Tag Archive: Racism

imageMissouri University Payton Head felt hurt that people hurled racial insults. Additionally, Mizzou black students attempted to crucify a professor for being insensitive when he scheduled a test. One twitter user JJ not Jay-Jay, stated he was offended the teacher asked his students not to give in to bullies.

To all who stayed away from campus out fear, I understand your fear and I feel your pain.

Many will argue I couldn’t possibly feel the presence of racism or the fear of death like a black man. I counter, “Why not?” Technically speaking, I can’t feel anyone’s personal experience from racism’s spear. But neither would that same black man or woman completely understand the racism I’ve received either.

Regardless of race, racism itself isn’t completely unique. At it’s core, racism has a strange common bond for many of us.

My viewpoints aren’t developed from entitled white privilege. I understand everyone is trying hard to make all black lives matter. But having been sexually abused as a child, beaten by a gang of school yard bullies on a regular basis, told my life was worthless and that I would be worthless, I determined my life mattered.

Think I’m over the top, hear me out.

Do you think I don’t fear death when I get on a plan and head to the Middle East, solely for the purpose of helping them with healthcare? I am constantly aware of bombs, kidnappings, mysterious deaths, beheadings, beatings, arrests and so on. Like many others are targeted because of race, I’m targeted simply because of my nationality and race.

Don’t believe for a minute I haven’t felt a sense of fear in poverty stricken areas of Africa, where black racists followed me and a colleague. Why? Because of my race and nationality considers us an easy mark.

Then there’s the homeless of East Los Angeles, with whom I’ve had to set aside delusion, shame, direct cursing, spitting, hitting, and attempted assaults. I’ve navigated “white-out” and “black-out” rooms during healthcare clinics and enrollment; derogatory insults in Asia, Mexico, India, South America and America; was accused of being a spy in Asian; constantly watched my surroundings in the Middle East, Asia, Philippines; experienced resentment in Africa; dodged gangs in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Saint Louis, New York City, Boston, Denver; evaded drug gangs in Mexico and South America; had personal body guards in Venezuela; was abandoned by interpreters deep in southern Chile; was forced at gunpoint, by the Brazilian military to pay a bribe; been stripped searched by authorities in Argentina; was sexually harassed in Saint Louis, Missouri; received multiple death threats in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

But wait,” one might say, “you have clarify! I mean what about those insults?”

Well let’s discuss insults. I have a lengthy list. Over the past thirty years I’ve been called 8 Mile, Abe Lincoln, Charlie, Albino, Salt and Pepper (when I was with a black female friend for dinner), Anglo (by several Mexicans), Bacon Bit, Bai-Tou (Chinese for white head), Sai-Tou (shit head in China), Bak-Guiy (white ghost), Beach-Nigger (when I got too much sun tan), Bean Dipper (when I went for drinks with a Latino woman), Bird Shit, Bleach Boy, Brady (demeaning word for Brady Bunch), Bubba, Casper, Clampett (from Beverly Hillbillys), Cock (short for Caucasian), Cornfed (meaning I was too fat), Crisco (i.e., the white grease), Ditchpig (because I worked cleaning side-street ditches during college one summer), Gabacho, Goober (by Black NYC Racists just a few months ago), Gusak (by Alaskan racists), Hillbilly, Honky, HP (human parasite), Lo-wai (outsider), MacLord (simply because I use a MacBook), Milkhead, Mouse (used by Black racists as I walked in NY City), Nightlite (used by black racists in Africa, meaning I could be seen in the dark), Redneck, Cracker, Ritz Cracker (because they thought I was rich), Saltine, Skinhead (because being bald obviously means I’m a racist skinhead), Tornado Bait (white trash that gets hit by tornado – they seemed to think that since I help restore medical services in disaster areas, I somehow deserve this name), Triscut (a cracker, but worse than white trash), Wasian (because I lived in Japan helping the Japanese, local racists thought I was fascinated with the Japanese culture), White Out (Meaning no whites – used in NYC when I went to a meeting to hear how I could assist with healthcare), YT (sent via a post-it note during an audit, means Whitey).

Oh yeah, I’m white. Still think I’m privileged?

So why do I do it? What motivated me get up and go to school, earn a degree and work? Turns out, my love for people and my passion to help others is far more powerful than the fear from some dipstick hurling insults from the back of a pickup truck. My soul’s inner core is more resilient, has more wisdom and more strength than the stupidity we reduce ourselves.

I never went on a hunger strike, protested in some lobby, interrupted town hall meetings or screamed demands. Change did not come by demanding some other person do something. I became the one I had been waiting for. I was the change I sought. I went to work, served people, built relationships and changed small snippets of the world through one act of kindness after another.

