors or fellow citizens gunned down in cold blood by someone who was sworn to protect them.

So, what we have here, with today's topic, are white people who simply won't listen to anything black people have to say on the subject of racism. And, let's face it. People like that probably haven't put "ending racism" as a top priority on their list of things they want to accomplish in life. But the good thing is we have folks like Ms. Olsson, Jane Elliott and Tim Wise specifically to help people like that.

I've mentioned Ms. Elliott and Mr. Wise in previous essays in this series, but now is obviously the time to closely examine who they are and what they do.

Jane Elliott is an important figure because she has come as close as anyone to giving white people a hint of what racism actually is about.

In 1968, after Dr. King was assassinated, Ms. Elliott wanted to give her grade school students a real sense of who that person was and what he was trying to achieve. In order to do this, she created a unique experiment. Now known the world over as the "Blue Eyes Brown Eyes Exercise," she divided her class up by eye color, then purposefully treated the blue eyed students nicely, and the other set as if they didn't belong.

The reaction brought a lot more than just learning. Fellow faculty members and parents of her students lashed out at her for this lesson.

If you have an hour to spare, the long time PBS series "Frontline" did a piece on Ms. Elliott and her exercise back in 1985. Sadly, it is just as timely today as it was during both the Reagan and Johnson administrations.

A Class Divided was the name of the episode. If you have a chance, please view this. It lays out the entire story and gives you a sense of how her class digested this lesson and where it took them as adults.

Ms. Elliott has been teaching this lesson every year since 1968, which is now approaching a half-century.

Mr. Wise is also a long time activist who began his entry into the field when he worked to get US colleges and universities to divest from South Africa during their Apartheid period, and expanded as he started to notice the injustices in the US. Active since the 1980s, he is a lecturer, a writer, and a staunch antiracist who is in constant demand to present this material and put it in context.

There are dozens of Tim Wise videos on YouTube. Just type in his name and you'll have your choice of numerous hours of his lectures. But I'm linking to one really timely one here (and it's only a bit more than three minutes):

How Trump Uses Race to Divide and Conquer

Certainly these people, along with Ms. Olsson, are great allies in the fight against racism, because we desperately need white people who know and understand these issues to speak to other white people. That's why I specifically wanted to explore Ms. Olsson's essay, as she is a white person doing exactly that. We could always use a few more knowledgeable white people when it comes to issues surrounding race and who hopefully are willing to talk about it with others.



Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
21. Day 21 - White on White
22. Day 22 - Smoke and Mirrors
23. Day 23 - Personal Work
We have been making our way through Jona Olsson's essay, Detour-Spotting, and taking a cold, hard look at how people who want to aid in the dismantling of racism may have difficulty, or how they might even serve to reinforce these racist tendencies. This isn't just a straightforward case of simple bigotry; these are deeply rooted psychological patterns that help to inform the mindsets of our country as a whole. Another good example is today's issue:

23) I Have To Do My Personal Work

“ I have to do my personal work first.” or “Ending racism is only about changing personal attitudes.”


Reality Check and Consequence

If we assume that personal reflection and interpersonal work is the end of our job as anti-racists, we will stay out of the public, institutional arenas. We will ignore cultural racist practices that don’t include us personally. We won’t take action, until we have finished ridding ourselves of all racist conditioning. And since that complete “cure” will never happen, we will never take any institutional or cultural anti-racist action.


As we should know by now, institutional racism is, more or less, the biggest part of the problem we are facing when it comes to what minorities are dealing with currently in this area. Yes, there are still individuals who think racist thoughts and do racist actions, but the element that is both most common and most horrific is institutional racism.

Here's a clearer look at what we're talking about when we discuss institutional racism. When a white cop (or really any cop) shoots and kills an unarmed minority citizen, we could view it as that individual, the police officer, acting against another individual, the citizen. But that really isn't accurate. That's because we are seeing the same actions happening over and over in different locations with different people. Officers in places all over the country have reacted in the same way to citizens, many of whom behaved in the least threatening way possible.

That tells us that this isn't a problem directly connected to "individuals." This is an example of institutional racism: this is a series of cases that have been dealt with in the same way by a lot of different people who have been conditioned or you might even say trained to react in a way that is built on racist concepts.

