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Random Thoughts on Race

The issue of race has shown up in a number of news stories the past week or so: the Paula Deen case, the George Zimmerman trial, and Supreme Court cases involving voter rights, affirmative action in education, and the rights of Native Americans. I’ve ended up in a few debates about them. However, I am not a debater, for a lot of reasons. Yet the points that I would like to make to those I have been in discussion with are very close to my heart, and I think it may be worth it to put those points in the public record. (Just a note, the perspective I’m offering here is from an American living in America, though I’m sure most, if not all, of the principles here are transferable to any culture.)

There is such a thing as white privilege. White privilege means that you have been afforded special opportunities through life merely by the color of your skin. In many cases, this affects what you don’t have to go through in life, for example, police and security-guard harassment, and employer mistreatment. The list goes on.

The thing with white privilege is that, if you are white, you can navigate life successfully without once ever having to think about privilege. I’ll talk later a bit about how to overcome one’s own white privilege.

There is such a thing as institutional racism. This has to do with the cumulative effects of centuries of racism. For two centuries, natives of Africa were forced away from their homes and into ships, on which many died, and driven into grueling labor and abominable living conditions. They were stripped of their names and their culture, and afforded absolutely no legal rights whatsoever. The United States fought an ugly civil war for four years in which the issue of the personhood and equality of these abused millions was one of the driving forces.

None of what I have said to this point is not anything you’d find in the average high-school history textbook, though the more gruesome details are usually glossed over. The trouble is that our history books don’t detail what happened after, only little bits if at all. There was a brief bright point during the Reconstruction after the Civil War in which the newly free made gains economically and politically.

Many white folks did not like this, so they started enacting laws to curb the gains African Americans had made. We hear about the separate-but-equal laws that were put in place–African Americans were forced to go to inferior schools, and were to use inferior restrooms, water fountains, bus seating, and so on. This was all intended to send that message that the black man had better know his place.

But the story is far uglier than all this. First, we isolate these stories as a Southern narrative, ignoring the history of racism in the North, where it played out more in housing and employment. This wrongly absolves Northerners of their subculture’s role in perpetuating racism in America.

Second, our textbooks touch briefly on “sharecropping” without ever explaining what it was. In sharecropping, African Americans were allotted land on which to raise crops. The white landowner collected a (large) share of the crops raised as a form of rent. Sounds like a good deal, right? Until you find out what the history books don’t tell you–that it was against the law for the sharecroppers to leave the land, often unless they paid a large sum of money to the landlord. You’ll notice that the sharecroppers didn’t earn money; their payment was crops. Sounds an awful lot like slavery to me.

Then there was debt peonage. Suppose a sharecropper decided to escape. Or suppose an African American citizen who owns his own land crosses a white person. Then the African American could easily find himself in court on trumped-up charges that he owed the white man some money. Much of the court system was structured more informally a century ago–today, we would see some of them as “private courts” without legal standing and with huge conflicts of interest. And thus the African American was ushered into the debt peonage system, in which he would “work off” the debt. This brought about the “chain gangs” working the roads, and also, less commonly known, the vast majority of the mining labor that brought about the steel-industry boom in the South. Prisoners under debt peonage were forbidden any contact with their families, not even letters, and many died from the back-breaking work.

And we like to think that we wiped all of that away with the civil-rights movement in the 1960s. But, just as people looked for ways to worm around the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery, so too today the law works against African Americans and other minorities. We structure our school financing such that those in minority communities have nowhere near even the basic resources for their community schools. If they are lucky, they live where the law allows them to travel far from home to a school with no connection to their neighborhood or their culture. If they aren’t lucky, their school–often lacking even basic resources like functional plumbing and enough textbooks for each student–has draconian security measures in place such that students serve jail time for offenses that would merit a suspension in a white school, what is popularly known as the school-to-prison system.

Then we set up our legal system so that it favors whites. One of my Bible-college professors was a sort of guru when it came to race relationships, and he deeply influenced my understanding of race. In a lecture, he related the story of a racial-reconciliation conference he attended. The speaker asked all of the white attendees to raise their hand if they had ever been driving and the police pulled them over for no reason at all. Not only did no one raise their hand, they were astonished as to why the question was even asked. Then the speaker asked the African Americans in the audience if this had ever happened to them, and every single one of them raised their hand. And then they shared their individual stories of how this had happened to them. (I’m going to touch on this later, as well.)

