It is known about me that I don’t usually show extreme emotions but there is one thing that is fail proof to make me cry liquid drops of anger and that is blatant acts of hate. Not even just towards me, I’m a white woman so upon first glance people may assume I fear brown skin and run a charity for cancer. Not true but I do donate. This post has taken me numerous days to write and rewrite because of many extreme emotions. The following is lacking humor and prompted by a horrific story of the actions of some high school football players in Idaho. This story left me in tears and in emotional shambles over the last few days. These are things I have been meaning to say for a long time. This is for EVERYONE to read, people who agree with me, people who are on the fence and especially people who disagree with this.
You Don’t Need a Reason
Why do social justice issues make me more frustrated than anything else in the world? Some people chalk it up to my background. Sure, I grew up as a white girl who liked to play sports and hang out with the boys and those boys happened to be a mixture of different races than myself. I have a diverse family and come from a diverse area that allowed me to build relationships with people from all different races, religions, family dynamics, peers and authority figures alike. So much so that it became impossible to use uncontrollable differences as a reason to dislike someone because then I would be left with no friends. Yes, I played a sport that allowed me to meet and build life-long friendships with all different kinds of women and men also interested or in love with basketball. Then for 7 years I worked with kids of every different backgrounds in different areas of the Northwest. I assure you those are NOT the reasons I don’t hate people.
I once mentioned to a peer-who was white-that I had started doing jokes about my brother on stage. For those who are unaware, I have an older half-brother who is mixed race, half African-American and half whatever mixture of white I get from my mother. She responded to the announcement of my new material about my brother with “oh good, that will explain to the audience why you are the way you are.” I’m not sure I have ever been so angry and confused in my life. Here is a hot tip: you don’t need a reason not to be racist. You don’t have to explain why you aren’t full of hate. You don’t need to justify why you are not a piece of shit. Feel free to be a good accepting person without a back story of why. You can just do that. It’s allowed and welcomed. If you stand up for an injustice, it doesn’t have to be because you know someone who that could happen to. You can just support justice. I don’t know your struggle and you don’t know mine, but you can still empathize with the possession of a struggle. I don’t know what it is like to be a gay man, black woman or someone who was born in the wrong body but I can see how that would be difficult and I can acknowledge you and your pain. I can offer to help or just treat you like a human being. I don’t have to be bleeding to give someone a bandage from the box I keep in my backpack.
I understand the fear of something different and something new, but pushing past those fears are the only way to expand your life or find success in any way. No one asks you why you would try sushi if your parents didn’t make sushi at home, but that can still be your favorite food. No one asks what happened in your childhood if you decide you want to go sky diving for the first time, just strap up. You don’t need to tell the gate attendant “it’s okay, because my cousin is gay” when you board your first airplane ride ever. You should apply for the job you are qualified for regardless of how many people “like you” are or aren’t in that industry. You can be afraid and still do things you should be doing. You don’t have to have an excuse for those things and it is no different with people! Why do I cry every time I read about a woman getting murdered walking home from work or high school kids threatening or attacking the few minority students that go to their school? Well I don’t have to explain that either, but it hurts me down to my core because I feel for other human beings.
Why are people so hateful? How can someone hate something so much that it projects onto a person who had nothing to do with them in the first place? You may not understand or think I need some excuse for why my life has always been based on the inclusion of every type of person, but I too need some clarification. How can someone hate anything so much, let alone solely based on their outward differences that would lead them as far as physically harming or even killing someone? It keeps me awake at night. I worry about my friends’ children and how they are going to be treated throughout their lives. I worry about the people in my life and how others are treating them. In every horrific news report I read I see someone I love in those headlines and it’s painfully scary. I see myself in the stories and feel so deeply for the victims and their families. It makes me so sick to my stomach, I can’t talk about it without crying, which really adds some time on writing something when it is through tears.
I don’t need to tell you how many friends of different races or religions or orientations I have so I can prove to have some perspective because they are just my friends. They’re not a fucking category. I’m more than blessed to have so many people in my life that have shown me so many different, beautiful things about the world. That invited me and my family to their homes, took me to their churches with them, took me out to their favorite bars knowing perfectly well I was different. Just because someone else has not been blessed with diversity that I have doesn’t mean that should turn into hate. I am embarrassed and ashamed and I honestly pity those who let such a trivial and rooted hatred compel them enough to act on it outwardly. Hate is a waste of time and energy.
I struggle constantly with how institutionalized and structural most of our social barriers are, let alone still having to be consumed by the hatred of individuals. America is an Anglo based country and as much as people think amending the language of the past changes the present, it doesn’t. If you vary at all from a white Anglo male, there is some type of obstacle that is embedded in society for you. Some far bigger than others. However, cis-gendered, white, straight male is the golden ticket. It’s infuriating enough that many white men can deny their privilege, but to then take a step to harm someone because they are so full of hate, keeps me and I’m sure a million other people awake at night. Save your comments about it not being all white dudes, we know. Just being a person of privilege that acknowledges that and doesn’t treat people poorly is not enough. You need to be mad, you need to be on our team, you are the only thing that is going to promote awareness among the privileged that don’t accept it. It bothers me everyday that when people see me they group me in with the insensitive and unaware, but I get it. Why take a chance? That chance could very well hurt you in irreversible ways. We have to do something, we have to be vocal, we have to be a team. Hate and sex crimes HAVE to be reported and convicted, expand your social groups, help people less fortunate than yourselves and stop telling people Monica Nevi doesn’t like it when people use racial slurs because her brother is black. I don’t need a reason. That’s not my reason. I don’t like hate speech because I don’t find comfort in anyone else’s pain.
I hope in my heart of hearts there are way more people with this mindset than not, but I fear everyday that I am wrong. If you love yourself you can love other people. You can find connection in life with anyone. Which leads me to believe if you hate others you must also hate yourself. We are far more alike than we give ourselves credit for. You have to be vocal. Intervention is the most important step. If you see something happening, stop it. Why would football coaches let a young, disabled, black student get raped in the locker room? Silence is just as dangerous.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
If you have questions I will be on my soap box, flipping through MLK quotes trying to calm my emotions.