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Emperor Wu of Liang Repentance Dharma Service ) followed by classes in Buddhism from 10:00-11:30AM. The teacher for both the meditation and the class is Mr. Cheong Min.

This writer asked several questions about conflict resolution. Mr. Cheong Min answered as well as other group members. How does this healing process begin? With self examination and self reflection. One of the most common “darker” emotions that usually accompanies conflict is anger and resentment.

In the self-reflective stage, an individual may see certain causes or conditioning factors. So there’s no need to try to push away anger, or the reality of a conflict—just acknowledge it. The fact that it’s come into your awareness gives you the chance to think about what choices and options you may have in dealing with the conflict.

As the discussion went on the consensus seemed to this writer to be: if you haven’t done your own inner work first, wait until you have before seeking reconciliation. We can’t change anyone else, so we begin with looking at ourselves to see if there are areas within our relationships that need improvement. As one participant put it, “It’s an inside job.”

At this phase it’s also a healthy action to look at our perceptions, biases, and prejudices. Denial ‘ain’t that big river in Egypt,’ it’s the river that runs in our minds to protect ourselves from some danger. ‘We have to be willing to honestly and fearlessly face our fears, said Mr. Cheong Min.’

He suggested looking at what you fear and do one action to place yourself in a scary place—doing what you hate.

Mr. Cheong Min suggested that if we are in a conflict with another group or nation, or someone who deliberately wanted to hurt us that we can cultivate empathy for our aggressors and enemies. When this happens we often ask the “why” question. “Why did she or he do this to me!?” If we remember that we, too, have perpetrated some unjust actions, words, or thoughts, we can offer grace and forgiveness to another.

This person or group is in the field of suffering also. We may also grow the quality of seeing the “we” in the situation, instead of the “I.”


It was a very special night last night. CASA of Travis County (http://www.casatravis.org) and The Center for the Healing of Racism (http://www.centerhealingracism.org) sponsored a book signing and short training by Cherry Steinwender, Co-Executive Director of The Center for the healing of Racism. Participants included some children, parents, and other interested people. An essential piece of solving conflicts is giving permission to ourselves to practice continuing education.

Several of the Center’s members were in attendance: Sonia Kotecha, CASA , directs Community Relations, Kim Polk, who wrote the guidelines that the Center still uses in its Dialogue:Racism Christopher Bear-Beam was trained by the Center to co-facilitate workshops and other events, and is now the Executive Director of The Sunbear Community Alliance, an Austin-based 501(c)3 Nonprofit (http://www.sunbearca.wordpress.com). SBCA collaborates with other groups to do multicultral training, coaching, and presentations.

Cherry Steinwender wrote a book entitled Bread is a Simple Food: Teaching Children about Culture (to order the book go to http://www.AuthorHouse.com). The idea of using bread to teach children and adults about culture merged in her brain and spirit about fourteen years ago. Cherry began doing a presentation that was at first called Opening the Breadbasket.

After her introduction about how the book was birthed, the audience viewed a DVD of an actual presentation on Bread is a Simple Food.

She explained to the listeners that she uses different styles of presentation, depending whether the group is an elementary school one, or a middle school one.

The common thread of people from different cultures and many breads indigenous to other cultures is this: Just like bread, children come in different sizes, shapes, and colors, and they are all beautiful human beings. Maybe if we think of ourselves this way conflicts to resolve. The focal point is education.

What saddens Cherry the most is when children say hurtful words to other children. They are conditioned by family members, peers, and the larger world outside. When children say hurtful things to other children, such as “Your hair is too nappy, not straight like ours—we don’t want to play with you.”

Or, “Your too dark, you’re African dark, stay away, your Koodies will make us sick!” And, finally, “Don’t touch us Fatso, we don’t want any of your blubber. Go play somewhere else.”

When children say these harmful words to other children, it’s only because of ignorance or some may say human nature. Usually, these kinds of slur words are passed on by older people, or older peers, who should know better. Her goal is to teach this material to children so that they may tell other peers, or adults why it isn’t cool to talk that way.

INTERNALIZE ONENESS! (One of the slogans used by the CFHR). We are diverse in our make-ups, but one in membership of the human race.

