Wednesday, November 30, 2016

some thoughts from today's travels

The dew evaporated like an unwritten thought.
If it weren’t for extroverts, I’d have no friends. Thanks y’all. You’re cool.
I find it far easier to meet and interact with new people when I’m otherwise alone. If I’m accompanied by someone I know, I’m too focused on supporting that relationship to expend additional energy on trying to manage a multi-party interaction between myself, the person I know, and the new person. The more people involved, the more complicated the exchange becomes, and the more likely I am to be overwhelmed. But if I’m alone, I have the benefit of anonymity. I don’t owe anyone anything other than basic courtesy. That is so much easier.  

I attended an anti-harassment training event tonight. Here’s my takeaway:

There’s an element of awareness or symbolism to prejudice: I wear my hair covered frequently, but in a style that is different from the well-known hijab. The style of hair covering I wear is also used by Muslim women, but it is not recognized as such. So the question is: if a Muslim woman wears her hair like mine, is she harassed as often as Muslim women who wear the hijab? I think the answer is no, because in American culture only the hijab style is associated with Islam. This means that Islamophobic behaviors are not necessarily triggered by Islam’s symbols (as interpreted by the Muslim person), but by the symbols of that religion as interpreted by the harasser. Ergo, Islamophobia is a function of the perpetrator’s cognitive processes.

I believe: White supremacy (or bigotry, or Islamophobia, or nativism, or…) does not coexist with self-awareness in the mind of an individual.

When you call 911 (to report hate crimes/harassment), you get your local emergency services involved and on record. This forces acknowledgement of hate crimes at an institutional level, allows for the possibility of federal government attention. This also keeps the reality of hate crimes personally relevant for your local law enforcement personnel because it gives them direct experiential knowledge that it’s happening in their town. Those individuals are then more likely to correct the dismissal of such happenings in their daily conversations. They are more likely to speak up and say ‘this is happening, this is real.’ They are less likely to repeat or tolerate the hate crimes or even microaggressions they encounter in their jobs and homes.
If it is the silence of the powerful that does the most damage, if that silence is what allows hate to fester, then we need every voice – especially the powerful voices – to speak up against hate.

Why is speaking up or intervening a successful way of stopping hate crimes? How does this function on a psychological level to change the cognitive process of the perpetrator? Is it because intervention reveals the perpetrator’s behavior to be socially unaccepted – that of a demonized outgroup rather than the dominant ingroup they had thought to represent? Is this also why ignoring the perpetrator (a social indicator of insignificance or disapproval) is so effective, even though it goes against our common instinct to confrontation?

The police chief of Tucson, Chris Magnus, said tonight that “When it comes to immigration, we are unwilling to operate as an arm of the federal government… not one of our officers will ever ask the victims or witnesses of a crime about their immigration status… We are here to serve our community. That means everyone in our community.” 

Historically, the people who have stood up against genocide have shared these traits: high empathy and a high sense of connectedness to other people.

If you don’t understand what’s meant by “microaggressions” or don’t understand why they’re bad, you should watch this very short and humorous video: If Microaggressions Happened to White People – Decoded – MTV

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