I have a very nice Republican friend, very sweet, very non-confrontational, and very supportive of Trump. Recently my posts on social media have been all about Black Lives Matter. There’s nothing specifically anti-Trump. Hmm. Did I post about that Bible-holding protester-clearing photo op? Maybe in reaction, he sent me this message on Messenger: (the spelling and grammatical errors are his, which he acknowledged and apologized for).
“I know it’s difficult to find something good about a person or group when your bombarded with negative commentary continuously but remember we are all US Citizens and need bridges that we can all build on… even if a particular person has personal faults we can’t change. I hope you can appreciate these well documented accomplishments that may seem or not seem important but the facts are, things are getting done but the biased media will not report these things because they do not attract headlines nor want to give any credit to the other side.”
The very long list of accomplishments starts like this:
Dude has been in office for 3 years…. what has he done? Other than dodging the darts the media and Pelosi have thrown?!? What have PRESIDENT TRUMP and his cabinet accomplished? Here you go.
( A list of about 125 items ensued. I’m addressing part of the list.)
After skimming, I answered back: Interesting. Do you have a source for this that you say is well-documented. If not, I’ll look for verification myself.
His response: Somebody else did all that footwork so they were too many to look up that’s why I didn’t post it as a general but my point was that even if there’s one or two that are incorrect there still a lot that has been accomplished and the people we need to come together rather than build walls.
Me: Ok. I’ll look into it. But really you shouldn’t just trust things that someone sent. Need to check sources which is what I will do.
Him: You know me I normally don’t forward a lot of that crap but because there are so many that I’m sure or I’d like to believe at least 90% of it is correct.
I told him that I loved research and would look into it. By looking into it, I mean check for sources, veracity, and context. Spoiler alert — I may do a sequel, but it was a long list and I didn’t get through it all. After looking up about 30 of the 125 said accomplishments, I started to see a teachable moment — lessons on applying thinking skills.
When you accept the party line uncritically, you are abdicating your agency. I know it may not be fun and games, but if you really do care about the democratic process of government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” then you have a responsibility to be critical. This means questioning not just the other side, but anyone who claims to be acting on your behalf. It’s disturbing to me that so many people will abdicate their responsibily to think for themselves and will just accept what someone says without critique. So this piece is for him, but it’s also for me and active citizens like me who are hoping to influence a community of independent thinkers.
Lesson One: If you are a thinker, you consider the language of demonization
Lesson Two: If you are a thinker, you consider bias, especially confirmation bias
I am a liberal. I believe in working to achieve justice and equality. I may not always catch my bias, but I try. This has become such a problem in today’s era of fake news. What I say is fake is true to you and vice versa. I do think there is a way past this dilemma, and it is in being willing to go there, to question everything and look for the facts. I admire my friend’s desire to build bridges, not walls, even though he has a conservative bias, at least he is reaching out.
In this era of the great pandemic, I know people who demonize mask-wearing. One friend constantly posts things he’s found to prove his point. When I told him one of his sources is a known conspiracy theorist, he replied that this is how whistleblowers are treated by the establishment. There is discomfort when the facts prove you wrong. You have to move past that and commit to the evidence, as if you were a juror. I was once on the anti-mask side but have changed my mind for the simple reason that if it can help, why not? And the videos of the angry anti-maskers are disturbing. I wouldn’t want to be aligned with them.
As I was doing the “accomplishment” research, I looked into where my search results came from. I tried to keep to media or organizations that are considered nonpartisan. I tried to stay away from any source that looked too extreme one way or the other, unless it was appropriate, as in looking for Native voices in issues concerning Native lives. I tried to look for opposing views. I do trust certain outlets better than others and I refer to this chart:
Ask yourself: Am I after truth or just validation of my opinions? Am I willing to admit my bias?
Lesson Three: If you are a thinker, you consider your assumptions
Even labeling this list “accomplishments” is assuming that whatever is on this list is an accomplishment. Just because someone says it is doesn’t mean that it is. For example, on the list is: “He created a White House VA Hotline to help veterans and principally staffed it with veterans and direct family members of veterans.”
This was rated by Politifact (non-partisan fact-checking site) as true. But did it make a difference? That is subject to examination. Trump did set up this hotline. So yes, it is fine that it is on that list. Whether or not it is effective is yet to be determined. The group DisabledVeterans.org asked that question and requested veterans to report back in the comments. There seems to be a lot more negative than positive comments, and in searching for veterans’ issues in general, it is a mixed bag. There are differing views. This opinion piece from USA Today says that “Trump Achieves Major Victories for Veterans.” But the American Prospect, a progressive think tank, is much more critical of Trump’s policies, calling Trump’s policies a “war on veterans.”
