yell pic

Today I had the extreme pleasure of making a customer service call to a worldwide electronics manufacturer, it’s not important which company because that will distract from the point of my article.

hold

I know many have enjoyed this stroll through Wonderland, Press 1 for...., Press 2 for....... you know the drill. When you finally make it through, you cling to that human voice for dear life, “please don’t let me get cut off, please don’t let me get cut off” playing over and over in your mind. They have to run through all your information, model, serial number, item, your name, your number, the color of your first bike, the name of your teddy bear when you were a child.....etc. Ok, finally, now you get to talk about your problem....click. Damn, you have been cut off. Ok, ok, you’re a civilized, rational person you will just try again and again. And again. Eventually despite your best efforts at patience, you develop this terrific urge to throw your cup of coffee at the wall or your phone through your living room window and occasionally pick up the chair you’re sitting on and toss it across the room (I didn’t do that- I just envisioned it). Because you have reached your limit, you are so frustrated and angry that you can’t resolve the issue with the call center employee that you become angry. Really angry.

Now imagine that you are trying to tell people about your terrible working conditions or that you have been out of work for 3 years or that your car broke down and you can’t make it to work because there is no bus service to the plant. Visualize that you are not promoted because the man in the cubicle next to you who spends 30% of his day playing solitaire on the computer gets the job instead and when you go to HR they tell you, ‘it’s just business, nothing personal’. Conceive that the water coming out of your tap is rust colored but you still have to pay for it. Reflect for a minute that every time you walk in a store you are followed by security. Consider that you watch your child suffer because the landlord won’t make the repairs in your apartment. Go one step further and imagine that is how you grew up. And how your parents grew up and their parents. Your great grandparents were polite and taught your grandparents that if they behaved and followed the rules time would pass and soon everything would be equal. You were told if you dressed nicely and conservatively that you would be given, not just a job, but a promotion too! Except it never happens.

Women being treated fairly has been a long centuries old battle and sometimes we see a glimmer of hope because there are women CEO’s, women in politics, or women owing their own property. We think progress is happening and we rest on our laurels but then we ask for a little bit more, like a whole dollar for the same dollar a man gets instead of $.77. Or we think we should be able to run for president of the country, like men do, but our opponent who yells constantly tells us we shouldn’t yell because it’s un-lady like. In one way women and Blacks have something in common: we are tired of waiting for equality. We have played by the rules. We women even spent a decade wearing business suits with frilly bow ties. We put our children in daycare for 8-11 hours a day so we could prove that we could work just as long and hard as men. We have made a lot of sacrifices yet we still aren’t equal. Blacks and women are still talking about the struggles. And it has been how long? Susan B. Anthony was talking about it in 1852 and we are coming on 200 years of her attempts and efforts for equal rights. Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792).  Abigail Adams wrote her husband “I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.” March 31, 1776. The point is: women and Blacks have been asking, struggling, demanding, working towards equal rights for a long time. For a brief moment I thought maybe we were getting somewhere and then the disrespect for Obama bubbled to the surface. Just this week we saw the bigots come unglued because Malia is going to Harvard. The problems are different and I am not suggesting that women have as many challenges as Blacks do, I know my life has been easier because I am white despite the fact I am female, however, I am suggesting that I can empathize with the anger.

When we watched the protests in Fergusson and other cities I heard and read many people say things like, “Well, why are they destroying things? No one’s going to listen to them if they are destroying things. They should protest ‘politely’.” Really? Protest ‘politely’? Where have these people been? Do they never leave their white washed home, step outside their white washed employment in white washed cities? Quite possibly not. If you are only watching mainstream media and only read media that caters to your preferences and think the Housewives of Orange County and Atlanta represents women and Black women in real life then I can see why you would not understand the anger. I comprehend why you don’t know why people are smashing windows and torching property because, well, I am going to have hurt your feelings but, you haven’t been paying attention. I’m sorry to offend you but maybe it’s time you were offended. If you think the solution to abortion is making it illegal then you aren’t paying attention. If you think the problem with mass incarnation of young Black men can be answered with, “Just say no.” then you need to get out more often. Jon Stewart: “Race is there; it exists. You’re tired of hearing about it?... Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.”

