Why Racism Can’t Be Explained to Most People: The E-mail

I’ve been considering making the decision to no longer try to explain racism, as it pertains to history and the current state of America, any more to other ethnic groups.
After years and years of coming across countless articles, blogs, videos, and chat forums based around the topic of race relations in America and after countless hours and late nights of hacking away on the keyboard and writing 5 paragraph essays, explaining the reality of institutionalized racism to dismissive, arrogant, un-empathetic, self-righteous people of other ethnicities, I began to ask myself, one day, is this tireless dishing of commentary I’m spending so much time writing even working?
Are people really walking away from their PC’s, after going toe-to-toe with me for like 45 minutes straight in the comment section, saying this to themselves?:
“You know what, by golly, that Stormy Poet fellow is absolutely right about everything.  White Supremacy/White Privilege is a huge threat to the freedom, success, and progression of millions of people, including me, and I need to learn everything I can about it so I can do my part in doing away with those oppressive systems  and toxic ways of thinking in this country, which will ultimately lead to this entire nations’ downfall.”
And, the answer to that is, hell-to-the-naw, they aren’t.  They walk away with the same dismissive attitudes and the same rhetorical justifications they initially sat down at the computer with–the ones they feed to themselves and to their peers, in order to totally avoid having to bear the responsibility of sitting face-to-face and LISTENING, not to respond but to genuinely understand, to a person of color who is thoroughly educated on the topic of race relations, who works daily in the community, and who has to live as a black person in America, day-in-day-out.
They DO NOT want to put forth the effort of doing that but have no problem giving their winded opinions on the how black people should liberate themselves from these oppressive systems, while at the same time, as the simultaneously deny there is anything wrong, to begin with.
Well, several days ago, a sequence of events helped my that decision fairly easy.  After a  long exchange on the topic of racism, in America, with a former writing colleague of mine and after I happened to read this article, shortly thereafter, I’ve decided that not only am I tired of trying to explain it to other ethnic groups, but my act of doing is not very effective in changing things for the better.
After sharing an article related to the Colin Kaepernick “controversy”, this person proceeded to make a brief comment about it on my Facebook, asking me if I ever served in the military, myself.  When I replied, I noticed that she was missing from my Facebook friends list moments later.
I thought I would share our exchange, below, to further hit home the reasoning on why and how I came to my decision.  If you’ve been internally debating about doing the same thing, maybe it will help you come to some kind of conclusion, on the matter, also.

Me: Mrs. Renee, I hope this day is treating you well, ma’am.  I was just writing because I noticed we are no longer Facebook friends. Is everything ok? I hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely, Steven

Her: Yes, Steven all is well with me.  And I hope all is well with you.  A lot of your posts of late have been difficult for me.  And when I saw the one about the Seahawks team deciding to to sit when the national anthem is played at their opening game, I just decided that It would be better for me to respect you and your causes from afar.

We are from different generations and that may have something to do with this. I was born (1949) and raised in West Virginia. My father was a businessman and taught us that everyone was equal. Our friends were from every background, both economic and cultural. Every Fourth of July there was a huge picnic in our backyard.

The guests were both family and my father’s customers. I did not grow up seeing color, nor did it cross my mind that one day it would be an issue.

Our nation has huge problems…and I cannot see how refusing to stand for the national anthem is going to make them better. I can, however, see how it just might make things worse. It doesn’t take much to divide us. I try not speak ill of people or promote causes on my Facebook page and most of my FB friends do the same.

As I said, it may be a generational thing but I’m here to keep up with my friends lives, travels, children and grandchildren. Please, try to understand where I’m coming from.

Me: Mrs. Renee, I really appreciate you taking the time to compose that and for being completely upfront with me.  I respect that fully.  I’m saddened to hear of your choice, but I do honor you making the choice to do what you feel is best for you.  I really do understand.

Something about what you said really stood out to me: “I did not grow up seeing color, nor did it cross my mind that one day it would be an issue.” And, the truth of the matter is, I wish it wasn’t a factor either.

