Racism & White Privilege

Just read this terrific article written by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, a black woman, responding to a query from a white friend on White Privilege.  (Lori Lakin Hutcherson is a Los Angeles native, Harvard graduate, film and television writer/producer, and founder/editor-in-chief of the award-winning website Good Black News. She is also a wife, mother, vegetarian, crossword puzzle enthusiast, nerd, and avid music lover.) Though the article is a year old, it certainly hasn’t lost it’s importance.

Yesterday I was tagged in a post by an old high school friend, asking me and a few others a very public, direct question about white privilege and racism. I feel compelled not only to publish his query but also my response to it, as it may be a helpful discourse for more than just a handful of folks on Facebook.

Here’s his post:

“To all of my Black or mixed race FB friends, I must profess a blissful ignorance of this ‘White Privilege‘ of which I’m apparently guilty of possessing. By not being able to fully put myself in the shoes of someone from a background/race/religion/gender/nationality/body type that differs from my own makes me part of the problem, according to what I’m now hearing.

“Despite my treating everyone with respect and humor my entire life (as far as I know), I’m somehow complicit in the misfortune of others. I’m not saying I’m colorblind, but whatever racism/sexism/other -ism my life experience has instilled in me stays within me, and is not manifested in the way I treat others (which is not the case with far too many, I know).

“So that I may be enlightened, can you please share with me some examples of institutional racism that have made an indelible mark upon you? If I am to understand this, I need people I know personally to show me how I’m missing what’s going on. Personal examples only. I’m not trying to be insensitive, I only want to understand (but not from the media). I apologize if this comes off as crass or offends anyone.”

Here’s my response:

Hi, Jason. First off, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve quoted your post and made it part of mine. I think the heart of what you’ve asked of your friends of color is extremely important, and I think my response needs much more space than as a reply on your feed. I truly thank you for wanting to understand what you are having a hard time understanding.

Coincidentally, over the last few days I have been thinking about sharing some of the incidents of prejudice/racism I’ve experienced in my lifetime – in fact, I just spoke with my sister Lesa about how to best do this yesterday – because I realized many of my friends (especially the white ones) have no idea what I’ve experienced/dealt with unless they were present (and aware) when it happened.

There are two reasons for this :

1) Because not only as a human being do I suppress the painful and uncomfortable in an effort to make it go away, I was also taught within my community (I was raised in the ‘70s and ‘80s – it’s shifted somewhat now) and by society at large not to make a fuss, speak out, or rock the boat. To just “deal with it,” lest more trouble follow (which sadly, it often does).

2) Fear of being questioned or dismissed with “Are you sure that’s what you heard?” or “Are you sure that’s what they meant?” and being angered and upset all over again by well-meaning-but-hurtful and essentially unsupportive responses.

Please go here to read the complete article.

The author then cites only a few examples of the racism that she has experienced in her life. I think most people of the white persuasion wouldn’t see anything wrong with the actions she describes. I hope some people are dismayed when they recognize themselves.

In an odd comparison I want to relate three of my own early experiences with racism as a white woman.

I lived in a small town, which during the 50s-60s was essentially an All-White community. You won’t find this information anywhere in the history pages of Menomonee Falls, WI , but I recall my mom telling me the town had at one time a policy not to sell to Blacks.  I never saw a living breathing black person until about age 10-12. I didn’t go to school with anyone other than white kids. We didn’t even have many Jewish people living in town.

Fast food restaurants were new in the 60s-70s when I grew up, and we were so excited when the McDonald’s moved in, but it was at the other end of town, so it was not a frequent treat. But when Kentucky Fried Chicken went in on the corner of Main Street, now that was close by. My dad brought me with him to get a bucket of chick to take home. Standing in front of me was a large, very dark man. I remember being somehow stunned. I guess it was a similar reaction to Native tribes coming in contact with their first White men.  I find it very sad that this was my first glimpse into the Black community.

A second even more powerful incident struck me when I was at Girl Scout Camp one summer about age 12. There were girls from all over Wisconsin at this camp and I met and made my first Black friend. I don’t recall her name now, but I remember the look on her face.

We each washed our own dishes at a communal wash bucket as big as a horse trough. I was next in line to wash my dishes, and my Black friend was behind me. I stepped from the “sink” and she stepped up. Behind her I hear someone curse and complain that they hoped the water was still clean enough for her dishes after “black hands” had been in it. I was stunned. I’d never heard anything like that before in my life.  But my friend. The crushed look and suppressed tears told me a lot. I called the racist girl something, and took my friend back to our tent.