Contacts: You can email Sonia Kotecha, CASA Community Relations at casa@casatravis.org or call CASA’s main number: 512-459-2272; Cherry Steinwender may be reached at E-mail: cfhr1@juno.com, or calling 713-520-8226.

.Slideshow: Bread is a simple food
Slideshow: Bread is a simple food
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March 21, 2011, 07:16AMMar
Filed under: Diversity, Uncategorized | Tags: Cultural Stereotype Tags, Silent Racism

Silent Racism is the sort of racism that is unconscious, and often unspoken. It may describe whites who have no sense that they have any racialized conditioning, thus they would back away from thinking about racialized conditioning, as it pertains to their own personal inferences regarding whether they’re suffering from any form of Racism or are in denial. This racialized conditioning was used to found this nation, and has been perpetuated through ongoing generations in people’s minds, and embedded in American customs and laws.

Did you realize that 90% of our nation’s life has been spent living within the confines of slavery and Jim Crow laws lasting up until the Civil Rights Era? This is a huge segment of time, breeding the Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (Joy Leary has written a book by the same title) as an African American disease, with all the trappings of cultural trauma, irrational behaviors, re-triggering and healing.

We can be thankful for having brains and minds that are incredibly maleable, elastic, and resilient. This makes it possible to essentially re-build our brains, within certain limitations. Our self-introspective role is to de-construct our racialized conditioning and to assimilate and internalize new constructions and conversations about Racism. This is hard work, and requires confronting who we really are, and getting a feel for our own racialized conditioning. It means we learn about a varied slate of kinds of Racism that we see prevalent in our culture. It means we have developed coping mechanisms, if we happen to be re-triggered by our own perception of trauma.

Which brings me to a current example: recently a young Latina American, was a contestant in the Miss San Antonio Beauty Contest, and was disqualified. The beauty pageant officials said it was due to the failure of the young contestant to keep appointments, and some other trivial points.

After this happened, one of the officials of the pageant pulled this contestant aside and said to her, ‘you’ve just got to lay off those tacos, …’ The young Latina saw where this statement was coming from, so she decided to sue the pageant. We need to be critical thinkers about these types of stereotypes. Why did the official use the term “tacos,” instead of something else? Was this person so culturally incompetent that she didn’t think at all about how this might affect the young Latina? Or Latinas/os as an ethnicity? Or people we might call Mexican Americans, Salvadoran Americans, or people born in Spain?

The pageant official was making a statement, knowingly or not. She was perhaps voicing a Euro-centric Cultural Racism as an informal statement of the pageant’s operating procedure. White Systemic Racism consists of a philosophical anxiom that white is right; whiteness is the norm of what is beautiful, good, civilized, intelligent, morally superior, etc., and that any other norms are “less than” and inferior. Another way of paraphrasing what the pageant official told the disqualified Latina is this: tacos aren’t good–they’re an inferior food associated with South American or Mexican cultures. “Tacos aren’t good–they’re an inferior food, bad and uncivilized!”

If you are a European American and open to expanding your conscious, cultural sensititivity and competency, observe what you see and hear around you in the culture, to learn what you can about our form of Racism and how you’ve colluded with White Systemic Racism extant in our society. Use others, who may different than you, as your mirrors for growth.

3/20/2011 Copyright Christopher Bear-Beam, M.A., LPCI
* Barbara Trepagnier, Silent Racism.

In Part I, we saw how Minstrel Shows raised their buried heads as Institutional Racism within the Entertainment Industry.

In Part II, the observer/writer will share some evidence-based stories from the Native American tradition. By the way, I do not pretend to be anything close to an expert on Native American culture. Personally, I’ve wanted to respect Native American ways, spirituality being a key element in this. Native Americans controversially discuss among themselves the trend of whites trying to “play Indian.” I certainly don’t want to ignore this issue because it’s a key one for Native Americans. But I am a lifelong learner, and a European American male—in active and engaged recovery—from Unconscious Racism. It’s my hope that in the repetitive telling of everyday incidents, we can perhaps understand the hidden history of how Racism was perpetrated to future generations, beginning in Colonial times and our shared, contemporary situations.

