Targeted Violence in New Zealand Shatters the Peace for All

 

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We are saddened and outraged to hear of the deaths of 49 Muslim worshippers at the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. We extend our condolences to the Muslim community in New Zealand and also our Muslim neighbors locally.

A reminder to all that it is important to avoid sharing harmful imagery and materials that primarily publicize terrorist acts and terrorists. This includes the video livestreamed by the shooter, but also stills from the video. One reason is to avoid giving terrorists the publicity they crave, which can also encourage terrorist acts by others.

Another reason is to minimize traumatizing people by making exposure to images of actual violence and killings practically unavoidable as they go about their everyday lives. Traumatic material can severely affect not only those in the specific target group of the violence, but many others as well.

As the above Twitter user has pointed out, instead of giving terrorists free publicity, find ways to help, locally and internationally. Some ideas from others include: showing support and solidarity online or in person, contacting local Muslim organizations to offer help, or donating to specific victim aid.

For Muslims anywhere,

Be mindful of neighbors and coworkers who may be very affected by these events and check in with them if you can.

Be safe, and help others feel safe, too. ❤

Someone Said I Did A Racism; Now What? A Guide

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It’s the final day of Black History Month!
The past month has seen a number of high-profile figures being criticized for saying or doing racist things. In most cases that I saw, those in the spotlight made matters even worse by their responses. Have you wondered how you would respond in the same circumstance?
Nobody wants to think of themselves as racist. But the fact is, being raised in a racist society means that some of the time, we will all do or say some racist things, despite meaning well and often without even realizing it.
So what do you do if someone points out that what you have said or done is racist? Here is a guide.
1. First of all, hold that initial impulse to argue. Before you say anything, take a breath and pause for several seconds. If you must speak, say something like, “Okay. I need to think about this.”
2. On the emotional side, contain your defensiveness: Doing or saying a racist thing doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a bigot or a terrible person. Most people doing racist things are not bigots. It does mean that a piece of (very common!) racist conditioning has come up and it’s an opportunity to work on that and heal. If you are a person with a conscience and a heart, it will probably hurt to hear. That means your conscience and your heart are working! But try not to take this criticism as an attack. (This is hard!)
3. Recognize that your intention doesn’t excuse the outcome: If I run over your foot with my truck, it doesn’t matter whether I mean to or not. Your foot is going to be hurt–possibly broken. The same is true of racist acts and words. The vast majority of racism is unintentional, and it is injurious to others just the same.
So it’s okay if you find yourself saying “I didn’t mean to…” But recognize that is only the beginning, and only a tiny piece of the issue. It’s not an apology.
4. Try simply apologizing unconditionally and without a long explanation. It’s okay to say something like “I’m sorry. I see that was ugly.”  If this sounds hard (it is, emotionally speaking), try preparing by reviewing and practicing before this ever comes up, so you won’t be frozen or outraged if it happens. You may also want to review what not to do!
5. Manage your own feelings: This is really the hardest part.
Most of us, if not all, will feel defensive, hurt, attacked, misunderstood, guilty, sad, scared, angry, or some combination of the above. But those feelings are yours to manage, and you are strong enough to hold them.
Remember, the other person is not responsible for making you feel better for having hurt them, or to give you absolution. It’s especially important to let them have their feelings of upsetness without trying to talk them out of it or to burden them with the emotional work of reassuring you about it. That places additional work on them when they are already burdened with the hurt of racism, and it is unfair.
If you need to vent your feelings about this (which is healthy!) find someone else to talk with, preferably a racially conscious White friend or even a counselor. You may also want to journal, cry privately, read, pray, or meditate, just as you would with any other painful or uncomfortable feelings that you are processing.
6. What if they are wrong? Short answer: they’re not. Even though you didn’t mean it that way.
Think about it: if you are a White woman, haven’t you seen men doing sexism even when they didn’t realize it? Or they dismissed it? If you are a White person who is LGBT: haven’t you seen hetero people being homophobic or transphobic and then saying how much they love LGBT folks? Low-income people, haven’t you heard rich people talk about poor people like they really don’t matter at all in the ultimate equation? Yet if you asked them, they would probably say they like people generally, and had nothing against any particular poor person.
The worst judge of an -ism is the person committing it, and racism is no exception.
7. Don’t be discouraged from working on race issues: Pick it back up when you have healed. Think about your motives. Are you working on unlearning racism because it’s the right thing to do, or to get approval and recognition from people in a marginalized group? Work on race issues because you want to improve society, whether or not any specific BIPoC likes you (or you them). Unlearning is a lifelong process.
8. Develop authentic friendships: It is always more emotionally risky for a BIPoC to have a White friend than the other way around. So make yourself available, be friendly and helpful insofar as you are able, but remember that no one owes you friendship, no matter how nice you are to them. To borrow an analogy, friendship is not a vending machine.
For additional thoughts about interracial friendship, visit this thread:

PS: Whatever you do, resist the urge to do a “not all White People,” –no really, do not do a “not all White People.”

 

Birthday of Rosa Parks

Today is the 106th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Parks.

Dolly Chugh reviews The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks for Forbes. She describes why this should matter to your organization (and everyone’s!)

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“So You Want to Talk About Race”

Discussing race: “Be Uncomfortable A Lot!”

In honor of Black History Month, I will begin livetweeting Seattle writer Ijeoma Oluo’s book, “So You Want to Talk About Race.” It will take as long as it takes, but today is a great day to start!

