Racism Wrapped in Elitism

Your childhood memories and mine may reflect some of the same experiences and thoughts that need to be reviewed for seeds of “racism.”

Most would expect a child to be oblivious to the underlying racism of maintaining the “separate but equal” fallacy and living in a basically isolated “white society” without recognizing it as elitism (it was just natural, the way things were and should be).

My childhood taught me: Blacks shouldn’t sit in the same area of a theater as whites and they should enter by a different door to cut down on “contamination” – blacks should not be allowed to eat in the same area as whites in a restaurant but should be treated like other animals, eat out back – and the list goes on and on including not being allowed to walk down the same streets as whites or living in houses like whites or being lynched for entertainment or serving their only purpose which was to serve whites.

I would say: “I was raised in a fairly fundamentalist church culture” in mostly white Michigan, Indiana, and North Carolina. My dad and his father were both fundamentalist preachers and the “one-true-church” was central to our lives.

So, my childhood planted the idea that my church membership made me “better” than those who did not “belong” to the “one-true-church” and was only one seed in the elitism that was naturally mine to a large extent—I was white, born with white skin which automatically put me in with those covered by the founding fathers of our nation who defined white privilege, my birthright—clearly it did not apply to blacks.

I would like to share just a few thoughts about how racism can be buried under acceptability and how cognitive blindness provides rationalization to make us comfortable in denying racism which is dangerous to our growth as human beings.

Racism and elitism are “insidious” dividers and
it is vital that I understand these words
if I am to be able to explore my inner beliefs.

—insidious: operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect

—Racism: The belief that some races are inherently superior (physically, intellectually, or culturally) to others and therefore have a right to dominate them.

—Elitism: pride in or awareness of being one of an elite group

“Elitism” began being used in the 1950s as the struggles between “whites” and “blacks” became more obvious and led into the 1960s with many confrontations to establish control of society (KKK and white supremacy groups against Martin Luther King Jr., President John F Kennedy/Lyndon Johnson, and many others)—I lived through this time and would have denied being racist although I was a supporter of George Wallace and, as a high school student, listened to his speeches that encouraged pride in my race and my need to protect myself from the dark enemy of integration and all efforts to take away what was “mine.”

I changed my mind completely when the murders of three civil rights workers were revealed on my birthday in 1964
BUT my understanding was limited since I did not have to deal with being denied
• the right to vote or
• the right to live where I wanted to or
• the right to not be lynched or
• the right to travel or even walk down the street without fear of harm,
so it was fairly easy to be oblivious to it happening to others and it seems today to still be easy for whites to ignore and even justify those subtle markers, those mindsets that demean non-whites, and the going forward in our easy non-threatened lives “oblivious” to racist “seeds” within our subconscious.

I have to stand up and say:
racism and elitism are both alive and well today and we need to stop denying it.
I pray that GOD will
• open the eyes of our hearts to our own culpability,
that GOD will
• keep our hearts compassionate to the struggles of our neighbors,
and that GOD will
• draw us to respond within the filter of the “golden rule”

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12

My heart cries out for GOD to open our eyes to ourselves . . .
not in judgment, but in opening the door to healing of all our hearts.

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Growing Among the Stones . . .

this seems to be at the heart of many social media posts and I think we need to really talk about it . . .

THROWING STONES AT PEOPLE is effective at keeping our attention off of important issues and out of the discussions of those issues = a great distraction technique.

• Pointing out flaws in others,
• creating stories woven into conspiracy theories, and
• stirring up negative emotions

keeps us from talking about:

ISSUES . . . here are a couple of issues that have been seriously impacted by dismantling our infrastructure:

• the AIR we breathe
& the WATER we drink
rolling back protections requiring corporations to decrease their pollution of our air and water increases the profits of corporations and shareholders AND increases our health problems and, in the long-term, impacts our survival

• education
the undermining of our public education system means increased profits for private schools and severely cripples available education for those unable to afford tuition taking us closer to a time in our early history when it was illegal to teach those considered “lower” class.

We need to resist this all too human tendency to point out flaws in others (and we all have flaws) and focus on issues that can impact our survival as well as the survival of our world.

Most of us did not live through the “Dust Bowl” time (1930s), but we could learn some lessons from it. There were a variety of causes: overgrazing, overplowing, severe drought, high heat and winds, grasshoppers and jackrabbits—some were from ignorance of good farming techniques, some were motivated by greed and some areas are still suffering from the impact of that time period.

