"Guru Gobind Singh directed Sikhs to tie turban.
Why don't Sikh women tie turban?" DualityOptics.com
“When the adversity will hit, the communication will break.
Never break the communication, neither with an enemy nor
with a friend. Keep communicating. That’s what God does.
Just understand. Communication is vibration. Keep vibrating,
but positively. Never listen to negativity.” Siri Singh Sahib
"It's time for a shift our world consciousness.
It's time for Sikhs to get their shift together.
It's time for Sikhs to be genuine agents of change.
It's time to promote more chardi kala around the world.
It's time for those who know to teach those who do not know.
And it's time for those who do not know to surrender their ego."
"The Siri Singh Sahib frequently expressed the challenge that he
expects his students to be 10 times greater. Therefore, we must
expect, and be willing to work with 10 times the difficulties. It's
the Law of Polarity. It's our challenge as his students." -- ACT
A robust transparency is necessary at this time in our history.
We pledge to advocate and participate in thoughtful
Therefore our prime objective is to promote diversity and cultural competency, explore issues of color and gender, and inspire people
who have a history of being marginalized, using social media and other
means as platforms to inform various communities of the life experiences
and concerns of marginalized people with regard to the necessity for social
action, dialogue, inclusion, compassion, tolerance, and cultural literacy to
expand and improve human relations going forward, in order to better facilitate
the current worldwide shift in global consciousness from tribalism, instability,
and extremism, to harmony, cooperation and enduring peace. In addition, we
welcome and support other organizations that promote the transformation of
consciousness as taught by spiritual teachers like Guru Nanak Dev and others.
ACT's vision is to advocate and teach Kundalini Yoga, as directed by
Yogi Bhajan, for which we seek the assistance of organizations not only
in the States, but also in India and around the world. To achieve this goal
ACT uses social media, teacher training, and more. Our commitment is to
afford every person the opportunity to explore the deepest potentials of his or
her human spirit. To fulfill our vision, we inspire each person to: (a) maintain an
awareness of everyone’s longing for inclusion, and their innate longing to belong
within our global family; (b) respond with compassionate consideration and sensitivity to
differences of gender, race, culture, religion, ethnicity, economic conditions, social status, psychological challenges, and philosophical differences that exist in all human interactions.
"We gladly accept all, and we shall exclude none, for after all,
we are the same - we are all One." Guru
"The temple and the mosque are the same, there is no difference between
Hindu worship and Muslim prayer; all human beings are really the same;
their differences are illusory. The Gods, Demons, Yakshas, Gandharvas,
Turks, Hindus come from different countries and seem different because
of their garb. However, their eyes are the same, their ears the same, their
bodies are the same and their habits are the same; after all, they are all an
admixture of the elements; earth, air, fire and water. The Allah of Muslims
and the Abhekh of Hindus are the same; the Puranas of the Hindus and the
Holy Quran of the Muslims are the same; all have the same beautiful form. All have
been created by the One Lord." Guru
Below are rare photos. They depict Diversity of
Gender, Religion, Race, Age, and Color in
the spirit of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
A mixed group of Caucasians, Africans, and Asians representing Muslim,
Christian, Sikh and Hindu faiths posed for this photo in front of Denver mosque.
Photo below was taken at the Vancouver Avenue, First Baptist Church of Portland, Oregon, at
the time of the Arun Gandhi peace event, which included Native American Cherokee, Hindu,
Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic, and Protestant faiths, and Asians, Browns, Blacks, and
Whites. This is the only Portland church at which Dr. Martin Luther King gave a sermon. (1962)
These photos depict examples of pluralism in which people of different ages, social classes,
religions, races, etc., living together in a community, continue to have their different traditions
or interests in the belief that people of different ethnicity,religions, races, etc., should live
together in society as taught and championed by Guru Nanak, the opposite of tribalism.
Those who are unable to relate to the diversity depicted in this photo are likely
the proponents of tribalism, the social tendency to live in loyalty to a tribe,
social group or gang (hierarchical tribe) especially when combined with a
strong negative attitude toward marginalized people outside the group.
We must all take care that we do not eventually go down the path
of the Taliban and Isis. It all starts with tribalism. According to
the Siri Singh Sahib, religious fanatics are the most fanatic.
See Yogi Bhajan On The Subject of Banishment.
ACT FOR EQUALITY
ACT member, SatHanuman Singh Khalsa, center, Portand, Oregon, January, 2017
It is important for ACT to hear the concerns and suggestions of marginalized women and people of color to encourage and enable truthful, transparent, and transformational dialogue and interactions between those cultures, religions, ideas, beliefs, lifestyles, races, sexual orientation and customs, which are different from their own. Need more information or want to join the ACT mailing list? Click here to provide your name and e-mail address or call 855-410-2700.
