What Lies Between Hope and Myth

There’s a myth that continues to swarm about how certain groups of people are entitled to their position in life. The rich are entitled to everything. The poor are entitled not to work. The left is entitled to feel entitled. The right is entitled because of money. The Millennials are entitled because they’re self-absorbed. The Boomers are entitled because they worked their ass off.

The myth is that one group or generation is actually entitled. Everyone says each group is but no group actually feels that way. Instead they feel that another group is more entitled than themselves and so the myth continues.

It’s sad really. That we all have something in common but don’t stop to realize it.

Life is good. We all can be OK. Whether you are rich or poor, democrat or republican, or whatever you are you probably need a hand. We all need a hand. Some people need it monetarily. Others just simply need a hug. Some might need a meal. One needs medical care, the other a light for their smoke.

This is a diverse and strange country. The people of the mountains of Montana don’t face the same daily obstacles as the people living in Stuyvesant. But as great as their lives might both be, they still might need something that the other can provide. It’s the way the universe works. No one thing is complete without another.

We as humans aren’t complete without plants and animals, to eat, to breathe, to love. Some need to eat more animals than love. Others eat no animals and only love. That’s okay. No one is right because you still need each other to balance out. The person who eats only animals is balanced by the person who only loves animals. Maybe those two get together and figure out world peace. First, get together.

It’s a myth to think that we’ll someday have a collective realization, stop hating each other, and actually help one another. World peace is a myth. Big Foot is probably more likely to be sighted than someone dropping their manufactured hate to take stock in humanity and just enjoy that we are all people. The myth is that me sitting here writing this might inspire someone, anyone, to do that.

Yet the hope meanders on. All that negativity and yet there is hope. Hope is not a myth. I have hope and I know others who also have hope. Hope can be heavy. Sometimes we drop it. Other times we carry it along when we probably shouldn’t. Hope can be carried along and we don’t even know it.

No one person or group is entitled to something more than another. We’re just people, that’s it that’s all. To see it in another way is taxing. To manufacture hate for someone else’s perceived entitlement is hard. It takes a lot of energy, energy that could be used to laugh. Energy that could be used to help someone who needs it.

Or maybe we’re just animals meant to compete for time, money, and space. Grueling over our daily tasks to make a bed in the grass and lie down, our bellies stuffed and our minds at rest. Maybe we’re meant to hate what seems entitled because our path must be harder than everyone else’s. Maybe we’re meant to hate what doesn’t look like us, what we see in the mirror, the ghostly imperfections and deep dark circles around our eyes, imagining all that entitlement that everyone else has, stewing in our growing manufactured hatred for everything that isn’t “us” and feeding the myth.

But still, there is hope.

So What If We’re All Equal?

In the last 6 months I’ve had more people admit their racism to me than ever before.  It literally happens every week.  I come into contact with a lot of people for part of my job and I never bring up any politics, race, or religion.  I barely bring these things up with family.  It’s just something that you shouldn’t talk about unless you’re ready for a fight and especially when you are representing another company it should never be uttered.  So I don’t bring it up, but it keeps coming up and I find it very strange, irritating, and tiresome.

I am white.  My last name is White.  My mom is full blooded Italian but my dad is a typical American mutt with a broad array of nationalities.  I look like a typical white American man.  And for whatever that is worth, recently people have started to expose their racism to me.  Most of them are complete strangers, or at very best people that I come into contact with only a few times a year.  They’re doing it in such a way as if I’m supposed to agree, as if I’m supposed to go along with it, as if I was thinking the same thing and they’re just the ones that happened to say it.  They’re not waiting for the subject to be broached, but rather launching into soliloquies without provocation.  My ‘whiteness’ must be a beacon for self-assuring validation.

I want to get angry.  I want to lash out.  I want to bring up examples and points to show that they are only being brainwashed by a giant propaganda machine that has snuck into their brain.  I want to explain that racism is not a gene but learned.  They learned to be a racist over time and they could unlearn.  I want them to know that they are the profligates, the minority, that intelligent people don’t think that way.  They never did.  Scared people think that way, people scared to lose money and power.  They’re the ones that started these lies and you’ve bought into that fear and it’s ruining your life.  I want to tell them that one of my best friends is black and I was with him when a whole family degraded him for his color, how mortifying it was for me, and how he had to let it roll off his back.  No one should have to do that because of who they are.  It seems to me that is an un-American thing, prosecuting someone for being themselves.  Isn’t that why we left England in the first place?

