Kai Loma Roolz

I was very lucky to grow up in a curious household. After my folks divorced I lived with my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, three brothers, and three cousins. My grandfather was there too, but he was retired from both his job and the world. He mostly painted and read. In my memories he is sort of semi-tranparent. I have two of his paintings on the wall. They’re not very good, but they bring him to mind.

While he was painting, between the three women they ran a very remote 280-acre cattle ranch, and raised us seven kids. With no other ranches for miles, the only social order I knew was a matriarchy—my grandmother, called at her request “My-mummie” because she said there was nothing “grand” about old people, plus my mom, and my aunt.

After while, my aunt remarried and moved away. And my grandmother decided to return to her work in the larger world, with my grandfather bobbing in her wake over the horizon with his easel under his arm and his lovely smile.

That left Mom running the ranch by herself, and bringing up her four sons, the oldest about ten years old at that time. She ran the ranch by herself for the next six years, with a couple of very short-term husbands mixed in there who weren’t around much even when they were around.

So as you might imagine, I have always found the idea of some kind of claimed feminine inferiority to be laughable. When I was a kid I’d compare my mom to the other kids’ dads running the neighboring ranches, and despite growing up a city girl, she was out there with the rest of the ranchers making their herds pay. She held her ground with the best of them, and was widely respected for doing it. And my grandmother, she’d talked to kings, and smuggled papers across the Iron Curtain so people could get out, and saved people’s lives. I didn’t know one man who had done what she’d done. Female inferiority? The thought never occurred to us kids. We knew the truth.

I was fortunate in another way. My grandmother had grown up in the late 1800’s in remote Louisiana, surrounded by people of color. Hers was the first white family to settle at the far end of Lake Arthur, where according to her the only other people there were “negros, Cajuns, and Redbone Indians”. As a result of them being her playmates, she grew up a fierce opponent of any form of racism. She would never allow what we now call “the n-word” to be uttered in her presence. We were never allowed to disparage people because of their race, or because they were of mixed race. Ever. Oh, she was a lady about it, but if she’d say “You are talking about my friends”, we’d know that we’d done something very wrong.

In addition, my grandmother had run Jewish refugee camps in Germany after WWII. Far from being anti-Semitic, she was actively pro-Semitic, because she’d seen the true human cost of the Holocaust up close and personal. She knew that we all bleed the same color.

Not that either black or Jewish people were an issue when I was in grade school. There were no black people anywhere around. There were no Jewish people anywhere around. There were no Mexican people anywhere around.

Odd. I was raised by women who absolutely would not tolerate any kind of racism or anti-Semitism, in a monochromatic society composed solely of white American Protestant farm and ranch families.

However, the beauty of that was when I did meet people from all the recondite corners of our lovely planet, I was remarkably free of ancestral misunderstandings. This was a true gift.

Of course, the downside was I was also regrettably free of any knowledge about other races and cultures.

Here’s what a naif I was … I had a girlfriend when I was about twenty, a lovely woman. One day she mentioned she was Jewish. I was surprised, and told her I hadn’t known. She was surprised in turn, and said “Couldn’t you tell by my last name?”.

I said “You mean Goldberg is a Jewish name?” …

But it was even worse than that. Not only did I not know that someone named “Goldberg” has a good chance of being Jewish … I truly did not even know that there are last names that are traditionally Jewish. A babe in the cultural woods, hey, I was a kid from a cattle ranch …

I bring all of this up because I’ve been accused of being racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and generally deplorable because of my support of many of the policies of President Trump. Like many people who voted based on policies rather than personalities, I am none of the above. After years of living and working with people of all colors, races, religions, and cultures I’d describe myself as a realist.

I know that women are different from men. Not better. Not worse. Just different.

I know that Swiss people are different from Fijian people. Not better. Not worse. Just different.

img_3457And after spending a quarter of my life living and working outside the US, I’m here to report the bad news for racists, anti-Semites, and xenophobes of all kinds, and the good news for the rest of us.

We’re intermarrying at rates never seen before. We’re all headed for some kind of middle ground. My buddy’s young grand-daughter is one-quarter Choiseul Islander, one-quarter Chinese, one-quarter I-Kiribati, and one-quarter corn-fed Iowa … and like many mixed-race people, she’s nothing but a cutie pie.

Now, throughout history there have been a host of very ugly names for mixed-race people. My grandmother wouldn’t allow us to utter any of those names either. She was death on terms like “half-breed” or “mulatto” or any of them.

So I was overjoyed when I was living in Fiji to learn that in Fijian, mixed-race people are called “kai loma”.

