I have been giving a lot of thought to our current situation in the United States. As a long time scholar in the field of education, I have practice in trying to find solutions in a system that is so tangled and messy that any one solution might uncover 10 other problems.
One of the problems we are facing in this country is the idea that everyone is an “expert.” Is an actual expert telling you something you don’t want to hear? Google it and find someone who does! Have an opinion? Great! You have a right to your opinion, so people better not come along and try to educate you out of your beliefs. This idea of opinion > fact has been visibly festering in this country since Obama was elected in 2008 (note: America has ALWAYS been this way, but in our more social-media-run reality more people are coming to realize it). Those of us who believe in facts and “open dialogue” (sarcastic finger quotes intended) and thoughtful debate have become increasingly frustrated and angry as we have discovered the futility of “getting our relatives/friends.”
There are only so many times a smart, informed person can get into a research-paper-level discussion of proof with a person, either online or in person, and after laying out your case and the facts, the person says “you have a right to your opinion, and I have a right to mine” and that’s the most tame way the other person might respond. People in America right now do not want to be told what to think by people who actually understand facts. I am not sure why. If I was to hazard a guess it’s because the reality of so many Americans is so bleak right now that opinions and beliefs are more attractive than facts. Additionally staying the same is easier than changing, especially when taking racism, sexism, etc. into consideration. So when you tell grandpa that he shouldn’t call black people coons and you explain why and that times have changed and you show him the documentary “13,” he eventually tells you to get your ass out of his house.
When I see calls for white people to “get your relatives” or “get your cousins” or “get your friends” I wonder what I could say. How do you convince a white supremacist that they shouldn’t be that way? How do you convince someone that <insert non-white adjective here> people are the same as white people and deserve a system that treats them fairly and equally? And how do you do that in a country where the people that are willing to listen and hear you already understand this, and those that listen but don’t hear you need to change but won’t, and especially won’t if you’re “preaching” at them to.
No one is listening, and more importantly no one is listening to anyone that actually knows what they are talking about. Our garbage president said he grabs women by the pussy AND 53% OF WHITE WOMEN WHO VOTED STILL VOTED FOR HIM. HE WAS GIVING US ALL THE PROOF THAT WE NEEDED TO BE LIKE, NOPE. BUT HE IS OUR GARBAGE LEADER NOW. “But her emails” aside, people believe what they believe regardless of facts, so if what Trump said to them was aligned with what they believe, THEY SUPPORTED HIM. That’s why he can walk around lying all the fucking time. NO ONE IN THIS GODFORSAKEN COUNTRY CARES ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT WHAT THEY BELIEVE. If you tell them he lied, they will say “no he didn’t” EVEN IF YOU PLAY VIDEO PROOF FOR THEM.
So for 8 fucking years I have been engaging people online and talking to family. Once I literally kicked one of my in laws out of my house because he referred to Trayvon Martin as a thug and when the verdict came in he started to talk about it and I was like I SAID WE WEREN’T GOING TO DO THAT IN MY HOUSE so he went out and sat in the car until the rest of the family was ready to leave. NO ONE IS LISTENING. I know that sounds like a cop-out but I can assure you that it is not. I have been putting in that work, I’ve been talking and living and calling people out. NO ONE IS LISTENING.
The people who need to listen in order for change to happen are not listening.
The people who are open to growing, changing, and learning already know what you are there to tell them.
When someone figures out how to breach that wall let me know. I believe in working smarter and not harder. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. I do not expect that engaging people in conversation about their bigotry or discriminatory beliefs will make things better. I have experiential proof. If you accept that proof, you probably understand where I am coming from.
I see a stalemate and I don’t know how to break it. I welcome your comments and suggestions.