Jordan Peterson: A refraction

Jordan Peterson reminds me of myself.[1] We are angry and confused. We read often, and he, better than i, synthesizes information. We do so with the motivation to communicate our ideas precisely and succinctly to those who will listen. Furthermore, Jordan Peterson and I share a particular interest: the crisis of the white male. We are both interested in a transformation of a) social views of men and b) actions of men in society. Both Peterson and I are aiming for white men to have some dignity and should strive for competence. We both very much agree that young [white] men should take responsibility to get their lives together and be an active, positive participant in their kinship group. And more fundamentally, we agree that telling lies is morally reprehensible.[2] Here, we depart: what constitutes a lie?


Jordan Peterson reminds me of myself. When I read contexts that seem to throw my world off axis I react with aggression. The ease with which white men act aggressively to perceived challenges of our worth is what I will call ‘white male fragility’. Black women watching Peterson would probably laugh hysterically at his arrogance, Big Man attitude, and general dick waving of white male authors. As a white man growing more sensitive to the perspective of black women, and black people in all their diversity, I reacted aggressively to Peterson’s abhorrent claims about how those he calls ‘marginalized people’ “should show some gratitude”, or when Peterson exclaims: “of course you’re oppressed, but you’re not oppressed by the patriarchy… for God’s sake!” I feel Jordan Peterson; I empathize with his anger. If I’m being honest with myself, I sympathize and empathize with Jordan Peterson more than I do with Audre Lorde.


Jordan Peterson reminds me of myself. Jordan Peterson’s current approach is an aggressive stance to push men back into the center of the social hierarchy through claims of biology, social psychology and individualism. Peterson blows up as Trump is elected. Coincidence, I think not. Jordan Peterson reminds me of myself. Often my approach is an aggressive stance to push men back, away from the social center, which results in me, some of the time [to my dismay, depending on the day], moving into the social center. Jordan Peterson uses traditional white male tactics as do I; he uses them in service of white male dominance, and I use mine paradoxically and unfortunately in attempts to subvert and resist white male dominance.


Jordan Peterson reminds me of myself. Three more similarities: 1) We both believe that prejudice and taxonomy (categorization) are intrinsic to human beings; 2) We both believe that sacrifices are necessary for social order; 3) We both believe that people prefer the familiar to the novel. Jordan Peterson believes that people need and should have certainties. I believe that people need and should be wary of certainties. My caution about certainty comes from a fundamental disagreement with Peterson about the story of colonial contact and colonialism. Peterson emphatically encourages his audiences to fight against people “manipulating us with historical ignorance and philosophical slight of hand to render us so god damn guilty about what our ancestors may or may not have done… and into accepting a future we do not want to have.” Peterson also claims that we can tell that Marxism is based on hatred (not benevolence), since “the corpses are proof.” Do Black people have no corpses?


Peterson needs to be certain, and he is willing to ignore black bodies in order to be certain, as white men have done over and over again. 1) Jordan Peterson suffers from historical amnesia about the ways in which taxonomies, prejudices, and kinship groups have been built and sustained over the past 500+. 2) Jordan Peterson’s biggest white lie is that sacrifices are random; he ignores that currently, black bodies are the sacrifices that uphold the white apex of a multicultural-colonial social order. 3) It is not if one prefers the familiar to the novel, but rather how one reacts to the novel and the unknown. The novelty of colonial contact (think aliens if that makes it easier white people!) has all sorts of difficulties: are you real? Are you like me? Will you hurt me? Europeans made themselves into white people by responding with an overwhelming consensus of genocidal violence and bodily accumulation. Yes, some non-European groups acted with violence against the Europeans, but not with such purposeful and intentionally sustained ways. So not “all” white people responded with violence, but it seems to have been and still is maintained as a cultural trade for white men to respond aggressively to uncertainty.[3] Peterson and myself are prime candidates for a whiteness study.