Then there was the time my dad took up a petition to prevent a home in our neighborhood from being sold to a Black family. I recall my mother being furious with my father about it. I’m not sure if his efforts were successful, but no Black family moved into that house.

This is what White Privilege looks like to me. But think about it. Slavery may have been outlawed, but most Whites still believed the other colors of people were less civilized and advanced. Blacks weren’t smart enough to do the job of clerk, so let them sweep the floor. When the Reconstruction of the South occurred, it only reconstructed the White south. Very little, if anything was done to help freed slaves figure out what they were supposed to do, now that they were turned out from the only homes they knew. Many were ignorant; unable to read and write. Probably many couldn’t count or add. It was like the North freed a bunch of children and said, “Ok, you go off and make a life for yourself.” “You need help?, I got problems of my own “boy.””  Finding themselves unemployed, it was pretty hard to find a place of their own. The Black experience (at least to my White eyes) has never been easy. I can’t imagine the difficulties they faced. I’m sure there must be books written about that, but I haven’t read one.

Sorry, this was kind of long, but I hope some of you learned something about racism and privilege in the US. There are many times I feel ashamed to be White, although my family didn’t arrive in this country until after the Civil War. White Privilege will continue until we can share these stories and enlighten the ignorant.  We’ve got to undo 200 years of racism. It’s going to take a while.

Meanwhile, to all the people of color: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the arrogance of White Men. I apologize if I have ever seemed disrespectful to anyone. If I ever do say or do something racist, I do hope you will point it out to me. I don’t want to make the same mistake with someone else.

Recovery – Day Five

He’s not coming out of it like usual. I swear he’s becoming delusional. And I know delusional and how difficult it is to get along with them. To avoid conflict you have to buy into their delusion. It’s especially hard to do when the delusions change from day to day.

Every day he tells me something that’s just plain wrong:

“We watched that show together.” Except we did not watch that show together.

“Where’s the leftover chicken from last night?” We hadn’t had chicken in several days. Is this a problem with keeping track of the days? It doesn’t seem so, because he insists we had roast chicken the night before and doesn’t understand why I would deny it. You would think logic would come into play, but no.

“Can you print something for me?” I do. Then I give him the papers and he says, “I didn’t ask you to print that.” This in a span of 15 minutes.

He is so convinced that what he remembers is real and what we remember is just wrong. I ask him, “Why would I lie about that?” Not to mention, he knows I have never lied to him.

Every day he has a new problem with his computer or tv. One day it won’t turn on at all. The next day he has no volume control, etc. He’ll get each issue fixed and a few hours later it’s another problem. I’m not sure there is ever anything wrong. It’s impossible to know. He won’t leave it alone long enough for you to really help. Near as I can figure, he hallucinates that there is a problem and starts to unplug and turn things off. But I have to go in his room and look at all the wires and figure out what he’d disconnected.

I’m supposed to go with him to the doctor today. He’s talked about it all week. Now this morning he doesn’t want me there and doesn’t want to give me permission to talk to the therapist at all. I told him if he wanted his dad and me to be able to help him, he’d give his permission. Now he’s in his room, ruminating on why we are so mean and demanding.

It is 11:40AM and I’m arguing with Son about it. He’s telling me we should get going if we’re going to make it on time. I thought the appointment was at 1. He says yes, but it’s 12:40 and I have to repeat it is not. Now he’s upset again and hiding in his room. I’m looking forward to the ride to the doc. God know if I’ll even get to say anything once I’m there. Probably a total waste of time, but I’ve got to try. They need to at least understand that the situation at home is barely tenable. We need help to understand, and they are not getting a complete picture of the situation.

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!

 

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy…Fuck

Son was very angry when we brought him home yesterday. He said some nasty things to and about both his dad and me. It was almost more than I could stand. At one point I told him that if he felt that unwelcome and cared so little for us and what we have done for him he’d best get with his social worker to find him a job and somewhere to live.

This is a hard thing on any family, but somehow it feels a bit more cruel since Son is a man not a child, and yet when he has these episodes it is like caring for a three year old. You have to stay up if he’s up because you don’t know what he’ll do. I no longer have that sort of mental or physical stamina.

