Posts Tagged ‘oppression

07
Nov
10

Here’s Your Trickle Down

Hey, Tea Party morons and most other Republican supporters (and no small amount of independent voters, too)!

Do you want to know why people who earn $250,000 or more should be taxed at a higher rate (like the wealthy used to be in the early- and mid-20th century)?

First of all, they represent around 3% of the U.S. population, so they most certainly aren’t the bulk of hard-working Americans who have trouble making ends meet.

But you know what the real reason is?

This figure:

The richest 1% of Americans now take home almost 24% of the income in the nation, up from around 9% of the income in 1976.

Yeah, do you still believe the myth launched by Ronald Reagan, and perpetuated by Republicans ever since, that if you let the wealthy keep more of their money, the whole nation will benefit?

If you do, you’re an idiot, as there is no clearer evidence of the fact that if you give them huge tax breaks so they can hang on to their excessive wealth, they don’t spread it around. Instead, they hoard even more of it.

Company executives get paid more and more outrageous salaries even though they don’t work THAT much harder than their employees (do you really think your company CEO works 40 to 100 times harder than you do? Get real). Companies won’t give workers raises that match or keep ahead of inflation, and take away more and more days off and more of their benefits, and make them pay more and more for health insurance…just so that they can keep making their top execs richer and richer.

Reagan’s trickle down theory DOES work.

But it isn’t money trickling down to all of us poor folks and us blue collar, pink collar and middle class professionals.

It’s the hot piss of the rich running down our backs as they laugh.

25
Apr
10

That Greater “Good”

I’m embarrassed to say it.

I’ve lost touch with some of my white roots.

Honestly.

It’s not that I don’t act sufficiently Caucasian; I do.

But I have, apparently, in my increasing exposure to my wife and two children and various other people of color…well, I’ve nearly lost my ability to view the world through the lens of an angry white person who thinks that diversity and inclusion are dirty words and that any program designed to help people is a sign of impending socialism.

How else to explain how it’s taken me so long to figure out how such people can sleep at night?

It came to me today the reason folks can look at racial profiling, inequitable enforcement of the law, denial of homosexual marriage rights and so many other things and not feel bad.

Because those things affect “minorities.”

And, of course, because the definition of minority is “a significantly smaller portion of the population,” anything bad done to them isn’t significant. Because it doesn’t affect the majority. As long as it serves the desires of the majority or the interests of the majority, it can be as unfair as desired, because it serves the “greater good.” If troubles happen to minorities, those troubles aren’t significant.

Problem is that policies that serve only the majority often aren’t for the greater good but for a selective good to hoard power and/or wealth simply for the sake of avarice and to keep others down and as powerless as possible.

The other problem is that, taken together, “minority” groups will in the fairly near future outnumber whites in the United States. The advantage that whites have, though, is that they will continue to be the largest single ethnic bloc, and minority groups have a poor track record of banding together, even in areas of common interest.

But I can tell you one thing. If ever the various minorities do band together as one, and whites become something more truly approaching a minority, those ass-hats who defend oppression and discrimination now will demand as their God-given right all those things that they denied or tried to deny to those “minorities.”

I’m sure that’s what our Founding Fathers intended anyway…

30
Nov
09

Balanced, Not Superstitous

I’m sure this post will earn some guffaws and maybe some blow-back from my loyal readers who happen to be atheists or semi-militant agnostics, but here goes…

My belief in God, and Jesus for that matter, is not a sign of any of the following:

  • Fear of death
  • Insecurity
  • Superstition
  • Desire to belong to a group
  • An aching emptiness inside that I wanted to fill
  • Delusion
  • Idiocy
  • Lack of scientific awareness
  • Immaturity

In fact, I see a lot of maturity and balance in my worldview. And that is because I deny neither the scientific nor the spiritual. I’m not saying I have all the answers in life, but what I do have is a lot of internal security and well-being.

