Considering Consciousness Diversity & CommUnity Ideas



Does success or failure depend on effort, energy, talent and skill? Can someone have all of these things and still not “make it?” What kinds of barriers keep people from attaining their goals?

Some say that the U.S. is a meritocracy – that folks do “make it” or not based on their own effort, energy, talent and skills, and maybe a little luck. Some believe that just about anybody has the opportunity to be successful in the U.S. today, it’s the American dream with our immigrant past, after all! But is it true, or are some people privileged?

Do some folks just have the advantage no matter how you slice it?


  1. I can turn on the TV or open magazine/newspaper and see people of my ethnicity widely represented. Y or N
  2. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policiies without being seen as a cultural outsider. Y or N
  3. I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my racial group. Y or N
  4. I can be pretty sure that is I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my “race.” Y or N
  5. If a cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my “race.” Y or N
  6. I can present a check at the grocery store and not be asked for several forms of ID. Y or N
  7. I can walk through a department store without being followed. Y or N
  8. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of my financial reliability. Y or N

According to Peggy McIntosh, if you answered “yes” to most of the above questions, then it’s likely that you are white.

Questions from Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”


Prejudice and privilege are closely related. Our prejudices may even help ensure our privileges. “White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks,” according to McIntosh. Those born without the special provisions have a harder time navigating the waters of life.

“No matter how hard some people work, no matter how much energy, effort, talent or skill they bring to a job or endeavor, because of their ‘race’ or ethnicity, they are less likely to succeed.”

Peggy McIntosh

It is sad that“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” was written in 1988, and so little has changed in the intervening 32 years. Instead, the “racial worldview that we’ve created” assigns some people to perpetual low status, while others are permitted access to “privilege, power, and wealth.”

In fact, your gender, skin color, physical or mental ability, and financial status largely determine your place in our society.

People who identify as white fail to recognize that their whiteness is a racial category at all. Like a fish in water, a white person in the U.S. swims in a sea of privilege and rarely perceives the unspoken social benefits that come from their skin tone.


Whites are taught about racism as something that disadvantages others, they are not usually taught that racism gives whites the advantage. Jane Elliott’s “Blue Eyed” is an exception to this. According to Wikipedia, Ms. Elliott is listed on the timeline of 30 notable educators by McGraw-Hill along with ConfuciusPlatoBooker T. Washington, and Maria Montessori, to give an idea of how influential her training programs have become.

As a diversity trainer myself for over 15 years, I relied on Jane’s astute analogy of blue-eyes versus brown-eyes to help white participants achieve an “ah ha! moment.”

Jane Elliott received a lot of complaints for placing young people who were white and blue-eyed into a situation where they were disadvantaged as compared to their white and brown-eyed class mates. This few-hour exercise made white adults gasp and protest about the pain Jane was inflicting upon the poor blue-eyed children. For example, they were made to sit in the back of the classroom, they had to eat lunch after the brown-eyed children, and they were not given the same privileges that the brown-eyed children received. Some thought there might be permanent damage done to their psyches!

If damage was caused to the blue-eyed children from a few hours of this treatment, what impact does a lifetime of such treatment mean to a person of color? Some children and adults were able to make the connection between the exercise and the treatment of people of color, and expressed that the exercise was valuable and transformative.

The most powerful transformation, and the reason for the longevity of Ms. Elliott’s diversity training program, Blue-Eyed, is its ability to make people aware of their privileges.

Peggy McIntosh points out that she had to give up the myth of meritocracy after considering the questions in the Are You Privileged quiz, and accept that “this is not such a free country, one’s life is not what one makes it, many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.”

In order for the  U.S. to become a meritocracy, we would need to eliminate artificial barriers to success, those barriers that are based on “race” or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or identification, perceived or real disability, and class or financial status. That’s how to create a level playing field in order for everyone to reach their fullest potential and make their greatest contributions.

When everyone has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, then we all have a better environment in which to thrive, regardless of the color of our eyes.