I really wish I grew up having the option whether or not to worry about race. I wish that it wasn’t an issue.

I wish people could appreciate each other’s diversity and beauty, a mark indicative of the creativity and glory of our Creator, without the color of their skin and their facial features having negative connotations and stereotypes attached to them.

I wish there weren’t oppressive and unjust systems and a cultural mindset of superiority set in place and very insidiously passed down through the generations, going all the way back to America’s infancy, by this country’s forefathers.

I wish I didn’t have to fear for my family’s life or my own life being taken by law-enforcement when the data has clearly shown throughout the years that unarmed black men get disproportionately gunned by cops more than any other race.

I wish I did not have to even consider that before I walk out of the house every day. I wish that when these issues are brought up that people wouldn’t dismiss them by saying things like, “cops have a hard job,” “what about black on black crime,” “all lives matter,” or “if you would just do what cops say you won’t get killed.”

I wish there was as much support for these black men getting unjustly gunned down as there is for police officers.

I wish people really sought to understand and humbled themselves enough to listen to the experiences, the realities, and the day-to-day life from someone who is black, rather than chalking up their anger and frustration to “playing the race card,” “being paranoid,” and “just making excuses for their failures.”

I wish that, just because slavery ended, people understood that the socioeconomic, psychological, and cultural impact was passed down, to both blacks and whites, even if people realize it or not, by our heirs through the generations, like a ripple effect. 

Mrs. Renee, the reason I continue to speak on these issues and to make people aware of them is precisely because I care deeply for humanity.  It’s not because I enjoy making white people uncomfortable–even though being uncomfortable is necessary to grow–but because I feel that institutionalized racism is, by far, the biggest threat to ALL of our freedom, white and black people—even bigger than isis.

And, isn’t that the very freedom our troops, or at least what most of them believe, they’re fighting for–so that we can be completely free?

When I made that post, it was not because I hate white people.  I love all of God’s children, even if they don’t love me back.

It wasn’t because I’m praising someone for disrespecting the military.

It wasn’t because I don’t love my country.

The reason why I made that post and why so many people are applauding what he did is because we saw someone who recognized that the very liberties and freedoms our brothers, sisters, daughters, mothers and fathers are out there dying by the hundreds for, isn’t being upheld in this country.

He didn’t divide people by choosing to sit down. He merely magnified just how divided we already are.  

When the outrage, for a football player who chose to sit during a national anthem, which originally had racist lyrics that were taking out and was written by a slave owner, is stronger than when these black men are gunned down by law enforcement and disproportionately incarcerated at a rate higher, more than any other ethnicity, day after day and year after year, there is the division right there.

When people continuously have an opinion how you, as a black man or a black woman, should liberate yourselves from your own unique hardships, oppressions, and negative stigmas, but have no desire to really understand the history, the sinister methods, propaganda and the enforcement the oppressors set in place and that are still unconsciously and consciously being implemented, which are gargantuan force on the influence of the so many decisions made that impact this country as a whole, there is the problem with that flag.

There is the problem he had with singing that anthem. Being American has nothing to do with singing and anthem anyway, but so many people, including the San Francisco police department who boycotting to do security for the season opening  game, are pissed at him for exercising his freedom of speech, while Donald Trump, who has said and did way worse, could possibly become president.

There is the division. The division lies in that so many people are more than willing to sweep everything I just talked about under the rug, just to keep their nostalgia of “the old American sport of the pigskin.”

Yet, there’s rapist, drunk drivers, drug abusers, racist playing all in the NFL that no one is raising a funk about or boycotting that.  

That post was because, out of the respect of service that the members of your family and my family made, in virtually every war this country has had, was made because so many players in the NFL, when the case is normally the opposite, are willing to put their reputation on the line to voice an unpopular truth–the right to say unpopular and heavy truths that people aren’t gonna like.