AKAL means Undying. Akal implies a state of being, which is ageless, infinite, immortal and timeless, the true state. AKAL describes ACT's undying mission as teachers, which is based on the principal that it is incumbent on those who know to teach those who do not know. Akal (Akaal) literally means timeless, immortal, non-temporal, a term integral to Sikh tradition and philosophy. It is extensively used in the Dasam Granth hymns by Guru Gobind Singh. See Example.
The word-symbol (13) is derived from Gurmukhi, meaning One Creator of Creation; From One Many, or Ex Uno Plures, meaning all things come from One Source, i.e. all mankind comes from One Creator as championed by the 15th century Sikh Master, Guru Nanak. When stylized in English characters, is represented by the number 13, as in Akal Committee 13, or more simply, the acronym ACT. See Glossary of Sikh Terms.
Toearly Christian Gnostics, the owl is associated with Lilith, the first wife of Adam, who refused his advances and control. More.
Akal Committee (aka 13): The word-symbol is derived from Sanskrit, meaning Ek Ong Kar, or One Creator of Creation, or Ex Uno Plures, meaning everybody and everything comes from One Source, i.e. all mankind comes from One Creator as championed by the 15th century Sikh Master, Guru Nanak. When stylized in English characters, is represented by the number 13, as in Akal Committee Thirteen, or more simply the acronym ACT. See AkalCommitteeThirteen.com.
Diversity: The quality or state of having people who are of different races or who come from different cultures within a group or organization.
Duality:An instance of contrast or opposition between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism.
Optics: Aspects of an action, that relate to public perceptions. See Duality Optics.
Transparent: The quality of being able to be seen through; or easy to notice or understand; not secretive. Transparency is Truth made manifest. Transparency is intellectual honesty. Transparency can be exercised without exposing confidential contacts. Transparency is essential in order to build trust in relationships, and to clarify and resolve conflicted issues.
Transformational: Having to do with life-changing practices or events.
BTW: Discourse on these subjects is not meant to stir up feelings of guilt. It is meant to drive people to action against injustice. Question: Are we mature enough to sit down and discuss issues to do with tribalism, including race, religion, and gender?
Nam! My experience is whenever the subject of tribalism comes up in conversation many people, especially Sikhs, relate to it as if tribalism is a four-letter word. 'Tribalism' often evokes a negative response, a psychological reaction, an emotional squirming, if you will. If you are one of these folks, I challenge you to watch this video, to look within, and to come face to face with your sensibilities.
Truthful:Words, ideas or actions that accurately represent Truth, i.e., reality; a genuine transparency.
Many individuals as well as organizations attempt to act in secrecy and with false intentions. At the same time these entities tend to covertly gather intelligence and work to keep their affairs unknown in an attempt to remain unaccountable.
How tribalism causes problems at home and abroad. In a biting critique of American foreign policy and analysis of the nation's divisive culture wars, Chua (Law/Yale Univ.; Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, 2011, etc.) argues that tribal affiliation exerts a crucial, powerful force on individuals' behaviors and identities. Humans' need for "bonds and attachments," she asserts, fulfills an instinct to belong but also to exclude. People "will sacrifice, and even kill and die, for their group [tribe]."
["The human mind was created to discriminate, i.e., make choices between
up and down, in and out, black and white, etc. We must remain aware of our
tendency to use our discretionary abilities in order to marginalize and repress
people with whom we differ. We need to constantly see to it that we advocate for pluralism, against tribalism, in the interest of justice as taught by Guru Nanak Dev.
Our choices are to either live for each other, or to live at each other." -- My Sikh Sense]
Reprising some ideas from her book World on Fire (2002) on the negative consequences of exporting free market democracy, Chua examines America's failed involvement in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Venezuela as well as responses to terrorist groups. The author blames blindness to tribalism for the disastrous outcomes. That blindness comes, in part, from America's unique success in assimilating diverse populations into its "ethnicity-transcending national identity."
Assessing other countries, Americans have failed to recognize tribal affiliations and rivalries or the existence of a repressive "market-dominant minority" that controls major sectors of the economy. Instead, the U.S. has fixated on its mission to foil communism and export democracy. Focused on the Cold War, "U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan never saw the potent anti-American, anti-Western group identity fueling the Islamic fundamentalist fighters." In Iraq, foreign policy was shaped by a belief in "markets and democracy as a universal prescription for the many ills of underdevelopment."
