Archive for the ‘racism’ Tag

Bigots Exist   Leave a comment

Bigots exist. They come in all shapes and sizes, all walks of life, and all skin colors and cultures.

Some are easier to spot than others. The Alt-Right has some scary websites. The Ku Klux Klan still exists. Racism isn’t only ugly when it wears a pointy hat and talks with a hillbilly twang.

It’s also ugly to me when it wears fashionable togs and has a college education.

There was never a time, except for a 30-second moment of hesitation in the voting booth, when I was going to vote for Donald Trump, but that moment of hesitation was courtesy of Hillary Clinton calling my husband and a fair number of other people I know “deplorable”. If I’d ever been planning to vote for her, that would have been when I decided not to.

Racism doesn’t just come from rednecks and neo-Nazis. It can be found in black neighborhoods and political offices. Racists lump individuals together into identity groups and ascribe common negative features to that group rather than deal with them as individuals. That collectivism bridges all cultural, social and economic differences. Racist have one unifying quality in common … they reject people as individuals.

Collectivism has been the root of just about every terrible idea in history. It has rationalized wars and harm to one’s neighbors throughout time. It doesn’t change its spots just because it issues from people who have college degrees or law licenses or have worked for the government.

Today’s social justice warriors may share nothing with the Alt-Right besides this collectivist urge, but because everything in their orbit is judged through the lens of collective identity, anyone they lump into a category with negative features becomes irrelevant to them.

Thus it’s fine to say that anyone supporting Donald Trump is in a “basket of deplorables” that needs to be kept away from the reins of power because “Oh, my god, you know how those people are.” Those people have less worth than other people because they don’t belong to one group, but belong to another. There is some superficial scale for measuring oppression based on skin color or gender and those people are not deserving of sympathy or empathy.

Identify politics is a root-source evil. It creates division in society and tons of misunderstanding because it deals in stereotypes. Bigots can come from rural Georgia, but they also emerge from Chappaqua New York.

Collectivism is a societal poison and the antidote is to abandon identity politics and start treating all people as individuals deserving of dignity and respect.

Posted December 15, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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America’s Largest Minority   4 comments

A friend shared a video of CNN commentator Van Jones, clearly upset by the results of the election, claiming Democrats got “white lashed” by an electorate pissed off at having a black president and becoming an irrelevant minority group in the near-future.

Image result for poor appalachia white privilegeWhile he’s pointing that finger at the white “racists” of this country, he ought to note the three fingers pointing back at himself. Van Jones, more than any other Obama administration representative, has spent the last eight year weaponizing entire racial groups, setting them in sometimes violent opposition against other groups. Jones and his fellow political hucksters did this in order to advance a narrative that suits their agenda, but in doing so, they inoculated the intended victims against their race-shaming rhetoric and now they’re upset that voters have become resistant to voting as they’ve been told they must vote if they don’t want to be called “racist”.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that white working class voters decided to vote like a minority group since they recently became less than 40% of the electorate and have just spent eight years being told they should have no say in the country they live in. That observation came from Nate Cohn of the New York Times twitterati. Way to go, Nate! The Grey Lady may have hope for relevance once again with guys like you around.

Image result for poor appalachia white privilegeBrad and I sometimes discuss race while mocking PBS on Friday nights. (Don’t judge. The couple that mocks together stays together, though we are in mourning for John McLaughlin and Gwen Ifil). When Hillary Clinton lumped Brad into a “basket of deplorables” for thinking of voting for Trump, he commented that “this must have been what blacks felt like in the pre-Civil Rights South.” I joked “Well, that’s what my mom felt like when she moved to Seattle, yeah”. I then paused, surprised at myself, and said, “No, you’re right. You’ve just been painted with a broad bigoted brush.” It’s a short step from recognizing that you’ve become a despised minority and deciding to push back against that bigotry. Whether we might disagree with white working-class voters that Donald Trump is the right knight for their cause, we should applaud that they pushed back at all. It’s only taken them 40-odd years to get thoroughly fed up.

Brad eventually voted for Gary Johnson because he bought my argument that we didn’t need a tyrant-in-chief, but a lot of other people voted for Trump because they discovered they were a racial minority while they were hunting for the white privilege they didn’t know they had and most realized they were lacking. Most of these people are not racist … at least none of the ones I know are. They’ve got too many other issues to deal with that really matter to give a nickel’s worth of care toward hating on the skin color of someone else. They’re fine with racial equality. They just don’t want to become a subjugated minority themselves.

Truthfully, under normal circumstances, white people just don’t think very much about race. Being the default ethnic group for most of American history, they’ve never needed to think much about race. For most whites born after 1955, racial prejudice is a shameful thing and they just don’t engage in it, but they also didn’t give it a lot of thought in the three decades between the end of the Civil Rights Era and when Barack Obama was elected president. A lot of them voted for the inexperienced half-term Senator as a final show that they weren’t racists … and then they suddenly woke up to find themselves surrounded by a culture obsessed with race, being regularly lectured by the liberal elites who insist they should think about it all the time and be very ashamed of the color of their skin.

Black Lives Matter, but your white honky life is politically meaningless. Go help your children finish their Black History Month coloring assignment from school and shut up. And don’t even think about touching that Peach crayon. If your finger even touches anything lighter than Burnt Sienna we’ll cut it off.

I move pretty freely across my racial makeup. I tan well and my natural hair color is dark brown, so I cross into Indian cultural territory pretty easily. Because of the lack of sunlight in this warmth-forsaken Siberian-esque wilderness, I get pale enough by mid-winter that most white people (who really are not race obsessed) don’t think of me as Indian. The cool thing about being able to “pass” either way is people say things around me that they wouldn’t say around someone who looked more Indian or more white.

