This is a rant I’ve had brewing for a while and it kind of came to a head yesterday in my… well… in my head. I got quite a shock yesterday when I was cruising Facebook and there was some really hateful speech on a friend’s page about racial issues. Four-letter words and foul epithets I thought only people of generations past used. My friend was describing a strange dream she’d had where she was driving down the road and a couple of white cops pulled her over and told her in no uncertain (or polite) terms that there would be no <n-word>s in their county. She wondered if it meant it was time for her to move. There were two comments, one of which used a four letter word and an offensive pejorative for white people. The other comment said she needed to stop eating white foods like milk, tortillas, & crackers, implying they were somehow evil because of their color (note: the commenter was clearly joking, but still… I found it offensive and inappropriate). The whole exchange really bothered me and for hours I could hardly keep it off my mind (a chattering five-year-old did help some).
My friend who posted the dream is an intelligent, loving, proud black woman with one of the most contagious smiles I’ve seen and I’d love to get to know her better; we just never seem to find the time. The fact that racial issues–and that kind of racial issues (the kind I thought died long ago)– are so present in her mind that she’s had a dream where someone would speak to her in such a disparaging and inappropriate way… I don’t know what to say… it just really left me unsettled. On top of that, I’d expected to see comments telling my friend not to worry or asking if she’d had some run-ins with bigots lately… but to find one angry and report-able comment and another that implied all white things needed avoiding due to some kind of taint? Really?! Is this where we’re at? STILL??? It makes me unspeakably sad. Angry. Disappointed. Shouldn’t we be beyond this by now?
I’m not so naive as to believe that there isn’t racial injustice. I know there are ignoramuses out there who insist we’d all be better off if we were just one color, one culture, all united in hatred against anything different. But they’re wrong and I think the majority know that.
It’s high time for us to move past black, white, hispanic, etc. It’s even time to stop pretending we’re all the same and have no differences. My friend with the strange dream knows black and white are different and she embraces the unique culture that is found in black communities. There are some really positive things in the black community that I think we as white people could learn from… IF we would stop pretending we’re all cut with the same cookie cutter, just different colored dough. It’s not the case! I’m glad that for the most part, we’ve moved beyond seeing our differences as a negative, but we’ve moved on to pretending they’re not there. That’s not healthy either. That’s ostrich behavior (you know… burying your head in the sand). We are different. We are each endowed with unique qualities and strengths. When will we learn to share them? When will we learn to learn from each other? When will we learn that God knew what He was doing when He made different cultures, races, and languages? At the tower of Babel (the Biblical account of the origin of different languages), God made it plain that He didn’t want us all to be the same; didn’t want us all to be in one place, all homogenous. He wanted us spread out, embracing our uniqueness. What is it going to take for that to happen today?
It’s time. It’s time to move past “can’t we all just get along” to appreciating, embracing, enjoying, learning from each other. The only way I can see to do that is to talk about it. Talk about our differences. Share them. Ask about them. On that note, I just have to give a shout out to my friend Gabryl, another proud black woman I’m glad to know. I grew up in the suburbs of Denver and never had much interaction with people outside my race. When we moved here to Oklahoma, I was clueless about a lot of things to do with black culture. Gabryl has always been there for me to ask whatever question I want to ask. She never looks down on me, gets offended or shames me for wanting to know even though I’m pretty sure some of my questions have sounded kinda dumb. I love that we have different backgrounds that we can share– LOVE it. It’s because of people like Gabryl that I think we really can do this thing! We really can do more than just get along; do more than just tolerate each other.
So here’s my suggestion… put on a courageous face and ask a question you’ve always wanted to know of someone who’s of a different race. Be gentle. This is a new thing for a lot of people. Start with something like “You know, I’ve always been curious, but never been brave enough to ask…” Take one step. Make the world a little better with one step at a time. Move us in the right direction.
Note: I hope I haven’t offended by saying “black” rather than using the supposedly PC term “African American.” I don’t like that term. I don’t think it’s accurate and I don’t think it helps. Not all black people are descended from Africa and not all Africans are black (did you know Charlize Theron is African?). If we’re going to embrace our differences, let’s figure out what they are rather than assume we know.