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Posted by: Helen Philpot | April 28, 2015

A Message to Whitey

Margaret – I had assumed if I wrote again, it would mostly likely be about Hillary.  But watching all this violence in Baltimore unfolding on the television moves me to write this instead.  Normally I would tell you that when it comes to racial issues, an old white woman from Georgia probably should keep her mouth shut and her opinion to herself.  In fact, that’s probably a good idea for white people everywhere because we really probably will just say a whole lot of stupid if we open our mouths right now.  But you know me, I have never known when to just shut up…

HERE IS MY WHITE STORY:

About 60 years ago my husband and I scraped together every penny we had to buy a small but lovely home in a safe neighborhood with good schools.  Our children had a lovely childhood.  They got a good education and always knew that going to college was an achievable goal.  The worst thing that ever happened in our neighborhood was a bad divorce or a scandalous affair.  Murders and robberies happened across town.  And when that happened we spoke of it in hushed tones as we smoked fancy cigarettes and drank iced tea on the back porch.   Our children all graduated from college, married and had families of their own. Our grandchildren are repeating the cycle and we even have some great-grandchildren who will continue to do well long after I am dead and gone.

HERE COULD HAVE BEEN MY STORY IF I WAS A BLACK WOMAN:

About 60 years ago my husband and I would have tried to scrape together enough money to buy a small but lovely home in a safe neighborhood with good schools.  Unfortunately the banks would not approve a mortgage for us and the neighborhood we wanted was restricted anyway.  Our children would never truly feel the American dream was about them.  The schools they attended would be poorly funded and under-achieving in every way.  As hard as I tried to hide it from them, they would know that a life of crime, drugs and violence was a real possibility and it probably would pay better than any job they could get.  Fearing authority would come more easily than trusting it.  Some of them might overcome the odds but more than likely they would repeat a life of near poverty and almost but not quites…  College would be possible but nearly twice as many of their white friends would see that happen rather than their black friends.   They would have been called the n-word in various forms many times in their life and they would know that 1 in every 15 African American men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.  When my family eventually celebrated the election of the first black President… we would have done so knowing he might be the last for many years to come.   My grandchildren and great-grandchildren might fare slightly better, but only slightly and only if they were very lucky.

Having written this, I know I should probably erase and just turn off this computer.  But you know me… This Whitey really doesn’t fully understand what is happening in Baltimore.  What I have written here is not meant as an excuse for the violence, but it certainly is a reason to look beyond the violence and try to see the truths behind it.

I know there is no excuse for violence and that it won’t solve the problem.  I know that you don’t put out the fire in your kitchen by starting one in your living room.   But I also know I have never known and might never know someone in a gang.  And I personally will probably never know anyone who has been shot at or killed by a bullet outside of a war zone.  My life is very sheltered and my opinion is, therefore, very narrow.

The images I see on television don’t even remotely relate to my reality. I am old but not so old that this is posthumous but definitely post-humorous. Yes.  I really should have just kept my opinion to myself.  Unfortunately, a 24-hour never-ending news cycle made that very, very hard to do.  I mean it… Really.

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Responses

  1. HI, Carol – I just received Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book from Amazon yesterday, so I’m right with you. (Welcome to the “party,” BTW! You’ll like it here…)

    In my opinion, there was only one “blonde bimbo” in the hall at last night’s debate, and he was standing on the stage. Just saw on the Washington Post’s site his follow-up “remarks” concerning Megyn Kelley. I am certainly no “fan” of Ms. Kelley’s, but so many of this guy’s remarks wouldn’t be tolerated in a competent preschool – and, for the life of me, I cannot comprehend why a supposedly “respectable” publication, like WaPo, keeps giving them HEADLINES! Their complicity just fuels his overwhelming and repulsive narcissism… They should be ashamed of themselves.

    Gato

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  2. I’m late to this “party” and have not read all the comments so hopefully, what I offer is not a duplicate. I too am old…grew up in a segregated neighborhood, but was quite aware, fearful of, yet empathic toward what occurred “across town” (Cleveland, Oh). I’m heartsick that Americans of color continue to suffer…with progress coming achingly slowly. I respond here to offer and highly recommend this small but powerful little book:
    Between the World and Me: Ta-Nehisi Coates …
    Excellent. I hope you’ll agree.

    Like

  3. Just catching up…
    .
    .
    .
    What 16 Months of Police Killings in the U.S. Looks Like
    .
    via VOCATIV
    .

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  4. Oh ladies, I do so love your blog. I am a woman a little younger then you, I’m 68, but I too only know a little of the hardships of people of color. The few friends of color, more acquaintances then friends, that I have had over the years did not speak a lot of what their lives were like away from the job or how ever else I knew them. I do know that my father, a wonderful open minded man with so much empathy for his fellow man, spoke of how men of color had been treated in the Second World War and how when he came home to accolades and a fine job they were still treated like the scourge of the earth even when so many had lost their lives or came home broken. I feel so fortunate to have grown up with the parents I had because they not only taught me but showed me how to feel empathy for people (of any color or race), animals and nature. I am far from perfect but I know that I work very hard at being open minded and have tried to not wear rose colored glasses and think that everything in the U.S. today is alright because it’s not. We have way too many religious zealots, crooked money grubbing politicians and bigots. Do I know how to fix it? No but if people would get off their duffs and show up at the polls to vote we might have a chance at working it out, maybe. Thanks again ladies and keep posting you very welcome wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Helen, I’m so glad to know you’re not giving up in spite of all the bs going on. Please, please, write about Hillary. America needs to hear your voice of common sense. I’ m sure you’ll get the pro and cons clearer than any of the politico- atlantic-huff-salon-slate-beast wiseguys.
    Thanks for being with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Helen! Appreciate your courage in writing about white privilege. It is very real although not many people like to acknowledge it, let alone admit to themselves they are benefiting from it. Hats off to you once again.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mageen? it seems there was a time gap between Helen’s letter and the floods in texas. no? anyway, I am amazed that at no time did you see on your TV what was happening in Baltimore.

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  8. Helen, we here are seeing nothing on the tV except flood waters in Texas washing everyone and everything away. Hope you are high and dry like Margaret!

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  9. I liked your post. I can’t quite get it together to be as articulate as many of the other commenters. I am so impressed that you can empathize from a position of sheltered life. God bless you.

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  10. I would add two things to what you say Mageen. One is a MASH program wherein a racist needed blood. While he was still unconscious they ‘painted’ him with iodine which darkened his skin. That was interesting. The other is…John Dunne’s “ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee” and his “no man is an island…”. The latter are some of things I pounded into my kids’ and grandkids’ heads…and there’s the route problem…no one is born a racist or anti anything.

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  11. There is a young lady who writes a column for the Style section of the Washington Post who recently did her piece on explaining racism to white people. Her biggest point was that you could damn near die of exhaustion trying to do that due to the “Yes, but . . .” responses. Her article was clear as a bell on what drove the situation in the West End of Baltimore and pretty much was twin to Helen’s. She got some good mail but the bad mail was nauseating. One other thing. Racism is usually just a cover for generalized hate. The nauseating responders to her article can skip from hating people based on skin color to hating people based on whatever else they think they can get away with. But karma has the darnedest way of getting around to bite a body in the butt. Come the day some all-out hater is at death’s door in a hospital and is given a chance to beat the grim reaper because of a certain doctor’s fantastic skills and that doctor turns out to be somebody they would usually hate, the choice they would have to make could be just fascinating!

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  12. COblu…you are channeling me…confess…you say precisely what I think. you’re a very smart person. 😉

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  13. yes, Gato…the ‘logic’ you refer to is called cognitive dissonance. We buffet pick to create the reason for our actions. I think the stars and moons must be amiss…so many things gang aglee lately…grandson in brand new car had an accident; daughter’s office computer with insurance and patient files went down; I’m struggling with a needlepoint piece I’m doing now…have taken it apart 4 times; we had no rain, now it won’t stop and all the new pepper seedlings are at peril and a friend’s son’s diabetes is roaring dangerously. too many things. so maybe I should go take a nap to rest up for tonight’s hockey game…n.y. rangers vs. tampa bay lightning. those games exhaust me.;-)

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  14. Helen, as usual you are very astute. I am sure that a majority of us who have chosen to comment on this topic have been, like you, insulated. We see and have seen things happening around us that are horrific, but we have never lived it. By 2015, we should have done a better job of putting away prejudices. We should have a better understanding of our history and the history of the world so we could work together to make things better, not worse. Clearly, in 2015, we seem to have gotten worse in our hate and fear mongering and nothing has changed.

    Thanks to the idiot Palin erupting on the scene in 2007 as a VEE PEE candidate, giving all the crazies permission to come out from under their rocks and spew their lies and hate, we have taken a million steps backwards in respect for each other ……freedom of speech, blah, blah. With freedoms come responsibility, but there is still not a sense of responsibility from any of “them”. Now I am not going to give her all the credit because then she would think she was important. She was a fool, but a dangerous one and even though she is still speaking with incredible stupidity, there are those who listen and buy her crap.

