An Advocate’s Almanac of Commonsense on Anti-Bias Issues


ACCORDING TO LIZ - Are you tired of being told to post your pronouns? I am.

Although I have absolutely no problem with anyone who wishes to clarify how they want to be referred to as, but demanding that I do so as well, feels to me a lot like bullying.  If people are insecure enough to take affront to being referred to by a pronoun that upsets them to the point that it detracts from the content of the conversation, absolutely post your pronouns and unless someone is deliberately trying to get your goat and make the conversation about your insecurities, others will do their best to respect your choice. 

But the pile-on to guilt those who misstate pronouns for any reason has got to stop if civil society is to continue. Another aspect of this was seen in the wave of censure in the private sector that resulted from self-identity groups leveraging power by making unsubstantiated claims of discrimination when they were faulted for not doing their job or for lying or for their own abusive language or poor behavior. 

I’m sick of having friends reproach employees and then being chastised themselves because the person criticized was black or gay or a woman and thought they were entitled to bad choices because of their race, orientation or gender. 

Well, I say to those people, I don’t want to play your blame game anymore. I am not personally responsible for making you feel good. I can only be responsible for anything I have done to hurt you. 

Because you identify as Christian or Hispanic, as a man or a lesbian or a Martian is just who you are, it does not make you a better person. Or, for that matter, any worse. 

I can appreciate your pain from within my own experiences but I cannot change yours. Only you can. So suck it up. 

And remember that a right is not a right in America unless it’s extended to all including the Proud Boys and the Ku Klux Klan. Freedom means allowing these right wing groups their rights and opinions, the same as allowing those of black or gay groups. 

And that diversity is not only black/brown/Asian/white/ gay/hetero/other and degrees of education, it’s also conservative and progressive, trolling and wokeness. 

Society developed systems through the ages to encourage civility – a practice many Americans lost under the triple assault of Trump, Covid, and lack of social media accountability. 

Problems arise when opposing ideas are absent or people don’t speak their truths or, worse, fail to stand behind them, allowing more aggressive ‘tribes’ to take control of the narrative.

What has happened to freedom of speech today when almost 70% of university students are afraid to express their thoughts because they might be criticized? 

When they have seen resulting criticism lead to the loss of friends, advancement, elections?  

After being called out by the thought police, can a person risk a strike two or strike three in any arena – personal, social or professional? 

We all have biases – some learned from our families, some from political groups, some from bar debates. We need to be cognizant of them and how they affect our decisions and actions. 

Everyone – including Neighborhood Councils here in Los Angeles – need to be clear on their values so they can stand up for them and be prepared to clearly defend them when attacked by either the cancel culture or rightwing trolling. 

Canceling is a performance, a claim to superiority, not an effort to resolve matters or improve knowledge. 

Trolling is to deliberately attract outrage; if people do not express outrage when others expect it, one gets attacked oneself. So, to thine own self be true. 

Expressing anger is addicting and leads to outrage-based behaviors including bullying and dominance to allow the perpetrators to feel validated. 

Verbal violence is not physical violence but it has too often been used to justify instigating violence including during the Berkeley protest against Yiannopoulos and on January 6th in DC. 

What January 6th demonstrated was an example of attacking as a pack which gives small-minded people a sense of power they have not earned and do not deserve.  Since the intent is to prove the power of the attackers, Trump’s megalomania was just the excuse to intimidate. 

Whatever the excuse, there would be no placating the crowd because their intent was not to address the excuses but to stroke their own power.  A modus operandi embraced by Trump and cultivated in his followers.  All about power. 

The making a mountain out of the molehill of micro-aggressions is also a form of censorship, an attempt to guilt others to suppress free speech. Claiming to feel unsafe gives people power, leverages their ability to attack those that they feel have power over them without discussing the merits of different positions on a level playing field. 

At the same time, people need to examine their own motives to be sure that they aren’t virtue signaling i.e. moral grandstanding, demonstrating your virtue to others rather than trying to understand, discuss ideas, having reasonable conversations on the issues. 

One question that should be addressed is if the government of Los Angeles and the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment buy-in to wokeness helps mitigate tensions or actually increases bias and factionality? 

Has anyone considered starting a 12-step program to wean people off these kinds of behavior? 

Monitoring of behaviors from Goat Puppet to board members should include a feedback loop to help inform both City and DONE policy moving forward.  For transparency’s sake, concerns about and new and more effective models of addressing such behavior should be publicized and posted on all City websites. 

When there are misstatements, simply correct and move on.  Don’t shame others unless you really don’t want them to come over to your side. Listen from your heart.  Don’t justify accusations by tying them to political agendas and vendettas. 

The price of your own freedom in a diverse and democratic society is permitting expression of others’ views. We can, however, choose to change the present divisiveness by employing tested measures – parliamentary procedure and a basic respect for all. 

If people express ideas counter to your beliefs, take it as an opportunity to educate.  If they were to say your beliefs were wrong, would you accept theirs unquestioningly? So why not ask them why they think the way they do and have an honest discussion so you can understand each other better and perhaps develop solutions that satisfy both sides. 

Allowing criticism is uncomfortable and can hurt so people are going to have to relearn how to parse the difference between an attack on the idea from an attack on the person. 

Fuck racial-sensitivity training – pull up your big boy pants and don’t ask for compensatory comportment from others just because you feel you are in a position of weakness.  Don’t play the victim role and don’t allow outrage. 

Don’t feed the trolls, keep calm and paste on that smile. Try to listen and learn, not overreact. 

Thank you for your opinion. Next?


(Liz Amsden is a regular contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)