I lost a black friend over the course of two days- not to a shooting or police brutality, but to a discussion on race.
I'm not a monster...and even my friend knew that. Since when does not agreeing with YOU make me an awful person? And vice versa. But it happens all the time- the fists come out in the form of labels.
(The reason I'm writing this post: Football and the Anthem.)
Recently I decided to join discussions online about race, cops, and football players (add the military into the mix too). Several of my friends are posting their views. I just started voicing mine because I've sat back and assessed the situation for weeks- from not giving a sh*t to serious introspection.
Even with due diligence, I managed to screw up.
Around the same time I'd just gotten in touch with an old friend (friends and co-workers for about 6 years then life took us separate directions) when I received a friend request from him on Facebook. To my surprise it was someone I'd always wondered how they were doing in life.
He noticed one of my status updates on the football fiasco. I know I can't possibly give this topic a completely fair analysis because it's basically my opinion, but I wrote: "It takes more guts to choose shiny tights instead of combat boots or a blue uniform." Sarcasm of course. And right now your own feelings might interject here and translate to: Wow she agrees with me or what a b*tch.
Because we're always looking for someone on our side. We know these people as safe. Everybody else is just rabid aliens from planet asinine.
When people agree with us then its ok to be ourselves and talk freely around them. In turn, we limit our environment to include those who agree with us, shunning everyone else. As a result, our perspective becomes small.People listen to their posse consistently agree with them (because these are the individuals they've hand-selected) and when they are confronted with the real world (a whole mix of people) they can't comprehend why everyone else doesn't understand or agree with us.
We'd rather have safe people in our lives than people we don't agree with- just ask a "block" button.
My black friend was super offended by my post. Not even considering I had been through a lot of life with him, nor who I really was as a person.
While I'm remaining undecided and unconvinced about the football players' stance (until something other than social media wars comes to fruition), I wanted to raise awareness on being more forgiving to our human side.
Last time I checked we are ALL human.
Opinion and bias are what make us human. Unfortunately it seems as of recent (maybe its been brewing a while) we don't think being human is acceptable unless you agree with me and I agree with you.
My black friend simply told me that I don't understand and that was offensive to him. And because I don't understand, he was so angry with me there was no way of going back to a friendship we enjoyed many years ago. I'm not going to lie, this caught me off guard.
In order to understand, sometimes we ask stupid questions.
Never mind he hasn't once tried to understand my struggles (nor have I asked him to) from a sudden chronic illness/disability to growing up with my transsexual father or the whole topic of childbirth and motherhood. To him, if you're not black you have no struggles to complain of.
The narrow-mindedness of this is astonishing to me. The only thing we can agree on at this point is he is black. Because he is black I should agree with him...apparently. Now I'm officially a monster.
I despise the fact that he can't fathom what it's like to be in the Military (a Marine’s account of sitting out the anthem) and see people "exercising their rights" by attacking the entire country you fight for.
I've visited Romanian church camps, and experienced being immersed in a culture that was able to disagree vehemently and still laugh and be friends. Nobody attacked the church or their unity.
We all take sides even when we think we're not. That's why there is no right way to have these discussions, but there is a better way to handle the input and ourselves.
We must consider intent: aim, purpose, wish, desire, objective, goal, target, idea, plan. What is the other person's intent?
That's why I chose to discuss it openly in this form. Not to add fuel to the fire, but to consider the human side of these discussions and the intent. Most of the time we discuss these issues with stragners and we jump to conlcusions about their intent because we don't know them. These discussions shouldn't lead to broken friendships.
If you don't agree with me (although I barely have a stance to stand on) then consider why you dislike my disagreeing. Is it a personal slight? Probably not.
I feel obligated to tell you about race in my life: One of my best friends since high school is black and I have spent countless hours listening to her struggles as a black woman. I don't mind really. She is very successful and has no kids, although states being a black woman is tough in the dating world.
None of my struggles have been discussed for hours with her. She thinks I'd rather not talk about it- there's truth there. I don't want to talk about it because there are no words to describe it in a way that people could understand without living it.
I think we want to understand each other and I know that's why people choose friendships and online camaraderie with like-minded people. There is less risk.
I lost another black man in my life after we dated for a year. Multiple times I was threatened in public places for instance, shoved around by black women who wanted me to get one of my own (white) men. Substantial pressure was received from his mom who "did not like white women".
Tolerance is a two-way street.
To my friend I recently lost, I asked him to consider our past. Who he knows me to be. What kind of person I am then ask himself if I was really the enemy. He said no and that nothing about me reeks of racism as he knows me to be. But I didn't understand, and if I could not understand (I think he really meant "agree"), we couldn't be friends. The end!
I understand the feeling of wanting to be understood.
We live in a world that desperately wants tolerance and acceptance but right around the corner you've got working mom versus stay-at-home mom disagreeing vehemently. It's still a people problem.
The best revenge is to improve yourself.
Currently I'm married to a Marine vet who has an extreme stance on sitting for the anthem- like wanting to tell the players not to put their money or their a** where their mouth is but to put their bodies in the uniforms.
The great thing about my husband is he doesn't ask, nor expect, me to agree. He knows my intent. That is why he is my best friend and my forever friend.
Everybody needs to express themselves in some form- mine happens to be written form...with an opinion. Strong opinions can be useful to others. Those who were undecided or ambivalent can just adopt your stance or gain an ability to formulate their own. Those who disagree can solidify, defend, and empower their stance.