Image result for poor appalachia white privilegeSo, trust me when I report that many whites think the above message is what was being broadcast all throughout the Obama administration. I heard it too. I might have been swayed if he’d noticed there were Indians still living in poverty on the Res, but since he didn’t, my “white” side was what was hearing and evaluating his comments and the comments of his sycophants. While that wouldn’t have mattered to most whites in the 1990 through the mid-2000s when the economy was doing well, the reality of their lives now has made them feel undervalued anyway. The loss of manufacturing jobs, the collapse of traditional marriage, the effect of drugs on families, the bad schools their kids are forced to attend — all make them feel anxious and angry. They feel undervalued and they worry about what happens to their kids and grandkids if their racial group is to be increasingly undervalued and despised. Then the elites insist that everyone deserves attention and assistance except for whites because whites hold a “privileged” place in society, so magically need no help when the coal industry is shut down by executive action or the factories close to move to China because of economic conditions. When you’ve seen your standard of living decline for three decades straight and your kids can’t get jobs no matter how well they do in school, the concept of “white privilege” is laughable. Yeah, they started to feel a lot like an undervalued minority … a sense that was bolstered by pundits insisting that they are becoming an actual statistical minority and so should sit down and shut up and let the new majority run the country.

Forced toward sentiments they didn’t really think they should have by a self-righteous cultural establishment that is always telling them how they should feel and act … well, that pissed them off and they took their well-earned anger out on the elites on Election Day.

The Democrats asked for racial politics, and the whites, forced to think about race when they had bigger concerns, decided to act like a minority sick of being subjugated and ignored. The poster child for the elites’ lack of concern for the white working class was Hillary Clinton with her “everything is fine and it’s going to keep on getting better after I double-down on Obamacare” platform. The exponentially rising costs of Obamacare are driving the white middle-class over the cliff white working-class slipped off in 2008.

You can find proof of what I’m saying by looking at the poll results from Appalachia and the “Rust Belt”. The white working-class voted in patterns similar to blacks voting for Democrats over the last five decades. Or you could read Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance. Vance presented the postmortem for liberal Democrats in advance of the election. Reflecting on the plight of the white middle- and working-class and how underappreciated its contributions to society are, he predicted what happened on November 8 far better than the polling data did.

Image result for poor appalachia white privilege

Race definitely played a role in Trump’s win, but not in the way that the liberal media or Van Jones think. The media feeds us a narrative 24/7 that we should think about race everywhere all the time. The problem is that when whites are forced to think about race, they are also forced to recognize their approaching minority status and act like a minority that also controls a plurality of the electorate. The result is almost exactly the opposite of what the purveyors of racial politics intended.

And they earned that rebuke. Maybe Democrats should take a pause and consider whether they really want to live in a culture that is divided along racial lines, because if they want to keep pushing that narrative, the country’s largest minority may just make resisting the elites a permanent part of their political aims.

No Lives Matter Unless All Lives Matter   Leave a comment

“Hey, bitch, why don’t we all just line up against a wall and let the black community open up on us with automatic weapons. Would that satisfy you?”

That’s the thought that went through my head today as I was forced to listen to a racist rant by a black woman in a public forum. Sorry for the language, but I’ve got a head of steam boiling.

The thing is, I agree with her that cops shouldn’t be shooting black people, but I agree in a much more inclusive way. Cops shouldn’t be shooting PEOPLE — period! Elites should receive the same penalties as the rest of us — no exceptions. Had we stayed on that point, she and I could have agreed all the way through the meeting.

Unfortunately, when I pointed out that police killed a deaf man last week for apparently no reason, she went off on how cops killing black people was wrong and we ought to make it stop. I felt compelled to point out that the dead man wasn’t black. As far as she is concerned, that’s the only white man who was ever shot by police. “Nobody is shooting white people” was the sentence that caused me to bite my tongue and head for the exit. On my way out, she shouted after “Well, did it also happen a month ago or a year ago. Nobody is shooting white people.”

So, I thought I’d do a little research … calm myself down and remind everyone that the angry mob is not the answer to the problem of police brutality. When we separate ourselves into warring camps based on skin color, we dig giant ditches between us that become impossible barriers to overcome. Yes, white people are being shot by police officers. Yes, black people are shot more often by police officers. We can declare police open season on white people while making black folks exempt from law enforcement or we can do something that will actually work — which is to concentrate on why cops of all colors are shooting people of all colors. Thirteen percent of the population can fight this war alone or 100% of us can fight it together, but not if we dig big ditches between our two tribes by judging each other on the color of our skin rather than the content of our character.

Daniel Harris was Deaf and speech-impaired. He was driving down the interstate in North Carolina about 18 miles over the 70 mph speed limit. I know Deaf people — I have cousins who are Deaf and in learning sign language, I’ve made friends with many Deaf people. Deaf people sometimes seem to ignore police because they don’t hear the sirens, although that wouldn’t explain why Harris didn’t see the lights. A relative of Harris said Harris was afraid of the police. That doesn’t surprise me as my cousin says he fears being shot while he’s reaching for a pen because we all know cops are trigger-happy these days. Maybe Harris thought it was safer to be in front of his house before interacting with the cops so he didn’t stop immediately. It reminds me of the woman who refused to pull over for a cop in a dark part of the highway because there was someone posing as a cop, pulling women over and raping them. The cautious female driver was tazed and jailed for acting smart, but at least they didn’t kill her.

It’s well-known among the Deaf community that police don’t treat Deaf people well. In Florida in August 2015, a Deaf man was shot and killed by a Hispanic cop because it had been reported that he was armed and had spoken too loudly at someone (a life hazard for those Deaf who can talk). His son was standing right there telling the cops “He can’t hear you”, but Officer Hernandez felt compelled to shoot this man six times while he was sitting in his car with the windows rolled up and his lawfully possessed gun still holstered.

