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Showing posts from December, 2014

Sensitivity to race

Two years ago, when I visited Atlanta for Dragon Con, I blogged about some thoughts I had concerning racism.  This was my first time visiting Atlanta for more than just a few hours and it was my first time riding the public transportation here.  That visit and now living here have helped me be more observant to race issues.  Teaching at an HBCU has also helped me to better understand racism and related issues.

It's easy to convince myself that I'm race blind (or color-blind, as some put it).  As I understand it, scientific evidence points to the conclusion that it is impossible to actually be race blind.  I am aware of this intellectually, but I believe that the emotional understanding hasn't quite set in.  Today I was reminded that in fact I am not race blind.  That, in at least some sense of the word, I am racist.  Now, I use that word not to confess that I believe one race to be superior to another, but only to state that I acknowledge that I notice the difference of sk…

It takes all kinds

I have a very distinctive memory from my time in the LDS missionary training center back in 2002.  In the center, missionaries (who at the time were 19-26 for men, but mostly 19) are divided into groups called districts.  Each district is assigned a leader, which is one of the missionaries.  I was assigned to be the leader of my district.  Even though all it amounts to is really just being given the key to the mailbox for the district's mail, I took the title seriously and tried to do my best to keep the missionaries in my district in line.

I was very authoritarian.  I would scold my missionaries.  I would berate them for stepping out of line.  I was not very forgiving.  I expected all of them to fit into a particular mold--that of my own image of what a missionary should be.  One of the missionaries at one point said that it takes all kinds and that he's grateful for diversity.  I've thought about that over these years.

I often hear people saying things like "no on…

The dangers of patriotism

Back in 2007, I was very troubled by the things that I heard about what was going on with the USA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" and other things about the Iraq War.  I actually wrote a research paper about the Iraq War in 2006.  Prior to writing the paper, I was in support of Bush and all the tactics we were using.  It was while I was studying the matter that I learned more and changed my position.  I include here an exchange I had with another individual about the matter to emphasize the point I wish to make in this blog, which is that questioning authority is often a good idea and that blindly following is quite often detrimental.
I can't say I feel good about what is going on at Guantanamo. I do not claim I know what is going on there, but this is significant evidence that it is inhumane. You were just telling me about how Saddam Hussein was trying to avoid UN inspections, well now the Bush administration is guilty of that as well. I cannot ever support…

Why I blog

I've written about this before, but I do like to stop and take a minute to think about why I post the things I post.  And in my own mind, it isn't limited just to what I write here on my blog, it includes the things I post on Facebook and Twitter.  So why do I blog?

I blog because I see injustices in the world and I would like to point them out.  I believe that being more aware of injustice around us will give us better tools to help combat it, to lead to a more egalitarian and just society.

I blog because it helps me to organize the thoughts that I have.  When I am forced to type my thoughts into complete English sentences, in a more-or-less essay format, I think about them more deeply than I would if I were simply musing to myself.  I often find that as I end a blog post I took it in a different direction than I intended to at the offset, which is fine.  It shows that there is a different way to think of the issue at hand.

I blog because I see oppression and I wish to stand…

Teaching hate

I just saw this picture in my Facebook feed.  It made me think about two different ideas simultaneously.  One is that suggested in the caption--that children are inherently accepting of all people regardless of race and the other is that children also do not inherently feel embarrassed or ashamed to show affection in public.

We teach our children much in their young years.  We teach them so many biases and prejudices.  Many of these biases are taught unwittingly.  We may not make a conscious effort to do so.  It's simply what comes naturally to us.  We teach our children the things that we believe to be true--the things that we call "common sense".  Albert Einstein asserted "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."

I feel like there are two important lessons to learn here.  The first, and probably most important, is to be self-critical.  To examine one's own beliefs in order to ascertain which should be kept and valued and w…