Racism emerged in this earlier era as a part of the American Institutional Racism as it was directed towards Native Americans. Please remember that this was pre-history to the whites that performed for other whites, attired in black face, and pretending to be African American men and women. However, there are definite, similar dynamics at work.

A corollary to this is: Institutional Racism may change as far as the way it’s observed in the lives of these contemporary citizens that were either oppressors or those who were abused and traumatized by this power. The outer garments of the public’s perception of the “other” may have changed with modernity, but the general causes of the disease of Racism (the inner dynamics of these focused human behaviors) may have a different baseline for the various classes within any specific group. In other words, the baseline of racialized behavior in one particular cohort may be observed to include violence, hate speech, and deliberate strategies for the dominant group to keep the “others” down, and them up, or it may be the daily interactions of unconscious Racism.

There is this one similarity that may afflict both oppressor and the oppressed: there is a clear link between the oppression and traumatic abuse used against Native Americans and the Minstrel Shows and what was to come later in time.

Colonial whites in New England in the latter part of the Eighteenth Century practiced some Old World Traditions. One method of social protest was called misrule. The settlers in this region often dressed in Native American dress. They resurrected the black face disguise. Philip J. Deloria writes in his book Playing Indian, “Whether aimed at British officials or colonial landlords, misrule traditions, often performed in Indian dress, remained a vital mode of American political protest for more than a century” (p. 12).

The second tradition that was inherited from Europe was dressing up as Indians in festal gatherings that included a banquet. People would gather together communally at dinners with featured songs, tobacco, a huge meal, and drinking alcoholic punch. These kinds of celebratory assemblies gradually became integral assets to the need for ritual among the settlers. They gathered on May Day, agricultural markings of time, and other holidays; they jocularly celebrated what these times and days symbolized for them at Carnival.

Deloria writes on p.17: “Carnival presented its celebrators a doubled vision of the world; on the one hand, anarchic possibility; on the other, affirmation of the status quo.” Like the Minstrel Shows these celebrations of special times and protests by groups of whites known as the “Blacks” were based on the stereotypes that whites nursed as the “God-given truth.” These stereotypes were built on the ignorance of people in a given time and place. The problem with the creation of stereotypes is that they are opinions, judgments, inferences, and assumptions, but certainly not factual.

One idea symbolized by Carnival is that people think the world is right side up; these gatherings were critiqued as ways to turn the world upside down; they were social protests against the status quo of the economic systems, social networks, and governmental hierarchies. These two traditions of misrule and carnival represented major cultural functions of social protest and community celebrations.

One of the major thoroughfares for the transmission of stereotypes has always been art and most notably cartoons. British papers included cartoons of Native Americans who were supposed to be visual archetypes of aliens who are the savages of the New Land. Cartoon stereotypes of Native Americans were one of the components that white Americans portrayed Native Americans as both noble and savage yet clearly outside the social boundaries of white America.

Many of these traditions performed by whites and for whites were based on the perceptions of repetitive stereotypes. In this way, they were used to control the original people of the land. Ironically, when whites dressed as African Americans (including the use of black face), there were probably many mixed motivations. Was it to somehow show solidarity or empathy with African Americans and Native Americans? When carnivals were celebrated on religious holidays, were they a tool for conversion of Native Americans to Christianity? Were these traditions merely efforts to assuage their own guilt, and that of their ancestors, for the genocidal actions taken by European Americans when they arrived and as the years went by? Were they formal attempts to draw Native Americans into the white communities, even though the reality of this happening was sparse? I suppose one can only speculate on causes and conditioning factors since all we have is the evidence of history, which American whites rarely are taught in school and their truthful telling is mostly hidden from view.

How have these traditions become embedded as forms of Institutional Racism? One obvious way is that sports teams have used Native American names and symbols, and continue to do so, despite protests from Native American people and groups. We may also see the resistance by the perpetrators by their unwillingness to respect what Native Americans hold sacred and dear to their hearts. This is the “red flag” of Racism for whites.

