Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Posts Tagged ‘Religion

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab: And I Found All the Racism

So, apparently the white racial frame and the pressures exhorted on Asian Americans to assimilate (including the damage done to the psychological welfare of those trying to gain whiteness) is apparent in the micro-interactions of a small residential addiction treatment facility in North Georgia. The space is overwhelmingly white, upper middle class and male. The second of two, an Asian American resident was repeatedly subjected to the pressure of the white racial frame described in Chapter 5 of The Myth of the Model Minority during my time there (Chou and Feagin 2015).

Chou and Feagin (2015:142) write that individuals of color are repeatedly made to bear ridicule, humiliation and exclusion. I met J***d my third week in addiction treatment. His mother and father brought him and they looked about as worn out and scared as every other loved one who brings their child, parent, sibling or friend to rehab. Certainly no white savior/white knighting was necessary from me, but after seeing the way the only Black resident was treated during my first two weeks there, I guess I was apprehensive on this new client’s behalf.

J***, the nickname provided to him by his white, male counterparts in treatment who seemed to have “trouble” pronouncing his name began attempting to find his place in this closed community after about two days. The name problem was a persistent obstacle to his assimilation and an unacknowledged tool to remind him he was excluded. Referencing Sue (2007), Jennifer Gonzales (2014) writes about the lasting impact repeated mispronunciation could have on students of color…or anyone of any age who has a name not classified as “white”. While white America has no problem with names like Galifianakis, somehow a man’s name with five letters is too difficult for credentialed professionals at a mental health facility to pronounce. Gonzales (2014) has a category for both the professionals and the clients who gave J***D his nickname in this instance-“arrogant manglers” who continue on with their mispronunciations after repeated corrections and “nicknamers” who just don’t care enough about another human being (because that person is seen as less than human) to say their name correctly. Both of these categories were evident as J***d’s name was repeatedly corrupted for at least the first week he was there.

J***d attempted on multiple occasions to gain entry to this overtly white space. He “excelled” at rehab (a condition ironically named “making an A in rehab”) by never missing meetings or groups, giving out cigarettes to anyone who asked, playing corn-hole with anyone who would team up with him and making conversation with his most ardent attackers. When overt racism was apparent, he laughed it off. This is explain by Lara in the reading, “ignoring the issues and always just trying to be better than the people around me so…they didn’t have anything over me” (Chou and Feagin 2015:145). It’s impossible for me to know if his attempts were propelled by a need to be a model minority in a facility that attract so many from the low end of social acceptability or he was just trying to survive that experience or both, but the outcome was the same.

Of course, outward humiliation and degredation were present as well. During large group meetings it was common for clients to respond to roll call with silly or inappropriate outbursts, rather than “here” or “present”. Several young, white men began to respond with “Allah Akbar”—nevermind that none of these men knew J***d’s religious beliefs or had recognized that he is not Middle Eastern (which is assumed to be the reason they did this. I am not sure they understood the vastness of the Islamic population worldwide or that, as a near Asian descendent it was just as likely that J***d is Hindu or Christian.) This outburst was followed by some garbled version of another Arabic phrase turned into a bludgeon to associate Brown persons from Persia, the Middle East, India, Pakistan, etc. with terrorism. “Rocking the boat” was not an option for J***d (Chou and Feagin 2015:169). In a closed environment where these same men were his roommates, small group therapy-mates and his cohorts in games, outings and social smoking activities, speaking up was not available. At least, not if he expected to get through the program. At one point he or someone else did complain. The talk in the rumor mill began immediately. Someone was “offended” and “they were just joking”. While the responses to roll call stopped, the same phrases continued, even escalated during smoking times or free times. These spaces were even more important than the roll call situation because this is where clients create relationships. Close relationships with at least one or two other people in treatment are considered especially important to successful completion. In other words, exclusion can literally prevent a person from maintaining sobriety and gaining the tools to finish the program. This is another example of how racism can impact health care outcomes.

