Monday, February 08, 2016

Mahomet, Illinois

I don't think I've done a post quite like this one.

Mahomet, Illinois had 7,258 people in the 2010 census.  95.88% were white.  (Down from 97.94% white in the 2000 census.)  It's voter registration is:
Democratic:     505  or 12%
Green:                 4 or 0.10%
Non-Partisan   1,692 or 41%
Republican      1,926 or 46%

I know you're asking yourself some variation of, "What?!!"

Someone from Mahomet, Illinois dropped by this blog and I thought it interesting that an Illinois town had a variation of the Prophet Mohammed's name as the town's name.  Who are these people?
Or was this an Indian name?

So I looked it up.  Originally the town was called Middletown because it was between two larger towns.  But another town already had that name and mail deliveries were getting confused.  So in 1871 they changed it to Mahomet.

From Wikipedia:
The Illinois town's name derives from the "Mahomet Lodge," the local Masonic Lodge at the time the town was searching for a new name. Its use as the name of the lodge was a manifestation of the Freemasons' liberal use of religious names and stonemason tools and symbols."This claim needs references to reliable sources. (April 2009)" An alternative theory states that the name Mahomet was arbitrarily assigned when the conflicting names were noted by the US Postal Service.
[UPDATE 6:20pm: See comments that challenge this account and offer evidence the town was named after Native American Mahomet Weyonomon.  Comments also have interesting info about Mahomet possibly being a sunset town - a town were black were not allowed after dark.]

I did look up ethnicities and religion.  I would imagine that Muslims might find a town named after their prophet attractive.  The census data said there were 34 Arabs.  I also found a list of religious participation.  In general, religious participation seems significantly lower than the national average.  And there are double the Muslims than the national average and more Muslims than LDS, Presbyterians, and Jews.

Religion  Mahomet, Illinois United States
Percent Religious 34% 48.78%
Catholic 7.8% 19.43%
LDS 0.84% 2.03%
Baptist 4.18% 9.30%
Episcopalian 0.45% 0.65%
Pentecostal 4.64% 1.8%
Lutheran 2.96% 2.33%
Methodist 4.51% 3.93%
Presbyterian 1.52% 1.63%
Other Christian 5.22% 5.51%
Jewish 0.37% 0.73%
Eastern 0.11% 0.53%
Islam 1.64% 0.84%

BUT, take this with a big grain of salt.  I checked to see if the percentage of Muslims was greater than other Illinois towns.  First I checked Champaign, IL, ten miles from Mahomet. Champaign is the county seat and has 200,000 population.   It had exactly the same statistics. So these numbers mean nothing, really, for the Village of Mahomet.  I'm leaving them in here though as a reminder to folks, to double check things you find on the internet.

I couldn't help wondering what do people living in a place called Mahomet think of their town's name these days?  So, I googled, "discussion of name change Mahomet, Illinois."   I got the minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Mahomet, July 28 2015.

A Mr. Thompson wanted to change the name.  Here's the full report from the minutes:

