Now, I know what some people are thinking. ‘Why the hell were you even talking to this person!?’
I’m a freethinker, a philosopher, and an observer of human civilization. I am curious as to what people are thinking and how they arrive at their thoughts and conclusions.
During our conversation, (I was being polite and courteous, not abrasive and confrontational) I asked what his hobbies were, what he was interested in etc.
He said he liked to go fishing, loved working on his truck, hunting, “mudding”, camping and shooting pool.
He declared that he was a “born and raised redneck” and a “proud southerner.” (His words, not mine).
Essentially he fit the stereotypical image of a Trump supporter as propagated by some left-wing publications; southern, racist, redneck, conservative. Note: I do not perpetuate the myth that southern people, nor conservatives, are inherently bigoted, this man just happened to fit a stereotype.
It is my belief that many people who claim to be racist are often misjudging themselves. They’re summoning a sort of collectivism to label a group that they have preconceived notions about. They base these preconceived notions on either what was taught to them, or negative experiences they’ve had in the past.
For example, I knew a guy who said that he hated Polish people. He built this hatred of Polish people around an experience he had with one individual. His landlord was a Polish man, who, incidentally, was an abhorrent, drunken asshole.
He then became aware of a Polish stereotype; that Polish people have drinking problems and are ignorant and stupid.
So, without any further venturing, or getting to know any other Polish people, he just weaved together the stereotypes with his experience with one man, and concluded, based on his “evidence”, that it was all true and that he hated them.
Back to the conversation I was having with the self-proclaimed racist who believes in a white only nation.
With this idea in mind about preconceived notions, I asked him a question that seemed to strike a chord with him.
He made it abundantly clear that he absolutely detested liberalism, leftism, or anything remotely progressive– even Libertarianism.
I asked him to picture a scenario where he would be forced (like a court order or something) to spend a day with someone he never met.
He would only have two choices:
- A black man from Mississippi that liked to go fishing, hunting, horseback riding and mudding. He’s a Republican trucker that smokes Marlboro reds, drinks Bud and likes to shoot pool.
- OR… A white man from Manhattan who has a Bachelor’s degree in fine arts and works at a gallery. His politics are slightly to the left of Karl Marx, thinks hunting is barbaric, drinks wine, drives a Prius and prefers Broadway musicals and the Opera to anything related to the outdoors.
Can you guess which person he chose to hang out with for a day?
He said if he absolutely had to pick one, he’d “pick the black redneck”.
This guy didn’t have a ‘eureka’ moment and suddenly abandon his declarations of racism, but it did make him think.
Is race really that important? What really divides us? What happens when we ignore what we think we know and open our minds to the possibility that we may have been wrong about something? What happens when we forget about race, or politics, or class or anything, and start looking at the individual?
You may find, perhaps, you aren’t as racist as you think you are.