Implicit Bias in Sacred Stories, a guest post from Rev. Terri Stewart of Beguine Again and “The BeZine”

“The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.  Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness.  Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.” The Ohio State University, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Enthnicity.



A Few Key Characteristics of Implicit Biases from the Kirwan Institute:

  • Implicit biases are pervasive.  Everyone possesses them, even people with avowed commitments to impartiality such as judges.

  • Implicit and explicit biases are related but distinct mental constructs.  They are not mutually exclusive and may even reinforce each other.

  • The implicit associations we hold do not necessarily align with our declared beliefs or even reflect stances we would explicitly endorse.

  • We generally tend to hold implicit biases that favor our own ingroup, though research has shown that we can still hold implicit biases against our ingroup.

  • Implicit biases are malleable.  Our brains are incredibly complex, and the implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques.

  • Further details HERE.

Given the events of last week in which implicit bias is seen all over the news (we have seen the news of the eleven Jews gunned down in Pittsburgh and held vigils, but have we seen the news of the two black folks gunned down in Kentucky by a white nationalist? And the reticence to label it as a hate crime, although the police are now investigating it as such-after public pressure.  And the dude had tried to enter a traditional black church to gun down folks before he settled on the grocery store.

And implicit bias affects how these killers were taken in. They are both alive and untouched. And yet we hear the call all the time with regard to people of color who are shot and killed–we must keep the community safe–we had no choice but to kill this man in his own backyard (Stephan Clark) or we had no choice but to kill this cooperating man in his own car (Philando Castile). Surely, if they couldn’t be “taken alive,” then two mass murders … well, you know. They were white. Implicit bias affects how we treat and approach folks. If there is bias in favor of whiteness, they there is a chance of having a kinder, gentler approach taken that allows life to continue on. Anyway, my rant of the day.

Onward to my daily practice that instigated it all!

Altar’s smoke rises
Blurring earth and the cosmos
Connecting us all

[end]

Judges 13
This is the beginning of the story of Sampson of the tale of the super strong guy who lost his strength when his wife cut all his hair off.

I was so excited by his birth story that I didn’t read through to the entire allegory. Because, #biblegeek. Come on!

Anyway, I forgot the bit about his parents not having children and that they entertained a stranger who told them they would have a child anyway. Hmm…who does this sound like? Sarah and Abraham? And later, Elizabeth and Zechariah? Miraculous birth stories abound!

What I had remembered was that Sampson was pledged to be a Nazarite from birth. In Numbers 6, the rules for being a Nazarite for “men and women” is revealed. I even looked in the KJV version…the inclusion of women was not a modern-day inclusion. It was there from the beginning. The basic rules for Nazarites was no cutting of hair, no drinking of alcoholic beverages, no going near dead people, dedicated to God.

What I liked most about this story was the birth story and the messenger of God that came to Manoah and his wife (another unnamed woman in the Bible). The messenger goes to Mrs. Manoah first. Then manoah who doesn’t get it and needs clarification and asks for the messenger to come talk to him directly.

Manoah asks the “messenger” to stay so they can have a goat together and the “messenger” says, “No, make a burnt offering to the LORD.” So they do that and when the flames and smoke rises, the “messenger” rises up into the heavens along with the smoke (hence today’s drawing).

Then Manoah declares, “We’ve seen God.” The messenger wasn’t a messenger, it was God.

The leadership challenge may be one of implicit bias. Do we let implicit bias drive our “double checking” of voices (like Mrs. Manoah’s voice) or do we believe them?

Peace,

Rev. Terri Stewart


Editorial Notes:

  • Terri Stewart (a.k.a. Clocked Monk) is a pastor in the United Methodist Church at the Church Council of Greater Seattle’s Youth Chaplaincy Coalition. She is the founder of Beguine Again, focusing on spiritual practice and ideals. Terri is a member of the Zine’s core team. Beguine Again is the sister site to The BeZine
  • The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity announces the nation’s first free and publicly available online implicit bias module series tailored specifically toward K-12 Educators. Details HERE.

