Tag Archives: racism

Freedom Fridays and a talk handout on debt remission for justice?

The judicial system considered most of my ancestors to be legal property. As the descendant of slaves who are often presumed to have had less difficulty than others, due to our light complexion, I look at various ways to handle inter-generational wealth, or the lack thereof, and I wonder how to adjust our need for Truth, Reconciliation and restitution to take into account the realities of the various levels of access to resources that different groups of people had (or didn’t have). Racism had its effects, and debt-build up did too, for all poor people.

The ability to build up wealth and pass that on to one’s children requires a fair judicial system that allows one to both build and keep wealth, and then to keep that wealth within a family group safely. Unlike, say, Tulsa, OK in 1921, or many other cases of murder for Black wealth. In studying the book of Deuteronomy, ch. 15, I noticed that the Bible also has much to say about helping people build and keep their wealth.

First, a fair judicial system is a must.

Second, debts cannot be allowed to build up to far for too long.

From a class I taught in DC, in 2012.  (pdf DCBM20AugustReehClass here…)

Shira Jones, DC Beit Midrash, DC JCC, 20 August 2012, Parashat Shoftim
Community is built pillar by pillar, and one of those pillars, as we see this week in this
week´s Parashah, Parashat Shoftim, is having a judiciary system which is fair and
impartial, handing down rules which are applied equally under law, yet expansive enough
to make exemptions when necessary (for instance, in the 6th aliyah, where newlyweds,
conscientious objectors and other young men are excused from going to war).
1
4
2
3
▪ Na’aseh ve Nishmah: {Laws = formal rules; Minhagim = informal
norms} Shoftim
▪ Rewards and consequences of unity and cooperation vs. separation from
the community: {holding the mountain over our heads} Shavuot
▪ Consensus based buy in from all of the people: {Every Jewish Neshamah
was there}
▪ Intergenerational endurance: {“Na’aseh ve Nishmah”} Parashat Re´eh
Some sources of each of the four pillars where discussed in last year´s Shavuot class,
notes for which are available upon request. We will focus today on the 4th pillar, from
Parashat Re´eh, that of Intergenerational endurance.
One major prerequisite for building lasting community is solving the problem of
short-term insolvency, and also preventing long-term building up of, as the Etz Haim
commentary on this parashah puts it, “a permanent underclass” of impoverished members
of the community. The Biblical mechanism for this is a regular Remission of Debt,
which is commanded Dvarim ch. 15.
Every seven years loans are forgiven
Loans, we learned earlier in Bahar, Lev. 25, must be made interest free to fellow Jews
An interesting repetition in Devarim 15:8 -openly open your hand to him
Why the redundancy? There are two sides to giving a loan
1. Short term financial help
2. long term community responsibility to
a. help the person make a sustainable living
b. create equitable structures that prevent neediness
Loan forgiveness and lending are short term solutions
Structural equity is the long term solution
Time Banking is one example of part of that long term solution
1. interest free, egalitarian equitable structure
2. interconnect various communities
3. since a person can donate time adn withdraw that time later, it gives along term
incentive for each person to contribute to the community and have that time valued and
recognized by the community.
4. over time this strengthens individuals and communities
Thus lending is short term, while Time Banks is part of Teachng a man to fish and
feeding him for a lifetime.
Community and the building of community solidly at the center of Jewish practice.
Chodesh Tov L´Elul, and Gamar Chatima Tovah, posted Teach !   ShiraDest, 8 March, 12016 HE,
Shira Destinie Jones, Mphil, DC “Community Cooperation” Singing Tour Guide

So, it turns out that 1.) debt forgiveness is an old idea, and 2.) a fair judicial system is related to debt, both short and long-term, and all three need to be considered together as part of an inter-related justice system.  Today, the criminal justice system adds to the debt of many people who were incarcerated rather than educated, and even more people, White and Black, suffer from lack of learning via default judgements on Expired Debts (debts past their Statutes of Limitations, or SoL), and medical or health-care related debt (another reason that Europe has higher upward mobility than the USA).

More on my continuing striving with justice, both judicial and economic, next time:

Yassas,   γεια σας!    Salût !  Nos vemos!  Görüşürüz!     ! שָׁלוֹם

Action Items in support of freedom for all that you can take right now:

1.) Search for two different sources to translate the word “Never Again” into your favorite language.

2.) Share your thoughts on #1 with us in the comments, here, please.

3.) Write a blog post or tweet that discusses racism, tells a good story, or just makes a difference. I’m working on that through my historical fantasy #WiP, #WhoByFireIWill. Once published, donate one or more copies to your local public library, as I intend to do.

