but if society has no problem exposing kids to different kinds of hate

On Diversity: A Snapshot of My America

My main job is taking pictures of homes for real estate agents.  While most of the homes I photograph are in the upper-middle to high-end price range, I do take pictures in what can be described as blue-collar, working class areas.  One of my shoots yesterday was in one of these neighborhoods.  A neighborhood where the average home price is below the local median average.  A neighborhood where people take pride in their homes even when they don’t always have the time or money to make them look as nicely as they want.  It was in just such a neighborhood that I was reminded not only what has always made America great but just how wrong and dangerous modern-day conservatives are to what really makes America great.

As I pulled up to the house, it looked like a thousand others in the area, a nicely landscaped Cape Cod with an American flag softly waving in the breeze from a pole in the front yard and a black Ford F-250 parked in the driveway.  I fully expected the owners to be the typical white, blue-collar working class people who heavily dominate this particular part of town.  When they opened the door, all I could think of was, “Never judge a book by its cover.”  Instead of the white, blue-collar worker I’d expected to see, I was kindly greeted by a Muslim woman in her early 40s wearing a hijab.   She introduced me to her equally kind husband and the two of them proceeded to be more friendly and helpful than any home sellers I’ve interacted with in months.  They offered me water.  They offered me coffee.  They offered me cake.  They moved with me from room-to-room making sure bedspreads were straight, pillows were fluffed, blinds were pulled, lights were on…  Usually, I cannot stand sellers even in the house when I take pictures, let alone bird dogging me.  If other sellers were as nice and helpful as this couple, I’d completely change this attitude.  

While how they treated and helped me stood out, I still couldn’t stop thinking about the contrast of the “book” and the “cover.”  While the outside of their home said, “All-American,” the artwork, paint colors, Qurans, and back addition with Arabic seating area of the the inside said, “All-Muslim.”  As I was going from room-to-room taking pictures, I kept thinking about the contrast of the home’s external to internal characteristics.  I’ve shot many a home where the outside was very traditional but the inside was very contemporary.   The outside not jibing with the inside is nothing new.  However, this was very different.  This wasn’t a contrast between architectural/design styles.  The more I thought about this particular contrast, the more I loved it.  I loved the blending of cultures because this is exactly what America is supposed to represent.  From China Town in San Francisco to the Polish part of Detroit to the Irish parts of Boston to the Mexican neighborhoods of Los Angeles, America stands for people coming from other lands, becoming part of the whole but still maintaining a love and appreciation of their heritage.  

If all I had experienced was the contrast of the exterior to the interior of the home, that would have been more than enough to reaffirm my faith in what America is supposed to represent.  What happened as I was taking the exterior shots took these feelings of diversity, what America really represents, and just how dangerous and evil the rightwing hate machine are to the entire system.

While I was outside taking pictures, the owners came out to make sure things were picked up.  While they were in the front of the house straitening out a couple of chairs on the front porch, a couple of their neighbors who were out in their yards doing work came over to chat.  By the time I worked my way around to the front of the house, standing on the front sidewalk were the Muslim owners, an African-American man in his early 30s, and an older white man in his late 60s having a conversation that ranged from landscaping to auto repair to kids/grandkids to restaurant suggestions.  If I described the scene and read you the text of the entire conversation with a Texas accent, it would read like a “King of The Hill” script.

What really struck me wasn’t the nature of their conversation, it was very similar to ones I heard growing up in rural Idaho.  It was very similar to ones I’ve heard in the neighborhoods of Chicago.  It was very similar to conversations that take place every day across the country from Girdwood Alaska to Mobile Alabama.  In spite of the diversity of the participants-their ages, their religions, their cultures, their backgrounds…, they had fundamental experiences, wants, needs, desires… in common.  What struck me was this scene being played out in an average-sized town in the Rust Belt is the direct opposite of what the right-wing and white nationalist hate machines spew out non-stop every day.

The scene I witnessed is what America really is all about and what modern-day conservatives and their very overlapping Venn Diagram counterparts, white supremacists fear the most.  They fear this kind of neighborly camaraderie.  They fear that diversity really isn’t a problem because they are beholden to their ignorant beliefs and hate that have been passed down to them by their ancestors and meticulously cultivated by fear mongers and grifters.  White flight didn’t happen because minorities moving into predominately white areas caused problems.  White flight happened because whites were afraid of people that didn’t look like them, didn’t have familiar sounding names, had different points of view.  When white flight wasn’t an option, whites hemmed minorities into very specific areas through redlining policies and practices.  