You need to do the same.

as_a_man_thinksApproximately 10,000 athletes came to 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to compete, athlete against athlete. In doing so, we read of no physical fights, no reported athlete-to-athlete racism or outward hatred. In fact, outside of the former band “Pussy Riot” and a few others, little disparagement noted.

This does not mean Putin is a wonderful human being, for he isn’t. And this doesn’t mean Russia’s overall position against and gay lesbian members of the community can be legitimized, for it doesn’t. It simply means that in this world, there is a significant capability for the world’s global body to come together, harmonize, live and enjoy one another.

Contrast that with Arizona where the legislative body seemingly came together and forged legislative bill SB 1062, making it legal for businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbians on the grounds of promoting religious freedom. Reflecting upon SB 1062, I’m struck by several things:

  • First, some congressman actually thought of this idea;
  • Second, Arizona’s high-priced talent actually thought this was an idea of great worth to society; and
  • Third, it’s taken Arizona Governor Jan Brewer a long time to deny the bill’s merits.

In spite of Arizona’s pressing needs, legislative proponents say the bill protects religious liberty. Basically, extremely conservative members of Arizona’s congressional caucus believe this form of legalized racism is good for Arizona businesses.  Lacking hindsight, the return on investment for SB 1062 is significantly diminished when one ponders the counterarguments and issues raised by such legislation.

Let’s sample some legal issues. If SB 1062 is signed into law:

  • Can gay and lesbian business owners deny service to a Catholic, Protestant, or any other member of faith? Or is the law only valid for Christian business owners denying service toward members of other faiths or social class?
  • Can a Catholic business owner deny services to members of the Protestant faith?
  • Can a conservative Christian bus driver deny entry to Muslim onto a city bus?
  • Is it legally justifiable for religiously affiliated hospitals to deny emergency healthcare on the basis of faith? Can a member of faith deny a pregnant woman out-of-wedlock any type of medical service? Can I deny someone welfare services and benefits based upon faith or any other social position?
  • Can I deny a mortgage application to someone of another faith on the basis of faith?
  • Can Arizona prosecute an Atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Jews or any member of another faith differently? Can we hold them to different standard because of their faith?
  • As a Christian grocer, can I deny members of other faiths the ability to buy food for their family?
  • Is there a difference between a Christian owner’s dog and Muslim owner’s dog? Or can I just shoot the Muslim owner’s dog on the basis of faith alone?
  • Can I rape and intimidate a female coworker because she’s Taoist?
  • Could a Muslim gas station owner who believes women shouldn’t allowed to drive alone refuse to sell gas to a woman driver?
  • Could a Muslim refuse to work with women or women who didn’t wear a burka?
  • Could a Jewish short order cook sue his employer for forcing him to cook bacon?
  • As Christian business owner, would I be able to pay a non-Christian Mexican immigrant less than a Christian Mexican Immigrant?
  • I can legally deny service to a gay man, but is it ok to serve a former child rapist? Rapist? Drug dealer? Murderer? Wife beater?

The list goes on and on.

In reality, in most of Arizona, and most states in the U.S., businesses don’t need a license to discriminate against gays: It’s already legal. If you reside outside of Tucson, Phoenix or Flagstaff, there is no federal law that consistently protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination, and most states lack laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Unlike race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, and other such classes, sexual orientation is not covered in the federal anti-discrimination law. The only thing this legislation would do is confirm Arizona is a nut case and opens up a Pandora’s Box of questions resulting in a flood of litigation against business owners from those willing to test the limits.

The broader question resides within our minds. If we have already allowed a habit to form in our thought, then the thought lives and it becomes extremely difficult to change the path of our thoughts. The aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,” not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

Should Governor Jan Brewer sign SB 1062 into law, would we really be any different from Russian President Vladimir Putin or Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni?


Late Update: Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday vetoed SB 1062.  “My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona,” Brewer said at a news conference. “I call them like I seem them despite the tears or the boos from the crowd.

Martin-Luther-King-I-have-a-dreamIn truth, it’s awfully hard for me to connect with Dr. Martin Luther King. After all, I was only three years old at the time of his “I Have a Dream” speech.  But because I have several African-American friends, I can understand some level of racism by simply witnessing what they’ve endured.

Today, being a fifty-three year old Buddhist, I remember reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s perspective of Dr. Martin Luther King:

The moment I met Martin Luther King, Jr., I knew I was in the presence of a holy person.  Not just his good work, but his very being was a source of great inspiration for me … On the altar in my hermitage in France are images of Buddha and Jesus, and every time I light incense, I touch both of them as my spiritual ancestors …  When you touch someone who authentically represents a tradition, you not only touch his or her tradition, you also touch your own . . . When those who represent a spiritual tradition embody the essence of their tradition, just the way they walk, sit, and smile speaks volumes about the tradition.” 

