I’m from Georgia originally. The Heart of Dixie. Did I grow up having some racial insensitivities? You bet I did. It was the norm for pretty much everybody. Were we stupid? No. Were we being stupid? Yes. We were uninformed and to try to come up with an excuse today couldn’t be adequate for anyone’s standards. But you grow.
Was I ever insensitive towards other groups? Yes, again. I have, in my past, said some awful things about gay people. It was pretty normal being a red blooded American male. We weren’t nice when it came to people who were different.
I remember our only exposure to gay people was always negative. Even today, there’s plenty of negativity towards the gay population. The gay pride parades with guys dressed in drag seem to me to be very negative still. That “throw it in your face” attitude still bothers me.
Back in the 90’s Ellen Degeneres had a sitcom. I think it was generally acknowledged that she was very funny (good comedian) from the start. We all, in the general public I think, figured she was gay, but hoped she wasn’t. We just wanted to like her. When the show came out where she came out, I was disappointed. I so wanted to like her, but I just couldn’t. Her sexual orientation offended me.
Fast forward to today. My wife sometimes has Ellen’s daytime show on. I find her very likeable. I mean to the point that I’ll pause and watch (I watch little to no daytime TV). And she hosts a game show in the evenings. And again, she’s so darn likeable that I would love to sit and talk with her.
Switching back over to race. Any time I see Steve Harvey while I’m flipping around the dial, I am also apt to stop. Again, he is so very likeable. I would think sitting down and talking to him would be awesome too. I don’t think he tries to act “white” (whatever that means), he’s just a good guy.
I think at our core, we are ignorant of people we don’t know much about. We think they are so different from each other. But we can be more alike than different and we’d be better off if we’d try to be somebody that most people would like.
As I type this, I heard about Shani Davis tweeting that he’d been discriminated against because he wasn’t chosen to be the flag bearer for the US Olympic team. The flag bearer was chosen by the rest of the US delegates and apparently it was a tie and he lost the coin toss. You were chosen by a large portion of your teammates, you lost a coin toss and you think you’ve been discriminated against. Stop using discrimination as an excuse. Discrimination certainly exists. We all have felt it to some extent and we have all dished it out as well. When you use it trivially, I automatically don’t like you and will tune you out. Be a good guy and a good teammate.
The only way discrimination can be minimized to the maximum extent (it will never be totally eliminated, we’re humans and imperfect) is through the efforts of individuals of all types. Government cannot solve this. When I get a finger waved at me (by the government, by the media, by social warrior groups) telling me who I should like or respect I will...tune out. I will be nice to you as long as you’ll reciprocate.