I am now able to see these flair ups coming. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any way to stop their progress. Son has not been too good about hearing me, but when he starts getting manic it’s like he’s completely deaf. He can’t sit still and paces. If I ask him to sit he goes off and paces outside. He starts projects all over the house, but never goes back to finish. Makes it impossible for anyone else to function in the house because you can’t get away from him. Like a three year old tugging at your leg, screaming “mama! mama! mama!” like some kind of mantra.

I watch as each day is a little worse than the previous. He becomes depressed and manic, which then turns into anger and destruction; throwing things, pulling things out of his closet and dresser and tossing them about. Again, you still cannot talk to him in this state. All I can do is sit back and wait for him to get into a full blown psychosis and take him to the hospital. They won’t admit him if I bring him in before he hits this level. He’s got to be completely out of his head before they admit him. Son has visited the ER 15 times since August 2014. Twelve of those visits he was hospitalized.

The only thing Son gets out of it is a dose of a mixture of Xanax, Benedryl and something else which calms him down. Son really doesn’t get much from his stay. Almost no counseling, a 5 minute interview with a psychiatrist, a meal and a bed. And the only thing his dad and I get out of his 72 hour stays, is a little peace and quiet, and a chance to catch up on lost sleep. So really they are a waste of everyone’s time and money. Now, if I could have a syringe full of that Xanax mixture, maybe I could calm him down before he ends up in the hospital.

I’m learning as I go and trying to find the best resources and be an advocate, but it appears I learn very slowly anymore. Maybe if I push the idea on the mental health community, that we all suffer when a loved one is afflicted with a debilitating disease, and the entire family needs to be involved in the therapy.

They need to agree on new criteria for 72 hour holds. Once drugs and alcohol are ruled out as possible reasons for odd behavior, someone should speak not just to the patient, but their family. During Son’s BPD flair he will give misinformation that the hospital cannot verify. I don’t know what sort of information he is providing to his doctors. He will talk about a hallucination as if it were real, and if no one is there to tell the docs it was a hallucination, how can they properly treat him?

For me the toughest thing about his condition is it’s nearly impossible to control without the full cooperation of his doctors. I told him today that if he wants us to help him, we must know what his doctors do. He said he would bring me in to talk with his therapist. So we’ll do that Friday. I’m going to ask if I can have an after hours number to reach her office when Son starts going off. Ideally, I’d like to work toward stopping these episodes from progressing to hallucination.

For all of you suffering with BPD or suffering because you love someone with BPD, I wish the blessings of the universe on you. And remember there are really only two options in life: Give Up or Keep Going.

 

 

 

 

Bi-Polar Again

I don’t understand this illness. Son can get along just fine for 5-6 weeks and then he gets manic, stops sleeping/eating. He starts losing things. Completely losing things, never to be found again. Like half a pair of sneakers. How do you lose just one shoe  between night and morning? I swear he must throw things away. After a few days we generally start to wonder if he is using or drinking. We talk to him or ask him about it, and he of course gets defensive. “Why don’t you trust me?” Then he starts getting really agitated, can’t sit still. He’ll stay in his room, barely speaking to anyone, then suddenly barge into the room, say something odd and mumbled and disappear again.

He has started seeing things and hearing voices.  He kept sweeping his room, complaining that it is impossible for the dust and dirt to reappear when he just swept. He told me it was the ghosts doing it. They don’t like him. He had chunks of time where he spoke of things that have not happened. Then he would have a few minutes where he seemed completely ok.

This time I called the PET, Psychiatric Emergency Team. While it was nice not to have to involve the police, especially since for the first time he was remaining somewhat talkative and aware. He was calmer than most time he gets like this, so I thought about cancelling PET,  but I knew he could go downhill pretty quickly.  My hopes of help were dashed when this team tells me they can do nothing. He is calm and answering questions with them. Even if he answered a question with something completely odd. They said that Son needs to meet the requirements of a 5150: Is he a danger to himself or anyone else.  That’s it. They don’t think talking to things that aren’t there, and discussing how ghosts are messing up his room as warranting a psych hold.  Granted his odd behavior is not against the law, but this one defining question as to a psych hold, “Is he a danger to himself or anyone else?” hardly seems enough.

We had been nearly three days with almost no sleep because Son had been up cooking breakfast at 1 AM, or any number of daytime activities in the middle of the night. He loses all sense of time when he gets like this. You cannot reason with him. He doesn’t hear you, sometimes I’m not sure he even sees me.

