Category Archives: Love not Hate

Hate will not win. We cannot allow it.

The Power of Art: Allegiance

George Takei has not been quiet about his experience, helping to raise up the experiences of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. The United States labeled these citizens as enemies, and imprisoning them into “internment camps.”

logo-squareAllegiance is the story of a Japanese American family living through this time. It’s a powerful musical performance, following the experience of the (fictional) Kimura family who are sent from their home in Salinas, California to Heart Mountain Camp in Wyoming.

Sam Kimura seeks to prove his patriotism by fighting for his country in the war, but his sister, Kei, fiercely protests the government’s treatment of her people. An uplifting testament to the power of the human spirit, Allegiance follows the Kimuras as they fight between duty and defiance, custom and change, family bonds and forbidden loves. (Summary from the Allegiance, The Musical, website).

It’s billed as a story about the “redemptive power of love,” and it truly is. This musical is powerful art. While it was being preformed on stage the show was filmed, and limited screenings are being held in order to let more people be able to see and hear this show. I was lucky enough to go to the first of these screenings (another round is scheduled for February 19th – to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, some places have already started selling tickets).

I attended with two friends, both familiar with this terrible piece of our history. But even knowing the history it was based on, this story struck us into tears and silence. It felt like I had been smacked in the heart.

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It raises questions about how to react, how to resist, when and how to take a stand. There are parallels and messages that can be drawn which might not resonate so heavily in other times.  It follows the family as their rights are pulled away from them, framed as “patriotic sacrifice” and “contribution to the war effort.” There is a struggle with how to not make themselves a target “do not fight the storm,” keep your head down. But as their rights, their homes and their belongings are taken away, the sense of how to react changes.

There’s a word we will say, to help get through each day. We will bear any nightmare with a simple refrain. Gaman. Sturdy and sure, keep faith and endure…. Hold your head high, carry on. – Allegiance, the Musical.

How do you fight injustice? The members of the Kimura family pick different approaches, all trying to do what is right. This show is beautifully done, with powerful symbolism woven throughout, humor sprinkled at just the right moments, and some amazing talent.  Allegiance plays across many levels and is well worth the effort to go and see.

 

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Art is such a beautiful expression, it can evoke emotions and speak to truths that can be hard to articulate.  It also can often serve as a powerful tool for change, for revolution, to spark people to stand up and make changes.

This series is going to explore the power of art, by looking at actual art.  Sometimes it may be written, or it may be visual (who knows, maybe I’ll convince someone to share auditory art with us as well).  This will run the third Wednesday of every month, for as long as I can keep it going! (Interested in contributing?  Let me know!)

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Christian Privilege

I’m finding myself thinking a lot about the Privilege I carry.  Privilege is one of those words that has the potential to become a “buzz word,” something thrown about by people without necessary understanding of what it means.

I know that there are a few articles out there already exploring this topic, but as I prepared for the recent Christmas holiday I found myself thinking  a lot about the way this term really solidifies my understanding when I think about it in terms of Christian Privilege.

I do consider myself a Christian (though it is a complicated designation to claim – particularly in my own understanding of my Christianity. It’s backed by some pretty intense theological reflection and study on my part and likely not in the same understanding of the word “Christian” that many hold). For the sake of simplicity,  I am – at the very least – “culturally Christian.” My heritage traces back to strong Protestant roots in all directions (including a number of Christian ministers in not-so-distant generations).

Included in this heritage are individuals who fought for their religious beliefs — including tracing back to the Allerton family of the Mayflower on my paternal side, and the Mennonite Yoder’s (Hans Yoder of Great Swamp for the genealogically inclined Yoder descendants out there) on my maternal side. I was raised celebrating Christmas and Easter. Every night I recited a grace at dinner that included the trinity (Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts….). I was baptized and celebrated Christmas parties and had Christmas break from school.