This is an accessible and important read. I hope you will join me in reading or follow along in reading and discussion.

Twitter thread begins here.

For more of Ijeoma Oluo’s writing, see her writing page.

For a bit of background on Ijeoma Oluo’s perspective on race, this KUOW page has a brief archived podcast and transcript.

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PHOTO CREDIT: NED AHRENS, KING COUNTY

 

Honoring Black History Month

Check out upcoming events on the Lancaster Black History Month events calendar!

 

Support Black Women’s mental health:

And watch some better entertainment!

Holocaust Remembrance Day

There is a reason we must remember, and that is so that we may see and avoid allowing genocide to unfold again:

 

It’s Very Good; It’s Not Okay

It’s very good to support women and be anti-sexist; it’s not okay to use racism in critiquing sexism.

It’s very good to support BIPOC and be anti-racist: it’s not okay to use anti-gay prejudice in critiquing racism.

It’s very good to support LGBTQ folks and be anti-heterosexism/transphobia: it’s not okay to use classism in critiquing heterosexism/transphobia.

It’s very good to support financially marginalized people and be anti-poverty: it’s not okay to use ableism in critiquing classism.

It’s very good to support the disability community and be anti-ableist; it’s not okay to use ageism in critiquing ableism.

It’s very good to support the agency of children and elders and be anti-ageism; it’s not okay to use fatphobia in critiquing ageism.

It’s very good to support body positivity and be anti-fatmisia; it’s not okay to use sexism in critiquing fatphobia.


 

You can mix these up all you want and they still apply!

If we are pointing out someone’s problematic behavior or words, we must remember not to use problematic words of our own to characterize them.

If we do, we’re not just criticizing that person, we are playing into stereotypes and making life harder for vulnerable others who are not that person. We are engaging in bigotry ourselves!

For useful, practical ways to call out problematic behaviors and words, check out this helpful guide from Southern Poverty Law Center.

 

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Women Online: Mental Health Risk

Unsurprisingly, research supports women’s–especially Black women’s–descriptions of their experience of online abuse:

 

 

It’s pretty hard in 2018 to avoid being online, so it can be hard to avoid abusive interactions. This can leave vulnerable people with increased depression, anxiety, and other trauma-related symptoms. Ideally, various platforms would develop better algorithms and reporting mechanisms to limit online abuse. Even more ideally, people would stop being abusive!

Failing that, you need to support your own mental health as best you can:

  • Be mindful of how much time you spend on social media. Take breaks!
  • Find supportive groups / circles / allies to focus on
  • Find supportive, helpful media sources and check in regularly
  • Develop a free “block” or “mute” hand – you don’t owe others your energy, attention, or explanations!
  • Document any threats or threatening communications before they are removed, and report abuse
  • Know that you are NOT crazy–it really is bad!–and you are not alone ❤

 

Supporting Vulnerable Friends and Acquaintances During Violent News Cycles

Above, Header Photo: Ryan Loew/PublicSource

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Above Photo: Cox Media/WFTV9

Violence is committed every day, but people in marginalized groups experience violence at considerably higher rates than majority group members, and more often simply because of who they are. For minority group members, this can lead to a pervasive (and frankly, realistic) sense of vulnerability that causes increased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD, especially when hate-based violence is a news event.

Jeffrey Marsh has some gentle suggestions for being supportive:

Checking in and validating–without pressuring someone to talk or to help you to process–can be helpful, especially if you are willing to simply allow your friend or loved one to have the space to manage their feelings.

Publicly speaking out to or among other majority group members can also be helpful: for example, share a supportive post. But consider sharing a post that does NOT include graphic images or footage of violence. People who live with the threat of violence daily don’t need further exposure and may feel even more vulnerable.

It is common for PTSD symptoms to spike during times of social upheaval, especially for those who are in marginalized groups or who have abuse histories.

Nicole Sanchez, a lecturer at UC UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, has some useful insights about how we can support marginalized friends and coworkers during critical events. She’s talking about race, but much of the dynamics also apply to events affecting LGBTQ folks (and other marginalized groups).

 

(Threadreader compiled version here.)

 

Let people know they are loved and valued and that you want them to be safe, happy, and thriving! ❤

What to Say Around the Table

For many people, the holidays are a time of increased anxiety and depression because of ongoing family conflict. Often people struggle to find ways to respond to outrageous or subtle expressions of prejudice or bigotry. Responding to the prejudice of family members and neighbors is even harder if you experience anxiety, PTSD, or your family is a mental health risk! It can help to make sure you are feeling stable yourself, and to be prepared beforehand.

First of all, remember to take care of yourself. You deserve protection, and you are allowed to set boundaries about how family members treat you! You are also allowed to withdraw and rest when you need to, to ask for help with tasks, to say “no” to unwanted activities, and to take care of bodily functions such as eating and going to the bathroom. That may sound obvious to some, but if your family has some dysfunction, those may be things you need to practice allowing yourself.

Secondly, try reading through this list of six steps (below) to speaking up. It will help you to frame your responses and to feel stable in your understanding, which will reduce your anxiety about a possible confrontation even if no conflict occurs. It also explains how to point out unacceptable behavior without name-calling or escalation:

Six Steps to Speaking Up Against Bigotry

If you are interested in broadening your skills in speaking up, here is a comprehensive list of a variety of situations and topics for which you might need a concrete and useful way to respond:

Responding to Everyday Bigotry

Have a peaceful and healthy weekend!