Imagine this scenario: your with a group at a friend’s Citizenship Induction. After it’s over, your friend comes up to and says, in a mean, condescending manner, “You’ll have to earn my respect,” then turns and walks away. How do you think you’d feel then? Probably shocked. Then somewhat numb. Then anger, like “how dare she tell me that!-I’ve been here longer than her-in fact, I was born here.
Very similar to the message that Leon Pitts (Portland Press Herald, July 11, 2018, np#) got from a reader-a white man said, “Well, their all going to have to earn my respect!” This may be somewhat of a paraphrase, but it’s the essence of what he said.
The white reader was only using a code language that many folks of color understand all too well. Think. Why would a white person feel that a person of color (in this case an African-American) would have to do anything at all to gain this man’s respect? Where does that come from. Pitts wrote that it’s code for black=danger; of course, there are a lot of codes, but Pitts felt this one fit the best.
OK, if we’re about the job of changing codes or dismantling them or getting rid of them. So, for the white reader, did he mean blacks were dangerous because they’re criminals, gang members, dope users & dealers, violent, etc., etc., etc.?
To get more specific, we’d have to know about the above stereotypes, and, maybe the one (s) the white reader had in mind.
An even more fundamental and philosophical question: Can anyone “earn” another’s respect? If so, how can you do it, and what life skills could you use in the process?
The premise is based on meritocracy. ‘You better do this or you won’t earn your points.’ C’mon, work harder to get my respect. But, here, we’re not talking about earning respect because of the trade or business you’re in. We’re speaking directly about earning respect as a Human Being. In equality-nothing taken away or given.
In other words, this seems to indicate that a person could do something to “x” out her or his own humanity, in the eyes of, let’s say, a white person? No. What is, is. The first premise is an oppositional principle that is ineffective, and unworkable.
I can’t think of anyone I know who’d want to “x” out their humanity, and just be a dart on the board, that if thrown by a skilled dart-thrower, gets the bull’s eye, more points, more praise, more applause, and more merit. I suppose none of us can qualify as “human” unless we’re fantastic dark-throwers.
copyright:christopherbearbeam July 11, 2018