Uneasy Money

Last week, Paul Krugman, set off by this blog post, complained about the current state macroeconomics. Apparently, Krugman feels that if saltwater economists like himself were willing to accommodate the intertemporal-maximization paradigm developed by the freshwater economists, the freshwater economists ought to have reciprocated by acknowledging some role for countercyclical policy. Seeing little evidence of accommodation on the part of the freshwater economists, Krugman, evidently feeling betrayed, came to this rather harsh conclusion:

The state of macro is, in fact, rotten, and will remain so until the cult that has taken over half the field is somehow dislodged.

Besides engaging in a pretty personal attack on his fellow economists, Krugman did not present a very flattering picture of economics as a scientific discipline. What Krugman describes seems less like a search for truth than a cynical bargaining game, in which Krugman feels that his (saltwater) side, after making…

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X: Incompatible or Complementary?

Martin Luther King Jr. And Malcolm X helped shape American black and white culture today. MLK and X seemingly preach two opposing futures for black politics. Martin’s call for nonviolent resistance and Malcolm’s insistence on “any means necessary” were often juxtaposed by society. Malcolm X is often misrepresented as the `black Klu Klux Klan” of racial extremists. Others often misrepresent Martin L. K. as a “religious Uncle Tom pacifist”[1]. These are both gross caricatures of both legendary men. Even decades after their deaths, Martin and Malcolm remain great American icons. However were they ideological opposites? What were the personal, social, and political factors that influenced their leaderships? Where do they differ and where do they converge? What did liberty and justice mean for both leaders? Did victory mean two different things for them? What ways do their ideas converge? What major events shaped their lives? Did their ideologies begin to converge? Church, enemies, allies, family, socioeconomic background, upbringing, faith, education, social environment, experiences with whites and blacks: these were all agents in the formation of their strong views. Through this paper, I posit that although their ideologies sometimes clashed, in the long run they were more conducive to one another than destructive.

Martin was a pastor and civil rights leader, later he became the spokesperson for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Martin was born January 15th, 1929 to Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. in Atlanta, Georgia. His love for the Christian faith was fostered in a black Baptist understanding. He was named Times “Man of the Year” in 1963 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, as well as being the only American with a national holiday in to his name. “King’s practice and thought radically transformed America’s understanding of itself and inspired liberation movement around the world.”[2] Initially, his negative experiences with racial segregation was brought on early at the age five when a white friend’s father told Martin that his son was no longer allowed to play with Martin due to his skin colour. During his childhood, much like Malcolm, he was determined to hate all whites. This attitude changed through the influence of education, positive experience with moderate whites, and most importantly with a greater understanding of religion. This, he experienced while studying at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania and at Boston University School of theology. While studying he encountered Henry David Thoreau’s “Essay on Civil Disobedience”. In graduate school, essays and books from Mahatma Ghandi greatly influenced his nonviolent tenets. Most important was his understanding of “Personalism – a philosophy that accented the infinite value of the human person.” A year prior to earning a doctoral degree, Martin became a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. It was here where Martin was thrown to the front of the bus boycott initiated by Rosa Parks, December 1st, 1955.[3]

He was a perpetual advocate of nonviolent resistance, starting with the triumph of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 in Alabama. Nonviolence was at the heart of his philosophy of life and proved to be an extremely effective strategy of social change. He contended that nonviolence was the most potent tool for, not only blacks, but for any oppressed people struggling for justice. Interestingly, his studies had not completely given him the nonviolent tenets. In the heat immediately following the bus boycotts he and his family were harassed by white police and supremacists, his house was bombed and received volumes of hate calls and hate mail. In order to defend himself, the Reverend bought a gun permit. Armed blacks were known to guard his home. However, his nonviolent perspective was nurtured with his devotion to the Church, backed his parents. The ceaseless threats to his life and his family’s lives were so strong that he considered leaving as the head of the bus boycott. He sought advice from his parents and the Church. King is recalled at one time saying, “I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I’m afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.” After much reflection, he felt a voice from within encouraging him to stand for what is right, reinvigorating his devotion to the bus boycott, and to the larger black liberation movement. After another bombing of his house, in an unmatched calmness he was inspired to say, “We can’t solve this problem through retaliatory violence… We must meet violence with nonviolence… Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you. We must love our white brothers… no matter what they do to us.” Using Christian doctrines, he sold his message by aligning their cause with a divine power; their cause was greater than the forces of white supremacy. He drew upon his collegiate studies, especially from his readings of Gandhi who used love as a political instrument of social change by administering nonviolent direct action. King used Jesus’ philosophies and Ghandi’s actions as an instrument of social change. Solidifying his nonviolent zeal, he founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Many blacks, like Malcolm, thought that King’s methods amounted to “doing nothing.” With fervour, King continually emphasized the active components of his nonviolent approach. The only passive dimension was the refusal to inflict physical harm unto others. To King, “nonviolence resists evil but it refuses to commit evil. Even the enemy is a person and must be treated as such. [It] does not seek to destroy the opponent but rather seeks to make the enemy a friend … Even if nonviolence fails to convert the enemy to a friend; it eliminates hate from the hearts of those who are committed to it.”[4] Violence was impractical and immoral. Blacks were a ten-percent minority in America and if a race war were to arise, blacks would be greatly outnumbered. King understood this and successfully passed his message to many ready-to-retaliate blacks.

From the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 to the Selma March in 1965, King’s belief in nonviolence held firm. The adherence to his philosophies proved to work in the student sit-ins in 1960, the Freedom Rides in 1961, the Birmingham demonstrations in 1963 and the March on Washington also in 1963. The effectiveness of nonviolence delegitimized any violent reproaches brought on from radical whites, further empowered by media coverage. His nonviolent approach resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Bill in 1965, but most importantly it sent a strong message to those uninvolved in the Civil Rights Movement: it is unjust to treat blacks as second class citizens.

A strong critic of King’s work was Malcolm X. However, after the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965 and with the rise of Black Power in 1966, many black youth activists became disillusioned with King’s nonviolent ways. Malcolm’s Black Nationalist philosophy was often the alternative to King’s nonviolent resistance. Although at odds with the manifestation of his principles, many of Martin’s critics (including Malcolm X) still admired and respected his commitment to the black cause. Despite dissonant views in the Black community, many whites praised King for his nonviolent approach – however some would reject him when he applied his views to the whole nation. Between 1966 and 1968, the dissolution of the Civil Rights Movement as a single entity weakened much of King’s progress. King’s statement that America was “the greatest purveyor of violence” greatly decreased his popularity, even garnering some resentment. King’s antiwar sentiment during the Vietnam War resulted in a loss of prestige from the public and from government officials, most notably Lyndon B. Johnson. The majority of the country dismissed King solely as a civil rights activist who should not interject in foreign affairs. As a response to the war in Vietnam, King prepared a Poor People’s Campaign to pressure the government to withdraw from Vietnam and to intensify the war on poverty. King and X were converging on a similar but by no means identical view of racial justice and economic health for blacks. This campaign aimed to achieve economic justice for black and white workers in Memphis. It was there where he was assassinated on April 4th, 1968.[5]

