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Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Dear White People,

I have something to say and I hope you will listen to me as I am (mostly) one of you:

We have to stop thinking that our experience as white people is the same experience that people of other colors have.

Let me tell you a little about myself beyond my skin shade:

I once tried to make a fellow I was dating jealous by stating that Eddie (yes, the Eddie to whom I am now married) had asked me out. He said, “I don’t know what you want with that spic.”

I was shocked. I was shocked for the obvious reason (“What did you say?!?”) but also shocked because I realized for the first time that Eddie is Hispanic.

You may roll your eyes, but it is true. I never noticed. The last name should have been a dead giveaway, but he was just Eddie to me.

I went to a public elementary school in a mostly black neighborhood. My public high school was racially mixed. My parents taught me, in the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr., to judge someone not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

So, to me, if someone is a complete ass, it is because he/she is an ass, not because his/her skin is brown, black, white, red, light brown, taupe, ecru or whatever.

However, that does not mean I spent my life as an understanding, evolved, enlightened (mostly) white person. I thought, as many of you do and as this writer did, that the world is a fair, equal place. That hard work will get you where you want and need to go. That people are inherently decent.

I was wrong.

So wrong.

I was a broadcast journalist for many years. One of my news friends, a beautiful black woman, told me once that clerks watched her in stores because they were afraid she was going to shoplift. I sighed and said, “Oh, it isn’t at all because you are gorgeous and they’ve seen you on TV or anything!”

I did not understand that this was not a new phenomenon. It didn’t start happening after she started her news career.

She also said clerks wouldn’t touch her hand when they were giving back change. Even though I thought that couldn’t possibly be true, I changed my own behavior just in case. I now put my hands all over people when I give them my money.

These were real experiences for her. Truth be told, I had a hard time believing her simply because I had never had similar experiences. I didn’t have a frame of reference. I didn’t freakin’ get it. White people don’t get it.

Understand this: We white people don’t usually live in fear of the cops. (Unless we have done some Forensic-Files-worthy stuff, that is.) Guess what: Many black people do.

racial-profiling

Along with most of America, I watched in horror as events unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri. The Justice Department now plans to investigate the Ferguson police department. Good.

White people, we do not know what it is like to be black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. We do not understand the experience of non-whites. So we have to stop pretending that our experience is universal. It’s not.

This has to stop. We cannot maintain the status quo. What it has been cannot be what it is or will be.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar makes an interesting point that some of the biggest tensions in America are not about race as much as they are about class.

Maybe he is right.

All I know is that it is impossible not to see difference in color. We just can’t attach judgement to that difference.

Please, fellow white people, understand that we’ve had it made for 400 years. Understand that we need to listen — really listen — when people of other shades talk about their experiences. Understand that we need to make a change.

All men (and women) are created equal, right?

Yours in enlightenment,
Beth

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Dear Straight Brethren (or Closeted Brethren Pretending to be Straight) Who Oppose Gay Marriage:

I want to talk to you about something very important. I’d like to think that we’re all reasonable adults, and I hope you can open your mind to the points I am about to make.

We both know that it really isn’t our business whom gay people marry or if they marry at all.  Their desire and ability to marry have no effect on my marriage or yours any more than Charlie Sheen’s “marriages” have.

Before you bring up the so-called “sanctity of marriage,” let me remind you about Larry King, who is on his seventh wife. You don’t seem to care about him (or Tiger and his traveling tool), but you seem to be squawking loudly about the Defense of Marriage Act. Defense of Marriage? Really? We need a defense for an institution that is all about individual choice? People are going to choose it or not choose it, be happy or unhappy, make a mess of it or not make a mess, and no legislation can do anything about that.

So what we are talking about here is discrimination. Let me remind you that gay people pay taxes. They’ve essentially paid for legislation that discriminates against them. That sucks. We’re talking about human beings who have just as much right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we do. If they aren’t treated equally under the (tax-funded) law, maybe they shouldn’t have to pay taxes. Uh oh.

Please don’t talk to me about the Bible. You can’t use the Bible for two reasons:

  1. If you are going to adhere to one passage, you have to adhere to the whole thing. Should we start stoning adulterers? Maybe we can start with Newt Gingrich. (You know the Bible also says divorce is wrong.) Don’t get me started on why literal interpretations of the Bible are a bad thing in general. Even the Vatican doesn’t advocate a literal interpretation, and you know how I feel about the pope.
  2. There’s this crazy thing we have here in America called “separation of church and state.” I know it isn’t very convenient sometimes, but there it is. So don’t allow gay people marry each other in your church if you think homosexuality is a sin. That’s fine. But civil unions should be available to give same-sex couples access to state-created rights. You know, the states they pay to operate through tax dollars.

The choices any people make in their personal lives do not affect me at all — unless, of course, they choose to attack me or my family physically, or rob us, or something like that. And that’s when the law should get involved.

You know what does affect me, affect us? Misuse of tax money. Cuts in education. Poor road maintenance. National dependence on oil. I could go on, but I won’t. You are reasonable. You get my point.

Can we please focus on legislation that truly affects how we live our lives?

Let’s be reasonable.

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