I have been to the most hoity of toity fancy-pants black tie affairs, the sketchiest dive bars with people just mainlining drugs in the bathroom like crazy, rap battles, a cello concert, Old Country Buffet, and almost everywhere in between. As I see it, the only real differences seem to be what people wear, how they talk and the number of places it is considered acceptable to vomit. Outside of those key areas, the population doesn’t really seem all that different. Humanity has a lot more in common than not. We would all like to avoid being cold and hungry, we all like to have real friends and we all just want to feel like we are worth something. That doesn’t seem like it should be particularly unattainable if we could all just stop stepping on each others’ toes. But that doesn’t mean disliking other people for ridiculous reasons is going out of style anytime soon. People from every race still engage in insensitive and selfish behavior toward one another on a regular basis, even the really smart ones do it.
But there is a lot of bigotry going under the guise of social acceptability today. It’s like racism got a fancy college degree and a glossy coat of phony political correctness. I’m aware that everyone thinks that their respective ethnicity is the “the tops” but please don’t use pretend logic to legitimize your uncomfortable feelings about other peoples’. It’s your right to be a scared and ignorant person but don’t try to fool yourself via nonsense reasoning. If you can’t be a person who sees other people as individuals, don’t make it worse by also being a liar. I could not be more pleased to hear about how much lynching as gone down in the last one-hundred years but this soft racism hasn’t really solved the problem.
Bigotry can only come from fear, ignorance or selfishness. We’ve been working on fear and ignorance for decades and have made a little bit of headway, especially in the case of ignorance. For example I really used to hate people that wore socks and sandals together. I was days away from creating a webpage that called for these people to be imprisoned until they could be rehabilitated into normal society or just died. Then a friend of mine said, “They probably just have really gross feet” and my life was changed forever. I had never bothered to put myself in their shoes or, in this case, socks and sandals. I was blinded by my bigotry and, rather than try to understand, I lashed out. We have to educate and understand to fix the problem. Society has been slowly trying to do this by offering intensely insensitive stereotypes side by side with normal examples of different peoples in the entertainment industry. This has been the trend in television ever since white people considered that maybe not everyone wanted to watch shows only about white people. The only exceptions being Cheers, Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, MASH, The Honeymooners, Leave It To Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, Mad About You, The Flintstones and Gilligan’s Island– unless you take into account the episode where the Harlem Globetrotters show up.
Talking about it doesn’t always help either. Most people that want to start a conversation about race aren’t going to lead you into a long talk about how everyone should just be cool with each other anyway. They are going to take hold of your brain and lead it down a dark and dirty hallway full of their crazy and confusing anger. It may not end in them foaming at the mouth and screaming out “genocide” over and over, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park either. If you haven’t dealt with this already, eventually a member of your respective race will approach you with this. When someone does start talking about other people as subhuman, I usually politely disagree but respect their right to express their opinion. You risk upsetting them by defending the worth of another people but you dodge a much larger bullet because, if you say nothing, they may assume that you are on their side and try to enlist you to help them cover up a race-related killing. However even seemingly normal people can slip by little bits of this when they preface their sentence with “I’m not a racist, but.” This is the term people use before saying something so amazingly racist that you will think you’re in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Here are two real life examples of things I have been told directly by another living person: “I’m not a racist but I really do think that Chinese people are just smarter at math and whatever” and “I’m not a racist but I don’t really try and talk to white people.” I am just waiting for the day when someone slips in “I’m not a racist but I’ve been hearing a lot about a Jewish conspiracy to use black people to take over America and we might need to kill all of those people before it’s too late” into casual conversation.
No group is exempt from this. Hate comes from everywhere because all people can be scared and all people can be ignorant. The odds of you being a complete ass are just as likely as anyone else on the planet. Some where out there is a black gay German guy who absolutely hates, and is deathly afraid of, Asian-American female clowns that also practice Islam. Also, if you are that guy, please contact me because I want to make a documentary about your life.
There are people who are willing to be open-minded and decent, and then there are people who are not. We’re all in this ridiculousness together; there is no reason to be picking teams or dishing out retribution. Being a jerk because someone was a cretin to you isn’t going to solve anyone’s problem. The lines aren’t clear enough to be taking sides, so why bother? I think there’s a pretty famous saying about how there are these two wrongs and they are, like, no good or something. Maybe it was “two wrongs are still both bad.” I think that’s it.
It is, at best, a bizarre world we live in and I am not going to be the one to make sense of it. I’m just asking that we all give that a shot and try not to screw it up any more than we absolutely have to. I’d be satisfied with that.