Yikes! I’m not even sure where to begin. And forewarning, this post has absolutely NOTHING to do with fitness. I suppose I’ll start with the heated conversation I had over the weekend with a woman I randomly met at a karaoke bar in Midtown. I’m happy to say that the conversation ended very friendly, with both viewpoints validated and appreciated without too much voice-raising outside of either one of our occasional singing breaks. However, some points were made that are weighing on me still. If you aren’t familiar with what took place in Charlottesville over the weekend, please reference this article posted by the New York Times to familiarize yourself.
Let’s start with the White Nationalist group involved here. I’ll reference Wikipedia’s definition of White Nationalism here. Umm, it appears to me that this group of people ARE related to the White Supremacy group we all know to be RACIST. Yes, if you consider yourself tied to either of these groups, you would be identifying yourself as a racist. What’s even more disturbing than a group of angry, racist, middle class white folks running around wreaking havoc over a clay war figurine is that they are doing so in the name of someone who hasn’t even involved himself, or affiliated himself with either party. I think most of us outside of these non-progressive groups agree that racism is bad, and I doubt any of us would want to be associated with the term if we weren’t, in fact, racist, am I correct? So how fair is it that these racist acts were done in the name of someone else?
Racism by definition:
prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.“a program to combat racism”
synonyms: racial discrimination, racialism, racial prejudice, xenophobia, chauvinism, bigotry, casteism“Aborigines are the main victims of racism in Australia”
the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.noun: racism“theories of racism”
We have a major problem here.
Let me backtrack to the conversation I had with this woman. It started out with her complimenting my purse. This was sweet. An adult woman sitting alone, making an effort to befriend another adult woman sitting alone. My instinct was to say thank her and get back to my friends and potential set list I had prepared earlier in the week on my iPhone, but something drew me to her, and the conversation continued.
“I am just SO unbelievably upset and enraged over the man who is in charge of our country”, she says.
I begged her not to push this subject in my head, but I just couldn’t sit there and NOT ask why she was so upset. I mean, people are always mad at the president. He’s Donald Fucking Trump. He’s an asshole. But, politically speaking, I needed to hear more since I had not been filled in on what happened in Charlottesville, and she had dropped the city name shortly before that sudden outburst. She continued on to give me tidbits of “some statue or something” and the “bigot racist assholes who KILLED people” over it in the name of “the man who is in charge of our country”.
“Whoa whoa whoa whoa… you’re mad at the president for what racist people did in response to something about a statue”, I questioned. I was confused because I would assume that the president wasn’t actually a part of the event, and I’m going to guess that he didn’t send the assholes to the event in his honor. I could be wrong, but who knows with all of the wild assumptions about Donald Trump these days…
The conversation went on. Every few minutes her name would be called to go on stage and sing. But, after she was done she would come back, and I would ask more questions and listen to her responses. This went on for hours, until some drunk guy who my friends had earlier recorded scream-singing in his most outlandish, crowd-pleasing performance of Billy Idol’s, “Rebel Yell”, came up and butted in. The woman could no longer stand the context of the conversation, and after all of my effort to hear her out, I was left without conclusion, in an anticlimactic ending to a drama and case-study that just seemed SO important at the time. Drunk guy’s conversation wasn’t even as close to enthralling so I did my best to find closure in that and make my way home. Lack of resolution aside, I gave her a hug and exchanged information with her on my way out. I thanked her for sharing and for letting me get clarity on her opinion. She seemed satisfied as well. I then hopped in my Uber and went home.
The next day a friend posted something on Facebook pertaining to the event in Charlottesville. A piece of this was a quote given by one of the men in a photo during the event/protest/riot against the removal of the Statue of Robert E Lee:
“I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was,” he noted. “I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”
Cvjetanovic added: “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.”
Here is a link to the article in mention…
I have a point here, I promise. Hang in there with me… If you see the first article, you’ll see that these White Nationalist rallied under the title, “Unite The Right”. I am assuming that this is a double entendre uniting those of the right-wing political party and/or what they would consider to be the “right” people (of faith, race, religion, etc.) in their eyes. What pisses me the fuck off is that the generalization made here is what sparks fury in people when they think about “the man who is in charge of our country”. These assholes who do the ignorant, racist acts against people in our communities are doing it in the name of someone they have zero right to represent. The guys in the second article probably have zero affiliation with anyone who matters when it comes to the president and what he represents or believes. My point here is to encourage the idea that there are people in this world who misrepresent a group or party. There are people who do things in what they believe to be alliance with someone who would probably have nothing to do with their actions or beliefs.
I am enraged as well. Not at the person who has to, again, be associated with a horrendous act, without permission, will or warrant. My frustration is one thousand percent aimed in the direction of the actual offender. The White Nationalists who think it’s okay to stimulate aggression or try to exude dominance or some imagined superiority over a particular person or group because of the color of their skin. And I’m even more upset that they would do it in the name of a political party, whom most of which would never identify themselves as something as horrific as a racist. NEWSFLASH assholes: You’re ruining it for everyone. Someone commented on the Facebook post with a good point- and I quote the comment, “…you are grouping him together with all ‘white people [who] control all the power and the vast majority of wealth. ‘ I’m guessing that this guy, personally, does not consider himself wealthy nor does he consider himself to have power over others in his world. He is exhibiting the type of behavior typical of people who don’t feel very powerful. Behavior is always at an individual level. My guess is that you won’t find a lot of highly skilled white men making over $150K a year at these marches…”. I happen to agree with this comment as well and try to keep this in mind when I think about who is responsible for these people’s actions. Generalization is a slippery slope.
The woman I had a conversation with had never had a great experience with someone who didn’t agree with her political perspective. She had mentioned that she tried to have “productive” conversations with her friends on The Right, and she claims that it never ended well or with a more positive perspective than before the conversation took place. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but in her reality it most definitely was. And now, she has begun to generalize ALL people who didn’t agree with what she believed was true and important (she did actually say this, but not in those exact words). The man who interrupted us did so by challenging her. He made a point as well, although in such a fashion that was likely reluctant to be received, but it was a good point nonetheless. Instead of seeking understanding of his perspective (forget his delivery. Get to the meat and potatoes!), she literally, physically pointed her nose in the air and walked away. I’m sure this is a developed reaction based on the unproductive conversations she has experienced in the past. I have a feeling that Drunk Billy Idol Impersonator was also developing an opinion about her general political party as well. And THAT is where our problem lies, my friends.
People are born, and they circumstantially are raised, grown, educated, and influenced by their given surroundings. Yes, they have choices they can make. But, if you never left the city you were born in, it would be hard to picture yourself growing up and living an entirely different way, wouldn’t it? Everything you imagined would simply be perception based on what you’ve seen or heard about that place or life or culture. We have a responsibility to consider when we make statements or generalize groups or people. These guys who acted the way they did, the White Nationalists, the racists… they aren’t anyone I would associate with. As far as the statue goes, I believe it’s a part of history that should be preserved, somewhere. And as time goes on, and we progress more, we will erect new statues that will offend another group of people, and so on and so on. Those can make their way into museums and history books as well. It doesn’t discount this history of our nation. Do I agree with the uproar and using the statue as a cowardly way to express hate in the name of the “right” ? Absolutely not. But, if I agreed that it shouldn’t be destroyed, or if I was on The Right, would you consider me a racist too?
When it comes to these tragedies we need to be careful who we point the finger at. The statue this whole situation developed over is of a guy who died years and years before. And if you read a little history on Robert E. Lee, you’ll find that he truly did not desire to go to war. He was pretty much pressured to choose a side. All he wanted to do was teach. Now, because of what happened this weekend, he is a symbol of hate. He now represents a group of people who lack insight, who refuse to progress, who don’t seem to understand love or the simple fact that it’s not fucking cool to judge someone else by their skin color or sexuality, how much money they have, or the way they were raised. This old guy on his horse may not even want to be defended by anybody. He’s probably rolling over in his grave now because of the dumbasses who have slaughtered ANY chance he had of representing anything significant. I mean, the man tried to resign like a hundred times from his position as Confederate Army General, he may have even agreed for the removal if he were alive today. We don’t know. We do know these ignorant, damaging people don’t deserve this kind of attention. This kind of hate breeds more hate and the cycle continues on and on. My suggestion is that when the media shares a story like this one, that we don’t become outraged, but understand that we don’t have to acknowledge such behavior because it truly is wrong, and we as a nation are trying to grow, despite who our president is, or what obstacles stand in our way. Keep in mind that these people are a product of their upbringing. Something or someone at some point told them that this is the way to be. Humans are not born with hate in them. It is instilled. We need to love, not generalize. We need to appreciate differences and look forward to how we can help them all work together for a greater good. Sometimes that means sacrificing some things we are personally emotionally attached to. All this being offended about everything is not helping anyone move forward. Everyone is a guilty party here in some way. Imagine if we didn’t respond in a negative way to this. Imagine if we didn’t rope in our president and place blame on his shoulders for the actions of these few. Imagine how the world would shift if we could detach from our personal derivatives and see the bigger picture. I think the world could advance pretty quickly in some amazing ways. And that’s all I have to say about that.