That Time Political Correctness Landed on Its Ass

They say it’s best not to write something when you’re angry.  How about when you’re perplexed, confounded, immersed in the phrase – WTF!!??

I’ve had plenty of discussions around the idea of political correctness over the last year, in particular for how it’s been used in various topics on Aboriginal issues.  In these cases, I believe the correct usage of the P.C. definition applies.  That is, as defined as this, the result of a simple Google search:

po·lit·i·cal cor·rect·ness

  1. mad donkey 2the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.
  2. … Or the more urban version:  when the desire to be offensive at the expense of someone in a weaker position socially, economically, or in health is taken away thereby making your own offensiveness day less easy or fun.

It’s a short diatribe, but to me it’s one loaded with worthy points to ponder, particularly for the idea of feminism, and women’s rights to complete equality with an equal dose of general respect. And please, haters of the word feminism, please stop equating it with a request to ignore simple manners and common courtesies that everyone should be employing regardless of gender.

The story that began this moment of umbrage is also short.

I had to change a password used for a national alarm security company. I had to change the password that I’ve had for eight years up to this point because it was recently declared offensive. The word(s) of offense was: fat ass.

Like many people, I grew up understanding that donkeys are asses, and that’s what we called them.  However, for the purposes of this note, I don’t think the other version helps their case either.

The reason the alarm company thought it was offensive?

“Because if a ‘woman’ had to call me to check on a possible security breach ‘she could’ take it the wrong way”.

Let that sink in.

‘Cause you know, we women are just that much more sensitive about farm animals and our personal associations with them.

Regardless of that, have we really been found such a delicate gender that we all would automatically adopt that word as a personal affront?  Especially in answer to an innocuous request for one’s password?

I spoke with three different employees at that alarm company. They were all unmoved by my thoughts. They simply reaffirmed that they must take care of their female employees and they have determined that the word ass is harmful, particularly if the word fat precedes it.  Apparently their male employees have larger ass shields and are more able to handle the ‘ass•ault’.

They insisted I change my long-held password, and so I capitulated, stomped down by the hooves of cloven sensitivity.

Or could it be that I am just unaware of my own new level of insensitivity?

RL

 High five 2P.S. I just want to send a quick high five thank you to my new followers.  I really appreciate your support, and I endeavor to meet all of you at your own sites at some point, however I admit to being a slow reader.  Please take no offense.

Posted in Equal Rights, Feminism, Humor, Life, Lighter Side, Political Correctness, Women's Rights, WTF? | Tagged , , , , | 36 Comments

Educate, Not Dominate

(Warning:  usage of full racial epithets in this opinion piece, because I don’t believe one is more important or blatant than the rest in this point of view).
 

Our truths are largely based on what side of a fence we grew up on. One side, one truth is largely equal to merely indoctrination as education, and this is not restricted to religion.  It’s about everything we grew up to believe about the world.

Education is not about only learning more about our side of the fence, it’s supposed to be learning about all the other fences too, or as many as we’re able.  This should be a lifelong effort, and if not, why not?

Education has always been key in resolving conflict and ignorance of intents.  The process gets all muddled up with the yeah buts, if you knew what he/she did, we need this or we need that.

So what’s really needed?  What is really needed to live ably and in relative comfort?  The big questions are, what is worth killing children for?  What is worth demeaning their value as people?

What’s worth a walk up to a child and looking her in the eyes to  call her dirty, a camel jacker, a nigger, a redskin, a chink, a honky, or any other of the demeaning terms we need to make up to dehumanize another person?   Nothing?  Thank the Universe you have not descended into madness.  Yet.

Childrens eyes 2I say ‘yet’ because I wonder how many people wouldn’t be able to do that, but do remark loudly and viciously about the lowness of those children’s parents when in disagreement. These are most noticeable in the comment sections of news stories like those about children dying in the Middle East, resources on someones land, or for the change of an American football team name.

Would these same people kneel down to this child and look her in the eyes and tell her that the purpose of their gain is worth her loss of worth or life?  We know there are some who will, and have.  They have become madness embodied.

This is what’s meant to be feared.  They say they do this on behalf of all the people, their people, and unbelievably, they are believed.   What fear is the madness based in?  Loss?   What fear of loss is so great that it’s worth dehumanizing or killing a child over?