In all I have read I have only seen mention that someone with BPD may hallucinate a couple of times.  But it’s just that: one line or two saying some people may experience hallucinations. I need to expand my search parameters. At last! I found a couple of good places for more info.  All I needed to do was add “hallucination” or “psychosis” and boom, I got info. Helpful? Somewhat.

In the end, Son voluntarily admitted himself to the hospital because of the hallucinations. He called this afternoon angry because they wouldn’t let him out. Possibly the psych team admitted him unwilling, or they don’t feel it’s safe to release him. Either way he is terribly angry. Tomorrow he will be contrite and beg us to pick him up.

It’s gotten to the point we don’t want him in the house, he’s so disruptive and unpleasant so much of the time. But if it’s just the BPD we have to hang in there, but if he is doing this to himself I don’t know that we can.  If we could just get a doctor to confirm that nothing untoward showed up in his blood work. Last time we went through this I managed to see his lab results and Xanax was detected. He doesn’t have a script for that and had a terrible habit at one time.

He can’t get into rehab unless he is actively using. He can’t get into a sober living home unless he’s clean. He is unable to hold down a job for a litany of reasons, so he lives here. How do I help him? How do I get through to him? Will he let me talk with his doctors? Only one way to know. I’ll ask him when he comes home if he would let me talk to them.

 

 

 

A Time To March

Agreed. I think we all need to show our faces to these racist wastes of air space.

Empty Nest, Full Life

I’m horrified, shocked, furious about the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this weekend. White Nationalists, whatever the hell that means, marched supposedly to protect the statue of a man who committed treason 150 years ago and then lost a war.

How to pick a winner, right?

They wore Nazi insignia. They gave the Nazi salute. They chanted about the Jews “replacing” them.

Their true goal, obviously, was not to stand up for old dead Robert E. Lee. It was to provoke a fight with all those awful people who they believe are trying to take away their white male role as masters of the continent.

They succeeded. There was fighting. There was death.

They got their headlines.

Now these radical deplorables are planning to march on Boston. The capital of the state where I live. They want to chant their pathetic racist drivel on the streets where Sam Adams rallied patriots…

View original post 473 more words

Racism in America

Do we need to write something under Qualifications for President to specify that candidates should have deep convictions of right and wrong, show a level of morality a step above the rest of us. A candidate must be a person of integrity, honesty, humanity, and humility. In case you hadn’t realized 45 has none of those qualifications. He proved this in wide screen technicolor today.

I have been appalled by Trump, 45, whatever you might want to call him. My preference is Hesnotmypresident Trump. With all the talk about White Privilege, nothing shows it more strongly than our #45. Everything he is and stands for exposes White Privilege at it’s worst. This is the mongrel my country elected. Morals be damned. Both 45’s scripted and impromptu responses to the violence and death in Charlottesville last weekend are as appalling as anything he has said to date. But the fact he cannot and will not denounce racist groups is unconscionable.

I have been trying not to bash Trump for things he’s said and done and work on the issues behind his disagreeable actions. The gloves are off on this. For this he deserves the highest level of denunciation and disgust. He has shamed America and debased the Presidency in his actions since the campaign. This is a new level of shame, combined with a gut wrenching fear.

A week ago I was afraid of an imminent nuclear holocaust. Thank goodness Kim Jong Un has decided to continue to watch the antics of our crazy, crazed and definitely deranged president.  Whew! At least we’ve put that on the back burner and free us up to confront violence and destruction closer to home. Incidents like this are not at all helpful in bridging the gap between White Privilege and Brown Suppression. But what is the answer?

charlottesville
Charlottesville 2017

We all know what happened in Charlottesville, the dozens of people seriously injured and one killed by one guy using the latest weapon of mass murder; driving through a crowd. I understand the young man driving that car was confused at best, uncaring possibly, and likely was very lonely. The perfect candidate to be lured into believing the garbage hate groups like to spout. Playing on a person’s ignorance and fear. These are the exact tactics used by other hate groups, like ISIS, Al Queda, NRA, IRA. They find the disenchanted, disenfranchised, lonely (mostly) young white men and feed their fears.

The young woman he killed was a respected professional with a family. Nothing about her was violent.  For our president to diminish her life and death by claiming both sides had a part in the violence is at a minimum ridiculous.  The only part she had in the violence was being a victim of it.

The violence this past weekend didn’t end there.  The leader of the KKK publicly stated he was “glad” of Heather Heyer’s death.