I don’t say any of this because I have come to realize that it is too deep a part of their life.  My anger is only going to add to theirs.  They have physically sewn themselves to their misery and fear and walk around with it as their cross to bear.  To talk about it makes them feel a little better, relieves their anguish and anxiety even if just for a little while.  When other people agree with them about their fear of other colors or cultures, it rationalizes their very being. When they find an unvetted propagandist website they proudly post it on Facebook, showing the world they have company, a team of troglodytic lemmings to ban together and validate themselves as rational. But it only proves their insecurity, insecure to be white, scared that another race, color, or culture might be better than them.  Why should anybody be better? Is it possible that we are all humans and equal? And, so what if we’re all equal?  Why is that so bad?

I don’t want to give my examples of the racism that I have encountered.  I don’t want to put it into words because I feel like it just helps spread the hate, insecurity, and irrationalism.  But without going into detail I recently saw a racist meme on Facebook. It was an unlearned suggestion that degraded black people in particular and relied heavily on an inaccurate depiction of history.  It did not have many likes, but it did have some.  Underneath the meme, the first commenter agreed by adding an exclamation point after his comment.  But the proof of a lack of education lies in the commenter’s choice of vernacular as well as their appropriation of the English language.  The commenter simply wrote “Word!” meaning, as I imagine, a term of agreement with the meme.  This is just a tiny example of why racists are not very cultured, intelligent, or aware.

By using the word “Word” what the commenter was trying to say is “I agree with this statement.  It is true”.  You will often times in hip hop culture hear rappers and other artists say “word” on recordings or TV.  Only “word” is not spelled the same as the Microsoft product or the things you are reading right now.  “Word” is actually spelled “WERD”.  It was the call letters to a radio station in Atlanta owned by Jesse Blayton, the first black radio station owner in American history.  He purchased the station in 1949 wanting there to be a station that could speak to the black population of the south.  By the 1950’s and early 1960’s Mr. Blayton had become synonymous with helping spread the messages of civil rights, giving Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists air time.  Jesse Blayton was a pioneer and literally the first of his time.  When someone says “WERD” it is synonymous with “TRUTH” because that’s what WERD in Atlanta stood for: TRUTH.  So when I read some racist commenting on a racist meme and incorrectly using WERD while also referencing WERD I have to laugh out loud.  You’re using an empowering term incorrectly while referencing the very culture you’re trying to degrade.  It’s simply not intelligent.

I guess I’m not surprised.  I have yet to meet anyone believing in racist propaganda that seems to have much intelligence.  Even those who don’t think they are racist can be racist.  If you have ever started a sentence with “I’m not a racist, but…” then you most certainly are a racist.  Please don’t excuse yourself ahead of time for the terrible thing you are about to say about another race or culture, although I certainly appreciate the warning so I can zone out while you are talking.

I feel terrible for people who can’t seem to break the spell.  Almost the same shame and sadness I felt when my friend was degraded in front of me, in my home town, by a whole family of racists.  We are given this one life to live and there is so much that is wonderful and beautiful in the world.  There are so many good people to friend and learn from, to share love with and to laugh with.  But some people choose to live angry, to live in complete fear of all people of color, in fear of different cultures, petrified of strange far away religions.  They have sewn themselves to misery, only living to validate their fears by being around other people who also feel the same way.  They will never venture out and learn about these other cultures on their own, never be surrounded by anyone that they don’t understand. They will only live this one life, petrified of everything that could be and not amazed by what actually is.  They have chosen to live their life in misery and fear and will die in the same vain.

My anger is over.  Some of my friends can testify to times I have almost been in fights with strangers for being racist in public.  I took it as a personal attack to my very being.  I’m done with all that.  I thought that I was leading by example, standing up for what is right, being the moral super hero and fighting the evil forces that bring hate into the world.  I realized I myself was bringing hate into the world.  So instead, I’m offering my condolences to those who believe that one race is better or worse than another.

Their grip is slipping.  More and more people in America are casting aside previous racial stereotypes and accepting each other for who they are.  I believe I’m seeing an increase in admittance to racism as an unconscious survey, to see how many white people are still going to band together for supremacy, irrational fear, and blind hate.  Count me out.  I don’t buy into it and just because I’m white doesn’t mean you’re able to bring this up, even casually, because I know you’re not bringing this up in front of people of color on account of your fear.  I will no longer retaliate in anger, but rather offer a sad shaking of my head and a pat on the shoulder for condolence.  You have lost.  And not is some battle for racial supremacy, but in life, for you have wasted yourself in anger, deteriorated yourself with lies, and will live in the shadows of the rest of us.

