Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Get it? Like Politics and Prose (the bookstore)! Creative, I know… I’m pretty proud of that one. There’s your daily dose of mediocrely comedic/creative content. You’re welcome. Okay, my apologies. I wouldn’t claim to be funny and I ramble when I don’t know exactly what to say. Clearly, starting this post hasn’t been easy, but let me cut the BS.
I want to preface this blog post by emphasizing that I am not an expert on anything related to the current state of the country. When it comes to Covid, I am far from a scientist (my physics and chemistry grades will support that). I am not thoroughly educated in social justice and I acknowledge that there is always room to grow and learn. Finally, I am not a member of a minority race or ethnicity, so I cannot begin to really understand the inequity faced by individuals in those communities.
I am writing from my own perspective with no ulterior motives or agenda. This blog post is not AT ALL intended to be “political”. Before you jump to conclusions and remind me that silence is violence and that a bystander is the worst role to adopt, let me elaborate. If I want to make a political statement or share an opinion, I will use my personal social media. I have Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and I will post the information and resources I believe to be valuable. That is where I invite discourse and discussion; I want to learn and I want to be an active participant in the fight for a better nation. However, this site is a place where I want anyone and everyone to feel welcome and accepted. Right now it feels like one misstep can send you into societal exile. A misconstrued fact or quote shared puts credibility, respect, and relationships on the line. Perhaps some of this is warranted - how can we enact real change without reminding people that bigotry comes at a great cost. At the same time, mustn't there be room to grow? It has to be okay to mess up, so long as it’s a learning experience. There’s a lot of anger and frustration right now and rightfully so; individuals as well as collective groups have been wronged. This pent up aggravation is warranted, but in some ways I’ve found it’s target merely shifts. I believe the goal is to eradicate hate… not shift its aim. In summary, Life Beyond the Box is a platform for the raw and real. I strive to remind myself and others that underneath the likes and comments, there is a person. There is a person that thinks and feels and deserves the same humanity you lend others. It’s easy to forget that when you’re passionate and behind a screen. So, despite the title of this post, I’m not going to talk politics or controversy right now.
There is a certain toxicity of judgment and condemnation spreading more rapidly than Covid-19. You’re comfortable dining outdoors at a restaurant? You are part of the reason quarantine is prolonged! You don’t attend protests? You’re racist! You’re posting pictures from your graduation right now? You’re ignorant!
Slow your freaking roll people! Yes, this absolutely IS a time to evaluate your priorities, seek out educational materials, a time to consider the hard questions, and sit in the discomfort of new and unfamiliar information. However, there is no one single way to do so.
The most prominent symptom of coronavirus is uncertainty. We are in entirely uncharted territory; even the experts have found it unpredictable. What you can be sure of is your level of comfort. Maybe you feel a mask is necessary at all times: in your car, walking your dog, and when with others - even at six feet apart. You may feel that any food carried out presents too much of a risk. That is okay! That is for you to evaluate and decide for yourself. However, if you are comfortable with outdoor dining or seeing friends at a social distance, then that is also okay. Respect what others are okay with - ask if they prefer you wear a mask and don’t insult their precautions that you perceive as “extra”. This also goes the other way; don’t assume someone is inherently evil and condoning the spread simply because they are okay with a greater risk of exposure. Instead of pointing fingers, understand that we don’t know the effects isolation has had on others. For some, that trip to the store may have been their sanity’s savior. Of course, there are also those who are blatantly disobeying the guidelines/legislation surrounding Covid-19 and disrespecting the legitimate and valid concerns of others. Rather than demonizing those who are comfortable utilizing the openings and opportunities that the phases of reopening present, let’s remind those entirely negligent of ALL precaution that there are people in real danger of this virus. We must acknowledge that. The CDC suggests you wear a mask in public spaces, social distance, and wash your hands - I don’t recall denouncing anyone who applies the guidelines differently as a way to stop the spread!
Thankfully, Covid-19 hit the country at a time of total equality, political rest, and justice, so it’s been easier to manage… oh wait.
Inequality exists in this country, lives have been unjustly taken, and there is a wide range of perspectives, opinions, and mindsets in America. I don’t think many people would disagree with these statements. Issues arise in addressing and exploring these assertions in more depth.
How do we abolish inequality? How can we prevent unwarranted loss of life? How can we accept diverse perspectives and mindsets and coexist in a nation where so many opinions clash?
As we tackle large scale issues such as racism, it is a privilege to have social media. It is a platform to spread resources, knowledge, information, questions, and more. It can be an instrumental tool in this battle. Many are utilizing it. However, it can also be a curse. It can be a deterrent and obstacle in the way of real progress. The fact that I was compelled to compose an entire paragraph’s worth of preface only supports this notion. A lot of people’s time has been spent ensuring inoffensive content rather than actually learning or doing. Positive proactivity is going to enact a lot more change than focusing on the censure of the ignorant.
There is a difference between posting content you agree with or resources and content that berates others. To be completely transparent, I would not claim to have been the most educated on inequality and race. I have lived an incredibly privileged life and for that I am so beyond grateful. It has absolutely come to my attention that there is a whole realm of information that I have yet to learn. I think that many people fall into this same boat. However, each time I open my phone to an attack of someone who said or did the wrong thing, I find myself scared to take the leap and learn or post what I support. It’s difficult to imagine I’m the only one feeling this way. I have really tried to explore a wide variety of perspectives on the issues at hand. I’m a naturally curious person and, as I’ve said, I really do want to learn, so I’ve gone to ask questions of people who agree/disagree with the material I’m examining. On multiple occasions they’ve assumed my questions to be rhetorical. They immediately jump to the conclusion that I’m challenging their views or beliefs rather than genuinely asking. Thus, I’m stumped. My questions are left unanswered and I feel guilty for asking in the first place. I can’t help but be discouraged from probing further. So while I tried to take one step forward, I feel as though I’m taking three steps backward.
Furthermore, social media is not a tell-all. Some people will look for books, articles, and other assorted reading material. Others may first turn to film, TV, and documentaries. Those who value experiential learning may look to the protests and people in attendance for their first source. Some who don’t know where to start might choose certain social media posts or accounts for their introduction. All of these are valid places to start.
No one knows everything - everyone has something to learn right now. ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO ASK QUESTIONS. I think most people feel the urge to seek out the unknown right now. Support them in that endeavor. BE PATIENT - don’t jump to the conclusion that they don’t agree with your belief and that’s why they're questioning it. We are moving toward normalizing social action and justice in a time where too many people have been ostracized for too long. This is an uphill battle, so it’s going to take time. We should continue to post, learn, and educate, but that can’t be the only things we do. People have jobs, life events, and school. If someone wants to post about that - let them! Equality must be integrated in our routines, in our individual “normals”. It is not inherent ignorance - it is support for a new normal in which the fight rages on. If we refrain from perpetuating “normal” content, it suggests that the fight for justice we’re engaged in is only relevant at this time. It will die out. However, I personally think that the fight for justice and better life quality is endless, or rather limitless. There will always be more we can do. There will always be ways to improve. Similarly, there is always more to say about this, so I’m going to end it here. Keep working for the best version of this nation and the best version of yourself.