The Black Middle Class is About to Get Trumped


Three days before Thanksgiving I must admit that there is not much to be thankful for. I am not talking about the election, that we have done ad nauseum, or my aching joints. I am talking about white men and women who are afraid of their black neighbors, co-workers, employees, students, patients, or friends. I am very saddened by this fact; a fact I wanted to disagree with at first, but now I can only sigh and accept.
I know white people who are afraid of black people and who might prefer them to be segregated again or in slavery again. That hurts my heart. I think of black friends over the years and I don’t feel this way and I want to protect them. I guess that is why we are friends.
I don’t want my 9 grandchildren going to school and learning that black people and others are less than. I don’t want them to grow up thinking it is acceptable to hurt anyone else’s feelings with racial slurs and pure meanness. I want them to know that there is nothing to fear. We are all children of the Universe, created from star dust. Some dust is golden, some is golden brown, some is ebony, some has a copper glow and some has a faint whitish glow. It is nothing to fight and kill over. Not ever.
To my friends and readers around the world, I know what Americans are going through doesn’t seem really important in your lives. God knows that life is pretty hectic for families, extended families and friends. When you add wars, bombings and hatred into the equation, well, it becomes a huge puzzle. Perhaps it feels to big to tackle right now. But, that is exactly why white people have to tackle it right now.
We, the white people, have always been the aggressor, the conqueror, the people who committed genocide on people of color around the world. In America, the first Europeans committed genocide, and stole the Indigenous Peoples’ land. Then we came up with the legend of the first Thanksgiving. Puritans and Indians breaking bread together in joy and thanksgiving that the white people were here.
The black people and white people have no such farce to act out. I, for one, intend to assist as many black or other people of color as I can in the next four years,  to help them be safe. I want to help them stand up to the alt-right and the KKK and the everyday bigot and hater. I want every American to live their life in freedom, equality and without fear. I get it that there is a long way to go before that can happen.
I encourage all white Americans, all Liberal Americans, who are not full of insecurities and hatred to spend part of Thanksgiving Day not eating but reviewing your inner landscape and discovering exactly where you are on this most basic of issues. Are you an open and light enough human being to forgive all the “slights” you feel you have experienced?  Can you walk away from anger, hate and racist emotions coming from the President-elect on down?  Can you extend a hand in acceptance and honest friendship to our black brothers and sisters and to the rest of our sisters and brothers of color, and give them the care, love and acceptance that is due them? I hope so. If you cannot, then our brothers and sisters can do nothing but to protect themselves in any way they can, and that only makes us less safe, not more safe. America will have lost much if that occurs.   White people do not get to carry all of the gifts America has been blessed with. We will lose many of those gifts, because your freedom is diminished every time someone loses theirs.  And those losses will be due to closed minds and empty hearts.
Namaste
Barbara
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The Black Middle Class Is About to Get Trumped

Everything we’ve been taught about “success” in this country and nearly every avenue we’ve used to achieve that success are now threatened by the same explicit racism that Donald Trump rode into the White House.

President-elect Donald Trump arrives for an election night party at the New York Hilton in New York City Nov. 9, 2016.

When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign with a racist tirade against Mexicans, he began the short process of renormalizing the racist sentiments that white people had been taught to hide since integration started 60 years ago. He literallymade it cool for white America to be openly racist again: In just over a year, his campaign and election have drastically undermined more than five decades of integrated racial “progress.”

Now, as Trump fills key administration positions with white nationalist-sympathizing power brokers like Steve Bannon as chief strategist and Jeff Sessions for attorney general, it is clear that the black middle class is in for a very harsh, rude awakening. Because everything we’ve been taught about “success” in this society and nearly every avenue we’ve used to achieve that success are now threatened by the same explicit racism that Trump rode into the White House.

Black Economic Success Skills: Make White People Feel Comfortable

Making white people feel comfortable has always played a role in our survival. On plantations, making them comfortable meant we might delay torture, death or whatever punishment they were thinking of at the moment. During segregation, keeping white discomfort at bay meant avoiding or minimizing the racial violence of angry white mobs. But when integration began, black economic success began to be measured by how well we could integrate into white society, which meant making white people comfortable was now one of the most viable paths to black economic sustainability. That was a mistake.

We see this phenomenon earliest in schools. Black students who excel at making white teachers comfortable tend to be the students who can show their intelligence in ways that white people can easily recognize. It doesn’t mean that they actually are any smarter than the other black students, but that their teachers (80 percent of whom are white women) just feel they are different (i.e., less threatening) from the rest. These students get access to gifted-and-talented classes and opportunities reserved for “special” black children who show “promise.” This system replicates itself throughout higher education and the workforce.

All White Everything

As a result, our entire economic-success model relies on centering whiteness and accessing the resources it provides, which means our most brilliant students risk becoming incapable of addressing black needs.

For example, many “successful” black business students learn economic theory, but have no idea how much the black community spends annually. This means they are ill-prepared to create economic models that capture and reinvest black dollars. Black bankers can work in highly regarded financial institutions, but most don’t set up financial service centers to help generate, protect and grow black wealth.

