Don’t be a Prisoner of Your Past

I’m sure everyone has heard this one! We all have things that happened to us in the course of our lives that were negative, unpleasant, sad, even deeply traumatic for some. However, the saying goes, don’t let your past define you. The legacy you inherited doesn’t have to be your children’s legacy. How the schoolyard bully treated you does not have to define the rest of your life. You don’t automatically have to be a drunk because that’s what mom or dad was. Or never find love because your parents couldn’t with each other. If you’ve been through some tragedy or trauma, you can get help to move on with life and not allow whatever happened to define who you are today.

For some people however, this “past” goes beyond what they’ve been through as individuals, but also includes what was done to your racial or ethnic group or even gender for example. I think we can all admit this country has some moments we aren’t so proud of. Slavery, conquest, racism, sexism, discrimination, exclusion, ostracism, etc. of certain groups historically. However despite the many social strides towards equality this country also has made to atone for and help eradicate the past hatred, prejudice and discrimination, some still argue that members of these historically oppressed groups have literally inherited the past trauma of their ancestors despite they themselves not having the same negative experiences as the previous generations. They call this “trans-generational trauma”, arguing the legacy left behind by historical oppression has somehow traumatized today’s generations.

Now here’s the thing: I understand about epigenetics and wondered if they are arguing that somehow a gene could have been turned off or on altering the next generation’s genetic makeup somehow due to the previous generation’s direct experience of trauma, but apparently that wasn’t necessarily the case that trans-generational trauma is biologically inherited. I also wondered if they thought a factor like the parent’s or grandparent’s experiences would reasonably influence what they told or how they raised the next generation who hadn’t been there as it is plausible. You will be affected to some degree by what a parent or other family member tells you growing up about what they went through or in how they raise you. That isn’t the whole of this “trans-generational trauma” thing either though! Apparently, the main factor cited was the younger generations are “traumatized” by guess what? Society!

Yep. The argument is the history of oppression by society in the past and alleged oppression today “traumatizes” people of historically oppressed groups. To give an example, one supporting the trans-generational trauma theory could argue that members of the black community are “traumatized” by slavery in the US that was abolished over a century ago, or that more recently, a millennial generation black person is somehow personally traumatized by the lynchings their great grandparents witnessed in the Jim Crow era despite never having any personal experience with lynchings other than in 2nd period US History! Now, I can agree that knowing your people were treated so heinously in the past would be very unsettling and disturbing. However to claim you have the same or comparable trauma as your great grandparent who was actually there? Is that reasonable?

Another example would be Native Americans. The US historically had many unfair policies and practices such as assimilation at boarding schools that wiped much of their own languages and cultures out. The reservation system was very corrupt. Sadly, many Native Americans today have many issues such as alcoholism, poverty, child abuse etc… May do claim trans-generational trauma. They say all their issues hearken back to historical policies that now have been overturned, such as boarding schools for them, or forcing them onto reservations although many choose to live on them now. They claim their history of oppression has led to their current poverty, alcoholism, health problems, etc… and left them traumatized. Only thing is, the younger generations have not personally been forced into boarding schools, have not been at historical events like Wounded Knee, have not been forced onto reservations preventing them from hunting the buffalo for example. No. They like most of America’s youth mourn the loss of their phone privileges more than the fact they as a people can no longer live a nomadic lifestyle on the plains! (Yes, before you cry “not all Indians were…” I know I’m talking mostly about the Plains Indians specifically  for the sake of brevity!).

Another point: Why is the past a valid reason to excuse poor behavior in the present? A community wants to improve and break the cycle, yet does nothing themselves because it feels historical oppression cursed them to a life of misery! To me, it’s like saying “I’m a drunk because my parents were drunks” as an excuse not to get treatment for your own addiction! “The white man oppressed me so I’m destined to act this way…” is the logic behind this.

Why can’t the past be in the past? Of course the past shapes our future, but it doesn’t define it! We can’t change what happened to us, but we can shape our future to be different learning from our past. We can choose to break the cycle. Choose to leave another legacy than oppression, poverty and victimhood to pass on to the next generation of our community. Your parent’s divorce doesn’t mean your marriage will end in divorce. You have no excuse to abuse another because you were abused. Most an agree with those statements. So why is it hard to make the leap to say your ancestors’ oppression is no excuse to not move forward as a community and make a clean slate for your children free from the baggage you may have carried in your past?

Honestly, I find it incredibly insulting and dishonoring to the struggles your ancestors had to claim that you too are traumatized by those events! Why? You were not there! My great-grandfather fled Armenia due to genocide by the Ottoman Empire. My Dad was his grandson, however he does not and has no right whatsoever to claim he was also a victim of the genocide his grandfather endured! My grandmother was relentlessly ostracized for being Armenian in her all Irish neighborhood yet I am not the one who has been traumatized and forever changed because of it because it was HER experience, NOT mine! Step back for a moment and think, isn’t it utterly belittling and disrespectful to those who have actually endured the worst history had to offer and claim it as your trauma? Your burden? To have the audacity to say it changed you? 

You are not the one who was a slave.

You are not the one in an internment camp.

You are not the one who was segregated all your life.

You are not the one killed at Wounded Knee or forced in a boarding school.

You are not the one who was forced to see your family killed in a genocide.

You are not the one who was denied their humanity in the worst ways.