PUBLIC COMMENT: Mark Thompson, had distributed a document on the American Flag. Thompson had mentioned the gold braid on the Village’s American Flag at a previous meeting.
Thompson stated he had expected to come to the meeting a few months ago but due to the death of his mother-in-law he could not attend. He also mentioned he had come to what he thought was the Board meeting but was mixed up on the date and showed up on a Wednesday.
Thompson began to speak to the name of Mahomet. He stated the Village of Mahomet can mean only one and that is “The Village of Mohammed. [sic] He stated there is no other meaning. Thompson stated there are 14 Christian churches in this town and no Mosque. He stated Mahomet being named after the Prophet Mohammed was an apostasy.
Thompson referenced the 1st commandment that “there shall be no other gods before me”. He stated he believed it was a slap in God’s face by having a town named Mohammed. Thompson distributed a document called the Life of Mahomet and History of Islam to the Board and the press.
Thompson stated as a Christian he is deeply offended by the Village being named after a Muslim Prophet. He stated the Confederate flag has been banned because someone was offended and added that he is much more offended by our town being named Mahomet.
He stated the name can be changed. He asked what he would have to do to start the process. He asked if he brought a petition, how many signatures would it take to change the name. He asked if he should start a Go Fund Me campaign and take this nationally to see how many Americans are also offended.
Thompson stated that Muslims are killing Christians every 5 minutes in the world but the Muslims would tell you they are a people of peace, but there are a revolutionary group of Muslims and they should not be ignored. He stated having our town named Mahomet was not compatible with our constitution.
He stated just recently there have been shooting in America that can be traced back to radical Muslim thinking.
He stated he was not here to make a speech, but looking for an answer. He asked if they could answer this tonight.
Widener stated he believed Thompson would not receive an answer tonight but he has the right to pursue whatever he believes he needed to do.
Widener stated he did not know the answer to this question. Lynn asked Thompson if he understood how much money it would take to change the name. Lynn stated making a change like this through the mail system could cost millions of dollars.
Thompson stated as a Christian he is offended by the name and he would hope others are as well.
Thompson stated he understands it costs money but he hopes everyone understands that the name Mahomet. He added that he had mentioned a Go Fund Me campaign and believed it would be supported nationwide.
Thompson added that the word Mahomet appears on our water tower so that is what people see when they enter our town.
Thompson stated he was disappointed in the response from the Board. He stated he believed the right answer would have been to encourage Thompson to circulate a petition.
Attorney Evans asked Thompson his address. Thompson stated his address was xxxx N., Dewey, but added that his children went to school in Mahomet. Brown stated this Board’s jurisdiction was on for the corporate limits. He stated if Thompson wanted to collect signatures he would need to canvas both the Village and Township, but this Board’s concern would be with the residents inside the Village limits.
So apparently Mr. Thompson doesn't even live in the Village of Mahomet.  I suspect that he's someone the Trustees know and are polite to, but don't take seriously.

I couldn't find anything else on the name change, but I suspect it didn't get much further than this.

Given the anti-Muslim sentiments among some in the US today, I'm glad to see that there is a town named Mohamet and that it's not interested in changing its name.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Happy Year Of The Monkey

From Chinese Fortune Calendar:
"2016 is the 4713th Chinese Year. According to Chinese Horoscope calendar, the first day of Red Monkey is on February 4, 2016. This day is not the Chinese New Year Day. Most of Internet Chinese horoscope sites use Chinese New Year Day to determine the Chinese zodiac sign, which is wrong. Chinese New Year Day of Red Monkey Year is on February 8, 2016. This is the reason that some people confuse their Chinese zodiac signs."

The picture comes from my copy of the Monkey King and the illustration is by Zdeněk Sklenáf.  This picture is from chapter 9, 'The Monkey King disrupts the Peach Banquet.'

The Chinese Fortune Calendar also tells us about Monkey King:
"Monkey King is a main character in the Chinese classical novel Journey to the West. Monkey King was born from a stone and acquired supernatural powers from a Taoist master. It's very naughty, went to heaven, stole an elixir of life, ate many peaches of longevity, and then rebelled against heaven. All guardians or generals of heaven cannot conquer the monkey. Finally Buddha tamed and jailed it in the bottom of Five-Element mountain. The monkey had to wait Master Xuan-Zang monk for 500 years to rescue it. Then the story of Journey to the West began. The monkey had to escort the master monk to bring Buddhist sutras from India to China. At the time of the journey, the stone monkey was about 850 years old."

From Your Chinese Astrology:
The people born in the year of the monkey are of great intellects and skillful. They are usually good leaders. Quick and intelligent as they are, they can win prizes frequently from childhood, thus, often appreciated by parents and teachers. Besides, they are most in good physical conditions. Not only good in fortune when they are young, but also perfect after middle ages. As they are good at saving up money, they usually live lives without worrying about food and clothing.
The people under the sign of the monkey are sometimes a bit quick-tempered. This may hinder them from getting success. So, they should learn to be patient to overcome. They also like to project themselves to attract others. As they have extraordinary ability to distinguish between things, they can always make good decisions. In their families, they are usually considerate and thoughtful.

The monkey people born in different periods of a day have different personalities and fortune:The Monkey people born in the morning usually treat others kindly and politely. They would not like to push themselves forward. When dealing with things, they are usually actively to round off their work. However, they regard their interests much more important than work. Sometimes, they may give up a good job in order to have more time on their hobbies. So, when finding jobs, they had better choose one that they are interested. However, like the monkey scampering in the trees in nature, the Monkey people are not steady. They are fond of social activities and circulate among many friends. Nevertheless, they have few bosom friends.

