racism

Fun with bugs, racism, genetics, and psychology

What a great way to round out the night. I had planned on going out dancing tonight but instead opted not to make the trek to Chapel Hill so I could research an article I'm working on. I made some progress on that and then got tired so I went and tried to DJ a little before bed but ran into a bug. Unfortunately this wasn't the type of bug I could let Mr. Wyatt try to bite out of the air, no this was a software bug, for I am a brave enough soul to try and DJ with a computer. Not just any computer though, I am so brave that I run my computer with constantly changing and updating open source software. From one day to the next, I never run the same code, because that would be boring, because nothing is more exciting than getting ready to mix and play music than searching through log files and bug reports at 11:30pm on a Friday night trying to figure out why your sound is dying, ah yes, the life of open source. So after finding the relevant bug report [1] and adding my own experience and log files I came back to Facebook to see what other exciting events my friends had to report..

Apparently all my friends are too busy living exciting lives in open source too because no one was posting boring stuff about dancing, or DJing, or any sort of tom-follery or shenanigans. They too must have been busy searching their logs or bug reports for the cause of the latest change in behavior affecting major functionality of their computers. We do have it made.

However, I did find my close Facebook friend "The Greater Good Science Center" posting a Discover article entitled "Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes."[2] Now this is something I can get behind. Nothing like a little genetics mixed with psychology at 12am to get the blood pumping again. Who needs open source anyway?

It reminded me of the thread that came out of one of my many posts about why I think George Zimmerman acted out of racism (Implicit Bias): In one of the threads someone posted a story about two young African American boys who shot a baby. That person was comparing it to the Trayvon Martin tragedy and saying "Where is the outrage?" My response was that this was not similar to the Trayvon Martin tragedy at all because this (based on the article) looked like two people who had run out of resources and were using violence to get what they needed. Someone asked me if I was condoning what they did. No, I was describing their motive to show how different it was compared to George Zimmerman's. "What the hell does this have to do with that article he referenced earlier?" You might be thinking that.. I don't know, I can't remember, just kidding. I'm getting there.

Oh, yeah so I was arguing that these kids, like all people that resort to violence are acting out of fear due to feeling unloved, that in our case has been enacted out by systemically disenfranchising certain people. We remove love, remove resources and then people get scared because they have nothing and they do what people do when they get scared, they get violent. So the response from a few people was that, "no, some people are born bad, some people are just bad." My response was that while I don't doubt there are people that may have bad behavior from birth through death that that behavior could be transferred from an unloved mother through to her child and here in this article is essentially scientific proof of the possibility of that.

I only read the first page and a quarter of the three page article because like I said, I was tired an hour ago and just wanted to DJ a little before bed, but one sweet software bug later and a little Facebook perusing and here we are having way more fun with racism, genetics and psychology. Anyway the article seemed to say that something (methyl?) which affects the way DNA gets built can be transferred through to children (where it then affects the way the child's DNA is built) and this thing can be affected by not only diet and other physical things but also by traumatic experiences. Essentially if a mother is traumatized that pain can be transferred through to her children.

Back to the facebook thread, I argued that we are all connected, and every day science gets a little bit closer to realizing what mystics and spiritual cultures have known for centuries. I argued something that science probably can't validate now, and said that even "random bad people" (where maybe their mother was healty) are just indications of the unlovingness with which we treat ourselves. If we believe some people are just born bad and we look around and we see people acting violently we will see it as simple as that. Unfortunately the more we ignore the problem of systemic disenfranchisement and just general unlovingness the more we create a situation where people act out their fears through violence, so the more violence we see the more strong our belief in "born bad people" becomes. What a great perspective to have of ourselves.. Anyway right about now is the time where I conclude with something inspirational and goading towards a more meaningful life so here you go:

We are all connected and you can either accept it now and open up to the beautiful and empowering possibilities of what that entails or you can wait until science makes you comfortable enough to open up to it, either way we're all going to have to open up to love and our connectedness eventually for it's the only way out of all our problems.

1) Red Hat Bugzilla # 975158
2) http://discovermagazine.com/2013/may/13-grandmas-experiences-leave-epige...

Shame and Racism

Below I'm linking to an article that predicted George Zimmerman's acquittal due to colorbindedness ("the belief that it is possible to not notice a particular individual is not white"). It questions whether we can judge if a violent situation was just or not while simultaneously ignoring how a history of racism affected that violent situation.

It's a great article and it references and links to another great article by Dr. Stephany “Stiletto” Rose which should be read along with this article. I have some hesitation to post this because like anything that questions the behavior of those that hold power it causes a lot of defensiveness which usually is incredibly arduous to argue against. It's not arduous to argue because the evidence, history or logic is weak, in fact it's irrefutable, it's arduous because the defensiveness that is encountered is strongly emotional, yet the discussion normally never addresses the strong emotions that cause the defensiveness in the first place.

So, if you don't already agree that racism affected almost every aspect of how George Zimmerman was treated after he killed Trayvon Martin I want you to ask yourself how this article about color blindedness makes you feel? If you comment on my post here I would love if you could share how it makes you feel. You're welcome to comment on logic and evidence too, but don't miss the point. Even if you are uncomfortable talking about how you feel here, think about it with yourself or talk to someone you feel more comfortable with. As an aside, if you can identify the emotion, don't just think about it but feel it, for if you allow yourself to really feel it you can become comfortable with it enough to release it. Whatever you do with your emotions, do not ignore them.

I have a suggestion on one emotion you could think about. Shame. It's something I learned about from Brené Brown who has two excellent Ted Talks on vulnerability and shame. In the shame Ted Talk she specifically talks about how important shame is in the discussion of racism. Think about that for moment. Our nation was literally built on the backs of racism. It was integral to our economy. Racism was still overtly written into our laws only 40 or 50 years ago. Everyone agrees racism is despicable but how can we think we are colorblind so quickly? How can we come to terms with our past behavior, not to mention how it benefits us today? Brené Brown's research says that shame is the result of not being able to disassociate negative behavior from ourselves. If you can acknowledge behavior is bad but not representative of you it's easier to apologize and let go and correct. But if you associate it with yourself you can't apologize or correct because to do so would hurt the self so greatly, you just can't.

In the shame Ted Talk Brené Brown only briefly mentions the connection between shame and our racist history. I haven't read Brené Brown's books or looked for any further discussion on this connection but it's absolutely clear to me that when discussing racism in America we should be centering our discussion not on logic, or evidence or just on history, but on the shame that we feel from our past actions. Only then can we truly become the post-racial-society we imagine ourselves to be.

Here is the article on colorbindedness.

That article links to the article by Dr. Stilleto but here it is to be sure you read it:
http://thedrstiletto.com/2013/07/05/what-americans-wont-understand-even-...

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