LoveBolt Lingo

Engaging fresh language and narratives to help us talk about race more accurately and productively

Democracy is a two way street.  Active, informed participation by citizens is required to ensure our government functions properly.  The notion that we can be citizen spectators is absurd.  Citizens must be actors in the play of democracy, and getting back on the stage requires taking on the basic obligation to stay informed and engaged.  LoveBolt Nation aims to cultivate a culture of Active Citizenship through all three of our campaigns, reviving JFK’s inspirational challenge: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  The first thing we can “do” is commit to educate ourselves on the issues threatening our democracy, using well-vetted, balanced news sources.

This is an oxymoron.  A true citizen cannot submit to apathy and absolve themselves of the duty to actively care for our government.  Yes ours is in a state of dysfunction, but we must acknowledge that our complacency and apathy as citizens have been aiding and abetting factors to the problems in D.C.  It is unacceptable that most Americans can’t tell the difference between a gerrymander and a filibuster, as both arguably threaten our democracy more than Isis or Q-anon.  We must learn some basic lessons about how our government works in order to participate in our democracy in a meaningful way.  

In his books Stamped from the Beginning and How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi asks us to consider the powerful role passivity plays in the perpetuation of racism.  Kendi asserts you cannot be ally and truly oppose racism if you remain passive. If you are white and operate in social or work spaces which are almost exclusively white, chances are your passivity is perpetuating racial inequities.  So many systems put in place with racist intent no longer require overt bigotry to continue their operation — they create racial inequity on autopilot. Your active engagement has the power to disrupt this cycle. A new standard of accountability must be established which calls out passivity as complicit with racism, and white people much hold each other to this new standard of rejecting “Newtonian Passivity” (see below).

The set of benefits which automatically comes with being white in America. “I never realized fearless ornithology was part of the benefits package, but that Amy Cooper/Central Park birdwatcher viral video made me realize it is!” 

The LoveBolt urges each member of LoveBolt Nation to work to develop a personal social justice action plan that is tailored to their specific interests, skill set and personality type. This is the opposite of box checking, performative ally efforts, and will lead to a fulfilling, sustained commitment to One Generation Change. Pairing a skill that you enjoy with a deep dive into cause about which you are passionate is an absolute win/win. 

This phrase describes the new accountability standard which we must adopt in regard to passivity in order for our society to move forward.  When people exhibit “Newtonian Passivity” (see below) we must help them understand that passively operating in white social silos is actively fueling racism.  Contemporary racism does not gain power through overt bigotry, but rather through the seemingly benign passivity of mainstream white America.  We should use an “Intent Neutral” analysis to hold each other accountable so that we can remediate unjust spaces and institutions without pointing fingers at individuals. If the demographics of a given space skew absurdly white when compared to the demographics of the city or town in which it resides, that space is most likey a place where racail inequity is being perpetuated.  Once identified, work to help make these spaces more just by bringing in more people of color. 

Before the civil rights movement racists were not shy about asserting their beliefs openly and directly in public. Racism was socially acceptable due to the fact that white supremacy was seen not as a belief but rather as “natural law.”  Politicians even used racial epithets in their diatribes. That changed in the mid sixties, as overtly racist speech drew moral opprobrium.  Racism was still in high gear, but politicians had to be more delicate in tapping the reservoir of racism in their base.  Racial epithets were replaced with phrases such as, “States’ Rights,” “Forced Busing”, “The War on Drugs”, “Welfare Queen” and “Tough on Crime” all of which were designed to trigger racist sentiment, whether conscious or not.  The “Southern strategy” was developed using “dog whistling” to appeal to bias not just in the South but all over the nation.

Colorblindness came in vogue just as the civil rights movement began to wane and gave white people a pass on doing the hard work associated with dismantling racism, as this approach assigned them a singular task — ignore race and try “not to see color.” This led us to do nothing about our nation’s grossly uneven playing field and created a void of basic knowledge vis a vis race within mainstream white America — it turned out that ignoring the issue led to ignorance, not enlightenment. Trying to be colorblind led white people to be blind only to the vast inequities still being perpetuated by the infrastructure of racism in our country which was constructed over a span of centuries and had become deeply entrenched.  We cannot dismantle this embedded infrastructure by ignoring race.  To the contrary, we must spend the next generation intently focusing on race in order to vanquish the racial disparities in every sector of our society.  As noted by former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way.”  

When “Monochromatics” (see below) think about race they often resort to stereotypes and essentialism because they have no close personal interaction with people of color. Their understanding of race is thus limited to the conceptual, whereas if they had close friends of color, they would personally learn a great deal about race simply from being with their friends sharing life experiences. For example, a microaggression might sound small if you do not have friends of color. But if you are with a friend at the mall and witness him being followed by a security guard, you suddenly “get it” because it is now personal to you and has been put in context — it’s no longer a concept, it’s finally “real” to you.  Feeling pain for your friend moves you, deepens your empathy and expands your perspective. Having friends in other communities helps us understand each other and the distinct issues we face. This degree of empathy is essential for as we aspire to build a more equitable society. 

If you become ill and are diagnosed with a treatable cancer, the diagnosis obviously is not a cure. In order to be healed you must go through an extended protocol of treatment and be diligent about taking measures that help prevent the cancer from returning. In this analogy, if racism is that cancer, then the civil rights movement was simply the diagnosis for white people. The cure would involve much more than making a few lifestyle adjustments — it would involve changing the fundamental way white people perceive the world and reconfiguring the tribal manner in which our social lives and neighborhoods are presently organized. The residue of a supremacist mindset would need to be addressed as well. Reframing a centuries old perspective which has been considered “natural law”  is a tall order indeed and such fundamental change requires commitment and hard work.

However, even before the end of the civil right movement, the concept of colorblindness made white people feel that the diagnosis WAS the cure. This meant there was no need to take any medicine or do any work — no rehab was needed. The next step was just to pretend as if nothing ever happened — as if our nation could just call a “redo” on our failed experiment with equality.  Pretending we have a level playing field and that our minds have not been infected with a mindset of superiority is like signing up for a triathlon when we should be signing up for a chemo protocol — totally out of touch with reality.  Centuries of brutal, dehumanizing oppression and the vast network of systems and structures put in place to maintain white supremacy cannot be dismantled by simply pretending not to see color.  White people must do the work that colorblindness allowed them to ignore, and the first step involves seeing how uneven the playing field remains and taking steps to level it.  

People who do not have friends of other races may feel that there is some inherent difference that has kept us apart. This is part of the narrative that was designed to “keep the races from mingling” and has been an essential element of the “Pawn Factor” (see below) con game.  Residential segregation was put in place intentionally by vast systems of social engineering to keep us in separate neighborhoods and make it inconvenient for us to socialize and be near one another.  This proved tragically effective as neighborhoods are the anchors of our social lives, and it requires intentionality to befriend people whom we do not run into on a daily basis.  A lack of proximity also makes it harder to maintain friendships once they are forged. 
Fake Difference is dispelled almost immediately when white people make an intentional effort to lead socially inclusive lives. The human genome project revealed that all of humanity was “born” in sub-Saharan Africa.  Our DNA proves we are all African and that we did not begin migrating out of Africa until 70,000 to 100,000 years ago. This span of a time is a drop in the bucket in terms of the ability for a complex species to evolve. Of our roughly 25,000 genes, thousands must mutate in order for layered, nuanced “traits” such as intelligence or athleticism to evolve differently, while only a handful of genes need to mutate in order for skin color and hair texture to change. For those who migrated to the north, their skin received less light, causing a deficiency in the production of Vitamin D.  Thus mutations for lighter skin with less melanin, a natural sunblock, were favored. Humans of different races are like the same model of super high tech robots but each spray painted a different color. Race truly is skin deep.  

Racism is all too real, but race itself is not.  Race is a social construct and thus its boundaries are fluid and can be adjusted to the social mores of a given era.  Many immigrant groups who had white skin were still not considered “white” upon their initial arrival in America.  Italians, Poles and even the Irish were not considered white when they began immigrating en masse during the last half of the nineteenth century.  The racism expressed towards the Irish by Ralph Waldo Emerson in English Traits is shocking to read today, but the sentiments expressed were common at the time.  Eventually these immigrant groups who were,to the common eye, objectively “white” were also able to join the subjective club of “whiteness” with associated benefits as they assimilated.  Sadly, assimilation often involved sacrificing outward signs of ethnic heritage.  Today we understand that we lose a great deal by demanding complete assimilation and the notion of the “melting pot” has become passe as it promotes a cruel erasure of culture.  A more helpful metaphor to which we should aspire (as trite as it sounds) is a quilt of many colors.