If the World were 100 PEOPLE:

50 would be female
50 would be male

25 would be children
There would be 75 adults,
9 of whom would be 65 and older

There would be:
60 Asians
16 Africans
14 people from the Americas
10 Europeans

31 Christians
23 Muslims
16 people who would not be aligned with a religion
15 Hindus
7 Buddhists
8 people who practice other religions

86 would be able to read and write; 14 would not

7 would have a college degree
40 would have an Internet connection

78 people would have a place to shelter them
from the wind and the rain, but 22 would not

91 would have access to safe drinking water
9 people would have no clean, safe water to drink

From “100  People: A World Portrait”

Diversity & CommUnity Ideas

Time-Out for the 1% #BetsyDeVosShouldCleanSchoolLatrines

People are/should be up in arms! The actions of the 1% have led to the “late, great United States” and also systematic pillaging of the world. They are against nature – but no they are nature run rampant, as in a swarm of locusts set upon the land in numbers that decimate.

There. Now that I’ve said that, who are “they” and what should “we” do about “them?” (#BetsyDeVosShouldCleanSchoolLatrines.)

Right now we are experiencing the dichotomy of the struggle for freedom and the repression of freedom occurring simultaneously. But why would it be otherwise? We are at the Tipping Point.

There is a long history of corporate personhood — the bestowing by our judiciary of 1st and other constitutional (amendment) rights upon corporations.

And there is a long history of peoples’ struggle for freedom and rights in the US beginning with our Revolutionary War. The two are now pitted squarely against each other. Corporations currently are asserting their power. They want more. Of course, a corporation can’t speak (then how can it have rights and privileges like the ability to contribute to political parties!?) If a corporation can’t speak then WHO is behind what is going on?

Well, the Koch Bros and others, have together or separately, by orchestration or accident of greed, conspired to rid the people of the US of their power once and for all.

The 1st election since the Citizens United Supreme Court case gave a sweeping victory to Republicans supporting the corporate agenda. This agenda has been rolled out across the US since in various state legislations, including Kansas (K.S.A. 72-5413), preventing any “labor organization or professional employee organization or public employee organization to use dues, fees or any kind of deduction from a member’s paycheck for the purpose of engaging in political activities.”

Why do the 1% care about ending Union dues? Because the USSC case, Citizens United, allowed for corporate say (sway) over elections AND for UNION input, too. So now it’s time to eliminate all competition by eliminating Union power (the last voice of the people) so that only the corporations have voice.

How are the corporations heard? Corporate dollars can be used to voice political opinions, as can Union dollars according to Citizens United. The Sacklers — the family that owns Purdue Pharma (remember, the ones responsible for the opioid crisis who are opposed to the Affordable Care Act?) can use their corporate dollars to back political candidates that will ensure they keep raking it in at our expense. And voices in union won’t be heard to counter them because Unions may be expressly prohibited from collecting dues from member’s to go to political activities.

What are the corporate voices saying? In a nutshell:

  • No more Unions. Corporations want to hear you one at a time not in unison, and not in court but only in mandatory arbitration with an arbitrator of their choosing. Hey, you are an at-will employee and you signed the paper when you were hired. Get over it. Bargain for yourself.
  • No more Whistle-blowing. Shut up. Get out. You are interfering with potential profit making. The bottom line, ya know?
  • While we’re at it, no more discrimination complaints, either. Whine to your mama.
  • No more public funded secondary education. What did you think this education/learning thing was, a free-for-all? A tripling of the tuition rate should get rid of some of the lower stratum. Hey, let’s get rid of PELL, too! That will really reduce the number of losers going to college! But bribes from the rich parents of not-so-bright kids are welcome.
  • No more public education K-12 – it is clearly socialist. All schools should be privatized and so a nice profit can be made off of each and every “learner.” (REFERENCE CHARTER SCHOOLS scandals; (#BetsyDeVosShouldCleanSchoolLatrines.)
  • No more day care or early childhood subsidies. Hell, let’s gut the Special Olympics. If we could just get rid of disability protections too…
  • No more “free judiciary”  — Judges should make a profit for filling up for-profit jails and prisons. If people, who are not productive for the corporation otherwise, were in a for-profit jail, then money could be made off of them anyway. Brilliant!
  • No more abortion. Lots of unwanted babies are necessary for this scheme to work! And no more subsidies to mothers. We don’t want to risk losing potential prison inmates. Besides, what did they ever do for us?
  • And forget loyalty to party values, or even loyalty to home and country. Partnering with Putin pays.
  • Hey, and no more “truth”. We don’t want people to know what’s going on.