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little, on May 19th, 1925 to Baptist preacher Earl Little in Omaha, Nebraska. Here at this time, segregation reigned. KKK marches, lynching and deep racism were the norm. Much of Malcolm’s childhood is characterized by overt racism. His father, a Black Nationalist and fervent speaker on the inequalities of America, was murdered with Malcolm claiming that white hate groups were to blame. His family was forced to move to Lansing, Michigan under threats of the KKK. In Lansing, his home was burned down by the Black Legionnaires, a white supremacy group. The death of his father put his family in shambles. His mother was institutionalized after having a mental breakdown, and Malcolm and his siblings were placed in various foster homes. Malcolm was uprooted and placed in a white neighbourhood. He went to a white school and he says that there he learned how to blend in and be accepted by white folks. He said that at the time he felt amicable of whites and white culture. However, a white teacher told him that becoming a lawyer was “no realistic goal for a nigger”. Despite being at the top of his class, he dropped out of high school and moved to New York City. He found his way to Harlem and became involved in drug dealing, drug abuse, prostitution, and robberies. In 1946, at the age of twenty-one, Malcolm’s lifestyle caught up with him and he was sentence to eight to ten years of prison. In prison, Malcolm reignited his love for education. With many letters and visits, his family helped convert Malcolm to the Nation of Islam, steered by Elijah Muhammad. In prison, Elijah Muhammad fostered Malcolm’s insatiable thirst for education and his discontent with white America. Muhammad’s and the NOI’s teachings made everything black good and everything white evil; substituting white supremacy with black supremacy. While adopting the Black Nationalist philosophies, Malcolm’s understanding of it emphasized black self-respect and self-defense. He “enjoyed giving whites the same medicine the dished out to blacks.” In contrast to MLK, Malcolm viewed violent resistance as a necessary response to criminal acts. He learned these principles in his formative years, when faced with racism he would often dish it right back.[6] After his release from prison in 1952, Malcolm dropped his “slave name” and adopted the X. He began as a spokesperson for the NOI. All his reading in prison made him extremely articulate with sharp, logic-based arguments. He was an effective recruiter for the NOI, so effective that Muhammad appointed Malcolm the head of Temple Number 7 in New York. Since MLK exposed overt racism in the southern states, X sought to expose covert racism in northern states. He attacked all whites – radical, liberal, moderate – claiming all whites to be the cause of “urban black ghetto[s] where drugs, poverty, crime, unemployment, and bad housing are its defining characteristics.”[7] Malcolm X became a Muslim minister for the Nation of Islam and a Black Nationalist leader. Much of his critiques of whites were deemed disturbing by both blacks and whites. His perspective on the race issue was starkly contrasting to that of Martin’s. His radical views “exposed the racist hypocrisy of American democracy and the ethical contradiction of white Christianity.” Much of his criticism focused on the failure of white people to treat black people as equals, or even as human beings. This principle lay at the heart of all of Malcolm’s arguments. “Whites enslaved blacks for 244 years, segregated them for another 100, and lynched them all along the way whenever and wherever whites had a mind to demonstrate their absolute power over blacks. How could American whites exclude blacks and other people of color from the political process and yet say that [America] is the land of the free? How could white Christians treat blacks as brutes, and still claim love as their central religious principle?” Malcolm’s speeches were often scathing. He exposed the political and religious contradictions that white America had previously believed. Many of his criticisms were blunt and deemed offensive by most. Malcolm was a staunch critique of Martin’s nonviolent approach. He felt that it was hugely hypocritical for whites to urge blacks to be nonviolent. Whites did not apply themselves to the same moral logic that Martin cherished. Malcolm correctly delineates whites’ use of violence to gain their freedom from English Empire. Many blacks and whites incorrectly assumed that this meant that Malcolm was ready to advocate violence. Rather, he advocated self-defense. In further dissonance with MLK, he felt that if whites could defend themselves, why not blacks? He was a strong advocate of black freedom “by any means necessary”. Malcolm contended that if the government does not protect black people and that if the government does not give black people their freedom, then they are within their right to protect themselves and gain their own freedom. Malcolm was well-known to use flagrant language in his speeches. He never considered his language violent, but he wanted his words to be rousing. An example of Malcolm’s bold style of speech is when he said that “chickens were coming home to roost” of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Muhammad would later suspend Malcolm from the NOI for his words in 1963. Following his suspension and continual conflicts with Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm travelled to Mecca to become a Sunni Muslim. Malcolm’s break with the Nation of Islam and his return from Mecca in 1964 saw him become a more moderate man. Malcolm’s break with the NOI allowed him to be publically political, which the teachings of the Elijah Muhammad advised strongly against. With that, he made many attempts to join forces with Martin. However Martin tried to avoid Malcolm because of his violent image. In a letter to King in 1963, Malcolm said: “A United Front involving all Negro factions, elements, and their leaders is absolutely necessary … If capitalistic Kennedy and communistic Khrushchev can find something in common on which to form a United Front despite their tremendous ideological differences, it is a disgrace for Negro leaders not to be able to submerge our “minor” differences in order to seek a common solution to a common problem posed by a Common Enemy.” Although there was no response from King; Malcolm had a trouble distancing himself from his previous racist tenets. Malcolm’s return from Mecca saw him rejecting the racist ideologies of the NOI, thereafter seeking to repair his relations with black leaders such as Martin. While sitting in jail, on Malcolm’s meeting with his wife, Coretta Scott King, Martin said, “He spoke at length to my wife Coretta about his personal struggles and expressed an interest in working more closely with the nonviolent movement”[8] … He thought he could help me more by attacking me than praising me. He thought it would make it easier for me in the long run. He said, ‘If white people realize what the alternative is, perhaps they will be more willing to hear Dr. King.’”[9] His philosophies continued to evolve, evidenced by his speech at Barnard College, “It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of blacks against whites, or as a purely American Problem. Rather we are today seeking a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.”[10] He still firmly adhered to tenets of self-defense and his scathing critique of white America. Malcolm’s pull away from NOI caused much hardship. It is reported that they firebombed his house and were responsible for his assassination on February 21, 1965, following a rally in New York.

The destructive internal conflict that ended in X’s assassination are the same that would later disrupt Martin’s own Afro-American political ventures, furthered after his own death. Rather than aligning the commonalities of both points of views, Black people chose between the differences of Malcolm and Martin’s stances. Tragically, many of their followers did not understand as they – X and King – did, that at the end of their lives, their basic messages were compatible rather than contradictory. Both saw the rise of strong black-controlled institutions. Both King and X saw that achieving one goal could contribute to the achievement of the other. The differences between the two were not as significant as their dedication to the black cause functioned to unite them.

Martin came from an affluent family while Malcolm struggled through white school and drugs. Both became leaders in their respective religions. Malcolm, Islam and Martin, Southern Baptist. Both used Vietnam to strengthen their own causes. Both had limited involvement in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Martin: Integration and SCLC, non violent, civil rights movement. Malcolm: Black Nationalism and Nation of Islam (later Sunni Muslim), militant, black power movement. Both fought for the black struggle. Martin was popular among the less radical. Malcolm was popular with the young and radical.

Both believed there was a race war to avoid, evidenced in 1963, with MLK’s meeting with Kennedy, saying that, “if something isn’t done to give the Negro a new sense of hope and a sense of protection, there is a danger we will face the worst race riot we have ever seen in this country.”[11] This, after 4 black girls were killed in a church bombing in Birmingham. Both Malcolm and Martin attempt to align with young groups (SNCC). Both exhibited remarkable leadership, both under-utilized women. They shared abominable views on women. “While Martin and Malcolm challenged white values regarding race, their acceptance of black male privilege prevented them from seeing the connection between racism and sexism… They shared much of the typical American Male’s view on women.”[12] Both of their lives were cut short before their full evolution came to finish. Both felt that the other’s efforts sometimes delegitimized their own. But through greater analysis, one might see that the interplay of their differing views curiously strengthened the other’s cause.

On Malcolm’s death, King says, “He was an eloquent spokesman for his point of view and no one can honestly doubt that Malcolm had a great concern for the problems that we face as a race. While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problems, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had the great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem.”[13] Martin understood that they had more in common, and were brothers, rather than enemies. At the start of Malcolm’s philosophy failed to see the “difference between nonresistance … and nonviolent resistance.” Malcolm was a product “of the despair that inevitably derives from the conditions of oppression, poverty, and injustice which engulf the masses of [blacks],” says Dr. King. He understood that in Malcolm’s youth, “there was no hope, no preaching, teaching, or movements of nonviolence … [that] a man who lived under the torment of knowledge of the rape of his grandmother and murder of his father under the conditions of the present social order, does not readily accept that social order or seek to integrate into it.” Although Dr. King says that Malcolm had a “native intelligence and drive which demanded an outlet and means of expression.” Further saying that, “Malcolm was still turning and growing at the time of his brutal and meaningless assassination.” Dr. King felt that Malcolm died at a time when he “was re-evaluating his own philosophical presuppositions and moving toward a greater understanding of the nonviolent movement and toward more tolerance of white people generally.”[14]

While Malcolm attacked King’s views and leading to egg’s being thrown at King by Black Nationalists the day after a rousing speech from Malcolm that defamed MLK, King understood that Malcolm was a victim of the broken system. X previously believed that blacks were lied to when told that blacks were inferior to whites, where X thought that whites were the ones that were inferior. He felt that this systematic withholding of truth exacerbated racism. X believed that whites were the root of the evil of racism. He says, “They are devils.” He is not talking of “an individual white man,” he is speaking of “the collective white man’s historical record… the collective white man’s cruelties, and evils, and greed, that have seen him act like a devil toward the not-white man.” However his break with the Nation of Islam caused him to retract his statement to a more moderate, “The white man is not inherently evil, but America’s racist society influences him to act evilly.”[15] His return from Mecca after leaving the Nation of Islam saw Malcolm become a much more moderate man.