The racist and bigoted fears Donald Trump tapped into to win the election are based on lies about minorities and about the natural status of whites.  The scene I witnessed on the sidewalk of a quiet, little neighborhood was perfectly natural.  It was a scene that is played out across the country every day between neighbors.  When it played out between only whites the reason isn’t because minorities don’t know how or want to participate but because they haven’t been welcomed to the neighborhood/town.  The wants, needs, fears, concerns… of people who have similar economic situations don’t vary from one another very much.  This isn’t a revelation.  Many studies have been done showing that people who live in multi-cultural, diverse areas are much more tolerant and have less racist/bigoted views than those who live in less diverse areas.  People exposed to other cultures and heritages are not as overly protective of their own.

As much as I admire and appreciate people celebrating their heritage, it is something I’ve never personally experienced. I’m an Anglo-Saxon mutt.  My heritage is mostly English and Scottish and my ancestors came to America many, many generations ago.  I personally feel no love or bond with this heritage.  I feel closer to the culture and people of Japan from living there for two years than I do to my Western European roots.  This could be because I truly lived and experienced the one and not the other.  The Japanese culture is more ingrained into my psychological matrix than something I only have a distant genetic connection to.  

Like all people and cultures, the Japanese have great traits and serious flaws. Because I’m a pragmatist at heart, the one trait they have that I admired the most is their ability, as a culture, to take an idea or behavior from another culture that is good, incorporate it into their own culture while not losing who they truly are.  I call this Ala Carte Culture.  You pick and choose what you like from other cultures, leave the bad aspects of these cultures behind, and absorb the good into your own culture in a way that doesn’t diminish who you are.  

A good example of this in Japan can be found in the saying, “In Japan, you are born a Shinto, married a Christian, and buried a Buddhist.”  When I first heard this saying, being a typical American, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it.  Imagine someone in America telling you, “My kids will be born Jewish, married Lutheran, and buried Mormon.”  If someone told you this, you’d stare at them wondering what the hell they were talking about. In Japan, their phrase gets no such reaction from other Japanese.  It is accepted as being true.  “In Japan, you are born a Shinto, married a Christian, and buried a Buddhist,” bothered me for months until someone explained it to me. “Shintoism celebrates being born. Christianity celebrates getting married.  Buddhism celebrates death. The best celebrations and parties are what the Japanese adopted into their culture for each of these events.”  

I love this idea. Why not take the best of other cultures and incorporate it into your own?  It’s an idea that should fit perfectly with a country like America which was founded on cultural diversity.  If a homogeneous, often isolated country like Japan can do this, a country that is the “Great Melting Pot of The World” should not only be able to do this easily, it should be aggressively doing it.  Unfortunately, the open, diverse, all people are created equal society is the one resistant to learning from other cultures and the where the dominant group fears and demonizes those outside their group who want to honor, cherish, and incorporate the best parts of their own cultures.

This resistance and fear of other ideas and cultures are at the root of America’s long, unjustifiable history of racism and bigotry.  “If it’s white, it’s right,” is the default mindset for white America. Who is allowed to be called “white” has been arbitrary throughout our history.  Jews were once not considered white.  Neither were Italians.  Neither were Germans.  Neither were the Irish.  Only once a group has been accepted as “white” are their cultural ideas and celebrations accepted.  White suburbia now doesn’t give a second thought to their kids celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at school but if the school decided to celebrate Kwanzaa with as much enthusiasm, they’d lose their damn minds. Irish-Americans love and honor their heritage to the same degree as Mexican-Americans, Muslim-Americans, African-Americans…  The main reason we, as a country, don’t care about or think twice about Irish-Americans or other “white” nationalities celebrating their heritage is because they have been accepted into the “white club.”  Celebrating and honoring one’s heritage isn’t the problem for racists and bigots.  It’s who gets to do it.

In the America that claims to be the “Great Melting Pot,” where for the first time in history a government was formed on the idea that all people are created equal, where diversity is supposed to be our greatest strength, the tableau I witnessed represented everything America can and should be.  It was also stark counter-evidence to one of the main claims of white nationalists and the right wing that multi-culturalism can’t work because non-whites won’t/can’t assimilate.  There are many problems with this claim: 1-it presumes white culture is the dominant one that everyone must assimilate to; 2-the entire notion of “white culture” is riddled with problems; 3-the evidence in diverse areas completely contradicts it.

My America is what I witnessed the other day on a sidewalk in a Rust Belt city.  My America isn’t afraid of others celebrating their heritage.  My America isn’t white-centric.  My America is the real America and no one will ever convince me otherwise.   The youth of my America know and feel this better than my peers.  This gives me hope for my children.  If only my generation gives them the opportunity to live up to what it means to be a real American better than my generation.

We are different and we can make a change.

WE ARE NOT THE SAME. I am not obligated to wear makeup just because I am a woman. I am not obligated to wear dresses just because I am a girl. I am not obligated to like pink just because I am feminine. Just because I like to hang out with boys, it does not mean I am flirty. Don’t assume that you know who we are. I hate the way people think that I should act like this and that based on my gender, personality, and race. This is stereotyping. It is what people do when they give the concept of who we are just because of what we appear to them. Stereotyping is wrong and it is alive and well. I don’t want our future children to undergo the wrath of being stereotyped in society, I don’t want them to be labelled just because some kids don’t know who they are. I want to be part of the change. I want us to prevent and avoid stereotyping, together.

Stereotyping traps many individuals in their shells afraid of what the society will label them. These labels dictate how a person should live according to their gender, religion, personality and race. Stereotyping is when men think you should not lift heavy things because women are weak and feminine. Stereotyping is calling people weird if they do not have the same songs saved in their playlist. Stereotyping puts on a mask on our identity weakening the person we were born to become.

As a part of the generation today, we are well aware of what consequences and effects it brings us as an individual. We don’t personally like being stereotyped, but why are we doing it? In an article “Awareness of racial stereotypes happens at an early age has consequences.” Published in berkeley.edu. Carol Hyman show us how stereotypes could start in early ages. When I was a child, my parents taught me that God made and loved us equally giving us different personalities and abilities to add color to the world. That even if we were born with different colors and races we should love and protect each other as God did to us. Sadly, in that span of time, people in my school stereotype me as one of the shy people in the crowd, afraid to say anything, a weirdo. It creates the confusion in our minds that we have to fit in the society to survive. That is why the person we are right now is from the experiences were experienced when we were younger. It creates the domino effect making me ask, “What happened?”

Eyes opened, we have to be open-minded and accept each other regardless of how different we are. In Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”. Words are more powerful than we think. We do not know how much one word affects others. These labels are hurting the whole being of a person. We don’t like to hear other people talking about us, right? This is one of the many negative effects stereotyping has. It lasts for who knows how long. Who are we to judge?

According to a study in University of Toronto “Stereotyping has lasting negative impact”  led by Professor Michael Inzlict of Psychology, “Past studies have shown that people perform poorly in situations where they feel they are being stereotyped,”  We are still afraid to speak up because they we might be stereotyped too. It affects our decision-making in life. We chose not to talk because of the fear that holds us isolated in the small box of stereotypes. Best people in the world don’t undergo the same norm as we all are making them really successful despite of all the hardships along the way. It doesn’t only have that negative impact on the person receiving it but also to the person saying it. Some studies found that positively judging others effects how enthusiastic, happy, kind-hearted, courteous, emotionally stable we are and vice versa. If you only make an effort to stop judging others negatively, your own well-being and happiness will improve greatly.

Why stereotypes are bad even when they’re good?” a new study by Aaron Kay stated, “people exposed to the positive stereotype rated that possibility as higher than did those exposed to a negative one.” Making other problems in society today such as racism, sexism and even discrimination.

 In short, Stereotyping does not benefit either. The growth of our self-confidence starts when we’re young and if we are being stereotyped, we begin to cage ourselves away from the harmful thoughts of society. But that is how society works, it’s an endless cycle. It’s scary enough that stereotyping causes bigger problems such as discrimination. We can’t put a stop to this but we can change by letting people know to value others for who they are. Especially the kids today, we should teach them to respect each other’s religions, cultures, personalities, and race because they are the future of our society. This change helps our society grow better. Remove the labels and free ourselves can you and I be the change?

anonymous asked:

What sparked your feminist awakening?

“Feminist awakening” makes it sound like I emerged from a cocoon like “I SUPPORT WOMEN NOW” but I get your meaning.

I’ve got a lot of new followers recently so some of you probably don’t know, but I used to be a HARDCORE fuckboy. Like, up until I was like 19 I was one of those “what would u do if i was there right now,” “man these dumb girls don’t like me they only like jerks,” “I can’t believe she friend zoned me I’m such a nice guy what a bitch” kind of fuckboys. 

It was a tough time.

It was really dumb, and I was really immature about it, but I think a lot of it came from internalized aggression from not being the things I was told I should be, and from trying to rationalize rejection.

