Why This Meme is Incorrect

Why This Meme is Wrong...
Why This Meme is Wrong…

Why This Meme is Incorrect

tl;dr ~ The top-left already exists, has for generations, and is inexorably ongoing for the time-being. We can’t have the bottom because the top-left exists. So the choice we are left with for the time-being is (A) to have just the top-left or (B) to have both the top-left plus the top-right together. With option B, we can hopefully move towards the ideal of fairness arguably reflected by the bottom.

Feel free to jump down and post your comment now.

Longer Explanation

The rules of monopoly might be fair, but not after someone has already cheated. It’s particularly unfair for those benefiting from the initial cheating to want everyone to play by the rules after the cheating in the name of fairness.

A meritocracy would arguably be great but we don’t get there by ignoring generations of systemic ongoing racism to merely oppose the ensuing programs of counter-racism that can be an attempt to help reset the playing board to move towards a fairer more meritocratic system.

It’s a fallacy to apply an opinion about the specifics of what would go on in an ideal context with those same specifics existing not in isolation but as small reforms to massive utterly non-meritocratic systems. In other words, it’s unfair to consider the frame in the top-right in isolation as opposed to considering the top-right as an optional addition to the pretense of the top-left, which inexorably exists at the same time with or without the top-right. The reason the top-left, in contrast, is in context uniquely unfair is it exists without the top-right–its existence being the reason why we can’t snap our fingers and magically have the racism-free idealism arguably reflected in the bottom.

The meme is incorrect because it mistakenly applies a simplistic philosophical idealism in a fallaciously specific and practical matter.

In short, a world without racism would of course be great. But we can’t choose very specific reforms under the delusion that we live in a post-racism society.

A black person is more than twice as likely to be killed by police in the USA simply by being black.1, 2 Black people are not genetically predisposed to committing crime or being killed by police. Rather, those unequal statistics are caused by generations of ongoing systemic racism.

While Hispanic and Black people make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.3 They are predominately charged with non-violent crimes such as marijuana possession. Again, Hispanic and Black people are not genetically predisposed to committing more crime. The racial inequality is caused by racism. Among other factors, two people being charged with the same crime with the same evidence will get very different verdicts and sentences based on their skin color and similar prejudices.

Simply by being born with darker skin one is statistically disadvantaged, and it’s getting worse.

Black Americans have and receive less wealth and income than white people, and the gap is increasing. Society is becoming less meritocratic and more racist against Black people. The wealth of White households was 13 times the median wealth of Black households in 2013, compared with eight times the wealth in 2010.4

In less formal experiments, the incredible persistent racism in our society is even more poignantly demonstrated, such as in the experiment by ABC’s “What Would You Do” involving pretend bicycle thieves.

In scientifically repeated studies involving fictional people, identical résumés received significantly less calls if just the name was changed to sound more Black. The same was repeated in variation with the same results, this new time not by changing the name but just by including a picture of the pretend candidate.

In the real life version of that study, it’s not the victim’s own fault because how do these disadvantaged babies choose the hue of their own skin? Rather it’s the foolish archaic leftovers of generations past.

It’s not black and white, no pun intended. And it’s not us vs. them. Science continues to show that stereotypes are ingrained within us from culture passed generation to generation. It’s not White Americans that are racist against Black and Hispanic Americans; it’s all Americans. Science shows we strongly stereotype often without realizing it–much like optical illusions. Black people apply the same negative stereotypes against other Black people without even realizing it. Scientific studies demonstrate this over and over again.5

The longer the inequality of results caused by the inequality of opportunity continue, the more these dangerous stereotypes reproduce and strengthen themselves.

I’m not saying that any particular implementation of simplistic quotas are the answer. I’m not saying that any particular allegedly counter-racist policy cannot happen to be counter-productive and thus worsen the gap. Those are complicated and highly practical matters that have to be addressed in detail one-by-one with much deference to respective experts. I’m just saying it’s dangerously incorrect to stick our heads in the sand and make decisions as if we already lived in anything close to a meritocracy or post-racism society.