As we dismantle structural racism we must replace it with an infrastructure of equity which can only be built by putting strategic, concrete systems in place across every sector of society that strategically reverse the effects of the many generations of barriers that black and brown people have faced in our nation.  “Greenlining” is a concept that could be adopted by federal, state and local governments and the real estate and banking realms of the private sector NATIONWIDE to put programs in place that would systematically work to reverse the devastating effects of redlining, white restrictive covenants, urban renewal, block busting, steering, nefarious lending practices and the use of highway construction and other seemingly “race neutral” techniques to decimate and perpetually segregate black and brown communities. All levels of government and the banking and real estate industries have been historically complicit in creating myriad systems which have denied black and brown people access to real estate and the wealth creation associated with home ownership. Many redlining practices continue to this day and were rampant during the lead up to the financial crisis. Some banks held real estate “seminars” at black churches and then intentionally and systematically placed those who applied for mortgages in subprime loans EVEN WHEN THEY QUALIFIED FOR LOWER RATES, as banks were incentivizing their loan officers to issue as many usuriously lucrative subprime loans as possible (see “Systemic Remediation” and “Vintage Racist Infrastructure” below).  These industries must atone for their past actions by activley supporting efforts to build this infrastructure of equity.  A superfund model could be used to collect and disburse funds in a way that would dramatically increase black home ownership.  

A large part of One Generation Change will involve identifying racially inequitable spaces that we occupy and working with others to make these spaces just.  The tool we will ask people to use to identify these spaces is intent neutral, similar to strict liability in tort law. Our sole focus will be to discern glaring disparities in the demographics of these spaces when compared to a given city or town’s overall demographics.  We will start with those spaces which are skewed absurdly white.  In addition to making the identification process very simple, this approach has the very significant benefit of NOT engaging the white guilt rabbit hole, as racist intent is not the focus. The first space all white people should start with is  assessing their own living room — does this space skew absurdly white? If so, our Bond! campaign is designed to help!

The concept of intersectionality was develped in the late 1980s by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics “intersect” with one another and overlap to form one’s unique identity.  An affluent, black, gay man living in Brooklyn and a poor, black, heterosexual woman living in a small Southern town surely will have very different senses of their identities, but so often the world assumes they hold the same views simply due to their blackness.  “Salient Identity Theory” takes this a step further, revealing that we have a hierarchy of our identities, the order of which can change according to a given context. These concepts underscore the absurdity of essentialism and take us down the noble path of respecting the individuality and uniqueness of all.

This phrase describes how whites have fueled structural racism so that it perpetuates generation after generation.  Today there is no need to take overtly racist action to keep racist systems operating. Passivity has become the fuel of systemic racism and is all that is needed to keep the ball of racail inequity rolling.  Whether whites or consious or unconscious that this is occuring does not impact the situation.  To end this continuum, whites must step out of their passivity and actively kick the ball aside. (see “Newtonian Passivity”).

This term describes the intentional, proactive, “all in” process of leveling the playing field in our nation by dismantling the infrastructure of advantage which still exists for whiteness and proactively allocating resources and opportunity to “others” until the playing field is even and all have a realistic shot at the pursuit of happiness.  We must boldly adopt, embrace and fully support programs and policies which will result in creating equity in fact and result.  The more fully we commit, the more quickly we can end this necessary race conscious phase on our path to fulfilling our nation’s fundamental promise of providing equality for all. Conversely, the more we resist this necessary phase, the longer we will continue to spiral without making progress. The costs of denial and resistance are becoming increasingly clear as our circumstances become more dire.  

The committed, hopeful community of justice seekers actively working to bring about One Generation Change through our Charge! Bond! and Flash! campaigns.  

A white person whose social circle is completely white. Monochromatics may feel as if “they don’t have a racist bone” in their body, unaware that by leading monochromatic social lives they are being used as passive pawns of structural racism to perpetuate racial inequity. 

In the long run treating people humanely is both the morally just and the fiscally prudent path.  If we had adopted universal health care when it was first proposed by Harry Truman in the late 1940s, just about all Americans alive today would have grown up with consistent, solid health care — including required annual checkups.  As result we would be in a far better place today in regard to the well-being of our citizens, the costs of caring for them, and living the ideals on which our nation was founded.  For people born into generational poverty, “inalienable rights” are no more than a vapid promise.  The notion of “the pursuit of happiness” is absurd when one is perpetually housing and food insecure. The same long term strategy should be taken in regard to the environment as well. The carbon to green transition is expensive on the front end, but the “back end” of remaining carbon-centric involves costs we ultimately will not be able to bear. 

This term is simply another way of describing structural racism with a focus on mechanics and the active power of passivity.  Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion will continue on the same path and in the same direction until disrupted by an outside force. This law of physics also aptly describes the manner in which structural racism operates. Even though so many of these systems were put in place close to a century ago, they have never been sufficiently disrupted, so the forces of racism keep rolling — all that was needed was the initial thrust generations ago. “Passives” fuel inequity and perpetuate it simply by doing nothing.  Watching the ball of inequity roll by instead of kicking it aside is exactly how racism keeps rolling. 

The core mission of LoveBolt Nation is to end systemic racism in the U.S. in one generation through our CHARGE! (education), BOND! (social inclusion) and FLASH! (activism) campaigns. One Gen Change is highly motivating as it reframes the social justice landscape by putting change “on the clock.”

This term is shorthand for the process of working to make the spaces and institutions which define your day to day life racially equitable.

This acronym stands for “purposely not capitalized” and appears after some names or phrases that are traditionally capitalized but do not deserve the respect that capitalization infers, i.e. jim crow.

This is the model LoveBolt Nation will use for to promote cross race friendships as our BOND! campaign launches in earnest after pandemic restrictions on gatherings are eased.  Intentionally seeking diverse friendships to broaden our social lives (and our perspectives) is what we all need to do, but this can seem artificial and forced UNLESS a shared passion or interest is used as a springboard to friendship.  Passion based connections are inherently authentic and this authenticity eliminates any awkwardness, making the process natural and fun.

a white person who feels they are “not racist” but who aids and abets structural racism by not acknowledging the force of these systems and their own complicity in keeping them going. In the past Passives have not been seen as racist by most other white people, but the LoveBolt will be working to usher in a seismic shift in accountability — passivity now will need to be called out for being what it is — complicit with racist forces that keep us apart.

This term refers to the legacy of racist systems put in place long ago that still structures our lives today, despite the lack of present day racist intent. Redlining is an example of a system that has a Pawn Factor effect as it was begun in the 1930s, but its legacy is still causing neighborhoods to remain starkly segregated well into the 21st century.

This term describes a person not truly committed to a cause who nonetheless engages in surface level activism (i.e. “slacktivism”) to burnish their perceived reputation as a “woke” ally.  Developing a “Bespoke Action Plan” (see above) is the opposite of being a performative ally.  

Racial dialogue is often derailed by a profound disparity in “fluency.”  Fluency correlates directly with depth of experience, similar to learning a language. People of color are fluent about race because day to day experiences force them to deal with it on a personal level whether they choose to or not — while white people can generally choose to consider the issue at their pleasure, often at a conceptual rather than a personal level, or they can opt out of engaging altogether.  People of color have no choice but to enroll at birth in a lifelong racial fluency immersion program, while for most whites even the 101 class is an elective they choose not to take.  Our CHARGE! campaign aims to dramatically increase racial fluency by mainstreaming an understanding of the power and scope of systemic racism — how it was created, how its current operation relates to the past, and how it is now fueled primarily by passivity and implicit bias rather than overt bigotry. We also explain how the deeply flawed historiography of race embedded stereotypes which survive today both explicitly and implicitly. We will launch creative, art driven video campaigns on Instagram and TikTok, raise awareness with Facebook forums, post blogs on our website breaking down complex issues, and publish free, downloadable primer decks which can be used by all kinds of organizations to increase and massively scale the understanding our nation must attain in order to drive change forward.  

The term “patriotism” has been hijacked by fringe groups that have put tribal loyalties above national allegiance.  Tribalism is antithetical to patriotism.  Our Constitution — which defines who we are and what we believe as a nation — was forged by thirteen states which were willing to reject tribalism. They made concessions that sacrificed benefits to their “tribes” because they knew such sacrifices were necessary in order for us to unite and build the “greater good.”  They believed that the United States as a whole would be greater than the sum of its thirteen tribes. Patriotism is defined by this core belief and an understanding that compromise is essential for maintaining this “greater good.”  Conversely, when we devolve into tribalism, the “greater good” is necessarily imperiled.  

The legal term “standing” or locus standi is the right of the plaintiff to bring a case in a court of law.  Standing is determined by that party’s relative CONNECTION to the alleged harm which is the basis of the suit.  If there is not a close enough connection, the court can rule that the party cannot bring a suit on the basis of a “lack of standing.”  The LoveBolt has borrowed the term to describe Monochromatics who express opinions about communities in which they have no close friends. This lack of personal CONNECTION to the community reveals that Monochromatics cannot understand that community’s perspective, motivations or needs and thus cannot pass judgment in a fair manner. Monochromatics, by definition, cannot have the relational standing required to opine on communities of color. 

We can only dismantle structural racism by putting strategic, concrete systems in place across every sector of society that strategically reverse the effects of the historical systems which continue to shackle black and brown people and perpetually block their ability to make progress.  “Greenlining” is one such example and would be used to reverse the crippling effects of redlining and related real estate and mortgage finance systems to deny black and brown people the ability to own homes in the neighborhood of their choice and benefit from the wealth creation associated with home ownership. The infrastructure of racism is vast, complex and layered and was created by erecting social engineering systems and laws which organized our society around a codification of white supremacy. This occurred over a span of centuries, with a flurry of activity during the jim crow era. Such complex, intentionally engineered systems will not just disappear over time, they must be intentionally dismantled. Having an understanding of how they were constructed will make the process of deconstructing them less difficult.  This is yet another reason that we must face and understand our past.

This term refers to the self-preservation awareness that must always be “on” for people of color, and for black males in particular.  The assumption they must make is that they may be seen as threatening to white strangers and must be prepared to modify their movements accordingly or else risk being harmed.  “Situations” can escalate in a matter of seconds.  If in the wrong place at the wrong time, simply putting a hand into a coat pocket can become a mortal misstep.  It is heartbreaking for parents to have to explain this to their children, but it would be grossly negligent for black parents not to have what is colloquially known as “The Talk” with their eleven-year-old black son. This need to be constantly “on guard” is but one of the many stressors that adversely affects the baseline health of people of color in the U.S.  Living with a perpetually high level of cortisol in one’s blood stream is a life threatening (and life shortening) effect of systemic racism.

Our nation has been crippled for generations by a zero sum game mentality which is foundational to tribalism and which works in opposition to the “greater good.”  LoveBolt Nation has zero tolerance for this mentality and will spotlight the need for our entire nation to reject this tribal perspective.  

This concept developed as human kind began to organize into structured societies with a sense of shared destiny.  As people were bound together by common interests and collective purpose, they believed that their future would be brighter as a result of cooperation and collaboration as opposed to “going it alone.”  The “social contract” evolved as people were willing to sacrifice certain liberties and limit personal gain in order to recieve a sense of security and hope for a “better tomorrow” for their children.  
When resources suddenly become scarce or when we are united in fighting a common external foe, the sense of the greater good often is felt more palpably.  During WWII rationing was accepted at home because we were faced with such a profoundly nefarious enemy abroad. Good and evil were clearly defined, and we were bound together in the fight to save democracy.
But when strife arises internally due to political or ideological wrangling, that sense of the greater good erodes.  And when tribalism joins the fray, the phrase begins to lose its unifying power, as what is good for one’s own tribe eventually trumps that of the greater good.  As tribalism increases, a zero sum game mentality gains a foothold and infects our perspective on how we define our nation.  “We the people” somehow becomes a subset of what it once represented, splintering along racial, ethnic and class lines.  
The rise of tribalism in our nation coincided with a series of events which further imperiled our collective commitment to the greater good.  The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, expansion of cable and talk radio to nurture tribal ideologies, rise of the internet, consolidation of media into the hands of just a handful of conglomerates, unforseen growth and power of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, use of social media and the web by fringe groups to spawn tragically successful recruitment efforts, and the enormous scope and strength of lingering implicit bias all joined to create a landscape in which tribalism could thrive. 
The greater good has been further threatened by the shift in the “news” landscape, as mainstream Americans seek to be “affirmed” rather than “informed.”  Over the course of the last two decades we have increasingly chosen our “news” portal based on ideology, prioritizing confirmation of our biases over journalistic integrity.  And in most markets “local” concerns are no longer adequately covered by local media, as local newpapers have shuttered and local tv news coverage has been hijacked by consolidation of local television news under Sinclair Broadcast Group’s massive acquisition campaign.  Sinclair owns around 290  television stations across the United States in 89 markets and mandates all stations run certian ideological pieces supporting a far right political agenda.  Under the Trump administration, rules of the Federal Communiciations Commision governeing local news were changed to turn supposedly “local” television operations into a coordinated national platform for the delivery of messages such as:
“Many members of the media and opponents of the president have used this issue [separation of children from immigrant families] to make it seem as if those who are tough on immigration are somehow monsters. Let’s be honest: while some of the concern is real, a lot of it is politically driven by liberals in politics and the media.”
We are being manipulated further by algorithims which again seek to feed confirmation bias.  Everywhere we turn, we are getting information from sources which take facts and mold them to suit a given narrative that supports our political beliefs.  Those engaged in Active Citizenship reject manipulation by intentionally seeking to acquire their news from vetted sources which seek a balanced presentation of the news, focusing on the bare, unspun, objective truth.  We all must make this a daily practice if we want to restore the power of the greater good to drive both policy and public sentiment in our nation.  

Share your ideas for additional LoveBolt Lingo so that we can create better language and approaches to talking about race.