Our diversity is a strength, as long as it unifies us. It’s a major strength. In fact, it is that “thing” that makes America different from anywhere else in the world. If America was a product, that is how I would market it. In fact, that’s exactly what we did at the turn of the 20th century.
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No One Gets Left Behind, So We’re Stronger Together
A diverse culture has a greater range of ideas to draw from. A diverse culture can’t be easily subverted by misinformation because our response to events is less predictable and any such disruptive foreign policy strategy would need to account for a greater range of groups and ideas. Having a larger set of cultural elements also provides us with greater flexibility.
When foreign or internal powers seek to divide us along ethnic boundaries, it weakens us, it causes pain, it stifles our progress on other issues, and it leaves lasting scars. When problems erupt along ethnic boundaries and things get bad enough, we could be dealing with the consequences of those problems for two generations. That kind of scar tissue is sensitive and can be triggered later on. We need a dialogue on racial and ethnic issues, if we ever want them to improve, but people on the extremes of any “side” need to calm down.
Diversity is a strength as long as we are united through it. If we allow it to be used against us, if we act on it ourselves and exacerbate serious issues, then we are squandering the energy and political capital we could invest in other changes in our society. We have to address these concerns, so that they become our strength.
Nowhere else in the entire world can you find more diversity than America! That is our strength! It is our brand. If there was nationalism in America, what would it look like? Nationalism is fueled by pride in one’s nation. We should be proud of our diversity and determined to make it a strength. In America, nationalism shouldn’t divide us along ethnic boundaries. It should unite us.
America is a microcosm of the world. Our world is lucky to have such a great nation, a superpower, where so many cultures flourish together. Yes, there is a ton of progress to be made, but overpopulation threatens the world like never before. Resources are dwindling. These are conditions that spark war, except that tension is growing on a global scale.
If Diversity Makes America Stronger, Then It Can Make the World Stronger
In a way, America has been cursed by a legacy of centuries-old genocide and slavery. But in wierd a way, we are blessed by a population representing a patchwork of ethnicities in the 21st century world. Here we are in the most powerful country and we will be forced to resolve these differences. We have to. Think about what it’d be like to live in a world where the handful of most powerful nations did not have much ethnic diversity. How would an overpopulation conflict across the globe play out then?
What happens in America with regard to ethnic tensions is an indication of what will happen for the rest of the world.
Like I said, America is a microcosm. Our diversity here symbolically reflects the diversity everywhere else. If these problems boil over and promote instability, the same thing will happen the world over. So we seriously need to get our shit together and figure this out. As individuals, we have to be willing to turn the other cheek; to reach out; to seek understanding. If we do not do that here, now, it’s an incredibly bad omen for the world in 2050.
The following is advice for any social movement. And just to clarify, none of this article should be taken as a critique on Black Lives Matter protestors.
Tolerance? Discrimination? How do we improve these? How can someone improve a social issue they can’t talk about? Yes, we should be more tolerant! Absolutely! But we also have to be tolerant of people who are intolerant. That doesn’t mean we should like it, no!
If you completely cut someone off who’s been labelled as racist, what does that do? Has anyone in this country actually watched American History X? How does the character Lamont breakthrough to the neonazi character? Does he do it by ignoring that character? Avoiding him? Isolating him? No! Just the opposite.
If we want to resolve ethnic tensions in America, we need communication and we can’t immediately respond to a differing viewpoint by escalating tension.
We have to respond to intolerance itself with tolerance! That doesn’t mean we should be passively tolerant of intolerance, but gauge your intentions when you react to something.
Watch how people react to those who disagree with them. I admire people like Gandhi and Dr. King because they dealt with a lot of outright injustice and they did it with grace! They knew their actions spoke more powerfully than any words they could ever utter. They knew they were surrounded by people who wanted change and people who were vitriously opposed to it.
But, how did they respond? They allowed their actions to speak for themselves and they allowed their opponents actions to speak for their opponents and they believed that people would see things as they were. That is it! Their strategy was truth! Truth and nothing more!
That is, except perhaps loving their enemy enough to grant him or her forgiveness for their ignorance. And they suffered for this. They suffered through the ignorance and intolerance, but maintained the grace to forgive their enemies, right through the midst of it all. It’s not easy to maintain your inner peace in the middle of some grave injustice.
An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Go Blind!