Overall I find it incredibly insulting and disrespectful anyone dares to capitalize off their ancestors’ suffering to claim oppression for themselves. Frankly it’s sad anyone also would see themselves as a victim with only a legacy of oppression and victimhood to pass on to their children. No, contemporary society is not a utopia and prejudice still exists, but being focused in the present is a whole other story than being stuck in the past. Why not make the legacy you pass on to the next generation after you one of resilience, perseverance, independence and determination instead of perpetual victimhood and trauma from past wrongs done generations before their time? What child wants to sit on your lap and listen to how society hated them and always will and be taught certain people hate them? Leave a legacy of “victor-hood”, not victimhood!

Lastly, what sort of trauma might a generation of white people have over being the historical “oppressor” and “bad guy” when countless white people want to genuinely make change and leave their own legacy of love and acceptance rather than their ancestors’ alleged legacy of oppression and subjugation? Must they be defined by the sins of their forefathers? What about the historical oppression against other groups? Why don’t Italians, Germans, Irish etc… have this so called “Trans-generational trauma” from their history? After all, this isn’t about current trauma, but your ancestor’s trauma.

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Another Angle in The Appropriation Debate: Imagination and The Empathy That Comes With It

Halloween may be over, but the issue persists year round. The Left and cultural appropriation debates pop up especially around costumes which in one era were once innocuous fun, but now deemed as socially inappropriate, even dehumanizing! The main argument is that dressing as a culture not your own, especially if you’re white, stigmatizes and dehumanizes a culture as a caricature. Also, the argument one can simply take off a costume whereas the culture lives with the stigma and cannot simply stop being what they are is unfair to minorities.

I disagree with this stance in the majority of circumstances however I will say if a costume is deliberately meant to be insulting and degrading, mocking the culture on purpose then it is inappropriate. If you’re mostly doing it to be a jerk, then yeah, not cool… Thing is, the majority of circumstances are more complex or simply not at all about denigrating anyone even remotely! Most may not go so far as to “honor” a culture out of some deep personal respect, although some may be, but the majority simply wants to dress up as something they’re not; like every other trick or treater. After all, why dress up as something you are already every other day of the year? Some may feel highlighting a difference in one culture from another may not come off as flattering, but the fact is, another culture is different from your own or else it wouldn’t be considered a separate thing! And why is being different or “exotic” necessarily a negative thing in a society that wants to emphasize “diversity”? Why does wanting to feel like or be someone different than yourself for a bit a bad thing necessarily?

The perspective I want to being to the debate sounds corny, but I think is significant: Imagination. What child doesn’t want to imagine they are something different than what they are in real life? Reads a story about pirates and wants to imagine what it would be like abroad a pirate ship as part of the crew. Reads a fairy tale and wonders what life as a princess would be like. What it’s like to wear a gown to the ball, or reads about some far away land and wants to imagine being there too. To taste their cool foods, hear their music, wear what they do, if only for a daydream. Why is it not just as innocent for a child to dress up and pretend to be an Indian as it is a pirate? One can argue Indians were historically treated as inferior whereas pirates don’t have that history in the US. But how does that change the fact the kid simply wants to imagine being someone else, devoid of a desire to subjugate and denigrate those the child imitates momentarily?

As a child, I was very into different historical periods and various cultures. When I studied ancient Rome I wanted to know what it felt like to be a Roman and wear a toga, or a stola just to have that experience. When I was into the middle ages I dressed up as a medieval person for Halloween. When I liked the ancient near east, I dressed up as a Mesopotamian, when I liked bog bodies from ancient Europe I dressed as one too another year. Heck, I dressed as a dinosaur or caveman when I liked them as well! Notice a pattern? It had zero to do with race or singling out anyone beyond my own interest in that culture regardless of phenotype of geographic location. There was no distinction between the now un PC costume choices and the socially okay ones in motivations to choose them. I believe the same for most children who aren’t raised obsessed with political correctness.

I feel sad for a generation of kids who will never get that experience. One of being whatever they imagine themselves to be. Many adults can attest to the magical times they had pretending to be something they weren’t. However in a society that forbids one from being anything but what they were born as in terms of other people, they will never get to imagine what it’s like to be from a different place or imagine themselves as someone very different from themselves. I argue that we try to teach out kids inter-cultural empathy yet how can they truly empathize without putting themselves in the shoes of the other, and thinking what would it be like if I were them? It’s too abstract for young children to abstractly ponder the implications of the Indian Removal Act on Native Americans in a dry classroom lecture without an emotional experience of imagining being an Indian, and children can express that through pretend play. In elementary school our class pretended to be slaves being sold on slave ships then escaping slavery although none of us were black. Were we doing something wrong “appropriating” that pretend experience? After all, we could stop being slaves after the lesson was over. Or did it help us personally empathize with those who went through slavery?

Is it really some gross oppression that you have to be something I dressed up as past October 31st and I don’t? That’s the grounds for the ban on cultural costumes? What about contexts where one dresses up as a specific person in a different culture or race but it’s because YOU ADMIRE THEM AS A ROLE MODEL? Is that racist??? For example, what about a white child dressing up as MLK because he’s their personal hero? What about a kid dressing up innocuously as a fictional cartoon character of a different race or ethnicity? How far does it have to go? An Aztec or native print is now a sin, or a poncho? What about European stereotypes like an Italian with pasta or Lederhosen on non-Italians and non-Germans? Why can’t people imagine and pretend to experience positive things of a culture and have that motivate them to care on a more personal level for the real members? Is that impossible? Even more simply, why can’t someone choose a costume for Halloween without having to feel like they’re a bad person for wanting to use their imagination?

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This wouldn’t surprise me if it were real! I weep for the next generation….