    The hate and fear mongering from that bunch at Fox News, Limbaugh and his ilk, the corrupt Supreme Court Justices and the money coming from David and Charles Koch will lead to the destruction of our country and the re-forming of a country we will find quite horrible. Their desire is to keep the 99% poor, afraid and susceptible to anything they want. The Tea Party, because there is no long a Republican Party, wants a one-party system and the Koch brothers want to control all the politicians. They have bought and paid for every “republican” in every position in every state in this country and in our US government. They love having racial conflicts like the ones in Baltimore, Missouri, Florida, you name it, they want it.

    “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear” from the musical South Pacific is still extremely pertinent to us today. If all our children learn about in school is negative and narrow, if all we teach them as parents, grandparent and even great grandparents is hate and fear-mongering then we are contributing to what will destroy our country. Seriously, turn off that damn Limbaugh when your children are in the car, on second thought, don’t listen to him, he is not funny. Turn off Fox News ——-mine is parental controlled from our TV lineup. Request that TVs in restaurants you frequent use CNN (they are bad enough) and not Fox. It is, ultimately, our job to help our children understand the world in which they live, to broaden their horizons not narrow them, to teach empathy and to quit teaching them to first see and judge based on “color”. Anger breeds anger, fear breeds fear, hate breeds hate. We can not be as stupid as we seem right now. Think for yourselves, judge for yourselves based not on what someone spoon feeds you, but on what you know is right…………..just do it.

    COblu

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  15. Hi, Penny P – That does seem weird, doesn’t it? It’s weird if you take the position that we humans make our decisions based on rational thought – but not so strange if you believe, as I’ve come to, that we make our choices based 90% on emotions (fear, admiration, anger, desire, hope, whatever) and, AFTER we’ve made them, tack on about 10% “rational thinking” to justify what we’ve just decided.

    In a society where everyone is confident that they’ll have “enough” of life’s essentials, and so will their neighbors, making a decision “in the common good” is a no-brainer. Yes; there will be universal health care, high-quality public transportation, good schools, work for all who want it, and support for those who can’t quite manage through no fault of their own.

    HOWEVER, we are far from that society here, and the separation has been absolutely deliberate. We still have that “every man for himself” attitude, from our beginnings when things really WERE sparse, and living was hard. And, as some get more and more (many obscenely “more,” IMHO), it behooves them to promote that attitude relentlessly, both to justify their own greed AND to keep people from banding together for their mutual benefit. (The position that banning union membership is some kind of “right to work” action is one of the most repulsive attempts at that.) When everybody is fearful and nearly without hope, they will easily respond to the idea that some “other” is the cause of all their problems – blacks, immigrants, women, LGBTQs, “moochers,” liberals, godless heathens, whatever. It makes people feel that (1) it’s not their fault, and (2) grateful that at least they themselves are not black, an immigrant, a woman, LGBT or Q, a “moocher,” a liberal, or a godless heathen!

    And, as long as people are relentlessly told that the “problem” is “those people,” they won’t stop to realize that the REAL source of their misery is a capitalist system that has totally run away with this democracy, and has managed to rig the system over and over again to keep that happening. The captains of industry, I think, have come to sincerely believe that they really ARE the “job creators,” and that they really ARE “too big to fail.” A democracy is in grave peril when “the system” allows two individuals to spend a BILLION DOLLARS on an “ELECTION”!

    Capitalism, and “entrepreneurship,” are not intrinsically evil, or anything remotely like that. But ANY system totally without appropriate checks and controls is likely to become a grotesque, monstrous, dangerous and potentially fatally destructive version of itself. Rushing water channeled through a system of dams and controls is a wonderful thing. Rushing water uncontrolled destroys everything in its path.

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  16. What I understand least…actually cannot understand at all…is that the Repuglicans get elected…and mostly by the very people they hurt the most! Ben Carson wins this week’s award for stupid. He wants to immediately revoke citizenship for…get this…illegal aliens caught voting. I cannot conceive how women, latinos, lgbt people, African americans can support the Repuglicans. Really? Why not just fall on your sword!

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  17. Hey, I’m a new blogger and big fan of your work, I’d love it if you could please check out my work and give me some feedback.

    Thank you, Emma 🙂

    https://thegirlwhocantsitstill.wordpress.com

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  18. Gato et al, cannot personally get over the vision of Rubio as a Presidential wannabe. Well, to being with, could never get over the vision of him as a U.S. Senator. He always reminded me more of my paperboy than anything else. Rubio worked like a team of dogs on the Senate bill a few years ago on immigration reform and then spent the rest of his time literally shooting it down. This boy doesn’t know if he’s coming or going so it is likely he will run into himself some day and wonder who the bleep hit him. Right now it looks as if there will be more Repug Presidential wannabes on stage than people in the audience at the so-called debates that will ensue. Now, that’s a picture that will go around the world really fast!

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  19. Hey, Mageen –

    Thanks for the link! Great article… May I also HIGHLY recommend another piece on the same link: Adam Gopnik’s “The Case Against Trains.” Absolutely brilliant, IMHO.

    And then… There’s the Jebster’s recent suggestion that the Apple Watch will soon make universal health care unnecessary, because WE will be able “to make our own health care decisions.” (“Let me see what my watch suggests I do about this compound leg fracture, and then I’LL decide…”)

    And the “three pillars” of the newly-presented “Rubio Doctrine,” which says, in essence, “America should increase it’s military might in order to make the world ‘safe for American enterprise.'” At least he’s up front about it, and not making all those sweet little statements about spreading “democracy” and “freedom.” HELL, NO! He’s calling it like it is: YOU LET US GET OUR STUFF TO YOUR COUNTRY AND SELL IT THERE, OR WE’RE GOING TO BLOW YOU TO KINGDOM COME. Oh, and we’re also going to have “moral clarity” about our “core values,” AND “advance the rights of oppressed minorities.” Some people consider, for example, Americans living below the poverty line, and members of the LGBTQ community, to be “oppressed minorities,” so how will advancing our “core values,” such as “one man/one woman,” or “no nation of moochers” going to work together with “advancing” THEIR rights…? Maybe he’ll get to that part later. Whaddya think…?

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  20. you’re right mageen…thank you

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  21. Penny, here is a link to an article in The Economist, a very reputable periodical. I only wish this was really and truly and only a satire:http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/scientists-earth-endangered-by-new-strain-of-fact-resistant-humans

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  22. I am afraid we will never be the same…maybe we never were. My ‘children’ opened my eyes early on…they are now 64, 61 and 59…we were naïve until Viet Nam, I think. Anyway, these here yeewwwnited states ain’t, thanks to those who would keep division and fear going and thanks to those who are bound (if by anyone) to Faux news and the daily yellow rag wherever one may be. There are so many who ‘hear’ but never read more than one source even tho a gazillion newspapers are available online, who only watch fox, who don’t go beyond any of that…I talk my face off every op I get. siiggghhh

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  23. Gato, as of 25 years ago – a quarter of a century – there was technology in existence that would make rail traffic way much safer and nothing was ever done about it. Seven years ago Amtrak was given the $$ to install certain safety devices that could have saved 188 but they are still not in place. The old refrain “it takes time to do all this” no longer washes. Also, the old partisan claim that Amtrak doesn’t know what to do with the money and therefore should be privatized really doesn’t wash either. Privatization, just like the existing Alaskan pipeline? The one that leaks so much entire crews are kept busy all year just to put their fingers in the dikes? Not just more must be done but better!

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  24. I hear ya, Penny! There are actually a lot of people in D.C. who use that train, namely all the congress critters who represent any part of the state of New York and northernmost New Jersey. Same for Delaware. As for Pennsylvania, there is a commuter train that runs on a different track. Also, if you are headed to New England you just might take 188 to a transfer point. Congressman Steve Israel was having damn near a total meltdown on TV yesterday morning, saying much of what you said. He got stone faced by a congress critter from Idaho who has probably never been on a train in his life or had to to depend on one on a weekly basis to come and go. I disagree with those who claim Israel was using the train wreck politically. I believe he had a righteous rant and the dope from Idaho is just that. You are right about the Republicans being totally stone deaf on what they did to the transportation bill and too many other things they have “handled”. This all takes me back to the days after 911 when I encountered people in person or on the phone who just didn’t understand that our country had been attacked. They thought it was just something that happened to the liberal northeast part of the country and had neither sympathy nor empathy. Heretofore I had thought that this country was the “United” States. No way. It seems everything is still damn regional and even nitty gritty local. As for the FBI, under J. Edgar they over-reached all in the name of fighting Communism. I am going to keep my fingers crossed that we can all come out of this in better shape than when we went in.

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  25. Yeah, Penny P – “Representatives of the people”… Pshaw! Guess that’s why they had to push for corporations to be “people,” so they could be “honest” about who they represent!

