Kismet

Inspiring Insight

Posts tagged ‘racism’

Asian in Arizona Featured

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I glance up and see him, pushing his shopping cart

he is sporting overalls and an enormous white beard

I’m sure he drives a white truck with flag (U.S. or Confederate?)

I’ve been accosted by his type before, in Iowa:

Hey Jap! Go back where you came from!

So I am wary

 

He’s speaking                    to me                    right now

They have a sale on bananas! A whole bag for just a dollar!

He points to a small paper brown bag in his cart

Your kids will love ’em!

 

I’m jolted – surprised – dismayed

How does he know I have kids?

And I realize that what is in my cart

are bags of suspicion, dread and cynicism

 

 

Uh “Oh”… Featured

Dang it.

I love Sandra Oh. She’s cool. She’s ultra. She’s crush-worthy.

I’m trying to cut down my screen time and now THIS!

I’m going to get hooked, I just know it. Damn.

If you’ve ever sold yourself short, you need to read this deeply compelling article on the show and Sandra:

Sandra Oh Assumed She Wasn’t Up For Lead In ‘Killing Eve’ Due To Hollywood Racism (Huffington Post)

If you miss the broadcast, you can watch full episodes here (you don’t even have to log in)!

Peace, Not Passivity

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Photo by Jakob Owens

There’s a lot of political strife and fear going around. I keep hearing about people losing sleep over the recent events in Virginia with the supremacist groups and the death of an innocent protestor.

I offer this: Take a deep breath. Do not expect others to feel the way you do. Do not get frustrated and scared. Instead, think of one SMALL thing you can do to feel effective and do it. You’ll feel better. You might even sleep better.

Lead by example.

Show up. We need people to show up for what they believe in.

But fighting and arguing are only going to get defenses up.

And, for your insomnia, I offer this YouTube video of Byron Katie speaking with someone who feels the way you do. Trust me, you need to watch this. It’s magic.

This is not a call for passivity. You need to feel the inner peace before you can help create the peace outside of yourself.

 

The Compost in My Garden

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compost [kom-pohst]

1.a mixture of various decaying organic substances, as dead leaves or manure, used for fertilizing soil.*

Every green thumb gardener knows that her garden needs rich soil in order to grow bright, brilliant plants. Compost enriches soil but it is stinky and takes time to degrade and cultivate. The compost of my life’s garden (thus far) consists of (but is not limited to):
  • Kids taunting me with “chink” when I walked home from school
  • Every grade I ever received other than an “A”
  • my first heartbreak
  • the deaths of my grandparents, sister-in-law and friends
  • breast cancer and the six surgeries that followed
  • every awful job and boss I ever had
  • every workout that pushed me to the brink of insanity
  • the police officer at my high school football game who hatefully asked me if I speak English
  • scooter/car accident right before my wedding (I had to wear a leg brace under my wedding dress)
  • my mentor’s suicide

 

Let us not dwell on our past, but let us celebrate our survival. It is pain and loss that molds us into the strong people we are.

 

 

Resources:

*Dictionary.com

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“A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action…”*

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No Excuses

I’m grateful for many, many things. I have a very good life: a job I love, two healthy, beautiful children, a husband who loves me, a nice home, an affectionate dog and an enormous “wine refrigerator”.

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However, I’m not 100% content. I don’t like the recent spate of racist incidents around the country (KKK). I don’t like that Asians are under represented in TV, film and books. I don’t like the fact that so many in this country (and the world) go hungry each night.

Complaining isn’t going to change anything.

Writing an amazing script, raising money and getting the independent film with Asian actors produced and shown at film festivals WILL change the scene.

Organizing a passionate, savvy group of people to pressure our legislators for gun control laws WILL save lives.

Reaching out to all the different, beautifully diverse people in my community WILL help change racial stereotypes and bring some peace.

Creating programs to help homeless people get job skills and become income earners WILL change their lives.

Inventing affordable solar panels WILL help save the environment.

What can you do today/this week/this month/this year to provide “A little more bite, and a little less bark”?

 

*”A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley

 

The Indomitable Bruce Lee

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When I was a young teen, my father gathered my sister, brother and me and told us we were going to start taking Tae Kwon Do lessons. He didn’t ask what we thought about it or if we wanted to do it, he told us we were doing it. My father was an extremely strict father. Tiger Moms these days are mere kittens compared to my father back then. So we didn’t even groan or try to get out of it.

We began. The entire time, I kept wishing I was taking dance instead. But no, martial arts it was.

