Dear neighbor –
I’m sorry I lost my shit on you the other day. I’d like to try and explain where I am coming from – not to excuse myself but maybe to provide some context.
We, a bunch of mostly privileged white people, were protesting in solidarity. It was quite beautiful. Peaceful. Cathartic even.
During the entire time, as people also drove down the street honking and we all lined up, masked warriors, on either side of Main Street cheering as if it were a parade, I was wondering to myself, “is this what we should be doing?” But it’s small town America and it was good to manage expectations. A show of community with signs declaring “I can’t breathe”, “Say their names” and “BLM” was a welcome change from otherwise friendly suburbanites walking their dogs and taking in the warmer weather.
So, when that blonde, white woman showed up with her giant TRUMP banner and matching red mask with TRUMP sprawled on the front, you could understand how that was troubling for most there. You, too, I suspect.
What you did not see was that I calmly approached her, amidst a lot of noise, to give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, our town has a lot of Trump supporters, too, and I suspected many were protesting racial injustice along with their fellow Democrats and Independents, also. Racism is not a political issue – it is an American one. For anyone to assume that more conservative members of our town do not feel as strongly about rooting out systemic racism as more liberal ones do is both ignorant and misinformed.
So when she started yelling at me after my asking if she were here to support the cause, I told her to leave. I wasn’t the only one. As it got more heated, I did, too. Because, you see, I’m tired of being bullied. And many of us “libtards” have been bullied in this country far too much lately.
Is this a bigger issue than what is going on in the world? Absolutely. Do I want to separate it anymore? Absolutely not. Because, you see, bullies aren’t just people who throw you into lockers in high school, or call you “faggot” or threaten you with false and intimidating lawsuits in the midst of a divorce. They are white, blonde woman who feel entitled to tell an entire community to just f*ck off. And I’m tired of it.
You felt the need to school me and I get it. I’ll assume what is often termed “noble intent”. You had a kid there, which, while most people chose to keep their kids at home (it was a “protest” after all), I can see you were trying to be a good father. You told me it wasn’t the message but the tone. You didn’t hear my tone originally. You only heard it after. And it was a mad one.
When is the right time to get angry? Our democracy is tilting toward authoritarianism one snowflake at a time and so many of us who say “none of us are free until we are all free” think we can solve this with healthy debate every time? It takes both sides. And when other liberals implore me to take the “high road” and see all sides, there needs to be an acknowledgement that some sides are just plain wrong.
Why talk about the “right side of history” without admitting that, yes, in some cases that means there is a wrong side? A very, very bad wrong side. A blonde, Trump holding woman wrong-side that was convinced that the protest was uncalled for and we should be talking about something else. Today, we have much, much more at stakes than I think you understand. And it’s for our children. Not for us.
All the “No place for hate” signs on our lawns and signing of social justice petitions online won’t help if we can’t confront the causes of the disease head on. I understand I offended you. But I did it in person – not hiding behind a Facebook post or by painting a damned rainbow on my driveway. Would you have warned me about my tone if I were black and angry? (And to be fair, would I have been as bold if it were not a white woman but a large white guy?)
There is a place for peaceful protest. There is a place for anger. There is a place for the in-between. Thursday, I found the place for anger. I wonder when those who are just as angry are going to feel it so much that it just can’t stay inside their heads any longer. Don’t get me wrong. I meditate. I write. I reflect. I stumble and fall and then have to start again. And it’s so tiring. I’ll start again. But I’m not the Dalai Lama – not even close.
As a white guy, I have been quiet, literally, far too long and when you multiply me times millions and over decades, you get to why so little progress has been made. You can see why people of color – the very people you want to sit side by side with – are fed up.
I learned a hard lesson this week. Black people are tired of telling us what is wrong and what we need to do. So, Thursday, I did what we’ve been told over and over and over again. And I did it loudly. It wasn’t necessarily the most evolved way. I’ll give you that. But, I did it.
Again, I’m sorry if I offended you. I know I did and I apologize, for real. I don’t expect you to get angry, too, but now you’ll understand next time you might see me calling it out. I wasn’t trying to offend you. I was starting to stand up to the bully and I have a long way to go. Yeah -it’s about racial justice but it is a little bit about me, too.
Until next time, Marc