Friday, March 25, 2016

Discombobulate...

is defined here as an "Americanism" that originated sometime in the early 1800s. It is a word described as a; "fanciful alteration of discompose or discomfort."

Note...I'm writing this entry mainly directed at readers who are raced as white. I've become painfully aware that most of us white people are woefully in need of consciousness raising when it comes to racial matters. White people who haven't spent quite a bit of time and study are only superficially acquainted with race. Hence, this post might seem pretty elementary and obvious to anyone who has a fair degree of racial literacy...which...because of lived experience would probably include most people of color. Also, I'm white and grappling with all this so my degree of comprehension about race and racial matters is limited and flawed.

For those who seek to make sense of our world and society through vegan comprehendings...you may have ongoing instances of being discombobulated as you encounter the routinized "normal" destructive absurdities served up to you by we humans and our treatment of our sister/brother Earthlings. Situations where someone tells you they "love" animals while they are eating a hamburger made from the flesh of a dead cow. And...these absurd juxtapositions of contradictory behaviors and/or thinkings are accepted as both "normal"...as "common sense".

It 'discombobulates' me to consider just how much horrible suffering and harm we routinely can engage in, be complicit in, unknowingly support with our consumption habits, with our everyday patterns of living and at the same time firmly believe we are "good" people doing little or no harm. Even when we know everything we need to know to comprehend what we're really doing. It's way too easy and convenient to be unknowing and oblivious.



The ease and the automaticity of complicity scares me. I spent many years as a non-vegan and believing all the while that I was behaving kindly and even compassionately toward beings not identified as human. When I first began to comprehend these contradictions I was (and still am to some degree) having experiences like those depicted in the image above.

That vegan discombobulation began some years ago, I've lived with it for some time now so it's not new...it's not any less unsettling...but it is familiar.

Here's the thing though...if I can be lulled into thinking I'm a "good" person in terms of my behavior toward animals...while actually engaging in harmful practices and upholding a system that exploits them...if I can be oblivious there...then I have to wonder whether there are other aspects of how I live and think and comprehend that promotes and upholds harm to other victims. I have to wonder about that, don't I? What if I'm being an "accidental a**hole" elsewhere?

Fast forward to now...once again...a feeling of disorientation is scrambling my being. This time it isn't associated with human dealings with Earthlings who aren't identified as human...it's associated with that strange and bizarre stuff called race (which isn't unconnected to how we think about and behave toward animals). And...race, racism, racial literacy...these things are quite complex and difficult to comprehend. Partially because our system of socialization culture devotes much energy and ingenuity to keeping this stuff hidden or invisible.

One of the difficulties (among many) with getting some measure of comprehension has to do with the fact that the white dominated cultural conditioning that we're all influenced by encourages us to believe that race isn't a problem. Or...if it is a problem it's just because of a few "bad" white people...you know...those goobers who might wear sheets and pointy hats. All you have to have is "good" intentions and you're good to go if you're white. Right? Nope...sorry...it's much much trickier than that.

An example, I recently visited a website wherein a young person (African-American) had written something to the effect that the current racist and anti-immigration stances being openly promoted by presidential candidates weren't something new in these United States but were rather exemplifications of what has been a core organizing principle for this nation from its beginning.

One response to this, by a man raced as white, was something to the effect that the person writing this piece obviously had a fundamental misunderstanding of racism and that the problem had to do with economic class. I read that response...and then read it again...and my head started to feel as if it might disintegrate or something. I had to go away from the computer and later come back to see if maybe I had hallucinated the response. I hadn't.


The way this young woman above looks approximates how I felt when I read that response. Hell, I still feel that way. I'm off balance and can't seem to find any place to stand mentally that doesn't feel distorted or unsteady. This happened several weeks ago and I'm still struggling with it.

Part of what contributed to my befuddlement is that I was reading a book by the historian David Roediger titled Black on White. The book is a compilation of writings by black authors on the nature and manifestations of white consciousness and white behaviors about race. Some of these authors are still alive and working, others are from earlier periods dating as far back as 1830.

