Enough

I don’t like Donald Trump.

I don’t like Hillary Clinton, either.

This election was the worst. I know we say that after every election, amid jokes about having to choose the lesser of two evils, but this one went to an extreme that I hope to never see again in my lifetime. I vowed not to discuss politics on social media or here on my blog, and I’ve done my best to uphold that vow.

So this isn’t about politics.

It’s about something I saw on Facebook early this morning, posted by a man I have always respected. Until now.

Let me just go back for a minute and say that I think it is ridiculous to end friendships over differing political beliefs. So what if you liked Bernie or you voted for Trump or you thought Hillary was your personal savior? Big deal. I don’t care. Different strokes for different folks and all that stuff. I may think you’re an idiot from time to time, but you’ll probably think the same of me once in a while too. Good friendships can weather the occasional bouts of idiocy.

But today, I ended a friendship over something indirectly political, and I want to explain my reasoning.

This man posted a long diatribe on Facebook about the Obamas leaving the White House, and most of his vitriol was aimed at Michelle Obama. He called her a “he/she” and a “shemale” while comparing her to an ape. He said the only way she and Barack should have been allowed in the White House at all was through the servants’ entrance as slaves back in the “good old days” before the Civil War.

This is an educated man. He used impeccable grammar and punctuation as he went on to talk about getting some class and dignity in the White House. He spoke of his hopes that the new administration will punish “faggots” and deport “terrorists” and “camel-jockeys.”

No.

I didn’t know what to say.

I don’t want to believe that people like this actually exist. I can’t even begin to comprehend that I counted this man as my friend.

Looking back over our friendship, I can remember now that he has made similar comments that I took to be jokes. Bad jokes, inappropriate and unfunny, but I excused them because I didn’t want to believe that anyone really thought those things. Felt that way.

And you know what? That makes me part of the problem.

I despise those sensitive snowflakes who take offense at every little thing and actively look for reasons to get their feelings hurt. But damn it, sometimes we have to take offense. Not because of political affiliation or because we want to be some kind of Social Justice Warriors, but because we are human beings.

I should have told my friend that his jokes were offensive and unfunny. I shouldn’t have excused him. At the very least, I should have re-evaluated our friendship. As a parent, I’ve often told my kids that “right or wrong, you are judged by the people you surround yourself with.” But I feel sick now when I realize just exactly what I have chosen to surround myself with. My silence implied approval, whether I intended it to or not.

This election has changed me. It doesn’t matter how you voted or what you believe in politically. I don’t care if you voted for Trump or Clinton because, let’s be honest, neither one was a great choice.

But if you spew hatred, you will no longer be a part of my life. Even if that hatred is part of a joke, followed by your suggestion that people need to lighten up.

Go ahead and tell me that you think about religion or sexual orientation. Talk to me about politics. Sing your praises of whichever political party you think is going to save our world. I welcome intelligent, opinionated discussion whether I agree with you or not.

But I do not welcome hate.

I don’t use the word “hate” lightly. I think it has lost its power in recent years. People whine about “haters” and make jokes about “hater-ade” and basically toss the word around until it means little more than “dislike.” But Webster’s defines it as:

intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury

Think about that. Intense hostility . . . deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.

I’m done excusing people like my former friend who is so full of hate for anyone who isn’t white, Christian, and conservative. I’m done looking the other way and staying silent when I hear unfunny jokes that try to mask hatred behind a so-called sense of humor.

Folks, this is the world we live in. Black, white. Gay, straight. Christian, Muslim.

Human.

Deal with it.

C’mon, enough is enough. It has to be.

Love wins, love always wins.– Mitch Albom

 

lovewins

Why I Won’t Be Watching Nancy Drew on CBS

I got into an internet argument this week. Well, it wasn’t much of an argument, really. I made three comments and annoyed one opinionated little man before moderators stepped in and shut the argument down by deleting the entire thread.

Rather anti-climactic, to be perfectly honest.

I am not proud of that moment. I am, however, mystified by the reaction, especially since it wasn’t really on a subject that could be considered life-altering or earth-shattering.

It was about Nancy Drew.

I admit it: I am still a nerd about some of the books I read as a kid. Nancy Drew wasn’t my favorite, but she was near the top of my list, coming in a close fourth behind The Three Investigators, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden. And even though she wasn’t my favorite, there was still something special about Nancy and her friends George and Bess. My mom read those books. My niece read them. Even my daughter has read them.

So when I learned that CBS is planning to make a new Nancy Drew TV series, I was thrilled. I figured they would probably take some “liberties” with the franchise to modernize it, but that’s okay, right? I mean, every book has to undergo changes in the process of being adapted to TV or movies. How much could they really change such a well-known and established character?

Quite a bit, apparently. According to CBS president Glen Geller, the character will be “diverse.” He has been quoted as saying that she will not be Caucasian, and that he would be “open to any ethnicity.”  

Okay, a bit surprising, but fair enough. The world has changed a lot since the character was created, so I understand the reasoning behind changing her ethnicity. I’m cool with that.

But then Geller goes on to say that there will be other changes as well.