Important lessons from the Dust Bowl: we need to protect our natural resources, recognize that greed-driven profits can result in destruction of ourselves (thousands of people died). We need to closely examine our use and care of our world not allowing greed/profits to be the determining factor in our choices, not allowing selfishness to blind us to all the “costs” of our choices.

Let’s stop throwing stones at people and start looking at issues and accept responsibility for our choices and their impacts and maybe take a closer look at our own motives!

not on the destruction of those with whom we disagree!

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It’s A Conspiracy . . . theoretically speaking!

THIS IS JUST A BEGINNING OF MY THOUGHTS … I am currently working on this one and will add to it as I work through my “investigative process” or delete it in despair if I cannot share any “reasonable” insights because I do not come to any conclusions I consider to be reasonable “conspiracy theory theories” in answer to my concerns.

An amazing number of conspiracy theories have been the subject of SO many social media posts (many from a couple of my family members) that I decided I needed to pursue this subject matter a little further and try to understand why they are putting these theories forth
• as facts and as ideas they believe and strongly support
• with threats of impending horrific doom if not recognized
• from YouTube videos, some of them pretty “slick,” from people claiming expertise but in a group I would label “questionable”
• with NO room for disagreement, contrary facts, or even questions about their “logic”

In an attempt to find out the thinking behind some of these posts, I have asked questions about the presenter in the video, done some internet searches and offered some “interesting” reports of the video being “false,” and–for my efforts, I have been called some very unkind and often coarsely-worded names which I cannot repeat SO I really do want to gain some insight into what is driving this serious uptick in conspiracy theories and why these people seem so ready to believe it and so dedicated to it immediately and trash me or label me crazy or part of the conspiracy when I do not agree with them! I want to know just what is going on???

A little personal background: I was a high school junior when JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and I heard the announcement over the loud speaker system at school telling us he had been shot. Me and all of my classmates were stunned to say the least and that moment is frozen in a frame in my mind. Over the following years, there were many questions about the Warren Commission and whether their report was accurate. Many conspiracy theories came out especially after Jack Ruby shot Oswald, the accused JFK assassin, right on our TV screens with police standing all around during his transfer. To this day, there are many conspiracy theories still making the rounds on this one and some are very interesting. It seems that, when a major trauma occurs, we have trouble accepting a quick, simple explanation and look around for answers that make more sense to us. When the subsequent assassinations of RFK and Martin Luther King, Jr., came along shortly after this one, it only seemed to increase the belief that one of the conspiracy theories was more likely the right answer.

However, in our current time, we have not had a major trauma–unless you count the 2016 election of President of the United States of America #45. So, why the tremendous increase in conspiracy theories that forecast doom and gloom and some “special” prescient knowledge by those sharing them? In the JFK conspiracy theories, it was usually about who did it and some had a warning about the perpetrator and maybe some future action by whoever that was, but nothing compared to the fear level generated and evidently intended and demanded by those sharing current conspiracy theories. What causes the difference today?

Is this, as suggested by some who are reviewing the current conspiracy theories, a politically-motivated movement to distract from the ineptitude of the current President or to keep anyone from looking too deeply into this administration’s activities or to draw attention away from the foreign intervention in our upcoming election that has been warned of since before 2016? Sometimes I think the only way to explain the amazing number of conspiracy theories today is by claiming to have a conspiracy theory . . . you know, a really huge master conspiracy theory to use conspiracy theories to cover up a conspiracy theory! Sounds like it might work pretty well since most of us “sheep” follow a pied piper fairly easily if he plays the right tune.




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This quote from the play Hamlet, “To be, or not to be? That is the question—”
this led me to a different question that seems very important to me especially in this time when there is so much chaos, so much confusion . . .
“what should I be?”

BE . . . you should be like . . .
I heard that one a lot growing up and it never encouraged me to want to be like whoever was being pointed out as a role model — it just made me feel like the me I knew must not be very good and the person pointing it out must not think very much of me and, if that’s true, why even try?
How could I ever BE anyone other than me?

Now the question is back on my mind? “What should I be?”
—There are many around who demand that I be like them and even tell me that if I am not like them, I am a bad person or a stupid person.
—There are some others who do not seem to care what I am, but I do not feel comfortable with some of the ideas they express.

SO, back to the question: “What should I be?”

My Judeo-Christian roots also provide more than one answer to that question.
Early childhood spent in a legalistic “my-way-is-the-right-way-the-only-way” church gave me a pretty critical, judgmental attitude with touches of self-righteousness thrown in. I became a pretty good debater and was always ready with a “proof text” argument on almost any subject someone wanted to challenge me on—and, in my twenties, I knew it ALL . . . yet, my life was filled with mistakes, relationship failures, bad choices . . . go figure!

