Hello, Jezebel — thank you for your comment, and my apologies that it’s taken me so long to respond.
I think it’s a complex issue, how we react to calls that we are disproportionately affected by issues. For me, it’s not a uniform response, what I’ve laid out in this post; this is just one reaction, from one man, from one perspective.
Just as others might feel conversations about this are always helpful, I feel like, at times, it IS condescending. That’s just my vantage point. For me, it feels, at times, like a reminder that I am behind in some way, and that it is because of my race.
I feel the use of the term can both bother me and represent a rallying cry for solidarity. It can be both. It often is both. I don’t feel the same way consistently about a lot of things in life. It’s all in the context of when and where they happen.
I’ve come to distrust most media lately, and that’s sad for me, as a former full-time journalist who now works as a freelancer in the field. I’m a centrist who leans right in most (but not all) cases, and my ballot was a curious mix of blue and red (purple, pretty much.) I had consumed news from left- and right-leaning media agencies, and have become amazed (and disheartened, to be honest) at the vast differences in reporting. It’s like two different worlds, so both feel contrived to me.
“You’re our amigos” was meant to point out the confusion of hearing repeatedly how my “people” are disproportionately affected by issues, while at the same time feeling degraded because I’m supposedly at such a deficit. I’m not saying this is any truth for the world at large — simply from my perspective as I wrote this piece.
I feel it’s important to remember just that — I shared this to express my perception and generate a conversation, not to imply that my thoughts are absolute truth, or even without contradiction. I say this as the man who orders his burgers without onions but subs out fries for onion rings.
Social justice to me looks like going through day by day, aware of differences between me and my colleagues, friends, and even detractors — and not feeling like it was any detriment. Not only to co-exist but to co-support my brothers and sisters of any race, color, or creed.
I’m sorry you interpreted this piece as a stance that racism doesn’t exist, or that I am ignoring it. Just that this, as with most things in life, is a complex concept that isn’t so easily defined as right or wrong. And further, I’m not sure anyone’s perspective can be deemed “wrong.” I certainly don’t feel that way about others’ perceptions, of issues, of my writing, or otherwise, to be “wrong” if that’s their experience.
Dusting oneself off and pressing on is not exclusive to minorities, as you pointed out. It’s in the human experience. While I cannot change the minds of those out there, whom I don’t see or often see the effects of, I can ensure that I am doing my best and also taking my fellow man and woman into consideration in my everyday life.
As Coach John Wooden said, “think of others’ feelings before your rights, and others’ rights before your feelings.” I feel confident I live by this, not perfectly, but in spirit.
Why is this happening, this disproportionate affect on some people but not others? I can’t even fathom a guess, as it was in place long before I arrived on this planet. What I can do is ensure I don’t treat any sector of society disproportionately and hope that others will do the same.