Concluding, sorry Jordan, but our society is not built on some “competence” based model. Our society is built on white folks raping and pillaging, stealing and killing, for God, Gold, and Glory. As the old archetype shows: Light = White = Good ; Dark = Black = Evil. Perhaps Peterson is implicitly suggesting in his talks that Black people are evil and should be thingified to slave status.[4] Or perhaps our society can break through and out of horrific social patterns of sacrificial violence in the form of Whiteness. It’s going to be damn hard to change, because Peterson and I agree, that these archetypes are deeply, deeply embedded, but I guess he is the more cynical one, since he doesn’t believe you can work your way out of instantaneous responses. I believe in the Spirit. As Christina Sharpe says, “Lose your Kin” [White Folks].[5] It is time to be less certain and to move into spaces of uncomfortability without weapons. My exorcisms are daily, so I must admit: Jordan Peterson reminds me of myself.

[1] All quotations from Peterson in this reflection are from the specific video titled “Identity Politics and White Privilege.” However, I have listened to at least 15 hours of Peterson videos over the past 6 months. The following passages are ruminations.

[2] Many thanks for the clearer set of connections from this sympathetic article towards Peterson:

[3] Specific thanks are owed to Christopher Driscoll for his continuing twilight work on Whiteness. This section was aided by his 2016 piece “White Ghosts of the Forest: Critical Whiteness Studies, an introduction.”

[4] I refer to this archetype with credit and thanks to the brilliant work of the psychologist Frantz Fanon, the political philosopher Charles Mills, and theologian James Perkinson.




My aim for this mini essay is to meditate on what it means for me, as a white person, to be “WOKE”. To be awakened.

Songs listened to during this writing/editing:

My head rests on my pillow. The air conditioning in my middle class suburban home is blasting. I battle the cold, cruel world with my blankets. I am wrapped up in my all white comforter with my blue and orange Broncos sheets layering my body. I am well armored. I am comfortable. I am warm. I am asleep. With a nudge, a figure in the dark tries to wake me up. Slightly aroused, I think to myself: it’s too early. I swat away the hand and double down into my sleep by rolling back into my sheets. I am a cocoon. I am comfortable. I am asleep. Yet this dark figure comes calling again. This time I get a nudge and I hear a bark, words unknowable. I groan. It’s cold and it is too early for me to be awake. I was just having the most fascinating dream! Once again, I swat away the hand. I double down into my sleep rolling back into my sheets. I am comfortable with my comforter. I am asleep: I dream of rolling hills and money on boundless trees. I am free! Frolicking in this field full of trees.

Yet this hand on this dark figure persists. I am being shook. Why oh why must I wake up from my bountiful slumber? The hand persists, the being insists. Calling me. I thrash, striking the figure. I spit insults at them for their insistence. What a disservice to wake a man from his slumber. I was comfortable. I was asleep. My eyes, now open, try to take in the dim room. I clutch my comforter. The figure is gone. What I want more than anything right now to go back to sleep. I rub my eyes and roll over. I am a cocoon again. But this time, I do not fall asleep. I am haunted by the figure. My body shakes from the cold, cruel world. I feel both surrounded and alone. My mind is racing. I lay there for what feels like an eternity, my mind racing. The thoughts scattered, fragmented, my mind is racing. My white comforter is no longer as comfortable as it once was. Waking up sucks, I finally think to myself. It is in this moment that I drift back off to that valley, to the field full of trees.

Yet this hand on this dark figure persists. I am being shook. Why oh why must I wake up from my bountiful slumber? The hand persists, the being insists. Calling me. This time, I do not thrash. I smile, slowly greeting this figure like an old friend. I am thankful to be woken up again. Now, I throw off my sheets. My whole body moves. My eyes shoot open into the dim room. My feet hit the floor. It is a cold, cruel world. I shiver. In this moment I want to move my feet up back into the bed. Wrap up myself into the cocoon. Asleep, again. NO! I move my full weight onto my feet. My legs wobble as a take my first steps. I am uncomfortable. I am cold. This world is cruel.

There is great discomfort in waking up each morning. To wake up is to fully transform ones body and ones perception. When we wake up, we turn from experiencing a dream world into the awakened world. As a white middle class person, I must throw off the wonderful comforters. I must move my body from a horizontal position to a vertical position. I must stand. I must walk. I must begin.

This is how I feel about being “woke” as a white person. I am constantly nodding off into sleep. A wonderful, comfortable sleep. I fall into the American dream. In the dream world of America I can be whoever I want to be, I can be whatever I want to be! The world is MINE! I can have it all and I can be it all. My dream experience is that I am the center of the world, and I have no responsibilities to anyone else in my dream. They are all my projections anyway, meant to serve me. But being awake, well that’s a whole different story.

To be awake is to be responsible and responsive to the world around me. I am not the center of the universe, but I am apart of this universe. I have social responsibilities. Most white people want to stay snoozed. We, I, white people want to stay in our comforters; to stay in bed and to enjoy the dream. Anytime the figure in the darkness tries to awaken us, we shoo it away, casting our pain, anger, and discomfort onto that dark being that being in the dark. White people like myself are afraid of being uncomfortable. We do not like to put our feet on the ground. We are afraid to feel in this cold, cruel world.

But once I am up, I realize all of the other people who are awake around me. There are some people stoking a fire. Others people are gathering the wood. There is a hustle and bustle about this world in which I have woken up into. I am not as alone as I had once thought, when I was lying in my cocoon. In fact, I was alone in my cocoon. Now, I am in a community. There is warmth here. And there is much to be done. But I am a child: I have only just joined this world. I must learn this new language of being awake. It is radically different than My dream world. This is our awakened world. A world of coldness and cruelty, but it is also a world of warmth and love… if we (white people) are willing to stay awake long enough to experience that warmth and love.

So for me, as a white person, to be “WOKE” is not something that happens one time. I fall asleep often. In recognizing this tendency, I try hard to not swat the hand of the figure in the dark waking me up. I rather try to greet that person as the friend that they are, ushering me into the world of the awakened. As a white person, to be awakened is to find yourself in a world that is initially cold and cruel; a world full of discomforts. I am encourage white people to do what we all do each morning. I encourage white people to cast off their comfort(ers) and to embrace the vulnerability of being bare to the world. Being awakened, we as white people find ourselves in a very, very strange place. It takes a lot of time in a strange place to finally find some semblance of comfort, some semblance of warmth. We must change our whole perception. We learn to see differently, to taste differently, to think differently, to feel differently, to smell differently, to move differently, and to hear differently. We learn to listen anew. Being awake for a white person is a journey. A journey away from our white comforters and out of the security of our beds. Being awake is a state of being vulnerable. It requires all of our senses and it requires us to move. We cannot be awake in our beds, or else we will slowly drift off into sleep.


Thank you for joining me in this meditation.
forrest ab kentwell

Azealia Banks Wrong and Wronged: Amplifying Homophobia While Ignoring Racism



I grew up in a homophobic house in a homophobic neighborhood in a homophobic community. I never knew the words “faggot” and “dyke” were violent slurs until I was in high school. For the first 15 years of my life, I genuinely believed these words were appropriate labels for homosexual people. Consequently, I’ve used both slurs countless times in my life. It took me nearly three decades to rid myself of the association between gay/lesbian people and dehumanizing homophobic slurs used to describe, and ultimately oppress them. Now, I cringe when I hear anyone use those words, as I did when I read the headline that Azealia Banks had called a Delta Airlines flight attendant a “fucking faggot.” After reading the story and watching the video, though, I was enraged.

I was enraged by the sensationalized and deliberately misleading headline. I was enraged that all the media outlets refused to…

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This Is What ‘White Privilege’ Looks Like

Racism Is White Supremacy

Christopher Columbus white joggerChristopher Columbus = Old World Gentrification

Look how the black cop is afraid to take charge. And how the aggressive white male totally ignores his presence. He knows he is in NO DANGER from a black male — EVEN WHEN HE’S WEARING A UNIFORM AND BADGE and carrying a gun. That white male knows the black cop is not going to accidentally shoot him or use brute force. He knows that black cop can’t arrest him UNLESS a white cop is present to SANCTION the arrest.

Had that been two black men arguing on a street corner and one of them was ignoring a white police officer and putting his hands in his face there would be a dozen cops surrounding those two black males within five minutes and someone would wind up in handcuffs, in an ambulance, or in the morgue.

THAT is what WHITE PRIVILEGE looks like.