In reality, the downfall of Saddam Hussein incited rivalries among tribal groups and the rise of ethnic conflict and fundamentalism. In Trump's America, cohesion has splintered "into ever more specific subgroups created by overlapping racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation categories" that feel threatened by one another. Inclusivity, hailed by the left, has devolved into exclusivity as groups seek to exert "exclusive rights to their own histories, symbols, and traditions."
Nevertheless, Chua is heartened by individuals' efforts to bridge divides and to undermine "purveyors of political tribalism" on the left and right. A persuasive call to rethink foreign policy and heal domestic fissures. -- Kirkus Reviews
The late speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, is credited for coining the phrase, “All politics is local.” Indeed, the human propensity for segregating into groups based on shared cultural, religious, or ethnic commonalities takes this notion to its logical conclusion. An awareness of this most basic tenet of human nature would have benefited American foreign policy during such conflicts as the wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan, but because officials tend to think in terms of “big picture” ideologies (e.g., communism versus capitalism), the key to resolving such crises was lost. In each case, a core understanding of tribal identities could have meant the difference between victory and defeat.
An expert in the fields of ethnic conflict and globalization, Chua examines how a different perspective might have led to greater success and applies these same polarizing attitudes to current domestic political discourse. Presented with keen clarity and brimming with definitive insights, Chua’s analysis of identity politics is essential reading for understanding policy challenges both at home and abroad. -- Carol HaggasSource.
About Amy Chua
Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She was born in 1962, the Year of the Tiger, in Champaign, Illinois. She lived in the Midwest (Go Purdue!) until she was eight, when her father Leon Chua became a professor at UC Berkeley, and her family moved to California. Amy graduated from El Cerrito High School (Go Gauchos!) in 1980.
In 1980, Amy headed East. She graduated from Harvard College in 1984 and Harvard Law School in 1987. While at Harvard Law School, Professor Chua was executive editor of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating, she clerked on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for Chief Judge Patricia M. Wald, who was a wonderful mentor to her (and who performed the marriage ceremony for Amy and her husband Jed!).
Amy practiced for four years with the Wall Street firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, where she worked on international transactions throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. In 1994, she joined the Duke University Faculty of Law. Amy and her family loved North Carolina! The only problem was that Jed was teaching at Yale. Amy joined the Yale Law School faculty in 2001.
Amy’s first book, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, a New York Times bestseller, was selected by both The Economist and the U.K.’s Guardian as one of the Best Books of 2003. She’s also the author of the 2011 memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a runaway international bestseller translated into 30 languages, and The Triple Package, a 2013 New York Times bestseller coauthored with her husband, Jed Rubenfeld.
Amy has appeared on televisions programs such [as] Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Colbert Report, Charlie Rose, The Lehrer News Hour, and Real Time With Bill Maher. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Forbes, the Financial Times. She has spoken at Aspen and Davos, and addressed numerous policymaking institutions, including the World Bank, the Brookings Institution, and the CIA.
In 2011 Amy was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, an Atlantic Monthly Brave Thinker, and one of Foreign Policy‘s Global Thinkers of 2011. She also received the Yale Law School’s “Best Teaching” award.
"When left unchecked, organizations have a tendency to become
opaque, exclusive, monochromatic, and eventually tribal."
Organizations tend to be tribal, even incestuous. That is, when the 'gene pool' of
its members is of only one race, the organization is at risk of being perverted in
its policies and procedures. The obvious remedy is the inclusion of 'outsiders'.
How can any organization monitor member attitudes about diversity issues,
including race, if it has no clue about the demographics of its organization? A
common requirement amongst governmental agencies is to regularly inquire
of ethnic and marginalized members as to their perceptions and grievances. Any organization that fails to maintain open communication and dialogue with
its constituency is at risk of dysfunction, loss of credibility, and irrelevancy.
"Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking,
and its greatest failures by not talking." Stephen Hawking
"Looking at the one and only Black Family native to SDI/3HO/KRI
after 49 years from my perspective as a person of color I have to
ask, why are there so few Black Families? How many White Families
vs. Black Families are there after 49 years? Oh sure, there are a few
African-Americans, but they are disproportionately represented.
Think about the optics from the perspective of most people of color.
Do people of color see this disparity as a positive or as a negative?
And how many Black Kundalini Yoga teachers-trainers are there?
Isn't it time for there to be some serious mixed-race adult dialogue?
The key indicator that organizations have come of age is when
they advocate open dialogue on issues with marginalized people.
BTW: When asked if one Black Family after 49 years is an issue
of concern, some Sikh Dharma ministers agreed. But when asked
why the issue is never discussed, they were unable to answer.