I was never a “man’s man.” I grew up a really dorky, secluded, awkward kid, and it led to MORE seclusion and awkwardness in a vicious cycle. I wasn’t an athlete and I was really sensitive, which were ideas that were implanted in me by the patriarchy from childhood. I got bullied and beaten up a lot. All that aggression stayed bottled up, and my frustration hit this critical mass that made me cynical, negative and angry about basically everything. Women were confusing and emotionally distant from me, so I guess it seemed like a proper channel through which to vent my frustrations? i don’t know.

Around the time I really started to get interested in women I was also around my heaviest weight, nearing 490 pounds. That combined with social anxiety and no idea how to have a human conversation made for a cocktail of rejection. 

Every time I’d get a “crush” on a girl I’d make myself her friend, eventually blurt out something about my “feelings” and when she said she didn’t feel the same I’d be all “Are you KIDDING? I’m SUCH a nice guy and I’ve been SUCH a good friend.”

Eventually this happened so much I had to take some time and actually look at myself. I’d started to go on tumblr a lot and learn more about feminism, which I previously thought was “just for angry lesbians.” I really had to think about my past actions. If all these girls rejected me, maybe they weren’t the problem. Maybe I was.

I mean first of all, I poorly tried to manipulate these women into opening up to me under the guise of being their friend, then flipped it on them and exposed the fact that I was only there to get into their pants. 

Second of all, I called myself a “nice guy” when all I was doing was acting with ulterior motives, and as soon as I was rejected offhandedly referring to the woman as a bitch to my other friends. 

Third of all, I’d call these women “shallow” for not liking me. Right, if someone isn’t attracted to a 495 pound manchild with no people skills or respect for women, it’s OBVIOUSLY because she’s shallow!

Fourth of all, I WAS THE ONE BEING SHALLOW. I had NOTHING in common with most of these girls and ALL I WANTED FROM THEM WAS TO GET IN THEIR PANTS. I DIDNT PARTICULARLY CARE FOR THEIR PERSONALITIES AT ALL AND I WAS THE ONE CALLING THEM SHALLOW.

FIFTH OF ALL, EVEN IF THEY WERE BEING SHALLOW AND JUST WEREN’T INTO ME, YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO DEMONIZE AND VILIFY SOMEONE JUST BECAUSE THEY DIDNT WANT TO FUCK YOU

uggghhh god I hate parts of Past-Matt.

it’s not like I was a bad person, I was just a fucking kid. I was raised in a society where for some reason behaviors like that were considered alright by the public while they were deeply problematic. Ignorance isn’t an excuse for being an asshole and treating people poorly.

But I did the right thing after I realized all of this. I addressed the issue and admitted that it was problematic instead of trying to defend my actions in order to protect my fragile ego.

I begun to change my behavior over the course of the next 3 years, and I’ve definitely made mistakes and fucked up but I’m hitting a really good stride right now where I know the most important aspects of it are respect, transparency and communication. 

I know that there are going to be things that happen because I’m a man and I understand why.

When I walk home at night there are women who look over their shoulders at me constantly, and sometimes they walk ahead. Now, I’m not a mugger or a rapist, but they don’t know that! All they’re trying to do is keep themselves safe, and it’s not a personal offense or a hit to my ego because they feel the need to keep themselves protected.

There are things like that that are gonna happen because even though I’m not a rapist or a mugger or a catcaller or a fuckboy, we live in a system where women have to deal with those things CONSTANTLY. And if that means that she has to look over her shoulder at me, or that I can’t start a conversation on the street (though why would I, I never understood that) then that’s totally fine!

Her feeling safe and secure is WAY more fucking important than my ego.

I’m still learning more on a regular basis. I only learned what intersectional feminism was not too long ago, because in my mind it didn’t even register that there were people who considered themselves feminists but didn’t protect transgender women or understand that women of color have different struggles than white women.

It’s a long process but I’ve come a long way.

You Only Hate America Because You Think it's Special

Did you know: ‘Murica is a country of murderous, racist hypocrites who use Jesus and patriotism as an excuse for all kinds of crimes against the world.

Did you also know: The United States of America is a bastion of democracy that guarantees peace and freedom for all the nations of the world, partly using its tremendous arsenal of weapons, but moreso using its grand tradition of enlightened humanism.

Or maybe you know: The United States of America is falling apart and on the decline due to urban decay and the social ills brought on it by abandoning its wealth John Galt industrialists.

But then you might know: The United States of America is a shithole because it’s ruled by windbag “industrialists” who inherited daddy’s trust fund, blew their noses full of coke, and decided they’re John Galt.

Or maybe, this is all crap, and maybe, the truth about a country isn’t so simple as the little narratives some jackass like me can put on his blog.

Let’s. Find. Out.

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