While I fully respect your choice to not be on my page any longer, I really will hope that you can reconsider, because I really enjoy exchanging thoughts and ideas with you.  

You were there when I first began budding as a young writer, here in the DFW.

You were there at one the first poetry groups I ever joined.

I wouldn’t have even thought to start up Wordsmiths & Readers of Tarrant had it not been for the encouragement of you and your friends have given me. Your company is a blessing.

But, I must continue to enlighten and empower the people with knowledge. That is my job as a writer, even when I know that, sometimes, they won’t like me for it.

Whichever choice you decide, I want you to know, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed you as a writing colleague over the years, and you have made me better as a person. I can only I’ve had the same impact on you.

In any case, may God continue to bless you and your family and to bring you closer to Him. Respectfully, Steven??y hope I’ve done the same to you. In any case, may God continue to bless you and your family and to bring you closer to Him. Respectfully, Steven

Her:  Believe it or not I wish for all the same things you do.  However, in my 67 years on the face of this earth, I have learned that I cannot make anyone, other than myself, act the way I want them to.

I believe that we all come from the same God, that my job here is to be genuinely kind to every person I come in contact with.  I try to smile at everyone I meet and send them positive energy.  I am but one person, one soul, one spirit. And I am responsible for my actions. I try my very best to do all the good I can. That is truly all I can do.

As for the National Anthem, I believe that when it is played it offers all of us an opportunity to stand together and show that we are one regardless of all these differences that confront us. For just a few stanzas we are united.

Do you really believe that because one individual refuses to participate in the opportunity to connect on that level will fix a problem that is centuries old? I actually believe it stirs the hatred that we are trying to overcome. People who may not dislike someone because of race may be stirred to anger because they feel the action is disrespectful or unpatriotic.

I know that you feel strongly about this subject and I respect that. I am a believer in the power of positivity and that is why I come to social media. You are not the only person, nor yours the only cause, that I have decided to respect from afar.

I pray for peace and love to rule our world but being the flawed species that we are.

And, so, there you have it, folks.  After years of being in a fruitful professional relationship, she was willing to end it all over a post that I shared.
And, even after taking the time to very respectfully and clearly spell out my intentions in the sharing the article and taking the time to hit her with some different perspective, none of that mattered.  She’s still making the choice to chunk the deuces on me, all together.
There was no “Wow, I never thought of it like that, or “I really want to learn more about where you are coming from,” from her.
While I will miss a colleague and a friend, I feel liberated and relieved, in a sense, she helped me to come to my conclusion.
I feel unobligated, now, to try and reach people who really just don’t want to be reached, but who, also, try to make it seem like they as though they do, for P.C.’s sake.
If someone can so easily walk out of my life, simply because I shared an article, then, how easy will it be for someone I don’t even know to totally discredit my perspective and the account of the realities of millions, on that topic.
But, the great thing is, black people do not need validation from any other ethnicity to continue to contribute to their movement and to gain ground.  We do not need white people to “get it” in order to keep the progress going.
From now on, when I’m around other ethnicities and the topic of racism comes up, I will no longer be breaking down the dynamics.
I will be, instead, putting the accountability back on them and challenging them to put in the work, if they’re genuinely interested in racial equality.
I will offer to reference them to any pieces I’ve written on the topic or any trustable resources that accurately explain how the black community really got to point it’s at, what racism really means in its entirety, what the true goal of racial justice really looks like, and what part each and every one of us, INCLUDING WHITE PEOPLE, can do to destroy systematic racism. (Ex: The Links Below Are Good Starting Points)

Ask the White Guy – Luke Visconti:

I still love my white brothers and sisters.  We are all God’s children, and I will continue to treat everyone with compassion, dignity, and respect.
But, I will not continue to try and edify those who maintain passionate and stern opinions on what methods a certain group is taking to better themselves, without they, themselves, devoting the time, resources, and commitment in taking a stance on the oppressive systems that group is against.
Best Wishes,
The Stormy Poet

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All Entries, Empowerment, Poethnic Justice

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