Moral Distancing

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I’ve reached a breaking point. I’m extremely disheartened and just flat out depressed at the realization that I’ve held onto friends that don’t share my values. For most of my life, I’ve taken pride in having very diversely minded friends. I’ve always believed (and still believe) it’s important to listen to people who may not share your opinions or tastes. I’ve always felt that if the only way you try to relate to people is through political or religious beliefs, educational background, hobbies, music, or even level of intellectuality, you will always be one lonely human and you will never grow. That’s because I believe the most important way to relate to another is through shared Humanity. I am now acknowledging the fact that NOT EVERYONE I KNOW ACTUALLY DEFINES THAT WORD EQUALLY. You can’t discredit the experience of a portion of humanity and claim they are equal to you. I have little doubt that I’ve once stupidly uttered some tone-deaf statements while attempting to show my support for something because I completely missed the point. (I only assume this because I’ve been known to make vapid statements on impulse. It’s why I’m normally so forgiving of people when they say stupid sh**. It’s not always ill-intentioned.) Here’s the thing about that though, it takes less than a few minutes to research why something is not only tone-deaf but also harmful and correct yourself. And it takes less than a minute to accept error and stand corrected by someone you have hurt with your words.

My issue isn’t about the tone-deafness, however. My issue is with harmful Narcissism. (Yes ladies, that word I’ve been saying to stop throwing around to all your exes. Here’s where it actually applies.) There is a deeply rooted discomfort and fear of self-correction as well as an unwillingness to listen to the experiences of others that I just can’t stand for or ignore any longer. The narcissism might be due to pampered upbringing, neglect, childhood shaming, vanity from insecurity, or a number of other culprits. But I can no longer support the spread of harmful ideas because being a contrarian makes you feel erudite and “woke”. No longer can I support the spread of dangerous misinformation, distasteful commentary in the face of a hurting race, or pseudoscience.

You can call it willful ignorance, but I argue it’s deeper than that. It’s the ultimate rise of the Dunning-Krueger effect. It’s not sheer stupidity. It’s what happens when you fuse an otherwise intelligent brain with an intense fervor to feel in on a secret and just enough feverish research to feel like an expert. An overestimation of one’s ability to “see through the smoke” and an assumption of being an omnipresence to the global human condition. It’s not sheer stupidity. It’s a deeply rooted insecurity, distrust, and fear of being a sheep. The irony is that “sheep” is erroneously determined on covert misinformation and follower count. “The masses are doing this? Must be sheep…” While the mistrust in crowds is bubbling, there’s also a need to feel like the harbinger of inside information and lord of relevant experience. A lighthouse in human form, ready to signal truth for us. A complete and utter lack of humility or thought.

On this “not being about race”…

THINK

I saw posts about black on black crime. Is that worth addressing? YES. Is now the time? No. Why? Because we are discussing racism and suppression. Blacks aren’t killing blacks for being black. This is about race. There is a time and place to discuss how black on black crime fits into that discussion but right now we are discussing NON-black on black crime. Get that straight.

I also saw posts saying, “don’t believe the race war agenda! Look at the other cops! They’re not white! This isn’t about race!” I’m not sure what level of a sheltered life you have to have lived to not be aware of racism against black people from other minorities. I’m fairly positive I was under the age of 10 when I first heard hate speech against blacks from another minority. And to say this is about class and completely ignore how race fits into that is just asinine.  “Stop believing the race war agenda!” OK. How about stop believing there’s a New World Order that wants to control your daft self by asking you to wear a mask around others during a pandemic???

On the mind hacking of Cambridge Analytica via the BLM movement…

Another post I saw…..actually….nevermind. I’m not even go there. LOL. *deep breath*

On anecdotal assumptions…

Then there were posts of denial or anecdotal stories of “mild racism”. A message to some of my fellow biracial or otherwise “incognito minorities”: NOW IS DEFINITELY NOT THE TIME TO DISREGARD YOUR PRIVILEGE. I’ve recently expressed why I get upset when one or two white friends classify me as white. I’ve explained that that’s because I’ve experienced some racism and exclusion as a child and it rubs me the wrong way to suddenly be accepted as your own as a white-looking adult. But that being said, I have by no means experienced the level of exclusion that the black race has experienced. Nor would I ever pretend that my mild experience is what other minorities experience. When I read that George Floyd’s accusation at the time of arrest was that he used a counterfeit $20 bill, I immediately remembered an incident from just last year where I found out I was given a counterfeit $100 after trying to use it at a coffee shop. The barista dragged her pen across it and looked up at me awkwardly and said, “umm…this isn’t a valid bill.” “WHAT?” “Yeaahh…sorry……I’d try to remember where you got it.” Some of you might remember me texting you about how embarrassing that was, not to mention enraging that I clearly lost $100. I walked away from that incident having lost $100. George Floyd walked away having lost his life.

Not only was my life never in danger, but the barista also felt absolutely no reason to not believe this was an honest misfortune. Would I have gotten the same respect if I were a black man?

freeTo those who have gotten a small taste of racism because your non-whiteness was temporarily exposed, instead of denying it’s a problem because it was mild for you, why don’t you take that experience and show some empathy for people who can’t just hide their race? Show some empathy for people that can’t just pull out their non-whiteness when it’s convenient in order to sound exotic. And to the ones who lived a white life, be it through ardent assimilation or luck of the neighborhood, it is not your place to discredit the experience of others based on your anecdotal evidence that society has evolved.

On asking questions…

In my very early 20s, I made a friend on set. She was new to Hollywood and she was black. After a few fun hangouts, I wanted to introduce her to another close friend of mine in the area so our LA circle could grow. I’ll never forget what she said to me when we parked the car at my other friend’s house. “She’s not….racist…is she?” I was really taken back by this. Why would she even wonder that? Why would she think there’s a possibility that I would introduce her to a racist, much less have a racist friend?! My response was something along the lines of, “what? no! ….she’s not racists haha….geezuz…and she has a black boyfriend.” “That doesn’t tell me anything,” she said in a serious tone. These are the opportunities we have in life to ask questions and listen. Instead, I just kept thinking, “what a bizarre question to ask…were things that bad in Michigan?” The rest of that story is that the three of us are still friends today, but I can’t help but remember that moment during all this and wonder why I never brought it up or asked questions.

It hurts me deeply now to think of some fond memories I’ve had with other friends who are now spreading hate and feverishly “researching” misinformation. I see how one just never knows and indeed the “I have black friends” or “black boyfriend” card says nothing about where you stand on empathy. But in all honesty, there are some bad memories too. Signs like seeing an acknowledgment of pain as a weakness, or only showing up as a “savior friend”, not paying attention to tone, having a disregard for another’s feelings, or sometimes feeling the need to point out differences in style choices and physical inferiorities. Just a complete disregard to the receiver. And perhaps those were the signs I’ve always turned a blind eye to. Those are the signs that show while someone might think they have tremendous empathy and aren’t afraid to break from the crowd, they could really just be in an endless fight to feel important and accepted themselves. I don’t ever want to lose my compassion or desire to understand how hate or ignorance arises, but it’s time I finally learn how to do that from so much more than a 6ft distance.

Stay safe.


Actions and Suggestions

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For those with a willingness to listen, learn, and always correct themselves when presented with credible information, here are some ways you can help make a difference aside from showing solidarity on social media:

  • Start here:  https://daily.jstor.org/institutionalized-racism-a-syllabus/
  • Repeat after me: ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR PRIVILEGE IS NOT “WHITE SHAME”. (Repeat again.) You can’t post a picture of your salt lamp with captions about “gratitude” and “#blessed” while condemning an acknowledgement of privilege as “white shaming” or “white guilt”. SORRY! TRY AGAIN! Part of “practicing gratitude” means helping the less fortunate. That applies here too. Acknowledge how fortunate you are that you aren’t judged by your skin color by taking a stand for those that currently are. If you’re feeling guilty, you’re missing the point. You’re acknowledging the desparity, not your race. Injustice. Not your race. Inequality. NOT YOUR RACE. No one is saying you chose this. They’re simply asking you to acknowledge it’s happening. Practice empathy by listening.
  • Educate yourself on cultural appropriation. There has always been something icky about seeing some white people singing along to hip-hop and trying to twerk at a party only to turn around and pat themselves on the back for not sounding like they’re “uneducated and from the hood.” I’ve witnessed this back in the day at college parties in nice areas. Enough times for me to still curl my lip when I see white people trying to sound black (even when I know full well most are well-meaning fans.) However, I’m not black, so who am I to tell you what a black person would find distasteful? And of course, we can all love hip hop and participate in certain dance routines. A large part of uniting one another is sharing culture. What I’m saying is, if you believe in celebrating black culture, you can’t demean people and say things like the above, or worse: remain silent when it’s time to stand up for basic human rights. Recognize the luxury of going back to being white after you’re done rapping to Kendrick Lamar. You don’t get to choose what’s fun and convenient. It’s not cute.
  • Listen attentively to POC when they share their experiences. Do not discredit someone’s view or interpretation of an incident. Just listen. Listen to and read as many experiences as you can. You will quickly realize that your idea of racism might be incomplete and that it’s so much more than just slavery, segregation, and lynching. Modern-day racism exists and people still die every day because of it.
  • If you run a business, ask yourself how you’re representing black people. I don’t mean throwing in a token black person in your infographic. I mean how are you representing diversity in experience? Are your ads, stories, and branding created with a primarily white experience in mind?
  • Research your state legislators with a direct impact on these matters. School boards. County. Vote accordingly.
  • Spend some time researching organizations you support and make sure they hold your values when it comes to listening to other human beings with different experiences. Research their actions. Don’t just follow statements.

Equally (and to bring this post full circle): Pay attention to where your friends stand. It can be very difficult and confusing to be made aware that someone you thought highly of is choosing to ignore the experience and suffering of others in order to push alternative narratives. You can try to educate privately but it’s important to recognize when it’s time to finally distance yourself.

~ by Keira Dazi on June 4, 2020.

2 Responses to “Moral Distancing”

  1. Great post. Thank you.

  2. […] Moral Distancing — Musings of a Lone Gypsy […]

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