One of the repeated themes that occurs is that white people often like to "explain" race and racism to black people. As if black people...who are the targets of racism and racist actions perpetrated by white people just don't "understand" the nature of racism or what race is or what are racist behaviors.

This is very much similar (not identical, I know, but similar) to a man explaining to a woman that she doesn't know what sexism is nor does she understand what is meant by the concept or nature of sexist behaviors. Can the perpetrator of harm (or a member of the perpetrating group) explain the "fundamental nature" of that harm to the victim? Even the idea of such a thing points to a bizarre disconnect from reality. 

I have no idea of how to express...in words...my experience of astonishment and discombobulation. I don't. I'm flailing around here but I'm in no way able to express this in words that even approach how unsettling this was...and is.

Chris Rock is quoted in this piece of writing as saying that white people are maybe a little less "crazy" now than before. By his use of that ableist term "crazy", I think he is meaning that white people are absent strong contact with actual lived experience or are lacking adequate comprehension of reality...and maybe now they're a little less disconnected. I suspect that, in many ways, we white people are still just as disconnected and clueless...but we're not as overt and obvious about it. The social messaging that maintains our disconnectedness has morphed and evolved to fit current society.

I fumbled around for a few days after seeing the comment about "misunderstanding" racism and then I couldn't help myself...i replied by saying something to the effect that maybe his perspective as a white man sort of disqualified or precluded or at the very least made it problematic for him to make an assertion that the author "misunderstood" racism...given that the author would have had a lived experience of being targeted by racism and he, the commenter, since he was a white man, would not have had such an experience...indeed...he would have been the recipient of privileges because of his race. 

Predictably (duh)...he was offended and incensed and allowed as to how his "personhood" had nothing to do with it (see the paragraph about a man explaining sexism to a woman) and that I was just being condescending and immature and I should shut up. I generally avoid further engagement with people who opt for anger and belligerence when they're challenged. I haven't had much luck with such undertakings so I took his advice and didn't respond.

During this time I also saw something written on the Addicting Info website that noted that the creator of the Dilbert cartoon strip (a white man) had written something to the effect that it was wrong (and racist, for god's sake) to compare Trump to Hitler. And he said...that Hitler wasn't such a bad guy and that Hitler could accurately be compared to Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. Holy smoke!

It is painful and disturbing (and depressing) to acknowledge that many/most or maybe all of us who are raced as white (and we are all exposed to these teachings of ignorance since they permeate our media and public discourse and education) are lacking some fundamental grounding in reality. As a result of this, when we do attempt to write or talk about race or racial issues we sound buffoonish or we're unintentionally offensive or we otherwise generally make fools of ourselves. (and who knows how else these distortions preclude our being able to think and feel and comprehend accurately and fully...about various aspects of ourselves and others and mother Earth...about everything really)

We've been socialized to be racially illiterate and and that learning is deeply embedded in most white folks. But...remarkably...in the depths of that illiteracy we all seem to have developed strong opinions about race. That's a potent (and dangerous) combination...being ignorant but having strong opinions about those areas of ignorance. 

I referenced a conceptualization by Charles Mills in another post that he termed the "epistemology of ignorance". In that he notes that this sort of operation of comprehension (or absence of comprehension) includes "patterns of localized and global patterns of cognitive dysfunctions" regarding race.

The statement by the commenter I noted above and the notions expressed by the creator of the Dilbert comic strip very well exemplify "cognitive dysfunction" from what I can comprehend. Differing forms of it maybe...I think the Dilbert creator's statements are more easily seen as absurd by most humans...but the notion that a white man is going to "explain" racism to a black person who has a lived life experience of being targeted by racism is also devoid of reality or accurate meaning.

This all scares the hell out of me and is troubling, for many reasons, but one of the primary ones is that I'm just as susceptible to such deranged stuff and as influenced by it as any other white person when it comes to race. (and who knows what else?)

One thing I know is true right now...2 or 3 years ago I might have seen the comment explaining racism to an African-American person by a white man and not been struck by the distorted quality of it (I'm not sure what i would have thought then...I don't think it would have struck me as absurd though)...now it stuns me with its arrogance and patent ridiculousness.

