There’s an important hearing before congress today. The right to repair and maintain the things we buy like cars, tractors, phones, computers and printers is rapidly being eroded by the corporate entities that produce them. The environment is being sacrificed in the name of profit. If you are not already aware of this issue, this hearing may cast some light on this important subject.

If you are not woke, you are dreaming

My previous post about racism is less about race than it is about seeing. The world can be experienced in many layers, all of which combine to make up reality. I don’t subscribe to the view that “it’s all in your head.” That gives too much credit to the brain and ignores the reality of the stomach. And the heart. Nor do I subscribe to the view that the only thing that matters is how we relate to one another. That puts too much separation between how we act and what we think. What goes on in our minds matters, and it matters a great deal.

We need to work on healing this fictional rift between our inner and outer worlds. Remember, reality is all of it taken together. There is a yawning gap between what we think we are saying and what people hear. It takes effort, every time, to close that chasm. And there is still another gap between our intentions and our actions. The discord between the inner and outer spheres of our lives is at the heart of much suffering.

Now, how does this apply to race specifically? The people who receive the most privilege from ideas about race would prefer that you not see how the system works to their advantage. They themselves may not wish to see it, so prefer to “ignore race” as a solution. This approach means adopting as reality the dreamland occupied by privileged people. Ignoring race does not alter the historical and present reality that people labeled with certain races have been at a disadvantage for their entire lives. The construct of race may be a fiction, but the daily penalties are real. The dreamland of the privileged conveniently does not see this suffering. In fact, it is largely constructed around shielding privileged eyes from “others” who don’t have the same privileges.

Being woke is not about some sort of political correctness. It is about seeing the reality of the world for what it is: not the land of opportunity and freedom dreamed up in the whitewashed history books from which many of us were taught, but a land of oppression and barriers for some and opportunity and freedom for others. Until more people open their eyes to see the realities of other people’s lives, nothing will improve. Democracy can only bring about change if voters can see each other clearly.

Read this if you think you know what racism is

If you are absolutely sure you are not a racist then you need to read this story, because you are wrong. We are all racist. And sexist. Yes, both and more because we live in a society that insists on categorizing people into little boxes that define who they are and what they are capable of doing. Until the day we all stop tying our expectations about a person to the race we perceive (or gender, or ethnic background, or…) we will remain racists. All of us.

Race is not real. It’s a label our society has dreamt up for creating categories of “other” people that are frequently used so we can think less of them. It’s classism. How hard is it to listen and respond when a person tells you what race they are? Or what gender they are? It should be no harder to do than hearing a person’s name and getting the pronunciation correct.

Which is to say hard. Because getting to know another person takes work. Sometimes you’ll hear a name that’s unfamiliar and it will take several tries to get it right. That’s your brain having trouble fitting this person into a category it already knows. Good. Do the work. Learning about another person and their ways of experiencing the world are time well spent. Sometimes you’ll hear a common name and your brain will have no trouble getting it right. Warning. You still haven’t done the work of learning who this person is. You have likely made some assumptions about them that are wrong.

Thanks for listening. Now, please, carry on and make fewer assumptions about the world around you. Do the work of seeing what is in front of you. Look past the surface to really see.