Dear Readers, any additional ideas toward learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning as part of on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind? 

Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure  & #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19:
1. #PublicLibraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!, Teach and Learn (Lesson Plans)!

ShiraDest

Preptober (October, Prep for NaNoWriMo!)

2020 CE, which is 12020 HE

(The previous lesson plan since this post, and the most recent lesson plan…)

Freedom for All Fridays and opportunity for all?

Well, opportunity if you were born in the upper working to middle classes, anyway…

Notice who had the BMW (Bike/Metro/Walk) vs. whose access to folks with wheels got those resource advantages moving, wittingly or unwittingly…

I’ve been mulling over some conversations with a person, white, grew up with a housekeeper, left home at 16 to work 3 p/t jobs to finish the last year of high school to avoid physical abuse at home.   But who had rides to and from each of those jobs, and an apartment whose deposit was paid by the school principal. What a pal.  And in a Sundown Town.  So this is a bootstraps story?  Ok, those are pretty strong bootstraps.

But this is not an up from the Projects story, growing up with all sorts of violence and CSA, where physical abuse was the norm, and dodging drug dealers was also the norm.  Getting a job at 16 was not possible in 1984 DC for someone living in Anacostia, and getting an apartment at all, let alone rides to and from school or work, was out of the question.  For the kid from the Sundown Town, getting out was difficult, but for the kid from projects, getting out was a minor miracle.

Yet, “if one person can do it, so can anyone else.”

One of these things is not like the other, right?

 

Racism, especially the currently ingrained systemic racism of the US, is entirely based on the teachings of slavery, which most in this country still receive in the home and in the media, wittingly or not.
Meditating on an issue of unack’d or self-hidden racism/prejudice: And maybe it’s that this landlord grew up and lived most of his 70 years in a Sundown Town in Southern CA, but he refuses to see the lack of opportunity for most … not only Black folks, but even for most working class white folks. He insists that “if even one person did it, then anyone can do it” as if he, a financial coach, has never heard of an outlier… (especially when he uses me as an example of escaping poverty, and I really feel used, having gotten DC’s appointment to Annapolis before our only Rep. even had a vote in The House…).
He has no clue what it’s like to be called “part of the Talented Tenth,” and the weight of expectation that carries, nor that only 1/10 make it out of the projects after surviving certain childhood traumas.

 

So, it turns out that 1.) transportation (and affordable and safe mass transit, at that) makes a huge difference, and 2.) our received ideas are harder to draw out than I’d hoped.  More on my continuing striving with hidden racism next week, friends:

Yassas,   γεια σας!    Salût !  Nos vemos!  Görüşürüz!     ! שָׁלוֹם

Action Items in support of freedom for all that you can take right now:

1.) Search for two different sources to translate the word “Never Again” into your favorite language.

2.) Share your thoughts on #1 with us in the comments, here, please.

3.) Write a blog post or tweet that discusses racism, tells a good story, or just makes a difference. I’m working on that through my historical fantasy #WiP, #WhoByFireIWill. Once published, donate one or more copies to your local public library, as I intend to do.

Dear Readers, any additional ideas toward learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning as part of on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind? 

Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure  & #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19:
1. #PublicLibraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!, Teach and Learn (Lesson Plans)!

ShiraDest

Preptober (October, Prep for NaNoWriMo!)

2020 CE, which is 12020 HE

(The previous lesson plan since this post, and the most recent lesson plan…)

Thoughtful Thursdays and racism, mentioning Dr. King’s Basic Income, in passing, and a Town Hall Link

It’s quarter to 5 P.T., so please watch the long-scheduled Biden Town Hall, and then read this post (I’d love to hear your comments on both, please…)

This reference to the Basic or Citizen’s Income, as Dr. King called for it in 1968, is from his last book.