I think that's an improvement...I hope that suggests that I'm successfully interrupting some of my cognitive dysfunctions. But...it also leaves me terribly sad and upset...not only at my own distortings and failings of comprehension...but also at what passes for "normal" in terms of most white people's 'thinking' about race.

I've reached a place where I realize that most humans hold contradictory beliefs and comprehensions toward animals. Not many of us have taken the unsettling step of realizing how horribly we behave toward them. That realization makes me a little uneasy about humans...especially in anything having to do with animals.

Now...I find I'm moving into a place where I glimpse that most (me included) white people are seriously and deeply confused and ignorant about race and racism...while concurrently thinking that we aren't. White people are starting to make me nervous (and yes, I make myself nervous sometimes). I've begun to notice that I feel more comfortable around groups that don't have many white people in them.

All living white people in the U.S. were stuck into a system that teaches (and it often will punish us for not "learning" this obliviousness) us to be racially illiterate. We had no choice about that. But...we have a choice about whether we remain ignorant and unknowing. We have a choice about whether we continue to live and behave as "accidental a**holes".  I'm not going to kid you though...grappling with this stuff is hard...really hard. It is probably the most difficult thing I've ever struggled with. And it just goes on and on. But...there are benefits, not the least of which is that you'll be working toward decreasing your participation in a culturally sanctioned and maintained horror story. And that's a good thing, a desirable thing.


Chris Rock may think white people are a little less deranged than previously...I hope so. As my perspective shifts...I'm just beginning to glimpse just how profoundly deranged we white people have been and are...and it is...well...discombobulating.

Note: any omissions or errors or "accidental a**holiness" in this post is a function of my own lack of comprehension and/or my inadequate ability to clearly express myself. I apologize for them and ask anyone noting such stuff to please let me know and I will endeavor both to listen and and to understand and to modify/correct this post, if needed. Thank you. 

   
 

Friday, March 18, 2016

"Reverse" racism?

Just a little tip for my readers who are racialized as being 'white'. Or...anyone who wants to divest themselves of a fantasy that's often presented as if it were reality. That fantasy is called "reverse" racism.



See...racism cannot be enacted by a group that isn't dominant in the society where they live. Folks who are positioned in subordinated groups can be prejudiced, they can not like people in other groups, they can avoid people in other groups, they can be angry toward individuals not in their group...but...they cannot enact racism toward others because they don't have access to the social power that goes along with being a member of a dominant group.

"Ism" refers to an ideology and ideologies are systems implemented by groups and/or institutions...not individuals.

There's no such thing as "reverse" racism anymore than there's such a thing as "reverse" sexism or "reverse" ableism. The oppressive ideologies represented by the "isms" reference a dominant group targeting a subordinate group and hence...they can't be reversed unless you also reverse the dominant and subordinate groups.

While it might be an interesting sociological experiment if, for instance, every other month people of color controlled all the major institutions in the country or if every other month people not gendered as male controlled all the major institutions in the country...that doesn't happen. Actually, I sort of wish it did...it would make for a very stimulating and fascinating society.

Racism = race prejudice + social power. Sexism = gender prejudice + social power. Got it? You can be prejudiced without social power...but you can't "do" racism or sexism without social power.

Mr. Rahman explains very clearly what would have to occur for "reverse" racism to be possible.

Why write about this here? Well...you can go over to the excellent Aphro-ism blog and read this post that grapples with theorizing about structures of oppression. There Aph Ko writes that: "...animal liberation can't happen until we change the way we understand animal oppression."

I firmly believe that to be true.

And...to grapple with changing that understanding requires being able to somewhat clearly conceptualize and comprehend race and racism as it is enacted in this Eurocentric society. To grapple with understanding race and racism demands some degree of racial literacy...and...whoops...we (white people especially...but everyone is subjected to inaccurate and inadequate information) are socialized to be racially illiterate.