To test this, here are some people born in the Year of the Monkey:

Leonardo de Vinci (1452)
Charles Dickens (1812)
Oscar Schindler (1908)
Elizabeth Taylor (1932)
Michele Kwan (1980)
Yao Ming (1980)

Here's a whole list of famous people born 1908.

Here's some flashy juggling, balancing, and acrobatics from the Beijing Opera about the Monkey King.

Two Dead Mice

Mid December I posted that we had a mouse and I'd bought a catchem-alive mousetrap.  Well, we still had a mouse two weeks ago.  One day Joan saw him scampering along the wall from the kitchen to the living room.

The next day she had an arsenal of mouse catching weapons.  No more Mr. Nice guy.  Now it was no more mice guy.

There were two chic little white plastic mouse traps - variation of the old wooden ones that snap shut, but these you opened more like a clothespin.  Much less danger of trapping your own finger.  And there were sticky strips to put in their paths.  Sounded awful and I mentioned calling PETA.  She was undeterred.  There's even something called 'better than cheese' that you put in the trap.

Long story short - the next morning there were two dead mice.  One on the sticky strip and one in a trap.  Now, it was my job to get rid of the mice.  She was finished with her work.   I rarely use the page break option - not even sure it will work - but I don't want to offend anyone with a dead mouse picture.  [I had trouble with the page break option long ago when I tried to use it.  ]

I did realize that most of my mental mouse images come from Walt Disney - particularly the mice in Cinderella which is what makes this so disturbing.  But, while we'd never seen both mice at the same time, I was beginning to think we needed to end this before there were babies.

[I tried it and it didn't work on Safari or on Firefox.  The right code is in, but there's no page jump option.  If anyone has some tips, please let me know.  Meanwhile, I'm leaving the pictures off.  If you must see them,email me.  I also did leave the page break code in, so if you DO see it, let me know that too. ]

[Yet another Feedburner problem.  This seems to be getting all too common.  Though I seem to have made it two weeks this time without having to post something twice.  I add these notices for two reasons. 1.  For those who found this post another way, I'm sorry if you were fooled into coming back. And 2.   I'm also keeping track of how many times Feedburner takes more than an hour or two to kick in.]

Friday, February 05, 2016

Odds And Ends - Central American Peaks, 99 Year Life Ends, Race, Police, And Headlines

A colleague has driven from Seattle to Mexico in the hopes of climbing the highest mountain in each Central American country.  (I actually have a book of the highest peaks in all the US states, but doubt that at this point I'll reach the tops of too many of them.)  Anyway, Sharman's blogging the trip and some of you might like to follow along.  Her partner Mike made it to the top of Mexico's highest mountain Citlaltépetl, but Sharman decided not to fight the altitude and only went part of the way.

Frank at 99
My step-mother's husband died the other day. (She married him after my father died.)  We saw them Here's a video I made of the two of them in 2008, with more biography of each.
in early January.  Frank was 99.  He grew up in Czechoslovakia, speaking Hungarian and Czech and was in Nazi work camps during WWII.  His younger brother Larry got out of Europe before WW II to study at UCLA.  Larry died a couple of years ago.

Time speeds along.  The Anchorage IRS advocate (I didn't know each state had one.  Sen. Murkowski's office contacted her on my behalf.) called yesterday to let us know she's working on the case and will get back to me.

I probably should have mentioned yesterday for folks not in Anchorage that the library steps are getting torn down to reconfigure the entrance. We aren't tearing down the library.  The fact that money was found for this is a positive sign.   The old entrance was a compromise between the original architectural design and lack of funds to do it right.  That led to the main entrance being on the second floor with a big staircase.  Not terribly accessible, especially in the winter when the steps got covered with snow.  So they built a cover.  But now they are planning to put the main entrance on the ground floor.  I haven't seen the detailed plans.

I still have video from the racial equity summit Monday and Tuesday. (And from other encounters as well.)  A regular reader also send a link to an interesting article about researchers demonstrating subconscious responses that show racism based on very quick (less than a second) views of people.  Clever techniques to figure this out.  Interesting article.   Here's the beginning.
"Jennifer Eberhardt presented her research at a law enforcement conference, she braced for a cold shoulder. How much would streetwise cops care what a social psychology professor had to say about the hidden reaches of racial bias? Instead, she heard gasps, the loudest after she described an experiment that showed how quickly people link black faces with crime or danger at a subconscious level. In the experiment, students looking at a screen were exposed to a subliminal flurry of black or white faces. The subjects were then asked to identify blurry images as they came into focus frame by frame.