For another instance, powdered cocaine and crack cocaine have identical effects on the body. The only difference is that powder is primarily sold by whites and crack by minorities For a long time, the punishments for selling crack were far more severe than those for selling powder. Only last year were these laws changed. Similarly, minorities face much stiffer punishments than whites for marijuana possession.

And so we have all these ways for minorities to enter the criminal-justice system, and then we make it so that it’s harder for ex-convicts to find employment and education. Job applications require you to indicate if you have a felony record, and though there is the statement that a record cannot solely bar you from employment, it is also generally accepted that an employer can avoid hiring someone for any reason not covered by law. So an ex-con can have an exemplary record otherwise, but the employer can look at the application and decide she doesn’t want to hire him just because he “smells funny” or what have you, and doesn’t ever have to give the reason why she’s not hiring him.

And then there is the issue of higher education. If you have a drug offense, you are not allowed to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which virtually all universities require for entry. You can be convicted of murder and go to college just fine, though. And, as I already indicated, if you are in possession of or are selling drugs, you are more likely to face felony charges as a minority than as a white.

And so it all feeds into itself. Minorities have trouble accessing the sort of education that increases their chances of attaining higher education and thus improving their employment prospects. In fact, there is a chance that even being at school will mean jail time. They are more likely to face prison time via an unequal legal system, and once out of prison, struggle to attain gainful employment. Thus you have a generation stuck in a socioeconomic class where the goal is to survive, not to thrive. Without good jobs pushing a community to the higher tax bracket that will ensure a better-funded school, the choice is to either stay in the community school or take a chance at bussing or open enrollment–if those are even legal options in that state.

And that may sound like a simple choice, but to choose a school that is not a part of your community or culture can look like an act of treachery. There are also more complex sociological considerations. Consider the neighborhood I grew up in. When I was thirteen, my mother, three siblings, and I found ourselves in a public-housing complex. It was not a good place. You had the option of going outside and getting in fist fights all the time or staying inside all the time. Very few people graduated from high school. More commonly, you’d drop out of high school, have a baby, and apply for your own apartment in the complex, thus ensuring three generations knowing little outside that environment. My mother did not consider this the life her children should have, so ultimately, we stayed inside all the time, worked hard on our schoolwork, and worked to graduate from high school. And almost everyone in the neighborhood, even property management, looked down on my mother for raising her kids to think they’re better than everyone else. My mother thought everyone was better than that place and didn’t understand why people weren’t trying to get out. Oh, and did I mention that, in a city that was nearly 90% white, the percentage of whites was considerably lower in our complex?

And it’s all far bigger than all these legal issues. Look at our media. How often do you have a positively-portrayed minority main character? Why are shows featuring African American casts–a group that makes up 12% of the United States population–relegated to secondary networks and get little notice even when they are well-written? The days of The Cosby Show seem so very, very long ago. Why are Latinos, nearly 20% of the United States population, barely on television at all, and it they are, they are cast as either maids or criminals? One of the main answers, of course, is that these decisions are made based on which populations have the most buying power–and a big reason whites have more buying power is all the reasons I described above.

And did you notice that in the amazing year of 2002, when African Americans won Oscars for both best lead actress and best lead actor, they were for the role of the wife of a prisoner, and the role of a corrupt police officer? And, I’m sorry, but you’re not going to convince me that if that’s the only way you ever see people who look like you portrayed in the media, that it will have absolutely zero effect on your self-image as you grow up.

And throughout all of this, I’ve primarily portrayed the experiences of African Americans. I have not really even touched on the experiences of Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, all of whom have had to deal with racist barriers in society unique to their own groups. You can see how long I’ve gone just describing one group, and frankly, I don’t have enough time today to get into all of them.

Quite simply, we have to undo five centuries of white supremacy in the United States, and we are fools to think that one swipe of a legislative pen or one march will undo all that damage. It will take a hell of a lot of work for many generations.

[Much of the content in this section came out of the fantastic documentary, Slavery by Another Name, which I highly recommend you watch. It’s worth all 90 minutes.]

There is a difference between prejudice and racism. The trouble with using such loaded terms as “prejudice” and “racism” is that we are not all always on the same page in terms of their definitions, and this causes all sorts of problems in trying to discuss these very real issues. So, in discussing these issues, I rely on definitions that are commonly accepted in academia. Yes, I’m going to trust people who have dedicated their lives to the study of a subject in which I am not an expert (and I am indeed an expert in precious little, if anything).