Maybe we can see this picture more clearly if we demonstrate another scenario: suppose a college football team had a cheerleading team that would dress as Hasidic Jews. Wearing their distinctive garb, and giving cheers, amidst prayers, in Yiddish. Or what if all the cheerleaders were all Catholic nuns? Most white Americans would honor this and there wouldn’t necessarily be any backlash towards Catholicism or Judaism, would there?

Because Native Americans aren’t perceived to be “real Americans” they are fair game for bias, ridicule, and put-downs by white sports’ fans. The old source of this current resistance shown by many whites is that persons of color are seen as the “other” and not fully human as whites are. Cultural Racism develops as persons of color are targeted as “less than” in the American culture. The white is right and beautiful mantra has been used by so many power structures to dictate what they define as normal, civilized, and sophisticated, rather than what those who are oppressed identify within themselves.

Many other examples could be sited in relation to white stereotypes of African Americans and Native Americans and the gradual implementation of Institutional Racism. Whites have shifted many of these customs into an encoded Institutional Racism. Use your observation skills to find other ways this has occurred.
© Christopher Bear-Beam, MA December 30, 2010

Have you ever wondered how Racism develops within institutions, movements, and organizations? This may also be true for organizations that claim Social Justice as their mission.

I refer here specifically to white, American racism. I use this broad phrase to show the free-ranging, full-orbed Racism of modernity, no matter how it may be labeled; it encapsulates every type of Racism, whether it be Northern, Southern, Eastern, or Western variations of Racism that reflect a specific region of the country.

There are many ontological factors at play here, but I would like to invite the reader to think critically. There are examples of how Racism morphed into a form embedded in specific areas of our American social network. I’d like to present a couple of examples here. My hope is that this will be pertinent and clarify Institutional Racism to European Americans.

In Post-Civil War times, most African Americans found themselves as freed men and women. Juridical legislation and the abolition of slavery in the U.S. didn’t change social customs immediately, if at all. There were still many obstacles to surmount as former slaves trekked towards full equality as human beings, with the same Civil Rights as their white American cohorts.

One of the stereotypes white Americans ingested and assimilated was that slaves, or free African Americans, seemed to be happy with their coerced place in life. This was a rationalization for white supremacists to continue to abuse and pontificate against African Americans. This fabricated stereotype of the black slave as carefree, happy-go-lucky, and putting up with just about any mistreatment against them was, of course, just what American whites needed for their own denial. ‘After all, many of them stayed with their masters, after the war and the Emancipation Proclamation, right? They liked it there. It was their home.’

As history kept traveling, African Americans often learned how to ‘duck and cover’ by playing the passive African American, and developing strategies to keep out of trouble. This was part of the supremacists’ plan in order to maintain their power in a different, changing kind of America. This added to another stereotype in place—African Americans were dumb, inarticulate, and unintelligent—thus they were inferior to whites. It reminds me when one of my friends, an African American woman, after a dialog she facilitated on Racism, was told by one of the participants, ‘You’re so articulate for a black woman.’

Around the end of the Nineteenth Century and the beginning of the new century, a genre of art began to take root in American Entertainment. They were called Minstrel Shows, featuring whites dressed out as African Americans, including black face (see the DVD entitled Ethnic Notions).

The genre consisted of white people costumed as blacks; the audience was undoubtedly mainly white. As a reflection of their culture, these shows were both ways to laugh at blacks, and at the same time, to vicariously participate with blacks that really weren’t blacks, but ‘of their own kind.’ They sang old Negro Spirituals and Work Songs, which may have comforted whites due to their common history of slavery and stigmatization of African Americans in the Post-Civil War age. For some whites, the shows may have been a hidden way to deal with their own wounded hearts—there’s also a cost for whites in the show of Racism within a free society.

One of the costs for whites is the alleged need to play the role of leaders, to be seen as those “in the know,” and the constant pressure to perform, to measure up, and to retain the power of the dominant group. There is an unmistakable ‘unwritten rule’ that under girds this need for power, and that is often anxiety and fear about losing that power in a diverse society as we have in our culture today. It was no different then.

