Monster in a Mansion

As we sit here, looking

Across the plains, the sea

One looks at the other

And the other looks at me

He says “Hey,

My goodness gracious,

That lady needs a room”

She says “I know,

She surely needs one

This weathers looking gloom”

And as I sit observing

The clouds, they start to rain

The lady pulls her pockets

Naught a penny to her name

Frowning, I sadly watch her

How helpless she must be

To try and find a shelter

That will take her in for free

Then my dreary gaze shifts

To the hill beyond the tree

As the Monster in the Mansion

Stands on his balcony

As he looks upon her

She says “I’ll give you all I’ve got

Please save me from this weather

I ask not for a lot”

Laughing, loudly scoffing

The Monster tilts its head

“Why give my hard earned money?

You should get a job, instead”

Ironically, I’m thinking

As this lady begs and crawls

That the Monster made his fortune

Off of peasants, so he calls

I sigh and cry, just watching

This Monster; not a care

And realize how disheartening

That this life is so unfair

The World Will Change Tomorrow – Or it Won’t

“It is what it is.”

Don’t you hate it when people say that? As if we have no control whatsoever over what’s going on. Well, tonight, I daresay, that cliche will be all we have to turn to once the results of this election have been determined.

My only hope is that the majority of us still understand that we’re all in this together and those that pull the strings should have little to no influence on our happiness and daily lives. Sure, policy-makers affect the high-level things, but what’s truly important in our lives? That’s the main question I think we need to ask when considering how important our leaders are when it comes to daily life.

Sometimes I wonder if most of us have actually asked ourselves that most fundamental of questions.If you’re reading this, think about it. What really matters to you? What kind of things are important enough to cause you to get up and do something?

Hopefully most of us have these answers figured out when we go to the polls. We want to cast our faith (because that’s what voting is) in a person who reflects our values. We want to support someone who can shape the world into the image we would most like it to be. Most importantly, we expect them to maintain accountability to our expectations. They represent us. That’s a very important fact that I think is far too often overlooked.

I’ll keep this short. All in all, don’t let this election taint friendships or family relations. We would be doing ourselves a disservice if we allowed that to happen. The world will still be the same tomorrow. The only difference being that come January, the White House will be stocking either extra toupees or hideous pant suits.

 

 

Labels: How They Cloud Our Judgment

President. Police officer. CEO. Pastor. Janitor. Actor. Friend. Dishonest. Generous. Lobbyists. Girl Scouts. Dog lovers. Black. White. 

All of the words you just read are used to describe individuals – or entire groups of people. Behind each of these labels lie actual people. Human beings, no different than you or I. 

I’d like for us to take just a moment and consider something. Consider how, when presented with information tied to these labels, we often formulate our opinion of the matter before we even know the full extent of the information. Here’s an excersize that should help illustrate my point. 

Think of the tone, as well as your immediate reaction, to the following sentences: 

“So I left the bar around 11:30. It was dark, and I was walking down the alley to my car when I saw this black guy start walking towards me…”

“So I left the bar around 11:30. It was dark, and I was walking down the alley to my car when I saw this pretty girl start walking towards me…”

Now I could follow up either of those statements with any scenario under the sun, but that’s not the point. My point is the harsh truth that I would guess the majority of us have a negative predisposition to statement #1, while we likely have a neutral, or even positive, predisposition to #2.

An extreme example? Possibly. But the point remains – labels are destroying the dialogue. Our tendency to label people and groups causes a massive disservice to the individuals that represent the labels. This one-sided method of thinking has created a culture where we already have our opinions made before we even give people the opportunity to prove us wrong. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not innocent of this myself. I think it’s human nature, as we all seem to have biases of one sort or another.

So frequently do we have expectations of people when we prescribe a label to them. We often forget that, as aforementioned, behind these labels lie real, flesh and blood average human beings.

The goal, in my eyes, should be awareness. If we want to change the status quo of today’s environment, we need to be aware of our biases and work to transcend them. If we can’t do this successfully, we’ll never be able to reasonably expect change, racial or otherwise.

Just a thought.

Roots of Racism: Applying What I’ve Learned

Yesterday I posted the results of my little project to figure out why some people have negative perceptions of black culture.

That’s all well and good – but now what? What can we do now that we’re armed with this knowledge?

