Too Many Crying Wolf

When I was in elementary school, my best friend was a black boy named Mark. His father owned a small store in his neighborhood and his family lived only a few blocks from mine. Our parents had met while volunteering at our school and became great friends. Mark was either at my house or I was at his most weekends as we rode bicycles, skateboards or just ran around being kids. It didn’t matter that I was white or that he was black. We knew nothing of racism at that age, only friendship.

During the early years of our marriage, Char and I were best friends with an interracial couple, David and Cathy. Many weekends found us either playing cards around one kitchen table or the other, taking the kids camping, or just grilling out sharing stories and friendship.

For several years, most of my friends were Lebanese, Iranian, or Egyptian. Together, we celebrated life and shared the varying aspects of our cultures as we worked alongside each other and hung out together when the clock was punched. I’ve had friends who were Christian, atheist, Muslim, Pagan, and witches. I’ve enjoyed the company of naturalists and nerds as well as the very loose and the very straight-laced, the narrow-minded and the very open. I’ve been friends with a wide diversity of people and have loved every minute of every relationship.

It’s been that way all of my life. My friendships have been based on a person’s character, not their race, religion, or culture. How a person treats my family and me determines whether I hang out with them in the future or not. I don’t judge by skin color, culture, religion, age, sexual orientation, or whether they’re a Gator fan or not - a good thing since I married one. I know not everyone behaves the same way or acts it. And while I don’t believe prejudice is as bad as it was fifty or sixty years ago, I am not naïve enough to think it’s been eradicated from our world or even our country.

However, I believe we need to be careful what we label as racist and prejudice. Today it has become a thing that some use to hide behind and justify ignorant behavior. Case in point, my “online bully.” If you don’t know what I’m referring to, read yesterday’s post. The story in a nutshell, though, is this person on Twitter became all upset because I thanked him for following me. Basically, his response was “You dnt noe me & u be tlkin 2 me,” and yes, he spoke that way, or rather typed that way. He then finished it by saying, “White people think they can get away with anything.”

Now, my first thought was if he didn’t want to talk to me why in the world did he follow me in the first place. I mean, social media is about being…well…social, right? It’s about interaction with other people. The part that rubbed me wrong was the white people comment. When did a simple greeting become an issue of race? Why pull the race card, at all?

I think the prejudice card gets pulled too easily, nowadays. We see it in courts and business. It’s as if it’s the first line of defense for some who have no other defense.

“My boss hates me because I’m_____!” Insert the race, gender, religion, or culture of your choice. Now, in some cases that may very well be true. However, in others it might be because the person simply sucks at his job. Or hers - I don’t want to be accused of being prejudiced in this writing. He’s lazy, shows up late, or never finishes his work on time. The only issue is his work ethic; nothing else. Yet, people are afraid to take action because of fear of a prejudicial suit against them. At times, we’re crippled from getting the best people we can because too many have cried wolf in the past.

The fight against prejudice and for equal rights has lost some of its power because it’s been used as a scare tactic too much. People are tired of hearing the cry to rally around someone when it’s merely a distraction from the real issue of the person screwing up and deserving what happens to him. It should never be a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card. Equal Rights means equal responsibility and equal respect. It does not mean special. It does mean you get treated the same as everyone else and you pull your weight in this world just like everyone else.

Sometimes, it’s not about prejudice at all, but about the person being an idiot. And that would be the only thing I’m prejudiced against. Stupidity.

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