I’ve always hated talking about politics, but never about race.
But talking about race isn’t politics. It’s about identity.
Imagine you walk into a grocery store and 20 pairs of eyes lock onto you. Glaring at you with distrust, assumptions, contempt. Many think less of you. Many think they’re better than you.
If you’re white and living in America, you probably haven’t had this privilege. If you’re black or a person of color, you’ve lived this.
In high school, as a sophomore in the predominantly white, upper-class confines of Lake Oswego, I was confronted by my history teacher for saying what he said “was racist”. He remarked to a white student in the class, who on Cinco De Mayo was wearing a Chevy’s Sombrero while addressing the morning announcements, saying “See ya’ later El Mick-o!” to said student on our way out.
I responded “that’s racist” like I had sneezed, out of instinct. There was honestly no way I could control it. We had a couple Mexican students in the class, both of whom were very shy, very quiet, and I don’t think they would have stood up for themselves against a highly ‘educated’ and respected history teacher. And nor should they have to. If I was Mexican, my blood would have been boiling.
And just as fast as I said it, if not faster, I hear “David, come see me after class”. My friends in the class gave me a real wide side-eye look and gestured that they’d wait for me outside.
I’ll never forget his bottom lip quivering, inches away from my face. Nearly spitting on me. He was pissed that I questioned him in his own classroom. “How dare you call me a racist in my own classroom” were his exact words. My retort were these exact words: “I didn’t call you a racist, I said what you said was racist. There’s a difference.” I spammed that line 2 or 3 times, all while his mouth and jaw shook with contempt. Looking back on it, I was honestly somewhat scared at the time that he would act out. If that were to happen to me now, it would feel like nothing. It would be like water off my back, and I would hold my ground stronger than I had before.
That was my first true experience with “white fragility”.
After a lengthy meeting with my family and the high school’s then vice principal, which I was not even aware of at the time when it occurred (shame on the adults for their diminutive attitude), that subsequent teacher treated me like I was Mother Theresa for the rest of the year, and has now been fired by said district for other charges related to a DUI.
“Everyone Has An Opinion: A Shitty Netflix Movie“
The world has always been full of noise. And the world is louder than ever.
The fact that every person has their own platform on Social Media, their own echo-chamber and soapbox, is both consciously destructive and empowering. And like a shitty or equally incredible movie on Netflix, they begin to reveal themselves quite quickly.
The amount of people who are now “critical thinkers”, who have shown themselves in nearly every previous opportunity, to be quite the opposite, is staggering. Many weren’t eloquent then, and much like racism, things don’t often change.
Now is the time to absorb, to read, to listen, from your Ivory Tower. If you’re not doing one of those things (let this be my ironic excuse), then you’re doing your fellow countrymen a disservice.
Some of our brothers can’t breathe.