Tag Archives: prejudice

Writing By The Pool

Today I’m giving it a go out by the pool and it’s interesting to see all the little things you want to have happen or not have happen when you’re in the backyard by the pool.

First, and foremost, is I don’t want this laptop, such as it is, to fall into the pool. That’s definitely a big no-no. Also, I didn’t count on the dog possibly helping me out with that scenario. Living in Southern California I certainly can’t complain too loudly as we have a pool in the backyard.

But, someone really wanted a pool here as there is little room for anything else in this backyard. I’m semi-reclining in one of those semi-outdoorsy chairs that my wife is convinced will crumble away into nothing if I leave it too exposed, so I’m supposed to put it right next to the house if it rains. There’s hardly enough protection for the dog there so I’m not sure how much protection this chair will get when I move it from the oh-so-comfortable-if-cramped space beside the pool. If you wanted to pass by me without falling into the pool it would be a real challenge.

I started out in the afternoon sun and realized that there’s no way to really see the screen without squinting and even then it’s very difficult to find the cursor. So I’m in the shade now where it’s actually nippy, but I like nippy. Usually.

When I was a teenager we lived in Valley Center and we had an outdoor shower on the patio and it got real cold in the morning. I used to get up between 5:30 and quarter to six and take a hot shower when I could often see my breath. THAT was truly nippy. This is more like the very cool side of refreshing. Of course, I’m a big guy and I “run hot” so the cool is welcome.

There is something calming about a body of water outside with the sun reflecting off of it. It helps to have all this vegetation (weeds to some people) in the backyard for contrast with the clarity of the pool water. Right now my head is right next to a tropical plant of some sort. I don’t ever remember learning the name of it even though I’ve seen them many times in SoCal. We had them in Leucadia, too. This one is the right size for our dog to hide/refresh himself on a sunny day. My grand nephew got to see our dog disappear into this semi-giant plant over the weekend. He thought that was pretty cool. I’d like to disappear into it sometime except for insects. Actually, it’s not the insects so much as the bees specifically that bother me. I mentioned in an early “morning pages” post that I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to bees even though I haven’t been stung since 1983. I say pretty sure because that might get me a better rate with insurance companies if it can’t be proven.

Just had a nice breeze come through and it got chilly in a hurry. I do think my preference for it being colder rather than hotter is related to being a big guy. I remember sweating and breathing a little hard after dancing many times and even going back into my late teens I probably got red-faced as I really liked to go for it when I danced. And I was at least 80 pounds less back then. Invariably someone will ask if I’m all right and I will huff and puff “Yes.”

It really used to kind of bother me. I guess growing up with a dad who was nearly a survivalist might make one interested in one’s privacy. I didn’t truly understand that people were genuinely concerned. Even now I have some sympathy for parts of libertarianism, though it has been tempered by being part of a church community. I don’t think you can really be full-on libertarian if you’re part of a faith community. People want to hold you accountable and that’s not without precedent. Certainly many would say that it’s a required part of being a committed follower of Jesus.

That leads me to my belief that denial is a big part of the American Experience. I’m talking about the United States here. Not all of North America or the Americas.

When someone says that they have a relationship with Jesus, it flies in the face of “going it alone”. There may be some people who try to explain that I don’t really understand libertarianism, but I really think I do. When it gets down to brass tacks, they just want to be left alone to do their own thing. That might be workable if we only had a couple thousand people on the planet, but hopefully that will never be the case again.

We need to stick together. We need to be community for each other. I don’t have a problem with someone wanting a lot of freedom inside their own house, but we’ve also seen how taking that too far can lead to some pretty uncomfortable or dangerous or tragic situations. And we’ve seen how many parents have been stupid idiots with their children’s safety. Sorry if that offends you, but I can’t imagine what kind of neglect you would have to “give” to a child for them to wrestle a child to death as that one big boy did to that smaller girl some years ago. I’m not talking about anything involving gangsterism and that sort of pathology, just a kid so unsupervised that he learned how to wrestle from watching TV and killed a girl while wrestling. I know not everyone will agree, but I truly think the parents are largely, if not completely, responsible.

Yet they are not acting responsibly. We need as a society to be able to have the freedom to tell our neighbors, “I really think you ought to watch your child more closely.” He’s behaving in a dangerous manner.

