Today was a full day of cultural attunement. I started presenting to a group of social workers, teachers, day care providers (with my awesome co-presenter JVB!). We talked about how racism (ageism, ableism, homophobia, classism…) discrimination and oppression are still alive and well. We had a great morning of discussion and problem solving and inspiring each other. (We do take our show on the road if you are interested… and by “the road” I mean any state, any continent)
*side note about evaluations. I read all the evals I get, I take them seriously and make changes that are needed. But if your write on your evaluation, “The presenters should have told us where the bathrooms are” then I am not going to take your comments seriously. It is one big room, with a hallway that is so short you can see the bathroom door. And when I apologize for the IT issues because the internet was not working well in the building, you do not need to add that to the evaluation b/c I know. I told you. (for a few more of my thoughts on filling out evaluations click here)
Back to the issue at hand. Cultural attunement. This is not about being culturally competent. This is not about knowing facts about cultures different than our own. This is about truly having the desire to learn, be curious, humble, reverent, acknowledgment of history and oppression.
A few minutes ago, I found this link, to and article about a recent “incident” in Flordia. I call it an incident because apparently shooting a teenager who is walking down the street is not a crime. I have read a lot about this case, I am outraged about it, and about Florida law which allows you to shoot someone if you feel threatened. So if I lived in Florida and some kid was walking down my street and I, from my living room, felt threatened by this person, who was walking, on public property, I could shoot him. I feel a lot safer knowing this law is in place. I also am going to stop walking anywhere in the state of Florida.
*Another digression. Did you know there is also a law in Florida that makes it illegal for pediatricians to talk about gun safety with parents. They can talk about seat belts and bike helmets, but they can NOT recommend that parents keep their guns locked in a safe place. (If you think this is a good law, please do NOT comment about it on my blog, I will freak and have to write more about it…)
Back to the issue again. So I have read lots about this “incident” (meaning: crime, hate crime, racism, murder… you can pick) but this article had a couple of really good quotes.
“Black teenagers scare some people; therefore, walking while black is a dangerous thing to do in some places, some times.”
“We have to fix this; we have to address the ways racism in these United States is like a virus that mutates and continues to infect us. Our children are not born to hate, nor are they born with fear. But adults who have the virus can harm them, and children can catch the virus, too.”
“Send a bag of Skittles to the Sanford Florida police department. And post a photo of yourself or your friends on Facebook or Twitter in a hoodie, with the caption: “Warning: We are NOT dangerous, racism is.”
If white people (which I am one of) admits that racism, discrimination, oppression is alive and well in the USA, then they have to change, and they have to give some things up. And they have to be uncomfortable. So, it is better to ignore the problem, give excuses, blame the past. Get over yourself. There is no one person in this world better than another and if you think there is not a racism problem in America, put on a hoddie, pull your jeans low and talk a walk in a Florida neighborhood.