Poverty Shaming

I was surprised to see a former military leader suggest the presence of robots at a fast food restaurant was the result of workers demanding an increase in the minimum wage.

There was no blame for the housing industry which has made it difficult for a person with one minimum wage job to afford a place to live or energy companies which are enjoying record setting profits while charging record-setting prices or any other entity which has contributed to a higher cost of living in this country.

Nope. All blame was directed at workers trying to keep their heads above water.

I guess I just expected a little more compassion…

The income-inequality trajectory observed in the United States is largely due to massive educational inequalities, combined with a tax system that grew less progressive…” ~ Beatrice Dupuy, Newsweek

Inhale Compassion, Exhale Inequality…
Inhale Compassion, Exhale Greed…
Inhale Compassion, Exhale Excess…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Citizens All

I heard a former Army officer claim a level of U.S citizenship above those who had not served. But we don’t convey citizenry based on military service, race, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation; all born or naturalized in the U.S have the same rights and responsibilities.

At least, that’s what our founding documents proclaim…

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”  14th Amendment

Inhale Equality, Exhale Exclusivity…
Inhale Responsibility, Exhale Avoiding Duty…
Inhale Citizenry, Exhale Captivity…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Civic Duty

I had my first civilian jury duty last week. I WANTED to serve, although just for a short case, and that’s exactly what happened. I haven’t been able to format my experience in a way that fits this space but I know it was vastly different from the other jurors because of how we responded to the information we were give.

The trail reinforced for me the need to have defendants judged by their peers. And since we live in a country that incarcerates black and brown people at 5.1 and 1.4 (respectively) times the rate of whites, to me, that means more people of color need to be in the jury box.

Inhale Civic Duty, Exhale Excuses…
Inhale Fairness, Exhale Prejudice…
Inhale Justice, Exhale Systemic Injustice…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Who Am I?

How do the descendants of the colonized, de-colonize ourselves? How do we recognize what is ours and what has been imposed on us? How do we differentiate between behaviors indigenous to our ancestors or adopted to survive in an environment where they were desired and despised? And does it matter to our current reality?

“Who are you?” Wakandan greeting, Black Panther

Inhale Whole, Exhale Broken…
Inhale Reclaimed, Exhale Disconnected…
Inhale Culture, Exhale Acculturated…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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Posture of Permission

“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” ~ Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, United States Navy.

It recently occurred to me that the concept of “begging forgiveness” versus “asking permission” (something I was exposed to in the Air Force) is a dominant culture posture. The idea of not waiting for anyone else’s approval to do the things required to succeed implies a freedom not usually intentionally afforded to people outside the dominant group.

The freedom to take a risk, to venture in different direction, to escape the control of a dominant group that demands compliance of non-members to rules it doesn’t follow, is a freedom we non-members sometimes don’t even realize we are missing…

“And those virtues preached but not practiced by the white world were merely another means of holding Negroes in subjection.” ~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Inhale Entitled to, Exhale Withholding of…
Inhale Implied Permission, Exhale Automatic Prohibition…
Inhale Freedom for All, Exhale Selective Control…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

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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 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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American Poverty

“According to the Census Bureau, nearly 41 million people in the U.S. live in poverty. That’s second-highest rate of poverty among rich countries, as measured by the percentage of people earning less than half the national median income.” ~ Carlos Ballesteros, Newsweek

This week, the United Nations is reporting on third world poverty and disease right here in First World America.

So I’m thinking that instead of some quilt assuaging, economy-disrupting, seed packaging, give-away to an impoverished country, maybe some of the mega-churches in this country could tend to the impoverished right here in America.

“Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6: 17-19, MSG

Inhale Do Good, Exhale Poverty…
Inhale Help Others, Exhale Poverty…
Inhale Give Generously, Exhale Poverty…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections with Renita

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Fake Christianity…

Why are we even paying attention to those who call themselves Christians but ignore what and who Jesus paid attention to? Why do we continue to give credence to those who claim Christ but don’t reflect Christ in their attitude or actions? Why do we allow the amplification of “Christian” voices that spew separation and fear?

“What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” Matthew 16: 26, MSG

Inhale Peace, Exhale Poverty…
Inhale Passion, Exhale Poverty…
Inhale God’s Promises, Exhale Poverty…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
Reflections with Renita

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American Exceptionalism

This summer, I participated in a curated discussion exploring the black experience through television. After watching ‘black-ish” the exceptional creation of Kenya Barris, one of the white male participants voiced his objection to the Johnson’s acting white. When pressed, he couldn’t quite explain how they were acting white, except they live in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood, drive expensive cars and wear fabulous shoes.

I saw his reaction as a demonstration of the way Americans equate wealth with whiteness. So ingrained in the American psyche is this idea of white wealth and, conversely, black poverty, that whole black communities have been destroyed by whites, indignant that blacks would possess material wealth reserved ONLY, they believed, for whites.

Today, that same sentiment is expressed in the extra security for people of color shopping in swanky stores, the harassment, even arrest of non-whites trying to deposit big checks and of course, the consistent assumption that people of color couldn’t possibly afford first class.

And since we know that any escalation will probably end badly for us…’cause racism… we resort to recording the woman who thinks she should board the plane ahead of us.

Inhale Deeply, Exhale Anger…
Inhale Slowly, Exhale Hostility…
Inhale Fully, Exhale Escalation…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe
Reflections with Renita

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