Time to write about perhaps the most talked about topic of the last year or two. Race (and/or racism)! Yay! However, since the goal of this is to help develop my own viewpoints on theses topics, and potentially nobody is reading this then it doesn't matter that it's been talked about seemingly ad nauseum.
I've written the first sentence to this paragraph four times and then deleted it, just goes to show how hard it is to talk about race, even when you think nobody is listening...
One of the things that feeds my viewpoint on race and racism is recognizing my own circumstances. As a 22 year-old WASP-y, indie rock listening, sports following, beer drinking type, I fit snugly into a lot of the key demographics that advertisers cater towards and in a lot of ways I feel like the average American guy. Couple that with being homeschooled all my childhood and raised in a Christian environment, and I certainly have the feeling and recognition that I was shielded from a lot of race issues that can rear their heads during life. I think that the single most determining factor in my view on race to this point has been realizing how fortunate I have been to not being coupled with any certain stereotypes and unfortunately how little I know what that's like and how that manifests itself.
Personally, I'm a sucker for absorbing cultural viewpoints about race, at least I have been for the past few months (a lot of the high profile things that happened this summer forced those things into a lot of people's minds, including my own, for better or worse.) So when I see somebody post an article or make a blog post or give a tv interview that exposes how fundamentally racist America and the establishment way of thinking is, I try to take down that information to better inform my own worldview. I think that being empathetic is the key thing to trying to understand racism and relating to other races/ethnicities, because as hard as it is for me to imagine racism and what it's like given my personal circumstance, the person who endures it daily and is trying to tell me what it's like and how it manifests itself has a pretty good idea and maybe I should be listening to that person's view on the matter.
That whole last paragraph, at least to me, summarizes my viewpoint on race. I try so hard to not be racist, that in essence, a lot of what I think about is race, just so I can mentally try to not make a big deal about it when I am around other people. In other words, I try so hard not to be racist, that in a twisted way, I ultimately bring race so far forwards into my own mind, that I am racist because I see other people's race and let it affect the way I think about them in a crazy internal struggle (call it backwards racism). In fact, one of the worst things a person could say to me, in terms of hurting my feelings, is calling me a racist. How crazy is that?! Is that similar to a lot of other people in similar circumstances to me? Does it feel like walking and talking in the modern world is akin to walking in a minefield of feelings/emotions? Is it supposed to feel that way?
Obviously I've put that a little hyperbolically, but the point remains the same. Until we as humankind get to the point where we don't bring up race or ethnicity either positively or negatively, we will in someway be racist (whether its the bigotry kind or the too sensitive to it kind). And since identity, culture, art, emotions and self-expression are so intertwined with race and ethnicity (and rightfully so (not to mention how race and ethnicity should be praised and held in high esteem)) I'm not sure we'll ever remove that issue from the human landscape.
I want to make it clear, I'm not pretending like I have found the cure for racism, more than a personal realization that I don't think we'll ever get fully past it. Like how do you celebrate certain races/cultures without making other cultures feel bad in comparison? And being that I'm so blind to so many forms of racism, I'm sure this word vomit only covers ~1% of racism in todays world (casual racism is so pervasive in modern culture and I know that it affects my thinking, but I think that I haven't even caught 5% of the ways that it affects my thinking, let alone how it might affect others.)
Anyways, being white can be tough, not in the same ways it is for other races, and while it doesn't negatively affect my earnings, my ability to walk down certain streets, or how I'm perceived by people, its more a synonym for me saying being empathetic is tough because I love being selfish, but that's how life is. A lot of the 'White Legacy' (is that a term?) is the physical suffering and mental anguish that we've put anyone that doesn't look like us through, and part of what I have to fight is my own natural selfish tendencies and how that influences my view on race, and the thousands of years of White Men using their leverage against other races (without even delving into how we've used that against females). Learning to get over selfishness and being sincerely empathetic can unlock a lot of doors in life both physical and mental.
I have no idea if any of this was readable, if people reading this who are not the same skin color as me think I'm racist, or if twenty years from now I'll be running for public office and this will be used against me, but it's how I feel right now and writing it seems to be good for my soul.
Tomorrow: The Birth and Death of Passion(s)