“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White ...
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Black Girl in Maine - 5 new articles



To support MLK’s legacy, you must open your eyes and disrupt the status quo

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’

“Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

– Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 


Five years before I was born in 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. His birthday was turned into a federal holiday in 1986, when I was 13 years old. While Dr. King’s actual birthday was Jan. 15, the legal holiday is observed on the third Monday of January.

As I write this, the nation is in the midst of its annual observation of Dr. King’s birthday. But sadly, as the years go by, King’s legacy in certain circles has been reduced to that of a sweet and demure Black man from long ago, with a dream that children of different races could play together. 

The fact is that the real Dr. King was not liked much at all at the time of his assassination. More than 60% of Americans at that time disapproved of King and his tactics. Which is beyond ironic—many times that Dr. King’s name has been evoked in recent years during massive Black Lives Matters protests, it is by white people saying the protesters should be more like King was. 

Actually, the protestors in recent years are following in the direct lineage of King and of radical politics and protesting. Whatever his code of non-violence personally, King was very much into disrupting things—and that is what the vast majority of BLM and other protesters recently have been doing.

As we honor Dr. King’s work and legacy, attention must be brought to the words of his daughter, Bernice King, who on Dec. 18, 2021, stated, “if voting rights is still hanging in the balance” by MLK day, she is calling for supporters to “speak and act in a way to ensure that this nation lives up to its promise of democracy, by putting pressure on our United States Senate to bypass the filibuster and instead of taking the King Holiday off, they should make it a ‘day on’ to pass the voting rights acts.”

Voting rights are hanging in the balance and the fact is that Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country have made it exponentially much harder to vote for people in marginalized communities. 

While many were celebrating the short term “victories” and what appeared to be a partial return to “normal” in 2021, the GOP and their strange assortment of bedfellows were hard at work ensuring that the wins that we saw in places like Georgia in 2020 would not happen again. 

The short attention of white moderates and progressives, many of whom took to the streets for racial justice—along with an overreliance on Black women in particular to do the heavy lifting—created a perfect storm for voting rights to be diminished. 

While a dagger may in fact have been placed at the throat of democracy on Jan. 6, 2021, by the former president and his followers, the fact is that white moderates and progressives aided and abetted the erosion of our democracy and the civil and voting rights therein—in large part with their childlike and naive insistence on the goodness of the system and that the process will work in the end. Also, their unwillingness to see that an empire such as the United States is just as capable of failing as any other country. 

The past several years have revealed that America is not as strong as she once thought herself. Between the Trump years and the ongoing horrors of the pandemic, we are treading lightly on fragile terrain. Our collective survival will go beyond white, Black and other people of color. In fact, our survival will involve facing a reality that many white moderates cannot even imagine—but for marginalized people, we see the handwriting on the wall and have for a long time.

If you truly wish to honor the real Dr. King and do his legacy justice, please face reality. Search yourself and make a commitment to not be the white moderate who is more concerned with order and decorum than with justice.

As the Jan. 6 insurrection showed us, our enemies are prepared to do anything to subvert justice and equality. Dr. King was a deep thinker and radical organizer who sought both racial and economic justice and who realized that our plights and lives were deeply intertwined.

We honor that man by saying “No” to the whitewashed fairy-tale version of America and civil right and Dr. King himself and instead striving to be like the radical organizer who paid the ultimate price in his fight for justice. 


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Calling All White People, Part 58: The kids might not be as all right as we think

TODAY’S EPISODE: Looking to Gen Z to end racism? Maybe get your glasses checked

There have been so many times that I’ve seen people post something online about social awareness or activism among younger people and talk about how they will usher in the end to bigotry and hate.

But I’m not sure we should be so quick to assume that the older racist people retiring or dying off means that racism is going to slow down much. Because those older racist people keep handing down racist beliefs to their kids and grandkids, and they keep feeding racism to younger people in general in tough times and during impressionable periods to convince them not to change the status quo and perhaps to reverse it in time a bit.

