Thursday, May 22, 2014


I read an article called "Why Do Millennials Not UnderstandRacism?" the other day. My kneejerk reaction for most articles that have "Why Millennials ______" in the title is blind hatred-- I've seen a few too many op-eds about how we're ruining the earth with our technology, or whatever-- but in this case, I was pleasantly surprised.

The article hits on the fact that most people of my (or our-- I don't know your life) generation believe in something called "colorblindness," or claiming that they "don't see" race, and how this is actually detrimental:
"Compared with previous generations, they’re more tolerant and diverse and profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness. At the same time, however, they’re committed to an ideal of colorblindness that leaves them uncomfortable with race, opposed to measures to reduce racial inequality, and a bit confused about what racism is.
 Seventy-three percent believe that “never considering race would improve society,” and 90 percent say that “everyone should be treated the same regardless of race.”
From these results, it’s clear that—like most Americans—millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, justified by race, that you solve by removing race from the equation. If we ignore skin color in our decisions, then there can’t be racism.The problem is that racism isn’t reducible to “different treatment.” Since if it is, measures to ameliorate racial inequality—like the Voting Rights Act—would be as “racist” as the policies that necessitated them. No, racism is better understood as white supremacy—anything that furthers a broad hierarchy of racist inequity, where whites possess the greatest share of power, respect, and resources, and blacks the least.Millennials have grown up in a world where we talk about race without racism—or don’t talk about it at all—and where “skin color” is the explanation for racial inequality, as if ghettos are ghettos because they are black, and not because they were created. As such, their views on racism—where you fight bias by denying it matters to outcomes—are muddled and confused.Which gets to the irony of this survey: A generation that hates racism but chooses colorblindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it."
I don't have the knowledge or authority to speak on the subject, but it's certainly worth thinking about. The problems with colorblindness were something I was already familiar with, but I was really impressed that  my physical anthropology class covered it-- we learned that race is an entirely societal construct, but also that ignoring it serves to ignore how it's perpetuated structurally. Which I feel is a really rare thing for a lower division class to talk about. Though that may just be because my English teacher last semester made us read articles on how the ideal future is one in which we just claim whatever ethnicity we think is cool, as though that's a solution to anything.

Stay classy,


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Physical connection

Yoga can be used as a great measuring stick for our personal development. If we can slow our movements to the point where our attention is equally divided between our movement and our breathing, we can begin to notice how the two are connected. Then, we can begin to notice what happens when we alter our breathing; we can notice the difference in our movement.

Take sixty seconds, five times a day, to breathe calmly. If we get accustomed to that, eventually we will begin to spontaneously breathe calmly under stress.

If we notice our breathing, we can begin to control it. When we're upset, chances are our breathing has become shallow. If we notice this, and consciously try to move our breathing down to our belly, we can begin to control our emotions. Practice breathing smoothly while exercising. Control of breathing leads to control of emotions.

The physical body can be taken as a metaphor for our entire bio-psycho-social being. If we learn methods of relaxation, balance, and focus under pressure, we can tap into psychological states.

All exercise generates energy; yoga unlocks that energy, and makes it available for use.

Yoga realigns our muscles, tendons, joints, etc., correcting the micro-traumas our exercise inflicts.

Breathing, motion, and alignment. The three components of movement. They are interrelated. If any one changes, the other two change. Stress tends to dis-integrate the system, causing shallower breathing, tightened muscles, bad posture. The more sensitive we are to our body, the more we can manage stress.


Dave Roel.
The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.
- Morrie Schwartz

Monday, May 19, 2014

Olla podrida

If you set goals in all three areas of health, career and relationships, your demons will attempt to distract you away from your path. You need to have some form of emotional processing practice in place to handle them.

Take fifteen minutes in the morning to visualize your goals in all three areas, five minutes each. You might consider taking fifteen minutes at night, to do the same, bookending your day.

The reason yoga, tai chi, or other forms of body-mind/breathing disciplines are important is because they help manage energy, providing us with the fuel to work toward our goals.

Learn how to apply an appropriate amount of time and energy and attention to given tasks. When time is limited, focus on the tasks that are critically important to to our long term goals of maintaining health in body, finances and interpersonal.

Find others. No matter what you are trying to do, someone else has done it before. Find them, and learn from them.

The conscious mind is a wonderful tool, but a lousy master. Although it tries to convince us that it is in charge. The conscious mind alone cannot get us to our goals. Learn to access the subconscious mind: meditation, yoga, therapy, etc. The real work is always done beneath the surface.

All our work in life must rest on a solid foundation of love. Love of self, love of others, love of the world.

We are beings designed to evolve, to grow, to heal, to move, to love.


Dave Roel.
Every action (or non action) has a reaction. Keep that in mind and choose your steps wisely.
- Jennifer Cusano

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sanctification of the platypus

Do you change the way you appreciate a work depending on what you learn about the artist? Or do you just take every work on its own terms, and judge it independently of anything you might know or learn about the artist? Does knowing the background of the artist make our enjoyment of the art richer? Will a bad work become a good work? Do we judge a work solely by how it affects us? Does knowing about the the artist’s ethical lapses make a good work bad? Does knowing the great qualities of the artist make a bad work more favorable? Do we disqualify a great work when we learn that the artist was immoral? Do we eagerly read a bad novel when we learn that its author lived an exemplary life? Jean Genet was a criminal, a thief, a rapist, yet wrote novels and poetry and plays of such beauty and splendor that Sartre called him a saint. Artists are human; flawed and problematic. There are few artists who don’t have some skeletons we would find troublesome; as there are few humans who don’t. If you remove all art from consideration from artists we would find objectionable, we would be left with few works. If you limited yourself to food from countries whose politics you agreed with, you’d starve. We are all compromised. We are all flawed. None of us exempt. We accommodate as we can, to get by in this world. Perhaps we can do no else.


TOTEM from caleb wood on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
Listen a hundred times; ponder a thousand times; speak once.
- Turkish proverb