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Baitball Blogger

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Current location: Seminole County, Florida
Member since: Sun Mar 18, 2012, 10:16 PM
Number of posts: 35,657

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To respond to the question, what organizations would be resistant to minorities or their views?

(This opinion piece is a rework from a response I made to a fellow DUer.)

I have lived in Central Florida since the late seventies, so I'm just shy of forty years of observations. The last 23 years have been inside a red county, in a community that is 90% white. You would think that Democratic strategists would want to know what goes on in red counties, in order to improve their outreach, so I hope this gives them something to work with.

If I had to pick one word to describe the social structure that influences everything in the county, including the way the criminal justice agencies decide where they focus their resources, that word would be "protectionist." Makes sense, doesn't it? Conservatives want to protect a culture where they are always dominant. So, shouldn't we examine their social structure to see how they manage to get away with some of the most outrageous maneuvers that would land most people in jail. If nothing else, my reflections reinforce the view that white, entitled communities exist and thrive.

Let's start with the private organizations that have direct access to elected officials. It isn't uncommon to find more than one elected official showing up at meetings for these private clubs because many become members of the same organizations. This is where private and public agendas can merge, and not always in the best way.

Especially for those clubs that require sponsorship prior to membership, a minority member would already be vetted before they join. However, once they get in, if they express progressive ideas, or show a low tolerance for good buddy decision-making, they can discover the incredible shrinking effect that small towns have. What may happen is that a select core of individuals will be pulled into private side meetings for further lobbying. In my town, breakfast meetings are a popular choice. These people are indoctrinated to become "ambassadors." "Ambassadors" is a popular term around here, and, at least for me, it sends up a red flag because my community was stung by this system.

Essentially, by the time the formal meetings begin, the ambassadors will push whatever meme is desired. Even if you understand that they are following an illegal, or foolhardy objective, you are going to be shouted down. Worse, you'll become that one person that gets ostracized and serve as an example for others of what happens to anyone who tries to provide another view. In this case, minorities of conscience have the unhappy choices of turning into a minority prop, or a megaphone for bad ideas.

In my community, an example of what could go wrong occurred in the nineties. The City reached into the local Rotary Club to try to appease a core group of people who were behind the resistance to the city's objectives and programs. Not that the City, didn't deserve criticism, but the merging of these two factions resulted in a new power structure that was predictable. Think "Animal Farm."

The ambassadors spread misinformation that spread into the various HOAs. To this day, they were able to use the chaos they created to their advantage. Which is my my community is still deep in the rabbit hole. Today, the HOA board doesn't even properly notice board meetings anymore. Complete shut-down.

Now, if you do manage to be a particular thorn at their side, it's an easy matter in small towns to defame and box out the particularly bothersome person, where it really is hard to go anywhere, including local restaurants without getting a dirty look.

No problem, though, I just go to the franchises located in the next town over. But, I still can't figure out how the local business community can maintain the mutually exclusive objectives of keeping their insular clientele happy AND grow new business. It mystifies me. I sometimes wonder if they keep track of the money lost to the community when children grow up and settle down in other states. If an average wedding costs $45,000, I wonder how much money is lost to the community when brides prefer to set roots in more agreeable climates?

The other problem that minorities have is that we get targeted when we walk into businesses as customers. This happened to me when I tried to sell old gold jewelry to a jewelry store. The jewelry person made a racial assumption about me that undercut me as a customer. I never had sold jewelry before, so I was totally unprepared for what happened. I had a hunch that something had gone wrong and that I didn't get a fair value for the necklaces and bracelets I had brought in, but I couldn't prove it. Just had a feeling. As I left wondering what just happened, the girl followed me to the parking lot and asked, "Is this what you and your friends do?" I'm guessing she thought I was a cleaning lady and that I could get her more gold for her. I was stunned. Most of the jewelry was collected over a lifetime, and other pieces where inherited from recent family losses. I blubbered something about being a graduate from a local college, as if that would somehow serve to remedy her racist views. But I walked away feeling dead inside.

I called her on it the next day and told her that she had racially profiled me and I questioned how she weighed the jewelry and whether it was a fair trade. She offered more money to smooth things over. It wasn't much, but I had very little options. I kept her card and documented it, but never turned it in. Where would I go? If Orlando had an active department that tracked down acts of racism, they would advertise. But I've seen nothing but protectionism from the authorities since I began to look.

And that's the problem. I don't think that red counties are going to be racially sensitive. And if they're not racially sensitive, they won't set up departments within criminal justice agencies that can help minorities clear the way for a fair and equal society.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sun Aug 20, 2017, 12:22 PM (4 replies)

I can understand why you would remain a skeptic.

First of all, I don't accuse that particular policeman of anything. He looked very intent on getting to wherever he had to go.

I asked a question because I live in a good ole boy community where some pretty heinous things occurred in the nineties because the city networked too closely with good buddies in the community. It resulted in a lawsuit, so there is a legal foundation for these claims. Because their misdeeds were cleverly buried in a confidentiality clause, nothing was publicly aired and discussed. Ever. No one was held accountable. After all these years, it's pretty damn apparent to me that nothing will change until we have an opportunity to truly examine what happened. And it has to be done. No surprise that over the years, these networks have not only persisted, but they have grown.

