The Cause and Effect of Justice

The founding fathers understood that each state in the union needed representation. No one says: let Georgia decide for everyone. Obviously this would lead to problems for California.

But the same people who understand this, if you say “the answer to inequality is proportional representation among the decision makers” will accuse you of terrible things. How DARE you suggest that X’s cannot know as much about Y’s and their concerns as Y’s do! How DARE you suggest that X’s might hue to their own self-interests, and it might be a good idea to have Y’s making some of the decisions, if those decisions affect Y’s.

It will lead to genocide!  It is unfair!  It is sexist/racist/culturally elitist to think that we X’s don’t have the superior judgement it takes to make the best decisions, better than YOU could make for yourself!


In essence, they are saying some mighty odd things: they think themselves so superior that having total control in their hands is somehow fairer, better, than sharing the control. Beware of people who use anything remotely like that argument, and remember: the closest external evidence of social change is proportional representation among the decision makers. It is both cause and effect of justice.

Here are some translations of what they are saying:

  1. Let us keep the power. We like the power.  We will allow you to come before us, hat in hand like little orphan Oliver saying “please sir, I want some more” and after a loooong time and much bowing and scraping, we might make a few changes.  Which will be undone if you EVER take your eyes off the ball.
  2. We consider ourselves better than you, although we’re too polite to say it. Therefore we should make the decisions.
  3. We are afraid that you will gain control, and treat you as you were treated. Or:
  4. We are afraid you will gain control, and treat us WORSE than you were treated.  Because you are our moral and mental  inferiors.
  5. And most basically: we don’t think you’re as human as we are. We don’t care what you want. We’ll pretend to, so that we can guilt-trip you into protecting our children and property, but when it comes down to it, if you died we’d shed a tear and finish our cocoa.

Make no mistake: whether in business, education, government, law enforcement, entertainment, or anything else, the surest measure that progress has been or WILL be made is proportional representation among the decision makers.

Don’t let anyone distract you, guilt trip you, threaten you, gaslight you or catch you up in meaningless troll-loops of tag-team internet challenges.  Keep your eye on the ball.




Parable of the Shmoos: Violence in America




This is a very strong article on gun violence in the United States read it.


Because of the thousands of hours of research and thought I’ve put into racism, always careful to relate EVERYTHING to universal human traits, it feels as if some of those conclusions can help to peek beyond the “Matrix” of illusions driving human behavior, the “emergent strategies”, simple commands that lead to complex results.


I could be twice as smart as I am, working with a team of a thousand people even smarter than me for a decade with a billion-dollar budget, and still not get to the end of this. I don’t pretend that I have.  I cannot imagine a simple statement of such a complex subject that won’t be argued with. It is knowing that I could write a library of footnoted textbooks and still not cover my ass that allows me to say what I’m about to say. I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE.  MEA CULPA.


But I do think that it is worthwhile for me to risk making a fool of myself and say what I think I see here.  Why?  Well, I’ll probably put that below.


(A “Matrix  notion ‘ is a lie or fabrication so deeply engrained into our consciousness that it seems to be self-evident truth.)


And here are the core “Matrix” ideas that seem relevant.

  1. Men and women are basically of equal worth and value
  2. They are  complementary, based on different biological/genetic functions and priorities
  3. Anger is fear
  4. Neither men nor women have ever been in control in the world–our genes have been. The real emergent instruction is: “get the maximum number of grandchildren into the next generation.”
  5. These instructions prevented extermination over the 250k+ years of our history, and have been deeply encoded in social principles, religions, and more, and explain much of the rigidity of social roles and principles about sexism, racism (tribal warfare), homophobia.
  6. There are two different basic human motivations: avoid pain, and gain pleasure.  Most of our behavior, for most of our history, has been “avoid pain.”
  7. We have new options.  But we have to forgive the past to embrace the future.



So…the best way to try to say this is to imagine a fantasy story.  Imagine a world in which “humans”   used to be a somewhat  different being, call it a “Shmoo”, undifferentiated into gender or race.   Each of these Shmoos was capable of reproducing, fighting enemies and animals, or living anywhere on the planet…more or less.


But just as a single Shmoo who made all his own clothes will own a single suit and a single pair of shoes, assembly-line specialization allows us to own a DOZEN complete outfits.   Similarly, the Shmoos discovered that specializing into baby-makers and hunter/fighters was more efficient.   The sexual dimorphism was relatively slight on a biological level, but social rules and fantasies reinforced and exaggerated the differences. Religions and laws evolved over time separated them even further.


The “males” and “females” were really pretty similar, except “females” could carry babies in their bodies, and “males” were more disposable on an individual (not a reproductive) level, which made it possible to kill off 90% of them without crashing the population.    We could send them off to die fighting Lions and Mammoths, or march them into cannon fire.  Over time, this dimorphism produced the maximum number of grandchildren, a situation that worked for everyone.


A problem, however: females and males selected each other for secondary sexual characteristics and willingness to play roles: nurturance, aggression, power…all sorts of things.    As males grew larger (due to breeding) and more capable of aggression and repelling aggression, they would naturally begin to ask: “why the hell should we be the ones to go off and die?

(And here allow me to step out of the storyteller voice. If you Google “have men always had shorter life spans than women?” you will get about ten times more agreement than disagreement.  As this notion, that due to both natural, social, and behavioral factors male primates have shorter lifespans on average than females, makes sense to me on every level.   You are of course welcome to believe the opposite contention: that women living longer is a relatively recent phenomenon. I believe you have to employ more epicycles to explain that one, but if it makes sense to you, so be it. This speculation simply won’t make sense to you.

So what happened?  What became convenient?  For males to consider themselves primary.  More important.  “We’re more important so its our obligation to die” is the really interesting contradictory set of instructions.   Literally “we’re more important so we’re less important” is the functional  result.)


I digress.



The rule that produced the maximum grandchildren is “men’s lives and women’s dreams are disposable.”  Both kept in their boxes, in a rather nasty game that really benefitted neither.  One of the results is that the measures of racism and tribal domination include life span–the dominated group lives a shorter life, and dies more often due to violence.


That’s men.

On the other hand, the dominated group also has less access to power, earns less, and so forth.


That’s women.


What are YOUR priorities?  I cannot tell you what they are.  But if life is more important than money, I suggest that the claim that men are in control doesn’t wash.  But neither does the notion that women are in control.


But it make perfect sense if NEITHER is in control, but we are designed to see direct rather than indirect power. Karate makes more sense than Aikido.    “Positive Space” in art is easier to perceive than negative space. “Jazz is what happens between the notes.”  We can’t see the Yin aspect with our eyes and intellects. We have to feel the pauses in our bodies.  Our HEARTS can “feel” both.


Back to the story of Mankind.  Created by Shmoos to make more Shmoo grandchildren, and damn the results to the “men” and “women” caught in the machine.




For a ten thousand generations, men and women, bifurcated versions of the Shmoos,  built up civilization.  Living, dying, having children, loving, fighting.   Concentrating on the DIFFERENCES between them, even though babies and old people are pretty much Shmoos.    Vive La Difference!


And we spread around the world, developed different phenotypes, and different cultures, each of which developed mythologies that they were the best.  Just as men think they are the best. And women think that THEY are the best.   It’s a big joke, and it keeps us asleep, and at odds.  And serves our genes, but not us.




But there are two basic drives, remember?   “Avoid Pain” and “Gain Pleasure”.   Most of our history has been about avoiding pain…survival.   Alcohol was a great co-evolved technology, because it serves both.   Jewish culture has a great, really GREAT saying about this “Drink to be happier, not to be happy” is the basic rule. In other words, it is healthy to drink when you are already happy. But if you are in pain, WORK your way out of that pain, don’t drink your way out.  Pain is important.  It is a signal to do something different.   If you take a drug to numb that pain, you won’t take the proper actions, and that will catch up with you one day.


The above is germane: we have rules that say that work is sacred.  Necessary.  Vital.  Because it is related to survival.  The tribe will starve if we stop hunting, freeze if we stop chopping wood.  So we evolved rules that said idleness is EVIL.   That’s the avoiding pain stuff, right?


But once we moved beyond hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists, we had whole seasons where humanity could pause after the harvest, and as a group ask an important question: what is it all about?  Oh, we probably always asked that question, but about thirty thousand years ago, human beings started putting themselves into their cave paintings, and I kinda think that might represent a sea-change in our thought patterns.


The “I am” woke up. Who am I?  What is true?


As these bifurcated Shmoos, programmed with useful lies, began to build sustained colonies and begin trade, those most directly on those trade routes began to exchange memes and genes most rapidly, develop the greatest complexity.  And of course, because that’s how humans roll, they also claimed that complexity is superiority. No, it is complexity, that is all.  Cultural bigotry was born.


But the questions about “who am I?” and “what is true?” were codified, written down, debated across cultures. As some members of those cultures became more specialized, philosophers and artists became separate classes, and could spend all their time asking these questions…and the notions of freedom, and democracy, the notion of human dignity and so forth became very real things.   Power had originated from the root, humans selecting leaders. But in time the leaders became their own class, and like all other human beings began to believe their own bullshit, and claimed divine privilege.


