I is for Inequality

This month, I am participating in a rather LARGE blogging challenge which involves writing a series of 26 posts – one for each letter of the alphabet – based around a theme. My theme is about nature and all its amazing features. The Tao Te Ching speaks often of nature and then patterns of nature are where the I Ching gets its roots.

So, today is all about Inequality. It’s gonna be a long one, so grab a cup of coffee if you’d like and settle in.

Animals have played games of power with each other since the Earth began. Many animals even kill their own kind for purposes of gaining power in the community and a variety of other reasons. But mankind is unique in the variety of ways we are unkind to each other. One way that we are unkind is by not treating each other as true equals.

Inequality is a topic that I have been wanting to write about for some time now. I’ve recently been taking a class called Beloved Conversations.  Beloved Conversations is about bringing the topic of race relations to the forefront. It is about me, a white privileged woman, taking a long hard look at my own biases. I have to say – it hasn’t been pretty!

I thought that issues of race did not apply to me. Yeah, sure, I don’t have a lot of black friends, but I am not a racist, am I? If there are any parts of me that are not kind or fair, I feel that I am consciously trying to root them out. I’ve have good intentions. Good intentions aren’t enough, though, I am learning. In order for us to root out the ways that we often unintentionally hurt each other, we need to step out into that uncomfortable zone beyond our good intentions. We need to look more deeply at how we are mistreating others, purposely or otherwise. It is our responsibility to figure this out, just like it is our responsibility to know the rules of the road when we step behind the wheel. To learn more, we can follow what is happening in the #BlackLivesMatter movement or we can study what we can about white privilege and white fragility – both excellent, eye-opening pieces!

So let’s go back a few years, to a critical tipping point of this racial unsettledness in the U.S… For the past eight years, we’ve had a Black president in the U.S. There are many people that hate Obama. You could say that people just don’t like him, but there have been many presidents in the past that have been disliked, and they were treated with more respect than Obama has been treated. They don’t just dislike him, they hate him. I have seen nothing that he has done to deserve that. People would never have said or done many of the things if it had been a white guy in the White House. What is the cause of all this distrust of Obama? Is it all because his ideas are so bad or is there something else there? Something way more subtle? When I listen to Obama, I hear a man that is passionate and wise. He seems to have a solid head on his shoulders.

So what causes this level of hatred? I think that it is the disruption of white privilege. A new layer in the onion that is racism. Sure, we seem on the surface to be fine with each other, at least from a white perspective. Everyone has equal rights now, right? Problem solved… well, not quite.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is big news right now. In 14 large cities across the U.S., the only people killed by police were black people in 2015. My local city, Minneapolis, was one of those cities. Some say that they do not approve of the way that the Black Lives Matter campaign is being run. Sure, but can you see that we have a bigger problem here? The statistics are there.

People are also arguing that all lives matter, not just black lives. In taking the Beloved Conversations course, one of the things that I have learned is that it is common “white privilege” thinking to try and be included in everything, that we see equality as us sharing the load. We don’t share the load. White people don’t get to include themselves in the Black Lives Matter slogan. No. It is NOT ABOUT white people. This movement is specifically about blacks dying – dying without any possibility of a fair trial or a chance to defend themselves. It is not racist to not include white people. White people are not included, intentionally, because our default way of involving ourselves is part of the underlying problem. It is yet another subtle way of taking over the stage. This issue needs to be addressed, and it is a difficult one because it is buried in our subconscious way that we interact with each other. People don’t readily see their own biases.

What happens when people are forced to look at their own negative patterns is that they first get angry. Look at the anger that is bubbling up in the Trump campaign. I see his campaign success as a backlash of the fear that white privilege is losing ground and people are really uncomfortable with that. Not just white privilege, but religious privilege – moral privilege. This translates as the right to tell others how to live their lives and what to believe, who to marry, etc. People are really angry about losing this privilege and they are showing up in droves at Trump rallies. It is scary stuff, but we need to have some compassion. This is a very difficult time for all of us. We are unraveling ancient patterns of inequity and it is not easy for anyone to go through this. I believe in the goodness of humanity, despite some very dark moments. We can do this. We can see the anger of the Trump supporters as people that are having some difficulties with letting go of the control they once had.