Lastly, in the same way that Coates (2015) discusses at length the ways in which Black Americans have little to no rights over their own bodies, J***d was repeatedly humiliated either in secret or in person for his dietary needs-his autonomy over his own person. This is another example of exclusion, othering, unrealistic expectations and humiliation (Chou and Feagin 2015:142). Clients and staff believed that J***d should be expected to put his faith-based dietary needs on hold in order to accommodate the facility. If he did not meet this expectation, he could assume some backlash. On a Saturday while an outdoor activity was being held outside, I read on the couch in the common space. A man from admissions was speaking loudly to the nursing staff. He was complaining about religion and having to respect the beliefs of others. “Just because you being in some Big Sky Fairy shouldn’t mean that we have to accommodate your food!” There was only one resident who required dietary accommodations for religious reasons. When I mentioned that he was being very loud and others, including clients, would be able to hear him, the response was one of categorical disinterest. A moment later after a short discussion on appropriateness of professional behavior, I was told that I was “taking this too seriously.” A later conversation with the head of the clinical team ended with an instance of rescuing whites (of which I am quite possibly a part given my minimal attempt to do anything) since this admissions professional didn’t “mean to offend me” (Bracey 2011). It seemed to go over his head that I wasn’t the person who needed to be assuaged or apologized to, another occurrence of whiteness being the important factor. I was talked to, humored, and placated rather than any meaningful conversation about race and its intersection with religion and bodily autonomy in a facility touted as a spiritually grounded program.

The instances of racism in my time at residential treatment were many. Beginning with the fact that I only saw four people of color my entire time there. The only other Asian client was a Vietnamese woman who suffered much of the same racism J***d did, but dealt with it differently, by utilizing her woman-ness to create connections with other women and separate herself from younger clients. Still, slurs like “slant eyes” were heard during her tenure as well. It was suggested that it would be helpful to have people on staff with a more broad understanding of inequality and social factors that intersect with addiction, but these were, as most suggestions, brushed aside in favor of a “what have you done to escalate conflict” approach. This was an eye-opening experience in a number of ways. A disheartening example of how racism still works in medical and mental health institutions, an example of how this treatment may do more harm than good for those not of the upper-middle class, white, male populations.

 

 

Bibliography

Bracey, Glenn. 2011. “Rescuing Whites: White Privileging Discourse in Race Critical Scholarship” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, NV, Aug 19. http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p506887_index.html Retrieved January 11, 2017.

Chou, Rosalind and Joe R. Feagin. 2015. The Myth of the Model Minority. New York: Routledge.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. 2015. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau

Gonzales, Jennifer. 2014. “How We Pronounce Student Names, and Why it Matters.” Cult of Personality. https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/gift-of-pronunciation/ Retrieved April 6, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Written by thelittlepecan

April 22, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Things I Did Not Respond to on Facebook Today

I decided, with some trepidation, to return to Facebook.  I have some rules for myself, though.  One is to not get involved in religious, political or otherwise contentious pissing contests.  In an effort to maintain my sanity, I’m going to try out a series whereby I passive-aggressively respond to the ridiculousness I see there here. That way, I can have my say and not burn down relationships with people I love.

Episode 1:

Well, at least they don’t list Mary Magdalene as a whore. I’m unsure why we would consider those who are short, have speech-impediments, are skeptical, drink or are aging to be imperfect.  It’s rife with all the -isms.  It also misses a golden opportunity to scream HYPOCRITE! to about 10 people who I’ve seen post this.

As a fat girl myself, I’m all for body/sex/fat positive stuff.  But that isn’t all a scale is telling you.  Especially since your “relationship” (mine is rather complicated, as evidenced by all my bruising.  Hey! come to think of it, I haven’t fallen down in a while) with gravity isn’t constant (see the moon) and your body fat percentage is what it is no matter what celestial body you happen to inhabit.

Dear people of the car rider line…your child shouldn’t need a teacher to open their door to get out of the car. SHOULD your child require this…park yo butt and stop holding the line up!

All the abelism…all of it.

and my favorite

Well, let’s talk about this…

2/3 of those who receive state benefits are children, the elderly and the disabled.  Another portion include veterans and the currently enlisted and their families.

Several studies, including a 1996 report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, have found that there is no significant difference in the rate of illegal-drug use by welfare applicants and other people. Another study found that 70% of illegal-drug users between the age of 18 and 49 are employed full time.

