Making Gumbo

Archive for the 'The Roux' Category

Thursday, February 08, 2018

“What Are You?!: An Anxiety Legacy of Laws of Segregation

America has a long history of teaching people to try to use skin color to “put people in their place.” That, of course, has never been a foolproof approach, but it is definitely not working today with the increase in interracial (and other intergroup) dating, marriage and childbearing.

So now when people can’t rely on “…the look of a person” too many people experience an intense psychological discomfort. Then to settle themselves in the social interaction, without thinking, people rudely blurt out the question, “…what are you?” Over the years, a number of my mixed-race college students have written about having this experience.

Here is my essay about the “what are you” neo-diversity anxiety moment which includes one of my @NCState student’s stories about having that experience:

posted by Rupert  |   12:13 PM  |   0 comments
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Women’s Marches 2018: Whose Really Woke?

I am disheartened when I see “us versus them” rise up among those who say they care about social Justice.

Not “us versus them” between people who seek a just society for all versus those who are fighting to keep themselves in power. No not that…

“Us versus them” among people who say they want a just society, but just can’t put up with people who don’t think about the issues exactly the way they do.

“Women’s marches without intersectionality is just white supremacy.”

“Marched last year, but not marching today because I realized these people are marching against 45 (Trump), not against systematic racism, etc.”

If we keep objecting to the motives of people of goodwill who are trying to march for, work for Justice in some way, our fight for Justice will always be futile.

If we keep rejecting the idea of working with people who are learning to try to work for Justice, our fight for Justice will flounder.

If we reject the idea of working with people because they are not woke in the way you would like, there is no hope of achieving real social Justice.

If for you to march for Justice, everybody has to see everything from your perspective, you are not woke.

To work for Justice always means working with people you do not always agree with on focus, strategy, priorities or vision. Even Martin Luther King, Jr. had to be brought into a full understanding that the issues of oppression were more than racial. And that happened through his interactions and civil conversations with others who were working on racial/social Justice, but with different strategies and focus.

Even if they are trying, no one can see past their limited perspective without direct contact and (civil) confrontation with a different perspective. When you think someone is making a mistake of vision, talk to the person, not at the person. Educate, don’t berate.

Disagree, use your voice to raise issues, but do not withdraw your participation. In the 1960’s my father, a janitor and a bus driver, was also a grass-roots politician in the Jim-Crow South. He worked with all kinds of people, who had a mix of motivations, some with limited and mostly self-interested vision; but he worked with those people push the Justice agenda.

Yes, he was frustrated by those people sometimes; I heard him tell my mother so. But he went on using the small doorway into their frame of reference to get things done. My father, Mr. O-geese, showed solidarity and shared effort with those folks, using his calm but strong voice, making his case and teaching that sometimes helped people see that their vision was too narrow; sometimes not.

But the point was to keep people moving and working in the direction of true racial/social Justice, even if at the time those people were making mistakes of vision while still agitating for some kind of Justice. That’s what it takes. Yes, it can be irritating, frustrating and slow-going.

But that, of course, is why the late Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. always reminded us that social Justice work is hard by using this quote from an abolitionist:

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward Justice.”



posted by Rupert  |   9:59 PM  |   0 comments
Saturday, January 20, 2018

Why Should You Care About Bigotry Toward a Group You Are Not a Member Of?

America has a mission statement that any of us can use to stand up to bigotry in our social interactions

As a professor of social psychology, I do not teach abstract psychological principles. I teach social psychological concepts of social life that anybody can use to improve their social interactions.

One of the major things I teach in my “Interdependence and Race” course is what to do when someone you are interacting with engages in intolerant verbal behavior; bigotry.

All of us can stand up to bigotry in our social interactions by simply saying to the other person, “I am very uncomfortable with that kind of language. I find it offensive. It hurts me.” Speaking in the “I” is critical to avoid shaming the person.  But speaking “…it hurts me” hits the person’s interpersonal identity; suddenly they have to wonder, who was I to think this person would accept that way of talking.

Confronted in this quiet but firm way, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2006, research by Czopp, A. M., Monteith, M.J. & Mark, A. Y.shows that the confronted person experiences a hot mix of anger at themselves, annoyance with themselves, regret, disgust with themselves.

With all that heating up in the person, yes that person will also feel anger at being confronted and be annoyed with you. No surprise that that mix of hot emotions motivates the person to lash out at the person who has quietly challenged their bigotry. Of late, and yes, this Fall-2017 semester too, with genuine concern a student will ask, “…but what if the other person ask you why do you even care?”

