MY WHITE MA DEGREE — 1952   8 comments

I received my MA in Psychology in 1952. It was an especially large class – 45 as I remember it – because the GI bill had made it possible for veterans to go on to advanced education. This, of course, was a clear opportunity to proceed to professional, better paying, positions.

Including me there were 45 white students. I don’t remember even noticing the pale color of the class. I know now that blacks (Negroes at that time) were in many ways excluded from the benefits other veterans received. I don’t feel guilty for not being aware. Guilt is not a productive emotion. I do, though, feel impelled to support anything that can be done in the present to bring to awareness that injustice still affecting blacks today. What a majorly unfair way to prevent them from building wealth for themselves and their family’s future!

Add to that red-lining and all the other methods used to prevent blacks from financial success  — even destroying successful communities — and all I can say is, I’d be pretty darn pissed, and that’s putting it mildly, if that were part of my famiy’s history. And I should feel guilty if I don’t now learn all I can and advocate however I can for correction, reparations, and restitution.



TWO A.M. – PTSD      6 comments

Sometimes when I wake up during the night I go right back to sleep. More often, though, thoughts catch me and I can’t let go of the pain of compassion. (Feeling with.) It’s in the DNA. You’ll see when you read My Father’s House.

 The other night I couldn’t help imagining being a man living free in my homeland – just living my life. And then being chased down and captured, bound, and delivered as cargo to a slave ship. There being shackled head to toe to make maximum space for a profitable cargo. Left to lie in my own and others bodily excretions, becoming thereby filthy black cargo. Living with my own pain and the moans of my fellow “cargo.”

I imagined being brought ashore in the states and hosed down for presentation to those who would buy me as a piece of cargo. Being totally re-defined by others willing to torture me into accepting my new less-than-human status. Struggling with the agony of losing the life I had and who I was. How could PTSD not become a part of my DNA to be transmitted to my offspring?

How could I not respond with fear, rage, running, resistance, fighting back? Is it at all surprising that George Floyd pleaded for understanding of his claustrophobia? that Treyvon Martin fought back when he was being followed? That Rayshard Brooks grabbed a weapon when he was about to be constrained?

But what do I know? I’m just an aged white lady imagining things in the middle of the night.








Once one becomes aware, there is so much to learn, so much like solving a word scramble. Hidden words where we thought there were none; words that have meaning we never before recognized; words that call for unscrambling our comfortable lives; words that go straight to the soul; words we sometimes don’t want to hear; words that produce moments of relief and hope; words spoken or written; words exchanged with a degree of courage; words that take us back to a past we didn’t take time to see; words that take us to a future to be longed for.

Where have we been finding words? Daily we exchange discoveries with each other. Together we are reading and discussing White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo, always with an eye to discovering ourselves. Next in the pipeline is How to Be an Antiracist by Tiffany Jewel and then Austin Channing Brown’s I’m Still Here. We are, however, more than a book club. None of this reading means anything if we don’t use it for insight into our own knowing or unknowing support of a racist system.

Reading isn’t all we do. Constantly on the lookout for relevant daily news and activities, we are almost inundated with things we send to each other — forwarded inspirations, news stories, and suggested links to important presentations.

Most recently is one you might like to share – a right-on! sermon by Pastor Aaron Werner titled “The Day I Learned I was a White American.” Try this link oi   Don’t worry, you don’t have to attend the whole service. Just fast forward to 4:11 (four minutes and eleven seconds.) Don’t wait, though, because it will be gone after this weekend to make way for another service.



It began when a group of six women quarantined in our senior apartments at the Waters of Excelsior here in Minnesota decided to establish regular Zoom meetings to respond to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s televised challenge to” make something happen.”Then we were joined by two somewhat freer friends on the outside. We interpret his challenge to mean “Get on the stick and do something to help with the Black Lives Matter movement and all that involves.”

We intend to go beyond just learning how our white advantage contributes to the situation, but to dive deep into understanding the history and current reality of it. Email exchanges between meetings have contributed to a flood of information and personal challenges that we know have only brought us to the brink of deep knowing. Out of this we hope to help “make something happen.”

At this point some folks have become aware of what we are doing and ask – with varying degrees of approval – questions that can be boiled down to “Why do you care?” In this blog we are sharing the answers we are currently prepared to give. Maybe our answers will change, even improve, as we go along, but this is where we are now.


I want to try to do something to heal our country and acknowledge the systematic racism in our society and how I contribute to its flourishing.
Sharon Buntin


I chose to get involved with learning more about racism following the George Floyd murder and its aftermath. It brought into clear focus for me that for centuries, racism or white advantage has strangled freedom for blacks. I want to learn how I contribute and what I can do to support societal change.

Jane Morgan


I want the world to heal following the death of George Floyd. But first I need to educate myself regarding white privilege.

Bonnie Marsh


All the major religions require us to love our neighbors. So let’s practice that.

Judy Crawford


I am heartbroken over the state of our country — racism and its resulting inequities, polarization and hatred.  It is simple.  I want a better world for my grandchildren.  A world in which there is peace, respect, a sense of community, and work for the common good.  As Micah writes so beautifully — “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”

Dianne Franz


My life matters only if black lives matter. I can’t stand the compassionate pain I’m suffering. I have to do something.

Mona Gustafson Affinito


Taking my whiteness for granted with all the easiness in life that it brings, I am now more aware than ever of what this means in the lives of all my friends of color and those out there that I do not know. I can relate to them in more depth of understanding, after realizing that unrealized racism permeates my very being, unaware that I was about this in the past.  Even while raising a black daughter, I was not deeply aware of all her feelings and issues, ‘tho we did seek counseling together as a family. I also have a bi-racial son and daughter who are now in their 60’s, and discussing with them just last week topics of racism has been a clear way for me to explore my own feelings and beliefs.