 

ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and the associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The River Journal, The Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman

 

SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMUNITY NEWS: Terri Stewart, Unite with Might; Michael Rothenberg, Organizing Around Peace, Justice and Sustainability; Grannies Caravan to the Mexican Boarder

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.” Bryan Stevenson



The world is rife with injustices that call for our attention and there are many social justice initiatives that bring people together to raise awareness, right wrongs, and offer sucor to the torn and weary.

PROMOTING SOCIAL JUSTICE

While the daily news feeds our sadness, fears and hopelessness, you and I are a reason for joy. If you are reading this, it is likely that you are one of the millions of old souls whose natural instinct is for justice and respect.

There is joy in the fact that so many of us live in a time and place were we can put out a call for solidarity, a call to move on to right and just action. Therein lies our hope and grace and our ability to keep on keeping on.

What an extraordinary thing it is that we have the means, the inner sight, the backbone, and passion for this good work. My hope and strength comes from the poets, writers, artists, clerics,  and readers of every type and from every corner of the world who come together virtually for each edition of the The BeZine, for the yearly 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, Global, for those who will join in Rev. Terri Stewart’s (Beguine Again and The BeZine) Unite with Might initiative, for the Abuelas (Grandmothers) caravaning to the Mexican Border to support the families crossing into the U.S., and for the many peace and social justice efforts that go on all over the world, even in the darkest places where preaching justice to power invites imprisonment, torture and death.

– Jamie Dedes

UNITE WITH MIGHT

Rev. Terri Stewart, Associate Pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church

“We are uniting together to stand against hate and to promote hope, love, and inclusion for all of our neighbors.

“Sometimes it seems that there is so much hatred in the world that it is impossible to know what to do next.  But changing hate to hope, loneliness to love, paranoia to peace, isolation to inclusion, starts with us.  The beloved community.  We are mighty when united for causes that uplift the values of hope, love, and inclusion.  Hence the name, Unite with Might.

“On August 11 and 12, Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, leaders of the alt-right movement (Unite the Right) that marched in Charlottesville, VA, are having a rally in Washington, D.C. and hope to also rally again in Charlottesville, VA, where a young woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by alt-right marchers.”

Washington, D.C., National Parks Service has approved the alt-right’s permit to gather.

In my faith tradition, the table is where everyone is welcome, included, and finds connection to the ineffable mystery beyond our understanding.  And so we propose gathering around food.  This is a different kind of gathering.  A gathering in each of our communities and each of our homes that opens our doors and hearts to everyone.

  • Churches, Synagogues, Masjids, and other Religious & Cultural Communities!! Hold picnics and BBQ’s!  Read prayers of inclusion!
  • Cities, towns, and counties! Make statements of inclusion for all citizens!
  • Schools!  Ensure that your students know that hate speech is unwelcome and teach them the hard parts of history!
  • Families!  Discuss the history of white supremacy with your children!
  • Bloggers!  Splash the world with a voice that proclaims that this is a new day!

Make a public stand that the alt-right will not win the day.  Love always wins.

Please sign on and let us know if you will be holding an event or making a public statement or declaration where the values of hope, love, and inclusion will be uplifted.  We must let the world know that hate will not win!  And that our numbers are much stronger than the puny amount they expect to rally.  We are strong together!  Mighty!  #UniteWithMight !

Let us know your event or statement so we can see the results of our unity in its beautiful diversity by signing up at this link.

Our website is: www.UniteWithMight.com

Sincerely,
Rev. Terri Jane Stewart

 

Note: We are hosting a virtual Unite with Might event at The BeZine on August 11 and 12. You’ll be able to post thoughts, activies, videos, art, poetry – whatever can go into a comment. This will enable your support and participation even if there is no event accessible near you. It will also allow you to share what you are doing with others in Unite with Might. / J.D.

ORGANIZING AROUND PEACE, JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABILITY

I took this photo at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, CA. Michael is the gentleman in the hat and Terri is the lovely woman with the camera. Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion are cofounders of 100tpc. If you came up in the ’60s and especially if you are a Beat fan, you’ll recognize others in the photograph.