Even if there were times in my life when I didn’t believe in a God,  even if there were times in my life where I rejected the label of “Christian,” the reality is that I lived in a Christian culture. My major holidays were days where almost everything was closed. The expectation was that people were home with their families and/or friends on Christmas day. Christmas trees and Christmas lights (pagan roots, but I’m not getting into the history lesson right now!) were everywhere, and the songs of the holiday are blasted from nearly every speaker you can find.

Here in the United States we are not a Christian Nation. Despite the rhetoric and convictions of some, there is no state religion. The lore of our country is that we were founded on the tenants of religious freedom (again, the history lessons are being reserved for elsewhere), and the first amendment of our Constitution protects this freedom.

So, let me talk some about this Christian Privilege.

Privilege is defined as “a right or immunity granted as a particular benefit, advantage, or favor: such as a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office.” In the case of Christian privilege this is seen in the fact that, as earlier mentioned, the Christian holidays are automatically given more weight. While it is generally now referred to as a “Winter Break,” schools are nearly universally closed for a few weeks around the end of December.

I remember watching Muslim students at the university where I work having to take final exams while they were fasting for Ramadan…. Final exams during one of the holy celebrations — can you imagine the outcry if children had to go to school on Christmas day? And the Jewish High Holy Days don’t receive any special consideration in our culture (aside from those, such as Passover, which happen to fall close to the Christian celebrations because – well – Jesus was Jewish).

And these are just the two other Abrahamic religions. This isn’t getting into the realities of those who are Hindu, Pagan, practice non-christianized Native American spirituality, or are atheist. 

Since the 1950’s the Pledge of Allegiance has included the phrase “one nation, under God.”  Our money is printed with the words “in God we Trust.”

If you are Christian (or culturally-Christian), then you have the advantage of knowing that there is a good chance that you will have December 25th off from work (even in the case of many jobs, such as retail, where there seems to be no days that are deserving of being closed). In some regions of the country there’s a good chance that Sunday’s will be a day when many stores and restaurants are closed (because Sunday is, after all, a Holy Day in the Christian church).

This is not intended to make those who do have this Christian privilege to feel guilty. But, rather, to perhaps inspire some additional reflection. Part of the challenge of the concept of Privilege is wrapping one’s head around what it means – and this is an example that has helped me to understand it.

This isn’t saying that I haven’t had struggles and challenges in my own life. It is simply recognizing that a piece of my personal identity is granted an instant advantage on a deeply embedded, institutional and societal level. 

There are layers to this Privilege concept, of course.

As a Christian-type-person I don’t have to be concerned about what kind of day-to-day life expectations will get in the way of my Christmas celebration.

As a white person I don’t face instant judgement, profiling, microaggressions and long-embedded obstacles that a person of color has to deal with.

As a woman there are things that I have to think about and be concerned about that men don’t have to think about.

As a cisgender individual I don’t have to worry that something as basic as my gender identity is going to be questioned and challenged.

As a heterosexual individual I don’t have to face down people who tell me that I am somehow wrong in loving who I love.

As someone who has been raised in a primarily middle-class household I have seldom worried about having a roof over my head, warmth against the cold, or food on my table.

As someone raised in a family with long traditions of higher education on both sides of the family I was surrounded by books and learning from an early age, and encouraged in my personal educational pursuits — school was able to come before work.

As an individual of predominantly Western-European heritage that can trace far back in the founding and formation of the United States(I am 1/4 Polish, but the Polish immigrants very thoroughly focused on Americanizing themselves) I have never had to endure being told to “go back to where I came from.”

As a life-long English speaker (who has failed at attempts to learn another language), I have never faced criticism for speaking the language I am comfortable with.

As an individual with no mobility disabilities I don’t have to worry about if a location is accessible. 

These are very basic and hugely simplified examples — but it is a start to understanding this concept. Recognizing the privilege one has is hugely important – and it’s something that deserves much deeper exploration. But right now, I just hope that those of you who are celebrating Christmas this weekend can take a moment to recognize the ways in which you do hold privilege.