We All Have Our Challenges, So Why are Yours More Important?

It’s old news and stating the obvious by now: The Left loves to point out all the alleged obstacles women and minorities face unlike the “privileged” white men. They say that white men are the pinnacle of society, nothing holds them back while everyone else faces insurmountable challenges to equality and success in society. They label white men as “pale and stale” and in my assessment, label themselves as “brown and down” The Left also loves to capitalize on dwelling on past oppression, even when the pendulum has swung the other way going so far in many cases as reverse discrimination.

In the face of any backlash against these views, comes the argument that the “privileged”, those who are white, straight, conservative, men, or all of the above have no right to an opinion because they haven’t been in the so called “oppressed’s” shoes. Now, I have to admit one thing: They are right that we don’t have the same life experiences as people who are different from us. We can’t speak our opinions on their situations from our direct experiences if we’re not them. There are factors in our lives that determine how the world treats us, and our life circumstances that are beyond our control.

However, does that mean that an outsider to someone’s plight has no right to an opinion of their own or an outside assessment of the situation? Who says that the only people who are allowed to have an opinion about someone’s circumstances are the people in the middle of them? Yes, the insider knows intimately what they feel about it, but that same intimacy strips them of any impartiality about their situation in life. Someone may feel they live in an environment of rampant harassment, or discrimination and ostracism, but is one’s personal perception always 100% accurate? What if outside sources didn’t corroborate your perceptions? As I wrote about before many times, your reality is not always the reality! Of course, we should find out what makes them feel a certain way to see if there’s something we do need to change, but it needs to be done in a non-biased way by outside sources as well as insiders.

I want to propose another more unique point though to consider. Imagine some of the challenges women and minorities for the sake of argument are in fact, true as the Left says it. I’m sure some may be as society while not as dismal as the Left loves to paint it as, is also not a utopia by any means! Bias and prejudice intentional and unintentional, do exist, and I can agree that such inequality needs improvement. However, and here’s my new insight, why do your challenges matter more than mine? Why is it when the “majority”, whether it be white people, men, conservatives etc… say they have obstacles they face in life that need improvement they’re dismissed as over-privileged whiners?

Everyone has obstacles, challenges, inequality they experience in their life no matter what race, gender, sexuality, etc… they are. What you look like does affect how the world perceives you and treats you. No, I honestly can’t say I know what it feels like to face life as a black person. Men can’t know intimately what it’s like to be women in society.  However…. A black person doesn’t know what a white person faces in life either. A woman doesn’t know the social pressures men face that hurt them. A biological male (who is a trans woman) has never had to feel the fear a girl or woman does when a man enters her private spaces such as a women’s restroom. And why is it limited to just race or gender for instance as categories of challenges? What about a big overlooked factor? Socio-economic status. A poor white family faces challenges a middle class family of color may not despite racial differences.

Of course, many will ask, “What about stereotypes?” Well, what about them? Is it not a stereotype to assume all white people are privileged and snobbish due to some sense of racial superiority? Is it not a stereotype to assume men are insensitive towards women and think of women only as sex objects or property? Stereotypes do affect how we are treated, but there is a stereotype for EVERYONE, so why are the hurtful stereotypes you face more important then the hurtful stereotypes I do?

The answer to this double standard seems clear: selective outrage and virtue signaling. This has become a superficial war not about true equality and fairness, but which group can vie for the most attention in the “Oppression Olympics”. The excuse is “but we faced more struggles than you ever did!”, but isn’t any inequality and unfairness detrimental to society? Am I saying that women and minorities never faced unfair challenges? No! What I’m saying is why are some people’s obstacles deemed more important and noteworthy than others, to the point of invalidating theirs? To try to illustrate more clearly:

The family of color might face less opportunity related to racial discrimination, but does that negate the white family down the street who face lack of opportunity due to poverty?

A woman may have to be more wary of sexual assault in public than a man would, but a man has to be more wary of the accusation of such!

A white man may feel he faces his own challenges getting hired due to his gender and skin color too due to affirmative action programs and a rhetoric of “dismantling” his “privilege”…

A woman might feel constrained by unfair gender roles and expectations while men have more freedoms than her in some areas of life, but has she considered the ways in which men are expected to conform to their own set of rules?

Does it matter more having all your achievements doubted due to a “minority” race or gender than having all your achievements invalidated and deemed handed to you for the same exact reason only difference being you’re white or male?

The list could go on and on and on…. My point is, my counterpoints to consider don’t invalidate the original claims to obstacles by people of color or women or instance, but are presented to illustrate the point that no one is obstacle free, (even white men) and raise the question; why do the challenges of some matter more than the challenges of others? Why the selective outrage? And this doesn’t even begin to touch upon other factors like family upbringing and one’s health for example!

My last insight into this is everyone has their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages that can be due to things out of our control and circumstances like socio-economic status. There is no way that your life will be challenge-free no matter who you are or what you look like. So, why incessantly whine about it instead of accepting that life can be unfair and you have to find ways to work with your obstacles?

It’s a great thing when people try to change things for the better, other times though, you have to pick your battles and accept your life will be different from the next person’s whether it involves looking out for your personal safety more than others, realizing you don’t look like those around you most of the time, having to work harder than others to prove your merit, having to rise up out of poverty others don’t face, having your own crushing pressure to conform to what society expects of you as a man or woman, having to show others you’re NOT who they think you are among a myriad of other examples. Yes sometimes, you just have to suck it up and work around what holds you back…

Do I advocate for a lack of empathy for the challenges others face? Absolutely not! We should all be conscientious of how fortunate we are and how others may not be. Every one of us has their own life journey and struggles that go along with it, so why are your life challenges more important than mine?