Now, I’m not saying Millennials and Gen Z aren’t an improvement in oh so many ways on the Baby Boomers in particular but also in comparison to Gen X. They really are. In a number of social, environmental, and other areas, they look like they might break some bad habits of previous generations. Also might institute some bad habits and poor decisions of their own, but that’s life.

But for the purposes of the subject matter you usually see here at BGIM Media, I will confidently say this: There seems little sign of Millennials denting racism so far, and I think there is little chance that Gen Z will put much of a dent in racism—assuming they manage to dent it at all.

And sure, Millennials and member of Gen Z have more friends of color than my Gen X cohorts and I did—and again, certainly more than the Boomers or even older generations than them. But that doesn’t always mean racial awareness and a true desire to usher in an anti-racist society. If you are a white person who is Millennial or Gen Z, chances are you still don’t really see how deeply embedded white supremacy and white privilege are in your day to day lives.

You know one of the things that I see on newer social media like TikTok? Interracial millennial couples trotting out their biracial kids like accomplishment trophies or making some of the most banal observations about how their relationships are changing things. Unions between people of different races—and those between Black people and white people are no exception—are nothing new.  And sexing up a Black person or making biracial babies doesn’t inherently mean you aren’t racist any more than a toxic guy loving women means he can’t also be misogynist.

I don’t think that we’ve moved the needle nearly enough on unconscious biases or on racial naiveté that we’re going to see a seismic shift even with Gen Z

People who think I’m being too glum might look at the way Millennials handled LGBTQ+ issues better than generations before them and how Gen Z seems to be even more accepting of the wide range of gender, sexual, and other identity choices.

And I will grant you that one. Sensitivity to pronoun choices and openness to accepting and exploring more fluid identity constructs seems much stronger in Gen Z than I’ve ever seen before among any group of people. But that doesn’t mean crap for racism.

I will repeat: LGBTQ+ support and similar areas of embracing identity and sexuality does not have any impact on lowering racism.

Why? Because as much as the struggles and pains of bigotry toward LGBTQ+ people and bigotry toward people based on race might sometimes look similar and even be similar, they are far from the same. I could break down all the ways in which they can typically differ in practice and how they’ve different in terms of historical treatment, but I don’t need to.

I just need to point out that there are white LGBTQ+ people and non-white LGBTQ+ people. And white people still overwhelmingly will split the two into different groupings. In fact, when they categorize an LGBTQ+ as non-white (especially Black or Indigenous), that sexual and/or gender identity may become irrelevant. In fact, it might not even get respected anymore as valid for that non-white person.

I suspect a white Gen Z youth will show more support for fellow white Gen Z LGBTQ+ youth because they connect in terms of whiteness. They see each other’s humanity and difference, but only within the context of whiteness. Older white generations may be warming to embracing LGBTQ+ identifications and concerns, but that’s because they see their white kids and grandkids dealing with these issues.

As ever in the United States, race is often the defining factor of worth (we could talk about class, disability and others, too, but race is what we handle here mostly). With white supremacy in effect—and it is very much still in effect in the United States and so many other parts of the world—race still “matters.” Whether you get to be at the table or build your own table or even be allowed to be in the vicinity of a table depends on your race and in particular on the color of your skin. The darker you are, the less you are valued.

And while it’s hardly scientific, my Gen Z daughter points out plenty of racism among her peers.

And, as long as we’re mentioning the scientific, the research seems to be backing me up that we shouldn’t assume too much about racial change coming from Millennials or even Gen Z.

For example, despite positive racial attitudes, racial discrimination is prevalent among millennials; it may be that they are just as racist as their parents overall; and it’s quite likely they may be more racist than they think (intent vs. impact, y’know). Meanwhile, it seems that Gen Z isn’t nearly as anti-racist as so many of us like to think.