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  26. Gato: re the Amtrak situation…why would congress spend money on a train none of them ever take (w/the exception of one PA rep[Dem]) when they could just get more from really rich people to do other things with the money? Like spending it on constantly trying to undo the ACA. argh. Brain dead? Well, prolly not…but money avaricious, yes. As for the XL pipeline…same t’ing, mon…money—yes, the govt agencies too. No wonder our youngsters are so disaffected, eh? We have to get everyone out to vote. We hired ’em, we can fire ’em. VOTE

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  27. Okey, dokey… I don’t exactly know to which thread, line, cobweb, or whatever it’s called, I am responding, because I just have to electronically SCREAM here about a number of things…

    (1) Regarding that godawful Amtrak crash: That “positive train control” thing would have been in place, except for the fact that CONGRESS WOULD NOT GRANT THE FUNDS TO HELP PAY FOR IT.

    (2) Also regarding the Amtrak crash: Congress, the morning after the tragedy, cut funds to Amtrak even further. Are these people effing brain dead? There are dead people! They died, at least possibly in part, because of lack of funding for infrastructure. Is there any more brazen example of people who have private limos not giving a good goddam about people who take trains?

    (3) Last time regarding the Amtrak crash: The engineer most likely “fell asleep,” or blacked out. I suffered from major insomnia for several months, about a year ago. I “fell asleep” while driving my car more than once. Once I woke up moving along a diagonal yellow line section of an upcoming left turn lane, just about to head into oncoming traffic. i had no idea that I had “fallen asleep.” I woke up just in time. Did I remember anything that led to that? I did not…

    (4) Entirely different subject: It’s been publicized that the FBI – “our” FBI – has been meeting with TransCanada execs to “help” them identify, and possibly subdue, “environmental terrorists ” who have demonstrated in opposition to the proposed XL pipeline. GREAT, huh? One of our government agencies has been (allegedly) meeting with execs of a foreign-held corporation, to reassure them that their yet unbuilt thing will be “protected” by us, with our tax dollars. GOVERNMENT AGENCY MAKING DEALS WITH A CORPORATION for anything…??!! Bad enough if they do this with US-based corporations, but with a foreign one…? (And I do love Canada, in general.) Who among us has said this was cool? This should NEVER happen, ever.

    There… That’s my rant for this evening!

    Gato

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  28. well said gato…as usual

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  29. Hi, Penny, and others who’ve remarked on this particular thread – I don’t even know how it can be called a “standard” of any kind when someone can be “detained” JUST FOR WALKING DOWN THE STREET IN BAGGY PANTS AND A HOODIE… Or, as happened recently, for “making eye contact” with a LEO, and then running away… These individuals are stopped – or sometimes shot and killed – not for anything they’ve done, but because of someone else’s FEAR.

    Every time the NRA, and the Second Amendment “defenders,” exhort everybody to own a gun because the “world is a dangerous place,” everyone knows EXACTLY who they consider “threatening.” “Stand your ground” is an absolute abomination, IMHO – literally license to kill because of your own personal feelings, no matter what their basis. Is there any other law even remotely like that? In drug-related crimes, where the perpetrator is stoned, or high, or drunk, the seriousness of the crime is ENHANCED by that fact, not explained away or excused. Nobody is granted leniency because he or she was wasted (even though they might give it a try). Why on earth do so many States now sanction the “I was scared” justification…?

    And now, of course, more and more officers are being shot because citizens are afraid of THEM… Have any of those individuals gotten off for the same reason? I don’t think so.

    Promoting fear and division, and making sure everybody has a weapon, is a foolproof recipe for societal destruction, whether through absolute chaos and anarchy, and/or martial law. Hard to know which we’ll achieve first.

    Gato

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  30. Margaret, please, please, please write about your thoughts about the most recent instance of Texas paranoia. I’m talking about the Texas governor sending in the Texas state national guard to oversee US military exercises. This is a new low for the state of Texas.

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  31. It is only not true that African americans are held to a higher standard, but it is proven in the way they are treated when arrested…which they are far more often than whites. What does prevail is the immediate assumption of guilt for non whites that doesn’t exist for whites. Well, i’ll give you this…first time I ever heard that non whites were held to a higher standard…original anyway.

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  32. Mz Linda, what Helen is talking about is this: there is law and there is justice and there are times when they don’t know what each other looks like. It is absolutely true that black people are held to a higher standard by the law and can face a draconian judgement for something that a white person often gets probation. That is the absolute truth. If you can heal and bind up such a wound, let us know.

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  33. I’ve been to Baltimore, more than a few times, and you are right…parts of Baltimore are absolutely delightful; parts of it…not so much. But I think that’s true of almost anywhere in the world. The problem with the media is that ‘news’ is no longer ‘news’. It has become a way to sell something else…whether it’s a political point of view or sizzle to get a larger audience in order to sell….
    At any rate, news has been lost. It is no longer the traditional and factual what, where, when, who, why and how. It is now commentary, slanted and often not at all accurate.
    I have been where the ‘news’ was ‘reported’ and wondered if the ‘reporters’ were at the same place at the same time as I. For that reason I read a couple of newspapers (online) plus the local one, and listen to different radio stations (I’m a radio person) during the day.

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  34. I understand completely.

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  35. I live in Baltimore, and not the suburbs claiming I do, I live in the City of Baltimore. I can assure you that last Monday night was bad, it was really bad. However, with that being said, I was receiving input from all of my out of town folks about what was being portrayed on their news, and most of it was a loop of the bad 5 minutes of an otherwise ok day. The media perpetuated the problems by sitting in the streets at 10 pm just ‘waiting for something to happen’ when curfew hit. I felt that the national media should have had to adhere to the curfew, just as the tourists did. Just like the bar and restaurant owners that lost a lot of money. And all of the other businesses that had to close early so their workers didn’t get arrested going home from work after 10pm. The revenue lost from our baseball team having to leave town for the same reason, therefore vendors and stadium workers lost revenue. The same idiot media members who aided in keeping our city on curfew hoping something ‘reportable’ and bad would happen should come back for a visit and spend some money in our fine City. CVS has lost a lot, however, are rebuilding their stores because they don’t wish to punish their workers or further exacerbate a pharmacy desert that exists in some neighborhoods.

    This is a beautiful patchwork city. Like most cities in America, it is woven of many different areas of many different socio-economic make-up that shows a diversity that is quite amazing. We have questionable leadership, as a lot of other cities, and have folks in power that seem to be worried more about their own interest than the folks they claim to represent. However, we have some that do care, and care so much they were walking the streets finding out what can be done. Unfortunately, the cameras wanted to be trained on one street corner of a city comprised of many street corners. Street corners where people were helping each other out, and do on a regular basis. Street corners where people were thanking fire fighters and law enforcement. The national guard members that were here, live in this state. Some work in the very city they were protecting. Everyone felt like they had everything to lose, and luckily, we all quickly snapped to attention, and only suffered one truly bad night instead of allowing it to continue endlessly. This isn’t due to any political leader, or national media being in town. It’s because Baltimore truly is Charm City, and we care about what happens here and want so much for the proper thing to be done. We all send our children to the same schools, and drive the same streets, and shop in the same stores. None of us want to experience that again. Not where we live. Baltimore was misrepresented repeatedly by the National Media after Monday night’s mayhem. That is the way of the Media unfortunately, and they don’t care about the irreparable damage they do to the reputation of a City that relies on tourism.

    Baltimore is Beautiful. Baltimore People are Beautiful. Baltimore Spirit is Beautiful. Baltimore is not what CNN or FoxNews portrays. Baltimore is Charm City, and I love my City.

    Kindly,
    Adiena Britt

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  36. Dear Helen, “I had assumed if I wrote again, it would mostly likely be about Hillary” — ?? What do you mean, “IF I wrote again”? You should be writing every day, and it doesn’t have to be about matters of great import. The way you write, I’d be as happy to read about your neighbors or your town or what you had for lunch. You manage to tie it all in to current events anyway. Please, write more, and more often!

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  37. Thank you. As usual, honest and to the point. Love your messages and this one to “Whitey” is long overdue.

    Vicky Olson Ft Mill, SC

    >

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  38. o,Gato…as usual you have succinctly and appropriately summarized what I’ve been trying to say. yes, yes, and yes…that is exactly what I meant. thank you. hope your glitches are all smoothed over by now.

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  39. Hi, Penny, and fellow Porch Sitters!

    Been pretty swamped dealing with some heavy-duty family affairs, so haven’t been on scene much… But glad so many of you have been! (This is an amazing place.)

    It strikes me that the supposed sign at the gate to Hell reads, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” Notice that it’s the loss of HOPE that leads to Hell, and I think, Penny, that’s what you’re saying. Why do those kids go out and throw things and burn things? THEY’VE GOT NOTHING TO LOSE! Our society has already done so much to make sure that they have almost nothing, including hope… Feeding them lunch at school is deemed a “handout;” even funding their schools is described as a “waste of taxpayer money.” The minimum wage is ridiculously low. Corporations answer only to their stockholders, who demand ever and ever more “profit.” Their ability even to vote – the most basic right for citizens of an alleged “democracy” – is challenged at every turn. What the hell else should we expect…?

