About Doug Marshall

Constant Learner

Racism Does Not Just Go Away

America has a racism problem so deep we can’t see it in ourselves. Recently a friend on the East Coast posted his review of “HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST” by Ibram X. Kendi. I referred him to another book, “me and white supremacy” written by Layla F. Saad. Note – I used the Upper and Lower Case for the titles as they are printed on the book covers.

Next on my reading list is Robin Diangelo’s “White Fragility.” She grew up poor and white. I’ve held this book at arm’s length for a while because I wanted to hear from black people first about their experiences with racism. 

After tackling Kendi’s book I need to go back and read “me and white supremacy” with a new perspective and with a greater commitment to go deeper. Saad’s book is a workbook. Each day it takes you further into the reality of racism and it asks the reader to reflect and journal about many hard truths. It is in my opinion written for a white reader and for the white reader. It is a book written so the reader can self examine.

Diangelo’s book is about “Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.” If you have not dipped your toe in the water on this subject perhaps her book is the best place to start especially if you personally are not convinced about racism in America. Although I’ve not read the book I know she is respected by many in the black community and is considered an ally.

Now I will tell you up front, when you google these authors there are plenty of opinions trying to tear apart their message. All I can say is these books are out there, available to you. 

Systems – An Invitation

“We create systems to make things easier.” – Andre Henry

I’m thinking about all the systems in our lives. There are many. We live in them, we create them, we work in them and they are inside of us.

The more time I spend contemplating and studying the systems in my life, in our society and in the world the more I realize the vastness of this topic. With this in mind I am inviting anyone into a conversation about systems. This could be in the form of an e-mail exchange or scheduled and occasional Zoom Meetings.

What is your understanding of systems? What systems do you recognize having significant influence in your life? There are these and many other questions we can have an exchange about.

System, this is a word we use quite a bit yet we most likely do not give it enough thought. I am betting the more we ponder over this word and what it means to us individually and as a society it will make for a rich conversation.

Do you want to start a conversation with me on this topic? Let me know in the comment section.

Rebecca & Jeff

July 11, 2020

Today I should be in New York City. Tomorrow I should be at the wedding of my beautiful, excellent and wonderful daughter Rebecca Elizabeth. Rebecca and her fiancé Jeff Fan had plans to be on the dance floor in celebration after saying I do. Of course everything has changed and we are now in the Twilight Zone.

Rebecca and Jeff have been on my mind quite a bit this past week, first with Beck turning 29 a few days ago and then because of the postponed plans for the wedding.

So I would like to make a toast to this most wonderful couple. Wherever you are, with whatever your choice of beverage is I ask you raise a glass to Rebecca and Jeff. Here we go…..

Jeff – In the first minute I met you I knew I liked you! You have a good heart. This is evident. You also have confidence and I never had the sense you felt the need to impress me. You are comfortable with who you are and in the same breath you seek to grow in your faith. But just remember, Rebecca will always be by precious daughter. Take care of her. I know you will. Oh and thank you for taking me to Keens Steakhouse. Great meal and even better because I was with you and Beck. If you feel you do need to impress me I might like to go back to Keens.

Rebecca – I am so very grateful for you. You and I share a sense of humor and sense of direction. When I had the chance to spend some time in New York City my most favorite thing was grabbing lunch or dinner with you at Virgil’s, Ted’s Steakhouse and BIG PIZZA!!!!! That time we went to Coney Island was a blast, Remember The High Line and the trip to Staten Island just to take the subway there on Staten Island. All of those times were so wonderful! I never want you to forget, I am proud of you not for what you do, I am proud of you for who you are. Let me say it again, I am proud of who you are. You will never ever fully understand how much I enjoyed our one on ones in NYC.

Rebecca and Jeff – Even though your plans are put on hold your life together is today. Keep each other safe. Encourage each other. Never stop learning. Do what is right. Stand for the truth. Always love. Patience is gold. Until your last breath, do good.

I wish you could be celebrating tomorrow but your plans like thousands of others have been changed. I am proud of you both for how you have worked hard to make the right decisions with so much uncertainty. I cannot imagine how difficult it has been for you both. You made difficult choices. I love you both.

I want to thank you both for being there for me when I turned 60. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. My sadness of losing Paul was very present yet you helped take away some of the sting. I also want to thank you for going out to sushi with me last Christmas. I know it seems like a small thing. It was really fun to be with just you two for a short time. I love that you are together in New York City and at the same time I wish I could see you more often.

