Seven years ago I read How To Win Friends And Influence People for the first time. It changed my life. I immediately went from being a whiny, elitist little shit to being a 10% less whiny, 10% less elitist little shit.
In his book Dale Carnegie makes the claim that the desire to feel important is the deepest human desire. And that how people make themselves feel important is how we define whether people are “good” or “bad”.
I believe this to be true.
Most of us extract a sense of importance from our daily routines. Maybe that’s by being a kick-ass mom or dad, wife or husband. Maybe it’s by accomplishing great things at work, perfecting a hobby, practicing a sport, helping people in need, making things, etc.
For some people that’s all the importance they’ll ever need. For most, it’s not enough.
This lack of importance is why people are know-it-alls. It’s why people talk over other people. It’s why people need Facebook likes to feel validated. It’s why inventions are made. It’s why great feats are achieved. It’s why people like myself are always being weird.
It’s the only logical explanation I can think of for dudes that drive giant pickup trucks with modified exhausts. Some people have to swing their huge metaphorical dicks around to get their feeling of importance.
And that’s cool. My metaphorical penis can be just as small as your metaphorical penis on any given day (for the size of my real penis, hit me up on Snapchat). Whatever floats your boat, I say do that. And I encourage you to not care if I think what you’re doing is stupid. Because it’s none of my business. As long as it doesn’t negatively impact others.
But for some people, it does.
Some people are in an unfortunate position that, no matter what they do, they just can’t satisfy that need to feel important. Not in an emotionally safe way.
Some of these people, in a last-ditch effort to feel important, reject everything that’s different. Everything about them is right. Everything different from them is wrong. Not unlike the know-it-alls, just to a brutal extreme. Race happens to be one of these differences. So they’re racists.
And to a large extent that’s probably not their fault.
Think back to the bullies in your childhood. Were these bullies inherently evil people? Most often, no. Their terribleness was an unfortunate byproduct of a shitty environment.
That happens to grown-ups, too. But where’s the leniency toward the grown-ups?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not pardoning racism. At the risk of getting a little too hippie on y’all, I’m just saying that maybe hate isn’t the best counter to hate.
Kids act out because their parents don’t love them enough, and we blame the parents. Adults act out because society doesn’t love them enough, but we never blame society.
Some of these racists – maybe even most – had racist parents and racist grandparents. Some of them have had racist teachers and racist grocery store cashiers. Yet we refuse to step back and say hey, maybe at least some racists’ views are a product of their surroundings. They might not all be inherently awful people.
But every time these racists turn around they are essentially told “You’re a piece of shit. Please go in a corner and die.” If I was a racist and was treated this way, my response would be to become more racist, not less.
Up to this point I’ve been just as guilty as the next person for fighting this hate with my own hate. I’ve been part of the problem. But that ends now.
Fuck racism. Love racists.
Then again, I’m white. So this post is easy to write.