I am bloody fucking tolerant. Ask anyone. It’s something I really work hard on. I try to be tolerant of others’ beliefs, understandings, points of view, levels of awareness, etc., etc., etc., So I rarely disconnect from people on Facebook because of opposing points of view.
But this morning, I removed two people from my Facebook. One of them a family member, who I love dearly. And I did it because I could no longer abide by the total non-understanding of compassion, and frankly, logic. The stark opposition of everything I stand for, cloaked in pride, just pushed me over the mother fucking edge.
Both of these people shout from the rooftops that they aren’t racist. They are just proud white people! And golly gosh, it’s just not fair that white people are getting dumped on. Waaa waaa waaa. It’s the #alllivesmatter cop out.
I’ve been listening to this kind of message for years. And years. And here’s a piece of honesty: I bought into it for a long time. Yes I did: because I live in a white af town, and I had nothing to contrast it. You know what changed my mind? Three things: Experience, Listening, and Reading.
All my life, I’ve been hearing this bullshit rhetoric in one form or another. It’s the attack on the white man. “Hey, you’re racist against white people!” Yeah, you know why, ass hole? You and your all-lives-matter brand of ignorance earned that. You and yours have been oppressing a huge segment of the American population based on things like the color of their skin, their religious orientation, and place of birth for HUNDREDS OF YEARS. Oh, you think it’s not all white people? You think YOU aren’t part and parcel to the continued oppression of our multi-cultural nation? Please. White man (and woman). You got no fucking clue.
It wasn’t until I got out of this tiny town and lived amongst people of all nations, beliefs, and creeds that my eyes started to open.
It wasn’t until I started having open and candid conversations with friends and acquaintances that my eyes started to open.
It wasn’t until I started reading the stories and perceptions and experiences of people without my white skin that my eyes started to open.
I have some stories I want to share. Stay with me on this.
When I was a teenager, I was at a street fair in my white af town. I met a black man at this event. He was very dark. I had almost no experience with a man of this color. I wasn’t racist, not in my mind.
And yet, the first thing I asked him was “where are you from?” Like, he couldn’t possibly be from this town, right?
He replied “Detroit.” And my response was “Really? What are you doing here?”
He cooled off real fast from me. At the time, as a teenager with my white-only experiences, I had no idea what went wrong. I had no idea that my judgments, prejudices, and ignorance was bleeding out of my pores, and he could smell it on me like a bloodhound. It wasn’t until only recently – some 15 odd years later, I look back on that interaction and have some semblance of understanding on how it went down for him. But here the thing: I WILL NEVER REALLY UNDERSTAND. Know why? BECAUSE I’M WHITE.
Fast forward a little more than a decade. I now live in Hollywood. My eyes are opening. It’s an interesting process, because I’m churning through some deep seeded beliefs I wasn’t really aware of. But I don’t mean to be hateful. Ever.
This particular afternoon, I was going for a jog with my friend Daanee Touchstone. This woman acted as a pivotal teacher for me that day. We were talking about race, and she was trying to explain to me that all white people are racist. I balked, and said, that’s not true, I’m not racist. Ok, she said, and gave me the best example I’ve ever gotten on the pervasive racism that exists within ALL white people.
She pointed out a woman on the side walk across the street. She said, “describe that woman to me.”
So I said, “Ok. She’s black, she’s tall, she’s thin, she’s wearing…”
“Stop right there,” Daanee said. She asked me “why did you describe her as black?”
I said “because she is black.”
She asked me “if she had been a white woman, would you have described her as white?”
And that right there is what made my eyes fly open forever. Because there’s no way I would have described a white woman as such. That, to me, would be a given.
Since then, I read stories. I read stories and experiences from people who are different color, religion, sexual orientation, different part of the world. Anyone different then me. I take their words seriously. I use my empathy to try and feel into their experience. And at the same time, I understand that I will never understand what it’s like to be scorned for the color of my skin at 7 years old on the playground. I’ll never understand what it is like to be turned down for a job interview because of my name. I will never understand not being able to express my true self because I am serving my country. I will never understand any of this. Because I am white. I am straight. I am middle class. I got no clue.
And neither do you, white pride mongers. Neither do you.
But I’m committed to these things: I’m committed to keep learning. I’m committed to compassion and love. I’m committed to tolerance. And I’m committed to doing my part to elicit the god consciousness in all of us. It’s in there. Every single one of us. Even the ignorant ones.