Friday, November 01, 2013

Listen to Grandpa

When I was little younger, I used to stay up really late and watch tv for no good reason. Lots of low-budget horror movies, tons of talk shows and every episode at least twice of "The Virginian". I didn't particularly care for any of these shows (okay, I did enjoy "The Virginian"), it was just something to do. Back then, not all TV stations aired programming around the clock, but the ones that did would run the Public Service Announcements (PSAs) obligated by the FCC during those late night hours because there was no sense in wasting a perfectly good actual commercial on the likes of me and the other no-life wackjobs tuned in during those hours. One of those PSAs that I recall (because I saw it a lot) addressed racism and featured a little boy talking to his grandfather while out fishing in a boat. I haven't seen it in a really long time but it went something like this...

LITTLE BOY: Grandpa, Jimmy says I'm a racist.
GRANDFATHER: Who is Jimmy?
LITTLE BOY: He's my black friend.
GRANDFATHER: If you think of him as your black friend and not simply as your friend, he might be right, you little cunt.
LITTLE BOY: Grandpa!
GRANDFATHER: Ah, shut up. I'm not really your grandfather. Your mom is adopted. Now come over here and go through my pants pockets. Try to find some coins or something.

I may have some of the details wrong but that was the gist. After that, I think it got kind of weird. Anyway.
I think they should start running it again, and in prime time, because a lot of people I know either never got this message or have forgotten it. They're very much into mentioning their black friends, their gay friends, their Jewish friends, etc. Actually they skirt it, or attempt to by phrasing it like, " friend Jimmy. He's black." It's kind of sad. Oh, look how diverse and accepting and tolerant you are. You're a special person. I wish I was more like you.
In reality, it's a full-of-shit move and you need to stop it. Just have friends and stop collecting people by demographic profile like they're a series of coins from the Franklin Mint. All of your friends share the same racial heritage? That's fine. Who cares? Nobody's going to think less of you if you don't have at least one of each ethnicity as a friend, just like nobody is going to be suitably impressed if you do.
Listen, don't overthink it. Don't go out looking for the "right" freinds. Sure, you don't want to hang out with people who are bad to and/or for you, but as long as you're not putting out the wrong signals, that shouldn't be a problem. Just leave your door open and see who wanders in. If it's two Jews, a gay dude, a couple of black people, an aethiest, four conservative Republicans and three Puerto Ricans and you enjoy these people and they have your best interests at heart, then so be it. These are your friends. By the same token, if there are 23 of them and they all have blonde hair and blue eyes, well, that's weird, but same thing; so be it. Just stop assigning labels to the people in your life like albums at a bad record store.
Would it kill you to listen to your grandpa?

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