Discourse is not meant to stir up feelings of guilt. Discourse is
meant to drive people to action against injustice. Question
is are we mature enough to sit down and discuss issues
of tribalism, including race, religion, and gender?" Note: Nobody has yet responded to the questions
except for requests for removal from mailing list.
We are saddened to learn that false rumors have been circulating about Akal Committee Thirteen, and our Deg Tegh Fateh Yatra. There have been claims that we are acting as "rebels"; that ACT works to oppose Sikh Dharma; and that ACT is not supportive of the teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji. These are absolutely false claims about which the following points aim to clarify.
. ACT members are Certified Kundalini Yoga Teachers.
. Each ACT member has studied with the Siri Singh Sahib in the years between 1970 and 2004.
. ACT has in fact made several attempts to include Sikh Dharma International, 3HO, and KRI in proposed activities over the past three years, so far without success.
. ACT remains hopeful that by Guru's grace we can join harmoniously with the above mentioned organizations to serve the mission of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the mission of the Siri Singh Sahib, and to teach the technology of Kundalini Yoga to Sikh brothers, sisters, and others throughout India and the world.
"First you have to master yourself and then you will become teachers.
Teacher is very open, a public park where anybody can walk in; so teacher
has to be very clean. Your conduct has to be crystal clear and you have to be absolutely transparent. Only then can you be a teacher." -- Yogi Bhajan 5/7/1969
"As humanity enters the Space Age, how will Whites relate to Greens and Grays,
when they can't live alongside Blacks, Browns, and Gays?" -- Hari Singh Bird
Ang Sang Wahe Guru
Ang Sung Wahe Guru celebrates the realization that there is no piece or part of ourselves,
no action, and no life that is not already the living vibration of the Infinite. IT is all God.
We are all one unified field of Diversity. See YouAreTheEssence.com.
"Discourse about racism is not meant to stir up feelings of guilt.
Discourse is meant to drive people to action against injustice.
Question is, are we mature enough to sit down and discuss
issues of diversity, including religion, gender and race?"
"Since the election of President Obama many Americans claim to
be weary of the ongoing conversation about racism. Think about the
weariness of people of color who have waited for centuries for any
substantive discourse to occur. That conversation has just begun."
"Are there even occasional conversations between White eyes and Colored eyes regarding the issues of diversity and racism and
their impact and complexities within our American communities today?
Issues to do with diversity are not going to go away just because we
deny that they exist, or because they cause us discomfort to discuss.
We must promote pluralism as did Guru Nanak throughout his ministry."
"The human mind was created to discriminate, e.g., make choices between
up and down, in and out, black and white, etc. We must remain aware of our
tendency to use our discretionary abilities in order to marginalize and repress
people with whom we differ. We need to constantly see to it that we advocate for pluralism, against tribalism, in the interest of justice as taught by Guru Nanak Dev.
Our choices are to live for each other, or to live at each other." -- Hari Singh Bird
It is incumbent on those who know
to teach those who do not know.
The quality or state of having people who are of different races
or who have different cultures within a group or organization.
Organizations tend to be tribal, even incestuous. That is when the 'gene pool' of
its members is of just one race, the organization is at risk of being perverted in
its policies and procedures. The obvious remedy is inclusion of 'outsiders'.
"In 2013, the population of African Americans, including those of more than one race,
was estimated at 45 million, making up 15.2% of the total U.S. population." Source.
U.S. organizations should reflect about 15 African Americans out of every 100.
Dialogue, not monologue.
White eyes must learn to listen.
White people, who also have a race but don't always think about what it means to be White in a largely White-dominated society, sometimes struggle with the concept of White privilege. What are the benefits or the advantages to being White in a society that has historically given benefits and advantages to members of the dominant group? If you are a person who has that privilege, you don't necessarily notice it. It is sometimes taken for granted. Let's use the example of racial profiling. If you're driving on the highway and you are not randomly stopped, you don't get to the end of your drive and say, "Gee, I wasn't randomly stopped today." You just take for granted that you got in your car, drove to your destination, without incident, like you do most days. It's not something that you think of as a function of being a White person in this society, you know?
If you go looking for an apartment and you find the apartment you like, and you rent it without difficulty, you don't say, "Gee, I benefited from being White today. I got that apartment I wanted." If you go shopping in the grocery store and find hair care products and make-up that work for you, you don't think, "Gee, I'm benefiting from being White today. The hair care products I need and the make-up I want were readily available for me."
Can I find opportunities to express my culture if I'm of Asian or Latino descent? How often during the course of a day will I be asked if I speak English, or how long I've been in this country? Will the physical symbol of my face always mark me as a foreigner? These are not things that White people think about on a day-to-day basis - they just take it for granted.