That madness spreads like dust, but dust can be cleaned away.  How do we stop the advent of madmen?  We educate all of our children now.  We all have to stop, whenever it’s made possible, to ask if we’ve truly made an effort to look over the top of our fences.  Have we really searched for the reasons behind our fears and anger about something, or most importantly, someone?

If not, why not? It’s never been easier.

RL

 

 

Posted in Aboriginal Peoples, Discrimination, Education, Humanity, Life, Racism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Fruit Flies Right Up the Spinning Spam

fly 3About a year ago, I took a short break from deep thoughts and posted a short recommendation on how to rid your home of the scourge of fruit flies. For a short spin on homespun remedies (with a touch of evil fun), it did okay on the stats pages.  It apparently also served to attract another ubiquitous pest.

A few published posts later, I found I had a blogging spam folder, and it was filled with hundreds of messages.  Apparently spam is quite fruitful and multiplies like uh, flies.  Of course, I had to go through them to double-check that a real message wasn’t lost.  Hey, I love my readers!  However, by the time I was done, I was ready to eat fruit flies on toast; pretty much anything tastes better on toast, except Vegemite, and maybe tofu.

fly 3As I perused and deleted, I noticed most of them were attached to only a few posts:  any of the linked blogging awards I’d received from fellow writers;  my story called,  “Our Home and Native Braves”, which I figured was more vulnerable because it was also published on the Readers Digest website; and that fruit fly message.

Girl Vacuum WineBecause the point of that post was a mundane chore, it made the comments about it seem even more insane absurd, which actually, made getting through that overwhelming task much easier. I could have worked at it with  bottles a glass of wine, but that likely would have drawn out the experience and have me thinking about fruit fly appetizers more seriously.  So instead, I spent the rest of the time imagining the comments were real and sent by genuinely impressed fans.

In that vein, (employ imaginations now), I share with you some of the excited messages of joy for learning about how to get rid of fruit flies:

I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet viewers, its really really fastidious article.

May I simply say what a comfort to find somebody who really understands what they’re discussing over the internet. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important.

More and more people ought to look at this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular because you most certainly possess the gift.

Wow, this article is good, my sister is analyzing these things, therefore I am going to tell her.

Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you.

“Magnificent publish, very informative. I wonder why the opposite specialists of this sector don’t understand this. You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a huge readers’ base already.

Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post.

Hi there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends.  I’m sure they will be benefited from this site.

fly 3My personal favorites:

Good post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!

Its like you learn my thoughts! You seem to grasp a lot about this, like you wrote the ebook in it or something.

You need to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest sites on the net.  I am going to highly recommend this site!

Now that I know I have contributed so deeply and meaningfully to society, my work here is done.  At least until after I finish celebrating this auspicious new year in my life on this day.

‘Til next week or so, you have wonderful days too, friends.

RL

Posted in Blogging, Household Tip, Humor, Life, Lighter Side, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments

Cherokee Nation Triples in One Week, & Don’t Call Me a Redskin

We should be impressed with how many people are well versed in Native American culture and history.  It’s been amazing and enlightening to see all kinds of average citizens report and comment so expertly on First Nations and Aboriginal issues lately.  Of course, this post isn’t really about how much is known about Native Americans as much as how deplorably inadequate our education about the culture(s) still is.

The story that has caused all the questionable commentary was the news the U.S. Patent Office revoked the name trademark for football team, the Washington Redskins.  The public response has revealed that a number of people feel immersed enough in Native American culture that they can speak for how Native Americans should or do feel about all kinds of issues.  This includes how to react to the use of a term historically known as racist for the sake of sports team logos and names.

I keep reading things like, as a Native, I’m one of the people who doesn’t really care about this, and so why should anyone else.  I most definitely have feelings about this – I feel hurt, angry, and sometimes surges of the humiliation burn I endured at times throughout my life because I am a Native person. That sting was there when I was a child, and it is there now.

peace is our promiseI’ve read over and over that even if I do care, what I feel is beside the point because there are far more people out there who really matter.  I happen to think it’s the ones who stand against racism and discrimination of any form that matter.  I believe in the ones who say let’s make the world a better place without the cost of that being another human.  I seek those who speak beyond the words that filled so many, too many, of the commentaries like this:

BUT – 90% of the Universe Likes the Name!

