I love how Foxnews and the like are talking about Dr. Seuss in their ongoing segment, “Libs are trying to destroy America – Endless Culture War edition.” Frankly, the recent news is a gift to radical right wing media. They can’t get enough of the outrage.
But I don’t really want to talk about that, I guess. It’s sort of the context, but I really want to talk about the great white middle class, those with whom Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was so impatient.
Why is it taking so long for us? Why is realizing that society is deeply racist and has been built that way for centuries rolling along in such slow motion? Yes, the arc of the moral universe is long and it does bend toward justice. But why so long, and why is the arc so gentle?
I reflect on my own journey of understanding and the increasing granularity of my own personal discoveries of racist things. I personally wouldn’t have found Dr. Seuss racist growing up. Haha, look at the funny characters. That’s what Chinese people are. Look at the interesting African tribal guys. Oh, that’s what Africans look like. My personal journey didn’t get me very far, because it’s a feedback loop of normality.
Why is your favorite dish something your mom made?
As time has gone on, I, like a lot of other normative white folks, have awakened to the realization that black people and Asians don’t like being portrayed like that, that stereotypes are bad. They would never draw themselves like that or portray themselves like that.
I get it. Now let me continue to take myself on my personal journey toward woke-ness. Bravo. Please let me pat myself on my woke-ass back.
Bah! It’s this personal journey bullshit that’s making it take so long!
But here’s the thing – there’s a shortcut.
Psst. They have been telling us for decades, and sometimes for even hundreds of years.
All we had to do was listen.
When people tell you what you said was hurtful, believe them.
When people tell you a depiction is racist and hurtful, believe them.
When people tell you that police profile and harass them, believe them.
When people tell you their city’s water is full of lead, believe them.
When people tell you they have experienced sexual harassment/assault in public and in their workplaces, believe them.
When people tell you they hurt, believe them.
Really, it boils down to – believe people when they tell you things they experience and don’t filter their words through your own completely different experiences.