No one that supports the status quo is going to be happy with this. But I do see the urgency. In fact, everything that I have seen and experienced connects with what is going on today. I sit here in full facepalm when I read that people are bewildered that racism has persisted. Really? How is it possible that no one can see how entitled white societies have been allowed to dig into red counties without scrutiny? How is it that there has been too much tolerance for these peripheral societies that are allowed to reinforce their culture by excluding individuals, even from meetings that they have a legal right to observe. Why is our side still trapped into thinking that the only fight against racism is in the work place or in the military or in the actions of an excessive police force ? How about where we live? Or, more to the point, where we are not encouraged to live?

After everything that has happened over the last few days I can't believe that there is any social structure in our society that doesn't deserve heighten scrutiny. If I wrote a thesis on this subject the conclusion would be: The source of enduring racism is locked in society mores and beliefs that make the status quo resistant to change or scrutiny.

I hope to open eyes because it is clear to me that if you want change, you can't be afraid to ask critical questions. Any interference is nothing but gaslighting. And then there is the example of Heather Heyer. I can take the criticism. I hope Heather's mom knows, that I heard her.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Thu Aug 17, 2017, 10:41 AM (0 replies)

I think we have a story of two American militarys to run parallel with the Two Americas.

I grew up in the Canal Zone on a military base, in a small community that was heavily populated by civilians. To be more specific, we lived in a segregated part of the Canal Zone, where they housed Americans who married non-American spouses. Obviously, in those times, we are talking about Latino or White males married to mostly Panamanians.

Despite this, I grew up in the sixties thinking that racism was something that occurred in the U.S. between white and black Americans. I didn't see our community as segregated primarily because I was the same color of the majority of inhabitants in the country of Panama. I didn't even know that our little town was viewed as a segregated community until later, when someone told me that one of our classmate's mother wrote a book about the Canal Zone and described our community as a place where you couldn't tell the difference between the mothers and the maids.

I haven't read that passage, myself, but it's certainly on my to do list to hunt down one of those books. It was such tripe. The mothers were beautiful by anyone's standards.

Anyway, I lived in a shoebox of a house. It was a concrete block duplex, maybe 1750 sq. ft. My dad added a room to take care of the space for five kids, a grandmother and two dogs. The point is, that even when he became a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserve we didn't change housing as a commemoration to his accomplishment. There was no complaints. I loved my community. I loved my house that backed up to the baseball and softball fields. I loved playing in the tall sawgrass that grew along the airport strip. It was a heavenly childhood.

In sum, my expectations for officers in the military is very different than what I found once I moved to the States. And I think that my humble view of life at an early stage set me on a far different path than many of my friends who moved to the States and followed a very different trajectory.

At the Reunions, when I hear many of the Canal Zone ex-residents talk about any number of subjects, I realize how different we really are. We are all an extinct species, but our lives have followed the separate parallels that exist in the U.S.

Go figure.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Tue Aug 15, 2017, 03:01 PM (0 replies)

Thank you for your service, gentlemen.

Now that's what I call a true blue military retiree. One that understands what he was protecting us against.

I think we just went through a phase where the Republican objectives took over the military mindset. The way military men and women repeated their missives, it felt like they redefined what it means to "fight for our freedoms." It felt like what they really meant was that they fought to define the boundaries of our freedoms.

Posted by Baitball Blogger | Tue Aug 15, 2017, 10:21 AM (0 replies)

History is repeating itself, isn't it?

We're back to hard right conservative leadership and the neo-nazis are coming out in force. We're seeing riots that remind many of us of the era that led to the Civil Rights Movement.

My two cents. I am a child of that era and I have no doubt that I benefited from the sacrifices that were made by others. In the seventies I was accepted into a college, that at that time, only had 2% minority enrollment. Affirmative Action may or may not have had a play in that acceptance, but I know there was no public money involved because my father paid my full tuition. When it was time to get a job I was described as a twofer. Essentially, a woman and a minority member. In that first job, I saw the sunrise for many Civil Rights programs. Though management was heavily male, you could see the beginning of sexual harassment policies and racial sensitivity.

The biggest changes were with companies that expected federal money. People who worked for those companies know what I mean. Policies were required to provide equal and fair treatment to members of all races. So, in a nutshell, if you really wanted opportunities to bridge differences with members of other races, you had them. So, what happened? How did enduring racist views manage to survive through the decades and surface now with the appearance of Trump?

It seems that every experience I have had in my life was tailored to answer that question. We made mistakes in believing that racism was something that belonged to an older generation. We didn't see how those ideas could endure in one family, moving from one generation to the next. We failed to really pay attention and read the signs.

For example, we didn't see that racist perceptions would find a nurturing environment in the White Flight communities that grew in the suburbs. (Don't look in the locked room in the basement!) We didn't see how the older generation could pass on their prejudices through their financial hold on their family members -- especially in areas where jobs are largely determined by who you know; and where we give far too much leeway for crooked business to older members in the community, simply because they're the "old guys."

I could expand on these thoughts, but, I think that it really isn't so hard to see what I mean. I have many Republicans that I called friends, mostly because we never talked politics. Many of them were co-workers in those companies that had policies that were influenced by federal law. I am sure many of them are denouncing the Breibart influenced right-wing youths in Charlotte, but the truth is, in decades of knowing them, race was not a subject we discussed much. When we did, their position was always that racism did not exist. I think they really believed it.
Posted by Baitball Blogger | Sat Aug 12, 2017, 12:45 PM (0 replies)
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