Another assumption Ballard and my friend make, is that the quantity must mean something. He assumed that by making a long list of everything he (and the White House) claims is an accomplishment, poof, by magic it is so. Quantity does not mean more truth. Each one of the claims must be examined in order to be deemed an accomplishment.
Ask yourself: Did I make an assumption that needs more questioning?
Lesson Four: If you are a thinker, you look at both sides of the debate
On the list is the claim that: “Violent crime has fallen every year he’s been in office after rising during the 2 years before he was elected.”
There is a difference in the interpretation of the report on violent crime referred to. Forbes (October 10, 2019) (rated as center by allsides.com and mediabiasfactcheck.com) reports that Trump’s policies did have an effect. On the other hand, Politifact and the Brennan Center for Justice, (October 29, 2019) a nonpartisan law and policy organization, provides a lot of evidence that the claim is exaggerated.
If there is a difference of opinion on whether or not something is true, what are you supposed to believe? You can do a meta-analysis and examine what values may be guiding their interpretation. In the case of the Forbes article, the writer mentions the restoration of law-and-order under Trump’s leadership. But the Brennan article suggests the opposite:
“ But researchers have failed to uncover a link between such “de-policing” and homicide rises. Instead, the data suggests a different culprit: a crisis in police legitimacy, causing communities to disengage after witnessing unjustified police violence.”
We only have to look at the current protests against police brutality and systemic racism that make the Brennan interpretation the more apt one.
When you get conflicting reports, what do you do? Most important issues have valid arguments on both sides. I recommend going deep (researching different perspectives) on any issue that you are passionate about and what is important in your world. When I was a teacher, I went deep into education issues. Because I live on the Big Island of Hawaii, I went deep into the protests regarding Mauna Kea. At some point, you have to make a stand based on the evidence and your values.
Ask yourself: Have I examined the evidence? Are there opposing conclusions? Have I synthesized my research? Can I make a stand based on evidence?
Lesson Five: If you are a thinker, you need to look at the broader context
For example, the first item on the list was: “Trump recently signed 3 bills to benefit Native people. One gives compensation to the Spokane tribe for loss of their lands in the mid-1900s, one funds Native language programs, and the third gives federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana. “ This is true. His tweet about it is dated December 27, 2019. But the website Cultural Survival, an advocacy organization for indigenous people, tells a bigger story. The headline to their article reads: Presidents Day 2020: 11 Ways Trump Dishonors Native Americans & How Natives Fight Back. The bill referred to on this list is included as problematic.
“However, these are the only pro tribal bills signed into law so far this legislative session; and according to Indianz.com, historically about 20 tribal bills have been signed into law during any particular session of Congress, regardless of which parties are running the show in Washington. In the previous session, passage of bills in favor of Tribes was down by about 40% compared to previous years.”
The other ways described in this article provides a fuller picture of Native concerns. Most recently, they have had to fight to get their share of stimulus funding, which is especially cruel given that they have been disproportionately hit by Covid.
According to some conservative media, reported by AP, seen on Michigan Radio (NPR), there were some reports from conservative media that gave Trump credit using demonizing language against Obama, e.g. “A story by the right-wing partisan website The Red Elephants is headlined, “Trump’s EPA sending $100 million to Flint to fix water — something Obama refused to do.”
If you are a critical thinker, you can see the slant in that headline. The Michigan Radio headline reads: “Fact Check: Obama, Trump both had role in Flint Water Relief.” Being able to identify spin is not always easy, but being aware that such a thing is done should make you more vigilant.
Ask yourself: Is that spin? Is it an exaggeration?
Lesson Eight: If you are a thinker, you can consider that a bill signed into law is more of legislative accomplishment than due to the President
Any “accomplishments” on the mega-list that are bills went through the process of becoming a law through the legislative process. Ultimately in order for the law to be enacted, the president has to sign it. So…
Yes. Trump signed a law to make cruelty to animals a federal felony so that animal abusers face tougher consequences.
Yes, Trump signed the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (FOSTA), which includes the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” (SESTA) which both give law enforcement and victims new tools to fight sex trafficking.
Yes, Trump signed a bill to require airports to provide spaces for breastfeeding Moms.
Yes, there’s more that I did not google.