Why were so many of these leaders men?   Perhaps because those who organized most efficiently for hunting and war survived better, and the traditional way men choose leaders on the most basic level is “Who can kick my ass?  I’ll follow him”  (the more cynical would say that was actually “I can kick your ass.  Follow me or else.”   Because everyone has to sleep, and throats are easily cut, I choose to belief that there HAS to be collusion between leaders and led, or it simply doesn’t work.)     The wrestling circle is one of the most universal human institutions.  And the village’s best wrestler either became the leader or helped choose him/her.   That’s just basic stuff.


But as the notion of human freedom began being debated, lurking just offstage was the fact that much of this world-spanning complex of human societies was based on lies: “men and women are vastly different.   Different tribes are vastly different.  God loves MY group best.”


Useful for the grandchildren, horrible for individuals.




Once upon a time there was a country called the United States.   It represented one of the last major human migrations, to one of the last major chunks of fertile land, with such a difference in technology between the new and old immigrants that the natives were crushed.  Of course, the new immigrants ascribed this to genetic superiority and “God loves us best” rather than the fractal nature of progress and innovation.

Humans are like that.


And these new immigrants felt they needed labor, and stole human beings from one of those “technology differential” areas, and hauled them in chains and misery to the new land, and declared them sub-human.


Setting up a basic conflict.   Because this country was based on the mythology of human liberty, freedom, and equality.  Oops.   And the gap between the illusion and the reality blossomed into an incredibly violent and bloody war.

Waking up is hard to do.

The problem is that change effected through force doesn’t change the heart. The “losers” were able to continue to project their mythologies on the racial level.  Why couldn’t these illusions be maintained for as long as the gender-based illusions?

Because “Gender Lies” benefit both males and females with their most basic programming of genetic and/or  personal survival.  Tribal or Racial lies do not.   Men and women CANNOT exterminate each other.  In fact, I would maintain that the actual drive is to connect, to once again become that undifferentiated creature with both attributes, and that explains both the energy of sex and the power of love.


But tribes?  Can tribes actually exterminate each other?   Ummm…have you seen any Neanderthals lately?


So racially, there was fantastic motivation to destroy those lies. It was survival. And it has been horrifically difficult, fought against at every turn.


But lies are interwoven.   And once you begin to ask “what is true?” about one aspect of this, you either stimulate or join forces with other  questions, questioners and questionings.


  1. Must women stay in their social boxes?  Why or why not?
  2. Is homosexuality an ‘evil’ or merely labeled that way because of reproductive and social/psychological imperatives?
  3. Do we even need every female to make babies?  If not, how does that change what we are and have been?
  4. Do we need every human being to work?  What happens when our technology reaches the point where fewer people are needed to till the fields and work the factories?
  5. Does the notion of nations even make sense in a world with instant communication?  Wasn’t that notion just a geopolitical convenience?


And if you start with a country that speaks of human equality, and we start telling ourselves that limiting human options is evil, but people have associated their identity with particular roles…what happens when that starts falling apart?  Who am I?  What is true?


The ego thinks it is us.  If the ego is a construct, then when it begins to crack it responds as if it is dying.  That triggers fear.   We fear fear, so we mobilize and disguise it as anger.  Anger leads to violence.  Even the NOTION that anger is fear causes fear. The next time you are in a political discussion, and some politicized person says: “Those X’s are full of anger!” Ask:

“What are they afraid of?”   And watch the most politicized refuse to accept the possibility. They cannot. Because the instant they do that they have to humanize their opponents.   And acknowledge their own anger might be…ummm…that four-letter word that dare not speak its name.


See where this is all going?




Male violence. That was the subject. For tens of thousands of years, men have operated under the illusion that they were in control.  It blinded them to the fact that they were programmed for self-destruction…and that women were complicit in that programming.  Oh, yes.


Women aren’t more peaceful.  Look up the domestic violence statistics in lesbian relationships.  Or when women are larger than their male partners.

Nope, Shmoos are Shmoos.

Remember that pesky “equality” thing?   That means you can’t take yourselves off the hook, ladies. You can’t say you weren’t involved in the decisions and actions.  White people couldn’t keep black people in chains for more than 400 years before the lie broke down, even though they had a 10-fold power advantage.

Do you really think males could keep females in chains for THOUSANDS of years with a mere 30% upper-body strength advantage?   Really?  When men are just as afraid of death as you?  Really? Remember that thing about people having to sleep, and throats being easy to cut?

The real rule is that we’ve been playing a game: women have pretended to be weaker than they really were. Males pretended to be stronger and braver than they really were. 


It wasn’t good for either men or women. Great for the grandkids, though.




In almost  ANY boxing match, equally matched contestant will trade winning rounds. If you ignore all the other rounds, you can say “We’re the best!!!” because you’re living in round 8, ignoring that you lost half the previous rounds and are likely to lose half the rounds to come.   For hundreds of years, a blink in human history, Europeans were able to think themselves superior.   Ding Ding!

Here comes round nine.

Yea, Team!   Now…the largest single motivation of the Civil War was the gap between dream and reality, a dream that had existed for only a few centuries.


Guess what, lads and lasses…we are now dealing with a much, much larger illusion.  One all tied together in a rotten bow. One that worked GREAT until now…but is coming to an end.


It’s that dream of male superiority.  Of the primacy of the Working Man as the epitome of power, the exemplar.   Of America as the ultimate nation, the richest, best, most Beloved of God.

Get that dollar, attract that female with impressive secondary characteristics (Melania Trump was asked if she would be with Donald were he not rich.  She responded “would he be with me if I weren’t beautiful?”    That’s more honesty that some people can handle, right there)




If I was a white, heterosexual male tied to what has worked in the past I’d think the sky was falling.  All the rules that kept my ancestors alive are being challenged.  If women are my equal, and can compete with me for jobs, and get those jobs, I just became less attractive. Less able to convince an attractive female to mate with me.  Or, you know, come home, have a few drinks, and bump uglies.


If blacks are my equal, then they are going to want payback.  So I have DESPERATE motivation to

  1. Believe they are not equal.
  2. Keep them in a position where they can never retaliate.


If we no longer need all human beings to reproduce, then those pesky homosexual impulses I’ve fought my entire life can come bobbing closer to the surface, triggering guilt and fear and questions about who and what I really am.


If not every worker is needed (globalization and automation)…but we still guilt-trip people for not having jobs…and that leads to people insisting that things like welfare and UHC and a social safety net are actually BAD for people…then what happens when America is the last country to implement a medical safety net for its citizens?

Could there, in other words, be a clue in that very fact? That “Lack of Safety Net” X “Income inequality” X “social upheaval” X “lots of Guns” might equal a problem?

Just maybe?

Not all people will become violent, but…violence is caused by anger.  Anger is a mask over fear.  What “stuff” connected to basic shifts in our world could cause America to have an epidemic of violence, then…?


  1. The belief on both gun and anti-gun people that their position makes them safer (every shooting, “second amendment” people scream “the victims should have been armed!” and the gun control people scream “there should be fewer guns!”)  Core disconnect, and they end up screaming at each other.  Both afraid.  That fear masking as anger.  Tragic.
  2. The shifting role of women, destroying the balance of power/sex that has existed since…well, forever.
  3. The shifting role of minorities.  Not the lip service about equality, but the implications of the reality.  Whether you think “the monkeys are taking over the zoo” or “payback’s a bitch” if you have fear in your heart, it isn’t a pretty picture.
  4. The shifting role of workers as there are literally fewer jobs, while net wealth remains constant…but more collected at the top.
  5. The shifting role of reproduction in human survival.   Rational arguments against homosexuality are just…well IMO non-existent.


Fear.  Survival fear.  Genetic fear.  Sexual pleasure fear. Power fear.  Ego fear.  On every level, plus the utter terror that all you believe may be a lie.   Surrounded by enemies who take from you everything you thought you were. Combine that with the availability of firearms, and America is in a uniquely bad position.



That’s where we are.  Is there an answer?  Of course there is, unless you are so egotistical you think you are important enough that you happen to have a front-seat at the end of the world.  Oh, please.

From a billionth of a second after the “big bang” the history of the universe has been connection and complexity, with bumps along the way.

So it is easy for me to envision  a world on the other side of ALL these current problems. One with gender and racial parity, one in which both men and women are functioning not “moving away from fear and pain” but “moving toward love and pleasure.”   A world in which mankind, humankind is moving out of its adolescence and toward an intellectual and spiritual maturity.


All we have to do is love ourselves enough to admit to our flaws. Forgive ourselves for being driven by fear, however it masks. Forgive our ancestors, who were doing the best they could with the resources they had.  For man and women, black and white, gay and straight…to love each other…while remaining strong enough to resist the violence of frightened people.

There is an amazing future out there waiting for us.  If this generation of black folks is “the hope and the dream of the slave” then this generation of human beings is the hope and the dream of every ancient Shmoo  terrified by the natural world, fearful of diseases and predators and weather, bifurcating into a separated being to fight back more efficiently, misunderstanding the gender opposite just as we rarely understand the Yin and Yang of our own personalities.  Driven to work from fear rather than drawn by joy: the War of Art between management and artist.


America is in the Dark Night of the Soul. The way through is, as always, the Leap of Faith: Faith in ourselves, faith in our companions, and faith in whatever higher power or patterned universe you choose to hold sacred.


