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Showing posts from August, 2020

Definitions of Racism; Join us Saturday

  To dismantle racism, we need to know what it is.   A definition I saw today of “ racist ” on Facebook posted by a friend was: “ One who disagrees with liberals. ” I admit that I chuckled. I replied with a laugh emoji although I was disturbed and wanted to correct it, which likely would have just proved his point. But it reminds me that we cannot come together to find ways to end racism if we don’t agree what it is.   My 1984 Webster dictionary defines  racism as , “ 1. A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. 2. racial prejudice or discrimination. ” A short definition that I got from undoing racism workshops was “ racial prejudice + power .” This definition meant BIPOC cannot be racist because they lack power, although they can be prejudiced. Definitions of racism that I have seen more recently consider systems that allow some because of the color of their skin to hav

Focus on Healing

Last week I asked that we look in depth at the root causes about why the Wind River Indian Reservation (WRIR) has higher rates of COVID-19 and diabetes related deaths and life spans that average more than 15 fewer years than the general population in Wyoming. I believe that exploring those root causes will lead us to understand that racism, past and current, cause premature deaths. This week I ask that, seriously taking the root causes into consideration, we consider how we want to facilitate healing. This is what we know from health care research. Addressing the determinants of health is essential for healing. Only 20% of a person’s health is determined by genetics. Another 20% is determined by health care, both access and quality. What primarily affects health, the other 60%, are social, environmental and behavioral factors. The environment includes clean air and water, housing and availability of healthy foods as well as places and opportunities for recreation and exercise. Social

12 out of 28. Why???

As of today, 12 out of the 28 people are Northern Arapaho who are reported to have died in Wyoming from COVID-19 related deaths. Why, when Northern Arapaho are fewer than 2% of Wyoming’s total population, would they be more than 40% of the deaths? I think this is alarming. We already know that the average life span for Native Americans living in Fremont County is 55 years compared to 71 for the general population in Wyoming. This is nothing for the tribes to be embarrassed about. From my observation, the tribes have been at least as diligent as the rest of Wyoming, if not more so, to have taken measures to protect the health of their people. Why do these health inequities still exist in the 21 st  Century? From national reports, we have heard similar inequities across the nation for people of color. Research and speculation point to many factors. But in the end when we look at the root causes, not just symptoms that leads to premature death, institutional racism and colonial practices

Graffiti - Vandalism, Protest or Art?

I was in the Soviet Union in the early 1980’s. When in Moscow, I went to a worship service at a Russian Orthodox Church near the hotel where we were staying. I was early. Looking around the outside of the church, I was surprised to see graffiti crudely scribed on the stone wall. It stuck out because I had not seen any graffiti in Moscow, and I had met secretly with underground peace activists who had been in jail for distributing leaflets that countered government sanctioned speech. I knew only a few words of Russian and was unable to decipher what it said, so I wrote it down and took it back to a guide to translate. It said, “Don’t dump trash here.” I was disappointed. I was hoping that it said something in protest to the police state, but of course, not at a church where priests were restricted as to what they could say and do.   This past week, it was brought to my attention that graffiti had been painted in places around Riverton, including the skateboard park at the Riverton City