I don’t understand when entirely secular folks insist that to be fully mature, I must deny my belief in, and search for, spiritual meaning. Just as I don’t understand religious people who insist on ignoring science and reason.

Humans have sought spiritual discernment for a long time, and for quite a number of centuries (in fact, a couple millennia at least), it hasn’t been about explaining why it rains or how the sun moves across the sky or anything like that. It’s been about a deeper kind of meaning. People who dismiss religion as an artifact of ignorant ancient goat herders is doing a disservice to goat herders (many of whom, I am sure, had deeper thoughts than screwing their herd-stock and picking at their asses) and a disservice to spiritual seekers.

Yes, there was a time when religion was all about explaining worldly things. But as people have advanced, so has the depth and maturity of spiritual seeking. Sure, there are plenty of idiots in the world who follow religion and religious leaders blindly and skim only the surface of religious precepts, but most people seem to prefer following someone than thinking for themselves.

Funny thing is, spiritual seeking, while it cannot follow the scientific method, does still follow the same general progression as science. That is, as humans have advanced, so has the study. Science was once a pretty pathetically ignorant, simplistic and sketchy affair, just like religion.

The problem is that the more we figure out about the world, the more full of ourselves and our intelligence we become, and the more we think we don’t need God. We are not slowly disproving God, but simply pushing him aside unnecessarily.

If more believers would be mature about their spiritual seeking, and more non-believers would stop ridiculing those who are trying to find spiritual meaning, maybe religion wouldn’t be the mess it has become these days. Now, both sides, secular and religious, essentially call the other side a bunch of heretics, which solves nothing.

I can already see one retort coming.

But science is rational. Science doesn’t lead to oppression or wars!

Wrong.

Maybe it doesn’t have the same track record right now, but religion had a hell of a head start. People can blindly follow a scientific theory or finding as much as a biblical principle. Science and research can be twisted, skewed and misrepresented.

Hmmmm. Just like religion.

The Nazis based their genocidal campaign in World War II based on “science” that showed Aryans were superior. Noted intellects justified slavery by “proving” that Blacks weren’t as evolved or even as human as Whites. Medical science can downplay the horrors of abortion, even as it can also be used to overplay them. Research shows us that it isn’t cost-effective or “useful” to pay for certain types of medical screening or healthcare, and so insurance companies and hospital executives can oppress us to sickness or even death. Religious groups can call homosexuals deviant because they can point to a  lack of scientific proof that same-sex desires are inherited rather than learned or chosen. Need I go on?

Science is on pace to do everything that religion did and more. It can bring us together in understanding and truth and good guidance. And it can tear us apart.

Science is not the be-all and end-all of human experience, and it never will be. Nor shall religion or any kind of spiritual pursuit. I maintain that both are entirely necessary to being mature humans.

18
Mar
09

Black and White and Dread All Over

young-man-in-military-coatAs I mentioned on Monday with my throaway “Separate But Equal” post (I’m always amazed at how many more comments a throaway post can generate than one I consider more substantive, which might get zero comments), I have race on my mind.

Oddly enough, despite having a black wife and two biracial kids, I don’t think about race a whole heaping hell of a lot. I mean, yeah, I visit a lot of African-American blogs and race issues crop up frequently in my life, but I don’t dwell on race relations much. Mostly because my strategy is to try to be as “race blind” as I can (knowing that I’ll probably only achieve race nearsightedness) and also realizing that I’d better not make myself too race blind, as that will interfere with my ability to actually relate to folks who don’t share my melanin-challenged heritage.

So, I see my part in race relations as being an overriding goal to not be part of the problem, and in so doing, I’ll be a small part of the solution. And I don’t talk about race relations much around here because there are so many other people who do it more often and do a better job, and they’re in my blogroll in the sidebar (Raving Black Lunatic, The Field Negro, Ephphatha, Blackgirlinmaine, etc.)

