Reaching Across The Lines.
Why are you so into the whole gay rights thing?
Why do you talk so much about racism and bigotry? You don’t know what it feels like…white girl.
Allison loves gay people so much, it’s like she wants one of her sons to be gay. (HA!)
These are all actual things that have been said to me…and about me.
And, on one hand, I get it. I can understand people’s confusion when I speak about issues that I myself have never been confronted with.
On the other hand, it boggles my mind.
I had an experience at BlogHer this year, that I’ve been meaning to write about. If only my kids would stop shitting their pants and trying to kill each other for one god. damn. minute.
The session focused on blogging, and how much of ourselves we let people see. For example, some bloggers tend to stick to less divisive topics, due to personal reasons, or out of fear they’ll alienate some of their readers.
“Do you think you need to shy away from your perspectives on political and controversial cultural topics in order to maintain broad appeal among your readers, prospective clients/sponsors, or your peers–or do you feel the opposite: that who you are is everything you are?”
I completely understand that some writers wish to keep these types of views close to their hearts. And, not everyone does this because they want more page views. Some people simply feel old school about it – that it’s not cool to talk about religion or politics at the dinner table…and certainly not online.
I used to worry about sharing such personal views, because I thought it would alienate those people who came to my blog for a funny story, or those who see the world differently than I do. I pictured them rolling their eyes right out of their heads, if I were to broach more serious issues.
But, there finally came a point when I weighed the balance of fully exposing myself and my views, against only sharing safe, funny, and cutesy posts.
Guess which one won out?
I eventually decided that I just didn’t care how many eye-rolls I got, or how many readers I lost.
It didn’t matter to me.
It still doesn’t.
Like, just yesterday I received an email from an acquaintance, who was unhappy with some of the things I say in my personal space. She told me that she kept reading and following me, because sometimes I say witty things, and offer good insight, but that she was offended by my language sometimes, and my these people can go fuck themselves rants.
As tough as I claim my skin to be, messages like that can still sometimes get under it.
But, I have to stand my ground. I have come too far from my people-pleasing days to ever go back. Besides, I don’t write for anyone but myself. And, censoring or editing my writing is denying a large part of who I am as a person. That’s something I just won’t do.
I’m never going to make everyone happy, and I am okay with that. It is what it is.
Anyway, during the conference, Kelly said something that hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m going to paraphrase here, because it’s been a few months, and I’ve killed plenty of brain cells along the way. But, she asked why it was that when something tragic (like the murder of Trayvon Martin) happened, it was mainly only the black community writing about it, and sharing their opinions online.
Are we not all outraged?
She hit the nail on the head.
We don’t always need to know what it feels like to walk in someone’s shoes to be outraged, or to stand up and shout, or to just feel and want to talk about it.
I do not know what it feels like to be discriminated against. But, I do know how it makes me feel to witness it.
Do I get nervous talking about things I can’t always relate to? Yes. I’m always a little scared discussing such sensitive issues.
What if I say the wrong word?
What if I offend someone who doesn’t know me well enough to know I’m coming from a place of love and respect?
And this? Is precisely why we should be discussing these things. Because, it opens up a dialogue that can educate and enlighten us.
Like the time I used the phrase reverse discrimination. And, Kelly pointed out to me that, “There’s no such thing as reverse discrimination. It’s discrimination, plain and simple, any way you look at it.”
Ah-ha! Light bulb moment.
See how that worked? I put something out there, and I got something in return.
Do I worry about overstepping myself, or being too comfortable with my words? All the time.
Like when I tweeted this during the debates, after a little too much wine:
The moment I put it out there, I wished I could take it back. Because, what if this wasn’t okay for me to say? Was it offensive? Would someone who doesn’t know me think I meant it in a bad way?
And, one person did think that. We talked, and I explained to her that I meant it in the best way, and that it hurt my heart to know that for even one second she thought I was that person. But, it ended well and I was grateful for the discussion.
I guess my point is that we need to step outside our comfort zones, and our safe little worlds, and talk about things, even things that make us nervous and uncomfortable…especially things that makes us nervous and uncomfortable.
Black or white?
Gay or straight?
Rich or poor?
Educated or uneducated?
Blue Cheese or Ranch?
IT DOESN’T MATTER.
And the reason why is a simple one…
When you strip away all the labels and colors we all have one very basic commonality, and one tie that binds us.
WE ARE ALL HUMAN.
So, let’s start treating each other that way, and sticking up for one another when we need to.
(P.S. I posted this on Curvy Girl Guide yesterday. And the response I got was amazing. I’m grateful for so, so many you.)
(P.P.S. I’m totally about to break out into We Are The World.)