To say that the last few years have been politically challenging would be a huge understatement not just where I happen to live, but globally. Unfortunately, where I live happens to have proven to be impotent in its ability to see off these horrible setbacks and struggle to lead globally where we’ve been able to do in times past, which has been hugely disheartening. To see the emboldening of a cynical, outdated and remarkably limited outlook on the past, present and future through the ugliest forms of the abuses of power, racism, sexism and classism has offered a bleak vision for the future, and has laid the roadmap for the political fight that must come. I’ve never liked to combine politics with my livelihood, as I’ve always tried to see myself as one to look to the many sides and experiences in this great human experiment, but I do feel we’ve gone so far past the idea of politics and have crashed head first into a fundamental place of human rights and the struggle for simple decency.
I would hope that the vast majority of people in my country, regardless of political affiliation, will see the continuing abuses of power and set difference aside to attack the inherent evils we are seeing so regularly present themselves, largely at the cost to communities of color, the disenfranchised and the economically disadvantaged.
I am white, I am male and straight, and only in the past few years have I truly begun to explore what that actually means for me, and for others. I’ve had the benefit of taking that all for granted. I was raised by wonderfully open minded parents who gave me a great foundation to understand these privileges, and I aim to do the same for my children. Even so, I still don’t fully comprehend, but I’m trying to grow into a place where I better understand what I have had given to me by pure luck on my part. I’ve always tried to see things from various angles, and listen when given the opportunity, but as we hurtle along this insane path of racially profiled murders, hate speech, dog whistling and gas lighting, I feel it is so much more important to explore my privilege, listen to the words spoken by those less privileged and do what I can to be an ally to my community and a teacher to my kids.
When politics divide a country where there should be no argument except one for human rights and decency when certain abuses of power and privilege appear, I fear the chasm separating those that feel it important to protect the institutions over people, will further dig heels in. Of course we need to maintain our institutions, but if when you walked into your house, 1 out of every 3 times you did so you were electrocuted when touching your front door knob, you wouldn’t argue that it was your fault for opening your door, or just something that isn’t worth fixing because it’s always been that way, you’d call an electrician to figure out the problem, and fix it. We need an electrician to fix this problem that literally faces nearly 1/3 of our country on a daily basis, purely because of the color of their skin, and even more when considering the prejudices against disenfranchised groups and impoverished or financially unstable Americans of all races, religions, orientations and backgrounds.
If you aren’t largely affected by these things in your daily life, consider yourself lucky, much as I do. Then, perhaps it is also worth asking yourself if you’d feel okay about what is happening if it were affecting you, or your family.
We can do many things to nurture safety, freedom and justice for every single person in our community, but for those of us that have largely lived life with these seemingly invisible (to many of us anyway) advantages, I implore us to recognize these, and understand that so many in our communities have never had these, and if certain powers have their way, will never have access to these advantages of simple decency and a safe, fear free existence from racially based discrimination. That is not a world I want to pass to my kids, and I hope it’s not one you would willfully choose to, for yours. I don’t feel we’re looking at a country where rights are given up or removed, but rather properly extended to everyone so that opportunity and basic safety is equalled amongst every one of us.
A great, quick read that I found useful, for those interested, is an article on “white anti-racism” from tolerance.org HERE.
I think articles like this can be a good jumping off point for discussion, inward exploration and ultimately greater understanding. It may seem aggressive, or unfair or uncomfortable to a white reader, when seeing these thoughts and feelings written out, painted on placards, or chanted at a rally, but I think the simplest takeaway can be, “exactly”. Imagine this being your reality, all day, every day, and then consider that people charged to uphold the laws of the land see you as lesser, and don’t often get reprimanded when they treat you as such. What I read in this article, and other articles or books like it, are people who’ve lived their entire lives being judged based solely on their race, gender or sexuality being governed by a second set of rules that many of us don’t have to abide by. I may have a different take away than you, or anyone else for that matter, but it’s where I choose to read this from and begin to try and understand. I have anger, frustration and sadness from many events and actions that don’t directly affect me, and I can only try to imagine how those events and actions affect those who are in the line of fire because I feel it’s time I, and many more of us need to.
Feeling somewhat helpless, the Mrs and I have always tried to find ways to do what we can, and teach our two young kids to see the world both optimistically, but also realistically. We are busy, at times we struggle financially and have our issues and challenges like anyone else. We have decided one small thing we can do is to aim to donate to organizations that we feel are well placed to help these communities in ways that we may not be able to. Some months we can, some months we can’t, but hopefully even a few measly dollars here and there can help. We’ve decided to bring back the donation program for Nauti Straps as well, because it’s an easy way for us to donate more, and for the foreseeable future, we will donate 10% of anything we sell to the NAACP. We’re still running our spring discount as well for those following Nauti Straps on the socials.
In the past, we’ve donated to many other organizations from the Rainbow Railroad to the White Helmets, The American Red Cross, to ALS Research, and I’m always interested in hearing from people about more worthy causes to support. I’ve always been partial, and have long donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center as well which I feel does important work.
While donations are appreciated, I’m sure, the real changes I feel that we need to aim for, are in our support for communities and causes we see to be important. Simple human decency, understanding and support will never go out of style, so find ways to be an ally to someone who may not have your platform, but as I’ve begun learning, listening and understanding is a very important step to start on.
Be safe, do good and hopefully you and those you hold dear are well.