I offer a toast to you, Rebecca and Jeff. You are both loved!

In the words of Noel Paul Stookey

Well then what’s to be the reason fro becoming man and wife

Is it love that brings you here or love that gives you life

For if loving is the answer then who’s the giving for

Do you believe in something that you’ve never seen before

Oh there’s love, oh there’s love

To everyone wherever you are raise a glass in celebration……..

A TOAST TO REBECCA AND JEFF – Love greatly! Love forever!

The Real Work

Look in the mirror. This is where the real work of change starts. I stand looking at myself. I did not choose the family I was born into. I did not choose the color of my skin. Did not choose where I was born or the economics of my birth. I was born free. None of these things defined me when I was born, they were simply the circumstances of my birth. It truly does not matter now. Today is what today is and the person in the mirror is the sum of millions of little decisions along the way.

Who is my family? Who are my friends? What am I a part of? What do I choose?

In the mirror I see someone who is profoundly human yet just one of billions. My work is in the mirror. I may only have one tomorrow but I know I have today. And the mirror only reflects today. This is where the real work of change starts.

Pain of a Preacher – June 7, 2020

I do not know Jim Lane. He is the Associate Pastor of Hope Covenant Church. My much loved cousin Paul Thompson pastored Hope Covenant for a short time before cancer took him from us. From time to time I check in online to see how Hope is doing and to listen to a sermon if the topic seems interesting. With the country in protest I was curious about the message for June 7, 2020.

This is about as raw a message I’ve heard of late. Jim is openly struggling with his own inadequacies to address the hate of racism. He also knows there are some members of the congregation who will be offended by the message.

I am a vocal critic of the shortcomings of the Christian Church. At the same time there are those messages coming from some corners of our country worth listening to. In my humble opinion this is one of them.

We need to listen to black people to understand their pain and suffering. This message will encourage you to do this. It will encourage you to start to do the work we all need to do in our lives and our hearts.

Jim, thank you for this message.

Jim Lane – Hope Covenant Church – Chandler, AZ

For more about Hope Church click below.

Do Good Coffee

PLEASE pass this along and please support if you live in the Seattle area. Street Bean reopened today and they are ready to make your coffee order and let you choose a treat. Currently open Monday to Saturday 8 AM to 2 PM. This will change over time.

From the Street Bean website – Young people need more than just a job to move beyond street life; the need the opportunity to form a new identity and the chance to discover who they are and can become.

Yes I am also the proud dad to my son-in-law Sean the Director of Operations for Street Bean. He is dedicated to giving kids a chance and works alongside many others.

Learn more – www.streetbean.org

Offensive Language

This is written for my family. It contains offensive language. If it offends you then it offends you. 

I am tired. I am tired of the violence. I am tired of racist people. I am tired of the lies being told by our racist president. I am tired of ignorance. I am tired of straw man arguments and being told there are two sides to everything. I am tired of so many things. 

To set the record straight I have thought, said and done racist stuff. I see myself as a good person yet my history is my history. It is my job as a human being to be a better person and to change for the better.

Disclaimer – I am going to use racial slurs but not to promote these words but to put it on the factual record. To everyone who is not white I apologize for the hurt I have caused. I use the actual language to own up to it and I do not want to offer a lame euphemism for anything. If this is vetted by social media at some point I ask you to consider the context in which this is written. This is Doug Marshall, a white man, taking ownership of his past, taking ownership of his white privilege past.

Here are a few examples of my racist history. 

When I was a child I would participate in a selection process with other kids;

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo

Catch a nigger by the toe

If he hollers, let him go

Eeny meeny miny mo 

My parents told me I should say “tiger” but I don’t remember them explaining to me what the problem was. This is my earliest recollection of my racism. 

My maternal grandmother (Nanny) often read me the book “Little Black Sambo” when I was a child. Nanny was kind hearted and being so young I was not an active racist however the book did plant some seeds.

In Junior High School in New York City my group friends often joked with each other about our ethnic heritage. We regularly called each other Spic, Wop, Polack, Kraut and because my origins were from Scotland and England they just called me Mutt. We did not have black friends in our circle. 

I do not believe I ever called an African American a nigger to their face. On occasion I used it to refer to them though. That’s being a coward. Something deep inside knew it was wrong even though I was not aware it was used as a term to put them in “their place.” I know better now.