In Seattle, a Deaf carver was shot to death by a Seattle police officer when he failed to drop a knife and piece of wood he was carrying. (This was my cousin’s wake-up call because he lives in Seattle … there is a large Deaf community in Seattle).

In Fresno California, Dylan Noble (who was white) was shot by police who branded it as suicide by cop. You may not have heard of that shooting because his family couldn’t even get any attention by staging protests. They were the first I know of to point that that, while Black Lives seems to matter, white lives are of zero interest.

In August of 2015, unarmed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond was shot and killed by police during a drug bust that he apparently was not a part of.

In November, two black police officers in Louisiana were charged with murder after they fired 18 shots into a car, killing six-year-old Jeremy Mardis and leaving his father critically wounded. Mardis and his father were white.

Those are just the ones that came up in a brief Google search, but nobody is up in arms because … uh, could be because they are white and white people aren’t allowed to point these things out.

In 2015, The Washington Post launched a realtime database to track fatal police shootings. In 18 months, they recorded 1,502 people shot and killed by on-duty police officers. Of them, 732 were white, 381 were black and 382 were of another or unknown race. You have to adjust for demographics, of course. Whites make up 62% of the population, but account for only 49% of those killed by police officers. African Americans account for 24 percent of those killed, but are only 13% of of the US population. This means they are more than twice as likely to be killed by police officers than white Americans.

So, yes, black people are killed by police at a higher rate than white people. That’s a sobering statistic that must also be weighted against the disproportionate amount of murders and other violent crimes committed by black Americans. Higher crimes rates means more interaction with police and higher violent crime rates means those interactions are more likely to put cops on high alert.

Which does not in any way condone police shooting anyone who is not actively shooting at them at the time. But when you say Black Lives Matter and we want people to care passionately about the deaths of blacks at the hands of police while dismissing white people being killed by the same police, you set up barriers to our working together.

The focus should not be on police shooting black people, but on police shooting ANY people. When  you try to make it just about black lives, you are making a racist argument and some of us who would be on your side will walk out of the meeting thinking unkind thoughts about you and not be willing to work with you in the future because you make us feel like the only solution is for anyone who isn’t black to open our wrists for your entertainment.

Would that satisfy you? At least with this one woman … I somehow doubt it.

To my black friends who understand why I could not let a racist rant stand unanswered … thank you.


Posted September 2, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in racism, Uncategorized

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Challenge to Black People   Leave a comment

I always love to hear from Walter E. Williams, especially when he points out something very un-PC.


President Barack Obama and his first attorney general, Eric Holder, called for an honest conversation about race. Holder even called us “a nation of cowards” because we were unwilling to have a “national conversation” about race. The truth of the matter is there’s been more than a half-century of conversations about race. We do not need more. Instead, black people need to have frank conversations among ourselves, no matter how uncomfortable and embarrassing the topics may be.

Among the nation’s most dangerous cities are Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, Memphis, Milwaukee, Birmingham, Newark, Cleveland and Philadelphia. These once-thriving cities are in steep decline. What these cities have in common is that they have large black populations. Also, they have been run by Democrats for nearly a half-century, with blacks having significant political power. Other characteristics these cities share are poorly performing and unsafe schools, poor-quality city services, and declining populations.


Source: Challenge to Black People

Posted July 21, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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Looking Forward to 2016   Leave a comment

So it’s January 1, 2016 and that seems like a good time to glance back at the past and forward to the future.

There were any number of topics I could have choose, but I decided to look at racism in the United States and something I learned this year.

Racism exists. Preference is a part of human nature that is actually a positive. It helps to keep us alive. We tend to not want to eat things that taste bad because that preference helps us to distinguish foods that are good to eat and those that are poisonous. Like so many positive human characteristics, our sin nature twists preference to something unhealthy and evil … racism. If we’re all honest with ourselves, we all have some racially based preferences.

A former Sunday School student of mine whose father is black and mother Korean married a Hmong woman and almost all of his male friends are black. He goes to a multicultural church (similar to the one where I was his Sunday School teacher). About two years ago, he invited a white church member to join the basketball team he plays on. After a few weeks, the friend had the bravery to jokingly call himself the “token white guy” on the team. Ken said the scales dropped from his eyes. “I’m a racist. I’m not an evil racist. I’m just exercising my preferences. I would never assault a white person because they were white. But I distinctly prefer black and Asian people over white people.” Ken has been trying to correct that imbalance in his life because he doesn’t like knowing that about himself, but he’s finding it difficult because he really does prefer black and Asian people over white people.

I am proud of my Native American roots, but I was raised to be equally proud of the rest of my heritage. I live in Alaska, a long way away from my mother’s tribe (some of them live in Canada, some in Ohio, some in Kansas, some in Michigan,  and the majority in Oklahoma). I go to Oklahoma occasionally to visit “cousins” (we share an ancestor and our grandmothers called each other “cousin” in truth. I’ve related here before my experiences before. In July I went to the Midnight Sun Intertribal Pow Wow, which has Alaska Natives and First Nations folks. As my dark-brown hair has grayed, I’ve chosen to dye it a dark auburn that I find very attractive with my blue eyes, but when I went to join the activities at the Pow Wow, I quickly felt the temperature drop. “They” did not want me there. As an experiment, I went home and dyed my hair black and went back the next day. Oddly, I felt welcome. I didn’t share that on the blog because I wanted some time to process it and, frankly, I felt guilty for violating my principles to feel included.

The fact is … racism is still alive in the United States because it is alive in the human heart.

Let’s be honest, though, things are a whole lot better since the Civil Rights movement.  I’ve never known anyone my age who has ever been denied housing or a job because of their skin color. I experienced perceived racism in a shop in the southwest, but that may have been a misinterpretation on my part. I’ve experienced overt racism in a shop in Fairbanks and that was not a misinterpretation, but I want to look at that because I learned something about it this year.

