Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Living in Interesting Times

How to start sorting the jumble that is my mind?

I don’t live a segregated life. I’m surrounded by people who aren’t like me constantly. And I love it. It wasn’t always this way. There was a single African American in my entire high school class of 750 people. No lie. One out of 750. He was in my friend circle and I always enjoyed his company. That wasn’t the feeling everyone had though. 

Half my patient population is people of color with the majority being senior African Americans who grew up in the Jim Crowe South and they are my absolute favorite people. Over 2/3rds of Wyatt’s class is made up of people of color. It always shocks me when I hear that people don’t interact with those who aren’t like them. 

I know several racist people who wouldn’t even look an African American in the eye and it angers and frustrates me. I always call them out on it and I just plumb don’t understand how that can still be a thing in 2020. But it is. I know it is. I see it. I hear about it. I adore many people who live it. 

For me, one of the best things I’ve ever done and that I think other people who are white and are having an issue understanding what is going on in our country can do, is to listen. Really listen to what those who have other experiences, other perspectives, are saying. Hear them. Respond to them. Ask questions. I’ve asked some pretty stupid questions and got back interesting answers that changed my view point on the world. And yet I still don’t get it because I cant fully get it because I don’t live it. But I can do my best to understand and I can support those around me. 

One thing that grates on me every single time a major societal issue comes up is that people mistake posting on social media, opinion pieces, likes, etc...with actual help. One of the most powerful political cartoons I’ve ever seen, and now of course can’t find, is a black and white drawing of a person drowning surrounded by a dozen folks giving a thumbs up. This post here makes me feel better because I’ve gotten my voice out there but it does absolutely nothing to help the cause. The African American woman who left her appointment and headed straight to DC to join the protests can’t use my “like” in any meaningful way. But she can use the monetary support. The petition signature. The votes. 

So I urge you all to write away but to also go out in the real world and provide assistance where and how you can. Listen to those around you who are angry, sad, hurting. And vote. Not just every 4 years for the president. Vote for your sheriff, your coroner, your city council. Vote for your governor and congressional representatives. Most local elections go uncontested. How stupid is that? Make local changes and be a bigger part of your local community.

And hug your neighbors. Reach out. Make sure they are doing ok. A lot aren’t. 


12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You are being too generous, but thank you. I really just wanted to say that I understand that I can't fully understand. I mean its 2020 how on earth are we still having this conversation??? Why are there still people who hate others who aren't like them racially, sexually, politically? I think it is a lot easier to hate a group of people you have no contact with than those you are surrounded by. Its the "other" mentality. If you are an "other" I can hate you easier than if you are an "us".

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    2. I think that's the question we need to investigate. How, or rather, why are we still having this conversation? It's institutionalized, like it or not. And I don't think it should be, but we can't change history. There's been so much of we're all equal and I don't see color and all that crap that it allows people to put on a PC front vs actually making any concrete changes? So people still hate, but do it behind closed doors. The hate is passed along to different generations. We don't say stuff like that vs we don't believe stuff like that? We chose not to recognize the history and differences and what we all bring to the table in the fight for equality. "We gave 'them' rights so it's all ok now." And it's not. Rights don't change what's in people's hearts or institutionalized beliefs?

      It's easier to see this with religion or with LGBTQ rights. With gay marriage for example, the hate is out there in the open. Some people have started to accept it on a legal side, "fine, they have the right to get married, but I don't have to agree with those folks or interact with those folks or talk to those folks." (And some will outright hate or discriminate but I'm not talking about that right now) And sadly, our society is not at the point that WE HATE DEMANDED THAT THAT IS NOT OK. And they teach their children that, behind closed doors, it's OK not to associate with "those people." And the children hate too. And then society has a group of people who are discriminated against, either openly or behind closed doors. It's not necessarily as obvious, but it's there. Same with religion.

      For some reason, it's easier for people to talk about things other than race, but our culture shows us that if you are not what society determines is "correct," there will be a battle. We don't like to have tough conversations. We've put them off by handing rights to groups of people and deciding that is enough. It's NOT ENOUGH. We need to do more. We need to do better. We can always do better.

      As I'm not re-reading what I've written here, I hope this makes sense. Hate is hard. As a member of a society and as someone who doesn't plan to hate anyone, I hope I don't, but I know I can do better. We all can.

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    3. Which is why I have a hard time because I don't get it. I don't understand how someone can hate someone they've never even met over things that have no importance. I could care less who you love. And what heterosexual relationships are so amazing these days right? No divorces ever, huh.

      And to teach your kids to hate too. ugh. But I know it exists because I know people just like that. Have had conversations with them.

      Its hard to hate people you know. The more we can know each other, see that we are all the same regardless, the more we can understand. It is much easier to hate a group you have no contact with. And our history has made it so very easy to not have contact. To remain segregated in a perfectly legal way that makes you not even realize it. Its awful.

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  2. Sara you might want to read the NYT Magazine 1619 Project to understand why racism runs so deep in this country. Or a couple books on the subject.

    Also to be blunt it was a little weird to have a white person try to explain redlining to me, a black person, whose family lived it.

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    1. I wasn't explaining it to you, I was explaining my understanding of it and that that was when my eyes were opened. Sorry if it came across that I was explaining how it happened. That was not my intention.

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    2. I know you meant well and I'm definitely not here to fight - it's just one of those things that we have to think a bit more about how the words come out, especially when its text, how they might come across to the person we're trying to communicate with, ya know what I'm saying? Anyways looking forward to reading your lesson recap now!

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  3. Sara, you unfriended me, a brown person, around the time I started talking a little too much about how the Hurricane Maria situation was handled by this presidency. The way my people were treated was based on the fact that they are brown and black, which means they are disposable. My entire political stance with this presidency was based on the fact that he was so openly racist, and white people refused to acknowledge it. Like L said, inform yourself and educate yourself and be empathetic but honestly? The best way white people who voted for this president can help people of color right now is to not vote for presidents in the future who loudly and openly empower and encourage racism.

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    1. I unfriended you for other reasons that if you wish I can make public though I don't think this is the proper format. While I agree that voting for a president is important, voting for your local community leaders is more so. Look at the COVID reactions. Happy with them in your state? Not happy? Look to your governor and ask when was the last time you paid particular attention to that electoral race. Each state handled it differently and it came from the governor. Happy with your police force? Not so much? You can vote for that too by paying attention and voting for the sheriff and the coroner. Of maybe some interest, the coroner at least in my area doesn't even need to have a medical background and yet is responsible for determining if the cause of death warrants further investigation. All these things and many more come from your local leaders and not the president. By all means, vote for the president but don't ignore the local leaders that have a higher impact on your local community.

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    2. You are missing my point. I actually am thrilled with how my state, my county and my city have handled everything that is currently happening, and I voted for them.

      I was saying that directly to you: if you, who voted for Trump, want to *really* make a difference instead of just talk about it because every other white person you know is talking about it, don’t vote for racist leaders.

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    3. And yes, not voting for racist leaders applies to all levels of government, not just the presidency.

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