I’m often referred to by my friends and loved ones as a Hippie. For the longest time, I argued this point because I like to shave my armpits, and I shower and use regular soaps. Sorry, but the natural stuff makes my hair oily, and smell weird, and I just like to look and feel clean. I don’t wear strange sandals, or handmade clothes, and I like to cover my grays… so I surely cannot be a Hippie. It’s a title I’ve often rejected.
I cannot deny that my mentality does come across that way quite a bit. I just promote love and kindness. I place value on life. I love people even when I don’t agree with them, and so on. I don’t really label it anything.
Still, I’ve passed a judgment on what it means to be a hippie, haven’t I? Because that’s what we think about when we hear the word. We see the VW van, and this longhaired, wild and free spirited warrior out to save the world from hate, and harsh detergents.
Yesterday, I posted this blog about being white in America. The goal was to shed some light on the fact that yes, I’m white, but I’ve not been very privileged. I suppose it was a frustration in trying to explain that being white had not really furthered my life in any real way. I subsequently took it down. Not because I was ashamed of what I had to say, but because I did not want to perpetuate an agenda of division or hate. I did not want my words to be construed as hurtful, or intolerant.
Consequently, A lady sent me a blog published by the Good Men Project that was something along the lines of explaining privilege to a broke white person. I had to laugh. See, the point of that wasn’t that I was poor when I was a kid, or to make excuses, or to argue about how I’m white and people need to stop assuming I’m privileged. Long story short: I was poor, lived in a single parent home, labeled, judged, went without a lot, we were evicted a lot, moved around a lot, I was not a top performer in school because I had been alienated to the point of not giving a fuck, and I had mostly just given up on the hopes that I could be more than what others said about me in my lifetime. My dad was accused of sexually abusing me several times (never happened), and other unfortunate things that come with being at the bottom of society. It seemed a daunting task to remove all of the labels that had been assigned to me while growing up. I’ve had to work hard to move away from that status in life.
So, privilege seems like a foreign idea to me. I can see it in my own children, for sure. It’s a frustrating thing watching them complain when they have so much, but this is the cycle isn’t it? Being labeled and judged because I’m white is a strange thing. I made the statement that I’m white and I cannot apologize for that, but I don’t believe anyone should have to apologize for who they are and where they come from. Some we’ll agree with, and others we won’t. Some will be good human beings, and others will not.
The article’s intention was to point out that I have been represented in this country. That “my people” had been more fairly represented. In movies, in commercials, in magazines, etc. I did understand that point if my people were just white people in general, but I’ve never really related to a lot of that stuff. A character I identified with most in mind and spirit was not white. The white people pictured in magazines, and put in films weren’t playing characters I could really understand, and they didn’t look like me aside from the fact that they are white. I could empathize with them, sure. Still, I didn’t view that as being represented, but I guess by skin color classification alone, I was. Maybe that is privilege.
“I get exhausted by all of the work that goes into relating on a mental level with some people”
I’ve long felt on the outskirts of life. I’ve not been represented in my government. I’ve been forced to societal laws, and rules, and things I didn’t vote for just like so many others. I don’t support hate, or hurting others, or being cruel. I do not want to continue to be associated with those beliefs just because I am white. I hope to see a lot of these things change in my lifetime, but I may not.
I don’t relate well to a lot of people. Probably because I do not understand why everything is about surface, and material, and things that really don’t matter much to me. I’ve adapted ways to relate to people around me, but I prefer the solitude of being at home. I get exhausted by all of the work that goes into relating on a mental level with some people. Even if I really love them. I’m not far superior, or more enlightened. I just do not get some of the bullshit of life.
To me, life is this simple thing that we as people complicate. Most of the time I cannot figure out what the purpose is. We do selfish things to people we claim to love. We get jealous of them and take something they have. We compete with each other off of the playing field over things we shouldn’t be competing over, and it makes me wonder how anyone can really be happy doing that their whole lives. Trying to one-up everyone around them. Trying to make everything look perfect. Or at the opposite end, choosing to be angry about some new thing every single day.
We’re here to love, and be kind, and accept the differences of those around us. We’re here to learn, and grow, and leave the world in better condition that we found it in. I do feel that we’re mostly making progress, but there have been hang-ups along the way. There usually always are.
So, a friend recently made a comment about “white” people, and it got me thinking that this person was a friend that still viewed white people as all being one thing. Despite the fact that he is friends with my husband and I, and knows that we do not even remotely fit into that generalized category of “white racist”. Far from it, actually, but he still made a generalization that struck me as odd. Surely, he couldn’t believe that all white people were that way, right? I’ve heard people say that all white people say they aren’t racist so they do not seem scared, or intimidated, or they look like they actually give a shit about picking a side in the fight, etc. but the fact is that I’m not scared or intimidated, I don’t want to fight about anything, and I’m not racist.
I don’t think people understand what racism really means anyway, much less how people should be classified by race. Black isn’t a race. White isn’t a race. Brown isn’t a race. Skin color is merely one identifying trait in a race of people. This is just an argument I’ve not really wanted to engage in. These are the facts, take it or leave it.
I get the unfairness involved in discrimination, and the only real thing that separates me from a lot of the stories I’ve heard about judgement, mistreatment, harassment, and struggle among other people, is that I’m not always the same skin tone. The difficult thing for me to get beyond is that when I look at someone, or speak to someone, or read their words, or watch a video blog…I do not take into consideration their color first. I have no special reason, I’ve just always loved the human spirit. I like being around people that can teach me something, and the last thing I usually consider about them is their skin color.
