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Archive for January, 2010

Over Christmas time, I went to a Goodwill store in South Carolina. While I was in the store, I lost my cell phone. There was a lady who worked near the dressing room section that seemed a little suspicious to me. First of all, she didn’t seem very friendly. Secondly, she was a larger black female who seemed to have an attitude very similar to students I had when I was teaching at the high school level. And there it is, I automatically jumped to conclusions based on racial and cultural stereotypes.

It is not “correct” to be a racist anymore. Really, according to what people say about themselves, no one is really “racist”. I experienced this in the South. There were people who were so adamant and even hateful against the undocumented workers who were living among them, but in the same breathe would somehow manage to squeeze out, “I’m not racist though”. A humorous example was when I was teaching English down here in Costa Rica. I had a student who said after Obama’s election. “I am glad Obama was elected….except that he is black, but…..I’m not a racist.”

The unwarranted and extreme hatred towards Obama by the fringes in the rights is dripping with racism. If Obama were white; the whole Tea Party Movement/Glen Beck fanaticism would not be near as strong or radical. The simple fact is that the rural/southern white individual who largely makes up these events on the whole does not trust a black man in office. However, I really believe that many of them do not want to be racist or do not even believe that they are racist. I don’t even think that these individuals believe they don’t trust Obama because he is black, but that is certainly part of their mental makeup. Racism and prejudice is something that is often placed on us by our culture, upbringing, cultural stereotypes, and bad experiences. In many ways, it is not always our fault for having these attitudes. However, the important thing is to realize them. Only through an awareness of own ideas and thoughts can we improve. It is like someone who has a traumatic experience and is living with great fear. While the fear is not their fault, it is their responsibility to locate it and therefore, make a change.

We have a choice to live naive lives and really believe ourselves to be so much better and tolerant than we are. However, we actually make much worse choices if we decide to live in denial rather than admit our own weakness. Racism is just one of these areas. We cannot control what culture and society we were put into and what historical baggage is still carried around in our minds. However, we do have a choice to recognize these ideas, feelings, prejudices, and stereotypes in our mind, so we don’t live our lives in denial while in reality still harboring and demonstrating to the world those long held beliefs that are in our minds.

Let’s get past the irrelevant and self-defensive comments of “I’m not a racist” and actually start trying to transform our thinking and the erroneous beliefs that have been placed there, and in the process, help change society. We are not evil because we carry racial prejudices. However, it is evil to refuse to expose them to the light and seek redemption from them.

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Over Christmas time, I went to a Goodwill store in South Carolina. While I was in the store, I lost my cell phone. There was a lady who worked near the dressing room section that seemed a little suspicious to me. First of all, she didn’t seem very friendly. Secondly, she was a larger black female who seemed to have an attitude very similar to students I had when I was teaching at the high school level. And there it is, I automatically jumped to conclusions based on racial and cultural stereotypes.

It is not “correct” to be a racist anymore. Really, according to what people say about themselves, no one is really “racist”. I experienced this in the South. There were people who were so adamant and even hateful against the undocumented workers who were living among them, but in the same breathe would somehow manage to squeeze out, “I’m not racist though”. A humorous example was when I was teaching English down here in Costa Rica. I had a student who said after Obama’s election. “I am glad Obama was elected….except that he is black, but…..I’m not a racist.”

The unwarranted and extreme hatred towards Obama by the fringes in the rights is dripping with racism. If Obama were white; the whole Tea Party Movement/Glen Beck fanaticism would not be near as strong or radical. The simple fact is that the rural/southern white individual who largely makes up these events on the whole does not trust a black man in office. However, I really believe that many of them do not want to be racist or do not even believe that they are racist. I don’t even think that these individuals believe they don’t trust Obama because he is black, but that is certainly part of their mental makeup. Racism and prejudice is something that is often placed on us by our culture, upbringing, cultural stereotypes, and bad experiences. In many ways, it is not always our fault for having these attitudes. However, the important thing is to realize them. Only through an awareness of own ideas and thoughts can we improve. It is like someone who has a traumatic experience and is living with great fear. While the fear is not their fault, it is their responsibility to locate it and therefore, make a change.

We have a choice to live naive lives and really believe ourselves to be so much better and tolerant than we are. However, we actually make much worse choices if we decide to live in denial rather than admit our own weakness. Racism is just one of these areas. We cannot control what culture and society we were put into and what historical baggage is still carried around in our minds. However, we do have a choice to recognize these ideas, feelings, prejudices, and stereotypes in our mind, so we don’t live our lives in denial while in reality still harboring and demonstrating to the world those long held beliefs that are in our minds.