In my anecdotal experience, the people who agree with the messaging of the meme that started this are sometimes–but not necessarily–ignorant of or in denial of the cited facts I listed above. That ignorance and denial can be very dangerous. It’s the fuel of the neo-Nazi movement (which entails people getting shot). That doesn’t mean everyone who feels that way is a neo-Nazi; that would be the same dangerous black-and-white thinking that makes neo-Nazism dangerous. We need to be realistic not just idealistic about these things. It’s dangerous not to be. We need to work together, not in opposition. We seem so far apart at times but at root we are so close with our fates intertwined.

The general ideal is very agreeable: We want to live in a fair society without racism. But we cannot ignore the facts or make up our own like some Trump tweet.(source: Fox News)

What do you think? Please leave a comment below.

Also, for your viewing pleasure, here is my correction of the meme:

Corrected Meme
Corrected Meme

1 – 13.2% of the population in the USA is African American, via http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html
2 – 29.8% of people killed by police in the USA are African American, via http://killedbypolice.net/
3 – https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/
4 – http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/12/12/racial-wealth-gaps-great-recession/
5 – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mind-the-gap/201110/prime-and-prejudice-why-we-are-all-little-bit-racist-0

Homeless Man Refuses Over $5,000, Just Wants Job

Neglecting the homeless
Neglecting the homeless

No, this is not some cruel satire in The Onion. This is real folks.

A homeless man in his 60s found $2,400. Instead of keeping the much needed money, the man turned it in to local police. He wanted the police to find the rightful owner because this homeless man in his 60s said that he thought it was the right thing to do.1

A GoFundMe account was created for the homeless man and raised over $5,000 for him.2 The homeless man repeatedly refused that money too, asking for it to instead be donated to charities, and stating that all he wanted for himself was a job. He even finalized the request by making it in writing to police.3

What do you think? What you have done if you were this man?

Despite false stereotypes, most homeless people are not single men, but rather homeless families with children, which themselves are usually headed by single mothers who actually are often employed while still homeless. What would you do if you were a homeless single parent who found $2,400 or who was offered $5,000 in charity? That could be the security deposit for an apartment. That could be travel money to get somewhere important. That could be hotel money for some nights off the streets. Even if all you really wanted was a a better job to work your way out of homelessness, that money could be the money for interview clothes, transportation to work, daycare while you wait for your first pay checks, and so on. Would you turn it down like this man? Please answer in the comments below.

1 http://westshore.bc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=2127&languageId=1&contentId=42314
2 https://www.gofundme.com/x2y2ajk
3 http://ktla.com/2015/07/02/homeless-man-finds-2400-on-street-gives-it-to-police-turns-down-donations-says-he-just-wants-a-job/

Feats of Imagination

Guest post by Ted Kelsey, author of OLGA

I haven’t been back for a year. Yes, a year. I volunteered distributing food, and it was exactly a year ago at Thanksgiving when I handed out my last turkey.

I stopped for reasons outside of my control. My wife started working on the weekends. I needed to stay home and watch my daughter. I stopped for reasons that, if examined honestly, are more like blessings. Too much work. Too much family. Some of the very items for which I will bend my head over my tofu-rky this season.

Within a few weeks, my routine had changed. I didn’t think about waking up early on Saturdays to repack the day-old bread. I didn’t have to structure my laundry washing around when I would be finished carrying grocery bags. I didn’t have to relate so often to people who came to take. I didn’t have to wonder whether I was giving gracefully.

This cold Thanksgiving morning, I remember how easy it was to stop. Because I didn’t need to go.

But on other mornings, going to the train… on other evenings, walking along the riverfront… I see more familiar faces than before. I nod to young ones at the school bus-stop and older ones behind a cart at the pharmacy. Neighbors I didn’t know before I gave them food.