Dr. Breeze Harper very accurately writes: "We are all racialized subjects with racialized consciousnesses that have been born out of a white supremacist racial caste system;...". There's no escaping this...to believe you escape it means you believe you aren't influenced by the society/culture that you were born into and live in. And that's not possible.

We are carefully taught to think and behave in certain ways but we are also taught to be ignorant and illiterate in terms of being able to think about and talk about racial issues. That's why someone can utter the phrase "reverse racism" and believe they are saying something that makes sense. 

That ignorance or illiteracy is one of the principle ways in which the oppressive system known as racism maintains its power. If you can't somewhat accurately conceptualize it and coherently talk about it...it's unlikely that you're going to be able to effectively challenge it, or interrupt it or change it.

No one here in the U.S. had a choice about the teachings of racial illiteracy and ignorance they received from this culture. But...each of us does have a choice about whether we do the work necessary to attempt to overcome that systemic ignorance. We've all been given a mishmash of ignorance and distortions and outright lies about race and racism...and we were told that such was all we needed to understand what was going on around us. Nope...what we were given were tools designed to keep white supremacy and racial illiteracy in place.

So next time you encounter someone who uses the phrase "reverse racism" seriously...realize you're dealing with someone who is evincing racial illiteracy. Maybe you will want to share this video with them.

Here's another resource that provides some good information about "reverse racism". (Note: if you spot any errors or important omissions in this post, let me know please.)




Friday, March 11, 2016

On being creeped out.

I ran across a blog post over on Lee Hall's Vegan Place about Michael Pollan. It triggered a series of thinkings about something I noticed in me when I was a fairly young child. Sometimes I would encounter a human in person or be exposed to them via some electronic medium that let me see them moving and talking...motion pictures or video or live television and I would instantly be creeped out.

What I mean by 'creeped out' is that often I could feel the hair on the back of my neck start to rise and I would experience a strong sense of revulsion, sometimes tinged with fear. It would happen quickly and it would occur before I could assign much meaning to the content of what they might be saying.

Later in this post I'll share some photos of some of these folks who produce that reaction in me. All of these people are some sort of "celebrity" or politician or some sort of "newsmaker" so you might be familiar with one or more of them.

I won't share names or photos of anyone I've met personally  or who aren't "famous" but there have been a few of those too. I never knew quite how to make sense of my reaction until I was well into my late 20s and working at a mental health center where part of our professional tasks was to provide emergency mental health evaluations for the court system.

One day a young white man was brought in for an evaluation and my creep out detector activated as soon as I heard him utter a few sentences. I didn't conduct the evaluation but the clinic director did and later I spent some time talking with him about my reactions because this director was a well experienced psychotherapist who taught me a lot while I worked with him. I trusted him and wanted to know what he thought about my 'creep out' reaction. He said his evaluation of the fellow in question was that he was someone who exhibited psychopathic/sociopathic tendencies or features.  The director said he, himself, had a set of responses that were sometimes activated in him around such folks and he had learned to trust them as a guide and that I was fortunate to be aware of such an alarm system and I shouldn't discount it.

Of course if it was needed and/or important such a reaction must be followed up by the gathering of behavioral history and/or other "evidence" but just in general...in everyday life...I learned trust the reaction and go from there.

The first time I remember having such a strange and strong feeling was when I was a youngster and saw an old timey character actor named Lyle Bettger in some movie. The fellow scared me and I couldn't figure out what in heck was going on. He wasn't doing anything or saying anything in the movie to prompt such a revulsion..but there it was.
Lyle Bettger
You may not recognize him but he played small roles in a number of movies in the 1950s and...whenever I saw him in a movie...ding ding ding went my creep out detector. I had no idea why though. Weird, eh? For whatever reason...Lyle spooked me. Another actor from movies I saw when I was a kid who repulsed me was Ronald Reagan. I was 'creeped out' by him from the first time I saw him in a movie. It was sort of like a nightmare coming to life when he got into politics and ended up being the president.

Here are some images of folks, who, over the years have elicited the same sort of immediate spooked repulsion in me that I mean by the phrase "creeped out". This reaction always happens immediately in me...I've never had the experience of it coming up after lengthy exposure to anyone even though I have had a few experiences of being around someone who eventually did or said things that made me be very leery of them.