When I was young I did not believe an African American man had the intellect to be a quarterback in the National Football League. Where did I get that idea? Many people thought it. On TV it was not what they said it was how it was said. The message was delivered and it was what I believed. That was around 1969, 1970 or 1971 when I first became interested in football. Today it is intensely evident I was stupid, ignorant and wrong.

In Canada our family used to tell Paki and Newfi jokes. The latter bothered Nanny because she had family from there. I thought she overreacted but we laid off those in her presence.

The church I grew up in struggled with racial issues in the 1960’s and the 1970’s. It did not know what to make of the Black Power movement and thought of Black Evangelicals as “Black” Evangelicals.” I have written proof of this from a letter in 1982.

Every church I’ve been associated with has never actively confronted racism. That is White Privilege. 

In the same church we held our missionary family to The Belgian Congo in high regard. These black people needed saving and it was our lily white obligation to make sure it happened. Red and Yellow, Back and White, all are precious in his sight.

I only had black friends because we played on the same sports team. In ninth grade I ran for student body president and won. The girl who ran against me was black. She would have made a much better president. But I was white and pretty much the whole school was white. I saw her as loud and defiant. She should have known her place. Where did that come from? I am trying to remember her name. Deep down in my soul I knew I was wrong for running as the great white hope. 

If there was one moment I could change, just one, I wish I could go back to Junior High in 1973 and tell the student body that my opponent should be elected Student Body President. I remember knowing at the time it was what I should have done. White Privilege won that day.

The black students in my school had a long bus ride back to where they lived.

In my twenties I once had an argument with a pastor in New York about how it was wrong for a person to marry outside of their race. For the record he said it was wrong. I argued the other side. But I did think of white women who dated and married black men to be promiscuous. Really? Why did I think that way? It is because I saw an African American person as a different kind of human? I was not any different from him.

And also in my twenties I sometimes labeled babies at niglettes and chinklettes. This was not an innocent thing although I thought nothing of it at the time. It simply lifted me a little above a person of another race. Imagine if a black person referred to my son as a vanilla pop.

My friends are white. Most of my interactions are with white people. I belong to West Seattle Golf Course. It used to exclude minority people and when the City of Seattle made it illegal the club figured out a work around. This was many years ago. It has long since changed and our “club” remains mostly white.

In my adult years I have failed to confront white friends when they used racist language in conversation. This is White Privilege. I have participated in the effort to put others in their place by not saying anything.

I did not see the harm in the symbolism of The Confederate Flag. I did not see harm in the symbol of the noose. Seriously, this is how blind I was to these symbols telling people of color to know their place.

All of these experiences have been in the shadows. None of them are overt.  

And I am writing this now while people protest because they are tired of the killing of men and women. Should have writing this long ago. This is my work to do. I’m not telling anyone else what to do. My work is to be Anti-Racist. The work is not only to be personally less racist. The work is to fight against racism and be Anti-Racist in all its forms.

There is no way I’ve remembered everything but I have searched my memory for a long time about these things. 

The Homes of Violence

My parents purchased their Seattle house in 1972. It’s a peaceful community not too far from downtown where yesterday violence took to the streets. Tomorrow is June in the year 2020. The Briarcliff Development was created in June of 1925 as an addition to the City of Seattle. As far as I can tell there were two Briarcliff phases:

Briarcliff 1 – 122 Planned Homes

Briarcliff 2 – 40 Planned Homes

The Covenants for the developments defined the community. It was ok to have a dog or a cat but it was not permissible to have livestock on the property. In addition it also read; No person other than of the White race shall be permitted to occupy any portion of any lot in this plat, or of any building at any time there on, except a domestic servant actually employed by a White occupant of such building.Note – White was capitalized.

There are over 500 of these deeds on records with discriminatory language. The Briarcliff language was all inclusive. Some were specific and included Hebrews, Semitics, Ethiopians, Asiatics, Negros, Malay, Turkish Empire, Japanese and Chinese. 

https://bit.ly/HistoryRestrictCov  – Seattle Restrictive Covenant History

https://bit.ly/CovenantMap – Seattle Covenant Map

When we arrived in 1972 the Covenant most likely still contained the language making it illegal for my adopted sister from Korea and her friend Tiffany an adopted African American, to live in the community. It is doubtful it would have been enforced yet it was still permissible until 1968 for covenants to have these type of restrictions.

Here is the kicker. In many covenants the language remains to this day.

I grew up in White Privilege and I continue to benefit from White Privilege today.