The C.P.

picture-11Check out Will.i.Am’s acceptance speech at the NAACP Awards.

i am so proud to have received a NAACP award by my black community…

because at one point in time i wasn’t even considered “black enough”…

yes…

i am a black man…

i was raised in an all mexican neighborhood…

i attended great schools in white areas…

so…growing up i was looked at as odd…

black people didn’t think i was “black enough”

white people thought i was different than other blacks…

and mexicans thought i was dominican…

life was colorful…

if it wasn’t for that diversity i never would have known what life truly had to offer…

people fought for me to attend brentwood sci mag, paul revere middle school, and palisades high…

people fought for my freedoms…

freedoms i didn’t acknowledge when i was younger…

i went to school with persians, koreans, native americans, french, nigerians, and indians…

another translation would be:

brown, yellow, red, white, black, and blue people…

brave people fought for that…

magnet schools

equal education…

it was all fought for…

and i reaped the benefits from it…

the invisible freedom fighters fought…

the visible fighters fought as well…

in the 100 years of the existence of the NAACP and fighting for equality they are now victorious…

because a black man is in the white house…

built by slaves now run by a black president…

the battle was won…

and now i ask this question…

what does the “C.P. ” mean in the NAACP now?

today’s definition is…

NAACP:

the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

we have advanced to the highest seat in office…

the president…

we have advanced to oprah status…

we have advanced…

congratulations…

and now…

where do we go?

i know we still have to fix mississippi, new orleans and our ghettos…

but what about the other colors…

filipino?

brazilian?

indian?

cambodian?

afghani?

and chinese?

if the NAACP fought so that a black man could be president in a country that practiced slavery…

then the NAACP should now stand and represent all people of color…

and fight to unite every version of “pigment”…

and lack of it…

the NAACP should now march and protect the most important colors of all…

GREEN…

“the planet”…

and “GREY”…

the mind…

education…

equal education…

because no matter if you’re black, white, blue or orange…

we all live on green…

and we all think with grey…

and what good is a united people if there is no green to live on…???

and what good is a united people if our grey is filled with nothingness…

i am so proud to have performed “take our planet back” at the NAACP image awards

i am so proud to have use my grey and sing about green in a black gathering…

i am so proud to have performed that song on that night…

during this time in american history…

we have a new mission ahead of us…

we all have to rethink the priorities…

we all have to put our best foot forward and walk together…

all colors…

all the different versions of pigment…

and lack of it…

we all have to protect the important colors…

“green, and grey”

and i propose this new title to the NAACP…

🙂

the National Association for the Advancement of Consciousness and People

let’s wake up…

realize how we all contribute to the destruction of our planet and minds…

let’s continue to educate and push…

and remind our government to make laws that protect our “grey

the mind

and force our government to make laws that protect our “green, brown, and blue home”

the earth

let’s take our planet black…

please watch this video and pass it around like a baton and be apart of the new “C.P.”

conscious people…

I do think, though, that because of our nation’s fugly history with slavery, abduction, and historic separation of Black families, organizations such as the NAACP do need to specifically address and support the needs of the Black community. Yet, it as a Will.i.am fan, and as an active Asian American, this was pretty amazing to read from him …!

Individual vs The System

This past week hasn’t been the best “diversity” week for me. Other than having Tim Wise come to shake things up a bit, the whole issue of walking-the-walk has been on the forefront of my brain and my work.

But, here’s what’s been ticking me off lately: the act of calling out racism and oppression, only to have people say things like, “Well *I* don’t think that about people of color!” or “I’ve never exoticized anyone!” … implying, then, therefore, the feelings and experiences don’t exist.

This is a key point to understand for those who are loosening the mind. News flash: No, you may not actually personally engage in discrimination, racist acts or beliefs, or oppresion. BUT, if you belong to a group that does, then you must recognize and own up to it. This goes for any group in power — group. Not just individuals.