But sometimes, my hackles stand up and I get riled by something. Or, more often, someone. This time, it was a dip named Thordaddy, commenting on a post at Big Man’s Raving Black Lunatic blog (click here to see it; Thordaddy’s commented on some other stuff at the blog, but it’s this post and commentary that will set the stage for my post today here.)

Short version of the story for those who don’t want to jump to another post first (though you really should): Thordaddy is one of those folks who isn’t as violent, crazed, brain addled or uneducated as most of the people who go to Stormfront.org but who still manages to be outraged when black people claim they are victims of societal oppression or racism. I challenged him on a point or two, and mentioned I myself have been responsible for my small but notable part in racism in the past, and suggested that he might want to open his eyes a bit.

He asked me for examples of my “oppression” against blacks. I declined, not out of embarrassment or lack of examples, but because at that point, it was clear he was simply a troll looking for more fresh meat to rant about, and I wasn’t going to accede to his insincere request for clarification. When I said as much, he mentioned that while I may have been in a position to “oppress” black people, he and many like him haven’t, and are sick of being blamed for supposed racism that probably doesn’t exist.

Because I don’t want to engage a numbnut like Thordaddy who already has his mind 100% made up, I will engage the rest of you. And Thordaddy, if you come here, behave your damn self. I haven’t banned a commenter yet, but I suspect you could inspire me. I hope everyone here will read this and give some good commentary, but I especially implore my fellow white folk to read this post.

Here goes.

First off, you might have noticed that I put the word oppress in quotes a couple times above. That’s not to diminish or cast doubt on the idea that blacks still deal with oppression. It’s because Thordaddy missed the point on two counts. First, I don’t think I ever said I oppressed anyone nor was in a position to. What I said was that I have played my part in society’s racist tendencies toward black folks. Secondly, racism doesn’t have to be some bold, overt oppression on the order of calling people nigger or burning crosses on their front lawns.

Look, if people are, in significant-enough-to-notice numbers, treating you differently (and in a negative way) than other people, based on your color, and this happens sometimes over and over in a given day, that shit adds up over the years. Part of the reason I don’t have many notches in my bedpost is because I spent all of junior high and high school and a good chunk of college…and hell, into adulthood…being made to feel that I was not desirable to the opposite gender. Women loved me as a friend; they did not desire me otherwise. That made me painfully shy and fearful of approaching women to ask them out, even though I was very confident and comfortable being their friend.

Sure, you can call me overly sensitive and say that I should have just sucked it up, but I was shaped in a certain way, a little at a time, relentlessly, over years. Same thing happens with black people who have to endure constant little slights from white folks day after day and year after year.

Examples? OK.

  • I have lost count of how many times a white waitperson or cashier has shown my wife where to sign a credit card receipt. No, I don’t mean they tell her which copy to sign (merchant or customer copy…that even happens to me sometimes). They point to the signature line for her and inform here that that’s where her signature goes. I have never, never been treated like that level of moron as a white person. I have yet to witness any other white person treated this way.
  • Go looking for an apartment. It’s still available and you rush right over. When landlord sees you are black, the look in his or her eyes changes and suddenly, the apartment just became unavailable. Or, suddenly, he or she remembers that you not only need to pay first month and security deposit, but last month’s rent as well. I have seen this in person apartment hunting with my wife. Whether they didn’t want her because she was black or us because we were a mixed-race couple, I don’t know, but believe me, you know when you’ve been treated that way. And yes, I once called back in a different voice later. The apartment hadn’t been rented out before we got there. Not that I thought it had; we only lived a few minute’s drive away.
  • Go job hunting. Send out resume. They love you on the phone. Then they see you are black in person, their face falls, and you have a very short interview and never hear back. Has happened to my wife multiple times. Or, send out a resume with a name that “sounds” black (like my wife’s full first name does). Virtually no responses for months. Then, send one out with your nickname (which sounds more “white”) instead of your legal first name and suddenly people all over are calling you back. My wife has dealt with this before, too.
  • Go shopping. Have security guard follow you around, even though the profile for the average shoplifter is middle aged white woman, not young, well-dressed black woman. My wife hasn’t just reported this to me; I’ve seen it first-hand. Often.
  • Oh, have I mentioned the several times that Son of Blue has been harrassed by police officers for such risky and suspicious behaviors as walking home from the store, taking a stroll with a girlfriend, etc.? One time, the cop harangued him on the way back from a local store, while he was carrying a very threatening steak-and-cheese sandwich and fries. When my son refused to give his name or answer any more questions without myself or his mother present (he was a minor) the cop virtually threatened him with a trip to the police station, even though our house was a 30-second drive away. Cop was all bluster up until the moment I answered the door and suddenly he saw that Son of Blue’s father was a white man and not the black man he had apparently expected to be able to walk all over.
  • Hey, how about the time I was pulled over on the highway for a routine DUI check during some party-time weekend, and the state trooper showed no interest in checking my sobriety (which was 100%) but instead asking me who the black woman in my car was. Now, aside from the fact that she was my wife, what fucking business is it of his who my passenger is? Or why she is there? Unless he’s thinking hooker/drugs/etc. It was a DUI checkpoint. Or how about the fact I’ve been pulled over by police far more often (and usually on bullshit) in my 13 years of dating or being married to Mrs. Blue than I ever was in the dozen years previously that I had been driving.

