The Lost art of "i don't know"
Our failure to acknowledge what we don’t know slows racial healing
In our new-ish world of instant reaction and gratification, far too many people have forgotten how to say the three magic words we all want to hear from time to time. I Don't Know! This failure to acknowledge what we don't know or understand impacts every aspect of society, but it's particularly problematic when it comes to understanding racism and what other people experience.
This piece dives into the I Don't Know phenomenon and offers some guidance on how we can fix it.
The making of black diamonds
While society has developed a view that Black people are less than or cannot achieve as much, the truth is the opposite. The extreme pressures and challenges that have faced Black Americans actually caused the emergence of extreme excellence. Just like intense pressure in the earth creates valuable diamonds, that same pressure above ground is laying the groundwork for tremendous achievement by Black Americans. Some people call it Black excellence. This piece breaks that down.
racism ends where coffee starts
In a world we most of us operate out of years of unconscious bias unknowingly pounded into our hearts and minds, there's a way out. A means for us to start acting out of conscious love and respect rather than biases that persist within each one of us. It sounds crazy but the solution is simple. We as a society need to start engaging people who are different than ourselves and get to know people under a more intimate level. To do that, we need to open our after 5:00 p.m. spaces, dinner tables and family events to people who don't look like us. This essay dives into this issue.
This essay delves into the familiar argument many white folks make about their level of responsibility for the racial sins of America. "My family had nothing to do with it." Or "my family didn't even come to America until 1905." America should take Germany's lead on how it apologized and made serious amends for the Holocaust. That means owning our sins and paying for righting their wrongs. America was built on slavery and we still benefit from that building.
I Don't Identify As Black
End Racial Distancing
It always rubbed me the wrong way how many white folks inquire about why I have Black friends. Or why I surround myself with people who don't look like me. Even in the dating world, so many people gracefully back away when they find out that my social media pictures with Black friends aren't there to make some "I'm not a racist statement" but that I genuinely have numerous Black friends dating back 40 years. This essay explores this awful phenomena and encourages us to do what I call end racial distancing.
Gandhi was a racist
Why critical race theory is critically important
So many people have become fearful of learning about America's history. Or anything that challenges their trained way of thinking. The truth is, though, we can all handle unwinding years of inadequate education. We will all be better off if we learn about why we still have race issues in the 21st century. This piece dives into these issues.
Stop using King’s words to support oppressive systems
It has become all too commonplace for politicians to invoke Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all while still refusing to embark on any meaningful change when it comes to race. Every MLK Day, the echos of "judge everyone by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin" is heard. But Dr. King wasn't just a person with a dream. He was a revolutionary advocating for the unraveling of systemic racism. This piece breaks down Dr. King's real vision and strategy beyond just a few nice quotes that fit on t-shirts.
Be a thunderbolt in 2022
Self-reflection is a critical part of ending racism
We can’t forget to self-reflect as part of our efforts to end racism. What are we doing in our personal lives to support or contradict society’s pervasive racism? Have we taken it upon ourselves to read books to learn more or listened to informative podcasts? Have we genuinely befriended people who are different than ourselves? Instead of reacting on social media, have we taken time to understand where someone else’s trauma is coming from? Using the superheroes The Thunderbolts as a backdrop, this piece explores self-reflection as a part of social justice.
Reading Racism To Our Children
Ending the cycle of racial bias introduced through books
We spend time as parents previewing movies to determine whether they are appropriate for our kids. We concern ourselves, rightly so, with whether a tv show or movie or even video game has too much sex or violence for our young children. But we forget to also be as concerned about whether the books we're reading to our children contain negative images, or lack positive images, when it comes to race. This piece dives into how we can be intentional about what books we read to our kids so they don't suffer from the same unconscious bias we were trained to have.
My Grandfather was a nazi
Overcoming the shame of family sins
Too many of us carry around sins of others. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles. We live with the shame as if it's our own, and then sometimes we even pass that trauma and shame down to our kids. This piece explains how and why we can and need to end the practice of feeling shameful for others' actions.
The Tough Jews Of Chanukah
Lessons in self-defense
The media over and over displays images of Jews being nerdy. Jews as accountants with pencils and calculators in their pockets. Or people who can be pushed around. People who aren’t tough enough to fight back. These repeated stereotypes affect how non-Jews perceive Jews and, frankly, how many of us Jews see ourselves. This article shows why those stereotypes are not only dangerous, they're false.