The makeup of the facial prompts had little effect on how quickly people recognized mundane items like staplers or books. But with images of weapons, the difference was stark—subjects who had unknowingly seen black faces needed far fewer frames to identify a gun or a knife than those who had been shown white faces. For a profession dealing in split-second decisions, the implications were powerful." [To read the rest]
This is particularly interesting in light of Mike Dingman's commentary in the ADN today about police reaction to the Mayor's intent to diversify the Anchorage police department.  The headline was:
"Mayor calls for diversity in APD, and some folks get the vapors"
But then again, I'm seeing more and more sensational headlines these days.  When you read the article it doesn't seem as extreme as the headline.  Like this teaser on the cover of the ADN today:
"In sharp clash, Clinton and Sanders swap barbs and views
In a brutally caustic debate Thursday night . . ."
Really?  If the Clinton/Sanders exchange was 'brutally caustic' how would you describe the recent Republican debates.  In the article (link is to original NY Times article) it tells us that Clinton said,
". . . months of criticism by Mr. Sanders over her taking speaking fees from Wall Street banks amounted to a suggestion that she was corrupt — or, as she put it, a 'very artful smear.'
Is this an attempt to be even handed?  To make the Democrats look as belligerent as the Republicans?

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Loussac Steps Starting To Go

I went to the library Saturday and was surprised to see the steps still intact.  They shut the library down for ten days, but it seems that was to set up the new library entrance on the west side.

The stairs and their covering were still there Saturday.

But I went back yesterday - Wednesday - and they'd started chipping away (literally.)  It looks like those steps are pretty solid.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Shaving Legs And Armpits

The other day I was thinking about how back when I was  a student in Germany in the mid-1960s the women students didn't shave their legs or armpits.  As a good American student my first reaction was shock.  But over the year I got to regard it as normal.  I considered a post about how corporations shape our thinking and behavior so they can sell more stuff, but other things came up.  I don't even remember how the topic came up.

And then I ran across this posted on a friend's FB page.

Visiting Alaska While We're Home

One of the most common axioms in Alaska is that Anchorage is just 20 minutes from Alaska.  And while we've been going back and forth so much lately, I have to remember that while we're back home in Anchorage, to make sure we go see a bit of Alaska each time.  So Sunday, with blue sky and sunshine and relatively warm weather (20s), we headed to McHugh Creek.

Note that it was January 31 and the water of Turnagain arm was . . . water.  Not ice.

And the trail was ice and snow free as we started off.

I checked the rock map.  Wish I could read the story it's telling us.

Further up the trail, there were patches of ice.  It's ironic.  All the snow is gone, except on the trail where people's footsteps packed the snow down and it became ice.  The very reason I work hard to keep our sloping driveway snow free - so it doesn't become an ice slope.

There was also ice over the creeks the path crosses.

All these pictures are much sharper if you click on them.

Two ravens began a raucous alert.

And above we saw the reason, flying over.

It looked more like early fall as the setting sun put an orange glow on the hillside.

So good to get out and walk in the woods.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Panel Discussion: How Do You Keep Things Going At Work?

Notes on what was said.  This was delayed until I got the names right (I hope.)

l-r  Nicholas, Neisha, Evon, Liz, George, Daxkilatch

Daxkilatch James - 5th or 6th generation to hold my name - thank 1491s for raising that issue about walking in two worlds - hard to turn my Native off.  How we bring this into work we do.

Work for University of Alaska, one of the coordinators for Native and Rural students center.  UAS - Juneau, Kethikan campus.  Part of orientation, assume safely that most people coming to campus are somehow related to me.  Our aunties and uncles do the teaching, so that's how I see myself.  But not everyone comes from Tlingit culture, and I have to work with them too.

Neisha Jones -  I bring my authentic self to work.  I feel like you have to do that without concessions, unapologetically.  High racial tensions these days.  Being a black women, in service, and a business owner.  I feel it's important to bring access to younger women.  How beautiful their skin and hair are. We don't get that enough.  We filter out who we are often because we don't want to be offensive.