JP Jones was a community icon in the Fairbanks black community. He owned a corner store, he was head of the NAACP, he did a lot of good in that community. The community has honored his memory by naming a community center after him. My interactions with him were few, but memorable.

The first time, I was a teenager walking to a friend’s house in cold weather. It’s not uncommon here for pedestrians to walk from store to store to warm up along the way. I ducked into Jones’ corner store and learned about racism. JP clearly didn’t like me; he wanted me out of his shop; he treated me very rudely. When I met him again a year or so later, he was claiming a fight at the high school had been racially motivated because one of the participants was black. As a witness, I knew better and I heard the racism in his whole speech.

JP was a racist, but I’ve realized something — he earned it. I don’t know anything about his life, but I know his accent was southern and I expect he had been treated badly by white shop owners when he was a high school student. Maybe if I’d been buying something he would have treated me better. And, although the fight at Lathrop was definitely not racially motivated, in 1978 racially-oriented fights were not uncommon in high schools across America. JP’s racism was natural, but it falsely colored his perception of the world. Had he been pleasant with me, I would have been his greatest supporter, but because he was rude, I never had much use for him later.

So, this year, Black Lives Matter has been a huge media circus and I’ve been dismissive of it. It smacks of racism just as much as Wounded Knee seemed a racist venture to my mother. It’s is motivated by an understandable anger at cops killing people who haven’t done anything worthy of the death penalty. But by focusing on black deaths, the whole movement reveals its underpinning as racist. Most people shot and killed by cops are white. Yes, compared to their percentage in the population, there is a slightly higher percentage of blacks in that total number, but it is extremely divisive focus on that when the real issue is that cops shooting civilians ought to be a rare occurrence and it’s not.

By saying Black Lives Matter … or Indian Lives Matter … or Chinese Lives Matter … those using that term are saying that Other Lives Don’t Matter.

So, I don’t do resolutions for New Years, but I do state my hopes for the new year. In 2016, I hope we have an honest conversation about the true role of race in America and that we acknowledge that there is no institutional racism left. Those barriers have been kicked down a long time ago. The barriers that persist are individual barriers —

  • What are you going to do with the education that the taxpayers have provided for you?
  • Are you sure that your anger at the light-skinned other is not coming from you rather than engendered by something “they” are doing?
  • Do you see yourself as human or as some subcategory of human who thinks your subcategory is more deserving than the other subcategories?

Resolve to be a human rather than a race hyphen human. If you do that, you may be extremely surprised at how much less racist the world becomes.

Posted January 1, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in racism

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Simplistic Thinking about Mass Shootings   4 comments

Perhaps it is human nature to blame something other than ourselves for the events we see in the world. The South Carolina church shooting shows that tendency in full view.

  • Guns caused the shooting. Their very existence demands that they be used for the mass killing of folks.

Do we really believe that? Certainly our president and some pundits say they believe that, but isn’t that the equivalent of saying “the devil made me do it?” I’ve been around guns my whole life. It’s stupid to go into the woods where there are bears, wolves and moose without a firearm. I shot a 22 when I was 7. I first handled my mom’s 357 when I was in junior high right after three soon-to-be rapists tried to break into our house and Mom (all 95 pounds of her) scared them away.

My guns have never whispered to me that I should go out and shoot up a church, a movie theater, a shopping center. Guns are inanimate objects. If there’s any whispering going on, it’s coming from the mind of the shooter, not the guns. Guns are simply a tool for keeping users safe. Make them illegal and it leaves law-abiding citizens at the mercy of law-breakers, because law-breakers won’t be obeying the gun laws.

  • Racism caused the shooting.

There may be some validity to this argument in the case of this particular church. It was a historically black church and the shooter seems to have had some racist beliefs. He was also high on drugs and may have been mentally ill. So is that racism or mental illness or some other problem not yet identified. The shooter spent an hour in that church during Bible study before he opened fire. If it were my church, I’d be asking “What happened during that hour that escalated rather than de-escalated his violence?” Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he was just bent on killing people and it took him an hour to get the courage, but … as I said, if it were MY church …. Is it possible they weren’t very welcoming to the weird white guy in their haven for the dark-skinned? If you think that’s a racist question, note the number of fingers pointing back at yourself before you pop off.

  • Mental illness caused the shooting. Lock up all mentally ill or make it illegal for them to have guns and all will be better.

I worked in the mental health field for 15 years. I’ve met some mentally ill people who would mow down a church group because the voices in their heads told them to do it. Not the gun, not racism — mental illness. But I’ve also met mentally ill folks who would never hurt anyone (except maybe themselves) and others who stay on their meds because they don’t want to ever hurt anyone else. Delusional disorders are not all the same and it’s wrong to treat some folks like criminals because they are ill.

  • Churches are at fault.

I actually heard this from an atheist neighbor this weekend. If churches weren’t these monolithic structures that judge people, he said, they wouldn’t become targets for crazy people. Do away with all churches and people would be free to love one another and violence would be reduced immeasurably. Wow, you just can’t make that up.

All of those simple causes are probably partially at fault. Churches ought to be more welcoming to those who are odd. Yes, that puts them more at risk. Jesus never said being His followers would be safe. There is a lovely man who occasionally comes through our church. We call him John the Baptist and I can’t say his real name because I signed agreements years ago. He is a Christian who is also bat-crazy with schizophrenia. Often when you talk to him, it’s like reading Alice in Wonderland on acid, but he also cuts right to the truth of the gospel in a way that sane people rarely do. He knows his Bible and his application is spot on. And (some people find this creepy), he seems to know things about you that he shouldn’t know, but he uses that knowledge to help the Christians he meets. I wonder if he’s not talking to angels, who are the demons who chose to obey God. Yeah, I worked in the mental health field for 15 years and I believe in demons. That’s another topic. Churches should be more welcoming to people who are not stereotypically “church” people.