I’ll make it personal here … so, yes, I am Catholic in a state that has a whole lot of other Catholics.  I am religious, I believe lots of what is in the Bible, I pray with my children at night, I am married to a man. I also believe in gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and the freedom of all (and no) religion in a person’s life. While I’m liberal in my practices and beliefs,  I also fully own that I follow a faith tradition that is NOT so inclusive. I’ve done my best to find the right fit church for me and my family — one that pays a whole lot of attention to social justice, inequal treatment of others, and doesn’t use the word “man” when referring to all people – even in the most traditional of the prayers. Yet, the Catholic church has yet to include gay marriages; and this goes against my very grain. So, in my non-religious realm, I am inclusive, I educate others about the gay community, I am vigiliant about making sure that “diversity” always also means LGBTQ. My children are friends with other kids who have 2 moms, 2 days, and we celebrate them as equally as anyone else. My children do not believe that only a man-and-a-woman can marry — and they’ll be the first ones to tell you that 2 men can be in love and that 2 women can be in love, just like their own mom and dad are in love.

But, when I read and hear about oppression that gay couples experience, I do not quickly run to say, “Well, that’s just crazy that you feel that way … after all, *I* do not believe it. So, therefore, it must not exist.

Then, why are people so quick to say this when the race conversation occurs? When I bring up that Black students are feeling marginalized, others are quick to say, “Well, *I* don’t discriminate against Black students” or “I have a diverse staff, so I must be treating all Blacks equal” or “I’ve never thought of Hispanics as lazy, so that’s just crazy that others do”? It doesn’t make sense to me…

Individual vs The System.

That’s great that you don’t think of Asian women as exotic. It’s encouraging that you think Hispanics can be day laborers and CEO’s It’s promising that you believe gay marriage is marriage. But, that doesn’t mean the experience isn’t real to Asians, Hispanics, and gay couples. It doesn’t mean that others don’t make up for what you don’t do.

The promise is in the belief that we (individuals, communities, schools, political parties, countries, etc) can overcome the system of oppression through the determination and role modeling of individuals who refuse to marginalize others. However, we must be careful not to use the “But I don’t do it” line to detract from the very real experiences that do exist.

Tim Wise, in his visit, said, “It seems as if people today use the ‘I voted for Barack Obama’ line in the same way that folks use to use the ‘I have a Black friend’ line.” I’m finding this more and more true. That, while Obama’s victory was a victory for our country and for people who believe in equality, we still have a long way to go. All of us (Black, White, Asian, Gay, Hetero, Rich, Poor, Able.. all) have a long way to go. And, even in my Letter to My Children, I don’t believe that racism is over just because President Obama was elected. It’s too easy to believe that. His election doesn’t erase the hate crimes that have happened in my own city in the past few months. His election doesn’t mean that all of a sudden workplace discrimination has ended or that people of color aren’t statistically experiencing racism.

What it does signal is that enough people are tired of racism. That enough people believe that there is a different story to be told, and that we are eager to hear it.

Good reads:

Between Barack and  a Hard Place by Tim Wise — check it out! Just got my hands on a copy and love it!

The Hannah How-To

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Before I became a parent, and certainly before I became a parent of 2 little girls, it was easy for me to say I would boycott anything racist. I have successfully avoided Abercrombie and Fitch, Denny’s, Desperate Housewives, and other pop culture arenas that have either condoned racism, racist views, or racist practices. So far, so good.

For the past 5 years, my husband and I have also been pretty successful in calling out key stereotypes for our children. While they do love the whole Princess thing, we don’t buy Barbies, don’t buy movies with all white casts, nor do we purchase the DVDs (yes, even the “Limited Edition” ones) of movies that have racist stereotypes.

But, now that I’m a parent of young girls, I am faced with new challenges of balancing pop culture with cultural appropriateness. Because my husband and I know that certain companies tend to perpetuate stereotypes of people of color, we watch the shows with our children. Yes, we let them watch it. No, we don’t let them watch it alone. This was a tough decision for us. Our anti-racist tendencies want to ban all of these shows from our house; our realist tendencies recognize that we’d rather have our children explore stereotypes while we can help to dismantle them together.