After X’s death, King began to toy with the idea of “temporary separation”. King’s understanding that the economic health of black communities was a symptom of the larger problem and should be put as a priority. This is exhibited through his Poor People Campaign. “In forming the Poor People’s Movement right before his tragic assassination, King made clear that future struggles would have to focus on socioeconomic equality rather than political equality.”[16] Malcolm X always understood that the condition of black Americans were a nightmare of racial injustice, urban poverty, and drug addiction” all with underpinnings of negligence and hypocrisy from whites. King also came to understand that Malcolm’s emphasis on black pride would cultivate a sense of oneness within the American blacks. Martin began to understand the importance of racial pride, even if he took such pride for granted. He recognized that African Americans would never be free until they signed their own Emancipation Proclamation “with the pen and ink of assertive selfhood,”[17] and with that he touted nonviolence. However, “he knew that nonviolent struggles seeking reconciliation and redemption do not offer the same excitement and emotional satisfaction as do revenge and retaliation; yet he also understood that despite our differences, we are inextricably bound together in a network of interdependence on our increasingly endangered planet.”[18]

King was for integration, X was for separation. He advocated black survival, seeking a place free of racial violence. At certain crucial points, both men seemed to belong to a single narrative. Both had overlapping yet sometimes opposite perspectives. In the end they had more in common than differences. King and Malcolm’s popularity both sharply rose with their deaths, although King’s fell with his antiwar stance leading to his death. Their differing geography also held a huge importance in their differing stances. King in a middle class home in Atlanta, nurtured by his sense of self-worth through his parents and religion. X’s was characterized by the racial hate that killed his father. They both dabbled in the others view. Integration and nationalist agendas were not unfamiliar to either man. Faith was a great contributor to both men’s ideologies. For King, ideologies of equality in his southern Baptist upbringing characterized his perspective throughout life; liberal Protestantism, Gandhi: all in the struggle of the black experience. Malcolm’s stance is characterized by his parents’ influence in their involvement with the Black Nationalist activism, his father being the president of an Omaha branch of Black Nationalism. His childhood was subject to white violence and overt as well as covert racism. His rough time in a white high school made him drop out. He began criminal activities in Boston and Harlem. His resentful attitude of society eased his conversion into Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam. He was drawn to it because it defined whites as the devil and it strongly emphasised black pride. “His experience in the ghetto taught him that the black masses could be neither integrationist nor nonviolent.” The lack of political order, moral conscience, and regard for human dignity within society made nonviolence unappealing and Malcolm thought that it was delusionary to think that integration would succeed. He felt that with nonviolence, “whites would not have to worry about a revengeful response to their brutality.”[19] For MLK, racism was a problem of many dimensions. He says that “segregation is not only politically, economically, and socially unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful.” King ties racism with economics, saying that “the basis for the birth, growth, and development of slavery in America was primarily economic … [Thus] men had to convince themselves that a system which was so economically profitable was morally justifiable.”[20] From this, racism developed.

Malcolm’s vision of society was one of respect for all people, although how he believed it would manifest changed after leaving the Nation of Islam. He believed that the only way that black people could be saved was not to integrate, but to separate from white society. Malcolm also believed in racial pride. He says, “As other ethnic groups have done, let the black people wherever possible, however possible, patronize their own kind … and start to build up the black race’s ability to do for itself.” However, his ideology did not call for segregation. He advocated separation. To Malcolm, “segregation is that which is forced upon inferiors by superiors. But separation is that which is done voluntarily by two equals – for the good of both.” By the end of his life, his views were much more about equality: “I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such, I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”[21]

For Martin, a society was one that was in harmony with the “American Dream” and with the Christian Church; albeit he was still quite critical of both. He sought to better both by ending racism and incorporating integration. For Martin, “the greatest blasphemy of the whole ugly process [of racism] was that the white man ended up making God his partner in the exploitation of the Negro.” A just society for King, valued brotherhood, democracy, community, freedom and peace: integration unites these ideals since it is based on the recognition that all life is equal and interrelated. For King, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In seeking integration, a black person not only wins rights for himself but also produces substantial results for the nation.[22]

For Malcolm to achieve his goal, he wishes to harbour black economic and political solidarity and separate from the supposed evil white society. Before his trip to Mecca, many of Malcolm’s speeches and visions of a greater society involved arming black people. He had many militant undertones. But For Malcolm the actors of this vision should be black Americans, however his break with Elijah Muhammad later saw him employ some whites. Using moral and religious activity, Malcolm saw a vision of solidarity with all black people, leading them to gain self-respect through black pride, and finally ending at respect for all races.

Martin’s vision was determined to be non violent. Drawing from Gandhi, he believed that nonviolence was the greatest persuasion. King employed the tenets of nonviolence because “it does resist, it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent but to win his friendship and understanding, the attack is directed against the forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing evil, the nonviolent resister is willing to accept violence if necessary but never to inflict it, the nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him, and it is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice.”[23] King preached that violence was both impractical and immoral as a means to achieving racial justice. For him, Malcolm’s approach only asked for more violence, in a never ending one-upmanship. X’s anger over white racism was a strong counter argument to King’s integrationist philosophies. Where King’s policies previously seemed radical, X’s philosophies made King’s view seem acceptably moderate by comparison. However with his return from Mecca, X began to understand that King’s integrationist approach was much more militant that it seemed on the surface. And through Martin’s refusal to be associated with the violent principles that Malcolm’s separationist approach, Malcolm was forced to stay the route, understanding that a sharp contrast to King, white people would gladly listen to King’s demands.

Martin was born to the southern Negro middle class while Malcolm X was a product of the poor black masses. The two having vastly different social spheres. However different their approaches may be, the goal of both men was to cultivate brotherhood among blacks, and towards the end of X’s life, among all races. Both men used religion as a way to unify. For Martin, nonviolence was not only a moral principal, but a tactic. For Malcolm, he only advocated violence if it was meant for self-defense. While King wanted desegregation, X sought separation. Malcolm advocated self-affirming solidarity and self-respect for blacks. Martin later adopted this tenet. Malcolm at first exclusionary, later found place in his heart for all races, while Martin always advocated for all races being the agents for change but especially for the church and government policy. Both men agree that the institutions of religion/spirituality provide a solution to the ills of racism. Both men died before seeing their dreams come to fruition. Malcolm’s death is steeped in irony; black people that he so dearly loved, turned on him. Martin’s death is a symbol of America’s inability to tolerate black disobedience to the norm. The learning point of from both of these great men is that blacks need not choose between Martin and Malcolm, but rather acknowledge the value in both.

Martin was heralded as the nonviolent champion of change; Malcolm, as the symbol of the defiant, angry, alienated youth. Integration versus separatism, nonviolence versus armed self-defense: both of them offered partial, incomplete insights into the fundamental issues of the African American experience.[24] They agreed about the direction of the black struggle but disagreed on how change would manifest. To Martin, America embodied the American Dream based in religion and individual rights. For Malcolm, America was a nightmare rife with injustice from which black people needed to liberate themselves “by any means necessary” Although these perspectives were disparate, each of their movements were conducive to the other’s. They both fought for the same fundamental: that blacks should be treated equally. Fundamentally, their causes were similar. Towards the end of their lives, their views began to merge, however both were abruptly ended. Both made militant approaches, Martin’s being strictly nonviolent; Malcolm’s in self-defense. The biggest disparity between the two lay in the means and ends of their similar goals. Both sought to end the black struggle within America. Malcolm’s end goal was separation. Martin’s end goal was for full integration. The means to Malcolm’s goals was “by any means necessary” while Malcolm’s was strictly nonviolent. While it was not likely for the two to join to a single force against racism, at the end of their lives, they both began to understand the other’s philosophies more and perhaps its uses for their own causes. They should never be pitted against one another, but along side. In the end they shared more in common than they had differences. “Rather than symbolizing two differing positions of the black struggle, King and X represent complimentary understandings of the dilemmas facing black people. Both men understood the importance of building strong, black-controlled institutions, both realized that nonviolent tactics could be used militantly and were essential aspects of the black struggle”, both understood the importance of harboring a positive sense of a black identity. One of the biggest tragedies, besides their deaths, is the ideological warfare committed in their names.[25]

Both men have grown larger than life. Malcolm and Martin needed one another, their ideas and strategies brought them to a symbiotic movement that furthered the other’s cause. In the end, to curtail the grandeur of their legacies, we have only their words with which to understand them:

“There is a magnificent new militancy within the Negro community all across this nation. And I welcome this as a marvelous development. The Negro of America is saying he’s determined to be free and he is militant enough to stand up.” King, 1963.[26]
“Don’t let anybody frighten you. We are not afraid of what we are doing … We, the disinherited of this land, we who have been oppressed so long, are tired of going through the long night of captivity.” King, 1955[27]
“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values,” King, 1967.[28]
“Black men have slammed the door shut on a past of deadening passivity,” King, 1968[29]
“It is a disgrace for Negro leaders not to be able to submerge our ‘minor’ differences in order to seek a common solution to a common problem posed by a common enemy.” X, 1963.[30]
“We can never get civil rights in America until our human rights are first restored. We will never be recognized as citizens until we are first recognized as humans.” X, 1964[31]
“I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.” X, 1965[32]

These consecutive quotes effectively show how they were always fighting against the same problems of racial injustices. Rather than juxtapositions, Malcolm and Martin should be seen as complimentary forces towards a better, stronger society. Malcolm’s quote from “The Ballot or the Bullet” sums of the sentiment of this paper, that more than differences, these men share commonalities. “Although I’m still a Muslim, I’m not here tonight to discuss my religion. I’m not here to try to change your religion. I’m not here to argue or discuss anything that we differ about, because it’s time for us to submerge our differences and realize that it is best for us to see that we have the same problem, a common problem … Whether we are Christians or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences. If we have differences, let us differ in the closet; when we come out in front, let us not have anything to argue about.”[i]


Carson, Clayborne. “African-American Leadership and Mass Mobilization.” Black Scholar 24, no. 4 (Fall 1994): 2.

—. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York, New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1998.

Carson, Clayborne. “The Unfinished Dialogue of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.” OAH Magazine of History (Organization of American Historians) 19, no. 1 (January 2005): 22-26.

Cone, James H. “Martin and Malcolm on Nonviolence and Violence.” Phylon (1960-) (Clark Atlanta University) 49, no. 3/4 (Autumn – Winter 2001): 173-183.

Dyson, Michael Eric. “Martin and Malcolm, Review:” Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare.” by James H. Cone.” Transition (Indiana University Press on behalf of W.E.B. Du Bois Institute) 56 (1992): 48-59.

Hatch, Roger D. “Racism and Religion: The Contrasting Views of Benjamin Mays, Malcom X and Martin Luther King, Jr.” Journal of Religious Thought 36, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 1979/1980): 26-37.

Mattson, Kevin. “Martin Luther King, Jr.” Social Policy (Rutgers University) 30, no. 2 (Winter 1999): 29-32.

Robert Kelly, Erin Cook. “Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X: A Common Solution.” OAH Magazine of History (Organization of American Historians) 19, no. 1, Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 2005): 37-40.

[1] (Cone 2001)

[2] (Cone 2001)

[3] (Cone 2001)

[4] (Cone 2001)

[5] (Cone 2001)

[6] (Cone 2001)

[7] (Cone 2001)

[8] (Carson, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. 1998)

[9] (Carson, The Unfinished Dialogue of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. 2005)

[10] (Cone 2001)

[11] (Carson, The Unfinished Dialogue of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. 2005)

[12] (Dyson 1992)

[13] (Carson, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. 1998)

[14] (Carson, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. 1998)

[15] (Hatch 1979/1980)

[16] (Mattson 1999)

[17] (Carson, The Unfinished Dialogue of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. 2005)

[18] (Carson, The Unfinished Dialogue of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. 2005)

[19] (Dyson 1992)

[20] (Hatch 1979/1980)

[21] (Hatch 1979/1980)

[22] (Hatch 1979/1980)

[23] (Hatch 1979/1980)

[24] (Carson, African-American Leadership and Mass Mobilization 1994)

[25] (Carson, African-American Leadership and Mass Mobilization 1994)

[26] (Robert Kelly 2005)

[27] (Robert Kelly 2005)

[28] (Robert Kelly 2005)

[29] (Robert Kelly 2005)

[30] (Robert Kelly 2005)

[31] (Robert Kelly 2005)

[32] (Robert Kelly 2005)

Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Last night I had a date with Julia. After the week’s events I didn’t think it would be possible. We had barely been messaging one another and when I saw her last Tuesday, we seemed pretty cold to one another. On Saturday, I was supposed to go to a bar with her and her friends. But after hiking the Baden Powell that morning – a five hour hike – I was feeling pretty tired. That night, Claire, a mutual friend, tried to hype me up since I wasn’t feeling up to it. She was saying that Julia was feeling pretty wasted and my lips would reap the rewards. I didn’t like that she said that. It made me feel like a one dimensional guy who was only after the poon-tang. I am all about the sweet puss but that she called me out on it made me feel shallow. It also made me feel like a piece of steak that was ripe to be eaten, like I should be desperate for that shit. I’m not. Evan and I got to the bar and there was a line up. It was a cold night. Who the fuck creates a line up for a bar? The bar wasn’t even full. There was even  a “guestlist”. What kind of poser-wannabe bar does that shit? Not only that, there was a cover charge of $10 to boot. My misgivings about going were echoed in Evan’s wingeing. We were already in line so I may as well have went with it. Evan thought otherwise. In the end, I gave in to his complaints and my own apprehension. Upon leaving, I felt like a terrible bitch-ass. Julia seemed pissed through her texts so I dropped it. Claire kept trying to persuade me to return but I wanted no part. Evan felt like he was the reason why we left. It was beginning to feel like drama central.

Luckily, yesterday I asked Julia out for coffee on a whim. When I called her, she didn’t seem sour about Saturday night. Bonus. So yesterday, Monday, and before seeing Julia, I spent the afternoon kicking it with Evan. We browsed in the Vancouver Public Library; all the while talking shit. We also decided on a gangster-as-fuck handshake. It was a mixture of Troy and Abed’s mixed in with Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff’s. I spent a couple hours dicking around with Evan since I was to meet Julia at 5PM. My nerves were understandably in disarray. The coffee and conversation with Evan helped ease them. Evan and I said our goodbyes with the new handshake and Julia immediately showed up. Shame she missed our bad-ass handshake.

We started our date at Starbucks and it was really easy talking to her. Admittedly, the entire conversation long, I wanted to jump her. She was looking exceptionally stunning. I restrained myself though. We waxed on about our pasts and future ambitions. We shot the shit on how ridiculous society was. She was looking incredibly cute. She commented on how I looked like a hipster. After talking for a solid two hours, we decided to grab a bite. We’re both pretty poor so we decided on the Famous Warehouse, where everything served is $4.95 and under. She told me about an isolated location – not the ridiculously jammed packed one on Granville St. – and we headed in that direction on foot. While we continued talking, I thought about holding her hand. Ultimately I pussied out; maybe for the best. We got lost on the way to dinner because I told her to not googlemap the place; we would try to find it on our own just by wandering. On our trek, we happened upon a medieval store that was offering broad sword, rapier and jousting lessons. We immediately entered because swords are awesome. Inside, an overzealous sword master tried to convince us to join their classes. We only wanted to watch some sword fights. As we watched, I realized how dorky the people were; full of LARP-fags and D&D enthusiasts. I shouldn’t hate though; I wish I was as passionate about anything as they were about their craft. We left and soon found the alternate Famous Warehouse location. It was pretty quiet inside. I felt comfortable with her. I ordered the Chicken Caesar Wrap with a side of salad. She got the Beef Dip with a side of fries. She commented on the femininity of my order. I laughed. As we ate, she had somehow gotten a piece of food on her jawline. I didn’t want to embarrass her by wiping it away so I tried my best not to stare at it too hard. In talking to her, I learned she hated anything that had to do with tomatoes, even pasta sauce. That was disappointing to hear because one of the few things I could cook is a mean penne pasta. During the meal, I had the chance to subtly study her face, or at least I hope it was subtle. She has a cute button-nose and fantastically shaped eyes; it must be her half-Asian genes. She has full lips with which she tries to cover her toothy smile. On her lips she has a small piercing. Hot. Her skin is fair and I imagine it freckles with enough sun. The way that she moves her hair from her face gives it an air of sexuality. This is kinda creepy now that I think about it. Fuck it. I’m an observant mother fucker. In the end, both our meals totalled $15. I had recently been having an inner debate about gender equality and ‘paying for dinner’ was this grey area where, even though I’d be willing to pay for the full meal, it would be cool if I somehow got her to pay for half. In the past, with other girls, I always paid for everything. And when I say everything, I mean e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. As I went to pay for the meal, she threw a fiver my way. I am in no position to reject it. She didn’t seem phased. Before leaving the dive, she freshened up in the little girl’s room and I noticed that the food on her jawline was gone.