Mental illness is a tough nut to crack. Europe and other nations handle it by doing what we used to do — locking folks up and forcing them to take their meds. There is a growing movement in this country by mental health advocates to never force anyone to take medication against their will. Did you know that? Yeah! So maybe there’s more to these mass shootings than just undiagnosed mental illness. But maybe in a country that prides itself on individual liberty, we really don’t have a right to force others to be medicated against their will. There are some folks who think we should treat mental illness like a crime. I don’t, but I also acknowledge that some people won’t stay on their meds and they aren’t John the Baptist motivated by God’s spirit to share the gospel. Some of them are scary scary people and we need to have a discussion about what to do with that. Currently, if you call for help because you think someone might be developing schizophrenia and about to harm someone, you have to show that they really are an imminent risk to themselves or others. In essence, they have to mow down a church group before the police will act.

Notice that I’m sitting on the fence with this because I’m an individualist who has experience with both good people who are mentally ill and scary people who are mentally ill. I’m not sure what the answer is here and I suspect there is no “good” solution.

Racism is a swinging door. The first time I ever saw racism directed at me was not because I’m an American Indian and white folks don’t like Indians. It was a black man who had decided I was white and he didn’t want me in his shop. Racism doesn’t have a color. A traditionally ethnic church of any stripe might think its meeting separately because that’s how white folks want it, but in reality, in this day and age, they are meeting separately because they feel most comfortable with that. Guaranteed, if a group of any ethnicity showed up at 90% of traditionally white churches, nobody would turn them away and most might not even notice the color of your skin. Racism and reverse racism are not excuses for mowing down a church group, but it is certainly something churches need to consider. And, not just churches. Society as a whole exhibits this problem. When you’re pointing a finger at someone else as a racist, pay attention to how many fingers are pointing back at you.

Guns do not kill anyone by themselves. They are simply a tool. If we didn’t have guns, mentally ill people and racists would find other ways to kill people. Knives, gasoline bombs, cars, baseball bats, bow-and-arrow, hammers …. As a small woman, I’m not going to go mana a mana with a man swinging a baseball bat or wielding a knife. With a gun, I become his equal and therefore, equally able to protect myself and those around me. If you disarm me, you relegate me to the role of victim, leading to my death.

I know we don’t want to hear this. We want simple causes and simple solutions, but we don’t have those and until we accept that the issues are more complicated than we want to believe, we can’t hope to solve the problems.

Becky Akers on Racism   Leave a comment

Lela: Welcome back! Becky Akers and I are continuing our discussion of how an anarchic world would deal with racism and bigotry since there would be no government to enforce civil rights. Becky, my mother, an American Indian, suffered some segregation issues – difficulty renting apartments, denial of job opportunities — so I’ve always viewed the Civil Rights Act as a necessary government action which means I can be a human and not some sort of subhuman racial minority. Which brings us back to my original statement – government would not be necessary if men were angels. If men and women are bigots, how do the people they want to oppress get justice in a world without government?


Becky: Lela, I attended a women’s college that was so heavily Jewish it offered a kosher dining room. We schicksas, as its patrons called us, were forbidden to so much as throw our trash into the kosher garbage cans. Imagine the bigotry when even your wastepaper isn’t good enough!


Christian AnarchyLela:  That’s awful, but vaguely understandable given Jewish kosher regulations. I wouldn’t choose to be that cut off from the normal course of society and I couldn’t treat people with such contempt, but I understand it in principle. But that sort of attitude is exactly what scares me.


Becky:  Yep. So it’s understandable that you and a great many folks hope the State will force people to show better manners. But let’s remember who codified and enforced the racism that your mother suffered: government.


Lela:  Did it come from government or was it people in community who hated/feared Indians and wanted their land and asked government to support their decision to steal and abuse? That’s sort of off topic, but it is interesting to consider which came first — racism growing from the sinful hearts of fallen people or the government codifying and enforcing that racism.

But, back on topic — does anarcho-capitalism offer a better solution than civil rights legislation?


Becky:  Anarcho-capitalism offers far better methods of combating racism than that sin’s prime proponent, the State, ever could.


For over 75 years after the Constitution’s ratification, the Federal government and many states legislated and enforced chattel slavery. And those governments’ atrocities against American Indians are so heinous and infamous that time, space, and a queasy stomach prevent my rehearsing them here. Does it make sense to look for salvation from racism to the very agency that bolstered—and continues to bolster—it?


Lela: From someone who gets to look at it from both sides — whites did some evil things to the Indians, but some of my Indian ancestors admitted to the evil they did to white settlers. There was evil done on both sides and I can’t justify any of it. I can understand the sentiments that created the conflict, but I can’t justify the sins committed.


My family came to Alaska about 1946 just after Alaska became the first place in the United States to make Jim Crow-like discrimination illegal. My mom immediately noticed the difference from her experience in Washington State. My dad was with his first wife, a Creole, at the time and he always talked about the “miracle” of anti-discrimination laws. I grew up never really knowing legalized racism and thank God for that.


Becky:  But let’s ask another question: why were Jim Crow laws “necessary”?  Why go to the bother of legally banning black people—or, in Alaska’s case, native peoples—from movie theaters, housing, etc., if white people are by and large racists? Because clearly most proprietors of movie theaters, landlords, restaurateurs, etc., disagreed with discrimination. Then as now, these folks wanted as much profit as they could earn. And that means subjugating one’s prejudices against other colors to favor one: green.