George Martinez - lots of opportunity to travel, originally out of the melting pot, from the second most diverse community - Queens.  Seen diversity real time and how institutions didn't reflect that.  I group up speaking multiple languages living myself by default.  Recognize our selves, as a work in process, gives me a sense of my value.  When use language of equity, could me fair and impartial, but most people here use it in other ways - you're homeowners, or corporate shareholders.  Think of US as a business and we all have shares.  Who determines those shares?  If we don't have our own . . . people ready to make claims, challenge existing institutions to respond.  Original claim - give us something and get out of the way - but now thinking about collaborative systems.  My total self - I grew up up speaking English and Eubonics.  I never saw two worlds, I saw multiple worlds.  Everyone here has a different view of what the world is and should be.

Nicholas Gatinin - Sitka - I've always. . . coopting our knowledge and things that shape our identities as artists, community members.  Irony of needing access to success through institutions, then having to hang up your culture to do well.  These are what our artists, poets, musicians, activists, scholars working at creating space for our voices and for our youth.  Historically, the same institutions that created forced assimilation.  We need to focus on those spaces.

Daxkilatch James -   Thanks for inviting me to be part of this conversation.  Shout out to 1491s . . .  Indian country is so small.  ???'s father is national leader talking for mother Earth, and he was one of my mentors, so I saw these young men before.  Understanding why they are doing this, is so powerful.  Purpose in how we presented ourselves and how we showed up.  Had privilege of growing up with Gwitchin single mother, had facial tattoos, as part of her healing process.  A decolonization process.  Thank her for teaching me.
Grew up in Mt. View for a little while - saw urban impoverishment and also in Fairbanks.  And sent away to live with grandfather in village.  Got to see a real different way of living and being.  When I became conscious of the inequity in the world around me and why Alaska Natives were facing so many challenges, but those from other cultural backgrounds had so much more wealth - at that time I was a high school drop out with a mohawk.  Reembrace of our identity.  Analysis of western institutions and systems - social, education, economic - are unsustainable.  Need to indigenize the world so we can be happy and whole as people.

Liz Medicine Crow:  Hit on a couple of themes.  Being able to bring your whole self into work.  Through our work, we're trying to build relationships and then create a pathway to bring others in.  Find ways for more people to be at those tables.  Becomes really hard sometimes. There's a lot of consequences when you put yourself out there all the time, if you are always the one bringing up 'those' issues.  How do not be always the angry brown/black person, the need to educate everyone else.  How do you focus on the job?

George:  I became a mechanic long ago.  I'm in a mechanic uniform now.  My sphere is public service.  In my personal walk, the power to go in and challenge the institution comes from the power to not do that.  I know the value of myself as a whole person and my relationship to the planet.  Whether folks knew that or it's new and they're learning.  I refuse to make the false choice and let institutions shape the process of what I'm doing.  If you are working for a paycheck, you have a restraint.  From a hip hop perspective, a cardboard box on the sidewalk, changes everything into a music studio and we can remix things.  I can either go into your institution and just do your work, or we can go in and be entrepreneurial and make things actually work.  I'll take the tools and build the alternative.  If you build it, they will come.  When we did hip hop, it wasn't to change the world, but we did it for ourselves.  I take that into institutions.  I didn't expect them to see me as normal.  Structures are changing enough to ask the questions to invite us to bring what we have into the existing institutions.  I'm not here for the 20 years.  I'm here for the generations.  Not here to see fruits of our labor, but to do the work.

Daxkilatch -  I appreciated Gyasi reminding us that we come from 10,000 years of survivors.  It's not a mistake that we're here today.  Important to know who you are and where you are from is important.  My auntie who was a weaver, berry picker . . . .  if I don't see eye to eye with someone at work, I remember the ladies before me had these conversations.  If you know who you are you start to heal.  Where we are today, people sharing their stories, thank all our ancestors and elder for sharing their dark stories.  I know now when I'm going for change, I remember my grandparents experiences, advocating for them as well as the future.  Tlingit word ??? you are in three places at once - your past, present, and future.

Even Peter - We are challenging injustice and inequity - an everyday thing for Alaska Native people.  Also working to build foundations - curriculum, ways of decision making - represents where we are heading.  When I got to that point, clarified, keep old from getting worse, and build the future.  It's hard work.  Difficult.  Times I'm shaking before talking older white male officials and have to challenge their world system.  There's a way to do it gracefully, honorably, without compromising what you're doing.  When I was young, I was angry all the time.  That has transformed and is more powerful in getting to where we are going.  No matter what you do, most important is that you never give up.

Nicholas - Lots of the conversations and challenges, coming from community where our voices have been removed like our language, you are empowered by your ?? heritage - Important outlet for our artist and musicians.