In one of my courses at Holyoke, "The Psychology of Racism," I ask students on the first day of class to get in small groups and talk about themselves in terms of their own racial or ethnic backgrounds. In one of my sessions, that there was a young White woman in a small group talking about these issues, and she was struggling with how to describe herself in terms of her race or ethnicity. Finally she said, "I'm just normal."
When asked what did she mean in that context, she said, "You know, I lived in an all-White neighborhood. I grew up with people a lot like myself, and I was just like everybody else - I was just the norm."
What I think is so significant about her choice of words - to say "I'm just normal" - is that it implies that those around you, who weren't from that background, are "abnormal." She never would have said that, but it is embedded in how we think.
How does a person support racist systems without being personally racist?
Many people say "But I'm not racist. I don't have prejudiced beliefs. As a White person, am I racist, simply because I live in a society in which I'm systematically advantaged?"
For me the relevant issue is not, "Are you racist?" but are you actively working against that system of advantage? Active racism is what I think many people would stereotypically think of as "racist behavior": name-calling, acts of racial violence, intentional discrimination, cross burning, etc.
But there is a lot of behavior that also supports a system of advantage that we might describe as passively racist. For example, in education - if I am teaching a course in which I exclude the contributions of People of Color, only talk about White people's contributions and only talk about White literature. And I never introduce my students to the work of African Americans, Latinos or Native Americans. I may not be doing that with the intention of promoting a sense of cultural superiority, but in fact the outcome of leaving those contributions out is to reinforce the idea that only White people have made positive cultural contributions.
I know a young woman who went to her English professor and asked, "Why is it that there are only White writers on our list? This is a 20th Century American Literature course. How come there aren't any Writers of Color?" Her professor, to his credit, was quite honest and said I'm teaching the authors I studied in graduate school. It wasn't malice on his part. He didn't wake up one day and say, "Over my dead body will there be Writers of Color on my syllabus." He was simply teaching the authors with whom he was most familiar.
Another example of individuals supporting racist systems can be found in our lending institutions. I might be an individual loan officer who considers herself to be quite progressive, very open minded; a person with limited, if any, prejudice. And yet I might work for a bank that has the practice of charging higher percentage rates to people who live in particular neighborhoods - specifically neighborhoods that have been redlined. So when a Person of Color from that neighborhood comes to see me, my own inclination might be to give that person a favorable loan. But if the policy of the bank is to give loans at a particular rate in a particular neighborhood, I might enact that policy, apart from my individual attitude, and in my decision-making reinforce the institutional racism embedded in that practice.
If we want to interrupt these cycles, we have to be quite intentional about it. Even without any malicious intents, such passive acts of giving into certain institutions or traditions will perpetuate systems of advantage based on race.
What are the obstacles to an equal society?Why can't we be "colorblind"?
Does creating more equitable environments mean loss for some people? That's what the controversy around issues like affirmative action is about. It feels like a loss, people feel like opportunities are being taken away from them. They don't necessarily see that there is a gain for the whole society, and perhaps even for them, by creating opportunities for everybody to contribute more fairly. It's not just about taking things away, it's about creating a better environment for everyone. A safer environment - a more just environment is a more peaceful environment. Martin Luther King said there is no peace without justice. We live in a world that is increasingly torn by violence, not always described as racially motivated violence, but violence which is very much related to systems of oppression. And to the extent that we're able to interrupt those systems, we're able to create a better quality of life for everyone.
Part of the problem is that people often struggle with the concept of meritocracy. They grow up with this notion that we live in a meritocracy, that people get what they deserve. It is an idea that has been part of their socialization. And to understand racism, or sexism or classism, or other isms as systems of advantage based on race or social group membership - these really fly in the face of that notion of meritocracy.
Think about the government assistance in home financing that took place for the World War II generation in the 1950's. Who got access to those loans? Where were those new houses being built? In the suburbs. And what resulted from the racially-restrictive covenants that blocked access to that new housing for people of color? If you got a government loan with your GI Bill and bought a house in an all-White area and that house appreciated in value - that was all made more available to you as consequence of racist policies and practices. To the child of that parent, it looks like my father worked hard, bought a house, passed his wealth on to me, made it possible for me to go to school, mortgaged that house so I could have a relatively debt-free college experience, and has financed my college education. How come your father didn't do that? Well, there are some good reasons why maybe your father might have had a harder time doing that if you're African American or Latino or Native American, or even Asian American.
The best response to the colorblind notion I have ever heard came to me from an African American father who I was interviewing for a study I was doing on the experiences of Black youth in predominantly White communities.
