Making Gumbo

Sat, 20 Jan 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: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/quiet-revolution/201712/america-s-mission-statement-is-our-light-against-bigotry


posted by Rupert  |   1:14 PM  |   0 comments
Sun, 14 Jan 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) (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22822943-taking-on-diversity). For multiple examples of how I use neo-diversity analyze contemporary events, go to my Psychology-Today Blog, “A Quiet Revolution”: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/quiet-revolution

 


posted by Rupert  |   11:57 AM  |   4 comments
Wed, 13 Dec 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, Lulu.com:

“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.

#WeShallOvercome

#neo-diversity


posted by Rupert  |   2:23 PM  |   0 comments
Mon, 11 Dec 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
Mon, 04 Dec 2017

Essential Readings of The Apocalypse

Apocalyptic fiction; novels of the end-of-days are very popular right now. But I have read only two that I would call essential.

 

 

“Station Eleven” is one.  All of the action of the story is set off by a viral pandemic that kills millions and millions of people.  But what makes this novel essential is that through this story we are shown how very interdependent are our everyday lives.

There is one paragraph in the novel that is startling with the truth it reveals of our day to day interdependence with each other. What would make daily life fall apart so quickly as portrayed in all apocalyptic fiction?  Well, in an airborne pandemic that sickens and kills people in twenty-four hours, death would quickly spread to workers who keep everything going; people who go to work to keep the power going, to keep the water running (and sanitary), to keep food produced and being delivered to stores, to keep planes, trains and automobiles running.

That would be the human apocalypse.  With that collapse of our human infrastructure, what would prevent the slow demise of the human spirit too?  Station-Eleven ask that too.  Station-Eleven answers with its focus on human spiritual survival through the art of a traveling band of actors who act out Shakespeare, even at the end of days, uplifting the human spirit.

I read Station-Eleven two years ago (March, 2015) and that still sticks with me.

December 2-3, 2017, a weekend, to begin my recovery from the end of the semester push, I picked up “When the English Fall.” That novel is the second story of the apocalypse that I say is essential.

Always, novels of the apocalypse focus on mainstream, every day existence and the collapse of technological infrastructure. But when that part of human life is given attention, we seem to have forgotten that not all we humans, even in America, live lives dependent on technology.  What about the Amish?  What about the plain-folk, religious folk who have chosen to and have been living as survivalists, without store-bought stuff, without technology, even electricity for hundreds of years? When our electrical infrastructure dies, do their lives change at all?

“When the English Fall” ask that question.  More important, the novel takes us through a spiritual meditation on modern human life and the way we are all interdependent with technology and ourselves. Telling the story and speaking to us through an Amish man’s diary that is found after the end of days, the narrator, that Amish man writes:

“Because we know, now, that as the world of the English fails around us, we [Amish] are not separate. Yes, we have the Order, and yes, we have our way, but the time when that meant we stood free from the world has passed. I am not sure, as I think about it now, that has ever been true. We are never really apart, as much as we choose to set ourselves different from the world that surrounds us. The English are like the Earth, or the air. And if the rain falls, it falls on all alike the Bible says.”

I read “When the English Falls” in the quiet of my home; away from the hustle and bustle, the hard work, of the end of the semester.  Reading it was a balm to my spirit; a retreat that my soul needs, every now and then.

“Station-Eleven” and “When the English Fall” are not just stories of the end-of-days collapse of the modern.  Both novels are about what we must always do to hold on to the gift of our human spirit, no matter the troubling circumstances of the day. That is why I say, if you want to read apocalyptic fiction, these two novels are essential reads.

#ReadABook


posted by Rupert  |   4:12 PM  |   0 comments
Thu, 16 Nov 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: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/quiet-revolution/201711/american-bigotry-now-it-s-personal


posted by Rupert  |   12:59 PM  |   0 comments
Tue, 17 Oct 2017

Mike Ditka’s 100 years of no racial oppression

On Twitter  @DrNacoste I left this thread:

1. Mike Ditka has spoken out against NFL players taking a knee because he says, what oppression? “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people.”

2. One hundred years is a clear benchmark.  Remember, 100 years.

3. If I thought Mr. Ditka read books I would send him a copy of Tim Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name; a historical memoir written by a white man about the public killing of a black man in 1970 for which no person who people saw do the killing was ever punished by the law.  (Link)

4. Absent book reading, here Mr. Ditka is bit of my family’s personal black history.

5. My dark-skinned “Negro” father was born in 1918-My brown-skinned “Negro” mother was born in 1922… both born into hard legal racial segregation-Racism. Even if we now lived in 2018, Mr. Ditka’s 100 year mark would be woefully wrong and ignorant.

6. Myself born in 1951, I grew up in the Jim-Crow South of legally enforced racial segregation graduating high school in 1969 yet never having been to school with white kids because in 1969 it was still against state law to have racially mixed schooling.

7. Even if we were living in 2051, Mr. Ditka’s 100 year benchmark would be wrong and oblivious to history.

8. Football is just a frivolous game and one that I never played. But I did serve my country in the U.S. Navy (1972-1976) even though there was lingering racial discrimination in the fleet so much so that in 1973 I lived through a race-riot aboard a Navy aircraft carrier-USS Intrepid.

9. No isolated incident-there were 350 documented major racial incidents (including riots) in the Navy between 1970 and 1975 because of lingering and harsh racial discrimination against U.S. Navy sailors who were black. [see Sherwood, John D. (2006) Black Sailor, White Navy: Racial unrest in the fleet during the Vietnam War era. New York: New York University Press.

10. Even if we were living in 2075 Mr. Ditka’s 100 year benchmark would be stunningly without connection to our real American history.

11. We are where we are in American history because nothing in America has been so profound, and important as marginalized and discounted peoples pushing through, and defeating America’s too many intergroup bigotries in be able to live the American promise of “…the pursuit of happiness.”

12. That is why in 21st century America we arrive at a neo-diverse social environment in which too many Americans struggle with the idea and need to respect people from those many different groups. (see my book, Taking on Diversity: How we can move from anxiety to respect. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2015;  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22822943-taking-on-diversity)

13. In the midst of one part of that struggle against America’s still too many intergroup bigotries like many others Mr. Ditka has panicked psychologically and to calm himself has claimed that there has been no racial discrimination over the last 100 years.

14. My parents, my sister, my brothers and I have a personal black history that makes that claim look as ridiculous as it is.

15. Here endenth the lesson.


posted by Rupert  |   2:11 PM  |   0 comments