I have been silent lately. I don’t want to add to the cacophony of voices. And yet, I feel things so deeply. I am beyond saddened at man’s inhumanity to man, laid out in my country for all to see. With the most unkind, entitled man at the helm.
Who am I, right? Just another middle-aged white suburban woman. But I am sure what’s going on in my life is playing out in some of your lives.
Are the fault lines of uncertain friendships cracking wide? Have you lost relationships to this situation or to a disagreement over your country’s leadership and policies?
I had someone I consider a dear friend hang up on me a while back because after saying multiple times I did not want to discuss politics, he couldn’t let it go. And kept trying to show me the value of Donald Trump. And I’d finally had it. There’s politics and then there’s unconscionable inhumanity. We haven’t talked since. I hope the friendship remains but I will never excuse people not facing the fact that they voted for a candidate who has gone rogue and nasty in ways that are dangerous to the entire world.
I see vapid, overly blonde former college acquaintances extol his virtues on social media, from the vanilla confines of their gated communities. “Oh, look at what he’s doing. No one talks about the good he is doing.” Riddle me this. Does lowering the price of insulin while attacking your own citizens and filling the airwaves with hateful rhetoric net out as “good”? Not in my universe.
Politics used to be written off as a difference of opinion. But hate versus non-hate is not a difference of opinion—it’s the difference between living in a world we can all enjoy and a dystopian society.
I could only watch less than a minute of the George Floyd video. It didn’t take more than that for me to “get it.” And I felt sick to my stomach. I’m sure you did too.
And yet. I talk to a family member who, while saying how wrong George Floyd’s murder was, wonders aloud why the riots are “all over the country when it happened in Minneapolis.” Oy. Really?
I continue to search for my own blind spots. I’m not finding any. Maybe that’s why we call them blind spots. I love my great niece and nephews of mixed race the same as I do my white ones. And I don’t put them into those categories in normal, everyday life. I think of them instead in terms of their personalities and interests. The one who is a basketball whiz. The feisty little girl who dances like the wind. The teensiest one with a great sense of humor. They’re all just—well, kids. Finding their way.
I married a man of a completely different ethnicity than mine. He was no more or less human than my little white self. But he did get pulled out of just about every airport security line after 9/11 because they couldn’t tell if he was Hispanic, Italian, Middle Eastern. And our last name rarely got us the best table at a nice restaurant. If I was the one telling the hostess what that last name was, I got a look. And then usually, “Wow. You don’t look Hispanic.” To which I would reply, “And tell me. What is ‘a Hispanic’ supposed to look like?” (That comment never got us the best table either.) My ex father-in-law is a light-haired, blue-eyed Cuban. I have one son who gets quite dark in the summer and one who is pasty white. One more likely to be looked askance at, more likely to be pulled over if out past curfew. Can you guess which one?
These are small things. My family does not have to go through what many black families do every day. But these small things made me more aware of the subtle forms of judgment in our society. It’s not all police brutality. Sometimes it’s who gets invited and who does not. Sometimes it’s the tight lips of a parent whose daughter is asked to prom by someone who looks very different. And the fact that those prom pictures aren’t proudly displayed on social media.
I’m not here to preach. I’m just saying I keep looking for ways that I might be contributing to the problem, versus helping to solve it.
There are good police officers and bad ones. Good people of all races and bad ones. We are not absolutes and we need to stop looking for that safe, easy harbor.
From where I sit, this is a time to speak out thoughtfully. To listen carefully. And to stop excusing those we know and love for inhumane thoughts or behaviors. That may mean some relationships don’t survive the fallout. But generally, those not strong enough to withstand honest disagreement weren’t worthy of your precious time anyway.
I guess I’m going to live on into that answer . . .