Well. I would love to just be able to pick up where we left off in mid-March, but considering that since then we’ve weathered a global pandemic that shut down the economy, murder hornets, “Tiger King,” the great 2020 toilet paper shortage and are now in the throes of nationwide racial protesting, riots, looting and severe civil unrest in general, that seems kind of impossible. Man, time flies when no one knows what the hell is going on.
I’ll start by saying I hope each of you have come through this so far with your health, both physical and mental, still intact. If you’re like me and 42 million other Americans, you may have found yourself suddenly unemployed. Considering I uprooted my entire life to a large expensive city less than a year ago specifically for said job, I definitely understand your stress, frustration and concerns. I also hope that this has become a time of personal growth. For me, it has been a time of getting back to basics and common sense, and I suppose that is what I really want to share this week.
If I must find a silver lining in all this chaos, it has been the fine art of unplugging and thinking for myself. I do not want use this platform as a place to sway people with my personal opinions on controversial topics. In fact, I want to encourage all of you to NOT look to the media for help developing your own thoughts, instead basing your opinions on cold hard facts and experiences that you’ve had personally. The mass media has become the most outrageous and dangerous virus during all of this, and if you get nothing else from this small column it is to please use common sense and not believe everything that is presented to you in the 24 hour news world we live in. They all have bias and ulterior motives, and regardless of political stance it is 2 sides of the same coin where the common man is losing by being divided and the ultra-wealthy are becoming richer and more powerful. If you don’t believe that, ask yourself how 42 million of us came out of this jobless while Jeff Bezos became the world’s first trillionaire.
I will never tell you there isn’t a problem with racism in the US. I agree there are gross abuses of power in this country within our legal systems, from the bottom up. I firmly support the rights of people to protest this type of abuse in an effort to make change. That does not mean I support looting small businesses who are already struggling from being shut down for the past 2 months. I do not support people being violent toward police or rioting to the point of being put on curfews after we just got out of being locked down. You’re not hurting the corrupt justice system when you’re doing this. You’re hurting your friends who work in bars and restaurants who are just trying to get back on their feet and now have to close at 6p. Use common sense. There is a better way.
I hesitated to write this, because as a white women it will come across as very, “look at me I’m not racist, I have friends of color.” I also know what I am about to say will be countered with “the fact that you don’t think about race is another sign of your privilege” and I totally get it. But I want to share with you all what I am doing personally to help change the world, because at the end of the day the only thing I can control is myself, and that’s the same for all of you. I had a wonderful weekend home in Tri-Cities, spent with my friends and acquaintances, and it wasn’t until my reflection in writing this article that I realized just how unintentionally diverse that group was. On Friday, my openly gay white male friend joined my very straight white male friends for a beer on a patio. On Saturday I split dinner with a friendly black male acquaintance who happened to also be dining solo at the bar beside me. Myself and 3 openly gay men had chips and margaritas at a local Mexican restaurant, and later one of my friends joined who is a ruggedly handsome ladies man from a Podunk mountain town in NC, drives an old F-150 and speaks with an accent that’s as country as cornbread. My white straight girlfriends and I had a great meal Tuesday with my cross-dressing gay best friend and a handsome straight black former NFL player who exceeds 6’3” easily. I also shared drinks with my interracial female friend who is a respected local business owner and her white husband following their participation of the protests, as well as catching up with one of my close friends who is Indian.
It sounds absolutely bizarre for me to categorize all these people by their skin color and sexuality, and I hope to never have to do it again because quite frankly it makes me sick. Human beings are far more complex than their skintone or who they choose to have sex with. My point in breaking down my weekend for you, is that none of this ever crossed my mind when deciding where I was going to go and what I was going to do. As a white person, no, my race has never been problematic for me, so it doesn’t cross my mind, even in regards to when I get together groups of people. Thankfully, I’ve based all my relationships on kind human beings who also think with an open mind, so it’s not weird for these very masculine straight men to sit at a table with openly gay men. I have female friends who can go out for drinks with a large powerful dark-skinned man and never once worry about their safety.
My privilege is my weapon, as is my ability to think with an open mind, an open heart and not give a crap about what people think. Let’s start normalizing normalcy. It is perfectly normal for people of all walks of life to engage in day-to-day life; what’s not normal is marginalizing people simply because they don’t fit your same mold. The most important thing white people can do right now is to be inclusive of everyone, and start making it perfectly normal to see people of all races, backgrounds and sexualities spending time together. Stop talking for a bit and listen to minorities tell their stories in an attempt to just be a more empathetic human and grow a little. I can’t express how devastatingly boring my life would be if I surrounded myself only with people who look like me and had my life experiences, not to mention how stagnant because I would never learn anything new.
Because I write this almost a week before it is published, I never know what will have transpired between now and then. But I hope we’re all doing just a little bit better. Til next week!