Confederate history. Sacred Navajo symbols. Spanish colonial statues. And fookin’ pancake syrup.
We condone and reward revisionist bellyaching as our heritage and history is sanitized to remove unsavory reminders of the evolution of our country. It’s forced racial insensitivity shaming that has so many of us so afraid to be called out as hateful racists just for speaking from our hearts. This silence is borne of contrived, purposeful bullying, and so many of us stay held back lamenting “What the hell is going on?” under our breath, for no one wants to be accused of a hatecrime because our social conscience knows how PC Gone Wild is dismantling every form and function of Americam culture.
What makes this shadowy game so difficult to navigate is there is no standard on which to identify definitively what is racism and who is a racist. I remember playing tag in 1st grade with a boy named Bobby. We all agreed if you could get your hand on the tetherball pole you would be “safe” for a count of ten, unable to be tagged. With Bobby, if he sat on the ground, he was “safe” from being tagged. If he could make it to the four square court, he was “safe” from being tagged. If he could call “time out” just before being tagged, he was “safe” from being tagged. What this meant is Bobby’s constant updating of the rules guaranteed he could never lose. And because he would uncontrolably bawl to the playground monitor if ever called out on his make-it-up-as-you-go playbook, and because we’d get scolded by the playground monitor for being mean to Bobby, and because we were forced to miss the next recess for being mean to Bobby, we never challenged Bobby’s self-beneficial tactic. And if we said we didn’t want to play tag with Bobby anymore? He’d cry to the playground monitor once again for being mean once again and we’d miss another recess.
Here is a modern parallel:
“I don’t like what you’re saying.”
“I’m sorry you feel this way. What I’m saying is not racially motivated.”
“I don’t like what you’re saying. I’m offended. Shut up.”
“No. Because Constitution.”
“Because hatespeech. Now everything you say is racially motivated.”
This is how First Amendment guarantees are circumvented, rejected, and invalidated. It’s manipulative and dishonest, and so long as media and politicians support and encourage this engineered fallacy, lamenting under our breath is our only recourse. Concerned Americans are scared to call “bullshit” because we are now conditioned to agree hurting someone’s feelings is the same as burning a cross on the front lawn or shipping small pox infected blankets west during a particilularly painfully frigid and fatally desperate winter.
Bobby cried and got his way.
We didn’t want to be seen as mean.
We didn’t want to be punished for being accused of meanness.
And even though we were not mean and we were not motivated by meanness, we never spoke up again.
This morning the top-ranked KRQE news story is about a petition for removing the sacred Dine whirling logs symbol from the facade of the historic and culturally inclusive KiMo Theater in Downtown Albuquerque. In the late 1930s and early 1940s the Nazi Party of Germany hijacked a similar image as the symbol of hate and intolerance. Now, as their attempt at retrograde hatecrime, a true hategroup is accusing the Dine of being Nazis. Never mind that the KiMo completed construction in 1927, more than a decade before the rise of the Nazi Party.
The Dine whirling logs symbol represents the powerful message of humanity and life, not the hatred of genocidal facism. And while forced underground in a 1942 ceremony in Tucson, Arizona, the Dine continue to use the whirling logs in healing ceremonies to this day.
Think. Really think. Why is this ignorant and uneducated petition possible without being challenged? If this hategroup is hanging their entire racist argument on the similarity of two completely contradictory symbols, should they not be held accountable for understanding the crucial difference? Instead, we have media sensationalized promotion of a protest led by fools who slept through New Mexico Cultural Competency in 7th grade. This hategroup is condemning the Navajo people as racists. Think. Really think.
And consider asking any surviving Code Talker how they feel about being accused of racism, and why they are being accused of racism.
The George Floyd Tragedy is just that: A tragedy.
It’s not a call to destroy property and demand removal of sacred Native American culture from public view. And it’s definitely not an excuse for violence to bring about a nebulous social change.
That is not what the life of George Floyd represents.
What rankles me about this tragedy – and what honestly strains my social conscience – is what happened in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, is being elevated to the same lauded civil rights importance as what happened in Memphis on April 4, 1968. I’m very certain there isn’t an autobiography entitled “A Narrative of the Life of George Floyd, an American Civil Rights Activist” published before his murder. That George Floyd is black and Derek Chauvin is white is incidental, and making it it about white racism is the perfect Get Out of Jail Free card for Chauvin by charging him with First Degree Murder. And yet Floyd is now the symbol of ongoing systemic failings rather than the victim of an out of control cop who does not honor and respect human life. Derek Chauvin is filth in uniform. And, the life of George Floyd, an American citizen, is being robbed of reverence by being portrayed as something it’s not.
Don’t delude yourself thinking the protests and riots of June 2020 are righteously guided by law enforcement use-of-force reform and social justice. It’s been three weeks since the murder of George Floyd and I’ve yet to hear of any intent to sit at the table and begin moving towards understanding and healing. This feels less like justice and more like just desserts.
To ignore that America’s closet is littered with hateful intolerant skeletons is the epitome of naive. We had a nation-consuming Civil War to combat one of the mightier skeletons. And social injustice has led to many reforms and revisions to our Constitution, littered by amendents designed to right past wrongs.
But to tear down statues, deface monuments, and bully away symbology is also an epitome. This is the epitome of failing to understand attempting to erase our history, violently so, will not bring about the sort of cultural course correction our nation has adopted throughout the same messy history under generalized scrutiny.
And using the cruel death of one honorable man at the knee of another dishonorable man is a morally dishonest exaggerstion bringing attention to social injustice in a very overt yet underhanded way.
George Floyd – and for that matter any American – deserves better than to be taken advantage of like this.
And no American should be scared to say what I just said.
If you’ve made it this far and are infuriated, ask yourself why you are furious. I’m not an uneducated bigot. Everyone has value and has something to offer the world. I’ve always believed this to be true. I’m not blind to social inequality. Ten years ago I traded an entire professional life of geology to focus my energies and empathies for helping people with mental illness (I have bipolar and CPTSD). The State of New Mexico honored me with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Behavioral Health Innovation for my mostly volunteer efforts. And I’m not a recipient of fabled White Privilege any more than President Obama is a recipient of White Privilege (this makes sense). In today’s COVID-19 tempest, it’s unpopular for me to be proud of my Chinese values and heritage. I am proud to be my mother’s son. And being the first generation of my Chinese family born in America, I’m also proud to contribute my upbringing and values to what honors America:
Diversity and Understanding.
Every day there is new media spin and new ways to be accused of intolerance and new fabricated condemnations to be vilified into silence.
None of that applies to me so don’t paw at me with dirty guilt not mine to own. I know who I am and no one defines who I am and I won’t be artificially shamed into being something I’m not.
And I’m not alone. Those of like mind are invited and encouraged to transcend the racist falsehood and halt the shouted-down insistance on stiffling our voice from speaking what is true in our heart
Humble dissent is not racism.
When one part of our society pushes and nothing pushes back, this is a poisoness seed from which to grow intolerance and tryanny. Our history bears this out.
This is my voice.
If you weren’t furious before, I’ll wager you’re seething now. Not because I’m wrong. It’s because I’m making good points that can’t be casually pushed aside as ignorant and hateful.