Advice in a Poem I & II

04 May

I wrote this and posted it to tumblr in two separate parts, one is the advice, the second is an admission of my own from my past.

One day, you might be reading an article
And it might bring up your ire
You may see spots from rage
And you might be tempted to say things
You may be tempted to go to the Internet
And spout you righteous rage
Before you do, listen to my advice

Before you say “not all men are like that”
Put yourself in a woman’s shoes
Open your eyes and open your ears
Listen to what women say
Because if you respond with “not all men are like that”
The chances are that you are very much like that

Before you start a sentence with “I’m not racist, but…”
Keep in mind, what you say next will be very racist
When you start to say that, you aren’t proving a point
You’re proving your own racism
Learn and accept that you have your prejudices
And you’ll never start a sentence with those words again

“I’m just playing devil’s advocate here”
Stop.  Shut up.  Don’t talk.  Stop talking.
You’re not playing devil’s advocate.
You’re not providing solutions to a problem
You’re continuing to be the problem
Because you don’t need to play that card if you’re looking to solve the problem

“But according to this study…”
If you continually point to one study to support your view
Then the chances someone will knock it down with a feather
Are huge.  Massive.
Because chances are, the other person will have thousands of studies to site
Which will prove your one study has a major flaw

“It could be your sister, mother, wife…”
How about we use the words “This is a person”
Because I’m sure you wouldn’t say “It could be your brother…”
We use words based on gender for horrible things that happen
Erasing the violence that does indeed happen to one
While showing that it happens in droves to the other

Before you speak, think of your words
Are they in anyway going to help?
If they aren’t, then you need to realize this
You aren’t providing a solution to a problem
You aren’t trying to argue one side over the other
You are part of the problem

When you realize that above all else
Then you can take the steps needed
To actually become someone who can provide solutions
Until then, stop talking, and start listening

You might sit there and say to me
How can you say that to me,
What experience do you have to say such things
Well, let me tell you son
I’ve been there
And I recognize that

When I was younger, I had the thoughts that would make an MRA smile
How television shows of the 80s had smart women and stupid men
Never realizing both were stereotypes that executives wanted
I never recognized the opposite was true, because I could only see one thing
It took years, but I saw the problem inherent was not women
But was a continued situation of patriarchy

When I was younger I was told we don’t drive up Highway 219
Because it was filled with “Indians” and they’d try to rob us if we stopped
That was the idea I had for years, no matter what Rez I drove through
It was made worse because I believed the hype that Natives were lazy
Welfare kings and queens, never wanting for anything more
Never realizing the system had given up on them, and made that their only choice

When I was younger, seeing a black man on television was proof
That my world was equal, that we’d pushed past racism
All the while ignoring the racist stereotypes that black man played on the screen
Each black or brown person I saw was proof of our equality
But at the same time, it was proof of my own racism
And it took years to see it

I’ve been there
I’ve said “I’m not racist, but…”
I’ve said “Not all men are like that”
I’ve said “I’m just playing devil’s advocate”
And when you recognize that the things you say are damaging
Then you too can begin to learn

And this I say to you
You will never stop learning
Because each experience of each person is different from the last
You will never reach the experienced Nirvana
And that’s the beauty of what will happen
When you open your eyes and see, and open you ears and listen

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Posted by on May 4, 2014 in Writing


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