To be able to see these and recognize instances of privilege that you hold means you are able to enter into conversations with an understanding of those ways that you perceive and understand the world. It allows you to start seeing the ways that societal institutions benefit – or challenge – certain groups of people.

There are many who have already spoken at length about this concept, so I want to provide you with a few more articles to take a look.

Why it’s important to think about privilege, and why.

Check your privilege

What Checking Privilege means

 

Fight Fake News – Know Your Sources!

There has been an epidemic of fake news throughout the election, and it continues now.  It’s been a problem on all sides (because there are certainly more than two “sides” going on right now).  A lot of misinformation gets spread through this fake news — and some people seem to think that they can draw information out of the air and turn it into “fact.”

It’s important to be able to be critical of your sources. It’s something I’ve been taught since I was pretty young – in the academic world you have to approach your sources critically, look at what their bias is, and how that might influence their arguments.  The same concept applies.  We all need to learn how to think about and analyze what we’re reading — and be willing to do a little digging if it is needed in order to determine if it’s a worthwhile source, and to understand the bias it is approaching it’s presentation with.  Because, face it, there is no such things as “just the facts.”

Let’s start simple – try to find sites that are actually reporting information that has a basis in reality and in actual events.  Find a few sources, if you aren’t sure, to see if you can corroborate the information (and don’t just look at sources that are linked from your original source – branch out… and please, please, don’t cite wikipedia as a source for anything… the academic in me will be very displeased- if you find support for what you’re reading there then go to the source that they site for that information!).

There are some good resources that have grown out of the recent issues of false-news which can help you in trying to vet the news that crosses your path.  There are some guidelines to help you as you approach the information, as well as lists of sites that perpetuate fake news (misleading, click-bait, and satire are included in this list, as well as an explanation).

My friends over at Comparative Geeks have gone all-librarian to give some good insight and information on sifting through your news using the C.R.A.A.P test.

And here are some more steps to consider before passing along that news you came across, or that link your friend from elementary school just shared.

I’ve made the mistake of re-sharing some information that is more questionable, of not critically engaging with my source, and I am trying very hard to be more attentive to what I share.  I hope you will too!

The more you know…. and all that. 🙂

Weekend Coffee Share – Plans Afoot…

If we were having coffee I’d have a lot to say. There has just been so much happening, and it really does feel like it’s been much longer than a week and a half. I’e been very busy having conversations and working on different projects… it has been nice to find the ability to focus again – that power has returned to me just in time.

I’ve been working on putting together information about the “Blessing Bags” that I’m putting together for the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization – it’s a project I’m really excited about and I hope I can pull together a lot for them.  I’m also looking at other organizations I could use this concept for, and have plans to start putting together some for one of the YWCA’s programs after the holidays are over.

I’ve also been trying to get the word out about things that people can do to help fight the terrible things that our newly elected officials are looking at doing. It’s frightening to me that there are people who are willing to sit back and “wait and see” when the things being proposed, the people being appointed to positions of power, and the actions of the president-elect are so clearly encouraging of white supremacists, bigotry, hatred, and personal business interests. I know that there are people out there who want to do something about this, but are not sure where to start – and are overwhelmed by the amounts of information that keep flooding towards us so I’ve been trying – through Facebook, Twitter, and here – to help dig through some of that information and provide some clear information and action steps.  I plan to be coming out with more, specific, posts that help detail things that can be done at all sorts of levels.

