Stop the Ignorance
I still find it absolutely amazing that people continue to make offensive generalizations about an entire ethnic minority as if we all move, vote and live as one monolithic entity. Jim Buquo in his horribly racist and unbelievably ignorant remarks in the "Matters of Principal" cover story (issue of June 23-29) appears to have obtained a level of insight into the thought processes of Cincinnati's African-American community that would be possible only by polling a large cross-section, which he obviously has not done.
I'm a graduate of Walnut Hills High School, an African American who currently resides in Washing-ton, D.C. Every morning as I review my daily Internet news headlines from New York, Los Angeles and Cincinnati, all cities in which I have resided, I am saddened only by the state of race relations in Cincin-nati. Buquo's remarks are endemic to the problem.
Charles Winburn never has and quite probably never will represent a majority of the Cincinnati African-American community, and it's an insult to suggest otherwise. He is merely one individual expressing his own beliefs, not unlike Buquo.
In all my years of living in Cincinnati, I have never heard any of my friends, fellow alumni or citizens comment that they resented the racial makeup of Walnut Hills High School.
Buquo states, "Blacks have got a grudge against Walnut Hills." What? From whom is he getting his information?
Additionally, he states that the worst teachers at Walnut Hills are African American. I'd like to review his research, as my own recollection of attending the school reveals an equal distribution of horrible teachers regardless of race. If this has changed, then perhaps his efforts would be best received by approaching the administration about those specific individuals instead of making racist generalizations.
At any rate, I thought the point of the article was to address accusations made against the principal, Marvin Koenig. If there has been administrative misconduct at Walnut Hills, the responsible individual(s) should be dealt with, regardless of race.
Cincinnati definitely has a racial problem that is continuing to slow/stall the progress of the city. People like Buquo should either work for a solution or keep their ignorance to themselves.
Get the Clues
Regarding the cover story "What's Eating Us?" (issue of June 9-15) and Debbie Stinson's letter on the subject ("Looking for the Answer to Obesity," issue of June 16-22), I struggled with the issue of weight all my life until a year and a half ago, when I finally connected with some repressed fear at the level where this particular illusion (issue) resided. I had been practicing mindfulness (awareness) for about 12 years on my own, often despairing of ever reaching my goal, when I finally succeeded.
I recently read Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante H. Gunaratana. In Vipassana ("insight") meditation, which Gunarantana describes, one focuses on one's breathing. The mind wanders frequently, but it's the "noticing it has wandered" that's important — noticing is awareness. I never did sit in yoga positions, but I did focus on my breathing and the results were the same. I also wrote about my emotions, imagining them before I could actually feel them again.
Twelve years might seem like more time than one has to wait, but the whole time I was growing more relaxed, breathing more deeply and regaining my childhood love of exercise and activity, so I was able to stay healthy. And a lot of lesser problems cleared up, to my surprise.
I just turned 60. I have no arthritis, no polyps or disease in my colon. My cholesterol is normal. I'm not diabetic. I use no medicine. I rarely catch a cold. I wear a size 10, and people tell me I look younger. I'm extremely happy.
Parts of this mindfulness process were definitely not pleasant. But I learned that fear and pain are just different types of energy flowing through me, part of my normal genetic heritage, and they meant nothing bad. Furthermore, the fear and pain were in there whether I chose to recognize them or not, and I'd already survived the events or beliefs that stimulated them, so experiencing them now wouldn't kill me. My childhood fears weren't nearly as bad experienced as a grown-up as they seemed to be when I was young.
The reality is, as I've learned first hand, every single person on this planet is repressed and operates from the perspective of illusion to one degree or another, unless they're truly and fully enlightened. And almost everyone denies it — again, that's what repression is. I can only tell I still have some repression by recognizing my symptoms or by getting a correct diagnosis.
Emotional dependence on food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, materialism, money, sports, sex or porn can be a clue that one is repressing fear and pain. Being too busy too often is a clue, and frequently creating a lot of noise or other diversion from feeling is a clue. Feeling nothing most of the time is a clue. Hurting the people one loves the most is a clue. Anti-social behavior is a clue. Living in one's head in the past, present or other type of fantasy is a clue.
Thinking patterns that go round and round in one's head, immature behavior, being stuck, under- or over-achieving, chronic stress, lack of feeling for other people's misfortune, wanting to frighten or inflict pain on others — these are all clues. Having "buttons" that get pushed, patterns of being a victim or perpetrator, not speaking up on one's own behalf, low-self esteem, defensiveness or aggressiveness — all clues.
My experience tells me that, if even little children can repress by holding their breath, squeezing themselves and closing their minds by using determination and their imagination, we as grownups can certainly de-repress by doing the opposite.