I do think that racist attitudes in terms of discrimination and abuse might see some decline as Millennials and Gen Z gain ever more sway. But the underlying privilege of being white is still a hell of a drug, and that is going to hold back a lot of the progress those two generations can make, especially as their non-white members realize that siding with whiteness may bring them more comfort and gain in harsh times than doing the right thing.

I do hope I’m simply being pessimistic. But a lot of people thought the flower children of the 1960s were going to change the world for the better. Instead a ton of them became the kind of Boomers (which is to say, most of the Boomers) that so many of us are complaining about for ruining everything. Millennials turned out to be a lot more susceptible than people thought to going conservative and buying into the GQP nonsense. Gen Z is still very impressionable.

Let’s do our best to help uplift these two younger influential generations to make positive change, but let’s not assume they are just gonna do it—whether right now or long-term. Let’s stop looking for a savior generation and all band together to get to work—to get our house in order on race and so much else.

[To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here]


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The post Calling All White People, Part 58: The kids might not be as all right as we think appeared first on Black Girl in Maine.

 

What the insurrection tells us about where we’re at

So, it’s been a little over a year since January 6th . Think pieces bloomed. TV specials aired. Harris and Biden gave speeches. I couldn’t care less. In this country, racists rioting to get their way ain’t nothing new and how this particular example is being handled just feels like a distraction. That may seem callous, but plenty of people agree with me, including the government. According to federal law:

“Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

Seems like pretty light punishment for trying to destroy an entire country, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it gets lighter. Did you know that most of the people at the insurrection haven’t been arrested? Did you know that out of those who have been arrested, most of them haven’t been convicted? Did you know that most of those convicted weren’t sentenced to even a single day in jail?

Does the coming fascist turn of this country frighten you? What exactly scares you about fascism? Is it the potential disregard of your vote or some other dissolving of your rights? Restricted access to resources? Something more pointed like false imprisonment or another form of state-sanctioned violence? I hate to tell you this, but you already live in that country—it’s just a little less obvious if you’re white.

It’s cliché to even mention it at this point, but we all know how last January 6th would’ve panned out had the insurrectionists been Black. We know this because all too often the penalty for simply being Black in any given situation is immediate state-sanctioned execution. Living in this country, knowing that and seeing even top democratic leaders’ complete inability to take any of this seriously, it is very difficult for me to see this as anything other than a distraction.

A distraction from what? Well, downplaying the Omicron variant just before the holidays seems like an obviously reckless thing to do, especially when the variant is certainly not as mild as the Biden administration has been implying. Then there’s the CDC changing its 10-day isolation requirement to five days without a test. Flying in the face of the medical science they’ve been telling us to trust, their admittedly economic reasons have caused a reaction that could very well be a terminal blow to the CDC’s rapidly declining reputation.   

It seems more and more of us see both the Democratic and Republican Parties functioning to serve the wealthy elite by maintaining an order for the rest of us to primarily provide for them. Yes, there are differences. Yes, our Republican 45th president objectively personifies professional, personal and spiritual failure more directly and thoroughly than any other person on record to have ever lived. And yes, his handling of COVID-19 was uniquely a cataclysm. And yet despite access to tests, vaccines and the clearest possible roadmap of what not to do, our Democratic 46th president is somehow handling the pandemic worse. Of course, we’re meant to believe that new variants predicted by all experts from the very beginning were somehow completely unforeseen. It seems almost patriotic to pretend that 2020’s anti-maskers becoming 2021’s anti-vaxxers was in any way surprising. We’re told to focus on the psychological effects closed schools have on children. At the same time, we’re never to consider the psychological effects of bringing home COVID to a vulnerable parent and joining the estimated 167,000 other disproportionately Black and brown American children orphaned by COVID.

Cases and deaths are surging yet again while shutdowns and stimulus are nowhere in sight. We all know that our 45th and 46th presidents and those in their class do not face unemployment, financial ruin or eviction. They will never face a lack of money, food or a single other resource. There are no circumstances that will force the children in their families into a COVID infected school. In the event that they face this illness, the rare medical treatments available to them are unimaginably beyond anything the average American could afford.