    And were there other mothers out there whacking their kids? According to the now-famous Mom, there certainly were. And it probably cost many of them a day’s wages, the risk of leaving other children home alone, and god knows what else. Those of us living in white bread suburbia just don’t have a clue the obstacles these women have to overcome, every single day…

    And let’s not forget the pernicious influence of the good ol’ NRA, and the “Second Amendment” fanatics. In order to convince people they need guns, you’ve got to convince them that they’ve got dangerous “enemies,” make sure they’re scared s**tless most of the time, and assure them they have every RIGHT to shoot anyone who scares them. This filters into the law enforcement system, too, of course. LEOs are human beings, like the rest of us, and their training often isn’t what it should be. (ONE untrained and/or paranoid LEO with a loaded gun is one too many…) Ten or so years ago, if a police officer saw a twelve-year-old with what appeared to be a gun, he/she would assume it was a toy. (Hell, we all had one of those “pearl-handled” cowboy cap pistols, didn’t we?) NOW, the officer can just as easily assume it’s real, thanks to the NRA’s marketing of cute little pink rifles for little girls or “realistic” AK47s, and their insisting that every child has the “right” to learn to shoot. Convincing everyone that they “should” have a gun is a TERRIBLE idea, especially when you’re simultaneously working as hard as possible to make the majority of the society poor, hopeless, and paranoid… IMHO, the gun factor is ignored far too often. Racism + poverty + handguns = disaster.

    And as long as people are told that the black or brown kid in the hoodie, or the gay couple who wants to marry, or even “The Government,” is the Dangerous Enemy, they will not be so likely to notice that it’s the plutocrat control and profit “gangs” that are really ripping them off and making their lives a living hell.

    Gato

    Liked by 2 people

  40. yeh…it is now, not 60 years ago…however…60 years ago leads to now and now leads to 60 years hence and those who choose to throw away history are absolutely going to repeat it. so…we need to learn from yesterday, to correct the errors, to do better. as a member of a minority I have felt the sting of bigots…but when I walk in to apply for a job, my minority membership isn’t obvious…I can ‘pass’. that’s an opportunity people of color do not have. should that be? no, no, no…so now we need to DO something about it. that’s my whole point

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  41. mz. linda: ok, I totally agree with you. apparently I didn’t make myself clear. my grandparents came to this country poor, without English, without skills. they had a history as victims of bigotry. they (especially my grandfather) learned English, at least enough to be able to communicate. they worked at everything and anything they could find, while overseeing six children. of those six children, all of whom raised American families and were self sufficient, every one raised their kids who went to college, etc. they did it because they wanted more and better for their family. they did it conscientiously, within the law and with honor. there were no major impediments to achievement. yes, standards must be the same for everyone, yes, a broken law requires payment. I agree. what i’m trying to say is that…when your history is dismal and your future looks just as dismal; when the only work you can find is minimum wage and it doesn’t look like your kids can manage any better…discouragement and anger and all that goes with that can surely dampen the will to fight 24/7. the fact is we saw only one mother out there whomping her kid and herding him home. were there others? probably. were there more than one family who kept their kids at home? i’m sure. it has been much tougher for those families to satisfy their needs than for you or me. that’s simple fact. and its wrong. let’s hope that these episodes over the last couple of years will become a turning point.

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  42. My sincere condolences to Greytdog’s family

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  43. Please keep open opening your mouth. It’s your sensitivity and experience in life that helps some others see through your eyes to clarity.

    Your viewpoint expresses what I have seen happen to black children I love, even though we live in a very mixed suburb. Black kids don’t get hired for the same jobs that the white high school kids do. The message starts getting to them at a very young age. I’ve never seen a black pizza driver, deli driver or dairy queen worker in my suburb of Detroit. The message comes through even here….they start out less than.

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  44. Seriously? I’m really tired of these types of excuses for bad behavior! Isn’t the Democratic slogan, “Lean Forward?” Then why keep quoting from 60 years ago!!

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  45. Helen, thanks again for your thoughtful, experienced observations. I commented earlier, but thought you might appreciate the attached picking up on your thoughts and playing off Paul McCartney’s song “Blackbird.” Here is a link: https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/blackbird-singing-in-the-dead-of-night/

    I enjoy your opinions and musings greatly. All the best, BTG

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  46. oh dear. sorry about all the spellos last go round…
    hey Auntie Jean!!!good to see you here!!!

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  47. MzLinda- excuses for black people? Pfft!
    Read this and then say that , please

    http://www.timwise.org/2015/04/how-racism-explains-americas-class-divide-and-culture-of-economic-cruelty-an-excerpt-from-under-the-affluence/

    And read Martha Kiley’s comment, please. Different way of looking at the important bits and pieces which explainas more than the shame the poor black routine so prevalent in this country of ours, the poor Native in my state …

    beulahmo- that set of remarks about tidying up? Really, really imporatnt!!!
    Mty beloved nephew was murdered in a drive-by in southern California a few years ago.
    I was astonished and disgusted with remarks in the local paper there. Granted, Alaska is a world away , but really? Blaming him for his own death? He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and it was his fault? Apparently so- according to a buncha folks who neede to feel they would be safe from ever being gunned down on a random street… disgusting. sick, real people saying real stoopid stuff.

    George, George, George… greyt is yoost fine, hon.

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  48. Helen, thank you so much for your comments. You have an outlook that goes way beyond the scope of what your age is! And, I thank you for this! Your statement was the BEST!! Too bad we couldn’t make all ages read it! Thanks, again!

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  49. Sorry about that. Meant to say Greytdog passed away.

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  50. I believe that people live up to your expections or down to your expectations
    .
    My basic point is that discrimination happens to all people. Poor people are not exclusively black. Nor are all black people poor. And no one moans about how bad life is for the poor Asians or the poor Whites or the poor Hispanics. I understand how difficult life can be. (I’ve read “Slavery by another name” and it breaks my heart to know how badly generations of people were treated after the Civil war.) But we have to quit telling ‘people of color’ how bad their situation is–they already know that! we are continuing their victimization by not expecting more from all people. . There needs to be a change in the dialogue.–from continuing the victimization to raising our and their expectations–knowing that all people can be lifted up to a better life.

    I recently read “The 55 Essentials” by a teacher named Mr Clark. A white man teaching school in North Carolina and later in Harlem. ( and who now has an academy in georgia.)’ He expected specific behaviours from all his students, he spelled out what he expected and he got what he wanted–the students lived up to his expectations.

    I believe all people are equal–we were created that way. I wasn’t raised that way. My parents didn’t see color but the school system did–still segregated in early years of grade school. Then a lot of years with no minorities in my life. But I had the great pleasure and privilege to become a tour guide and had lots of contact with people from all over the world and from all economic backgrounds.. Amazing people, interesting people, all sorts of people. I continued on to become a tour bus driver and a inter city bus driver–And I learned that people live up to or down to your expectations. My expectations on the ‘inter city bus’ ride were pretty hi–and I usually got what I wanted. Again, interesting, amazing people.

    The Mother that went out into the riot to snatch her son back is a single mother of 6. she has a tough life–but she knows what is right and she doesn’t wallow in the ‘oh poor put upon minorities’ mind set. She stood up for what is right–And her children will be the better for it.

    Thanks for your comments Ms Penny Abrams

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  51. idapearl??? I believe that stupid ruling of no aid if the fathers are present was before Clinton…and it is stupid, I agree.

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  52. I am at least as old as Helen…is my given name…and I have already chained myself to a fence, dragged through my neighborhood with petitions, faced down the carter’s union at town hall…i’m too old and tired to do those things again…also in a wheelchair…but i’ll cheer you on, I’ll help you organize and i’ll support you in your efforts…clog the streets people, take over, make demands and VOTE. we hired em we can fire em.

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  53. Mz Linda…I understand well what you are saying. You are absolutely correct…well would be correct…IF there weren’t a dismal history for the minorities. Dismal because no matter what a (black) person did…he was black first, lesser than white, deprived of what he earned, deprived of many things. That’s the history. Think about one youngster, who knows that gramma and grampa and mom and dad and big brother all worked very hard…at minimum wage which didn’t feel them all and left them living in ghettos. The discouragement alone (never mind the grinding poverty) is enough to thwart good intentions. Imagine the mom who works all day outside of the home, comes home to marketing, laundry, cooking dinner, making sure the kids are clean; when does she have time to sit with them doing homework? when does she have time to have talks with them? two full time jobs. I am not saying that any criminal act, no matter how petty, is ok or acceptable. I am saying that society must take on a stronger position to help those who need it. Minimum wage must be increased to, at least, $15; schools must teach daily life skills and guide non academic kids into programs that will teach them a vocation…things like that. Lol, of course I have all the solutions…right? just not the means to make them happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. As a member of a minority (Jewish) I know how it feels to be judged negatively because of who I am…not what I do etc. Anti-Semitism is on the rise (again) so I can feel some of the panic/discouragement/loss of hope that the black community must feel. I am opposed to violence of any kind. I don’t even step on bugs. However I can understand the “bucket-I’m-not-getting-anywhere-anyway” feeling. (thanks to the president for the use of bucket) I still stand by…and insist…that education is the nearest thing to a panacea there is. Education, including daily life skills and reading daily newspaperS, for ALL. Equal education. Not necessarily college, not everyone is meant for academia nor would they be happy there, white, black, yellow, red, green…I mean all. Surely however we can give our kids (also) vocational training so when they are 18-ish they have a way to earn their living, satisfy their needs and have some personal integrity as productive people. When your whole history has been one of poverty and dead-ends, and you can see no other future, there is no other way to go but down. We need to change that…education can change that…education can give the now generation a way up and out.

