Saturday, December 24, 2016

Membership Has Its Privileges

Racism isn’t just politically incorrect, it’s wrong. And sadly, this still has to be said as 2016 comes to an end.

I’m not an expert on racism, but sooner or later we all end up in conversations about it, and like it or not, we end up speaking our mind. I’ve done so before on this blog and after watching a disturbing video recently, perhaps this is a good time to say something about it again—in particular, “reverse racism” since it is gaining traction in light of our new President and his followers.

Over the years, I’ve heard my share of White folk now and then talk about “reverse racism”—stating events where they or someone they know (also White) have experienced it. It kind of makes sense if you don’t think too hard about what they are saying, but I’ve never bought into this fabricated concept, and here’s why.

Racism is something that is dealt out by a majority. Now, if you are White and living in a neighborhood where a minority of our country’s citizens are the majority, you might experience racism at the local level, but you won’t have much to worry about beyond that neighborhood. However, if you’re a minority of our country, you probably have plenty of stories in your life where you have experienced the ugliness of racism no matter where you live.

Many see minority and majority in terms of numbers only. But, those who possess the greatest power easily become the majority as well—see Apartheid South Africa circa 1960s. Here in the United States, Whites make up over 60% of the population and the closest contestant to that are Latinos at a paltry 16%, with Blacks coming in at 12.2%. Given this math and the excessive distribution of power doled out to Whites in government and business, it’s safe to say that Caucasians are indisputably safe as our country’s majority.

It’s also important to keep in mind that racism is based on two important concepts that minorities don’t have much of, and therefore can not exercise: power and privilege. Look no further than the disproportionate arrest and sentencing for people of color vs. Whites when it comes to… say, drug crimes. Further, Whites are certainly less likely to experience racial profiling and when arrested, will almost certainly have superior legal representation compared to those of color. Finally, the odds favor Whites when it comes to talking themselves out of an arrest—especially if it is a White police officer.

The bottom line is this: you can’t make a legitimate claim as a victim of racism providing you’re a member of the majority. 

And while you’re at it, don’t get confused when it comes to angry words, protests or fights for equality as some form of racism. This is simply (and understandably) an unpleasant response from centuries of White privilege and power. Civility is nice if you can get it, but not everyone who has experienced racism is going to be nice about it when it comes up in discussion. Being a pollyanna about such discussions will only confirm how comfortable you truly are in your White privilege—which probably means you are a racist.

Lastly, I read this not long ago:

Making a racist statement is a manifestation of racist culture; being “mean” isn’t. For Whites, it can be difficult to be confronted with the reality of racism, and with comments from people of color about how privilege and power operate. It’s tempting to take such comments personally and to insist that people of color are being “mean,” which is often a hop, skip, and a jump away from an accusation of reverse racism. —S.E. Smith

I’m unsure if there will ever be a time in the future when being a member of the majority won’t be a privilege. However, as long as that’s the case, along with your privilege you should include several good measures of accountability, compassion and an ability to absorb criticism or insults that may not be as personal as you think. It’s a puny price to pay.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Critics Unite!

It’s a fine line between being a critic or being a complainer. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who isn’t too afraid to speak out and offer up a critique on any given issue that I encounter. As a result, and over the years, I know many in my community and workplace see me as a complainer.

For the record, here’s some definitions that I scrounged up on these two terms:

Critic: a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something, the practice of judging the merits and faults of something.

Complainer: one who states a grievance, an expression of displeasure.

I’ve certainly  “shot my wad” as the expression goes. Translation: I’ve spoken up enough times—especially in those instances when no one else did—that anything I say from here on is for the most part greeted as, “Oh, that’s just Morgan complaining again. He’s always complaining about something.”

In contemplating these two terms, I’ve stumbled onto many famous quotes that defend and attack the critic/complainer. 

In the corner attacking criticism/complaining, there are the following:

“Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.” —Emmet Fox

“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.” —unknown

If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant.” —Chris Brogan (Akin to “If you don’t like it, leave.”)

