Monday, June 21

I’ll have a cup of racism for Sabbath, please!

I have been taking a class on racism. The most helpful definition I have heard is that racism is not what or who you are, it is the outcome of your actions. This is great! It puts the conversation into an area of actions that are measurable. There is no speculation about who or what people are with regard to racism. All that matters is outcome.

True, I suppose. Actions matter more than words. And yet, words harm. So perhaps there is a both/and.

Why racism on Sabbath? One of the things that Rabbis encourage us to do on Sabbath is to set aside consumption and do things like read, learn, be joyful! Sabbath is also directly juxtaposed with the justice movement as the command to practice Sabbath comes on the heals of leaving slavery behind and moving towards abundant life. The Ancient Israelites knew a thing or two about diaspora (being forced out of their homes), justice, and rest.

So today, learn! Put your Sabbath to good use and learn how #blacklivesmatter began. Learn what it means when #blacklivesmatter is coopted with #alllivesmatter. Most of all, learn to be an ally to someone whose voice is not being heard.

by Rose Colored Photo #BlackLivesMatter Protest March in Rochester Minnesota  CC (BY)
by Rose Colored Photo
Protest March in Rochester Minnesota


  • Hmmm … I would not agree that “All that matters is the outcome”. Racist actions are, yes, observable & to some extent quantifiable (though I have reservations about the latter). But in any case, racist actions and words come from somewhere. They are the artifacts of individual people who harbor — it may well be unconsciously — racist attitudes. (I well remember a faculty person at STM telling a story wherein she shocked a black colleague at another univ by saying, when she met him after an interval of some years, “I haven’t seen you in a coon’s age”, an expression with racist origins. She was innocent of any racist intent.) We have to somehow acknowledge the observable consequences without, for all that, losing sight of personal responsibility. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I think it needs saying anyway.

    • Yes! See…that person would probably say she is not racist and she used the expression “coon’s age.” (which, BTW, I have probably used myself not even realizing it’s origin).

      She did something racist. She is not racist per se. She should now know what she did is racist. If she does it again, she is racist.

      Does that make sense?

      • Y’betcha … GAWD! Am I channeling Sarah Palin? … What she did before she did out of ignorance (“ignorance” in a non-pejorative sense, because we’re all ignorant of something), so she was not responsible. But now she is.

        But I also think that a lot of white people who don’t want to be racist do something like that … and then get stuck there, mired in “white guilt”. So then they tend to “check out” of conversations about race because they think “Shit … who am I to talk about race after saying something like that”.

        I’m just saying it ought to be OK to be ignorant, provided only that you are willing to learn and then move forward. Back when I was teaching, I’d always tell my students there is no shame in ignorance per se. Being ignorant just means you need never be bored. Then I’d go on to say that the shame lay in ignorance that was content being ignorant.

        • Yes!

          In our family, we deal with the LGBTQIA ignorance. People may misgender Colin or use wrong pronouns or wrong words. We will correct. But if we have to correct and correct and correct again, there will be no more correction. At that point, it is deliberate ignorance. Which is as bad as bigotry.

          • Again I’m preaching to the choir, but I think there is a tendency for a lot of people who have a lot of pain associated with certain issues — race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. — to write someone off after that person makes a single ignorant remark when, in reality, what they need is just correction. E.g., a man says “girl” instead of “woman” (assuming he’s talking to an adult) and the woman, who has been repeatedly demeaned in her life because of her gender, goes off on the guy, calls him a “male chauvinist”, “potential rapist”, etc., completely blind-siding the guy, whose reference to “girl” may have been as innocent as the STM person’s remark about coon’s age. So the man retreats, freezes up, concludes that gender-related conversations are forensic minefields … and the conversation stalls. Ditto race, ditto sexuality, etc. Dialogue dies when we don’t allow for the possibility that behind the rhetorical screw-ups lie innocent ignorance and a certain reservoir of good will. Not always — I can’t make excuses for people who use the N-word — but, in my experience, this is most often the case. I think the vast majority of people deserve some slack.

  • BTW … in case I’m talking with you & Colin, what kind of language & locutions should I use? I’d like to know so I can avoid the taste of shoe leather. I’d *** NEVER *** knowingly or deliberately say anything hurtful, but … I also know I’m ignorant.

  • Worthy post, links and discussion. It’s going to take me a good part of the evening ahead to visit links and read/listen through. Lots of layers to these issues. So much work still to be done on ourselves and in society at large. I am really at sea with gender language. Everytime I think I’ve got it, something new comes to my attention. Am a bit better with race issues. I was gifted with a father-in-law who was the father of all bigots. He called me “the sand nigger” and you wouldn’t want to hear what he had to say about women and Jews. My experience with him motivated me to look into race and gender issues early on and in the end I find myself oddly grateful to him. Our teachers come in varied guises. Our blogs, blog posts and discussions number among the more pleasant variety of instruction and consciousness raising. Bravo! You two rock.

  • Reblogged this on THE BARDO GROUP/BEGUINE AGAIN and commented:
    Friday’s post by Terri Steward on “Begine Again” is timely and thought provoking; hence, we’re sharing it here. The discussion in the comments section is interesting too. Please note the links in the text and the two additional links in the comment section. All are worth your time and attention. And, just a reminder that the next issue of “The BeZine” will be published online on August 15th. The theme is music. We’ve enjoyed the work of putting it together for you and know you’ll appreciate the result … So read on and stay tuned. J.D.

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