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You Don’t Know My Story…

“You don’t know my story!”

Commonly shouted by the Left whenever someone tries to contradict “their truth” with factual evidence and common sense. When minorities, women, LGBT people, immigrants, religious minorities (a.k.a Muslims), etc… say that, they want to tell you that you have no idea what struggles they faced. On the surface, it makes some sense. Often, a person’s struggles are not as obvious as one would ever guess. Barring a physical disability or witnessing outright bigotry, many of our life challenges remain hidden to others unless they have an intimate look at your situation. Often, white people and men, or any “majority” group are accused of being blind to others’ challenges and any contradiction to them is taken as insensitive and callous.

Even in the face of statistical facts and common sense, apparently it’s callous to point out that the reality may not always be your reality. Another important point to note here is it is indeed very plausible that the individual has actually had a negative experience in their life or has known a disproportionate amount of people who have and genuinely thinks that’s the wider reality while in truth, they or their friends were the exception. When such a discrepancy is pointed out, cries of “you’re blinded by your privilege!” come up. We’re supposed to take them at face value and simply shut up and nod our heads in agreement upon their edict that they in fact, know the REAL truth!

But do they know the whole truth? After all, there’s always at least two sides to a story 😉 Many on the Left want the so called “privileged” to acknowlege their invisible struggles, but what about ours??? You are completely delusional if you think anyone’s life is 100% pure bliss, no struggles whatsoever or the lives of their families are! Do you honestly think that because of a white man’s skin color or gender he’s on easy street? Or the heterosexual couple is in marital bliss with no angry in-laws who won’t accept their spouse? Or the Christian doesn’t feel judged at times by others for his/her faith too with their own nasty stereotypes of being intolerant fundies?

Well, if you were, let me give you an example of how looks can go only skin deep, and the assumptions that go with them:

Like many in America, I have immigrant relatives on both sides of my family who came here to make a better life for themselves. Now take my grandmother for instance. To a stranger who just happened to see her as she was running some errands, she looks like a privileged white woman. Typical. Probably grew up in some nice middle class house in a safe neighborhood with a provider husband. Had a family who through their race built up wealth based off centuries of oppressing minorities and the indigenous population. Always had security and comfort, never lifting a finger to rise to any major challenge. Was probably that privileged suburban housewife of the 50’s who goes to the women’s club and complains about how the neighborhood is being taken over by those who don’t look like her. Never once knew what it was like to face the bigotry minorities have.

Now, the part about the comfortable house, wonderful husband and safe neighborhood are true. However the rest would be a lie! Her parents literally came to the country with NOTHING. Her dad was a refugee fleeing violence and genocide and her mother fleeing inescapable poverty in her home country. They had no time whatsoever to gain any of the “wealth” white families allegedly have gained through decades of oppression. She was barely in the middle class growing up and as a married woman, married a blue collar guy and had to work herself cleaning houses to help her family. She cherished her domestic life, but was no privileged housewife who could live solely off her husband’s income. Her husband was of a similar background growing up in the depression unable to afford luxuries like Christmas and birthdays. As for never having any adversity herself, she was bullied for her ethnicity so badly in school she dropped out of high school due to the vitriol of her classmates AND teachers! Imagine a person of color today sharing a similar story. How appalled would you be to hear that? Almost forgot, her neighborhood gave her family the stink eye for not being Irish in an Irish neighborhood, so don’t tell me she never felt what it was like to not belong! That’s probably why she is so adamantly anti-racist herself…

Do you know why she did live in a nice neighborhood in a nice house though? Her family WORKED HARD and gave everything to give her a better life than the previous generation. She married a man who worked for everything they owned including her nice house in that safe neighborhood. And she carried that legacy of resilience and being a victor instead of a victim demanding handouts to her children, one being my dad. Because of her and her family’s perseverance, my dad and his sister got to go to college and get professional careers. Thus trickling down to me being even more privileged than they. My mother’s side has similar stories of building that family legacy of success and prosperity from almost nothing as well further contributing to what I have today.

I guess in a sense you’d be right if you assumed my grandmother was privileged. She had a wonderful husband of over 50 years, raised two children in a nice household and lived off the success her parents enabled her to have. But that’s FAR from her whole story which also included much adversity and prejudice and a family which came from adversity and poverty. Just looking at her skin color tells you nothing about where she came from and what she’s had to face in her life of almost a century.

I can anticipate some of the naysayer’s responses and I’ll answer with my family’s immigrant story is not inconsequential just because they were white! My relatives on both sides of my family have faced adversity and prejudice, my grandmother being just one example. Their whiteness did nothing to help them gain their prosperity, their actual effort to better their lives did. I challenge you to find one example of how the prejudice your family faced due to their skin color is more “important” than what my family and countless other “privileged” white families have! My grandma had the “privilege” of:

The student body bullying her into dropping out of school for her ethnicity

Her family being shunned in an all Irish neighborhood simply for not being Irish

Both parents coming from poverty and devastation in their homelands

Losing her sister young and a brother disabled by a brain tumor

Being slammed violently into a desk by a teacher who treated her in a biased manner for being different among others….

So, if you see her being helped by a gentleman to carry her things or people looking out for her, don’t automatically assume she was always treated like royalty, or she never had to lift a finger in her life. Don’t think because of her skin color, she had everything given to her and lived a life based off the exploitation of others. Don’t look at her neighborhood or her house and think “her kind” have been there for generations basking in their privilege. And don’t think, most importantly, that her skin color somehow minimizes the pain and adversity she went through compared to what you or your family went through!