He was talking about his experiences with his children in school. They were often the only Black children in a mostly White class. And he talked about the teachers who would say something like, "I'm color blind. I treat all the kids the same, all the children the same."
And his response was, "The same as what? The same as if they were all White? My children, as the only Black children in the class, are not having the same experience as the White children in that class. The White children are seeing themselves reflected in the schoolbooks, in the classroom teacher. My children are sometimes called names that White children don't hear themselves being called. Their experience is not the same. So for you to say you're colorblind, that you're treating the children all the same, is to say that you're not acknowledging the reality of my child's day-to-day experience, and that feels very invalidating."
Doesn't the existence of multicultural curricula in the United States prove that we're making progress?
We use diversity as an umbrella term to describe the differences among people - whether those differences are cultural, religious, socioeconomic, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, etc. When we think about the benefits of diversity, I think we have to think about the fact that we are not interested in bringing people together just so we can say, "I know somebody who is different from me." It's not just about getting to know people as friends, though certainly there can be very important and useful friendships that emerge in diverse environments. But when I think about diversity and the value of it, I think about really different approaches to problem solving, different approaches to thinking about our society that might lead us to more equitable systems, the various talents that people bring.
In some schools they try to address diversity through what we might describe as a celebration of heroes and holidays. We are going to talk about Martin Luther King in January or February. We are going to have this day where we are celebrating holidays and people are going to bring in foods from different backgrounds, and it's a fairly superficial discussion of diversity, without really engaging in the meaning of that diversity in people's lives.
So for example, as an African American, I might come to school and talk about the holiday Kwaanza as part of diversity celebrations in the school. I happen to be in a family where we do celebrate Kwaanza as well as Christmas. However, if that is all we talk about in terms of my heritage, then I would feel like we had missed the boat. We have to be clear that it's not just understanding that he eats beans and rice, and she eats egg rolls and this person celebrates Kwanza. It's not about that. It is also about understanding the history of the way those groups have been treated in our society, and what we need to do to interrupt that history; to interrupt that current situation in terms of making sure that everybody has equal access.
So it's not just understanding somebody's heroes and holidays, but it's also understanding issues of social justice and how the society operates in ways that systematically advantages some members of our community, and systematically disadvantages other members of our community.
And if we can use our understanding of diversity in those terms and can connect with one another as allies working towards a more socially just environment, then I think we have really maximized the benefit of diversity.
How does racism affect everyone?
When I speak to audiences about this topic of race and racism, one of the questions that I often ask is for them to reflect on their own earliest race-related memory. In general, you can say that people of color tend to have earlier memories - particularly if they grew up in the United States - than those who are White. Having said that, when you ask them what emotion is associated with this early memory, almost everyone, both people of color and White people, will talk about things like fear, anger, sadness, shame, embarrassment, sometimes guilt.
What's really striking to me about this is not only do so many people have this experience, but when asked if they had discussed their experience with an adult or a parent or a teacher at the time, many people said they did not. They already knew that it was a topic you weren't supposed to talk about. Somehow the adults in the environment had communicated to them that this is something we don't discuss. Sometimes the people of color will say I was upset by what happened to me, and I was too embarrassed to tell anybody else about it. Sometime White adults will say that it was a trusted adult who was the source of the confusion. One of the things that makes the process so insidious is that it comes from people we know, love and trust. It's your mother who rented the videotape that was full of stereotypical images. It's your favorite uncle who tells the jokes at Thanksgiving. It's your next door neighbor who makes the casual comments that imbeds. It's your favorite English teacher who leaves Writers of Color off the syllabus.
What's really significant to me about this is not only that people have these negative experiences, but they've also internalized the idea that we shouldn't talk about it. And that, I think, is really problematic if we are ever going to get beyond the issue of racism as an impediment to social justice in our society because we have to be able to talk about it order to move beyond it.
Why do some people voluntarily separate themselves socially based on race?
People are naturally drawn to people who they see as being familiar. However, if you want to connect with somebody who is different from yourself, you have to be able to understand where is that person coming from. And one of the things that I've observed when we talk about, for example, racial group differences, is that Students of Color often come already thinking about themselves as members of particular groups. Whereas White students don't necessarily come to college thinking of themselves as quote White.
That, I think, is important in terms of how young people are coming together. Because if I'm coming to school thinking about myself as African American, or Latina, or African American, and I'm interacting with White students -- many of whom may have grown up thinking that the thing to do is to be colorblind. And that White student, in her effort to connect with me, says something like, "Gee, I don't think of you as a Black person." Or, "Why do you put so much emphasis on being a Latina?" Or, "Why is being African American so important to you?"
