How. Why. What.

I’m a midwestern kid, right? Grew up in small town (legitimate small town, get outta here with your my small town of 1500 people), in a small conservative state. For as long as I can remember, I view things a little differently than my peers, my family, the social circles that I ran in.

As I’ve grown, become more educated and better informed, that divide has grown. In light of all that’s been going on in our world in the past three months, I’m feeling that divide more than ever.

I avoid discussing politics with people, even those I would consider closest to me: my parents, my high school friends, my friends in town. There’s a couple reasons for this: I don’t want people’s opinion of me to change based on one facet of myself, and I live in fear that as a teacher my very not typical for the area beliefs could lead to parents actively trying to get me out of the school.

Just for the record. This shit happens in small towns, in school districts, and has happened in the school I teach in before. So, I’m not just paranoid.

While for the most part, I just accept the old adage, “Don’t discuss religion or politics” lately, with the conversation surrounding George Floyd’s death and the reaction of the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement, I feel…isolated.

I find it disheartening that people are caught up in the looting, or the “All lives matter” bullshit. But, what’s killing me right now, is that people I love and respect (or thought I did) are actively, openly, denouncing actions that we’ll never really understand because we’re white.

I grew up in a town of 500, there weren’t black kids in school when I was in school. There were some Native Americans–but that’s a whole other loaded post. We (my peers, family, etc) haven’t been exposed to a lot of diversity, and a lot of my peers don’t go out of their way to educate themselves on it.

On a personal level, I feel isolated from the people in my life. I feel like my opinions are causing this, but I also feel so goddamn angry that I feel the need to bite my tongue rather than share that I think that people are getting mad about the wrong things.

I feel like an outsider. For every person in my life that’s openly supporting President Trump and all his accomplishments; for all the people in my life who are renouncing actions of an entire race because they don’t understand their struggles; for every person who repeats racists ideas held by their parents or grandparents; for the people I know who vote party lines and don’t consider others. They all drive me further into this feeling.

I used to feel like there was something wrong with me. Why would I feel so differently than those who grew up in the same environments as I did? I don’t judge, or separate myself from those who have different views, but I don’t often feel like that same respect would be given to me.

This whole post feels very self-involved in light of everything going on in our world today. And I guess it is. But I do want people to realize that there has to be a more respectful way of talking about these hard issues. I should be called “trash” because I think the rioting makes sense considering the constant fear and frustration. I shouldn’t be afraid to vocalize that I don’t think President Trump is a great example of a leader. And if you feel the opposite of me, you shouldn’t be afraid to vocalize that either! I think that the United States will continue to cycle like we currently are if we don’t start having some really hard conversations in which both parties come in open-minded and actively listen to what the other side is saying.

All I’m saying is empathy goes a looong way, and we’re currently lacking on it big time in America.

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