Monday, September 16, 2013

[Miss] America

Musing on how to combat the hateful ignorant tweets...

Uh, you guys, why is Miss America green??? 
Today's news stories were filled with reports on Nina Davuluri's Miss America win, as well as the aftermath explosion of unspeakably hateful and embarrassingly grammatically incorrect, ignorant tweets.  I am mad.  I am sad.  I want to meet one of these tweeters, and then I want to punch him/her in the face.  I have had a lot of dark thoughts in response to these tweets, not the least of which was imagining a beautiful day in the future, on which the last of these hateful, stupid people dies out. 

I let myself go to that comfy dark place, where I vigorously spew out equally hateful energy back at the tweeters, for a good 10 minutes.  But then, I stop.  Because if any of this is ever going to stop, it has to stop with me. 

And I’m inviting you to join me, all you people like me - all you loving, thoughtful, open-minded, progressive citizens of this beautiful country we call the United States of America.  I'm inviting you to first spend whatever time you need to punch a pillow, scream atop a mountain, stab a few needles into an ignorant racist doll... and then I'm inviting you to stop, lose the hatred, let go of the anger, and instead use all the energy to fuel something better.  Because if it is even possible for a time to come when a good day for a non-white American doesn’t result in an explosion of hateful tweets, it has to begin with us.  We have to change the way we think and act in reaction to this kind of ignorance and hatred.

I don't blame the news for reporting on the tweets.  I'm grateful that they are shining a light upon the darkness, and I'm glad it’s given me the opportunity to see how there are so many people who are infuriated just like I am. 

But I believe for every sad story, there’s a happy one.  For every hateful ignorant tweeter, there is another kind of person.  A person who after watching Miss America may have chosen not to tweet his/her thoughts, but who came to see America in a new light.  Maybe it was a little white girl who saw for the first time that beautiful American women come in all different colors from all different backgrounds.  Maybe it was a little Asian American girl who got to see an American who looks like her on television.  

If this story has a happy ending, it has to start with us, and our children.  The only way to reduce the number of ignorant hateful people, is to increase the number of well-informed loving people.  It means we don't just pass on this anger we feel to our kids, we pass on our love for all people.  It means we share our history, good and bad, and we talk about how we're a country made up of people from all over the world.  It means we have a globe or a map in our homes, and our families grow up knowing the names of different countries, but seeing that we’re all a part of the same world.  It means that we choose not to only surround ourselves with people who look just like us.  We stop using words like "us and them."  We stop calling people who are not like us “weird.”  We stop rolling our eyes when we talk about the importance of diversity, and we seek it out.  We seek out people who are unlike ourselves; we acknowledge and celebrate our differences, and allow beautiful friendships to grow out of our commonalities. 

We stop the people we love when they say things that are fueled by hatred or ignorance, and we lovingly correct them, we let them know humbly, that we don’t have room for statements of ill will in our homes.  We stop laughing at hateful jokes; we clarify misunderstandings.

And I'm not just talking to my white friends right now.  I'm calling upon my friends of color to stop the cycle.  I'm calling on you, my Asian American friends, because you know that our parents are culprits.  I’m picking on you because I can only speak from my own experience.  Let’s not sacrifice our children and the future of our country by allowing hatred to perpetuate, for the sake of “saving face” and “respecting elders.” 

I am going to put these hurtful tweets behind me, and I am going to move forward firmly in love.  If my daughter has any chance of growing up in an America where "our children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character" (thank you Dr. King, I realized that what I was trying to say, you had already said perfectly), then it has to begin again with me.  I hope you'll join me.
America - today's blogpost title is a song from the musical West Side Story, the lyrics of which may be apropos.

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