Thankful Thursday: Fighting Racism and Misogyny Requires Gratitude and Forgiveness, Not Hate

So, this happened.

It’s hard for me to figure out what’s more disgusting about this video.

The slurs? The fact that this woman spewed out the foulest language imaginable in front of her two young kids? The ease with which she jumped to racist talk when angry?

As the man in the video says, racism is alive and well.

We hear about it everyday. The recent Don Sterling episode was just one example in a very long history of discrimination and utter disregard for an entire race. As appalled as we all are when the story hits the front page, how often do we encounter this in our own backyards and do nothing?

I hear it at work in the stories my coworkers tell and the words they choose to describe people of other races:

Chinky eyes.

Dirty Mexican.

Speak English, you’re in America.

And it’s not just racism but misogyny as well. The way women are talked about, laughed at, criticized, or just plain condemned by those who work with me or near me is downright nauseating.

It shames me that I don’t stand up to it more. I could be like this guy and pull out my camera, record, and upload on YouTube. That’s what people do these days. And bravo to them for putting it out there. We need more people pushing this conversation into the mainstream.

Because as he said, racism is alive and well.

But is this really helping? We watch these videos, or read the rants on social media and people argue back and forth on message boards. People are outraged and express that anger through all kinds of outlets online or in person. Given how pervasive racism and misogyny are though, how much is any of it actually contributing towards tangible change?

I’m no saint. I judge and stereotype too. It’s easier for me to shut it out and just ignore it when I hear it from others, but I’m also quick to jump to conclusions. My experiences growing up led me to reject anything that pegged me (or anyone) into a racial profile and I stayed away from many aspects of my own cultural background as a result. I’ll admit that stems from my own insecurities which leads to a lack of understanding and unfair bias. Guilty as charged.

I spent most of my life defending the fact that I was Latino because I didn’t follow the preconceived notions of what a Latino looks like or acts like. It got to a point where I was so sick of having the conversation that I learned to tune out the racist talk. I am who I am, an amalgamation of the immigrant experience, New York urban upbringing, with a propensity for nerdy discourse and overthinking things. Take it or leave it.

But I’m beginning to question my ignorance. Not only have I lost out on embracing the beauty of my heritage, I’ve also become afraid to challenge others when I’m offended. By turning off my response to racism, I’ve become an uncomfortable bystander in moments when I really just want to turn to the person and ask them, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

I hate confrontations. I’ve gotten by, by staying out of the fray, observing but not commenting, judging but not acting, feeling guilty but not forgiving; and I realize how horrible that makes me feel.

I don’t know what the right answer is. Battling every single person who says something racist or misogynistic seems impossible. And besides, responding in kind with your own verbal onslaught doesn’t solve anything.

You judge, I judge, we all judge, but no one wins.

Nor am I a naive idealist who believes that one day we’ll live in a world without racism. It’s always been there because it’s bred out of fear. And fear is never going anywhere.

That said, we’ve come a long way this past century in so many incredible ways. We have freedoms in this country that others in the world fight and die for every day, without ever realizing those dreams.

I can send my future daughter to school and not have to worry that masked gunmen will pluck her out of her class and sell her to the highest bidder. #BringBackOurGirls

I can marry and divorce a man without having my family stone me to death. #YesAllWomen

I can go to school or take a job in any industry I want regardless of my gender. #YesAllWomen

Immigrants like my parents can came to this country without speaking the language, and raise five children with the resources and benefits provided by our government. They are then able to gain citizenship and continue to fight for their rights without censorship or reprisal. A huge win for two Latinos who came out of brutal poverty and dictatorship. #Latism

For all of that I am thankful.

It will take more experience and conversation for me to understand my place in the daily battles of us versus them.

I do know that the goal for myself and my loved ones is to change that to we, to embrace everyone without prejudice along any lines; race, gender, physical disability, mental health, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, job title…or any choices made that I just don’t understand because I can’t relate.

My hope is that I can pass this along to my children. That the day they see me angry in a parking lot, that I handle it constructively and mindful that my children are learning how to deal with difficult situations from my example. Nothing like this woman who chose to teach her children the worst, as they too started cursing at the man in the car.

Violence perpetuates violence. Racism perpetuates racism. It’s a cycle.

I’ve made a conscious effort to stay away from some of the stickier subjects on this blog for different reasons. I didn’t even have the intention of posting something today, until I saw this video in my news feed. I’m sure I’ll come back to this post thinking I forgot an important point or wishing that I’d said something more eloquent or profound.

But I realize that all of that is besides the point. You can’t force people to change, but you do have a choice in how you react and treat those around you.

I chose to start this day with a reflection on my part in the dialogue around me. It’s a daily struggle for me to internalize all of the misguided ignorance I hear, but I also know that there are many people out there who don’t share those thoughts. I’m relying on my faith that soon I’ll be out of this environment and around like-minded company who can at least participate in a constructive conversation about the topic. For now, I have this blog and all of you.

