I am having a hard time following the news these days. The Eric Garner situation defies reason. I see the word “thug” being used as a code word to describe people of color, to make it seem like there is justification for believing that the justice system isn’t broken for people of color. I see talking heads on TV saying things that make me realize again and again and again that someday my sweet kiddos are going to realize that there are people who think they are less than because of the color of their skin.
My boss, who is African American, came into my office with tears in her eyes after the news of the failure in indict and said that she feels like it is open season on Black men in America and I have no reason to disagree with her.
So, it is hard and it is painful to log on to Facebook and see that people I know have “liked” some racist comment by Ted f-ing Nugent (which, really? HE’s the guy you think best speaks for your interests? Gross) or some post from a media group that makes it seem like people’s genuine anger about the death of Michael Brown is somehow wrong because he maybe wasn’t a perfect victim with a perfect family.
(Side note: Whether his parents are married or not or whether he shoplifted or not or if he smoked weed at some point literally DOES NOT MATTER when it comes to whether or not this is an example of a bigger problem of structural racism)
But I stay on Facebook anyways, even though it hurts sometimes.
I was thinking about why I do (other than seeing cute baby pictures, because, duh. I am always here for your cute baby pictures) and I think my answer comes down to this: Facebook forces me not to self-segregate into a social world where everyone thinks like I do.
On FB, I have friends who are atheist and those that are super devout. I celebrate my gay friends posts about getting married and know that I have a sizable group of friends that hate that idea. I have friends who come in all shades of color and a few who still insist that they can’t see color at all. I’m in groups for mom’s who are getting their PhDs and groups for people who want to gossip about TV and potty training and whether or not our neighborhood should plow more. I roll my eyes at some posts and I block a few (please stop trying to sell me body wraps).
I stay on Facebook because when I see that the some I know to be kind, generous and well-intentioned “likes” something I disagree with, it helps me not just have a knee jerk “ugh, those people are all ignorant assholes” response. I hope that they feel the same way when the situation is reversed.
I confess that I am discouraged these days about being an American. It feels like our country is profoundly broken. I believe, however, that we
can MUST get better but I don’t think that can happen unless we can, at least on some level, love the people we disagree with. Or at least think about them as people, flawed and broken but also loving and trying to make sense of the world, and not just as assholes.
Facebook helps me do that. So I stay, even when it hurts.