Sunday, May 13, 2007

Late Night Contemplations....

Perhaps it's because it's midnight. Maybe it's because I've already been away from those I love and my comfortable setting for about 24 hours and I'm getting near withdrawal. Maybe it's the Amber Bock in my hand. In any case, I'm experiencing immense amounts of contemplation tonight. Plus, I haven't posted for a while and it's about time.

I was talking with my big brother last night as he was in town and we hit the bars to play pool together. We ran into a friend from my old life who said hi, patted me on the back, and walked off. He was my boss once at Pacific Sunwear when I worked there in high school. In order for the story with my brother to have any impact, it needs prefaced with another story.

Willie, my old assistant manager from Pac Sun, was giving me my shift duties one day after I had clocked in in the back room. Willie is a 6'6" 210lb black man. A former linebacker in college football. Anywho, it seemed like a heavy load for just one shift, and I was little upset at how much I had to do. A poignant remark came out of my mouth which could have been percieved as racist in hindesight, but I didn't even notice it at the time. It wasn't until that night when we were closing together that he let me know his disdain for what I said. I didn't even know I had upset him at the time. We got it settled that night (I was terribly emberrassed by my words) and I apologized with every fiber of my being. He really didn't hold it against me. I was so emberrassed that I actually ended up giving up the job. It was too awkward.

Needless to say, I learned a lot from my mistake that day at work. Willie said some things that really made me think. We all have prejudices that we carry around without even thinking about. We have racist/sexist/homophobic/hate-influenced words in our vocabulary that we use without even noticing. It's terrible, but it's true. Willie told me how sometimes when he'd walk down the street he'd watch old ladies clutch their purses in fear. It broke my heart to hear about.

Anyway, Peter, my brother, was confused at how Willie and I were still friendly acquaintances. He didn't know why I wasn't upset at the situation. I ended up quitting my job because Willie thought I was racist. Shouldn't I be jaded? If he called me anything racist, I wouldn't do anything about it. Wasn't this a double standard that I should take offense at? Well, what I said was racist. Perhaps there is a double standard, but it's in my favor. I shouldn't be allowed to get away with any racist remarks, no matter how young or naive I am. It makes me think about all of the benefits of being a middle-class, white, male American that I enjoy without even thinking about it. I don't think it's fair. I hate it. I hate that I can't stop enjoying the benefits of it. They're everywhere.

There are a lot of experiences like that in my life. It just makes me wonder. What could I do to love everyone more entirely? How could my life be a theophony of love? What am I doing in my life that is hurting people without my knowledge? I've got to keep my eyes open more and learn to watch myself very closely. The last thing I'd like to do is hurt someone, especially unintentionally and for stupid reasons like gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. I'll keep my eyes open.

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