My old joke, used to be, “I’m white, male, straight. Means I have no rhythm and poor fashion sense.” A neighbor was perusing my immediate bookshelf, looking at what was at a hand when I write, mostly astrological references with a smattering of Buddhist, Stoic, a pair of Shakespeare references, and Latin texts, as well as a well-thumbed King James Bible, with an extant scholastic bookstore price tag.

“See the King James version? By white people, for white people.”

Intended as humor, but implicit within the structure of my commentary? Thinly veiled racist message. Not intended, but implied, only, not on the surface, a little beneath.

Wasn’t my intention, not on any kind of a conscious level. Just the opposite. That one neighbor, I respect him. He was active duty in Bosnia and the Middle East. One of his cars has a license plate displayed, “Legion of Merit” medal. (“Free parking at the airport.”) Maybe one year I’ll relate his Xmas story out of Bosnia.

Out of deference and respect for him, as he does wander into my place from time to time, I moved my Penguin academic holographic copy of Koran to another shelf — he once raised an eyebrow at my copy, thinking I was — I don’t know.


Way I was raised? My background? While the teachings were to be liberal and “non-racist,” all men are equal, the background noise, there’s that implicit racism. Didn’t say it was right, just called it what it was. Think: Liberal WASP.

Another family commentary from me, “I’m out of Austin, so I’m color blind.” While I wish that was true, the old Austin I recall? It was about as white-washed as could be.

The implicit systemic racism doesn’t extend to just “people of color,” which implies “brown people.”

My buddy Dr. Woo, not his real name, is a retired — I don’t know — something with Health Science and old Austin. Med School? TG&R? Ivy League? I’m not sure. I watched, horrified, when one old redneck buddy referred to my friend as “You people.”

Dr. Woo himself is more amusing; he was born in Texas. His “people” are just like me, Texan. No black, brown, yellow, or white, just “Texan.” Dr. Woo does, occasionally, lapse into a faux-Jamaican sing-song, “I’m from the island, mon, Galveston.”

Which is not unlike my neighbor, not a color but just “Texan.”


However, in my own ignorance, I’ve obviously fed these issues. Not a valid defense, just an observation, moving, unaware that I was still propagating — not intentionally — but still propagating the old systemic racism.

For years, I’ve worked on, around, and with the sexist material. Once guilty, twice bitten, and now very shy? The sexist material starts from my own study and practice of astrology. Shows up in some of my work, even years ago. I suppose, on some level, I owe previous authors who made me aware of the nature of the material itself, and how that impacts what we do.


Implicit — or otherwise? From the beginning, I’ve tried to undo some of the frankly sexist material in the canon of work I employ. Moving forward, while I never actually committed to a fresh start, I did, along the way adjust the course, as need be, or as directed, trying to prevent a future that was just black and white.

Scrolling through the spurious news feeds, I noticed a revered celebrity, and I think his comment suited me best. “I’m an old white guy. I think I need to shut up and listen.”

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