From the time my children were little, we would play a family game, which we called, “Ask me questions.” The kids’ father would always ask factual trivia questions with a definite and factual answer, while I would lean more towards the hypothetical and life choice questions. This is an amazing way to get to know what someone thinks about a variety of topics and allows your family members to feel seen, heard, and valued.
I have always been one who asks questions. I want to know why people think and act the way they do, and in asking questions, the best place to go for information is a primary source. If I want to know about a Mormon, I goto a Mormon, women, people of color, men, LBGTQ+, atheists, conservatives, democrats, any group I want to understand on a deeper level, I try to remember the importance of asking questions and then sitting back and listening, rather than waiting for my turn to tell them why they are wrong. NOW, to be clear, I am not always perfect in this endeavor, it is a constant journey and refining process.
About a year ago, I had several conversations with a many who had very strong opinions about what he called, “black culture.” He didn’t like it. Couldn’t stand it. When I asked him what “black culture” meant to me, he said, “Oh, you know, acting a fool at McDonald’s, being loud and obnoxious wherever you go, that sort of thing.” I strongly disagreed with his assessment and pointed out that that is “asshole culture” NOT, “black culture,” and is definitely not limited to people of color.
We continued to speak of privilege, kneeling, 45, and other hot button topics. I asked him if he had ever sat with a person of color and asked questions about any of his convictions around these issues. He had not. I then asked if he would be willing to ask such questions. He said, “no, I just don’t care.”
I had a similar conversation recently, in which kneeling and peaceful protest came up. I asked if Nate Boyer’s open letter to Colin Keapernick or MLK’s Letter From Birmhiming jail had been read or studied. This person replied, “doesn’t matter.” Which I took to mean, I don’t care what primary source information there may be out there, I don’t want to hear or read this because my mind is made up. I have actually had this response from several acquaintances when this topic has been discussed, which effectively ends the conversation.
I have also had several people inform me that their family served in the military, or they have lost loved ones in the line of duty. My family served in the military, the earliest my genealogist sister has found was Newton Hall, who fought and died for the winning side of the Civil War. My grandfather served in both world wars. I can only assume that people of color who support the peaceful protest of Kaepernick also have family who served in the military or law enforcement. I also have a cousin who was shot and killed by a black man when he was in his early twenties. So, who has more of a right to be correct? What group that decides the appropriate manner to protest systematic abuse of those sworn to serve and protect?
I would assert that the group who is suffering the abuse makes that decision. Other’s disagree. Which is within their rights. But making such decisions without all of the primary source information is dangerous, lazy, and narrow.
The point of my missive? Ask questions, sit back, listen, hear, ask to know more. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is just good counsel, myself included.
Light and Love,