“100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around something other than our literary careers, something more than our recent publications. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around peace, justice and sustainability, and we have set our priorities. Immigration, gender inequality, global warming, police brutality, censorship, homelessness, war are among those priorities. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we know it is essential to build a global community that will work together to make a better world, a global community which will exchange information to make us smarter and more informed about the needs that exist beyond our own bubble, and to learn new strategies from our friends around the world, to make us better organizers who can build that better world. We write, we demonstrate, we rally, we create, we raise funds for homeless and assist food banks, we are engaged… [because so many] are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to make good things happen. Will you join us? If so, connect with us on our Facebook Page and register at 100tcp.org.” Michael Rothenberg

Note: Don’t forget that on September 29, Saturday, we’ll host a virtual 100tpc at The BeZine. American Israeli poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play and The BeZine) will officiate. / J.D.

In 2011, Michael Rothenberg and his partner Terri Carrion co-founded 100 Thousand Poets for Change [100tpc], a global poetry and arts movement with an emphasis on peace, justice, sustainability and education.

100tpc assists poets and artists around the world in organizing and planning events in their local communities, which promote social, environmental, and political change. Over 500 events take place in 100 countries each year. Events include poetry readings, music and dance concerts, art exhibits, art and activism workshops and street demonstrations.

100 Thousand Poets for Change is an annual event but 100 Thousand Poets for Change activities take place year round.

ABUELAS RESPONDEN / GRANNIES RESPOND

The abuelas are asking what you are willing to sacrifice now that the most vulnerable are threatened by violence, separation, and hate.  They are calling on women and men to come out and caravan with them to the Mexican Border to protest the abuses there. Details HERE.

If you are viewing this post from an email subscription you’ll likely have to link through to the site to see this video.


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writing.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.

THE GOOD WORKS of poets and their allies …


When I started The Bardo Group, now The Bardo Group Beguines (publishers of The BeZine), back in February 2011, I had in mind the human union in sacred space (common ground) as it  is expressed through the arts and the sharing of work that is representative of universal human values however differently they might bloom in our varied religions and cultures. I feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” They also offer a means to get some other good things done.

I have written about:

  • English poet and musician, John Anstie and the Grass Roots Poetry Group, that was founded through Twitter friendships and that published a collection to raise funds for UNICEF;
  • Dorothy Yamamoto, a poet and editor who brought a group of A-list English poets together to create a collecton, Hands & Wings, to raise funds for the rehabilitation and support of torture victims seeking protection in the U.K.; and,
  • Silva Merjanian who – along with her publisher – has donated procedes from the sale of her collection Rumor to fund assistance for Armenians escaping violence in Syria. The last time I spoke with her $5,000 was raised.

You can read about these three efforts HERE.


Today I’d like to bring three more initiatives to your attention:

  • Evelyn Augusto’s “Guns Don’t Save Live, Poets Do,Dueling with Words to Stop Gun Violence;”
  • Jazz singer Candice Hawley’s “Let’s Talk About it,” a free and open discussion of Anxiety and Depression; and,
  • Rev. Terri Stewart’s Peacemaking Circles for Seattle’s incarcerated youth. Terri is the founder of The BeZine’s sister site, Beguine Again, and a member of the zine’s core team.

“537 children under the age of eleven have been killed or injured by gun violence in the United States this year alone, according to Gun Violence.org.” Evelyn Augusto

Evelyn asked me to share information on her project  (I’ve included some info in a few Sunday Announcement posts). 

  • She is available to come and speak at high schools and to youth groups;
  •  She’s encouraging more people to write and post poems on gun violence;
  • She will be presenting at Rise and Resist for Sensible Gun Safety on November 2 in Oneonta, New York;
  • She has a collection of poems coming out shortly;
  • Her Facebook page – Dueling with Words to Stop Gun Violence –  is HERE.
  • To arrange a speaking engagement connect with Evelyn at poetsoul@gmail.com

Your Gun Is Talking

Excuse me, I can’t hear you–
your gun is speaking
louder than you do

and yes, you scare me,
it isn’t how it ought to be–
we are more like each
other than you can see

I can’t hear you
I can’t hear you
your gun is speaking louder
than you do

and yes, it saddens me
because all I see–
is a woman who doesn’t know
who she could be

I can’t hear you
I can’t hear you
your gun is
speaking louder
speaking louder.

