Eventually, we will conquer every form of bigotry
This post is a continuation of the discussion from “I’m not chocolate dot com.”
Yes, it would make for a better world faster if black people could somehow overlook the need to organize on the basis of race. But I have some understanding about why there remains a need for them to do so. And I’m inclined to be indulgent in a way that I’m not to posters who go by names like “nagin is a racist.” I don’t believe that black people are inherently lazy, but I do believe that they’ve been somewhat conditioned to believe (by their own leaders as well as current reality) that they’re still getting the short end of the stick. Some people, faced with that perception of reality, react by trying to prove the perception wrong. Others react by succumbing to the apathy that perception can generate.
Eventually, we will conquer every form of bigotry, of that I have no doubt. People of my generation may even now be raising the generation that definitively rejects racism, sexism, homophobia, and every other major form of bigotry. Or we may be raising the generation that raises the generation that does that. But it’s going to happen, and it’s going to be a change for the better.
I would like to say that I’m free of bigotry, but the reality is that I’m not. I grew up without the exposure to other races and cultures necessary to think in a post-bigotry language, much less live a post-bigotry life. Because while I wouldn’t necessarily preclude dating a black man, or an asian man, or a person of faith (any organized religion), I would always be translating, so to speak, in my head from the way I was raised to the way I want to live. Because translate is all I can do.
More after the break…
In the same way that I never “got” foreign languages in school, in the same way that I just couldn’t think in german or spanish or latin, I know deep down that I don’t really think in a post-bigotry language. I think my bigoted thoughts and I chastise myself and then I say the things I want to say and live the way I want to live…but it’s something I have to do consciously. It’s a continuing effort, like reading or writing or speaking a foreign language is. I think in English and I think in bigot. And then I translate.
I’ve said before that I’m selfish. And that is absolutely true. I want to exist in that post-bigotry world. This…this is only words on a screen; they’re meaningless if, in my real life, I did nothing to make them a reality. But if I didn’t, they wouldn’t even exist, because how could I value them enough to write them down? And so I work to overcome my own limitations, my own prejudices, and my own bigotry, all of which I possess in abundance.
Here’s my favorite story from last week: a guy I know, who owned a coffee house, sent me text message telling me that I was cool as shit, thanking me for doing karaoke at his coffee house (for no pay) and helping him stay in business longer than he would have if I hadn’t, and telling me that he hoped karma would repay me. But in reality, I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to do something that I love and give people that I love the opportunity to do something that they enjoyed. But if it weren’t for this one guy putting his neck on the line to open this business, I wouldn’t have dozens of people to love, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity or the desire to give them something in thanks for taking a stranger from someplace else and making him feel alive, welcome and cared about.
I look at New Orleans post-K and think that there’s an opportunity for a whole lot of that sort of mutually beneficial exchange. And it’s happening all over the Gulf Coast right now. You don’t have to look hard to find it. I hope it sticks, and that people look at one another with just a little more respect and a little less cynicism than they used to, and that everyone is just a little more sympathetic to the way that other people might experience the subtle and not-so-subtle prejudices and realities that negatively impact their lives, and that they react to each other with a little bit more empathy and compassion.