When I converted from studied atheism to Christianity at the relatively ripe age of thirty-five, I am sure that there was some shrugging from my family, as much as anyone bothers to puzzle over anybody else’s faith. I puzzled myself. Couldn’t I chose an ethos more respectfully liberal and less treacherously sanctimonious? Something more fashionable in scientific studies. Like Buddhism, for example?

I’m afraid that I was just too dense. I was so dense that I had to be told every week that the bread I eat is a person’s flesh in order to understand what it is. I had to imagine the face of sacrifice. I saw my coworkers. I saw my family and fellow church-goers. I had to imagine some of those faces from the pantry that had become familiar.

The irony is that religion doesn’t solve the problem of hunger. It never has. It doesn’t even necessarily make us do more. So what will?

Bookish Ted. At night I read a battered paperback copy of Candide I found on a shelf somewhere (after-all some books are so ubiquitous they can be found for free more often than bread) and I encounter in its pages a lame slave in Surinam who is missing one hand and one food. “It’s the price,” he tells the book’s hero, “the price that Christians in Europe pay for heaps of sugar at every meal.”

I am so typically, totally, and inescapably earth-bound, so near to despair over our powerlessness in the face of suffering. I tell myself that Buddhism changes how we breathe. Yoga changes how we move and breathe. And other faiths, other thoughts, other practices… other feats of imagination… can change how we give and take and how we eat and drink. And as I sit down to write my stories, I also repeat that phrase to myself… feats of imagination… and tell myself imagination helps us see, and transform what we see. Imagination makes us thankful for bread. It can help us taste the sacrifices invisible to our other senses.


Books by Ted Kelsey

OLGA ~ View on Bookshelves | View on Amazon

Is it okay to steal food…if your starving?

Guest post by Nicholas Brookland, author of No Rest for the Weary

If a certain individual has exhausted all possible means of obtaining food (this could also apply to medical equipment, shoes, tools etc) and is in desperate need of food, without which they will die, is it okay to steal the food to survive?

Or is it only frowned upon ethically and morally if the food were stolen from an equally hungry person?

Is it okay to steal food from a hungry man for a more needy woman or child? Sure, the problems that lead to such a situation need to be addressed first but for the people who are actually in the situation of ‘eat or die’ – solving the bigger issues isn’t an option and certainly not a priority.

Under what circumstances do people think stealing is ‘okay’? Is the Robin Hood scenario to be viewed with disdain when so much bureaucratic gridlock and form filling can literally delay food relief parcels by months, weeks and ever-crucial days.


Books by Nicholas Brookland

No Rest for the Weary ~ View on Bookshelves | View on Amazon

Talk to the hand casue the palm ‘aint wanted.

Guest post by Carol Jackson, author of Julie & Kishore

I clutch my mum tighter but she does not hold me back. The noise of a fire crackling close by is scary and the smell of smoke fills my nostrils. Cowering, I bury my nose into her hair. I can still hear loud bangs in the distance but they are quite far away now. Still my mum doesn’t move and I feel something liquidity and sticky on her. I am so thirsty but I try to sleep and wait for mum to wake up.
I hear human voices and quickly open my eyes, “Here is a female and a baby. I think the little one is still alive, look it’s moving.”
I feel soft hands upon me and hear a kind voice murmuring, “It’s okay little one, let’s just have a look at you. Jan, I think you should take this one…another murdered orangutan, another orphan come on let’s get him to the clinic.”
I feel hands on me, pulling me, trying to lift me off my mum. Wait! Don’t take me away from my mum. I try to wriggle free, I try to hold onto her, but the hands that are holding me are stronger, “I am so sorry little one, we have to take you with us, it is not safe for you here.”


