Melting Pot…?

I watched some of the PBS series on Italian Americans last weekend, and I was struck most by the fear this new group of immigrants generated in the European Americans who were already established in this country. Like the Irish who had come earlier in the century, Italian Americans faced negative stereotyping, discrimination and violence.

I was reminded that the struggle to live up to the ideals of our founding has existed since America came to exist. I was also reminded that the achievement of ‘whiteness” available to these groups seems to have robbed them of their collective memories of prejudice and distrust experienced by their ancestors.

If they remembered, would that change their attitudes?

“Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation.” ~ Coretta Scott King

Inhale Acceptance, Exhale Abhorrence …
Inhale Immigration, Exhale Marginalization…
Inhale Humanity, Exhale Antipathy…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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American Complicity

I suspect the one third of Americans who still approve of #45 is the same one third who frequently invite the one third they’ve identified as the “others” to just leave America. Or if they stay, to be denied full access to citizenship, preferably while serving time or detained in an ICE center….and servicing the government for free. OR be exterminated.

And if the remaining one third is disengaged, that could happen.

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” ~ Haile Selassie

Inhale Engagement, Exhale Indifference…
Inhale Speaking, Exhale Silence…
Inhale Action, Exhale Complicity…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Leadership Responsibility

I peeked at the news last week to catch the reaction to retiring Tennessee Senator Bob Corker’s comments about #45. Corker had a lot to say; his most shocking to me was that #45’s reckless threats toward other countries could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

Whoa…what?! So let me understand this…the GOP leadership recognizes the danger represented by #45, the potential for World War, the possibility for world destruction…and they’re unwilling to take action?

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inhale Statesmanship, Exhale Showmanship…
Inhale Gravitas, Exhale Frivolity…
Inhale Governing, Exhale Hypocrisy…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Looking for Leadership In All the Wrong Places…

In response to #45’s support of white supremacists rioting in Charlottesville this past August, author J.K. Rowling posted: “One good thing about that abomination of a speech: it’s now impossible for any Trump supporter to pretend they don’t know what he is.”

I would say that many if not most of the people who voted #45 into office knew exactly who he was and like him just the way he is. And J.K. knows a thing or two about the type of people who support a would be autocrat…

“They were a mixture of the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking glory, and the thuggish seeking a leader who could show them more refined cruelty…” ~ Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, character from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books

Inhale Leadership, Exhale Weakness…
Inhale Leadership, Exhale Oppression…
Inhale Leadership, Exhale Evil…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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The Evil Men Do…

People want to ascribe evil to only the most extreme behavior and label it inhuman. But evil is an all TOO human characteristic. And just like all the “isms” plaguing American society, is rooted in human frailty and fear.

“Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.” ~ W. H. Auden, English poet

Inhale Conscience, Exhale Corruption…
Inhale Morality, Exhale Apathy…
Inhale Humanity, Exhale Evil…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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My Community

I don’t usually miss the Chicago Marathon. If I’m in town, I’m usually on the east side of Michigan Ave, between 13th and 14th streets, rooting for anyone I know, calling out the runners with names pasted on their shirts, and reminding them there is less than half a mile to the finish line. I’ve seen sweet proposals, runners supporting other runners who are just trying to finish and efficient emergency response when needed.

This year I stood next to a family from Iowa as they waited patiently for their runner, pride streaming down their faces when they spotted her. I cheered for Brittney too, and for the husband who spotted his wife standing next to me and detoured to get some love.

I felt the energy of my fellow Chicagoans standing next to strangers and encouraging other strangers to FINISH…and it felt good.

“People are hard to hate close-up. Move in.” Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness

Inhale Community, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Connection, Exhale Distance…
Inhale Civility, Exhale Disinterest…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Traumatized

Scholars like Dr. Joy DeGruy have theorized that white supremacy has traumatized black AND white Americans. “Black people are afraid of a government which has not and will not protect them; white people are afraid that perhaps their injustice, or complicity in the dispensing of injustice, will come back to haunt them.”

That fear of retaliation is at the core of the gun debate…it’s why hate groups have found a safe haven in those institutions initially created to hunt slaves and why the FBI has never referred to the KKK as a terrorist group but recently labeled those peacefully protesting the violence against black bodies “black identity extremists” and warned that police attacks on black Americans could spur “premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence” against the police.

It’s a fear that’s rooted in fantasy, not reality, and yet has resulted in real oppression, real harassment, and real deaths.

“What a world this will be when human possibilities are freed, when we discover each other, when the stranger is no longer the potential criminal and the certain inferior!” ~ W. E. B. Du Bois

Inhale Reality, Exhale Fantasy…
Inhale Compassion, Exhale Complicity…
Inhale Justice, Exhale Guilt…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Distracted

While people are using social media to protest Dove’s awkward attempt at “representing women of color thoughtfully” (their words), #45’s FBI has apparently launched COINTELPRO 2.0 to target and discredit what they’ve labeled “black identity extremists.”

The FBI has a history of targeting activists fighting for equality and social justice; in this latest move, the Bureau has “conjured’ extremists from peaceful protestors, who they say pose a growing threat to law enforcement.

And while it may not have been intentional, the Dove ad is just a distraction.

“All we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.’ If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.” ~ Martin Luther King, I’ve Been To The Mountain Top, April 3, 1968

Inhale Focus, Exhale Distractions…
Inhale Protest, Exhale Discredited…
Inhale Freedom, Exhale Denial…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Energy Conservation

We keep spending our precious energy on wanting things to be different…wishing things were different…protesting that things aren’t different. We expend energy on everything except making a difference through our choices, decisions and actions.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” Matthew 5:13 MSG

Inhale Choosing, Exhale Wanting…
Inhale Deciding, Exhale Wishing…
Inhale Acting, Exhale Wasting Energy…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Dignity and Respect

US Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt Gen Jay Silveria was rightfully applauded for his forceful comments against racism after racial slurs appeared on the message boards of Black cadets enrolled at the Academy Prep School.

This Air Force vet is proud he spoke out and I look forward to his words being enforced when those who know the culprits report them to authorities and when those in authority expel those responsible.

If you can’t treat someone from another race or with different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.” ~ Lt Gen Jay Silveria, US Air Force Academy Superintendent

Inhale Respect, Exhale Racism…
Inhale Resolve, Exhale Resignation…
Inhale Resolute, Exhale Retraction…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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