Monday, July 11, 2016

kittens don't care if they're black or white

like the rest of the world, i have looked on in dumbfounded horror as the reports rolled in last week of two innocent men in louisiana and minnesota who were killed in cold blood by those meant to protect them for no reason other than the color of their skin. then, when a sniper fired on a demonstration in dallas, killing and injuring police, it seemed that the united states was on the verge of meltdown.

during a long drive back from germany, on my phone i read the early accounts of the dallas events, all of which were very careful not to name the color of anyone's skin. some part of me appreciates the caution, as it's somehow borne of politeness and a wish to reserve judgement. but the fact is that these things are happening due to the color of people's skin and to be afraid to talk openly about it only adds to the problem.

the problem seems pretty insurmountable. instead of making things better, having the first black president in american history (who will also undoubtedly go down as one of the best) seems to have made things worse. the toothless mouth breathers are angry and with open carry gun laws in force, they're not afraid to show it.

i don't pretend to have any knowledge of what it must be like to be black in america today. as a white, educated, midwestern female living in europe, i'm surely steeped in about as much white privilege as one can be. living outside my culture, i have my moments feeling Other, but they are no doubt mild compared to daily fears of being stopped and shot by police just for going about my life within my own skin.

all these events seem to be bringing out the worst in people, especially on facebook. i suspect it's not good for us. we isolate ourselves in silos of those who believe as we believe. and we shake our heads at the sharing of treacly videos about how people are not born racist, considering ourselves above such superficial analysis. we don't really engage with the question at all. and it all feels quite hopeless.

some part of me feels as i did during the reagan years with his anti-russian rhetoric. i imagined a young girl in russia who was my age and maybe looked a bit like me and wanted the things i wanted. and i thought, if we could just meet and talk to one another and get to be friends, we wouldn't need all of this. maybe we all need to start making friends with people who are different from ourselves - whether it's skin color, sexual orientation, nationality or something else. maybe it's a place to begin.


Molly said...

My brother summed it up best I think, and although he was talking in a SA context I think it carries to the US and beyond - none of us really know each other (outside of our silos as you said), but we THINK WE DO. So we blithely label each other, and then go about life feeling confused when we misunderstand others and feel misunderstood ourselves.
We've really got to get over ourselves, especially white people I'm afraid.

julochka said...

@molly - that could definitely be a factor - the misunderstanding bit. and definitely we need to get over ourselves. but it also has to be ok to talk about it and i think that's hard.

Feisty Harriet said...

Thank you for posting this


DahnStarr said...

Saw a video a few days ago that is a prime example of getting to know each other. Two strangers facing each other and maintaining eye contact for x number of minutes. Sure enough, after a few moments, not minutes, regardless of age, sex, etc. they were talking and getting to know each other. My grandmother made sure all of her kids, grandkid learned that skill. I had a boss that told me that the main reason she hired me was because "you looked me in the eye". We have lost that, eye contact. Its easy to talk dirt and judge someone behind their back but not so much when you are face-to-face, eye-to-eye, with the individual. (Okay, rant done.)