Unintended Consequences?

I live in a middle-affluent neighborhood.  Some are tempted to label it “fully” affluent, but I’ve lived in affluent neighborhoods, and trust me . . . we don’t have anywhere near the required number of rear orifices to qualify.

Both my wife and I have recently become concerned about the turn-over of houses in our neighborhood; people are buying houses at a discount, some with no-money down, and they don’t seem too concerned with upkeep of the homes.  

Some have teens . . . very suspicious teens.  They drive too fast through the neighborhood, they dress to appear tough, they act like they are tough, they smoke – so you wonder about the parents, and they do their best to appear like the kind of people I normally don’t trust, try to keep clear of, and keep an eye on.  

Prejudice (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.

They might be nice kids going through tough times; they might have parents who, while insisting on civil behavior, let them have more leeway than most; they might be very nice individuals, and what I am seeing are the trappings of “modern teens”.  

I know all of that, but it does not change the fact I look at them with suspicion.  They do not conform to my idea of civil behavior, a big part of which is being respectful and considerate of others.  Fail on either of those two things, and I don’t hold much hope for you to meet my other criteria for people I consider my equals, and deserving of my respect and consideration.

You see, I do not trust any stranger.  I take precautions; I try to be aware of my surroundings; I don’t go to bars, I don’t go out at night, I avoid large gatherings, especially if beer is served.   Malls and other shopping centers are the most vulnerable spots for people, so I’m particularly careful there, and tend to avoid them unless absolutely necessary.  

Understand it’s not fear; for me it’s common sense, and taking an active role in one’s safety.

You know how most people don’t think something bad will happen to them, until it does?  That’s not us; we believe it could happen to us, just based on chance.

We take precautions against random acts of violence.  While the odds are small, I prefer to actively minimize them further, ideally making them zero.  I have no illusion about achieving perfect safety, so I also prepare for instances where despite all my own actions, someone else’s actions put me in danger.  

Some people might read this, and feel pity for me (us).  Don’t.  We have a comfortable life.  We enjoy ourselves, and do the things we want to do.

Racism: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior.

I listened to President Obama words in one of his recent speaches, and I resented them, because he assumed something he has no right assuming.  

Neither he, nor black men in general, should feel special if they hear me lock my car door as they walk by; my car door gets locked no matter who is about.  It gets locked because I don’t have a security detail charged with my safety.  

I urge my wife to do all the things I mention above, and for her to also immediately lock the door when she is in the car.  We both purposefully park away from other cars specifically because it makes it obvious if someone is targeting you.  

I don’t live in an area with a lot of blacks.  There are more hispanics here than black, but even there, the numbers are small.  The people I worry about as I go about my daily routine are white.   

All the precautions I mention, the thought process I go through, are without regard to race. I don’t worry about someone targeting me (other than possibly a religious nut or two).  The teens I mention at the beginning?  They are white.   Their parents are white.  

I’ve lived in dangerous areas at various times in my life.  I did not worry more about blacks than I did about latinos than I did about whites.  I’ve never given preferential worry based on race.

. . . I might have to rethink that . . .

I’ve been peripherally following the Martin/Zimmerman demonstrations around the country, listening to some of the speeches . . . 

I did not know Martin, nor did I know Zimmerman.  After all this, I have no hope of knowing them . . . either could be saint or sinner, depending who you listen to, and whatever truth there was about either has been buried under mountains of media and political crap.

If truth be told, I can’t muster much interest in either one.  It’s not that I don’t care about them, but not only are they not a part of my struggles to make it in this world, they are only two of literally millions who every day either die, or have their life become shit.  

I can pick up the paper (figuratively – I go on the Internet), and read hundreds of tragic stories; by my estimation, many are more tragic than this one.

Still, for some reason the world (literally) is paying attention to these two.  Heck, the most powerful man in the world is paying attention, and making it personal.  

Here’s the thing . . . all them people out there giving speeches, and wanting to make this a pivotal point in the history of race relations, they are being successful . . . but probably not as they intended, at least not for me.

As I listen to people scream how a child was killed (17 years olds can join the Army, and go out into the world to legally kill people), and as I listen to some (not all) black “leaders” incite anger and resentment, and as I read about people being assaulted “for Trayvon” . . . well, as I listen and read all that, I think I may have to re-evaluate how I look at people.

If I am near a person of color, are they looking at me with resentment?  Do they think I don’t respect them?  Do they imagine I don’t see them as equal?  Are they angry at me for being white?  Do they hold me responsible for something or other?  Worse yet, are they looking at me as a possible threat?   . . . will how they feel trigger a reaction beyond saying “Good Morning”, and moving on?

Should I worry about pissed-off black “children” and frustrated black adults taking it upon themselves to “make things better” by teaching me a physical lesson?

Sound racist, much?  Yeah, it does.  

Here’s the thing; I like my personal safety.  I am willing to listen to why I should not be worried, even as I watch riots.  I am willing to listen to how we can make things better, even as I listen to the hatred in the screaming voices . . . but they are damaging my calm.  

