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The Luxury of Colorblindness 


Written by: Sevgi Fernandez
 It is a luxury to walk through life not having to constantly be aware of your race. As a mixed woman, racial labels have followed me wherever I’ve gone, and I’m keenly aware that the darker a person’s skin, the more this statement is true.  
“I am Colorblind” or “I don’t see color”, are statements many of you have either heard or have said yourselves. I truly believe the only people who can “choose” to be colorblind, are whites. It is a luxury not to have to think about race. In a workshop I held last fall, we watched the documentary, A Conversation with White People on Race. Some of the statements, although simple, were profound. For example, a thirty something white man said, “I don’t think about being white, I just don’t.” This was followed by a middle aged white woman who said, “I really did not know I had a racial identity. I had no idea what that meant, how that shaped my outlook on life, my sense of optimism, sense of belonging, sense of safety.”

 

Now, I can all but guarantee that every single black person on this earth, knows they are black and is reminded of that fact each and every day. I think black people are very aware of our racial identity, and we are aware of how our racial identity dictates how safe we are, what type of education we can get, what type of healthcare we receive and what types of jobs we can attain. Race is of course not the only factor in any one of these, but it’s often the deciding factor.

Racism is a social construct developed to oppress. It has evolved over the centuries, but in essence, the process of labeling and stereotyping a person based on the color of their skin to keep them subservient to the dominant white race, has stayed the same. I’m going to share a pivotal event in my childhood that truly awakened me to the fact that the world saw me in the context of “race” not “person”.

Standing in line at school, the red faced white boy in front of me asked,“What are you?’

“Im half black, half white.” I said, feeling a little uncomfortable. The boy then scathingly stated,

“Well at least I can respect HALF of you,”And he turned to laugh with his friends. At that moment I felt a myriad of emotions jumping rapidly from one to another, shame, embarrassment, humiliation and when I landed on rage, my 12 year old fist connected with his 16 year old face. I’m not sure who was more shocked!

I share this as a way of illustrating that even as children we are shown we are different, we are less than. That certainly wasn’t the first time I became aware that my race, my skin color, played a part in how people would treat me, and still to this day, as a 43 year old soldier in the war on racism, I know that the future holds much more of the same.

We run every person through a set of implicit and explicit biases that we have developed over time. Implicit and explicit biases have been part of history since our inception. We are seeing the implications of these biases throughout the world and here in the United States. It seems to me that as we make more strides in this country towards tolerance, inclusion and equality for all i.e. electing our first Black President and legalizing same sex marriage, we become more divided as a society as race and racism become more prominent.

The effects of this systematic racism are apparent in the African American community across the country, wherever you look. It’s in the hopelessness of our youth, in the violence within our communities, and at the hands of the police. It’s in the educational system that is set up to fail our children and the healthcare system that is either unattainable or so discriminatory many fear ever seeking out the care they so desperately need. Rather than educating and nourishing the minds of our young people of color, the system is feeding the school to prison pipeline. So it is unlikely that you will come across a black person who says they are “colorblind”.

Black people have been systematically oppressed, discriminated against and brutalized simply because of their race since they were brought to this country as slaves. The system was set up to deny what should be our human rights, and that system is still at play today. We as people of color certainly believe All Lives Matter, yet All people haven’t had the daily struggles faced by blacks in this country. All people aren’t being shot, hung and choked to death by police. These are facts that cannot be denied. The reality is that our lives truly don’t matter outside of our own communities for the most part, and as we internalize the racism and oppression, they begin to matter less and less to us.

I do believe there are a great owing number of whites who are concerned about this racial divide and equality for people of color. I see more whites challenging themselves and asking the hard questions regarding their white privilege and implicit biases everyday. I think the movement from the black community over the past year specifically, has garnered much needed attention in mainstream and social media. This has enabled our messages related to the extreme state of racism and inequality in this country to reach whites whom otherwise would have continued on unaware. I am seeing more and more whites participating in protests and dialogues on the issues and I work along side many whom I respect deeply for their courage, commitment and humility, their ability to ask questions, to be wrong, to learn. It is quite exhilarating and gives me great hope. So although our country is arguably as polarized as it was 60 years ago or some may even say, 400 years ago, today a revolution is underway. Today people, be they black, white, yellow, red, brown or all of the above, are coming together as one, to challenge the machine that is Institutionalized racism. Each day that a step is taken together, a brick in the foundation of white supremacy that this country was built upon is removed.Until we can all have the luxury of being colorblind, because the day has come when in fact, All Lives Do Matter, and they matter Equally, the statement and movement Black Lives Matter is relevant and necessary.