“90% of Indians don’t mind the name Redskins.” or sometimes it’s stated as, “90% of Americans like the name”.  These statements refer to the often cited, but academically questioned, National Annenberg Election Survey from 2004. They proudly quote that 90% figure, but that’s 90% of the 768 respondents – 691 people who claimed Native American ancestry, not 90% of all Native Americans. That’s part of why people take exception to this poll.  It also took almost a year to find those 768 respondents, which begs the question, which neighbourhoods were they looking in?

If you want to get technical, according to U.S. Census records for 2004, there were approximately 3,000,000 Native Americans in the U.S. then.  The number needed to statistically represent 90% of Natives (with a 3% +/- error margin) would’ve had to have been at least 1,100 people  – preferably Native Americans who live within the culture, or are well-versed in it.

There is a constantly ignored October 2013 SurveyUSA poll that showed 59% of 500 non-Native American Washington DC residents thought the name was offensive.  79% of them didn’t think changing the name would make them think less of the team.

There was something else I noticed in the comments and that was how many Native American relatives we all have. If the number of self-identified part-Native Americans claiming not to have a problem with the name is true, then Native Americans must really represent close to a third of the overall U.S. population. For sure the Cherokee nation’s population has got to have tripled in the last week.

There is tremendous debate as to the truth of the word’s offensiveness.  This is where the vast in-depth knowledge of Native American history appears most in the comments.  The origin of the word is debated to the nth degree with disagreement about the word being born of racism.  Therefore, no racist beginning, no problem.

Origin is not the point

 noun: etymology
  1. the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.   The origin of a word and the historical development of its meaning.
plural noun: etymologies

A paper by Ives Goddard is often cited as incontrovertible proof that the word did not begin as a slur because he cites English and French notes from 17th-19th century journals where they note a chief and some tribal members called themselves red people. First Nations are hundreds of cultures. Some people take exception to those notes because Native historians  – as in the Native peoples themselves – did not record their history in the same way, and most do not historically refer to themselves as red people, let alone redskins.  In any case, the paper does acknowledge the term evolved into a slur, or “obloquy”.

This may be interesting debate so far, but what isn’t disputed is that the name evolved into a term that evokes centuries of derision, hatefulness, discrimination, and attempted genocide.  It’s this part of history that most resonates with the people who are offended by the images and names that dehumanize them to a cartooned existence, i.e. redskins.

Next, victoriously trotted out are exceptions to the view that most Native Americans are offended and why they shouldn’t be:

  • The first Redskins coach was Native – Disputed as someone who took on a Sioux identity to escape the draft. He also did not name the team.
  • The team was honoring that coach and four Indian players – disputed by redskins owner in a 1933 interview with the Hartford Courant.
  • The Natives have always been proud of these honors – it was Natives who started the trademark revocation in 1992, but overall objections to the name began in the 1950s.
  • Many school teams, even Native ones, call themselves redskins and are damned proud of it.  Most are forgetting when those schools were originally named and by whom, but even so, self identification to claim the name is not the same thing.
  • Oklahoma is Native named and is Choctow for ‘Red People’.  Actually, ˆ“Ogla-ut-homma”, has a different etymology. In the Choctaw language “Homma,” can mean rust, brown, tan, or red. Oklahoma could easily be translated as ‘tan people.’

The reasons given to keep the name run the gamut from derision to the absurd; Natives and white liberals are just whiners and choosing to be victimized. There is simple ignorance of the issue to blaming Obama, who apparently is in need of another distraction.  Some people are very concerned about the expenses this could cost teams if they have to re-tool names or images.  Some people want to cling to tradition, eagerly willing to overlook the horrific and bloody history associated with the term.

Coming to terms with the idea of change can be hard, and for some people, very hard.  Changing something that is eight decades along is even seen as dishonoring “tradition”.  However, if a tradition is based in the highly questionable honor of documentable racism, the time for change is long overdue.

Banning racist slurs may not change everything, but words do have power and standing against words that caused so much damage is the beginning of the end of discriminations, and it says, yes, we do matter.

Besides, there are already cases to show that it can be done without irreparable loss.

  • The University of Utah Redskins became Utah Utes in 1972.
  • The Miami University (of Ohio) Redskins became the RedHawks in 1997.
  • The Southern Nazarene University Redskins became the Crimson Storm in 1998.
  • To date, there were more than 3,000 American Indian mascots and names used in school K-12 athletic programs; more than two-thirds of those have been changed.