Now, “kai” just means people. For example, “Kai Viti” means Fijian people.

And “loma”?

Loma in Fijian means the center or the middle of something. There’s an island in the middle of the Fijian group called “Loma-I-Viti”, the center of Fiji.

So “kai loma” means the people of the center, the marvelous place in the middle where the races join up, the glorious admixture of all of the colors where our great to the Nth grandchildren will all find themselves …

Because at the end of the day, all of the rivers flow to the sea.

My best to all of my friends—the melanin-deficient like myself, people of color, and a special shout-out to all of the kai loma folk out there, the people of the future, my warmest regards to every one,

w.

PS—I’m told by reputable authorities that the term “melanin-deficient” is no longer considered politically correct, because it implies that a melanin deficiency is some kind of handicap. Instead, I’ve been told that the correct term (at least until next week when it is likely to be declared no longer PC) is the much more neutral “melanin-challenged”.

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31 thoughts on “Kai Loma Roolz

  1. I recently watched the movie Hidden Figures and cringed when I saw the apartheid of the 60’s in the US. Not only the black vs white issues but the denigration of women of any colour and their expected roles in society at that time.

    It was extremely gratifying to see the changes that NASA made to include negro women into the space program even though this was to beat the Russians into space rather than for moral reasons. The achievements of the 3 women central to the movie are extraordinary.

    Although we are not yet perfect in our respect for others who are different from ourselves, we seem to be a long way up the acceptance track, no matter how many compatibility issues remain extant.

    Go see it – you won’t be disappointed and will appreciate the courage of the women concerned.

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    • John in Oz, while the movie Hidden Figures was a very moving movie, and portrayed three remarkable women, it was a true story made for as a movie and not a documentrary. The events portrayed in the movie happened over a much longer period of time rather than the two years the movie covered.. In fact all three women were in their positions at the time of the Russian Space Race and the Jim Crow Laws, separate but equal, had been done away with at NASA before the time the movie depicted. Yes all three endured the challenges and discrimination depicted in the movie.. BUT NASA did not include these women to beat the Russians, it was done due to the changes that were happening in this country because of the Civil Rights movement and the fact the three were brilliant mathematicians…

      I will say as a side note; the fields these three entered the discrimination was more against women rather than race. I can tell you my wife felt that discrimination in the computer field well into the late 1980’s, and she is not a racial minority..

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  2. I know that women are different from men. Not better. Not worse. Just different.

    I know that Swiss people are different from Fijian people. Not better. Not worse. Just different.

    … but equal …

    “no longer considered politically correct”

    So term Y is substituted for term X. Big deal. Everyone knows it’s a euphemism and knows what you really meant to say. Is that so much better, or is it just a rose by another name? If something didn’t really matter, then why mention it at all?

    ‘negro’, ‘colored’, ‘black’, ‘African-American’, ‘person of color’, and a few more, some chosen by their own group. At the end of the day, those people are still black and choosing a new name doesn’t solve racisim.

    The problem is not so much that one race/culture/group is considered inferior (in some vague way), rather that another race/culture/group considers itself superior. There’s the problem.

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    • while it’s silly to say that one race is better than another, it’s also silly to say that all cultures are equal and none are any better than any other.

      and if you really do believe that all cultures are equal and should not be judged, then why are you judging that the 1850’s American south (i.e. slave owning plantations) was bad, or that the culture of the 1930’s Germany (i.e. the Nazi’s) was bad?

      As to the idea that different groups should not consider them superior to any other groups, I will also say that this is nonsense.

      The group consisting of the 2016 Chicago Cubs players have every right to consider themselves superior to every other baseball team that year.

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      • “while it’s silly to say that one race is better than another, ”

        It’s silly for ONE reason: that “better” is undefined. To illustrate this with some stereotypes, if you want basketball players which race would you choose, all else being equal? If you want ping-pong players, which race? It all depends on WHAT you want to be better at. Going beyond the stereotypes, there is a spread in heights (and everything else), so not everyone in any race is a great basketball player or a great ping-pong player, or whatever. Men are generally taller than women, but there is considerable overlap.

        You know the joke … never mind. When the world is politically correct there will be no jokes.
        http://www.learn-german-language-online.com/german-jokes.html

        “it’s also silly to say that all cultures are equal and none are any better than any other.”

        More than silly, it’s WRONG to say all cultures are equal. Or that all races are equal, or that all sexes are equal, EXCEPT before the law.

