I tried to listen quietly as the woman on the phone berated me regarding privileged youths, indulging and sheltering our children and matters of racism.
It is on the issue of race where I began to chafe.
If you, as the woman on the phone do not believe there is such a thing as white privilege, then you are sadly and horribly mistaken.
The color of your skin affects the way everyone interacts with you. So does your religion, the way you dress, your gender, your socioeconomic standing, your job and your politics.
To ignore these facts is to be delusional.
While you may consider yourself above the fray and say, “I’m color-blind in my dealings with others,” as a friend of mine who works at the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church told me last weekend, “I cannot afford to be.”
To some that may sound like reverse racism because my friend is an African American and I am white. But I understand his point and he was being honest with me. And he is no racist. I cannot understand what he goes through on a daily basis because it is foreign to my experience. I can, however, acknowledge it and react to that reality.
I am not an apologist for white people and I understand racism exists on both sides of the aisle. I also firmly believe racism will continue to exist as long as we artificially divide the human race by color, gender, religion, economic factors and anything else.
But we are far from being able to look each other squarely in the eyes and accept – as a society – those who think differently than we do – or those who face more challenging circumstances than we have faced.
There are millions if not billions of people on Earth who are unable to see the world through the eyes of another. Perhaps we all fail in this endeavor – but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
The woman on the phone was particularly upset over the “Black Lives Matter” movement as she told me “All Lives Matter,” and why should we single-out Black Lives over others?
It would take an entire column or series of articles or books to tackle this issue. Perhaps it would have semantically been easier for some to accept if the message had been “Black Lives Matter Too.” But I understand why that moniker was not adopted. It could appear those of color are an afterthought.
Honestly, the title seems to indicate the soft and coddled nature of our times. I wonder how people would react if protesters were shouting “Say it loud. I’m Black and I’m proud,” instead of “Black Lives Matter.” (Apologies to James Brown)
If you want to put it in perspective, I want to say “No Lives Matter” because the Universe is a huge place and our concerns are so ridiculously petty compared to the scope of our existence – but I’ll forgo the existential angst to deal with the mundane.
At the invitation of a friend of mine I attended services at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Rockville Sunday. Sitting across from me was Kathleen Matthews – candidate for Congress – and her nephew.
Being white Catholics we all enjoyed the high-spirited nature of a service including a sermon that put the best homily to shame and music which left me daydreaming about ways to make the Catholic service far less boring – well as I kept time to the music with my feet.
Prior to the service, I asked my friend who extended the invitation to me how long the service lasted. “Oh it’s short, just about two hours,” he said.
I cringed. If Catholic service lasted two hours, I’d spend all but 15 minutes of it snoring in the hard wooden pews.
I did not feel the need to do so last Sunday. While I have attended services at a variety of places of worship, including synagogues, mosques and a wide variety of different Christian churches, for the first time in a long time I actually took pleasure in a Sunday service. I laughed, I enjoyed myself and afterward another friend of mine in attendance took me aside to ask for my help with a youth problem.
We coached football together in the past and he said he stared at me during service and wondered why that “white boy was there.” After we shared a laugh, I agreed to assist him any way I could.
That was when he told me he did not have the luxury of avoiding the color of skin in dealings with others because for him – every day – it is an issue.
That is a fact many white people cannot face. It is part of the reason why people like Ted Cruz would like to have police patrol Muslim neighborhoods. It is why President Nixon’s aid came forward and said the War on Drugs was a ruse to destroy Black neighborhoods. It is why Donald Trump wants to build a wall.
They are ignorant of, or purposely pandering to those who are ignorant of the divisions in this country and wish to perpetuate the hate and ignorance for their own ends. They fail to see the danger in doing so.
The woman on the phone hung up on me after I asked her who she supported for President. She told me “Donald Trump. He’ll make America great again.”
When I asked her what was wrong with our country now – I heard the click.
I wonder if I could get her to go to church with me this week. I know a great one in Rockville.
It made me smile.