Faith that, if this is correct, freedom for women means freedom for men as well.    There is nothing to fear, once we throw off the chains that bind our thoughts.  It is possible that everyone born before effective birth control will have to die before we are relatively free of sexism. That everyone born prior to 1970 will have to die before racial equality is the real, dominant principle. Everyone born before a wide acceptance that the planet has reached peak population die before homosexuality is no longer stigmatized. Everyone born before Buckminster Fuller proposed that we accept a new paradigm for work and life before a Universal Basic Income becomes a human right.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, and the “Protestant Work Ethic” all make sense if they INCREASE survival.  But the instant they DECREASE it, lead to more pain than pleasure our brains will “flip the switch” and the new possibility will seem less and less crazy.


I submit to you that that switch has flipped.   But if you were born before the “flip” you may not be able to see it, feel it.  But…I trust those grandchildren. The Shmoos always knew it was about the grandchildren, remember?  And I think they’ll be just fine.


After more ugliness.  Oh, yes.   There will be more violence. Because people are angry. Because they are afraid. The world is changing.

Waking up is hard to do.

I see it, so clearly.  And hope that however flawed these thoughts might be, they’ve served their purpose…and you see just a little more clearly as well.






Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women. But smile.

My primary intent is philosophical: “who am I?” and “what is true?” rather than political, which I interpret as “how can we win?”


That intent is about personal evolution, awakening,  advancement for the species.   Unfortunately, only truth can take you there. And “People will thank you for making them think they are waking up, but they’ll hate you if you actually do it.”  There is that risk.    But my commitment HAS to be the actual awakening.  Some of these things can be proven logically. Others have to be taken on faith.


Hopefully, the only thing I’m taking on faith is a basic belief in human equality.  While it may not apply in all instances, I find that the other path, believing your group is superior, is FAR more likely to produce pain, oppression, and feed domination and ego games, as well as the utterly poisonous potential to damage someone and then blame them for the damage.


The rest of predation is just animal. But that?  Blaming THEM for what YOU did to them?  That’s like a child molester claiming their victim was “the most seductive child you ever saw.”


Or a mugger hitting you in the head, taking your wallet, pissing on you as you lay in the gutter, and then laughing and claiming you are just genetically indolent, broke, and stinking.  THAT is not simple predation. That is evil.




Need I be more specific?   THOSE WHO PROMOTE THE NOTION OF INEQUALITY ARE, AT THE VERY LEAST, CARRYING WATER FOR MONSTERS.  That is the clear corrollary for my core belief.


Are we crystal clear?


Where do I apply this “basic equality” notion?    Not universally–clearly some people are taller than others.  It would be absurd to say otherwise.  I apply it to large groups in certain ways, NOT BECAUSE I THINK IT IS 100% TRUE, BUT BECAUSE IT IS TRUER THAN THE OPPOSITE, MORE OFTEN. And because it forces a different kind of thought.   I find that it leads more naturally to thinking of human beings as “ends rather than means”.  The opposite, thinking of people as “means rather than ends” is, again, a road to human evil.


If I’m going to make an error, I’ll make it on the side of love.    I can deal with that.




So I START with the assumption of basic equality in capacity and moral worth between:


  1. Men and women
  2. Gay and straight
  3. Different races
  4. Different major religions


There are others, but these stand out.  In other words, when you see problems, start with nurture over nature, and ask if there are things in the environment that could create this issue. ESPECIALLY if your own group is in opposition or dominator position.




Because the natural human tendency is to blame others for the damage we do to them.  We don’t like to feel guilty.


BUT…if you are the oppressed group, you also have a responsibility–to NOT take the position that the oppressors are inferior to you morally.  I see this one done by the “undergroup” all the time.  But when they have power, they use it the same way.


No…if you are going to say the difference in performance (things like life span, income, incarceration rates, education levels, political power, life satisfaction etc) are caused by environmental things, you have the responsibility to understand the “oppressors” the same way.   And grasp that if you had the power, you’d do the same thing…or maybe even have power you don’t acknowledge and DO create your own chaos and damage.


There is a classic Jules Feiffer cartoon.  In it, a black man and a white man are sitting across the table from each other.  The black man says: “you have your history.  White history.  Written by white people, to promote white power.  We want our history. Black history, written by black people,to promote black power. Our demand is separate but equal lies.”


DAMN I loved that!


Separate but equal “stories” might help us understand the reactions to “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther”–both the celebration and the venom (check out the comments on Youtube or “Aint It Cool News” about the films or their trailers.   No matter how fast the moderators take down the racist and sexist comments, they still pile up.  If you haven’t been aware to its presence in our culture, it will horrify you.)




If my primary interest is spiritual awakening, why do I speak of the flesh? Sex?  Exercise? Success?


Heck, why talk about things like race?


Look at the Chakras.   They are a model of human growth, similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy, but predating it by thousands of years.    Survival, Sex, Power, Emotion, Communication, Intellect, Spirit.  The lower levels are foundational, and must be healed before the “energy” rises to the next level and can be invested in dealing with the problems THERE.  When you resolve the duality, awaken from the illusion, you free up the energy used to bind you there, and can rise to the next level.


It is HARD.  I had no support for this as a child, even though I could see the path. So…I ignored certain levels of the conflict, the illusion.   Those dealing with race were not dealt with healthily in my environment: my mother was terribly conflicted, believed that if she’d “passed” for white, she would have had a better life.   Trapped by a lie (that she was “black” even if she was phenotypically white, an absurd notion supported only by a cultural lie and racial politics) she was torn to pieces, and died in horror.


I “wired around” that stuff, deliberately projecting my personality strongly enough to force people to consider my individual personal characteristics as more primary than my racial characteristics. But…I always knew it was an evasion.   Would hear the “you’re not one of them.  You’re one of US” comments.  I was accepted, as long as I remained silent about certain issues.   And it felt damned good.  I wasn’t trapped.  As long as I shut up.  And tacitly agreed that “well…ahem…it’s not their fault, but…you know…black people just aren’t as smart…”


I was warned that as long as I was “Steven Barnes, science fiction writer, who happens to be black” I was safe. But if I spoke up, I would become “Steven Barnes, black science fiction writer” and would suffer for it.  Hell, I was BLACKBALLED from a major SF magazine on racial grounds (according to two different editors, who approached me separately after the death of the publisher) so yeah, I’m not blowing smoke.


By odd coincidence, these same people also denied slavery had been any more painful than, say immigration. They HAD to, don’t  you see?  They can’t have their “inferiority doctrine” AND believe the testimony of slaves, witnesses and logic that the institution was destructive.


Its one or the other.


So…they choose the one that absolves their ancestors of guilt, and allows them to avoid the fear of retaliation. A retaliation which has never come.


Why?  Theory: black people who would be inclined to retaliate for the horror were killed out of the population, the genes and memes destroyed.    Where might we see a bit of evidence of this..?






It is disturbing to me that even black exploitation directors don’t seem to be as hostile to whites  as mainstream white directors can be to blacks. Logic would suggest that they sure as hell have more motivation.   In other words, I can produce DOZENS of examples of white movies killing all black people.  But I cannot find a single example of the opposite, even with black directors.  They MUST exist, but wow, couldn’t have had much distribution now, could they…


I remember lecturing at a white college, and someone made the mistake of asking me why black people are so angry.  I had to laugh at the obliviousness, but took the question seriously.  “What if we had done the same thing to you?” I asked.   “What if we had kidnapped you from your homeland, put you in chains, shipped you to the other side of the world. Stripped away your religion, language, culture, autonomy.  Raped your women and sold your children. Beat you to death if you didn’t work for us, and then stole the fruit of your labor.  Did this for generations, then brain washed you into believing you were DESERVING of this treatment.  Then…gaslighted you into believing nothing had happened, that “Gone With The Wind” was an honest representation of the institution, then claimed that the political party favored by the descendants of those slavers, the people more likely to believe you were inferior, were actually better friends than the people who tried to help you, however clumsily…?”


Oh boy, we were having some fun now!


You should have listened to the room getting quieter and quieter.  The women drew back and crossed their arms over their chests.  The guys leaned forward, baring their teeth, clinching their fists, cheeks tensing into “predator face”.  War face. They knew DAMNED well that, under those circumstances…they’d want to kill us all.


Oh yeah, baby.  Make no mistake.   THAT’S the truth.


And that is why the lies have been so important, the images in film such a naked revelation of unconscious desires and values.  Why there is so much anger around images like “Black Panther.”  Remember: ANGER IS FEAR.  ATTACKS ARE DEFENSES.


But also remember: under the same historical circumstances, you and your group would do the same thing.  If you can’t see that?   If the circumstances were reversed, you’d be one of the racists you hate.  You are part of the problem. You just haven’t had the chance to act out yet.  You are an oppressor-in-waiting.




Because I’m assuming that the death of all black characters in films is an unconscious expression of values–it NEVER happens in reverse in an American film. The only examples of this I can find internationally are in movies like “The Chinese Connection”, which are specifically expressions of anger and fear toward “foreigners” (Russians and Japanese, specifically, who had dominated China),


Theory: Wiping out every member of a group in your film is an expression of your values and fantasies.  In most naked form, it is raw anger and hostility.



If that’s true, then are there any supporting datum?  Well… (and this has to be rubbery–I’m not doing formal social science research, but DO know a lot about film images and their acceptance at the box office level…)


Remember that little thing about black men having sex in movies, and how white audiences reject it?   That until the movie “Creed” not a single film with a non-white actor having a love scene had cracked the 100 million mark?


It isn’t about a blanked aversion to phenotype, certainly–there are plenty of non-white FEMALES boffing above the 100 million level.  Always with white males, of course.