And if that is a very important part of my adolescent identity development process, just asking me that question is going to signal to me that you don't get it, that you don't understand where I'm coming from. Then I have to decide do I want to explain myself to you, or not? I might be willing to explain, once or twice. But if I find that everybody I meet outside of my group needs an explanation, that might get a little old. I might get tired of that.
So I might choose to hang around with people to whom I don't have to explain why I wear my hair the way I do, or why I like to listen to this kind of music as opposed to that kind of music. Or why I speak Spanish on the phone to my mother. That if I don't want to explain certain parts of myself frequently, I might choose to hang around with people who are similar to me. And that's an understandable response.
Generally speaking, identity questions really start to come to the surface during adolescence. That's when young people really start to think, "Who am I? What do I want to be when I grow up? How do I want to interact with other people in the world? Who do I want to connect with?" All of these are questions about identity.
But when you talk to young people of color, many of their identity questions are linked to their sense of themselves as members of a particular racial or ethnic group; not only who am I, but who am I as an African American woman? Who am I as an African American male? Who am I as a Latina? Who am I as a Cherokee? When you talk to young White people, they may be thinking about who they are and who they want to relate to, and how they want to think about themselves in the world. But it may not necessarily be linked to their sense of what it means to be White - particularly if they've grown up in a predominantly White community, or gone to predominantly White schools.
Now you might ask why do so many young people of color think about their racial group membership? If White kids aren't thinking about it, why are Kids of Color thinking about it? And one of the reasons they're thinking about it is because other people bring it to their attention.
How do cultural influences (television, media, etc.) make whiteness the norm and people of color "the other"?
Certainly if we're talking about White people living in predominantly White communities, it is certainly true that many people will grow up without having direct contact with people of color. And because they don't have that direct contact, the information that they have is coming to them largely from second hand sources; maybe from the television they've watched, the movies they've seen, the jokes they hear people tell, the casual comments they hear relatives making. So that the information is coming in stereotyped packages, typically.
One of the problems with stereotyping and the self-fulfilling nature of it, is that if you've heard these things, and then you meet somebody, you are likely to look for those characteristics.
Certainly if we think about how young children begin to understand race and the images that they are exposed to, we can say that White children receive many images in which they see themselves reflected. Their parents go to the library, they check out library books, and they see White children in them. They watch television, they see White children playing. Which is not to say they never see messages or images of people of color, but they're seeing lots of White images -- not only on television but in their homes, in their families, in their neighborhoods. So as a consequence of that, they will tend to think of White as the norm.
One of the things that we know about White children is that they often express curiosity about that which they perceive as different. You know, the White child in the grocery store who might see a dark-skinned person for the first time saying, "Mommy, mommy, why is that person so dark?" They're not asking, "Mommy, mommy, why are we so light?" The question is framed in terms of the other.
On the other hand, young Children of Color growing up, even if they live in environments that are fairly homogenous - Black kids growing up in Black neighborhoods, Latino children in Latino neighborhoods, etc. - are going to also be bombarded with images of White people in the media, in the books they get from the library, in the television they watch. So that even though they may be surrounded by a community in which they see themselves reflected, in terms of the bigger society, they, too, are also watching the same television programs, reading the same children's books, exposed to the same curricula in school, etc. So Children of Color don't necessarily start out asking why do White people look the way they do, but why do I look the way I do? Young children come to understand the wider world in terms as one that is dominated by White people.
How can we have control over racial stereotypes?
"The Lion King" was a very popular film, and my kids saw it more than once, I will confess. However, when I watched it with them, I pointed out some concerns I had. I told my children that I was bothered by the fact that the hyenas - who were the bad guys of the film - have voices that make them sound like Black people and Spanish speaking people. Now, some people would say I'm making too much of that. But think about the fact that young children watch movies like this repeatedly and these messages are seen over and over again. They do have an effect on how we view others.
Now, am I saying that you should never let your children see a film that has a stereotype in it? No. What I'm saying is that you need to help your kids think critically about them so they can recognize them as stereotypes and think critically about whether they make sense or not.
Once, while we were driving through a city not far from where we live, my son saw a young Black man running down the street. He said to me, "Why is that kid running?" I said, "I don't know why he's running. Why do you think he's running?" And my son said, "Maybe he stole something." And I was horrified to hear him make that comment. Where would he have gotten that idea?
So I said, "Well, what would make you think so?" He said, "You know, we're in a city. Sometimes people in cities steal things." And I pointed out that we have been in the city many times, parked our car, and never had a problem. I've had one thing stolen from my car in my life, and that happened in the small town, predominantly White, in which I live now. Well clearly he sees the nightly news. He watches television. He had absorbed those messages.