“…It seemed kind of pointless and stupid to sort my family and friends in this way…”
I’ve had this conversation quite a bit over the years because it does sound pretty unbelievable. Especially given the climate of the world we live in where everything seems to be about race and social status. But it’s true. Deciding how you feel about someone because of what they look like, or their religion, or sexual orientation, before you ever hear a word they say, or understand their story…that’s the kind of judgment I know, have felt, and been on the other side of. It’s something I decided I did not want to do to other people at a young age.
I was taught to be kind, respectful, and loving towards people. Not a specific, set group of people, not a certain skin color of people, not a specific religion of people…just be kind to people until you are given a good reason not to be. That reason has always been based off of the person’s character. Are they kind? Are they loving? Are they respectful? Are they loyal? Do they say good things about you when you are not around? Are they supportive of your dreams? Can you learn something meaningful from this person?
And none of those things had anything to do with what that person looked like on the outside. It had nothing to do with dark or light skin, skinny or fat, beautiful by societal standards or the ugly duckling. Some of the people I’ve been most attracted to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in life are not the societal standard of true outward perfection. But they are the kind of people I love being around because they make others feel good, and their minds are interesting, and they are kind.
I kind of hate the label of “white” race because no other race is labeled by a color on those application forms. If actual nationality and ethnicity, and racial factors were to be broken down for every person with white skin, that form would grow exponentially long. I get it. I do. I just think it has put a variety of races into one single classification that does not seem to carry any positive connotations anymore.
Some of my tribe are light skinned, but they’re technically not white at all. They’re Italian, and Mexican, German/Polish, and half of this or that…and I had to really think about what each one of my friends or family would be labeled because until last night, I had not really deeply thought about them in that way. What could I label my family members who are half “white”, and half Mexican? Others were easier to label because they weren’t “white”, but thinking about them in those terms was not something I had really done before then.
It actually felt really wrong to assign each of them a color and race. Aren’t we all half of something? Or maybe a quarter or less? The further I thought into my task, the more ridiculous I found it to be. None of them were really purely anything as far as race went. I don’t know. It seemed kind of pointless and stupid to sort my family and friends in this way. It made their heritage less of something to be proud of, and now a label to judge them by. Even at that, I couldn’t pick one exclusive label for any of us. Calico? Melting pot? What term could have even worked for this chore? The epitome of what has been happening to groups of people for decades, and centuries, and maybe since the dawn of all time.
That’s the thing about our society. We have to label everything. I honestly believe that is the cause for so much unrest, and unhappiness. To me, we’re just people. We’re either trying to be good people, or we’re people who are out there putting bad out into the world. Skin color does not make us a good or bad person. Skin color does not make us kind or hateful. Environment shapes those things. So, to judge someone immediately based on the color of skin…I don’t know, it seems like criteria that makes us all lose out on potentially great people in our lives.
However, I do know that there are still those people in the world that openly judge others in this way. I’m sensitive to that fact. I believe we are living in a world where that is changing, and progress is being made. It does not negate the fact that there are people out there that will judge by appearance, skin color, social status, etc.
I look at people and see a human. I don’t feel hate, or fear, or animosity towards them because they look different than I do. I want to know what they have to say. I want to see how they treat me, how they speak to me, how they look at me before I decide whether I like them or not. I want to be seen as a human, too. To minimize a person’s value based on what they look like outside is disappointing, but I don’t think we can help but judge people that way. It’s this engrained thing in human beings.
I’ve had conversations where the comment has been made that I must be a Trump supporter because I’m white and from the south. It’s inferred, or implied, or said outright depending on the individual situations, but I’ve had to laugh each time. This is also assumed because I did not vote for Hilary. Of course, Trump makes sense, right?
I laugh at these conversations and assumptions because I did not vote for either of them. I don’t believe either are extremely racist, but I do think they are sociopathic elitists that have no understanding of poor, or discrimination. As a result, both have said some very ignorant things. I feel this way about most politicians. Politics are big business that have very little to do with the people politicians are elected to represent anymore. Maybe it has always been this way.
What I voted for is much more criticized as far as I can tell, and that has brought quite a few laughs for me as well. You cannot imagine some of the judgmental looks and responses a person can receive just by saying they support a Libertarian agenda! Yep, I’m a live and let live kind of girl.
“Sometimes I wish we could all just sit at the same table, and talk about who we are, the important things in our day, the ideas we have floating around in our busy minds… without assigning labels. Maybe even with blindfolds on…”
At this point, I’m having to remind myself that the race discussion is just something that will hang around. Labeling is not something we have gotten past yet. The only thing I know to do is teach my kids to be kind, loving, and accepting of other’s differences while I set the example for them in my own actions, and I will.
Sometimes I wish we could all just sit at the same table, and talk about who we are, the important things in our day, the ideas we have floating around in our busy minds… without assigning labels. Maybe even with blindfolds on so that the initial judgments were only based on what we could hear from another human being. Maybe someday my grandkids will inherit a world that does not label people because of what they look like. For now, my hippie idealism is just going to have to stay tucked into the folds of my soul while I wait for people in this world to wake up.