There’s no more you.

© Written by Evelyn Augusto for Guns Don’t Save People, Poets Do. October 21, 2017


courtesy of openclipart.org

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT: Special for our Silicon Valley/South Bay friends, a workshop hosted by Jazz Singer Candice Hawley as part of her church’s Good Works Project: Let’s Talk About It is a free and open discussion of Anxiety and Depression, Chemical Imbalances and overall Mental Health. Candice says, “you’ll hear stories of lived experience, see a presentation by Tanya Pekker, MFT, on anxiety and depression, engage in a Q&A with all participants and more . . .”  Saturday, October 28, 10 am – Noon, Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula, Moldaw-Zaffaroni Clubhouse, 2031 Pulgas Avenue, East Palo Alto, CA. Register HERE.


courtesy of Terri Stewart

Note: Among other things, Terri Stewart and colleagues are holding peacemaking circles with youth who have been picked up on possession of firearms.  Recently the success of these circles was acknowledged by the Seattle Times HERE.

The July issue of The BeZine covered prison culture and restorative justice. Learn about peacemaking circles in this excerpt from July’s The BeZine. 

JUSTICE IN NEW-OLD WAY

by

Terri Stewart

Rev. Terri Stewart, Associate Pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church

Today, we sat in the King County Youth Service Center lobby that had been turned into a courtroom for the sentencing of one of the youth we have been working with. I am a member of the King County Peacemaking Coordinating Team (PCT). We apply the principles of Peacemaking Circles, an ancient process taught to us by the Tagish and Tlingit First Nation people to modern court cases. A new-old way.

Today, we heard from the judge, the prosecution, the defense, the PCT…and then the respondent (person who did harm) spoke. And then the victim’s mother spoke.

We were all blubbering and sniffling by the end of it. But not because it was hurtful. The tears were because of the witness of transformation and hope. To see a genuinely healed person extend their hand to honor the victim. To see the victim’s family stand up and say, “Do more of this.”

There are some flaws to work out but that is because we are human. And this process is all about becoming more completely human.

In this particular case, the respondent had committed felony harassment. This charge on a juvenile record could irrevocably alter his future. It would limit his housing, loans, educational opportunities and more. I don’t know if we really understand what we do to juveniles when we hang felonies around their neck during a time in their life when their brain is not fully formed. But I digress.

I remember the mother of the victim looking at the respondent and saying (paraphrase), “It is so good to see you this way. Before, all I had as an image of you was the threat on social media where you had a gun and were threatening my boy’s life. You were scary. Now you are human.”

During the Peacemaking Circle process that took about 8 months, we discovered how similar the respondent and victim were. They were both from homes going through divorce. They both loved photography. They were both kids being sunk by the social systems around them. One responded by acting out. The other by withdrawing. In this case, working towards healing the family systems healed the crime. It helped everyone remember that they were human. And that we are all human.

I share below with you the recommendation from the PCT and the joy in a complete dismissal of charges against the respondent. (I’ve removed the names of the young people involved).

Can I get an Amen?!

Summary and Final Recommendations for Referral #4

July 7, 2017

Good afternoon, my name is Safia Ahmed and I am a member of the King County Peacemaking Coordinating Team. I have the honor of speaking on behalf of the team to share the work that has been done in this case and our recommendations for sentencing.

To begin, the Peacemaking Coordinating Team would like to honor and thank the victim and his family who gave their courageous support for this case to be referred. Their support and willingness to participate was instrumental in this restorative process to promote healing and partnership between King County, community based organizations, faith based communities, and the youth, families and communities of King County.

