Saturday, September 23, 2017

Countries Around The World Protest National Anthems. Here's A List.

The choice to sit, kneel, boo, raise a fist, or any other form of protest during your country's national anthem is not as unusual, or uniquely American, as NFL comment feeds would lead us to believe. 

Following is a brief list of anthem protests in other countries. The reasons are varied, from ideological fault with the lyrics to offense by the composer to issue with the country's social systems. As with all protests, public sentiment is divided. 

These international anthem protests have at least one thing in common: they occur in countries that value freedom of speech. 

Notable countries that did not make this list include the Philippines, where failure to sing with gusto could lead to imprisonment (and capital punishment without trial is the new normal), North Korea (where political prison camps are full of people who have no idea what they did to get there), China, where refusal to stand solemnly means detention, at minimum, and India, where perceived disrespect toward the anthem could lead to years in prison

Once we establish national anthem protest as a valid expression of free speech in a healthy democracy, perhaps we can move on to discuss the real issues behind these protests.

1. Switzerland: where the German-sourced Swiss Psalm was voted out for a version that can be sung in all four national languages

Swiss soccer players, not singing the national anthem
2. Germany: where some just hum the national anthem for fear of being too patriotic, or giving credence to a past of Nazi nationalism, which led to the first and second verses being struck from public recognition. 

3. England: where a desire to identify apart from Scotland and Wales could inspire the British to boo "God Save the Queen," until England gets its own national anthem. 

Jeremy Corbyn, British politician, not singing "God Save the Queen"
4. Australia: where indigenous citizens and high-profile athletes protest the racist undertones of "Advance Australia Fair." 

5. France: where booing the national anthem is a form of protest against divisive social classes and racial unrest. 

6. Spain: where Catalans and Basques regularly whistle or boo the national anthem as a bid for independence.  

Catalonian protest during Spain's national anthem

Americans, let us not align with the punitive false patriotism of countries who suppress free speech in favor of silence and outward reverence. 

For those who have a different race reality than what our national anthem and ideals represent, it's time to dialogue about why that is, and what to do about it.

Systemic Racism Is Real.

The reality for most people of color in the United States is legitimately different than my reality as a white woman.

We can trade links and troll comments all day and come to different conclusions about race in America. 

But these stats are just a glance into the systemic racism that persists in our country today:

1. African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites. 

2. African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.

3. Black people are more likely to be wrongfully convicted than white people. While black people represent 13% of the US population, they represent 47% of exonerations.
4. African American children represent 32% of children who are arrested, 42% of children who are detained, and 52% of children whose cases are judicially waived to criminal court. 
5. If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites, prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40%.
6. Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students. On average, 5% of white students are suspended, compared to 16% of black students. 
7. Job applications with names that are stereotypically white receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews than those with names that are stereotypically black. This means an applicant with a name that “sounds black” needs to send out 15 resumes before getting an interview, whereas an applicant with a name that “sounds white” only needs to send out 10.
8. HUD recently settled with the largest bank in Wisconsin over claims that it discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota from 2008-2010. Though these cases of banks redlining minorities to prevent homeownership are decreasing, historic prejudice by lenders, over the past 100 years, makes homeownership beyond reach for many minority families.
Racial tensions are high. It's easy to dismiss the concerns of protesters who are too loud, too destructive, too angry, or too emotional. Sometimes they are quiet, undistracting, reverent, and calm, and still, we take offense and ignore the important root of their message:
Systemic racism is real. 

White Privilege Is Real.

1. On Drugs In America

"White privilege" is when your race's illegal drug epidemic is (rightly) treated as a national health crisis -- addressed with better addiction therapy and the hope of recovery -- instead of a three-strikes-you're-out criminalization of addiction. 

The imprisonment rate of black people for drug charges is over five times that of white people. It's a systemically different approach to the same problem.
Heroin addicts in court.
2. On White Mass Murderers in America

"White privilege" is when your demographic (angry white men) regularly commits senseless murder by gun violence against groups of strangers, yet it's not seen as an epidemic. People don't assume everyone who shares your religious identity is also dangerous. Your violence doesn't reflect poorly on the entirety of white culture. You commit the worst mass murder in American history, yet before anyone even looks into your past, religious or cultural affiliation, you're labeled a "lone wolf" instead of a "terrorist," simply due to the color of your skin. 

2. On White Crime In America

"White privilege" is when you murder two strangers, because you don't like the color of their skin. And the local paper does a write-up on your background of outstanding community service, complete with your smiling Boy Scout photo. 

(The Boy Scouts have disavowed him, for what it's worth.)

Despite his criminal history, culminating in cold-blooded murder, Kenneth Gleason is not called a thug. The article describes him as an intelligent loner with a studious interest in white supremacy. 

The names of his black victims are Bruce Cofield and Donald Smart. The article doesn't mention that.