After dinner, we walked some more. I wanted to hold her hand but again, I resisted (read: chickened out). I gave her some halls, because I didn’t have any mint candy or gum. She commented on how it made her feel even colder. On Hastings St., we passed the Church of Scientology. I said that we should go in. We both felt that the church was ridiculous. She said that she would feel bad for going in and making them feel like we were deriding them. I sorta agreed but I was in a mischievous mood. Instead we stood outside the church entrance, to see how long it would take for someone to come out and try to recruit us. At the entrance there was this video montage put together that would put lesser people in a trance. We are not lesser people. No one came through the transparent doors, despite giving Julia and I many puzzling looks. We went on to walk along Coal Harbour on Waterfront and it was surprisingly isolated. The night was beautiful despite a light shower and a brisk breeze. North Vancouver lighting the dark night across the Vancouver Harbour would be a great backdrop to share a first kiss so I pulled her in. I didn’t feel much electricity between us but I knew I wanted to kiss her. I don’t know how she felt. I couldn’t read her expression. I want to say that she was smiling coyly but I was too giddy to realize. I held her close and I asked her if she was still feeling cold. She said no. Her answer made me more hesitant that I would have liked to have been. I slowly moved in to kiss her. I felt like I wanted to nuzzle her instead. I went through with the kiss and she responded in kind. We kissed in front of the water, the stars, the sky, the wind, the rain drops and the mountain. It was very Vancouver. Her kisses were soft. I didn’t feel her piercing on my lips. The kiss did not feel synchronized. I think our kissing patterns are different. That could be solved with practice though, which I imagine would be fun. I didn’t want to betray any signs of over-eagerness so I left my hands on the small of her back. Her hands rested against my arms. It was cozy. Afterwards, I held her and looked into her eyes, to gauge her expression. My own thoughts clouded my mind so I still couldn’t read her. I think we were both smiling. I honestly don’t remember. I think she was in the same state, because as we stared at each other she asked me what I was looking at. I didn’t know. I told her I was just feeling giddy. The rain picked up and we went looking for an awning. Though at the time, I couldn’t think straight and I called it an eavesdrop, and in trying to correct myself I called it an overhead. For some reason, my French was coming out. I said, “Il pleut.” instead of it’s raining. Luckily she understood. Beneath the awning, as I sat and she stood, I held her again. She held my head as I held her at her waist. I wanted her near and she went along with it. She said my head smelled nice. I asked, “Like what?” She just said that I smelled like something nice. With my head at chest level, I said that her chest smelled nice. “My boobs?” she said. “Yes,” I said, “your boobs smell like boobs.”

We kissed some more. And walked some more. We found ourselves at the Anglican Cathedral on Burrard and Georgia. I was still feeling mischievous so I offered that we break into the church and make out there. She was for it. We couldn’t break in though. We walked more and found ourselves in front of the ritzy Georgia Hotel. I suggested we make out in front of the old rich people eating along the window. She was not for it. I picked her up in rebellion. She was a lot lighter than I thought. She said I was a lot stronger than she thought. We walked further and we found ourselves on Granville St.. We stopped at another awning and I suggested we busk. We tried rapping but I guess we didn’t look poor enough to have change thrown at us. We kissed some more but she said that my scruffy stache tickled her. It made me self-conscious because these whiskers that I’ve been growing for “Movember” are pubescent at best.

Time flew and the temperature was ever dropping. We took the same train home. While sitting, I put my palm face up on her leg. She surrendered her hand to mine. Her hands were cute and decked in rings. My French was showing again when I asked her if she “ported” many rings often.

My stop came and I kissed her goodbye.

Tonight, I’m supposed to see her again, since it’s Dodgeball Tuesday. I’m not sure how to act with her with all our other friends there. I feel like I should definitely kiss her. But I also feel like it shouldn’t be an exhibit for every one of our friends to gawk at.

We’ll see what happens though.

And with that, I’ve procrastinated writing yet another paper. Back to the books.

Empathy and Bystanders: An Article Review of Bullying

In this article, I will seek to elucidate the effects of empathy on bullying and its creation of bystanders. I posit that low levels of empathy will significantly predict bullying behaviours; both the violent and nonviolent. Additionally, I aim to delineate empathy’s role on bystanders. I will attempt to answer such questions as, “Does a bystander’s low empathy levels predict the perpetuation of these types of misconduct?” It seems almost obvious that any transgression (physical and nonphysical) of a person be related to low levels of empathy. However, how do the witnesses of acts of bullying rate on empathy? I contend that much like bullies, low empathy breeds bystanders. Empathy has been defined as ‘the ability to understand and share another’s emotional state or context’. It is a complex construct in which cognitive and affective aspects can be distinguished. The cognitive component refers to skills of recognizing others’ emotions and taking others’ perspectives, whereas the affective component involves sharing others’ feelings (Caravita, S. S., Di Blasio, P., & Salmivalli, C. 2009). Bullying and its devastating consequences unceasingly remind us of the epidemic-like problems entrenched in teenaged-life. Despite the educational interventions designed to streamline the issue, teen suicides and mental health problems continue to perpetuate. By studying the causes and effects of bullying from a variety of aspects, psychologists aim to put an end to this public health issue. Bullying remains a social phenomenon and seems to be intrinsically connected to child development. However, with a psychological understanding of its underlying issues, particularly with empathy levels of all parties involved (bullies, victims and bystanders); we may yet discover solutions to end to bullying.

Bullying is widely defined as the systematic abuse of power. More specifically, school bullying involves situations in which ‘a student is repeatedly abused or victimized by one or several other students’. There is a broad consensus in the international scientific community that the defining features of bullying are the deliberate intentions to harm a victim, the repetition of the behaviour over a period of time and the relational asymmetry between bully and victim. (Bacchini, D., Esposito, G., & Affuso, G. 2009). Bullying is regarded as a special type of aggressive behavior [Berkowitz, 1993] and is also classified as an indicator of conduct disorder within the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM-IV-TR) (Idsoe, T., Solli, E., & Cosmovici, E. 2008). Recently, society has seen a slew of seemingly isolated occurrences of bullying.

ImageThis fact is glaringly evident with the unfortunate suicide of teen, Amanda Todd, in Surrey, British Columbia. The rise of social media networks has paralleled the rise of a new kind of bullying: cyberbullying, which is separate from overt aggression (physical bullying) yet related to nonviolent bullying (relational aggression). Despite this newer form of bullying taking a less violent embodiment, its consequences remain unfailingly insidious. Research suggests that bullies and their victims are more susceptible to psychological problems in adult life. In particular, bullies have a higher than average probability of externalizing their problems while victims have an increased risk of internalizing disorders such as anxious-depressive states, somatization and social withdrawal (Bacchini, D., Esposito, G., & Affuso, G. 2009). Recently evidenced with the propagation of teen suicides due to bullying, the consequences of bullying remain an important issue. Interestingly, while it was previously argued that bullies have low levels of self-esteem, contrasting research shows aggressive people may possess high self-esteem. In addition, whilst some bullies have social skill deficits, others have been found to be good at manipulating others. Thus, it seems that rather than having social cognitive skills deficits, some bullies have heightened skills, which they use to manipulate and control others. So, bullies may be good at manipulating others because they are knowledgeable about other’s feelings, and can predict the consequences of their behaviour on others. Such cognitive skills make ‘leaders’ of children who bully because they are able to take control over other children (Muñoz, L. C., Qualter, P., & Padgett, G. 2011). As previously stated, an important factor in the creation of bullies is steeped in their personality traits. Another contributing factor lies in the environmental upbringing of a child. An analysis of personal characteristics and parental styles show that they are deeply connected to bullying. Bullies tend to have authoritarian parents with whom they had frequent disagreements (Baldry, A. C., & Farrington, D. P., 2000). In the past, the field of psychology dedicated to studying bullying examined the personality characteristics of the bully and victim. Researchers specifically explored their personality traits, emotional and socio-cognitive abilities or parenting styles of the bully and victim. Research on empathy and bullying hopes to further this complex social phenomenon.