We received a referral for the respondent’s case on October 11, 2016 from Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jimmy Hung. A home visit was conducted with the respondent and his family to determine the suitability of this referral for the Peacemaking Circle process. In addition, a home visit was also conducted with the victim and the victim’s family to share an overview of the Peacemaking Circle process, answer any questions and gain an understanding of what level of participation in the Peacemaking Circle process they may want to have.

After completing both home visits, the Peacemaking Coordinating Team accepted the case. The following summarizes the work done since accepting the case in December 2016 until July 1, 2017.

Five Healing Circles with the respondent, the respondent’s family and community members who wanted to show support. Each circle was on average 3 to 4 hours long. These circles were to promote healing, peace and reconciliation and as preparation to meet with the victim and the victim’s family since they indicated their openness to actively participating in the Peacemaking Circle process.
The respondent and his parents participated in an all-day community circle with King County Executive Dow Constantine and other King County leaders on March 11, 2017.
The respondent’s mother attended a 3-Day Introductory Peacemaking Circle Training from April 26-28, 2017
One Pre-sentencing Circle and One Sentencing Circle that included the presence of the victim’s mother along with criminal justice stakeholders; friends and family from both parties.
Approximately 8 hours of check-ins via phone and text with the victim’s mother and her family, keeping them apprised of the respondent’s progress with the Peacemaking Circle process.
Ongoing check-ins with the Criminal Justice stakeholders involved in the respondent’s case, keeping them apprised of the respondent’s progress.
One home visit and approximately 20-25 hours of check-ins via phone and text with the respondent over the course of 7 months.
The following outline was agreed upon in the Sentencing Circle as a conclusion to this case:

Reimbursement to the victim’s family for 8 of the 12 counseling sessions the victim partook in for self-care and healing work. Each session cost $120 for a total of $960
2 sessions paid by the respondent
3 sessions paid by the respondent’s family
3 sessions paid from funds provided by the community and the Peacemaking Coordinating Team
The respondent’s father kindly agreed to show support to the victim and the victim’s mother by offering to pay for a trip as an opportunity to spend time with each other to rebuild their relationship along with having a positive experience coming from the respondent and his family.
In addition the Peacemaking Coordinating Team also recommends the following:

6 months of volunteer work with the Peacemaking Coordinating Team as a way to give back and pay it forward that includes:
Attending the Peacemaking Coordinating Team meetings once a month
Participate and help lead a monthly Young Men’s Circle in support of other young people who are going through similar situations.
The respondent, with the support of his brothers and parents, has agreed to these recommendations as a way to heal the harm he has caused to the victim, the victim’s family and to the community at large.

The Peacemaking Coordinating Team would like to conclude our review and recommendations to this case by again expressing our heartfelt gratitude to the victim and the victim’s family who graciously permitted the respondent and his family to participate in the Peacemaking Circle process even while contending with the harm inflicted by the respondent’s actions. It is our belief that their generosity and commitment to restorative practices have given space for the healing process to begin for both families. We would also like to express our appreciation to the court, our criminal justice partners and the community for the continued support of our work.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri Stewart

Currently Terri is raising money for the King County Peacemaking Teams.  As I write this $1,555 of $2,000 has been raised. Details and to donate link HERE.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

WAGING THE PEACE, a quick update …

13626573_529074297282475_2494432385093980550_nWaging the Peace, driving productive conversation and connection: Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of 100,000 Poets for Change,  just sent us the link to The BeZine’s page on the official 100TPC site. Our thanks to Michael, for doing this and for all that he and Co-Founder Terri Carrion are doing. They both rock big time!

People if you want to organize a gathering it’s not too late to register at 100TPC. You can do something as simple as having a small intimate group around you kitchen table, share your poetry, art and music and plan for a larger more visible event next year. As Michael Dickel says, “May peace prevail.”

Don’t forget Terri Stewart’s gathering, 100,000 Peacemakers for Change, at her church in the Seattle area. Notable: I think thanks to Terri this may be the first church to officially take up the banner. Hooray!

In the spirit of peace, love and community and
on behalf of The Bardo Group Bequines,
Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor, The BeZine