We do need to keep in mind though, that the work of legislation can take years, and doesn’t have anything to do with the president unless it is a pet project of his, such as in building the border wall or the tax bill. For example, criminal justice reform called for in the First Step Act at the end of 2018, took many years of advocacy.
Ask yourself: (and this for myself) Can you cut the dude a break? Give him some credit? (and for you) Does he really deserve credit?
Lesson Nine: If you are a thinker, you will consider that we do not yet know if this was a net positive
For example, Trump can unequivocally take credit for his tax cuts. And so far, the only people who can say this was a benefit for them are the top 20% of tax-payers. Even before the pandemic, there was no evidence that it had benefited the rest of us. The same goes with the trade agreements. We don’t yet know the impact. I remember when I read a similar list to this last year and it had listed the strides made with North Korea. Well, that didn’t happen.
Ask yourself: Is this an unproven claim? Is it more of a hope than an actual accomplishment?
Lesson Ten: If you are a thinker, you can see how I would be so opposed to a few major items, that I would not count them as accomplishments.
Here is where we need to acknowledge our differences. Here’s where you know I am a liberal. I would never consider his claims about the border wall as an accomplishment, nor his appointments to the Supreme Court, nor the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, nor the forced separation of children from their parents, nor his push to end public education by promoting “choice.” On and on.
My reasons for not supporting Trump have many pillars, and run deep to my core, my values. I think it is fine if you disagree with me, but I would hope that this disagreement is not based on blind loyalty to a person or a party. I would hope that your disagreements are well-thought out and based on the core of your being, your values. I’d like to have conversations about that. I hope we can “agree to disagree” from the deep core of our values and not on the basis of unsubstantiated support for a certain candidate.
Ask yourself: What exactly did he do that you also stand for? Is there evidence of his character that you admire and inspire you to emulate? Is there evidence of accomplishments that has benefited the country as a whole? Do you and he share the same values?
Thinking flies against the face of our fast-food, meme-sharing, mindless scrolling culture. We’d rather just put our faith in someone we have already given our proxy to — our party, or church, our preferred media sites. Maybe we can inspire thinking in snack-sized bites a little at a time. I realize that this piece isn’t snack-sized, but hopefully it is a big bento box that you can share bit by bit as needed.
Defending the Democratic Party
I used to write letters to the editor of my local paper when I was a teacher. I called myself an education activist. When I retired, I retired from being an activist too, disillusioned. But, as you know, I started up again recently. We must do what we can. Here's a letter I wrote that was published today. Follow the link or read here.
It distresses me to see teacher friends not supporting Black Lives Matter. They post memes on social media such as #AllLivesMatter, whose contribution to the discussion is to remind us of the police who have lost their lives in the line of duty, or who focus on the rioting and looting without trying to understand it. It distresses me no matter who shares them, but especially if they are teachers or who serve in any capacity interacting with children.
In the public schools, the teaching profession requires a bachelor’s degree and a professional license at the very least. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are all critical thinkers, which is a problem. At this pivotal moment as a country, unless we are in denial, we are examining our hearts, minds, and souls in pursuit of the truth regarding racism.
I write as a teacher in Hawaii. I started my career in Guam, but most of my service has been in Hawaii. I retired early, weary of the obsession with test scores. I still work as a substitute teacher to supplement my pension and because I love kid energy. I have always worked in schools that have a high rate of poverty, but I only remember one black student in my over twenty years teaching here. The demographics are different here for sure. But, we too need to embrace anti-racism as an essential part of our teaching philosophy. Why?
We work with vulnerable, impressionable humans, some smaller than others. We have opportunities to influence them positively or negatively. You may be happy with neutral, but chances are if you don’t care whether or not you are having a positive effect, you are having a negative effect. Teaching is not for the faint-hearted. It is a hard job, mainly because we want to be good. If we are honest, we know sometimes we screw up. But we want to be better because we know it is not good for the students, and not good for us. We keep trying to be better. Anti-racism is like that. We may have unconscious, unrecognized racist behavior, but we want to be better than that. Anti-racism is a way we can be better humans, better teachers, better able to be a positive influence on our students.
In a previous article, I wrote about Ibrim X. Kindi’s work How to be an Anti-Racist implores us to choose — are you a racist or anti-racist? If you say you are not a racist, then please, learn how to be an anti-racist.
Why don’t you want to be against racism? Please tell me. I want to know.
Is it because you think you think you are “above” this? More evolved?
