Are we being too sensitive and becoming desensitized?

27 07 2011

Work sent me overseas to a Latin American country and some of my co-workers called all men Pedro. It was a joke and nobody really cared. But that got me thinking, if they did that at home in the US, people would be offended, even if there were not Latinos. This got me wondering, is the effort to not offend anybody going too far, to the point of being silly? Are we so vulnerable that anything can hurt us?

In my friend’s child soccer team, there are no goalies; no body wins or loses. I understand and agree that the game is supposed to be fun, and that US society tends to be extremely competitive, but trying to shield children from the experience of loosing a game may give them a false sense of entitlement and deny them the opportunity of learning how to lose; which frankly is as important as learning how to win.

We walk around on egg shells trying so hard not to hurt anybody’s feelings. Could it be that by not being exposed to disappointment and pain that we are creating children and adults with no empathy? Do you think a bully would do what they do if they had gone through something similar?

I see kids videotaping themselves hitting others, doing flash mobs of theft and other unimaginable things with no regard for consequences. If you don’t learn early on the consequences for your actions, than you may think there are none.

Can we be honest with each other and just let somebody know when their behavior crossed the line. How about if we have the conversations instead of trying so hard that we don’t say anything meaningful anymore.

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Who is a real African-American?

21 05 2009

I came across this news story and could not believe it, a man got expelled from a university for claiming to be African-American. This is absurd!!!

What was the problem you may ask, well he is white. This guy is a white man from Africa who became a US citizen, how should he call himself? In this era of hyphenated nationalities or ethnicities what is right and what is wrong?  Who is a real African American, a Black American or an African that became American? Who makes the rules? 

Paulo Serodio says he is.

Born and raised in Mozambique and now a naturalized U.S. citizen, Serodio, 45, has filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey medical school, claiming he was harassed and ultimately suspended for identifying himself during a class cultural exercise as a “white African-American.”

After Serodio labeled himself as a white African-American, another student said she was offended by his comments and that, because of his white skin, was not an African-American.

According to the lawsuit, Serodio was summoned to Duncan’s office where he was instructed “never to define himself as an African-American … because it was offensive to others and to people of color for him to do so.”

You can read the rest of the story here

His was instructed to never define himself as what he is African-American, because the label here in the US has certain parameters that never accounted for other possibilities. African Americans can only be black? How about a black person from Europe, that comes to America, could they be European American? they certainly do not have the African American culture. How about a person of Asian descent, that is also Latino? What can they call themselves, they look Asian but have the Latino Culture. It is 2009, we have an “African American” president. The world is getting smaller by the minute. Isn’t it time to open our minds and our hearts and stop the bickering?





La Raza – Is it Racism?

22 07 2008
I have read many people criticising the National Council of La Raza, claiming it is racist, today I found this article where they are defending themselves against those accusations.
 
NCLR Defends its Name, Literally
Hiram Soto,
Article in Spanish here

Editor’s Note: The Latino rights organization National Council of La Raza says the controversy over its name is the result of a word lost in translation.

SAN DIEGO – The National Council of La Raza spends most of its time protecting and advancing the rights of Latinos through advocacy and community work. But as it wrapped up its convention in San Diego last week, it found itself defending its name.

That’s because activists who oppose illegal immigration are saying in e-mails, during street protests and through the media that “La Raza” means “The Race,” and have been calling the organization a hate group. Read the rest of this entry »





Blacks vs. Latinos: Competition is None

27 05 2008

I have heard that there is a historic conflict between African Americans and Latinos, I certainly don’t understand why. Here is an article writen about this subject. 

Blacktino e-News Network, Commentary, Kevin Alberto Sabio, Posted: Feb 02, 2008

Editors note: Kevin Sabio continues his series exploring the historical events and cultural assumptions that shape how African Americans and Latinos perceive and, ultimately, interact with each other.

One of the main sticking points in this supposed conflict between our two communities is the scarcity of jobs, and the fact that African Americans feel that the incoming Latino immigrants (whether legal or illegal) are taking those jobs away that rightfully belong to them.

