Tuesday, January 27, 2009

She is Tired

“I’m not reading the book.” My wife said.

I wasn’t quite sure why. She is not always the best at finishing the books for her monthly book club but outright refusal is something new, unless its science fiction. This month was a book about some guy who grew up in the hood and then got into an Ivy League school. I asked her why she wasn’t reading it.

“I’m tired of talking about race with a bunch of white people.”

We have been here before. We have lived in all white places. We have socialized in predominantly white circles. Every time, it gets tiring for her.

It has nothing to do with any of the individual people really, there is no one to point a finger at, it’s more like everything.
Its watching and listening to a bunch of people talk and discuss the issues of a group they don’t belong too and don’t really understand. It is not fielding questions on the subject, but being used as a yard stick with which to measure that other group. It is assumptions that she isn’t really like the rest of her group, doesn’t really belong to “them”, or even possibly just the opposite.
It gets old, it gets tiring, and sometimes the things you learn about others in these discussions, you wish you didn’t.

I don’t get tired, I get worried.

I get worried for her; I want her to be happy.
I continue to talk about these things but more often when she isn’t around. I continue to talk because these things need to be talked about. Someone who has very informed opinions recently said in a blog post that talking about race doesn’t help.
I would counter by asking if not talking about race has ever helped?
When has silence on the subject ever made the problems go away?

I get worried because I fear people will stop listening because they get tired of my voice. How long can someone listen to the same note played over and over again? How many ways can I think to play this one note and keep it interesting?
I worry people will ignore what I say, writing me off as a zealot. I worry people think the issues really aren’t that important and I have simply chosen one issue to harp on and blown it out of proportion. I worry that if I focus too sharply I will lose perspective.

I worry that if I shut up, my children will be more likely to have to fight the issues I shy away from. Of course I can’t fix the world, nor can anyone fix it by the time my children become more aware, but as a father I feel I have to try. I have to set an example.

I don’t fault my wife for being tired. I think she should give it a rest, she is enlisted in this fight whether she wants to be or not. She deserves all my patience and care.

I have no patience for white people who are tired of this fight. We tend to get tired of it far too quickly, usually before it really gets going. We tire because we think it is someone else’s fight. We tire because if we ignore it, it usually ignores us. We ignore the fact that black people don’t have this luxury. Not only do we ignore it but we tend to resent their attempts to do so, disparaging all black colleges or groups, or lunch tables. We tire because we think the fight is rigged against us.

It is not.

She should be able to rest, that is why I cannot.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sandy, Utah

I lived in the same house from birth to age 19. I haven't been to my home town, or even home state, in almost seven years. I'm thinking of taking a trip.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Black Horror Movie.

There are two routes around the block to get to my home. As we were coming home the other night, we saw up ahead, approximately 10 police cars all pulled into a small residential intersection, lights flashing. Now this is not a heavily trafficked block so the likelihood that this was an auto accident was nil.

It was in the direction of one of the usual routes home, so naturally I said, "Wow look at that! That's only a block away," and began turning toward the commotion.

My wife stopped me, looked me in the eye, and quite seriously said, "from now on you are living in a black horror movie. You know, the kind where the characters actually run AWAY from danger."

We took the alternate route home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Drawings Done On Location

Lookout Butte, Idaho (outside Kooskia)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Do racist ideas make one a racist?

Do racist ideas make one a racist?

I suppose it depends on how you define racist.

Before I go into this, let me do something…

[Writer gets down on knees]

My dear black readers, or any black person who has an interest in closing the racial gap in this country, please, PLEASE, take the card with the word RACIST on it and tuck it into your back pocket. You know the one; it has an arrow pointing to whomever you flash it at. Don’t get rid of it just sit on it for a bit.


The word racist is too singular, too final. It is a brand that many white people see as the end of the conversation. Society has succeeded in making being a racist so bad that once that accusation has been made, you have been excluded from having any further opinions and therefore need no longer participate in the discussion.

Quite honestly, I see the premature and too frequent pulling of this card as one of the singular biggest obstacles to real discussions on race relations, and the progress such discussions can foster.

“Why shouldn’t I call a racist a racist?” you may ask. “How is that hurting progress?”

Because it is possible to just be a little bit racist. It is not like being pregnant; it’s not all or nothing. The word does not allow for gradients and therefore should only be pulled when all doubt has been removed and the racist has completely lifted the bed sheet and been exposed in entirety. Keep in mind that to end racism, or simply make a little progress, white people will have to go along. Smacking around potential allies is not helpful.

[Writer stands back up]

Now that we took care of that, let’s address the question. The answer is maybe.
Many may have heard someone, while defending a charged statement, state that they have a black/white friend, so are therefore not racist. Most black people I know when encountering this argument would hit the B.S. button and immediately assume you aren’t real friends (true story; many, MANY, slave owners were honestly and deeply surprised when slaves abandoned them at the first sign of the northern army. They thought the slaves loved them).

During the early years of our marriage, my wife and I lived in an area where most people had never had the opportunity to get to know a black person. It was very sobering when my wife expressed to me her concern that one day one of these new white friends would say something ridiculous and then refer to their relationship with her in their own defense. This concern caused her to hold back opinions and expression till she not only liked someone but deeply trusted them. It takes a lot of time and effort to trust someone from a group that has historically proven unworthy of trust.

I understand the mindset at the root of this “defense” and wish to address it in my proposition that racist ideas do NOT make one a racist.

In the mind of most white people being a racist means that very simply you do not like black people or see them as bad. You may argue all sorts of societal or systemic issues dealing with power and what racism really is and where it comes from, but still, in the mind of most all whites it really is that simple… racist means you hate black people.

With that definition in mind, white people enter the world of race relations. This white person gets to know, and like, maybe even love, a black person and feels personally liberated and educated. They honestly like a black person and therefore know they are not a racist. They know their own feelings, despite what anyone else argues, and from there begin to build a foundation on the idea that they are not racist, which in their mind and hearts cannot be argued with.

This person may know nothing about history, sociology, culture, whatever. They may hold ideas regarding race and it’s surrounding issues that are on their surface racist. They may be a personality type that loudly expresses themselves with an air of authority… a type I find aggravating at best and autobiographical at worst.

This is the person that can be reached. This is the person worth reaching out too.
This may also be a person who thinks all rap is Gangsta and that backwards ballcaps are a sure sign of criminal intent. This person can be reached, or rather educated.

This person MUST be reached. Progress is possible and to move forward we, both black and white, must take the time to see where the other is coming from. Pointing a finger and slapping the bigot label on someone who is simply inexperienced and uneducated is the fastest way to create a passive bystander at best, and an actual racist a worst.

In closing;
[Writer gets back down on knees, hands folded in pleading submission]

“White people… Shut up for a minute and stop trying to defend yourself. You can be wrong in some areas and still be a good person. Admit you might be wrong, accept you may not be the expert, accept that black people may not trust or even like you, and stop defending yourself long enough to hear what black people are saying.
Guess what, saying black people are more racist than white people is a sweeping generalization and in and of itself a racist comment, so don’t say it.
Please white people, my people, stop thinking it is about you personally and really try to understand the big picture. Be willing to talk about race without assuming you are on trial. You are not.
Let’s just be reasonable.”

Being wrong about race does not make you a racist, but if not properly dealt with can create one.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Hey SEC...what happened?