First, let me say this--I am politically conservative. Yet, I have no problem separating my political views with my views on race, ethnicity, and general human rights.
Of course, I see what is unfolding with presidential tweets and the like. I am not bothered by it, because things people say rarely offend me. As a life-long student and teacher of communication, I am rarely driven to offense by the words of others. You have to get extremely personal to really hurt my feelings. But that mindset has been purchased with years of hard experience. I still recall being the butt of a racist chant at a high school basketball game as a cheerleader. I went to school in Wyoming where there were VERY few black people, and apparently the novelty wasn’t lost on the high school we were visiting. I still remember the pure embarrassment and complete tragedy of that moment (my stomach still drops from the thought of it). I’ve used it many times as an example to my own students of how “harmless” words can hurt--though I haven’t brought myself to repeat the words of that chant in all my years.
But I digress. This post isn’t about that racist moment in my life. It is about another one. When the elderly couple that sat behind me at a college basketball game yelled for the ref to “go back to Africa” because he made a questionable call against our home team. After the game, they asked me to congratulate my dad (the coach at the time) and his players on a great win. I mustered up all of my courage (because I was taught to respect my elders) and asked them how they could respect my dad and the players when they clearly didn’t respect the ref. They looked at me with matching confused looks, and then patted my shoulder and said, “No, we wanted the ref to go back to Africa. Not your dad or the players!”
Guys. You can’t think it is truly okay to tell someone to go back to where you think they are "from". Black people in America famously do not know where they are from. I don’t know anyone personally who knows anything about their African heritage beyond what they learned from a 23&Me spit swab. Therefore, “Go back to Africa” is not a fitting retort. I am not from Africa--I’m from INDIANA. As in the state. As in America. I’ve never even BEEN to Africa. My parents are not from Africa. My grandparents were not from Africa. My great-grandparents were not from Africa. I'm honestly not sure where my great-great grandparents were from, but I do know some of them were white or Native American--so, probably NOT from Africa. That's why I don't really use the term African-American to describe myself, as it implies I emigrated here from Africa. I am completely American, from generation after generation of other Americans.
I just watched a panel of Republican women from Dallas all say that to tell someone to go back to wherever is not racist if they have “unAmerican views.” So, with that qualification, would it then be racist to tell someone to “go back” if it were about a bad referee call? Where do we draw the line?
As a conservative, I don’t agree with approximately half of political views. Personally, most of the things proposed on the recent Democratic debate sounded to my ears like pure shenanigans. But I still can watch and listen with an open mind and never even thought to yell at the screen that any candidate should pack up and ship off to a different country. That, to me, is absurd. Especially if I base this feeling off of another person expressing their personal opinion. If they have an opinion different than mine, the BEST place for them to be is America, because we enjoy the freedom to say and believe what we want.
That being said, those women in Dallas are welcome to their opinion that people who think differently than them should pack up and leave the country. That is just one more opinion I don’t agree with. I do hope, deep down, that their opinion isn’t the majority here in the Dallas area, or in our great country in general. I hope that America is too great to truly believe that kind of nonsense.
But that is my own opinion. If you don’t like it, you can stop reading and go about your business. Maybe even go some place so far away that you can’t hear my opposing view.
I hear Africa is nice this time of year.