Trials Defining 45’s Racism

Racism 

noun

Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.                    – Oxford English Dictionary

A friend of mine asked me recently to give a good definition of racism and what it means in our society. So I went to the best source I could – the Oxford English Dictionary. When I read the definition itself, I thought about my own prejudice, and wondered about my own bias, and then tried to translate that to the point of this commentary.

I only have to look as far as the first three words and I have found enough evidence to attach this derogatory practice to 45’s exploits over the last year and a half, and evidence would suggest we include the many years before he even imagined the highest position of office in the United States.

In the word ‘prejudice’ it is defined as ‘preconceived opinion’ not based upon reality. We are all familiar with the original stump speech that introduced a philosophy toward Mexicans with the following words, “they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” (Donald Trump 2016) Now any number of people will qualify that and say he did add the ‘good people’ in the end of the insult. Is that well enough? Or should we look more closely at the greater influence of the sentence – drugs, crime, rapists – and focus on how the words themselves impacted the response to his description of Mexican people to a crowd of supporters.

I want to say lathering supporters, but it took a few months for us to really begin to see his method, and today his campaign rallies time and time again, have become venues for spewing toxicity. I know this personally, because I did attend a rally earlier this year in Duluth MN and was appalled by the general pitch of the speech and crowd reaction. In that particular speech, there was no presentation of substance, only the same rhetoric we have grown accustomed to – hostility, isolation and blame. Therefore, his ‘preconceived opinion’ became the center point of his words and the crowd loved it. They relished it, and if anyone was in opposition, well they had better well keep their mouths shut, or have it shut permanently by rabid supporters. Incidentally, those rabid supporters would also receive direct support from the POTUS at the podium jeering them on.

See I find a problem with that. To me that is a clear case of bullying, and this is something that Donald Trump is the master of in his current position. If he doesn’t like someone, or they go against his own personal agenda, he will rip them apart with a lacking social decorum that leaves a lot of people feeling fear. Trust me when I say to all of those readers that are jumping on the bandwagon to pummel liberals, it is not simply a democratic issue. It is a national crisis that clearly blurs all party lines. To state it simply, 45 uses other people’s weaknesses to bolster his own agenda. That is prejudicial behavior.

Next word, discrimination. How many readers just suddenly had this wave of ‘this is too easy’ come over them when they associate that word with the POTUS? How about we begin with the NFL? Wait too easy, ok let’s talk about Maxine Waters and ‘low IQ.’ Not satisfied, well then moving on, how about Lebron James and education for youth versus cages on the Southern border. Oh, hot point, ok, well, then let’s just wrap it with calling a former White House aide, a woman, a dog. Fill in the missing blanks please.

Finally, when I first looked at the definition of racism as it applies, the word antagonism just lit a fire under me because there is so much evidence out there that Trump has expressed, suggested, mandated to describe his personal agenda with antagonizing people of a different social status, a different political background, a DIFFERENT color of skin. Quite apparently, Donald Trump ran his candidacy and now his current office on a platform of outward antagonism.

Remember, he did say, ‘fire the (s.o.b.) player’ that protests at an NFL game. Ignore the whole idea of free speech and the ability to demonstrate a peaceful protest. Hell, this is a person of stature and they should be held accountable. Paint it however way you like it, but the message that 45 is putting across is that the color of your skin in the NFL has merit to be criticized and thrown out with the trash. Yeah, that’s my opinion, and I say it clearly because the whole idea of supporting this man’s ignorance just makes me sick.

So we can do two things with the definition as it stands. We can take out the word ‘race’ and exchange it with ‘status’ for those of you that genuinely believe that Trump is not racist, but do have misgivings of how he treats people of a different stature than his own. Or we could leave the word ‘race’ in the definition of racism where it belongs.

The fact is, our leader of our country uses racist language to persons of color to antagonize and lather his crowd of supporters. While he stands before us and suggests he is cleaning out the swamp, what he is actually doing is lining his own pockets with the finest opportunity to create a financial network towards his benefit with not just the nation but the world, the global economy. He really could care less about race unless there is a benefit for him.

That said, I am not letting him off the hook. He has made far too many declarative statements toward people of color in so many capacities, and yes, he has lumped certain white people into his analogies and disgusting rhetoric. But right now, I don’t really care about the white people, because they don’t have to operate on a different level to make sure their lives are safe and fulfilling. They just, like me, will go out the door in the morning and begin their day without any worry of profiling or discrimination while a person of color walking down the street with them side by side will experience mental and physical roadblocks completely out of their control throughout their entire day.

