Don’t you just wanna punch Nazis in the face? Yeah, me too. Its so difficult listening to people spew hatred and bigotry and not want to peel the flesh off those people (like when they did surgery on that grape).
I didn’t have patience for “those people” and I definitely didn’t have the patience to engage with them and listen to what they had to say. If I saw MAGA, boy bye!
Then sometime in the last year, I started, *gasp*, maturing. I starting thinking, “huh, it would be nice if these people could actually listen to reason.” And I deduced, they want the same thing!
While they can be absolute doo doo heads sometimes, how are we going to make a change and fight hate if all we do is ignore and avoid them?
Reading Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist gave me so much hope. This is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside-down. And how a former white nationalist, Derek Black, was awakened, as the tagline suggests.
Saslow wove together an eloquent narrative based on personal accounts, correspondence, and national events. It was really a story of a slow, but sure, transformation of an heir to a white nationalist legacy to a progressive activist. Whew, that was a jump.
His change couldn’t have come if people didn’t take the time to logically refute every one of his beliefs. But not yelling and screaming or talking over him. The change came when people treated him with respect.
Granted, Black was pretty open-minded, even though he didn’t start off in a place where he thought he was open-minded. He started off respecting people and was willing to engage with people who were different from him.
The lesson I took away from Black’s story was not that all white nationalists and white supremist are able to change that easy; what I took away is that we shouldn’t be so quick to write people off that they are not worth listening to and they aren’t willing to at least hear you out.
The art of debate is not for the faint of heart. You gotta have the patience of a saint sometimes. Especially if you got a yeller.
But like I was saying before, if all we do is ignore, avoid, and disengage, how is progress going to be made in this world? There could be so many like Black who just need that constant, but gentle nudge.
Or there could be people out there who could just not be aware yet.
On a side note, I have grown to hate the word “woke”. People may not be asleep. Some of them might be refusing to see what is in front of them and some of them just may not be able to determine what they are seeing.
Storytelling has been monumental in my journey on how I got to see the world how I see it now. Because if I went based on my own experiences, I might not have ever gotten to where I am now. For a black girl who didn’t grow up rich in the south, I was/am surprisingly privileged.
I talk about the humanity of people when I talk about liberation, but sometimes I forget Frankenstein was the human and not the monster.
At the end of the day, I’m not excusing hate, discrimination, or people who genuinely suck. I’m saying some people may surprise you and to keep an open heart. Because if our hearts aren’t open, are we really for liberation?
Talk to me: How do you engage with people who are “wrong” (especially if they’re family. Asking for a friend…)?