Since there is a big, ol’ global-warming clock loudly ticking, it makes sense that the 1% ought to be given a good, long time-out. So, don’t forget to support your local union, and #BetsyDeVosShouldCleanSchoolLatrines.

Diversity & CommUnity Ideas Verse

Fluffy White Powder

Snow blanketed the town in quiet isolation. It covered the roadways and rooftops and treetops, even the magnificent climbing tree that shaded the Carroll’s tiny well-maintained home across from the grade school. Everything was covered with feet of fluffy white powder. Borne by the wicked winter wind, it had curled around corners to layer unevenly on window ledges, lapped over porch screens to create rippling patterns, and drifted into mounds that covered bushes and bicycles, burying whole cars under its weight. It covered Myrtle’s flowerbeds leaving only some tall stalks visible, outlined in glistening ice.

Sledding behind cars was prohibited, and so Bob, Art, Harold and others got out their skis. They gathered at the top of 14th Street hill, put their skis on and waited, throwing snowballs and shoving each other around to stay warm. They were waiting for the first likely, unsuspecting bumper to come their way.

Art pulled his cap down over his ears, rubbed gloved hands together, and grabbed onto the silver fender of a blue Oldsmobile sliding off on wobbly but confident skis. He guided his way nimbly along the edge of the road, slipping back behind the car to avoid heaps of snow, trash cans, and occasional pedestrians. The hill was considerably steeper than he’d expected. His scarf flapped in the wind like a kite tail as he shifted his weight expertly beside the Olds’. Art was fourteen and fast. But gaining speed wasn’t the hard part, slowing down was. At a T-intersection, he lost the car when it turned the sharp corner to the left and Art found himself continuing forward, flying.

Eisenhower museum photo WWII Paraskiiers
WWII Paraskiier

He winced a bit now as he stretched, still sore, but he was the first one up as he usually was on cold mornings, up before anyone scratched a match to the cast iron to light the wood stove, when fingers of ice still tickled at the spine, encouraging a shiver. This morning was no exception. He nursed the cut that was sure to turn into a scar and remembered the impossibility of being airborne and the pain of landing as he scuttled into his jeans.

Diversity & CommUnity Ideas

Do Not Attend A Hate Rally!

Do not attend a hate rally! Instead, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 10 Ways to Fight Hate you should, “Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate.”

Rallies and marches held by the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups are protected under the First Amendment. If we are able to stop one group from gathering, then what groups would be prevented next? Rather than risk losing our rights under the First Amendment, “our efforts should focus on channeling people away from hate rallies.”

Considering Consciousness Diversity & CommUnity Ideas

Diagnosably Evil

Do you follow the trends, have the latest gadgets? Do you watch TV, follow the popular shows? Do you believe the things you read on facebook? Are you able to think for yourself? Are you able to reflect and consider, or do you react and follow along? Just how manipulatable are you?

These are important questions to ask yourself in a hot and volatile world that is only getting hotter and more volatile. Global warming and lies. Deception and gain. Greed and death. Ho hum. Change the channel, will you? Oh! You can’t.

49 years ago today the My Lai Massacre brutally took the lives of almost 400 unarmed people—including mothers and babies, and the old. More people were victimized than just those slaughtered that day. Innocence was lost all over the world as news of the atrocity—of the evil committed by good American solders—altered the way we look at ourselves. Group evil was acknowledged due to the My Lai Massacre, and rightly feared. But what has been done since to understand group evil and prevent its recurrence? Apparently, very little.