Here is where I am in wondering about some ideas I wrote up a while ago regarding community and safety:

Economic Democracy, which as Dr. King pointed out, is the only true means of both riot prevention and thus of lasting social stability, requires a high level of cooperation.
Preventing torture and senseless killings, such as that of Travon Williams and others, depends on the existence and maintenance of respect and trust within and between communities such that that can then cooperate effectively to prevent the dehumanization and hate crimes which ultimately result from lack of understanding and cooperative interaction between individuals and communities

So, it turns out that my reluctance to mention racism as an overt factor, possibly because I keep getting told that I don’t look Black enough, by non-Southern White people, to be Black, and that I’m too “high yellow” to be Black by fellow Black folks, yet called a Nigger (1981 VA) or told that “the races don’t mix” (1994 Baltimore), or that people wouldn’t want people like myself on their property (1995 Baltimore) by white southerners. So, not to bring up the Tragic Misunderstood Mullata (or Quadroon/Octaroon, in my case), I hate to say it but I have to say it: racism is involved here, in our dehumanizing of others, specifically of Black folks in the USA. People claim not to be racist or prejudiced, but say things like “los negros si son flojos” (Black people really are lazy), or that there is plenty of opportunity, they just don’t want to work: until I speak up and say, I am Black. Then I am often told to “contain myself,” or that I am simply imagining things.  Interesting how that works.  More on my continuing striving with community and not (intentionally, anyway) passing for White, next week, friends:

Yassas,   γεια σας!    Salût !  Nos vemos!  Görüşürüz!     ! שָׁלוֹם

Action Items in support of literacy and hope that you can take right now:

1.) List four ways that you see racism affecting the world today.

Dear Readers, any additional ideas toward learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning as part of on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind? 

Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure  & #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19:
1. #PublicLibraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!, Teach and Learn (Lesson Plans)!

ShiraDest

October, 12020 HE

(The previous lesson plan since this post, and the most recent lesson plan…)

Moody Mondays, and your own story as motivation to work for Justice for All?

Everyone has a story.

Everyone also has some motive for what one does in life, quite likely shaped in some way by previous life experiences, every one of whose is unique.

Racism started my quest, but as I learned that racism is merely a tool used to divide all of us to more easily rule, I looked to our legal structures for the change needed to keep all of us safe in equal measure.

Here is where much of my motivation for doing my part to change the world comes from:

 

Injustice Essay, UDC´s David C. Clarke Antioch School of Law

I must admit to finding this essay one of the most unsettling and emotionally difficult to write pieces in my writing career. While there are certainly more cutting incidents and more superficially significant incidents which I have experienced in my forty two years, I have chosen to share this event for two reasons. First, this incident strikes me as an example of the subtle damage done by fear, bias, and the perceptions and uses of power in the absence of mutual trust and full voice in decision-making processes. Second, this particular instance seems to have set in my consciousness a deep understanding of the need for cooperation not only between oppressed communities, but also of the need for each of us to understand the stories and ways of communicating of other people.

I was about seven years of age, a fair-skinned girl of African-American descent, riding through the Lincoln or the Holland tunnel in a car driven by a young Jewish woman, who happened to be both my mother´s roommate, and my defacto babysitter most of the time. As we came to the entrance of the tunnel, a pall of fear came over her face. We were being pulled over by a police officer, a barrel-chested white man, who appeared both unhappy and menacing as he got out of his car. Although I did not comprehend the issue at the time, she certainly felt that being pulled over was an injustice to her on the part of the police officer. She turned to me, the fear palpable in her voice, and said

“now look, this cop will think you are my daughter, and that means he will think that I am dating a black guy, so keep your mouth shut and don´t make any Smart Alec remarks.”

By that age, based on the treatment I regularly received from my classmates in school who took me for a mixed race child, I was well aware that interracial relationships of any kind were unacceptable, even in the New Jersey of 1976. I found myself as full of fear as my visibly nervous guardian. All I could do was to sit and watch, mouth clamped firmly shut, as the officer approached.

To this day, I have no recollection of the events after her fateful words to me, but I will always retain the memory of the chilling effect those words had on me, as I realized that not only my schoolmates, but even adults whom I would never meet, hated me for my mere appearance. I came to admire the courage and patience of this young Jewish woman who took the time to introduce me to both her culture and even to my own, as we listened alternately to Jewish music and to records by African musicians. She emphasized that I should learn about both my own heritage and about the heritages of others. She opened to me a world of possibility, while reminding me that I must always be cognizant of my own origins, and that no person´s origins were without both pain and responsibility. The damage of both self-hatred and discrimination caused by fear of and bias against those who appear to be different from ourselves can best be overcome through inclusive sharing of stories. That kind of openness between communities can create space for cooperative communication. Out of this process can emerge new and creative applications of shared power which enable all parties to safely contribute to building structures which both protect the dignity of all members of society and enable each person to rise to his or her full potential. These processes require high levels of both mutual trust and mutual respect which allow for the differences in power levels to be negotiated in participatory venues which deliberately include the voices of all who are affected by such decision-making processes. This inclusion both requires and generates cooperation between individuals and communities as first stories, and then problems, and then potential solutions, are shared and debated. While solutions must begin in the community, sometimes the end result of such discussion must be finalized in the legal system via reformulation of the legal codes, discovery of already existing codes, as in the case of DC´s “Lost Laws”, or simply providing voice for those who cannot make themselves heard. All of these processes require a sense of shared values and mutual respect. As citizens of a democracy, “we the people” must work together “to form a more perfect union” where the interests of all are protected and promoted equally.