There are too many people on all sides with insensitive and/or flat out wrong viewpoints. Some of my own viewpoints could be insensitive. I’m sorry if that’s the case. I really try to keep them to myself. The only reason I wrote this article is because I feel it would have a positive effect in most contexts with regard to the current tension. I absolutely do not condone or intend to encourage any kind of racist or intolerant bullshit. We need to come together in this country.
The following is a account of being wrongfully labelled as racist in my personal life and how it made me feel.
I was Wrongfully Labelled as Racist
From 2009 through 2013, I felt unfairly labeled as a racist, occassionally. I don’t know how it happened. For a variety of reasons, I suppose, none of which had anything to do with me making overtly racially-oriented statements. Moreso, I didn’t feel any negativity towards any ethnic group, even when I felt I was unfairly labeled. First it happened to a minor degree in jamskating.
Racist Until Proven Otherwise…
Then, it happened at each job I had, where I would have to strongly assert myself to avoid being labelled as racist. Each time I got a new job, I would get the feeling that someone had labelled me that way. Nothing major, nothing overt. Each time, within about a week of starting. It was just something I became accustomed to shaking off. I figured it was because I had a southern accent because I was not sending any of those signals. I had long since learned my lesson: leave my politics at home, so it wasnt that. They could have identified those from my Facebook, though.
If you label someone as racist because they have a southern accent, doesn’t that make you prejudiced?
Because It Was Convenient…
I got the feeling I was labelled because it was politically convenient. I mean political in the sense that labelling me allowed someone to gain advantage by discrediting me amoung the people in some group: jamskaters or coworkers. But, to some degree, I mean political in the traditional sense, in that I saw it used as a tool to restrain & isolate other people, mostly Libertarians. I think it was used on me in that way. To some people, Libertarian was a euphemism for racist. There is one specific situation I recall, where I made well-meaning, but insensitive comments to an individual.
But Did They Seek To Improve the Situation?
But in the workplace or public life, I could never respond to it because it was always an insinuation. That kind of stuff is cowardly, if you ask me. If you have a problem with someone and you want it to improve, then you’ll reach out to them and talk to them. If you want an excuse to exacerbate problems, then labelling someone as racist is perfect because that person is not likely to be able to respond. It’s not exactly a subject you would bring up. And think about it, if the person actually cared about the sensitivity of these issues, would they carelessly use it as a tool? To gain minor political advantage in some group dynamic? That completely disregards the sensitivity of this subject!
Passive Aggressive Behavior Avoids Opportunity for Reaction by Design
If you find yourself labelled in this way, any statement that you make feels stilted. No one’s going to ask you directly or confirm. The best you’ll get is people rorshocking you, which is like bouncing trigger words off you and gauging your response. It’s about as scientific as a fucking fortune teller. And if this person is malicious and trying to mislead people, selfishly exploiting a sensitive subject to gain personal advantage, do you think they’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt? No! It’s a tool to discredit you by playing to an issue that an amoral baby-eating sociopath sees as being effective in a disgusting, utilitarian manner.
A Self-Perpetuating Feedback Loop of Negativity
When people are A/B testing your reactions like this, don’t you think that has the propensity to go horribly wrong? In fact, wouldn’t it create a negative, corrosive feedback loop, driving people to experience negativity by being labelled as racist when they are not? Or when direct, straightforward statements to that person would have indicated to them that they should shut the fuck up because they don’t know what they are talking about and race is a sensitive subject that shouldn’t be approached without care?
This Person or Persons Knew What They Were Doing
If someone understood people well enough to know how use passive aggressive behavior to get away with falsely labelling someone like that … then, shouldn’t they have the foresight to understand how that wrongfully directed negativity might contribute to someone’s personal feelings on race? In other words, negativity begets negativity. Someone well versed in group dynamics, sociology and psychology should be able to see that’s a possible consequence of their actions, right? … But they don’t care? They don’t care that the end result of their action contributes to the opposite of their ostensible goal of acting against racism? What would happen if the person you did that to wasn’t psychologically mature enough to handle it? Did this person bother to assess that? …
The only thing I’m trying to say here is that this happened to me several times from 2009 through 2013. As in, there was strong, protracted action in my social group stemming from one person, who labelled me behind my back. And then I would spend months wiping muck off my face, simply because someone wanted an effective means of preventing me from gaining influence. I moved several times to escape the suffocation of whatever crap I’ve been going through the past decade, of which this is a small part. In fact, I wanted to move to make my situation visible to more people… I’m lucky that I haven’t been thrown in an asylum at this point, not because I have psychological issues. Because I have socialogical issues.