So what might be going on?  Well…if we look more closely, we are in dangerous territory. We are piercing the “Matrix”, beliefs and values held so deeply that they just seem   reality. To look through them risks danger, frankly.    These are uncomfortable thoughts for those who benefit from the lie.


And I suggest that the lie is, at best simply the universal human lie: “our tribe is the smartest, strongest, sexiest. God loves us the most and made us the best.”  Simple.  Universal.


And at worst: As Conan said:  “Crush images-1.jpgyour enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women.”   Kill the men, rape the women.  That’s about as primal a core genetic programming as you can get.


IF that is true, how would I put this all together?


  1. Males do not take pleasure in watching reproductive behavior in males they feel themselves to be in competition with, or fear being outbred by.
  2. The primary rule is “kill the males, rape the females”.    More politely, have the males die or be denied access to sex. Seduce the women.    It has ALWAYS been safer for white men to have sex with black women than vice versa.
  3. The disproportionate deaths, and 100% extinction images (all black people, or all black males, killed) reflect this cinematic expression of tribal warfare.
  4. One reason You NEVER see the opposite because almost all “black exploitation” movies were financed, produced, directed, or distributed by white people.  There was a white person SOMEWHERE in that chain. And a film that killed all white people would at the least “feel wrong”.  (Remember–if the situation was reversed, black people would pull the same shit)
  5. And the other reason…is that black people who translate that fear into anger, and that anger into action…were killed over the centuries.  Their memes destroyed.   What we have instead  is tolerance, patience, Christianity, philosophies of peace and unity or isolation.  Anything else would have been suicide.   We were always outnumbered, always outgunned.



Why do I speak about this, if my ultimate goal is spiritual evolution? Because you can only evolve from love. Fear and love compete. And I see massive fear boiling among whites…because black people aren’t as scared of them as we used to be.  Oops.



What is frightening? Why are people scared?  The people who believe in equality are NOT as scared.   They can afford to have faith that things will work out.    Those who trade in stereotypes, in the belief in inequality, have much to fear.


If they hate and fear, and think black people are equal, then they are afraid of being treated as they have treated others.


If they believe whites are superior (and make no mistake: I’d estimate 10-20% of human beings believe this about their racial group.    That means that there has been one hard-core racist for every black person in the country.  One needs look no further than this to understand everything you need to know about why blacks have suffered in America)  then they fear that “the monkeys are taking over the zoo.”


But, of course, what about the third possibility, the one so seldom discussed?  That blacks are actually SUPERIOR?  In that case, the fear is ravening: like a bully who beat up smaller kids in grade school, they fear those kids getting their full growth, and maturing to own the town factory such that one day they stand in front of those they used to abuse, asking for a job.  Or kneeling in a back alley, begging for mercy.


Consider THAT fear.  That humiliation.   That extinction terror.     Massive.  So massive it is hardly ever even considered.   People will imagine the world dominated by robots, aliens, apes or zombies before they’ll consider black people in charge.


Seriously.  Wait.  Maybe the SF people were right.  Maybe robots, aliens and apes really DO represent….






That’s what we’re actually dealing with in America.  The chickens coming home to roost.  Slaves were simply human machinery. But you needed an entire system of lies to keep that machinery in place, and the lies outlived the institution.


There is a layer of existential terror that keeps those with hatred and fear in their hearts from asking “who am I?” and “what is true?”  They dare not.  But they must.


If America is to evolve, if people both white and black are to evolve, we have to move beyond fear, and that requires that we face truth, no matter how bitter it initially seems.


What is the way through all of this?  The same five principles I’ve discussed over and over again.


  1. Love yourself.   When you do, you don’t need the opinions of others.  But you also can examine your own flaws and failings and admit them. This is CRITICAL if you are to see the failings of others and see that you could have been that person, given a different world.  But we’re not talking foolish optimism. If you REALLY love yourself, you tap into your natural defensive circuitry, the same way you would if someone threatened your child. BE SAFE. But be loving.
  2. Love one other person.  This teaches us empathy, DEMANDS that we begin to engage with the world.  Selfishness is only a problem if your sense of “self” ends at your skin.
  3. Understand history and humanity without guilt, blame, or shame.  This continues the process of expanding empathy.  And if you start with the assumption of equality, you must understand the relations of differing races, genders, religions and even nations as natural emergent tendencies: fear and love and unconscious drives and self-justification played out on a world stage for 250 thousand years.  Its quite a show.   And the puppet master has always been our drive to survive and reproduce.
  4. Support your tribe.  Don’t waste your time on sleeping children and smiling monsters.  “Tribe” doesn’t need to be a nasty word.  My “tribe” is defined by those who have FAITH in human equality. Others can be friends, or neighbors, or students, or even teachers. But they are not of my “tribe” in this sense.  Because my faith is unshakable, I believe anyone on another path is simply blinded by self-interest. They are asleep.  And a few are “smiling monsters” who will pretend to be friends, but are really trying to seduce you into their twisted view of the world.  Be careful.
  5. WIN with honor.  Treat others as you would wish your children to be treated: fairly, honestly, compassionately.  When they come at you with anger, remember that they are afraid.   Attacks are defenses.   When you come from love AND strength, you will be able to stand your ground, speak your truth, and withstand the “whirlwind” they promise you.  But play to win.



I care about fiction because those who control the narrative control consciousness.  The world is in turmoil, America is in turmoil because, I believe, we are finally asking the real questions.


We PRETENDED to believe in equality–as long as it was on comfortable terms.


I concern myself with film images because they BOTH lead and follow. Are both symptoms and causes.  When I know what you like to watch…I know what is in your heart.  But I can also help you see that the future is nothing to fear, unless you believe you need fear to survive.


Now we’re dealing with the reality.  Needless to say, there WILL be smiling monsters who try to corrupt this process (“hey!  What about us pederasts!   Love is love, right..?”) and the oppressed WILL become oppressors, if their hearts are dominated by fear rather than love.


But…love will win.  I believe that with all my heart. And all we have to do is START from the position of equality, rather than the other way around.


Love and fear compete for the same place in our hearts.  Come from love




(I am searching for storytellers who want to come from both love AND strength, and speak truth.   If this sounds like you, join us at www.lifewritingpremium.com)

What do all these movie have in common..?

  1. Jurassic Park
  2. Wrath of Khan
  3. Damnation Alley
  4. Kingsmen
  5. Magnum Force
  6. Sudden Impact
  7. The Unforgiven
  8. Freddy Versus Jason
  9. Ice Station Zebra
  10. Dirty Dozen
  11. RED
  12. The Shining
  13. The Green Mile
  14. Night of the living Dead
  15. Alien
  16. Aliens
  17. Terminator
  18. Terminator 2
  19. Prometheus
  20. Conan
  21. Conan the Destroyer
  22. Predator
  23. Commando
  24. Return of the living dead
  25. Life



What is the connecting thread between all of the above movies?





Well, there may be several, but one is that in every one of them, all the black people, or all the black male characters (people with at least one line of dialogue) die.  (Note: it is the pattern I hate, not necessarily the individual films.   Some of them I flat-out love.  But the fact remains that there isn’t a single American film in which all the white characters die while non-white characters survive.

Not a single one.

There are some Asian films where this happens, like Bruce Lee’s “The Chinese Connection” where Bob Baker plays a Russian Lee kills with a chop to the throat.   Only white guy in the movie.  Chinese feeling mighty antagonistic toward Japanese and Russians in that movie.   Hmmm…you couldn’t think that killing all the members of a group is symptomatic of antagonism and fear, could you?

Naw.   Couldn’t be.

But you do have to wonder why it’s never happened in reverse.  Not once.   Couldn’t be because they FEEL that this would be anathema, could it? That it would doom the success of the film?  That THEY wouldn’t want to see something like that..?


Nah.  Couldn’t be.




I got an email today from a guy who was apparently disturbed that on a “Writing Excuses” podcast I listed “The Green Mile” as a movie I loathe and will never watch again.  On the other hand, I thought the BOOK (published in chunks) was actually quite fine.   What was the difference?


In the book, the Tom Hanks guard character THINKS that John Coffey is innocent, and tries to free him. Fails. It is tragic, and the book’s title “The Green Mile” is a metaphor for life itself.  Coffey dies, as do we all.


But in the movie, Tom Hanks KNOWS that Coffey is innocent (gets a psychic vision of exactly what happened) and does NOTHING to try to save him. Has one conversation (“what should I do, John”) with a severely depressed man who just wants to die, and accepts that life is just too hard, too cruel, for such a perfect spirit…sob sob.


Apparently, the gentleman who wrote me disliked the fact that I didn’t find this inspiring.  That no, if he is the only black man on the screen, he isn’t a symbol, he is a human being wrongly accused, arrested, convicted, and executed by white people.   A human being who is black, as the culture defines me.  The only one.

And while this may provide some kind of epiphany for white audiences, it is just another in a long, long series of images that make us other than human.  Less than human (I just recently had to ask another racist not to comment on racial threads) or more than human…it doesn’t matter, because what is clear is that in the minds and hearts of the audience and the filmmakers, we aren’t like them.


And that is lethal. It justifies violence and oppression. On the other hand it triggers guilt and overreaction, which leads to resentment, which leads to anger, and back to violence and oppression we go.   Put us down in a ditch or up on a pedestal and the result is the same.