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  55. Helen, you of all people should never keep your opinion to yourself. Just know that it wasn’t the protesters that started the violence. The cops deliberately instigated it by stopping school buses and pulling the kids off to harass. them. They have a ton of witnesses and some phone video tapes. Of course the cops will never be held accountable, but Karma will take care of them. It always does.

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  56. Oh, Margaret and Helen and the grandson who writes this, I love you people. I always look forward to seeing your newsletter show up. I was raised white bread all the way in middle class America, but by a father who practiced social justice and taught me that, indeed, all men (and women) are created equal, with rights. Even though I fought the cause, I always knew I lived in a bubble, never able to understand the horror of being Black in America. It is only a matter of time when an oppressed people reach their breaking point. Shame on us, Whiteys, for not seeing that this breaking point was coming and do something about it (me included).

    Liked by 1 person

  57. Dear, dear Helen,

    Soooooooo great to read your new post. Also those of some of our old pals in the “Congenial Gang”.

    Anybody else old enough to remember the ” Watts Riots” ? We happened to be living in SOCAL at the time. Scary. I was often driving on surface streets across LA through parts of Watts – – a young woman alone with two preschool kids in the back seat. Not a lot of free-ways then. But lots of Mario
    Andretti Wannabes, then as now. That was scary too!

    Keep up the dialogues. Maybe ….. in time people will “get it”.

    Auntie Jean

    Uh, I answer to “Jean”, occasionally “damn it, Jean!”, “Mom, Grandma, Mrs. _____, and Hey Lady!!!”

    P. S. Hubby and I just celebrated our 62nd anniversary of marital blitz!

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Franklin George- that’s Greytdog and she’s fine. Was a stoopid joke 3 years ago, stoopider now that so many here don’t know her. Jeez.

    “labeling all people of color with the same brush would allow people of color to think all white people are Ted Bundy, Jim Jones, David Duke, Timothy McVeigh…”

    Jane- that is one of the most important thing said here today.
    Whoever the rioters are , they are not the whole of the black community, nor are they even the majority.
    This damn “them” routine obscures the complexity of the problems, issues, and peoples themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. NO! You really should not keep your opinion to yourself because, like the add campaign on violence against women (It’s On US), it is up to people like you and me to stand up and SHOUT against the social injustices that our minority neighbors have to put up with! Things won’t change until OUR segment of this society makes up its collective mind to stop this cycle. We didn’t start it but it IS up to us to finish it.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. I am sorry to report that Greydog passed away last night.

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  61. Glad to read you again, Helen! And it’s wonderful to see so many old friends here!

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  62. I am a lifelong democrat, liberal/progressive, BUT you can put PART of the blame on the black men not being present right in Bill Clinton’s lap… Remember Welfare reform? The RULE is no woman can receive ANY government assistance if the father of her children is living in the home. That’s one of the reasons so many of them are not present. If a man is living in the home, she loses rental assistance, food stamps, utility assistance, aid to families with dependent children and child care.

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  63. Mz Linda is an idiot

    Honey, when you are poor and both parents have to work two jobs life isn’t so easy especially when those jobs still leave you below the poverty line because minimum wage is a joke . And poverty is at the core of this. And Helen beautifully describes why poverty unfairly targets people of color who have been marginalized for years.

    Read your bible your damn self and pay closer attention this time.

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  64. I’m nearly old as you Helen Remember 1968? Our sheriff here in IL is begging our lawmakers to fund programs to empty his jails and keep the kids out They’re sending appeals to send money to get elected again and do nothing for another half century I think we grandmothers and mothers and aunts and sisters have to do what the women in Ireland and Africa did Go to the capitols and clog the streets until the government properly funds schools, rehab, job training, jobs Will you lead?

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  65. Hello. That was a very powerful and moving post. I’m glad you wrote it and shared it with me. I’m also one of those who will never know how it feels to live on the colored side of the fence. I certainly feel for all involved and wish that more could be done to stop the roots of the problem rather than the symptoms. Thank you again. S. Petnal. Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2015 21:55:22 +0000 To: petnal@hotmail.com

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  66. Times like these make me want to go around hugging black people, but this never goes as well as I imagine.

    Keep up the great narrative, you're an awesome voice.

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  67. Helen, you rock. You articulated exactly how I feel. One former friend called me a “bleeding heart liberal with violent tendencies” for trying to express exactly what you said. Please don’t ever keep your mouth shut. The rest of us need to feel not so alone.

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  68. Thank you Helen! So well said.

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  69. So I am an old white woman too, and i see here a lot of excuses for why black people are downtrodden and angry. black men may be sent to prision a lot–because they have broken the law–that is their fault not anyone elses–Same thing happens to other races too–for the same reasons.
    . The game of life is decisions and consequences.
    You steal, rob or assult some one–you go to jail. :Your kids can’t read? Where the heck are the parents? Did Abraham Lincoln make excuses because he had to study by firelight? Parens of all colors should take responsibility for their kids and make sure that no matter what the kids go to school every day and do their homework. Don’t keep blaming the schools–Parents–help out at school. Read to your kids. Pay attention. (My white nephew can’t read worth a darn–because his father didn’t make him go to school regularly and .his Mother didn’t pay attention–he was in the third grade before his parents realized he couldn’t read). and the Parents need to make educational opportunities for the kids–Use the Public libaries –they are free….Teach your kids right from wrong–it is simple–the Bible is a great guideline. So you are poor–so are lots of other people of all races–but when the parents take responsibility, their kids have a better chance or growing up properly. With all the recent events and the riots–people forget that the people who were killed or injured had comitted crimes–what do you want?–give black teenagers and black grown men a pass because they are black? Well then–lets just give everyone a pass for bad behaviour. No one says anything about the kid in Furgesion who had just robbed a convience store and refused to obey the much smaller cop. the man that died in New York was a career criminal–selling cigarettes without proper taxes being paid–a small thing? Then why charge anyone taxes? Or maybe just not expect black people to pay proper taxes.
    And the list goes on. Gail King on CBS This Morning and others have said that Black parents have to have the talk with their kids about how to behave around cops–Every Parent has the same talk with their kids!!–If white kids behave badly toward cops and refuse the police commands–they get arrested too. Run from a cop–assult a cop–they get arrested too.
    Quit making excuses for people of color. Hold everyone to the same standard of behaviour–obey the laws,

    Liked by 2 people

  70. Though I’m not an across-the-board death penalty advocate, I made a snide comment that Indonesia might have the answer to the War on Drugs. I changed my mind immediately because I KNOW that it would be only the black perpetrators that would get that harshest penalty.

    Liked by 2 people

  71. Well said

    Sent from my iPhone

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  72. Thank you Helen. Just Thank you, I wish more white folks could look beyond the “media” and see the roots of the problems in this country.

    I have missed you, please stick around.

    Liked by 2 people

  73. As usual Big Mouth you have hit the nail on the head. There is no excusing the violence just as there is no excuse for the inequities suffered by the African American community. Thanks for making the problem understandable. Love you girl.

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  74. Thank you so much!

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  75. You two truly are a gift that keeps on giving. Please don’t stop!

    Liked by 1 person

  76. brilliant.

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  77. Well said.

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  78. Brilliant, as always. A perfect and thoughtful perspective. Thank you for writing and not turning off the computer.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. Helen,

    It’s always good to read your thoughtful and well-informed opinions. Being a whitey myself, I often hold my tongue at times like these because — as you so aptly put it — “we [whiteys] really probably will just say a whole lot of stupid if we open our mouths.” I’ve been around for a few decades too, and usually when something like this happens, I’ll just keep quiet and open my ears instead to listen to what black folks saying — you know — to get a better understanding of what some of them are thinking and feeling.

    It seems to me that you’ve done a whole lot of staying-quiet-and-listening over the years too. But the problem with Whitey is that not enough of us are listening well enough because we’re often too busy pointing out that rioting is not good! and violence is not the answer! even though those are obvious things that people of every color can plainly see. Maybe some white folks who are busy scolding don’t realize that taking a little pause (i.e., reserving judgment) — so that they can spend some time listening and trying to understand how a thing like this can happen — isn’t the same thing as condoning it.

    Of course, that kind of leaves a person’s head in a mess, right? I mean, it’s just messy to leave a bunch of loose blame lying all over the place and not even try to assign it to someone and be done with it, right? Some white folks are kind of in a hurry to tidy up their heads so that everything is logical and orderly and then they can put everything into a file and stick it back in the drawer. And they know where to file that stuff because they do what we all do when we judge and assess blame — we evaluate others’ behavior on the basis of our understanding of right and wrong, which is informed by all our life experiences. But they keep forgetting to consider that our life experiences are not the same as those of black folks. Oh, sure — right and wrong is right and wrong — our differing experiences don’t change that. But bearing in mind our differing experiences might help them tolerate the mess of having that uncomfortable loose blame lying around in their heads, and that might help them pause for a bit longer to listen to what black folks are thinking and saying.

    Do you think it would help if I told them to just postpone tidying up all that blame for a bit? I’m not saying they have to put it in their pockets and carry it around with them. Because you know some of them will start to get panicky that I’m going to try to say the blame is theirs to have to haul around. No, I’m just saying maybe they don’t have to tidy up right away. Maybe they could just leave the mess there and forget about it for a just a little while, and then just spend some time listening with their whole minds and hearts. What could it hurt?

    Liked by 1 person

  80. Helen – thank you! If every white person would make even a minuscule attempt to know the truth of the disparity that exists for people of color, there might be a chance for change. Sadly most just continue to look the other way because it doesn’t effect them, when the truth is these issues effect us all.

    Liked by 2 people

  81. Beautifully put.

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  82. You need to read Waking Up White. Send me your address and I’ll send you a review copy and hope you will write about it in your column.

    Debby Irving, a white, Boston-based racial justice educator, has written the book she wishes someone had handed her years ago: a story-based Racism 101 for white people. Its narrative memoir format provides a mainstream read that gives white readers the basics needed to access complex understandings about racism.

    Waking Up White is the book Debby Irving wishes someone had handed her decades ago. By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, she offers a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As she unpacks her own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, she reveals how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race. She also explains why and how she’s changed the way she talks about racism, works in racially mixed groups, and understands the racial justice movement as a whole. Exercises at the end of each chapter prompt readers to explore their own racialized ideas. Waking Up White’s personal narrative is designed to work well as a rapid read, a book group book, or support reading for courses exploring racial and cultural issues.

    Waking up White has just been named “one of the most important books on race in recent memory,” by the Readers + Writers Journal.

    Talk to author Debby Irving about:

    * Recent current events and racial inequality

    * What exactly is racism?

    * How did you come to understand the way racism works?

    * How her long-held beliefs about colorblindness and wanting to help people of color actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about racism.

    * How racism is unintentionally passed from one generation to the next.

    * Workshops and events Debby leads around the country

    * Curriculum that is being developed around Waking Up White

    Debby is readily available. Please let me know if you are interested in an interview and we’ll send you the book ASAP. Check out http://www.debbyirving.com

    Martha Kiley

    631-988-7196 cell

    marthakiley1@gmail.com

    Author Debby Irving Offers Firsthand Insight to the

    Everyday Perpetuation of Racial Inequality by Well-Intentioned White People.

    Compulsively Readable, WAKING UP WHITE: And Finding Myself In The Story Of Race,

    Sheds Light on Why America’s Racial Divide Continues to Deepen.

    Throughout 2014, American racism reared its head in highly visible events. Inflammatory words by Paula Deen, Ronald Sterling, and Cliven Bundy stirred debate about what makes for a racist. The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner provoked nationwide protests demanding police reform and a cry for recognition that #BlackLivesMatter. While mainstream news often brings a good/bad, black/white version of events involving individual actions, author Debby Irving encourages readers to bring more nuance and personal reflection to the issue.

    Irving uses her own life to explore the everyday systemic racism that goes largely unnoticed yet perpetuates long-held racialized belief systems. Waking Up White functions as both a “Racism 101” for white people and a rare exposé on whiteness for people of color. By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, she offers a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As she unpacks her own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, she reveals how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race. She also explains why and how she’s changed the way she talks about racism, works in racially mixed groups, and understands the racial justice movement as a whole. For white readers wanting to further their own awakening, Irving includes short prompts and exercises at the end of each chapter.

    Irving’s story provides a context that allows white people to quickly grasp modern racism’s inner workings and enter into conversations with new awareness and skill. It’s the book Irving wishes someone had handed her decades ago. “When I finally came to understand the way racism worked,” she explains, “I spent a lot of time thinking about what might have enlightened me earlier. I decided it wouldn’t have been an academic book, an essay, or a book from the perspective of a person of color — it would have been another white person describing their own awakening, with some humor, poignancy, and drama in the mix. What I needed was a memoir so irresistible that I would have read it even if racism weren’t on my mind.”

    Debby Irving brings to racial justice the perspective of working as a community organizer and classroom teacher for 25 years without understanding racism as a systemic issue or her own whiteness as an obstacle to grappling with it. As general manager of Boston’s Dance Umbrella and First Night, and later as a classroom teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she struggled to make sense of tensions she could feel but not explain in racially mixed settings. In 2009, a graduate school course, Racial and Cultural Identities, gave her the answers she’d been looking for and launched her on a journey of discovery. Debby now devotes herself to working with white people exploring the impact white skin can have on perception, problem solving, and engaging in racial justice work. A graduate of the Winsor School in Boston, she holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. Her first book, Waking Up White, tells the story of how she went from well-meaning to well-doing.

    Martha Kiley

    631-988-7196 cell

    marthakiley1@gmail.com

    Liked by 2 people

  83. I am also an old white woman…in a minority myself.who has fought bigotry all her life…taught my children that we are all brothers and sisters regardless of what we look like or how little/much we have. I believe without the slightest hesitation, that criminal acts are just that. Looting, burning, throwing rocks etc at police officers are criminal acts. I do understand that anger and frustration of generations of poverty and denied opportunities contribute mightily to those acts…but does not lessen them. I do understand that when you have nothing left to lose and no promising future that you must take whatever road there is. Allowing illegal acts does no one a favor. Not the perpetrator, nor the victim. My panacea to everything is education. If we insist on proper funding and standards of education for all, we will solve a lot of problems. If we teach all of our children daily life skills, prepare them for jobs…we will accomplish major advancements for all of us. Not everyone belongs in college, nor wants to be there but everyone is entitled to the required training to get and keep a job and bolster their integrity by so doing. We hired those idiots in Congress, we can fire them. VOTE. Learn what each candidate stands FOR, and VOTE.

    Liked by 1 person

  84. You are lovely. Period. Thank you for your insight and beautiful heart.

    http://thebrillyblog.blogspot.com/2015/04/not-even-mule.html

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  85. So happy to read your new post!!! As always your humor and wisdom speak an important truth…one often missing from our media. We hear about ‘two Americas’ in a campaign every now and then but then return to our separate and entitled lives as white citizens.
    The Baltimore rioting reminds me of the wonderful tv series ‘The Wire’ that was based on issues concerning the black ghetto in Baltimore. If you haven’t seen it run to your local library and borrow it!
    I’m against violence of any kind but in the absence of justice I understand it totally. This country has a shameful record of injustice towards our populations of color. It’s time to move away from the concept of punishment that we’ve pretended is justice…for far too long… and move towards practicing restorative justice… Obviously, if we had equal justice for all Helen’s post wouldn’t be necessary.
    May we all, soon, be fortunate enough to bring about change via peaceful means…

    Liked by 1 person

  86. tmally – so racist, but still afraid to even type the word. d ass!

    joanpm – I hope the sincerity in your post is real. but let’s clearify.

    #1 young men, of all races, don’t stay to raise kids. (just watch jerry springer) that’s why we should all encourage sex education and and pregnancy prevention in schools and through agencies like planned parenthood. I was able to get all my well woman care there until my job provided health insurance. I have 2 healthy grown sons thanks to planned parenthood.

    #2 assistance with housing, food, medical care, and jobs is available to ALLl.
    free school is only available with a scholarship. grants for anyone, have to be paid back. and by the way, single white women are the largest recipient of social program assistance.

    #3 “Even if they do at times have to pick up their shoes at the counter, not carry them there.” it’s like you don’t want to understand. rude is rude. treating someone like they shouldn’t have come into your store, but wanting their money, is crappy. plain and simple. I know you get that.

    labeling all people of color with the same brush would allow people of color to think all white people are Ted Bundy, Jim Jones, David Duke, Timothy McVeigh, Shelly Shannon, Scott Roeder, Jim David Adkisson , Shawna Ford, Eric Rudolph, James Charles Kopp, John C. Salvi, Joseph Stack, Charles Manson, Glen Beck, Bill ORiley, Ted Cruz, …..

    ****my hand got tired. sure are a lot of y’all. “Why aren’t they taught better?”

    Liked by 3 people

  87. Thank You, Miss Helen. xoxo

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  88. Keep speaking out. Someone has to and you do it so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  89. You rock Helen..and never ever think that you are one who should stay silent..your voice is too wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

  90. Happy to see a column from you in my email. You were missed! Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  91. WHERE have you been? Not sick, I hope.
    Keep on keeping on, ladies. Glad to have you back.

    Liked by 1 person

  92. Thank you

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  93. Love ya, Helen.

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  94. I agree with everything you had to say, and you said it well. The shooting of Martin Luther King, Jr,, the riots after the Rodney King the verdict; it appears to have all been for nothing, a strange form of lip service. I can’t help but wonder if the Monday riots would have never happened if so much preparation hadn’t gone into preparing for riots. It would now appear we were all taken in by the War on Drugs, not realizing how it would be used to imprison generations of young blacks. Should mention I’m old, white, and middle class.

    Liked by 2 people

  95. I’ve missed you!

    Liked by 1 person

  96. “What I have written here is not meant as an excuse for the violence, but it certainly is a reason to look beyond the violence and try to see the truths behind it.” Such an excellent point. It’s easy to look at ‘senseless’ violence and not realize that what you are really looking at is decades of internalized condemnation being released. When we see a starving man stealing food, we know that he is wrong. But instead of putting him in jail, we help him find food so he doesn’t have to steal in the first place.

    Liked by 6 people

  97. Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

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  98. Thank you so much for your insight, the truth is never wrong and should be spoken often.

    Liked by 1 person

  99. […] A Message to Whitey. […]

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  100. just a guy-
    Really ? You missed ole MTalley?
    Who got awful dang close to breaking one of Helen’s very few rules?
    Helen and Margaret don’t do deletions, their now and again moderator hardly does either.
    Then there’s the ditzelfritzel Scratchingmyhead who chooses to read Helen wrong ? go back and read my friend…

    Helen- thank you.
    Quyanaasinaq . Thank you very much.

    Some stuff just doesn’t have a humorous side and this stuff doesn’t.
    If you, the queen of smart humor can’t find any it doesn’t exist.
    Would be nice to lighten the load racism lays on our shoulders with a laugh… not happenin…

    My family is full of brown faces, beautiful brown faces and hearts of gold but all too often, way too often, way damn too often , we are merely dismissed…

    http://radicaljournal.com/poetry/dead_poor_man_pablo_neruda.html

    Some can shoulder that burden, some cannot, some can ignore it, some burn with it.

    Quyanaasinaq for speaking up, Helen.
    Folks in Baltimore need to speak up and WE NEED, WE MUST LISTEN.

    Liked by 2 people

  101. Another great post. Why are they so few and far between? I always enjoy them, even though I don’t always agree. One thing I don’t understand is why you keep apologizing for what you write?

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  102. Helen, I too am so glad to hear from you again. Every time you go away for months I think something awful has happened to you and nobody will tell us. Course, I used to think the same thing when my kidney kid was in surgery too long….the doctors were too afraid to come out and tell me the bad news! You should have someone come on and post – “That Helen, she is just having too much fun to spend her time talking with us!” So, I know myself to be a bit paranoid.

    On the subject of the day….Baltimore. The only film I enjoyed today was the Mom who came out and found her own son in a mask throwing rocks and started swatting him and yelling and chased him back home. My kind of Mom! I can see myself right there. I am always immensely troubled when riots occur. I do not understand why anyone would think burning down your own neighborhood is OK. It just is not. I saw a picture of a man running out of the CVS store holding a clear plastic case of toilet paper holding it up in the air as if it were a tremendous prize. Ridiculous! Toilet Paper??? Stealing and looting for a case of toilet paper? Injuring police officers, burning 144 cars overnight for toilet paper? Or for some sense of Justice. I saw a young boy screaming on TV today- he looked about 12 – when the microphone caught him, “we want justice”. For some reason, I thought wonder if I gave him a million dollars brought him to my town set him up in a fancy house with all the trimmings (which I wish someone would do for me!) would he riot then? What would he do? Would he be happy then? Could he live a responsible life then? I don’t know, but it was something I thought about.

    I was born almost 70 years ago into white privilege as some say. We were lower middle class people. My mother sewed all of our clothes, our little school dresses. Until we got old enough to work and buy our own store bought dresses. My parents taught us that hard work was the answer to having a nice life, not to expect anyone to give us anything. My dad used to say….Its a cold hard life out there, girl, you think someone is going to come knock on your door and beg you and only you to go to work for them? Get an education so you can get a job and keep at it. That meant the three girls too. It is the only answer for poverty. They meant high school, college was way to costly for us to dream for. But, two of the four of us did come out with college degrees. And took years and years to pay off college loans. Dad said the first key to keeping a job was to just show up every day…and he was right. My mom would tell us girls, never ever not have your own career, never be dependent on a man for your keeping. Have your own money so you can stay with a man because you want to, not because you have to.

    I’ve read that amongst black communities the fathers do not stay around, the communities have become matriarchal. I think that happens a lot in white communities too, but not as much. But a single mom can teach her kids the same as my parents taught us, no matter the color. Why couldn’t all the moms have been out there last night doing the same swatting as the mom I mentioned above. For the past sixty or more years, blacks have been given almost free housing, free food and medical care, preferential college entry and preferential job application. Even if they do at times have to pick up their shoes at the counter, not carry them there.

    I do struggle struggle struggle with this issue. I do not understand why some folks think anything at all comes from rioting, looting, stealing and arson. Why, why, why? Why aren’t they taught better?

    I know, maybe I just don’t get it, but I do try.

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  103. Girl child ain’t safe in a family of mens

    Liked by 1 person

  104. Helen, I have so missed your posts- and, as usual, you have nailed it. Thank you, please keep on telling the truth!

    Liked by 1 person

  105. I am getting to be an old white lady, but holding the line at advanced middle-age. Probably should keep my mouth shut and my opinion to myself. . . BUT I have three beautiful god-daughters and I adore them. Two are sisters and have Native American ancestry plus Irish, French, etc., a typical mixture; the father of the youngest is African-American. The third and eldest god-daughter is unrelated to the sisters, but also has Native American ancestry and her father is Latino. I worry about them and would give anything to be able to deflect the mean, viscious, and hateful things that probably will be said to them or within their hearing in the future. And most likely already have been said to them or within their hearing. And, God forgive me, I hate those people who have and will hurt my wonderful god-daughters!

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  106. Reblogged this on Tigerlily's Garden.

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  107. I am also an old white woman and you reflect perfectly my thoughts on this very tragic condition that continues to exist in our country…Thank you for stepping up!

    Liked by 1 person

  108. Helen, I’ve missed you! I hope you never tire of commenting on this crazy world with your spot-on opinions. This post was just another excellent commentary from you. May you and Margaret live to be 110 and never stop sharing your views with the rest of us! Best wishes to you both.

    Liked by 3 people

  109. Right on sista, will it ever get better?

    Liked by 2 people

  110. This is going to be linked to my Face Book page immediately from where it will go to Twitter . Then it will go to Google+. Great piece. I applaud idapearlsmusings. I am a `whitey` and have been married to a somewhat mixed black man for thirty years. His mother was pure Chinese. Keep writing because as you can see, many of us here have missed you.

    Liked by 1 person

  111. As always, Helen, you’ve got it exactly right. Skin color MATTERS. I’ve worked hard to overcome being born poor in the Ozarks, but I never forget that my success was so much easier because I was blessed with blonde hair and blue eyes. I wish it wasn’t so, but it matters.

    Liked by 4 people

  112. Guess I won’t be checking my blood pressure at that CVS anymore

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  113. Well said Helen. Too many have a hard time understanding not only the disadvantages of Blacks but the advantages of Whites. As Warren Buffett has said, “I was born lucky. I was born a white male in America .” Today, America has fallen deep in the ranks of socio-economic mobility where it matters more where and to whom you were born than your own merit. This does not condone violence as you say, but explains a lot. We cannot just talk about helping, we have to act. Well done.

    Liked by 3 people

  114. I noticed there are no dissenting comments listed, but comments that mention dissenting comments. Are you deleting those posters who don’t agree with you?

    How can ignorance and racism be brought to the cleansing light of truth if they are deleted before we have a chance to expose them to rebuttal?

    Please reconsider deleting the negative comments…

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  115. THANK YOU for your perception, your posting.

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  116. Thank you Helen.

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  117. Kisses and hugs you brilliant old hag. Just love every word you pen. Margaret Helen’s daughter gp

    Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2015 21:55:15 +0000 To: gailparker1@hotmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

  118. Dear Helen, please keep hanging around and sharing your opinion. When you get to your venerable years and spout off it is called “imparting wisdom” unless you become addicted to Faux Noise, where there is no wisdom, only fear.

    PS I love your style and hope I can be like you when get venerable too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  119. This is exactly what I feel! Thank you for putting it into words I have shared on Facebook!

    Liked by 2 people

  120. mtalley, there are PLENTY of sites for racists and bigots. Why don’t you go post there. They will be in total agreement. As for the people HERE, we believe in the solution and that is never associated with the language you use.

    Liked by 3 people

  121. Dear Helen ~~ Thank you for this posting. I am 82, have followed you for years, and love your spirit. So glad you posted the good sources to prove your points for those who are not yet aware of the truths you spoke of.

    Liked by 1 person

  122. Helen, I love you! You once again have nailed it! Please keep posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  123. n lover

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  124. Well said….

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  125. Dear Helen, the beginning of your post scared me but I should have known better. You are right about it all! No voice leads to violence. I did not make that up. Dr. Martin Luther Kind said something like that. As a white privileged person, I am saddened that things have not gotten any better. So, in my dotage I am involved and speaking up more than ever. Keep writing. You ARE making a difference. I love it!

    Guilty white person who never knew the privilege I had!

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  126. Please run for office.

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  127. According to alternative media, the violence was actually started by the police. Baltimore has a lot to answer for. 24,000 people having their water shut off and you can guess how many of them are of color. Killing blacks seems to be the sport of police and by social media we are being made aware of just how often that occurs. I do wonder if it has increased since President Obama took office and the republicans started making it OK to be racist. I applaud your efforts to understand something we whites can only surmise.

