Now Playing: "What Is And What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin
For those of you who don't know, CRAP is a technical term. Yep. I confirmed it yesterday at a Budget Planning meeting on Project Lead The Way with Jim, Eldon, Cindy and Vikki - CRAP is a technical term. Thus, I am using it in this blog and in the title for this blog, so deal with it.
In 2001, a conference was held in Durban, South Africa. This conference was called the World Conference against Racism (WCAR). Prior to this conference two other conferences had been held on the same subject matter, one in 1978 and the other in 1983. This year, 2009, another conference will be held to discuss racism. It was recently announced, like yesterday or Thursday, that the US is boycotting this conference to be held in Geneva, Switerland.
There are many reasons to attend a conference on racism. The top one that I can think of is that racism still plays a HUGE unacknowledged role in the United States and around the world, and it should be discussed throuoghly by the leaders of nations around this world and mutually agreed upon as an evil that must be eliminated. Yet, there are numerous reasons why THIS particular conference on racism should be scrapped.
From all reported sources, the pre-conference meetings that have been held to plan the WCAR conference for April 2009 have been producing documents that are clearly Anti-Semetic, and contains language that some consider defeats the purpose of the conference.
The explicit purpose of the conferences is to bring to light racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. I've read the document from 2001, the one that President Bush wouldn't sign, and it says some major things that I agree with and is very blunt in its assessment of past injustice and current injustices which are still being faced today. Still, it was imperfect and lacked some major realizations.
Here is one area that is both important for the good that it strives for, but is also woefully lacking:
Under the section titled "Programme of Action", the subsection "III. Measures of prevention, education and protection aimed at the eradication of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance at the national, regional and international levels", paragraph number 74 as follows:
74. Urges States and invites non-governmental organizations and the private sector:
a.) To create and implement policies that promote a high-quality and diverse police force free from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and recruit actively all groups, including minorities, into public employment, including the police force and other agencies within the criminal justice system (such as prosecutors);
b.) To work to reduce violence, including violence motivated by racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, by:
i. Developing educational materials to teach young people the importance of tolerance and respect;
ii. Addressing bias before it manifests itself in violent criminal activity;
iii. Establishing working groups consisting of, among others, local community leaders and national and local law enforcement officials, to improve coordination, community involvement, training, education and data collection, with the aim of preventing such violent criminal activity;
iv. Ensuring the civil rights laws that prohibit violent criminaly activity are strongly enforced;
v. Enhancing data collection regardin violence motivated by racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance;
vi. Providing appropriate assistance to victims, and public education to prevent future incidents of violence motivated by racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance;
Lots of good things in that little section we can cheer for, right? Yes. Many good ideas about the police, violence and justice system, etc. BUT...Okay, now, part of this is total CRAP (here's that technical word again). The very first statement i.) Developing educational materials to teach young people the importance of tolerance and respect;
Why is this CRAP? Because nobody wants to be simply TOLERATED. I don't want to teach my children to simply tolerate people who are different. I want my children to accept people, with all their differences, as people deserving of all the human rights and respects that they want and enjoy for themselves.
I am one of the Cultural Proficiency trainers at my workplace. People look at me and see a white woman and make assumptions about me. This pisses me off to no end! My cultural heritage and identity cannot be summed up as 'white woman'. My father's side of the family has a rich cultural heritage which goes back to Spanish colonoization of current day Mexico and the migration of the descendants of those Spanish & Amerindian offspring (the Mestizo - meaning mixed) to Spanish controlled California in the late 1780's and early 1790's. They moved and brought both Spanish and Amerindian cultures with them, and then, settled down living and marrying local indigenous people of California.
