Sisters Talking on…Transforming from Racism to Respect

Point for Discussion:

People came to America to escape persecution in their homelands.  Many still do.  It’s unfortunate that certain groups forget that we are all (with the exception of Native Americans) immigrants.  We are all the same.  We deserve respect and should treat others that way.  Our President can stop calling people “animals” to start with.  When did we stop treating each other as we would want to be treated?

Our Points of View:

(Lynn) 

While I still believe that people are inherently good, the current level of hatred and racism being spewed by public figures is astounding.  I understand that the internet has provided us with a forum to say what we really think, but I strongly believe that just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

I really don’t want to get political here, but the last Presidential election cycle put me over the top.  The person we elected to be our 45th President ran the most childish and vile campaign we have seen in a while.  He belittled all of his opponents just for kicks and because it worked to get them to drop out of the race.  He behaved like a playground bully, and got exactly what he wanted – to be elected President.  I will leave it to you to decide whether that was a successful campaign or not.

My point though, is that as a society, we appear to have let our basic sense of decency get away from us.  The President should be a role model for our youth.  I’m glad I don’t have to explain to my children that this is not the best example to follow.

Twitter seems to be the forum of choice for many.  Every day we read about negative and demeaning comments made by celebrities via Twitter.  When did we become so unkind?  Does demeaning other people make us feel better about ourselves?  If you believe that those that lash out lack self-confidence then perhaps they do feel better.  If true, that’s sad.

Roseanne Barr’s comments regarding Valerie Jarrett this week were uncalled for, as were the comments about Ivanka Trump made by Samantha Bee.  Racist, hate-filled comments are not necessary in daily life.

Roseanne’s comments drew quick and severe consequences costing many people their jobs.  For what, a bit of dark humor?  I’m sure, in hindsight, Roseanne may even regret those comments.  Disney and Bob Iger did the right thing by acting quickly, not only to cancel Roseanne’s show, but to apologize to Valerie Jarrett.  The example set by these actions must be recognized.

Samantha Bee is currently being tried in the court of public opinion, though it appears she stands by her words.  While she is losing advertisers, her show has not been canceled yet.

Perhaps we have slipped into bad behavior because consequences have not fit the crime often enough.  If consequences for bad behavior are severe enough, maybe they will be a deterrent.  Public opinion can be harsh.  It certainly is quick these days, and it drives action.   This is the more positive side of social media.  Let’s hope we will someday live in a world where people actually think before they speak in hateful ways.

We need to find ways to be more inclusive and less cruel, and:

Treat each other with respect:  I heard about an elementary school class in Texas this week.  The teacher selects a different student each week to stand at the door and welcome all of the other students to class.  It made for a really cute video, but it also reminds us that we need to treat each other with respect.  Everyone, all the time.  What makes any one of us think that we’re better than anyone else?

Speak the truth:  This morning I was watching the Today show.  As difficult as it must have been for her, Morgan Radford presented a story that was unsettling.  There are currently more White Nationalists running for office than at any time in history.  The candidate she interviewed actually said that white people have higher IQs than others, and believes that the Holocaust was a hoax.  Yes, we live in the free speech United States of America, I get that.  What I don’t get, is the ongoing disregard for the facts.  I don’t understand what would make these candidates think they’re better than anyone else AND run a campaign on a platform based on ignoring the facts accepted by the rest of the world.  These folks have been emboldened by a President that says whatever is on his mind, respectful or not, true or not.

We are all unique.  We are a reflection of our personal histories, good and bad.  Some of us are rich.  Some of us are poor.  Some of us have more advanced education.  Some of us finished high school, or not.  Some of us live in big houses.  Some of us live in homeless shelters or on the streets.  None of that truly matters in the end.  What matters is how we treat each other.  Respect for others, and the truth, is what’s most important.  I really don’t care about the rest of it.

 

(Laurie)

It shouldn’t have to be said, BUT, “all people are created equal” and want and deserve the same level of high respect.  Whew…who would think in 2018, after all of history – the bad and the good and the great – that we are still at this stage of humanity?

We see it around us every day:

  • Perpetuating stereotypes – within and between ethnicities
  • Following blindly – whether race, politics, gender identity, or religion
  • Expressing hatred under the guise of free speech
  • Feeling superiority when we are all just the same
  • Using social media to express ourselves – making it even worse and more far-reaching

Some may say they were raised to disrespect others who are different than themselves, but we are independent people with the ability for independent and respectful thought.  Nothing in our past must define our future.  Of course, we are influenced by all that has come before, but we all have the power to pursue our own destiny – and to respect others.

As a recent example, Roseanne Barr, who I think falls into the “Following blindly” group, tweeted hurtful comments as a joke.  It is true that comics get away with more than the average person, and often make us uncomfortable, but direct attacks on individuals in a non-compassionate way, isn’t funny in the least.  I disagree with Lynn in terms of the action taken.  I don’t think she should have been fired or her show cancelled because of it – she’s one person among many who follow blindly, and the public backlash is sufficient punishment.  Let her do what’s right to redeem herself, without punishing the entire cast and crew for her actions.

If we think about what made Rosanne make that statement about Valerie Jarrett, we might ask about her earlier life and the influences.  Because she is a comic, clearly highly creative, and can use her voice for good (and bad), I wonder how we could influence someone like her, and others who express hatred and racism, to transform their thinking (in an ideal world), or at minimum, keep their thoughts personal, and be respectful on the outside (e.g., “if you can’t say something nice….”).

Some possible solutions to begin transforming from racism to respect may include:

  • Accept diversity – I’m not a proponent of training, but rather an advocate for action. If we think of others as an extension of our family (e.g., aren’t there just six degrees of separation?), we, as a society, might be more accepting of others, want to help them when they are down, and celebrate their successes.

 

  • Learn from Millennials (really!) – We see greater acceptance from young people who appreciate the diversity of others and recognize what each person has to offer, regardless of their race, religion, politics, or gender identity.

 

  • Face our fears – What are we afraid of? Does everyone have to be just like us?  I’m not religious, but I can imagine that there is a reason we are all so different when we look beyond our comfort zone or the community in which we were raised.  We wouldn’t learn, nor would we reach our potential, if we limit ourselves to people just like us.

 

  • Be a role model – What do we want to be remembered for? What is our legacy?  How do we want to influence others?  Whether a celebrity – or just a regular person – who do we want to be, and importantly, who do we want those we love (our kids, our family, our friends) to become?

If we continue to treat each other this way now, how will we ever grow?  It’s time to transform our society from one of racism to one of respect.  As I’m writing this, I still can’t believe this has to be said.

Our Question to You:

What do you think it will take to transform thinking (and action) from racism to respect? (Take as much space as you need!)

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