The God of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible seemed to support my attitudes of harsh judgement with NO mercy, condemnation of “sin” I saw, correcting anyone I believed was not doing something right (there was only ONE way, you know?) and, in general, forcing my way on everyone around me because it was the right way and it was my duty to set them straight!

BE . . . the Jesus movement
In 1980, I was planning to end my life after coming to the conclusion that my failures to that point made me not redeemable (I knew I shouldn’t have done the things I did, so it was willful sin and could not be forgiven). With no hope for a future, I thought there was only one “logical” resolution . . . this time period had brought me through the obvious failures of Christian theology that drew me to New Age seminars, occult practices, and many different belief systems as “answers” that left me seeing the deficiencies of them all and left me with no hope for the future — so why have a future?

BUT, GOD . . . a well-timed call, a heartfelt petition from mom, and so I, with no will left to fight, made the move from North Carolina to Arkansas and did not care in the least what anyone thought I should “be.”

A short while after arriving in Arkansas, I met some people who did not tell me what I should “be” but, instead, seemed to just accept me as I was—even with my many obvious flaws. So began the work of GOD to bring me to many new understandings of what it meant to “be.”

That was only the beginning of a journey to healing and to realizing that I did not understand the question . . . what should I be?

I came to understand that I did not even know what it meant “to be” so how could I find the answer to a question I did not even understand!

Clearly, I needed to start back at the beginning—what was the question I should be asking?


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SEEDS . . . planting in the hard times

Back in the “old days,” many folks grew their own food.
Small backyard gardens, small family farms on a couple of acres . . .
neighbors shared when the crops were good and during the times of the
season when there was an overabundance, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers
were handed out by the bagful – canning vegetables was a common skill many
homemakers were familiar with and pantries of jars of those delicious vegetables
were a delightful sight in the middle of winter.

Many of my relatives were farmers who raised their own food, both vegetable and
animal and my family often took vacations to visit their farms and memories of
BIG breakfasts made up of what they raised are extremely tasty memories!

Those farmers knew about the value of the seeds they placed in the ground at the
right time to get the best yield — they knew about the importance of the quality of
the ground and the quality of the seed and the proper care and tending to be able to
reap the crops they needed to feed their families and neighbors.

As I think about those days that seem so long ago . . .
I am struck by the need I have today to understand the importance of the quality
of the ground, the preparation of the soil, the nutrients I put in to myself if I want to
reap the crop I am looking for to nourish my family and share with my neighbors.

–the ground, for me, is my heart, my soul, and my mind
all that makes up my inner being, the essence of who I am, me
(during the hard times, it is vital that I know the condition of my soil)

–preparation of the soil
how each Life event prepares me for the next step on my path,
sometimes tilling, sometimes digging up major pieces of my “soil”
(during the hard times, I need to review what has “prepared” me
to this point, what is my foundation, do I know what I believe and why I believe it)

–the nutrients
what I consume through listening, through watching, through reading and
how all that “intake” affects my thinking, my behavior, my motivations
(during the hard times, I need to closely monitor what I am listening to and
watching and reading. There is so much negative, fear-filled, rude talk all
around – am I filling myself with that “stuff” that will spill over into my
behavior and my words?)

–the crop
what grows on my path, what grows within me, the “unseen” force that
drives my behavior and “infects” all I come in contact with in line with the
old-time adage: you reap what you sow
(during the hard times, I need to carfully and as honestly as possible
review what my “crop” looks and sounds like. Am I using language I would
never have used before, am I speaking rudely, am I being insulting to
anyone who does not agree with me, am I destroying relationships?)

Perhaps, I need to be a little more careful about the SEEDS I take within
my heart, my soul, and my mind . . . if the “crop” produced indicates the
SEEDS planted (apple trees don’t come from watermelon seeds),
a review of what has come from my SEEDS will show me where I need to
start choosing different SEEDS by choosing what crops I want to see in
my life . . . 

SEEDS are vital to continuing life—
what seeds am I taking into myself . . .
what seeds am I spreading . . .
what crop am I expecting to get . . .
what crop am I getting . . .

SEEDS have a cycle of life—
germination—>growth—>reproduction—>pollination—>spreading seeds

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Diversity . . . how do I feel about our mixed world?

Today there is SO much DIVERSITY –
every way I turn,
I am confronted through daily interactions with people
highlighting “differences” in cultures, philosophies,
politics, religion, language, food . . . everything!