So, yes, individuals are acting and we can lay the blame on each one, singularly. But it's very clear that their actions are from an institutional source and even if we did blame each person who committed these acts (rarely if ever), that doesn't resolve the source from which the thoughts and beliefs in how to behave and what to do when faced with a similar situation arises for the next person in that position. That means that as more and more police officers train with these concepts, the results are interchangeable. That's how even minority police officers can and do shoot first. And that's why there is no expectation that there will not be "the next police murder of an unarmed minority citizen."

That's also why today's topic is such a bogus excuse. Of course, personal work is important, and everyone should learn as much as they can about race and racism. But I would suggest that at least some of the officers who killed black citizens in the course of their work do not believe themselves to be racist. They may have never had what one would call a racist thought or done any racist action. They may even know or be friends with minority people in their social lives. But that's how this goes. Institutional racism is bigger than any individual and it's a lot more difficult to understand, more challenging to believe, less likely to be noticed and less likely to be blamed.

But the more we focus on individual's actions, the more we ignore this more urgent and more enormous problem of how, as a society, we are allowing the standards and practices of our policies in government, in the private sector, in how the media depicts minorities to, if you will, color our collective perception of just who minority people are, what they do, how they deserve to be treated and what happens to those people who dole out those punishments.

So, yes, we all should be doing personal work, but the real threat, the things that are killing human beings in a continual and really methodical way are based on institutional racism, and until we address that, all of these "individual" cases will continue to pile up, right next to the pile of black bodies who were once living, breathing human beings.



Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
21. Day 21 - White on White
22. Day 22 - Smoke and Mirrors
We have been going through Jona Olsson's essay about race in America and why we cannot seem to dismantle the issues we have between white people and many minority groups in this country. Giving it the title Detour-Spotting, she is spotting every detour we take when on the road to resolving our racist behavior.

I think the topic for today is one of the smallest fractions of the pie when it comes to issues that need to be addressed, but it certainly belongs on the list, so let's give it a look.

22) Smoke and Mirrors

We use the current politically correct language; we listen to the right music; we state the liberal line; we’re seen at the right meetings with the right people. We even interrupt racist remarks when the right people are watching and when there is no risk to us. We look like anti-racists.


Reality Check and Consequence

This is the “Avon Ally,” the cosmetic approach. People of color and other white anti-racists see through this pretense quickly. This pseudo-anti-racist posturing only serves to collude with racism and weakens the credibility of sincere white anti-racists.



The people Ms. Olsson is describing in today's topic fall into a very specific category. These are people who don't understand the stakes of what minority citizens face when it comes to racism, who don't have the empathy needed to view and fully comprehend the circumstances their fellow Americans are protesting. In short, we are talking about those who find the discussion of racism as something that can get them likes on social media or accolades from friends, family and neighbors, but think it's just a game to play.

That sort of thinking is still rooted in the concept of minorities not quite being human. It's a level of thoughtlessness that people protesting the death of an animal at the hands of an abuser would not allow. Yet, that same respect and dignity is not offered here.


Though, I have to say, I would prefer someone at least pretending to be an anti-racist to someone who isn't even putting any effort into it. There's always the chance that some of those actions could sink in and make an impact!








Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
21. Day 21 - White on White
We need to have a national conversation about race in America. If the constant barrage of issues of the deaths of minority citizens at the hands of white police officers hasn't informed you, certainly the rhetoric being spewed during this Presidential Election cycle should cause you to take some notice.

How difficult is it to understand that human beings are deserving of a modicum of respect and at least a whiff of empathy? Pretty difficult if you read through Jona Olsson's essay, Detour-Spotting, which we have meticulously been surveying these past three weeks. The continuing reasons for why we not only haven't renounced racism, but haven't even gotten to have a proper conversation about it is an issue worthy of exploration and understanding. There must be a gap between what minorities see and what white people see when they look at this issue. And that's what we're here to check.

Today's topic is yet another that relates to that oft-misinterpreted phrase, "White Privilege."

21) White On White, and Righteously So

“What is wrong with those white people? Can’t they see how racist they’re being?” or “I just can’t stand to be around white people who act so racist anymore.” And


You’re preaching to the choir

“You’re wasting your time with us, we’re not the people who need this training.”


Reality Check and Consequence

We distance ourselves from “other” white people. We see only unapologetic bigots, card-carrying white supremacists and white people outside our own circle as “real racists.” We put other white people down, trash their work or behavior, or otherwise dismiss them. We righteously consider ourselves white people who have evolved beyond our racist conditioning.