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Hypervisible Bodies: Protesting White Supremacy Whilst Racialised

Media Diversified

by Sinthujan Varatharajah

Brandon Brooks, the white teenager who filmed the violent attack by white police officers against black teenagers in McKinney, Texas, has been widely celebrated by mainstream media. Despite his young age and racial background, he poignantly analysed the racism (but not the racialised gender politics) inherent in the events. Brooks comments stood in stark contrast to the usual narrative of how white bodies perceive racism against racialised people. In a local television interview he went on to state that the white police officers saw beyond his white body. They considered him – despite demonstratively filming the police in action – invisible amongst his black and PoC friends, who were treated, or rather violated as threats. In reverse this would mean: if a black or PoC teenager were to have filmed the events, we could rest assured that we would have neither documentation NOR widespread coverage of what…

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Meat Eating and Ending Animal Abuse: Apps and More

More and more people across the country are changing their diet’s to be Vegan or Vegetarian. These have lot of different health benefits and many of these people also claim to do it in order to help end animal rights abuses. There are other people, however, who just LOVE meat. This article will look to explore if it is possible for someone to both continue to eat meat and also work towards ending animal rights abuses. An amazing place to start on this journey is with Michael Pollan’s website. Pollan has dedicated himself to write continuously on this topic and has written multiple books. As a meat eater Pollan has determined that by purposefully using a variety of resources (that will be posted below) as he a meat eater her, and others, can subvert the animal rights abuses by purchasing and eating meat that is from companies and farms that are minimizing animal stress and cruelty. Pollan has written a book on the topic called The omnivore’s Dilemma, and you can find his website here:


The best way to find humane ways to eat meat is through an I-phone/Android app created by “Certified Human”. The app allows customers to enter their zip code, so anywhere you go, you will be able find humane products. The following link is where you can download it:

Another site that you can use is “Animal Welfare Approved”:

Sea Food is also important to keep track of, so one more app to download is generated by “The Seafood Watch” and can be found here:

How We Can Help

If you are looking to get involved in the legislative process on a Federal or State Level one of the best websites is:

Farm Sanctuary has volunteer and career opportunities along with pages for Federal and State Legislation.

Cage Free Eggs

One of the biggest topics is how chickens are treated. Caged in massive indoor centers where they are living in their own feces and they never, ever are allowed outside. These chicken’s eggs are usually much smaller, and this unhealthy living is supported by large industries. Many of these industries are now attempting to advertise their eggs as being “organic,” which means the food the chickens are being fed are organic, but almost always these chickens are still caged in these indoor centers. Another false label is “Free-Range”, which refers to the Chickens having some access to the outside, but this might just be through small peep holes. When buying eggs it is important to look for the “Cage-Free” or “Pasture Raised” label, because these refer to chickens that are raised outdoors all year long (unless in climate weather occurs).

Farmers across the country are looking to switch over to cage-free, but often times they are forced into contracts with large companies in order to make some living, because not enough people are buying Cage Free, so this is not lucrative enough to switch over to. If we all begin to buy cage free eggs more farmers will be able to switch over and get away from big companies that often force these farmers into poverty. John Oliver looks into this in a “Last Week Tonight” segment that is 18 minutes long:

Sea Food

There are many places looking to regulate and work with seafood products and they can be found here:

New Company Changes

Aramark, one of the largest companies in the food industry, is located in Philadelphia and just last month they passed new company rules and regulations in order to diminish animal abuses:

Thank you for reading! Share with family and friends who are meat eaters, so we can all work together to change the meat industry through proper consumption! Thank you to my good friend Jason Leitmeyer for inspiring this post!

Pay It Forward.

Starting a Conversation

I’ve grown up throughout my life around other white people. How many conversations about race (black/white) have I had before college? 0. The answer is 0. Not once were any of my extremely intelligent, free-thinking, ivy league attending friends were interested in analyzing or even discussing the differences about race. We could talk circles and analyze the Israel/Palestine conflict with Jews and Muslims at a table (something I have yet to see at Muhlenberg College) in a peaceful manner while attempting to look at all sides, the history, the possible resolutions, ect. Why were we not talking about race in our nation? The question I pose here, for myself, today, is how did I start thinking about race? What prompted me, as a white person, at a white college, who grew up in multiple white neighborhoods to break out of that conversation? Let us journey together.