This was a stream of consciousness meant to unburden some of these pent up feelings, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

What did you think about the video?

How do you choose to deal with hurtful comments that are racist or misogynistic in nature?

Why do we have such a hard time accepting people of other cultures or the opposite sex?

What are you thankful for this week?

Thankful Thursday 6-5-14

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or on FB and Twitter.

Blog Signature

Featured post

Wordless Wednesday: The Weatherman

wordless wednesday Freedom Tower 5-28-14

Growing up, I looked west for my weather report.

Are the towers covered in fog? Better grab an umbrella.

Thirteen years later and I still find myself looking west, searching the skyline for the familiar spires, my weathermen, and forgetting for just a second.

Muscle memory I guess.

I catch myself peeking at the new sleek spire from the corner of my eye each morning. I’m still unused to seeing it there. Almost like an invader in beloved territory.

But there it is again; my weatherman.

Better grab my umbrella.

What do you see each morning on your way to work or school? How does it make you feel?

Blog Signature

 

Featured post

Introducing…Me: The Liebster Award

liebster-award1

I owe Annie of Strong Brees a HUGE hug for nominating me for the Liebster Award! Here it comes Annie:

<HUG>

Thank you times a million!

What I love most about these awards is the opportunity to get to know new bloggers who are doing some pretty awesome things on their sites and to spread the love. This also gives us a chance to pull back the curtain and share a bit of our origin story for those of you just tuning in.

It’s a great time all-around. So without further ado, let the share-fest begin!

First, let’s go over some of the rules:

  • You must link back to the person who nominated you.
  • You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.
  • You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award.
  • You must create 10 questions for your nominees.
  • You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees.

Got it? Good.

Here’s my Q&A courtesy of Annie:

