Monday, August 29, 2022

You Don't Know Me

I was in my Diversity class and gritting my teeth through some things, and I felt that it was important for me to give my background so that you understand me as not sensitive to diversity or understanding of others.  The very fact that I have to do this is a confirmation of my own criticism.  However, as I was preparing to do it on social media, I realized that this is relevant to the pursuit of happiness, as well.

Let me begin by saying that there is a difference between diversity and politics.  I think as you hear about certain aspects of my life and current activities, you will come to see that, too.

I began noticing that there is no such thing as "micro aggressions" against white men, last week.  Then, in the class tonight when talking about creating a "culturally responsive teaching" classroom, there was books and videos and activities for many different groups... none white.

Now, let's back up and talk about my past and present, so you get a picture of myself.  While it is true that where I grew up there was no other races (which can be said of many other racial communities), I would go into the military quickly after school where the majority of my peers were minorities.  I had a lot of friends in the military that were another race.  Over my different career positions, I developed other similar connections.  In the IRS, I was friends with another "Kenneth" that was black.  In other jobs.. IBM, Sutherland, etc, I had similar friends, including after I moved to Florida following my divorce my first job was at the Tampa Housing Authority where my office neighbor was a great black man.  I current work among black teachers at a school with no white students for the advancement of my minority students to their highest potential.

Leaving race, let's talk about gender and LGBTQ.  I have had many gay and trans friends over my years and have some examples of that of which I cannot speak to protect their privacy.  Indeed, there was a period when I was married to my Hungarian witch ex wife who had problems with masculinity due to her past when I was filling a very soft and sensitive role to adapt to her... a sensitivity that might have contributed to her loss of interest and educated me about the difference between friendship and interest but that is another story... that I questioned my own masculinity and for a period explored my more soft and sensitive side.  If you go to Amazon and search for Kimberly Clifton you can find several books written in that period that might surprise you.

Tonight in the class, we were talking about poverty, and I added my own perspective of periods of poverty in my life, and I was dismissed by the teacher as if I had nothing to contribute as a white male.  Let's go over that.  When I was growing up in my little town, we were very poor.  I remember taking baths in the same bath water.  All my clothes came from my brother or garage sales... like all of them.  If we wanted to watch tv, I went outside and turned a big tv antenna with a pipe wrench to watch one of the few channels we could see, because we couldn't afford cable.  But... that was only ONE period of poverty in my life.  I have had to declare bankruptcy a few times in my life, caused by medical bills from child births or other medical things.  I know very well the feeling of crushing debt.  I have been on food stamps as recently as this summer.  When I came to Tampa in 2020, I was living in a very poor area in a hotel that had bars and cages around it and you had to enter through the lobby, because of the crime.  I was there for 6 months.  I understand poverty, and it's one areas I lean left, because I know what it can be like and how hard it is to climb out.

So, I'd said that I DEFINITELY agree with welcoming the cultures of others and being diverse, but if we do not include the white and male culture in with the others we will only FUEL the exclusionary divides that we see growing now.  We need to ALL accept the power of ALL others to make their own choices for their lives and respect their backgrounds and provide acceptance of positions that we do no share.  I have friends of almost all positions, and they respect me because they know I will respect their passion, provide an objective ear, and accept them regardless of ... diversity.

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