So, using this rubric, prejudice has to do with preconceived notions about a group that cannot possibly be true for every member of the group. “Blacks are criminals”, “Asians are freakishly intelligent” and “Whites can’t dance” are all common prejudices, and all are easily dismissed. There are, of course less common prejudices. And, if we are all honest with ourselves, we are all prejudiced in some way. I know that one of my biggest prejudices is assuming that, if I see a random white person on the street, that they are relatively well off, which, not only isn’t true, but is also kind of bizarre when you consider that I am a white person without a lot of money.

Racism, however, is when a group takes advantage of prejudices and uses them as justification for the creation and justification of laws, both in government and in culture, that ensure that one group cannot advance, over a long period of time. This is why it is said that nonwhites can’t be racist. It cannot possibly be said truthfully that nonwhites have, over a long period of time, asserted their authority in both government and culture to assure that whites are collectively lower than nonwhites.

It’s okay for blacks to say the N-word but not okay for whites to do so. When whites say the word, they are recalling a history in which that term was used by whites towards African Americans as a means of ensuring that African Americans “knew their place”, that they were inferior to whites.

When African Americans use the word in reference to themselves, they are doing what has been called in sociology circles as “reclaiming the word”. I have a ready parallel in my own experience. The F-word that is used to denigrate gays and lesbians is one of the ugliest words I know, and has been used for very much the same purposes as the N-word in terms of pushing people to second-class status. However, I know some gay men who use the word on occasion in reference to themselves or to other gay men. When they are doing this, they are making a statement. They are denying the power that the word has had in demeaning their lives. They are taking the torch meant to incinerate them and turning it into a celebratory bonfire. But a person who is not gay or lesbian cannot possibly use the word in this way, because they have never had their feet held to the fire.

Not all gay men believe this, or use the F-word in this way (for example, I don’t). Likewise, not all African Americans believe in using the N-word this way. However, it is the general standard as it has evolved in American culture. Which leads me to my next point…

If I don’t belong to a group, I do not have the right to determine the standards of that group. I have got into numerous debates about the use of Native American names and imagery in professional sports. (It’s a big issue in collegiate sports, as well, but I’m better versed in the issue at the professional level.) I’ve done some study particularly around the name of the NFL team in Washington, a name so offensive that it’s on par with the N-word and I refuse to say or type it. If you dig into the numerous court cases surrounding the use of the name and imagery, the arrogance is shocking. What it comes down to is that Native Americans confront the white owner of an athletic team that uses an offensive name and a stereotypical image that is meant to symbolize their entire set of cultures. (News flash: Native Americans in the past dressed lots of different ways. They covered the entire continent and collectively were as diverse if not more so than Europe.) The white owner says, “But I am honoring you!” The Native Americans say, “If you were honoring us, we would feel honored, and we very much do not.” The white owner’s reply: “Well, I just don’t understand why you don’t feel honored, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

And you know what? As I am not a Native American, I really don’t have the right to an opinion about how Native Americans should feel they are represented. To assert otherwise, to insist that another group must think and feel differently about themselves is, guess what, an exercise of white privilege.

And, to cut off this inevitable train of thought at the pass, this same standard does not apply to, say, the Boston Celtics or the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. As an American of about one-quarter Irish descent, these depictions do affect and reflect me. I don’t find them offensive, and the consensus of Irish Americans is that they are not offensive. And though there is a nasty history of oppression against the Irish in America’s past, an argument that such oppression is happening today, let alone that these depictions have in the recent past been used to denigrate and disparage Irish Americans, is most difficult to support.

The word “cracker” is not racist. Go back to my previous explanation of the difference between prejudice and racism. The word “cracker” has not been used to denigrate European Americans over an extended period of time to ensure that they will be subjugated in society. Whether the word reflects prejudice is another matter, but perhaps might best be taken on a case-by-case basis.

A racist action does not equal a racist person. The charge of racism is so loaded that the one action you can be certain will shut down any change is to call someone a racist. I argue that, in order for a person to be racist, they must exhibit focused acts of racism over an extended period of time. By this definition, there are indeed racists, but I would argue the vast majority of people are not racist.

On the other hand, I think most white people commit acts of racism. Many of these acts are unintentional. We mirror attitudes and behaviors that racist cultural artifacts have handed down to us. But if we do not correct our actions, we contribute to the continuation of racism.