The newspaper has changed the lead photo, headline, and content since publication, due to social media pressure. Screenshots of the original article are below.
3. On Escalation Of Police Interactions With Suspects In America 

"White privilege" is when you can de-escalate a police interaction, simply by the color of your skin. 

Of all of the unarmed people shot and killed by police in 2015, 40 percent of them were black men, even though black men make up just 6 percent of the nation’s population. 

Unarmed black Americans are five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.

About 13 percent of all black people fatally shot by police since January 2015 were unarmed, compared with 7 percent of all white people.

Even adjusting for black Americans living in higher crime areas, thereby increasing probability of police presence and interaction, police escalation to lethal violence against a suspect is higher for black Americans than white Americans. 
Photo Source
4. On Every-Day Details Of Life In America

"White Privilege" is when you can go shopping alone, without store employees following you through the store, suspecting you will shoplift. 

"White Privilege" is when learning the history of our country, emphasis is on the positive influence of light-skinned people. 

"White Privilege" is when you can use checks, credit cards, or cash, without the recipient wondering if you're financially reliable

"White Privilege" is when I can criticize my government and have concern for how its policies will affect me and my family, without being seen as a political outsider

"White Privilege" is when I can advocate for racial justice without being judged as self-serving. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

No, "Cheap Sex" Is Not Why No One's Getting Married

Is cheap sex making marriage obsolete? Mark Regnerus, sociologist and author of a new book on the topic, sure thinks so. (Incidentally, so does my late grandmother, who took every opportunity to counsel, re: "giving the milk away for free.")

He’s right on one point: marriage rates are decreasing. But slut-shaming, with a side of porn and masturbation, isn’t the primary source of this decline.

Photo Source

Do we really believe, as a society, for the past 241 years of American history, men simply followed their phallus into lifelong marriage in exchange for an exclusive, all-access pass to unlimited sex?

I’d expect this kind of reasoning from Hugh Hefner or James Bond. Surprisingly, it’s quite prevalent in Christian dating advice books. The best cure for sexual desire before marriage? Simply get married!

As a married woman, please, hear me out: this is terrible, terrible advice.

Read the rest over at FemCatholic!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

8 Ways to Improve Your Parish Cry Room

1. Can children see what's happening on the altar? 

If there's not a direct, child-friendly view of the altar, are there TV monitors or screens, so kids can see why they're missing Sunday morning cartoons? 

Good View From A Good Cry Room
2. Can parents comfortably nurse or hold their little ones? 

Would parishioners donate rocking chairs to a cry room? One parish that I visited had an entire row of rocking chairs across the back of the sanctuary! What a welcome sight for a sleepless, weary nursing mom whose baby needs to eat during Mass. 

3. Are expectations for the cry room communicated in a clear way? 

Are expectations posted in visible places around the room? Do they create a worship-friendly, family-friendly space, or do they create yet another place in the parish that young children are not welcome? 

4. When standing in the doorway of your parish cry room, how does it feel? 

Safe? Clean? Like a mini-sanctuary? Like a prison waiting room? Different parishes have different needs and cultures, so there's more than one way to set up a cry room. What does your parish cry room communicate to parents with young children? Welcome? Judgment? Understanding? Isolation? 

5. Are there quality religious board books available for small hands and eyes to learn? 

Is there a budget to replace them when they're torn or taken? We've donated board books to the cry room many times, and they always disappear. This is good! This means godly books are going home with little hearts! 

6. Is there a dedicated bathroom or changing table in the cry room? 

Is it possible for a single parent with multiple young children to keep kids close, if one of them needs to go potty or get a diaper changed? Is there hand sanitizer? Is there a trash can for diapers? 

7. Are songbooks and missalettes available for parents and older siblings to follow along with the rest of the congregation? 

If not songbooks and missalettes (due to the likelihood of destruction), could printed handouts be available with scripture readings and songs? 

These two are old enough to sit nicely in the sanctuary during Mass, but their twin one-year-old brothers are not. So when Dad's out-of-town, and Mom's in the cry room for Sunday Mass, it would be great to have a way for adults and older siblings to follow the scriptures and songs. 

8. Could the "Cry Room" be completely re-purposed? 

Could it be soundproofed with limited, exclusive use for only those parishioners who require absolute silence during their holy Mass experience? ...So I can return to the sanctuary with my minion of young, curious Catholics? 

And for those with young children, who are weary from weeks of overhearing bits of Mass from the narthex or cry room, while holding small children, I hope Father Joshua Whitfield's words will bring encouragement: 

"All along the Via Dolorosa, she’s trying to pay attention to her Son, to see him, speak to him, comfort him. She tries, but she’s jostled by the crowd. Her companions—John and the other women—are crying, needing her strength and support. She’s pulled this way and that, all the while acutely aware that something really important is going on—over there, within earshot, out of the corner of her eye. The sacrifice is happening over there, but she’s harried by the noisy bustle of the crowd. Yet in her heart she’s following her Son, although she remains among the hurried crowd. This is how Mary attended the first Paschal sacrifice—distracted, exhausted. Like you."

Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs."