On May 8th, 2014 I’ll be celebrating the 11th year of ‘Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free!‘
I want to begin a review for the people that are just learning about the OAP, or were not involved from the beginning.
Over the years, many people have told me how hard they think the goals of the OAP are to achieve. In fact, many people tell me it is still impossible. In some ways, I agree with them, but in one major way, I do not. My position is if you continue to get all of your information about and “your people” from one source, or a small list of sources, and not from the very people you consider yourself to be, then yes, it will impossible.
However, if you learn to read and gather information for yourself, then the very question of who you are and what you are capable of becomes a moot point. There is nothing to argue about or explain to someone else. ““How did “we” get to a place where people are asked by our government and businesses to fill out arbitrary and poorly defined forms asking them about their race or ethnicity?” Who made the connection that discussing that “information” is somehow connected to what you can or can’t accomplish in your life?” “What information are “they” using to support that connection and is it still valid?”
‘Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free!’ is not just one project. It is a series of projects – connected and stand alone – that seeks answers on the one hand, and ask questions more questions on the other hand. Although we touch upon a wide variety of topics, ‘Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free!’ is not focused on racism or past wrongdoings, real or perceived. It is more focused on today and tomorrow, and helping to discover the best plan going forward, that everyone can support.
This project is about self-identification.
The first approximately 3 years of the OAP was all research and reading. I have read and researched many books for this project. I have talked with many people much “smarter” than I am regarding the subjects we discuss in the project. It is the reason why today I get to speak at a lot of academic institutions and conferences. I do not picket, boycott, or protest anyone. I simply turn in an abstract that outlines and supports what I am going to talk about to a committee. That committee reviews my paper, then decides if I can be a part of their program or not. I seldom am turned away or not allowed to speak. I have made many friends & contacts over the last 11 years in this way.
In 2007, I traveled to various cities around the country. (Long Beach, CA; Austin, TX; Portland, OR; Cypress, CA; Carson, CA; Youngstown, OH) filming conversations with people I didn’t know and who are more intelligent than I am. People, who have been calling themselves any of the completely arbitrary and legally, undefined “racial” categories for 10, 20, 30, 40 years. To see why they still chose a “racial” category, how they supported that decision, and how it has or has not affected their lives.
Everyone answered the same roughly 20 questions, from “Who is Al Sharpton?” to “Where is Caucasia?” to “What is the legal description of a _____ person in the United States?” Not one person knew the questions until we were filming. I did not prep any of the responses. The conversations are exactly as they happened with as little editing as possible. In fact, I gave each person interviewed an unedited copy of our interview and told them that if they did not like the interview, I would not use the footage. Everyone who participated agreed that I could use their footage. My goal in the filming portion was not to try to embarrass anyone, or edit in such a way to make it seem like they were saying something they were not.
Highlights include speaking with Marc Dann, Attorney General for the state of Ohio. Jim Dear, Mayor of Carson, CA, Dr. Joseph Graves Jr., Professor of Biology at NC A&T University, and Rabbi Brian Zachary Meyer Los Angeles.
Since the completion of filming and editing on that portion and those questions, I have spent the majority of time traveling around the country looking for events and places to discuss the results of my project. I have had more than 40 official and varied presentations of the Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free! The very first presentation was in Carlsbad, CA on 2/18/06 at the Carlsbad Village Theater during a friend’s comedy show.
The picture above is of the more than 1,000 business cards I have accumulated, since then, from business, education, and community leaders around the USA and Canada. I have personally met with all of them to discuss ways to get my presentation, or some the information in my presentation, into their schools and businesses. In some aspects, the current question of focus for ‘Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free!’ is, “Why can’t we add new or different books/information into the conversation regarding race & ethnicity?” Every year it is the same images and information – now sponsored by corporations – that discuss things related to race & ethnicity in the exact same way, from the same viewpoint. In my opinion, no real progress at all.