So the next time someone tells you did something racist, I suggest you follow this course of action: Stop, apologize, consider how the act was racist, and work to avoid doing the act again. It takes a measure of humility and effort, but the long-term benefits to society are immeasurable.

The people who can provide the most honest account of a group are the people who belong to that group. If I want to know the views of women, I ask many women. I don’t just ask one, because no one person should ever be expected to represent an entire group, but I can gather a general consensus if I ask many. The same goes for any group, majority or minority, whether by race, sex, gender, orientation, ethnicity, nationality, religion, disability, politics, on and on. No group is homogeneous. We are, in the end, all unique.

The converse is also true. I don’t want white people telling me what African Americans or Native Americans think or feel. I don’t want men telling me what women think or feel. On and on. For someone to assert an authority voice for a group to which they do not belong is the height of arrogance and, often, privilege.

Overcoming white privilege takes much time and effort but is worth it. First, you have to recognize it exists. This is not easy since, as I said before, if you are white, you can go through life just fine without ever having to think about it. To recognize it means upending some paradigms that have been handed down to you in your culture.

Then you have to identify how it works in your own life. As you go about your day, think about what you don’t have to deal with as a white person.

Next, you have to be willing to listen. Like I said, the only people who can bear proper witness to a group’s experience are members of that group. Again, this will upend some paradigms, and you must remember that listening is just that, not contradicting, not arguing. Later you can suss things out, on your own. For example, a neighbor of mine railed against public education not teaching that the Greeks stole their entire culture from Africa. On an objective level, not only would he be hard-pressed to provide verifiable evidence, but the statement expresses a misunderstanding of what culture is. But on the subjective level, he was rightfully pissed off that the African American perspective gets cut out of our history textbooks.

Then consider what you can do to disrupt the racist structures in society. Only you can say what you can do–whether it is a small action or a big action, it will contribute to the betterment of society. But inaction equals compliance, so goes the activist creed.

All of this has been milling about in my head for a long time. They are issues I am passionate about and are close to my heart. It’s just that they all spilt out today.

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Among the Leaves

Tonight I have a wonderful professional opportunity. I will be one of twelve poets (yes, on occasion I write poetry, too) reading at Minneapolis Central Library as part of the city’s Pride Week. The readings will be from two books: Among the Leaves: Queer Male Poets on the Midwestern Experience and When We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwestern Experience. [I have absolutely no clue why it’s not letting me link the full title there–must be a bug.] I have six poems in the former book and will be reading two.

Now, it is a very funny story how I ended up in this anthology. This time last year, I was in Introduction to Creative Writing, taught by G.E. Patterson at Metropolitan State University. As is typical of many such classes, the course was broken down into three units: poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. I wanted to get done with the poetry unit as soon as possible because I did not like poetry, contemporary poetry in particular. I thought contemporary poetry was sloppy, no structure, no reason to it. Lines were broken randomly, and all the classical features I had been taught in high school were tossed to the wind. Besides, I think like every high schooler, I didn’t think that damn wheelbarrow meant anything.

But Mr. Patterson opened my eyes to poetry. Seemingly random breaks were used to emphasize words and to create new meaning. A poem was not meant to tell a story, but to capture a moment. A poem must be read multiple times before you can catch all of its meaning and intention. And, of course, he had me writing poetry that fit this new paradigm.

At about the end of the poetry unit, I went to the launch party of couplets for a shrinking world, a poetry collection by my friend John Medeiros. The party was to open with a reading, and as is typical of everything in the creative world, it was getting a late start. So, being an extrovert who was there by myself, I got to talking to strangers around me. Behind me was a gentleman named Raymond Luczak, who, upon hearing that I was writing poetry, said, “Well, I thought I knew every gay poet in the Twin Cities, but I guess I didn’t. Listen, I’m publishing an anthology of poetry from queer male poets. The deadline for submission was two weeks ago. But, if you can submit to me eight poems germane to the Midwestern experience within 24 hours, and they’re good, then you’re in. I’ll publish six, but I want eight to pick from.”

I’m not one to pass up opportunities like that, so I agreed, and after the festivities, headed home and pored over my poetry–all of which at this point was school assignments. I figured out what might fit the theme, and came up only with five poems. It was getting late. I went to bed, thinking I could write poetry better after a good night’s sleep, with a fresh mind. (To this day, I prefer to write in the morning.)

The next morning, I looked through some of my prose work and found a piece that could be reworked into a poem. After I rewrote that piece, I pulled two more poems out of thin air. I e-mailed the poems to Raymond with about five hours to spare.

He contacted me straightaway, and said that he liked the work, but that one piece needed to be tightened, and that another was poorly expressed and came off unintentionally racist. (When I do something unintentionally racist, I want to be called out for it so I can contemplate how I could have done things differently, and correct course in the future. The surest corrective of white privilege is humility.) So I tightened the first piece, and wrote yet another new poem to replace the accidentally offensive work, resubmitted, and got the okay.

And that is how I got my first publishing credit. I think there are some lessons in this story:

If you’re a writer, go to literary events as much as possible. It pays to keep your big yap open. Strangers are some of the coolest people–you never know who you’re talking to. Write enough so that you have a healthy backlog of material–you never know when some finished work will come in handy. Pressure can produce creativity. You don’t have a say about how something should affect a group you don’t belong to–to believe otherwise is a cornerstone of privilege. Keep your eyes open: opportunity can pop up in the strangest places. And to have strangers read your work is one of the most awesome and humbling things in the world.

Oh, yeah, if you’re reading this and live in the Twin Cities area, consider dropping by for the reading this evening:

Gay Pride: Poetry Reading
Minneapolis Central Library
Pohlad Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN, 55401
Tuesday, June 25, 7–9 p.m.

Listen to local GLBTQ authors who contributed poems on the Midwestern experience in two Squares & Rebels anthologies: “When We Become Weavers” edited by Kate Lynn Hibbard and “Among the Leaves” edited by Raymond Luczak.
This project is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Presented in partnership with Queer Voices Reading Series of Intermedia Arts.

[Despite what the library website says, registration isn’t necessary.]

Listen

I have issues with my appetite. It’s not apparent from my waistline, but that comes from my lack of exercise. I get hungry but don’t feel like eating. It’s difficult to manage. When I do get the urge to eat, I do whatever I can to make sure I eat something.

So I’m out running errands this morning when I need to eat. Having just checked my bank account, I know there’s only one option for me close by: Taco Bell. I know, I know–they use bits and parts and call it ground beef, but it’s cheap, and that’s often my number-one measure of the desirability of food.

So I go to the Taco Bell in Minneapolis’s downtown skyway system. I come in at the very beginning of the lunch rush. The cashier, a friendly African American woman, takes my order. I get my cup for water, since I try to avoid soda–the cashier said she wished she could have some water–and await my order. The manager, a middle-aged white man, barks out the names of the line staff. I’ve been to this Taco Bell enough to know that I only know of one other white person to work on the line. As I await my meal, the manager hands me a soda cup. He says I get a free soda because his staff is “annoying” him.

I was in shock. I’ve worked enough in the public sector to know that his behavior was thoroughly unacceptable. When I worked at Minnesota Children’s Museum, we talked about “on-stage” and “off-stage” behavior–when working in clear sight of the public, you are “on stage.” What this manager did was abysmal on-stage behavior, and pretty lousy for off-stage behavior, as well. Finally, one of the line staff–a young African American man–calls out my order number.

I am not a confrontational person. When I am put into the position to speak up, my right leg shakes, my heart pounds, and I struggle to get my voice above a whisper. But I told the manager, “I’m not taking my meal, you don’t treat your employees very well,” and rushed out before he could say a word to me and I turned into a quivering mass of passivity on the floor. He made me lose my appetite, anyway.

All of this came on the heels of my catching a story in today’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune (front-page in the print edition, buried in the online): Minnesota has the widest racial gap in home ownership in the United States.

This divide in housing does not surprise me at all. I’ve lived in a number of neighborhoods across the Twin Cities. Most of our neighborhoods are divided by race. I don’t have my picture posted on my blog, so you don’t necessarily know until I tell you that I’m white. (Technically, I’m white-skinned–my racial background takes more explaining than I wish to do here. But society treats me as white, and that’s what matters as far as the line of reasoning I’m developing here is concerned.) And I’ve felt far more comfortable in neighborhoods where people who look like me are a minority. I often say that I blame it all on Sesame Street, that the show taught me that living in a racially diverse community is an inherently good thing. And I think that’s part of it. But I also think that I’m not often comfortable in large groups of white people because I associate being white with having money, which I can’t relate to.

