I gotta say, I really like going through my old posts. Thank you for joining me – I am truly grateful that you are here.
Original Post Date: August 16, 2017
Seriously I gotta get to bed. But I won’t be able to sleep with a racing mind, so I’m just going to put something up and head off to bed.
I’ve had a pretty good week so far. It wasn’t because great things have happened this week, let’s face it, there has been a real shit storm happening. It has been good because I faced the shit storm head on and I feel good about that. More on that in a minute.
I lead a pretty privileged life. I came from a fairly affluent background and attended good schools. I worked hard, but I was also provided with some good raw material: a decent head on my shoulders, supportive parents, supportive friends, steady and healthy diet, and literally world-class healthcare. I have had several points in my life when I wasn’t supposed to live, but I navigated them through a combination of excellent support, access to top medical teams, and blissful ignorance – I was a child and my parents bore the burden of knowledge. I just played and shoved dirt in the pocket of the one dress that I liked. One. All in all, a pretty great existence. And that greatness continues through to today. Heck, even when I came out I was greeted by love and acceptance — I had the gift of others in my own family who had paved the way for me. Rainbows and sunshine.
So when you come from a place of privilege, it can be hard to even conceptualize that that isn’t the case for everyone. And that bubble burst when you learn — not just on an intellectual level, but on a gut level, ooh, that one is a bitch. It is kind of soul crushing actually. It is so horrifying that a lot of people would just rather not open that door. But the only thing worse than opening it is not opening it, because there are real people involved, and those people have known things from an early age that the rest of us have the luxury of learning as adults, and never having to experience ourselves.
So how did I face the shit storm head on? I had some really great conversations about race relations. Really open and honest, with people of various ages. Some of it was a mixture of sharing, for a lot of it I was the only white person in the room.
Look, I get it: this can be an uncomfortable topic, and nobody wants to be the one in the room to accidentally say the “wrong” thing. So let me just publicly say this right now: If you are white: worry less about whether or not you should say “black” versus “African-American” or “mixed” vs. “bi-racial” vs. “multi-racial.” Just say SOMETHING! Start conversations about race relations. Honest, open conversations. Share your feelings, ask your questions, open your hearts and your minds and LISTEN. But don’t say the N word. Just don’t. That is super not okay. It’s not that you don’t have the “right” to say it. You do. Of course you do. You can say whatever the hell you want. FARTS. ANAL WARTS. Look what I just said. It’s my right. But SHOULD you? See, that is a word of terror and violence. It is kind of like faggot (yeah – I’m spelling that one out – my community, my prerogative) in that it has traditionally been the last thing someone hears before they get a boot to the head, or a punch in face, or their life threatened, or see their friend or loved one beaten or killed. It has been used to signify “you are less than me… in fact, you are less than human.”** So why bring all that up? Why be the jerk who, because it is your right to use a word that is just a word to you, floods someone else with memories or fears of horrors you have the luxury of not having to experience. Just don’t.
So back to me feeling good about it. Yeah, being totally honest with myself, I do feel good. But it isn’t in a self-righteous “gee, what a good person I am.” Screw that. Screw whatever role I am or am not supposed to play. I feel good because when you actually connect with another person, you listen to their experiences, you share your experiences, and you leave the exchange with a deeper level of understanding, you tend to actually FEEL GOOD. So be bold, connect with someone, and take a chance at creating and sharing goodness and kindness.
**You may be thinking “well why can people say those words within their own communities?” There are 2 points here: 1) There is a lot of debate about those words within those communities and whether or not they should be used and 2) when they ARE used, it is generally a move to “reclaim” the word, shifting the power by saying “I am this, you may find this shameful but I do not.” So it means something fundamentally different coming out of the mouth of someone within the community than someone outside of the community. And still the debate about usage within the community lives on.