The immeasurable and ever-widening gulf between classes in this country is swallowing us faster than we can notice—but hey, maybe seeing some speeches and slapping a few insurrectionists on the wrists will take our minds off the fall.


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Thank you for being a reader! Looking back on 2021

It’s been a year! As I sit down to pen this, the news just broke of Betty White’s passing, days before her 100th birthday. In a world defined by our divisions, the collective love—and now collective grief—at the passing of a true icon oddly gives me hope. Perhaps all is not truly lost. 

Betty, thank you for being a friend! A friend that spans the generations. 

We entered 2021 hopeful that the pandemic of 2020 would quickly pass, once we were all able to get vaccinated. For a brief time, there was hope that, indeed, we might return to that place called “normal.” However, the arrival of the Delta variant and the rise of the permanently ignorant dashed our hopes and now we wrap up 2021 with the most contagious variant yet, Omicron. 

The United States is once again showing our greatness by posting record-shattering numbers of COVID cases at a time when testing is harder to come by than my 20s abdomen. 

Joe Biden, who won the 2020 presidential election and who earlier this year we thought might be our way out of this pandemic, has simply washed his hands of this mess; at the same time the CDC is giving out advice so questionable that any reasonably intelligent human knows to disregard them going forward or at least take what they say with the biggest grain of salt. Since, no doubt, this latest surge might be in part due to the CDC telling the American people it was safe to gather over the Christmas holiday, assuming all parties were vaccinated, boosted, and tested prior to gathering. 

The great American racial awakening of 2020 gave way to the average white person in 2021 deciding to move on, thus opening the door to a more vicious and virulent racist who is committed to keeping the next generation of white youth racially and historically ignorant. In fact, these rabid racists are so illiterate that they believe critical race theory is a tool to indoctrinate white youth, instead of a legal framework for seeing the intersection of race. 

Climate change is moving at warp speed and this planet is probably doomed but hey it’s a balmy 35 degrees on December 31 off the coast of Maine, so who cares? People hate being cold and they hate snow.

Lastly, if the world wasn’t just a dumpster fire of epic proportions already, the media landscape has shifted so much that soon, the anesthetization of America will be complete. As long as your immediate day is not impacted and the Zuckerberg machine keeps you feeling good, you can just stay in your bubble and ignore the world. Not a great strategy for our collective survival or liberation, but it has its place I guess. 

All that said, in this changing media landscape where the voices of the disaffected and marginalized are becoming harder to find as our platforms are fading away—either swallowed up by corporations who eventually whitewash us, or the reality that high readerships don’t necessarily mean financial support to pay for operations—I am thrilled to still be here as we enter 2022. Thank you for being here!

In a few days, this site turns 14(!). In internet media years, we are old timers. This site was born  in the era of the mommy blogger, the majority of whom have long given up blogging and front-facing media work.

In the early days of this site, I made the decision to stay independent, which has meant never accepting ads or being a part of any network. Instead, when I did decide to monetize, our strategy has always been: If readers enjoy what they read, we ask that you support the work at a level that is meaningful to you. Honestly, it is scary, especially during the pandemic, as many readers have had to pull back support.

2021 has been a lean year—lean enough that every month, I hold my breath, hoping to not have to dip into my personal reserves to keep us afloat. Some months are better than others but in recent weeks, I’ve seen that several platforms with readership far larger than BGIM have had to cease operations due to a lack of financial support. These are sobering times all around and at the same time, there has never been a greater need for a diversity of voices on race and politics.

So as we enter and settle into this new year, I thank you. Thank you for being a reader, and if applicable, being a supporter. If the spirit moves, we would love your support or even increased support in 2022. However more importantly, thank you for your commitment to a racially just and equitable world. Stay safe in 2022!


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

The post Thank you for being a reader! Looking back on 2021 appeared first on Black Girl in Maine.

