In the United States, Black History Month begins today, with the call to reflect upon and celebrate the work of Black people in the country throughout its history, as well as to recognize the wrongs that have been perpetrated upon them and that continue to be perpetrated upon them by people who damned well ought to know better and therefore to do better. And along with it begin again contrarian calls that never get voiced except when, and which show themselves thereby not to be sincere, but instead artifacts of continued oppression, the toddler’s whine for special treatment when others are rightly lauded.
The toddler, at least, has the reason of not having full reason, the parts of the brain associated with such things not having fully developed. Perhaps it is the same for those who voice their contrarian calls, that they simply lack the maturity needed to see that celebrating one thing does not mean a denigration of another–or that, frankly, sometimes things have been done wrongly and continue to be done wrongly, and thus deserve rebuke and more. But I digress.
I should not, of course. What I should do, what I try and fail to do adequately, and what many others ought to do, is listen. I am not an expert. Many who act as if they are are not. Many who actually are are not in place to speak loudly on large platforms, but must get on with the daily business of living. And they do not owe their words to any, truly, even if those who ought to hear them, who need to hear them, would seek to seek them out. It becomes therefore the task of those who need to hear to listen to what is already said, to look at what is already shown, and to reflect upon those quietly and at length. But such tasks are hard to do, because they require those who will do them to shut their mouths and look away from the mirrors in which they gaze upon themselves, and they–and I–have grown so accustomed to open mouths and mirror-fixed gazes that it is uncomfortable to do otherwise that is currently done.
It is painful for others that things are done as they are. Should we not endure some discomfort to ease others’ pain? Or is that mild inconvenience too much to ask of many?
I think I know the answer. I hope that I am wrong.
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