Those who bully seem to be ignorant of the severity of the social pain that bullying can elicit. Therefore, we contend that those who bully are not stringently malicious; however they exhibit a lack of empathy otherwise present in non-bullying individuals. In a study, Examining the Relationship Between Low Empathy and Bullying, researchers posit that low affective empathy is significantly related to bullying for females, but not for males. Information for this study was obtained from 720 adolescents (376 males, 344 females) in grade 10 (age of  about 15) from three schools in Hertfordshire. Anonymous self-report questionnaires were administered in classrooms by an experienced researcher. Empathy was measured using the Basic Empathy Scale (BES). This 20- item scale assesses both cognitive and affective empathy and was designed to measure the degree to which a person understands and shares the emotions of another. A bullying questionnaire based on that used by Whitney and Smith [1993] was used to measure the relationship between low empathy and bullying. Only the questions regarding bullying others were analysed. Direct bullying, both physical (e.g. hitting or kicking others) and verbal (e.g. calling others names) and indirect (e.g. rejecting others) were all included. All questions measured the prevalence and frequency of bullying. Students could indicate whether they bullied others “once or twice”, “sometimes”, “about once a week”, “several times a week” or if it had “never happened” in that period. The results show that males who report bullying do not differ from non-bullies on any of the measures of empathy, however, males who bully frequently were found to be lacking in both affective and total empathy. Interestingly, females who bully also have significantly lower affective and total empathy than females who do not, but an exploratory analysis suggests that this bully/non-bully difference may be the result of the very low empathy of a small number of high frequency female bullies (Jolliffe, D., & Farrington, D. P. 2006). Further support for our claim that bullies exhibit low levels of empathy is found in another study named Unique and Interactive Effects of Empathy and Social Status on Involvement in Bullying, where affective and cognitive empathy, as well as the status variables, have seen some significant effects on involvement in bullying.The 461 participants in the study (234 males and 227 females) were pupils of 3 primary schools and 2 secondary schools in Northern Italy. Empathy was assessed by means of the HIFDS questionnaire, which taps two different dimensions of empathy: cognitive and affective. Cognitive empathy was measured through five items describing the understanding of others’ feelings (e.g., I’m able to recognize, before many other children, that other people’s feelings have changed), and affective empathy by seven items about sharing others’ feelings. Participants were asked to evaluate the extent to which each item was true for them, using a four-point likert scale (from 1 = never true to 4 = always true). A short version of the participant role questionnaire (PRQ) was administered to assess children’s involvement in bullying either by bullying others or by defending the victims (Menesini & Gini, 2000; Salmivalli et al., 1996; Sutton & Smith, 1999). The bullying items assessed ‘ringleader’-type bullying behaviors, such as ‘starts the bullying’ and ‘convincing other children to bully’. The measure was a peer nomination questionnaire, which first presented a definition of bullying and then asked the respondents to think about situations in which somebody had been bullied, responding to seven items describing different behaviors. For each item, the participants had to indicate five classmates who most often behaved in the way described, and rate how often each of these classmates behaved in that way on a two-point scale (1 = sometimes, 2 = often). The results showed that bullying was negatively linked to affective empathy and social preference, and positively to perceived popularity, whereas defending was positively associated with both affective empathy and social preference. Social status of the child is also clearly linked to bullying-related behaviors. Furthermore, in accordance with the child-by-environment perspective, individual (empathy) and interpersonal (social status) variables were found to interact in predicting bullying and defending. The comparison of two age groups and boys and girls revealed similarities and some differences in the relations between the variables under study. (Caravita, S. S., Di Blasio, P., & Salmivalli, C. 2009).

Although the vast majority of bullying episodes occur with peers present, only in about 10-20% of these cases are there any kind of intervention. Rather than exclusively involving the victim and bully, bullying is a group process. Viewing bully behaviour is a form of support for the bully. This realization has only elucidated in the minds of researchers in the last couple years, particularly in Italy, Netherlands and Germany (Gini, G., Albiero, P., Benelli, B., & Altoè, G. 2008).

To extrapolate from the last study, children who actively defend a victim are found to have higher levels of empathy than those who bully. Interestingly, additional research finds that those who defend victims of bullying do not have higher empathy levels than do those who passively bystand. Particularly, in Determinants of Adolescents’ Active Defending and Passive Bystanding Behavior in Bullying, the 2008 Italian study finds that defenders of bullying and passive bystanders are rated highly on empathetic responsiveness. This study aims to compare peer evaluated defender behaviour and bystander behaviour in an attempt to understand their overlaps, with a focus on empathy and perceived social self-efficacy. Researchers posit that differences will be found along social self-efficacy levels or defender and bystander behaviour. The study used 294 Italian students ranging between 12 and 14 years old. To identify the correlations of bystander and defender behaviour, students reported their peers’ behaviours using a Social Self-Efficacy Scale, while self-reporting on an empathy scale. Results point to high levels of empathy being positively associated with both defender and passive bystander behaviour. The difference between the two falls along the Social Self-Efficacy scale where higher levels were associated with defender behaviour. A combination of high empathy responsiveness and perceived social self-efficacy is likely to lead to active support from students witnessing bullying. Other factors for defending were not measured but from this study, we learn that teaching students to be assertive can help with bully interventions (Gini, G., Albiero, P., Benelli, B., & Altoè, G. 2008). Despite the ever-growing number of school based interventions, the bullying problem remains stubbornly entrenched. Such instances of bystander effect are not due to a lack of empathy, but rather through a diffusion of responsibility. The famous instance of Kitty Genovese exemplifies that the bystander effect does not deal with low empathy levels. Rather it is the mechanisms of trivialization, dissociation, embarrassment association, and the compliance with norms that children are moved to inaction. Coupled with the general lack of self-empowerment, that children feel and perceived peer pressure, the bystander effect in children is especially understandable. If not empathy then, what other mechanisms explain the bystander behaviour of bullying? In Active Defending and Passive Bystanding Behavior in Bullying: The Role of Personal Characteristics and Perceived Peer Pressure, Italian researchers sought to test for the effects of peer pressure on predictive defending and passive bystander behaviour. The study was examined along three perspectives: students’ attitudes towards the victims; their sense of responsibility for intervening; and different coping responses to witnessing bullying behaviours. 462 grade 7 and 8 Italian students took part (246 boys and 216 girls). The study used two informants: teacher and self reports. Participant Roles Questionnaires (PRQs) were distributed, examining three perspectives: physical, verbal, and relational types of bullying as well as a complimentary follow up on intervention behaviour (coping strategies, sense of personal responsibility for intervening, and perceived peer pressure). The results analyzed the correlations to expedite the concurrence of predictive information. Regardless of who reported it, whether teacher or student, coping strategies and perceived peer pressure were positively associated with active help towards a victim. Contrastingly, distancing strategies for coping were associated with passive bystander behaviour. And only under conditions of low peer pressure did defending co-occur with high personal responsibility (Pozzoli, T., & Gini, G. 2010). An interesting finding on peer pressure’s role on bullying and bystanders is found in the 2010 study Do Perceptions of Discrepancy Between Self and Group Norms Contribute to Peer Harassment at School? Researchers hypothesize that there is a discrepancy between private and group norms about the acceptability of bullying, examining the associations between personal norms and bystander behaviour. Children systematically misperceive group norms about bullying, consequently leading to larger occurrences of bystander behaviour and by extension, failure to intervene. The purpose of the study is to determine whether students misperceive group norms in the context of bullying and to examine the extent to which private and group norms are perceived to be discrepant. In New England, Massachusetts, 42 boys and 49 girls of the 8th grade were rated in bully behaviour involvement by their teachers. Self-report attitude questionnaires were administered to assess private attitudes about bullies and victims, as well as to assess their perception of peer attitudes. Again, the teacher rated bystander behaviour among students. From these questionnaires, it was found that students perceive their peers as holding less prosocial views comparing to themselves. This means that individual students perceived their class mates as more tolerant to bullies, less empathetic to victims, and less inclined to take responsibility to protect victims. This notion to feel “out of step” with the group, also called pluralistic ignorance, is especially marked in girls. The research also finds that the more out of tune a student feels with the group norm, the higher they were rated as passive bystanders by their teachers. However, students unfailingly rate themselves as more prosocial than their peers. There seems to be a major underestimation to which peers share views on bullying. Inaction feels safer than the option to help a victim of bullying. Despite these findings, we must be careful not to use these findings in a causal manner (Sandstrom, M. J., & Bartini, M. 2010). In addition, it further explains the propagation of bullying throughout North America.

In conclusion, I find that it is indeed true that bullies exhibit lower levels of empathy than other children. Surprisingly, bystanders do not show a significant decrease of empathy as compared to children who actively defend victims of bullying. A large part of this bystander effect can be attributed to a diffusion of responsibility as well as self-emanating pluralistic ignorance within a group. It seems as though empathy levels of bystanders remain intact, meaning that empathy is not any different from other witnesses, however a series of peer pressure complexities, including personal and in-group norm dissonance, are employed by bystanders to justify their inaction. This yields important insights so that we may begin to create educational interventions to combat widespread bullying. It is important to remember that those children that do bully are oftentimes victims themselves, albeit in different situations, and though their actions may be, they themselves are not inherently malicious. I therefore reject the claim that empathy plays a role in passive bystander behaviours. However I accept that empathy in low levels is itself an indicator of bully behaviour. With this knowledge can we then begin to curtail the problems surrounding bullying.


