Today's Image
12/12/2006
Restless
 

I didn't really have much to say at today. In fact, when Gabe was proving particularly difficult to persuade to sleep tonight, I allowed myself to close my eyes and doze, saying to myself that there wouldn't have been a point to coming back downstairs and opening the text editor, anyway.

And as I slept, I was fitful, with my mind racing with words and phrases, linked together only by theme: race...power...hate...fear.

In the past several days, I've stood on the sidelines and watched several different online wars waged over racist attitudes and statements. People have made remarks, abhorrent ones, for which they felt justified or which they thought were accurate, if "politically incorrect." Even when informed that their words were hurtful, wrong, or even hate speech, they continued to stand by what they said, adamantly refusing to acknowledge that they might be in the wrong. The fighting went on and on, until everyone around felt shocked and sickened, and then it went on some more.

I left some communities behind, unable to watch anymore or count myself as part of the membership. These particular arguments may end, but it had become apparent that those in charge of keeping watch over the discussions were not people I cared to support. I'll regret the loss of the good along with the bad, but it all felt tainted in the end. Other communities exist.

I work hard to teach my kids (well, just Sam at the moment, though I hope Gabe is learning through observation) that it is never, ever okay to judge a person by his appearance, and that making assumptions about a group of people by observing a single member is misleading, wrong-headed, and dangerous. I grew up in an environment that frequently either tacitly or actively encouraged racist attitudes, under the guise of being laughably "politically incorrect," from jokes told in my presence, to how the one black student in our high school marching band was asked during rehearsal to demonstrate to the rest of us how to dance ("Come on, show them what rhythm is! You're black!"), to the uttering of the n-word during family gatherings, without a clue that it might be inappropriate. When a community, real or virtual, doesn't rear back from acts of hate and prejudice, it become inured to them, and they embed themselves into the members' consciousness so deeply that they become the norm - accepted, fact, "the way it is." I didn't want to be a part of that then, and I don't want to be a part of it now.

I haven't heard much of that sort of thing in my real-life doings for a while, at least not the extent that I did in my early years. On the few occasions that I've heard people in my circle of acquaintances make ignorant statements about race, I've done my best to let them know that I don't like to hear those sentiments and won't tolerate it. Hopefully, my stance has caused them to reexamine the thought behind the words; at the least, the speakers haven't said anything along those veins around me anymore. I may not be able to change people's hearts, but I can affect my own environment. I can model for my children what is and isn't acceptable; if they heard those words and saw me not say anything against them, my stomach churns at the conclusion they might reach.

What makes me toss in my sleep at night is the number of people I know, people I respect and about whose opinions I care, who stand facing the same playing field I'm watching and who come to different conclusions. It's a scary world when you can look into the eyes of the person next to you, still shuddering from the atrocities you've just heard uttered, and hear them say, shrugging, "What's the big deal?" I'm not sure which is worse: the hate speech or the acceptance of it.


Poll for December 12th

Best holiday cookie

Gingerbread men
Those twisted red-and-white candy cane ones
Sugar cookies
Meringues
Krumkake
Yes, please!
  Current Results

previous one year ago:
Days are going to come in your life when your grandmother will be especially missed: your birthdays, Christmases, graduations, perhaps your wedding.
two years ago:
But a small part of my mind - or maybe not such a small part - will be proud of my brave, strong boy who will one day take on the world and shake it with both hands.
three years ago:
Sam woke up this morning feeling just as bad as he had been, and after having read over some of the archives to my journal, I realized that his track record shows him developing this same sickness every winter, and that it's never short-lived.
four years ago:
Nothing to do but comfort him, make sure he keeps wetting his diapers, and let it run its course (so to speak).
five years ago:
Interestingly, though, as I thought back over yesterday, I realized that we hadn't even fought once - not in the midst of all the angst.
six years ago:
There were eleven librarians at the mock panel, and we selected our winners from fifty books over the course of five hours.
seven years ago:
It hurt to realize that I could be so jealous of the people with whom I had just been eating and laughing.
next
In the ears:
The furnace

On the Bookshelf:
Nothing

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©1999-2006 C. Richmond.