Standing Up

What do I mean by standing up? I mean it in a few ways. I begin with myself. I know what I am passionate about, and I am learning to advocate for myself. As a child, I was not that way. I was outwardly focused and avoided speaking up for myself, particularly in my family. I was what you would call a people pleaser. Watching out for others is not a bad thing, but, initially, it did not help me to know myself.

I am learning to stand up more for myself. I have spoken up for myself for some time and belonged to groups where I could speak out against what I thought was unjust. One area I have felt strongly about is respecting all people: all races, all sexual orientations, all religions, and all cultures. There have been a few heroes who support my beliefs, and I have written about them before in this blog. One who I haven’t written about before is the documentary maker and speaker, Ken Burns. I am still working on a historical novel in which I used facts from the documentary he made and completed about the Civil War in 1990.

This last week I learned about Ken Burns’ talk at the National Endowment of the Humanities. I had the good fortune to hear Ken Burns speak on history in Charlotte, North Carolina when I lived there more than 8 years ago. I remembered it to be outstanding speech. What I love about this talk is that Ken Burns is standing up and speaking about race as a white male. His is telling his story and interweaves it with our American history.
I am giving you the link to the written speech because the video was not working.
http://www.neh.gov/about/awards/jefferson-lecture/ken-burns-jefferson-lecture

Another person I heard about last weekend is a black singer named Adia Victoria who stands up for herself and other African Americans in her music and tells it how she sees it. Her new album is called “Beyond the Bloodhounds”.

I heard her on Public Radio. Here is the podcast.
http://www.npr.org/programs/weekend-edition-saturday/2016/05/21/478962804/weekend-edition-saturday-for-may-21-2016

For me, race in this country and the issues we have are still with us. I personally have friends from all backgrounds and cultures, and my life is richer for it. As a white woman, I do NOT have to live the discrimination that people of color in this country have to experience frequently, if not daily. However, as a woman and coming from the family I did, I know how this disrespect feels. I grew up though, and sometimes those old patterns of behavior affected my CHOICES. I know that my black friends experience discrimination in NOT subtle ways. They share their pain and stories with me.

My dream is that one day all of us could speak FRANKLY about how this country is NOT a level playing field for people of color at all. It is hard for us to become COMPASSIONATE for each other if we are coming from hate, blame, and fear. It is hard if certain people in this country are vilifying certain groups: Latinos, Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim refugees, and African Americans. Fear NEVER solved any problem. It only creates division between people and it stops us from rational THINKING (REALLY).

It is the fertile ground from which DESTRUCTIVE choices for ALL AMERICANS are made.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Being an Ally

For me, Dr.King is one of the greatest men of the Twentieth Century. He was an incredible writer and speaker, and he lived what he spoke in action. King was an exemplary example of a human being. Through him, I have learned a little of the story of many people of color. I was too young and unconscious at the time to understand how important he was while he was alive. For the last 20 or so years, I have been learning what a great human being he was, and also how I could be come an ally to all people of color, being a white lady.

What do I mean by an ally. I am speaking of supporting others who many not be the “group” you belong to. I have close friends who are a African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and know of and have taught people who are Arab background. I can and do NOT live the experiences they have had to deal with, sometimes every day, but I can walk alongside them and can support them in their causes. I can have compassion for them and respect them and their needs.

To understand history and what is so today, I have needed to understand the role that white folk have often played unconsciously, so I can learn what White Privilege is. Learning this helps me be a better ally. This is not about feeling guilty for what happened in the past. It is about waking up to what is so today, and what happened in the past. Here is start.
mic.com/…/7-actual-facts-that-prove-white-privilege-exists-in-america

Another thing you and I can do is pay attention to what is happening in the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is wake up call for all Americans of every color. It is hard being a police officer in the USA now, and it is time some of the rougher parts of the officers and police forces in large and small American cities be called out. We white citizens can play our part here. Our justice system is another huge stumbling block. You and I have plenty of work to do.

I can financially support and participate with groups who support all Americans from all backgrounds and sexual orientations. This is what an ally does. It is NOT a passive role. This is about service- not ego.

On Dr. King’s real birthday, January 15th, A friend shared a YouTube video of a Dr. King speech. What shocked me about it was that so few people had seen it. I want to share it on this blog.

Please watch this.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a humanitarian and was working for all of humanity when he was murdered. He and all the people who were allies in the ’50s and ’60s during the Civil Rights Movement showed us how we can white folk can be allies today, if we choose.

This way of the past in the USA of having two or three countries or even more within its shores, (We women understand this around how we get shorted in wages), instead of one country, where everyone ACTUALLY has the same rights is within our grasp. In the past and today in the USA, we have had a system which leaves out, and even abuses way too many Americans to keep the status quo and business as usual alive.

We can do this work together as allies in action. We can support each other in this work spiritually and financially. Thank you, Dr. King, and all of the allies who supported the Civil Rights Movement for showing us the way!

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