Earlier this week, a most remarkable thing happened. A man named Charles Ramsey rescued three women who had been kidnapped a decade ago. (I’m not going to link the great many reports of the incident here. If you don’t know about this, Google it.) It was simple as noticing something wasn’t right and calling the police, but it’s the sort of thing a lot of people don’t do. When there’s drama in our neighborhoods, many of us tend to look the other way, not wanting to get involved. As the product of an abusive household, I am well aware of the phenomenon. Mr. Ramsey’s quick thinking saved these women’s lives.

Rightfully, the press hailed him as a hero. Unfortunately, the attention didn’t stop there. People were quick to mock Mr. Ramsey’s working-class values and African American vernacular. Out rolled the stills from the TV interviews, with sophomoric jokes dutifully typed out in Impact font.

Not everyone was in on the joke. Some have pointed out the layers of privilege and racism that have been uncovered this week, most notably in this spectacular blog post. Mr. Ramsey’s statement that a white woman rushing into the arms of a black man can only mean trouble is an ugly truth we in America ignore. Or, rather, we whites in America ignore. Because perhaps the ugliest thing about privilege is that if you have it, you never have to think about it in order to successfully navigate life. Mr. Ramsey pointed out that America really hasn’t progressed since the days of Emmett Till, as much as we whites would like to pat ourselves on the back and convince ourselves otherwise.

Mr. Ramsey has revealed the tiniest bit of his Story in interviews, only to have it mocked by people who weren’t raised to have empathy. It is only by earnestly listening to each other that we have any hope as a species.

Listen.

Edited to add (I meant to say this originally and forgot): I think it so funny that, from what we know, Charles Ramsey could probably be the best neighbor someone could have: hardworking, amiable, watchful. And yet how many of my fellow white Minneapolites would avoid living next to him.

Opinions

In my online Adolescent Lit class the other day, we were asked to read two essays regarding the value of young-adult literary awards created especially for works that showcase the writing and stories of racial and ethnic minorities. The first essay was written by a white male scholar, who believed that such awards prefer subject matter over literary merit, and thus run a great risk of rewarding inferior writing. The second essay was written by an African American female author as a direct rebuttal, explaining the history of how mainstream awards have repeatedly dismissed the efforts of non-white authors and illustrators.

For my class, we were to post our response as to which side won the debate in the class “discussion,” which functions like a message board. I wrote that the field of literature was an extension of the field of academia, which exists as the result of centuries of white privilege and institutional racism. The vast majority of whites are, for many reasons, ignorant of the privileges they are afforded in society based solely on the color of their skin. Moreover, a person has no ground on which to claim what is appropriate for a group to which he does not belong, particularly if he belongs to a group that has historically oppressed the group in question. (This is simply a matter of respect in my book.) For these reasons, in the class discussion, I made the bold assertion that the first essayist did not even have the right to an opinion in the matter.

I awaited a mob of classmates, charging with virtual pitchforks, ready to pillory me for daring to suggest that someone doesn’t have the right to an opinion. I waited in vain. Most of my classmates–interestingly, including many who are not white–appreciated my perspective, and stated that they hadn’t even considered the angle of white privilege. Only one student rebutted my claim that the first essayist didn’t have the right to an opinion, since, as we are so often told, everyone always has the right to an opinion.

I, of course, disagree.  For example, I have the right to an opinion about matters of taste. But even then, that only goes so far. I may not like what someone is wearing, for instance, but even then, I don’t necessarily have the right to air my opinion about it, especially if doing so belittles the other person (and so often it does.) In fact, if someone is walking down the street stark naked, the only reason that should be my business is if that person is too cold–then, it is my moral obligation as a fellow human being to ensure they are warm.

As I stated already, I don’t have the right to an opinion of how a group should feel or be treated, if I don’t belong to that group. But that never happens, right?

And then there are matters in which it doesn’t even make sense for opinion to come into play–and yet it seems almost everyone, in their postmodern, it’s-all-what-you-believe mentality, thinks otherwise. Many of these matters have to do with what a person has the right to know.

I do not have the right to know what two (or more) consenting adults do in the bedroom.

I do not have a right to know how your genitalia look or how they function. I do not have the right to an opinion as to whether your genitalia should match what I think your gender is, or even what  you think your gender is.

I could go on, but I need to get a move-on with my day. Blogger Dan Pearce has a great list that delves further into this issue. I’m not sure I agree with all of them, but overall, it is great food for thought.

Like I said, there is much more I want to say on this subject, but that will have to wait for other days.