Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘white privilege


leave a comment »


turn around
put my hands up in the air
put my hands behind my back
force me to re-register my right to vote
question my right to be here
deny me a loan
just pull my car over to the side of the road
don’t ask me, tell me
don’t wait to hear me explain
do you know why you pulled me over?
turn around
don’t you know that I am white?
why do you treat me different
why not treat me the very same
whatever you do to the oppressed
you are doing to the rest of us, too
might as well kneel hard on my neck
with that damn smug look on your face
gloved hand deftly crammed in your pocket
press it down harder
for a full nine minutes and more
make me beg but don’t even listen
you’re too busy putting on your sick show
we all died that day in Minneapolis
in an unceremoniously incremental way
and we can’t turn back our collective clocks
to a time when it wasn’t this way
so just simply turn around
let’s all walk the other way
to the place they don’t want us ever to reach
the one in the magnificent dream
in that inspiring speech
at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
August, 1963
let’s just turn around and go there
because here 
is not where
we want
to be




Noticing Privilege

leave a comment »

I stumbled upon an article yesterday that gobbled up my attention and hung on to it for much longer than I usually allow most politically charged stories to occupy my mind.

While I was being held prisoner to traffic on Interstate 94 last Thursday, I passed some of the mind-numbing, slow-rolling-brakelights time listening to Brett Kavanaugh’s opening statement and a few Senator’s worth of questions and his responses (“responses” because sometimes they weren’t answers).

Some of what he said, and the raw emotion with which he said it, seemed pretty compelling. Having not had the opportunity to hear Christine Blasey Ford’s session, I had nothing to compare to his version of the issue. I figured he had a lock on the needed votes to be confirmed for a lifetime term on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Despite what I figured, my gut and my intuition were providing me with an alternative take.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

Reading Nathan J. Robinson’s very long and excruciatingly thorough Current Affairs exposé, “How We Know Kavanaugh is Lying” was incredibly validating of my suspicions.

One of the reasons this article was so compelling for me is that most of the evidence presented is taken directly from the words I heard spoken live on the radio. When analyzed in the way Kavanaugh’s statements are laid out in the article, his own words seem to sabotage his defense. Combined with how often he avoids answering potentially harmful questions, frequently with bizarre redirecting responses, my first impression of his pretty compelling argument was completely dashed.

I just don’t know how anyone could in good conscience vote to confirm his nomination at this point. However, given the state of this country’s political situation, I won’t be surprised if those intent on furthering their agenda will do anything to get him seated on the nation’s highest court.

Pondering that possibility yesterday riled me up something fierce. How could they?! It would be a travesty! We can’t let this happen!

That was when I received an insight that privilege was framing my outrage. In my moment of upset over the possible injustice of this man being allowed to serve despite the preponderance of likelihood he is not worthy, it occurred to me how often similar injustices have been thrust upon groups of people throughout this country’s history.

Over and over again. So often that they come to expect it. Why would it be any other way? Why would indigenous people of multiple tribal nations ever trust the US government? Why would women be surprised to find out they weren’t being treated equal to men? Why would people of color be surprised to find out voting district boundaries had been gerrymandered to influence election results against their best interests?

If the outcome of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination doesn’t go the way I think it should, I hope I am able to contain my outrage and maintain some dignity, despite the injustice.

Generations of good people have endured far worse for far longer and continued to hold their heads high and carry on with hope for better days.

I’m all for better days. I’m even going to hope for sooner than later.


So Proud

leave a comment »

Today, I am giving a shout out and a hat tip to my amazing wife, Dr. Cyndie Hays.

This week, she is conducting a full week of training sessions, off-site, combining all of her many years of experience into beautiful teaching for other educators and caregivers. Merging horse knowledge, emotional intelligence, and courageous conversation skills, she is presenting powerful information, often life changing, to people in organizations that touch a lot of lives.

I am so proud of Cyndie doing this often difficult work. Guiding others in exploring complex and emotional concepts that often rupture the fabric of their senses about themselves, and others in the world, is demanding work.

When she comes home at the end of the day, worn out by intense experiences, I get the benefit of hearing about the incredible interactions of her day. It helps her unpack some of the residual emotion from the sessions.

I really think she should write a book about some of the life changes she has witnessed, and the principles and exercises that bring them about.

Her stories help to expand my awareness, both about myself and others. It is really an embodiment of Paul Wellstone’s basic credo: “We all do better when we all do better.”

Simply by hearing Cyndie describe how one of the day’s training exercises positively altered a person’s perspective, which flowed into an opportunity for participants to practice talking about subjects that are laden with emotion and years –generations, even– of avoidance or animosity, I am inspired to improve my “game.”

Am I behaving in a way that allows and encourages those around me to do better?

I am a firm believer that a success which must come at another’s expense, is not really a true success at all.

Altruism is not a universal trait, but if one has a genuine interest in caring for others, odds are improved that raising their awareness to unconscious biases and privileges will be valued.

In the stories that Cyndie brings home from sessions she has led, the number of people who choose to resist the insights she presents is always low. For days like this week, where she is talking to hundreds of participants, it gives me a good feeling of hope.

Maybe we are inverting the pyramid of ills in the world.

I know that Cyndie is sure doing her part, and for that, I am extremely proud.