Bacchini, D., Esposito, G., & Affuso, G. (2009). Social experience and school bullying. Journal Of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 19(1), 17-32. doi:10.1002/casp.975

Baldry, A. C., & Farrington, D. P. (2000). Bullies and delinquents: Personal characteristics and parental styles. Journal Of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 10(1), 17-31. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1298(200001/02)10:1<17::AID-CASP526>3.0.CO;2-M

Caravita, S. S., Di Blasio, P., & Salmivalli, C. (2009). Unique and interactive effects of empathy and social status on involvement in bullying. Social Development, 18(1), 140-163. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.2008.00465.x

Gini, G., Albiero, P., Benelli, B., & Altoè, G. (2008). Determinants of adolescents’ active defending and passive bystanding behavior in bullying. Journal Of Adolescence, 31(1), 93-105. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2007.05.002

Idsoe, T., Solli, E., & Cosmovici, E. (2008). Social psychological processes in family and school: More evidence on their relative etiological significance for bullying behavior. Aggressive Behavior, 34(5), 460-474. doi:10.1002/ab.20259

Jolliffe, D., & Farrington, D. P. (2006). Examining the Relationship Between Low Empathy and Bullying. Aggressive Behavior, 32(6), 540-550. doi:10.1002/ab.20154

Muñoz, L. C., Qualter, P., & Padgett, G. (2011). Empathy and bullying: Exploring the influence of callous-unemotional traits. Child Psychiatry And Human Development, 42(2), 183-196. doi:10.1007/s10578-010-0206-1

Pozzoli, T., & Gini, G. (2010). Active defending and passive bystanding behavior in bullying: The role of personal characteristics and perceived peer pressure. Journal Of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(6), 815-827. doi:10.1007/s10802-010-9399-9

Sandstrom, M. J., & Bartini, M. (2010). Do Perceptions of Discrepancy Between Self and Group Norms Contribute to Peer Harassment at School?. Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 32(3), 217-225. doi:10.1080/01973533.2010.495645

Smoking, As I Sit Here Now

A year ago today, you were lonely in a new town. I was just lonely. That day, we had our first date; our first kiss. While sitting with coffee waiting for you, my insides were swirling with dither. I had previously quit smoking but I bought a pack of 25 to settle my nerves. The air was electric, or maybe my own internal ambiance sparked the winds. As I sit here now, waiting with a fresh carton, that same breeze hazes over me still.

This time last year you said that you knew what you were doing. “Though I love him, I know what meeting with you here means.” I told you that I knew that you knew. “I knew what seeing you would do to me,” you said.

Sitting here now, with coffee and cigarettes in the very place where we shared that first kiss, all the feelings nebulously resurface. The night was cold as I sat in an aura of cozy smoke. With each drag, the sounds of a sizzling cigarette painted the autumn night sky. You did not ask but I handed you a stick wordlessly. You said that you would only smoke when you were drunk. My presence inspired you to long for a slow, burning pull. I moved to kiss you but you met me three-quarters of the way. You were intoxicating. The kiss was rushed and patient; lasting and terse. Passionate; faces pressed; noses tickling cheeks; heavy breathing. Our teeth clicked. Your lips were soft. Mine were hungry. I coaxed my tongue into your mouth. Oh so gratifying. I savoured your silk aroma, previously untainted with tobacco. You tasted pure. It was refreshing. Then you exhaled.


I knew what you would do to me. You said that you knew what you were doing. But as I sit here now in that same dreary zephyr, I wait for her.

Normal: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Today was normal, and despite how boring that sounds, I am ecstatic about it. For far too long have my days been sub par. And today I hit par. It might have to do with the fact that I’ve been eating more; I’ve also since stopped smoking cigarettes. My total mental health seems to have taken yet another turn for the better.

This morning, I awoke fairly early. My morning routine has been gradually starting earlier and earlier until today, I woke up at a healthy 8:00 AM. For some reason I didn’t mope around for too long and I got my ass to school. After class, I went to my appointment with Corey, my therapist. He helped remind me to be mindful. I had almost forgot about last weeks lesson: don’t waste the present by worrying about the future and reminiscing the past. I felt empowered after the hour long session. There’s nothing I can do about the past. And I can control my future by staying in the present. If I can remind myself that I am in control of my present, I can control my future. Such a small realization, that I had already known but not absorbed, really lifted my mood.

How peculiar a time: my mood lifts and I’ve run out of anti-depressants. It’s been almost a week since I’d taken my last pill, and somehow, I feel more alive. I can’t attribute my mood to the absence of pills though. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence. I’ve also been practising yoga every two-three days. Yoga really helps me to remain mindful of my surroundings and situation.

On the way home, I walked behind a blond girl with a spectacular ass. It was torture to pry my eyes from her bodacious behind. But I didn’t want to leer. My mind raced with ways to chat her up. I only thought of something to say after I realized that I’d been lingering on her ass for too long. It was too late and the creep-factor had already set it. When chatting up a girl, one can not be hesitant. He who hesitates, masturbates. You’d think that I would learn this idiom after last week’s experience. Coming home from school Thursday morning, I caught a tiny, cute girl looking my way on the bus. I dismissed it and buried my face into my iPhone. For some reason I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched and when I looked up again, I had caught her looking away, and she was smiling. I felt extremely self-conscious and thought maybe I had some boogies hanging out. Using my camera phone I checked. No sign of stalactites. Looking up again, she was smiling at me. I panicked and looked out the window. Only after she got off the bus did my adrenaline subside. Only then did I think of something to say. “Hi, you’re cute, what’s your name?” Even a simple, “Hello” would have sufficed. I tried to get too fancy with picking her up. Sometimes just initiating the conversation is enough. But alas, he who hesitates, masturbates.

Despite feeling wistless about the situation with Julia, we’d been texting one another almost daily. Our texts felt respectively forced. However, physical attraction alone seems to be holding it together. Maybe she’s just feeling nervous. Maybe I am. Tonight she bailed, last minute, despite pumping me with texts about dressing up for tonight’s Halloween-themed dodgeball session. Fuck it.

Kyle, a dodgeball team mate, messaged me saying that he would be dropping acid before our game. I was tempted to ask him to save me a tab. It would make tonight so much fun. Just thinking about psychedelics is giving me the shivers. I feel my adrenaline pumping now. But I’m trying to abstain. I keep telling myself that I’ve passed that phase of my life. My body tells me otherwise.

Evan will also be missing out tonight. I hope his anxieties aren’t acting up again. He recently sent me his finished short story. In it, he touched on his feelings towards my mental state, which was touching. However I hope it doesn’t change our friendship’s dynamics. It feels weird writing about this here, since he’ll probably be reading it, and since we haven’t talked about it face-to-face. What a strange dance this is.

Last night I dreamt about my late grandmother. I miss her incredibly. I dreamt of my last couple days with her in the hospital before she passed. Except instead of dying, she recovered. I hope I dream of her every night. Those dreams feel so damn real. Her voice and touch were all so vivid. She felt so close to me. In my dreams, her smell was absent, though. I don’t remember what that smells like. It’s weird that I miss her old lady smell; a smell so distinctly hers.

In the dream she called my name in that way that she only does. “Jay.” She wasn’t in any pain, in the dream; a stark contrast of what transpired. She was just lying in the hospital bed, looking at me in that loving way that only grandmothers can. My heart melts when thinking of that face.

It’s hard to type this, especially with my vision blurring and my face leaking.

I miss you grandma.

I don’t necessarily believe in a Christian version of heaven. But I believe that when we die, we all return to one, over-arching consciousness. My own version of heaven. I know she’s out there, somewhere.

I love you grandma.

I hope I can make you proud.

Drunk: Thursday, October 24th, 2012.

I’m drunk.

Tonight, I got slaughtered.

I write to you now in an incredibly inebriated state. I think you might enjoy it.

As Hemingway once said, “Write drunk, edit sober.”

Fuck editing.

This afternoon I practised some yoga. It made me feel better. All day, I was looking forward to Claire’s birthday bash.