It’s a time of new additions to the blog.  I’ve started up the Power of Art series, which will run the third Wednesday of every month.  I’m trying to put all the posts I write that are related to the aftermath of the election (and the issues that have been here for a long time but have been highlighted by the election fall-out) into the “Love not Hate” category.  Starting this Monday I’ll be running the “Monday Updates” (it may get a name revamp if I figure out something more catchy to call it but… titles are not something I’m particularly strong with).  It will include three specific items each week:

  1. A piece of news that seems particularly important and/or relevant.  It might be current events, or it could be a summary and reference to a deeper-digging article.  All I can promise is that it will be related to what is happening in the world right now.
  2. Something inspiring that has happened. I feel like it’s important to remember that there are small victories and things to make us smile going on as well. As someone who deals with depression I know how important it is for me, even in the darkest moments, to be able to get come confirmation that there is still light out there. It won’t necessarily solve the problem or draw me out of the dark, but it can give some hope and impetus to keep pushing through.
  3. Something you can do. I will provide something specific, a way that you can take action and take a stand against hate and bigotry, to fight the abuse of power. Maybe tools to help you in taking a stand, maybe a particular stand that you can take, it will be something.

Phew… that’s a lot!  But I’m also making sure to get out and do some fun things, of course!  I’ll be heading out from our coffee soon to join my dad and step-mom at a wine-tasting, and there are some distinctly non-political blogging projects I need to get moving on for Comparative Geeks.  And a short story I was supposed to have edited a week ago… gulp, that needs to happen NOW!

I’d tell you I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving. My sister and brother-in-law are hosting it this year at my brother’s house (since they live further away). It looks like all of the (immediate) family that lives state-side will be there which will be fun. I feel fortunate to be able to look forward to a family gathering, knowing that, for the most part, we’re all on the same page.  It hurts me to see so many people talking about how challenging the upcoming family gathering is going to be for them because of what’s happening in our country.  I hope, if it’s a challenging time for you, that you are able to connect with people who will help you feel safe and happy. Find a way to laugh this coming week – we all need it!

And I’d apologize for any international readers I have. I’m becoming distinctly USA-Focused at this point… but you can understand, right? We’re such a global society now that I really feel like what’s happening here will have an impact around the world (particularly on matters of environment because, well, we may have many countries, languages, races, religions, philosophies, genders, sexuality and ways of life… but we only have one planet).

So… how are you doing?  Really, how have you been doing this week? What does the coming week look like for you?  Any plans?  Are you looking forward to them?

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But What Can I Do?

I’ve heard a lot from people wondering what they can do.  Determined that we don’t slip into a place of complacency with all that is going on in our country right now, there are actions we need to take. And there is so much going on it can be overwhelming to figure out what you can do to help.  Especially if you haven’t been immersed into the conversation for long.

This is just the first installment of suggestions – there will certainly be more to come.  I’m putting some suggestions here, and they will also get added to the “What Do I Do Now?” page for later reference.

I would also recommend that you take a look at the Doc of All Docs – a great resource of all sorts of information.

There is plenty that you can do – and some of it is more urgent than others, but the reality is it’s all important. The most important thing is that you do take action.  Don’t just sit and figure others will do it for you – there is power in numbers. 

And be sure to share.  Speak out, speak up, share the information you find.

One of the basic, simple, things you can do is contribute your voice to the wave of voices that are contacting your representatives.

Focus on issues in these calls (and if your representatives are on the same page as you, calling to thank them for their work is good – positive support never hurts!)  Issues such as Steve Bannon’s appointment as chief West Wing strategist, are a good place to start

There are certainly tactics to approach this that are going to be more effective than others, and phone calls are the way to go.  Now, I HATE making phone calls, but even I am picking up the phone and making some calls.  Because it’s an immediate thing that can do (and let’s be honest, it’s also a pretty simple thing to do once you get over any phone-anxiety).
To help with this is the “We’re His Problem Now” Calling Sheet.  This document gives you good information on making these calls, who you can call, and some scripts to help in the calling.

This zip-code based search also will help you find your local representatives easily.

You could also reach out to those Republicans that spoke out against Trump.


Another way to help is to donate to organizations that are well established in their good work. There are many places that can use your help, but I want to highlight a few.

Southern Poverty Law Center  “…dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.”

American Civil Liberties Union “For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.”

Planned Parenthood  Planned Parenthood just celebrated their 100th year of providing community health care, they provide “vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.”

The Trevor Project  a “national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbina, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13 – 24.”