Successful black doctors can work in white-owned hospitals, but they may never build hospitals that focus on diseases that impact black lives the most. Black research scientists spend their careers becoming experts on issues important to white corporations, but never get to use their expertise to explore issues related to us. Our best and brightest black workers can get jobs on Wall Street, but most can’t create jobs for anyone in the hood.

This “all white everything” approach to economic sustainability may have been fine (it wasn’t) when we had a government constrained by things like anti-discrimination laws and notions of superficial fairness. But that was before a candidate who was fully endorsed by white nationalist groups won the election and created a direct line of communication between white supremacists and the White House.

Now, because of the renewed surge of openly hostile racism stoked by Trump’s campaign, this economic model means the black community will be one of the least prepared for what will come next.

Black Economics in a Trump Era

Before Trump’s campaign, racism at work typically showed up as microaggressions: the “commonplace daily indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate racial slights and insults toward people of color.” If white folks let their racism step out of line, there were laws we could turn to for protection like the Civil Rights Act. These laws were enforced by agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which interprets them and defends victims from discrimination.

After the election, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center have reported that schools and the workplace are the two places reporting the highest number of hateful harassment and intimidation incidents.

It’s not that white people ever stopped being racist, but a delicate web of political correctness, the fear of being called a “racist” (which many hate more than actual racism) and a legal system that espoused a commitment to multiculturalism helped to keep those public displays of racism down to a level most black people could tolerate.

In order for this system to work, however, black professionals had to play their part. Gaining access to white spaces and resources required us to leave our blackness at home when we went to work, attended work functions or otherwise interacted with white people. Each day, we put on “the mask”: the face we show white co-workers to prove we’re not angry, aggressive or any other word used to describe an emotional black person who makes white people uncomfortable.

But none of that will matter in a Trump era because the president-elect’s campaign has empowered the white community to finally be honest about how they really feel when it comes to race. If Jeff Sessions is confirmed as attorney general, his racist ideology will be in charge of the Civil Rights Division. A Trump-era EEOC will be in charge of evaluating claims of workplace discrimination. This means the legal framework that helps to keep workplace racism in check will vanish.

As a natural consequence, white people (whether they’re Ku Klux Klan members or merely harboring implicit bias) will be able to act on those feelings. Once civil rights protections at work fall, there will be no safety net wide enough to protect black workers or our economic security.

Remember, even under integration, white-owned corporations hired as few black people as the law required. Those same companies that can barely tolerate us now, soon won’t have to hire any of us at all. We are entering an era where the very laws that protected us from racial discrimination may become unenforced and essentially nonexistent.

The Solution: Centering on Us

Malcolm X was prophetic when he said: “The white man is too intelligent to let someone else come and gain control of the economy of his community. But you will let anybody come in and control the economy of the community—control the housing; control the education; control the jobs; control the businesses—under the pretext that you want to integrate.”

The only option the black community will have left requires us to center black people as our solution and re-create a culturally grounded economic system based on meeting our own needs. Blacks are one of the largest buying groups, spending over a trillion dollars annually. To protect our community from the threats that loom, we must turn that spending power into job and wealth generators.

According to Ron Busby, president and CEO of U.S. Black Chambers, “There [are] only 1.9 million African-American businesses, but of the 1.9, 1.8 million have no employees. So we only really have 106,000 African-American businesses that have employees. We have to increase that number, and we have to do it with more young people going to work for small businesses in order for there to be production.”

Author Maggie Anderson, (Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy), stated that 1 million jobs could be created if black households with incomes of $75,000 or more increased spending with black-owned businesses from 3 percent to 10 percent.  This is far better than any governmental policy could ever hope to promise or achieve.

A Trump presidency means that the days of relying on government for legal protections from racism are over. But if we take this opportunity to re-create sustainable black streams of income, job and wealth creation, we may be able to advance farther than many dreamed imaginable. Thankfully, as Marcus Garvey noted: “When all else fails to organize the people, conditions will.” This new age of open racism may be just the mass organizing moment that allows our community to thrive.

” I, too, am America.” – Langston Hughes


 

I have been thinking about Black Lives Matter.

 

First of all, I am totally behind this movement. In fact, I hope it grows by leaps and bounds. I also wish it started a couple of hundred years ago. This is not realistic, I know, but I wish it were.

 

I have been writing at different times about Black Americans  who, through luck or circumstance, have made a difference in the world;  enough of a difference that history records their deeds and contributions to civilizations. Inventors, freedom fighters, writers, fighters for freedom, poets, doctors and others.

 

Because every black life matters, I want to take the time to honor every black person who survived every day of their life in slavery. They all matter. Every black person who lived through segregation matters; From the domestics who worked for white people, to those who drank at the black water fountain to those who rode at the back of buses. Black men who were referred to as “boy”;  any black person who was referred to as “nigger”: You all shine to me. Your courage and strength of character is amazing. You were brave and tread where angels feared to go.