Books, computer games, the Web, television - there are so many places that we can be exposed to stereotypes, that we can be exposed to distorted information. And there is a whole universe of information that we're not getting. Think about these stereotypes, these omissions, these distortions as a kind of environment that surrounds us, like smog in the air. We don't breathe it because we like it. We don't breathe it because we think it's good for us. We breathe it because it's the only air that's available.
And in the same way, we're taking in misinformation not because we want it. When you or your child sits in front of the television on Saturday morning watching cartoons, you're not saying let's have our daily diet of stereotypes today. But you're being exposed to them because they're just there, in the commercials, in the images that you're watching. And it's so pervasive that you don't even notice it sometimes. In fact, a lot of the time you don't notice it.
We're all breathing in misinformation. We're all being exposed to stereotypes, and we all have to think about how we have been impacted by that. You sometimes hear people say there is not a prejudiced bone in my body. But I think when somebody makes that statement, we might gently say to them check again. That if we have all been breathing in smog, we can't help but have our thinking shaped by it somehow. As a consequence, we all have work to do. Whether you identify as a Person of Color, whether you identify as a White person, it doesn't matter. We all have been exposed to misinformation that we have to think critically about. --
ACT for Diversity Inclusion fulfills our longing to belong.
"We are all brothers and sisters who should walk the
Path together, hand in hand. Keep to your Path."
Those who practice The Art of Peace must protect the domain of Mother Nature, the divine reflection of creation, and keep it lovely and fresh. Warriorship gives birth to natural beauty. The subtle techniques of a warrior arise as naturally as the appearance of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Warriorship is none other than the vitality that sustains all life.
Life is a divine gift. The divine is not something outside of us; it is right in our very center; it is our freedom. In our training, we learn the real nature of life and death. When life is victorious, there is birth; when it is thwarted, there is death. A warrior is always engaged in a life-and-death struggle for peace.
Contemplate the workings of this world, listen to the words of the wise, and take all that is good as your own. With this as your base, open your own door to truth. Do not overlook the truth that is right before you.
The universe is our greatest teacher, our greatest friend. It is always teaching us the Art of Peace. Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Everything—mountains, rivers, plants, and trees—should be your teacher. The world’s wisdom is contained in books, and by studying the words of the wise, countless new techniques can be created. Study and practice, and then reflect on your progress. The Art of Peace is the art of learning deeply, the art of knowing oneself.
Always keep your mind as bright and clear as the vast sky, the highest peak, and the deepest ocean, empty of all limiting thoughts.
In the Art of Peace you must be able to let yourself soar like a bird and sport like a whale.
Do not forget to pay your respect to the four directions each day. This wonderful world of ours is a creation of the divine, and for that gift we need to be ever grateful. That gratitude should be expressed through some kind of prayer. True prayer has no set form. Just offer your heartfelt gratitude in a way you feel is appropriate, and you will be amply rewarded.
The Art of Peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within. On occasion the voice of peace resounds like thunder, jolting human beings out of their stupor.
The only real sin is to be ignorant of the universal, timeless principles of existence. Such ignorance is the root of all evil and all misguided behavior. Eliminate ignorance through the Art of Peace, and even hell will be emptied of tortured souls.
The only cure for materialism is the cleansing of the six senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind). If the senses are clogged, one’s perception is stifled. The more it is stifled, the more contaminated the senses become. This creates disorder in the world, and that is the greatest evil of all. Polish the heart, free the six senses and let them function without obstruction, and your entire body and soul will glow.
To purify yourself you must wash away all external defilements, remove all obstacles from your path, separate yourself from disorder, and abstain from negative thoughts. This will create a radiant state of being. Such purification allows you to return to the very beginning, where all is fresh, bright, and pristine, and you will see once again the world’s scintillating beauty.
All life is a manifestation of the spirit, the manifestation of love. And the Art of Peace is the purest form of that principle. A warrior is charged with bringing a halt to all contention and strife. Universal love functions in many forms; each manifestation should be allowed free expression. The Art of Peace is true democracy.
Each and every master, regardless of the era or place, heard the call and attained harmony with heaven and earth. There are many paths leading to the peak of Mount Fuji, but the goal is the same. There are many methods of reaching the top, and they all bring us to the heights. There is no need to battle with each other—we are all brothers and sisters who should walk the Path together, hand in hand. Keep to your Path, and nothing else will matter. When you lose your desire for things that do not matter, you will be free. -- From The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba.