Since I left Corporate America, I’ve had a nice rebirth in humanity. Less anger, more tolerance. Less impatience, more perspective. So, given those improvements in worldview, I feel I can see and say this statement clearly: Racism is stupid.
A digression about the word stupid for a moment…
I don’t care for the word much. It’s not as abhorrent to me as “hate”, but it’s a word I try to avoid when talking about people.
My Dad is further down the left side of politics than I am. But I love and thank him for my upbringing that included the belief we should do everything we can to help everyone. I’ve just spent so many years in financial analysis and forecasting, that I put a practical cap on that sacred trust.
During this past tumultuous year, my Dad has grown increasingly agitated over the current president. He bemoans the election results and the continued support for the president. He often calls his supporters stupid.
Now, even though I know he’s talking about their choice and not their intelligence, I still take issue with him. I firmly believe Mr. Trump’s supporters are not stupid. And while their inability to support him AND still call out when he behaves badly frustrates me, it doesn’t make me any less mindful of their reasons.
In point of fact, outside of a few major issues (and they are pretty strong disagreements), we are all pretty much on the same page. Life. Liberty. Pursuit of happiness. Most all of us, pro and con, don’t want anyone else hurt.
It’s just that Trump supporters believe they made the only choice available to them to finally see some action. If anything, that makes their decision smart (even if I believe the consequences are perhaps more divisive than they expected).
So, no, I don’t care to call people stupid. But things and concepts? Yup, those can be stupid.
End digression about the word stupid.
The reason racism is stupid is because it’s based on two dumb things. When an attitude is built on two dumb things, it ends up being pretty stupid. Here’s why…
I hear this too often in today’s world. It’s a sloppy and dangerous way of thinking. Even when I was an occasional creep during my Corporate America days, I stayed away from generality thinking.
Sadly, I have plenty of exposure from my own family on this, left and right. In fact, there were a couple of times, when my nieces were younger, I had some stern conversations with them about their attitudes.
There is no monolithic bloc of people on this 7-plus billion planet. You can just walk through your own neighborhood to see the individuality. “Whites” don’t think alike. “Blacks” don’t all decide the same thing. There are “liberals” and there are “liberals”.
Without pounding any further, the simple fact is that people think what they think more from economic and geographic position than by race or ethnicity. The true class divisions are not based on color, but on wealth and environment. And even within those structures, there are vast differences.
So, making a statement that all “X” believe “Y” or all “X” act “Z” is foolish, because it’s immediately false. No one group is stealing your jobs, committing all rapes or threatening our way of life.
Individual people do that. They choose to do that not because of their race or creed but because they made a decision based on their personal experience and environment.
Sadly, there is no “cure” for this noxious emotion. It’s an addiction. And like most addictions, it can only be solved by the person first admitting it exists.
Most people who hate viciously have already lost that perspective. They have lived so long with their hate they have rationalized it into their being. Those people are nearly lost.
Not entirely, because I think everyone, deep down, is still decent. But it’s awful tough to bring back someone who drives so far down the road of hate.
For most, though, hate is a localized thing, like a bad habit. It goes hand in hand with generalities, of course, because hate is lazy. It’s like an old pair of slippers; easy to slip into and tough to part with.
That hate is the more insidious kind. It’s the type that only shows up at specific times. The rest of the time the person may be the nicest and kindest and even most generous person around.
But it’s still the most awful emotion there is. It’s a word that I don’t even care to use because of its casual cost in today’s society.
Because, when you combine hate with generalities, you have a very short trip to racism. And, if given long enough, that racism can become embedded and rationalized in such a way that a person may no longer realize what it is.
Sometimes, the easiest person to fool is ourselves. And often the result of fooling ourselves is being a fool. Being foolish is nothing to be ashamed of. Being a fool can be.
Don’t think in generalities. Don’t give in to hate. Because they lead to a dark place called racism.
And racism is stupid.