But, the latest Miley Cyrus BS has hit me hard. Really?? Playing “chinky eye” is a fun joke for you? And, doing the “chinky eye” thing while your little buddy is sitting next to you somehow makes it “not a big deal?” I think not.

Thankfully, our house has never purchased a Hannan Montana/Miley Cyrus DVD or CD, mostly because her latest movie was in 3-D. And, when you have a child with only 1 eye, the whole 3-D thing just doesn’t work for us (see… yet again, an example of how cancer was a blessing in disguise!).

But, the girls love one of her songs “Fly on the Wall.” They request it every single morning, and it’s readily available on the Cable box. But, I watch the video — especially these days — and cringe. I want to talk with them about the Miley picture, which they haven’t seen yet. I want to show them that their Miley is mocking their Mommy, her people, her family. That what she is doing is mean and makes “mommy’s heart feel sad.”

Would it matter if my kids were just a little bit older? I recently talked this over with an anti-racist speaker that I met the other day; his kids are 8 and 10. Yes, he talked with them about it. He had a conversation about what it meant to do what Miley was doing; what it meant to make fun of other people. Those kids got it.

What are others doing in the face of the Miley discussion. Surf on over to Anti-Racist Parent where I know the discussion is happening there, too!

Spinning Wheels

picture-1I recently did an interview with Carmen VanKerckhove of New Demographic as she launches her newest program designed for diversity professionals. One of the questions she asked me was “what is the most challenging aspect of your job?” I’m sure I answered something about how people think they know it all already and such. And, at that moment, it was the truth.

But, today, Good Lord, today. Today is one of those days in the field of diversity work when I just want to do anything other than diversity work. Today, I’ve felt like a car stuck in a snowbank — which, living in the Northeast means it isn’t that much of a stretch! I spend 50+ hours a week professionally trying to get people to engage in conversations — not difficult ones, mind you — about race, diversity, privilege, etc. I sometimes am up at 5:00am answering emails, writing reports, and scheduling programs. Sometime between 7am-8am, I actually have to do my motherly duties and get my kids up, fed, and off to school. The work day starts at 8:30 and ends sometime after 5pm, at which point I run and get the kids from school, make a marginally nutritious meal, put them to bed, and then open my laptop to finish up my day of emails, reports and scheduling. Yes, it all starts again at 5;00am.

At this pace, something always suffers. Sometimes it’s getting back to people in a timely manner via email. Sometimes it’s a Pop Tart for breakfast rather than a healthy cereal option. Sometimes it’s a rushed bedtime routine in an attempt to get to my waiting laptop.
But, is it worth it? Is it worth sacrificing sanity, family, ideals, and inspiration when the message isn’t heard? Rather, when the message isn’t seen as operational?

Why do people continue to do diversity work, especially in places that seem to not embrace the importance of it? How do others keep going? How do others stay inspired?

I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Wise this past week. And, as I sat in the front row and hung on his every word, I felt a renewed sense of inspiration. I felt like “yes! Someone knows what I’m talking about! Someone, today, gets it.” Then, I talked to my husband, who was sitting in the back of the room. Before I even approached him, I saw the anger on his face.

“Seriously, Liza. Seriously? They had NO questions? The audience just heard Tim Wise speak and they had NO questions??”

My husband then proceeded to tell me all about his observations from the back of the room. He recounted observations of people who just looked around bored, who weren’t engaged, and who would clearly rather have been anywhere but in that auditorium. My husband is a huge Tim fan — in fact, he’s the reason why I invited Tim to my place of work. He felt, as many do, that Tim was finally a dude that got it. Husband was angry.”If Tim can’t get them going, no one can, Liza. No one can. Tim’s as great as it gets.”

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time a famous and well established speaker was faced with apathy. The last time this happened, though thankfully, that apathy led to more 1:1 time for me and that other speaker which ended up in a professional gig, so I took that one as a bonus for me!

Spinning my wheels. What’s the point, some days? I know that I have to keep doing it to  help shape a better world for myself, my children, my family, and others who share the same planet. But, how do we continue in the face of apathy?