So no, I don’t consider being a Sacrificial Negro, or a Spiritual Guide to be a good thing.  Dying to protect or uplift white people is not my idea of a good time.   All of this crap is part of the same Matrix of false beliefs that was necessary to build a nation, and justify what was done, but stands between us and a healthy future.  I won’t be silent about these things–they cost lives.


Still like “Aliens” though.






Hidden Figures/Ancient Secrets Part 3: Katherine Johnson

(Note:  This is the third essay connected to the “Art of Science” class I am preparing with project manager and 3rd degree Judo black belt Victoria Whitlock, designed to apply martial arts principles to women in STEM fields.  The feedback we’ve been getting is gratifying.)



Generally in war, the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this….For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”  Sun Tzu


All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.   Do not repeat the tactic which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”  Sun Tsu.




To repeat: I am fully aware that “Hidden Figures”, like all dramatic films, took license.  IMO it is impossible for dramatic films to avoid that charge.

People who complain about this are either misunderstanding the point and method of drama, or are deliberately attempting to damage a useful metaphor.  With that in mind, the following thoughts…



Katherine Johnson was a child prodigy, a math whiz from girlhood. She takes a job as a “Computer” at NASA, and when the call goes out for an expert in Analytic Geometry, she steps up.


She suffers indignities on BOTH the basis of gender and race: given piles of scut work, faced with open disrespect, men not wanting to drink from her coffee pot, forced to travel for twenty minutes to reach a toilet.


Somehow, she kept focus on her goal.  What was her goal, so far as we can see it?


To express her mind fully.  To play with the “cool stuff” and the “cool kids”.   To support her family at a higher level.  To “uplift the race”.  To help America be first into space.  To conquer the stars.


Do you see, again, how her goals were larger than ego?  That she had reasons that would empower her through indignities and insult?  SHE KNEW WHAT SHE WANTED AND WHY SHE WANTED IT.


The “Wall” standing between her and her goals were racism and sexism.  When she got into that room, she saw that her mind was just as good–BETTER–than that of the white men who were supposed to be so superior. She saw a new opportunity, to make her way on the basis of pure skill, talent and drive.


If you believe men and women are equal, then you cannot believe that all men are against you, because not all women are against men.   You need only seek the right time and place to prove injustice, and suddenly an adversary becomes an ally.


Kevin Costner’s character may have been a racist. We don’t know (he was an amalgam, a symbol, not a specific human being).  But what was his primary interest?  Keeping black people down?  You think that’s what he thought about when he woke up in the middle of the night?  Hell, no.


HE DREAMED OF THE STARS.   That was his dominating characteristic, his peak value, beyond anything and everything else.  Help him with HIS dream, and everything else becomes irrelevant in comparison.  HUMAN BEINGS ARE SELFISH.  APPEAL TO THEIR NAKED SELF-INTEREST, AND YOU WIN.


Katherine became an invaluable part of the team, capable of doing math no one else could do.  Her ability to serve the team was limited by the fact that she lost 40 minutes of work time every time she had to take a pee.


She NEVER directly complained about this. That was not in her personality.  She didn’t grab opportunity like Dorothy.  Nor did she directly confront like Mary.  She just did her work, and even though there was no sense that she deliberately chose the moment, when she boiled over and told her story it was devastating.


“There are no colored bathrooms in this building, or any building outside the West Campus, which is half a mile away. Did you know that? I have to walk to Timbuktu just to relieve myself! And I can’t use one of the handy bikes. Picture that, Mr. Harrisson. My uniform, skirt below the knees and my heels. And simple necklace pearls. Well, I don’t own pearls. Lord knows you don’t pay the colored enough to afford pearls! And I work like a dog day and night, living on coffee from a pot none of you want to touch! So, excuse me if I have to go to the restroom a few times a day.”


It couldn’t have been more powerful if she’d planned it.  Her PHILOSOPHY was one of equality.  Her BELIEF was that she could absolutely do this job.  No doubt allowed.   Her REASONS were too important to allow doubt, any more than a mother focused on saving a child from a burning building can allow doubt in her mind.    Her STRATEGY was to be like water, to seek any opportunity to show who she was, to keep her eyes on the stars NOT on the mud around her.


And that means that the tactics, the specific application of general strategic principles, evolve on their own, spontaneously, in the moment, a by-product of total engagement.  ART.  Self-expression.


Manifesting in a perfect speech. Devastating.  Declarative.  Not a single word that any white man in that room could deny.  In that moment, when they had admitted they needed her, they were faced with a challenge: WHO WERE THEY?  WHAT WAS TRUE?


What was more important, being white, or getting the job done?


They were confronted by an irresistible force:  a woman who knew who SHE was better than they knew who THEY were.


They thought they were scientists. But they were behaving as if being white was more important than doing their jobs.  Consciously, that creates a conflict: they were NOT that thing.  Racists don’t think they are bad people–they think they just know something unfashionable to admit, that group X just doesn’t have “The Right Stuff.”  But Katherine Johnson did, inarguably.


She hoisted them on the horns of a dilemma.  And “Mr Harrison”, representing the whole of white male America, made the only sane choice: to take a step forward and declare HIMSELF free of the chains of past decisions.


In context, he could be a racist, or he could be a scientist.  He could not be both.  He had to choose.


He chose.


Some have complained about the moment when “Mr Harrison” tore down the bathroom sign.  That the moment didn’t happen.  That he was a “white savior.”  I say just the opposite.    She used DEVASTATING “yin” indirect force on him.  Overpowering. Crushed his ego shell.  If you don’t think that people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King didn’t set up similar dilemmas, asking America “who are you?  What is true?” you don’t know your history.


If you think the women should have torn the sign down, then you think burning cities and direct fighting is the only way to win.  You are missing 50% of the equation, and half-blind, half-deaf, to an entire mode of human operation.


There is direct force. There is indirect force. This was a BRILLIANT example of the latter.



Use direct force when appropriate. Use indirect force when appropriate.  Don’t be black or white, male or female.  Be human.


Be like Katherine Johnson.





Hidden Figures, Ancient Secrets 6/2

I am working on the “STEM for Women” project, and central to the free webinar we’ll be doing is analysis of the movie “Hidden Figures” using principles from Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War” to create a framework to understand the emotions and behaviors exhibited by three exemplary women.   Here is what I wrote today:



“Generally in war, the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this….For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”  Sun Tzu


“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”  –Sun Tzu


Dorothy Vaughn was an unofficial supervisor who seized an opportunity to display her programming skills on an IBM mainframe. In other words, she “captured” her castle by educing flawless performance from her employees, knowing that an opportunity would arise eventually.  Crisis appeared: a new computer what would replace hundreds of women. But instead of being consumed by fear, she saw an opportunity: someone would have to operate the machine. Why not her?


A quote from Wikipedia:

“During her 28-year career, Vaughan prepared for the introduction of machine computers in the early 1960s by teaching herself and her staff the programming language of FORTRAN



(WARNING:  I am perfectly aware that the film was not totally historically accurate. But the major players agree that the SPIRIT was correct, and we will take them at their word.  No film is, or ever can be, perfectly accurate, and I have to suspect that people who nit-pick obsessively are specifically attempting to destroy the value of the metaphor, for personal reasons.)


Dorothy Vaughn grew up in a time of segregation and racial terror, when the old system fought to maintain control over the descendants of slaves. Both the mythologies (inferiority) and fears of social upheaval and retaliation were a part of this.


Combine this with the insistence that women remain within carefully defined social boxes, and you have a nightmare scenario for an ambitious black woman.   One barrier was the dishonesty of the controlling system.   The rule of the day was “separate but equal”, but she knew:

Separate and equal are two different things. Just ’cause it’s the way, doesn’t make it right, understand?”

So she had motivations that ran up and down the scale, from the personal (self expression)  to the social (uplift the race)  to the cosmic (conquer space).  That left no room for excuses or resentment: she had to Win.


Have enough “whys” and the “hows” will present themselves.


OUTCOME: to operate as an equal, and to LEAD within NASA.

EMOTIONAL MOTIVATIONS: everything, from the personal to the cosmic.

ACTIONS: to do her job impeccably, never letting herself rise to the “bait” of anger and resentment (which would be briefly satisfying but destroy her career), and wait for the right opportunity to “pounce”.


The ability to care enough to shatter your ego scars (known colloquially as “butthurt”) was essential.   She was fighting for her heart, her family, her mind, her people, her country, the world.  She was COMMITTED TO A CAUSE BIGGER THAN SHE WAS.


And she saw that the people around her were, as well.  This is one of the reasons that war is such a leveler. When you fight the larger cause, if you PROVE you can help the person to your right and left survive, THEY will fight for you, unless they are insane.

Most people, even gender or racial bigots, are NOT insane.

They are programmed, asleep, willing to go along with society’s rules.  But they generally obey those rules because they think those rules protect them. The instant they stop believing that, they will no longer protect the rules.


By being impeccable on a personal level, as well as providing unique resources on the project level, Dorothy Vaughn’s her PERSONAL characteristics trumped her racial or gender characteristics.



  • The project was the most important thing
  • The computer was necessary to complete the project
  • She was the only one who knew how to use the computer.
  • Therefore, they could not stop her unless they wanted the project to fail.