I started wondering how the early followers of “the way”
were able to be described as “of one heart and soul” and
what that really meant. From my Judeo-Christian background that
seemed like an important place to start looking at how “believers”
should react to diversity.

So I looked at the Hebrew meaning of the words “heart” and “soul” and
the circumstances of this group which began on the day of Pentecost and,
fortunately, the writer of Acts describes as diverse, “from every nation.”
(Acts 2:1, 5, 46 — Acts 4:32)

lev (heart) and nefesh (soul):
The three special functions, knowing, feeling, and willing,
ascribed by modern psychologists to the mind,
were attributed to the heart by the Biblical writers—
All modes of feeling, from the lowest physical forms, as hunger and thirst,
to the highest spiritual forms, as reverence and remorse,
are attributed by the Hebrews to the heart.

As the whole physical and psychical life is centralized in the heart,
so the whole moral life springs from and issues out of it. (JewishEncyclopedia.com)

To love God with all our heart and all our soul, means to love with the entirety of our being . . .
SO maybe that is where I have to begin to understand
how the early followers of “the way” were of one heart and soul
while being such a diverse community . . . a common focus – GOD!

DIVERSITY . . . my reactions to our differences should call me
to look into my heart for the insights that tell me why I react the way I do—
why my automatic response to a person of color or to a head scarf on a woman
or to a motorcycle rider or a teen wearing low-riding jeans or a screaming child
is what it is . . . why? NOT why are they the way they are, BUT why do I
feel the way I do when i see them?

It may take a deeper, personal look inside of me to be able to understand
the answers to these questions about my world today . . . slower steps before I decide

Jeanne Hicks Barnett
March 8, 2016—March 8, 2020

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It leaves me wondering . . . a heart prayer








and so my heart cries . . . HOW LONG, GOD . . . HOW LONG???­
We have no HOPE but YOU, GOD, 
to bring an end to the abuses of person against person, 
to the elevation of self above all, 
to the rise of darkness and blindness in our hearts . . .
send your Light into our hearts, 
renew your Spirit in our souls, 
reveal yourself in our lives . . .
PLEASE, GOD . . . PLEASE, save us from ourselves!

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FASTING – the fast GOD wants . . .

Isaiah 58 talks about “fasting.”
Some people talk about fasting for health reasons,
some for spiritual reasons,
some for personal cleansing
(physical and psychologically),
so it is a subject that interests many.

While reading Isaiah 58, I noted some interesting points
(just my opinions about some of the statements made)
in this Old Testament chapter from a book that was written to identify the
ingratitiude, incorrigibleness, universal corruption and degeneracy of the people
according to GOD.

BUT GOD . . . criticizes the people
verse 2: “Oh yes, they seek me day after day and
[claim to] delight in knowing my ways.
As if they were an upright nation
that had not abandoned the rulings of their God . . .”

BUT GOD . . . gets more specific
some might read the first few verses of Isaiah 58 and
pull out the Ten Commandments as a checklist of
which “rulings of God” they had abandoned

BUT GOD . . . has a different list
it is NOT the Law (the Ten Commandments) that GOD says
are at the root of the criticisms but their treatment of fellow human beings
and makes it clear beginning with the statement:
“Here is the sort of fast I want”

GOD SAID . . . I do not have to guess
here is what I should be doing—
these are the things GOD wants me to do—
NOT “judging” myself or others by that list
of Ten Commandments,
but asking myself how am I treating others,
do my actions show a heart of compassion
like GOD’s shown in GOD’s description:
Adonai passed before him and proclaimed:
“YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai]
is God, merciful and compassionate,
slow to anger, rich in grace and truth
Exodus 34:6
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

GOD SAID . . . be holy
but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves
also in all your behavior;
because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16
(Leviticus 20:26, 20:7, 19:2, 11:44, 11:45)

SO . . . what should my fast look like
how should I live every day—
self-righteous because I have not done any of
the things on the list of Ten Commandments OR
showing compassion to others, being compassionate
I think I need to start a new fast today!

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Beat down . . . a Life Perspective

Oh, that poor holly bush . . .
bent down to the ground
by its ice-covered branches,
unable to stand up straight and
it doesn’t look like it can survive—
it looks hopeless.
BUT . . .

How often have I felt beat down by life,
by something that happened TO me that
I had nothing to do with, or very little to
do with that I could see . . .

How often have I thought I would not be able
to make it through this time,
that this was the time the weight of what was happening
would finally crush me . . .