We can all relate to how hard that is… We can have faith that the goodness of humanity will result, as it has throughout history. If you look back to historical moments like the Civil Rights Movement in the 50’s and 60’s, people then didn’t want to change either. They were angry, just like they are now. But they eventually learned to adapt. They will learn again. It’s a hard road, but I believe that change will come.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.  ~Bob Dylan

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This post is part of a series called the A to Z Blogging Challenge, taking place during the month of April 2016. Each day is a new letter throughout the month. My theme this month is NATURE. To view other bloggers writing about this alphabet, check out the list here.  

If you are enjoying the A – Z Challenge and want more blogging connection in your daily life, considering joining our Inspired Blogging Group on Facebook! 

The list so far…

A is for Aspen
B is for BreathB is for Butterfly
C is for Consciousness
D is for Deep Space
E is for Earth
F is for Fire
G is for Garden Gnomes
H is for Heaven

10 Comments

  1. What a great choice for your “I” topic Amy – and a very thoughtful post. It sounds like a really valuable class (and discussions) you’ve been having. I so wish instead of teaching to the tests, our educational system really addressed these issues early on. It’s so clear that kids have to be taught hatred and racism and privilege over, and if we could only shift things in our society so they could purely carry unconditional love and openness, things could change really quickly. We’ve got lots of hard work to do, but I too am hopeful we can change.
    Deborah Weber recently posted…Manifesto: I is for…My Profile

    • It would certainly be interesting to see it taught in school. I think that it would make for some incredibly interesting discussions, especially in schools with a great deal of diversity. My plan is to teach myself and hopefully others will follow. Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Deborah!
      amy recently posted…I is for InequalityMy Profile

  2. As I learned a long time ago, anger is the outward projection of fear. When there’s a lot of anger in the zeitgeist, that’s because a lot of people are afraid.

    Thank you for that paragraph about not including whites in Black Lives Matter. For years I’ve heard that argument. What about for whites? That argument is always made by someone who’s masking a racist sentiment. (I figured this one out after many such discussions where I didn’t have an argument to give back.) Now I know what to say.

  3. Wow. I wish I could like this post a million times, Amy, and I wish everyone would take that course.

    We could all use it, no matter how enlightened we think we are. #BlackLivesMatter

  4. I shared it with super high hopes it would be shared and shared again and again. You nailed it with this one. Thank you for being you.
    Kimberly Jewell recently posted…Day 223 – English Muffins, finally…My Profile

  5. As a Canadian, I have to say I am agog at what is taking place in your country. It’s truly scary. Obama is held in high regard up here – I know that is a rather broad statement but the folks I talk with share my belief that he’s level headed and smart. We shudder to think of his potential replacement… and it’s not even our country. Do hope sane heads prevail come November.
    Kelly L McKenzie recently posted…If I Only Had The Chance To Meet ErmaMy Profile

    • Well, I can say the opposite right back to you, Kelly! It looks like your prime minister is a lot of fun! Did you see that video of the Canadian guy who built a wall to block us out? He was really nice about it, but he just didn’t want us all running up there after we shit in our own bed. Hilarious.
      amy recently posted…N is for NativeMy Profile

  6. Interesting….as a person who has dealt with bias because of the color of my skin and hair, I find this post very interesting. I could write a book about my whole life experience even as a little girl growing up surrounded by all blonde, blue-eyed people (I’m from North Dakota) to me moving to MN over 20 years ago thinking it would be different here. (The bias was not). Thankfully with the various inner healing processes I have gone through, this subject is no longer a trigger as it once was. Good for you for having the desire to learn about it.
    Elda recently posted…I Didn’t Have A ChoiceMy Profile

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