It's probably petty to feel somewhat vindicated, right?
We'd been having differences of perspective ever since another two Black men were murdered by police. (Now check this out: I'm not going to name those two men, or link to their stories - that means, if you are reading this far enough down the road from the original post date, you're going to have to use the date to figure out which two Black men I'm talking about.) I, considering it my duty as someone who can suppress even overwhelming emotion to engage in thoughtful debate, went there with him. Not browbeating him and not shaming him for not already being on board with reality, just "This is the reality. Here is the evidence supporting that reality. Here are the counterarguments challenging one Black Conservative's assertion that racism is not a major problem in America."
I guess we ran out of piddies. I lose more putty tats that way.
A middle-school friend shared this tweet-storm with me; it hit home. There is a subset of white people who have had and have availed themselves of the luxury of race-blindness - not just the trite "I don't see color" that prevents them from truly understanding or empathizing with their own friends, but overall blindness to every inequity and iniquity of race in the United States since the 1960s.
Because, you see, that's when Martin Luther King fixed everything with a speech at a landmark. Since then, everything has been equal and Black people shouldn't be angry and we should never, ever talk about race or observe race-based differences of lived experience in America. (Because those differences don't exist because everything is equal now because Martin Luther King.)
Fortunately, many people belonging to that subset are not completely recalcitrant - it's not that they can't or won't be taught differently, it's that they haven't been taught differently. If these people are shocked out of their complacency, they may willingly begin the process of learning to see reality as it stands.
Unfortunately, like too many other critically important learning processes, this one doesn't have a curriculum or program of study. This makes the process of learning about as easy as taking a geometry test before learning pre-algebra.
In other words, for someone who has taught students for seven years, I've been a very bad teacher.
I believe this lack of assessment and unremitted discrepancy of lexicon to be at the root of some of the lost friendships. It's what keeps me from thinking "well good riddance." I don't think this guy and the guy who stopped talking to me last year (like two weeks after I flew home for his wedding, which means we argued during his honeymoon and really what kind of friend am I?) are racists. I don't think they're willfully ignorant, which is the only sin for which I will banish someone from my heart without regret. I think they lacked the framework to understand what I was saying to them. Lacking that framework, I think they read a nonexistent antipathy (to use the emotion attributed to me by one dude) toward white people in general and/or themselves in particular - and always, always, cops. They both think I hate cops.
I've been pretty clear about this: I fear cops, and that fear is 100% justified....if you understand the framework. The history. I understand that these two men, both of whom are intelligent and empathetic (as far as it goes), view recent events differently than I do. I not only tolerate but esteem differences in perspective, if they are rooted in reality (as nearly as we can measure it). Their perception that my fear is unjustified - and their conflation of fear with hatred, of anger with prejudice - is instead rooted in an ignorance I have been at pains to inform.
And so we engage in what appears to be a discourse but is more akin to one of us making statements about the nature of a table while the other is debating the worth of the strange, wide backless chair too high for anyone to sit upon.
I am, as we say in the halls of recovery, "telling on myself". I'm going to take a couple of steps back, now. I'm going to stop talking about current events and start sharing the framework. I'm going to define racism. I'm going to accept with greater equanimity that this will result in the loss of more white friends. No more anger, no more disappointment. No more sadness. But no more petty self-congratulation either.
Because what we've got here is failure to communicate.