Every so often, I wonder if I will run out of ideas to put on paper. Well, if it happens, I will pray to God for more inspiration. In the meantime, I continue to be most fortunate and often thank our maker for that. Reflecting on what inspires me or spurs me to write, sometimes, it is something someone has said. Other times, it is about a timely issue that I address through a story or non-fictional perspective. Occasionally, I address someone’s article or a comment. Today’s essay was invited by the latter.
Recently, I read an article and thought to myself, “Oh boy!” Although I and some others wholeheartedly agreed with it, I knew it would attract detractors. Lo and behold, it did. Now, before I continue, you might question the nature of the article? Where was it published? Anyone who knows me, as the Keeper of the Secrets, in many areas of my life, I will not be sharing that information because, as usual, I am not here to disparage anyone.
The commenter, trying to be gracious but, to me, was patronizing, wrote a long post refuting some of the statistics stated in the article. They may be right. I do not know because I read it from the spirit of the message, not the precise letter of it. Although I believe the commenter could have been more diplomatic and said something to the effect, “Perhaps the numbers are inflated,” I recognize not everyone sees the world the same way I do. Fair enough. My dispute with the commenter is not on this but several other issues.
First, they wondered if the writer was referring to a particular group of people. I do not know because the writer was vague. No matter, the commenter indicated that they and the writer were not qualified to address this group. I would respectfully but adamantly disagree.
The writer, commenter, and I have every right to express our opinion. We still live in a free country, although the First Amendment is suffocating as I type.
Secondly, the group to which the writer may have been referring is not homogenous, even though its title contradicts that. Thirdly, the commenter evokes a message from Martin Luther King about rioting. I am sure they are correct, but in my heart of hearts, I am convinced that Dr. King would not support the violence and looting occurring in this last year that some of the media suppresses. I researched some of his many quotes on this matter. Here is one: “Returning violence for violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
Finally, on this matter, the writer could have been discussing another group that many leaders dismiss as innocuous. I would disagree, watching the attacks with bricks on the journalist Andy Ngo, who happens to be gay and Asian.
On another matter, the commenter discusses people in categories based on their skin color, sexuality, and sexual orientation. Let us dissect that. I am in the people business and well versed with the current language of identification. The commenter missed the “ia” in the LGBTQ delineation. You might say that I am particular. Yes, but I am just following the commenter’s lead, seemingly a bit self-righteous themselves. Next, they forgot, like many, the disabled and aging. Continuing down this lane of external designation, how about the vertically challenged where I belong? What about the adipose-challenged? Whaaaat? Ok, I created both of those, trying to be polite when referring to short people and those who are obese. The point is that if we are going to bring forth reminders about MLK, everyone seems to forget some of the man’s most famous words, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
or those of us who are blessed to have our senses, we cannot help but see what we see and hear what we hear.
What if we followed Dr. King’s lead and tried to put aside this focus on physicality? Some might say I am naive. Perhaps, they are correct, but I ask how this is helping anyone? You might say, well, come on, don’t you look initially at people through the prism of identity. Of course! For those of us who are blessed to have our senses, we cannot help but see what we see and hear what we hear. Still, for the very flawed me, I try to put that aside quickly because I come from a family where disabilities were front and center. Thus, tolerance for differences came early on. For many years, I have had the privilege of sitting with a diverse range of people, including black and brown. Others identify as gay, bi, queer, trans, etc. I adore all of them. When I meet with them, eventually, the thought does not even cross my mind about how they distinguish themselves. They are not seeing me for that reason. As I say to many of my clients, precisely those few who contend with physical and mental health limitations, this is just a piece of your identity, not all of it. The adage, “Beauty is skin deep,” flows deeply through my veins.
As I end Part One, I want to thank the commenter for inspiring me to write this. Next, I will leave you with the following: Many years ago, Oprah Winfrey interviewed the great Tiger Woods and his father, Earl. Tiger explained how he came to identify as Asian and Black. Later his father said that he hopes his son sees himself as, above all else, a member of “the human race.” What if all of us embraced the message of this wisdom offered long ago? Wishful thinking? We shall see.
To Be Continued …