Fear and distrust are most effectively dispelled by building upon our shared values, emphasizing the egalitarian ethos upon which our founding documents are based, and working to make those ideals a practical reality. Cooperative understanding of stories and concerns is a key part of the process needed to banish hatred and bias on the road to building full participation and voice for all. To paraphrase a song we sang frequently in school, our origins carry both a patient faith that the difficult past can be overcome, and a roll-up-your-sleeves type of hope that the present brings us ever more opportunities to repair this pain-filled world. As I reflect upon this incident, there is no way in which I could or even would have responded differently at that time, but I carry forward from thence a fervent faith and hope that through cooperation between communities we can help to lift every voice so that all are clearly heard. Through the kind of legal training provided at the UDC David Clarke School of Law, I hope to serve as a more effective facilitator of both short-term and long-term cooperative empowerment.

(re-reading this essay, it occurs to me that it showed my interest in history and Cultural Change/Cooperation (sociology?) more than Law, which is actually an Adversarial System in our society…)

(Shira) Destinie Jones

Read, Write, Run, Teach !

ShiraDest
18 February, 12016 HE

 

So, it turns out that I guess I have to agree with the saying that everyone has a story worth hearing is true: each story motivates some action, does it not?  More on my continuing striving with life next week, friends:

Yassas,   γεια σας!    Salût !  Nos vemos!  Görüşürüz!     ! שָׁלוֹם

Action Items in support of literacy and hope that you can take right now:

1.) Search for two different reasons to tell your story.

2.) Share them with us in the comments, here, please.

4.) Write a blog post or tweet that tells part of your story, tells a different good story, or just makes a difference. I’m working on that through my historical fantasy #WiP, #WhoByFireIWill. Once published, donate one or more copies to your local public library, as I intend to do.

Dear Readers, any additional ideas toward learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning as part of on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind? 

Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure  & #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19:
1. #PublicLibraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!, Teach and Learn (Lesson Plans)!

ShiraDest

October, 12020 HE

(The previous lesson plan since this post, and the most recent lesson plan…)

Language learning Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations: a short history

A very short recap, since I posted a similar article recently:

We came, we spoke, we suffered.

Languages shape the ways that we think.  Grammar places action, object, and subject of a sentence, the articles and forms of negation differently in every language.   Languages accustom us to listening for different inflections, so learning more than one family of languages teaches us that communication involves more than just words, it involves gestures. Some gestures, like tilting the head, are physical, and other gestures, like opening the hand, are both physical and spiritual. The spiritual gesture being made by one city hearkens back to the language of the Bible: Patach, tiftach… Open, you shall open (your hand)…

Ashville, NC, has voted to make a start toward reparations for slavery…

In the Abrahamic cultures of the western world, the entire basis of justice is contained in these reiterated verses of a book seen as foundational to many, and used as the basis of conversation between many people in the western world. These verses, the open hand always followed by the release from debt and servitude, say in the richest and plainest of language, that slaves are to be released not empty-handed, after seven years, but with sustenance. Now, one city is looking at how these values were overlooked for far longer than that. This gesture may not go far enough, but it is a very promising start, in terms of the needed assumption of responsibility for the systemic issues which continue to plague the Black community of the USA for the many years since “slavery ended” on paper, but not in fact. May this step stir other cities, states, and nations to continue this process, and move all of us toward learning the languages of Mutual Respect, Truth, and Reconciliation.

Action Items:

1.)   Read and share a book on why the Black Community is still “The last hired and first fired.”

2.)   Read and share the statistics on generational wealth comparisons between Black and White communities in the US.

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness, & #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4:
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19
ShiraDest

August, 12020 HE

How language learning can help with Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations.