My junior and senior year I began to greatly question my sexuality, which spiraled me into a deep depression as I had heard teammates, friends, and even myself use gay slurs for years. Being ‘gay’ was to be weak, not a “man”, and to be ostracized by a community that I had grown to know and love. College seemed to be the only way out. I was lucky enough to have a gay uncle, but even that did not truly make me understand just how ‘normal’ it was to be outside of the ‘norm’. Or just how alright it was to be ‘different’. Using these terms now seems crazy to me as someone who blows past societal norms as inherent boxes. Boxes are just closed spaces that deny growth and understanding and keep human beings from each other. Being forced to break out of my box of ‘straightness’ was a first step for me to realize these boxes exist, but that dissolving them was actually freeing. Entering college and having an accepting roommate and teammates was all I could have asked for and I was able to have a ‘safe’ space of existence at Muhlenberg College.

Of course I hear the occasional “that’s so gay” or “faggot” around campus, but it’s few and far between, especially for a person who has been called “the straightest gay guy I know” by multiple people. On some other post I will go more in-depth with a discussion on the issues with such statements, but the point I wish to make here is I can blend in with the ‘norm’ easily. I can act ‘straight’ I am white, I am able-bodied, and despite considering myself gender-queer it’s a new concept to myself that I have not fully explored or expressed in a larger context. And furthermore my family is economically stable. I can ‘blend in’. I think that is what has helped the gay community. In America it is all about how you can be boiled into the melting pot. America isn’t a salad. We don’t want different, beautiful, and delicious fruits, vegetables, and more in our salads. We want to know who is willing to dive into the melting pot and join in with the concept of America. The same concept that we’ve had since our founding fathers created the constitution: Straight, White, Male, Able-bodied property owners. Irish, German, and Jewish immigrants in this nation were told they were not American until they proved they were “white” enough. Jewish people in the 1920’s participated in black face in order to show Americans that they too were white. In the 1970’s gay people lashed out, wore different clothes, acted in different manners, and created their own culture. For this they were beaten and killed. Now queer people in this nation have become more accepted, why? Because we too have begun to jump into the melting pot; this is not to say that each new ingredient entering the pot does not change the consistency and taste of the soup, but the base was strong and existent and all we are is a further added spice. How then, do Black Americans and Latino Americans enter this melting pot? Their skin color is clearly different than the ‘white’ we in America are used to. Both have kept their traditional cultures alive and have continued to have strong communal ties that defy this ‘American’ identity, yet they are continually oppressed, condemned, and killed for it.

America needs to restructure this melting pot that I will refer to as ‘privilege’. I refuse to accept that the systematic melting, or destructing, of cultures is productive or positive in any manner what-so-ever. White Americans need to truly think about and consider the boxes that they live in, and what really needs to be melted, or dissolved, is the boxes that those in privilege exist in. Boxes only limit our understanding of the world. Conformity inhibits creativity, innovation, and self-growth. One of my favorite ted talks of all time is by Ash Beckham, where she makes the claim “A closet is no place for a person to live” (the link will be posted below). I was once in the closet for far too long and coming out was one of the most liberating and empowering moments of my life. It seems to me that white Americans are also in a closet. My closet was lined with rainbows, theirs is lined with privilege.

The issue is, a closet is dark and musky. You are unable to see, to breath, or to truly understand how beautiful the outside world it. First white people must understand the box/closet they are in. And secondly they must step outside of it and realize just how amazing, incredible, and beautiful salads are. Maybe these metaphors go too far, but here is the thing we need to have these conversations. That is the second step. We are all human beings. Human beings are unique. Respecting and enabling all human beings to exist is the step we all need to take. Do not ask anyone to jump into your melting pot, but instead say hey, I’m a carrot, you’re a cucumber; let’s hang out in this salad together. There is a place for all of us. We can exist together without inhibiting each others existences. Our nation was built on the backs of enslaved Africans as we committed genocide on aborigines. We honor our troops today on Memorial Day. WWII was fought because Hitler was committing genocide on Jewish people. Hitler, however, loved America, because of our systematic Jim Crow laws and how we oppressed black people in this nation. After WWII the GI Bill was almost exclusively used to help white people get loans and go to college, which furthered the gap between black people and white people in this nation. Now we have mass incarceration as a systematic way of oppressing black people (Again, check out Michelle Alexander’s Book The New Jim Crow). We cannot move forward if we look to throw black people into this melting pot. This is the claim of “color-blindness”. I once again implore everyone to not be color-blind, but instead to be color-loving, color-respecting.

This blog is about “how we can help”. What we can do, as a first step, is to have these conversations within the white community. They are difficult conversations for people to have, since they are not talked about, ever. If I were not gay, I’m not sure I would be here writing about these issues, about privilege, about equal rights. Talk about it at dinner, on the streets, in your office, with your colleges, friends, and families. I have never seen a time and place for this to occur. The time and place needs to be manufactured now. These conversations need to happen. We need to come out of our closets not only for ourselves to see the brightness of the world, but to create something better in America for everyone.

Here are some suggestions of mine to help you start conversations:

Thank you for reading, and remember,

Pay It Forward.

Saving the Forest


There are many reasons to be interested in Deforestation: Global Warming, Animal/Plant Rights, and Human Rights to name just three.

Global Warming:

Since the beginning of the 20th Century (1900) over half of the world’s forests have been destroyed. For those who know football, that’s 36 football fields every minute. Researchers have found that car emissions contribute to ~13% of Global Warming, while 18% is due to deforestation.

You might be wondering, how does deforestation affect our climate? The affect is twofold. First, trees hold in much of the carbon dioxide, so the more tree’s we have on the planet, the more they combat the carbon emissions released by cars, factors, ect. (According to Greenpeace trees can account for 40x the amount of greenhouse gases) Cutting those trees down, however, does not just decrease the protection layer for our atmosphere, but the carbon stored in those trees is then released!

Sadly, it gets even worse, because water vapor levels are also affected: “Deforestation has decreased global vapor flows from land by 4 percent, according to a study published by the National Academy of Sciences. Even this slight change in vapor flows can disrupt natural weather patterns and change current climate models.”

Animal Rights:

This just deals with global warming and water vapor. We could go further into the many species that are dying out or being affected by deforestation. Approximately 2% of the world is covered by rainforests, but 50% of the world’s known species (plants and animals) can be found within them.

Human Rights:

Nearly 90 percent of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods.

Even the black plague is re-entering society in Madagascar due to deforestation from illegal logging (much of the logs are sold to China) —

For further information on Deforestation the following cites are ones I highly recommend:

How We Can Help

The situation looks dire. Impossible to change even. If the trend continues our climate will continue to be destroyed (a further post on this will come later), thousands of species will be lost, and millions of indigenous people’s lively hood’s will be lost (which does come with some issues dealing with Slash-and-burn techniques). That being said, illegal logging has become a major issue in forest’s, specifically tropical forests, in recent years. However, there is hope! A young man, Topher White, on his trip to the amazon, found an amazing way to protect the forest. With the use of old smart phones, White was able to create a device that picks up the sound of chainsaws at large distances. Usually such a sound is lost among the other noises in the forest. These devices alert rangers in the area and pick of the location of the loggers by bouncing signals across other phones and satellites. To find out more about Topher’s device and how he created it, check out the following ted talk (10 minutes)

Topher also has a NGO called Rainforest Connection, with the website link of: On the website you can donate money to further research and the building of devices. You can also donate old smart phones by sending them to the following address:

Rainforest Connection
77 Van Ness Ave
Suite 101-1717-
San Francisco, CA, 94102

The website claims the following: “We’ll erase it, retrofit it and send it into the jungle for its second life as a tireless forest guardian.”

Another amazing website has also been created to save trees across the planet:

At Stand For Trees they vow that just a $10 donation can help a number of causes (that you can pick from on the website) that include helping a number of forests, indigenous tribes, and wildlife preservation sites. This $10 goes far enough to protect enough trees that cancel out your CO2 foot print caused by the emissions put out by our homes, cars, ect.

Thank you for reading! We can make a difference in this world! 🙂

Pay It Forward!