Let’s get past the irrelevant and self-defensive comments of “I’m not a racist” and actually start trying to transform our thinking and the erroneous beliefs that have been placed there, and in the process, help change society. We are not evil because we carry racial prejudices. However, it is evil to refuse to expose them to the light and seek redemption from them.

Read Full Post »

Over Christmas time, I went to a Goodwill store in South Carolina. While I was in the store, I lost my cell phone. There was a lady who worked near the dressing room section that seemed a little suspicious to me. First of all, she didn’t seem very friendly. Secondly, she was a larger black female who seemed to have an attitude very similar to students I had when I was teaching at the high school level. And there it is, I automatically jumped to conclusions based on racial and cultural stereotypes.

It is not “correct” to be a racist anymore. Really, according to what people say about themselves, no one is really “racist”. I experienced this in the South. There were people who were so adamant and even hateful against the undocumented workers who were living among them, but in the same breathe would somehow manage to squeeze out, “I’m not racist though”. A humorous example was when I was teaching English down here in Costa Rica. I had a student who said after Obama’s election. “I am glad Obama was elected….except that he is black, but…..I’m not a racist.”

The unwarranted and extreme hatred towards Obama by the fringes in the rights is dripping with racism. If Obama were white; the whole Tea Party Movement/Glen Beck fanaticism would not be near as strong or radical. The simple fact is that the rural/southern white individual who largely makes up these events on the whole does not trust a black man in office. However, I really believe that many of them do not want to be racist or do not even believe that they are racist. I don’t even think that these individuals believe they don’t trust Obama because he is black, but that is certainly part of their mental makeup. Racism and prejudice is something that is often placed on us by our culture, upbringing, cultural stereotypes, and bad experiences. In many ways, it is not always our fault for having these attitudes. However, the important thing is to realize them. Only through an awareness of own ideas and thoughts can we improve. It is like someone who has a traumatic experience and is living with great fear. While the fear is not their fault, it is their responsibility to locate it and therefore, make a change.

We have a choice to live naive lives and really believe ourselves to be so much better and tolerant than we are. However, we actually make much worse choices if we decide to live in denial rather than admit our own weakness. Racism is just one of these areas. We cannot control what culture and society we were put into and what historical baggage is still carried around in our minds. However, we do have a choice to recognize these ideas, feelings, prejudices, and stereotypes in our mind, so we don’t live our lives in denial while in reality still harboring and demonstrating to the world those long held beliefs that are in our minds.

Let’s get past the irrelevant and self-defensive comments of “I’m not a racist” and actually start trying to transform our thinking and the erroneous beliefs that have been placed there, and in the process, help change society. We are not evil because we carry racial prejudices. However, it is evil to refuse to expose them to the light and seek redemption from them.

Read Full Post »

This week, one of the great progressive thinkers, writers, and historians passed away-Howard Zinn. What he did for the progressive movement throughout his 87 years of life was incredible, and what he did for History was monumental. Few individuals are willing to challenge and look at the way we view history and our society. People don’t realize that much of the History they learned in school was used to basically promote patriotism. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this at a young age, to teach at the high school level (like I received in school) or beyond is dangerous for students who are trying to gain a true sense of the world, its history and their place in it.

Zinn’s most famous book was A People’s History of the United States. Essentially, Zinn decided to show history from the view of the poor, the slave, the immigrant, the Native American, the worker, and the oppressed. History has been said to be the view of the victors. Zinn tried to show the view from the other side of the aisle. He tried to show the view of the poor man who was drafted into a Revolutionary Cause which in reality was not going to make any difference in his life, the life of the worker working in conditions worse than slavery for the price of industrial development.  I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book and his other literature. His legacy will live on, and as a History teacher I am extremely grateful for his contribution to our field.

Here is a great article I found related to his last conversations with a Jewish Rabbi regarding the Independence from the Military-Corporation. It seems to the very end, he didn’t stop fighting for the causes and ideas, and more importantly, the oppressed and poor, who he spent his whole life trying to bring to public attention.

Howard Zinn’s Last Advice to Me (and America): Independence from the Military-Corporation-Rabbi Arthur Waskow-

http://blog.sojo.net/2010/01/28/howard-zinns-last-advice-independence-from-the-military-corporation/

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This past week my tax rate went up slightly. Though it wasn’t very much, I still felt the original thoughts of frustration. However, as I thought it about it, I realized it was actually a good thing. You see, the income taxes here all go to support the public healthcare system, which is given for free to everyone in the country legal and illegal (which here they feel is their moral obligation as a society based on Christian values). I am happy that through the tax rate increase they might help improve the facilities, train more individuals, and give more quality care.