That question is, of course, the other person lashing out by pointing to your demographic group membership to say, “…look you’re not even one of them… you’re not transgender, you’re not Jewish, you’re not white…” Lashing out, that person is implying that all you can ever care about, all you can ever be is a representative of your own demographic group.

How does one answer that insulting attempt to trap you in a stereotype?  How?  With America’s mission statement, that’s how.

When, this past Fall 2017 semester, I was asked about people trying to use that strategy to push one of my students to be quiet, to push my student to tolerate intolerance, I said this: Tell that person, “I care because I am a true American who believes in America’s mission statement that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…’”

My full essay about this is:

posted by Rupert  |   1:14 PM  |   0 comments
Sunday, January 14, 2018

Here’s the New Message for the Democratic Party: Embracing Neo-Diversity Social Change Will Move American’s Forward




People keep saying the Democrats no longer have a clear, concrete, coherent message for the American people. Well, if I were a political consultant, I would push candidates to use adapting to social change as their campaign platforms. I would write speeches with handling neo-diversity anxiety as the theme.

A speech that goes like this:

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead, my fellow Americans,

America is in the midst of a struggle with a force we cannot stop.  Social change.

Yes we have always been a country that is evolving and changing. But today’s social change has come to us with a new speed. Today’s social change is also not about one thing.

Today’s social change is not just about race-relations. It is not just about women’s rights. It is not just about immigration. It is not just about oil and gas. It’s not just about diversity. It is not just about the technology that is in and around all of our lives.

Today’s unstoppable social change is about the fact that because of all those changes happening at the same time, every day we all have to interact with, go to school with, work with, people not like us. Today, we Americans are struggling with anxiety about what that neo-diversity situation means about our future.

But we should not panic. We cannot afford to panic. We must be, and we are, stronger than that as Americans.

Lord knows, the question is not how do we go backwards to when everybody in the room looked the same?  Today’s question should not be and is not, how do we go back to when only people who had money, or who were Christian, or who were white or who were male, or who were heterosexual, were in the room and automatically in charge?

That can’t be the question because that social reality is gone. The social change of neo-diversity has already happened.  And, that neo-diversity social change is continuing to happen and is unstoppable.

To move forward together, to move forward with a new national strength, the real question is, how will we use that social change to improve the life situation for all Americans to keep America strong?

Fighting against the force of the neo-diversity social change will only disrupt our lives; will only push our lives into anger against other Americans.  Fighting the social change of diversity has already damaged the first goal of our American dream to create “…a more perfect union.”

How, instead, can and will we use the social change of neo-diversity to move America forward with new sources of strength?  How can and will we harness and focus the energy of the neo-diversity social change to make the lives of all Americans better?

For us to harness and focus the energy of the neo-diversity social change, there are some things we all have to learn to accept and embrace as part of our already changed America.

First, we must accept, embrace the fact that we live in a new America, where at our work sites we are no longer segregated from each other by race, sex-of-person, religion, sexual-orientation, and the like. We are all in the same room. We must accept and embrace the social fact that we are no longer separated from each other in this new, truer, version of the American dream.

Second, we must accept and embrace that technology is one of the unstoppable forces pushing us into close interaction with each other in our neighborhoods, at work, in school, in the mall, on Facebook, on Twitter.

Third, we must accept and embrace the social fact that people who do not look like, sound like, love like, worship like us, are Americans.

Fourth, we must accept and embrace the social fact that how you look, love or worship does not make anyone automatically the most qualified for a job or for admission to a training program, or a college or university.

Fifth, we must accept and embrace the truth that our neo-diversity means that our social lives, our work lives, our school lives, have and will continue to change in the mix of people involved, and we must respect those Americans.

Sixth, we must accept and embrace the truth of neo-diversity that says that each of us must work to adjust, adapt to respect this new America not just for ourselves today but for the sake of the future of America.”

As a political consultant that is the kind of message I would put together for a Democratic candidate. But I am not a political consultant. Even so, I hope somebody is listening.

Final note:

For a deep dive into the dynamics of neo-diversity social change, see my well reviewed book, Taking on Diversity: How we can move from anxiety to respect” (2015; Prometheus Books) ( For multiple examples of how I use neo-diversity analyze contemporary events, go to my Psychology-Today Blog, “A Quiet Revolution”:


posted by Rupert  |   11:57 AM  |   4 comments
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Howl of the Wolf-2017

Back in 2012, I self-published my first book on neo-diversity; this time and circumstance in America where we all have to encounter and sometimes interact with people not like us (on some group dimension).


