Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizona's Tough New Law Against Illegal Immigrants

Prejudice rears its ugly head, all in the name of "National Security".  I say it's xenophobia in the Millenium.  More on the story below.

Arizona's Tough New Law Against Illegal Immigrants

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Just Like You

Racism is judging somebody solely on their race, skin color, texture and color of hair, and shape and color of eye.  Judging them to be somehow inferior. Less than.  Unworthy of human kindness and mutual respect. Ultimately, racism comes down to judging people.

In this month we have talked about judging others based on age, ability, gender, and even location. We have talked about the ugly truth of the under belly of predjudice.  I would wager that most who read this will think, "Oh, I hate prejudice people!  How can people be so shallow and insensitive?"  I know because I find myself thinking the very same thing.

Yet, if I were to be honest with myself, I still judge people on a daily basis.  I judge students to be lazy and unwilling to help themselves.  I make assumptions about the slovenly dressed woman at the grocery store with the dirty kids running around, making a ruckus.  I judge grammar-impaired oil-changer at Jiffy Lube.  I sigh in relief that I am not any of "those people".  I am blessed to have a strong work ethic, backed by a college degree.  My kids are clean and (relatively) behaved in public.  And, thanks to my mother, I have excellent grammar skills when I speak.  Yet, I have judged all of these people to be some how inferior, less than, and unworthy of my kindness and mutual respect.  I am culpable of discrimination.

This week was a sobering reminder about how judging appearances is often folly.  I have a student, the General, a very bright "A" student.  He came to my class after leaving an advanced level class of the same course I teach.  He has always been very successful in my class.  Things began to change.  Although the General is passing, he has not done a single assignment outside of class and recently his grade has dropped nearly 3 letter grades.  Finally, I was ready to take care of business.

Last week, I asked to see an assignment, the third one this grading period; of course he did not have it.  I chastised him, demanding to see that assignment and the new assignment by next class.  Come the next class, again he had neither assignment.  This time moved from chastisement to reprimand. Also, the General had to have all three assignments by the next class or his parents would be notified. 

Of course, the next class he did not have a single assignment.  He just meekly apologized, looking at me with my frustration and indignation.  After class, like a Harpy on scent of her prey, I went on a mission to solve this problem.  I spoke to his counselor and his other teachers, all of us agreeing that he was not meeting his potential.  It was, in fact, time to call his parents.  The only working, local number I had ended up finding was his mother's cell.

I called, barely introducing myself, and launched into his litany of sins against education.  It was at this moment the purpose of the call changed.  Mom's tone was somber and I could hear her choking back the tears as she listened, but soon the floodgates collapsed.  Out came the pouring of tears and truth.  She was going through a divorce and the General was hurting.  There is more to the story, but these are private details.  However, as she lay bare her broken life before me, I realized how cruel I had been based upon an assumption.  He was not lazy.  He was not defying me.  He was struggling with the loss of his family.

I tease that I have a jaded heart, that I am an Ice Queen.  But I am not embarrassed to admit, while talking to this woman, I broke down crying.  I wanted to reach through that phone to embrace her to make her lover's heart stop breaking, to soothe the worried mother.  Because I know.  I am divorced woman with two boys.  Every time I look at them and think about the divorce, my heart shatters into a million pieces knowing that because two adults could not "get it together", they will live divided, and in some respects, broken lives. 

This past few weeks I had to re-learn a lesson that I thought I had lalready leared, over and over again, these past 16 years as a teacher:  "Never judge a book by its cover because the story inside just might be unexpected.  I asumed a highly capable student was slacking off, when in fact his heart  and his life were falling apart.