All she had to do was find the people more interested in the PROJECT than maintaining the racial/gender order.   Remember: prior to women or blacks entering NASA,  advancement was based on who the people within the project believed would best serve the project.  They had to have VASTLY greater than average investment in reaching the stars.  On the other hand, on average, they would likely have only an average amount of bigotry. As you go up in the organization, you are more and more likely to find people whose commitment to mission outweighs their bigotry. Because most of excellence at anything is obsessive focus, over time.  the instant you find someone who is an “8”in focus on the task, but only a “7” in focus on race and gender, you have someone you can enroll on your side–IF YOU ARE READY.


Look at that again: the better people are at a particular thing, the more likely they are to care more about the thing than about oppressing YOU.   You just aren’t that important to them. What they care about is their OWN advancement, their own pleasures and pains. The instant you become an asset to them, they will start protecting you.  But they have to believe that they gain MORE by protecting you than they get by maintaining social order or personal prejudices. Again…aim high in the organization. That’s where the more obsessive people are.   Love what they love, and they will love you.


THESE PEOPLE ARE YOUR POTENTIAL ALLIES because for their own naked self-interest they will overlook the fact that you belong to a group they are uncomfortable with.


In my own career, I noticed that pitching in Hollywood had an odd twist to it. All the people I pitched to were white.  If race came up in the conversation, I almost never got the job.  I had to keep their attention OFF race, and used the Aikido technique of redirecting their energy: I got them to think about the wonderful project we were going to do, together.  And got the job.


Every time I felt the discussion drifting toward “him and me” (a possible point of racial enmity) I metaphorically took them by their shoulder and turned them to look at the mountain we were both trying to climb. If you’re climbing a mountain, and slip, and someone throws you a rope, do you care what color they are?  What gender, so long as you believe they are strong enough to anchor the other end of the rope?  If you do, you will die.


Simply choose the people who want to live. Find the things more important to them than their bigotry.  Remain impeccable while you look for the chance to pounce.


Then…fall on them like a thunderbolt, and they’ll never know what hit them.


Dorothy Vaughn had a clear outcome. She had enough reasons to keep her going, no matter what the indignity.   And when the opportunity came…she pounced.

WHAT do you intend to accomplish?

WHY do you want it?

Only then, bother with “how”.  “How” is just details.

Be like Dorothy Vaughn.





The Alamo Draft House situation

A simple application of basic Lifewriting principles makes the Alamo Draft House Wonder Woman kerfluffle pretty clear.  We use these principles in storytelling, but they work just as well with life.  Dig it:


Anger is fear. The fear is that a women-only showing will lead to a loss of rights and privileges in other arenas.


There are three basic attitudes one can have behind this:

  1. Women and men are equal.  In which case the only fear would result from a sense that men have abused their power, and women will too, given the opportunity.
  2. Men are superior to women:  in which case weak, cowardly Liberals are disrupting a delicate balance that sustains civilization.
  3. Women are superior to men: in which case men, by strength and viciousness alone, have maintained advantage for thousands of years and a tipping point is here. There will be hell to pay, because Da Gurls don’t really need us very much…



Ah, it really is fun to watch. The obvious parallels to the reactions to Affirmative Action (by, one suspects, a group that overlaps seriously with Men’s Rights sympathizers) brings a certain evil joy to my heart.  For all my life and beyond, such men (and women of the same tribe) have asserted there was no problem.  Flip the script and they scream that there is a HORRIBLE problem.  They were lying, obviously…to themselves at the very least.  I have some sympathy for them.  Those who knew they were lying, and lied smiling deserve no sympathy at all.


Doesn’t this stuff write itself? Doesn’t it really sound like a tacky Movie of the Week on the Oxygen Network, with obvious and overwrought political overtones?  Can’t you hear the same men saying: “oh, that’s ridiculous. We’d never do that.”


And ladies…make no mistake.   I’ve heard women complaining EXACTLY the same way when the issue is racial rather than gendered.  This is human stuff. Cut the guys some slack.


Whichever it is…waking up is hard to do, isn’t it?  Because I have faith in human equality, I see no problems here.  Just a minor correction.  Things go back and forth.  Those who are hyper-sensitive to ever being on the losing end, no matter how minor, no matter how short, are NOT interested in equality. They want to shave off all losing scores, which means that the average HAS to be to their advantage.  Only if advantage goes back and forth is it possible to average out even.  You have to get that to understand the game.


Me?  I’m sitting back with a bag of popcorn, enjoying the pregame show.  Man, the 21st Century is really kicking in.



Steven Barnes


Hidden Figures, Ancient Secrets


Know your enemy and know yourself, and one can go through one hundred battles without danger.”–Sun Tzu

My dear friend Victoria Whitlock, a project manager at a major technology firm with a Masters in Information Security and a third degree black belt in Judo, is my partner in creating what we’re currently calling THE ART OF SCIENCE: the application of ancient and martial wisdoms to women’s success in STEM fields.

Chief among the researches is one might guess, Sun Tzu’s THE ART OF WAR, arguably the most ancient and respected book of military discipline and business tactics.

All that is required is to see life through the metaphor of conflict, and all of its wisdom becomes available to the modern mind.   Heck, I’ve seen it applied to raising teenagers and cooking banquets.  Very flexible stuff.

As of about twenty years ago, Lifewriting is a dynamic sphere with  known X and Y axis (The Hero’s Journey, The Chakras) and an unknown Z axis.  I no longer try to “figure that out”. It will either pop into my mind one day, or it is supposed to remain a cipher. Or perhaps variable.

Variable allows me to ask “what happens if I make The Art of War the Z axis today, and replace it with some other ancient wisdom tomorrow.”   But…the HJ and the Chakras seem to remain constant, as the former  asks “what is the path of life?” and the latter says “what is the path of evolution within a human being?”

The Art of War, then, presents a way of winning when losing is not an option.

Let’s just take a look at an amazing and inspiring film about three women who succeeded in STEM despite both gender AND race: HIDDEN FIGURES.  (NOTE: like all films, HIDDEN FIGURES condenses history so that an infinitely complex situation [life] can be understood within the context of a two-hour film.  All of the events happened…but not always literally, with that timing, to those people, at that place.   I understand that it is necessary to create dramatic unity.  The larger lessons still hold.)


Engineer Mary Jackson started in an all-female, all black  “computer” pool, doing mathematical calculations.  She proved herself useful at practical applications (detecting a flaw in a heat shield) and leveraged this to gain entrance to a formerly segregated school, arguably a step toward general integration.

Now apply Sun Tzu’s words, and let’s see what we can yield:

Know your enemy and know yourself, and one can go through one hundred battles without danger.”–Sun Tzu

Jackson knew WHAT she wanted: to advance in her career, to get to “play with the cool stuff” as Vic says, and also to open the door to blacks and women to have these opportunities in the future.

She knew WHY she wanted it: for personal satisfaction/self expression.  For safety for her family (the jobs she aimed at had excellent pay). For advancement of “the Race”, which was a major emphasis for “the talented tenth” in the mid-20th Century. That was hammered into black people: the need to “uplift the race”.

To benefit her country: the space race was considered critical for national defense.

To benefit the human race: she saw space as the future of humanity.

That is one HELL of a list of motivations, don’t you think?

HOW to do it comes after the “what” and the “why”.   The specific tactics.  She had to

  1. Be ready with the skills to perform
  2. Position herself so that when the opportunity arose, she would be ready.
  3. Be impeccable in behavior, so as to give the “opponents” no room to cut her down for trivial reasons.
  4. Control her emotions. Keep her ego out of it.   This was not just a personal matter–it was about her family, her race, her country, the future of humanity.
  5. Be clear on her ultimate intentions: advancement.  Keeping your eyes on the ultimate goal makes the efforts and indignities along the way less onorous.

She KNEW she was smart enough, strong enough, and ready for the “battle.”   What WAS the “battle”?

To advance through the ranks to a position where she could use her intelligence and energy, get the rewards, play with “the cool stuff” and be of benefit to herself, her family, her race, her gender, her nation, the world.  The conflict would be with an entrenched cultural assumption of racial and gender inferiority.

Who was her opponent?  (“Know her enemy”).   One might think it was the white people  who were making decisions about her, “keeping her down.” That is possible, in which case she would have to either destroy, capture, convert or avoid them.

Another perspective would be that her “enemy” was the meme that said “women and black people cannot and should not engage in these activities” in which case her task was not to destroy people, or an institution, but the “enemy” of a false meme.

From THIS perspective, if science is a philosophy dedicated to asking “what is true?” then if she can replace a FALSE belief (“blacks and women cannot/should not”) with a TRUE belief (“blacks and women are just human beings, and as capable as anyone”) then she has actually been of positive use to the apparent opponents, who were never real enemies to begin with–they simply were asleep to truth, or operating off out-dated information.  Truth increases THEIR chance to survive, and in 99% of cases survival overrides all other values.  (Instances of life-risking heroism or destructive habit patterns can be discussed another time.)

In other words, she had a single thing to prove: that “blacks and women are just human beings and as capable as anyone.”   Every move she made, every step she took, every word she said, every frustration she bore could be considered aimed toward this single goal.  Why?  Because if she could achieve this she would avoid pain and gain pleasure, the point of all living things.