I could go on, but it will raise my blood pressure.

White people don’t deal with this. Yes, we deal with occasional rude people and disrespectful police officers. But those are almost always people grumpy or having a bad day, and we know that. That is not the same as someone serving you in a restaurant with way more attitude than all the white people at the tables around you. Or serving their food on time and yours slowly and ultimately cold as hell. And then giving you attitude when you request hot food.

This is the kind of stuff that black people have to deal with that whites don’t, unless maybe they have some obvious disability that people ridicule, fear or get patronizing about. And then people like Thordaddy say, “Why should we take a black person’s word that some little stuff is racism at work?” And why not?

Tell me, if you’re white and go out with your friends and complain that your supervisor is undermining you and setting you up to be fired, don’t you expect them to take your word for it? They probably won’t be trying to tell you, “It’s just your imagination.” So why do black people, who spend a lifetime in a nation that is run mostly by white people who complain that affirmative action is unfair (when it really doesn’t impact them) or that blacks are on the dole (when most people on public assistance are white), have to offer a higher standard of proof when they are treated badly?

White people don’t want to be blamed for the sins of their ancestors. I get that. They don’t want to feel like they are paying the price for injustices that no longer occur. But the fact is that racial injustices occur regularly, and we blind ourselves to their existence (which allows them to continue to flourish and contribute to cycles of poverty and oppression in the black community), and we also participate in them, albeit usually in small ways. By ignoring both the problem and our own culpability, we allow racism to go into a more undercover but still very damaging mode.

And here, I will do for you what I didn’t do for Thordaddy. I will share what I look back on with varying levels of shame in terms of my own behavior. They may seem like small things, but remember that small shit piles up. My small slights, committed by most of the people around me, too, add up to quite a bit for the average black person. And no slight against someone else is small. We should be on guard that we treat all people right.

So, what have I done?

  • Prior to working at the job where I met Mrs. Blue (where I was surrounded by a higher percentage of black people than ever before), I had very little contact with black people. This was not entirely my fault. I grew up in Silicon Valley in California. Non-whites there were almost uniformly Latino or Asian. Going to college in the Midwest, I attended a Big Ten school that was, not surprisingly, mostly white, located in a town that was, well, mostly white. I didn’t venture into the city much. But still, why did I not befriend the few black students around me (not that I was mean to them, either) while having little or no hesitation about white ones, Asian ones, Indian ones, Middle Eastern ones? Same at my various jobs after college, in which I could easily treat the black employees, who were mostly low-level clerks, with disregard and consider them background scenery. Yet be friendly with the white receptionists who had equally little impact on my daily work.
  • By choosing not to associate really with black co-workers, but gravitating readily to white ones (even white folks I found personally objectionable), what message do I send? Not a good one. Also, when those black workers are in positions lateral to my own, how much did I exclude them from important information, job leads, etc. that my white co-workers were readily privy to?
  • If I cross the street upon seeing a black person, but don’t cross the street to avoid a more dangerous-looking white person, what message have I sent? Do you think this aids in making a black person feel warm and fuzzy toward white people?
  • If I ask a black person what other black people think about an issue, how ignorant is that? Do we ask white people, even in subgroups like Irish, Polish, etc. to comment on how all people of their subgroup feel? Even when we do, it isn’t nearly as often. How stupid is it to act like all black people feel the same way? By doing so, don’t we show how little we pay attention to them and how little we regard them?

