Todd, About the unfriending thing …
I’m a decidedly private and introverted person. Months passed before I used my real name and photo on Twitter. I take the matter of choosing who I allow into my Facebook circle of friends quite seriously. 95% of my Facebook friends are people that I know and have (or have had) a meaningful relationship with. There’s something about each of them that I truly enjoy and I like to think that those “friends” think the same of me. And there’s the “connection.”
My social media friends are a reflection of my friends offline. They’re of a variety of ages, ethnicities, religions, political affiliations, economic status, occupations, etc. They’re a colorful lot from all corners of humanity.
I am a walking melting pot: short-statured, black, gay, and Christian. Any of my friends could choose to take issue with any of those facets of my being, but those I call my friends embrace all of me. They may not necessarily agree with everything about me, but they understand essentially who I am. The acceptance of my sexuality and faith are negotiable; but my height and race are non-negotiable.
So when someone I’ve been in relationship with for years posts “crap” about black people, I have reason to pause. It’s not like my blackness just came into being or it’s new facet that’s been layered into the mix. Maybe they forgot that I was black. Maybe they didn’t think I’d see it. Or maybe my opinion about a post I’d find offensive doesn’t matter to them. Who knows?
A friend told me years ago “when someone shows you who they are, don’t be afraid; believe them.” That’s wise counsel. It’s not that I’m “cut” in any way, shape, or form when people reveal their true nature and that nature is in direct opposition to who I am and what I stand for.
In a very real sense, I too am privileged. I’ve been black, short, gay, and Christian far too long to allow someone else’s opinion of me rob me of my dignity. Daily I exert the privilege of knowing who I am, my value, and hold myself in a healthy regard; neither Trumpian, nor Eeyore-ish. I exert my privilege to not to take on other’s people crap or allow it to cloud my vision of who I am. There’s a whole lot of “crap” in the world. I may not be able to stop its production; but I can exert my privilege and choose whether or not to expose myself to it.
I take unfriending serious. Because when I unfriend, it eliminates a means of communication, and that’s an opportunity to have a positive affect on someone else. And vice versa. Being in relationships with others in important to me, but never so important to warrant subjecting myself to people behaving badly.
Maybe you should allow those racist, bigoted, misogynistic, [insert favorite prefix here]-phobic comments to cut you a little deeper. A little empathy goes a long way. A cis-white male calling out another cis-white male’s bad behavior goes much further than a non-cis-non-white-male (or female) calling the offender out.
Okay, I’m rambling now … peace!