Perspectives on Race

A Discussion about Events Concerning Race

Archive for April 2010

Racism In The Military

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As an Iraq War Vet, I have heard every single racial slur against those from the Middle East.  During my service I have noticed quite  a bit of racism while I served and I am sometimes surprised when I see peoples’ faces become shocked when i tell them of a racist incident that I witnessed while I served.  I think that it is one of the  greatest obverlooked problems that is inherent in military service.  It is unofficially, socially acceptable to make racial jokes in most situations.  In fact, most non-whites in the military that I have encountered and worked with don’t have a problem with less agressive (whatever that means) racially charged jokes or statements.  I don’t really know why they accept this treatment, but I have some ideas:

1. There is a deep sense of fraternity and camaraderie because we need each other in order to stay alive in the military and maybe they beleive that taking it in stride is the right thing to do in order to not disrupt the group.

2.  Maybe they think that taking jabs back at whites, which is also acceptable, “evens the score”.  This is obviously not a solution because it only promotes racist attitudes.

3.  They may be worried that with a majority white chain of command there complaints will fall on deaf/uncaring ears.

This short synopsis in no way encapsulates the whole issue.  There are a lot more facets to this problem regarding racism in the military that should be addressed.  However, in my experience, change of any kind comes very slowly, especially change regarding social issues, as we are seeing now with “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.

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Written by mwgoulet

April 29, 2010 at 7:25 am

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The New Generation

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I think our younger generation, those going through elementary and middle school right now, will be much more likely to be racially accepting than us.  I kind of view the 80’s as a very stagnant time regarding race relations while I believe the 90’s and 00’s to have been much more fruitful in fighting this good fight.  I realize that this is only my opinion but with the ultra-conservatism in the 80’s and that Reagan Era return to this purist sense of society that we called “Morning In America”, I think that we may have lost some ground during that time.  It seems to me that the kids today aren’t as naive as I was toward race problems, in other words, they are more informed by their teachers and parent that they exist  and that racist behavior isn’t tolerated anymore.  I hope that I am correct in having this optimistic opinion on this issue.

Written by mwgoulet

April 29, 2010 at 7:11 am

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Foreign Adopted Babies in Hollywood

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Although this has been a hot button issue as of late, I really don’t know if this can be fairly criticized.  The reason I say this isn’t because I feel that every Hollywood celebrity who adopts a foreign born baby of noticably different ethnic decent from their own is doing it for the right reason.  I say that I , after much internal deliberation, cannot make a case for or against them for doing so.  I have no way of knowing if there intentions are righteous, i.e., they want to provide a good home for a child born into poverty, or self serving, i.e., they want to show the public how open-minded and racially progressive they are by adopting positive PR in the form of a cute little kid.  My point is this: who cares?  These children, although they will probably be raised by narcissistic assholes, are going to be better taken care of than they were before.  Although they themselves may turn into narcissistic assholes as a result of a glitzy upbringing in the Hollywood spotlights, it beats not having clean water to drink or proper medical care.  I think the motives of these actors, although not completely irrelevant, are of less importance than some of the more harsh critics of this practice would lead you to believe.  I think when these children are old enough to speak in their own agency, they will thank their parents for the opportunities they have been given.

Written by mwgoulet

April 29, 2010 at 7:03 am

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Agism Regarding the Elderly

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I feel that agism is a real problem here in the US, and possibly one of the most overlooked of the “-isms”.  I recently went to a few 4 nursing homes here in Gainesville in order to make sure the veterans inhabiting them as patients and residents were receiving the proper health care to which they were entitled.  While interviewing them I could not help but notice the stench, the old and depressing decor, and the extent to which the workers were stressed out and noticeably bothered by their more senile patients.  The whole experience was extremely depressing for me to see how our “Greatest Generation”, the named given to the WWII era generation, was being treated.  These people were also very deprived of the human contact of people who didn’t inhabit the nursing home with them.  The more impoverished nursing home I visited, the one where people from a lower socioeconomic background were living, was inhabited by a larger number of black people in comparison to the others.  It was noticeably dirtier and less cared for than the others, which leads me to believe that the treatment and care that the patient received was probably worse.  I am not saying that these people aren’t happy, but they are definitely being failed by the state by not being treated equitably in comparison with their younger citizen counterparts.  Someone said once that you can evaluate our level of civilization by how we treat our most vulnerable.  I think that we should regard our elderly with more respect than to keep them in these poor conditions until they pass on.

Written by mwgoulet

April 29, 2010 at 6:51 am

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LGBTQQIA, and finally, A!

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I like to lovingly call it our alphabet soup.  Although I am a straight male (the most boring thing you could possibly be in the sexual world), I was pleased to find out earlier this year that I had added to this string of letters that means so much to me.  I have been a gay right’s activist/ supporter for a long time and am now officially considered and “Ally”.  LGBTQQIAA, for those who are unaware, stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and Ally.  All of these definitions are available here: http://www.lehigh.edu/~inrainbo/glossary.shtml.  I never felt left out because there was not a specific spot describing me in this acronym, mainly because I feel that the other people it describes are the target of all of the hate regarding the fight for civil rights for this community.  As of recently the acronym has come under fire in the LBGT community for being too long and thus too PC.  Personally, i don’t really care either way, I just though it was generous to officially be accepted by way of my very own letter.

Written by mwgoulet

April 29, 2010 at 5:48 am

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Jacksonville

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My home and the home of most of my family is Jacksonville, Florida. Much like my family, I really love my city, even for all of it’s faults. I harbor a lot of resentment towards Jacksonville for her lack of progression over the last 27 years I have known her. J-ville, as I affectionately call it was dubbed “The Bold New City of the South” in 1968. It almost seems sarcastic that they named Jacksonville this in 1968, when my mom, 13 years old at this time remembers only a couple of years later experiencing the height of the civil rights era activism at her high school, which was incidentally named (and is named) for a Ku Klux Klan member and Confederate General in the Civil War. Jacksonville today is still fraught with racially biased citizens and a very old way of thinking concerning race relations. It is still acceptable to use words like “colored” in some settings and on a Saturday you might see a group of people adorned in Confederate flag clothing protesting the local BJ’s for firing a man who had a 5’x8′ rebel flag hanging on an antenna on his truck which he parked in their parking lot (yes, I pulled over and asked the protesters what they were doing there). I feel that my home city has a long way to go regarding civil rights issues.

Written by mwgoulet

April 29, 2010 at 5:47 am

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My Momma

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My mom is a southern lady from Jacksonville, FL, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. I know that she has her racial hang ups and that she tries to change, or at least I think, and she would have me think, that she tries to change. One time I remember being angry with her two years ago because she was trying to visit me here in Gainesville and she lost her way once she got in the city. She called me from her cell phone and told me that she was on the east side of town at a gas station. She had to use the bathroom really badly so she stopped. When she told me where she was she mentioned how scared she was because of all the black people around. She is a very emotional lady and all I could picture was her clutching her purse and looking at all the men in a paranoid manner. I was still on the phone with her and sternly told her to calm down and just leave. After she got to my apartment I told her that it is not okay to act that way in a public place and that her behavior probably offended someone or multiple people, especially if anyone had heard our conversation. She didn’t seem to understand.

Written by mwgoulet

April 29, 2010 at 5:30 am

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