But how do you awaken those “sleeping” potential allies?  You identify the values conflict.   Theory:  illusion gives one set of rewards (social stability, personal ego, etc.) but truth must always give even greater benefits, or it is not truth.  In other words, she will destroy their illusions (causing pain) but ultimately give THEM greater avoidance of pain/gaining of pleasure as well.  You can appeal to almost ANYONE if you can convince them that your new path (tolerance and fair play) will give them greater joy and less pain than their old path.  This comes from “knowing yourself” and realizing that your motivations, followed deeply enough, are universal.

Conflicting goals of her “opponents”:

  1. To maintain social order.
  2. To win the space race

Both are considered survival drives.  But if one is based on a lie (“blacks and women are inferior”) then the short-term benefits are illusions, even if temporarily useful illusions.

But what if we add another theory: “Optimal usage of every human resource will be necessary to win the space race, which is necessary to survive.”

In this case, IF it is true, then it is more important to win the space race than to maintain a lie, even if that lie is comfortable.

If she could identify the deeper, more powerful motivation, and ally herself with that, then the shared overt “mission” (the space race) will override the covert and non-optimal “mission” (to maintain a racist/sexist social order) because it is more carefully aligned with survival needs, and therefor pleasure.

Remember what the Dalai Lama said: “the purpose of life is happiness.”  Show someone how helping YOU will make THEM happy, and you win.

The people “waking up” will feel discomfort as their beliefs are shattered.  That is the war: they will fight to remain asleep.   Mary Jackson therefore had to be willing to experience discomfort to achieve her goal.

Battling against human illusion is a mortal affair.   “People will love you if you can make them think they are waking up. But they will hate you if you actually awaken them.”

Prepare for battle.

She knew herself. She knew that her “opponent” was not people, but bad ideas that actually, ultimately, prevented those people from achieving maximum success.   The “battle” was going to war with the illusions.  Her weapons were emotional endurance, brilliance, wisdom, emotional control, and alliances with her friends, the other two amazing women of “Hidden Figures.”    Her ability to maintain a healthy home life (married with two children) and community service (she was a Girl Scout leader for thirty years) means she had the EMOTIONAL POWER (the “why”) and the clarity of purpose (the “what”) to endure the struggle with an unjust system…and change the world.

Know your enemy and know yourself, and one can go through one hundred battles without danger.”–Sun Tzu

How can we apply this to our own daily struggles?  What is the Five Step process?

  1. Love yourself. This gives you the courage to know yourself.
  2. Love another person. This is the foundation of EXTERNAL motivation as opposed to internal.
  3. Understand History without guilt, blame, or shame.  This allows us to understand both the “opponent’ and the “battle.”  Most racists or sexists are not evil–they are human beings doing the best they can with the resources they have.  YOUR BATTLE IS TO GIVE THEM NEW RESOURCES, SO THEY CAN SEE THEIR PREVIOUS BEHAVIORS ARE BAD FOR THEM.
  4. Support your tribe. Who is your “Tribe”?  For Mary, it was blacks, women, white allies, her nation, the human race. That is a HUGE tribe.  And it allowed her to isolate bigots too closed-minded to be flexible under any circumstances.  That percentage is, I suggest, actually rather small. FIGHT FOR YOUR TRIBE.  Pick the battles so important that the child voice, the “it’s not fair!” voice is drowned out by the “I MUST!” adult voice.  Life isn’t fair.   Get over it.   Fight as hard as you would for your own most beloved child, or your dreams will die.   Pick fights that are important enough for you to be willing to go all-out…or don’t fight at all.
  5. Win.   Commit to a goal that is to the benefit of ALL.  Note that her victory hurt no one, helped everyone. Truth and love are like that.

Know your enemy and know yourself, and one can go through one hundred battles without danger.”–Sun Tzu.  Hidden Figures, Ancient Secrets.

The truth has either been here all along, or it is nothing at all. There is no new truth.




The Narcissism of “District Nine”

A few weeks ago, Tananarive went over to our local park to pick up Jason, and there were police there, and the kids were clustered around.  Her heart was in her throat.  She did not think “happy community outreach.”  She thought Trayvon Martin.   Jason is getting to “that age” where young black boys begin to look like threats.  And it is typical for black parents to have to have “the talk” with them.   A talk that very few whites I’ve ever met have any grasp of. To them, the police are basically helpers, the Thin Blue Line.


They don’t realize that for centuries, WE have been the ones on the other side of that line.



Before I continue, I want to state my position clearly: I did six years of research and have written half a million published words on the subject of race.   My official attitude is that, good and bad, we are equal.   That apparent inequalities are because of different circumstances or initial starting conditions, not anything innate.  So guilt and shame on either side, black and white, is nothing but a lingering belief that we are NOT equal…only this time turned inward instead of outward.  We’re all in this together.  Anyone who EVER senses a different attitude on my part is 100% welcome to challenge me on the subject, ask me to prove how I believe we are equal, that stupidity, incapacity or evil don’t cluster in any corner of the genetic closet like toxic dust bunnies.




We discussed “District Nine” in our AFROFUTURISM class yesterday, IMO  a film where the director/writer allowed his unconscious racial attitudes to shape his narrative in unfortunate ways.  The story, of aliens suffering apartheid in South Africa, was a brilliant conceit in the short film version “Alive in Joberg”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le3y0QlLjJE


But in feature form, something went wrong.  My theory is simple.  If you have a deeply engrained negative attitude you are a bit ashamed of, you can keep control of it so long as you maintain conscious attention.   But under stress, your real attitudes emerge.   Tired, angry, drunk, overwhelmed…the flat rock flips over and the crawlies emerge.

“Alive in Joberg” was small enough that he could keep the entire project in conscious focus, and the creative aspects aligned with the technical, aligned with the philosophical–at least what he CONSCIOUSLY believed himself to believe.


But Neil Blomkamp is a white South African, which makes him rather like a white Southerner, someone dealing with the legacy of horror and oppression.  It took many generations, deep removal from those who committed and defended the sin of slavery, to raise generations of Southerners who could have sufficient perspective to really see how horrible things were, and thus grasp that the descendants of slaves really did suffer enough pressure to explain the disparity in performance.  To be willing to celebrate their ancestors without having to wear blinders about their failings.


Which is necessary to really believe in full equality.    Without that, you PRETEND to believe it. You WANT to believe it.  You feel social PRESSURE to believe it.


But in your heart, you don’t. My favorite test for these attitudes is the question: “under the same historical circumstances, would whites have suffered as much and been damaged as long?”


Anything other than a swift and clear “yes” and I think you are trying to wire-around a nasty mine field, a belief that whites would have done better but you can’t say that out loud.  Or an UNCONSCIOUS belief causing stress as you try to work through it.     Any hesitation, fum-fah, protest about the theoretical nature of the question, comparison with European immigrants (hell, EVERY white person in America is an immigrant or descended from them!), refusal to answer or anything else is evidence of conscious or unconscious conflict on this level.




“District Nine” places blacks as secondary in their own country–all the decision makers and power players are white.  Well, couldn’t that be a conscious political statement?   Yes, but then you have the responsibility to show the inwardness of the Africans, since you are suggesting that apartheid never really ended, it just shifted from one group to another. You have to SHOW that the Africans are as human, by showing their lives, loves, families. A single character would have done it.  If you don’t do that, you are leaving the door open to a belief that apartheid was justified.


The aliens are shown as fully emotional and sentient beings, with hopes, dreams, intellect, courage, and families.


The white people are shown as fully emotional and sentient beings, with hopes, dreams, intellect, courage,  and  families.


The blacks…not so much. And no, I don’t for a moment buy this as deliberate, or a valid tactic to condemn racism yada yada. Science Fiction did this for a century, using aliens as “metaphors” for racial others, while excluding blacks and Asians from anything but secondary roles.  If that.  For most of my life, I could go into any SF bookstore and see thousands of books whose covers and content featured nothing but white people and their imaginary friends: aliens, robots, whatever.   As soon as this started changing, predictably there were complaints of “PC” from those who never complained about exclusion.  Wonder why.


No, aliens are robots do not represent us. They perhaps represent the way white people SEE us,   which is pretty awful if you stop to think about it.  There is clearly not the slightest concern for how we might feel knowing that. And THAT is the lack of extending your own humanity to others.  You don’t think, don’t care about how the Others feel. When you simultaneously appropriate the imagery of their oppression to tell stories, that creates the APPEARANCE of an honest conversation (look at the laudatory interviews) while actually saying nothing at all.




Who, District Nine,  is the black character whose home life we see most clearly (and therefore his “inwardness”)?  The Nigerian gang-lord, a murderous, superstitious, lying, brutal bastard.  The director said that, well, there WERE such people.


Sure. There are also millions of decent, loving, intelligent black people.  The director chose not to humanize even one of them, except peripherally. That was his choice. In the short subject  that birthed the film?  A very nice balance of black and white characters.   The metaphor therefore works.


In the full length film? It feels like the director IS his lead character, a man who thinks he is more “woke” than he really is, who must be infected by alien DNA in an “Alien Like Me” scenario, before he can begin to understand. To that degree, the film is pretty naked and interesting: the director exposing his own wounds, the  “gap” between what he wants to believe (“we are all equal”) and what he actually believes (“whites are more human”).  He can’t help it.


Ultimately, under stress, truth will out. And the making of a full motion picture is a massive undertaking.  He simply couldn’t keep it all under control.


But…does that make “District Nine” a bad film?  No, it makes it a tough film.   Especially for those who want to believe that racist attitudes are rare.   No, Tribalism is nearly universal–and racism is just a more specific and toxic form .