I am an islander, born in Hawaii, raised in Guam, and returned to Hawaii as an adult. In the islands, we like to believe that we love everyone, that we are a melting pot, a blend of different cultures and that we all get along, for the most part. I could write for years on whether or not this is true, but the perception is real and the perception we have of ourselves as “above” this ugly business serves to delude us into thinking it doesn’t pertain to us.
And does it? Yes! Why? This is our country, even if how Hawaii got to be the fiftieth state is nothing to be proud of. A bunch of white businessmen descendants of missionaries who overthrew a sovereign nation so they could pursue their land-grabbing capitalist interests. This is not something to be proud of, America. Yet, it is what it is. And our country has a LOT to atone for — a lot of shameful, inhumane acts imposed on mostly non-white people, including the native people here and on the continent.
In Guam, the history of American colonialism is intertwined with World War 2 and the liberation of the people of Guam from brutal Japanese occupiers. Here, the intrusion of the US is less shameful and more celebrated, but their continued presence is pretty ripe for critique. But that’s another story.
To be a good citizen of one’s country means learning about it, warts and all. It doesn’t mean we are unpatriotic. It means we believe in what we have been told is the essence of America — Liberty and Justice for all.
You still don’t want to be on board? Is it because you don’t teach social studies?
The thing is, unless we examine ourselves for unconscious biases, we are at risk for transmitting them no matter what we teach. I remember a colleague who berated students for speaking their native tongue on campus, telling them we have a policy that they need to speak English on school grounds. There is no such policy and I wish I had organized a campaign back then about establishing a policy against this shaming and shameful abuse. We are not talking about subject area lesson plans. We are talking about obtaining a level of awareness that informs your whole being, so that you can identify racism and be able to call it out in yourself, in curriculum, and in others as it comes up.
Is it because you think that by siding with the movement, you are siding against the police?
I know it can appear that way because there has been so much emphasis on police brutality and its horrors. Also, the Defund the Police push might be alarming, especially if you have family members who are cops. I have also seen the memes and coverage in which the far-right forces are trying to make it about that dichotomy. Just like we know all lives matter, we know that blue lives matter. That is not the point. Focus. The point is that there is a history and practice of police brutality. If your husband, friend, or family member “honors the badge” (read about one here) as they say, then we love them. We really do. But if they are okay with their profession sullied by systemic racism, by the bad apples who can get away with murder, then they are not blameless. Just as teachers would love the bad apples in the teaching profession to find another profession, policemen should also want to police themselves, or at least be ashamed.
Is it because it’s all subjective and so truth is not knowable?
This is a huge problem. With a president known for his constant lying and hatred of journalists who call him on it, the press is seen as untrustworthy by his followers. Trump’s claims of fake news obscure the fact that there is a “real” fake news problem in this country, such as the conspiracy theories that abound. We are teachers. It is our responsibility to teach students how to evaluate propaganda, how to verify sources, how to identify bias, how to tell the difference between fact and opinion. There is room for difference of opinion and difference of policy based on sound judgement in a democracy. We don’t all have to think the same. As the saying goes, you have a right to your own opinion, but not a right to your own facts. We can take the same facts and form different opinions around them. Teachers are key in making a difference by cultivating thinking skills, which is not partisan or political. We don’t teach what to think, but how to think. Why wouldn’t you want to do this? Sadly, the focus in the public schools has been on testing, not on thinking. To save the soul of this country, we need to teach thinking. Before the focus on testing, I remember when this was a priority.
Is it because you see yourself as a conservative or a Republican or a Trump supporter and saying Black Lives Matter means that you are a traitor to your party, to your president? Do you think supporting Black Lives Matter is a slippery slope into liberalism?
This is such a phenomenal time. People on “your side” are starting to speak up. Yes, Mitt Romney was the lone Republican who voted for impeachment on one of the counts, and got lambasted for it. But he didn’t crawl into a hole in shame — he continues to walk his talk. He said the words Black Lives Matter and marched with the protestors. I listen to Left, Right, and Center on NPR and hear some reasonable Republicans. And then the generals spoke up, including the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, apologizing for his role in the Trump photo op. Well, these military men are not necessarily on “your side.” Gen. Milley apologized because the military represents the people and should not be political. Yet, your side claims to be the most supportive of the military, as opposed to us libs, who only care about welfare and free stuff. There are signs though — GOP Senator Murkowski says she agrees with the generals critical of Trump and is struggling with supporting him.
It is not a sin to be conservative, or a Republican, nor is it a sin for me to be a liberal or a Democrat. For me, it is a stance I take based on what I value. Because I value equality, I support Black Lives Matter and anti-racism. Do you value equality? It doesn’t have to mean that you are betraying your party. It means that you are anti-racist. I suppose it is possible that you don’t support equality. That would be kind of horrible.
