The year is 2013, and America has yet to near the kind of societal harmony Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of 50 years ago. It seems that with each new scoop-of-the-week the narrative inevitably becomes, “Why does America hate us so much?”
Whether it’s the black community, the gay community, women, or the even the newfound white Hispanics. When cats evolve to the point of language capabilities, I am sure they have their own feelings to communicate about being the most disenfranchised group in America.
I do not mean to say that hatred for certain groups is completely fabricated because that brand of loathing is certainly real. But I am beginning to think some people want to see that kind of hatred when it really is not there.
It occurred to me sometime around seeing the inquiry, “Was Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance racist?” for the fifth time the morning after, and one could not help but to ponder if maybe this country is headed in the wrong direction in many areas.
When did it become so easy to label something so silly and insignificant something so hateful? Can we have two people of different skin tones on a stage at the same time without bringing up their race? Is that not exactly what we strive for? (Also, what is music today? Was there even an instrument on the stage at any point during the Video Music Awards? Really, all I took away from the whole night was that you do not have to possess a shred of talent to be relevant anymore. “Hey, can you wear outrageous outfits that constantly remind us that you possess a human body? Can you dance? Eh, that’s okay, you’ll fake it! Let’s get you in the studio today!”)
Frankly, I find it disheartening that the conversation on race that this country “must have now” cannot be as simple as:
We are all of the human race, treat each other accordingly.
I fancy myself to be a realist, and as such, do not foresee a day when we all just love each other to bits gratuitously and we live in a big community where there is no money; there is no stealing and no tears, only love.
Jesus seems like he was a really great guy and he had a lot of solid points, but loving everyone was one that I never fully grasped. Of course I try to be polite and I go into everything with an open mind, but the reality is that I do not love everyone. Or even most people for that matter.
For instance, I will never, ever love Taylor Swift. I will never even like her. If we were ever to meet I am not sure I could so much as muster a fake smile. We get it, Swift.
You date boys and so far nothing has worked out; please stop shoving it down my ear canals and find a lower pitch. When her voice comes on the radio it triggers in me an animalistic rage that only her twang thus far has been able to.
That is human nature, though. Some people we like and others we do not. My hate for Taylor is not remotely based on her being white, on her being a woman, or because of her sexual orientation. And so in my distaste, all I am doing is treating her like a person. I gave her a chance to show me who she is and what she is about, and when she decided to write a song about being 22, an age that has no significance no matter how hard you search for it, I decided, “Taylor Swift, you are not for me.”
I think Jesus would understand, especially if He heard that song.
That all seems fair enough. But… Taylor Swift is a young, straight, white girl like me; I can hate her with everything I have and no one will blink an eye. However, if I were to write a similar paragraph and I was discussing Rihanna instead of T-Swift, I have no doubt that accusations of racism would pour in.
It is 2013 but it is still not possible that I dislike Rihanna simply because all of her songs are the same bored-sounding thing and she tries far too hard to make diamond metaphors sound profound. Nope, I am white and she is black and that is that.
The problem does not fully lie within disliking each other. The problem is labeling how one dislikes. When we distinguish different types of hate from one another, we are inherently conceding the point that there are differences among our groups, even going so far as to imply that to hate one way is more detestable than another.
The truth is, prejudice is never going to go away. I know I myself am guilty of prejudging people every day. I see a millennial guy wearing wayfarer sunglasses and a backwards snapback with his long hair flipping out from underneath it and I assume that in between tightening his skateboard bearings and quoting Will Ferrell movies, he just likes to “chill” with girls because “you’re really cool, like way cooler than most girls” but he knows he “will just end up hurting you.”
Then I think about how he probably mocks Justin Bieber every chance he gets and calls him “gay” or, if he is a real wit, a “lesbian” (Get it? ‘Cause then Justin’s a girl, too!), yet this bro looks like he tries so hard to channel everything that Justin Bieber is about, every waking moment of his life. So now this guy is a flaming hypocrite on top of being really lame and even a little homophobic.
Is any of this true about the guy? I will never know because my prejudice got in the way of meeting someone new; instead I made up a boyfriend and left to “find my friend.” (But yes, it is all without a doubt true about this particular guy, a neon shirt that says “YOLO?” You have to be the worst.)
Realistically, we cannot all like each other.
But in my opinion, this country will have reached true equality when we can dislike one another for who we are without others inferring something more sinister.
We do not have to sing “Kumbaya” hand in hand to call ourselves equals; simply remaining tolerant of one another and holding the door for the person behind you seems like a more realistic goal, and in some ways, more honest.