“We just want you to leave us alone to live in the way we choose isn’t good enough in a LOT of cases.”

People who are isolated also don’t realize how ought of touch with the public at large. So you get people who are completely clueless how their views are seen by other people and completely taken aback to find out that people see them as prejudiced or whatever.

A few years ago I saw a female comedian on I think it was “Last Comic Standing” and she didn’t take too long to get to the point where she said something about Mexicans being lazy. Really? You think THAT is humor?

Besides, having grown up in SoCal and having a sister-in-law who is Mexican, it’s been my experience that Mexican people are some of the most hard-working people in the world. I’m not saying that because my cunada (it’s missing a tilde, and no it’s not called an enye because THAT is the letter itself), which is spanish for sister-in-law, and I want to make brownie points if she sees this. That has been my experience.

I honestly and truly do not understand why so many anglos are afraid or mad at or resentful of brown people! It’s 2012, not 1912! Come on! Are there some native spanish speakers who are bad people? Sure, just like there are native spanish speakers who are good people. Just like people of all races and creeds and colors can end up being good or bad.

How much of our politics is driven by racism? I don’t know, but it’s more than most people think. IMHO.

You see…people usually haven’t wanted to share their prejudices with people. Recently we’ve seen some of this change and some are saying some pretty outrageously prejudiced things publicly.

Other people might repeat what they say and those people aren’t necessarily prejudiced at the same level. It’s like I have mentioned about my dad. I sincerely believe he was prejudiced. Was he going to burn a cross on someone’s lawn? No. Did he believe in his heart that some people who were non-whites were less intelligent. I’m pretty sure if you had given him sodium pentathol he would have said yes – that some races or at least one race was definitely not as intelligent. I’m not proud of that. I’m embarrassed by it, but my dad’s gone now and I don’t share his prejudices.

I also know that there are people who knew my dad who would say that wasn’t correct. I believe that they would say that either because they are in denial about my dad or possibly about their own prejudices or because they don’t want people to think of my dad that way and certainly, he was much more than simply a mildly prejudiced man. Or they might simply have a belief that you don’t speak ill of the dead.

I don’t believe I’m doing that either. I am simply describing the situation with my dad and unfortunately there are some people out there that agree with him who would see nothing wrong with him believing what he did.

Plus, I do believe we need to get rid of “don’t speak ill of the dead.” That’s one reason why we have so much denial in our society.

It’s not just that. There are lots of ways and mechanisms we can use to keep ourselves in denial.

I just believe that we should strive to not be in denial.

I know I’m spoiled in Southern California compared to most of the world.

But I’m not in denial about it.

And, I wish that we all could live this way or better.

With a few modifications I believe we all can.

There might be approximately 1% who don’t want us all to live this way.


The Snowy Day By Ezra Jack Keats

Listening to NPR this afternoon I found out that today was the 50th anniversary of The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

This was a year before I was born and it was a really, really big deal. Really.

We sometimes take for granted where we are and how far we have come.

Here are the words from The Snowy Day site:

In this Caldecott Award-winning book, a small boy named Peter experiences the joy of a snowy day. First published in 1962, this now-classic book broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s publishing. The vivid and ageless illustrations and text, beloved by several generations of readers, have earned a place in the pantheon of great American children’s literature.

Broke the color barrier. Let that sink in.

On NPR they talked about children who started using brown crayons when they drew themselves.

For. The. First. Time.

This book allowed them to see a protagonist that looked like they did. And do.

No longer would they color themselves with pink crayon.

I’m reading “Ice” today. It’s Ice-T’s memoir.

Ice-T experienced what it was to “pass” for white when he was small.

That was before he understood that people were treating darker people differently than him.

His mom told him “Honey, people are stupid.”

Unfortunately, today we are far from perfect in our treatment of race.

Many people are still stupid.

Today is a great day to stop that. We can all start a new discipline.

No matter where we land on the continuum from angel to devil in this area, we can do this.

If. We. Choose.

What if we all started truly paying attention to how we treat people who appear outwardly different?

What if we decided to notice this as much as we possibly can every day?

If we want to make a muscle stronger, we exercise it.

Let’s exercise our intentional, our “paying attention” muscle and make it stronger.

Ezra Jack Keats has a great place for us to start.

The Snowy Day