How often have I cried out in the depths of despair,
in the midst of unbearable agony,
choking on tears and unintelligible sounds
that overwhelmed my very being . . .

When I think about it, there have been a number of
really dark periods that felt bigger than me
and even one when I planned to end it all as the
only answer I could see at the time . . .
however—here I am!

So this “real-life parable” about a bush in the front of my house
that appeared to be a victim of an ice storm speaks to me and
seems to draw me to remember — not the pain, but the deliverance
and my repeated recovery of some semblance of myself.

GOD, that Higher Power I believe in, has somehow brought me
through many times when I knew I could not make it,
I could not take another step, I could not take another breath,
and yet . . . I did. Not always a steady step and certainly not always
a strong breathing in of continued existence, BUT I look back and see
that there was some force that “carried” me when all I wanted to do
was wallow in self pity and admit defeat—and that is what brings me
back to that “spark of Hope,”
that “point of Light,”
that “will to Live” again and again.

Like that bush that appeared to be beyond hope,
I cling to the history I have that, even when I do not understand how,
the warmth of GOD’s Love will melt the ice surrounding my heart,
that hardness that blocks light and shuts out those wanting to help me
and somehow restores HOPE, the LIFEblood of existence.

My history of failures, my history of being a “victim” (real or imagined),
my history of falling down,
my history of feeling shame and guilt and rejection . . .
my history reminds me that my survival,
my reaching toward tomorrow,
is all about GOD, the inner spirit within me,
the unseen force that never leaves me nor forsakes me
even when I walk into a dark pit and feel wrapped in despair,
as I remember . . . the icicles start to melt,
a little light starts to appear,
and my heart is renewed in its hope for this moment.

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PIZZA . . . hidden messages . . .

  Pizza has always been a major part of my life from childhood to senior citizen,
but I had never thought about the “hidden messages” in that delicious food that I consumed innocently just because it tasted good.

earliest memories of my childhood are of our weekly tradition of making homemade pizza and watching old black and white scary movies as a family on a weekend evening.

Mom would make a pizza crust and she and dad would fry up sausage, chop up green peppers and onions, shred mozzarella cheese (and dad always added a little cheddar cheese), and make the sauce.
After setting all the individual items on a counter, each of us would surround the crust with its sauce and be given an item to put on the pizza in the order given by mom.

While the pizza was cooked to its amazing perfection from our group efforts,
we washed our hands and went into the living room to choose a movie to watch,
which usually gave the pizza plenty of time to finish cooking.
After getting our pizza, we sat with mom on the couch while dad controlled the VCR from his chair.

The beginning one-third to one-half of the movie gave us plenty of time to eat our pizza
before the “scary” part drove us to climb up the back of the couch to escape the “threat” on the screen!
(It did actually happen when we watched “The Killer Shrews”—we have laughed about it over the years.)

That pizza-making tradition was something mom and dad continued for the rest of their lives. They never ate a store-bought pizza without “fixing” it with their special additions.
When, in 1980, they moved to Searcy, Arkansas, and we began having an annual
Hicks family Holiday gathering sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day,
there was always one day that was “pizza day” and mom made her homemade crusts
and dad helped her chop ingredients, fry sausage, and put the pizzas together and
then we would all gather in the living room, usually watch a bowl game and eat our pizza.
Every year it was a reminder of childhood in our family and somehow was our “comfort food” without our even thinking about it.

CHANGES: after 2009, our family holiday gatherings changed. Like most families, we had family struggling with personal issues and the resulting “explosion” served to make future gatherings never the same again and, after 2009, we never had the entire family together again for that special Hicks family Holiday gathering and mom and dad’s pizza.

With the recent passing of mom and dad, I have been confronted with many memories
and mom’s homemade pizza is a major one. I had never realized or stopped to think about it before, but mom used making that pizza to send several very important messages to our young hearts:
1) working together as a family, we made something we could all enjoy
2) each of us was an important part of the process and each of us felt we had contributed to the final outcome
3) our parents prepped the ingredients so that we could “help” without knife skills at our young ages
so we never even thought about the idea that we couldn’t do something to help
4) we had fun making the pizza and never thought about it as a chore – we looked forward to it every week
and could count on it happening
5) we “celebrated” our accomplishment as we talked about how great it tasted while we watched the movie

Hidden messages . . . in that special pizza . . . in mom’s pizza process
Hidden messages . . . planting wisdom for life in unsuspecting hearts
Hidden messages . . . YES! messages hidden in our hearts to be discovered later—
the ultimate comfort food!

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