Today, I was supposed to write a sponsored post about the joys of chub rub (you heard me correctly– a sponsored post about chub rub), but I first feel the need to say something about the events that happened in Charlottesville– 2.5 hours from my home– last weekend. The chub rub will have to wait until tomorrow.
As I’ve mentioned before, I really don’t believe in talking politics on social media. I don’t think it accomplishes much in terms of swaying the other side, so I prefer to put my beliefs into tangible actions outside of the computer screen. Some may disagree with me about that, and that’s alright. HOWEVER, I’m breaking my own rules today with a quick– okay, long– note about the racial divide seen in Charlottesville. Actually, “racial divide” is probably putting it too lightly.
Before I jump in, let me say that I am probably going to write something that “messes up.” It’s really scary to write on this subject because I’m sure that people smarter than me, more educated than me, or simply with different viewpoints than me can flip and turn my words to mean things I don’t mean, and prove that I should just shut up. If I know our world, it may be tempting for some readers to take things out of context, not give equal value to each section of this post, and make assumptions about my intentions. So please just know that I’m doing my best. I’m using this blog as a platform to show my support for people who need it, and– best case scenario– potentially provide a perspective that helps bridge some deep divides.
I am white, a believer in Jesus Christ, and financially comfortable. It could be easy for me to say that we shouldn’t erase history by removing statues, or that it’s “not fair” that pro-black groups can exist with droves of support while white ones “shouldn’t”. But here’s the deal:
First of all, when it comes to Charlottesville in particular, the counter-protesters were not anti-white, anti-history, or anti-anything other than racism. No matter your stance on “free speech” and the preservation of that constitutional right, the truth of the matter is that the main rally was in direct opposition to racial equality. Just because something is conducted under the right of free speech or coated by a veil of historic preservation doesn’t mean that what they’re saying is right, or should be said in the first place. Thus, the counter-protestors were simply there to say, “This isn’t right.” Not “free speech isn’t right,” but “this whole thing is being conducted by organizations who openly think black people are inferior, which isn’t right.”
Now, if you want to step outside of Charlottesville for a moment and talk about the validity of pro-black groups, let’s do it. The gist is that we have to understand that there is a good reason pro-black organizations exist. To put it as simply as possible, white people don’t need pro-white groups to advocate for their quality of existence. Black people do.
I will NEVER understand how black people feel, but I can try. So I regularly ask my close friends who are black about their perceptions and experiences, and this is what I know:
I have never had to worry about getting a good job because I’m afraid that a) employers won’t think I’m responsible because of my skin color, or b) they’re only hiring me because they need a token person of my skin color.
I have never had to worry that a significant other’s family will think their son has made a “poor” or “hard” choice.
I never see anyone look worried when they see me in a parking lot, or when a cop pulls me over, I never feel the slightest jab of fear (other than about the amount my speeding ticket will cost).
Admitting that this divide in how blacks vs. whites are treated in society is NOT anti-white, anti-police (I still believe that most police officers are genuinely good people), anti-history, or anything other than recognizing factual experiences of black people– experiences that white people will never endure, thus we can’t possibly understand, so we have no right to say they’re not valid. Just because we don’t witness injustices personally, don’t partake in the hate ourselves, or can use “logic” to point out why it’s not an issue, doesn’t mean it’s not an issue.
To try and use a simile from my own life here, not understanding the experiences of black people is like not understanding what I went through when my mom died. You didn’t witness the dark moments I had when I was alone. You aren’t the reason she died. You didn’t partake in the pain I felt. You can point out plenty of logical arguments as to why I’m okay. But that doesn’t mean the painful experiences I went through weren’t real. You just didn’t know about them, understand the extent of them, feel personally responsible for them, nor were you affected by that loss on a daily basis. But what I experienced– the depth of it, the vast importance of it, the reality of it– was still very real.
