Thursday, July 15, 2010

what can you do

I understand that there are a lot of things about life that aren't fair, that people like to feel superior to each other, put other people down on an interpersonal and societal level. I would guess that this is human nature, because it seems like it has gone on as long as we've existed.

And it's frustrating to see how it corrodes relationships in real life. You'd think that people would have moved on from a lot of this, or just because you exist in the same space you could learn to see the humanity in each other instead of making judgments.

I knew someone once who told me that every time he sees older white people he wonders if they're racist and it didn't hit me until later how wrong that was. Maybe they are, maybe they're not, and I'm sure there's more racist older people than younger, but how do you go through life like that?

What if I said, every time I see a young black male I assume I'm going to get mugged?
Seriously now. It's wrong no matter what group you generalize.

Needless to say, we're not friends anymore, but since our circles intersect, I have to learn how to interact with someone who has written me off by the color of my skin rather than the person I am and it's hard as anything, even after they should know you long enough to know better, and it's hard to see how I'm treated as opposed to the others around me, and how pointed it is that I am on the outs.

And I know this is nothing compared to what others deal with on a daily basis, but still, it's not cool. It's not fun to be the scapegoat for everything bad that every single person did to you because not everything is what others have done, it's what you've done with it. Yes, people may have screwed you over, but that doesn't mean they have to keep you down. It doesn't mean that most of us are trying to keep you down. Most of us are just trying to get by too.

I grew up in a somewhat culturally homogeneous area with a lot of other grandkids of eastern European immigrants. We weren't WASP and we weren't as marginalized as other groups, but we all ate variations of the same meat and potatoes and had unpronounceable names and were looked down on as being solidly working class and therefore ignorant. None of us really had any social standing of any kind, and existed within ourselves, so much of this kind of thing was abstract and most social dynamics had to do with who was upwardly mobile and who was weird and who was static.

So all this is new to me. I'm playing cultural catchup all the time so bear with me. And yes, I screw up, but I am willing to learn. I am ready to listen. I am willing to be in awkward situations, I want to hear your story and where you come from. I will eat any food placed in front of me. I will go to the places you hang out even if I stick out utterly and completely as not belonging.

And in turn, all I ask is this. Be willing to get beyond what you think you know just as I have had to do. No group is monolithic. Don't assume that I don't know what you're talking about, don't let your past history get in the way of the present situation. Don't say it's racist when it's not. Don't generalize about my people to me and lump me in with them when we hit a rough spot. Yes, there are lousy people everywhere regardless of ethnicity or class, but not because of those things, and if you can't get past that, it's your problem.


Randal Graves said...

As a 100% legal cracker, I resent you trying to shatter my stranglehold on world events.

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