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We build society on stories … (Newsletter 11/20)

Originally sent out to the Pathless newsletter on Nov 20

What was the original meal we base our Thanksgiving holiday on actually like? I’m tired of believing everything we’re spoon fed by school books and the media. Immigrants from Europe came to a peaceful nation and did horrible things to the native people they found here, and we’re supposed to believe that they then did some farming lessons together and had a happy turkey dinner?

I can’t get the Hunger Games out of my head. And I feel like we’re the people in the Capital City, dying our hair pink and eating extravagant meals while the rest of the nation hunts squirrels and starves.

It’s hard to look at yourself how 50 million others see you. I read this piece in cracked.com and it all makes so much sense. Reading it helps me develop empathy where I was just confused and hopeless, and like I wrote back in May, empathy is the best tool we have to get through these trying times.

“It feels good to dismiss people, to mock them, to write them off as deplorables. But you might as well take time to try to understand them, because I’m telling you, they’ll still be around long after Trump is gone.”

Here’s another dose of reality — poor exploited white people don’t see themselves as poor, they see themselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The 6 media companies who own all the news & TV channels we watch have been feeding us the belief that being rich & famous is cool and poor is shameful, since before they put Paris Hilton in that Simple Life reality TV show.

It’s like Lorde says in her song Royals (hilariously covered by a sad clown here)

But every song’s like gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom
Bloodstains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams

“To fail to transcend poverty, and to admit you are poor, is to admit you are neither hardworking or clever. It’s cultural brainwashing. So if an exploited class of people don’t want to admit they’re exploited and they blame themselves for their oppression, what manifests? Xenophobia. Hatred of anyone who is ‘different,’ queer people, people of color. These people are eroding the ‘goodness’ of America. And if they would just stop ruining America, then the perfect design of America could work again and deliver prosperity.” — @JuanPa

As weird as this is to say, we can’t blame these folks for their racism and bigotry really. Not when we’ve had a media machine spewing lies and false promises their way for years. Blame and shame just makes the problem of racism and xenophobia worse, so we’ve got to give it up.

If you’re spending Thanksgiving with family members who have different views than you, you might like this piece on how to talk about race. Turns out, calling people racist, shaming them, or arguing with facts doesn’t solve the problem. At best you convince them that you’re not someone they can trust to have a safe discussion with and they close up around you.

If you want to reduce racial bias, there are ways to communicate with people and change their mind, according to this piece, which includes some really helpful techniques and examples.

It’s going to take real effort, energy, and strength to overcome our own biases and be able to communicate without reacting in harmful ways. So practice self care.

I’ve got a bit of a self-imposed ban on holiday travel, so I usually celebrate with friends. I’m feeling the need to opt out of anything big or extravagant. Hopefully I’ll find a small, cozy group of a few friends hanging around I can join instead this year.

And I sure as hell won’t be participating in any Black Friday anything, except maybe taking a cue from REI’s #optoutside campaign and being somewhere in nature.

I will be opting out of national news media’s normalization of Trump as well. Please send me any examples of true investigative journalism (like this piece by Sarah Kendzior, which I hope you’ve all read) and I will help amplify those voices however I can, as they become targets and seen as a courageous resistance.

There are things that are true and beautiful that deserve reflection and gratitude. Don’t believe everything you read or see in the news. Realize that we all believe different things, too, like that one photo of the blue and black dress (or was it white and gold?). Find what’s true and beautiful for yourself and celebrate that. Be strong.

I hope you are fortunate to enjoy that content full-belly feeling with loved ones this Thanksgiving.

Love,

Sarah

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