 

Why Black Lives Matter Too!

***************** RELEASING JUNE 19, 2016 ******************  
We are pleased to announce our soon-to-be-released multi-contributor anthology, “Why Black Lives Matter (Too)”! Recognizing that the fight for social justice and equality is bigger than any one person and that there is room for diverse talents and expertise of anyone who is committed to freedom, this multi-contributor anthology comprises curated essays written by 50 social justice advocates from across the nation.
Our release date, June 19th, is set to coincide with Juneteenth—also known as Independence Day or Freedom Day—a holiday commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African American slaves throughout the Confederate South.
Book Summary: The Black Lives Matter movement evolved as a protest against police brutality against unarmed Black men. This book extends beyond police brutality to revolutionize the national conversation about racial injustice and inequality and advocate for freedom and justice for all Black Americans. Addressing a range of hot button issues and racial disparities that disproportionately impact the Black community, this is a call to action that will challenge you to confront your long-held values and beliefs about Black lives and confront your own white privilege and fragility as you examine racial justice and equality in a revolutionary way.
All proceeds will benefit The Sentencing Project, a leader in the effort to bring national attention to disturbing trends and inequities in the criminal justice system through the publication of groundbreaking research, aggressive media campaigns and strategic advocacy for policy reform. Our gift to the organization will support their efforts to promote reforms in sentencing policy, address unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocate for alternatives to incarceration.
Stay tuned, and please consider purchasing this book, when available, to support the vital work of The Sentencing Project.
#VoicesForEquality #WhyBlackLivesMatterToo

Black Lives Matter…..Well, they do don’t they?

  

  

  


By: DJ Schuette 

http://www.djschuette.com

 It borders on absurd that it’s even necessary to write this particular post, but there are so, so many people out there incessantly raging against the Black Lives Matter movement that I felt I must. Every day, I see posts calling their members “racists,” emphatic proclamations of “All Lives Matter,” and pictures of police officers with “Their Lives Matter” emblazoned on them in some way, as if it’s become a competition to determine whose lives matter most. I should confess, for the record, that I was—until very recently—one of those “All Lives Matter” guys. But my opinion on the subject has evolved, so I encourage you to at least consider the content of this post before deciding one way or another. Maybe you’ll see things from a different perspective in a few minutes.

My own “aha!” moment came to me while reading a rather brilliant reddit post by user GeekAesthete (which you can read here if you wish). In short, it asks you to imagine that you’re at dinner with your family and your father is dishing everyone’s food, but leaves your plate empty. You say, “Hey Dad, I should get some.” In response, your father corrects you by saying “Everyone should get some.” That sentiment is true, and really, supports your very point—that everyone (including you) should get to enjoy dinner. But Dad’s response utterly rejected your concern without doing anything whatsoever to remedy it. Meanwhile, you’re starving and your still empty plate is a testament to just how little he cares. 

I’ve seen other fine examples floating around on the Internet: if I were to say “Save the Whales,” that in no way implies that I don’t care about dolphins, sharks, and stingrays; but if I were to instead say “Save All Marine Life,” how would you know that the whales are endangered? Another: Your house is burning down and someone is spraying water on a nearby home that isn’t on fire, with the caption “All Houses Matter.” By responding to BLM with “All Lives Matter”, we’re effectively saying that we don’t care if your house burns to the ground, as long as mine doesn’t. We’re refusing to even acknowledge the issue, are (conveniently) dismissing the concerns of people who are plainly in crisis, and who are already being singled out by our society and justice system.

The BLM movement has never stated (nor ever suggested) that other lives don’t matter. It’s not the “No Lives But Black Lives Matter” movement. I have yet to hear anyone chanting “Black lives matter more than yours!” If that were the case, I might understand people taking such exception. Instead, it’s very simply and succinctly stating a fact: black lives matter. And they do, right? If we can’t even agree on that much, then you need to take a good hard look in the mirror, because the person staring back at you is almost certainly a racist.

Some argue that the BLM moniker is itself racist—that it sows further division among us because it segregates one group from the whole. They feel that it would be more acceptable if the name were “Black Lives Matter Too.” Maybe it would seem more inclusive to some if it were stated that way, and BLM and their supporters wouldn’t constantly have to defend such a silly litany of semantic arguments. And they are silly. Do black lives matter? Yes or no? It’s not a trick question. It’s not “do black lives matter more than everyone else’s?” But, but but… No buts. So let me ask you again. Do black lives matter, or do they not?