Today, as you go into this world and see the faces and the lives of those who surround you, try to look past race, age, gender, and ability.  More so, look pass the poor grammar, the fashion faux pas', and missing assignments.  Look into the hearts to see the genuine person.  What you might find is someone just like you, with a hurting heart, broken into a million little pieces.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Rabbit in the Moon: Casts a Shadow in America's WWII Victory

Monday, April 12, 2010

Examples of Racism Around the World

  • Australia
"Australia has also had a very racist past in which apartheid has been practiced and where indigenous Aboriginal people have lost almost all their land and suffered many prejudices. In the past, the notorious policy that led to the Stolen Generation was practiced. This was the institutionalized attempt to prevent Aboriginal children (and thus future generations) from being socialized into Aboriginal culture. (This also occurred in various parts of the Americas too.)

Aborigines are the poorest group in Australia and suffer from very much preventable diseases. For more about these issues, you can start at these harrowing reports from John Pilger a prominent Australian journalist who has been critical of many western policies.
The Sydney 2000 Olympics also brought some of Australia’s racist past and present to the fore. (On the positive side, many parts of Australia’s rich diversity in people is slowly helping relieve prejudism. However, some more traditional and conservative politicians are still openly racist.)"  (
  • Brazil
  • Greece
Greece has one of the worst records in the European Union for racism against ethnic minorities, according to the BBC. Anti-immigrant sentiment has long been high, especially against ethnic Albanians, who form the largest minority. Until the 1990s, the BBC notes, Greece had been an extremely homogenous society. With the fall of communism many immigrants from Eastern Europe came to Greece. Albanians especially have been targetted by a lot of racist sentiment. Some hostage taking by a few Albanians in recent years has not helped the situation.
  • India
In India, there has long been discrimination against what is considered the lowest class in Hinduism, the Dalits, or untouchables, as well as sectarian and religious violence. Although it has been outlawed by the Indian Constitution, the caste system was a way to structure inequality into the system itself. And while outlawed, the social barriers it creates is still prevalent in rural areas where most Indians live. It also features in the view of Hindu extremists and traditionalists.  (
  • Race and Racism in the United States

Friday, April 9, 2010

Honoring Those Who Fight the Good Fight (using Langston Hughes' Words)

The heart of racism is fear, hatred, and self-loathing.  It seeks to isolate, dishearten, and obliterate.  Time and time again, those peoples most oppressed have repudiated the power it once held over them.  Across the ages and across the globe, racism has begun to lose it's grasp.  People now are chosing to shed their ignorance as they embrace the truth.  We are all members of the same race, the human race.  We are all brothers and sisters in the same large family called to love and serve one another.

I dedicate these Langston Hughes poems to those who have fought the fight.  To those who envisioned a world as it should be and not as it was.  The dream has dawned. May the reality of change shine down on the world.

Thank you for your valiance. 

I, Too, Sing America       
          by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

Mother to Son
     by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Of Prejudice, Ignorace, and Fear

  • “Prejudice cannot see the things that are because it is always looking for things that aren't."
  • "Prejudices are what fools use for reason.”  -Voltaire
  • “Many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”  -William James
  • “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” -Mark Twain
  • “Prejudice is the child of ignorance.”  -William Hazlitt
  • “Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep men apart.”-Countess of (Marguerite Gardiner) Blessington

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The word race did not appear until the 16th-17th Centuries. The origins of the word are unknown; it is thought that it has its roots in the Italian word, razza--ethnicity or breed. As discussed on the first post of this month racism is defined as:

"the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others."

 The terms racism and prejudice are often used interchangably. In our world, there are other forms of discrimination other than prejudice based on race. Fear and ignorance are the root system that continues to anchor these prejudices in the modern world, a root system nurturing the fear of the unknown and fear of being "less than". Classifying someone's status as "less than" our own ensures that we are not the "low man on the totem pole," somehow making us superior and those different from us inferior.

  1. Ageism--judgement based on age
  2. Sexism--judgement based on gender 
  3. Geographic --judgement based location/place 
  4. Classism--judgement based upon economic status
  5. Ableism--judgement based upon mental or physical "disability" 
  6. Ethnic--judgement based upon cultural attributes (language, religion, customs/traditions) 
  7. Epidermal--judgement based upon range of skin tones (light skin versus dark skinned)