Devices, Devices Divisive. Am I the only one who gets into fights with people over the internet? I mean days long battles. Attack, counter attack, air strikes, followed by insults and character judgments.
One of these epic struggles with an old roommate of mine. We basically have opposite views on everything involving social and political issues. It got to a point where we were insulting one another, pretty badly. But we were tight,tight, tight in college. These issues never arose for us. We were teammates on the defensive line. We partied, ate a lot of food, and kicked it hard. I had no idea we were so fundamentally different then, even though we were living in the same house. Now we both have lost just a little respect for one another. There has to be a way to reconcile right? Or has our President-Elect and the avalanche of feelings that stem from this election been too much?
Sometimes we get physically and emotionally consumed writing a response on Facebook. It’s a crazy feeling, and not a healthy one. We put a lot of ourselves into writing these responses, but so much of our point is based on our humanity and emotion. Seeing three dots flash, then reading words will never be the same as sitting in someones living room, favorite drink in hand and having a face to face conversation.
The problem is that race and socio-economic status have segregated how and where we live. These homogenous communities allow stereotypes and ignorance to fester. Lets imagine if folks with different backgrounds and cultures all got a chance to at least meet and interact as humans some minds would change. Some. How often does this happen? When does a Black female film maker from Brooklyn have a conversation with a Miner from West Virginia?
Over this holiday season the topic came up as I was talking with my parents at the table. We were discussing the fact that there are people who have never met a person of color in their entire lives! Yes, this is true. There are citizens in this country who have never met a Black person before, or a Puerto Rican person, or insert any minority. They only know people who look and think just like them. TV shows, movies and mainstream media have built their understanding of who we are.
This conversation brought up a memory for my Father that he had never told me or my Mother.
He was the sophomore at Aurora College in Illionis, and the class president. Two White freshman students from Jacksonville, Florida were on the campus for the start of the year. When they found out that the Sophomore class president was Black, they pretty much lost it. They went to the Dean and said essentially that they were going to leave the school, and there is no way they could go to a school where a Black person was in this position. The Dean calmed their fears and told them to just go hear this man speak.
This is a photo of my father Marvin McMickle and a few of his classmates at Aurora College.
After the speech these two students approached my father for a dialogue. They told him, “We almost left this school and did not attend because of YOU” Baffled, he asked them how he could have that effect on them. The answer is rooted in the segregation we began this piece with.
They said “We had never met a black person who could speak english” Of course even in college my father was extremely eloquent and a master orator. He blew their minds, and completely shattered all their prior experiences. But think about it this way. What would have happened if they just left school and never heard the speech? They would have gone back to the same community in Florida with the same views.
The only reason they came into contact with a Black person like Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, was because they were engaging in higher education outside of their comfort zone. A majority of people do not get this opportunity. We never get to meet each other, and see the humanity of one another. This happened in 1967, and there are still people today who believe that Black people are stupid and lazy. These beliefs are passed down through the generations based upon myths (myths like, black skin can rub off onto you and make you black, he encountered that one as well)
How do we get to really know people who are not like us, especially in this social media era. The algorithms are set to only show us posts and news in line with our beliefs and “likes”. We don’t even get to read how other people are thinking and feeling, let alone actually talk to them. My President Barack Obama said in his farewell speech. “If you are tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with one in person”
My same old roommate also said this (Sorry to keep blowing your spot, but you give me so much material)
“If you are going to a black neighborhood you are taking a risk. All black neighborhoods are dangerous.”
He also told me that I have never experienced racism and it’s not as bad as I think. Thanks for telling me about my black experience homie, appreciate that.
This is a person who claims to not be racist. When asked how many black neighboorhood’s he has visited …. radio silence. We know the answer. Now would a face to face conversation change his mind about black communities? That’s a hard battle. Trump is normalizing the belief that all black people live in crumbling inner-cities, that need fixing. Since he doesn’t talk to or interact with any people of color his attitude is not likely to change. Guess he has never heard of Prince George’s county either.
This is not the fault of any individual, and it really isn’t a choice for most Americans. We just do not live in the same places together. It is a systemic problem based upon racist practices in housing like redlining.” Redlining is the practice of denying or limiting financial services to certain neighborhoods based on racial or ethnic composition without regard to the residents’ qualifications or creditworthiness. The term “redlining” refers to the practice of using a red line on a map to delineate the area where financial institutions would not invest”
Below is an example of a housing covenant in Washington D.C.
Sooooo no Blacks, no Jews, and no one from the Middle East. I know this song, heard it somewhere before.
The US government was complicit in this type of discrimination for decades. Complicit in keeping us apart. This is one of the reasons we don’t really live together. We may be in the same city or town, but not truly living a life together.
Until we are sitting down with people who think differently from us, hearing them, and letting them hear us. No stereotypes or myths will be dissolved, and we will continue to grow apart. I am not saying this is easy. It takes patience along with compassion. It has to come from a place of love. We have to be willing to stop saying “Oh he or she is just a stupid redneck” and the other side needs to chill with the thought that people of color are lazy, criminal thug, rapists who only live in inner cities and collect welfare.
Can we do this? I really don’t know. Just like with our environmental problems as a planet. I go through points of hope, and sometimes I think nah we’re too for gone, just forget it.