I have a Tao book at work that helps me get through the day. I came across this quote, “Wise people seek solutions; The ignorant only cast blame.” It changed my work life. I would listen to all of the complaints of my coworkers, but I noticed they never had solutions. I wrote the Tao quote on the board in my office and the complaints have diminished and the solutions have increased.
I have a friend who is a Lutheran in Minnesota. We talk about how to bridge the racist gap. Everyone has a streak in them. I am guilty of using an Asian voice when driving by a Chinese restaurant. I take on a Southern accent when I want to say something ignorant. I will speak in an effeminate tone when I feel something is weak.
My Lutheran friend tells me that when he is walking in the Mall of America and sees a group of black kids wearing sports team paraphernalia walking towards him, he moves his family to the other side of the walk way. I for sure would do the same thing if I saw Duck Dynasty coming towards me with their camouflage, guns, and knives latched to their sides. I don’t understand them. I feel like they all want to kill me. So I stay away and cast blame. I blame them for the president we have. I blame them for the wall they want to build. I blame them for the strange fruit that hung from the Southern trees.
I look around my mother’s home and see the pictures of family. There is a 10x10 picture of me in 8th grade. I see the Virgin Mary statue on the top shelf of her home entertainment stand. You can tell everything about my mother by what she has on these stands. It is what she holds as sacred. Does Duck Dynasty have similar pictures and relics on their entertainment stands? Does the mothers of the sports team jerseys black youth have baby pictures of them hanging from the hall that leads towards there bedrooms? Or is everyone eating their young in the living rooms? I don’t know.
That is the question and the answer all wrapped up in the conundrum. I DON’T KNOW!
I have never been in a Black home. The closest I came was when I was passing out flyers for my school. I was in a driveway being told that I had to talk to the woman of the house before I talked with anyone else. The woman was the grandmother of everyone sitting there. I learned something by being in that drive way. I loved it. I cannot imagine what I would learn if I got to enter the house for a meal.
I am married to a white woman who came from affluent family. I will never forget the first time I went to her house. I walked into one of the nicest homes I had ever been in. I remember as I walked in, I stayed close to the walls so I would not be attacked from behind. I had no basis to think that, but ignorance did not let me trust them. They welcomed me. I did not see anyone eating their young.
I write a lot about the ignorant people that I have encountered in my life and I will not stop. But I am just as ignorant.
I want to eat at a Duck Dynasty home. As I write that sentence, I can feel my stomach turning with fear. I imagine the guns and riffles hanging from the walls. I imaging the animal heads and a couple of Black and Latino heads on the walls. But there is only one way to know.
Come eat at my tree hugging, divorced blended family, strongly opinionated, latino/white house. We might just have to agree to disagree, but we will have a good meal. And we will come to your home when invited. I have to be bold to stop this ignorance. The thought crosses my mind that there might be people who do not want me in their homes. But I can be the first to extend the olive branch. Meeting at the Olive Garden does nothing. Olive Garden is too safe. Nobody is risking anything.
I personally will invite anyone to go with me to a Black march, a Latino protest, and Woman walk. I’ve never been to any of those marches. I have gone to a gay pride march and I will go again, come. Invite me to your cause, I want to be educated. I don’t know what will happen but I have always told people to question your literal or metaphoric religion. But have an open mind, you might see that we are more similar than different. And our similarities could be what is ugly in us.
My wife asked me, “What is the end goal?” What is my end goal to my writing and what I do? Exposure and educating. I want to tell the world what it has been like being me in the world and I want to understand what it is like being you. I want to be wise, not ignorant.