“Now in her 30s, Nancy is a detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world.”

Hang on.

The books are about a teenager in a small town, solving mysteries with her friends while still in high school. The TV series is about an adult woman who solves crimes as a police detective in New York city.

Um, what?

Basically, that was the nature of my comment in the discussion in a Facebook group for those of us who  still have fond memories of the books we read and collected as kids.

So they are turning a white teenaged detective from a small town into a black 30 year-old police detective in New York City? Really?!

Big mistake on my part. I was slammed for being a racist. Another member of the group — one with whom I have never had any previous conversations — demanded that the thread be deleted and requested a moratorium on all future discussions of Nancy Drew, CBS, or anything that might possibly spark conversation that had anything to do with race in any way, shape or form.

I made two further comments defending myself before the thread was deleted, but now I wish I would have just said one very simple thing:

Seriously, Dude?

Look, if CBS wants to make a series about a 30 year-old female detective working for the NYPD, more power to them. I’d probably watch it if it’s well-written and well-acted. I don’t care about the ethnicity of the main character. But I think it is ridiculous to market it as something it clearly is not.  

A teenager who solves crimes in a small town while still in high school is not the same thing as a 30 year-old woman working for the NYPD. Pretty simple. As someone who grew up reading the books, I would tune in to a Nancy Drew TV series expecting to see a show about a high school student solving crimes in a small town with her best friends, not a show about a 30 year-old police detective in New York.  

It’s not about race. Granted, my comment should not have included any reference to color, and for that I apologize. I threw that in that as part of the list of things that are being changed for the new show, and I shouldn’t have included it since I really don’t see it as a problem. But I do see it as a problem that they want to change everything except the character’s name and expect fans to accept it without argument.

When the series fails — and it will fail, spectacularly — how many people are going to line up and claim that it failed because white America just wasn’t ready to accept a Nancy Drew who is not white?

I stand by my original opinion that it is not an issue of race. It’s an issue of respect for the original material upon which the show is based. If CBS wants to make a show about Nancy Drew, why not make a show that in some way resembles the books?

What’s next? Maybe they can make a series about crime-fighting wizards at a reform school in New York and call it Harry Potter: The Series.  Or remake Twilight as a musical about two rival gangs known as The Vamps and The Wolves.

Personally, I’m waiting to see the The Hardy Boys: All Grown Up in which Frank and Joe are a young married couple instead of brothers. Instead of being about teen detectives, it’s going to be a raunchy comedy about undercover superheroes who own a bar in Chicago.

No, thanks.

Melt With You

When I was a little girl, the Miss America pageant was a big deal.  We were allowed to stay up late and eat junk food, and we would each pick our favorite girl to cheer for, right up until Bert Parks started singing.  I still remember the year my favorite was Miss Hawaii; she performed a hula dance and wore a costume that included tiny skulls hanging from her grass skirt.

I was a chubby little white girl who couldn’t understand that I could never look like her.  I didn’t get it when my aunts looked at each other and tried to hide their smiles as I announced that I wanted to look just like her when I grew up.  I thought they were being mean when they chuckled and told me that “my” contestant couldn’t win because she wasn’t white.

My aunts were a bunch of ignorant racists of the worst kind, because they didn’t realize they were racists.  They didn’t hate anyone or spout angry words aimed at any particular race, but they calmly believed that they were better than anyone who wasn’t white.  In their world, there were white people, black people, and people who were dark.  When they said dark, they lowered their voices to a near-whisper, wrinkled their noses as though speaking of something unpleasant, and looked around furtively to make sure that no one non-white could hear them.

Even when I was very young, I knew that my aunts were wrong.  They said things like, “Have you ever met that boy’s parents?  He looks kind of dark to me” or “Your friend Karen is pretty, for a black girl.” I learned not to correct them, but I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when they would spew their ignorance.

When Vanessa Williams was crowned the first African-Amerian Miss America in 1983, my aunts shook their heads over what they saw as the decline in quality of the Miss America Pageant, and they vowed that they would never watch it again.  A while later, when she had to return the crown because of a scandal, the aunts nodded sagely as they agreed that it just went to prove that a black woman didn’t deserve the crown.

My sisters and I nodded sagely as we agreed that our aunts were horrible people.

Yesterday morning, I thought of the Aunts while I watched the morning news.  A new Miss America had been crowned the previous evening, and she was, according to the news anchor, the first “Indian-American” to win the title.  I wondered how the old bigots would have reacted to the news, and then I went on about my day without another thought on the matter.  Honestly, the last time I paid attention to the pageant was in 1988, when Michigan’s own Kaye Lani Rae Rafko took the title.

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Kaye Lani Rae Rafko

Yesterday evening, however, I got that same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I was on Twitter, and I saw some of the things that people were saying about Nina Davuluri, the newest Miss America.

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Miss America Nina Davuluri

They called her a terrorist.  A sand nigger.  A camel jockey.  And worse.  People complained that it was “insensitive” to give the title to her in the same week that our country remembered the victims of September 11.   The said that she doesn’t deserve the title because she isn’t a “real American”.  These are not ignorant old people like my aunts.  These are young people, middle-aged people, Americans from all walks of life except, apparently, walks that include people of Indian descent.