Perhaps you’d feel better if we used the even more inclusive “All Lives Matter,” though that utterly fails to address the concerns of the black community. Or perhaps you’ll respond with “Cops Lives Matter,” as if those of us that support BLM are not also capable of supporting law enforcement. I’ve recently even heard some suggest that they should start a “White Lives Matter” group to counter the “reverse racism” that BLM perpetuates (this is at it’s core, ridiculous, since protesters of all races are welcomed to join Black Lives Matter rallies). Do white lives matter? Sure. If you want to start a movement based on that, knock yourself out. But white lives have always mattered in this country, so starting a WLM campaign would be petty and pointless and insensitive. Do all lives matter? Absolutely. And guess what? Included in that “all” are black lives. In saying “all lives matter,” you’ve just inherently agreed with the BLM movement. You’re actually on the same team—you’re just refusing to play because you don’t like the team name, and that, quite honestly, is a fine bit of ignorance. And what about cops? Do blue lives matter? Of course they do. But again, how does saying black lives matter suggest that police lives don’t? Why is BLM suddenly a siege on law enforcement? 

Many, including Fox News (that bastion of reporting integrity), point to an admittedly unfortunate chant (“Pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon”) that took place at a BLM march recently as evidence of the racist, anti-cop, and potentially violent nature of the movement. It was sad to see that side come out of what otherwise amounted to a peaceful display of civil disobedience. I too was disappointed. But then I was reminded that there are bad people in every group—police, the church, protesters, white people—who have their own agendas, and want something that isn’t necessarily compatible with the message the rest are trying to convey. There are pedophile priests; should we therefore condemn the entire Catholic faith? There are a handful of bad cops out there—but that doesn’t mean that the overwhelming majority of them aren’t incredibly brave and kind men and women doing a sometimes dangerous and often thankless job of serving and protecting the public. Sometimes peaceful protests get out of control because an unruly few instigate and fuel riots and looting. (Some people really do just want to watch the world burn). The few—as bad as they may seem—can’t be used as a barometer to judge the whole. So while I freely admit the chant was vile and unfortunate, I have to remember that the content of that chant is not the message that BLM portrays—which is, simply, that black lives matter. Their goal is to create awareness and to attempt to correct a society and justice system that consistently appears to deem black lives as less valuable than those of others. 

Fox News and many police officials have also latched on to the tragic murder of a Texas sheriff’s deputy at the hands of a black man as further evidence of the violent nature of BLM, and have now gone so far as to label them as a “hate group.” It is important to separate fact from fiction here, however. There is absolutely NO evidence that the killing was in any way related to the Black Lives Matter movement. While they would have you believe that BLM is inspiring violence against cops, police deaths have gone DOWN since the inception of BLM in 2013. There is precisely zero correlation between BLM and increased violence against police officers. There has however, been an increase of police lethal force cases the past few years. Last year 1106 deaths came at the hands of police. This year, we’re on track for 1100. There have been 1070 (more than 200 of those unarmed) so far in 2015. Of those, 25% of the victims were black, yet the black population is less than 13%. Without even speculating what the reasons may be, the simple fact is that black people are being killed by the police at a rate DOUBLE their population. If you want to see the live up-to-the-minute information, take a look at The Counted. It’s truly eye opening. Every. Eight. Hours.

Still other detractors use the argument that there are black people who disagree with the BLM campaign in principle. Of course there are. Some southern black people supported the right to fly the confederate flag on government grounds, despite the fact that it was seen as hurtful to millions of others. Some don’t feel that the team name “Redskins” is at all offensive, while others find it racist and insensitive. Nothing will ever have the complete support of any group­—we are all individuals with our own ideas and influences and experiences. But that does not mean that we should ever stop trying to do right by our country’s people, and provide all of them with respect and an equitable chance to succeed.

I agree it’s sad that we still have to have these conversations in 2015. But we do. Nothing will ever change if we don’t acknowledge that there is a problem and damn well do something about it. Saying “All Lives Matter,” doesn’t allow black people to ask why they’re being killed more often by police. It doesn’t allow them to ask for change in their communities. It shuts them down, and makes them feel as if their concerns don’t matter. It suggests that we still place less value on their lives than other lives. And it implies that WE DON’T CARE.

 

So to all of you still saying “All Lives Matter,” stop. Just fucking stop.

And listen.