Did I miss something? Please tell me, because I just don’t understand. Do you want to be against racism? For equality? Justice for all?Then you should be able to say it — Black Lives Matter. It doesn’t require you to protest in the streets, to buy the t-shirts or the bumper stickers. One step at a time. An easy way in is through movies and podcasts. So much available now. I have suggestions, if you want them, but I’m not going to tell you what to do. Just don’t do anything racist. Unless you are okay with being a racist. Then you are not worthy of the profession.
Did I miss something? Please tell me, because I just don’t understand. Do you want to be against racism? For equality? Justice for all?
Then you should be able to say it — Black Lives Matter. It doesn’t require you to protest in the streets, to buy the t-shirts or the bumper stickers. One step at a time. An easy way in is through movies and podcasts. So much available now. I have suggestions, if you want them, but I’m not going to tell you what to do. Just don’t do anything racist. Unless you are okay with being a racist. Then you are not worthy of the profession.
What not taking a stand says about you and your business
Show of Support for Black Lives Matter
I get a lot of email. I am on various lists that reflect my interests and politics. Of course, all my political groups were quick to send out denunciation messages concerning the George Floyd and other recent racist occurrences. Because I am a liberal, thatʻs not surprising. What I didnʻt expect was so many of my other interest groups that I would consider a-political, were also sending me messages. I wondered what it said about the groups who hadnʻt.
When the protests started last week a “radical” (in air quotes on purpose) post appeared on a Facebook group I belong to, iPhone Photography Academy. The radical post was — a photo of the phrase Black Lives Matter scrawled on the sidewalk in blue chalk (above). Of course, there had to be someone (actually two) who had to reply: All Lives Matter. I felt compelled to educate — “If all lives matter, then black lives should matter TOO!”
She called me a racist. Yes, I guess that is the way they “think” (also air quotes). Identifying race is racist. I appealed to her to have empathy, to live in their skin. She replied: “Then why do we have to point out black lives?”
I was not the only one trying to educate this woman, she was definitely in the minority but hung on to her view like white on rice. (Sorry — not sorry — for weak idiom, but couldnʻt resist.) Samples from the thread:
“Youʻre part of the problem, unfortunately.”
“I think the overall consensus would agree that your oblivious demeanor and failure to comprehend the real issue at hand … our black brothers and sisters are not treated with the same respect and dignity as you.”
“… saying “All lives matter” as a response to “black lives matter” is like saying the fire dept. should spray down all the houses in the neighborhood even though only one house is on fire… because all houses matter. Yes, your house matters too, but your house is not on fire. ”
There were other commenters who had to tell us to not talk about politics on this forum, asking for the administrators to intervene. Soon, commenting on the thread was blocked and we were not allowed to comment anymore.
There was another ALM commenter on this same photo. I participated in both threads but this second one hadnʻt replied to me personally, so I interacted with the one who did. This second ALM womanʻs point was that if we want to improve the world, we need to treat everyone equally, thus all lives matter. After a lot of back and forth and resistance on her part, this second one had actually been convinced and she posted, in caps: IN THE SPIRIT OF BRINGING A RAY OF LIGHT INTO THIS DARK AND PAINFUL DAY, I WILL START OVER…GREAT CAPTURE! BLACK LIVES MATTER AND I PRAY FOR THE DAY WHEN WE WON’T NEED TO SAY SO.
I wanted to express my thanks to her for being brave enough to change her mind publicly, but the comment function on this post was disabled.
This is one of the few groups I belong to that did not make a public statement about Black Lives Matter. I was hoping that the founder of the company, iPhone Photography Academy, would do so, but he has not. He is European, but that is no excuse considering the worldwide impact this has had. He has an opportunity to be an ally. But no. as of this writing, didnʻt happen. I doubt if I will purchase another class from him.
You are your email subscriptions
Thereʻs this quote attributed to Confucius, but found in many cultures: Tell me who your friends are and Iʻll tell you who you are. In these times, I paraphrase to say: Tell me your email subscriptions and Iʻll tell you who you are. Though these interests of mine are not necessarily related to politics, it turns out that we are on the same page when it comes to racism and black lives matter.