You never liked the sun anyway.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.

Rochester Newspaper Sells Segregation

An article was recently released by Democrat and Chronicle that articulated the issues that Rochester is facing.   It defines exactly what’s wrong with this city in a simple and supposedly innocuous comment that probably shouldn’t have made the cut in the story.  It’s a line that does nothing for the story itself, yet was left in, as if on accident.  It was something I’m positive that most people read and passed over without a second thought, or simply accepted as a truth.  It is, in my opinion, the perfect quote to highlight why Rochester, NY has deeply rooted problems that will probably never go away.  These problems are not talked about, and are seldom brought up in public forums as far as I know.  If they are being talked about candidly and openly I would love for the residents of Rochester to write me and tell me I’m wrong.

The article was written by a group of staff writers at the Democrat and Chronicle; Victoria E. Freile, Patti Singer, and Todd Clausen.  Democrat and Chronicle’s Executive Editor and Vice President of News is Karen Magnusun.  The article is mostly concerned with the terrible tragedy of two burned bodies that were recently discovered.  The newest body was found near La Grange Park, which is nestled almost in the middle of a triangle with Ridgeway Ave, Mount Read Blvd, and Driving Park Ave.  The article was hard enough to get through due to the violent nature of the deaths, but a simple comment made by a local resident illuminates the odd segregation and tension that is simply accepted in this city.

The comment was made by Michael Bell.  It was the only comment in the article.  The entire quote read as follows:

“You don’t expect for activity like that to be around here.  It is normally pretty safe around here.  I am not saying this is like Mendon, Pittsford, or whatever, but it’s a secluded area here.  It’s quiet.  You don’t expect for activity like that to be around here.  God didn’t put us here to hurt and harm each other.  He put us here to love each other and we have to grasp that.  If there is something going on, there are people to talk to.   There is nothing that bad. “

What Mr. Bell said is direct and honest.  I especially like the part where he says we were not put here to harm each other.  I have always believed in tolerance, acceptance, peace, love, and understanding, but what bothers me about Mr. Bell’s comment was that he assumes Pittsford and Mendon are the safest areas.  That might actually be true.  The misconception that crime is only happening in certain parts of a city seems to be a common thread in news across the nation.  I don’t take umbrage with what Mr. Bell said, although the fact that he felt the need to say it at all made me cringe, but I am thoroughly disgusted that Democrat and Chronicle would print that part of the comment.  It is not part of the story.  It does not need to be part of the story, but it was left in as some sort of gauge, a bright orange cone that will remind the citizens of Mendon and Pittsford that they are somehow safer.

I wonder if the residents of Mendon and Pittsford read that line and somehow held their heads a little higher knowing that they don’t have to worry about such violence in their “part of town.”  I wonder if Karen Magnusun lives in Pittsford or Mendon, or if any of the staff writers do, and this was their strange way of making themselves feel a little safer, a little more at ease, subconsciously rationalizing their higher taxes.  I wonder if they still lock their doors at night, setting their security alarms and praying that the disgruntled riffraff that lives only a few miles away doesn’t figure out how to get in.  I wonder if they still fear the boogey man.

I moved to Rochester about a decade ago, chasing a girl and a dream of being a college graduate.  I stayed for this reason or that, getting wrapped up in jobs and life, but leaving has never left my mind.  I was only here for a month or so when I realized that this is a massively segregated city filled with elitists, extreme xenophobes, racists, and an overall unrelenting attitude that none of this is happening.  Rochester has some amazing people in it.  I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of them.  The food in this city is amazing.  There is an amazing blend of culture and people that live just under the radar on these streets, but there is an odd and noticeable wall that separates all things East and the rest of the God forsaken city.  It’s why the city is crumbling.  The hate is felt and is passed around so freely that it creates more hate.  The separatists are unapologetic and operate openly; so openly that a comment that was supposed to be innocuous splayed open the bubbling green bile of separation and hatred in a city that seems damned.

I’m embarrassed for Democrat and Chronicle.  They obviously don’t see the larger picture that Rochester and much of America are suffering from; poor brotherhood.  The comment was left in the article, a subconscious slip that tells a larger story, one that the news isn’t telling, but obviously selling.

Here’s the original article.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.