I know that’s an odd comparison, but what I’m trying to say is that just because you didn’t personally hear the tree fall, or understand why it fell, or feel that the media covered the fall in a biased way, doesn’t mean the tree didn’t fall.
I will be the first to say that I get extremely frustrated by the new boxes that have been created by the modern wave of civil rights activism. It infuriates me when people lump all Republicans into the “terrible humans” box. When people label all Christians as elitists, or moronic for believing in The Bible. When some say all white people deserve to suffer “so we can be even.” But why do I get extremely frustrated by those boxes? Because I am in them (well, the Republican thing kind of shifts based on candidates…but I’m generally pretty conservative when it comes to my take on the government’s role in society).
It’s easy for me to feel offended or angry when I feel like my skin color, religion, or view of the government are being used against me, as reasons I should be treated with disdain. That defensive reaction is pretty natural, right? I mean, I know that I treat everyone with love, that I care deeply about the well being of others no matter race, religion, socio-economic standing, etc., that my faith in God is not judgmental, that I can’t help being born white into a world where white people did some pretty horrific things to other races in the past.
BUT HERE’S THE THING. If it’s natural to be upset when labeled by skin color, religion, etc. in a way that doesn’t reflect you as an individual, then think about how other people must feel and react when they’re put into boxes, too– boxes that hold a lot deeper, more troublesome stereotypes and unfair consequences. We can’t be frustrated by just the boxes that we’re in. We must be equally, if not more frustrated by the boxes others are in.
If I’m frustrated just by being lumped together with racist conservatives, HOW MUCH MORE frustrated must people be who are made to feel on a daily basis that their skin color makes them scary, less hard-working, “ghetto,” whatever. Nice white people easily say, “No, it’s actions that make certain people seen that way.” Wrong. Even the most upstanding black people still feel the consequences of their skin color when it comes to treatment. Who are we to say that’s not true when we are not the ones experiencing it? If they say they’re experiencing it, they. are. experiencing. it.
If you find yourself frustrated by the boxes you’re in, turn the tables for a second. I’m not saying anyone deserves to be shoved into boxes, but let’s not be so self-focused as to ignore the different magnitudes of boxes. At the very least, we must step back and evaluate if our concerns about society come from a strictly self-serving viewpoint.
Since I know this argument is a big one, I want to address it: Does everything I’m saying mean that in retaliation toward the racist experiences of black people, violence and rioting is the answer? No, of course not! But just like the vast majority of white people aren’t Neo-Nazis or supporters of the KKK, the vast majority of black people aren’t keen on the idea of raising hell against white people. The vast majority of both “sides” want the same thing: Equality. The eradication of hate based on skin color, religion, sexual preference, etc.
Thus, if you believe in human equality, stop thinking you have to choose a side. You’ve already chosen it. You’re standing with white people, black people, Asian people, handicapped people, loud people, quiet people, annoying people, cool people, smart people, kinda dumb people, slow drivers, crazy drivers, vaguebookers, and Kim Kardashian fans. Now, do you have to get along with all these people? Have the exact same religious beliefs, feelings about Obamacare, preferences in music, thoughts about airplane security? NO. YOU DON’T. You don’t have to agree on everything or even like half the people around you in order to be on the same side when it comes to human equality. All you have to do is in order to be on the same side is to believe in and stand up for equal and kind treatment of all human beings.
And that’s that.
I don’t know if I made much progress with this post when it comes to opening the minds and hearts of readers, or if I did an adequate job standing up for racial equality, but I felt compelled to say something, so there it is.
I also feel compelled to end on this note: Standing up for the rights of our fellow humans doesn’t mean we are given a free pass for hate in our hearts. We can be indignant about what is right without spewing hate toward our enemies. The hate we feel in our hearts– as justified as it may seem– is still hate. Something as simple as writing venomous posts about people who don’t express their support in the way you feel it should be expressed, is still letting hate win. Challenging people to evaluate their stances is one thing, but be careful not to blur the line between righteous indignation and self-righteous hate.
Let love prevail.