Think about it for just a minute. This isn’t political. This is reality, and the sooner we begin to acknowledge it is NOT about us, and it is more about the people in our society that have been oppressed for the ages, the sooner we can begin to carry out a realistic and healing dialogue. The sooner we accept that just maybe the words coming out of this president’s mouth can be construed planned, methodical and easily perceived as racist, nothing ‘fake news’ about that – only a reality.

( to be sure I wrote this after a weekend blues festival – my apologies for rambling. )

People Speak of Fake News

 

People speak of fake news. Certain sources do indicate a far different and accurate story behind that of the young girl’s plight in the moment. There is also the reality of everyone’s reminder of the Obama camps and photos of 2014 – similar to today’s. The reality is behind every ‘story’ there is added research necessary to find the truth.

 

We teach our student in the classroom to back up sources in order to legitimize their own research on a topic. A student will sometime question the reasoning. I will often tell a student it is not because I want to catch them plagiarizing, more because I wish they might learn how to defend their own thinking on a topic.

 

So then what might we call the end game on this ‘Time Magazine’ photoshopped cover story? The truth is both photos did occur. Let’s call it poetic justice.

 

In one light a little girl is hysterical perhaps not for the reasons the editors would like the reader to believe; however I would believe her affect represents the many faces of children we don’t see in photo ops.

 

In another light we see a smug expression on the face of the President of the United States looking down on something he shows disdain toward. (Personally I think a bad putt that when the camera is off he will tap in with his foot) The fact is he is looking detached and disconnected about something.

 

So let’s look at the picture for what it really is, a horrific artistic rendering of an American society at odds with itself and unable to step within one another’s comfort zone to offer love and support.

 

What is more vital than pointing out the inauthentic nature of the picture is to use this as an authentic learning moment and begin to do what is right for our people and the country. In the words of Spike Lee, let’s ‘Do The Right Thing.’

Photo – Time Magazine

Why I attended a Trump rally

IMG_0087

AMSOIL arena – Duluth


I was recently given tickets to attend the Trump rally in Duluth, Minnesota last night. Given the controversy around the issues occurring on our southern border, I felt like this was my closest opportunity I might have to put myself in a place to show resistance to his actions and the impact he is having on our society and populace. I thought just being part of the gathering of protesters would be sufficient to try to get my point across. I brought a couple of signs with me, that I wanted to hold in rallying support of the opposition. IMG_9316

This billboard stayed in my car because attendees were not allowed to bring signage into the convention. I actually had visions of someone taking a bat to the back window of my car where I had it visually placed, but we parked quite a distance away from the rally so it was not noticeable. I believe that merits the experience I had at this, my first presidential rally. I brought a former student of mine, a decade past his graduation, someone I knew had similar views to my own. We talked about what we were about to experience, but really frankly had no idea what we were about to encounter.

In all honesty, I genuinely believed if I found myself in the arena I would find similar minded people to rally around as we listened to 45 spout the same rhetoric he has for the entirety of his presidency. I was never so wrong in my life. We encountered protesters along the way, in fact, delightfully I ran into another former student holding a wonderful sign of protest – a biblical verse – Matthew 25:34-46. I made it clear to her I had tickets to go inside, but I was on the side of the protesters. We caught up for a few moments, I took her picture and told her there would be a lot of people back home, happy to see her posture on this day. The response from social media indicated I was correct.

This morning, in reflection on the experience, I do believe if I had just driven up to protest I would have been completely satisfied on one level. Having tickets to go inside the arena and experience the rhetoric from 45 is one thing; however, the greater takeaway as my companion pointed out was the mob-mentality of the audience.There was absolutely nothing this leader of our country could say that would diminish the rabid nature of the crowd’s reaction to his every word.

I suppose in reality that is a normal reaction to a crowd of supporters. There was just something different about this energy, and that is what I struggled with for the entire time we were in the convention. We left about fifteen minutes before the end because I frankly could not stomach any more of the speech. Again he talked about similar topics of his concern – numbers in attendance, creating more jobs for African-Americans, the fake-news media section that he encouraged his audience to provide a unifying roar of boos and catcalls, and of course a chant of ‘lock her up’ to get the crowd on the same page. In addition he was adamant toward making a point of isolating any protesters that he then had promptly escorted out of the convention.