I remember talking to one of my students about this issue when I was teaching English down here. Though he used private insurance through his job, he talked about how he was happy to give his income to support the healthcare system, because if it was not his child that might need it someday, it could be the child of another individual. That is the type of attitude I think is essential. As Justice Oliver Wendell Homes put it, “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” Though there is certainly needs to be high restraint and accountability on how that money is used, taxes do not always need to be seen in a drudging and depressing way. If it wasn’t for taxes, that nice road you drive on to work would never have been constructed, that police officer you can call at a moment’s notice would never have been there, that school where you were educated would not have been available. In any country there will be people who will be angry about how their taxes are spent (I know I feel a little annoyed knowing how much of my tax money went to military spending when I was working in the States). However, try to be thankful in realizing the some of the positive things your taxes can do, build schools, help out the less fortunate, build a safe infrastructure for you and your family.

Maybe, if the people realized this they would stop protesting in the streets over higher taxes for healthcare, and actually start realizing that through their tax increase could actually be used to help out many people who are trying to fight for their families health in a broken system which keeps them shut out because of greed and indifference. So next time you feel frustration or anger about your taxes, why don’t just at least take 5 seconds to be thankful for some of the positive ways it is benefiting you and those around you. I guarantee you will be much happier and feel much more fulfilled. We can choose to live in anger or we can find the good in situations which may initially seem negative.

Read Full Post »

This past week my tax rate went up slightly. Though it wasn’t very much, I still felt the original thoughts of frustration. However, as I thought it about it, I realized it was actually a good thing. You see, the income taxes here all go to support the public healthcare system, which is given for free to everyone in the country legal and illegal (which here they feel is their moral obligation as a society based on Christian values). I am happy that through the tax rate increase they might help improve the facilities, train more individuals, and give more quality care.

I remember talking to one of my students about this issue when I was teaching English down here. Though he used private insurance through his job, he talked about how he was happy to give his income to support the healthcare system, because if it was not his child that might need it someday, it could be the child of another individual. That is the type of attitude I think is essential. As Justice Oliver Wendell Homes put it, “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” Though there is certainly needs to be high restraint and accountability on how that money is used, taxes do not always need to be seen in a drudging and depressing way. If it wasn’t for taxes, that nice road you drive on to work would never have been constructed, that police officer you can call at a moment’s notice would never have been there, that school where you were educated would not have been available. In any country there will be people who will be angry about how their taxes are spent (I know I feel a little annoyed knowing how much of my tax money went to military spending when I was working in the States). However, try to be thankful in realizing the some of the positive things your taxes can do, build schools, help out the less fortunate, build a safe infrastructure for you and your family.

Maybe, if the people realized this they would stop protesting in the streets over higher taxes for healthcare, and actually start realizing that through their tax increase could actually be used to help out many people who are trying to fight for their families health in a broken system which keeps them shut out because of greed and indifference. So next time you feel frustration or anger about your taxes, why don’t just at least take 5 seconds to be thankful for some of the positive ways it is benefiting you and those around you. I guarantee you will be much happier and feel much more fulfilled. We can choose to live in anger or we can find the good in situations which may initially seem negative.

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Of all the issues that have left me in shock in the realm of U.S. politics over the last couple of months, nothing was worse than the decision this past week by the Supreme Court. It overruled the long standing precedent of the limitations of corporations and unions giving to advertisement to support political candidates. Essentially, corporations can give whatever they want to political advertisement, because in some way the conservative judges say this is their “freedom of speech”. While they can skew it any way that they would like, this decision is disastrous to the health of a democracy. The rich and powerful will gain even more and more control, and the common man will be left with nothing.

Do you understand what this entails? The corruption that is already rampant in politics has essentially become legalized. We already know that congressman won’t stand up to the banks, health insurance companies, oil companies, etc, because of the benefits they receive from them. However, now it just allows these groups even more power in the government. A few years ago, Senator Feingold of Wisconsin and former Republican Candidate McCain understood the danger of the stockholders, CEO’s, and greed overcoming the voice of the people, so they helped to restrict the power of these groups in regards to political financing. However, these 5 judges who have voted this reversal of long standing precedents are essentially selling out the democracy to special interests. I don’t care if you are Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, this is outrageous. Maybe this is a test if movements such as the Tea Party are actual populist movements (which would be outraged by this bill) or an extension of the Republican Party (in which they will not be, because it will support their interests).

If we continue down this path, I don’t know what the health of democracy will be in 20 years. The gap between rich and poor will continue to skyrocket. The helpless and defenseless will be left without a voice. We will continue to decline in education, and the actual physical health of the nation will be at an abysmal level. I hope the congress comes and finds a bill to replace this outrageous ruling, before our Republic simply becomes a corrupt Oligarchy guised in the form of a democracy.

Edward Dolling made an interesting point, “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.(1941).”

It is time for the common man to stand up and declare their individual voice; otherwise democracy will be nothing but a façade for the rich and powerful to take more and more control.

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