It is EXTRAORDINARY to actually believe in equality.  It takes serious energy to burn away the billions of subtle and explicit inputs to the contrary. In America we’re swamped with them, to the degree that if you genuinely follow the implications you run into vast armies of people defending the defenders of the institution.  Defending the symbols, and criticizing those who dare suggest that there might be something wrong.   Attacking the of those who want or support equality,  attempting to “gaslight” them on a massive cultural level, trying to avoid the guilt and shame and fear that would result from really understanding what happened.


From the safety of  being the heroes of the story, America can condemn the Holocaust. Terrible!  Couldn’t happen here!


Except…it did.  Didn’t look the same. Was chronic instead of acute.  Slow-motion over centuries (1619 until, arguably, about 1970)  rather than compressed into about eleven years (1933-1945) but costing about the same number of man-years of life (simply track the differences in life expectancy and infant mortality).  Equal horror, in my opinion. And unlike the holocaust, the perpetrators were never punished, never forced to confront their victims, were able to promote their version of reality and deny deny deny the truth.


Plenty of our fellow citizens still defend the event, and its after-effects, and current manifestations.  Watching otherwise decent people mocking and joking about Trayvon Martin, church slaughters, and believing BLM protest marchers were “pretending” to be frightened is an eye opener.   Saying black fears for their children was an “inconvenience”.

I held Tananarive when she came back from the park, shaking.

Inconvenience my ass.

It is not an “inconvenience” if you believe that your lives are not as important, your children not as precious, and that the very force you fear is the force the majority population considers to be acting in their interests.  That they automatically side with the police, even in instances where there are videos of beatings and shootings of unarmed people.  The temptation is to think that those officers are acting out the unconscious or unspoken desires of their supporters.  They are the tip of the spear, the active arm of their paymasters.  They are not separate from the rest of the community…they are the id of that community.  And so long as they do not admit that they do NOT embrace equality, no conversation, laws, or smaller actions will long have effect.   The rubber band will snap back into its original shape as soon as attention flags.


I recently read an Quora article about  “how narcissists trap you.”   https://www.quora.com/How-do-narcissists-trap-you


Gaslighting, Scapegoating, Divide and Conquer,  Playing the Victim,  Vilifying True Victims,  The Smear Campaign,  Silent Treatment, Guilt Trips, Cycle of Abuse:  


I was immediately struck by how many of these apply to racism:


Gaslighting: Slavery wasn’t that bad.  The north is as bad for racism.   The civil war wasn’t about slavery, etc.


Scapegoating: The problems within the black community are solely its own fault. Immigrants got over it.


Divide and Conquer: “You’re not one of them. You’re one of us.”  Grading on skin color or perceived “whiteness” (of speech, perceived intelligence, whatever.)    Connect on economic or moral issues, but to stay in the “tent” you must agree (or be silent upon) racial issues.


Playing the Victim:  Southerners are oppressed!   The Northerners were oppressors!  White people are oppressed!


Vilifying True Victims:   Unarmed blacks shot dead in the street were thugs.


The Smear Campaign:    Bringing up the supposedly criminal past of a victim.


Silent Treatment:   Refusing to hear the screams of the bereaved. Not even believing their grief and fear are real.


Forgive and Forget:   “Lets move on from the past” without ever fully admitting wrongdoing.”


Guilt Trips:   Africans enslaved you and sold you to whites…


Cycle of Abuse:   Dangling freedom and equality if you’ll just shut up about oppression…



How many of these apply to South Africa?  I honestly haven’t studied them enough to say.  But they certainly did create a “Divide and Conquer” scenario with  “coloureds”.  The temptation is to think…yeah. There’s a lot of similarity.


Here’s a definition of Narcissism:  “self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.”


What can cause failure to mature?  A gap between deep beliefs and your stated beliefs and actions. You cannot follow two paths at once. It tears you apart.  Denies you the energy you need to awaken and mature.


What can cause a failure to fully accept human equality?  The realization that the people and heroes you admire were less than you think.  But note that you don’t have to demonize them.  If whites were and are victims of these poisonous perceptions…so are black people. And Asians.   And whatever. It is a nearly universal human illness, and it is painful to awaken from it.


District Nine is a film about black pain for white people.  It has no apparent concern for how black people might feel watching the appropriation of their agony.  It is  narcissistic and nearly solipsistic,  a film made by a man who is probably a good man, certainly a talented and intelligent man, who has not worked out his issues as thoroughly as he and his circle of advisors probably believe.   Instead of patting himself on the back, he needs a slap in the face and a scream of WAKE UP!


My goal is simple: ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, ADULT HUMAN BEINGS.  The path is clear: to support thousands of writers and artists who believe in human equality, and willing to stand up to those who ask us to go back to sleep.  You are my brothers and sisters, my tribe.


All you have to do to escape the trap is to refuse the tainted ego bait.   Simply believe that we are basically equal.   If you see unequal results, there had to be unequal circumstances.


That simple belief sets you free.  Then…the Hero’s Journey and the Chakras, the tools of Lifewriting, show you everything you could ever want to know about the world we’ve created, as well as the path out of the political and social swamp.


You’re just one decision away from the peace you’ve always sought.

Let go.






My “men only” “women only” experiment


About ten days ago, I asked a “women only” question about STEM and despite my specific request that men stay out of it, more than 10% of the respondents were men.   Heh.


Yesterday I asked a “men only” question about a different subject, and I’d reckon less than 5% of the respondents were women–and in one case, a second woman reminded her to be polite. And in the other case, the woman PM’d me and apologized.


While this is a very, very limited sample, I think it illustrates the whole “privilege” thing. I’ve seen the same thing with white people interjecting opinions into threads clearly asking questions of black people, and straights interjecting into threads asking questions of gays. A belief that your group needs not play by rules, or represents the Universal Human and therefore knows all, sees all. That you have the right to set the tone and standard, regardless of what you’ve been requested to do. That you determine what is or is not courteous.


What is worse is that when someone does this, and you call them on it, they often explode or collapse.   This is the cost of leaving the Matrix, if you have actually accepted the cultural delusions, and base your ego upon those lies.  Concern about the Alamo movie house having a woman-only screening of WONDER WOMAN falls into this category.  If there were vast arenas in which men were excluded to their detriment…fine.  But do you think the guys objecting to this similarly complained about arenas that exclude women?   When the issue is “Black Lives Matter” and someone screams “why don’t ALL lives matter?” do they grasp that society has never behaved as if that were true?


If on a deep, secret level you believe women, or blacks, or gays, or whatever are inferior, then you get to feel like a wonderful human being for being gracious enough to ACT as if they are equal.     But God help them if they actually act as if they BELIEVE they are equal.   Let alone if they act as if they are BETTER, as your group always has.   In other words…if they are human, and act with the same ego-centric wish to define their territory and stand on top of the world.


They can be equal…but only on YOUR terms.   Pretend-equal.


When you really, really believe in human equality, you grasp that these other groups will want the same things, including the right to feel superior.   The Jews are the Chosen People. The Japanese are all related to the Emperor, who is divine. God made whiskey so that the Irish wouldn’t rule the world.  That is HEALTHY.  Natural.  Normal.  And sick when people don’t naturally “strut” like that.   It is EXTRAORDINARY to find people rising above that perspective.  Seeing humanity as a unified whole. It requires a perspective similar to an astronaut orbiting the earth and seeing the world without boundaries.


It is up to you to decide if this perspective is a good thing.  I can understand someone who says it is not.  But this position, this perspective, makes total sense to me.


Equal means you have the same right to make an ass of yourself, for as many of your group to consider yourselves superior.  That’s human. When you demand that the other group be BETTER or you will consider them INFERIOR, you have set up a “heads I win, tails you lose” game, and anyone who accepts it is automatically a sap.




This was a small experiment, just a little test to see what would happen.  Not scientific at all. But it does back up informal observation, as well as reportage from ANY disadvantaged group: that the dominator group feels it has the right to define the rules, and will then become fragile and angry and DANGEROUS if you simply suggest that they do not. Will attack you and claim you are not living up to standards they themselves cannot maintain.   But YOU must, or you are broken.


Fall for this, and you’re screwed.   The way to avoid it is simple: only care what people say if you agree it is true.   Test truth by applying your principles to body, career, and relationships.   Look at people further down the road than you: healthier bodies, more successful careers, happier families all maintained for longer.   Don’t ask yourself to be perfect, just continually adjust to match the critical overlap between what they say about life, and humanity, and love, and spirit.    Oddly, they seem to be congruent with what the best and most revered spiritual teachers have been saying forever.


That it all flows from love, and unity, and taking responsibility for your own emotions.


People’s wounds will scream at you. Their fear masquerades as anger.  They believe that if they do not control, they will be controlled.   If you agree with them…walk their path. Report back to me in a few years and let me know how that works out, would you?




There is another way, a new opportunity.  Just start with the assumption of equality and work backwards from there.  It’s all a matter of faith anyway: you can’t “prove” it one way or another (so why in the world waste your time arguing with trolls?)  That means equal right to be asinine of course.


But the beautiful thing is that those on either side who have faith in this can communicate beautifully. The others must be combative, will try to control you, tell you what to think and say and be.  If that is attractive to you, go for it.


But I think we have a different path opening for us, perhaps for the first time in human history.  That’s MY belief.  The world makes perfect sense from that perspective.   I like that.