There have been times in my life when I have offended all sides of one issue or another. I have gone beyond meditation to campaign for internal dialogue of peace between colleagues and clients. I have walked in the aftermath of tsunamis,’ earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural disasters.  And I wish I could say I always lived and breathed in the core principles of Buddhism, but I have yet to live each and every moment in complete awareness of the present moment and the abandonment of worldly thoughts.

By walking across this small planet; having encountered and losing the greatest live of my life, I reflected on Martin Luther King’s humble and devout lifestyle. Of all I’ve read, I know Dr. King struggled with his role for many years. Many of his friends were killed. Yet they live on with him. Of course the words and choices were Martin’s. Yet his very words and life remain among us in many forms. His very being, as well as many unknown martyrs, continue with us today. Their spirits live because we live.

Still, my greatest fear is that our nation is becoming a nation of silent onlookers. In the face of hate, we shrug. In the face of brutality, we pass by. And in the face of mass murder, we simply accept. We must not remain silent. America is not merely black American, but all of America.

With that, I end with King’s words:

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality . . . Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning; you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured; this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

Dr. Martin Luther King was very Christian, very Buddhist. Why can’t we all?

the_marchThe New York Times noted civil rights heroes, current movement leaders, labor leaders and Democratic officials addressed a vast crowd that stretched east from the Lincoln Memorial to the knoll of the Washington Monument today.

The New York Times also noted several memorable attendees:

  • One person in a hoodie with the phrase “American Justice;”
  • Several with signs urging “Support Trayvon’s Law” to repeal stand-your-ground gun measures; and
  • “We march because Trayvon Martin has joined Emmett Till in the pantheon of young black martyrs.”

Columnist Jerry L. Barrow was spot on several months ago when he authored, “What Do I tell My Son? “

… as I sit here at my computer more than a year later reading the reactions to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, I am gripped in fear. My soul is laminated in a coat of hopelessness at the thought of my son, who is presently enjoying a vacation 1500 miles away, being engaged on the street by someone who finds him suspicious because of his appearance and kills him.”

However, all the evidence in Till’s death points explicitly to race. And colorblind Americans accepted and failed to condemn his killers accordingly. The circumstances in Martin’s death merely suggest that Martin’s race was likely a factor in Zimmerman’s judgment of him.

From a personal perspective, when I think of Delbert Belton brutal killing by two black teenagers, I respond by asking a similar question, “What do I tell my 83 year old father?”  And truth be told, I have not seen Melissa Harris-Perry cry on television for Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old student at East Central University who was shot in the back and killed by three black teenagers while jogging in Duncan.  Similarly, I have not heard if NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock tweeted about how the black community failed to raise their children in an abundance of love and proper role models (and that’s not saying they don’t).

So I sit and wonder, what would Dr. Martin Luther King think of today’s era of racism and the 50th anniversary of the Marches in Washington, D.C.? Maybe Dr. King would emphasize Americans seem blinded to matters of color.  The racism strewn through every cornerstone of Dr. Martin Luther King’s day is the same racism that lives today.  Yeah, the time is different. True the people have changed. But the roots of oppression are from the very same weed.

Delbert Belton, Christopher Lane and Trayvon Martin should have never been killed. But I refuse to March in Washington, D.C. this week simply because someone believes Trayvon Martin is a civil rights hero or martyr.  Trayvon Martin was neither. But I will march in Washington for the following reasons:

  • The black unemployment rate last year was 14.0 percent, 2.1 times the white unemployment rate (6.6 percent) and higher than the average national unemployment rate of 13.1 percent during the Great Depression, from 1929 to 1939.
  • After adjusting for inflation, the minimum wage today — 7.25 — is worth $2.00 less than in 1968, and is nowhere close to a living wage.
  • More than a third of non-Hispanic black workers (36 percent) do not earn hourly wages high enough to lift a family of four out of poverty.
  • A report by the Violence Policy Center found black males are nine times more likely than white males to be the victims of homicide — 29.50 out of 100,000 black males compared with 3.85 out of 100,000 white males.
  • A study found the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.
  • The imbalance between rich and poor children in college completion — the single most important predictor of success in the work force — has grown by about 50 percent since the late 1980s.

For the above reasons, I will stand by your side and fight the fight worth fighting, for these reasons are worthy of Dr. Martin’s dream.

imagesI spent the last several days debating whether to weigh in on the Trayvon Martin case and prosecution of George Zimmerman. Obviously, there has been tremendous thought, commentary and diarrhea of the mouth.

From a commentary perspective, it’s clearly apparent the prosecution failed to prove their case.  In fact, prosecution witnesses actually assisted the defense and the defense did not have to have George Zimmerman testify. Witnesses were extremely pathetic by comparison; seemed ill prepared, performed badly and allowed the victim to become the aggressor.

