Otherism

There is no universal black experience in America, no one way of being black, yet black people STAY tryna revoke folks’ black cards, trade those who have transgressed or deny other people’s blackness based on …
the familiarity of their lived experiences…
the amount of melanin in their skin…
the ingredients in their potato salad…
the political party with whom they identify…
how they speak English…
the race of their significant other …
their perceived level of “wokeness”… etc. etc.

My question…how does any one thing become the signifier of blackness?

“I am because we are.” ~ Ubuntu Philosophy

Inhale Experience, Exhale Exclusion…
Inhale Similarities, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Differences, Exhale Division…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Colorism

Some strain of colorism exists in every colonized country. And as bad as it is in America, from what I understand it is much worse in countries with a rigid caste system.

But it’s pretty bad in America. And though black Americans didn’t invent colorism, we seem committed to see each other through its filter… which can prevent us from recognizing the magnificent humanity in all of us, regardless of our color.

Until we see each other, and ourselves, we do not exist.

“Sawu bona (I see you)” “Ngikhona” (I Am Here)” ~ Zulu greeting and response

Inhale The Rich Spectrum of Blackness, Exhale Colorism…
Inhale Acceptance, Exhale Colorism…
Inhale Humanity, Exhale Colorism…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Bi-Racial

I have always understood that most black Americans have some European DNA but I recently read a study which reported essentially ALL black American descendants of enslaved Africans have European ancestry.

Hmmm … so, basically errbody.

That means whether the introduction of European genes in your black gene pool was limited to the rape of an enslaved ancestor by a white male (a frequent occurrence after the transatlantic slave trade was halted), or your DNA reflects a more recent and/or consensual ingress of white DNA…it’s in there.

And I think that is a good reason to dispense with the “blacker than thou” dismissal of our more obviously mixed race brothers and sisters who claim their blackness.

Inhale Inclusion, Exhale Exclusion…
Inhale Unity, Exhale Division…
Inhale Humanity, Exhale Separation…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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If She Can, I Can…

I usually describe my last military job as the city manager for a small city, in this case the 6th largest city…in South Dakota!

The selection for this group-level command position was a two-step process; first I had to be nominated, then selected for a specific open position. I was on the list of nominees but couldn’t think of one single black woman group commander and I felt discouraged about my chances to be selected.

Then I remembered Brigadier General Toreaser A. Steele, who as a Colonel commanded the 737th Training Group at Lackland Air Force Base in San AntonioTexas.

General Steel represented what was possible and gave me the confidence that what I thought was impossible was possible for me!

Inhale Representation, Exhale Rejection…
Inhale Participation, Exhale Exclusion…
Inhale Possibilities, Exhale Limiting Beliefs…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#Representation

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The Sunken Place

The Oscar nominated film “Get Out” would not have been made if its Oscar nominated director, Jordan Peele, had limited himself to what he thought he was allowed to do.

Peele believed that black people did not direct films because that was the reality he experienced and so assumed that activity was not available to him. His limiting beliefs influenced his decision to leave his “dream of being a director.” *

In his own words, Peele had internalized what the dominant culture told him was available to him as a black man in American. He internalized as reality that his dream was reserved primarily for white males.

Peele did what many non-dominant group members do … something else.

This is the “sunken place” of unrealized, unheard, unseen dreams.

Thankfully, like his film’s hero, he didn’t stay there.

“Please remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear.” ~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Inhale Limitless, Exhale Unrealized…
Inhale Authentic, Exhale Unheard…
Inhale Free, Exhale Unseen…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

* LA Times interview with Jen Yamato,  Jan 23, 2018.

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Dominant Impact

The permissions granted to white Americans but denied to America’s citizens of color have created a sense of entitlement among the former and often sucked the hope of life from the latter.

A European, middle-class, “Christian” culture dominating all social constructs in this country has given white males in particular the confidence to act on whatever good or evil impulse they have.

Black Americans, on the other hand, frequently withhold permissions from themselves and their children to take life-affirming actions because of a sometimes imagined but often real risk of life-altering consequences.

… the fear he hears in the voices of his elders is…another fear, a fear that the child, in challenging the white world’s assumptions, was putting himself in the path of destruction.” ~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Inhale Integration, Exhale Assimilation…
Inhale Acculturation, Exhale Compliance…
Inhale Freedom, Exhale Control…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Irony Deficient: Part 4

Whether looking for opportunity or looking to escape oppression, immigrants have believed in the idea of America even as America becomes less welcoming. But it is not the opening of America that will deplete us. It is the isolating, the narrowing, the closing of America and the building of walls to keep those we fear out…that’s what will drain us.

The irony is those who would make America great want to shut and bolt the door.

Inhale Openness, Exhale Persecution…
Inhale Opportunity, Exhale Oppression…
Inhale Freedom, Exhale Fear…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Irony Deficient: Part 3

Each wave of immigrants to this country has been “othered” by the entrenched immigrants already here. Every group fighting for equality and authenticity has been “othered” by those who have won their battles. How ironic that once our own “tribe” achieves recognition, we don’t support the struggles of others to enjoy the full rights and privileges of being Americans.

“..belonging and inclusion [is] the only sustainable solution to the problem of othering.” ~ john a. powell and Stephen Menendian, Inclusiveness and Belonging

Inhale Welcoming, Exhale “Othering”…
Inhale Belonging, Exhale Excluding…
Inhale Including, Exhale Hostility…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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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

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