Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Racism Wolf You Love to Cry

Crowd of boys with MAGA hats at Lincoln Memorial

Let’s not pretend you care about racism. Sadly, many of my fellow Americans do not even seem that concerned with truth. We care more about what supports our version of the truth, and we can all see (if we try) that is having devastating consequences.

When I first watched the video from the National Mall this past weekend featuring the now famous encounter, I was saddened and angry like most people. So, I watched it again, and it seemed so heartless. Furthermore, I personally identified with everyone present – someone of white heritage, a conservative, a Catholic, a proponent of the right to life… and a Native American. It didn’t make sense. Surely, a trained progressive would tell me that is because I am privileged not to see racism. However, a correction should be made - I choose first to see truth.

The primary account of the story was that the high school boys surrounded Nathan Phillips – a Native American Man – and ridiculed him as he peacefully played his drum. According to Phillips, he was responding to the boys who were chanting, “Build That Wall” and were acting angrily toward him and others. Of all the cameras recording this situation that day, not one seems to have recorded the purported chant. Of all video footage available, the boys do not appear to be angry. They were in effect having an impromptu pep rally, as claimed by a participant to counter or drown out the real hate – from a small group of extremely vocal “Black Hebrew Israelites.” 

If this is the same group of men who gather to preach their intolerance at Metro stops in Washington, D.C., then I am somewhat familiar with their rants, and locals usually just walk by in attempts to ignore them. On the National Mall that day, these “preachers” are recorded calling these high school students from Kentucky “dusty ass crackers,” “incest babies,” “school shooters,” and more. In addition, they made hateful references to women, Catholics, homosexuals, and even Native Americans as “Uncle Tomahawks.” Yet, no one in this national knee-jerk outcry have a tenth of the interest in denouncing this pure, blatant hate speech in their quest to confront racism. Why is that? After riding public transportation in Washington, D.C. for years, this kind of black-on-nonblack vitriol is not unheard of, and nobody raises an eyebrow. I have been threatened with gun violence, called an Anglo-Saxon, told my mother must be a whore to have a son like me - all within the Metro system and once by a Metro employee. No one stopped a bus or stepped in to protect me on the train, and certainly no one started a viral campaign to counter or promote violence against my verbal attackers. People just look the other way.

Why? Because that’s not the way racism is supposed to work. White people are racist. Republicans are racist. “Make America Great Again” caps are inherently racist. Confronting someone who is from a traditionally oppressed group is racist. So, you have a Native American with cameras rolling behind him walk up and get in the face of a white boy with a MAGA hat – who doesn’t budge - and you have liberal internet gold! Never mind, these boys were not recorded saying anything hateful. Never mind, these boys seemed to be chanting along with Mr. Phillips happily. Never mind that the boys were audibly uncomfortable with one of their own African-American classmates being called the N-word or with homosexuals being openly disparaged. Never mind that one of the other Native American instigators told the boys to “go back to Europe, where you came from; this is not your land!” No, that’s not the way racism is supposed to work.

People like to tell other people how racism works, and to some extent, I appreciate the enlightenment. However, it’s gone too far, and people have overplayed their hands. Too many people rely too heavily on this too soon, that they do the actual cause of seeking racial harmony (wait, what?) harm in the attempt to appear in the moral majority. If you rushed to judgment, you don’t care about racism, and you don’t care about the truth. You care about yourself - whether you are a news outlet trying to get clicks, a member of Congress trying to score political points, or just a regular person trying to be woke. You want to be a part of this Indian’s peace prayer chant? Calm down and see people and situations for who and what they are, regardless of what that can do for you.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Kim from the Philippines

Filipino woman seated

She lit up the room with her pensive gaze, quietly waiting for her turn to board. This room was an airport gate in Cebu. A quick glance at her had me, but I never try to speak to a woman at the airport; people come and go vast distances from this place (me included), so why bother with someone you will never see again? Carry on.

However, boarding that Philippine Airlines flight 2927, I made my way through the aisle to find my seat and had to do a double-take - actually, triple-take - of my boarding pass, because that same beauty who had caught my eye was there at the window seat next to mine! Travels have taken me on many flights, and it is a rare occasion when I will actually speak a word to my seatmate - even for hours-long journeys. But this time was different. She quietly read her Bible, with all apparent desire to keep to herself for the flight. Years previous, I had interrupted a woman from reading to make her acquaintance, and it did not go nearly well enough to warrant another attempt on this occasion, however I was quickly resolute in giving it a go. I like to think that God was both my witness and my first test as Kim and I engaged about Jesus and the Bible. In the course of that relatively short inter-island flight, she nearly immediately surpassed my several main criteria for the ideal woman.

prayer text overlaying a woman with black hair photographing Alaska scenery

But then, what is the ideal woman or the perfect mate? Sometimes, people seem ideal, but circumstances are not. Maybe there is no perfect, or maybe we all come into one another's lives to just play a part in their puzzle, helping to make them complete at a later date... and vice-versa.

Kim and I did go on to meet in Qatar, the Philippines again, Tanzania, and throughout the United States. We are both world travelers, each making our way through our own discoveries and documenting along the way. I showed off to her, America: snowy Manhattan, the beaches of Southern California, our nation's capital, her first jazz show and rock concert, the Philly cheesesteak, key lime pie, Miami nightlife, the Golden Gate Bridge, high school football, Major League Baseball, Texas barbecue, the vast natural magnificence of Alaska, craft cocktails, and In-N-Out. While in the end, I am tempted to say she was not impressed. But could you blame her? The life of an international flight attendant is blessed with the best of the entire world; in her case, I'd say that is as it should be.

Young Filipino woman in dress and shawl

"Kim from the Philippines" is her vlog (video series) and social media persona which takes followers on tours with her to major destinations, as well as lesser-known excursions, all around the world. She takes her fans bungee jumping in Switzerland, through Cairo in a day, and even on a glass-bottom boat adventure for two in Seattle! You can find her on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.