Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time for a National Brain Fart

Has it happened to you? You know. You’re in the middle of a conversation…maybe telling a story…you have some detail you need to share…maybe someone’s name, or the name of a place; a restaurant or a park or a shop…and…and…and…it won’t come.  You can't think of it. You’ve had a BRAIN FART.

It happens to the best of us from time to time.

I think it is high time that we have a national brain fart.

We need to FORGET ABOUT RACE! It needs to slip out of our collective minds. Gone. Zip. Can’t think of it anymore.

I suppose that’s a pipe dream. We spend way too much time defining ourselves with it. Black. White. Hispanic. Native American. Asian. Jewish. African American.

What if we suddenly couldn’t use race as a descriptor when explaining who someone was anymore? Could we manage it? Try it for a couple of days and see how often you do it.

But, why? Why do we need to do that? Why do we need to describe people with skin color? I don’t think we do.

I suppose to bow to the societal pressure, and so you won’t have to do make the description, I should say that I’m a white guy. Now, that I've described myself for you, you can know that I write from that perspective.  Since we can’t seem to get away from race, you might as well keep that in mind as I say what I’m about to say, and then you can judge for yourself as to whether that fact was important with regards to my message…

White folks are oblivious to the racism in our society.

Sure. That’s a blanket statement that is not entirely true…but, it is truer than we fair-skinned folks would like to admit. Some of us see it and wish it would be eliminated from our world. But many of us don’t see it at all because it doesn’t affect us. We assume the civil rights movement took care of that problem and anyone who claims it today is just “playing the race card.”

However, I think it is real. I think it is there. Sometimes it’s blatant, but often it is subtle; maybe even unintentional. For many of us, it was imbedded in us when we were young, and hate it or not, we still find the traces in our minds. For example, why do I get more uncomfortable in a low-income predominantly black neighborhood than I do in a low-income predominantly white neighborhood? It’s that race thing. It is unintentional. I don’t like it. I find it embarrassing and I work to eradicate it. But, it is there.

Some black folks see racism everywhere.

I think this is understandable. When you’ve been directly impacted, or many of your friends and family have been mistreated, you can’t help but look for it. Call it the “flinch.” Someone who has been repeatedly struck will begin to flinch even when there is no punch being thrown. Sometimes there are punches, sometimes there aren’t, but there will be flinches every time.

Is the guy being pulled over because he is a young black guy in a nice car? Or, is he being pulled over because he was going twenty mph over the speed limit? It could be either at any given moment, but just because one happens, doesn’t mean the other one doesn’t.

All that said, I like what Martin Luther King Jr. said:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

To do that, though, it has got to go both ways…or, more accurately it has to go in all ways…all directions…all skin colors. No race has a pass on judging others.

Further, we should take a hard look at the Golden Rule.

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31

If you should have the freedom to walk through or drive through a neighborhood freely, then why would you question someone else’s right to do so? If you live in a given apartment complex or neighborhood, why would you keep someone else from doing so? If you deserve personal respect, doesn’t everyone else? If you’re allowed to appreciate Blake Shelton, then why can’t you give room to someone else to appreciate Jay-Z?

See. Like I said. We need a collective brain fart.

We need to forget about race when we live, work, play, and generally interact with one another. Tragedies are inevitable. Accidents happen. Bad decisions are made. But, let’s wipe color out of the equation.

I’m not talking about turning a blind eye to obvious racism. We can’t ignore the evils that worm their way into our lives. We have to deal with that mess head-on. Be careful. Gather all the facts, and then deal with it with swift justice. But, what I am saying is that as far as it is under your control…don’t let race be a factor in your life.

In the words of En Vogue:

“Free your mind and the rest will follow.
Be color blind, don’t be so shallow.”

Let’s enjoy the freedom of forgetting about race. Let’s be color blind and just be good to one another.

So, as crude as it may sound, I’m hoping for a national brain fart.

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