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Guest Blogger: Mr. Houseful Talks Race Relations

Hello there HoNey’s! Today we’re going to get a little bit serious with a guest post from Mr. Houseful himself. It looks like he is going to grace us with his presence at least once each year. In light of all of the tension surrounding so many cases here in the United States and the world, he wants to ask us a couple of questions.

I try to stay away from talk of the things that divide us when speaking to most people.  I leave race and socioeconomic differences out of the vast majority of my Facebook posts or discussions with friends.  I try to place myself in the point of view of others whenever discussing a particularly blood boiling subject (Much to the aggravation of those that know me best).  I can always see why someone may have come to the conclusion they have; whether it be misguided or not.

“So why are you writing this now?”, you ask.  Well, part of me has been promising my wife a blog post for quite a while, part of me has been feeling this way for some time now and wants to share, and part of me can’t sleep(more accurately ‘was sleep’, but woke to these thoughts) and can’t shake them.  For whatever reason, I feel the need to share this with you now.  Disclaimer: this is in no way meant to offend, upset, alienate, blame, isolate, exclude, or insert guilt-ridden synonym here anyone or any group.

We’ve all read, overheard, been privy to and involved in conversations about why the world is the way it is, or why the state of race relations in this country aren’t better.  There are people who will come in with statistics and beat the podium with their fists insisting that this element is the cause or that situation “y” is to blame.  So I won’t bore you with statistical data.  I won’t bog this post down with useless minutiae that, in vain, attempt to uncover some sad fact or underlying truth that, in the end, manages to gloss over the real heart of the matter.  I’ll simply write from experience, and give you my point of view as I know it to be true.  This is the first problem with these discussions.  We grab facts and try to discredit reality.  It’s been my experience that the two seem to contradict.  I can’t truly prove to you that something intangible is happening and then try to pit that against your tangible data.  My examples become open to interpretation, and their impact diminished over time.

The truth is we don’t live in a post racial America.  The truth is there is a divide between experiences in this country.  There is a point where our shared circumstance ceases to be shared, and reality for me becomes a different reality for others.  The truth is we haven’t treated some groups in this country as well as others for a multitude of reasons.  I can only speak from an African-American’s point of view, but I’ve noticed injustices across the board.  Don’t get me wrong, tons of progress has been made.  I don’t believe you’ll find many that will argue against that.  However, where progress has flourished, subtle racism has also flourished; to the point that it is difficult to prove or point out with absolution.  It’s so subtle that I find myself 2nd guessing it when I experience it even though my “spidey senses” are tingling.  What’s harder to realize is that most people committing these subtleties aren’t themselves always aware that they’re doing it.  Here in lies the point of this post.

Racism, racial bias, socio-economic prejudices are all systemic; which is to say they are built in; which is to say they are by nature subconscious.  Don’t believe me?  There is a reason a journalist would say that a hoodie on “especially” a black or latino child evokes fear.  The implication is that this same hoodie on a white child is less offensive; easier to swallow.  There is a reason that missing minority children don’t get the news coverage that their counterparts do.  There is a reason that if I said “inner city”, there are 2 racial groups we picture more than anyone else. (To which some learned individual would probably say “but it’s true”.  To which I would say “great observation… but why is it true”.  To which they would probably try to grab some statistical data on crime rates and drop-out rates and teen pregnancies, and… To which they would have missed the point.)  There is a reason that the line delivered by Matthew McConaughey in “A Time to Kill” hits us right between the heart and soul, “I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she’s white.”  It made me feel guilty.  Not because there may have been an extra pang for innocent “this” girl over innocent “that” girl, but because I honestly had no idea that it existed in me.  There is a reason for all of this, but none of it is in our face or easy to spot.  It’s in the recesses of our minds.  It transcends barriers.  It’s shared by us all.  So the question is how do we fix it?