Bernie Sanders isn’t just an angry old man, the reason why he gets such huge crowds at his rallies is because he is speaking the language and addressing the issues of real life people struggling who are so fed up they are ready to throw boxes of tea in the Boston Harbor, and break windows, and torch property.

tea party

Calm, rational people don’t do things like that but frustrated, angry people do. Instead of asking why are they destroying property ask yourself why you never noticed before. Go back to my first paragraph and remember a time when you wanted to throw your coffee mug across the room, because I know you have felt like that. What made you want to do that? Because no one was listening? Because you tried to ask respectfully and graciously and waited patiently for ‘your turn’ and it still didn’t happened? That’s why we yell. Because you haven’t been listening.

bastille

While Bernie and Hillary are talking about the high cost of a college education the Republicans are talking bathrooms. While you are comfy and cozy in your white, male life many others are hanging on by a thread, as their parents and mothers did, as their grandparents and grandmothers did. Some of your friends and family members have been trying to tell you that busting up unions was a bad idea, that paying women and Blacks less was neither moral nor ethical because one day they would find out and be angry. A quiet minority of us have been suggesting that we change the health care system but you prided yourself on ‘what’s best for business’ instead of what’s best for humans. We have been polite. We have been patient. We have dressed and acted and done all of the things we were told to do to get ahead, BUT we are not ahead! In fact we are behind. Now we are angry and we want to throw something because it seems like that is the only way to get your attention.

There is only so much a person can take, the boiling point can be different for each person but now we have reached a collective boiling point. Most people are content with modest means so women and Blacks aren’t asking for the sky, although we deserve it as much as the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Bushes’ do. We want the same things for our children that the Kennedys, Buffets, Dimonds and Gates’ have for their children: an opportunity to flourish and succeed. While we persuade ourselves that we are the superior animals on the planet sometimes I am not so sure, our instincts are the same, even a kitten and a puppy know what’s fair, as illustrated in the Frans de Waal video. Chimpanzees get upset when they see unfairs. 

Whether you are female, Black or any other kind of labeled minority I think you could find a parallel in your life that might allow you to understand the deep, generational anger and why it explodes when we don’t expect it.

The question is not why are people protesting and rioting, it is really why aren’t they doing it more often and why haven’t you noticed? If you read this and the first thing in your mind is, “No, I haven’t ever noticed this and I have never experienced this.”, please, before you say anything out loud, ask yourself if you have been walking in anyone else’s shoes. We have been ‘working hard’ too, just as hard and often much harder than you.  As Micheal did I am asking: “Look at the man in the mirror. Who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs?” Michael Jackson

I'm gonna make a change
For once in my life
It's gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right

As I, turn up the collar on
My favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind
I see the kids in the streets
With not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs

A summer disregard, a broken bottle top
And a one man soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know
'Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change1

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed-out dream
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that
Change!

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Oh yeah!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make the change)
You gotta get it right, while you got the time
You can't close your, your mind!

(Then you close your, mind!)
That man, that man, that man, that man
With the man in the mirror
(Man in the mirror, oh yeah!)
That man, that man, that man
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make the change

Oh no, no no

I'm gonna make a change
It's gonna feel real good!
Chime on!
(Change)
Just lift yourself
You know
You've got to stop it
Yourself!
(Yeah! Make that change!)
I've got to make that change, today!
Hoo!
(Man in the mirror)
You got to
You got to not let yourself
Brother
Hoo!
(Yeah! Make that change!)
You know, I've got to get
That man, that man
(Man in the mirror)
You've got to move! Chime on!
Chime on!
You got to
Stand up! Stand up! Stand up!
(Yeah! Make that change)
Stand up and lift yourself, now!
(Man in the mirror)
You know it!
You know it!
You know it!
You know it
(Change)
Make that change

Deborah Baron

Deborah Baron

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