Because poor people can’t afford drugs.
They drink.
A Florida television station, WFTV, reported that of the first 40 applicants tested, only two came up positive, and one of those was appealing. The state stands to save less than $240 a month if it denies benefits to the two applicants, but it had to pay $1,140 to the applicants who tested negative. The state will also have to spend considerably more to defend the policy in court.

And it’s unconstitutional because you have to have probably cause to search someone, it  can’t be preemptive.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the majority, said that the drug testing was an unreasonable search. The state can impose drug tests in exceptional cases, when there is a public-safety need for them (as with bus and train operators, for instance). But the Fourth Amendment does not allow the state to diminish “personal privacy for a symbol’s sake,” the court said.

“The simple fact of seeking public assistance does not deprive a TANF applicant of the same constitutional protection from unreasonable searches that all other citizens enjoy,” the court held.
And for more
The reason your employer can make you take a drug test is because they are not the government and they are not bound by the Fourth Amendment. Don’t like being drug tested by your employer? Form a union and put it in the union contract that your employer cannot drug test you without probable cause. To simplify this, the government cannot search your person (peeing in a cup is searching your person) without probable cause. Being poor is not probable cause. Your employer has a fairly wide latitude of things that it can require as a condition of employment.
and this
Fact one, drug testing by the government without probable cause is in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Fact two, in the studies done so far, there is no benefit to performing these drug tests. Fact three, your employer is not the government and is not bound by the Fourth Amendment. Fact four, drug abuse is not just restricted to the poor. It goes across all social classes, and just because the poor have no voice does not mean that they can be made into scapegoats.
Thanks for reading and more coming soon…

Written by thelittlepecan

November 6, 2013 at 11:35 am

Sunday Alcohol

Worry not; I’m still not sick of complaining about being an atheist in the South.

So, Sonny Perdue is out and good thing since he was effectively the laziest governor in the history of the state.  I’m not sure that, well, strike that, I’m quite positive that Nathan Deal with wreak havoc in Atlanta, but at least he was willing to let the idea of Sunday alcohol sales go to a vote.

But, shock that it may be, the Christian Coalition has effectively killed any sneaking measure that would let adults chose when they buy alcohol and on what day they drink it.  Oh.  Wait.  We are already allowed to drink on Sunday.  What’s that you say?  We can buy it by the drink on Sunday, too?  And, holy crap, drive home afterwards?!

Coalition president Jerry Luquire says, “We’re suggesting that our supporters tell their city councilman or commissioner to call their state senator and say alcohol is an issue that divides us. Just leave Sunday alone.”

What, exactly, about it are we supposed leave alone?  Plan ahead, I’ve heard.  Why?  Why do I need to do that?  Is there some reason Sunday should be sacred to me (other than the sacred standing of sleeping in)?

I will never understand why grown-ups insist on policing other grown-ups over something completely legal in every instance except the most ridiculous one.

Oh, and yes, the Christian Coalition still exists.  Thanks, Ralph Reed.

Update:  There’s a protest planned for the Capitol on Wednesday.  Some are planning to attend drunk.  I have to work.  A load of crap, I tell ya.

Written by thelittlepecan

February 17, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Posted in atheism

Tagged with ,

H.R.3 – No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

I’ve been debating this post off and on for several days now.  I keep telling myself that it’s necessary, it will be met with support and that I am strong enough to accept the circumstances should they be different than what I expect.  There’s a lot of rhetoric flying around about the Stupak on Steroids bill, H.R. 3, and now I sort of feel obligated.

It’s no secret I’m pro-choice, but that’s not my point today.  My issue is with this legislation and the right wing attempt to redefine rape.  The bill references something called “forcible rape.” Now, I don’t know about you, but my understanding (and the legal understanding as well) is that rape is a criminal offense defined in most states as forcible sexual relations with a person against that person’s will.

Force is hard to pin-down. Heh.  L

I’ve been the recipient of sexual assault at least three times.  They were all by people I knew, one was by my best friend, one by a guy I was acquainted with and another by my boyfriend who repeated the offense on multiple occasions.  I’m not sure any of my instances would qualify under the definition of force this legislation is getting at.