 

A double-dose of empathy?

I used to get road rage. Like, real road rage. It was bad. I mean, I’ve never gotten into a physical altercation with another motorist, but I’d be lying if I told you there weren’t several occasions on which I’d gotten out of my car. Not my proudest moments, hypothetically. COVID means I haven’t been on tour and since I’m not in my car all the time, you’d think my road rage would calm down a bit. The opposite is true. It turns out, being on the road all the time actually gave me a callus for bad drivers. Not being on the road rid me of this callus and on the rare occasions I found myself driving, my road rage was worse than ever.

The cause of my road rage is always the recklessness of other drivers. Always. It angers me to no end how thoughtless, selfish and even malicious some can be when others’ lives are at stake. But, you know, a Black man getting out of his car yelling in traffic is tempting fate, so I needed to make a change.

So, I did.

I figured if my problem was others’ lack of empathy, then I’d just double up on my own. I decided to grant everyone an assumption of emergency. That guy who stepped out in front of me at a green light? Well, he probably just received the worst news of his life. That guy who cut me off? He’s probably rushing to give a family member a ride to the hospital because they can’t afford an ambulance. The guy riding my tail? Same guy, with the family member in tow.

You know what? It worked. I’m not going to tell you it wasn’t a struggle, and it definitely took a minute, but it absolutely worked. Last night a BMW flew up behind me on a windy country road. He was less than a foot away from me with LED headlights so bright I’m sure the driver could see my skeleton. I thought to myself, this guy’s probably got a cooler with a beating heart inside trying to get to the hospital! I just pulled over, the guy rocketed past me and my heart rate didn’t raise a single BPM.

This country often thinks of its own problems around race similarly—single, problematic individuals who we need to empathize with. They just don’t know any better, right? If you’ve ever read this blog before, you know that’s wrong. Personally, as far as arguments with racist individuals go, I don’t have them. I don’t engage at all. If I’m going to argue with someone, they need to have a certain level of education on the subject. Education primarily comes from experience and/or study and anyone who’s ever tried to argue with me about race has never had either.

Also, when it comes to single individuals, the problems with race in America are perpetuated much more often by the less obviously racist.

The core problem, of course, is not the individual, but the systems that are designed to empower racists and their ideas throughout the country. For example, last week a Louisiana judge got caught on tape laughing and yelling the n-word. The systemic problems caused by a racist judge can be obvious, and so the solution can seem obvious: fire the judge. The deeper problem is that she comes from a community that allowed these ideas to flourish or flat out encouraged them. The same can be said of the educational institutions that accredited her and the legal institutions that enabled and rewarded her.

The problems with COVID-19 are frustratingly similar. Even though this is a systemic problem, we are led to blame the individual. The numbers go up and we’re told it is the fault of the unvaccinated. Well, we all started as unvaccinated and since then the majority of us have either been vaccinated or died. There are fewer and fewer unvaccinated people every day, as has been the pattern since the vaccines were made available. Clearly the recent enormous rise in COVID cases and deaths cannot be caused by the ever-shrinking number of the unvaccinated.

On November 26, 111 people went to a party in Oslo, Norway. Even though all were fully vaccinated and all tested negative before entering, the party ended with 80 of the attendees infected with COVID-19. Vaccines are not enough, tests are not enough, and blaming the unvaccinated is not enough.

Yes, assholes exist. As far as I can tell they always have and always will. We can bet our lives hoping that every single one of them will suddenly and permanently mend their ways—which absolutely will not happen—or we can find empathy within ourselves and demand systemic change. Despite test or vaccination status, you can still become infected and still put others at risk. Don’t do that. Don’t go to parties. Don’t go to restaurants. Don’t travel. Stay home. And while you’re at home push for mask mandates in your community. Contact your representatives and demand stimulus checks and shutdowns.

We know what to do. We’ve just got to do it.


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.

The post A double-dose of empathy? appeared first on Black Girl in Maine.