 

Since there has been integration — at the cost of hundreds of black lives and Martin Luther King Jr. , JFK and Bobby Kennedy — there have been some improvements. My children and grandchildren went to school with and are friends with black people and other minorities, including Native Americans.

 

Today, there should be no more racism. In America alone, there are millions of black people who have so much to give. What they need is for us white, Caucasian, people to let go of racism and give them a chance at educations equal to what our children receive.

 

Black parents need to tell your children that they are wonderful and smart and will be successful in life. However to do this, they need to be able to stop spending time teaching their children what to do when the inevitable cop stops them because of the color of their skin. How to answer their questions, where their hands should be, the tone of voice they should use: the type of training white children never receive because no cop will stop and frisk them for being white.

 

In another life, I marched and picketed in many cities in different states including Washington DC. I never got arrested. I believe my whiteness had a lot to do with that. I can have a sarcastic voice, so I doubt it was because I was so sweet.

 

American society has pushed the black portion of our society about as far as they are willing to go. I don’t blame them. Would your white friends take what black people are expected to swallow? Mine wouldn’t and neither would I.

 

America has come to yet another fork in the road that makes up our society. There have been enough black lives taken, like Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown and so many others. What could they have accomplished had they not been treated as “other” all of their lives? What if they had been told how well they were doing in school, if college had been talked about as a natural step in their growing up? What if their teachers had told them to keep working, they were going to make it? What if one or two had graduated as Valedictorian?

 

What if every child in America, no matter what color they were, or what disabilities they had, would have an equal chance in their life?

 

Well, I am going to say it to any one who wants to hear it:

You, too, are America.

You are a unique child of God/Goddess and you can accomplish whatever you want to.

You are good, smart, strong and people believe in you.

You can ignore those around you who don’t want you to succeed.

You were made to accomplish big things and you can.

Believe in yourself,

I believe in you. I believe in every black person in America.

 

Black Lives Do Indeed Matter.

 

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

 

 

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Some of the great black Back Americans who have made America stronger.

Some of the great  Back Americans who have made America stronger.

Why is Racism still an issue?


 

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I have written about war and peace, I have written about gender equality. I have written about people living in violence. Today, I am writing to the world about yet another human tragedy. I don’t know how bad racism is everywhere in the world, but I feel it is getting worse in America. I am an old lady, but I have a black hoodie that says peace on the front. When I wear it, I wear it with the hood up. I wear it that way for Trayvon Martin.  I wear it because I realize that more people will look at it on the body of  a 5’2″ blonde white woman.  I wear it because my grandfather told me about the Holocaust when I was nine years old. He gave me a book of photographs in black and white of the piles of dead Jews, Poles and Gypsies. He sat me on his knee and told me that we can never forget or it will happen again. I have never forgotten this experience. It has influenced a lot of the work in my life. He died in 1972, and I have told this story in schools, at battered women’s shelters, Holocaust museums and to mean hearted people. I have mentioned it before, here on my blog.

 

Injustice begins with seeds of hatred, intolerance, and ego. I have worked so many places, with so many different people that I can quite honestly tell you that we are all the same. Our hearts beat in the same rhythm, our eyes show us the same world (for good or bad), we all get hungry and tired. We all need to prevent dehydration by drinking fluids. Except for multiple births, we all look different and sound different. We could all die from a barrage of bullets. Why is it that small differences frighten people so much? My nose is different than yours, should that make me feel better than you? No. My skin color is different from many other Caucasians. It depends on the nationality of your ancestors. The people in my family do not all look alike. The DNA is different for each of us. This is true except for identical twins, like my grandsons.

 

During a lifetime, events happen that are not fair. They are not just. If you have a bad interaction with someone of different skin color does that mean that all people of that skin color are a threat? No, of course, not. The human species is more than capable of turning a person or a people’s life into hell. Genocide of any race or religion is a hideous crime without any justification.

 

Morgan Freeman was on a talk show today and Queen Latifah  put a question to him.  She asked him if he believed in intelligent beings in other universes or places in space. He thought a moment and said, “Yes, I do.” She then asked him if those beings would have a god. He again answered yes. I got to thinking about alien life. We are so hateful as a species that I tried to imagine what would happen if people with green skin, or antennae for ears, or even has three arms came to Earth and I think we would kill all of them without a qualm.We would justify it as the only way to keep human beings safe. I think we would never accept them and would destroy them without hesitation. Add in the concept that they might have a god or a goddess. Or better yet, what if our “God” was also their god. I think it would be ever so sad and might even destroy our souls. We can’t even allow other human beings to believe in a god/goddess who they are comfortable with if it is not our god. We want to kill them. It is time to stop sowing the seeds of discrimination, intolerance and hatred. It is time that we got back to the garden. The garden, yes the Garden of Eden. The place where it all began, if you believe that. (Don’t start about Eve. She offered Adam a piece of fruit, he chose of his own free will to eat of it. That is on him. And it always was on him.)

 

 

 

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I am dedicating this blog to every human being who died due to hatred and intolerance.

 

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