Feagin has written in Systematic Oppression that the white, racialized way of thinking and acting has contributed to European Americans being unskilled in the practice of empathy (and I would add compassion). Many of us are unable even to express how we feel about anything; it’s as if we’re dead from the neck down. Our strength may be intellectualization, but the major domain of emotional intelligence is often flawed for whites.
Minstrel Shows were part of the fabric of collective stereotypes—each wave inherited by the next generation and transmitted forward. Racism is still the viral weed strangling our capacity for human potentialities. When a social custom or art genre becomes so common in the popular culture it creates memes in the minds of people. The meme is some notion, belief or attitude that gets copied over and over again until it may be disguised as a fact rather than just an assumption or inference, which is what it truly is. The end result is a cultural truism—at least if you believe it. The final product is a stereotype.

How has this stereotype ended up as a part of Institutional Racism?

What comes to mind is the Disney Empire. Here, it’s easy to lose track of the countless stereotypes found in the Disney Media collection: of men, women, animals, children, and persons of color—these almost overwhelm our capacities for rational, critical thinking (after all, our kids love Disney). As critical thinkers, we need to be on guard of what stereotypes we see in all kinds of media.

Relevantly, one case example may be observed. In Disney’s movie The Lion King, the background singers who are some kind of animal, echo African American Gospel songs throughout the jungle. You know the way they do, right? What’s their role and meaning in the film?

Often African Americans, Latino Americans, Arab Americans, and Asian Americans are often characterized in film as fighters, criminals, stupid, sex-lovers, blues singers and players, not giving a damn about anything, etc. Be alert to these stereotypes you see in the Entertainment Industry; deconstruct them, and ask what they mean, and where they came from.

A Hip Hop singer may sing:

© Christopher Bear-Beam, MA December 30, 2010


Let me shape what I think is a fascinating and an informing premise: the “McCarthyism” of the Fifties is now encoded in a kind of institutionalism in the American society.

Now, if younger people hear the term “Red Scare” they might simply wonder, “Is that an Anime game?” McCarthy’s rise to royalty, the honorable senator from Wisconsin, was the peacock on a pedestal, trying to sell the American people, of ‘commies under every rock,’ and baited them in his meglomatic way. He was the chaser of illusive witches who espoused Lenin and Marx, and perish the thought, Anarchism. No shit. It happened, and is now a part of our U.S. history.

The fallacy hyped by McCarthy was the classic design of stereotypical villains and straw men. Don’t forget, this was the time of the Cold War period when U.S. imperialist scripts usually became American scripts. Writers broke the world down into evil communists and noble Americans–in the generic sense of the world.

McCarthy managede to aim his rhetorical guns on U.S. citizens protected by constitutional rights, civil rights, and human rights. Many citizens were brandished with the Red Taint, and forced into a confessional corner by McCarthy in hearings in Washington.

This was also one of the premier strategies of the big egos and big kahunas, against a group of people they feared. After all, they feared the Russian Bear.

The persecuting attackers’ hypothesis was founded not on fact, and substantiated documentation, but on the slippery slopes of bias and inference. Sadly, many individuals and their families had their livelihoods and creativity trashed in major ways.

What does recent history tell us? Witch hunts are not disguised as “missions for Democratic cultures,” the code would hide thye true meaning and intention of the “war on terror” from “Mission Freedom” to the now familiar “war on terror.”

With the passage of the Patriot Act, we institutionalized the profiling of Middle Eastern peoples. Under the auspicdes of national safety, the Bush Administration authorized spying on thousands of American citizens’ phones and computers. This is the witch hunt embedded in legal form, legislative, political alliances, and Presidential edicts.

With various administrative and forensic, fear-mentality tactics became the norm, fueled by the Religious Right operatives and ideologues, and “the law of the land.”

There was one glaring problem. It was based on lies, inaccurate intelligence data, half-truths, and preposterous twistings of persuasive communication; it was based on inference and bias, not fact. Observable facts are the basic level of life on the planet. Whatever is out of alignment with the structure of life existence in us and around us. If I want to go ontological on you, I might say the truth of a Social Justice.

U.S. imperialism has always followed the ‘sincere fictions’ of being better than others, modeling our own form of civilization, and socia and political exclusion and separation. Apparently, we don’t think we’re accountable to the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. That’s got to change if any positive change can occur.

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