Still don’t think any racism underlies the word?  Then why do you suppose that in every single one of those comments – all those stridently opposed to change and steadfastly insistent that the term redskins is really an honor – why did none of them refer to Native Americans as redskins? Not a single one.

RL

Updated July 7, 2014 Washington Redsking PR Hire is a good idea for Native Americans:   2006 Ben Tribbett Proves Washington Team Name Is Slur, 2014 Ben Tribbett Paid To Defend It
Updated June 29, 2014 to include the Oklahoma reference increasingly cited as self-description for entire Native American nations. With thanks for the information provided by Paula Starr,  Executive Director at Southern California Indian Center.
Posted in Aboriginal Peoples, Aboriginals, First Nations, Opinion, Racism, Washington Redskins, WPLongform | Tagged , , , , , | 33 Comments

An Open Letter to U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill

Originally posted on This Is My Corn:

Dear Senator Claire McCaskill,

While I applaud the accountability for one’s words and actions that was at the center of the Senate hearing on false advertising for weight loss products, I wonder if it didn’t do more harm than good. Specifically, I am concerned about your statement on his victimization:

“I know you feel that you’re a victim, but sometimes conduct invites being a victim. I think that if you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized quite as frequently.”

Those were your words to Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” during the June 17, 2014 hearing held on Capitol Hill.

Sometimes conduct invites being a victim? Since when? If you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized? Since when? When is any type of victimization justifiable? No one has the right to make anyone a victim.

Senator McCaskill, you have been a…

View original 1,019 more words

Posted in Life | 3 Comments

“Alcohol saved my life”, said Recovering Alcoholic Craig Ferguson

craig_ferguson112 soul grabbing minutes of why I love Craig Ferguson, or one of the reasons I love him. I have linked to those 12 minutes at the bottom of this post. It’s part of his story of his return to sanity minus the alcohol. Despite that, at one point in this fantastic monologue about working toward redemption, he says, “Alcohol saved my life”.

I grew up with alcoholism permeating many aspects of my life, but I was lucky to escape becoming personally enslaved by it. Not that I escaped the repercussions of those around me that did.  I grew up hating what it did to various family members, but I didn’t blame the alcohol itself. I was aware that there were far more people able to take a drink without the devastating results, and so what I didn’t understand was why my family couldn’t.

I would come to a greater understanding of that when I, and fortunately, some of my family members, turned to help to deal with this still somewhat mysterious puzzle.  I’ve had the privilege of attending several various group functions where I listened to all kinds of personal journeys from here to hell and back. They are always heartbreaking, but then inspiring, and in the end, uplifting.

I was very taken with another of these stories which is the one Craig Ferguson told on his own TV show, The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson back in 2007.  I didn’t see it then, but I was introduced to it recently via blogger, Vodka & Vows.  It’s pure Craig – brutally honest, warmly compassionate, and funny as hell.

Every story we hear is a path to understanding one another.  I hope you’ll find this one interesting and enlightening while enjoying the entertainment of his delivery. It includes a message that serves anybody really, about how we all need to really see each other and maybe look for a little more compassion within ourselves when it comes to judgment.

So, take a short break, grab a coffee, and watch this video titled, “Craig Ferguson Speaks From The Heart”.

Update:  I’ve been warned that some areas are unable to open the link below.  If that is the case for you, go onto youtube.com and do a search for “Craig Ferguson Speaks From The Heart”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZVWIELHQQY#t=354

RL

 

 

Posted in Alcoholism, Craig Ferguson, Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Pharrell & the Native Headdress – The Mistake Was Demanding Respect

“Did you know”? Did you know that question can reverse a mindset of ignorant insult more effectively in the long run, than a demand to stop insulting or demeaning? When we rear up in great and loud umbrage to something that someone is unaware or uninformed of, it is we who look brutish. So, I respectfully disagree with raising my fist on this issue to ask, why are we sending warriors to do the job of elders?

Pharrell Williams - Grammys stockWas it really the most desired or effective expectation that singer Pharrell Williams apologize over wearing a feathered headdress on the cover of Elle Magazine? Could we have appealed to him to perhaps make a supportive statement instead of castigating him publicly and likely creating embarrassment and resentment where there was none? Could we have found a way to use the opportunity to instead educate and even celebrate our culture?  Could we have simply left it alone?