In my feed, I received Black Lives Matter anti-racist messages from: Afar(travel) Passion Passport (travel), Barnes and Noble (books), BookBub(books), Skillshare (art), Lauren Hom (art), Lilla Rogers (art), Fender (music), BMI (music), Bandcamp (music), Aloha Theatre (Kona, Hawaii) , Kumu Kahua Theatre (Honolulu, Hawaii) , Morning Smile (positive news), National Geographic (journalism), WIDA (education), Great Courses (education), Bioneers (environment), Motley Fool (investment advice), MindValley (self-development), TED (you know TED). Maybe my interests are typical of liberal-minded folks like me, but I donʻt think these interests listed above are necessarily political. But maybe. Something to think about. What do you think? Are people interested in what I’m interested in typically liberal, so my groups were not necessarily taking a risk, but speaking to the choir?
Choose — racist or anti-racist?
On a recent podcast, Unlocking Us, Brené Brown interviewed Ibram X. Kindi, author of How to Be an Anti-Racist. In his work, he writes that the opposite of racist is not “not racist” it is anti-racist. There is no in-between. You have to choose. You are either for equality or not, for justice or not, against racism or for racism. When you decide you are not racist, you need to have actions that reflect that. A Facebook friend thought she had a great idea to change #blacklivesmatter to #goodblacklivesmatter and posted pictures of “good” blacks and “ bad” — looters. I responded to her that it was a terrible idea and tried to explain why. She responded that sheʻs treating good and bad equally, and so she’s not racist. Well, she is, even if she won’t admit it.
When people react to Black Lives Matter with All Lives Matter, or in my friend’s case — Good Black Lives Matter (ugh, I hated typing that) it is not a neutral statement (or positive). It is racist because they are minimizing the issue, ignoring the injustice, turning a blind eye to the racism. Saying Black Lives Matter is recognizing that black people have been subject to racist policies for centuries in this country. It is most clearly manifested in police brutality. If we can prove by data that black people are disproportionately victims of police brutality (among other indicators), then we can agree that this is racist policy. If you disagree, and cannot present data disproving this claim, then you are racist.
By not taking a stand against racism, FOR Black Lives Matter, you are not being neutral, you are being racist. That may be hard to take, you may believe you are taking the higher road by not taking sides. It is, however, the lower road because you are taking a side of the racists by keeping silent, or saying All Lives Matter. It is the side that promotes oppression of certain groups. This countryʻs history is a mixed bag, with much to be ashamed of. We have a LOT of atoning to do, starting with the near genocide of Native people and the theft of their lands and then moving on to the slave trade and the repercussions of that, which we are experiencing now. Taking a neutral stand is cowardly and selfish. In reality, I know my “neutral” friends and family would not admit to being racist and also would not be on board to become an anti-racist. If this is the case, hey then— donʻt be racist! Donʻt say All Lives Matter because that is racist. Donʻt get in the way of police reform because continuing brutality is racist. Donʻt vote for people who perpetuate racism and are willing to use the military against people protesting against racism because that is racist. And fascist.
As Bob Dylan said, “Your old road is rapidly aginʻ, please get out of the new one if you canʻt lend a hand, for the times they are are changin.”
Putting my money where my values are
I am going to remember the organizations, businesses, and groups who took a stand. I donʻt mind that Iʻm being “marketed” to. We agree on this pressing issue. I want to continue to do business with you, be part of your non-profit, your community. I want to buy a Fender guitar. I ordered How to Be an Anti-racist from Barnes and Noble. I signed up for Skillshare.
In this vein, I was so excited that Just Mercy was being offered for free in June on many streaming services to provide a perspective into the reality of systemic racism. I found out that Netflix is not one the streaming services offering this. There was no explanation. I had been thinking about cancelling in the past when I found out that the CEO Reed Hastings was an ardent advocate for charter schools, which bothers me, as a public school advocate. I recently restarted Amazon Prime, and having both is too much for me. Amazon had Just Mercy, and Netflix did not. Though Amazon also has its issues, I decided to cancel my Netflix subscription. They asked why and I gave the reason — You didnʻt offer Just Mercy as the other services did, and I think that says something about you.
Choice Defines You
Especially in contentious issues like racism, choice defines you. Even being neutral is a choice. But whether or not you make a conscious choice, you are defining who you are and what you stand for. For businesses and organizations, it is an opportunity to be a bridge between the heart and soul of your organization and your ideal target audience. If you want someone like me, a lover of the arts, an educator and a creative person who wants to contribute to the healing of the world, you will take a stand. If you want someone like me, who has a little bit of disposable income to support the arts, environmental, and humanitarian causes, you will take the side of justice and against racism. And I’ll be there with you.
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.