I don’t know your story as a minority group or person of color. I can’t say I can automatically know all your struggles or have been exposed to every type of adversity you have. But you also don’t know my story, where I came from, and my family’s legacy from just looking at me. You can’t assume any privilege or lack of it just by eyeballing me for 20 seconds on the street. You also can’t assume that even if someone has “privilege” related to race or gender for example, they don’t have other personal struggles they must overcome like mental illness, crushing anxiety/self doubts and insecurity, chronic conditions, family tragedies, deep personal loss, obstacles due to poverty, etc… So, if you want the courtesy of me acknowledging your story, please stick around to listen to mine before you cast judgement. Until then, when you say my family and I have “privilege” we didn’t earn or deserve:

You don’t know my story!

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Yes, even white men too 😉 !!!

Do you have a story others don’t know that helped shape who you are? Please share in the comments! 🙂

(Another) White Man’s Burden: The White Savior Complex

Many have probably heard at least vaguely about what is called the “white savior complex”. White people who out of the goodness of their hearts decide to volunteer to do charity work for minority communities or 3rd world countries, or even Western organizations who do charity work are accused of being “white saviors” by the Left. Many on the Left now find fault with their benevolence and personal growth into better human beings due to the perceived paternalistic attitude and history of Western colonialism. Confusing? Here’s one definition:

“The term white savior, sometimes combined with savior complex to write white savior complex, refers to a white person who acts to help non-white people, with the help in some contexts perceived to be self-serving” (Wikipedia).

If that’s a bit too vague, and I tried hard to find a clearer definition but couldn’t, it’s basically the attitude that altruism and benevolent actions such as charity and aid from white people or the West is a form of colonialist paternalism where it implies white people are needed to solve the issues of minorities versus minorities having the independence to solve their own issues on their terms. In essence, white people merely swoop in to “save” minorities and come out the hero and take all the credit in real life and in movies and literature ignoring the perspective of minorities. However, upon further research into the theory, I find their reasoning to have many deep flaws of its own!

On its face it sounds okay. We shouldn’t be paternalistic busy bodies dictating to outsiders they need our help when they in fact, are fine as they are, or can solve their own issues. Nor do I argue in the least we should just show up uninvited and “help” people without their consent and act en loco parentis for the world!

That said, it’s absurd to assume just because charitable people are white, or organizations happen to be from the West, helping minorities and the 3rd world is damaging and racist/colonialist. Perhaps my strongest point is well don’t they need the resources and aid they’re being given? And apparently, it’s not being provided by their own people or country. Proponents of the white savior complex theory argue that by stepping up to help them, it’s an imperialist imposition and strips the people of their dignity and autonomy. An exercise in cultural superiority. Their argument falls apart however, when it is pointed out that food, water, shelter and medical care are basic needs for every human being, and are not culturally biased towards one society!

The cold hard truth is the 3rd world and poverty stricken areas lack all such basic needs to varying levels, leading to higher infant mortality rates, succumbing to easily treatable and preventable diseases, living in squalid housing or none at all, no infrastructure, no clean drinking water, food shortages, famine, corrupt government, tyranny etc…etc… While the West is not perfect, we have what they can only dream of in terms of standards of living. If those countries want better lives for their people, they should accept that help, even if from outsiders.

Of course it’s hard to humble yourself to accept charity, but sometimes, when push comes to shove and your family’s lives are on the line, the bigger person must swallow their ego and accept help in a time of need. What’s more important, food, water, shelter, or your inflated ego? Get back to me when you’re starving, have no home and live in a squalid dangerous place along with your family. The saddest thing is that these countries can’t provide for their own people what we have to step in and provide for them. In that the white savior proponents do have a great point: Why CAN’T these people provide the aid they need for themselves? Why is it being left up to the West?

“But… but what if they don’t want our help? What if they want to be left alone and not have paternalistic meddlers in their village trying to “save” them?” The anti-white savior enforcers ask. Well guess what my answer is: Then we won’t!!! 

You don’t have to accept vaccines that prevent children from dying.

You don’t have to accept hospitals better able to treat you and your loved ones from dying by easily preventable diseases and treatable injuries.

You don’t have to accept clean drinking water.

You don’t have to accept nutritious food.

You don’t have to accept sturdy housing, better infrastructure, education, and a democratic government.

You don’t have to embrace values such as equality for women, children and minorities and live in a democratic society where everyone is at peace, not at war steeped in violence and turmoil.

They are autonomous nations and deserve to make their own choices. We’re not their colonialist babysitters anymore. However, look at where they end up with such attitudes and where Western nations are. If people want to extend the hand of friendship and benevolence in sharing our resources and privilege, why is that such a bad, flawed and racist thing? How is it racist to literally save the lives of millions of people of color? We could just turn our backs and say “Who cares? They’re just brown people in inconsequential countries.” but countless people from the West, including white people, say instead, “They’re humans just like me and I want to give them what all people should deserve to have”. I think plenty of people in such dire straights are deeply grateful that we’re helping their families and communities. Some people would like to be saved from their abusive husbands, families, and governments. If not, don’t forget all the Americans who could use and be grateful for those limited resources! If our help is “too white” for them they don’t have to have it. That simple.