Folks, she was born in America.  She grew up in America.  She’s an American citizen.  What more do you want?

There is a post circulating on Facebook right now that shows pictures of the blue-eyed, blonde Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail.  The caption describes her tattoos and her military background, and refers to her as “The Real Miss America” as though she is somehow more deserving of the title.

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Theresa Vail

I find this particularly ironic in light of the fact that Theresa Vail was quoted in People magazine as saying, “I’m all about breaking stereotypes”.

I hope she is not behind the Facebook post.  I hope she is equally appalled that any American would use her image to promote the idea that Nina Davuluri is in some way undeserving of the title simply because of her ethnic heritage.

Ms Davuluri has said that Miss America is about “the girl next door”, and she has pointed out that today’s  girl next door is all about diversity.  In any neighborhood in America, the girl next door might be Indian, Latina, African-American, Asian, Native American, and so on.  Her ancestors could have come to this country from anywhere in the world.

I was taught in school that America is a Melting Pot.   Are they not teaching this in schools any more?  If we are no longer a Melting Pot, then what have we become?

I am an American.  I’m the girl next door.  I don’t look like Theresa Vail or Nina Davuluri.

And today, I’m ashamed of my countrymen.

Daily Prompt: Make Up Your Mind

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Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion.  Why the change?

I have changed my mind about the George Zimmerman trial more times than I can count.  I still don’t know what I think, and I keep changing my mind because I don’t know which information to believe.

I am a white woman who grew up in a white neighborhood in a white suburb of a predominantly white town.  I have no idea what it is like to be black, and I never will.  It’s impossible for me to fully understand what it’s like to be the victim of racism.  I have no idea if I’m supposed to say “Black” or “African American” or “That lady over there in the green blouse” but I know that whatever I say it’s going to be judged as offensive to someone.

I don’t want to be called a racist.

I want to believe that Trayvon Martin was innocent.  That George Zimmerman was an angry, swaggering wannabe vigilante who shot a helpless child in cold blood.  That Zimmerman was 100% responsible for everything that took place that night, and that Martin was 100% innocent.

To think otherwise makes me a racist, right?  A Bad Person.

But we have been so manipulated by the Media that it is impossible to know what to believe.  Like most Americans, I’ve heard this story and that story and a million tiny “facts” that are actually fabrications, until the only thing I know is that I don’t know.

The photo we all see of Martin is of a much younger, more innocent child, not an accurate depiction of the seventeen year-old man-sized individual who died that night.  Innocent or not, plastering the news outlets with that little-boy picture is a blatant attempt at manipulating public opinion.   At making him seem child-like and guiltless, small and unable to defend himself.

I don’t know the truth about who did what that night, but I know that picture is a lie.  And that makes me angry.   If he was an innocent victim, why try so desperately to mislead the general public?

I’ve heard tales of the 9-1-1 tape being edited for broadcast by news stations intent on making a bigger story.     I’ve heard that Martin’s only injury was the fatal bullet wound, while I’ve seen the pictures of Zimmerman’s bloodied head and face.  And yet I’ve heard claims that there are pictures of an uninjured  Zimmerman walking into the police station, suggesting that he was beaten after the fact in a different altercation.

As a white person, I am afraid to voice my doubts.

I feel like I have to be angry about the Zimmerman verdict or risk being branded a racist.

The truth is, I really believed he would be found guilty.  Not because I believe he is guilty, but because I thought the jury would be afraid of the consequences of a verdict of Not Guilty.  I remember the riots after the Rodney King verdict, and I worried that the same thing would happen in this case.

Was the verdict a result of racism, or was it a result of six jurors who made a decision based on evidence alone?  I don’t even know if such a thing is possible, especially since Zimmerman was basically tried and found guilty on Facebook and in the court of public opinion long before this ever came to trial.

I am disgusted that one of the jurors has already done interviews and signed a book deal.  This strikes me as a terribly opportunistic move.  She should be ashamed, as should the bottom-feeders who have taken advantage of her thirst for fame and attention.

But what about the people on Twitter and Facebook who are calling for the death of the jurors and Zimmerman?  What about the folks fanning the flames of racism and hatred?  If there is more violence as a result of all of the exaggeration, hatespeak and outright lies, who is responsible?  Whose fault is it?

People, it’s not okay to protest racism by advocating more hate.  More violence.

Just because I am white, don’t assume I am a racist.  Just because I am questioning some of the stories circulating about Zimmerman and Martin, don’t assume that I think Martin was in the wrong or that Zimmerman was in the right.  I wasn’t there, and I don’t know.

And neither were you.

Black or white, we are better than this.  We are smarter than this.   We need to stop letting ourselves be spoon-fed by news media whose only agenda is the next big story.   We need to ask questions and not automatically believe every rumor, every bit of gossip, every inflammatory bit of anger-inducing crap that is posted on Facebook or shared on Twitter.

Black or white, we need to think for ourselves.