“I’m sorta glad that them people got hit and I’m glad that girl died,” Justin Moore “a Grand Dragon” in a KKK organization, told WBTV.

The Neo-Nazis want to have a visible presence at the funeral for Ms. Heyer.

Andrew Auernheimer, known by the online pseudonym ‘weev’, said: “What’s the location of the fat skank’s funeral … get on it, e-sleuths. I’d do it myself but slammed with current logistical issues. I want to get people on the ground there.”

And my president can’t denounce these losers? I have never known this level of disgust.

The ACA vs ACHA

Health insurers have taken advantage of the populace and raised their rates as soon as the ACA passed. That’s the biggest problem with healthcare in the US: insurance companies. Greedy insurance companies. Worried only about the bottom line and how much their investors will profit. Denying people medical care that would save them, things like heart and liver transplants, experimental treatments, and the elderly in understaffed, underfunded nursing homes. Sending home the 70 year old woman who just had a massive stroke. She gets 6 weeks of rehab same as everyone else. It’s unfortunate that she hasn’t improved. She’s had her six weeks. She’s out. Same for the mentally ill or addicts. The insurance company decides whether or not you are well enough to be discharged, regardless of your doctors’ recommendations. Who gave insurers this kind of power?

The GOP and insurers do not care a whit for the people they supposedly work for. Our millionaire senators don’t care if I receive life-saving treatment or not. If it costs too much for the insurance company, I won’t get it, unless I can pay for it myself. According to the GOP that is how America works; you have a choice to pay for your treatment without the benefit of insurance funds. If you decide you cannot afford the treatment, it is your right not to take the treatment. It is your right to decide if the premium too expensive. I’ve read that reps of the GOP have actually said it will be your choice to pay for health insurance or rent, car insurance, credit card bills, food. A choice. Yeah, a choice between the frying pan and the fire.

Our elected officials have the best care, with no cost to themselves. What do they care about the rest of the US. They have insurance and it’s paid for by our government! Yet they do not want the blind lady to get her Medicaid.

Let the people become millionaires and the problem will disappear. Oh, people need a hand up to become millionaires? You mean they are not smart enough? Because, you see, they live in a poor area, where the schools have no books, no wipe boards, no art, no sports, no music. When the student test scores were poor, government funds have been withheld. Does that make complete non-sense? Instead of supplying the most underperforming schools with more funds, they received less. A punishment for the students’ poor test scores. Those scores have nothing to do with the lack of educational material. Or so it would seem.

They should go to college, says the GOP. Like they did. On their daddy’s dime. People born into money (even middle class money) have no idea what it is like to live in the Projects. Because of no funding most students do not have enough of a basic education to even attempt college. If they somehow managed to graduate high school, college just costs too much. They then have a choice, go deep into debt, paying usury interest rates, for the education they know will help them move up in the world. With a business degree in hand they go looking for that job, that career that will line their pockets with gold. What’s that? There are no jobs in the area where they can use that degree. So they take a job at movie theaters, coffee houses, and fast food places.

Yet, our government representatives somehow deserve special treatment. Like they are better than the rest of us. They do only one thing, but they do it brilliantly: helping the poor stay poor and the sick get sicker. That is how it works. Pay someone a low wage, he lives in a bad neighborhood, crowded and dirty. People are prone to be sick. He has many doctor visits, lots of expensive medicine, he can’t afford, so he stays sick. The employee misses many days due to illness and gets fired. He collects unemployment, applies for food stamps and Welfare, while he searches for another job.  Now he is on the government’s dime. Completely. If he had only lived in a clean neighborhood he’d still be working, probably even get a raise. He might even make enough repairs to his old house. You see how it works?

As long as the senator is completely, 100% covered for the $7,000 worth of dental work he needs, getting the right amount of tail on the side, winning over a plump lobbyist. Meanwhile, poor students must learn to live in bad neighborhoods. Sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a 350 square foot studio that had been so dirty for so long there was no getting it clean again. A place destined for Repurposing and Beautification, as the entire neighborhood undergoes massive evictions, and trendy shops and restaurants replace your cheap, dingy, little apartment close to work. And don’t forget the bad teeth, caused by poor nutrition and lack of affordable dental care.

The way I see it, the only way to fix the ACA and get the GOP working on something else, is give every American the same insurance as the senators. Better yet, give the senators the same insurance they want every American to accept.