        “and if you really do believe that all cultures are equal and should not be judged, then why are you judging that the 1850’s American south (i.e. slave owning plantations) was bad, or that the culture of the 1930’s Germany (i.e. the Nazi’s) was bad?”

        I judge almost all of human history to be evil.

        “As to the idea that different groups should not consider them superior to any other groups, I will also say that this is nonsense.”

        Just to mention one example, the Nazi’s behaved the way they did because they believed themselves superior. The Germans thought themselves superior to the French before that too; that was a big part of the cause of WW1.

        “The group consisting of the 2016 Chicago Cubs players have every right to consider themselves superior to every other baseball team that year.”

        Anybody who takes success that seriously denies luck. Being in the right place at the right time and other chance factors. There but for the grace of God go I. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bradford

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        • > I judge almost all of human history to be evil.

          I feel sorry for you, hating yourself never leads to good things.

          declaring that almost everyone in the past is evil also leads to no ability to differentiate between good and evil, and denies credit to all those who have done good in the past.

          > Just to mention one example, the Nazi’s behaved the way they did because they > believed themselves superior. The Germans thought themselves superior to the > French before that too; that was a big part of the cause of WW1.

          The French held reciprical opinions about the Germans.

          Your feeling that almost everyone in the past was evil, adn that National Pride was the major cause of the world wars (because a major cause of WWII was the result of how WWI ended), then you are exactly what the socialists are trying to turn out of schools nowdays. You need to do some reading and research and learn more about the past.

          You should also loose your opinion that the majority of history is evil, people have always ranged from good to bad, and they always will. If the past is all evil, so is the present and so will be the future.

          and as I said, self hate never leads to good things.

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          • Willis said: “I know that women are different from men. Not better. Not worse. Just different.”

            Like Apples and Oranges. We’ve extrapolated a bit, saying the races (or whatever you want to call them) are different, not better, not worse, we’re all human. Hardware-wise, we’re all about the same. Software-wise, there are important differences. That is, if you can imagine us as being like computers. The programming differences are part nature, part nurture, and there is no reboot to solve bugs. The software part is what you “know”, what you believe, and how you act and respond. Religion is one aspect of this, and more generally it’s your culture that forms your basis, altough you can individualize yourself as much as you like. We judge the individual on his own merits, we do not pre-judge him because of his race.

            History on the other hand we can judge as much as we want and not offend the past. We do it based on our modern values, which grew out of older values. The thing to note is that history is largely concerned with wars and kings, and other violent things. Mostly man stuff. I’m guessing, but I think its safe to say that throughout history there have been many good and happy people, living ordinary lives, raising a family, the lives that history tells us very little about.

            “people have always ranged from good to bad, and they always will. If the past is all evil, so is the present and so will be the future.”

            Exactly, but strike the “all”. The past is not all evil. There is evil in the present, but not all is evil. The future will be more of the same. It’s human nature. Some religions have a God and a Devil. Others see those two things as two sides of the same thing.

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  3. The last, and only time I was in Fiji, I encountered the native Fiji-Indian descent conflict. The rules I was told, that by law of the land Fijians own the land, and the Indians, who were brought to Fiji to work the sugar cane fields because the Fijians wouldn’t, these people from India, who came and stayed, can’t own any land but end up running the businesses. That when an Indian was elected “President”, he was forced by arms of “army” to abdicate. Now,I may not have the story straight, but the behaviors I had observed while traveling around, seemed to re-inforce the perception. The people with whom I spoke, shared the tension between Fijians and Indians and the very real animosity.

    As for racism, it was palpable.

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  4. melanin-challenged

    The “challenged” part suggests to me that there is something that might be done about the condition, thereby improving the situation. One can take colloidal silver and get a blueish skin color (argyria). I don’t think this can be reversed. Maybe there could be coloring contests with other chemicals.

    Growing up, the small town (all white) we were in had Protestants and Catholics so we were mostly free of knowledge about other races and cultures. That was so until the small college brought in basketball players from Pittsburgh, I think.

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  5. “I know that women are different from men. Not better. Not worse. Just different.
    I know that Swiss people are different from Fijian people. Not better. Not worse. Just different.”

    Sometimes differences are important and bad results can occur when these differences, including those that are inferior, either physical or mental. are ignored. An example are the enforced adjustments made by politicians for women in the armed services:
    “At the reception battalion, male soldiers must perform 13 push-ups and female soldiers must perform 1 push-up. If a soldier is not able to perform at that level, he or she may be assigned to a fitness company for as long as 21 days. Male soldiers must complete 20 push-ups and female soldiers must complete 6 push-ups in order to advance to a training battalion.
    Such adjustments are considered necessary because female trainees are considerably less strong and have far less aerobic capacity and stamina than male trainees.
    Requirements for graduation are also gender-normed and flexible. In fact, members of a congressional delegation visiting Fort Leonard Wood recently learned that there are separate gender-specific standards for the throwing of hand-grenades, primarily because comprehensive tests at Parris Island in 1987 and 1990 found that 45% of female Marines could not throw a live grenade safely beyond the 15 meter bursting radius.”
    I would personally be a little worried about having one of these “adjusted” soldiers next to me in combat with great potential for not only reduced effectiveness but having to also look out for them. Obviously their combat roles would have to be “mission sorted”.
    There are also the differences between Islamics and Western cultures in which historically Western cultures are on the losing end.
    http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/congress/3-17-98donnelly.htm

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    • I would have no problem with adjusting upper-body strength tests down for women in the military, as long as some other criteria was adjusted up as well. That would show that the overall standards are not being lowered, just that there is a difference between the two groups of people.

      While the Marine mantra “every marine is a rifleman first” is attractive, in a modern military there are a lot of jobs that need to get done that do not involve shooting. For some of them you can just hire civilians, but if you hire civilians and then get into a situation where the civilians will come under fire while doing their jobs, you can run into real trouble.

      There’s also a significant amount of value in being able to order someone to drop everything, go to a place on the other side of the world, live in a tent with minimal facilities, and do their job. You can’t do that with civilians.

      Just recognize the strengths and deploy accordingly. Make sure that all the troops are aware of their own strengths and limitations.

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      • Women tend to have superior lower body strength than men so why not tailor a PE regime that recognizes this? Men own the upper body strength position but us ladies can usually beat them in lower body strength, given equal levels of conditioning. I learned this working out in the gym on Nautilus.

        When it comes to shooting, women also tend to be much more accurate from the get-go. I am surprised that more women are not snipers. If there are female snipers, we sure never hear about them.

        PMK

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          • I’ve heard it before … seems like the military would have data on that.

            I’ve also heard that the percentage of men failing basic training because they couldn’t pass the physical tests has been continually increasing … but who knows?

            Both seem possible … but that means nothing.

            w.

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          • In spite of what they teach in most schools today, there are numerous difference between the average man and average women, some in physical strength and skills, some in mental strengths and weaknesses.

            now, these are differences on average, nobody is average, and what you have are bell curves, so it’s very possible to find women that are better than many/most men in something that tends to be a male strength. But if you had to bet without knowing anything about the individuals, it’s safer to bet based on the averages.

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          • Yeah, seems to be. My trainer was the one who told me about it and he was seeing hundreds of men and women weekly. I figured he had enough experience to know of what he spoke.

            PMK

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    • BFL, the issue is an old one, but it comes down to this: if we were talking pure and simple athletics, the guys would win 9 times out of 10. You only need to watch the Olympics to get an idea.
      However.
      Since PT tests are designed to measure an individual’s fitness, it is in fact logical to apply gender-specific standards. Otherwise, why not let the boys and girls run the 100m next to each other? Is the female gold-medalist LESS FIT than the male one because she’s slower?
      (please do note that as an active duty member of the armed forces I DO have issues with the current standards, but that’s a different can of worms).

      The bigger issue though is:
      War is NOT a sports competition (though it might be fun to settle our differences on the football field or the hockey rink. Tell you what: I would VOLUNTARILY sit that one out. I’d even wear a skimpy cheerleader costume).

      Nor is war the romantic “valiant warriors testing each other’s strength and whoever wins gets the girl” glory-fest.
      It’s a messy, vicious “get them any way you can before they get you” business. And this is where it might be gallant to tell a good half of your population to stay home and knit scarves but it is NOT practical. Especially not in times of modern warfare, especially not if that other half is able and willing to pull their own weight.

      At my age there’s few of my brothers in arms that can NOT outrun me on any given day, the young un’s especially (if we’re talking 2 miles. Once we get to 6 or more, I still routinely leave a bunch of them eating my dust).
      At the same time, I have skills and experience that can keep those same lads alive. That’s what they pay me for (or you, with your taxes, as it were. Thank you.)

      “Obviously their combat roles would have to be ‘mission sorted’.”
      We are. Sorted, evaluated, re-sorted, run through a bag of skittles, and eventually matched to the mission. Unless of course a second lieutenant with a compass and a map has another bright idea (/mild military humor off).

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  6. I have often discussed the problem with equating “difference-ism” to Racism, Sexism, “etc-ism”. We all notice something different in others, whether it is hair color, skin color, sex, age, height, weight, their attire, and whatever else we detect. However, noticing a difference and treating someone in a derogatory manner due to that difference, are not the same thing. In fact, treating them differently due to that difference may also not be a negative thing either.

    Willis – those who have called you negative things because of your views on President Trump harbor a lot more hate than you probably ever have had.

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  7. Loved this essay, Willis. What a wonderful upbringing you had, really did prepare you for life in the big, wide world.

    IMO, there is no such thing as race; all humans are cross fertile and produce fertile offspring. Such is not the case when individuals of different races breed. Mules, the product of a donkey and horse, are hybrids but infertile. Both are equines but they are different enough genetically to render offspring sterile. But it is impossible for two individuals of truly different races to produce offspring, no matter how hard they try. A cat x dog mating will not produce catogs anymore than a mating between a bull and a mare produce a nice utility critter that gives lots of milk but can still carry someone comfortably on its back!

    I would like to see “race” eliminated from all references to humans. It is ok to speak of “ethnicity” but, for me, race is a nasty four-letter word.

    PMK

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  8. Unless explicitly stated, conversations on the internet remove all/any racial bias, just people trying to communicate.
    Can’t be all bad ??

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  9. No one of any sense cares about the colour of someone’s skin. Mine changes if I go out in the sun, or work under the car…

    …but a lot of people care about different cultures. Sometimes the differences are minor, like lighting a candle on a certain day, or baking a particular kind of cake.Sometimes they are more difficult to live with, like not working on certain days when the local culture requires work, or smoking something deemed illegal. And sometimes they become very hard to accept, like killing your daughter if they look at the wrong person.

    It’s all about living together and fitting in…

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  10. I have noticed that there is such a thing as inverted racism. An inverted racist notices that someone is of a different race is being criticised by another of his own and calls out racism. However, the so- called racist may not even have noticed the person’s race and is thinking of their behaviour.

    Along time ago I had a young Iranian lodger who was very keen on the Islamic revolution and, as I found out one lunchtime, lowering his trousers and employing a young British lady to do a Bill Clinton no sex job. Next week he had fallen in love with my stepdaughter and wanted to marry her, despite being 14. The thought of her being taken off to Iran with this character was too much and I sent him on his way, to be criticised by my ex and friend running his school as ‘racist’, and in her case ‘because he is coloured’. (Sorry the of colour was not in vogue then) But the silly thing was that he was not any darker than a European, as are most Iranians and northern Arabs. He was just an arsehole and I had other Iranian friends who agreed with me.

    The same sort of thing happened when the Kippers put out a poster showing Merkel’s army of mainly economic migrants walking into Europe. The Remain side were running a hate accusation campaign and accused them of showing brown faces in order to whip up racism. Looking at the poster carefully, I noticed that most of the young blokes were no darker than Europeans and also, in correct terms, the same race- Caucasian.

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  11. I am a melanin-challenged freckled redhead. I have it on good authority, from a 12 year old boy of Colombian and Cameroonian heritage, who held up a piece of white paper in front of me, that I am not white but pink with brown spots and orange hair! I replied that I am a Mivvy (an ice lolly that is pink and orange). Caused much laughter from said authority and the next redhead he sees will probably be somewhat surprised to also be called a Mivvy.

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    • When I was 30, I surfed every day in Cornwall and aquired a dark tan, When my northern British pal came to see us he said he initially thought I was a Pakistani. My dad was in the desert during El Alamein and they also look like Pakistanis. Surely there must be some sort of a compensation package for mistaken Mivvies and Pakistanies.

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  12. Going even further, the people on the left and the people on the right are the same too, no matter how hard they try to demonize each other. The Dilbert blog had an insight:

    An interesting article in The Atlantic talks about studies showing that liberals think in terms of fairness while conservatives think in terms of morality. So if you want to persuade someone on the other team, you need to speak in their language. We almost never do that. That’s why you rarely see people change their opinions.

    As I often say, fairness is a concept invented so children and idiots can participate in debates. Fairness is a subjective illusion. It isn’t a rule of physics, and it isn’t an objective quality of the universe. We just think it is.

    On the conservative side, morality is usually seen as coming from God. I’m not a believer, so I see morality as a set of rationalizations for our biological impulses. Luckily, we evolved with some instincts for taking care of each other.

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/157277690511/how-to-persuade-the-other-party

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  13. Pingback: Kai Loma Roolz | Skating Under The Ice | Cranky Old Crow

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