Last night, we played dodgeball. We won many of our games except for our games against The Icemen. They wrecked our team. Josh, a team mate, said they were good. He wasn’t lying. They slaughtered us. Afterwards, we were to get drinks for Claire’s upcoming birthday. She was to turn 23 at midnight. We had no idea where we were going to go, but we knew that we wanted to get drunk. And drunk we got. We went to some bar on Main St.. When we sat, I felt left out because I had no table to share. We were put in a small booth. We later got switched to a bigger booth that accommodated all of us. We shot the shit: Claire, Josh, Evan, Reg, Kyle, the seductive Julia and I. All night, I was not getting any signals from Julia; I thought maybe I could woo her. All she sent my way were awkward stares. I’m sure she gave them to the rest of the guys as well. Anyway, it was Claire’s birthday and we would celebrate, sexual tension be damned. All night, I saw Julia giving Kyle “the business”. I thought nothing of it because I was sure he was in a committed relationship. Josh and the rest of the guys proceeded to buy Claire random shots, made to get her wasted. I think they succeeded. At one point of the night I asked Claire, “What’s the deal with Julia?” She said that she was supposed to be dealing with this guy who now lives in Switzerland. I said, “Fuck that guy,” She agreed and asked me if I was interested. Of course I was interested. This hot, half Asian little number could get this dick. Claire informed me that Julia found me “extremely attractive.” BONUS!. I asked Claire to be my informant and to get the skinny on how Julia felt about me. By the end of the night we were all quite tipsy and feeling good. Earlier I had balanced a pint of beer on some army figurines, consequently spilling all over the table and my friends. I was feeling embarrassed about it. Claire telling me that Julia thought I was hot evaporated that embarrassment  At the end of the night, I had planned to go home but everyone else wanted to drink more and get into more debauchery. My not wanting to come along somehow persuaded everyone else to find a bar close by. We found none and instead told dead baby jokes, while Evan passed out in the car. We hadn’t had a lot to drink so I dismissed him feeling sick and told myself he was just tired. He really did conk out in the car, though. I guess age brings down our tolerance. We said our goodbyes and Kyle dropped me off. On the ride to drop me off, Kyle and I shot the shit. We talked about his girl living in Japan and it comforted me to know that he probably wouldn’t be vying for Julia’s affection. I smoked cigarette’s walking home and realized that I’d finished almost the whole pack in one day. When I got home, my auntie, Mama Rose, was still awake. I made excuses for coming home late and went straight to bed, except I couldn’t fall asleep ’til five in the morning.

Today I woke up around 11:00 and tried to psych myself into going into class. What a fruitless endeavour. So I practised some yoga instead. Blossom, Mama Rose’s daughter and my cousin, came home at the end of my yoga demonstration. The yoga made me feel good about myself. Blossom and I talked about our days. She told me about her clinical class where she had to rub Vaseline into a newborn’s eyes. I lied to her and told her I went to class and felt shitty so I came home to practise yoga. She bought it. We shot the shit about my depression and her phobia towards anything eye-related. Afterwards, I ate and researched for my upcoming Latin American History essay. I got some decent work accomplished, all while psyching myself for the nights event: Claire’s birthday.

I left around 7:00 because I’d heard Julia and Claire say that they intended to be at the bar around 7:00; I thought I’d be fashionably late but when I asked them where they were, they said that they’d only be there around 8:00. So I got off the bus early and decided to walk the rest of the way. On the way to the bar, I took pictures of random shit because I was early, so I took my damn time. My Instagram is glitchy so I don’t know when I’ll be able to upload the pictures. I ended up getting lost on my way to the bar and only arrived at the bar around 8:10. Julia and Claire were already there with Sam and Melissa, friends of Claire’s. They were playing some stupid card game that I couldn’t get invested in.

I’d thought that tonight, I’d make my move on Julia, but only after we’d both had enough to drink. Turns out that she had to leave early, about an hour after I’d gotten there and no progress was made on that front. She was texting somebody the whole time so I felt neglected. No biggie, I was supposed to be there for Claire’s birthday.

I taught Claire and her friends how to play Kent, a favourite card game of mine. They picked it up quickly but Julia left midway through. Fuck it. I texted Evan because I’d felt bad about not previously inviting him. I only realized after that Claire was welcoming all and everyone.

We shot the shit and after a while more friends of Claire’s arrived. Only one of them was cute but she wasn’t giving me any sexy vibes so I dropped it. The cute one, Olivia brought cupcakes for everyone. Delicious and unexpected. After a while, we began playing kings. At that point I was getting pretty tipsy, but I didn’t care, despite having class at 8:30 the following morning. We played many fun rounds of kings. I tried to get vibes off the cute one but it was a no go. Later, I would learn that she had a boyfriend. So I told myself, “Fuck it. My one goal tonight is to get Claire hammered and by extension, ensuring she had an unforgettably drunkenly forgettable night.” I succeeded. The whole night, I teased Claire about getting up and singing Baby Got Back on karaoke. Thank Allah that Olivia was a wild child and thought the same as me. The rest of ’em were squares and I couldn’t give two shits about them.

Claire drunkenly reiterated Julia’s supposed interest in me. However, she said that Julia would only get with me after the dodgeball season was up, in case it didn’t work out and shit got awkward. I took it to mean that Julia wasn’t interested, period. It’s funny because Evan said he’d dreamt about Julia saying she was into me. I asked him if I got laid in his dream. I didn’t.

By the end of the night, I’d succeeded in getting Claire hammered and regaling the others of the previous nights debaucheries. Claire’s friends, apart from the cute one (Olivia), were boring as shit. Together, Olivia and I managed to get Claire and her boring friends to dance, karaoke, and be loud and obnoxious; just how I like my drunks. At the end of the night, in the process of getting Claire hammered, I’d gotten myself extremely drunk and obnoxious, along with Olivia. Her boyfriend showed up towards the end and she quickly got boring.

Claire and her friends decided that they wanted sushi. I wanted no part, despite only eating only the whole day, so I told them that I’d just walk home, but not before pissing over a shit-ton of windowed-doors and private establishments.

So I walked home from Main St., at around 12:15 AM.

On the way home I smoked cigarettes none stop. For some reason, I felt the compulsion to burglarize people. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I didn’t happen upon anyone. However, along the whole 30-plus-block walk home I attempted to open every car along the way. A grand total of 3 cars were unlocked, out of maybe . . . 30. On the first one, I robbed a nice beanie tuque, an empty CD binder and a pair of new iPhone headphones. I closed that car and returned everything to its place, so as to be sure that the owners thought that they had simply misplaced their belongings. I tossed the CD binder on a neighbour’s car. The second car I robbed was on a driveway. They had nothing of value except a few spare coins. Despite this, I took everything available and tossed it along neighbours’ cars and the street. I left the door ajar and everything in a mess. I thought, “Fuck them. If the can’t learn to lock their doors, they deserve to know that someone robbed them.”

I felt like a badass and I loved it, foolishly. I put my hoodie on and ashed my cigarettes in the car. Fuck them. I left their car in a mess. I even took my time, since I heard no alarm. And if they had a camera, I wasn’t worried. Even if they saw my face, how could they identify me (with no priors) in a city of millions people filled with junkies, criminals and vagrants.

As I walked home I left my mark by setting off the alarms of at least 3 other cars. I didn’t give a fuck. No one was awake and I knew it.

The bus I was supposed to take passed but I didn’t care: I was having too much fun robbing folks.

As I neared my apartment, I thought of not touching any cars. But fuck it. Butt fuck it (pun). I didn’t care. The closer I got to my place, the more feverish I got in searching for a car to rob. I found my final target: a van. There was absolutely nothing to thief so I just ransacked the car in retaliation. I took everything that wasn’t nailed down and put it all over neighbours’ cars and property. I thought that it would be funny come morning: the van’s owner would be all, “What the fuck?!” That was funny to me, somehow.

The closer I got to my apartment the more careless I got. A man walking his dog caught me trying to pry any unlocked car doors open. Who the fuck walks their dog at one in the morning?

Fucking loser.

He didn’t have the ‘nads to confront me, despite catching me in my crimes. I’m only 5’10”, 160 lbs. and he didn’t say shit, despite being bigger than I.

Fucking pussy. I probably could have kicked his ass, though.

After that man saw me, I decided it was enough. I hurried home. When I got there, my auntie was still awake and I was still very drunk. I mumbled an excuse. I didn’t understand the words coming out of my own mouth but Mama Rose bought it. Or maybe she didn’t and just didn’t have the energy or care to confront me. I hurried into my room and anxiously began writing.

And now, with the end of this entry, I leave you much less inebriated than when I began. I’m still not tired though. I’ll try to stay awake all night to attempt to fix my sordid sleep schedule. T-minus four hours. We’ll see what happens.

After slaving away for an hour, un-sober, and trying really hard not to fuck up grammatically, I hope you enjoy, dear reader.

Fuck editing.

Drunk no more, but still not sober.

Peace, nigga.

I have to piss real badly.