What I see, read, and hear brings about a visceral response in me.  

 . . . if the intent of these speeches and demonstrations is to make me feel threatened by people of color, it’s working.  If the intent is to make it clear the gulf between the races is too great to bridge, it’s working.  If the intent is to have me become concerned when people of color are about, it’s working.

I have readers and friends who will cringe at this piece.  Some are liberal, some are conservative, some are libertarian, and many will condemn this piece, and me, the writer.

I can’t help how I feel, and I’m being open and honest about my feelings.  

It’s not a matter of me feeling superior to blacks (I feel superior to everyone, regardless of color), or thinking that I am better because I’m white (I’m better because I work at being better), or wanting more rights for me and less rights for others (read my stuff, everyone should have the same rights and opportunities).  

It’s that I’m being accused of something, and some of the accusers are not interested in any facts beyond me being caucasian, and that gives me a measure of concern.

I am curious how others manage to not feel that way (I’ll take them at their word that they don’t), but know that just because you don’t have the same apprehension, it will not calm my own.

I will still push for equal treatment, equal rights, equal pay, equal justice, and equal opportunities regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion . . . but also know that I am less than optimistic, because a big wedge is being driven between people who don’t even know each other, and that wedge includes the undertone of being fearful of “the other”, for they will do you harm. 

The intellectual in me recognizes not all, and not even a majority of black individuals will be moved to do something irresponsible and reprehensible.  But a small segment will take it to the physical level; unfortunately, like with whites, reds, or any color you choose to mention, it’s not easy differentiating between those who would do you harm, and those who would not.  

The prudent thing is to be respectfully wary of all, but especially those who appear to be pissed off at you because of something that happened 1,500 miles away.

Good job, Mr. Obama, Al Sharpton, et al . . . you certainly managed to raise my awareness. 


Please, if you are considering bestowing me some recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline nominations whereby one blogger bestows an award onto another blogger, or group of bloggers.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I would much prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would actually mean something to me.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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6 Responses to Unintended Consequences?

  1. oneowner says:

    I agree with (most) of what you say but the media has blown this case way out of proportion. The media and those who jumped on the bandwagon because it suits their “cause” and they crave attention. We should not look upon race to find differences but to see how we are all the same. When the Census comes around, I never fill in the section where you have to define your race.


    • disperser says:

      I agree . . . in the past, I’ve had arguments with people I care about, calling them on general statements and characterization, and fundamentally I know how lucky I am to have been born white. Race being mostly a human invention, I look forward to a time when no human will be able to claim “purity” in any “race”.

      Still, while knowing opportunistic bastards on TV don’t speak for all, repeat something long enough, and people are going to start believing it . . . and that belief has the possibility of putting me and mine in jeopardy.

      I will always judge a person by their actions, regardless of their looks, but I can’t help feel the trend is to not giving me the same benefit of the doubt. The assumption seems to be that if I don’t agree Zimmerman should be drawn and quartered, well then, I must be no better than he is. I don’t like the idea of someone thinking I should be drawn and quartered.

      Anyway, all this, blown out of proportion or not, has had real consequences for people who were not involved in the case, and live thousand of miles away. I just don’t want to be one of those people (no matter how rare they are, or how slim the chances).

      The very fact it crosses my mind is uncomfortable, and it pisses me off that politicians, the media, and pundits, all seem happy with inciting people, and giving me reasons to worry.


  2. colonialist says:

    If a group of people illogically allow themselves to become incited, and once incited behave in an irresponsible and inappropriate manner, then I despise that group whatever their colour or creed may be. Ones prone to doing just that recently in South Africa happen to be black. Thus I am a racist? Only if such behaviour continues to be peculiar to such groups, without the excuse that they have been singled out as a group for whatever they may be objecting to.
    Superiority complex? There, surely a moderate amount is normal, as a pride in one’s own roots and culture.


    • disperser says:

      It’s important to differentiate groups within groups. There are scary white supremacists groups here in the US, and I would not like to have others judge me based on their actions.

      Usually one can differentiate between fanatics and regular people (not always). What is worrisome about this anger and demonstrations is that it appears to be regular people.

      As for superiority complex . . . for me it’s not so much roots or culture. It has more to do with how one thinks about themselves and others, and how one sees themselves as part of the whole. No offense, but roots and culture often are at the base of most conflicts.

      Not that it is necessarily always so, or that it’s an inevitable outcome, but they have been successfully leveraged in the past by unscrupulous people. So, I’m all for root and culture, but not at the expense of common sense, decency, empathy, honesty, and honor.


  3. margie says:

    emilio, did you notice if the big O. gets his healthcare past the so called grown up kids can be on the insurance till they are 26 years old. where are the adult diapers. i am part american indian and how were we treated??????????????????? our ancestors. they need to clean up chicago. the hub of everything that is rejected, when people need to be heard. it is awful funny the white house is moving to chicago.


  4. Pingback: Again, still pining for “M” stories votes | Disperser Tracks

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