Unite Against RacismBreaking Down Walls and Building Community

  
Challenging Racism and Islamophobia

Join us for the second in our three part series Unite Against Racism: Breaking Down Walls and Building Community; Challenging Racism and Islamophobia.Given the growing divide along racial and religious lines in this country and globally, we will focus this seminar on examining where the breakdowns in communication and understanding are occuring specifically between blacks/whites and Muslims/Non-Muslims. Sevgi Fernandez of Together We Stand and Dr. John P. Fernandez of ARMCGlobal, global leaders on racism, sexism and diversity training, will be facilitating. The emphasis will be to create GolbalTREE, Trust, Respect, Empathy, Ethics, through a multifaceted approach using individual and group exercises.

Please RSVP to Diversewc@gmail.com, we will be emailing attendees an exercise to do prior to the workshop.
Register now, space is limited!!!

Unite Against Racism: Breaking Down Walls and Building Community

When

Saturday, Jan. 23rd 2016 at 2:30-5:30pm

Where

2930 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA
Agenda
Welcome – Introductions

Individual – Group Exercises

Break

Documentary

Group discussion

Closing – personal commitments to change

Western Institute for Social Research

Since 1975 WISR, the Western Institute for Social Research, has been a multicultural academic institution of higher learning devoted to social change and community improvement. WISR, is a community-based, globally connected degree granting institution of higher learning. WISR’s students can earn Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in a variety of disciplines related to community improvement and leadership, educational innovation, counseling psychology, and progressive social change.

2930 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA, United States Mail@wisr.edu 510 655-2830 wisr.edu

Advanced Reaearch Management Consultants

Advanced Research Management Consultants Global, LLC– is a full service human resources, executive coaching, diversity, mentoring, marketing, e-learning and video production firm. We specialize in assisting organizations realize their competitive advantage on a local and global scale.

ARMC Global develops and delivers seminars in such areas as leadership, global virtual teams, teambuilding, communications, generation gap, GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender), work and life balance, cultural clashes, conflict resolution, Proactive Inclusion® and GlobalTREE℠ (Trust, Respect, Empathy, and Ethics).

701 West Allens Lane, Philadelphia, PA, United States JPF@Globaltree.com 215 247-4547 armcglobal.com

Sevgi Fernandez – Together We Stand – Diverse World Coaching

Diverse World Coaching specializes in working with blended, cross-cultural and interracial families as well as individuals struggling with racial identity formation, anxiety and depression.

Together We Stand advocates for victims of racism, discrimination and police brutality across the country. We are developing a youth leadership academy that will train participants to become social change agents and prepare them to enter college with an excellent foundation in social justice advocacy.

Together We Stand also offers the following workshops:

Racism and White Privilege

Parenting Mixed Race Children: Understanding their Racial Identity Development 

Navigating the Blended Family

Youth Empowerment through Community Action

Richmond, CA, United States diversewc@gmail.com

Colorism: Light-Skinned African-American Women Explain The Discrimination They Face

 Jan 13, 2014 | Updated Jan 23, 2014
OWN

 

On a recent episode of “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” Iyanla Vanzant joined Oprah to discuss the issue of colorism, the prejudices people can face based on the lightness or darkness of their skin tone. While many understand colorism as the discrimination against darker-skinned African-Americans, two of Oprah’s lighter-skinned audience members surprise Iyanla with the colorism discrimination they face as well.

Though one of the women has seen first-hand how some of her darker-skinned family members are treated, she says that she, too, struggled with discrimination. “Being a light-skinned girl, you get called names,” she tells Iyanla. “You get called ‘lite-brite,’ you get called ‘high yellow,’ ‘redbone.’ This is a reality every day.”

Having longer hair or lighter skin, she continues, makes others in her community assume she thinks she is prettier than them — something she says simply isn’t true. “You’re alienated from your own people. You’re never black enough,” she says. “But we’re still black in America. None of us feel advantaged.”

 Iyanla finds this prejudice against lighter-skinned black women very interesting. “Both the dark and the light are experiencing the same thing at different ends of the spectrum,” she says before turning to the woman who had shared her story. “You got insulted by being called ‘high yellow’ or ‘redbone,’ but somebody [darker] being called a ‘coon,’ a ‘jiggaboo,’ and a ‘monkey,’ –

“We’re called that too,” another light-skinned audience member interrupts. “We’re called ‘coon’ and ‘jiggaboo’ and all those same things too. We’re still called that on top of ‘light bright’ and all those other things.”

“So the outside world that sees you as just a black person heaps the black stuff on you and then within the community, you get it,” Iyanla says. “Wow.”

Also in the video, one of the audience members explains the only way she believes real healing can begin, prompting Iyanla to give Oprah a “tweetable moment.”

For video- http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4588825

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