This is another level of denial. There are no “exceptional white people.” (4) We may have attended many anti-racism workshops; we may not be shouting racist epithets or actively discriminating against people of color, but we still experience privilege based on our white skin. We benefit from this system of oppression and advantage no matter what our intentions are. This distancing serves only to divide us from potential allies and limit our own learning.


In most cases, racism is, especially in these long past slavery and Jim Crow days of the 21st Century, institutional. We've already discussed this form of racism and how it manifests, meaning it's frequently not an individual who is responsible for racist acts, it's the systematic elements of racist thought and behavior that creates circumstances where either white people are favored, black people are oppressed or both.

Under this system of institutional racism, nobody has a clean record in handling these issues. White people still are treated with privilege. That isn't just or fair. And even the most supportive white anti-racists are still beneficiaries of that privilege. If a group of white people marched in a Black Lives Matter protest, it's less likely that they would be the first people arrested, tear gassed or shot with rubber bullets by police, even if they were the most disruptive part of the protest.

But that's what we mean by Institutional Racism. This is the systemic method of favor based on skin color that has characterized at least one part of our racist society for decades.

While it's great that some white people are critical of other white people for their lack of understanding and lack of empathy when it comes to dealing with these racial issues, those are the people who need to stop being critical and start helping out. Rather than just issuing a tsk tsk and shaking their heads, those who have reached a better level of understanding should be helping to inform and educate those who have not so that they can learn, change and grow as well. Being "the best anti-racist" really shouldn't be anyone's goal. It's really about ending racism entirely, and that can't happen as long as people continue to hold these racist beliefs, either purposely or subconsciously.

Truth is, it's those that aren't even aware of their racist tendencies that are the most difficult to reach and need the most support and explanation to help them through it. It takes particular care and sensitivity to reach someone like that, and there are, maybe hundreds of thousands of people like that who must be reached.

It takes time. It takes a lot of time.

That's part of the reason why this essay by Ms. Olsson is so useful and important. We have to go through and root out every excuse we have for not taking on racism, come to terms with all of that and then dismantle this system that is holding back not just minorities in this country, but pretty much everyone who isn't in the One Percent.

We all need to work on these issues and if we see someone who isn't getting it, laughing at them, cursing at them under your breath or simply staying silent will not accomplish anything. Granted, there is a time and place to share such lessons, and there is the issue of safety when it comes to stepping up to support minorities, so this is not about putting your life at risk if the situation is not safe for teaching. But ultimately, we need white allies to help inform other white people about all of these points.

Despite the common belief that this is a problem for minorities only, racism truly is everyone's issue, and we need everyone to start doing some positive things to end it, so we can send all of the energy, the time spent, the focus (as an example: the fact that I could have been writing about something, ANYTHING else in this journal for these past twenty-two days) toward things that can help improve our cities, our states, our country and our world.

We're only here for a little while. Let's use that time to make things better for others, not worse.



Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me
I think there are a couple of really crucial points to keep in mind, as we go through Jona Olsson's essay, Detour-Spotting. The first is that racism isn't something that any white people who are currently living created. So, this isn't exactly a litany against them. Rather, we are examining their willingness to listen to what is being said to them, and how they react to it.

But we do need to look at the elements of those reactions, which is what we are gauging when we go through this list of reasons we haven't properly dealt with the long-standing issue of racism. Today's topic is one that is all too familiar.

20) Teach Me or Help Me, I’m Stuck

“I want to stop acting like a racist, so please tell me when I do something you think is racist.” (Spoken to a person of color.)


Reality Check and Consequence

White people often assume that they can learn about racism only from people of color. We further assume that people of color have the energy and/or desire to do this teaching. My understanding is that most people of color are weary of educating white people about racism.

We will get stuck. We’ll get frustrated and impatient with ourselves and other white people in this struggle. We’ll stay stuck if we don’t seek help from other white anti-racists. Our inclination in the past has been to ask people of color to help us. We should seek out other white people BEFORE we go to people of color. Perhaps, as we become more trustworthy as allies, we will build genuine relationships with a few people of color who will offer their reflections for us when we get stuck. But this is at their discretion, not ours. We can’t assume or act as though people of color should be so grateful for our attempts at anti-racism, that they will be willing to guide us whenever we are ready to be guided.


You know, teaching has been severely undervalued in this nation. We hear it frequently: it's tough to find good teachers. And, when it comes to racism, asking for a teacher may well serve as another method of derailing the conversation.