Rhoda Brooks


No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Quoting John Donne

Lisa Neun














‘VeggieTales’ creator Phil Vischer releases viral video on race in America

Posted June 28, 2020 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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Remember the soap opera “As the World Turns?” Well, this one was “As my stomach turns.”

Those who know me are aware that I turn my brain off at 9:00 p.m. in the evening to turn on the idiot box, and maybe even watch it and do a crossword puzzle or something at the same time. I like hospital shows, but there’s not enough of them. And I like detective shows. But last evening I started watching one and felt my stomach turn as I yelled at the TV, “Shut up. I can’t take one more show where the bad guys are all black” and changed the channel. Hey, entertainment industry, isn’t it time for a change?!

And the truth is, those guys—the real ones – are hard working actors earning a living.

Get on the stick, theater industry. Change the story,

And by the way, why is the family on “Blue Bloods” always drinking? Oh, but stick to the topic, Mona. That’s another question. Just sayin’


Recently in a Zoom poetry class at the Waters of Excelsior the instructor, Sheila Augustine. asked us to create a work using the technique called model poetry. Basically it’s a series of questions. The class suggested I should submit mine to the Star Tribune but I discovered their word count limit is 250. The following comes in at a count of 279. So, instead of the Star Tribune I decided to publish it here. Enjoy, I hope!


Should everyone give everyone the things they want themselves?

Would everyone be thrilled, as I was, to be given a nice scotch tape holder when the other            women received perfume?

Would everyone be thoroughly happy as I was to receive a packet of TuLpens for mother’s day?

Should everyone be happy to be appreciated as I was for being their own unique selves?

Doesn’t the golden rule really ask us to respect the essence and value of everyone?

And if we did?

Would everyone expect the sun to rise in the morning over a peaceful world like what      they had fallen asleep in the night before?

Would everyone’s bed be free of rats and vermin?

Would everyone expect enough healthy food every day so they could focus on growing their essence and joy?

Could all children count on the constant, loving care of someone who appreciates and encourages their uniqueness?

Could all children go to a school as clean, stable, and fun as the one in the next town over? With teachers who exult in their successes?

Would house sales and mortgages be based on standard financial rules?

Would all gifts grow out of caring knowledge of the receiver, not TV commercials?

Would everyone feel others fear as their own and do something about it?

Would everyone feel others joy as their own and rejoice in it?

Would “African-American” or “Mexican-American” or “Asian-American” or Native-American” be received with as much respect as “Swedish-American” or “Norwegian-American” or ”Irish-American or Italian-American?”

Would I sleep better and live a longer healthier life if everyone followed the golden rule of respect?

Would you?



It seems to me there is a simple test of whether one of us white folks recognizes the truth of systemic racism. Have you ever said to yourself “Thank goodness I was born white?”

Posted June 10, 2020 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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This little 100 page book was Intended as a memorial to a good man who died too young two months after his diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme. But this collection of his Facebook entries during that period has become so much more as his struggles and the person he created reach out from the pages along with testimonies and revelations from family and friends about his own gender trials and acceptance.

Today I’m addressing folks like those who teach courses in death and dying, gender issues, personality, social, and developmental psychology, social work, or who work with the terminally ill in settings such as chaplains, Hospice, nursing homes, or hospitals.

The title, IT SUCKS, comes from the last words on Nick’s Facebook page.

At this point I would appreciate reviews, especially those I might quote on the back of the book or in its initial presentation. Given the COVID-19 restraints there will probably not be the book launch I had hoped for at one of his favorite places in Shakopee, Minnesota: Wampach’s restaurant, Turtles Bar and Grill, Pullman’s Club or Babe’s. I’ll just have to find more creative ways, beginning with responses from you or folks to whom you forward this request.

If you are interested in receiving a galley copy for review, please e-mail me a request along with a quick note about your occupation and how you might use the book. Please put “request a galley copy” in the subject line to

And, of course, you are welcome to make a comment right here.

I CAN’T MAKE UP MY MIND   4 comments


The day is dreary. I need to turn a light on just to read. And I fall asleep to make up for what I lost last night remembering how my family was hurt by a friend who turned on us – an old hurt long handled but insistent on returning with full force every once in a while.

And then I open my favorite magazine, YES, page 11 to be exact, and I find an article whose point is summarized as follows.

“ … The pandemic is a crucible burning away and altering the structures that comprise the old paradigm, remaking who and what we are. When we emerge, we will have crossed a permanent threshold, from which there is no return, because there is simply no more “normal” to which to return. The question before us is this: As we pass through the threshold, will we extinguish everything in our desperation to cling to a past that has run its course? Or will we recover the courage to embrace the strange uncertainty of a different paradigm? …

“Only the choice that considers all and not a few will get us across the threshold into the crucible, and through the portal to the other side. Many of us are already taking that leap. We are stronger when we take it together. I’ll meet you there.”

So here’s the question I ask myself. Do I want to live through the turmoil that’s sure to come? Or do I want to be around to see the world where polluted skies, homelessness, hunger, racism, prejudice, injustice, destruction, and an unfair health system go out of style as we move to a world where children – all children – can grow with joy, health, confidence in the future, and happy success?

I guess my best evidence is my reaction when my Acura was flying through the air on its way to a hard landing back in 2015. I was just plain fascinated with what was happening even though a part of me knew I could well end up dead.

I guess I’ll choose to hang in as long as the cosmos will let me

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