Jezebel, Mammy and Sapphire
The 2021 film "Subjects of Desire" is a must see. It unpacks some of the negative stereotypes of Black women and how that has impacted both Black and white people in society. This essay gives you a glimpse of why we should watch this film to broaden your knowledge and help us improve society.
model for peace in the middle east
For decades politicians have struggled with elusive Middle East peace. But we now have the clear solution. The Abraham Accords. The uniqueness of this approach was its recognition that in order to achieve real peace, it's not about divorcing from each other. It's about cultural exchange and truly getting to know each other. Celebrating each other. It's really the answer to most of our human divisiveness. This piece breaks it down.
The lasting impact entertainment has on society
Hollywood is known for its long list of liberal social justice warriors. You hear the speeches at every awards ceremony. Actors, directors and artists demanding racial justice. Demanding an end to anti-gay bias. Shouting for environmental protection. Worthy causes, no doubt.
Yet we're left scratching our heads why movies, television shows, cartoons and the like still after all these years include imagery that too often portrays Black and Brown people in a negative light. When so much of our after 5:00 p.m. space in life largely are people who only look like us, we are left to mass media to fill our unconscious hearts and minds. And it is precisely these images that create unconscious bias.
Part of loving one’s country is wanting to redress its wrongs
Rapper Pitbull again said that anyone who criticizes America should think about moving to Cuba and see how much they like it.
But Pitbull misses the point. Our standard for a great America isn't whether we're better that North Korea, Iran and Cuba. It is patriotic to want true history to be taught to our children. It's patriotic to critique America so it can improve its ways. It's patriotic to fight for social justice for all of its citizens.
This essay breaks this down.
Black batwoman v. white jesus
Untangling the images that shape our thinking
This essay uses the backdrop of comics and superheroes to highlight how we our unconscious bias has been form through childhood images. When people took to the internet to criticize the new Black Batwoman, it reminded me how we had green superheroes and a dog before we had a popular Black superhero. This essay explores how that harmed us and provides us tools to undo that impact.
you don't look jewish
We won’t achieve true justice for anyone until Jews are included in social justice
There’s this bizarre bias, especially among the social justice left, that Jews live in their own post-racial world. Where their ethnicity and identity aren’t worth our protective efforts. Where the Jewish experience is no different than the white experience.
Forget that white Jews are just 70 years from their slaughter where they weren't white enough or that they endure more hate crimes than any other religious group despite being only 2% of the U.S. population. Half of the world's Jews and 60-65% of Israeli Jews aren't white anyway. They are Jews of color.
This essay explores Jewish identity and why it's time to literally stop whitewashing Jewish identity.
twelve hours in istanbul
Mark Twain once said that travel is the cure to racism
Travel is one of my favorite things in the world. On a deeper level, it allows us the opportunity to meet and get to know people who are not the same as us. The unintentional result is that we get to undo ingrained unconscious bias we have towards others.
This essay uses my 2021 visit to Istanbul to highlight the idea of ending racial and ethnic distancing to eradicate our deep biases.
A reflective commentary poem
Wearing a mask
Quarantining in your home for 14 days
Having a post removed on Facebook
Someone from the other party winning an election
Getting blocked by a follower on Instagram
Background checks at gun shows
Taking a COVID test before entering an event
High gas prices
Critical Race Theory
The Insurrection at the Capitol
Deporting people who enter the U.S. illegally
Texas’ new abortion law
Magazine clip restrictions
Anything that’s not the Holocaust
Blacks and Jews once modeled a path to end racial distancing
To escape the horrific racism and systemic oppression in the South, beginning in 1916, millions of southern Blacks migrated north and west to places like Chicago, East St. Louis, Compton, Oakland and Baltimore. And to Harlem, which at the time was home to a sizable Yiddish-speaking Jewish community, also trying to make their own way in a still challenging America. Blacks and Jews were each other’s neighbors, customers, and employers.
One result of that was Black men and women becoming Jewish cantors. Cantors lead the Hebrew (and back then Yiddish) prayer songs on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. This odd entry into Jewish religious life presented an opportunity for Jews and Blacks to get to know each other and end what I call racial and ethnic distancing. This essay explores that fascinating time in our history.
READING THE ESSAYS
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