Those are examples that leap easily to mind, but I’m sure there are others I could recall if I wanted to pick at the scabs of my past behaviors and preconceptions and tacit approval of other white people’s actions around me that were less than racially fair.

The point is that until we all start treating each other like equals, we won’t be equal. Until we treat all races with dignity, there will be racial oppression, whether on a minor or major scale. We are all part of the problem. If we are a member of the race that is the largest in the nation, and the members of that race hold the vast majority of wealth, and the members of that race are given more breaks by the justice system, banks, etc.—isn’t it our responsbility to stop acting like we are being fair?

We don’t have to give everything away to blacks or any other non-white group. What we need to do is stop acting like they are a bunch of whiners and stop acting like we give them a fair chance, when the truth is far from that. Seeing a few more blacks in positions of power and influence doesn’t change the fact that most blacks are treated worse. A black man with more education than a white man is still at a disadvanatage, generally speaking, in the job search. Black people are treated more harshly than whites in terms of jail sentences for comparable crimes, and they are targeted by police more often.

Every little slight we commit as white people. Every time we turn our backs on injustice. Every time we choose to act like it’s not our problem…

…we fuel the machine. We give racism legitimacy. We make it harder for black people and white people to find common ground. What was done to blacks in times of slavery and Jim Crow and in the early years of the Civil Rights Movement were awful. And those crimes were all only several generations ago. Black people alive today have seen members of their race lynched for no good reason.

There is a huge hole of injustice that needs to be filled in. Not covered up; filled in. With something positive.

White people who insist they don’t do anything racist are, mostly, deluding themselves. Small or large, we should do nothing to demean or belittle a person simply because they are a different color. It makes no sense logically, it makes no sense socially, and it makes no sense spiritually.

16
Mar
09

Separate But Equal

two-conesTake a look at that picture. What do you see?

No, it’s not some trick question. What is it a picture of?

Two ice cream cones. Equal in size, equal in quality, most likely equal in price. And, unless you have some particular aversion to one of both of the two most common and popular ice cream flavors, they are equally tasty.

But they aren’t the same.

We don’t always treat them the same. Some people hate chocolate or find it too rich. Some people hate vanilla or think it too bland. Neither is better than the other but for some, the difference is so great in their minds that they would rather toss one of those cones into the garbage before giving it any kind of chance.

If it isn’t clear yet, I’m talking about black and white. Caucasian and African-American. It could be Muslim and Jew, I suppose, or Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant. But it isn’t. It’s race that’s on my mind, and race relations, and fucked-up attitudes by certain people who share my general level of melanin that has got me stewing a bit.

I have more to say, and I’ll be saying it within the next couple days. But I don’t have the time right now, so this will just be a light, throwaway post for now. A teaser. A placeholder so that Monday won’t be an empty day.

Catch you again soon.

21
Dec
08

Not-to-do List

I want my brothers and sisters in Christ to make a positive difference in the world. I want them to win some souls for God by letting the light of the Holy Spirit shine forth in their demeanor and deeds. And in more temporal matters, I want to see their money, time and/or personal physical effort go into helping the poor and disenfranchised, building homes for those who need them, volunteering for shelters and other non-profit institutions, and so on.

