I attended 12 public schools in Chattanooga during times when almost everything was racially separated: schools, churches, restaurants, tours, organization memberships. After my high school graduation and an early marriage, I relocated with family to New England and eventually graduated from Southern Connecticut University. In the mid-seventies when I became an educator in a large suburban high school in Hamden, Connecticut, only about 10% of the school’s staff and student body was African American.
Complexity of Diversity
As I rode the elevator, I overheard a conversation between two African American adults. They were talking about one of their bosses and one said, “People who are not Black do not understand the prejudices and oppression we have gone through.”
As I left the elevator and walked into the doctor’s office, I was handed a clipboard with some required forms I needed to fill out. One section caught my attention: Race. It asked me to check a box. I immediately thought about the conversation I just heard, and looked over my choices, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander. I then thought about prejudices and oppression for each choice.
In the 1960s, sociologist Harold Garfinkel founded a new field of inquiry called ethnomethodology. As such, Garfinkel uses the term indexing to describe how we depend on whatever information and experience we have to make sense of every social context. We call this social cues. For example, when a man in the US meets a person who is wearing a dress and a pair of high heels while carrying a lady’s purse, the man instantly concludes that this is a woman and therefore will instantaneously interact with this person according to the social etiquette between a man and a woman.
Garfinkel calls such mental exercise indexing. When we are unaware of social cues because we have not had interaction with members of a particular social group, we would depend on the common information available, whether true or not. This is when stereotyping comes into play.
My hunch is that the majority of those well-meaning folks who say, “When I see you, I don’t color,” or a variation, have no idea how exhaustive it can be to many Black folks. And to Black folks who hear this constantly, the typical response is usually a deep inhale and a …. “well, here we go again!”
Case in point is Oprah Winfrey’s latest magazine “O” with an advice column headlined, “How to Deal with Your White Friends”– advice for Black women feeling worn down by the neediness of others to help them deal with racial issues.”
So why this recent surge in interest in racial issues, Black ones in particular?
“The Black Lives Movement wants to see the destruction of the nuclear family.”
“BLM is a hate group that’s planning to destroy the police.”
“Let us not be confused. BLM is nothing but a Marxist group.”
These are actual quotes – from politicians running for office (surprise, surprise, surprise) – that typifies how Black Lives Matter has become a convenient boogey man – a political wedge issue – these days. However, the words have moved from baseball caps and posters. They’re now painted in large letters on streets in New York, Washington, DC and other cities. You’ll even find the words on tattoos, and even engraved on protective masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.
If there’s an upside to the images of those protesting the death of George Floyd, it’s dismantling the myth of angry blacks alone roaming the streets, looting, setting fires and burning down their neighborhoods. I mean, one must be blind if they did not see people other than African Americans holding up “Black Lives Matter” posters, getting tear gassed, hand cuffed, arrested ….and looting. Truly a watershed moment in social history if ever there was one.
“Oh my, why are they destroying property in their own neighborhoods?” “They’re hurting their own cause!” Continue reading Try living in the building – by Terry Howard
Remember Rashard Brooks and Other
Black Victims of Police Brutality
In 1964, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to sweep the country, the arc of justice needs to bend more quickly in the case of Rayshard Brooks and other African Americans who have been killed by police. This is especially important as the country commemorates Juneteenth.
The justice system must send a clear message that overzealous police cannot get away with targeting and treating Black men and women as second class citizens. Every American must fully comprehend that all Black lives matter.
Continue reading Juneteenth Message – by Elwood Watson
Is this the beginning of a revolution that finally addresses racism honestly?
Part 2: The Present and A Way Forward
The continuum of violence against African Americans and the Black Community
What has happened in the past is not different from what continues to happen today because racism is generational. Racists who have committed crimes use all the tools of systems of privilege built in their favor to avoid being held accountable. In doubtful circumstances, lawyers have changed venues for trial to predominantly White communities where their White accomplice juries can unconsciously and consciously exercise bias.
I am not happy when I read some of your posts and ask who are these people? Have they always felt this way about me and my people? Some of us are minimizing what happened and trying to justify police officers brutal attacks. However, this particular policeman had no concern for another human being’s life as we all watched his face that lacked any emotions. Yes, there are good and bad people period but this is not about that it is about watching a black man die before the WORLD’s eyes by the hands of corrupt police officers.
This is being done on a regular basis like it is open hunting season on black males. Some of us want to bring up George Floyd’s past to once again minimize what happened as I have stated before if he was butt naked running through the streets, screaming he did not deserve to die like that. Some of us want to question the looting and rioting. Believe it, a lot of that has been agitated by people who infiltrated in the peaceful protest with one agenda to make it chaotic.
I woke up this morning with recent events and names like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Christian Cooper swimming through my mind and decided to take a walk to clear my head. As I stepped outside, I took a quick pause to consider my safety. Since the tornado on Easter, I have been staying with friends in a different neighborhood and I wasn’t sure of how I would be received.
As I started my walk, another friend’s Facebook post also crossed my mind. She posted her comments and a tweet from Quinta Brunson which says, “Being black is having a good day and then seeing another black person was killed for no reason. Then you have to think about/talk about that all day or don’t and numb yourself. It’s a constant emotional war. . . Meanwhile you still need to work and worry about everything else.”