So… I was just hanging out by the coffee pot talking about how much we are looking forward to basketball season to distract us from the misery that football season has delivered this year. As I was making a joke about how poorly the team from Oxford is also performing this year, a new participant sidled into the conversation. He broke the ice with a query concerning the effect of #BlackLivesMatter and Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest on the state of the poor performance of Mississippi’s two more relevant college football programs. An awkward silence befell the room, and the subject was changed immediately.
What the actual hell? I’d imagine that my team’s lack of wins has more to do with a down year talent-wise and it being past time for John Hevesy to find a new place to coach. I’d be surprised if an older white guy’s idea of black on white racism or lack of patriotism has much of anything to do with my team only having 2 wins this year.
I’m a little embarrassed with myself that I didn’t speak up and rebut his archaic, misguided, racist comments. I want to say that his seniority to me played a part in my silence, but to be honest, it was more of my fear of confrontation. You see, I’m not one to rock the boat. Situations like that make me quite uncomfortable, and my reaction is to turtle-up into the safe confines of my shell of silence. The look of shock on my face might convey my disapproval if the other person is paying attention, but my silence doesn’t.
My beautiful, intelligent wife recently decided it was time for her to speak up and stop letting folks say things that she believes to be fundamentally flawed. She has started standing up for what she believes and telling people what she thinks and why she thinks they are wrong. This is especially brazen being a flaming-liberal, middle-class, white person living in a nice house (We’re nowhere near wealthy. We got it for an absolute steal.), on a very nice, quiet street, in a town built on old money (I.e. slave labor), in Mississippi, in the heart of the bible belt, where every white person is either a protestant republican or a Christian-hating, Godless, communist, homosexual, bound for the fires of hell if they don’t repent to the preacher down at the baptist church, and then go sign a loyalty pledge with the local republican party chairman. Jana decided that if folks on the other side of the issues could express their views, she should have just as much right to express her views. I must say that, even though it makes me quite uncomfortable to think about doing that with her, I’m proud of her and even a little envious of her pluck.
Mississippi has come a long way, but obviously still has a long way to go. We’ll get there if everybody will make an effort to get to know their neighbors, have respectful discourse while keeping an open mind, treat everyone with love and respect, and don’t let yourself feel superior or inferior to anyone.