Above: Daryl Davis, who befriended dozens of KKK members, shows off collection of robes surrendered to him.
“Talking to anyone anywhere in 2018 is just landmine hopscotch.” ~ Tina Fey
“Just like you can’t judge a book by the cover…we all got to be careful how we treat one another.” ~ Buddy Guy, Skin Deep
Calling someone online “racist” right off the bat has a way of making a tough and helpful conversation antagonistic.
Let’s dialogue, listen, learn—that stuff is hard. Yelling is easy, especially online.
Then, once you get to know ’em, if they’re racist, they’re racist. But even them calling ’em such may not help them change. All of us have blind spots. There’s a great example of this gent who talks with KKK members, and converts them:
There’s a great article in the NY Times, today, by a Republican, I believe, about how we liberals (yes, surprise, I’m liberal) would do best not to trip over ourselves on the way to the mid-term elections, and the 2020 election—you know, the one where Donald J. Trump will try to inflict another 4 years of his sh*tstorms on our democracy.
This article, by this Republican, is about how we’re so enmeshed in aggression—aggressive activism, aggressive judgement, trash talk online, soapboxing self-righteousness—that we’ve labeled half the country racist without listening or talking with them.
The definition of that sort of pre-judging is, you know, prejudice. I wrote that, not this NY Times op-ed gentleman. Don’t want to put words in his mouth.
We have a best-selling cap at Elephant, that I put together, that urges us all—all of us—Trumpians and progressives and Black Lives Matter and NRA and, mostly, those who live life without a clear political label—to Make Love Great Again. The small print reads: We’re all in this together (whether we like it, or not). Let’s disagree, agreeably. We don’t have to agree. But we do have to listen. Because society is a quilt, and we’re tearing at it, and while we’re tearing at it we think somehow we’re making things better.
Justice and equality are non-negotiable. But the way we get there, quickly, is not to build up an “enemy” in our minds and attack it. It’s to educate, as does Daryl Davis, a black Chicago man who has converted over 200 KKK members. By converted, I mean, befriended. But really, they’ve given up their robes to him, and learned that they don’t hate him or those like him.
That’s bravery. There’s nothing passive about Daryl. There’s nothing weak about love, or peace. They’re nothing weak about not pre-judging others, whether they’re KKK or an innocent African-American boy in a hoodie walking to the corner store
If enlightened society—for all Americans, for all of us in the world, for all women, for all children, for all—is something we want—if we take Peace on Earth to heart—well, we can get there. We just have to remember to breathe through our reactions, and listen, and remain open, and remember that true strength is not represented by aggression, but by brave, tender fearlessness.