Most of my “friends” on Facebook are pretty similar to me politically . I consider myself arty, fairly liberal and lean to the left. There are however, a few people from my past on my Facebook who are clearly right wing. Throughout the years I’ve had mild interest in what they post and how different we see the world. One of these old friends I would call a flat out racist. She has been posting quite a bit lately and I was finding myself disturbed by her posts that are filled with propaganda and untruths. My first impulse was to unfriend her so I wouldn’t need to see the rubbish and feel disturbed. I’m glad I didn’t act on my first impulse.
I knew this woman when I was in my twenties when we were waitresses at the same beachside restaurant. I’m sorry to say, at that time in my life I wasn’t concerned with politics or pretty much anything that was outside of the little beach community I lived in. After graduating college I had moved to California from Colorado and was more interested in fitting in, relationship drama and having a good time. I was a kind and thoughtful person, but the world I allowed myself to live in was small and my concerns were well within those small periramiders.
Thankfully my life has changed and I’m working on expanding my view, compassion and empathy. I have to credit my daughter with having a profound effect on my expanding sense of the world and recognizing the shortcomings of its inhabitants.
From the time my daughter was a toddler, she has been vocal and intense. At age four on the soccer field she called out an unfair situation when all the adults were mute about it. When she was eleven she decided on her own to attend a Black Baptist church that held its services in the elementary school in our neighborhood. When the congregation encouraged her to be baptised, she decided that religion wasn’t what she wanted as much as community. In high school she started a club called “Healthy Within” to engage teen girls in conversation about body image and how the media negatively influences women and their perceptions of themselves.
In college as a Feminist Studies major she gathered up her courage and knocked on the office door of professor Angela Davis and asked if she could do an independent study with her. The answer was yes. Mass incarceration, social change and prison abolition have been major issues for her for many years. When she moved back to the same city as I, we would make signs and attend protests together. From her example, I began to speak out and my sense of myself in the world has changed and expanded.
So the daily racist posts of my “friend” on Facebook opened up a dilemma for me. What do I do? If I posted on her page I could imagine her many right wing allies attacking my post. Would it matter if I posted? Yes. It would matter to me. My silence would make me complicit.
I am no longer concerned with fitting in. I composed a thoughtful response that stated facts. I hit “post”. There was not a barrage of replies following my post and slowly there were a few likes. I figured maybe I had the chance of even slightly opening the mind of someone somewhere and if not, I did the right thing for my own mind.
Now I find myself posting more often on posts with different points of view than mine. I feel it is my duty to clarify the facts, and to speak the truth. In these days of protests and transformation, I feel a buzz inside me. The buzz signals to me that the world is indeed changing. More people are are taking the courageous steps and speaking out. We are daring to imagine what a fair and just world could be like.