1.  What inspired you to begin blogging?
There’s no one simple answer here, but the tipping point for me was back in 2009. I’d reached a point where I was really frustrated with my weight and overall appearance. I started to change my eating and exercise habits, researching (I’m obsessed with research!) nutrition and different workout routines, experimenting and ultimately found a pattern that worked. By 2012, I’d hit a lot of my goals but I still felt like I had so many questions about health and nutrition that I wanted to figure out. Why do some diets work for some people but don’t for others? How can we change our environment to be more accepting of different body types instead of emulating an unrealistic beauty standard? What can I do to help people overcome issues with ED and unhappiness?  At the suggestion of several of my friends I decided to start writing. I spent a week in London during the Olympics in 2012, and was so inspired that I spent the entire flight home writing out what would become Food4ThoughtNYC. I never looked back after that.
2.  What is your favorite piece of workout apparel?
me and Underarmour gearI’m obsessed with anything by UnderArmour, especially their leggings. They offer the perfect amount of flexibility and compression without feeling bulky or too tight. Plus, they look awesome! I’ve also learned over time that nothing beats a cotton top. I used to love all of those high-tech sweat-wicking materials but quickly realized that they smell pretty awful mid-workout. Invest your money in the shorts or pants and stick to inexpensive and comfortable tops- just a tip!
3.  What is one type of workout you have not yet tried but are curious about?
There’s two- Zumba and Crossfit. Talk about polar opposites! I’m a powerlifter and usually prefer workouts that are a bit more slow-paced with heavy weights. This year I’ve created some new goals around increasing my endurance which means I need to start embracing workouts that are fast-paced with a cardio component. One of my best friends is obsessed with Crossfit and I can’t go a day without coming across a blog post talking about whatever WOD they crushed. I want to drink the Koolaid too! And Zumba just looks like crazy fun. I can shimmy with the best of them, so why not make it a workout?
4.  What did you eat for breakfast (be honest, no judgement here!)?
Ah, you caught me! I just had a giant cup of coffee, but I’m working hard to minimize the extras I throw in. So, only a few teaspoons of sugar, sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon, a few drops of half-and-half, and a bit of coconut oil. That’s right, I put coconut oil in my coffee! I’ve read that it’s great for your digestive health and while the science behind the benefits of all things coconut is still a bit murky, I personally find this little addition pretty great for me. I like experimenting! And I also had a slice of whole wheat toast. I’ve got a green smoothie on tap once I finish writing this post.
5.  Name one thing you do, wear, or own that gives you the most confidence?
Great question. I’m gonna go with writing. It’s a funny answer for me because writing also gives me a lot of anxiety. I worry if what I’m sharing will resonate or fall flat or if my grammar is completely screwed up. Sometimes I run away from it altogether, and I’ve taken some long breaks from my blog as a result. But I find the ebb and flow of my writing journey the past two years to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. There are times when I’m literally bursting at the seams to sit down and get my thoughts down either on paper or on my site. It’s been cathartic, especially when I wrote about my issues with disordered eating or racial identity. And as much as it terrifies to put that out there for the world to read and potentially criticize, I always feel like I’ve triumphed in some way. It’s a roundabout way towards feeling confident, but nevertheless it’s been the most effective.
6.  If you could go for a walk/run anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Impossible to answer! I’m a travel nut and my bucket list is way too long. I was in Moab last summer and while there I experienced some of the most serene moments in my life. Sitting there and staring out at these massive rock formations and the valleys between just made me feel so small and so huge at the same time. me and moabThose are the emotions I like to go for whenever I visit somewhere new. I suppose the next place I’d like to feel that would probably be the antithesis of Moab, so a forest comes to mind. I’d love to see the Sequoias in California or some of the old-world forests in Europe. My second choice would be somewhere mountainous. Clearly, nature wins for me!
7.  If time and money were no issue what would you do for a day?
Only one day?? Take a long walk in the early morning to a new neighborhood in NYC. Have breakfast (calories don’t count in this dream right?) and coffee at a slow pace. Visit a museum or go to the park for a few hours to read. Go home and experiment with a new recipe. Watch a movie. Call up a friend and go to a beer garden or outdoor restaurant to enjoy a meal, a few drinks, and a conversation, again at an unhurried pace. Eat dessert. Go home and play with my dog. Then go to bed. Nothing fancy or crazy. And completely unplugged from the digital world. I spend nearly every waking hour online for myself or for work and as much as I enjoy it, there are days when you just need to detox. This would be one of those days.
8.  Cardio or weights?  Why?
WEIGHTS. All the way. I’m a powerlifter, so yeah, weights.
Maribel- 195x2 Deadlift 5-17-13
Every time I tried losing weight in the past I’d go the cardio route only to quit pretty soon after. I don’t blame the exercise so much as a lack of understanding on my part of what really worked for me. When I started lifting with my personal trainer a year ago, something clicked. It’s a difficult challenge, but it was something I actually enjoyed doing, which was very different from every time I’ve hit the pavement attempting to run a couple of miles. This is why I make it my mission to tell everyone to ignore whatever workout trend is currently making the rounds and to quit believing that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. Some of my friends are avid runners who get the high and love the feeling they get from hitting the pavement each day. Others swim, hike, dance, do yoga, spin, kickbox- or lift like I do. And even still, I’m not locked into one thing. This afternoon I’m going swimming and I’ve got a yoga session in store for tomorrow. I choose weights, but that’s not my only choice.
9.  Do you drink coffee? If so, how do you like it?
Ah, scroll up to read my answer to #4, lol. Yes. Coffee and I are old old friends. I even wrote about it here.
10.  What accomplishment are you most proud of?
In no specific order: hitting my 230lb deadlift before my 30th birthday last December when I originally aimed for 225lbs; being featured in Latina magazine this year as a top blogger; conquering my fear of bikes by learning to ride last year; getting healthy and fit for me and not for anyone else which was a MAJOR life lesson; traveling through 4 continents and living abroad more than once; nailing an internship with a startup whose mission I actually believe in that inspires me everyday; letting go of some of the pain from my past by embracing gratitude, forgiveness, and meditation as part of my daily practice; starting this crazy blog that led me to meet some truly incredible people out there who are proudly sharing their stories and constantly inspiring me with their honesty, passion, strength, and creativity. Thank you for all that you do!
I’m honestly gobsmacked by the amount of support and encouragement I’ve been lucky to receive from people I’ll probably never meet in real life, but who come here and find something that strikes a chord with them. I do this for me, to leave my mark in the universe in my own way. But really, I do this for you too.
I’ve said it from the beginning: my intention here is to start a conversation. I want to connect and learn from you to see how even the smallest exchange can create waves of change in our corners of the world. A million thank yous to each and every single one of you who’ve laid eyes on my page and the sites of all the bloggers out there that are working just as hard to create something truly unique.
The world needs more unique. 🙂
Alright, now the fun doesn’t stop here. It’s time to nominate what I consider to be truly incredible blogs that I’ve recently discovered and to continue paying it forward (my motto!).
And here are my questions (keeping some of Annie’s because they were great!)
1.  What inspired you to begin blogging?
2.  How do you feel about social media and being “connected”?
3.  What is one type of workout you have not yet tried but are curious about?
4.  What is your favorite healthy recipe?
5.  Name one thing you do, wear, or own that gives you the most confidence.
6.  If you could go for a walk/run anywhere in the world, where would it be?
7.  What song, movie or book inspires you?
8.  Do you practice meditation or have an interest in trying it out?
9.  Why do you write?
10.  What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Congrats to all of the nominees. Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Happy Easter!

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

Featured post

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: