On overcoming discrimination

Addressing discrimination, having empathy, melting Antarctica, spooky crimes, and being understood.

Hi friend,

At many points in my life, I have faced discrimination as a gay Asian man.

In dating, I've been either cast aside or specifically chosen due to my race. At work, I've been in difficult circumstances and faced vitriolic remarks without any business or performance rationale. In job interviews, I've been tested in ways that my other predecessors have never had to experience.

I cannot pass as a heterosexual male, even if I tried. Not only do I look gay, but I also sound gay, and I act gay. When it comes to my race, I wear my yellow skin for all to see.

When discrimination happens, it isn't something that can be easily pointed out. There is never a "right" way to be racist or homophobic. The words "racism," "homophobia," and "discrimination" never happen in the same sentence they are projected in. And discrimination can come from anyone - republicans, religious folks, but also democrats, feminists, Asians, and queers as well.

I try to avoid sounding the alarm for "discrimination" until I have hard evidence, such as documented racist rhetorics and homophobic quips. But it is often too late to act on a situation when it has gone that far. Combating discrimination starts at the very beginning. And sometimes, it calls for being on the defense and offense.

One of the critical things to know about discrimination is that perpetrators never believe they are discriminating. They live out their lives, reinforcing their prejudice behaviors and thoughts based on select experiences.

"It seems like Asian waitresses serve me slow, so I can help them by reminding Asian waitresses."
"It seems like all of my gay friends party a lot, perhaps that is why my gay colleague looks tired during this morning's meeting." 

Creating bias is all a natural part of our survival mechanism. We create patterns and associations of the world around us for safety. By trying to "figure out" someone before we have even met them, we believe that we are proactive with our lives. However, in a world with over 7.7 billion people across different cultures, ancestry, and genes, this is all a fallacy. Meeting anyone new with a blank slate would do us more justice, expanding our awareness of personality types that we have not experienced before.

Worse yet, some perpetrators aren't even aware of their own change in behaviors. They play into discrimination, favoritism, and personal bias. These individuals are completely unaware of the hurt they inflict onto others because they have not yet addressed their wounds, fears, and insecurities.

Although this piece isn't meant to excuse discriminatory behaviors (discrimination in any form is not okay), this piece intended to shine a light on the larger miscommunication that is happening.

We imagine that the more we report, the more we cancel, the more we fight back, that the perpetrators will somehow "get it." But it could not be further from the truth. These individuals are also looking for more reasons to validate their discrimination. Our voices become fodder for the prejudice we have yet to face in the future. We see this unfold in media and politics today.

So the lesson here?

To combat discrimination takes empathy and love.

As difficult as it is, the way to the future is through empathy, and genuinely understanding where people come from first before we present our ideas. 

To eradicate decades of prejudice, beliefs, stereotypes, and biases is tough work. By opening up our ears, we can slowly open up our hearts for each other. Asking questions, letting people speak, and finding a middle ground to empathize with one another is the way towards equity. Even the illest intent can still be responded to with love and compassion.

By taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, we see that almost every single human has been traumatized in one way or another. Some of us have built the tools to cope and heal, but many have not. Holding a compassionate space for empathetic exchange and loving communication is not easy, but it is vital in addressing the underlying pains and roots of discrimination.

Be vigilant in creating the space for healing.

Stay steadfast in protecting oneself.

Always come from a place of love.

This work is never easy, but together we can make a difference.


The Doomsday Glacier

Glaciologists have described Thwaites as the "most important" glacier in the world, the "riskiest" glacier, even the "doomsday" glacier.

It is massive - roughly the size of Britain.

It already accounts for 4% of world sea-level rise each year - a huge figure for a single glacier - and satellite data show that it is melting increasingly rapidly.

There is enough water locked up in it to raise world sea level by more than half a metre.

Antarctica melting: Climate change and the journey to the 'doomsday glacier' by BBC.

Ghost Crimes

Lately, I have been watching The Outsider on HBO. It is based on Stephen King's novel, The Outsider, following a crime that deals with the supernatural. Fantastic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and the acting is pretty impressive.

Quote I'm Pondering

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." - Stephen Covey

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

Overcoming the deadliest month of all

Advice handling overwhelm, experience with death, secret companies, political campaigns, and improving typing.

Hi friends,

Since January has come to a close, I and many others around me have felt extremely anxious, overloaded with work, and overwhelmed.

Statistically, January is the most fatal month of the year. We go from December- a month of closing down our work, being around people 24/7 to a January- a month of hustle, usually by ourselves, with no end in sight.

And to add on top of this, we have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) still in full swing, and we go directly into a month that is centered around measuring how much love we have for one another (February 14, Valentine’s Day).

In this extreme shift from month to month, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed.

And with how much this is being encouraged by media, you should feel overwhelmed.

If this resonates with you, a few tips of advice:

  1. Assess if you are getting what you need as Maslow's Hierarchy of needs suggests.

    Are you getting enough rest or nutrients?
    How are your finances and overall health and balance of stress?
    How are your relationships personally and professionally?
    How do you feel about yourself?
    And lastly, are you aligned with your purpose?  

  2. Address issues from bottom up.

    When there are many things out of balance, address them separately. We often think that there is a single solution for all of our problems, but the reality is... there isn't. Completing a work assignment isn’t going to radically improve your health. Mending a relationship won't guarantee that you’ll get out of an unstable financial situation.

    Write a list of all the things that are ruminating in your head and tackle them one by one, starting with the lowest common denominator: your health, sleep, and nutrition. You can't work if your body can’t function.

  3. Create a buffer before you even need it.

    Give yourself more time and opportunity to do the things that nourish you. To buffer in rest, end the day a lot sooner than normal. To buffer in improved nutrition, add more healthy options to your pantry. To buffer stress at work, negotiate a smaller deliverable and pad it with extra time. (We often underestimate how long things will take- I am extremely guilty of this.)

    By giving yourself space, you can start to regain control over what might have seemed like a lost cause.

  4. Lastly, give yourself some compassion.

    Forgive yourself for where you are today. Don't let the past discourage the potential of today. And don't let the future that hasn't happened, paralyze you from moving toward your goals.

    With each day, a new opportunity to try something new or to continue chipping away at that larger goal you've always dreamed of.

The world is in a very tumultuous state right now and we need to take care of ourselves first if we want to be here for the future.

I recently published a podcast on a topic that hits a bit close to my heart - death. A little over a week ago, I had a friend from San Diego pass away while he was getting ready for work. Life is extremely precious and we often forget how quickly it can disappear. We need to focus less on others and more on ourselves during this short time on Earth.


The Company that Doesn’t Want You to Know

By the NY Times: The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy Before We Know It

But without public scrutiny, more than 600 law enforcement agencies have started using Clearview in the past year, according to the company, which declined to provide a list. The computer code underlying its app, analyzed by The New York Times, includes programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses; users would potentially be able to identify every person they saw. The tool could identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew.

Mr. Ton-That wanted to go way beyond that. He began in 2016 by recruiting a couple of engineers. One helped design a program that can automatically collect images of people’s faces from across the internet, such as employment sites, news sites, educational sites, and social networks including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and even Venmo. Representatives of those companies said their policies prohibit such scraping, and Twitter said it explicitly banned use of its data for facial recognition.

“We have no data to suggest this tool is accurate,” said Clare Garvie, a researcher at Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology, who has studied the government’s use of facial recognition. “The larger the database, the larger the risk of misidentification because of the doppelgänger effect. They’re talking about a massive database of random people they’ve found on the internet.”

The Billion-Dollar Campaign

The Trump campaign is planning to spend more than $1 billion, and it will be aided by a vast coalition of partisan media, outside political groups, and enterprising freelance operatives. These pro-Trump forces are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. Whether or not it succeeds in reelecting the president, the wreckage it leaves behind could be irreparable.

It's not Russia that is going to hack our 2020 elections. It's going to be ourselves.

A long, but imperative read by the Atlantic: The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President.

Improving Keystrokes

For many years, I used only a few fingers to type all of my words. It wasn't until I took a typing class that I learned how to utilize all of my fingers to type and my typing speed increased tremendously.

Basically, each finger has a designated "region" on the keyboard and each finger should be working pretty equally (including those pinkies) as you type. Those notches on the letters F and J are meant to orient your index fingers.

KeyBR Typing Practice is a great (and free!) tool to improve your typing.

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

The attention economy

Becoming more mindful with digital, no internal dialogues, icebreakers, and adding temptations to build habits

Hi friend,

What is happening?

This past week has been another series of dystopian headlines. From the Coronavirus to Trump's impeachment, nothing seems to be going well. Fear, anxiety, anger, resentment are quelling around us as we navigate through this new decade.

Wars are happening all around the world as we speak, but many of us aren't aware of the battleground in our own homes - our digital screens.

The screens from our phones to TV have become hijacked by those willing to pay top-dollar to influence our thinking. Trump and Bloomberg paid an estimated $11M to run 60-second advertisements during the Superbowl this past weekend. With an election looming around the corner, not even a pandemic will unite politicians to work together.

But what does this mean for us?

  1. We have to be extremely vigilant with where we invest our time and energy, especially in our news. We need to stay informed from reputable sources, not social media.

  2. Be cautious of online conversations. Social media platforms have become innundated with bots and trolls that create discussions using fake profiles. (This had just happened with me on Reddit and Instagram, where I had ten different conversations with ten different profiles, and it ended up being a single person.)

    Disconnect from time to time, and engage more with authentic discussions with humans around us.

  3. Though we can't be in control of what others say, we are in full control of how we react. Let go of the need to respond and take away the power it seeks - attention.

    By being proactive with our consciousness, we can start to build a more mindful, digital space.

One month down, and onto the next.

I am hosting another session of my monthly gaysian monthly support group this Sunday, 2/9, in NYC. This session, we are talking about love and relationships. 


No Internal Dialogue

I had no idea that not everyone has an internal monologue. Before I do almost everything, I talk to myself. When I write, I verbalize what I think before it ends up on my computer. When I am in new social settings, I talk to myself as I prepare to speak with people I haven't met yet.

I did additional research and found some fascinating insight into how deaf people think and other ways that people perceive thought.

Newsletters and Icebreakers

One newsletter I subscribe and read regularly is Rob Walker's Art of Noticing. It's a mix of thoughtful recommendations and mindfulness practices.

Just recently, he published a google doc with all of his ice breaker questions from previous newsletters. If you run any group activity or want some interesting questions for your next gathering, you'll find this document very helpful.

Adding Temptations

From one of the episodes on creating habits with The Happiness Lab, we learn about creating new habits. The key is removing temptations (live next to the gym, lay your clothes out the night before )and tie temptations with the activity we want to accomplish (watching TV while running on the treadmill, listening to our favorite podcasts while doing laundry).

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

In tragedy, opportunity

Remembering Kobe Bryant, grandma, politics, training animals and humans, and sunsets

Hi friend,

This Sunday, the whole world realized that Kobe Bryant had passed away. Within an hour of his plane crashing, TMZ had reported his death, and within minutes, it had taken over social media like a storm.

Regardless of however much money, fame, or respect we have, we are subject to the same laws of mortality as each other. There is no way to escape or cheat death. It will come, whether we're expecting it or not.

(Image by Gytis Jonaitis)

As a culture, we have become addicted to the next big headline. LAPD scolded TMZ for their instantaneous reporting of Kobe's death. But the ones to blame are not TMZ. We also need to scrutinize the readers that create the demand for this reporting. Vanessa Bryant and her children should not have found out that her partner and child passed away from the tabloids. This media is extremely hurtful and disrespectful.

It has been interesting to read about the impact that Kobe Bryant has had on people, from inspiring singers to opening up the conversation of rape. While I stand for anyone who wants to take this opportunity to speak out about sexual assault and violence, his daughter that died in the crash (as well as his remaining wife and two daughters) deserves our whole time, respect, and love.

With that said, in light of this tragic event, we are also given an opportunity to be more introspective - to reassess our values and acknowledge that nothing is ever guaranteed. For Kobe, he had retired only four years ago (2016) and left the earth at a young age of 41.

What is something you are grateful for?

What is something you have always put off doing?

What is something you can change this year?

This might just be the time. We never know what the future will bring.


On women’s rights

A nana I'm enjoying

If you liked Li Ziqi, you'll also love Doña Angela. In just four months, this grandma from Mexico has amassed 2.4M followers on YouTube, captivating audiences with her traditional Mexican dishes cooked in her outdoor kitchen, using ingredients fresh from her garden.

A political journalist I'm enjoying

I don't really share political journalists, but I absolutely love to the ones who make me think. A lot. Kim Iversen is a talk show host and journalist that started her own channel last year. Previously, she hosted shows about love, news, relationships, psychology, but I think she found her sweet spot in politics. It's pretty incredible.

You can also catch Kim Iversen on Apple podcasts.

A book I'm enjoying

Just finished reading this book a few weeks ago, and it has become one of my all-time favorites in human psychology.

Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor is a book on animal training, but for humans. There are so many things we can learn from our animal friends, including how to build habits, reinforce behavior, and inspire motivation. Adjusting our habits is really no different than training a puppy.

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

The world is in a precarious state right now…

On fear, podcast episode on mindful goals, women's rights, corrupt textbooks, and beautiful people in Pantone

Hi friend,

How are you doing? But really - how are you?

The world is in a bit of a precarious state right now. The landing page of CNN looks more and more like my Netflix dashboard with each passing day.

We have Trump getting impeached: live (who also recently hired the same attorneys that defended Jeffrey Epstein), misinformation destroying our democracy, Iran shooting down innocent passenger planes and the bodies were finally repatriated to their countries, erasing of the LGBTQ+ community with Missouri to criminalize drag queens reading books to children, democratic presidential candidates fighting each other for the nomination, thousands rallying for the Women’s March against an opposition movement… led by women (yes, you read that right), and tampering of historical archives in the National Archives Museum that blurred out signs condemning Trump in the exhibition on women’s voting rights. All within the past few weeks.

Though each headline is different, they all share a similar story: fear.

Fear of control. (Iran)
Fear of losing control. (Missouri, presidential nomination)
Fear of not being enough. (Opposition to Women’s March)
Fear of the future. (National Archives)
Fear of the truth. (Trump)

Fear is a powerful emotion. It drives people to survive or give up on life. It has started and ended wars. It empowers us to do heroic or damaging things to those we love most. When unchecked, fear can wreak havoc all around us.

Although our fear can be instilled in us in many different ways (nature, nurture, and everything in between), the only way it can be eradicated is through ourselves. Nobody can do the work for us. 

It doesn’t matter how loud we scream, how long we cry, or how many we hurt - the sooner we can stop feeding fear our time, energy, and belief, we can start moving humanity towards a better tomorrow.

I have so much compassion for everyone on their own unique journey towards enlightenment, but until we can find the courage to face our own fears, we will be stuck in this perpetual cycle of pain hurting one another.

What are your fears?

I recently published a podcast about my highs and lows of 2019 and some advice on setting goals for this new year. Check it out and let me know your thoughts!


On women’s rights

“Police officers showed up nearly half an hour later, around the time that Todd died. Brittany detailed how he had beaten and raped her and attacked Chris. A rape kit showed bruises on her neck, breasts, arms, legs, and pelvis, evidence of strangulation, bite marks on her neck and chin, and secretions on her neck and in her vagina. Yet within forty-eight hours she had been charged with murder.”

Elizabeth Flock in The New Yorker: How Far Can Abused Women Go to Protect Themselves? A hard, must-read…

Partisan childhood

This is extremely jaw-dropping. How partisan divides starts early in childhood through history textbooks.

“The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation's deepest partisan divides.”

Beauty in Pantone

Photographer Angélica Dass captures her subjects and matches them to a Pantone color. Her inspiring TED talk showcases the impact of illustrating diversity in our ever-changing world. You can also follow her Instagram.

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

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