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Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Consequences Of Inaction

Need for approval? Moral cowardice? Lack of confidence?

No matter what puny excuse I make, continuing to avoid expressing my disgust on this blog about the racial injustice plaguing my country is guaranteed to make me more soul sick than I already am. I've begun and then abandoned dozens of posts over the last nine years+ about this subject, just as I've avoided confronting the casual racism that routinely poisons my personal life. What is wrong with me?

I'm angry, ashamed, and discouraged in equal measure. Angry at the phony narrative fed to me by my parents, my teachers, my white friends. Ashamed that I've reflexively accepted that narrative and more ashamed when I avoid those needed confrontations. Discouragement, itself a by-product of the anger and shame, immobilizes me - I start and abandon blog posts; I give up too easily trying to enlist white allies; I get paralyzed because the videos are just too hideous.

Meanwhile, me and mine are safe, untouched by this cancer. It's not enough anymore to say I've tried to live a life of tolerance.

"Ignorance is no protection from the consequences of inaction. Whatever you are wishing away will gnaw at you until you gather the courage to face what you would rather not see." - Isabel Wilkerson  

16 comments:

  1. Thanks Pat I know from our friendship that this has always been hard especially for my friends because so many don't realize how they buy in. There is no need to apologize and understanding and maybe teaching someone else through your blog is the right course of action, the discussion is never easy and also painful because many will say I have nothing to apologize for which again is missing the mark. we all need to start somewhere and it looks like you have started and stopped many times. Just knowing that you are on the right page is heplful in trying to stamp out this cancer. Be well and safe my friend

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    1. Unknown; Of the nearly 1900 posts I've published since March 2011, this is the first where I can honestly say I was desperately hoping someone would respond, online or off. The fact that you took the time to do so means a great deal. And yet, my despair and your re-assurances are pathetic compared to the suffering and physical trauma we white people routinely inflict on others. I wish I were consoled by your kind words about my "starting somewhere". Do better than I have; enlist your white friends as allies. Convince them - more effectively than I have done so - to become anti-racists.

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  2. Excellent post today. Maybe a bit more so than usual. Well said and, I believe, it hits a nerve shared by a large number of us ... In so many ways. Of course, the racist rants of some 'in charge' (wow, such a sour taste that leaves) do nothing but add to the crisis we've been in for all too long.
    Lately I find myself listening more intently to what people, some close to me, are saying. It's no longer acceptable for me to remain quiet just to to 'keep the peace' or 'not make waves' when negative things are said.
    Believe it or not, there are those that find my reactions objectionable or even a questionable stance to take, but I find it increasingly more uncomfortable be in their company when the comments start. Comments that almost seem to come so naturally to them. As if it's just a regular part of their daily life. And that saddens me even more. I honestly cannot understand that type of thinking.

    BTW ... I love the Isabel Wilkerson quote.

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    1. Anonymous; Thanks for your sincere, vulnerable comment. You've made me feel a little less alone today. Sad to say, I don't find it all implausible that others find your reactions "objectionable" or "... a questionable stance to take" when they begin their "rants". I've always thought of this mindset as one that assumes I want to be invited to a party when in fact, I don't even want to share a room with people like this. Like you, I'm saddened by this type of hateful talk and the un-thinking behind it. At the same time, I for one feel the need to look beyond my sadness, my anger, my shame, and my discouragement. I think of those emotions as unhelpful given our long history. It's well beyond time for white folks like us to either take action or, as Isabel Wilkerson wisely states "...accept the consequences for our inaction". I hope you'll join me and do as I suggested to the "unknown" commenter above, i.e. do better than I enlisting white allies in becoming active anti-racists.

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  3. A courageous woman speaks from experience with perspective and proportionality.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiAVIEyA7UQ&t=2278s

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    1. Anonymous #2: Thanks for commenting. Unfortunately, the last time I copied and pasted a link from an anonymous source to my toolbar, my computer crashed. So, I'll pass on doing so again as well as discouraging other readers of my blog from doing so. Maybe instead you might provide me and my readers with a precis of what this "courageous woman" has to say?

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    2. It's a regular YouTube video, no problem with the link. Search on: The Case against Revolution with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This is from Jun 30, 2020. The video is about 55 minutes.

      There is too much of relevance and importance to summarize. I pulled out this quote from among the many wise things she says.

      "It really now is time to stand up for what we value. Otherwise, we risk economic disaster. We risk anarchy and fragmentation. You know what happens when you abolish the police? You get militias. Do you really want that? Do you want breakdown of the rule of law?"

      She speaks of oppression from personal experience. She speaks about slavery and George Floyd. She addresses racism head on. Her words are those of a black woman from Somalia. She experienced all of the above, living under brutal cultural and political systems.

      I'll be curious to hear your response.

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    3. Anonymous #2 (redux); Thanks for the alternate way to approach seeing the YouTube video; I will take a look especially since I've had previous exposure to Ms. Ali. Not sure how you'll "..hear my response..." given your anonymity.

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    4. I'll see you response here, if you leave one. Here's another relevant link. Again, it's a regular YouTube link. A black economist at a major American university addresses systemic racism and police brutality against blacks.

      Glenn Loury: 'We're Being Swept Along by Hysteria' About Racism in America
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp4fg9PWuhM

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    5. Anonymous #2 (reply #3); After spending more time with Ms. Ali - I'd already read the WSJ op-ed referenced in this interview and seen her previously on Fox - I was left with a similar impression. She's a smart woman who reaches different conclusions than I. To take just one example, her strong support for what the interviewer calls "diagnosis #2" - i.e. human capital as a means to address systemic racism (although Ms. Ali is more inclined to call it prejudice) vs. my QUALIFIED support for "diagnosis #1" i.e. political capital to address what I sincerely believe are systemic issues that will not dissipate without those types of interventions. Our dialogue will conclude now without me re-visiting Glen Loury, another smart person who - looking at the same data - also reaches different conclusions than I, as no doubt applies to you, anonymous #2. Thanks for reading, your comment(s) and re-exposing me to Ms. Ali, someone who deserves to be heard. I sincerely hope her life experience in the U.S. continues to support her view that this is the "...best place on the planet..." to be black and a woman.

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  4. What is your solution? As a white person, what should I be doing?

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    1. Anonymous #3: Three places to start: 1.) Enlist as many white allies as you can, asking them to join you in #2 & #3; 2.) Support - with your $$$ - any social justice organizations that you feel aligned with. Specify to that organization that you want your $$$ to go toward addressing institutional racism; 3.) March, peacefully demonstrate, make your voice heard all with no expectation of any thanks, kudos, or "you're one of the good ones" accolades coming from any person of color.

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  5. We cannot change other people, but we can control our reactions to racist sentiments. As an ally I am determined to voice discomfort in these situations, silence is violence.

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    1. Alison; I'm so proud to have a daughter that gets this and is willing to voice her discomfort. You made my day with your comment.

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  6. Thanks Pat for the timely blog. I pray that we all, in every moment that presents itself, personally and collectively, remain obedient and compliant to our common shared humanity with everyone we encounter. Peace does begin with each individual and if that's too much of a pie-in-sky platitude, sorry, it's my guiding principal.

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    1. Steve; I must say I've been gratified by the response to this post, here and offline, from people like you. I hope you will join me - as I've encouraged others - in enlisting white allies in the cause of anti-racism. Thanks for reading and if peace starting with each individual is a platitude, it's one I can live with.

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