George:  Add one more thing.  Making ourselves available to help allies.  How can white folks confront this themselves.  We have to make tools available for them.  Our city is really prime.  we have the demographics, head of our city, the Mayor, is open to challenging us to be more than just the language of diversity.  Challenging us to take advantage.  We shouldn't lose ground and keep building.

Liz:  Last question to give people time to ponder.  Can you share what you do to rejuvenate, regenerate, recommit.  Legit role for righteous anger, but have to find way to rejuvenate.

Nicholas - yes it is work to constantly engage, my work as an artist, no contract that says I have to teach people.  Traveling is big part of my work.  Going home helps rejuvenate.  Getting out on the water is where I get my breath back.

Neisha - yes, tiresome work.  Most times thankless  A lot of the work we do will come to fruition after we're gone.  You give a voice to people who don't have a voice, under represented.  Give them an outlet.  That is a tangible reward.  Seeing I have support of people who believe in what I'm doing.  Need to form partnerships with people in the community.

Daxkilatch - I married a hot man.  He's sitting back there.  To rejuvenate I turn to my family and friends.  I have phenomenal students at UAS.  Wonderful energy from the students.  Be ok with receiving, we aren't good at that.

George:  Speaking as a man with a hot wife . . .  How do I get burned out and how recharge.  I'm pretty good at finding ways to do collaborative things where we add value to each other so it's mutual benefit and struggle.  Try to find system.s  Aware of my bandwidth.  Know how to say no, to delegate.  I have two ways to generate.  I make music.  Got to do some organizing on east side and they sent me a beat Thursday night.  I still record.  My wife and I rap together.  My son - totally connected to him.  The abuse video from 1491s  I see my son and that rejuvenates me.  I cheat.  Doing stuff, being with people, the new opportunities validates the long hours.

Gwitchin:  Reality we have a spiritual experience - we go out and live off the land for a week or two - hunt, fish - that's when I'm at the peak of my spiritual connection to the cosmos.  When I got here last night and into the energy of the people around me was powerful.  Sweat ceremony is a way of connecting and purifying.  Billiards too.  I'm a pool player.  I love it.  Takes my mind away completely.  I'll be playing, most likely, in national championship in July.  We need to find those things that provide that break.  This work we do is not just for people of color, it's for everybody in this world.

Liz:  Thank you all for being part of this conversation today.  Metaphor for our work - like water - as strong, as flexible, as fluid, as refreshing.

Tim Wise - US is Snapchat Nation

[OK, this is rough, but if I wait to clean it up, it won't get up.  Gotta run to lunch and workshop.  Also there's video to be put up eventually.  Snapchat nation is explained near the bottom.  Typos will be corrected later, or not.]

Glad to be back in Alaska.  Anti-racism educator and writer from Nashville originally.  Working at schools, teachers, occasionally corporations, but I piss them off and they don't ask me back.  Seven books.

Today I want to do something a little different,  Books are fact and data driven which is useful in documenting.  But I know that for the most part, to create anti-racist movement it's not data, we didn't get into because we saw a position paper, but usually a personal story that was shared, that touched us not in the abstract way, but in the real way.  As a white guy, really good at abstracting this issue, even the people who want to make change.

I want to talk about the way the stories we white folks tell contribute to the problem.

Whites are people of the lie.  We've told ourselves so many lies that we no longer recognize truth from fiction.  James Baldwin said this long ago.  Speaking about black and white conflict.

People who imagine that history flatters them, and it does because they wrote it, are impaled like a butterfly.  They suffer from the being so embedded in a lie and suffer enormously from the incoherence this makes us.

I want to tell you three stories from my own life.

1.  My grandmother - incredible person and force in my life.  Come from messed up life.  Dad alcoholic.  Grandmother was my refuge from verbal violence.  She was also committed to equal rights.  Raised her kids right and had a big impact on me.  She had been raised in a very racist home - her dad was KKK in Michigan, Detroit.  GG father.  At 16 fell in love with my grandfather who was Jewish who lived in the black community.  She went to her dad one evening - either he was going to burn his robes and never go back to Klan, or she would burn them.  1936.  Back then girls didn't stand up to daddy.  GG Father took the challenge and accepted my grandfather.  That's the good part.