There is also the feeling that Latinos are encroaching onto other societal territories that used to be predominated by African Americans, and are in a sense pushing them out, or making them obsolete. These points, among others, should be thoroughly examined, and put into their proper prospective.

Jobs/Employment

So, exactly which jobs exist that only African Americans can do? Read the rest of this entry »





Another Side to Race and Immigration

24 05 2008

I found this article that certainly reflects what I have been seeing in the news lately:

Black Commentator, Commentary, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Posted: Jul 29, 2007

Editor’s Note: U.S. immigration policies affect Irish and European immigrants as well as those from South and Central America, Africa and Asia. But it’s the Latino face that has become the poster child for promoting anti-immigrant platforms.

It really hit me in the 1980s while living in Boston. At that time the southern Irish economy was a complete mess. People were the greatest export from Ireland, and a lot of them were coming to the USA. At the same time, immigration from Haiti and the Dominican Republic was increasing, and into Boston these three groups came.

Documented or undocumented all three groups found themselves looking for work and housing. As a struggle for the rights of immigrants and against discrimination emerged, Haitians and Dominicans began to coalesce, but the Irish were a bit stand-offish. Immigrant rights activists were at first perplexed until they uncovered that the Irish were being encouraged by Irish American politicians to keep themselves separate from other immigrant groups because it was likely that a ‘special’ deal could be cut for them.

To put it another way, the Irish were being trained to become and accept becoming white.

The public face of immigration in the USA is not a rainbow; it is brown. Don’t get me wrong. People from Asia, Africa, Europe AND Latin America are migrating to the USA, among other places. Yet in the popular media the portrayal of the immigrant is usually that of a Latino. Periodically one sees the face of an Asian or African. Rarely, unless one is discussing the Russian mafia, does the European face of immigration come to be unveiled.

When you see the news report that they have apprehended undocumented or illegal Read the rest of this entry »





Being Color Blind

21 05 2008

Can people be really color blind? No!! unless you have a psychical condition that does not allow you to see or differentiate colors, no my friend you are not color blind.

That said I believe that there is a possibility of being race blind. This is how I explain this, when I see people, I can see their skin color, their hair texture, their features, those things defined as race, but I do not have personal characteristics attached to those physical traits, I do not have an expectation of how they are supposed to act, speak, think or feel, because of those physical characteristics.

Do you think they care abour race?They can see that their colors are different, but can they see race?
no, that is the social construct that separates…remember divide and conquer? Until they are socialized one way or the other, they don’t see their race or skin color as good or bad.

Would it be nice if we could stay that pure and innocent?

 As I have said before I grew up in a society of mixed people, so mixed that Read the rest of this entry »





What does it mean to be White or act White?

14 05 2008

 

I have learned that the term white is given to Americans of European descents that are assimilated to the “American way of life”. I have friends born in Latin America of European parents and that are not considered White, I don’t really understand why.

 

For some people being white means to be embarrassed or feel guilt for what your ancestors or the ancestors of other whites did. I think that is not fair. I understand that white people in the US have advantages that others don’t, but they have no control over what their ancestors did 50 and 100 years ago.

 

I also don’t agree with those that promote and practice racism of any kind. I believe that there is an inherent prejudice in people raised in the US, just by the fact of growing in such a racialized society, but it is something that people can become aware, acknowledge and overcome.

 

I have asked around and have concluded that acting white means that you are acting outside the racial stereotype assigned to you.

 

But what does it really mean to be white? And how about White privilege?

 

I read an essay by Peggy McIntosh, where she analyses what it means to be white, here is an excerpt. 

I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.

 

Photo by Roanne Sharp

 

This portion brings it home to me, I hope it does to you as well. 

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.

12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

16. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.

17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.

18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.

20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.

25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.

26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.

27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.

28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.

29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.

30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.

31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.

32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.

33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.

36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.

37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.

38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.

39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.

40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.

43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.

44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.

45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.

46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.

47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.

48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.

49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.

50. I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

You can find the rest of her essay here