Being able to apply these answers to fight racism was my intention from the beginning. General common sense dictates that in order to solve any problem, we must first understand why it exists. In the context of deep-rooted racism, I now understand why it exists. Well, at least in many cases. I think we all know that there will always be those certain, stubborn people who will never change their minds. Let’s agree to forget these people. They’ll catch up later, once they realize the progress we will eventually make. And if they don’t – screw them.

So now that I know why some people foster negative views, I can make a justified argument that certain things must be addressed if we reasonably expect people to change their minds. Because at the end of the day, the most important thing we ALL need to remember is this: racism is not an exclusively one-sided issue. It would be a fundamentally flawed argument to blame 100% of the problem on other people. After all, there has to be SOME reason this problem exists – it didn’t just randomly pop up out of nowhere. There are tangible reasons that some people think this stuff, and it would be unfair to simply dismiss their reasons without consideration. We must make a concerted effort to address the things that are under our control. If we can do this successfully, those that use actual logic and reason to formulate their opinions will see the progress being made, and thus eventually experience a change of heart. Or, to put it simply: if people see that the black community is actively acknowledging the things under their control that are causing negative perceptions, people will eventually change their minds.

I’m going to use a similar format as my previous post, emboldening the general action we must take, and then elaborating below. So without further adieu, here are the steps we can start taking to change the negative public perception of black culture.

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Address the rap culture thing 

I mentioned in my last post that I had a hard time arguing that girl’s point. I think this one is pretty straight-forward, and any reasonable person would probably agree that you can’t sing about banging chicks, having side bitches and sipping promethazine without expecting at least some sort of ramification.

Sure, it might be intended as fun and games, but this is a serious point that we can’t just laugh away. Kids listen to this stuff. They form their views of the world through the lenses of the people they look up to. Its pretty clear that this is a conversation that needs to get started on a wider basis if we ever expect to make racism go away.

Have, or at least create, a plan

One thing I can’t help but notice after observing all of the attempts at generating attention toward social injustice is this: what’s the plan? I think we all understand that people think its an issue. The problem, in my opinion, is that no one seems to know what to do about it. Every time I ask people what their point is (for example, the flag protest), their answer is “to create awareness”. Okay? That’s all well and good, we’ve created awareness. But now what? What’s the end game?

This is a common problem we learn about in business. Many times, we reach a point where progress isn’t being made and we’re doing work simply for the sake of doing work. In other words, we’re doing stuff, but were not actually doing stuff (if that makes sense). Creating awareness of an issue is good, but if you don’t have a plan to follow up with, your efforts are effectively stagnant. To provide an example, this very post is my version of what I’m talking about. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting down and thinking about what I can do to help sway people’s opinion. So I hit the drawing board, came up with this project, and here I am writing about it. That was my “plan”. Blindly posting and sharing things on social media with no real direction or intention isn’t doing much outside of further strengthening the already-existing opinions of people. Its not changing minds, which should be the goal. And speaking of goals…

Always keep the goal in mind

Something that I see far too often in this “battle” for social equality is how easily so many people let their egos completely ruin what could otherwise be a productive exchange of ideas. Ultimately, the goal of this entire movement should be simple: depress the existence of systemic racism. That’s what we want, right?

So when you go out in the real world and try to accomplish this goal, you have to be able to do it with a level head.You have to be constantly aware of the fact that by angering other people, you aren’t actually accomplishing anything. This is one of the general laws of interpersonal communication. You catch more flies with honey – we might not want to hear that, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

The flag protest is a perfect example. If you are one of those people kneeling, and you want to objectively consider whether or you’re making progress toward your goal of fighting racism, simply ask yourself one question: is my action helping? The reality, despite what so many people want to ignore, is that many people are being even more put off by black people when they see this. That is not the reaction we are going for. We want people to change their minds, remember? Disrespecting the flag is pissing people off, intended or not. It really is that simple. So if we actually take that into consideration, a smart person would understand this and augment their method to actually create progress toward the primary goal of changing hearts and minds. Because at this point, the flag thing has evolved into a battle of ego, and has totally deflected attention from the main goal. Its become more of a “I’m right and you’re wrong” debate rather than an actual attempt at fixing things.

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These are just some of the things that are under our control. Racism, closed-mindedness, and bigotry will unfortunately always be things we have to deal with from time to time. But if we can actively acknowledge the things that we have direct control of, we can cater our actions to maximize the effect we have toward forward progress. And that’s what we should all want.

Progress.