Lela:  That’s a perspective I had not considered before. It would explain why Alaska’s anti-discrimination law was passed in 1945 and within a year my dad and mom (in separate parts of Alaska) noticed a difference. I always sort of imagined the owners of the Juneau Hotel grinding their teeth as Roy and Katherine Peratrovich celebrated its passage by dancing in their ballroom with their white patrons, but I never met any older white Alaskans who said they were absolutely horrified at its passage either. And it is true that the discrimination laws were written to “protect” white privilege because whites were a minority compared to Natives at the time. So, you think money is an anecdote to bigotry?


Becky:  Yes, I do. I think the free market in general is one of God’s greatest blessings to us because it lifts more people out of poverty by far than any other economic system. And specifically, it is bigotry’s most tireless enemy, as the State tacitly admitted every time it passed another law against a commercial transaction or behavior based on race.


Now, does this mean that everyone everywhere will welcome everyone all the time in an anarchic world? No, of course not. Let’s always remember that anarchy does not yield utopia, nor should we want it to: utopians like Hitler or the Khmer Rouge number among the most ruthless murderers in history. Whatever our social or political systems, we will still be fallen sinners living in a fallen world. But anarcho-capitalism offers the most opportunities for peace, prosperity, and freedom from bigotry’s burdens to the most people.


Lela: I’m still stuck here, though. I’m not looking for a utopia where everyone gets along and nobody has any evil thoughts. That won’t happen until we’re with Jesus in heaven and I honestly believe there will be some seriously embarrassed Christians when that day comes.


Becky: Amen. Seriously embarrassed.


Lela: From a statist perspective:  those that society deems “less-than” can perhaps “buy” their way into an accepted status in stateless anarcho-capitalist society. The converse is that “less-thans” are almost always poor in material wealth because of lack of opportunity. So again, don’t we circle back to needing the state to protect civil rights?


Becky:  Lela, much of the “lack of opportunity” you lament results from the State! For example: government requires many professionals, such as hair-braiders or morticians, to undergo expensive training totally irrelevant to their needs and to buy a license before they can practice their trade. Poor people almost always lack the time, money and resources to comply with the State’s demands; this isn’t “lack of opportunity,” this is outright tyranny! And it wouldn’t exist in an anarchic world.


There are other problems with anointing government Our Protector Of “Civil Rights” (I’ve put that term in quotes because I vehemently disagree with “civil rights,” as I explain here, here and here. “Civil rights” is a recognized political philosophy based on Marxism rather than mere shorthand, as most people assume, for “warm, fuzzy laws against nasty old bigots”). First, let’s remember government s inherent incompetence and corruption. Neither fault goes missing among those writing, passing, and enforcing regulations against discrimination. A Chinese landlord in San Diego, CA, may bribe the bureaucratic bean-counter who finds no Korean tenants in his five apartment buildings, but he’s unlikely to increase his profits in a heavily Asian area if he continues to indulge his racism.


Lela:  Okay, that makes sense. In a territory where most people were Alaska Natives who were starting to get educations and incomes (Roy Peratrovich was a lawyer, for example), it didn’t make much sense for businesses to refuse to sell to them.


Becky:  Remember, too, that we can’t control the unintended consequences or direction of any legislation, including that of “Civil Rights.” Who would have predicted in 1964 that the State’s ordering hoteliers, airlines, landlords, movie theaters, etc., to accommodate all patrons regardless of ethnicity would lead to the persecution-sorry, prosecution of Christian bakers and florists 50 years later for refusing to supply cakes and flowers to homosexual “weddings”?


Lela:  I definitely agree there. A law upholding the Christian principle of anti-discrimination (James 2 comes to mind) has become an excuse to deny religious liberty — to force private individuals to participate in and publicly sanction sinful behavior.


Becky: Lela, you’ve articulated a powerful principle there concerning the State. It always twists “well-intentioned,” “Christian” legislation into a horror straight from the pit of Hell. “Compulsory education” is another case in point: Protestants concerned about the huge numbers of Irish Catholic immigrants to mid-nineteenth century America pushed for laws compelling everyone to send his kids to “public” school–which they assumed would always be Protestant. Imagine their horror if they could see the State’s schools today, with pornography and the deliberate destruction of innocence, a.k.a “sex education,” unhealthy drugs and violence rampant, Darwinism not only preached but fanatically believed, and indoctrination in Marxism replacing any actual education.


Lela: In effect, the Civil Rights Act now discriminates against Biblically-faithful Christians. So how did that get twisted around?


Becky:  The Civil Rights Act arrogated the property owner’s rights to the State; in effect, a restaurateur no longer owns his diner because government now tells him how he may or may not use that property. If you doubt that, let me ask whether you own the bottle of aspirin you bought 2 weeks ago and placed in your medicine chest. If you do own it, can I prohibit you from opening it? Of course not! You can open it or not as you see fit, right?


Lela:  Yes.


Becky:  And if I said, “I prohibit you from opening that!”, wouldn’t you laugh at me? Wouldn’t you say, “Look, I have a headache, and anyway, it’s my aspirin! I’ll open it when I dang well please! It’s none of your business!” So with other kinds of property. If the State can tell me the uses I must make of it, I do not own it: the State does. And once we have ceded government the authority to dictate how some property-owners must use their property (restaurants must seat black patrons; landlords must rent to families with little kids though they disturb other tenants), we cannot legitimately, logically protest when it forces other property-owners to use their property as bureaucrats and politicians desire.


Lela:  Okay. I can see that. In fact, I’ve had conversations with people on this blog who argued the same thing from the statist position.


Becky: Lela, it’s supremely ironic that so many folks believe the State saves us from the consequences of bigotry: it’s among the worst of discriminators, if not the worst! Go to almost bureaucracy’s website and you’ll find a page like this one, listing the ways in which the agency favors some people over others, based solely on sex, race, etc.


Lela:  Right. Those pages (in print in those days) were always a conundrum for me because I could legally claim minority status, but I was raised to celebrate all of my heritage, so I didn’t. In high school, I started checking “other” and writing “human” on the line. I hope some bureaucrats were confused by that.


