I have always appreciated blunt people. I used to be one until I realized that I hurt a lot of feelings, downright intimidated folks and pissed others off. So since then, I’ve backed off and become more “PC” and polite. Long ago, I didn’t give a shit. It was their problem if they didn’t like what came out of my mouth because, of course, I was only telling “the truth.” Or at least feeling incredibly entitled to my shitty little opinion, along with my equally shitty attitude. I was sensitive to a fault, but still much preferred that someone just get it out and get it over with rather than pussyfooting around and leave me suspended in a false reality. Example: Before a boyfriend would cheat, like the first day we made the relationship official, I’d say something like, “Don’t bullshit me. If you like or wanna screw someone else, just let me know or dump me. I’d rather be firm in the truth of the situation than for us both to live with a lie between us – that lie being monogamy as a college student. Dude, we’re only 19, so I won’t die with sorrow over you wanting to tongue wrestle with another. I’m not that psycho or unrealistic.” Usually he’d nod and we’d break up about two weeks later. The truth was working for me, albeit lonely.
I even had a soft spot for the brash, borderline ignorant folks whom I encountered. I loved the rude teachers that made us uncomfortably aware that many of us would fail their classes. It didn’t scare me. It gave me a new challenge or a good reason to drop. Other hyper honest bunches (in general) were black folks, the Brits and old folks who had lived long enough not to give a damn anymore. For examples of unconditionally honest folks, look at Chris Rock, Bill Cosby, Melissa Harris Perry, Tim Wise, Simon Cowell (many of the other Brits might not be blatant assholes, but believe that many are just as honest), and Justin Halpern’s dad (he is brilliant). But where I really appreciated honestly, but seldom received it, was in terms of race relations and racial politics. This is one reason why race relations have improved, but not by much. We don’t trust or respect each other enough to be honest and to learn. We also don’t like taking risks for fear of what may be lost (friendship, jobs, connections, lovers, etc.), not thinking of what we can gain like integrity, a real dialogue, true friendship, and a spine.
Although I may not like the spring well it’s coming from, I have always respected the honesty of some of those old whistling Dixie whites from the South. Those old white Southerners aren’t afraid to let the feelings fly, sometime to a fault (think Arizona immigration debate). If they don’t like you, they let you know. It doesn’t matter why they don’t like you, what matters is that they are honest about it. You cannot fight an adversary that you do not know exists. It is HOW we debate and fight that is problematic, not that we do so. To have differences of opinion and exhibit emotion or anger is human and should be wholly acceptable without the PC bullshit or worse, complicit silence or active violence. As my husband once put it, I’d rather you tell me to leave your restaurant because you don’t like my type rather than have you spit in my food on the sly. It’s the covert shit that I detest. That’s what is morally reprehensible. Don’t be dishonest. Tell me how you really feel and let’s go from there and deal with any fallout like respectful, intelligent adults.
As Americans, in the name of civility, we are given permission to be passive aggressive nutjobs that are taught that being polite is best or that political correctness is actually correct. Political correctness has devolved from acknowledging racist attitudes and narrow WASP perspectives to a reason to ice skate across the truth and stab people in the back when they thought it was going to be a pat on the back. However, like my cousin Windy said, many of us don’t talk about real issues anymore because we feel like others either aren’t listening or aren’t open to differences of opinion, so why bother? I agree wholly, but there has to be some balance to this logic. Just because we aren’t talking, doesn’t mean that we aren’t suffering. We are still feeling, experiencing or being affected by what’s going on around us. And what doesn’t come out emotionally – in a healthy way, burrows further inside. And what gets stuck inside eventually implodes or explodes as we’ve seen in the news. So I still think it’s best to be honest and engage openly (when it’s really worth it) and start taking responsibility for your part.
Do parents, especially parents of the hip-hop generation, need a kick in the ass for not helping their children value more than money, sex, being hard, and flossing? Yes. Does the nonsensical, maniacally-sexualized culture we live in promote those second graders in Oakland exchanging oral sex in the classroom closet? Yes. Does Amy Chua have a point and are we too lenient with our kids in this country which points to low expectations and leads to low performance and outcomes? Yes. Do today’s blacks do more to keep each other down than any other time in American history and am I tired of hearing the fucking excuses because your excuses won’t help our kids who are dying in the streets of Chicago almost daily? Yes. Is it horrible that many American youth, regardless of race or class, no longer value life because of the shitty lives, supports, leaders, and opportunities they’ve been given and the hypocrisy they witness in this society? Yes. Does white privilege and classism still exist and is it the other elephant in the room that those who still benefit from it refuse to discuss or publicly acknowledge because it makes them feel uncomfortable or an overwhelming sense of guilt to discuss how America’s history benefits them today while disadvantaging others? Yes. Is that privilege to ignore or outright deny this issue “privilege” at it’s finest? Yes. Is white male rage over the idea of losing ultimate power in American society a contributing factor to all of the mass shootings, Tea Party bullshit and the hyper gun debate? Yes. Are fatphobia, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia (think immigration debate) still largely acceptable and promoted in American society? Yes. When we say “people of color,” are we actively excluding whites and making them all feel like oppressors or outsiders because of what has historically been done to marginalized people and aren’t terms like these moving us away from true solidarity? Yes. Are we all complicit in it all? Yes. Is this all complicated? Yes. Am I part of the problem too? Yes. Do I need to speak up more, listen much more, and nod less? Yes. Damn it, be honest for a change!
In the very least, we will know where we all stand with each other which will reveal that some of us are standing apart, alone or like Malcolm X said, not standing at all. Let’s stand for something. Let’s start talking. Let’s be open to engagement. You’re it.
4 thoughts on “At Least I'll Know Where We Stand”
WOW! I am inspired! Beautifully written – I’m ready!
OMG, we were separated at birth. 🙂 I’m also the blunt and honest one, and have stepped on toes or hurt feelings without intending to. I just cannot leave the elephant standing in the room without pointing at it and loudly describing it. 🙂 I’m also one to give a lot of honesty and not get a whole lot in return. It’s so refreshing to see that there’s another me out there, willing to say the things that need to be said. Good for you.
Thanks, Tab! We both need to keep saying what sometimes needs to be said. Audre Lourde once said, “Your silence won’t protect you” and I truly believe that.