Tom Cruise

Oliver North

Michael Pollan

Ronald Reagan

Margaret Thatcher
Notice that one of the images is of the subject of the blog post I linked to at the beginning...Michael Pollan. I clearly remember seeing him being interviewed on TV some years ago and having my creep detector activate...I didn't know who he was or what he was touting...I just knew that he sort of spooked me. If you are unfamiliar with him, read the post about him. He's a creepy yucko who says that if you treat them sort of kindly...it's not a bad thing to kill a living being...as long as you've been nice to them. Retch.

What to make of my 'creep out' reaction...heck if I know. It's my own personal thingee...maybe you have something like that too. Let me know if you do.

Looking at these images I notice that most of them are white men...I rarely have that sort of thing happen regarding women or men who aren't raced as white. What does that mean? I dunno...one of my speculations is that white men maybe have a greater frequency of sicko/creepos in them than do other groups. That's only a guess though.Well...a guess but one I have a fair amount of confidence in.

And...this is the part that is seriously significant to me...I've never had that sort of reaction to a living being that wasn't a human. No animal (excepting the human ones) has ever weirded me out like that. I've been afraid or fearful of some animals but not creeped out and repulsed by them. I'm prone to suspect that most (maybe all) of the sicko/creepos on mother Earth are of the human type...mostly white men type. Again, just a guess (but, a good one I betcha).

The actor Tom Cruise was responsible for some mild arguing back and forth for a time between my wife and myself. He used to be a big favorite of hers and when she would go on about how much she liked him I would say that I thought he was a creep...which would bother her and she would endeavor to change my mind. All those efforts on her part stopped when he acted like a fool on the Oprah Winfrey show way back in 2005. I never did have to listen to any stories about what a hot shot he was after that. It's nice to have your intuitions confirmed.

The biggest confirmation for my creep detector came from Ronald Reagan...and...that's also the most bothersome incidence of it. A lot of people virtually worshiped him as a "leader" and president. Anyone who gives a speech in support of his desire to be president in the county in Mississippi where 3 civil rights activists were murdered and...in the speech indicates his support for "state's rights" is using code words to tell you he is a white supremacist. He was a trashy white man who caused a lot of harm...all the while smiling like a buffoon.

Obviously my drummer and the drummer a lot of other people pay attention to are quite different. 

I suspect all beings have some sort of detector like this in them...I don't "know" that, I just suspect it. It might be akin to something Fritz Perls once wrote. He said that everyone had a built in crap detector and that the biggest difference among humans regarding this detector was whether they paid attention to it or not. Who knows...but I always have liked that he said that. If you don't know who Fritz Perls is...he was a psychotherapist who was both seriously gifted and also pretty zany and unusual.

He was one of my "heroes" when I was learning the art/craft of psychotherapy. He...truth be known...was probably something of an a**hole in person...but...he could dang sure do some effective psychotherapy from time to time. He wasn't much prone to suffer fools gladly and had several rather infamous incidents where he punctured what he perceived as pomposity in some well known psychology type of folks. He probably harmed his own 'career' because of this...but that was one of the things I liked about him.

Anyway...I've always wanted to write something about Lyle Bettger (what a name, eh?) and when I read the post about Michael Pollan it all sort of came together. It connects nicely too with veganism in that, as far as I can tell, most or maybe all of the creeps on this planet happen to be human. More reason to not hurt our sister/brother Earthlings who aren't human...they don't do creep. 

(please note that I don't know anything at all about Mr. Bettger as an individual...he may have been a really nice guy...and please note that I firmly believe everyone else whose image is in this post is or was...a genuine creep)

 

Friday, March 4, 2016

My feelings were hurt...

and I was upset...but...I came to see my rejection and banishment from a vegan group as a gift and as motivation for more learning. Hey...when you get knocked down it's ok to lay there for awhile...yet eventually you have to get back up. But that hasn't come easy...it hasn't been a stroll in the park on a sunny day and I sure haven't whistled a happy tune during the process. 

