NOTE: It’s hard as a white dude to write about race issues. I’m sure what I write below may offend some people, but again, this is my journal that I’ve decided to share with whoever decides to read it. The crap in our world has been bugging me on the inside, and this is my way of getting it all out of my head and onto some sort of digital paper.
If you haven’t already noticed I’m white. I’ve always been white. I have always grown up in primarily white communities, with little to no black people in those communities. It kind of sucks, because I tend to like the black culture. My favorite baseball player was black (Tony Gwynn), I always chose Magic over Bird (now I am West Coast bias, give me Tupac over BIG all day, every day), I preferred black Michael over white Michael, Taye Diggs is a hunk, my mom sometimes thinks she’s black (and we sometimes think she is also).
I originally had in my mind to write a post about Ferguson, and the conflicting messages I was getting on my Facebook wall. Good cop, bad cop. Black or white. Guns or no guns. My head hurt. How am I going to raise three kids in this world we live in?
I don’t know what it’s like to be a cop. I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man. I can only imagine that both are very difficult.
To me, the real hurt came in two separate occasions that didn’t involve Ferguson. First, the 12-year-old black boy from outside of Cleveland, playing with an air gun in the park, that was gunned down by a white cop. I’m sorry, I know cops experience a lot of crap, but this is a 12-year-old boy. Sure, the boy reached into his belt, thus giving the officer probable cause to shoot him (?), but if I’m a 12-year-old and two cops draw weapons on me, I’m probably not going to react like a 37-year-old might. My son is 10, the neighbor is 13, they both play with Airsoft guns in the back and front yard. My son wouldn’t know what to do if two cops drew weapons at him. He’d cry and panic. But then again he’s white, so maybe he’d be safe, still … hits home.
The second was when giddy Kevin did the stupid thing of reading the comments immediately after the Star Wars teaser trailer was released. Oh forever more! A black Stormtroooper! Sounds silly, but this really bothered me. Who cares?! It’s a galaxy far, far away! Yes, I believe true Star Wars fans could care less, but the fact that hundreds of people had to point this out, makes me SMH (shake my head, just learned about this in 2014) in disappointment at this world I had hoped had changed. This parenthood thing is going to be incredibly rough.
A friend of mine once called me racist. She was dating a black man at the time and told me that all white men were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. I disagreed. Saying that disrespected the life my dad lived while growing up. My grandma went nuts so my dad was in and out of foster homes, orphanages, spending nights behind packages of bark lined up in front of a grocery store. Silver spoon? Not quite, he had to work – and work hard – for everything he’s ever had. Because I stood up for my dad, I was labeled a racist. That moment, and that label has stuck with me since. Am I really a racist?
On a bus in Seattle two black guys started beating up another black guy. While everyone else darted off the bus, I told my buddy we had to do something (maybe it was the alcohol talking, or the fact that two dudes – no matter the color – should not be beating on one dude). Being two fairly tall dudes (my buddy was a bit broader than I), we stood up and told them to stop. The two said they wanted no problems and rushed off the bus. The dude we helped wanted off as well because they had taken his hat. Um … what?! Still one of my all-time highlights, only because I seemed tough for an instant.
I used to look forward to our annual American Cancer Society Summit, mostly because on Friday night my buddy and I would head up to the nightclub at the top floor of the hotel we stayed. We were the only two white guys in the place. Did that matter to me? Heck no! As I told the bouncer, “They’re playing my jams!” Did I ever feel threatened? Heck no! Even though this funky white boy had some of the better moves on the dance floor. Shake what your mama gave you, that’s my philosophy!
I have one black friend and he lives on the other side of the country. I would love to have more (ask Lis). It sucks, because we both have similar tastes in music, our love of writing, our love of being easily annoyed and stressing over little and big things, but also for caring about everybody. If we had grown up together I would bet we’d be besties! His take on this whole Ferguson thing is here.
I don’t consider myself a racist, but I know that racism exists in every person. We make jokes, we have our stereotypes (NOTE: the black guy isn’t always the best player on the court), we discriminate, heck, nowadays I go out of my way to smile at anyone and everyone that is black, just so they know I’m not racist. Guess you could consider this a type of racism. Busted!
Where am I going with this? I’m not quite sure. As I mentioned I’m confused.
Instead of being angry I try to think of ways how can I help? I guess it goes back to being a parent.
Lukas asks me why New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham as red hair, when the video game says he’s black. I explain that he’s mixed-race, and that it doesn’t matter.
Earlier this year he wanted to watch 42, so Lis, Lukas and I watched it and we explained those were different times. (But are they?) Always treat everyone as equal.
Why do we have to put labels on everything? Especially these days when more-and-more people are coming from mixed races. My kids are labeled white because of their skin color. If we want to get technical we can call them Brazilian-American. If we want to get super technical, Brazil is an American, but South American, so … who cares?! I don’t. Call them what you want, Lord knows I do. Busted again!
Sure, it’s easier to label if you’re looking for something. “Guard the dude in the RED shorts!” “She’s the hottie in the BLUE dress.” “Those two funky WHITE boys on the dance floor!” But why do we have to label when sharing a story that has nothing to do with race? Why do we need to list Jimmy Graham as black on the video game? Why do we have to say Halle Berry is a black actress when her mom is white? Why do we have to blast Stacey Dash because she’s a black Republican?
After all on the inside we are all the same people, it doesn’t matter if we’re black, white, red, brown, or yellow, in the end all we need is love.
I think a group of four
WHITE dudes sang about that in the ’60s. And to be honest, lately it’s been feeling like we’re headed back to those times.
But it’s true. Every person no matter wealth, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, male or female, in the end all we really want is to love and be loved.
As a parent (and for myself), this will be my goal. To teach my kids to love everyone – even their siblings.