Here's what I see. If you constantly have to ask if you're doing something wrong, you don't have to bear the responsibility of actually knowing what is and is not appropriate. So, you can just do whatever you want and check in later about whether or not it was racist with someone you trust to tell you. That's about as lazy and uncaring as can be.

Waiting to be told by some instructor how to avoid being racist is not an appropriate way to handle the circumstance and could create twice as many issues, as the annoyance of a bad comment or action gives way to needing an explanation of just how and why it was offensive.

Again, this is a simple case of not feeling the need to do the leg work. It apparently is not something that matters deeply to some white people to find that research on their own, so, rather than knowing, they just go ahead and take a chance that the joke they think is so funny won't be heard the wrong way, or that they just absolutely must use a stereotype to reference how a person looks in the course of their commentary.

Ms. Olsson is correct. There has been a never-ending amount of teaching that has occurred, certainly since the Civil Rights Act became law. And the problem is that the learning somehow never seems to stick, so the lessons are remedial, we go over the same issues week after week, year after year, generation after generation, It never ends. There doesn't seem to be any way to get to a point where minorities aren't handing out instructions on how to treat a fellow human being.

If we constantly have to stop and explain, that's time taken from our lives to correct a mistake you should have learned on your own. We all are working with a limited amount of time, so it's not fair to make a minority person that has been offended by a so-called ignorant white person spend part of their life correcting that. If it's important enough, you can do the research and figure it out.

It should be important enough.



Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
Going through Detour-Spotting, Jona Olsson's well-crafted listing of issues to do with race in America, and why we have avoided accomplishing anything but the cursory elements related to it, many of these points could apply to any white person in the country. After all, these are just US citizens who are simply living life, but then could find themselves put in a position or face a circumstance that might test his or her humanity and choices when it comes to racism.

Today's topic isn't like that. It's actually one that specifically challenges those white people who are active anti-racists and who are trying very hard to help the process of dismantling these issues.

19) “Bending Over Blackwards” (3)

“Of course, I agree with you.” (Said to a person of color even when I disagree) or “I have to side with Jerome on this. (Even when Jerome, a man of color, represents opinions counter to mine.)


Reality Check and Consequence

Our white guilt shows up here as we defer to the person of color. The person of color is always right, or we never criticize or challenge her or him. We try not to notice that we notice they are Black or Native American or Latina or Asian or Middle Eastern. We don’t disagree, challenge or question a person of color the way we would a white person. And if we do disagree, we don’t do it with the same conviction or passion that we would display with a white person. Our racism plays out as a different standard for people of color than for white people.


If this is our pattern, we can never have a genuine relationship with a person of color. People of color know when we are doing this. Our sincerity, commitment and courage will be rightly questioned. We cannot grow to a deeper level of trust and intimacy with people of color we treat this way.


I can't help but notice that this series of nineteen thinkposts has generated a handful of comments collectively. I know that it's not because people aren't seeing these posts; I can look at my LJ stats and know that my views are very high. So, it might be something else.

If we are going to have a discussion of race in America, it can't be a monologue. People need to be able to have a real conversation. People should be asking questions and listening to answers. People must talk with one another about this topic. For far too long, Americans have simply sat on their hands and done nothing, ignored the situation as it is, or believed that they fully understood it when they did not and let Status Quo continue, unquestioned.

Placating the issue by simply agreeing with or not challenging any of the notions mentioned really doesn't accomplish anything. The idea is to actually learn about what is happening and why it is happening, not simply accept the dose of medicine that many white folks view any talk about racism to be.

It's important to learn about racism, about minority people, about humanity, about how everything is interrelated and about how our American Family, like everything on this planet, relies on everything else. It's through learning, listening, understanding that we can come to a place where people aren't taking actions out of obligation, but because they know this is the right thing to do and understand why. And it's so crucial to getting that understanding because these are lessons that need to be taught to every ensuing generation.

Not learning these lessons will create a feeling of confusion about why people simply blindly agree with a minority person, even if they don't believe in what's being said. It could even foster a feeling of resentment, making this another sure way to get to more racist thoughts and behaviors.

So, we should agree that when it comes to racism, we need to talk through the thoughts and the feelings, we need to ask about something we don't understand. We have to work together to make sure we all comprehend these issues, where they come from and how to stop them.

We need to do this for our very lives.


Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist

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