And guess what? Each time, the person who labeled me was a white guy. With strong left-leaning tendencies. A fucking white guy stirring up some serious muck. I am so angry even writing about this right now. This is not to say that we can’t stand up for each other and correct others who make racist statements…
What Exactly Are Your Intentions?
You want these issues to get better, right? Because if someone uses an issue like this, oh my !@#$!^@ &$#@! that is the most blindingly ignorant bullshit I can imagine. It’s one thing to have a misunderstanding. It’s another thing to willfully burden someone with a false label to discredit them, while being completely capable of understanding that the indirect consequences of doing so might actually contribute to exacerbating a problem you claim to care so much about. And to top it off, this requires a few weeks of minor actions and talking behind my back and not a single instance of one of these people directly talking to me about it. So I think we can see, if someone did do this, they didn’t care about the issue, they cared about discrediting me! That’s bullshit!
Why Am I Blogging About This?
First off, let me tell you that I am not an expert on the subject of race relations or diversity. In fact, I’ve been thinking of taking a Coursera classlike that, mostly so I don’t misstep and hurt someone’s feelings when I mean well. I know what feels right to me, but I can’t know how exactly it feels to be in other people’s shoes. Taking a class like that would benefit myself greatly.
Usually, I just keep my mouth shut. That usually works pretty good, unless you’re the quiet guy who finds himself targeted to be discredited and only God knows why.
In December 2014, I interviewed with Instacart for a Rails job and several “shenanigans” happened. After the interview, I attended a Rails meetup, right down the street from their office. If I paid $2000+ to interview someone and I was aware they were attending an event down the street, I might ask another employee to attend anonymously. I met one of the guys who ran the ABC show Startup U, who approached me and asked me questions. So, someone else knew I was there … maybe.
But there was someone who started one of those conversations that took an abrupt accusatory tone and involved racial topics. Basically, there was a Japanese guy there, who had a nametag with a traditional Japanese first and last name. So I approached him and asked him if he was Japanese. I’m interested in the language and culture. We actually emailed back and forth afterwards.
After that conversation, this other guy (not related to Instacart or ABC or whatever) starts that indirect accusatory conversation, of which I am not a part. So I joined in. I knew what he was trying to say, but I wanted to make sure I knew that kids name and I still do. I wanted to make sure I killed him with kindness. I can’t stand that crap. I’m in fucking Silicon Valley for a fucking interview you twerp. Right down the fucking street from a company who’s stock options would have netted me TWO MILLION DOLLARS, you fuck.
Have you thought about picking on someone who doesn’t have aspergers? Or maybe just … I donno .. giving someone a chance to explain themselves? Ever think about that? Oh! But No! That’s not what it’s about. It’s about discrediting me. So why the fuck would they give me a chance to set the record straight?
Is This Loud and Clear?
But why would I blog about it? Because I want people to hear me say this. I want to make it loud and clear. I wouldn’t care if everyone on the goddamn planet could hear me. In fact, I would want them to. I would want every single fucking person on the planet to examine my life under a goddamn microscope and verify for themselves: DAVID CONNER IS NOT A FUCKING RACIST YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES.
I’m So Tired of Being Defined by Others, Simply because I’m Quiet and They Have a Megaphone
I am not claiming that I am a perfect person. Far from it, but I would be willing to be judged after having my entire life sifted through. With regard to race, I have made a few poor statements, not driven by negativity, but by carelessness. However, I have seriously had it with this shit where I’m falsely labelled, yet never given the chance to respond. There’s no one left to stand up for me and I am tired of being held up as an example of what is truly my antithesis. And it’s not just being labelled as racist. It extends to other things as well.
And it is infuriating that I find myself socially isolated, while everyone else tells my story for me. The world doesn’t really hear what I have to say and I never actually get the chance to make a first impression because someone has already gone ahead of me to sling the muck before I even get the chance to say “Hi, my name is David Conner.” If I do move to somewhere, by myself, where no one knows me – as I have done two or three times – and I disconnect my Facebook, it’s only a matter of time before that smeared, discredited image catches up to me. And it’s not me, yet who feels the door getting slammed in their face, time after time?
I’m tired of it because I have sacrificed a lot of opportunities to maintain specific political viewpoints. Specifically, to have some issue like that just carelessly tossed around to discredit me is bullshit! Someone that does that, willingly, with comprehension of how those actions would foment negativity? They need to go piss on a powerline.