Honestly… I don’t know.  The first step is to acknowledge it, to not be ambivalent to it.  Ambivalence is probably as worse as support for it.  Not to say that I don’t understand that point of view.  Hey… I’m just trying to live and survive just like the next man.  I don’t need any extra added pressure or stress.  I get it.  But at some point it becomes a refusal to acknowledge, and that is the problem.  Fixing an issue like this that’s so deeply rooted and interwoven into our nations fabric is not simple.  How do you tell a group that some pieces of paper signed by the president are supposed to erase 400 years of psychological trauma?  There’s a reason there is apathy regarding race everywhere. Sooner or later we give up trying to be the change we want to see.  It’s hard enough getting ourselves on track, but to then try to convince millions of others to do the same?  Almost impossible!  So… how do we fix it?  That can be answered with another question.  How do we change the psychology of a nation?  You answer that, and you’ve figured it out!

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Saturday 7th of April 2012

You hit the nail right on the head Sir: " Sooner or later we give up trying to be the change we want to see." This is so very true, and for me, the question is, "why?" Maybe because we don't see the change happening at the pace or in the way that we want it to. Or maybe people feel as if every time there seems to be 1 step made forward towards change, an experience happens that knocks that progress 3 steps back. --I don't know. And you're right, it is very hard--and it's even harder when you're trying to raise children in this world that we live in. It's very challenging and sometimes even stressful--to try to explain to them what they see happening around them, or even worse, to comfort them on their own personal experiences.

I applaud you for this post.

Mr. Nicholes

Monday 9th of April 2012

I appreciate the comment, and thank you for appreciating the purpose of the post. I think that apathy is a large contributor to the reason we (universal) give up trying. The truth is that it is hard. It's hard to stay energized or encouraged or strong. After a while you justifiably need a break, and so does everyone else around you. Raising children is another post in and of itself. The problem isn't simply talking about certain issues, but without experiences of their own, how do we really get them to appreciate the opportunities or recognize when their in a "sticky" situation? Thanks for the comment!


Wednesday 4th of April 2012

"The truth is we don’t live in a post racial America. The truth is there is a divide between experiences in this country. There is a point where our shared circumstance ceases to be shared, and reality for me becomes a different reality for others. "

That is exactly what I think as well. We wish it was but we're not there yet by any means. After the Trayvon incident I found myself wondering if the baby boy in my stomach would have a lighter or darker skin tone and how that would affect his day to day life. I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I did think it and it shows how our experiences do diverge at some point whether we like it or not.

"How do we change the psychology of a nation?"

That is a loaded questions, but my only thought would be to affect change in those who we are raising and those who we are influencing. I also think something can be said for being less easily offended and more easily prone toward educating and answering questions. No need to be up in arms when someone is just plain ignorant. Explain ... or better yet just BE ... and then move on.

Great post Mr. N :)

Mr. Nicholes

Monday 9th of April 2012

Ha! Agreed! It's a loaded question indeed! I think your approach is spot on. Actually accepting that sometimes some people will not say the right things. Some people just don't know, and the wrong reaction to an already touchy subject matter can have disastrous consequences. Raising our children correctly is the key, but as I stated in a reply earlier, it's hard to know that what we teach will hit the mark. We've got to continue to lead by example not matter what, and hope that sooner or later, the rest will catch on. Here's to hoping! :)

Beth Meyer

Wednesday 4th of April 2012

We start only where we have control - our own little world. We start with our children. When I was growing up and would bring home tales from school about "She is Russian, he is Jewish, she is Spanish, he is Black," my mother would tell me that actually, I had a long ago relative that was Russian, Jewish, Spanish, Black. So when I came home and repeated the vile comments, I was talking about my own self, my brothers, my mother and father. Made me think. Helped me to follow the golden rule.

Mr. Nicholes

Monday 9th of April 2012

I actually love the approach your parents took. Fast forward a few decades and there are a ton of mix raced families to use as real examples. If we'd all embrace the golden rule, we'd definitely be better off. However, life can leave us jaded. This can make it harder to embrace others especially when we "feel" we have nothing in common. Thanks for the comment.

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