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” –Benjamin Franklin

“Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.” —Joyce Meyer

And in the corner defending the critic/complainer, we have these:

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” —Frank A. Clark

“I like criticism. It makes you strong.” —LeBron James

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” —Winston Churchill

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president... is morally treasonable to the American public.” —Theodore Roosevelt

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” —Norman Vincent Peale

“I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.” —Johannes Kepler

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I relate more to those quotes that defend the critic while those who attack it strike me as thin-skinned do-gooders who are actually up to no-good.

In the last four years or so, I’ve been relatively quiet in my critiques, which can be verified by looking at the frequency of posts to this blog. Some friends have even noted it as well saying things like, “You’ve been pretty quiet lately—what’s going on?”

I must confess that the election of Donald Trump and everything that he brings (and doesn’t bring) to the Presidency has awakened me. Yep, critical posts to Facebook and my little circle of like-minded friends (mostly) isn’t good enough any longer. So, here I am.

Further, rather than critiquing something about the President-elect here or some other important issue in our world or nation, I’d like to offer up this critique to those who are a little closer to me—those who have patted me on the back at some point in the past and told me quietly, “I’m so glad you said that, I feel the same way.”

Well, the time has come and Morgan has used up a good chunk of his “cred”  in all of his critiques. Which means it’s time for you to speak up and say those things that you have been content with only hearing from those like me. Yep, imagine… just imagine if you are the one who speaks up before me, or along with me, instead of sitting on your hands. Imagine yourself and a few others speaking up instead of being silent. Suddenly, it’s not, “That’s just ‘Tirade Tyree’ spouting off again,” but now there are several who feel this way and maybe, just maybe others will consider the critique and take it seriously and perhaps even get behind it as well. And the next thing you know, change is unfolding before us all.

So, quit patronizing me or others when no one else is around. Get off your ass and speak up for those things you believe in and call out wrong when it is sitting right in front of you. Quit caring about how you come out in the local or national popularity contest and make a stand.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Abusing a New President

America Becomes Great Again
Those who proclaim “Not My President” in light of the recent Presidential election outcomes, are catching quite a bit of shit these days—and most of it coming from those who supported the winner, Donald Trump.

I’m not sure when, where, or who came up with this popular phrase, but it certainly wasn’t conceived as the election results poured in on the night of November 8, 2016.

I remember after the election of 2008 seeing newly minted bumper stickers with this phrase in my community. Now, it would be easy for me to stop here and lay the blame on the Republican, conservative-minded folk for coming up with this brand. Further, it really felt racist given how we had just elected the first Black President (even if half Black). But, I live in a heavily Republican state—so heavy that it would surely vote for a turd excreted from a Republican over a highly-qualified Democrat—and in hindsight, I suspect it was only new to me back then. Surely this same slogan was being tossed around in Democratic strongholds following the election of George W. Bush.

So, as to the origins of this phrase, it probably isn’t as new as many of us think. And like all things that become popular, wherever it truly originated, it probably didn’t get much fanfare when it was first blurted out, but over the years—with the election of each new President—it has gained some traction.

Akin to these slogans, Presidential “nicknames” have become quite popular as well. Ones that come to mind are “Slick Willie” for Clinton, “Dubya” for George W. Bush, “Obummer” for Obama, and surely something is brewing in the wings for Donald Trump—“The Donald,” “Pussy-Grabber,” and “The Dump” are surely strong contenders as I write this.

I know these phrases and nicknames are somewhat new relative to our country’s existence. There was a time when almost all people respected the President and considered him (but sadly “never her” ) their President. But those days are gone. Are we less respectful today than say, the 1840s? Perhaps. But, I would simply lay the blame on our greater connectedness and that more people have a voice today thanks to the vast and economical communication networks that are in place. Like Gutenberg’s metal moveable type invention that lead to greater literacy for the masses, the same has taken place providing a greater voice for the individual.

As far as a unified respect for the President… we may never see that again.