Meanwhile, my father's great great grandfather came from France and moved to California and married into the family. Then, years later, my father's other side of the family came from Southern Italy and the Spanish/French/Mexican-Amerindian married. In my great-grandfather's home, Spanish & French were spoken. In my great-grandmother's home, English & Italian were spoken. They all ended up producing my father, a rich blend of all those histories, cultures, enthicities. Family gatherings were huge at my Great Grandfather Barney's house, with large tables spread out so my Great Aunts could make tamales and chatter away in Spanish. I never learned it - my Grandmother Betty spoke with a clear accent, and she didn't want my father nor me to have the stigma that an accent carried, so she made sure that we weren't proficient in Spanish. I knew only commands like, "Siéntese" or "Cierra la boca" or "Traiga la abuela los plátanos" simple stuff. I called my Grandma Betty - Nana, and occasionally Abuela. I thought that was her name for a while until I learned it meant Grandmother. It was frustrating and now that I think about it, very sad, that my family did this to me. I never felt particularly close to them because they spoke Spanish around me and I felt excluded.
My mother's side was just as mixed up, Lithuanian, Creek Indian, and Armenian. Talk about diverse. One side of the family farmers, the other side cobblers, and factory laborers. My Grandmother and her sisters were raised speaking both Armenian and English, but my grandmother refused to teach Armenian to my mother or me. Again, it was exclusionary, and whenever my Great Aunts and my Grandmother spoke in Armenian to each other, it was purposefully to exclude us so they could talk about things privately. It felt awful. Now, my Great Aunt Peggy wasn't apparently like that and my cousin Paula speaks Armenian, and even moved back to Armenia a few years ago with her husband who also speaks it fluently.
I've attempted to learn Spanish, French, and Italian to reconnect with the various parts of my family and it iwas and is painful. I have sought to research my family ancestry because I feel disconnected and unwelcome. I don't want to be 'tolerated' at the Machado family reunion because I am not bilingual, or because I look white with pale skin and blue eyes. I am a genetic freak of nature. Both my parents have brown hair and eyes, and darker skin, olive in tint that can tan to pretty dark, yet I was a genetic improbabilty that found the genes in my Lithuanian side, and possibly French side and poof - no traces of my Amerindian, Italian, Armenian hertitage are clear. Take a look at this picture from my first birthday - at the bottom of this blog. I am seated on my Abuela's lap (that's my father's mother Betty). Next to her in the white is my Grandmother "Babe" Rose (the 100 % Armenian one). Behind her is my Grandfather Al who is the one of Lithuanian and Creek Indian heritage. The other man is my Grandfather Joe, who was 100% Italian. The other lady is my step-Grandmother Shirley, married to Grandpa Joe at this time. Do I look out of place in this picture? I mean seriously - I have my Grandfather Al's eyes, but look at my Grandmothers!
This is how I have felt my whole life. An outsider. This is why discrimination and racism hits me so hard. My Grandfather Al was a total racist and made terrible comments about my father repeatedly in front of me. He also made extremely racist comments about my adopted brother David and thought nothing of it. It hurt me even at that very young age and I understood it was wrong. His comments on the Catholic religion that both my Grandmothers adhered to were hateful, and unforgiving. He was upset that my mother would marry a N-word - yes, that's what he called my father, besides other things, because my father was mixed race in my Grandfather's eyes. Italians and Mexican/Amerindians just weren't white people. He had no problem with my Grandmother "Babe" even though she was Armenian, although the rat bastard did cheat on her and ended up marrying a nauseating "true white" woman of Polish heritage.
I applaud President Obama for not bringing the US to the table at this upcoming conference in Geneva in April. If mere tolerance is going to be on the table and nothing more, then we cannot be apart of that. We are not adhereing to the expressed beliefs of our shared American Dream if we are merely tolerating people.
Acceptance and embracing of each others diversities is what this world needs. Do not misunderstand me...I do not advocate the melting pot effect where we loose the important cultural traditions. I am not advocating seperate but equal...no not seperate...side by side embracing each other and equal. Not you over there and me over here, but both of us together, side by side, hand in hand, stepping together for justice, equality, liberty, freedom for all people in the human family regardless of the color of their skin, the language they speak, the religion they practice, their sexual orientation, their gender, their age, their national origin, their wealth, their so-called caste - all of it. One human family.