Showing posts with label Racism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Racism. Show all posts

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Racist In Me

Once again our nation is hit by a violent terrorist attack with clear racist motivations. The perpetrator is a 21 year old white resident of South Carolina. The internet is alive with debate about the root nature of the attack. Conservatives attempt to paint the incident as an attack against Christianity. Post after post refer to the attacker as a "troubled youth".  The clear dialectic between how our nation views whites and people of color is clear.

When a black youth is arrested the media refers to them as a "thug" or a "Man," yet when the offender is white the language used clearly paints the offender as "mentally ill,' troubled, or a misguided youth.

As I read the plethora of stories it occurs to me that there is a personal "Mea Culpa" in all of this. You see if I honestly examine my own reaction, I am as guilty as the media is. In my private thoughts this offender looks like me, my brain seeks an explanation, my compassion is triggered by recognizing the individual as similar in appearance to myself.  Frankly these thoughts sicken me!

This is privilege, insidious, always present and in need of being confronted. Our nation will not change until people across the country are able to look at their own reactions and have an internal conversation about the thought processes that occur which lead to racism, discrimination and unjustified systematic violence directed at people of color.

Collectively people have greater empathy for people we perceive as somehow like ourselves. This is a part of human nature that needs to be confronted. If we ignore these feelings we move from a person with privilege to a perpetrator of adverse racism. Ultimately, the idea that people are blind to color is a cancerous concept that allows the continuation of a racist culture that has no hope of becoming just, equitable and based on reality.

Yes, when I look at photos side by side of a young black man and a young white man my unconscious tendency is to have more empathy for the individual who looks like me.  It is in my personal awareness of this that I am able to balance the scales and develop a realistic view that does not oppress people.  Racism and privilege live in every Americans psyche, our collective challenge is to admit and confront such thoughts.

Our nation has a cultural sickness as a result of decades of racism, we who profess to support justice and racial equality will never be successful unless we are able to confront our own part in this oppressive system.

It is difficult when addressing racism to confront our own unconscious contributions to the collective racist culture, yet there will be no progress until this becomes a personal issue for white Americans across the country.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An Open Letter To The CEO Of Starbucks


As men of privilege confronting racism can be difficult, our attempts tend to be awkward, we perceive a wrong in the world and want to address it; yet our own experiences cloud our judgment as how to do so. Our President calls for a national conversation on race, yet when we attempt to participate we face criticism from both racists and progressive activists who perceive our actions as expressions of privilege.

When such events occur it is tempting to withdraw, return to a place of comfort and chalk up our effort as a learning experience: I urge you not to do so. This conversation needs to be national, embracing all voices, yes, even our voices of privileged experience. I urge you to listen to the voices of activists criticizing your recent attempt at participating in this national dialogue.

 Instead of experiencing their strong statements as a rebuke we have the opportunity to learn about the views of People of Color and their experiences of oppression. We can re-craft our own participation in the light of what we learn and become even more capable of addressing injustice in our world.

I have participated in corporate management over the years and know well that the reactions of the activist community could well be viewed by executives across the country as reason to steer clear of these conversations seeing them as a no win situation.  That is exactly the reaction that those who oppose movements like #Black Lives Matter wish to see. I urge you to stay the course, learn from your experiences and continue to be the company that embraces hard conversations because it is the right thing to do.

The voices of those calling for justice by necessity are loud, confrontive and direct. Defeating racism is not something that can be accomplished with respectful and sensitive language; yet as a movement we need to develop better judgment on when to directly confront privilege and when to call in our allies to a deeper understanding of social justice work.

There are many avenues leading to change. One of them is people who hold power recognizing their social responsibility to be the change they wish to see in the world.  Starbucks deserves a huge dose of appreciation for their attempts that embrace this ethic.  Let not the voices of criticism change your course, let them instead inform your views and help you craft your message into one that is more effective in the world.

With deep respect for your efforts,

Peter Dybing

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ten Thousand Pagan Voices Confronting Racism

Where does one start when reviewing a month long chapter of their life that was intensely painful, personal and enlightening?  My experience of our community over the last few weeks is heartbreaking.  In seeking social justice there is often a price to pay, this I knew, but I was floored by how our blessed community can react to subjects that call us to look at ourselves.

In calling out adverse racism where I saw it, I took the only course of action that would allow me to sleep with the knowledge that I was acting as the Goddess leads me.  I have been threatened, called names, harassed via email and the telephone, painted as a heretic and generally demonized by members of my own community.  Long-standing friendships have been lost; organizations I fully supported for years have deemed me a destructive force.  Yes, I am wounded, saddened, and have shed many tears.

I knew going in that those who dare to even speak a measure of truth to power are subject to being attacked, branded as a whistle blower and made the focus of efforts to distract people from the issues raised.  I have watched governments; organizations and societies do this over and over.  Yet deep inside of me I was hopeful that our blessed community is beyond such actions, quietly I suspected that while such a response would come it would not have support among Pagans. I was wrong, I am disappointed.

Here is the thing, I WOULD DO IT AGAIN!, yes that was a shout. Recent events within our collective community reflect the state of affairs within Pagandom; racism is alive and well, it exists in ourselves, in those who stand next to us in circle, at our conventions and within our ritual practices. 