It was my first day on the job. I was under no illusion that what I was going to face would be horrific but nothing could prepare me for the devastation I was to face. The smell of burning wood was strong, little hot spots of fire were still alight and a mist of smoke surrounded us. Stretching ahead as far I could see was bare burnt out land. This area up until very recently was acres and acres of tropical forest, home to hundreds, perhaps thousands of animals and insects. Now it is all gone. The animals that had not burnt to death were shot to ensure the area was clear for oil palm tree plantations. Palm oil is taken from the fruit of the tree and used in many household products.
I was part of a rescue team, to find animals that were still alive, get them to safety and assist with the on-going care that they would need.
I am Jan, the person who took that little baby away from its dead mother. We had not been walking far that morning and I was trying to take in just what was going on around me when one of my team saw them, the dead mother and the little body clinging onto her. His soulful, innocent eyes – the look of fear and sadness on his tiny face, to pull him from her was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. He clung desperately to his mum, how could he leave her? How could he understand?
When I first became aware of the palm oil issue, I made it my own mission to check every ingredient on every package that I bought to make sure it did not contain palm oil. But then I learnt that palm oil could be labelled as other things, so I did my research and checked for that as well. Although I was vigilant and told everyone I knew of the palm oil plight, in my heart of hearts I knew that whatever I was doing was not enough, I had to do more. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to come here and be involved. Although palm oil production is a billion dollar industry and a major export for countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, the people are suffering along with the animals. Those living on rural farms are being forced from their land to make way for oil palm tree plantations and children are forced to work in terrible conditions.
As I wrenched that little baby orangutan from his dead mother and felt his trembling body in my arms, I wiped my own tears on my sleeve. I felt his long trusting arms wrap tightly around my neck.


Books by Carol Jackson

Julie & Kishore ~ View on Bookshelves | Amazon link unavailable.

Julie & Kishore ~ View on Bookshelves | View on Amazon

Confessions of a consumer

Guest post by Kay Bilsby, author of Soul Dreamer

I love eating and shopping, they are two of my favourite things. I like nothing better than enjoying a well cooked meal in a good restaurant − or searching for that perfect pair of shoes to go with outfit currently residing in the bag I am carrying. To me these are the simple pleasures that my lifestyle allows.

Do I spare a though for the poor and hungry of the world while I am sating my need to consume? Of course not! The world of abject poverty and extreme hunger, is a world outside the one I live in – a world, if I’m being honest I know nothing about.

That said, I’m no more immune than the next person, to the suffering of others as depicted in the media. Show me images of dying children, overlaid by a sad song, and in that moment I care. Then the image is gone replaced by a favourite TV program, taking with it the unpalatable truth that somehow I have contributed to their plight and I do nothing.

Am I a product of the society I live in, giving only when caught up in the moment? Telethons and events that capture the attention of people like me, give us an outlet a way to congratulating ourselves that we have done our bit. Don’t get me wrong telethons work. They do an amazing job of highlighting the plight of those in need and then doing something about it. Win, win right? But when they are over, and the moment is passed, we leave that other world behind.

I understand the need for charitable organisations, each and every one of them plays a vital role. My day job is working for a large charity that exists to fight the biggest killer of people like me − Heart disease. Every day I meet people who have survived heart disease, or lost loved ones to it. It’s real tangible, something that they understand, because it’s happening to them. My point is, the choice is always subjective we support the things that mean something to us, and the closer to home the more likely we are to give.

It occurs to me, writing this confession that there is a bigger picture here. We aren’t living on a fantasy world where everything is in perfect balance and no one is denied the basic necessities of life. We are living on a small but beautiful planet, on loan to this generation to look after for the next.

Perhaps, consumers like me, who don’t have to worry where our next meal is coming from, whose lifestyle contributes to the suffering of others, should be afraid. Ultimately we are all linked, as we deplete our resources, the things that are happening in that other world, will eventually affect us all. When it does, who will we turn to for help? I have no answers, perhaps it doesn’t matter why or how we choose to help, so long as we do.

Writing this has probably done me more harm than good, but it has made me examine my own shortcomings. It is the confession of someone who has been hungry, but never known hunger. Been short of cash, but never known real poverty. Who is searching her soul to find out where she should go from here.


Books by Kay Bilsby

Soul Dreamer ~ View on Bookshelves | Amazon link unavailable.

Soul Bound ~ View on Bookshelves | View on Amazon