To that end, I would respectfully ask that my brothers and sisters in Christ take some things off their agenda, in order to free up time for that other stuff. To whit, here are three things I want Christians of all sorts to stop doing. Right now:

  1. Opposing same-sex marriages performed through civil ceremonies (and attempting to deny same-sex couples the same benefits of heterosexual couples).
  2. Attempting to outlaw abortion and/or terrorizing abortion clinics and clinic-goers or doing physical harm to physicians and others involved in the practice.
  3. Advocating for the teaching of “Intelligent Design” anywhere outside a parochial school.

Thank you. Your prompt attention to this matter and cessation of all these activities immediately is greatly appreciated.

08
Sep
08

That Bad Ole Religion

I’m pretty sure I’ve ridiculed the notion of religion being the cause of most of the world’s suffering on this blog at some point. But maybe not. I know I’ve done it elsewhere.

Here’s one of my recent comments at another blog:

The world is full of idiots, and I frankly don’t believe that eliminating religion would put a dent in the idiocy level. Stupid is stupid. Ignorant is ignorant. Remove religion and people will rally behind something else to validate and support their idiocy.

It’s popular to get on the bandwagon that the world would be a so much better place if we just got rid of religion. John Lennon, a dude whose musical and philosophical talents I greatly admire, suggested as much in the lyrics of “Imagine.”

But, it just ain’t so.

Eliminating religion won’t help. Ideologies that lack a god but establish the same programs (or even pogroms, for that matter) would simply fill the void. The world will not become more enlightened by removing religion because the world will still be full of “sheeple” who need and want to be led and who don’t want to think.

Sure, I get that religion is often a tool of repression and restraint. And here is another comment I tossed out recently on that point:

Let’s not blame the basic religion for the millions of idiots who misinterpret, misapply and misunderstand it while purporting to uphold it.

I just don’t get the “religion has been misused so let’s toss it out” argument.

  • Economics are misused and employed in ways to oppress the masses, but that doesn’t make capitalism (or socialism for that matter) inherently evil. Anyone want to throw out all the money and elminate our economies? No? Didn’t think so.
  • Cars are deadly machines and often improperly used. So, is the answer to get rid of cars? Yeah, I hear a lot of silence there, too.
  • Half or more of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. Are we to take away from that figure that monogamy is inherently flawed? Some would argue that, but most would not.

In fact, going back to the first example in my list, I would argue that economics is one of the major sources of evil and persecution and war and assorted other nastiness in the world—moreso, in fact, than is religion.

The desire for power and land and putting ones enemies under one’s feet is a basic human desire, and exists independently of religion. Yes, religion can be used to bolster such desires and justify them, but that almost always requires the tenets of a religion to be twisted to that purpose.

And yes, religion is also used by people who just want to shut the world out and want a spiritual pacifier to suck on. So what? Can’t we say the same about television much of the time? That’s why it’s been called the “glass teat” or the “boob tube.”

And yes, religious differences cause tension and even violence. But so do racial differences and ethnic differences and political differences. And, in the end, they are usually just excuses anyway. And never mind any of the good things religion and spirituality have done; those are insignificant, the naysayers will tell you.

Somehow, when you talk about the positive messages of religion, or the values they can instill, the people who are so down on religion will tell you, Those things can be gotten by just being decent humans. You don’t need religion for that.” Yet if you point out that human nature is what causes most of the problems in the world, independent of religion (since many so-called “religious” people who start wars or destroy lives or cash in workers’ retirement accounts to buy corporate jets rarely are all that faith-filled or church-going),  those same people will cling to the argument that religion has caused more problems than anything else. Suddenly, human nature is something they want to downplay so that they can blame religion for usurping our better nature and making us do nasty things. Instead of “The devil made me do” it becomes “religion makes us do it.”

So, in the end, I’m going to be blunt.

If you’re going to argue that religion just needs to go by the wayside because it causes too much trouble, you’re being an idiot. Because you’re obviously giving a pass to many other things in the world that do way more damage.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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