Becky: Good for you! The upshot is that government doesn’t prohibit discrimination and bigotry; instead, it promotes both in the varieties that bureaucrats and politicians prefer.


Lela: I’m part-American Indian, but I have blue eyes and curly hair, so I have a choice whether to look white or Indian (and have experimented to see if there is a different reaction; there is sometimes with some people). In principle, I can say that private individuals and companies have a right to choose who they associate with, but if I’m honest, as an Indian, that would mean my freedom would be curtailed by their freedom. It’s not as simple as saying “well, just move somewhere and associate with your own kind” because my own kind is as much Americans of Swedish and Irish descent as Americans of Indian descent. To me, freedom is being able to move within all of those groups without having to change my appearance to “pass”. I don’t care what’s kicking around in the private recesses of some rude person’s mind because their thoughts don’t hurt me, but if their actions deny me freedom … then I start to see a need for government to protect my freedom.


Becky: We need to return to our definition of  government,  Lela, which I’ll paraphrase as “physical compulsion, up to and including lethal compulsion, and the authority some people (ie, politicians, bureaucrats and their enforcers) claim to initiate that compulsion against others.” Are you saying that if a landlord refuses to rent to you, government should ultimately kill him?


Christian AnarchyLela:  No! Rudeness should not carry a death sentence.


Becky: Let’s also specify what we mean by “freedom” (which I’ve used throughout our conversation interchangeably with “liberty”), since you fear that bigots’ actions deny you your freedom. The dictionary defines ”liberty” as “freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.” As an anarchist, I’d remove “arbitrary or despotic.” And for the purposes of our discussion here, I’d also delete “or control” since we’re dealing with political freedom and there are other sorts of “arbitrary or despotic…control” (my mother-in-law, for example!). Ergo, liberty is “freedom from government.”


When we consider both these meanings in the context of your sentence, we see that however despicable or cruel the “rude person’s” treatment of you may be, he is in no way denying your freedom. Unless he is a politician or bureaucrat acting in an official capacity—and in an anarcho-capitalist world, we’d have neither of those sub-species—he is merely insulting, offensive, and inviting the judgment of God. Indeed, his abuse is so egregious that when you tell me about it, Lela, I organize a boycott of his business. I shun him personally, too, as do readers of the articles I write against him. Pretty soon, he either gets the message, or he’s one lonely, broke racist.


Lela:  Now we’re getting to the crux of the conversation! Reasoning from a statist position, the lack of a state means there’s no way to influence others, but you’re suggesting there are alternatives to the state that work just as well or better.


Becky: Much better!


Lela: We’re running out of time today. Would you be willing to return to discuss this further?


Becky: I’d be honored to do so!


Becky Akers is a free-lance writer and historian who has written two novels about the American Revolution, Halestorm and Abducting Arnold.



Stay Tuned for Christian Anarchy   Leave a comment

Becky Akers retuChristian Anarchyrns to discuss the role of government in perpetuating institutional racism.

Interestingly, this coincides with Starbuck’s Race Together campaign, which I (and my husband Brad) take exception to on the grounds that it is itself racist.

Join Becky and I for this timely discussion.

On Being a Racist   10 comments

(Hubby Brad is making one of his rare guest appearances. Lela)


Hello, my name is Brad and I am a racist.

I must be a racist because the barista at Starbuck’s scribbled “Race Together” on the side of my cup. Apparently I look like a racist. Apparently Lela does not because her cup just had her name scrawled on the side along with the secret code for how she likes her coffee. Her friend Susan, who looks very Alaska Native, was also not blessed with the invitation to have a conversation with a white coffee-dispensing college student about race. My friend PJ — RACIST!

Lela and I are generally opposed to putting our images out on social media. It’s not like the NSA doesn’t know who we are or what we look like, but we don’t want to make it any easier for them. You’ll just have to take my word for it — I’m white. My eyes are blue-green, my hair is sort of honey brown and my skin — well, this time of year, it’s blindingly white. We don’t get a lot of sun in Alaska in the winter and since it rained all last summer, it’s been about 18 months since I’ve tanned. So I think this is the whitest I’ve ever been.

I know — disgraceful! How can I have any understanding of what darker-skinned people feel when my skin is this white? And I was buying coffee with another white guy at a bookstore! Can’t you just smell the white privilege?  White men who can read at a 6th grade level and afford designer coffee! Obviously we need to discuss race relations in America with our barista! I mean, she has dreds. She can’t possibly be a racist!

So here’s something to know about the inner workings of my mind. Like most human beings on the planet, I do have some prejudices. I prefer vanilla over chocolate ice cream, for example. I discriminate against flavorless Lower 48 blueberries in favor of tart Alaska blueberries. I like Jeeps better than Subarus which I prefer over Fords. If given a choice, I will choose movies that feature explosions over romantic comedies. I don’t like some people and love to hang out with others. I discriminate all of the time. We all do and that is not necessarily an evil thing. Trust me on this — Alaska blueberries — WAY better than Lower 48 blueberries!!!!

Ah, but is my choice of coffee companions an indication that I discriminate in favor of white people? Could be. I grew up in a rough New York City neighborhood during the bussing era of the 1970s. In the 5th grade, I was stabbed by a Puerto Rican girl for no reason I ever knew and I haven’t really had much use for Puerto Ricans since, but if you are a friendly Puerto Rican and don’t try to stab me, I’ll eventually warm up to you. You know the saying — once stabbed, twice shy, but you can prove to me that I can trust you. And, then I was once beaten up by two drunk (Alaska) Native men, so if you’re a drunk Alaska Native man harassing people in downtown Fairbanks Alaska, you might want to steer clear of me. I’ve learned to growl and threaten to bite rather than get kicked in the ribs again.