It has been fifty years since the march in Selma and yet here we still are struggling with even making Pagan spaces safe for people of color. We have a responsibility to support our brothers and sisters of color in our community; indeed we have no community unless we rise to this challenge.

Can I promise that if you speak up there will be no price to pay, clearly not, yet to abdicate our responsibility to stand for what is right would be to drive a stake in the heart of our communities’ values.

Today I ask my fellow Pagans of privilege, join together; manifest 10,000 voices calling for our community to listen to the experiences of Pagans of Color.  If we must pay a price for our stand, so be it, our hurts, pains and losses will add up to little in comparison to the experiences of our brothers and sisters of color.

10,000 voices speaking up, not over, calling our community to hear the pain, the sadness and the fears of our brothers and sisters can manifest real change that will allow us to proceed as a community committed to walking our talk, living our values and setting an example for future generations that we are more than the sum of our collective traditions.

Here is my name, who will join me in manifesting 10,000 voices by adding theirs and sharing this call to action!

Peter Dybing

Monday, July 15, 2013

If It Were My Son

Deep inside of me there is the belief that if my child were to meet an untimely end at the hands of a stranger there would be justice.  Police would investigate; prosecutors would involve me as the parent of the victim.  My community would recognize the tragedy.

In my grief I would be comforted. Words of compassion would wash over me. The disbelief of everyone I know would remind me that in this nation we can seek justice, expect action, find closure.

But of course I AM WHITE.

If an individual who the police told to not follow him, gunned down my white son, there would be justice.  Our culture would stand proclaiming that the individual who shot my son was responsible because he did not follow the lawful instructions of the police.

Anyone attempting to paint my son as having caused his own death by defending himself would be swiftly denounced as a victim blamer, unable to see the tragedy of this young blond haired and blue-eyed boy having lost his life.

But of course my son IS WHITE.

His mother would not be bombarded by images and opinions attempting to paint her lost child as a thug. When a photo is discovered of him flipping his middle finger, it would be dismissed as the normal actions of teenager expressing his defiance and crossing boundaries. Just a part of growing up

But of course his middle finger IS WHITE.

Those who say, “The verdict is in, lets move on” are ignoring the devastating consequences of this case on people of color in this nation.  Mothers across this nation are in fear for the lives of their children. Boys are shot down, never to become men and families grieve without the expectation of justice or accountability.

Of course these sons are Black

This is nothing new, the lives of young African Americans have long been held as less valuable in our communities.  There is no international attention when these boys loose their lives, no discussion of breaking the cycle of violence in the mainstream press. No national empathy for the grieving parents.

Of course these victims are BLACK

This is racism, yours mine and our entire cultures.  No, it is not the racism of the KKK burning crosses in the 60’s.  No, it is not the racism of our grandparents still using the “n” word.  No, it is not the racism of job discrimination.  This is the racism that belongs to every person who enjoys the benefits of not having to worry about our children being shot for who they are.  In our belief that our children are safe, in our belief that such things happen to others, in our collective lack of action in response to the injustice recently perpetuated in a courtroom in Florida, we are responsible.

George Zimmerman is not the boogieman, he is us; an individual whose actions reflected unconscious beliefs and prejudices held by our culture, our families’ and our selves.  We have an opportunity to confront our own privilege, to speak out, to stand in unity with our brothers and sisters of color and loudly proclaim enough, we will hold our community accountable for its unjust attitudes, we will confront the vestiges of racism instilled in us by our cultural experiences. We will work to transcend the mirage that is our legal system. We will seek compassion, openness, and self-awareness in all that we do.

A young Black man is dead; let his life be the call to action, the event that finally calls us to a real solution to the false and destructive lie that is equal protection under the law.  Let us no longer tolerate this system that ignores the real racism in our society and ourselves.

All that is needed for the evil that is racism to prevail is for us to do nothing, to move on in our lives.  Now is the time to spread this message far and wide, we will act, protest, join in the cause of real justice, call our system to account; shed the racism that encumbers real change!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Yes I Am Calling You A Racist

For months I have remained silent while unbelievable things have been said about the president of this nation. Major news outlets have also chosen to disregard the hateful speech that has surrounded this race. No I am not talking about the speech of his challenger, this message goes to those telling incredible lies, spreading deceit and misinformation in an effort to realize their racist goal of removing a black man from the White House.

There I said it, You Are A Raciest or Deceived By Racists If:

  • You participate in spreading the lie that the president is not an American due to a false birth certificate
  • You believe and give voice to the ridiculous idea that the President is a Muslim
  • You Identify this presidency as the most disastrous ever. ( No evidence supports this)

There are plenty of areas where I find fault with our president. Yet those who propagate the above beliefs are setting themselves up to vote with the racists in our country to remove an honorable man.

If you don't like the job he has done don't vote for him, you have a right to your opinion. But if you even consider voting for his opponent for one of the above reasons you might as well go and join the KKK or Westbouro Baptist Church, because it is their agenda you are swallowing hook, line, and sinker.

Sometimes racists just need to be called what they are!