It was just about one year ago that I objected to a member's facebook posting on the page of the vegan organization I co-founded. The post linked to a video ostensibly advocating for veganism...but it was done using racist performances by white people that "humorously" caricatured and mocked a false media created version of a small subgroup of African Americans.

My objection was seen by my four white female co-founders as problematical and unwarranted and not correct...and...while they didn't say it out loud...it was apparent they thought I was a whack job.


What played out next was not pretty...or fun. My stance was that since some African American vegans found the video offensive then that settled the question. Nope, according to the other founders they could make the call as to whether the performance was racist or not...even though they were not members of the targeted group, even though they were members of the offending group and even though members of the targeted group had identified the video as offensive and racist. That sort of arrogance is rather stunning when you run into it.


Identifying or perceiving racism is often difficult for people, especially white people. We have all been trained and taught diligently from birth to not notice...to be oblivious or to ignore to such harms...and...we white people don't experience it. In addition, we've been exposed to countless images and narratives normalizing derogatory notions about people of color...and that support and reinforce "goodness" of whiteness.

We see these fake and false and misleading tropes in all forms of national media and discourse, in movies and magazines and social media...all on a 24/7 basis. They seem "normal" and commonsensical to us instead of being clearly identified as distortions of reality which are supportive of a white supremacist worldview. We are taught, carefully and painstakingly, to take in and believe the messages and to act on them and at the same time we are taught to behave and think as if the messages themselves did not exist. The content of the messages are promoted as "reality" and the messages themselves are made invisible.

It's insidiously effective. We are told that untruths are truth, unreality is reality and that the messages selling us these distortions do not exist. We swim in and are immersed in a sea and we are told that we are not wet...and most white people believe this and even some people of color succumb to these delusions. Don't believe it? Go take an Implicit Association Test and find out for yourself. Many of the minoritized (and denigrated) groups that are targeted by these invisible messages are represented in these tests. Go learn what you've been learning but didn't realize you had learned.

For most white people, unless someone is wearing a white robe and burning a cross or unless someone uses an obvious racial slur...racism often escapes conscious notice. If it is clearly and unequivocally racist...then "good" white people and people of color condemn such doings...but if it is ambiguous or subtle...then it can get...well...ugly. Conflict can arise because people who are targeted by racist images or actions are generally much more aware of and sensitive to such awful stuff. White people tend to be much more oblivious to it or tolerant toward this crap.

The remarkable thing is that most of us white people here in North America are virtually racially illiterate...but...that doesn't stop us from thinking we know what is going on nor does our ignorance prevent our having strong opinions about race and racist behaviors. Mostly ignorant, harmful and erroneous ones.

As I watched the four of them message back and forth regarding their thinkings on this situation...I sort of felt like the cat looks in this image.

I was stunned and amazed at some of the things that were being said. The process was depressing and educational and awful all at the same time.

A decision point for me was prompted when one of the women said she thought anything but "blatant" racist postings should allowed as long as the post advocated for animals. When I saw that statement...and I saw none of the others objecting to or condemning such a stance...I sort of felt like Don Knotts looks in the photo below.

That ugly sentence with its despicable meaning, along with some others...for instance that I was too sensitive or "passionate" about racist behaviors...made me decide that I really didn't want to continue my association with these white people if this was how they were proposing to think and behave.

I wanted to sever my connection with them but I also wanted to advise all of the group members that I was leaving and why I was leaving. I wasn't interested in pointing fingers or putting anyone down (well, maybe a little) ...but I wanted the members to be advised about the difference of opinion between myself and the rest of the founders and why I was leaving the group. (Since there is only one of me and there were four of them...I figured there was little chance of their deciding to leave the group...although that would have been probably ok with me.) It seemed only fair to me for the group members to be made aware of the unspoken orientation of their group "leaders" and my disagreement with that orientation.

How to present this to the group without being divisive? My suggestion was that we craft a statement about my leaving and why but that all of us would agree to the wording of the statement before presenting it to the group. That way I figured it would be something that didn't demonize anyone or slant the situation in anyway that was objected to by the five of us...and it would be informative for the group members.