This attitude of it’s racist to help people of color in non Western countries because of imperialism or some lack of autonomy or dignity, or even accusing white people of being self serving in helping others I argue is actually a reflection of how blinded the proponents of the theory of the white savior complex are by their own privilege! How many of these people have lived and experienced the deprivation of the 3rd world first hand? How many have actually taken their assumptions beyond the theoretical framework into how people actually feel when subjected to lack of medical care, starvation, corruption and tyranny?

Pragmatically, which takes precedence? Food, water, shelter and healthcare from anyone who will give it, or some abstract notions of egos and pride? For those absentminded academics who endorse such ideas without ever experiencing or seeing people in such dire circumstances, try researching Maslow’s hierarchy of needs! Then see in which tier self inflated egos go and where food, water and shelter go… It’s simply illogical to think that desperate people wouldn’t accept anything beneficial to help themselves and their families. We are GIVING them the resources as charity out of benevolence!

Not to mention, is it not racist to limit a charitable person from helping those in need because of their skin color? White people are incapable of charity without wanting an ego trip or some self serving purpose? I for one know plenty who would take nothing in return for their altruism including my own family. Is it impossible a white person may want to empower a people to become more autonomous and self sufficient? Is it out of the question a white person could embrace a society and want to help them even at their own deep personal risk and have genuine respect for those they are serving?

Another point to consider is when people are being oppressed, the oppressors won’t listen to them, but might eventually have to if enough people in power speak out. I thought speaking up for those who can’t was a virtue, not a vice. If white people really do have white privilege as it’s often accused by the Left, then wouldn’t it be commendable if more white people used their privilege to help those who don’t have that privilege in society? What about every white abolitionist in our history for one example? Were they being “white saviors”, and if so, was that bad considering the outcome? White people who use their privilege, whether racial or socio-economic to help those in need are using that force for good instead of oppression which could more easily have been done.

Overall, I’d say if you are white, and want to help the less fortunate who happen to not be white, the last thing you should feel is guilt! Go ahead and serve who want your help knowing you’re a better person for it. Kindness doesn’t have a skin color. 

We don’t need this, especially if they don’t want it!

Yes, Sometimes You Have to Work Harder Than The Next Guy…

I’ve wanted to bring up this point for a while now: Sometimes it takes more work to get where you want than for another person.

Now, as obvious as this sounds to most people, apparently this is breaking news for the Left! Their beef is the fact that not everyone has that “even chance” in life. The most commonly cited examples being racial minorities or women. The Left argues that racial bias and prejudice has held back countless qualified employees, brilliant students and hard working people from reaping the deserved rewards for their hard work. The idea that even despite the civil rights movement and a bigger push for equality, racism is still rife and people will do anything to get around anti-discrimination laws leading to the system keeping racial minorities in poverty and trapped in a downward spiral. Instead of seeing many minority communities as represented by lawyers, doctors, CEO’s etc… they are seen as welfare leeches, criminals and a drain on society.

Women too, as gender is the other huge example they argue about face similar bias in the eyes of the Left. Women are dismissed, not taken seriously, looked upon as weak, incompetent, and unsuited for many lines of work traditionally done by men. However, the trends have changed as more and more women break the barriers once faced by women historically. Never the less, the Left still argues women only are paid 3/4 of what men are and are held back from reaching higher levels in their respective careers and limited in stereotypes of more “feminine” lines of work.

In both cases of race and gender, the idea is that those who fall in to either (or both!) don’t have the same chances of a white male in particular of landing a good career or getting into a good school. In the minds of the Left, the system keeps them trapped, and the idea that in America, you can work your way up in this life is a fantasy. Now, I don’t deny that gross inequalities have existed historically, and still exist in society. I understand that not everyone does have an even chance at life and success and the wider forces of society do influence all of us and what we’re able to achieve. However, the Left misses a very crucial other piece of the puzzle to success: The individual’s determination to get what they want.

I think the Left has created their own reality about the situation. They over attribute social factors negating personal ones and other factors that may have had the outcome of being held back. I’ve argued more in detail about the whys in previous posts, but for the sake of the argument I want to make let’s assume everything the Left says about “the system” keeping women and minorities down is trueSo, to be clear here, the basic assumptions I am going off of are the ideas that racial minorities and women are kept back by society and that their race, gender or both have been the main factor in hindering their success in life.

However, who says race and gender are the only factors holding you back? Yep. Just because you weren’t hired you can automatically assume it had to be racially motivated, or because you’re a woman? What about factors such as social connections, family connections and networking? I personally have applied for many jobs where I had none of the above, and got the job. However, I’m sure I didn’t get the other 9 out of 10 I applied for because there was a shoe-in from within the company. Or the manager’s cousin needed work. Or I just didn’t know anyone who could put in a good word about me. Or in college, the professor running the research or that internship already knew another student well and liked their work while I came in as a complete stranger. College is the same! Ever heard of legacy admissions? 😉 Or the other family donated a ton of money to the school. Or the last spot was filled by the Dean’s nephew ahead of 20 other qualified students including you. You can’t rule out that factor if you have no connections for the job or the dream school you want no matter what your race or gender! You cant know for sure exactly why you didn’t make the cut, and if you lack connections of any kind, you can’t rule that out.

What about prior experience and qualifications? Yes, you might have a Master’s degree in business administration, but that company wants someone who worked in a bigger company or with a specific skill set. A college may not accept you if they want to fill some quota of different majors or clubs people are in. Maybe they wanted a more intense focus in specific types of community service. Just because you’re a female professor, or a professor of color doesn’t mean that’s the reason you didn’t get tenure. They might have wanted someone with different research concentrations. Or your class reviews went down this year. Or they have that shoe-in already no matter what you do to make yourself the most deserving. You would think jobs and schools would be transparent about such specific desires, but often times they’re not. I have applied to many opportunities without a strong history of past relevant experiences, and surprise, surprise, I wasn’t chosen. Am I entitled to jump to the conclusion it’s because I’m a woman despite my lack of relevant experience?

Now some might say, “but I did have a stellar resume, GPA, etc… and still didn’t get the job or into the school I wanted!” For that, I say see the paragraph on lack of connections, and consider the fact that as I just said, they might be looking for a specific thing you don’t have despite your experiences and qualifications. I had a strong academic record to bring to the table in my college application to my top choice school. However, I wasn’t accepted. Why? I don’t know exactly, but my guess is I didn’t have something else they wanted to bring to that next year’s class. However, a Y chromosome wasn’t my first guess! 😉 So in conclusion, there are other factors you need to consider before crying victim to racial or gender discrimination.

Even if you can eliminate those other factors in why you weren’t given the opportunity, and you can solidly conclude it was your race or gender, does that have to stop you? Maybe you do have to work twice as hard to prove yourself. Maybe you do have to put out more applications, follow up more, become more assertive in pursuing your career goals. Maybe you do need to prove to them your priority is with them, and not with what they assume it is. Is it fair you are under a microscope your colleagues or classmates are not? No! But is life fair 100% of the time for anyone? Maybe white guy down the hall isn’t getting promoted or is in danger of getting laid off because he doesn’t have connections despite being white and male, but you just don’t know his situation and assume he’s working his way up easily because of his skin color or his chromosomes when he might be under his own microscope too. Maybe you’re a minority, but have a degree, training, specific research, past relevant internships etc…the white person doesn’t giving you the edge on your resume when coming up for review.

Point is, regardless of if we get what we want or not, we all have a mixture of advantages and disadvantages that may include race and gender. I’m not saying there is no gender or racial bias out there. However, why is race and gender “extra special” and entitle you to cry victim over for example, someone who simply doesn’t have the right connections? You can argue, “but you have no control over race or gender”, but how much control do you have over whether or not you’re the manager’s cousin?

So what’s a person to do? You have to work harder than everyone else, exceed expectations, be held to a higher standard, and you can’t control your race or gender. The solution seems to be mind blowing to the Left: Instead of whining and demanding affirmative action programs and quotas, actually put in the extra work to get what you want. Yes. Outwork the next guy and if you have to work twice as hard, work twice as hard! If the world thinks you don’t look like what you want to be, don’t whine about how oppressed you are, prove them wrong by pushing hard to achieve your goals. You may need more patience. People might push back and try to limit you. Not hire you. Not admit you. You probably won’t get in as fast as a more “privileged” person. But will you let that stop you? And what if there is no one like you in your dream field? Well someone had to be the first woman/minority doctor, lawyer, researcher, PhD holder, engineer, etc…  Why can’t the next someone be you? Blaze the trail yourself if you want the path created. Our heroes we look up to in the history books all did in spite of the prejudice and bias.

If you give up, doesn’t that just let those whom you feel are keeping you down win? If you throw in the towel and don’t call back, stop applying, don’t push for what you want to do in life and say “Well, I’m a person of color/woman so I will never get where I want to be” then you gave up on yourself. Not the world. Is it fair you’re held back more than others for reasons you have no control over? No! But that’s reality. Don’t whine about wanting change, BE the change! Hurdles don’t mean a closed door. They just mean a door that’s a little harder to unlock. But there is a key. That key just means working harder than the other guy sometimes… All you need is to be given one chance for that door to open. It’s up to you to have the motivation to seek it out. You CAN go far in life, you just have to work a little harder sometimes 🙂

One final point: What about the fact that white males are passed over now due to affirmative action programs? Perhaps today being a woman or minority is now the advantage 😉 …

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Equally Treated : Equally Criticized

Criticism: Everyone gives it, everyone gets it! This has been known to all who have ever had an opinion about anything! Even more benign topics than politics or morality, such as pineapple on pizza, is it gross or tasty? Chocolate or vanilla? Dog lover or cat lover? The list goes on and on in our everyday lives we don’t even think of, nor truly care about if someone happens to have a different idea of what they like. Of course though, when the stakes are a little higher than “what’s for lunch?” disagreements get more heated! From gay rights, to religion, to racial issues, gender issues, foreign policy, etc…etc… issues that will affect countless people other than yourself, disputes on how to handle them provoke far more conflict.

Issues that both sides of the aisle can agree needed change, such as blatant racism, segregation, the oppression of women, intolerance for different lifestyles, religions, etc… that led to violence, threats and out and out bigotry, have been addressed and still are. I think we can all agree it was a good thing to stop segregation, lynch mobs, slavery etc… or stop treating wives and children as property, or letting women reap the rights and duties as citizens of this country too. Or to be more open minded to a changing society and learning about those who are different from ourselves. We’ve come along way from a century ago and many things I’ll admit I’m glad we can leave behind in the history books.

However, there comes a new issue with this newfound freedom many groups now enjoy alongside us: The pendulum swinging too far the other way! See, I don’t mean that in the sense they are too equal and should be put back in a state of disadvantage and inequality again, but in their right and just equality with the traditional “majority”, they feel in order to be our equal, they must become our superior! How is this?

Well, take the issue of criticism. It is true many minority groups feel that if a member of the majority group criticizes any aspect about them, this must mean that the criticizer wants to revoke their equality in this country and set them back a century! Now, in a way, I can get an understanding of why some may feel this way. If you genuinely feel that the group who gave you your equality is bitter and resentful and wants any excuse to find a way to revoke it, then yeah, I can understand that. Or if historically, that group had a voice and you didn’t, you might feel that when today, your former “oppressors” speak up and critique something, it can bring flash backs of that earlier time where you didn’t have a voice to respond.

Trouble is of course, just because you feel a certain way, doesn’t make it true! Just because something “feels” like past oppression, doesn’t mean it is. For one example, a brutally honest critique of a minority group doesn’t always mean that the person making the criticism does it out of hatred or bigotry for that race. It may sound very harsh and uncharitable to hear, but that person may have a valid point. If one says that for example, the Black community is disproportionately affected by crime and has a 75% illegitimacy rate, and this should change to build better communities and families, unless these assertions came out of thin air and are false, it is a valid criticism that needs to be addressed. Just because, say, the person noting this was White, doesn’t mean they say this out of ill will, bigotry and hatred for the black community, anymore than when fellow Black leaders such as Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell say it. No more “racist” than when someone in the Black community wishes to offer a criticism of White people and ask them to address something that they feel needs fixing, such as racial bias…

Or look at Native Americans. Reservations often have similar issues with crime and gangs. Child abuse and alcoholism are rife. So is poverty, and no, it’s not solely “the white man’s fault!”. Does bringing this up beyond blaming white people mean that person hates Indians? Not necessarily! You don’t need to be Native American to see the devastation alcoholism and poverty had affected many of their communities! Perhaps maybe, just maybe, the outsider who raised the issue genuinely wants to help and to do so, must bring it out into the open?

Every society has things that are good, and things that need to be looked at with a critical eye and addressed. Hiding one’s need for change behind labels such as “racist” and making excuses that only your group can ever critique your society when the issues at hand are plain for all to see, lets a blind eye be turned to pressing issues as of course no one likes being criticized and told they need change! If the only people who can criticize you are you, then how honest will you really be with yourself??? Outside 3rd parties help eliminate some internal bias or even just shortsightedness for things an insider may take for granted. An obvious fabrication and lie told about a group is not the same as a proven fact that happens to be unflattering being called out in the open by others. A criticism is not the same as slander!

A slightly different circumstance but related to the idea of being immune from any outside criticism is happening to the gay community. It’s now the law of the land gays have the same civil rights, including a legal marriage here in the United States. In fact, being gay is becoming more and more accepted and less stigmatized. I know plenty of gay people, who are just like you and me, have jobs, go to school, like the same things, and are probably among your friends, classmates, coworkers, your favorite celebrity, etc…  From even a few decades ago, the LGBT community has made immense strides in being socially accepted and are being represented exponentially in the media and in society.

However, this apparently is not enough. Despite all the acceptance as well as gaining the clear legal right they wanted to see happen nationwide, they now demand that no one can ever criticize or disagree with their lifestyle. Look, some people have religious objections to the gay lifestyle. Some find it distasteful in their personal opinion. There is still opposition to gay marriage. And yes, instances of threats and violence and bullying have affected the gay community. Thing is though, there is a vast difference between those who do actual violence and threats towards gay people, and those who in their private opinion, don’t embrace the idea of being gay for religious reasons or otherwise. Many of these people would never threaten a gay family, or do violence against them. Those that do are a very small minority who we can all agree are in the wrong regardless of their opinions!

No one is entitled to force people to like and embrace your choices in life. You have the right under federal law to be gay and to be free from threats and violence as much as any other citizen in this country. What you don’t have the right to however, is to make everyone embrace your choices or else be labeled a “bigot!” and demonized. I personally don’t mind gay people and nor does my family who would love me just as much if I were gay myself. What I do mind though, is the idea that any valid criticism of the gay community, or someone’s personal distaste for the gay lifestyle must be stamped out and compelled to agree with it in the name of “acceptance”. No, not everyone has to “accept” your choices in their personal opinions!

Still don’t understand? Take my own personal example. I’m an atheist, and a “minority” within the conservative community. Some of my fellow religious conservative peers say things about atheism and non-believers I can find too harsh and un-nuanced, such as the idea that my non-belief means I don’t have any real moral code based in anything real. Or that my life is unfulfilled and I must be angry and bitter. Now, I will argue against these assertions about my non-belief, but I will never demand religious people stop criticizing atheists to spare my “delicate feelings”! They have just as much right to their own opinion and criticisms about my lifestyle choice to be an atheist as a fellow atheist. Many religious people may find atheism distasteful, and that’s okay. The beauty of this country is we can all have our own opinions! Now, it crosses a line if they were to threaten me or openly discriminate against me, but again, criticism alone does NOT equal discrimination! I can be a non-believer in this country just as you can be gay, and we both have the legal right to be what we are. What more should we demand??? Anything beyond that to me smacks of entitlement!

To sum all this up in general for everyone, no one is immune from criticism, nor is entitled to be! As a conservative as well, don’t I and many of my fellow patriots know it! 😉 We don’t demand the Left never criticize us. Just don’t threaten us and our families, bar us from jobs, and ostracize us from society. Nor do we seek to stifle the voices of minorities, women, gays, etc… as in the past. We just want to still let our voices be heard alongside yours now. We do want equality for all in this country. But equality means we all can be equally criticized as well as equally heard! And don’t forget of course, of you want to be free from criticism, then don’t feel entitled to hurl it at others, like straight, white cisgendered males for instance! 🙂

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