Whether they are deliberate or not, moments of insult are opportunities to educate. I am surmising here about the effectiveness of taking those opportunities, but I’d be willing to bet everything I own that most people who are taught a little understanding behave more respectfully moving forward. I believe that because if this world wasn’t populated by more decent, caring people than not, we would be living in widespread chaos and savagery.

Did you know that no matter how much we educate, scream at, or protest against something that harm’s a belief, there will still be those few people who work to throw their misery at the rest of us? They will continue to behave in ignorance because that is what they will – willful ignorance, and there is nothing we can do to fight that.

Photo courtesy of Darren Quarin

Photo courtesy of Darren Quarin Photography

I am a status Metis citizen. My people have lived in our homeland for thousands of years, and yet I still find more and more to learn about us every year. It really wasn’t all that long ago that even I discovered the true significance of the feathered headdress. I knew the eagle feathers used in them are sacred to us, but I wasn’t fully versed in why they made the headdress as important as it is to us. Is it our right to demand that everyone else adopt the same belief?

Whenever I read another article about how outraged and appalled my people are with the ignorance of an uneducated or willfully ignorant lot encroaching on First Nations belief systems, I feel a little like asking is this the most valid issue? Was the Elle cover of Pharrell wearing a First Nations headdress worthy of the ensuing cacophony?

I fight for the right to equality, civility and courtesy, clean lands and water, and the right to prosper, but demanding respect isn’t the same as earning it, and as unfair as it is, no matter what we do, we may never get it anyway.  Aren’t our warriors better placed in front of those  rights issues?

Photo Courtesy Robert OToole Photography

Photo Courtesy Robert OToole Photography

I wonder why the healing energy of our traditional humour is lost. Why must we take ourselves so seriously that we are victims of pride instead of its gentle conquerer? When all events are reacted to as the worst insult, then our cases for deliberate transgressions become diluted. This isn’t fair, but by now we understand that not all life is fair. Our belief systems were not the first to be taken down the road of irreverence to outright disdain, nor will they be the last.  Christian crosses, national flags and Scottish clan identifying tartans are just some on the long list that come to immediate mind.

Some people equate the insult to black face.  I think what’s more in line with that racist activity are behavioral uses like face war paint, the gestures of tomahawk chops, and racial epithets like redskin.

I understand the anger, but education is an ongoing behavior. An issue in the news today isn’t an issue tomorrow if we just keep talking with each other simply and honestly. Do we think that because we’ve asked these kinds of questions ten times or even thousands of times, we don’t need to ask them anymore?  Every year thousands of new people are born and will need to hear our stories, is is too demeaning to ask repeatedly:

• Did you know that the feathers on a Native headdress signified great respect, honour, and achievement in the same vein of military medals such as the Medal of Honor?
• Did you know that the term redskin is a slanderous term to describe Native North Americans in the same vein as calling people the ‘n’ word?

The more people who just hear what the headdress means to us, the more there will be to realize those who wear them unjustifiably are simply foolish or in need of some schooling. The point for us is to remember is schooling is never over, so on issues like this, can we just talk about it?

Even if we managed to reach every single being on the planet with our information, it still wouldn’t change everything. No, it wouldn’t. We will never convince everyone, not any more than those who couldn’t care less about medals or crosses.

I do know though, that asking an honest question will reach another heart faster than berating it.

Photo Courtesy Walter Jonasson

Photo Courtesy Walter Jonasson Photography

On the other hand, we are also too attached to things. Symbols like military medals or feathers are still things. We did not create the feather or the metal, we borrow them. They are not the feelings of honour and respect that fill our hearts, but the symbols we chose to emblemize that. If that symbol becomes broken or lost, we are still reverent to the point and purpose of our honoured. We are really the sacred, we feel. What we must remember to hold dear is our true reverence for actions of honour and behaviours of respect and courage and love. It is those feelings that matter and they can never be broken or lost.

I am a Metis mother, and this is a lesson I am learning for, and with, my young son.

RL

Photo Courtesy of Jim Wong Photography

Photo Courtesy of Jim Wong Photography

A thank you to White Wolf for allowing me to share this post about what eagle teaches called Eagle Medicine : http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2011/07/eagle-medicine.html

July 5, 2014: Post updated with cultural examples of crosses and tartans, and to make my position more clear in the need for simple ongoing education.
Posted in Aboriginal Peoples, First Nations, Life, Pharrell Williams, Respect, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments