There’s a narrative being spewed in the media that race relations are at an all-time low point. This is bullshit. Any of us who live in the real world can see this. Because of that, I am glad Donald J. Trump is running for Head Oompa-Loompa, I mean President of the United States.
Because it’s like a massive black light was mounted on the moon and has been blasted across the breadth and width of America. We can see all of the fecal, urine, and semen stains no matter how hard people have worked to scrub them from existence. We’ve learned that people we’ve known all of our lives, and honestly thought we knew to the core, are really miserable dipshits. We’ve had our collective eyes opened and no matter what happens next, closing them again will be nigh on impossible. This is a great thing, and I truly believe in the end we will be better off as a people and a nation.
But… Isn’t there always a but and not even a cute one either?
Any of us with a trace of internal morality have been forced to acknowledge that we are also in our own ways just as flawed as the asshats we call friends and family. We’ve had to admit, at least in our secret hearts, that everyone has a tendency towards racism, classism, and bigotry. All of us have judged someone on their race, religion, nationality, class, gender, or sexual orientation. We’ve all done it even if we won’t admit it and you know what? That makes us human.
I’m not saying it’s okay or that we’re excused from our transgressions. What I am saying is we need to know none of us are innocent and that what we need to do is work extra hard to learn and to pass what we learn on to our children and the next generation as a whole.
I know it works, because I was that guy.
I was raised with two very different views on humanity. I’m not going to name names and point fingers, but from many people in my family I was taught that unless you were a straight, white, Christian, middle-class American you were crap. I was taught poor, ethnic, welfare, drug users were the reason we were poor white trash. The faggots, the spics, the niggers, the Muslims, the atheists, and the godless pinko Commies were the enemy, and we should never lift a finger to support them.
Thankfully this train of thought was countered by a very small segment of my family. My mother, father, and grandmothers being paramount in standing against these thoughts. I was taught to judge people by who they are inside not what they are outside.
Sounds stupid simple but it’s the truth.
Now for the honesty. I went through my angry white man period.
From the age of twenty until about twenty-eight I blamed the system because I couldn’t get ahead. Instead of looking at the big picture, I blamed my fellow poor – especially the non-whites – for my inability to support my family. I was convinced, with no proof at all, that they were taking all the jobs and resources from the rest of us real Americans. Because things were difficult for me and mine, I wanted to lash out and blame everyone else for what was in reality just the way this broken system works. I am ashamed to admit Josh in his twenties would’ve been a die hard Trumpeter.
I can tell you exactly what happened. I was shopping at a thrift store—ironically I was ashamed of that back then, and now I love the thrift shop – much love Macklemore – and found one of those confederate flag t-shirts stating some bullshit about how I’ll wear my colors if you wear yours. I bought the thing and wore it home proudly. Just imagine a fat, Irish-American Michigander with his used confederate flag t-shirt—I couldn’t make that up for a story.
What an asshole.
Later that evening my mother stopped by and saw me in the shirt. She didn’t say anything, she didn’t have too. My mother, who despite all her flaws did her best for us, the woman who raised me to see people as people, and the woman who was one of the first people I came out to as a bi-sexual was ashamed of me.
I threw the rag away that night.
Did things change automatically? Of course not, this is real life not a TV sitcom. But as the years passed I made an effort to examine my flaws and to take steps to rectify them. This eventually lead to me admitting my mental illness in my mid thirties, which in turn helped me closer examine my flaws and so and so forth.
What is my point in all of this?
Self-improvement isn’t a sprint boils and ghouls, it’s a marathon and it’s one worth running.