At one point he criticized a long-haired protester, asking whether he was a man or woman, telling him to go back home to his mom and get a haircut. I was a little concerned the people I am close to in my life, might fear it was me because I presently have long hair, but it wasn’t me – I was the one standing nearby that kept my eyes down for the majority of the speech and occasionally would clap three or four times so those around me wouldn’t get a sense that I wasn’t there for the right reasons. He once asked the news media to pan the crowd, and I diligently stooped down and pretended to tie my shoes. I was wearing sandals.

That is what I was truly most nervous about, becoming exposed. This was no environment to oppose the speaker, I mean, even a look in the eye felt like exposure, and I did fear for my safety. This is the first presidential convention I have ever attended, but I do not think that is a normal attendee reaction no matter the side of the fence their views might land. (Perhaps people will now reference the Democratic convention of 1968 in Chicago and rightfully so, but was that about party or their angst toward the police at the time? I was nine years old, I only remember the television coverage and some horrific story about Dan Rather’s behavior in a taxi ride.) I watched the room lather with 45’s constant berating nature and bully tactics that were not presidential in any regard.

His speech was about him and his accomplishments thus far. Yes, one can argue that he has made strides with North Korea, but we really don’t know the long term impact, outside of the hostages being released, that is huge. But beyond that what is the impact? There were no reassuring words on his part, in fact at one point he said, ‘maybe it won’t work, we just don’t know.’ My student at that point  said to me later I think that is the first time he had ever heard Trump go back on a declarative statement. I couldn’t argue.

We decided to leave around 10 or 15 minutes before he finished, partly because I was feeling anxious and partly because we weren’t hearing anything new, and we knew the crowd control was going to be crazy leaving. I said to my companion, I could feign a heart issue in the event people questioned our departure but beyond specific glares and questionable expressions, we were free to leave early.

We got outside and found a good amount of protesters awaiting the end of the convention. I won’t say thousands because that wouldn’t be true, but there were numbers, and despite feeling like that is where I should have been standing, a part of me was glad I did stand inside to experience the speech. Here’s why.

I’ve always believed it is important to listen to both sides. I was raised in a family that supported both sides of the ticket and were always able to dialogue about all the relevant issues no matter the stance. I don’t believe in the vision of Donald Trump. I think it is a sham and he has no idea what the ramifications of his rhetoric have on our society. Or maybe he does, and if that is the case, that is an even scarier prospect. He made a comment last night about no families being split up at the border last night, and I haven’t read the news today, and I have no comment on that, all I can do is think about the weeks before hand – the damage is done.

In conclusion, it was the mindset of the people walking into the arena that frightened me more than anything else. I saw a young woman of no more than twenty wearing an American flag that blended into a confederate flag. Why?!? IMG_9321What is it we are trying to create in our society today? What is it this man is doing to the sanctity of our country that is built around the tenet of supporting everyone, no matter their background, or religious affiliation or color of their skin?

 

 

I’m generalizing now, so it is time to finish my point.  Ironically, I’m listening to David Bowie’s ‘This Is Not America’ as I write my last words.

So why did I attend this convention? I was given tickets. I live less than 200 miles away. I wanted first hand to see how we are reacting to this man’s hand on our country’s rewards and ills, and last night I experienced that fraction of populace that supports his ideals. Correct, he is our president, my president and as an American I am asked to respect the office of the POTUS, but listening to a man simply try to lather a crowd with ill meant rhetoric and sad commentary on our society while constantly patting himself on the back is not what is going to lead us in the right direction. The reality of this movement leaves me scared and bewildered.

I can only be grateful that I was in the audience with a mindful companion, because quite frankly I don’t know how I might have handled being in the AMSOIL arena in Duluth alone.

Thanks for listening, and for anyone questioning my loyalties or political leaning, trust me they haven’t changed, if anything they have been strengthened. Let’s go forward … somehow.


Pictures are my own

I’m Struggling to be OK, and other “Trump is my President” Anxieties

Last night I listened to 45 basically implode or become ‘unhinged’ as most news agencies reported, except for one I suppose. I walked into my home and my wife was exasperated with his demonstrative ranting at his Arizona campaign rally. Then I listened more as he defended all of his bigotry and ‘fake news’ accusations, to a rousing crowd of visible support. It felt just any campaign rally we witnessed in the year leading up to his election.

Here’s my problem. Today, I listened to Trump give a very sobering and prompter lead speech to the National Convention of the American Legion in Reno, Nevada. His demeanor and focus was a complete contrast to last night’s ranting. He didn’t comment on Charlottesville, there was no braggadocio of the ‘lack of protesters’ outside, he stayed on point, and received mild applause for key statements, that no one could ever disagree with. I was disappointed because I wanted him to go off the rails with his speech, so that he continued to support the critics accusation that he is not fit to hold office. But he didn’t, he stayed on topic, and finished with gracious applause. He was the President a lot of America has been waiting to see.

Trump has done this a couple of times, most recently his proclamations of strategy to deal with Afghanistan earlier in the week – sober and television prompter driven, which gave a calculated impression of steady leadership. But, 24 hours he lost it all in Arizona, and then less than 24 hours later, he returned to the television prompter POTUS.

Where does that leave us as concerned Americans about this man’s leadership. If we were to listen to CNN, we would come away much focus on his unraveling. Then if we listened to FOX news, we would probably hear accolades. So, is the real issue the President, or is it something else?

I sat with a friend today, and spoke of the ills of social media. I cannot get away from the feeling that CNN really wants this guy’s head on a platter (no honorable connection to Kathy Griffith) and that is the network I gravitate toward because they seemingly are focused on good news reporting. But today, they spent a couple of minutes talking about the sobering speech to the veterans, and then the majority of their broadcast spoke to yesterday’s news – or in other words, the blatancy of Donald Trump tendency to dramatically look like an idiot in a position of leadership.

I have to say today, I’m nervous; however there is no news agency helping to ease my anxiety.

This Hatred Is Still Real

There in the quiet, when we all settle in to our own reality,

a memorial stands free, meant to celebrate a young boy,

there is a mindset exists in the world around us,

we sometimes allow ourselves to forget about morality.

I’m not talking about you, not speaking about me,

I haven’t any idea really, who they really might be.

I cannot see them, I cannot call anyone by a name,

who’d rather wear a white hood than celebrate with me.

 

When I was a younger child there were men spoke of being free,

a movement seemed to gather strength, a few men held fists high,

a man named Dr. King celebrated the life of his own upbringing,

and I listened, my folks listened, my siblings listened. We all believed

in the concept of love.

I read the news, well a news story, well it kept being brought up,

and I discovered there was a little boy like me, who as a child

living in innocence, crossed a line apparently.

 

We live in a world of constant facade and hypocritical smiles

One that buries the truth behind circumstance and a false pride,

we live in a world that is losing its concept of democracy,

where the people today can take liberty with the struggles of our past.

We live in a forest of deceit where a young boy named Emmitt Till died

for the color of his skin, and no one cared to honor his quiet humanity.

Nearly seventy years ago he lost his life for the color of his skin, just a boy,

and today, those same followers have been woken up and allowed to believe.

 

His memorial is riddled with bullet holes and angry symbolism,

and like 1955, this young boy, could be living today, in the hatred of 2016.

 

Circus Clowns

When I was a kid,

the circus came to town,

I remember not liking the stench,

being afraid of the clown.

I think there’s any sort of trepidation,

when we see a showcase that hides the truth.

I grew up to recognize

a lot of the wise

sort of character playing clowns we see,

tend to look at their lives through a glass of misery.

I wonder sometimes,

if in these our such turbulent times,

we Americans,

the accentuate freedom living human beings,

I wonder if we do,

understand the policy of clowns.

I watched a gavel of idiocy last night,

on national television,

free speech and lunacy,

we were all able to turn it off if we chose,

I stayed with it only to allow myself,

the opportunity to speak of clowns today,

to hope we all might take a breath and pause,

I wonder if we know waking up the dead,

will set us back a century.

Happy ‘whateveryouwantittobe’ day,

(something about Black history month here ___ )

month, year, hour we forgive our calculative nation.

Happy to be back at the circus today.

I always hated that three ring debacle of stench.

Still do, still do, still holding on to

life.

Sanity Left The Room

Seems we’ve whittled ourselves down,

there’s a bit of sadness in the air,

the pundits are introducing nameless figures,

afraid to give any more attention to hypocrisy.

~

I woke up today with a bit of a frown,

though I did always think Jeb! a dare,

He held to his principles always ahead of fixtures,

This man not a conservative republican simple heresy.

~

He was the man that represented our office,

his values steadfast, his demeanor grim,

yet a certain panache of integrity he always shows

I am saddened even though his direction I shant go.

~

Instead, we’re forced to hear words in orifice,

the sort we laughed at in a year of whim,

now the world in all its bigotry has begun a glow,

seems the monster wakes the dead this we truly know.

~

I’m torn to understand what is best for our country

Faced with a national crisis we hear candidates paltry.