Languages are not only made of the words that we speak, but also, and perhaps more importantly, they are made of the ways that we think, and languages also shape the ways that we think. From ways that grammar places action, object, and subject of a sentence, to ways that the articles and forms of negation which exist, or do not exist in a given language, accustom us to listening for different inflections, learning more than one family of languages teaches us that communication involves more than just words, it involves gestures. Some gestures, like tilting the head, are physical, and other gestures, like opening the hand, are both physical and spiritual. The spiritual gesture being made by one city hearkens back to the language of the Bible: Patach, tiftach… Open, you shall open (your hand)…

Ashville, NC, has voted to make a start toward reparations for slavery…

In the Abrahamic cultures of the western world, the entire basis of justice is contained in these reiterated verses of a book seen as foundational to many, and used as the basis of conversation between many people in the western world. These verses, the open hand always followed by the release from debt and servitude, say in the richest and plainest of language, that slaves are to be released not empty-handed, after seven years, but with sustenance. Now, one city is looking at how these values were overlooked for far longer than that. This gesture may not go far enough, but it is a very promising start, in terms of the needed assumption of responsibility for the systemic issues which continue to plague the Black community of the USA for the many years since “slavery ended” on paper, but not in fact. May this step stir other cities, states, and nations to continue this process, and move all of us toward learning the languages of Mutual Respect, Truth, and Reconciliation.

Words and their impact: important…

While watching El Ministerio del Tiempo with me, a friend commented that it was already passing the Bechdel test for sexism in films/TV shows in the first 20 minutes of the first episode, and then explained that the test also applies to racism in the media.  The importance of this is not just to hit political correctness marks, but to show the impact that words have on both our personal and our cultural development.

After watching the recent electoral campaign, I am more convinced than ever that we as a society need to learn how to think critically, to investigate fully, and above all, to put ourselves in the histories and shoes of the other (see the #SafetyPin movement…).  We need to learn to speak and think Non-Violently, and to think and act inclusively.  Not just for ourselves, but for our posterity.

If there is still a  habitable planet in another hundred years for our posterity, that is.  Even if not, who would want the coming generations to live in fear and aggression in what is left of humanity’s time on this earth?

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

ShiraDest
November 9th, 12016 HE

Review of Invisible Children: A must read for all American Citizens of voting age

Invisible ChildrenInvisible Children by Mike Tikkanen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Check it out at a library, via Worldcat:
https://www.worldcat.org/title/invisi…

First, “States will also discover that investing in children pays big dividends for better schools, safer streets, and happier communities.”

This is the real problem:
“Because so many of us accept snippets of TV coverage of complex stories as the story, we are unable to understand and evaluate what needs to be done to solve the problem that caused it. We don’t take the time to investigate, and it’s easier to assign blame than to solve complex problems.”

Actionable take-home message:
1. “Draw attention to the importance of adequate mental health services for abused and neglected children in your community.”

2. “It is only learned coping skills and behavior modification that will keep children out of the Criminal Justice System, not medications without therapy.”

and
3. “Let your political leaders know you expect them to provide mental health services in your schools and for abused and neglected children.”

Note: “we would rather build prisons than libraries or playgrounds” yet “countries with the lowest rates of poverty and illiteracy have the lowest crime rates.”

KARA founder presents evidence of what has always been obvious to abused kids:
“Our standards for success in dealing with abused and neglected children are too low. Small achievements seem to warrant a stamp of success. Too soon the state decides: that’s enough of the state’s resources for that one. ”
but
“Pre-school programs are affordable, well run, and common throughout the rest of the industrialized world. Only the U.S. makes early childhood learning and day care unaffordable to poor people.”

Result(s):
“UNICEF found that the teen pregnancy rate in America is twice that of the industrialized nations.”

Children need far stronger community protections, partly because:
“unless a parent kills them, a care-giving perpetrator is not likely to suffer any consequences”
yet:

“If you look, you will see that children are protected, cared for, and educated better in the rest of the industrialized world. … Our systems are not functioning to solve these problems. Many of our institutional policies exacerbate the problems. A lack of resources leads to poorly trained providers and inadequate services. To ignore the inter-relatedness of the issues is to guarantee continued failure”
and on race, see: “Minnesota Spokesman Recorder, “Special Ed: The New Segregation,” Rosi Tavf, February 12, 2004).” and “a convict in China makes about twelve cents an hour compared to eleven cents an hour paid to a Minnesota convict. About 50 percent of the prison population is African-American, while African-Americans make up under 13 percent of the general population.”

and on poverty: “Americans have agreed (by voting) that incarcerating vast numbers of poverty stricken uneducated people, mostly for non-violent offenses, is a better alternative than anything else we can think of.”

Let’s think of better.
This is a book that all citizens, particularly of the USA, need to read. Then, do your part to support early and continuous learning for All, please.

In Solidarity with All Kind People,
Peace via Cooperation and Non-Cooperation,

ShiraDest
4th of December, 12015 HE

View all my reviews