The Government Is Making Me Racist

Let me break something down for y’all. Our government perpetuates racism. Yeah, I know that’s a bold statement. An opinionated one. And I am usually not one to be all opinionated. I am all about balance and fairness. As a Libra I own the blessing (curse?) of being able to understand both sides of most arguments. I recognize that there is a valid opposing argument to that statement. Um, no, I was not on the debate team. But I was fortunate enough to obtain an education which taught me that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That every argument requires opposition. That most things worth changing involve a lot of that, in fact.

Many of the points I’m about to make are really about media. But as most people are well aware by now, our media is controlled by the government. If you disagree with that, you are an effing ostrich. That could be a topic for another post. But rather than denigrating the media, I am going to the source. After all, there are plenty of journalists out there who are more interested in truth than spin. They just aren’t allowed to report it due to corporate political interests.

Racism is the inevitable result of stereotyping. This is something our media does very well. I would venture to say that it’s what our media is based on. People are lumped together based on one shared trait and judged based on that. There are some stereotypes that our entire population is pretty much on board with — fat people are lazy, rich kids are spoiled. If you’re on the outside looking into our country, why would you not think that Americans are a bunch of dumb, fat, materialistic narcissists? You would think that because that’s what the media shows the world. Sure, there are statistics that support the contention that, for example, Americans are “fat.” But not all of us are. And this is the definition of racism. Only racism isn’t a good enough word for it anymore, because there really is no “American” race. Except for Native Americans. And they have their own stereotypes about rain dancing and being drunks. Also supported by statistics.

Similarly, the media influences ideas within our nation about our friends and neighbors. I consider myself to be a very open-minded person, in general. I lock my car doors discreetly when I see someone standing at an intersection with a sign, regardless of their skin color. (That’s a joke.)  Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

But recently I was ashamed to admit to Coocatchoo that I had a racist moment in our building. There are two Arabic guys who live across the hall from me. I never really thought much about that, because I enjoy living in a multicultural neighborhood. I like the fact that I can smell aloo gobi cooking on one side and pad thai on the other. The strangest thing about those guys in my mind is that they live together in a small one-bedroom apartment and never seem to be at home. Then again, most of my neighbors never seem to be at home, except for me and Coocatchoo.

Lately I’ve noticed that the hallway, which is concrete, is sporting all these small pock marks. Like, all of a sudden. They’re about the size of a quarter. Definite holes. And they must have an odor, because the reason I noticed it was that Birdy kept sniffing them out. They are all located on THAT side of the hall. My wild imagination and media influencing told me that the most logical explanation was that my two possibly homosexual (whatever), quite professional looking Arabic neighbors were testing explosives.

I realize how ridiculous that sounds, and I felt awful when I had the thought. I felt awful when I told Coocatchoo that I had had the thought. I have absolutely no reason to distrust them as individuals, regardless of ethnicity. I’ve never gotten a bad vibe. And I think that’s important.

When crazy single middle aged white men go shoot up their local gym, their neighbors always say, “He was quiet. We never thought anything.” That is exactly why I try to pay attention to people and their energies. I think if those neighbors had really been more aware of their surroundings, they probably would have picked up on the fact that the guy had a weird/negative vibe. It’s all about awareness.

It’s also one reason I try to talk to people I think are weird. You never know if some lonely person will refrain from killing themselves or someone else because you took a minute to pay attention to them today. I know all too well what a difference one interaction can make to someone emotionally. Especially in the age we live in, of impersonal and distanced communication in this technologically advanced era. As someone who lives alone and spends a lot of time alone, I know how important that one cashier’s joke can be. Especially after a shitty day at work. So many people just feel so alone. And I think that’s what contributes to the crazy shoot ups. They have lost touch with other people to the point that they have lost the ability to feel empathy.

I trust no one. As we’ve seen (in the media), clean cut fratty college boys are just as likely to be crazy and kill someone in the lab as the guy in front of you at the gas station with one lens in his sunglasses who doesn’t know what kind of cigarettes he smokes.

As usual, I’ve diverged far from my title topic. As a creative writing major, titles were always the thing that gave me the most trouble. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you will know by now that I like to use it as an outlet for recording rambling thoughts. And hopefully that is why you continue to read it.

So, just to recap: we are all racist because our government, media, and culture support that behavior.  I would like to encourage you to get to know your neighbors as individuals, so we can all be less afraid of each other in general. If my gay Arabs were ever home, I would try to do the same thing and possibly try to figure out what it’s like to be a minority in more than one way. I would also encourage you to look at the people who pass by you, whether it’s once or multiple times a day. Really look at them. Make eye contact with them. Say hi. Have a conversation, even if it’s a short one. And don’t be automatically afraid if a stranger talks to you. Maybe they’re just trying to be friendly and connect with another human in a world where that is becoming increasingly more difficult.

The other day I was filling up my car with gas on my way to work. On the other side of the pump was a pickup truck and two guys in Army fatigues. One of them came over to ask me about my car and if I was happy with it. Said he was thinking about getting one like it. Initially, I wanted to ignore him. I put on “the face.” The face that single girls who live in the world alone put on to let people know that they are not to be fucked with. As I said, I have trust issues. If someone speaks to me, ever, I question why. What do you want from me? What are you trying to sell? What are you trying to convince me of?

What I really wanted to do was ask about the fatigues. Did they just get back from over there? What was it like? Do they live in the neighborhood? Do they know the young guy in my building who limps with the cane and scowls at everyone? Instead, I said some things about the Subaru and hoped he would go away soon. When he did, he smiled and said, “Didn’t mean to bother you. Hope you have a good day.” Immediately, I felt bad. Maybe he really had just gotten back and wanted to chit chat with someone normal.  I encourage that type of behavior, but I find it so difficult to exact.

Are we all so afraid of each other? Or is it just me?


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