I know I have it. Can we go a layer deeper now?

Photo by David McBee from Pexels

Get your shovels, we’re digging deep.

We see a lot of “-ism”s in our precious, American culture these days. What I recently learned is that they are, when left unchecked, all different names for the same, singular “-ism.”

Racism, sexism, ageism, anti-semitism, anti-racism, tribalism, these are all synonyms for the same damn thing:

Unresolved Trauma-ism.

Meet little Mike. This his recollection of the earliest trauma present-day Mike can remember:

“One time, when I was three, I was scared of the dark and couldn’t sleep. I asked Mom to lay with me. She did for a little but then left. I…

And why didn’t anyone tell me it can be so damn painful?

Photo by Samantha Garrote from Pexels

Compassion is a word that shows up in my thoughts, reading, and conversations a lot lately.

It’s usually tied to its best bud: empathy. My recent pondering and discussion have made me realize that my personal grasp of the concept hasn’t been quite whole.

When learning the art of compassion (a work in progress that doesn’t end until I die) there were a few easy-to-swallow, intellectual “gimmies” right off the bat.

Compassion can be learned. The only pre-requisites are the desire to learn it (a big ask for some, I know) and a boat-load of patience.

Compassion cannot be accessed…

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Driving to the doctor this morning for a routine physical. The new tires I just put on my car worked wonderfully in the snow. Listening to “Practicing the Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.

I felt like one of those losers in the movies. The lame adults trying to figure out how to become a better person instead of just… becoming a better person.

As I write this, my girlfriend is on hold with her work’s IT… she’s in a frustrated mood and it’s rubbing off on me. I can hear the low-quality recording of a shitty saxophone melody through…

Over the past year or so, I’ve been learning to see myself as a white person rather than “just a person, like everybody else.”

That has involved reckoning with things like this picture and struggling to understand the concept of cultural appropriation. So, from my place of white, male privilege, here’s the story behind that reckoning.

Let’s start with the backstory to this pic, then move into my faint internal friction with it. Next, discuss how I was called on it, and finally, end with what I’ve learned so far.

The Picture

It’s of me and my girlfriend, early on in our…

I didn’t know it at the time, but we were waiting.

Photo by Thomas Svensson from Pexels

September 11th, 2001.

Crescent Elementary school, 30 miles from 1 World Trade Center.

Mrs. Conlon’s 5th-grade class. I don’t remember much other than the way the classroom looked. The sun was out, shining through the window, blending nicely with the fluorescent lights to brighten the room.

We had been in school for almost an hour. I don’t remember seeing my dad at all in the morning before school. He was usually up early to catch the Bergen Line into Hoboken, where he’d hop on The Path. …

Me (right), my brother (left), and our best childhood friend (middle). We jokingly called this photo the “oreo picture”

I’m white.

After a family trip to the beach, I, and those I’m related to, have been on the receiving end of comments like this:

“You’re so tan! You’re like, Black!”

How to unpack this… I could write an essay about cultural appropriation, but that would probably fall on deaf ears. I feel like I should start by confessing that I’ve taken comments like that as a compliment. After that, I suppose all I can do is tell a story from my experience and try to place it into our current reality.

I was talking to someone about race roughly…

Credit: Anton Chalakov

Let’s start with the highly credible, yet painfully accurate Urban Dictionary definition.

“Black guy: Black Power!

Crowd: Woohoo!

White guy: White Power!

Crowd: Racist!”

Surely not all white people are racist… right?


So where are all the good, well-intentioned, “anti-racist” white people?

Hiding from “white power.”

How do I know? Because I’ve been hiding with them, right in plain, suburban sight.

So I started asking myself questions like:

  • Why am I afraid of white power?
  • Do I have white power?
  • Or any power at all?
  • What is power, anyways?

Honest question: why is white power such a bad thing?

Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

I’ve been noticing my white peers get criticized for centering their feelings when the topic of discussion is racism. Critical terms like “white tears” or “white guilt” come to mind.

Here’s the thing, though. White people have feelings, too. That’s not me crying my own white tears, that’s me stating a fact.

The term “white tears” carries a meaning that draws the line between centering my white experience and owning it or centering my white experience and blaming others for it. The key here is that my experience is my experience, I feel the same in either situation.

The variable…

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

President Barack Obama died in a peaceful transition of power on January 20th, 2017.

He is survived now by Former President Barack Obama and my wavering belief that racism doesn’t exist in the US anymore.

It’s been over three years, which stage of grief are you in?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m a white millennial man from a white suburban area. I had been 18 for all of a month when Election Day 2008 came around. I cast my vote in favor of Barack Obama. In my politically illiterate youth, I liked the sound of his campaign call to bring home troops. Call me naїve, I was.

Fast forward eight years and…

Ask yourself why you feel helpless.

Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

Have you heard that phrase?

I was hit with it when I’d claim I was too full to finish my dinner, or if I’d refuse to eat my veggies. This was when I was young, of course. Maybe 8 or 9.

A couple decades later and I’m contemplating what kind of a message I received and internalized from these dinner table conversations.

They would go something like this:

“Michael, finish your dinner or you can’t have dessert.”

“But I’m already full.”

“Come on, eat your food. There are starving children in Africa. They don’t get food like this.”

“So why don’t we send it to…

Michael Fundaro

Full Disclosure: I'm white, male, straight, able-bodied, and American born. Here to honestly reflect on what I've been listening to and hearing.

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