The image above, while a little dramatic, essentially captures their response to my suggestion about a mutually agreed upon statement. That absolutely was not something they were willing to do...and...they decided that I might say or do something that would subvert their stance of silence so they removed me from an administrator position in the group and then removed me from the group altogether.

Wow...talk about "white fragility" in action. Few better examples can be found. I can only presume they were so fearful and reluctant to openly expose their viewpoints that silencing me seemed prudent to them.

It's just this kind of bizarre obliviousness that led a number of black vegans to start up the excellent website called Black Vegans Rock. It's just this kind of avoidance and silencing that websites (among others) like The Sistah Vegan Project and Aphro-ism and The Funcrunch Files and Striving with Systems work at overcoming among the community of vegan advocates.

If you step outside the sources of online vegan activism to sites that seek specifically to interrupt racism, the options expand exponentially for accessing the voices of those who strive to avoid being enclosed and defined by the destructive mentally and emotionally debilitating vacuum of whiteness.

White dominated vegan groups tend to mirror of white dominated culture...and such culture here in the U.S. is structurally white supremacist in nature. Both U.S. culture and white dominated vegan groups usually overtly disavow racist imagery, actions, stereotypes and beliefs...and also routinely invoke and make use of racist imagery, actions, stereotypes and beliefs. Welcome to denial and distortion and disconnection.

But...if you think about it...what else would you expect in a nation that declared its desire for independence with the powerful (but sexist) and eloquent statement"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." all the while enslaving human beings and continuing to do so for centuries while excusing that enslavement by maintaining the "inferiority" of those who were enslaved. We began as a nation that talked one thing while doing another. And...we haven't stopped yet.

It is confusing and misleading and damned complex and difficult to sort out...especially if you've lived in a bubble of whiteness most of your life. The problem of racism in the U.S. is a problem created by and maintained by white people...and white people have the responsibility to fix it.



Yup, being disbelieved and ejected from the group was hurtful and upsetting. But...it served to signal me that I was onto something of significance. If bringing attention to the problematical aspects of a type of "animal advocacy" could so easily result in rejection and silencing...well...that's strongly suggestive that something is going on that many (white people) do not want to investigate and delve into. Doing so would violate some of the most powerful and ubiquitous rules that enable this white supremacist society...thou shalt not talk about it or investigate it or attempt to interrupt it. If you do you will be rejected, ejected and silenced.


So...I gotta give thanks for the gift of rejection. It has helped me to grasp that being in solidarity with all Earthlings requires struggling to recognize and to opt out of capitalistic patriarchal white supremacy in my thinking and my doing and to resist and interrupt it where and when I can.

I have to listen to the voices of people of color, of people in all marginalized groups and center their knowings and perceptions because they are the rightful experts on recognizing elements of this massive deception. Because otherwise...whether I want to or not...I will recreate oppression. And...I'm sorry to say...so will you unless you do the hard and painful work of opting out. It is, however, definitely better that I feel discomfort or even pain trying to understand and stop this system than to be someone who causes unwarranted pain to others.

There is another benefit to this effort...besides that of becoming less hurtful/harmful...and it is a phenomenal one. Becoming acquainted with the writings and thinkings and perceptions and art and poetry of people of color and people assigned to other marginalized groups has been and continues to be an incredible and enriching experience. We white people routinely are shunted away from and aren't exposed to (or avoid) these sorts of sources...excepting celebrities and superstars. I'll write more about this later, for now I just want to alert you to the fact that, for example, there are authors who are raced as African American and Native American and Asian American and Latina/o American and and and who are phenomenally talented and excellent that...if you are white and straight and cisgendered...you may well never have heard of. Their insights are much richer and deeper and more comprehensive than most "mainstream" white authors...partially because they usually are not laboring under the edicts to avoid noticing structural racism or capitalistic patriarchal white supremacy. It is genuinely amazing and staggering to encounter their knowings and wisdoms. Wow and double wow.