While I cannot fathom shooting Trayvon Martin, I’m totally dumb founded by the race allegations against George Zimmerman. True Trayvon Martin was killed after an altercation initiated by an armed man who stereotyped. As if it made a difference, after Mr. Martin’s death, many either tried to portray Zimmerman as Hispanic, White or White-Hispanic. Unfortunately, the FBI has been unable to confirm any accounts that Zimmerman exhibited racial bias. In fact, Sanford Police Detectives told FBI agents that there had been several burglaries in the area and that gang members in the community “typically dressed in black and wore hoodies.”

People incorrectly compared Trayvon Martin to Rodney King. But there’s several major differences. First, the Rodney King beating was videotaped. There is no such video in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin assault and murder.  Secondly, Rodney King’s arresting officers were charged with using or permitting unreasonable force under “color of law,” which applies only to law enforcement.

On the emotional side, the Martin family attorney said the slain teenager would be remembered alongside civil rights figures Medgar Evers and Emmett Till. While I abhor Trayvon Martin’s death, Mr. Martin was no Medgar Evers. Evers was a NAACP civil rights activist assassinated in 1963 and Till was a 14-year-old black boy brutally murdered after supposedly flirting with a white woman. While all tragic deaths, I’ve seen nothing indicating Martin matched either. But Trayvon Martin did not deserve to die either.

This leaves the protest, with a few even burning the U.S. flag. MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry nearly broke down in tears describing her reaction to the Zimmerman verdict. Al Sharpton became both activist and anchor by claiming there were grounds for civil rights charges. NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock tweeted “Today, justice failed Trayvon Martin and his family.” Several hundred gathered in downtown Seattle to rally, holding signs, with some chanting, “We are all Trayvon.”

In truth, the sign should have read, “We are all Trayvon and we are all Zimmerman. If you want to hold someone accountable for Mr. Martin’s death, then look in the mirror. We may not have pulled the trigger that killed Martin, but each and every one of us contributed significantly. How so?

First, the “Stand Your Ground” law that initially kept Zimmerman from being arrested is still the subject of much controversy. Florida’s law became the template for an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “model bill” that has been introduced in dozens of other states. As the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has reported, the bill was brought to ALEC by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The National Rifle Association lobbied hard for the measure, while law enforcement opposed it. Defenders cited the 2004 case of James Workman, who shot an intruder and had to wait months before prosecutors decided his case self-defense. Opponents worried the law would encourage the use of deadly force. With the help of a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), more than 30 states have passed some version of the stand your ground law. All of us allowed our legislatures pass these laws.

Secondly, more than 100,000 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, accidents, or by police intervention each year. Roughly 18,185 people have died from gun violence since the Newtown shootings. Every day, 50 children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, accidents, and police intervention.  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen any nationwide protests for any of those 18,250 or so children.

Lastly, Joe Nocera’s column on the Weekend Gun Report summarizes it all. Here’s a sample:

  • A 10-year-old boy was among those injured in a shooting at a Long Beach, Calif., gas station Saturday evening. Surveillance footage showed four men running through a gas station around 8 p.m. when shots struck the 10-year-old boy sitting in his parent’s SUV. Another bystander was hit by the crossfire; his injuries were non-life threatening.
  • A man and a 17-year-old girl were hospitalized after being wounded in a suspected drive-by shooting on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois.
  • At least four people were shot – 1 fatally, 3 critically – outside a home in the Kelvyn Park neighborhood of Chicago.
  • A 15-year-old boy was shot in the West Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
  • A 24-year-old man with gang affiliations is in critical condition after a shooting in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago early Friday.
  • A man was shot several times and found lying in the road in a mobile home park on the West Side of Columbus, Ohio.
  • D’Maris Glover, 15, who was shot near the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge in Cincinnati, Ohio and died of his injuries.
  • A 7-year-old was shot and wounded in Santa Ana, Calif., late Saturday after his father’s car was targeted by a gunman.

Yes, racism exists. Racism is ugly, mean and repugnant. But George Zimmerman had a gun and the state of Florida allowed him to carry. Citizens of the State of Florida allowed these laws to move forward. And contrary to all other opinion, we, as a society are responsible for not properly regulating who can carry and operate these weapons. Yes, George Zimmerman pulled the trigger that killed Trayvon Martin. But we as a society gave Mr. Zimmerman the tools that lead to this unnecessary and needless death.  Without the weapon, without the “Stand Your Ground Law,” the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman altercation would have remained an ugly fight.

It’s our job to protect the Trayvon Martin’s of the world. In the end, my inaction assisted in killing Trayvon Martin. And so did yours. We need to protest against ourselves.