Black Lives Matter “…a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black life. We are working to (re)build the Black liberation movement.”

National Immigrant Law Center “one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants.”

Human Rights Campaign “…the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.”

Immigrant Defense Project “We work to transform a racially biased criminal legal system that violates basic human rights and an immigration system that tears hundreds of thousands of immigrants with convictions each year from their homes, their families, and their communities.”

NAACP “The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”

National Resources Defense Council “NRDC works to safeguard the earth – its people, it’s plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.”

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) “the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization… created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline… RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Society of Professional Journalist Legal Defense Fund “for aiding journalists in defending the freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

I’ll Stand With You

 

On November 9th I desperately wished there were something that I could wear to tell people I would stand by them, that I would stand up to protect them.

Now there is something I can do.  The #SafetyPin movement, originally seen around Brexit, is taking hold in america.  This is a basic thing that you can do – wearing a safety-pin visibly on your clothing – to signal to people that you are a safe place, that you will stand by them.

This is a basic thing that you can do, but don’t make the mistake of confusing it with an easy one.  This is a commitment to stand up against wrongs, to be there to help those in dangerous situations. It will not always be a simple thing to do.

This is a commitment to really stand by the principle of love, to extend yourself to be there for a person in need.

I created this image and am happy to see it being used by people who are truly willing to stand by those in need.
I created this image and am happy to see it being used by people who are truly willing to stand by those in need.

 

If you’re ready to take that commitment, to really stand up for others, be sure to educate yourself as to how.  There are effective ways to handle harassment that you encounter, good ways to stand up to hatred.

I’ve gathered a small list of resources (and will be continuing to gather resources) for how you might be able to stand up.  Please, help in contributing to this list of resources.

This is a particularly good illustrated guide, with a focus on Islamophobic harassment, it is applicable to many situations.

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The basics of stepping in when someone is being harassed are this: You ignore the abuser, but rather concentrate on the one who is being harassed or intimidated.  You engage with them, talk to them, and create a safe space by being there for them.

You need to also make sure that you are watching out for your own safety. Don’t be afraid to call 911 if the situation warrants.

Stand up against Hate.  Don’t simply stand by and watch it happen, don’t turn your head and pretend to not see.  Intervene.  Stay safe, be smart, and be there.

 

Hate Will Not Win.

I’m not throwing away my shot.

Hamilton has held a primary spot in my personal soundtrack for some while now, but lately it’s been pretty nonstop. I’ve always been one to draw from musicals for those moments where they reach to places that deeply resonate with me, and Hamilton has been doing that lately.

If you stand for nothing… what will you fall for?

I’m stepping into new territory for myself here, and I hope you will come along with me.

 Rise up!
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s gotta rise up
Tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up.

You see, I’m angry. Yes, this is related to the election of Trump for president. It is going to take more than just one post for me to unpack this… and it is going to take some time for me to say what I need to say.  This is not a vent-and-gone anger, this is something different.

The results of the election, to me, are emblematic of the deep seeded fear in our country. A fear which brings people to a place where it is okay to hate – or that allows them to feign complete blindness to the reality of the hate that is being held up and encouraged by the president-elect and his supporters.

As a friend noted in an earlier conversation, hate won this battle.

I cannot stand by and let it win the war.

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More will be coming. Much, much more. I need to explain why I know that I have to step away from the sidelines. I need to live true to this deep knowledge that now is the time for me to stand up and fight.  I will not throw away my shot. I want to provide things to talk about and think about. I want to unpack some of what is going on right now.

So much more to write, so much more to do.  But for now, I also need to practice the self-care that I know I need. Fighting a cold, past my normal bedtime, running on a sleep deficit already, and needing to go to work in the morning are meaning I really need to go to bed. But I wanted to get this up at least.  There will be much more to come (oh, and hey, the blog will finally get some of that tidying up I’ve been meaning to do), but I wanted to make sure I put something up today on this. I had to get this started.

*Love and Hugs*