Toward the end of her life she began to develop alzheimer.  Both fascinating and terrifying process.  Stages of fear and anger and anxiety - you don't recognize people think they're trying to hurt you.  Saw her deteriorate.  Was tended by African American nurses.  In anger periods, would last hour at grandkids and nurses, this woman who made a stand against racism as a kid, as she deteriorated, she called those nurses - I won't repeat it, because you know.  When I asked doctors about the process we forget.  Dr:  Last thing you remember is the thing you knew best.  My grandmother knew racism best.

2.  My kid - now, about us.  We still have that virus.  Unless we are nurturing anti-racism.  Doesn't take us a  disease to make us angry and racist.  OK Tim, obviously your grandmother got taught that by her dad, but that doesn't apply to you.  My kids 14 and 12 now.  When 7 and 5, we watched a movie.  Heaven Almighty.  Morgan freeman plays God and he tells people to build an arc.  Kids had already seen it.  Rachel sees Morgan Freeman - is that really God?  5 years old, doesn't know better.  No, that's just an actor.  She says, Oh OK great.  Older daughter laughs at sister.  Rachel, that can't be God  - I knew I'd have to ask her why not and I knew what the answer would be.  I had a fantasy the answer would be great, like God is a woman.  But she was only 7.  She said, because God isn't black, God is white.  We don't have any pictures of God in our house.  But we can't protect our kids from all the images all over our culture.  Not only internalizing those white images of God, you internalize your superiority.  Blacks have opposite internalization.  If you have family who can overcome that, it doesn't make the internalized superiority go away.  None of us can be smug about who we think

3.  Me - this is mostly on video that will have to wait till I get it up.

The school got rid of his racist teacher, but my mom and I didn't see how the system itself, in its structure of different levels of courses that discriminated against blacks and favored the white kids.  We need to challenge our own narrative.

One more final story that speaks to the gaps in our knowledge.  Both daughters dancers.  Have to drive through public housing development, by definition is all poor and this one was predominantly white.  10 year old daughter asks, Why everyone in this neighborhood is black?   Good questions.  Most 5th grade classes don't teach this.  Older sister says, "Redlining."  How banks redlined neighborhoods to refuse loans to blacks.  Sister is right, but doesn't know why and talk about how history gets us to places.  It's not random.  These are outcomes of results of history.  Didn't lecture.  Just a two and a half honest explanation.  I don't think it was the first time she noticed it was a black neighborhood.  When you are the target oppressed community, you take the red pill (Matrix) and you're seeing the patterns.  But whites have the luxury of being on the blue pill.  Don't you see all this racism?  No, I don't see it man.    Kids don't have to be sociologists with PhDs, but they see these things.  Our kid had luxury of asking, because of what I do.  I asked parents about a week later.  There is only one honest answer about privileging and history.  Parents hemmed and hawed.  Or I don't want to burst the bubble of my child's innocence.  It's being burst every day.  Better we do it.  People say I shouldn't tell them about sexism because it will make it self fulfilling.  Hey, wouldn't send them down a dark alley with electronic fence at the end so they won't get neurotic.  No, they need to know for their own protection.

We've got to own the tuff that hurts.  Stop being snapchat nation, ok, but sending disappearing videos.  If Snapchat were a country, it would be the US.  What happened in the past is now gone and has nothing to do with today.

We're all privileged in some situations, if not white, then male, or straight,  or college educated, or able bodied.

1491s Get Serious With Humor

The 1491s  started off joking back and forth - see the first video - then moved into more serious talk.

They showed their video Smiling Indians and talked about how it got tons of racist comments on YouTube and even on their NPR interview.  They said that NPR took down the comments and they thought they should be kept up.  The movie was dedicated to Curtis, the photographer who took pictures of non-smiling Indians in the 1800s.  This movie was to show smiling Indians.

Their Facebook page.

They showed a film about domestic violence they made (which i can't find on Youtube.) They tried to make one that focused on the man and the impact on the child. Very powerful.

Then they talked about how they questioned the idea that 'we live in two worlds' and argued that we needn't keep the worlds separate and made some videos on that theme called Represent.

A truly incredible part of this workshop is the many different media that are being used in the conversation here about racial equality. The artwork on the stage behind all the speakers powerfully sends a message as well. There is other artwork in the room including an artist who is actively painting during the workshop. We've got humor here tinged with serious stories. The music wasn't simply entertainment, rather it was part of the conversation. Well, things aren't over yet. It's only 10am and we've got the rest of the day to go.

 You can watch this stuff live online.