Diversity & CommUnity Ideas

How does our thinking about “race” and ethnicity create conflict?

Where do our ideas about “race” come from? Did slavery create racism? Why can’t we all just get along?

Many people think “race” and racism have been around forever. When we look at historical records from earlier times and places we find our ideas about “race” are quite different than ideas held by people in the past.

In the ancient world, slavery was a way of life. Many slaves were owned by Egyptian, Greek, and Roman aristocracy. But these slaves did not necessarily have different skin color from their owners. Slave owners acquired their slaves through capture in warfare, punishment for crimes, colonialism, kidnapping and piracy, and other means. Even the inability to pay a debt might make someone a slave.

Slavery didn’t end with the fall of Rome. During the 15th through 19th centuries, many of the most powerful European countries engaged in colonialism. Much of the Americas, including the U.S., Cuba, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Atlantic Nicaragua were colonized and Africans were enslaved to work the conquered land.

In places where the European colonists brought slavery and settled, the mixing of populations between those of European descent and those of African descent created mulatto or Creole cultures. These cultures were typically “caste-stratified by skin tone and more broadly by the degree of ‘African-ness’… as opposed to ‘European-ness’ that an individual or family exhibits.” from Bad Subjects, “Colorless All-Color”: Notes on White Culture.

The U.S. is also a mulatto culture, but instead of becoming caste-stratified a color line was drawn dividing society into two exclusive groups: Whites and non-whites. Americans created a division between people that didn’t exist before and that we still feel the effects of today.

Diversity & CommUnity

Why Do We Have Racial & Ethnic Categories?

Why do we have racial and ethnic categories? Are these categories there to divide or protect us? What’s the difference between “race” and “ethnicity” anyway? When does someone become just plain “American?”

It appears to be very difficult for most of us, when put on the spot, to define “race” or to describe the difference between “race” and ethnicity.Diversity & Unity_quiz1 Part4

Most people think that “race” is a biological category – something in our genes, and that ethnicity has to do with unusual foods or customs. But, “race” is a social, not a biological, category.
Beginning with the first Census Report in 1790, and every 10 years after, the U.S. government has asked us to identify ourselves. But the categories of “race” and ethnicity we’ve had to select from have been ever shifting! Since 1900 alone, over 26 different racial terms have been used to categorize the U.S. population. People once thought to be of separate “races”, for example, the Irish, Italians, and Jews, are now all considered Caucasian.

Diversity & CommUnity

Why is it always Us versus Them?

What is it that divides us?

How can we learn to understand those who are different from us? How can we help others to understand and appreciate who we are?

Our families, friends, schools and communities have a huge influence on who we become as adults. People who help form our perceptions of the world are usually those who are similar to us in ethnicity, socioeconomic class, education, background and lifestyle.

Our perceptions of the world are formed largely when we are children.

Diversity & CommUnity

What makes us all the same?

What makes us all the same?

Are we the same because we work for the same organization or go to the same school? Are we the same because we speak the same language or live in the same neighborhood? Are we the same because we listen to the same music or eat at the same restaurants?

These questions may seem trivial, but as our society becomes more diverse the ways we choose to divide ourselves from others and who we include and exclude from our groups become important issues.

Diversity & CommUnity

What makes us all unique?

What makes us all unique?

Have Americans created a melting pot, a mosaic, or a patchwork quilt? What kinds of barriers still keep people from attaining their goals? How can we all be productive and successful? These questions are of crucial importance now and in our future.

A simplistic, but true, answer comes from an old saying, often repeated, and used by patriots everywhere, “united we stand divided we fall.” In order for us to grow and prosper we need to be aware of how our thinking keeps us from seeing others in an inclusive way. Some people call this a “diversity” issue. Perhaps it’s really a “unity” issue, an issue that is important to the “community”.

The citizenry of our country are diverse and ever changing.