    Liked by 1 person

  128. When my son was in high school, he came home one say and said, “Do you remember when you told me you don’t really believe in “sin,” but that if you walk past someone who is in need, and you have the ability to change their circumstances and don’t, that it probably is a sin, if sin exists? I said sure I do… He then told me a friend from school had two parents in prison and had been sent from foster home to group home to another foster home since he was 7 years old. He was going to change schools AGAIN and WHY couldn’t he come live with us? We have an extra room. I thought about it, ultimately said yes and he moved in. He was black. We are white.

    Then one day, I took the foster son and my birth son to buy shoes. When my foster son picked out a pair (it was the first pair of shoes he had EVER been allowed to choose for himself, so it took a while), the sales clerk who stood almost right beside him the whole time he was in the store…. took the shoes he picked from his hand and walked them up to the cashier’s stand and sat them down on the counter. My son came a couple of minutes later, carrying his own shoes. So, before they rang up either pair of shoes, I said, IS THE MANAGER HERE????? I need you to go get the manager NOW. This guy walks up and asks if he can help me. I said, “Sure, if you can explain to me what your policy is in this store. You see, my blonde haired, blue eyed son got to carry his own shoes up to the cashier, but my black haired, black skinned son was denied that right. WHAT is going on here?” He said it wasn’t the store policy. I said, I believe it is. Meanwhile, my foster son said, ‘IT’S NO BIG DEAL, I DON’T MIND. I LOVE THOSE SHOES, CAN I HAVE THOSE SHOES? I told him we will NOT be buying these shoes from this store, right now. He kept telling me, “it’s okay! It happens every time I go into a store. I responded that it doesn’t happen when he goes into a store with me. I then told the manager that as luck would have it, I KNOW the owner of ALL of the Academy stores and I’m going to call him tomorrow and give him a piece of my mind. And your name is????? And the sales clerk’s name is????? He told me, apologized to my foster son and we left. Foster son was despondent, but NOT because of the way he was treated, but because he couldn’t get those shoes and he REALLY wanted them… I told him we will get those EXACT shoes if we have to go to 10 stores, until we find a store that treats you with the respect you deserve. As luck would have it, the very next store we went to had the same shoes.. The sales clerk was helping him (not hounding him), and retrieved the right size, checked the box to make sure they were both the same size, handed him the box, thanked him for coming in today and got back to work.

    BOTH these boys learned a very valuable lesson that day. So did I. It IS DIFFERENT FOR BLACK BOYS. IT IS….. We saw it ourselves. It was heartbreaking.

    The ONLY difference in these two boys was their skin color. This haunts me to this day because that was 14 years ago and it still occurs today.

    Liked by 11 people

  129. Good to hear from you again and, as usual, you nailed it. After seeing these events occur ever 5-10 years for the last FIFTY years, we should realize it is a systemic problem. Those usable to see that are too comfortable in their privilege!

    Liked by 1 person

  130. Helen, I have followed for several years and enjoy all the articles from you and Margaret. You both inspire me in your honesty and straight talking. God Bless you both and I wish there more people like you in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  131. Excellent commentary, Helen – as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  132. Helen — Please remain an important part of civil dialog of our country on important social and political issues. You are a voice of reason (and appreciable humor) that needs to be heard. I appreciate that in your 80s you expected a quieter time, BUT we need you and Margaret to continue your discourse, please.

    Liked by 2 people

  133. Thank you very much. Your words are the truth and need to be spoken to a wide audience. Heartening to know many of us old white women get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  134. You are so right – as well as brave – to say this Helen. Put this on Facebook and all your friends will desert you. True. Sick to death of “fence riders” who won’t stick they neck out for a cause. Thank God we have you!! Keep it up — and have missed your posts! Sara

    Liked by 1 person

  135. Helen – I’ve missed hearing from you! You always seem to have the right outlook on every issue. You must be a very intelligent, logical, kind person who can see the truth behind the BS. If I had been born black, I don’t know how I would have stood it – never knowing what my reception would be in any place, knowing that some people would hate me for no reason other than the color of my skin, having to struggle for fair treatment. Burning buildings and cop cars isn’t going to solve the problems but I can understand the frustration black people feel. MLK had the right way to fight for a chance at equality, but it was so very slow to make any headway. I can remember when there were black restrooms and black water fountains, and my mother telling me that the poll tax you had to pay in order to vote was to keep poor people and black people from voting, something she certainly didn’t agree with. Keep up the good work and the good words and your unique way of getting to the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  136. Bravo, Helen! Please keep on speaking up and out. You represent a lot of right-thinking people, black, white, yellow, and multicolored.

    Liked by 1 person

  137. Great Comments. Thank You. Juneau Joe

    Liked by 2 people

  138. Reblogged this on Johnbalaya.

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  139. You are so right! Long ago In CA I tried to keep my mouth shut, but I finally let loose. Why? Because my ‘enlightened’ friends worried about the few nice houses intended for blacks on my street. (I was the ‘prejudiced’ one of course; I was from the south.)

    I remember being ashamed in fourth grade when the blacks who had to work all day also had to stand on the bus. And I was mortified because my mother kept a separate set of dishes for her ‘helpers’–so I ate my lunch with the ‘helpers.’ (These days I take them out to dinner at a ‘real’ restaurant.)

    Right now, things are in the tank, it seems. But at least some of us Whiteys care deeply–not that that’s a help to my black friends. Some day…perhaps.

    Liked by 2 people

  140. Well said, Helen. Sounds like you and I had the same childhood and evolving family. You hit this one out of the park, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  141. Helen, I’ve been a fan for a long time. I know, if we ever met face to face, we would adore one another. You’re generous and thoughtful and I hope you never keep your thoughts to yourself. The world needs to hear them.

    We should all understand that, underlying all the symptoms to which you refer, lies the real problem of extreme income disparity. Every revolution finds its footing in this kind of economic inequality, including our own rather sedate upheaval of the sixties. Baltimore will not be the last city to burn as long as Redumblicans are calling the shots and the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow. DTR!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  142. I agree with you on every point, except, what are we going to do about it? Excuse the violence in hushed tones and get back to out white lives? In my life I’ve known persecution and danger. I might not understand, what black mothers and fathers go through, but I am open to hear them. I just don’t understand, how looting and violence help the cause of equal rights. In my country of the Soviet Union I also studied the way some underground or covert movement can exploit difficulties in society for its own agenda. And that agenda would be to undermine the said society and create, what is called, “a revolutionary situation”, when desperation and confusion will push people to follow the path to a totalitarian regime. Nice white people in this country might not see or understand this and ignore the unacceptable behavior, because of our white liberal guilt. We need to push for positive, common sense reforms in our law enforcement, but always be vigilant.

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  143. Helen, you hit it right on the head. Most white people just don’t get it, in my humble white opinion. While I disagree with the violence in Ferguson and Baltimore, I totally understand why everyone is so frustrated. No one should have to live in fear of authority due to the color of their skin, and it frustrates me that there are people still carrying on the belief that white is the only skin color that should be treated the right way.

    Liked by 1 person

  144. Excellent look at both sides of the issue. I am glad you felt the need to write this post. I too do not condone violence. I grew up in the South with the white opportunities that you had. I witnessed the discrimination that you mentioned and have said many times that if I had grown up black, I would also be frustrated and angry at the injustices faced by so many good, hard working blacks in my community.

    Liked by 1 person

  145. Helen, you are a very kind and generous person. While I plan to leave all my worldly goods and money to the Southern Poverty Law Center, I have a lot a trouble watching all the senseless violence in Baltimore. Why burn down a community center that was intended to help black kids? Same applies to stores in black neighborhoods that serve local people. I just see another generation of poor black children headed for a lifetime of drugs, crime and probably, prison. Why do the parents of those kids have so little control or influence in their lives? It makes my sad, and yes, mad.

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  146. WOW, “scratchingmyhead” no where in her writing did I read anything close to the words you penned above.

    Liked by 2 people

  147. So you’re saying it’s OK to burn down businesses (could be your employers) and your neighbors’ houses because you feel you don’t get a fair shake?

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  148. Ta’Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic….http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

    The Case for Reparations says many of the same things you did. Thank you for not keeping your mouth shut.

    Liked by 2 people

  149. Thank you, Helen. I think the reality was and is much worse than you have described, but thank you for your input.

    Liked by 1 person

  150. Thanks for speaking the truth and taking risks. I am one of many people who support you and respect you for doing so. I have missed your posts and hope you are both doing well.

    Liked by 2 people

  151. Helen, you are simply the best. Keep it coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  152. Helen, I have silently followed you for years – as another old white lady I just sit and shake my head when another unarmed black person dies at the hands of the people who should protect him. Thank you for so clearly stating the statistics and the reality. You are a breath of fresh air, whether you are discussing Jello (Never!!) or the State of the World. Thank you again.

    Liked by 3 people

  153. Dearest Whitey, You are absolutely correct in what you wrote and Never keep your opinions to yourself…….you may just be able to influence someone in a Good way. Hugs from another Whitey

    Liked by 2 people


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