Last time I promised a follow-up to my blog about race. And, I did write it, multiple times. See, I started running into a problem. That problem was that I was trying to choose my words carefully and make everything sound pretty, superficially at least. In doing so, what I was writing became disingenuous to my original goal of having an honest revelation of the conflictions that I have when it comes to my thoughts on race.
What follows now is my attempt at being as straightforward as I can. Consider these previous words as a sort of warning that what comes next may not be the most exquisitely crafted blog ever.
I believe that white privilege and institutional racism exist. But, am I personally, somehow at fault if I benefit in the slightest by these practices? If I’m selected to rent an apartment over someone else due to one of these practices and i choose to live in that place, have I wronged another person just as much as the landlord? If I conjure up reasons in my head like “Well, I do have good references.” “I’ve never had a problem with paying my rent on time.” am I adding to the issue at hand? What if I’m completely oblivious to what has transpired? Have I become another push in the cycle?
I think a lot of racist jokes are funny and the ones I don’t find funny, rarely fail to pull a laugh from me due to subject, but rather execution. I have little problem acknowledging the place outdated caricatures have in Americana. I somehow become more accepting of these things when they’re shown in a light of history. But, at the same time I cringe if one of those jokes is heard by hundreds. I think that the Washington Redskins should change their name, Chief Wahoo is pretty ridiculous.
I felt a great swelling of anger when the respective decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner were revealed. I have to admit though, the cause of this reaction had little to do with the color of their skin. I felt the greatest sense of disappointment with the failings with the judicial systems. And as much as I’ve cried “We’re all the same” in the past, I didn’t have that feeling that “one of my own” had been slain.
I watched as the protests in Ferguson toed the line between civil unrest and rioting. I was able to find reasonings behind some of the violence. Why would a group of people follow the acceptable practices established by people they felt not only didn’t represent them, but actively acted against them? It’d be like telling the “patriots” at The Boston Tea Party to peacefully assemble and ask nicely for the British to maybe reconsider the taxes. But, I couldn’t deny the fact that the owners of those businesses that were destroyed in Missouri had nothing to do with the decision. Just like the guy who picked the tea, or made the boxes, had anything to do with the lack of representation the original thirteen colonies had.
At one point in my life I understood exactly why we got Martin Luther King Jr. Day off from school. Then somewhere along the way, I only understood exactly what I would do with the free time allowed by the dismissal from school. Then when i reached a point in my life where my time was devoted to a job that didn’t close on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I didn’t understand anything about the day. I can’t even remember the last time I listened to the “I Have A Dream” speech and felt any urge to change anything other than the volume level on my laptop.
I found that the psychology, sociology, and cultural diversity classes I took were the most interesting ones. Because of this I can use fancy words like functionalism, conflict theory, and conditioning to define most high-profile racial issues. Yet, there’s a fear within me when I do this. I’m afraid that I’m merely hiding behind the theories and practices of others in order to avoid the human element. I fail to think of the thousands of unnoteworthy experiences Imus must’ve had that pushed him into saying what he did. I don’t know how the Mexican supervisor I work with views the issue of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. Instead I can only interpret these things using grandiose schools of thought. And I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing something because of it.
When I decided to write these blogs, it wasn’t because I felt the example that I represent was particularly compelling or worthy of being studied. This may seem conflicting with everything that I’ve written, I mean, I used “I” quite a bit. I wanted to come to terms with myself and I chose a means that felt comfortable to me. it just so happens that my medium is a public one. But being that this is a visible and easily accessible reflection of myself I can’t help but to include a message to those who read this.
Take the time to really think about the things going on around you. Don’t let some hastily put together meme on Facebook speak for you. Like me, you may find that not everything within you is to your liking. That’s okay.
I originally imagined that this blog would be three parts. But, as I write this the only thing I feel warrants another entry would be solutions. And to be completely honest, I don’t have them. Nor do I think any one person does. We’re all on an ocean waiting for the right combination of public opinion waves and personal action tides to take us to land.