Cracker as a racial term
This term came up for me today in an online discussion. A lot of people didn’t understand why I was upset by it and that I see it as a derogatory term and rightly so. Apparently a lot of people seem to think it’s just a term black people use for white people to explain our blandness – like a saltine cracker.
The problem is – I live in the epicenter of Florida Cracker culture. So for me, a cracker isn’t just a racial term. It specifically refers to a farmer/settler of the area and their descendants who exploited and who still exploit slave labor for financial gain. It’s impossible to separate out Cracker culture from slavery and the forced removal of the Indian population from the area so that white folk could “settle” the area.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that as a white person living in this area, I benefit from the Cracker settlement of the area. I also have zero problems with black people using the term to negatively describe racist white folk who deserve to be labelled that way. After all crackers still exist. What I am trying to do with this essay is to help my white brethren understand that this isn’t simply a funny term to use to describe really white whites. Understanding WHY it’s an insult when a black person calls you a cracker will help you to understand WHY racial justice is still such an important issue. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be a little less clueless about the struggles our black brothers and sisters face.
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Black Lives Matter – Again
I have no idea why this is a controversial issue among Humanists. But it apparently is.
The summer 2015 issue of The Humanist Magazine was on whether black lives matter to Humanists. http://thehumanist.com/ – The conclusion of the magazine was yes, of course they do. For me also the answer is yes of course. If Humanism is silent on the main civil rights issue of our time, then it has no claim to ethics at all.
Unfortunately, some “humanists” think Humanism is only about not being religious and that we should restrict ourselves to that topic. I disagree. If you are only interested in being an atheist, then you are an atheist, not a Humanist. Humanism is about the applied ethics of compassion! Ours is not a religious ethic, but it is a compassionate ethic and that is what defines us a Humanists! Failure to act on our compassion is a failure of our ethics. Humanism is about human agency. It’s about doing something to fix the problems of the world and to make the world better, for all humans and not just for a subset of them.
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Books you should read
By Dale McGowan. Everyday Humanism seeks to move the discussion of humanism’s positive contributions to life away from the macro-level to focus on the everyday.
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My thoughts on Sea World
I get asked about Sea World a lot and as a former marine mammal trainer, I felt like I needed to weigh in. That’s me in the photo below with a dolphin named Hiapo at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory.
Obviously most people saw Blackfish, and recently a new book has come out from a former trainer saying that the psychological and physical effects of confinement on orcas is immoral. (see: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/150329-orca-blackfish-seaworld-dolphins-killer-whales-ngbooktalk/)
My response to this as a former dolphin trainer was duh! Why did it take him so long to figure that out? How could he not know going in that keeping marine mammals like dolphins and orcas in captivity is cruel? When I was taught to train – that was the first thing that was drilled into me. It’s emotionally and psychologically very hard on these captive animals because of the conditions of captivity. Our job as trainers is to help keep them sane given the immense stress captivity causes.
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Are you a good person?
Why striving to be good will help you be happy.
Being good is a moral judgement. And the funny thing about morality is it is all about how we judge other people. Other people either help us or hurt us. If they help us – we deem them good. If they hurt us – we deem them bad. These moral judgements are entirely subjective based on our own feelings and perspective centered on what is good for us.
This is why it’s so darned difficult to define what it means to be good. We know how we would like to be treated, but that doesn’t mean other people want to be treated that way.
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Of Bondage and Humanism
Why are we so turned on by abusive sexual images? Should we be?
My friend and fellow Humanist Toni Van Pelt wrote an essay about her thoughts on the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. (See: http://instituteforscienceandhumanvalues.com/index_htm_files/An%20enforcement%20tool%20final.pdf)
As a Humanist, I am all for individuals exploring their sexuality in whatever way they want. What they do and choose to do with other consenting adults is their business, not mine. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions on whether or not any given particular sexual pursuit will lead to happiness or not.
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What to do if angry atheism isn’t working for you
My Humanism is not a secret. I am quite open about it. It’s what I do. I’m also an atheist. I don’t make a secret about that either. I’ve been atheist since I was a teenager and before that I was agnostic. I was never a believer.
I meet a lot of people in the course of my work. Some are very comfortable in their faith and they are looking for ways to improve their thinking and ways to integrate their values more thoroughly into their day to day lives. Some are people who are questioning their faith and are looking for ways to build an ethical system to replace the one that isn’t working well for them. And still others have abandoned their faith altogether and are looking for a way to express their secular values without the anger that dominates the “angry atheist” movement. It is to this last group that this essay is addressed.
For those of you who have found atheism but who are looking for a way to be atheist without being angry. I’ve got great news for you. There is no right way to be an atheist. Some atheists are angry – sure. Some aren’t. It’s the same with every group actually. As my dad always says – no group corners the market in stupidity.
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11 Principles of Humanist Ethics
A statement by the great Humanist Corliss Lamont on the main principles of the Humanist philosophy.
Taken from his essay: The Affirmative Ethics of Humanism – http://www.corliss-lamont.org/ethics.htm
There is much that can be said about Humanist ethics. But here are eleven main and succinct points proposed for your consideration.
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Do Humanists have any monuments or buildings they consider sacred or places they go on pilgrimage?
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Meditation as a Humanist Practice
Questions and answers about why Humanists meditate – from a Humanist perspective. As more and more Humanists take up meditation – I thought it would be helpful to discuss why and how I consider meditation to be a basic life skill.
This post comes in the form of a Q&A from a reporter. I thought I would share my answers here.
I am 48 and practice meditation. I am also a Humanist – so I practice a non-woo form of meditation. I consider it an important part of my practice as a Humanist.
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