See — RACIST! Or maybe the Puerto Rican chick and the Native guys hurt me and I learned the lesson they were trying to teach me.

In high school, I was smitten by a black girl in my history class who would never give me the time of day. My best friend is an Alaskan Eskimo. My wife is part-American Indian. My very beloved daughter actually looks more Indian than her mother. Once I was the only white man on a remote job site and three of my black coworkers announced I could call them the “n-word”. I guess these non-whites have f failed to notice that I’m a bigot, huh?

I’m Irish American and like most American whites, I am uncomfortable with this topic. In fact, I feel like I don’t have a right to have a contrarian opinion on this subject. The only reason I’m posting this is that Lela insisted. It was about 17 years ago that my coworkers honored me by trying to let me into their group. I couldn’t say the “n-word” without blushing and choking. They thought it was funny and tried to get me to practice it, but I never could do it. Finally, they took pity on me and said I didn’t have to. But why was it hard for me to say it? They called each other “nigga” all the time. It appeared to be a term of endearment and camaraderie. I was honored that they gave me permission, but I couldn’t say it. Since then, I’ve asked quite a few white people if they could say “n-word”. I haven’t found any that could. They are absolutely embarrassed by the term.

Why?Because we’ve all been indoctrinated to never have bigoted thoughts about people of color and to never, ever say the n-word. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, but I want to just point out that there’s a double standard. White people have been taught to be careful of the sensitivities of non-whites, but non-whites are not necessarily held to the same standard.

Have you ever seen an Indian fella wearing a “Native Pride” hat? You see it a lot here in Alaska. I’ve often wondered what would happen if I wore a “white pride” T-shirt, but I fear getting beat up again, so I’ve never run that experiment. This week in Fairbanks, we’re having the Festival of Native Arts, where Native people get together for Native dancing and eating ethnic foods (muktuk and seal oil, yummo!) and non-Natives are expected to plunk down big money to go watch this, but they aren’t permitted to participate. We’re supposed to respect this exhibit as healthy cultural pride. What if Irish people were to get together for jig dancing or Germans were to get together for beer drinking and glockenspieling and say it’s okay for non-Irish to pay money to watch, but they can’t participate — what would be the reaction?


But what really bugs me is that 17 years ago, I could say “nigga” to a black man and he would call me friend, but today I don’t think those same men would honor me with that privilege because black people today are no longer judging white people by the content of their character, but by the color of our skin. White people are expected to apologize for being white, as if that is anything we can control any more than a black person can control being born black.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like racism to you? It sure sounds a lot like racism to me.

Race with Us? Really?   9 comments

Pouring my coffee over her head occurred to me!

In case you don’t know, Starbuck’s has decided to instruct the rest of America on race relations in this country. In doing so, they’ve managed to lose my business for a while.


It’s what was scribbled on the side of my husband’s coffee cup last night. It was also scrawled on the side of his friend PJ’s cup. We ran into PJ and Susan in the parking lot of Barnes & Noble. Susan and I talked quilting while PJ and Brad discussed how the early spring is messing up their snow machining. The guys got coffee and the gals got coffee. Susan is Athabaskan Indian. I’m part-American Indian (but white people don’t usually see it unless it’s pointed out or if I’m with someone for them to compare me to and see similarities). Brad is Irish-American, I think PJ is German-American – blond and his last name could be German (okay, I never thought to ask).

The problem?

Susan and I had no such missive on the sides of our cups!


It is not just white people in this country that need to have a conversation about racism. I’m a tribal member. Trust me. Reservation Indians are the most racist group I know personally. The Tanana Chiefs Conference just called for a 100-year plan that includes (in my opinion, but Susan agreed with me) some highly racially-oriented ideas. My black-nephew-in-law took the election of Barack Obama to start having a race conversation in which he has decided all “white” people are racists who need to be confronted about what he supposes is going on in our heads.

Kind of like Starbuck’s.

Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a day when a man might be judged by the content of his character not the color of his skin. I thought we were there when we elected Barack Obama. That would seem to have been a pretty clear indication that blacks at least were welcomed into the circles of power not just by the elites, but by the voters. Sadly, I was mistaken. This has been the most racially-divisive presidency since Richard Nixon.

These days having “white” skin immediately means you need to be educated about race relations by bigots with dark skin. Brad and PJ, two white men, need the conversation. Susan and I apparently do not. The message I got was that if you’re a person of color, you’re exempt from this race conversation. Or maybe it’s that if you’re hanging out with a person of color, you don’t need that conversation. If you are white and you have friends who are white then you clearly need the conversation. For the record, PJ and Brad are married to BIA-recognized tribal members and have children who are BIA-recognized tribal members.

So now you know why I wanted to pour my coffee over the barista’s head.

I resent the insinuation that if I am not of a certain racial group I must be a bigot. Until this conversation started coming up every other day, I personally hadn’t thought much about racial issues for a long long time. That’s right. I’m an American Indian who had not thought much about racism. Why? Because I don’t experience a lot of racism in my life. That may be because I don’t go looking for it. The world is full of rude people of every skin color. I don’t assume they are rude because they are racists. I assume they are rude because they are human. Maybe ignorance is bliss or maybe I only encounter racism when the person is truly being a racist, when I can’t avoid the reality.

Like when the Starbuck’s barista scribbles “Race with us” on the side of my husband’s coffee cup, but not on mine.

And, by the way, overt racists are (in my experience) almost always people of color. White people got it knocked out of them a long time ago. Maybe there are still racist thoughts kicking around in their heads that come out when they drink heavily, but for the most part they don’t say it and they don’t act on it. Reservation Indians and certain communities of black people, however ….

If we want to have this conversation, let’s invite everybody to the table. Let’s be honest about racism in America and admit that while white people have learned to keep their heads down and their mouths shut on the subject, people of color feel their skin color have been given a pass on their own racism.


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