Concerned that students at NC State were having real trouble with the reality of neo-diversity on our campus, to try and help I wrote, “Howl of the Wolf: NC State University Students Call Out For Social Change.”  From student papers in my “Interpersonal Relationships and Race” course, I used quotes to show other students what the interaction struggle could look and feel like, and to show our students how to adapt to neo-diversity and learn to interact with people “not like you” with respect.

Since then I have given out copies free to our students; somewhere on the order of 3,000 and counting. At the end of every semester now, I give a copy to each student who was enrolled in my “Interdependence and Race” course.

Even though I published “Howl of the Wolf” in 2012, reviews are still popping up.  Here’s one that popped up on December 8, at the self-publishing platform I used,

“Howl of the Wolf” is a thoughtful and incredibly personal analysis of the Neodiversity facing society. Crafted using excerpts from Dr. Nacoste’s students and his own experiences this book feels more like a close friend giving advice rather than a Professor attempting to provide you with tools to navigate today’s uncertain social situations and mixed group interactions. Once finished “Howl” will become a staple in your library and in your daily life. Hopefully you too will pick up this book and hear the howl!”

I keep trying to find ways to help Americans learn about, so they can adapt to neo-diversity. “Howl of the Wolf” was one of my first attempts to reach the public. I think it still matters.



posted by Rupert  |   2:23 PM  |   0 comments
Monday, December 11, 2017

All Aboard the Neo-Diversity Train-Book Review

To write my book, “Taking on Diversity,” I had to find a theme that would link all of the ideas and book chapters.  Events conspired to remind of my favorite song from the sixties; Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready.

“People get ready, there’s a train a comin…”

That was it! I used that to set up the whole book.

In the preface I call out to everyone standing in the train stations of America:

“In the station, attention please!  Your attention, please!

People… get ready. The neo-diversity train is pulling into the station

In the station, your attention please. Attention!

People… get ready!”

An Amazon customer, giving my book a 5-star rating, this reviewer titled their review…

“All about the neo-diversity train!”

Then they wrote:

“In a time where diversity is so misunderstood and beliefs about it are so controversial, Dr. Nacoste shows the reader how racial acceptance can be achieved and provides them with an in depth grasp of what diversity is and why it causes so many people to feel anxiety. It is important to understand our ever changing world, and not only does the book aid in this process, but it also helps the reader understand her/his own personal feelings about race and ethnicity.

This book taught me how to let go of neo-diversity anxiety and how to effectively prevent people from using intolerant or offensive language in my presence. This is important for young people as the new generation of workers because America is very diverse, and once we begin our careers, we more than likely will have no choice but to interact with people who are different from ourselves. It is important to know how to effectively and properly interact with all individuals, not just those who are similar to us, and it is necessary if we hope to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

Dr. Nacoste used examples from his students’ personal lives to provide a more in depth understanding of the concepts he presented. These make the material feel relatable to the reader and shows them they are not alone in their quest to achieve racial acceptance.

There are many who want to make the world a better, more inclusive place for everyone. Sometimes, we just need to be shown how to do it. Taking on Diversity does exactly that.

This book is an excellent resource for those who wish to truly understand and interact with the racially diverse world we live in and not just passively move through it in our socially assigned boxes.”

I really like that review.

#neodiversity #WeShallOvercome #PeopleGetReady


posted by Rupert  |   11:05 PM  |   0 comments
Thursday, November 16, 2017

American Bigotry: This time it’s personal

What happens to an individual’s social-psychology in the face of the failure and collapse of the institutional and organizational support for their superior sense of group position?  What happens, psychologically, when the removal of obvious forms of structural racism, sexism, heterosexism, means that what used to be taken for granted can’t be?

I am asking you to think about what happens psychologically when black and LatinX people, now less hindered, show high achievement in all kinds of domains (not just sports)?  What happens, psychologically, when standards of woman-beauty broaden to more realistically include women of color (Miss USA); hijab wearing Muslim women (cover of Vogue); curvy women TV weather reporters, (former) First Lady Michelle Obama?

Really, the question I am asking you to ponder is what happens when the superior sense of group position is shown to have been built on a house of cards?  Well, the answer is intergroup anxiety.

On these matters, here is my newest Psychology-Today essay:

posted by Rupert  |   12:59 PM  |   0 comments