It took me a long time to accept that I’d been date raped.  Rape.  That is like the scariest word ever, you know?  It comes with a whole lot of repercussions and consequences.  I always felt like using that word meant I was shirking responsibility for putting myself in dangerous situations.  I refused to use it when describing how my ex-boyfriend would have sex with me when I was sleeping because I loved him.  It wasn’t okay with me, but calling him a rapist wasn’t okay with me either.

The first time I ever took a street drug was at the International Ballroom in Atlanta.  Richard Humpty Vission was spinning.  The House Connection vol. 1 is still my favorite dance album.  My copy was a dubbed cassette.  My very best friend, one of my only friends at Shorter College (now Shorter University) bought me an ecstasy pill.  He wouldn’t be taking any, you see, because he had a prior drug habit.  I never recalled seeing evidence of this habit, but obviously I supported his sobriety, so it was like, bottoms up.  I remember being nervous.  I had zero experience with drugs.  I’d only smoked pot twice and I wasn’t crazy about it.  I knew he had a big crush on me and we were affectionate, but I had no interest in him romantically.  Of course, that’s sort of the point of MDMA, to give you the touchy-feelies.  We had sex, well; I guess he had sex with me.  I let him hit me in the face.  I think I may have even asked for it.  I really can’t remember all that well.

The next day I was ashamed.  I didn’t tell anyone.  I chalked it up to next day anxiety; you know, like when you drink too much and get too loud and fall down?   I had a lot of people tell me he was disingenuous, that he was a poseur, but he was my friend.  It wasn’t until he left the school that we drifted apart.

I guess I could tell you the full story of the others, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that.  My mentor told me a few weeks ago that it wasn’t my fault.  I’m still not sure I believe her.

If Congress can’t decide what is “forcible” and women already doubt what rape is and what it is not, how are we to solve the pressing and often subtle violence that still assaults women?

This bill makes me sad.  Hiding behind an act of self-righteous indulgence in the name of pro-life priorities, I can’t think of too much legislation that disturbs me more.  Maybe the Patriot Act.

Be gentle.  Thanks.

 

Written by thelittlepecan

February 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Posted in atheism

Tagged with , , ,

Sunday School in the Car

Last week on my way to school, I was listening to The Bert Show on Q100, as I always do whenever I have the chance to be in the car when the morning show is on the air.  I love this show.  I’ve listened on and off since they started about 10 years ago.  It’s sort of like E! and Bravo wrapped up into one morning show.  They rarely tackle super controversial topics (unless you count the ridiculous antics of listeners as controversial) but they are funny and entertaining and they do make me think beyond the show on a regular basis.

So anyway, last week, one of the personalities, Jenn Hobby spoke about going to a funeral and being impressed by the faith of this family who had lost a son.  She lamented that she rarely took the opportunity to share her faith, especially on the radio, which she feels is a golden opportunity to do so.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like Jenn a lot, she seems like a really nice girl and I went through a divorce at the same time that she was very publically going through her own divorce, which was sort of comforting as I rode to work every day unable to think about much else.  I also understand that she’s a pretty liberal Christian and I’m sure it gets old having all the RWNJ’s talk for you when you live and work in the South.

However, it really started to make me uncomfortable as they took all these calls from people encouraging her to speak up on the air.  I don’t listen to the show to get a Sunday School lesson.  I live in Georgia, I get enough religion just driving to work and school and every other place I could possibly go without having it injected into my morning commute.

I respect the fact that I know most of the show’s members are believers, but that rarely, if ever, is brought up on the show.  I don’t like talk radio because I don’t enjoy becoming enraged when I’m trying to drive.  It’s frustrating and to me, pretty unhealthy.  I listen because I view the show as my entertainment during my drive, because they are funny, they do good charity work and they really seem to care about the people who have made them the most popular morning show in Atlanta (and soon to be Tennessee, as well.)

So, to Jenn, there’s no reason to be ashamed, but, there’s no reason to use your position as a pulpit, either.  There’s nothing wrong with your faith being private and, as a listener, I’d really prefer you continue on as you always have.

Kthxbai.

 

Written by thelittlepecan

January 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

Posted in atheism

Tagged with

Still Human, Still have Worth

After that last post, I’m either expecting the death of my blog, or instant interwebz fame.  This one should really get to you.  I’d like to thank the Academy…

In a new TIME exclusive, Anthony Karen shares his photographic journey getting to know the people behind the most hated family in America, the Phelps Family, or as we all know them, Westboro Baptist Church.