My sister and I were young teenage girls and we had to spar grown men and believe me, they didn’t “take it easy” on us. JoAnne and I learned to use our elbows to defend ourselves against their powerful kicks. It worked! Martial arts was big back then because of a guy named Bruce Lee.

Our tenets were: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit (CIPSI).

We lived those tenets. All three of us earned 1st degree black belts.

There were no Asians in magazines back then. Or TV. Even “Kung Fu” starred a white man named David Carradine. It turns out Warner Bros. stole Bruce Lee’s concept and believed a full blooded Asian on TV wouldn’t work so they hired Mr. Carradine.

Bunk!

What did Bruce Lee do? He went to China and made “The Big Boss” which made him an international star.

This is what you must do when you face rejection. When you face sexism. Racism. Any kind of bigotry. Go out and be Bruce Lee. That is, embody his spirit. 

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.

Bruce Lee

A 10 Year old Says…

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One of the questions on our last 5th grade social studies quiz was, “How can we, as Americans, ensure equal rights for everyone?” This was on the heels of learning about slavery and the Civil Rights Movement (literary study: The Watsons Go to Birmingham).

Most of my students answered, “Treat everyone like we’d like to be treated,”  or “remind everyone about the Constitution.”

But one student wrote:

We could start an activity or sports program where EVERYONE was invited. People of all races would play together and while they played and made friends with each other, they would see we are all the same and racism would be gone.

 

If you’re feeling discouraged, by recent racist rhetoric from a small group of small-minded people, remember there are a lot of good people out there. Our children are wise.

5 Magic Words

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It Is What It Is

I used to hate this saying. I often heard it after I complained about something. What kind of retort is that? It just made me angry. “It is what it is.

When I was a kid, my home was toilet papered and egged. They wrote  “chink” on the driveway. “This happens,” my father said as our family cleaned the mess up. The words stung, like alcohol on an open wound. How could he react in such a weak manner?

And yesterday, my daughter cried. A boy she considers to be a good friend made a racist joke about Asian eyes and dental floss. I was inflamed! But she sat – quiet and still and oh-so-wise, in the puddle of ignorance, stupidity and pain this boy caused. She said, “I want to talk to him and explain why it was hateful and hurtful. He will understand and never do it again. I know he’s a good kid.” As her mother, I could only see red. Someone broke my daughter’s heart and made her question this world (once more), just so he could get laughs. 

And I knew. I knew the anger I felt was a false sense of power.Being angry makes you feel energized and ready to mobilize. But anger is fear on steroids.

“It is what it is” is not a rallying cry to be passive. It means,”what you see before you, IS.” 

When I was undergoing surgery for breast cancer, these five words were embodied in the doctor’s confident hands, the nurses’ night time vigil and my family and friends’ constant support. This IS the situation and we’re taking care of it right now.

It’s about accepting that which you cannot change. If you can’t change it, your anger and defiance – your energy – are wasted. You continually generate negativity.

In fact, acceptance is the first step to proactivity. Once you accept reality (that which IS, that which you cannot change), you can use your energy and creativity to begin to make steps to exact change. A couple of wise friends of mine often say, “This, too, shall pass.” Everything is impermanent. Accept each season.

 

Wake Up!

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Sometimes, I feel like people are asleep. I mean, sleeping is nice, right? So why not be awake and be asleep? Just close your eyes to that which you do not find pleasant. We really do not wield much power in reality anyway, right?

My daughter came home extremely upset today. A boy in her class drew the swastika on his arm. This is not the first time. It’s the third time he’s done this. She told him (for the third time) that this is absolutely unacceptable, that it’s a symbol of unspeakable atrocities against mankind. Um, Holocaust, anyone?

He laughed and said he was just “joking around.” And then he told her to “lighten up.” [Does this kind of rhetoric sound familiar?]

Crying, she said, “Mom, I’m just terribly sad and AFRAID.”

Our current political climate, our literal climate, our rising gun violence rates, and our collective unconsciousness are not instilling confidence in our children.  Do the right thing. If your school tells you your child is drawing swastikas on his arm and books, then give him an education and a serious consequence. Teach him that it’s wrong.

Don’t “Boys will be boys” it.

I’m going to call that boy’s parents and I will let you know if they are “asleep” or not.

 

Immigrant – Outsider – Newcomer – Foreigner – Alien

 

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You came from a war-torn country

to get a job here
and to start a family
you attended university and held
three jobs
fatigue, stress, discrimination
As the years went by, despite
– the eggs and toilet paper on our house
– the “chinky chinky China” sing-song following me home
– and the ostracization of neighbors and peers
we are so grateful to be American