Stop Silencing People. You Just Might Learn Something.
It was a Fourth of July night and I cruising through downtown Washington D.C. I was with my beautiful Mexican friend and were in a tougher part of the city. As we were driving, some type of flare or sparkler hit the driver’s side window and my friend, the driver, exclaimed, “Effing N-word!” I was in shock, trying to make sense of what the heck had just hit her window that I did not fully comprehend what my friend had said until she saw the look on my face and started apologizing profusely. My look of disbelief was from something exploding on the window not what she said but she misinterpereted what I was reacting to. Anyway, she started apologizing and even went on to say that she and her caucasian husband used racial slurs all the time for other Mexicans because she was Mexican. Excuse me? I assured her, it was fine and we continued our friendship. I didn’t shame her. I was not angry. I wanted to understand why she felt it was ok to use derogatory words to put down her own race as well as mine. It was a opportunity for both of us to learn. It opened up a much needed dialogue.
We’re all conditioned and influenced by the people who raised us and the environment we grew up in. As we grow older, travel, and meet people we outgrow a lot of the prejudices that was instilled in us at an early age. The key is to listen to each other.
I think people today have stopped listening to each other because expressing controversial or unpopular opinions can ruin your life. People are losing their jobs and being harrassed online for making bad jokes. I feel that in America we are shutting people down when they express opinions that are not “popular” with the masses. It feels like people are becoming angry if they can not persuade others to accept their way of thinking. This is dangerous because people will stop sharing their views and you will find out what they really are thinking at the worst times; like after an election.
Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. — Elie Wiesel