While some of the photos will anger you (and me, I feel like I need to keep reiterating this) some of the photos show other positive traits, like love, commitment, and familial bonding; Phelps with a (presumably) great-grandbaby, a mother patting her son’s head, the Pastor holding a congregant inside the church.  The story behind the pictures is even starker than that which we receive from the media regarding the Phelps family.  Karen was given unprecedented access, he was not pressured to convert and he said he felt welcomed.  The most amazing confession by Karen is that he rarely felt inconsumable rage from anyone, save a member who seemed to get into a religious debate with him.

As I get ready to begin developing the basis for my Master’s thesis, I am reminded by this story that it is important to always remember, for me at least, that there is humanity in each person.   I, like Karen, am drawn to marginalized populations.  I find extreme religious groups fascinating.   As an aspiring sociologist, I have to try and remain objective, even in the face of repulsion.

We all know a lot about this family.  Fred Phelps beat his own children mercilessly when they were young.  His children now indoctrinate their children into beliefs that I find profoundly disturbing and encourage them to do things that cause others incredible pain.

There has been some question to whether or not the WBC is one big scam.  Boy, that would sure make this all much easier.  Now, I don’t know Karen and all I’m going on is this photographic story he’s selling, but his story and that speculation don’t jive.  There’s a glimmer of reality in some of those pictures, a kinder reality.  Maybe I’m just crazy and idealistic and want to believe in an Anne Frank version of life.

I think they are crazy.  I also know they are still human.  Let the firestorm begin.

 

Written by thelittlepecan

January 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Posted in atheism

Tagged with ,

Fight Hate by Killing Free Speech

I’m sure most of you have read or heard by now that the Westboro Baptist Church, out of Topeka, KS, has decided to picket the funeral of the nine year old girl who was murdered last weekend in Arizona, as well as other victims’ funerals while they are in town.

In order to combat the added atrocity of the WBC’s expression of their right to free speech, as abhorrent as it is, the local government has passed legislation to restrict the WBC from coming within 300 feet of the funeral site or the burial grounds.

*insert wild applause*

I think the Westboro Baptist Church is a dangerous hate group.  I think many reasons they have been allowed to thrive is because many upstanding citizens actually agree with a lot of what they have to say.  I think that many people with extreme conservative views silently applaud at the WBC’s lack of apology for their views, their ridiculous signs and their willingness to pull their children into their Army of Right in the Culture War.

However, I’m also a fan of free speech.  I’m a huge fan of honesty and truthfulness and this legislation is anything but.  The WBC, headed by Fred Phelps, is well aware of their rights.  They never planned to protest inside the 300 feet limit in the first place (I think they were trying for a two-fer by protesting in intersections near more than one funeral.)  Fred Phelps, believe it or not, used to be a civil rights attorney, protecting the rights of African Americans way, way back in the day.  Fred Phelps is a highly intelligent man, as is his daughter, who is also an attorney.

The passing of legislation in order to “make people feel better” because they are hurting and about to be hurting even more by the actions of a group that doesn’t know the meaning of the word compassion seems a little bit insulting to me.  It seems patronizing.  It won’t actually do anything, since the WBC wasn’t planning to violate the terms provided in the first place.   It doesn’t protect the families, it whittles away just a little bit more of our First Amendment rights and it screams “Disingenuous!” from Arizona politicians (shocking, I know.)

There is a better way to combat hate.  Trampling on the Constitution is not my first choice to fight problems.  If any of you are interested in doing something that might actually make a difference, click here.  For every hour that the WBC protests over the next month, you can sponsor them with a donation to help victims in Haiti.  Godlovesall.org is an organization looking to create positivity out of hate.  They are using their free speech rights to raise money for a good cause, without the law, with just grassroots organization.

I feel for these families.  I have a son; Jim has a son who will be 9 this month.  I cannot imagine the pain this mother must be feeling.  We cannot let emotions rule the day when it comes to legislation.  I firmly believe we are smarter, more creative than all that.

 

Written by thelittlepecan

January 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Posted in atheism

Tagged with , ,