Conversations I Am Tired Of Having
There was a post a while back, 10 Conversations On Racism I’m Sick Of Having With White People. The original started at The Chronicle, but LiveJournal is kind of weird, so a mirror image will have to do. There are comments, at the sourced post, that illustrate some of the points covered today.
I got to thinking about “10 Conversations”, and a reply began to take shape. I started a list of conversations the I am tired of having, and before you could say affirmative action, there were a dozen items. Many of these incidents have involved people of color, or POC. Many others have not. Often, the ethnicity of the other person has little importance to the discussion. Therefore, the title of this feature will not be racially specific. This monolog will probably not go viral, or even bacterial, but will enable me to express a few thoughts. Washing your hands might be a good idea when you are finished reading.
Meetings where one person does all the talking The word conversation implies that more than one person says something. Often, this does not happen. One person will talk for a while. Before person two finishes a sentence, person one will interrupt them.
This does not work. When the other person is talking, shut up and listen. Don’t be thinking of your clever comeback, but pay attention to what the other person is saying. What the other person says is just as important as what you say.
Listening is not valued in our culture. It is seen as a loss of control, a sign of weakness. It is really a sign of strength. If you are weak, you don’t want to allow the other person to say anything. Have you ever heard anyone boast about the clever things that they say to someone? Of course you have, just like you never hear anyone talk highly about himself because he is a good listener.
My question is not an excuse to make a speech. Some people have an agenda. Whatever you say is an obstacle to the message they want to broadcast. When you ask a question, some people think you are handing them the talking stick, to do whatever they want. When your eyes glaze over, they plow on, in total disregard to your discomfort, and lack of comprehension. It is almost as if they are talking to hear the sound of their own voice.
I’m not talking to you. If you are screaming something, anyone with earshot can hear you. Do not get offended if there is a reaction to your words, especially if it is subtly directed at the person you are not talking to. This applies to the internet as well, where all of humanity is *privy* to your innermost thoughts. Keep the farmyard meaning of *privy* in mind when sharing your innermost product.
Conversations should be with people. If you are a business, and you want to tell me something, send me a written message. Please refrain from using robocall machines. I feel very foolish talking to a machine, especially one that doesn’t understand southern english.
You don’t have to shout. The amount of truth in a statement is not increased by the volume of expression. If you are standing next to me, the odds are I can hear you in a normal tone of voice. If you are across the room, come stand next to me, rather than shout across the room. If your normal tone of voice is shouting, then you have a problem.
The same principal goes to controlling your temper. When you choose not to control your temper, you show disprespect to yourself, and the person you are talking to. There is no situation that cannot be made worse by angry speech.
Privilege Racial polemic is getting more subtle these days. We are not quite post racial, although there are rumors of a PostRacial apartment complex in Dickhater. The phrase that pays these days is Privilege. This is always something owned by the group you do not belong to. Last summer, I heard this quote in a discussion, and nearly fell out of my chair.
From the N word to POC. Labels for groups of people can cause problems. I have expressed myself on the N word before, and don’t have much to add. As for POC, that is even sillier. Colored people is an insult, but people of color is preferred. I am sure some of you have a terrific speech to ‘splain this, but I am not interested. My neck may be red, but that is a color. PWOC is an insult to my humanity, whether you are talking to me or not.
This is getting longer than the attention span of many readers. It might be continued at a later date. If you can’t say anything nice, say something about race. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.