It's been a little more than a year since I last posted anything but today something which I posted about via social media not long ago reared its ugly head again. It got me thinking about related posts that perhaps have a better, and dare I say, more rational platform here, that I did not address the way I wanted to.
A while back on Facebook I posted about an incident involving an Hispanic woman I come into contact with occasionally. In my Facebook post, I related how she laughed at me when I mis-pronounced a Spanish word. I did my best to laugh at myself in that moment, and continued to make small talk with her, who I devoted more time than I should have, or that she deserved, to explaining to her why I don't speak Spanish. On my Facebook post I lamented that I was disappointed in myself that I gave her an explanation she clearly did not deserve or require.
Since then I have generally and sometimes more pointedly wondered why, as Hispanics are being so trodden upon in this country, particularly as it relates to issues of legal vs. illegal immigration that continue to target Hispanics with expedience, would this woman laugh at me and my poor Spanish-speaking skills, rather than try to help me, and champion my efforts.
Today I ran into this woman again. I have seen her a few times in passing since the first incident and I thought, well that was then and today is today. But unfortunately she had not forgotten that incident a while back and while greeting me in Spanish, she was already laughing before I could get my Spanish reply out, truly snickering at me when I responded in Spanish. Laughing in a pointedly haughty and condescending way, she shook her head slightly and rolled her eyes a bit, as if to say, 'Why do you bother trying? You are ridiculous, and you are a disappointment to Hispanics...but its funny for me so I am going to get my laughs.'
As recently as yesterday, I had someone on Facebook who responded to a post of mine involving a NAACP warning to people of color in Missouri, that the NAACP was likely just trying to 'gin up media coverage' for themselves. What this person who commented on my NAACP post did was no better than whatever the NAACP was warning against in Missouri, and no better than the woman who dismissed me because I don't speak Spanish.
Instead of focusing on imminent concerns the NAACP has for people of color, as part of an inspiring and long-standing mission to protect people who continue to be discriminated against and hurt and abused and racially profiled, this person dismissed the notice in my post as potential 'marketing'.
Now some people will read this and say I am probably overreacting to the woman's treatment of me, overreacting to the person who responded to my NAACP posting yesterday. To those of you who would also dismiss any of this....what's your story? What's your experience with racism, with prejudice, with social injustice however large or small? I won't be dismissive of your story, and I won't deign to say I understand or can appreciate it. I won't tell you you are likely just seeking attention, or try to commiserate by telling you my story and saying they are the same...cause guess what? They are not the same. I don't encounter the same prejudices you do. I don't want to. Mine are challenging enough on their own.
All I want to do is listen (i.e. read if you respond using this platform:).. I want to relieve you of the burden, even if only a little bit or for a moment, of that experience.
That is how change is effected...at least to me anyway. Laughing at someone, instead of encouraging their efforts, isn't going to get them to take those steps forward any faster than they currently are; dismissing a notice or warning or post related to racism because it seems nothing more than grandstanding and leveraging situations for (lack of a better word) greedy, exploitative purposes instead of really asking what might have led to that action, isn't going to solve the problem the notice or warning seeks to inform about.
Opinions rarely, if ever, solve anything.
If you have a story you want to share, I'm all ears (and eyes:) Until then....