I have a problem, y’all. I see both sides of almost every issue. I find myself in the center of the political spectrum more often than not because I see both sides of every story. There are very few things I believe are absolutes.
Why is that a problem? Because people like me, who are more toward the center, tend to piss off EVERYONE.
Like most people these days, I’m totally sick of getting into political arguments online. It’s time-consuming, it’s exhausting, it’s alienating, and worst of all, it doesn’t solve anything. So, for the most part, I ignore Internet controversies.
I can’t do that this time, though. With Charlottesville, something is different, and I’ll tell you exactly what it is: responsibility has kicked in.
I don’t mean responsibility for the hatred that’s being spewed. That is solely on the backs and souls of the men and women spewing it.
I mean responsibility for fighting that.
I get it, it’s hard. It’s hard because pretty much all of us know someone who is at least a tiny bit racist. Maybe not light a cross (or a tiki torch) racist, maybe not deny someone a job because of the color of their skin racist, but someone who has told an overtly racist joke expecting us to laugh racist, or someone who has sympathized with an thinly veiled racist cause racist, or someone who has used the “N” word when not quoting a rap song racist.
They might not have been bearing tiki torches in Charlottesville, but those people are still racist.
White people: It’s time.
It’s time to stop being complicit. It’s time to stand up to that. You know it’s wrong. It has always been wrong.
It’s also not okay to just laugh off the tiki-torch bearing racists. They may be the minority for now, but they are growing their ranks, and it is foolish to write them off. We need to take them seriously.
It’s awkward, I know. It’s so awkward calling out someone on their racism, but it’s so important. As a white person, you have WAY more power here than a person of color.
A person of color calling out a white person for their racism comes across as whining or overly critical. Why can’t they take a joke?
I’ll tell you why: centuries of slavery and decades of civil rights infringements. It’s not funny. Fucking stop it.
In this time of historical divisiveness in our culture, many of us are completely battle-fatigued. Some of us have even lost friends due to ideological differences. I get that. There are some things, however, that you just have to stand up against. This is one of those things.
If you know someone who is starting to sound a little Richard Spencer-y, talk to that person. Tell them that they are delving into a dangerous territory. Dehumanizing one race dehumanizes all of us. We are only as valuable as the least valued among us.
My dad had a saying, I don’t know if he came up with it himself or if he was quoting, but here it is:
If every human life is not sacred, then no human life is safe.
That can be interpreted 100,000 ways, but in this instance it means that standing up for one race, stands up for all races. Black lives do matter. Jewish lives, too. As well as Muslim lives, Christian lives, Hispanic lives, et al. Fill in the blank with pretty much any category of human. It’s not just the white lives that should be protected, and I don’t give a damn what Richard Spencer says about it.
If you think it’s better to just stay away from the conflict involved in talking to someone who is starting to sound racist, consider the words of Samantha Bloom.
Bloom is the mother of James Alex Fields Jr. You might know that name, since Fields is accused of recently running his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protestors at the Charlottesville white nationalist rally. (Via ABC)
“I just knew he was going to a rally. I mean, I try to stay out of his political views. You know, we don’t, you know, I don’t really get too involved, I moved him out to his own apartment, so we — I’m watching his cat.”
This mother had a unique opportunity to influence the mind of her own son, but she chose not to. Now another woman is dead, and several others are hospitalized.
We can’t sit this one out. We can’t let awkwardness stand in between our loved ones and the truth.