Sometimes trends and styles become all the rage and you wonder why or how…after all the 1980’s had some pretty horrendous styles, why are they coming back? On a serious note and this is a serious matter, hate and ignorance appear to be at an all-time level and many of us are wondering, how is this even possible?
In 2008, so many truly wanted to believe that as a nation we had turned a corner with regards to racism; after all we elected Barack Obama president, surely that meant we were post-racial. As we quickly learned, Obama’s ascent to the White House did not mean we were over the racial hump in this country. In the past several years the level of bigotry and hate are rising and when these cases are brought to light, many of us take to our blogs, our groups, etc. and discuss it but nothing changes.
Creating change that will last is going to take more than sharing links on stories and having twitter conversations. Don’t get me wrong, these are good starting points. But as the Trayvon Martin case highlights, many of us are clueless when it comes to talking race and racism. Just this morning, I read this piece where a white mother ponders how do we discuss the evil that is racism with white kids…you just do it, to quote the old Nike slogan.
Too many of us, and I have been guilty of this at times, live in a circle where we surround ourselves with people who are like us, in many cases that means the people we call our friends and family are the same race and ethnicity as us. Or they have similar leanings as us, so in other words when we do discuss weighty matters such as bigotry, hate, and racism, we are essentially having a circle jerk and then we wonder why nothing changes. One of my favorite bloggers, The Field Negro in this post sums it up brilliantly “The thing is, far too many of you so called progressive thinking people have been fooled into thinking that A-merry-ca is this forward thinking place full of enlightened people. You watch too many commercials with hip interracial friends getting along while sipping beer and playing with puppies. That is not A-merry-ca. That is what Madison Avenue wants A-merry-ca to be.” I agree with Field 100%, we have been jerking ourselves and bought into the dream that America is this enlightened place and sadly it is not.
What happened to Trayvon Martin frankly is only shocking in that it was a civilian who pulled the trigger since typically it is a law enforcement officer, otherwise its business as usual and yet we act like this is something new. Then we have what happened to 32 year old Shaima Alawadi an Iraqi mother of 5 living in El Cajon, CA, she was found beaten to death with a note left saying go back to your country, you are a terrorist. This wasn’t the first time the family had received such a note but they brushed it off, didn’t report it and now 5 children are motherless. As we are seeing more Iraqi refugees in the area that my agency is serving, this case chilled me to my core. I know there are ignorant people with biases, hell I have been in professional meetings where people have made disparaging comments. Hate is real.
Hate and bigotry will only cease to be fashionable when we get off our collective asses and step outside of our comfort zone. When as parents we talk about the hard and uncomfortable stuff early in life before our kids start to internalize societal messages that say white is best and everything else sucks. If we have no friends or acquaintances of difference, we need to ask ourselves why? Thanks to technology, even if you live in the whitest state in the country, you can connect with others. Do it! If we fancy ourselves progressives, maybe we need to start the dialogue with conservatives so we can create a middle ground rather than 2 opposing ends of the spectrum.
Hate may be the new Black, but it doesn’t have to be that way.