Randy Marsh, father of one of the main characters, is frequently caught up in such lessons. The most jaw-dropping perhaps was when, as a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune,” he incorrectly guessed, with a certain-to-win gusto, the final clue to be the n-word. This summer has reminded me of that episode.
My two oldest daughters (a senior and sophomore in high school) came home one Sunday in May asking what I thought about “white privilege.” It proved a rather lively discussion since it was the first newsy topic they’d ever asked about. As fate would have it, George Floyd was killed the next day in Minneapolis.
As time has passed, I’ve been as dismayed by the fallout as anyone. It’s been difficult for me to process, much less express my thoughts. There have been subsequent, sometimes contentious exchanges between my daughters on one side, and their mother and I on the other.
My wife on the other hand, has simply listened to them. That is something I have set out to do with my black friends, a characterization I have always loathed. My friends are my friends regardless of race, but the situation being what it is, I’ve reached out to them directly.
I’ve arrived at roughly the same place I’ve always been.
If John, for example, refuses to acknowledge that “black lives matter,” that’s his problem. It’s also a problem for society since there are other “***holes” (to quote a friend) who share his attitude.
However, let’s say Mary comes along and firmly acknowledges that “black lives matter,” but proceeds to add on that “red/brown/yellow/white lives also matter.” If there’s still a problem it doesn’t reside within Mary, but rather within the person, say Bob, who insists she stop after the “black lives” recognition.
Bob has exposed himself as a bully intent on shutting down the full expression of Mary’s beliefs, which is affirming what doesn’t matter: skin color.
At one point this summer, my sophomore expressed a desire to make the KKK illegal (President Trump recently proposed designating them as a terrorist organization), to which one of my buddies joked “yeah, their last 100 members and their 100 teeth.” Can we instead leave behind the Johns and Bobs? Just let them stew in their own miserable existence, preferably for all to see.
The rest of us should move forward.
By the end of that “South Park” episode, the white boys admit to their black friend that they can’t relate to his feelings when the n-word is muttered.
White people don’t know what it’s like to be a black person, who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a yellow person, who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a red person, etc. etc. The most I can tell my girls is to live by example, respect who their friends/peers are regardless of their race.
Given the discourse in our house over the summer, and a view of their friends, they absorbed that lesson a long time ago.
If they feel strongly though, and comfortable enough, they should speak out. Then we can address our collective problems that make the ground fertile for such tensions.
We need to liberate parents’ ability to choose their children’s education. We have to realize that ‘free’ college, or at least greater public aid isn’t actually costless, whether the result is useless degrees, a more worthless dollar or greater expense to the taxpayer.
And once our kids become productive adults, we need to stop allowing politicians and bureaucrats to loot them with all manner of property and income taxes. This serves no other purpose than to produce wards of the state, to which our alleged “public servants” hold the key.
Perhaps most importantly though, is that fathers need to step up. I can attest personally to the reality of a broken marriage. However, when we decided to have kids (or did what was necessary to make it possible … ahem), we became locked into a duty to both them, and society as a whole.
Shortcomings in all these areas contribute to resentment in one demographic or another.
This is not at all to let police reform off the hook, like addressing what’s known as “qualified immunity.” I simply tend to explore root causes rather than waiting for symptoms to fester.
The whole “____ lives matter” has produced silly offshoots anyway. “Blue Lives Matter” comes to mind. If that’s a thing, then I’m one of the “black” lives that matters due to how much black I wear. In that same vein, my “Red, White and Blue” life matters.
For Americans, the latter should arguably take primacy anyway.